From: San Antonio, TX
My submarine force to date has been a complete non-factor. I can't locate his transport TF's or surface ships. On the rare occasion I spot something my submarines either don't react or are spotted before they can attack. When they do attack it's usually against an escort and they miss.
Yeah. Gone are the days of uber subs for the IJN. Too bad. I'd recommend considering a sub reserve as a response to incursions of the Allies. If he does decide to go for-say-Lunga, will you have enough subs in the area to smother any route of advance? Sure, it won't keep him from gaining his objectives, but you'll at least be able to concentrate your subs around where his combat-laden ships will be. Include mini-subs and their carriers in your calculations too.
Flooding a landing site with submarines of all types will: A. Make his escorts use their ASW ammunition, rendering them less able to fend off repeated contacts. B. Allow some possible hits on escorting vessels or, luckily, troopships. C. Make him respect the submarine threat by forcing some a/c to naval search and ASW duties. These won't be on naval attack at least...
In February 1943, my opponent can take most single hexes in SoPac that he wants by massive (and exclusive) application of the Allied combined fleet. I can attrit some of these forces over time *just* with submarines and the threat of air or surface attack. His activities on the S. coast of New Guinea have cost him a CVE and a number of DDs, xAKs and CV Enterprise badly damaged by submarine. Had it not been for "Lexington"'s luck, she would also have been the victim of a full spread of 6x53cm torpedoes.
If he needs to take a defended hex, he'll have to keep air support (probably in the form of CV support) in immediate vicinity for several turns. Bathe him in torpedoes and see how lucky he can get time in and time out. So what if you lose a few RO-boats or minisubs in 1942? They'll die in spades in 1944-may as well make them worthwhile.
My economy is doing well. The fuel/oil is reaching the Home Islands on a regular basis and stocks continue to rise throughout the Empire. Air production is monitored closely and I'm trying to conserve as much HI by halting production once pools start reaching high numbers. Pools of Ha-35 engines are above 700 while both Ha-32 and Ha-33 number over 300+ each. I question just what is an adequate number of various engines to have stockpiled?
Me too. I don't have a solid feel (other than more=better) for number of engines to stockpile and amount of HI to stockpile before 'the lean years'.
In Burma I'm going to try and mount a limited offensive to push the Allied left flank around Myitkyina. I have 9 divisions committed to Burma and wonder if that is too many. The rest of the Empire is rather bare.
That strikes me as a lot of your available unrestricted force, particularly since you're still on the offensive in China.
Sumatra has one division, Java has the 65th Bde. and various Naval guard units, one division is at Makassar, another at Ambon. I have one divison each on New Guinea and at Saipan. I just feel...weak...everywhere.
Where are your garrison forces? I mean the "garrison unit" forces that are given you throughout 1942-1943. These are approximately 120-130 AV units nicely made for some of the areas you describe. They've been very helpful in garrisoning some of the lesser areas you describe.
I'd consider shifting at least one, maybe two IDs down to the SoPac. The backside of New Guinea, Admiralty islands, Shortlands, Lunga, Tulagi, Rabaul, etc. are important bullwarks-too important to be laid bare, IMO.
Air units are concentrated in Burma, the Celebes and the Solomons. I'm resizing and moving forward all units I can. My next major upgrade in fighter aircraft is the Oscar IIa and the Tony. More air units will be bought out of China once the Nate's can upgrade. I have a total of two Tojo Sentai's equipped with the Tojo, everything else is the A6M2 Zero or Oscar Ic.
The Tojo IIa will be a nice surprise for you for the next 6-8 months or so. It's a very capable mid-war plane. The IIb is decidely 'meh', the IIc is a worthwhile build. Their low maintenance requirements suit them well to the New Guinea / SoPac campaign and they can hold their own (particularly with PDU off) for some time before they are ecclipsed by more capable Allied airframes. Chin up!
Bomber forces are completely inadequate. I have Lily's strictly on ASW patrol as they are poor ground bombers. I have one unit of Helen's in China, all my other modern bomber units are Sally IIa's. I still have large numbers of Sonia's, Ann's, Mary's and Ida's that will mostly upgrade to the next generation of Sonia. Betty's and Nell's are hoarded in training roles, ASW or Naval search at the moment. I don't like losing these pilots on non-naval missions as they are too valuable.
With their questionable efficacy in the strategic role and their mediocre value in a defensive land campaign, I too am wondering how best to use my LBA bombers. Like you, I've used my Bettys and Nells for training up trainers for my CVs, with additional responsibilities for ASW, Naval Search and the occasional torpedo attack foray.
I've been using more of my IJAAF LBA as trainers for LowNav attack. They can be effective (particularly the armored Helen IIa) in this capacity if trained high enough. You'll take some casualties, to be sure, but they can be a useful force.
The other advantage of LowNav training is their upcoming role in kamikazes. I've been dumping as many IJAAF bomber pilots with a LowNav skill of 60+ into my pools as I can, after keeping some capable units on the front lines. I hope to have 500-1000 trained LowNav pilots in the pools for when kamikazes become available.
Pilot pools are in great shape.
I continue to shuffle units around reinforcing the perimeter while expanding and fortifying positions. I just don't know how effective all these preparations will be if the Allies wait to hit me with a sledgehammer. I truly am concerned. I just don't see what else I can do besides wait and continue to push in China for as long as I can.
After mid-1942, there's not a lot you can do to your opponent to make it impossible for him to capture whatever singular piece of soil he wants to-particularly on the 'outer rim' of defenses. What you *can* do is to make it expensive, slow, bloody and aggravating.
Force him to concentrate all his offensive power on one backwater, malarial fen after another. Sure, he'll capture it over time-no question. Bloody his nose. Damage his ships. Fall back at your pace under control. Avoid the Allied breakthrough and you're doing fine.
Good luck, lemon-san! BANZAI!