Hearts of Iron IV Ship Designer Guide

The Man the Guns DLC came with a complete overhaul of naval mechanics, including the introduction of the Ship Designer. The Designer allows you to customize ships to fit your goals and industrial budget.

One of the included changes is an overhauled naval research tree, which is now based around researching ship hulls and modules instead of ships. These hulls and modules are the fundamental building blocks of the Ship Designer.

If you’re looking for the best ship designs in Hearts of Iron IV, our guide can be found here.

If you’re familiar with the Hearts of Iron user interface, you should have no problem navigating the Ship Designer. The top of it has areas for selecting the ship class you want to create, and the naming convention for the ships. Directly below those options you can choose the unit model and the icons to represent the ship. In the example below, I am designing a super heavy battleship with the naming convention of birds.

top of the ship designer in hearts of iron 4

Below those customization options you start to get into the nitty gritty of the Designer. The top row is dedicated to the addition of more batteries, anti-air guns, and aircraft facilities. Adding modules to this row is entirely optional, depending on your priorities when designing a ship.

middle of the ship designer in hearts of iron 4

The bottom row is where you can select modules for even more weapons, as well as the fire control system, radar, engine, and armor. In order to complete a Ship Design you will have to select an engine and a battery. Some ship classes will have more specific requirements which will be listed when you try to save the design. For example, you cannot create a cruiser without a fire control system or a submarine without torpedoes.

On the right side of the Ship Designer, you will see the stats for the designed ship and any changes to how it will perform in certain ocean terrains.

stats area of the ship designer in hearts of iron 4

The bottom of the interface includes the costs to produce the ship and some options to automate ship design.

  • In the bottom-left corner you will see options to automatically upgrade ship modules, reset the current design, and generate a new design.
  • The Save button will finish the design, and it also shows how much naval experience the design costs.
  • Finally, the right side lists the resources needed for the ship and the production cost.
bottom of the ship designer in hearts of iron 4

Instead of researching upgraded models of ship types, the naval research tree is designed around researching upgraded hulls. These hulls can then be designed into specific ship types, depending on the hull type. For example, a heavy ship hull can be designed into a battlecruiser or a battleship, depending on the modules added to it.

Hull Type
Ship Type
Carrier Hull
Cruiser Hull
Light Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser
Destroyer Hull
Heavy Ship Hull
Battlecruiser, Battleship
Submarine Hull
Super-Heavy Battleship Hull
Super-Heavy Battleship

The Hearts of Iron IV Ship Designer gives the player an incredible amount of flexibility and customization options for designing your fleet. Understanding how to use the Designer will allow you to create ships that fit any purpose.

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Lucky Boop
Lucky Boop

Strategy game enthusiast, especially Paradox titles and the Civilization series. Whenever he's not writing he spends his time watching sports, enjoying coffee, or studying history.

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1 year ago

Why are there no recommendations for ship templates?

Reply to  Lucky Boop
1 year ago

Ah good to know! I imagine it takes a lot of testing to get the best templates there. There is such complexity to the naval system.. Appreciate the efforts!