Carrier has a steep learning curve. To encounter this sort of confusion before even playing introductory Scenario 2 does not help. Air OPS are a core part of the game that need to be rock solid. Let's take a look.

Order of Operations

The Game-Turn Flowchart says that air ops must be done "In Order":

  1. launch
  2. raise
  3. service
  4. lower

Followed by landing, in the next box of the flow chart.

The Sequence of Play (3.0, B.2 US Air Operations Step) also puts these in the same order (a through e).

However, rule 7.0 does not explicitly state that ops are performed in a particular order. If indeed they are, then the comprehensive example on page 19 has an error, launching while more than eight steps are on the flight deck.

Look on BGG for clarification and you find some individual interpretations advocating for no order to the air ops phase. But actually, there are some clues in section 7.0 that support the "in order" method.

Under "Servicing" the order of steps b and c is noted in relation to timing of actions. Also it uses the phrase "during the servicing step" and says that "the sequence of play is structured to remind you." This last point means that the sequence is built to prevent an air step from doing more than one operation.

Under "Hangar Storage" it says that air units may be volutarily eliminated "just before aircraft are landed" which implies that landing comes after lowering.

Another problem with rule 7.0 is that the limit on individual air steps is not stated until deep in the text (under Raising and Lowering Limits). Each step may do only one action per segment. This is confirmed in the "Servicing" example about the fastest possible turn-around.

The preponderance of evidence is that air ops steps are performed in order. Here is my summary of air ops, attempting to respect both the printed rules and flowchart.

US Air Ops (carrier)

Perform in order (FD = flight deck):

1. Launch (FD Ready → Strike, CAP, or Search)

  • Not allowed if FD steps > 8, night, or inoperable FD
  • Limit = 8 − US Warning launch in Japanese segment

2. Raise (Servicing → FD Ready)

  • Limit = 8 − launch
  • No more than 12 steps on FD.

3. Service (Hangar → Servicing)

  • Limit = 8 (regardless of other air ops)
  • No more than 8 steps in Servicing.

4. Lower (FD Unready → Hangar)

  • Limit = 8 − launch
  • May voluntarily eliminate FD steps.

5. Land (Landing Box → FD Unready)

  • Not allowed if launch, night, or inoperable FD
  • Limit: up to 8 steps as long as:
    (land + raise <= 12) and (land + lower <= 12)
  • No more than 12 steps on FD.

The design notes for rules section 7.0 state that during launch procedures, neither the front nor rear elevator could be used, but during landings, the front elevator was usable. This accounts for the combined limit of 12 in the landing step.

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US Air Ops (base)

1. Launch (Runway Ready → Strike, CAP, or Search)

  • Not allowed if Runway steps > 8, night, or inoperable Runway
  • Limit = 8 − US Warning launch in Japanese segment

2. Raise (Servicing → Runway Ready)

  • Limit = 8
  • No more than 12 steps on Runway.

3. Service (Hangar → Servicing)

  • Limit = 8 (regardless of other air ops)
  • No more than 8 steps in Servicing.

4. Lower (Runway Unready → Hangar)

  • Limit = 8
  • May voluntarily eliminate Runway steps.

5. Land (Landing Box → Runway Unready)

  • Not allowed if night or inoperable Runway
  • Limit = 8 − Launch
  • No more than 12 steps on Runway.