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Axis & Allies Miniatures Campaign: Guadalcanal
Strategic Turn 3
by David Devere & Tom Maertz

Results of Tactical Turn 2
for the
Guadalcanal Online Campaign.

The Americans reversed their fortunes and look set to retake the offensive. Here’s what happened.

Battle #6 was in sector F. Attempting to surround the Japanese fleet and open a route to Bougainville and Choiseul American destroyers, submarine and carrier based fighters took on a Japanese sub, two bombers and a fighter squadron. Japanese airpower was too much for the Americans resulting in a loss of two fighter squadrons and damage to both destroyers. But the Japanese lost their submarine leaving the American sub in control of the sea zone. American commanders reported,

"Since our newest Fletcher-class destroyers, such as USS Hoel, are carrying much more effective torpedoes, we decided to try deploying them en-masse against the Japanese. The destroyer flotilla was led by cruisers USS San Francisco and USS Baltimore. Unfortunately, our light forces encountered a heavily armored Japanese battleship, Yamishiro. We were successful in decimating her escorts, but her heavy armor plating warded off salvo after salvo of point-blank 8" shelling with no appreciable damage. With timely reinforcement by an Avenger-laden escort carrier we still came close to sinking her with massed air, sub and surface torpedo fire, but ultimately came up one hit short in a tense fight."

"Our force was not optimal for dealing with a swarm of smaller opponents and the Long Lance torpedoes proved their effectiveness once again. At the critical stage in the battle, USS Massachusetts lost the initiative, and managed only one hit on Kongo in twenty minutes of firing at ranges of 10,000 yards. Perhaps she was affected by the same electrical shorts as her sister ship, the South Dakota. Despite all these setbacks, the doughty Massachusetts, with the help of significant air cover from Henderson Field, managed to sweep the seas of Japanese ships. Apparent victory was snatched away when a long range shot from a submarine identified as I-26 sent the battered Massachusetts to a watery end..."

Battle #7 was in sector D. The Japanese were trying to force a troop laden transport on to Malaita. Escorting the attack was a strong contingent from the Imperial air service and a destroyer. Meeting the threat, the Americans deployed two destroyers, three bomber squadrons and two fighter squadrons. The result was an overwhelming victory for the Americans. The defenders destroyed the entire Japanese attack force, including the transport, to the loss of only a destroyer, bomber and fighter squadron. The Americans now have the upper hand in airpower. This is a significant sway of power in the region. Can the Americans capitalize on the opportunity? USN Captain Evans reported succinctly,

"A very hard fought naval battle with just 1 crippled US Destroyer left in the end. The Mitchell Bombers were the Bane of the IJN, sinking 2 ships."

Battle #8 was in sector K. The Japanese were trying to disrupt the reinforcement landings on Malaita and while there was localized success such as this report by the INJ,

"Three Japanese submarines supplemented by a one cruiser, two destroyer surface action group (SAG) disrupted the American attempts to bring airfield building supplies to Malaita. Four US transports were sunk, along with a heavy cruiser, light cruiser, two destroyers, three squadrons of bombers and 3 flying boats. The Japanese SAG paid the ultimate price, but the Emperor's submarines are controlling the Sea Zone at the end of the day" they couldn’t prevent the American landings.

Battle #9 was for the island of Santa Isabel. Again the Japanese proved victorious over the Americans. It seems the Americans haven’t collectively figured out a way to beat Japanese infantry. But ultimate victory is determined by who can exert enough influence on the island and while the Americans lost the majority of the battle they were able to fight the Japanese to a strategic stalemate. The presence of an American battleship and cruiser in The Slot gives the Americans the edge to break the deadlock and wrestle control of the island from Japan.

Battle #10 was for Malaita. In the Guadalcanal board game it is possible to lose transports in sea zone conflicts before they make land fall. In this campaign game we had to speed up all the phases so we could get action accomplished without making an unduly long and complicated game. Therefore, since the Japanese transport that was poised to attack Malaita was sunk in the sea battle in sector D all the results for battle #10 have been voided because the battle would have never taken place. But to satisfy your curiosity, the Japanese would have won destroying one American unit and taking no losses of their own.

The situation for the start of turn 3 is this:

  • The Americans have built a third airfield on Malaita.
  • Both sides are tied at five victory points each.
  • The Japanese have built five fighter squadrons as replacements but they are too far removed to effect the upcoming turn.
  • The Japanese have build three supplies and plan on building an airfield at the end of turn three.
  • The Americans spent all their money on placing three destroyers and two full transports off the coast of New Georgia.
  • The Americans have the advantage in air power.

The Japanese Imperial Navy offers these three options:

#1 Hold for Fighters. The Japanese carriers and battleship would stay put and force the Americans to engage. The Japanese fleet is stronger and could be easily reinforced by two cruisers and a destroyer. Next turn, after being reinforced with more airpower they could strike at the Americans.

#2 Banzai. While the Americans might have the advantage of airpower the IJN have more surface vessels. This is obviously the most risky venture. But if successful it could break the back of the American invasion. A loss would spell defeat.

#3 Round House. When asked if he wanted to propose a tactical withdraw Japanese high Command scoffed and said “We aren’t going backward!” Round house would lead the fleet up and over the top of Santa Isabel in an attempt to take back the island and threaten Malaita.

The American Navy offers these three counter moves:

#1 Damn the torpedoes! Take the fleet further into The Slot by confronting the Japanese force. While outnumbered in surface vessels the Americans might gain the edge by using all available airpower. This is risky – a loss here could lose the Americans the entire campaign.

#2 Hold and Support. This option would keep the fleet on station and direct them to support the reinforcement of Santa Isabel and possibly support any fleet action in sector F with the carrier based fighter squadrons.

#3 Under Over. Since the task force in sector I is going to attack an enemy island maybe they’d like some support. This would move the carrier to I thus offering fighter support to a landing on either Bougainville or Choiseul.

Speaking of which – while it is customary for American High Command to determine where transports move we would like your input on this. Where should the task force in I go: New Georgia, Bougainville or Choiseul? If the carrier were to deploy to sector I the taskforce would have fighter support for all options.

The Japanese are at their weakest point. Can the Americans capitalize on their position? You decide. Submit your choice to before the deadline of Monday September 8th 2008 at 8:00am PST. High Command will then collate your choices and issue the battle tickets.

"We are now set up on the beach and what a layout! We moved into a good tent. The cots were there for us. We found a lot of food and equipment. We also found two bottles of beer, which we drank on the spot. Boy, did they taste good! We are moving again today. We are scheduled to board ship in a few days. I hope we do before anything comes up..."

Excerpt from the diary of:
Sgt. James A. Donahue
United States Marine Corps.
First Marine Division (H-2-1)

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