hearts of iron 4 best ship designs featured image
Game: Hearts of Iron IV
Content Type: Gaming Guides


Introduced with the Man the Guns DLC, the ship designer completely changed the game when it comes to managing your navy in Hearts of Iron IV. Along with the designer, patch 1.6 radically altered naval combat and added naval terrain to the game. There are an extensive amount of options when it comes to building your navy, so you might not have the ability to research every component. Prioritize which components are most important to you and temporarily downgrade some components until you get the requisite technology.

Note: If the game doesn’t let you produce some of the designs listed below, make sure you are not affected by the London Naval Treaty.

Due to submarines being nerfed in 1.12, spamming subs is no longer a viable option for fleet-building. They are really only useful for convoy-raiding and some niche fleet compositions.

hearts of iron 4 1936 submarine
Rear 1
Torpedo Tubes II
Torpedoes
Torpedo Tubes II
Engine
Submarine Engine II
hearts of iron 4 1940 submarine
Front 1
Torpedo Tubes III
Mid 1
Basic Snorkel
Rear 1
Torpedo Tubes III
Torpedoes
Torpedo Tubes III
Engine
Submarine Engine III
hearts of iron 4 1944 submarine
Front 1
Torpedo Tubes III
Mid 1
Basic Snorkel
Rear 1
Torpedo Tubes III
Torpedoes
Torpedo Tubes III
Engine
Submarine Engine III

This is the design to use if you want to lay mines in strategic areas such as the English Channel. Keep in mind that if you intend to perform minelaying operations before 1940 you should use destroyers instead. From 1940 onwards, submarines become more cost-efficient.

Feel free to upgrade any components or add a snorkel to the design below. The design has been optimized to save on production costs and skimp on combat ability since these are focused exclusively on minelaying.

hearts of iron 4 minelaying submarine
Front 1
Minelaying Tubes
Rear 1
Minelaying Tubes
Torpedoes
Torpedo Tubes I
Engine
Submarine Engine I

Capital ships are the strongest ships and as such have the most expensive designs in Hearts of Iron IV. They’ll play an important role in any strike force group.

Carriers serve as mobile airbases that can be useful for projecting airpower on other continents or in the middle of the ocean. You will have to produce naval planes for them, normal ones won’t work for carriers.

hearts of iron 4 1936 carrier
Front 1
Open Hangar Deck
Deck Space 1
Open Hangar Deck
Deck Space 2
Open Hangar Deck
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Engine
Carrier Engine II
Secondary
Secondary Battery II
hearts of iron 4 1940 carrier
Front 1
Open Hangar Deck
Mid 1
Open Hangar Deck
Deck Space 1
Open Hangar Deck
Deck Space 2
Open Hangar Deck
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Radar/Sonar
Radar III
Engine
Carrier Engine III
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery III
hearts of iron 4 1944 carrier
Front 1
Open Hangar Deck
Mid 1
Open Hangar Deck
Mid 2
Open Hangar Deck
Deck Space 1
Open Hangar Deck
Deck Space 2
Open Hangar Deck
Anti-Air
Anti-Air IV
Radar/Sonar
Radar IV
Engine
Carrier Engine IV
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery IV

The backbone of any strike force is the battleship. Battleships are by far the single strongest ship you can produce in Hearts of Iron IV.

hearts of iron 4 1936 battleship
Front 1
Heavy Battery II
Mid 1
Anti-Air II
Mid 2
Aircraft Facilities II
Rear 1
Heavy Battery II
Battery
Heavy Battery II
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Fire Control System
Fire Control 0
Engine
Engine II
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery II
Armor
Battleship Armor II
hearts of iron 4 1940 battleship design
Front 1
Heavy Battery III
Mid 1
Anti-Air III
Mid 2
Anti-Air III
Mid 3
Anti-Air III
Rear
Heavy Battery III
Battery
Heavy Battery III
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Fire Control System
Fire Control III
Radar
Radar III
Engine
Engine III
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery III
Armor
Battleship Armor III
hearts of iron 4 1944 battleship
Front 1
Heavy Battery IV
Mid 1
Anti-Air IV
Mid 2
Anti-Air IV
Mid 3
Anti-Air IV
Rear
Heavy Battery IV
Battery
Heavy Battery IV
Anti-Air
Anti-Air IV
Fire Control System
Fire Control III
Radar
Radar IV
Engine
Engine IV
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery IV
Armor
Battleship Armor III

