Vincent GERARD
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Greetings all !

Here is a campaign report of the full campaign scenario. We are two beginners on the game, so that we may both make mistakes. And we will make lots of them

There will be one answer for each turn, because the text is quite long. I have decided to write it as a story of the war, not a game report. I hope it will please you to read this report. As I start posting, we are already playing turn 4.

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Japanese Strategy
The Japanese strategy for this game is to take control of the oil hexes quickly and establish strong bases in the Salomons, with Guadalcanal and Port Moresby as one of the main goals of this strategy. If lucky enough on turn one, the Japanese player will try to reach automatic victory.
Allied Strategy
The Allied strategy will deeply be based upon safe passage between the US and Australia. Therefore, a strong emphasis on the southern front will dictate allied operations. When the south will be under control, the next objective will be the Philippines IOT get a base in range of the Japanese mainland bases.

TURN 1 - December 1941
December 7th, 1941
Even though the US did have everything they needed to understand Pearl Harbour would be a target for the Japanese main carrier fleet, nothing was done to protect the base and its commander didn't take the strong measures that were required. Therefore, when more than four hundred aircrafts attacked at dawn, the US pilots, seamen and soldiers were unprepared. The few aircraft that could actually take off were quickly overwhelmed and the dive bombers could attack the battleships at anchor and the airfield; destroying 75% of the aircrafts there and sinking the Pennsylvania, the Arizona, the Maryland, the Weevee (West Virginia), the Nevada and the Oklahoma. The California and the Tennessee, heavily damaged, still survived the attack. A major success, inspired by the british victory at Tarente, which would start a vengeful war.
Several days later, several japanese fleets left their bases to attack numerous obectives from Singapore to Wake.

The Battle of Singapore
The campaign for south west Asia began with two simultaneous moves. Two small task forces, built around the light carriers Zuiho and Shoho and several heavy cruisers were to sail to Brunei, covered by some of Saigon's aircrafts. There, they would land the Nankai brigade to take over the oil. A third task force, build around the batteships Kongo and Haruna, several cruisers and destroyers, were to protect the 14th Army and let it land is Singapour, will a heavy aircover from Saigon. The Japanese head quarters thought that the ABDA fleet would move to intercept the forces in Brunei while the British would defend themselves around Singapore.
But the allies were able to put a plan together and the ABDA fleet, built around the cruiser De Ruyter, move to join the Prince of Wales and the Repulse. With no air cover, the British admiral formed the line and offered battle to the Japanse fleet which wasn't in the best position. The battle was terrible. But in the end, the allied fleet was sunk, but the Japanese did lost the Kongo and the Haruna. The Japanse destroyers did offer the victory.
Finally, the 14th Army landed and started their attacks on the British troops in Singapore. The japanse moved quickly and soon, the victory was in sight. Brunei was of course taken with no difficulties, as no forces were able to stop the Japanese. North of Singapore, the 25th Japanese army captured Bangkok, which would be the departure point for a ground offensive to Calcutta.

The Battle of Manila
Heavily supported by the airfleets in Formosa, the 15th Japanese Army started attacking McArthur troops in the Philippines, their movement covered by several destroyers only. But the japanese fail to get the air supremacy and the air force was able to attack the transports, but with no damage dealt. But the defenders would then fight off the japanese invasion, gaining some time.
McArthur then decided to counter attack, thanks to his air supremacy over Manila. But with his supply lines cut, his forces were unable to gain any advantage.

In the south of the Pacific, Hollandia, Lae and Rabaul would soon fall to the Japanese forces...

In order to prepare Nimitz grand strategy in the southern Pacific, Vice Admiral Halsey's TF 17 was sent, along with the 19th Regiment in Noumea, also reinforced with severa squadrons of Wildcats and Dauntless.

At the end of 1941, no allied forces were able to stand up against the Japanese fleets and armies.
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TURN 2 - Jan - Mar 1942
[+4 Oil -> 16]
Words of the Japanse player : "Ok, at that moment, I had to be very careful on my next moves. With a CV Taskforce that close to my main objectives, I had to send enough forces to drive them off to safely take over Guadalcanal and Port Moresby. That had to be my next offensive and would take four carriers to undergo plus a task force of cruisers and destroyers. But I also needed more planes to fight off McArthur in the Philippines : I would use my last fleet carriers there to provide even more air support. For Surabaya, I am pretty confident that I would need only two CVLs along with several cruisers and destroyers. These would be my three main operations of the turn. Brunei was choosen as my base for Surabaya and I would send there a division for the task ; Truk for all the operations in the South."

Having redeployed his ships for his offensives, the Japanese high command sent the final orders for the upcoming offensives. Two full task forces would soon leave Truk and move toward Guadacanal, carrying the 43rd Division and covered by the naval aviation from the Kaga, the Akagi, the Hiryu and the Soryu, the elite pilots from the Combined fleet. This operation was to be led by Admiral Yamamoto himself.
Moving from Lae, the 2nd Division surprised the 30th Australian brigade, which was awaiting a force landing, not a ground offensive from the North. From Brunei, two very small Task forces under the command of Admiral Kondo and comprising the Zuiho and the Shoho along with numerous destroyers and transports moved to Surabaya. A small fleet of destroyers moved to the Gilberts, transporting a naval infantry brigade. Last but not least, Admiral Inouye was given command to the Zuikaku and the Shokaku to support the ground offensive against McArthur in the Philippines.

