Wow, 2000+ factories, too. Impressive. Also, you’re in 1958; are you using a mod that extends game time? I thought by default it ended in 1946, but I haven’t reached the end yet, so I don’t know. I’m in 1944.
For aircraft carriers, I’ve mostly abandoned CAS, since I think they underrepresent the terror that naval dive-bombers were historically. I use mostly a 50-50 mix of fighters and torpedo (what the game calls “naval”) bombers (Devastators, etc).
I think carriers are a bit underpowered, but I’ve come to appreciate their use in Naval Invasion Support missions, in which they cover landings like the carriers did historically. It’s satisfying to see the fleet, with the little airplane icon, escorting my invading Marines to the target.
Speaking of Marines, I’ve now taken Saipan and Marcus Island, and I was building up to attack Iwo Jima, when out of nowhere the Australians did it for me! It’s going to be a 12-day battle, so the outcome is still in doubt, but I’m impressed that twice now the Aussie AI has helped me out in a significant way.
I’m impressed generally with the AI, in fact. I know experts can stomp the AI, but from my newbish perspective, it plays a good game. It encircled and killed 7 of my divisions in Indian once, and it responds appropriately to my attempts to encircle it, shifting troops immediately.
All that said, the game does need some tuning. Germany is now well into the Urals, Italy and Vichy France own most of Africa. I’ve pushed Siam/Japan back to the eastern border of India, and I’m now bombing the Japanese Home Islands, so I’m hoping I might at least defeat Japan by 1946, but the rest of the Axis is ascendant.