From: Lone Star Nation
PHASE I RETROSPECTIVE
Wherein we finally post a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of our war to date.
Obviously, we have not yet fully completed Phase I. However, all Phase I invasions have occurred and we are basically mopping up Sumatra, Java and NW Oz. While these Ops conclude is the time to consider lessons learned and evaluate our Phase II objective.
The Good: At least Cuttlefish’s subs have sucked too. Also, patrols around Tasmania have yielded some victories.
The Bad: Contacts are too rare for the IJN fleet despite numerous patrol routes off bases such as Karachi, Colombo, Calcutta, Sydney, Perth, Auckland, Fiji, Noumea, Pago Pago, Pearl Harbor, Christmas and Canton Islands, even the Marquesas. Clearly a re-thinking of our sub forces is in order. We have performed several Glen and AMC recon sweeps to try to identify rear area bases. It appears the enemy is focused on Fiji and Sydney in the Pacific with some rumblings of intel from Vava’u. We will try to assign multiple subs to a smaller number of likely bases and with smaller patrol routes directly off the harbor or choke point being watched. This will increase likelihood of contacts, but will also increase exposure to local ASW patrols.
The Ugly: All the bloody misses, particularly the miss against Enterprise. Bad luck is bad luck, and there’s little Cribtop HQ can do except address poor commanders as PPs allow. Surely we will hit more soon.
What does it all mean? We have spotted very few enemy convoys, but the convoys sighted have been huge. CF may not be building a lot of bases very aggressively yet, which is interesting. Also, the large convoys would be susceptible to air attack and argue for another cruise by the CVE Raiders or perhaps even MKB.
The Good: For the most part, things went according to plan here. We seized Wake, Ocean, Nauru, the Gilberts, Baker and the Ellice Islands a/k/a the Tutti Fruttis. We avoided the usual drive by shootings courtesy of USN CVs at Tarawa and even sank the Indianapolis by I-boat early on. TB is building nicely and we are digging in everywhere with good patrols up. Mavis from our (soon to be active) secret seaplane base in the Tutti Fruttis will hopefully give intel about enemy convoys, or at least force those convoys to take the long way around.
The Bad: We came to Canton Island a few days too late to pull off a capture and thus lost an SNLF. Canton wasn’t really part of the plan and this improvised operation was bungled.
The Ugly: Can’t say anything here qualifies as ugly. We’ll keep trying, though. I’m sure we’ll screw something up.
The Good: We captured the historical perimeter plus PM, Milne Bay and Horn Island quickly with no intervention by enemy CVs or SCTFs. We are quickly building key strong points at Munda Point, Shortlands, Rabaul, Lae and PM. Later we will build up Nadzab (engineers marching there as we speak), Kavieng, Namatanai, Manus and Gasmata. Tulagi and Milne Bay will be occupied and fortified but airfields and ports will be left as is. Intention is to suck the enemy into these briar patches and hammer him from other vectors when the time comes.
The Bad: We hoped to descend upon Noumea or even Fiji in the early “easy pickins’” phase, but the sighting of USN CVs near Sydney forced us to wait. Cribtop HQ is still strongly considering seizing the New Hebrides as a Phase II sideshow, but that will require support from MKB.
The Ugly: Did I mention we missed the Enterprise near Sydney?
The Good: We achieved the war plan objective of quickly establishing the siege of Clark/Bataan while smashing the enemy air forces in Luzon with a thrilling 3.5 to 1 kill ratio. Mindanao and the unoccupied central PI also fell. Two regiments will soon clean up the occupied central PI. Despite a strong commitment, CF’s sub campaign near Takao has failed to yield success due to aggressive sea and air ASW efforts. His PTs and MTBs were annihilated by LCTFs and never made a meaningful contribution. Mini-KB and Celebes Sea Squadron exacted a heavy toll on shipping fleeing the PI, bagging high value xAPs and several support ships, including a few AS. That Damn Boise and Houston got away, however.