Facing immediate danger in the south, Admiral Halsey got underway from Noumea in early February and headed to Port Moresby. There were several reasons to this move. First of all, it was possible to get the air superiority here and be able to fight off the Japanese assault. Secondly, Trying to fight the Japanese at Guadalcanal would be pure suicide, admiral Nagumo having there a two to one advantage in naval aviation. Thirdly, there was political reasons : showing the Australians that they would not be spared and abandonned.

Guadalcanal, as such, was easily taken by Japanese forces. They quickly began the construction of an airfield.

Battle of Port Moresby
With a two to one plane ratio, Halsey had a strong advantage. Plus the japanese fleet there was composed of only a handful of destroyers covering the ground offensive and trying to deny allied supplies. But the air to air combat didn't go that well, the two US carriers experiencing their first real combat situation : it took forever to take off a single wave and a lot of planes were shot down because of bad coordination. Eventhough they were facing difficulties, the US forces did have the air superiority and could sunk the Japanese destroyers while the japanese strike on the US light cruisers couldn't get any result - and a lot of planes were destroyed by AA fire.
But then, the air support Halsey tried to provide proved completely useless and the 2nd Division could advance against poor resistance from the 30th Australian Brigade. The Australian faced annihilation and only the fire support provided by a light cruiser division would save the Australians - and Port Moresby. But the losses were terribly high and they were facing complete defeat.

The invasion of Surabaya didn't go that well either : despite their lack of supplies, the dutch troops managed to fight off the assault. But a fairly good new arrived at the Japanese headquarters in Tokyo : the British army of Malaysia, surrounded in Singapore surrendered to the invaders. Another good new was the victory of Rangoon, where the 23rd British division was destroyed in a two week battle across the jungles.

Philippine's campaign update
This time, the Japanese high command saw things in great. The air superiority was terrific, with more than three hundred planes for the Japanese. The air to air combat was about to be an easy victory...but the General Johnson sent a decoy toward the japanese fighters and the remaining of his fighters managed to attack the Shokaku and the Zuikaku by surprise : the AA fire was inefficient. The US pilots managed to send their torpedoes at very close range from the Carriers...but the torpedoes didn't explode !! During the ensuing battle, the airfield was bombed, destroying half the aircrafts available to McArthur. In the end, thanks to air superiority and lack of supplies of the defenders, the Japanese forces could advance. Manila was taken but McArthur, with his last troops, retreated to Corregidor for a last stand. [with 8 dice against 2, the air to air combat ended up in a draw : 1-1. The one air point remaining for the US attacked the carriers : the AA fire did nothing and the US got a 4...Then, after the "successful bombing" - which destroyed only one step - the Japanese managed to get three supports and the US one. In the ensuing ground battle, the result is 5-5 ! An incredible result considering the US troops only score with a 6. In the end, the Japanese wins with one above the US score...]

The situation is dangerous for the allies. They indeed are able to build on two carrier task forces : TF 16 with Yorktown and Lexington, led by rear admiral Fletcher and TF 17 with Saratoga and Enterprise led by vice admiral Halsey. However, their lack of force in the south front and the lack of transport at this stage of the war will greatly impede their operational capability. Still, it was of strategic importance to reinforce Port Moresby quickly, before the garrison could be overwhelmed.
Admiral Nimitz will find a solution to his puzzle with operation Mountain. Aiming the Gilberts islands - hold by a Japanese naval infantry brigade - Fletcher would lead his task force and the 1st US Marine division. They would have to take over the island by a lone decisive blow in order to establish a base for Halsey's task force that would then be able to fight off future Japanese attempts in the area.

Battle of the Gilberts islands
The Gilberts islands will be the first US combat landing operation in the Pacific War and will give invaluable knowledge. The battle will start with an attack from several Japanese submarines. But they will be spotted by the aircrafts from TF 16 and hunted down by the squadrons of destroyers protecting the transports. Then, the carriers will provide a very strong and efficient air support to the ground offensive led by general Wedemeyer. In less than a week, the 1st US Marine division will overwhelm the Japanese troops.

Port Moresby campaign update
With no ship and no plane to impede his movement in the area, admiral Ghormley (chief of naval operation, south Pacific) could easily transport reinforcements for the 30th Australian brigade and bring the US 19th regiment into battle. With a good air cover and despite heavy fighting from the Japanese 2nd Division, the allies will manage to take back the lost ground and secure the area.

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Vincent GERARD
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TURN 3 - Apr - Jun 1942
[+7.5 Oil -> 9.5]

At that time of the war, oil management started to become a major concern for the Japanese high command. In order to get the oil flow and have enough reserves for a later big operation, it was decided to slow down the pace of operations. In fact, more than the use of the oil, Japan needed its transport fleet to carry the oil rather than carry the troops or supply the ships in expensive combined operations.
That is why General Togo and Admiral Yamamoto reached an agreement and decided to let the local commanders pursue their continuing campaign with what they already had in hand. Only the 2nd Division would be strenghtened and highly supported with planes sent from Formosa. Still, Yamamoto also got the opportunity to destroy the forward US base in Spiritu Santo. This operation, MA, was to be led by Admiral Inouye with two task forces. One, built around cruisers and destroyers, would leave Truk with the Ichiki force to Espiritu Santo, where it would be joined by a carrier task force build around the Akagi and the Kaga and their elite air groups.

