29th of January - 8th of February 1943
Let's first return to the battle we left off with, Guadalcanal. As soon as the Allied fleet had left, bombardment attacks commenced as mentioned above. While lessening in intensity, they do continue and they have sunk both CVE disbanded at Lunga. Japanese ships are constantly patrolling near Lunga, last night 4 DD were sent out to attack the Japanese ASW forces near the island, but they ran into Kirishima and Hiei, this battle ended with 2 DD on the bottom of Ironbottom Sound for only 1 shell hit on a BB. The damage to the field has repaired reasonably well though and SBD are sent in to attack Japanese forces within 2 hexes of the island. Let's hope there is not too much leaking or LRCAP.
Overall the situation is not that good. Due to an operational airbase at Munda and a lack of aviation support at Lunga (heavily hit in BB bombardments), the Japanese have local air superiority, strengthened by bases at Shortlands and Rabaul. These bases also serve to rearm and support Japanese surface warships, which control the approaches to Lunga. I could probably find the ships for an even fight and get enough CAP up from Lunga for a day or two of operations within range of the field, but if KB would show up this would mean the end of any ships in that operation. The Allied CV fleet is going to through R&R, with Saratoga still 5 days out from Pearl and Yorktown at Noumea before moving to Sydney, so they can't be used to oppose KB. I am thinking about strikes from deep in the Coral Sea though, these would hit ships between Lunga and Munda and maybe Munda itself.
A large(+-5000 AV)army turned up at Tuyun and was threatening to cross the river just before Kweiyang. This area was held by some 4000 AV, but knowing just how much a Chinese AV is worth these days, it was still a major emergency. A breakthrough here puts the Japanese straight on the fastest road to Chungking, while cutting off over 10000 AV from the Burmese border. Even if this offensive didn't break through my lines, the capture of Tuyun put a railhead right at the most critical point of my line. From any point on the rail line masses of troops could be shipped here, giving me but 5 days to react (disembark trains and 2 day march out of the hex, this means I'd have to keep about 10000 AV here (largest offensive stacks seen so far were 8000 AV). Such a force here would leave any other point on the jungle line vulnerable.
A better tactician than me might have been able to hold the line now, but I'm choosing to retreat, the whole Chinese army is making for Kunming. Once in the mountains, there are 2 point against which Joseph can attack, first is Kunming, but the concentration of the Chinese army there will makes sure that a frontal attack will be hopeless. Second point is over the track from the North to Tsuyung, but this can be watched by British recon from India, giving me ample warning of movements along the road. Basically, I am taking away a Josephs ability to concentrate against weak points in the line, because there will be only 2 very strong points.
The retreat plan is the following; the river line is rolling up towards Kweiyang, already 11000 AV hold the river crossing, with another 6500 AV on the way. These will hold a bit longer, to slow down the attack Northwards towards Chungking. This should allow the army that held the Northern mountain approaches to Chungking (5000 AV)to retreat out of them and onto the mountain path to Tsuyung, I may have given them some bad orders though, some 300 AV is left in the mountains, some 1000 may not get out in time to avoid an attack against them. Let us hope they are not cut down by pursuing Japanese forces in the fields North of Chungking. In the middle some 1000 AV will fall back or hold, depending on how close the opposition is and how important it is there is delay. All in all, I plan to have at least 20000 AV in the mountains by the time I am done. This should force Joseph to keep almost all of his divisions in China out of fear for counterattacks. (And these will come if I get the supply in China.)
Planning to break the stalemate here, not yet sure what I'll do exactly, but I'm planning to use heavy armour, huge numbers of bombers and Chindits. Should be enough to get something done right ?