Battlecruisers are slightly weaker than a battleship, but make up for it with increased speed. In the designs below, I avoid upgrading some components that would reduce the speed, but feel free to modify this to your liking.

hearts of iron 4 1936 battlecruiser
Front 1
Heavy Battery I
Mid 1
Anti-Air II
Mid 2
Aircraft Facilities II
Rear 1
Heavy Battery I
Battery
Heavy Battery I
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Fire Control System
Fire Control 0
Engine
Engine II
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery I
Armor
Battlecruiser Armor I
hearts of iron 4 1940 battlecruiser design
Front 1
Heavy Battery I
Mid 1
Anti-Air III
Mid 2
Aircraft Facilities II
Mid 3
Anti-Air III
Rear
Heavy Battery I
Battery
Heavy Battery I
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Fire Control System
Fire Control III
Radar
Radar III
Engine
Engine III
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery II
Armor
Battleship Armor I
hearts of iron 4 1944 battlecruiser
Front 1
Heavy Battery III
Mid 1
Anti-Air III
Mid 2
Anti-Air III
Mid 3
Anti-Air III
Rear
Heavy Battery III
Battery
Heavy Battery III
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Fire Control System
Fire Control III
Radar
Radar III
Engine
Engine III
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery III
Armor
Battleship Armor III

Compared to other capital ships, heavy cruisers aren’t worth producing in most scenarios. They lack the speed of battlecruisers and the raw power of battleships. You should only resort to heavy cruisers if you have both a weak economy and no other capital ships.

hearts of iron 4 1936 heavy cruiser design
Front 1
Heavy Cruiser Battery II
Mid 1
Heavy Cruiser Battery II
Mid 2
Anti-Air I
Rear 1
Aircraft Facilities II
Battery
Heavy Cruiser Battery II
Anti-Air
Anti-Air I
Fire Control System
Fire Control 0
Engine
Cruiser Engine I
Secondary
Secondary Battery II
Armor
Heavy Cruiser Armor III
hearts of iron 4 1940 heavy cruiser design
Front 1
Heavy Cruiser Battery III
Mid 1
Heavy Cruiser Battery III
Mid 2
Anti-Air III
Rear 1
Anti-Air III
Rear 2
Heavy Cruiser Battery III
Battery
Heavy Cruiser Battery III
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Fire Control System
Fire Control II
Radar
Radar III
Engine
Cruiser Engine II
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery III
Armor
Heavy Cruiser Armor IV
hearts of iron 4 1944 heavy cruiser
Front 1
Heavy Cruiser Battery IV
Mid 1
Heavy Cruiser Battery IV
Mid 2
Anti-Air IV
Rear 1
Anti-Air IV
Rear 2
Heavy Cruiser Battery IV
Battery
Heavy Cruiser Battery IV
Anti-Air
Anti-Air IV
Fire Control System
Fire Control III
Radar
Radar IV
Engine
Cruiser Engine IV
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery IV
Armor
Heavy Cruiser Armor IV

Although they aren’t as flashy as capital ships, screening ships play a vital role in naval combat in Hearts of Iron IV. Screening ships can be used to help protect capital ships or perform niche roles in combat like Anti-Air.

Destroyers are extremely flexible and cheap to produce. You will need to produce large quantities of destroyers for them to be effective in strike forces.

hearts of iron 4 1936 destroyer design
Mid 1
Torpedoes II
Rear 1
Depth Charge I
Battery
Light Battery II
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Fire Control System
Fire Control System 0
Radar/Sonar
Sonar II
Torpedoes
Torpedoes II
Engine
Light Engine II
hearts of iron 4 1940 destroyer design
Front 1
Dual Purpose Battery III
Mid 1
Torpedoes III
Rear 1
Depth Charge III
Battery
Dual Purpose Battery III
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Fire Control System
Fire Control System II
Radar/Sonar
Radar III
Torpedoes
Torpedoes III
Engine
Light Engine III
hearts of iron 4 1944 destroyer
Front 1
Dual Purpose Battery IV
Mid 1
Torpedoes IV
Mid 2
Torpedoes IV
Rear 1
Depth Charge IV
Battery
Dual Purpose Battery IV
Anti-Air
Anti-Air IV
Fire Control System
Fire Control System III
Radar/Sonar
Radar IV
Torpedoes
Torpedoes IV
Engine
Light Engine IV