Having recovered intel about operation MA, Admiral Nimitz sent orders to Halsey to sail to Espiritu Santo and ensure no troops would be able to victoriously land there. Defeat there was not an option for the US Navy as a Japanese base in Espiritu Santo would cut off the lines of communication between the USA and Australia.

Battle of Espiritu Santo
Knowing a Japanese fleet comprising at least one fleet carrier was to operate in the vicinity, the aircrafts from Espiritu Santo began to search for Japanese vessels. Soon, they were able to spot the vanguard and directed Halsey to intercept them.
The US, thanks to Halsey and the long range for Guadalcanal planes, did have a small advantage in term of numbers. But the Japanese did have the quality with them. The air to air combats would be in Japan's favour...if the US pilots didn't use a new tactic, very useful, the Thach weave. Thanks to this tactic, the pilot were able to fight off the better "Zero" and gain the upper hand. Inouye lost a lot of good pilots during a very tough fight over the invasion fleet. For the first time, a well-planned naval air attack from US Carriers was able to strike a blow through the Japanese ranks. The Dauntless then attacked, dividing themselves in two groups. One aimed at the transports, sinking half of them, one aimed at the heavy cruisers protecting them, sinking them.
While the Japanese fleet suffered a great disaster, its own airstrike aimed at Espiritu Santo airfield was driven off by anti-air fire.
Halsey success was complete and the Japanese suffered their first naval defeat.

Port Moresby campaign update
Having strongly reinforced its airforces in the area (with Lae and Rabaul bases), the Japanese SoPac high command renewed his offensive against Port Moresby. But the US pilot were able to take the upper hand, while the Japanese ones couldn't get an efficient bombing of the airbase, suffering heavy losses in air to air combat and AA fire. And the air force in Port Moresby prove decisive in the ground fights between the 2nd Division and allied forces.

Phillipines campaign update
Thanks to incredibly strong defensive position and despite being unsupplied, still supported by a handful of aircrafts, McArthur forces continue to fight off the Japanese 15th Army.

Luckily for the Japanese, Surabaya was at last conquered, sole victory of these months. In order to be ready for future US operations in the area, Yamamoto dispatched the fleet carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku.

After difficult discussions between US and British staffs in Washington, and in return for some favors from the Americans, Churchill agreed to send naval forces to the Indies and prepare an operation to disrupt the 25th Army's supply line by landing the 17th Division in Rangoon. Wavell would counter attack from Calcutta to Burma with his forces. For these operations, the British would deploy two task forces. The first, built around the carriers Victorious and Illustrious would have to fight for Air superiority, a difficult task considering the number of squadrons the Japanese had in Rangoon. The second task force with the older Ramilies, Resolution, Revenge and Royal Sovereign would protect and support the landing of the 17th Division.

While the British prepared themselves for their coming back, Nimitz prepared a large offensive. First of all, rear admiral Spruance was sent along with his Task Force 21 built around the new Carriers Wasp and Hornet in the Gilberts islands where they would be kept in reserve. Another division of the US Marine Corps was also sent them along with a task force comprising the battleships Tennessee and California, AA light cruisers and several destroyers. Rear admiral Fletcher was given command of this task force whose purpose was the recapture of Guadalcanal. To support the operation, a large carrier task force led by Halsey with four fleet carriers of the TF 16 and 17 would be assembled as the 5th Fleet.

Having no information on the fleets coming from the Gilberts and Pearl Harbour, admiral Inouye got underway with the fleet carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku.

Battle of the Salomons
After several days of a deadly game of hide and seek, the Japanese fleet was the first to find its target : the invasion task force. Quickly, admiral Inouye ordered an air strike from both the carriers and the land based aircrafts. There, despite their disadvantage - about two hundred and fifty aircrafts against more than four hundreds in total - the Zero proved superiors against the badly coordinated CAPs of two different carrier task forces. But the Japanese did suffer heavy losses against the Wildcats and more against the terrific anti aircraft light cruisers that where escorting the transport ships. The air strike was a complete failure. Then, Halsey sent a full strike which followed up the retreating planes to their carriers. Another air strike was sent against Guadalcanal. Both attacks were badly coordinated. But the numbers prevailed against the carriers : the Shokaku and the Zuikaku were hit several times and Inouye ordered to withdraw, saving his carriers.
Now in control of the sea, Halsey and Fletcher could start the invasion of Guadalcanal. But yet, if the landing itself was easy - and despite a very good air support from the carriers - Wedemeyer's marines couldn't advance toward the airfield : the Japanese resistance was just too strong.

Battle of Rangoon and the Burma campaign
The battle of Rangoon is a non sense battle that could have led to interesting strategic results in case of a victory. But everything that could turn wrong did. It all started with a sub attack that sunk several transports resulting in the withdrawal of the invasion fleet. Then, after the British carrier fleet manage to bomb the airfield, destroying several aircrafts, the Japanese assaulted the carriers with no result : either the pilot couldn't drop a hit or the decks were too heavily armoured...After a week of useless air battles, the British fleet withdrew.
Luckily, the British troops under the soon promoted Field-Marshal Wavell were able to break havoc in the Japanese lines, winning the first land victory over a complete Japanese army.