The Bad: We need to finish off Clark/Bataan eventually.
The Ugly: N/A.
The Good. A lot. This AO was a focus of our war plan and operations went well. We were determined to advance quickly while still remaining under strong LBA cover. This objective was achieved as we avoided CV and SCTF ambushes other than minor scrapes at Manado and Bandjermasin.
KB’s visits to Darwin and Soerabaja crushed enemy shipping in the area early, sinking a CL, several DDs and loads of tankers, merchies and support ships, including more sub tenders. This in turn prevented CF from sucking the Oil centers dry and allowed us to capture pre-war stockpiles intact at most DEI bases. He probably was able to drain Java, but that’s it.
We sensed CF’s CV raid at Kendari and were able to evade by a whisker without major loss. As will be noted, this IJN tactical victory still netted CF an operational success.
The Bad: We screwed up the orders for Celebes Sea Squadron at Bandjermasin and turned what would have been an IJN victory over the enemy light cruiser force into a tactical nose bleed. Losses were minimized, however, by the incredible bravery of our overmatched escorts, who held off the enemy ships until we escaped with the loss of only one xAK.
The Ugly: N/A.
The Good: Another AO where things went mostly according to plan. We hit Sinkawang on day one and kept Netties in place to prevent Fortress Palembang. Don’t think that was ever in CF’s plans, but Nemo and Canoerebel have all us JFBs on the lookout for that particular gambit.
We pulled off the invasions of Java and Sumatra without incident (indeed the mysterious absence of the Dutch air force is still an unlooked for blessing) and navigated MKB through sub infested waters without loss so far (knocks wood).
The Bad: Cuttles made a stand at Singapore and held us off for two weeks past the historical surrender date. The silver lining was that a lot of good troops usually evacuated by AFBs, including the excellent Aussie Brigades, marched into captivity.
The Ugly: We evaded combat with Force Z on December 8, assuming our Netties would kill them without loss to the IJN. In doing so, we missed a chance to knock these capital ships out of the war.
The Good: The invasion of Burma was reinforced by 21st Mixed Brigade from Hanoi. Not only did this speed the capture of Rangoon and the central basin, it turned out to be key to the defense of Akyab as we flew in elements of the 21st to assist 1st Raiding Regiment in (so far) repelling a British counterattack.
We made up for the lack of intestinal fortitude at Kota Bharu when Nells out of Chumphon hammered the UK Eastern Fleet, damaging 3 BBs and possibly sinking the Prince of Wales. Guarding the back door here proved to be good foresight on our part, even though for a few weeks we worried it was a waste of crack IJNAF air groups. We grabbed Port Blair early and will now build it up as a Netty nest to watch the Bay of Bengal and the approaches to the Arakan.
The Bad: Not so much our error as CF’s good play, but he delayed as long as possible the fall of Rangoon and then very expertly extracted the whole Burma Army. We may have trapped about 10 support units in the recent action that forced them onto a retreat path to Myitkyina, however. The IJAAF failed to engage AVG in attritional combat as intended because we didn’t get base forces forward fast enough and the enemy kept retreating out of sweep range.
The Ugly: The escape of the Burma Army, plus the general difficulty that defense of Burma presents in late ’42 and ’43, will require much thought as well as many troops and planes.
The Good: What can we say; China was the shining star of Phase I. The enemy did a great job escaping Loyang only to have a large army cut off and annihilated at Nanyang. This in turn created an imbalance of combat power which allowed the IJA to march all the way to and through Sian. Considering that our pre-war objectives in north China were seizure of the plains cities (Loyang, Nanyang and Chengchow), we have enjoyed unexpected success. Cribtop HQ is fairly proud of how we remained flexible and altered initial plans to exploit opportunity when it presented itself (with the good advice of our faithful readers of course).
Now we have the ability to seize Lanchow and extinguish China’s Oil supplies, keep the Chinese Communist army cut off and starving around Yenan, and march on the Chungking plains via Kienko.