One of the greatest threats to a navy is a strong air force. Anti-Air destroyers are invaluable for protecting fleets from naval bombers. The components in the design are at the 1936 level — they should be upgraded as your technology progresses.

hearts of iron 4 1936 anti air destroyer
Mid 1
Anti-Air II
Rear 1
Anti-Air II
Battery
Dual Purpose Battery II
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Engine
Light Engine II

This destroyer is optimized to destroy submarines. The components in the design are also at the 1936 level, however keeping these destroyers cheaper can be advantageous in order to amass more of them.

hearts of iron 4 anti sub destroyer
Mid 1
Depth Charge II
Rear 1
Depth Charge II
Battery
Light Battery I
Anti-Air
Anti-Air I
Fire Control System
Fire Control System 0
Radar/Sonar
Sonar II
Torpedoes
Torpedoes II
Engine
Light Engine II

This is a cheap design to sweep for mines in regions where you suspect the enemy is using them.

hearts of iron 4 1936 anti mine destroyer
Mid 1
Minesweeping Gear
Rear 1
Minesweeping Gear
Battery
Light Battery I
Engine
Light Engine I

Use this design over the submarine one to perform minelaying operations before 1940. Once you reach 1940 levels of technology you should move on to using minelaying submarines.

hearts of iron 4 minelaying destroyer
Mid 1
Minelaying Rails
Rear 1
Minelaying Rails
Battery
Light Battery I
Engine
Light Engine I

Compared to destroyers, light cruisers are quite a bit stronger and more expensive. A combination of both screening ships will be best when building your strike forces.

hearts of iron 4 1936 light cruiser
Front 1
Anti-Air II
Mid 1
Light Cruiser Battery II
Mid 2
Light Cruiser Battery II
Rear 1
Light Cruiser Battery II
Battery
Light Cruiser Battery II
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Fire Control System
Fire Control System )
Engine
Cruiser Engine II
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery II
Armor
Cruiser Armor II
hearts of iron 4 1940 light cruiser
Front 1
Light Cruiser Battery III
Mid 1
Anti-Air III
Mid 2
Anti-Air III
Rear 1
Light Cruiser Battery III
Rear 2
Light Cruiser Battery III
Battery
Light Cruiser Battery III
Anti-Air
Anti-Air III
Fire Control System
Fire Control System II
Radar
Radar III
Engine
Cruiser Engine III
Battery
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery III
Armor
Cruiser Armor IV
hearts of iron 4 1944 light cruiser design
Front 1
Light Cruiser Battery IV
Mid 1
Anti-Air IV
Mid 2
Anti-Air IV
Rear 1
Light Cruiser Battery IV
Rear 2
Light Cruiser Battery IV
Battery
Light Cruiser Battery IV
Anti-Air
Anti-Air IV
Fire Control System
Fire Control System III
Radar
Radar IV
Engine
Cruiser Engine IV
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery IV
Armor
Cruiser Armor IV

Fleets composed of both anti-air light cruisers and anti-air destroyers are your best bet for a complete aerial defense of your navy. The components in the design are at the 1936 level, they should be upgraded as your technology progresses.

hearts of iron 4 anti air light cruiser
Front 1
Anti-Air II
Mid 1
Anti-Air II
Mid 2
Anti-Air II
Rear 1
Anti-Air II
Battery
Light Cruiser Battery II
Anti-Air
Anti-Air II
Fire Control System
Fire Control System 0
Engine
Cruiser Engine II
Secondary
Dual Purpose Secondary Battery II
Armor
Cruiser Armor I

Building a competent navy in Hearts of Iron IV requires well-designed ships. Remember that the naval designer allows plenty of customization, so feel free to modify the designs to fit your needs. These ship designs should help you master the seas and fulfill any objective, from raiding convoys to naval invasions.

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