Campaign of Port Moresby update
Reinforced by a new N-Z brigade and with several new planes, the allied forces launched a new counter-attack. Again, the Japanese forces were pushed back after heavy fights.

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David Gómez Relloso
Spain
Dobro (Los Altos)
Burgos
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Great report! Thank you very much for it and looking forward for the next episodes. Merci beaucoup.

David
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Barry Kendall
United States
Lebanon
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Quite an extensive report! Thank you for your efforts. This is a brilliant game and your game shows how faithful it is to history while allowing a lot of variety in strategies and outcomes.

Merci for bringing FitS fresh exposure on BGG.
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Vincent GERARD
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Things are getting nasty...

TURN 4 - Jul - Sep 1942
[+12 Oil -> 14.5]

Words of the Japanese player : "Okay. Damn, I had hoped to have at least full sea superiority for the year 1942. Yet, the US Offensive in Guadalcanal just proved they are now willing to build on operations with four fleet carriers. Such operations cannot be easily countered and certainly not with just two fleet carriers. Do I have to deploy four carriers for the reaction phase ? Well, that would be giving up the initiative to the US at that point of the game. I shall renew my efforts and be the one leading the fights."
The strategic situation of Japan seemed to be at a turning point in July 1942 when the first allied successes could bring some hope on the future of the war. The high command quickly gave his goals for the next months :
- reinforcement of the 25th army and renewal of its offensive in Burma ;
- full scale operation to take Espiritu Santo ;
- isolation of US forces in Guadalcanal ;
- reinforcement and secondary operation to take Port Moresby.

Admiral Yamamoto moved to Truk with the Combined fleet and eight carriers : four fleet carriers and four light carriers which were to be the blackbone of admiral Inouye's South Fleet. Nagumo's feet carriers would strike Espiritu Santo airfields and any US carrier trying to fight off the Japanese navy. A handful of cruisers and destroyers would then land the 6th Division, kept in reserve in Truk. With four light carriers - still able to carry at least as much planes as a British fleet carrier - admira Inouye should also be able to fight off any US counter-attack latter on. Several destroyers would then move to Guadalcanal to block the US supply line there and several others would move to Port Moresby.

Second battle of Espiritu Santo
When the combined fleet reached the vicinity of Espiritu Santo, admiral Yamamoto received words that a new US Task force under rear admiral Spruance - a former great officer from Halsey's staff - had got underway from the Gilberts and was sailing to intercept. With four Japanese carriers against two US ones but strongly supported by the aircrafts from Espiritu Santo, the numbers were even. But admiral Nagumo had with him his best pilots.
Spruance had the first shot, several submarines having spotted the Combined fleet before being sunk by Japanese destroyers. Sending two waves of aircrafts from the Wasp and Hornet, Spruance hoped to catch - in a simulaneous attack with land-based squadrons - the transports and the carriers. But what Spruance didn't know is that Nagumo just got intel about his own position and when the US strike arrived on scene, they faced the full CAPs of all four fleet carriers. Despite even numbers, the uncoordinated attacked were severely beaten up by the Zero's. Several Dauntless still managed to attack the transports and the carriers : the AA fire aborted the majority of these pointless attacks. Ony six pilots could get through to the carriers but couldn't get a decisive hit.
In return, two third of the Japanese planes aimed at the US task force while a third bombed the airfield - with average results. The battle over Spruance's task force was very hard. The AA fire did more than the Wildcats to protect the ships but several Kates could damage both the Wasp and the Hornet. With his carriers heavily damaged and his airgroups obliterated, Spruance was force to retreat and concede the Japanese victory.
However, this small naval victory couldn't reach its strategic goals : despite large air and naval support, the 6th Division couldn't push back the GIs.

Guadalcanal campaign update
Despite having cut the US supplies in Guadalcanal, the 43rd Division was not able to get through Wedemeyer's ranks.

Port Moresby campaign update
While the US pilot managed to get the upper hand in the skies, they couldn't get any result in an attempt to sink the transports bringing reinfocements to the Japanese forces nor could they deny the Japanese ability to strike their airfield, destroying a third of the aircrafts. Having reinforced their troops, the Japanese renewed their attacks with no results, the allied troops, now veterans soldiers, being able to push them back wherever they tried to attack.

Burma campaign update
Reinforced and strongly supported by Rangoon's aircrafts, the 25th Army could again take the upper hand over the British troops led by Wavell.

Philippines campaign update
After months of desesperate resistance in the green hell, the US-Philippinoes troops in Corregidor surrendered to the Japanese forces.

Words of the Allies player : "Okay. I just lost my ability to conduct major carrier operations for six months. It could have been worse. The carriers could have been sunk at the battle of Espiritu Santo. But right now, I'm facing two major difficulties. I know there is a carrier task force in Truk ready to fight off my next move. If I send my carriers to Guadalcanal for a blitz there, there is a (high) chance that the carriers would come to intercept and I wouldn't have air superiority. Even a light carrier along with the land based aircrafts would be enough. A move to Espiritu Santo to drive the Japanese off the island would be easier : without the combined fleet, there's no chance the Japanese can fight me off there. But leaving the Marines in Guadalcanal without further support is not that fair...Still, I need to take the initiative. So I'll reinforce "strongly" Port Moresby. It's time for McArthur to start Operation Return : capture of Java along with a full scale operation to shut down Truk as soon as possible."

In August 1942, the 6th Army had finished its training and was ready to departure for Noumea where McArthur was awaiting it, as the new SoPaC. A new complex operation was built to relief Espiritu Santo and trap the Japanese carriers in a decisive battle. Two task forces sailed from Nouméa and the Gilberts, converging to Espiritu Santo. Quickly, admiral Inouye responded to the threat by sending his light carriers. But the main US force was in secret kept in reserve in the Gilberts : the US Vth Fleet, led by vice admiral Halsey and rear admiral Spruance. Its goal was to destroy Nagumo's carriers.

In the Indian ocean, the Royal Navy renewed its operation against Rangoon.

And this operation was a complete success.
Second battle of Rangoon
This time, the British commander efficiently searched for enemy's subs, hunting them down. Then, the Illustrious and the Victorious led their airgroups for an airstrike against Rangoon's facilites : a third of the planes were destroyed. A large counter attack was beaten back by the AA fire from the battleships and their escorts. Only several Kates could attack the troop transports but all missed. The 17th Division could victoriously land in Rangoon and quickly seize the airfield, where the Royal Air Force would send numerous squadrons before the end of september.

Burma campaign update
After being reinforced, FM Wavell moved on the offensive and started to push the Japanese back. But before the operation could end up in a complete victory, a counter-attack quickly ended the British offensive in a bloody draw.

Third battle of Espiritu Santo
An easy turkey shoot would have thought anyone looking at the odds : the Japanese had 20% more aircrafts with their four light carriers. But when each commander send orders for an air strike, the air fleets never found themselves. The US assault on the Japanese fleet was a mess but the numbers prevailed with great results : the light carriers Junyo and Hiyo would soon sink with hundreds of crewmembers. The Japanese air strike on the US task force was a failure, completely repelled by the AA. Well, several Kates could target the transports but couldn't score a hit. But then, General Patch could land on Espiritu Santo, on the rear of the Japanese lines. With air and naval support, the 2nd US Marine division drove the Japanese off and on September 15th, the whole island was under control.

Guadalcanal campaign update
Nothing to report. Heavy fightings have been reported but no result what so ever.

Port Moresby campaign update
Having reinforced the land based squadrons, McArthur - who had personnally taken command of the troops there - started to drive the Japanese away.

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Toward a decision ?

TURN 5 - Oct - Dec 1942
[+8 Oil -> 14.5]

The war is getting more and more intense, each side is preparing for a decisive battle to try to reach a decision. As part of his plan to catch the US Carriers, admiral Yamamoto convinced the joint imperial staff to conduct an all out naval campaign against the Gilberts, where, he thought could bring the carriers to battle and overwhelm them with his own naval and land aviation - including Nagumo's elite pilots.
For this decisive battle - named operation MC - Yamamoto would bring two complete carrier fleets and a powerful battleship fleet. And while he would conduct this operation (from the new battleship Yamato), admiral Inouye would reinforce Port Moresby again.
In preparation of the main operation, planes from Truk were sent to the Marshalls, from where they could strike the Gilberts.
The Japanese high command also started to redeploy some of the troops in the East Indies and ordered the 14th Army to move to Rangoon to support the 25th, now in a dangerous situation.

Battle of the Gilberts Islands
With good intel about Japanese intentions, vice admiral Halsey decided to face the Combined fleet. If he didn't have the air superiority with his four fleet carriers, he would at least have the surprise and a far better AA defense.
The battle started with sub actions for each side, each side trying to ambush its enemy's counterpart. The sub war was a failure for everybody.
Then, the carrier battle started, on November the 5th, when Halsey, with some intel about Japanese carrier's positions, launched a full air strike. The ensuing battle was confusing, but despite the numbers - and facing the best Japanese pilots - the Americans could open up the way for their Dauntless. They devided themselves into four groups, each aimed at a carrier. The AA fire was not that efficient and two wings could score decisive hits on the carriers. The Akagi and the Kaga were aflame.
But their plane had already been scrambled and assaulted the US Task Force in return. AA fire was terribly efficient and the IJN lost a great number of its best pilots. But several Kate managed to launch their bomb or their torpedo on the Yorktwon and Lexington. The Lexington, hit by two torpedoes, started to sink while the Yorktown was aflame. Soon, it became clear that the ship would not be saved and she was abandonned and torpedoed by one of its destroyers.
Halsey retreated east, leaving the Japanese in full control of the Gilberts. But what Halsey ignored at this point is that the Akagi and the Kaga had sunk. The battle of the Gilberts Islands ended up in a true american strategic victory.

Burma campaign update
While Japanese aircrafts from Bangkok raided Rangoon for no result, the 25th Army pressed Wavell's forces, inflicting heavy losses to the British troops.

Port Moresby campaign update
Despite reinforcements, the Japanese were not able to advance on McArthur's positions.

Guadalcanal campaign update
Isolated, with no support, the 1st US Marine division is slowly starting to fall back.

After the battle of the Gilberts islands, words spreads throughout the Pacific that the Combined Fleet did use all the reserves of oil and would not be able to put on an operation of this scale before at least six to nine months. Admiral Nimitz, still wanting to seize the initiative and despite the losses in the battle, decided to end the Guadalcanal campaign. Vice admiral Halsey would be in tactical command of the operation with the Task Force 17 as spearhead. The US Marines would be supported by a fast battleship squadron. Nimitz also sent another squadron of fast battleship to McArthur in Nouméa for later use.
In the Indies, the British moved their carriers along with several cruisers and destroyers to Ceylon and the 17th Division was sent to Bangkok.
Only Halsey offensive was to get a reaction from the Japanese "Tokyo Express", a name given to a night-operating task force of cruisers and destroyers.

Guadalcanal campaign update
When the Tokyo Express reached the area, Halsey had already cleared the skies and was able to launch a preemptive strike against the Tokyo Express. The first Tokyo Express of the war ended up in a large failure. The ensuing assault on Guadalcanal gave the advantage to the US.

Port Moresby campaign update
McArthur's army is now hardly pressing the Japanese troops, falling back.

Burma campaign update
Wavell troops couldn't take the upper hand despite great air support.
Bangkok, however, was easily captured by the 17th Division, taking control of the airfields.

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Vincent GERARD
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No spoil, but dammm you'll love turn 6. Well, Japanese readers won't.
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TURN 6 - Jan - Mar 1943
[+1.5 Oil -> 1.5]

The battle of the Gilberts didn't reach any of Yamamoto's expectations. The losses were high despite the capture of the US Navy's forward base. Luckily for the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Shokaku and the Zuikaku (which had been already repaired for about three months), just received their full complement of aircrafts. So, four fleet carriers were available to operate. But no oil. At this moment, the Japanese high command knew that they had lost momentum. Still, they would still try things out. A full carrier fleet was assembled in Truk for a later use and an operation with the Tokyo Express was set up to reinforce Port Moresby and cut its supply lines.

Port Moresby campaign update
The operation RF would use every single oil reserve of the IJN. Covered by the Tokyo Express' cruisers and destroyers, the fleet sailed at night between the Salomons. But admiral Ghormley received the intel he needed and ordered his squadron to get underway and intercept the Tokyo Express. Ghormley put his flag on the North Carolina and went full spead ahead to Port Moresby. But what Ghormley didn't know is that the IJN knew they didn't stand a chance in a normal fight and had brought with them several divisions of submarines.
But was it the night which prevented them from destroying Ghormley's ships ? We would never know. But when the Tokyo Express reached its destination, it found two battleships and several heavy cruisers lined up. The ensuing battle started quite well for the Japanese, but the sun was rising and the situation became dangerous : the Tokyo Express started to disengage.
Only a handful of pretty damaged destroyers would ever reached their destination. All the cruisers would be pulverised by more and more accurate 16-inches cannons.
Needless to say, despite the reinforcements, the Japanese were not able to advance a single meter...
But this battle had another strategic result : Guadalcanal garrison had been abandonned by the Japanese high command. It was said later that the transports that could have saved Guadalcanal had been sent to get the precious oil.

Burma campaign update
FM Wavell did a fantastic job to repell all Japanese attacks on the main Burma's front, but the commander of the 17th Division would buy himself a name in early february, leading a strong and victorious defense against overwhelming odds, attacked by the full weight and might of the 14th Japanese Army. As such, Wavell was in a fantastic position for the next battles.

With the USS Wasp and Hornet at last available for battle, the US Navy did regain its ability to mount complex operations with fleet carriers. And vice admiral Halsey did have a very very bad idea. His idea was pretty much to give back a beat taken a year earlier : as the Combined Fleet was awaiting its oil in Truk, he would - if his plan was approved - sail from Dutch Harbour with both carrier task forces to Truk and raid the port there trying to beat the ships at berth. The crazy thing with crazy ideas is that you often have some crazy CiC who will crazily approve the plan.
But admiral Nimitz also needed results in the South and to retake the island in the East. So that two battleship task forces sailed from Oahu to Wake and the Gilberts carrying numerous troops.

The raid on Truk
The Japanese had put a very dense air control area which would normally had prevented any raid of its kind to reach Truk. But with the personnel of the naval bases working faster than before, it was indeed possible to use Dutch Harbour as a base for a raid - a thing that wouldn't have even been possible three months before. But to get four fleet carriers on the raid, Halsey couldn't even take a single destroyer with him : it was a full carrier force with no escort : a suicide operation ? Yes, if not all the Japanese submarines had been sent to Port Moresby, a strategic value information that was known to Nimitz.
So, the stage was set. Coming undetected from the north, Halsey and four fleet carriers reached their launch position and a raid of three hundred aircrafts took off and headed to Truk. There, detected as the last minute, they completely took the base by surprise : losses were very light for such a defended base. And then, the turkey shoot began. Halsey had given the order to concentrate on the carriers. And that exactly what the aircrews did. When they departed after about an hour of hell unleashed, Pearl Harbour had been completely avenged, with the largest humiating victory of all history.
The Shokaku, the Zuikaku, the Osho and the Ryujo had been sunk. The Hiryu, the Soryu, the Zuiho and the Shoho had been heavily damaged. The elite aircrews of Nagumo's fleet carrier had been killed or wounded. Yamamoto himself was found dead along with several other high ranking officers. This information would be kept secret to the nation for a while...
[at that very moment, I saw the Japanese player looking at my repica of a Wakizashi...a sudden desire for Sepukku ? But I must admit that this was a terrible blow. The fleet carriers would be repaired by turn 8 but not be available before turn 10. The Japanese would fight the entire year 1943 without its carriers.]

Guadalcanal campaign update
The campaign ended in a foreseen result - since the island had been abandonned. And with insane odds, the US Army and Marine Corps had overwhelmed the Japanese defenders.

Port Moresby campaign update
McArthur is still trying to force the northern passage through the mountains, that would open the way to the northern part of the island.

Eastern Pacific campaign
The Wake and the Gilberts islands have fallen to the US Army, after a strike from two batteships task forces. During the battle of the Gilberts, with no carrier and no air cover what so ever, the USN seemed to be a lone prey for the Japanese aircrafts. But the task force was composed of the new battleships (with fantastic AAA) and a division of AALC. Shot down like turkeys, the Japanese planes couldn't even attack the transports. The landing was an easy task and the small Japanese regiment was overwhelmed in a week.

Burma campaign update
Sir Bruce Fraser, who had taken command of the Eastern Fleet, visited FM Wavell and together they agreed on a general plan of action in the Indies and western Pacific. Putting his mark on the HMS Ramilies, an older battleship of renown, he conducted his main surface fleet to the Bay of Bangkok where his actions, along with the Royal Air Force, was decisive in defeating the 14th Army despite the odds. The only black spot was the failure of Wavell Indian Army against the 25th Army.

At the moment the German army had seen its greatest defeats in Stalingrad and Tunisia, Japan also suffered several great defeats in these first months of 1943. It was now time to attack, attack, attack.

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David Gómez Relloso
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Quote:
The raid on Truk

wow

Yes, I have seen a similar raid and it can be... VERY destructive. It is a basic lesson of this game: never, ever, leave a gap without airplanes ZOC in your perimeter. Otherwise, the enemy -especially the US navy- would know how to make a good use of it.

Now things are really bad for the Japanese player!

David
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Vincent GERARD
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In fact it is even worth, because I have wipped out lots of air steps on Wake and the Gilberts. Plus those lost during the Guadalcanal campaign...and the assaut on Rangoon by the 17th Division. That's about 7 air steps lost, mostly by mistake. Well, the 2 steps on the Gilberts were in a quite good defensive position, but I sent there an Army.

But I must say, I don't know what would I do as a Japanese player in this situation.
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TURN 7 - Apr - Jun 1943
[+12 Oil -> 12]

With such a critical situation at hand, the Japanese high command ordered a general withdrawal from some of the most advanced positions : this was the end of the battles for Port Moresby. Tenth of thousands of soldiers had been killed or wounded for no gain. The 14th Army also retreated from Thailand to Saigon while the 25th abandonned Burma, taken Rangoon.
The troops that had been fighting for Port Moresby were positionned in Lae for reinforcement before they could be deployed in the Pacific Islands for the defense of the Homeland. Several US subs did try to intercept but were sunk. Another troop convoy sent to reinforce the 14th Army was completely sunk.
Kawaguchi was later sent with some good air cover to the Marshalls islands where it would have to give blood for time while Nankai was sent to Rabaul.
Last but not least, a large fleet was assembled in Truk with a good air cover and a secondary fleet was sent to Hainan.

McArthur and Nimitz met in Port Moresby with admiral King and Sir Bruce Fraser. After celebrating the victory of Port Moresby, they drew the plans to win the war. McArthur would start by the conquest of Java, before moving to Leyte while Nimitz would target Truk. Then, Nimitz would move toward Formosa and Okinawa, Marianas and Iwo Jima while McArthur, after taking Manila, would move west and help the British allies by retaking Brunei and Surabaya. The British army and navy would concentrate on Vietnam and Singapore which would already take all their resources.

The battle of the Marshalls islands
The admiral Koga - who had just replaced admiral Yamamoto as the commander in chief of the combined fleet - decided to intervene when he received words that two task forces - along with TF 23 of rear admiral Spruance and the US Carriers Wasp and Hornet - had moved to the Marshalls islands. With very limited means, he decided to send the Yamato and the Musashi with a two flotilas of destroyers. He also deployed his submarines.
But awaiting a serious submarine threat, Spruance deployed his destroyers while the US Submarine force had already surrounded the island and was looking for the Japanese fleet. They found it. Several subs were sunk by the Japanese destroyers, but Nimitz had sent everything when he had known the Yamato was part of the task force. Both battleships were overwhelmed by the submarines and took several hits. But the elite crews could overcome the flooding and the ships returned to Japan for serious repairs. It would take about a year to repair those beautiful ships.
The remaining Japanese ships tried to attack the US surface fleet at night, but thanks to the radar, the US crews could foresee this move and the batte ended with the cruisers sunk and only the destroyers could come back to their base.
If the landing of the 25th Division in the Marshalls was a success, it was not a triumph. Spruance was faulty as the air strikes were poorly coordinated and couldn't take out the islands aircrafts.

The battle of Rabaul
Halsey's TF 17 was sent to McArthur and coordinated the attack on Rabaul. Admiral Koga sent there a battleship task force with several destroyers : battleships Mutsu and Nagato plus a flotila of destroyers. There was no submarine battle this time. But Halsey could quickly whipe out the skies of any Japanese planes. Then, he sent half of his planes on the Japanese task force moving toward him and half to destroy the airfields. The Mutsu and the Nagato were badly beaten and had to withdraw with their destroyers. Then, the 2nd US Marine division landed in Rabaul.

While these battles took place, the 6th Army had been dispatched to Port Moresby and was readying itself for the upcoming campaigns.

Burma campaign update
Wavell ground offensive was driving off the 25th Army while, thanks to the battleships Hiei and Kirishima and their battlegroup, the 14th Army - or what remained of it - could fight off the 17th Division. The British airgroups from Bangkok were retreated to Rangoon, forseeing the 25th Army's next move.

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TURN 8 - Jul - Sep 1943

Close to a complete collapse, the Japanese defense perimeter did hold, thanks to the amazing resistance in the islands. The high command could emphasize on delivering planes and reinforcement to the 14th Army which could, at last, crush the 17th Division and force it to retreat.

However, the industrial power of the United States started to show up. Six carriers - two fleet carriers and four light carriers - joined the ranks of the Pacific Fleet, allowing Nimitz for daring operations like the one in March. Halsey was put as the commander of two task forces of these six new carriers, escorted by a bunch of destroyers. He would renew his strike on Truk, even though the submarine threat was very high and a full complement of aircraft had been deployed there.
Spruance and Fletcher would lead TF 16 and TF 17 to Rabaul and the Marshalls and pursue the efforts there.

The second raid on Truk
It started with an antisubmarine operation, to clear the way for the carriers; and the operation prove to be highly important, several subs were discovered, hunted down and sunk. Several could flee and try their luck, but because of the destroyer cover and the aircrafts, all the attack were unsuccessful.
Then, the USN pilots cleared the skies of Truk after a quick but intense fight. The base itself wasn't very successful with its AA defense and the USN pilots could attack the fleet in the harbour. Two light carriers - just repaired from the last raid ! - were sunk, two battleships, four cruisers and a destroyer flottila were heavily damaged.
The second raid on Truk was demoralising for the Japanese who couldn't anymore defend themselves against these raids.
The Japanese high command had to abandon this forward base - well, abandon it as a base, not as a place to defend.

Rabaul was taken after heavy fightings but the Marshalls were still under Japanese control despite the efforts.

On the western front, the 17th Division retreated and joined Wavell's troop to overwhelm and defeat the 25th Army.

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TURN 9 - Oct - Dec 1943
[+12 oil -> 12]

After having reorganised its defense perimeter (and accepted the loss of Lae and several other positions not defendable), Japan face a grand scale naval offensive from the US, comprising some six fleet carriers and four light carriers, along with several battleships. One offensive, under Spruance command, aim at storming the Marshalls - and will be a complete success. The second one is the assault on Truk by vice admiral Halsey. Intercepted by the Nagato, the Mutsu, the Hiei and the Kirishima, the battle will see the two latter being sunk (with several cruisers), the Nagato and the Mutsu being disabled by Halsey's planes. The assault on Truk started well...

In the west, Lord Wavell and Lord Fraser agreed that the key to the whole area would be Saigon. It had to be taken at all cost. But a fleet of Japanese destroyers helped defend the city.

---- And here, I just made an aweful mistake. I could have taken Singapore a while ago - it was undefended... - but I thought I would not be supplied. BUT, I do have planes in Bangkok and as such, I cancel the Air ZOC from Saigon over Malaya. I can't deny the one in Singapore, but this one is not a problem. Now, the Japanese will be able to put the 25th Army in Singapore and hold it... ----

Oil 4 Transport 11.5 Merchantmen 26
VP 8

TURN 10 - Jan - Mar 1943
[+11.5 Oil -> 15.5]

We are in fact stopping the game now, we made a terrible mistake about eliminated land units. They are supposed to be available two turns later...we forgot about that. They never came back yet and that could have changed a lot of things. Anyway, thanks to our experience, we will replay. I will play as the Japanese player now...We will see...
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Vincent GERARD
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Going back to turn one, taking the Japanese.
I don't go for Pearl Harbour. Several reasons : there are best things to do with my Carriers (as seen in the previous play, 4 air points may not be enough to overwhelm Manilla and it can become a pain in the ass) ; besides,the battleships there are very slow and cannot react further than two hexes. So there are not much a threat.

I quickly send the 6th Division in Brunei, the 14th Army with 2 the Combined fleet to Singapore (where I destroy the whole allied fleet with an airstrike), the 15th Army with Shokaku and Zuikaku in Manilla where the fighters will be destroyed on ground and the US troops quickly sent to Corregidor. The 43rd takes Leyte. My smaller brigades take Lae, Rabaul, Wake and the Gilberts. Lbnl, the 25th Army is sent to Bangkok.
Then, I redeploy my airplane for my eastern airshield.

But the US Carriers led by Halsey will quickly bomb (very successfully) the airfield on Wake. All planes there are lost.
7 VP - 13 Oil - Enough transport for the oil captured ^^

My next moves...Well. Of course, ending the sieges of the Philippines and Singapore are some of my main concerns. The 6th Division will move to Surabaya - certainly with a Carrier. The 2nd Division, in reserve in Truk, will be sent to Guadalcanal - of course. The 38th Division will take on the defense of the Gilberts and a brigade will be dropped on Ellice.
I would then try to put my elite carrier force in reserve in Truk (or in the Marshalls, position is also very great) for reaction moves in the vicinity. Of course I may send the 25th Army toward Burma to have the British a bit more on the defense.
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