Cuttlefish tried to counter at Sian with the AVG, and they did slaughter one raid by Nates and Lilys. However, the destruction of the Flying Tigers on the field more than made up for this and has given us air supremacy in China for the foreseeable future.
Cuttlefish is trying a counterattack (or at least a demonstration) at Wuchang, but we have interior lines, strong forts and stout garrisons. In fact, the counterattack may present an opportunity (tomorrow we will discuss the possibilities in our Phase II analysis).
The Bad: The emphasis on the north has meant minimal gains in the south. We have taken the southern ports and Hong Kong, but that’s about it.
The Ugly: N/A. China could result in a strategic dislocation of the Allied MLR if we play it right. As a result, we are seriously considering making China our Phase II target.
This was a defensive foreground and sideshow, so we will give it a minimal type space. Basically we took what we wanted without loss or interference in an economy of force theater. We are also building key bases in the Kuriles to ward off any thrust in NOPAC.
Training and Economy
Going very well thanks to the tremendous assistance of nygiants59, Mike Solli and others. Trained and even elite pilot pools are over 300 men each for the IJNAF and the IJAAF thanks to the fact that we haven’t had to draw replacement pilots often due to the so far one sided air campaign.
Tomorrow several recently upgraded DDs are sailing for Tokyo to escort a massive re-basing of Tankers to the SRA. We will begin hauling Oil to the Home Islands in quantity within 10 days.
The Good: We got most of what we wanted out of Phase I with losses that can only be described as nominal, indeed minimal. Where we had problems, they were often made good elsewhere (Force Z and the AVG). Recall that Cribtop HQ is still relatively inexperienced in the art of the PBEM. Given that, we feel pretty solid so far about planning and execution.
The Bad: One pre war goal was to attrit enemy air forces aggressively. We crushed the Luzon air groups, the Dutch and got lucky with AVG, but need to put more pressure on Cuttlefish’s air force. The RAF and USAAF/USNAF have not been brought to battle in any meaningful way so far.
The Ugly: In two respects, Cuttlefish achieved significant operational success in Phase I.
First, he delayed what we considered a more than adequate 5 division army at Singapore. We weren’t fully savvy to the value of constant airfield attacks to retard fort building, instead switching to ground attacks on occasion. This allowed his fort levels to hold around 1 for some time and kept us out of the Gibraltar of the East for too long.
Second, although Cuttlefish’s carrier raid on Kendari did not catch us napping, it did slow us down. It took KB about 2 weeks after the appearance of the USN carriers to conclude ops in the SE Fleet and to hightail it over to the waters near Timor. This two week delay left us stuck at the line Bandjermasin – Makassar – Kendari – Ambon and prevented a rapid move to close off access to Java by capturing Timor and Denpasar.
The approximately one month delay imposed by these two enemy successes meant we didn’t get to Sumatra and Java until March when plans hoped for an early invasion of Java via the 16th Army vector in February. This in turn made it impossible to take advantage of the invasion bonus for our Phase II target. We had hoped to get Phase II going that fast but it was seen as a longshot by Cribtop HQ.
Operation Anaconda vs Operation Red Dragon
As we exit Phase I, Cribtop HQ feels a sense of relief that hasty advances on multiple fronts can settle into better planned and prepared operations. We will post a full analysis tomorrow, but as a teaser we will reveal our potential Phase II targets.
Option 1: Operation Anaconda. Cribtop HQ had long planned to seize Perth and environs as our main Phase II target. Why? Primarily to steer Cuttlefish away from the Darwin/Timor axis that so came into vogue, ironically, as a result of Cuttlefish’s game against Q-Ball. With all of western Oz in our hands, we would split the map and force a very long approach indeed toward the underbelly of the DEI.
Option 2: Operation Red Dragon. Unexpected success in China has us tempted to double down and try to knock the KMT out of the war. This could be achieved by pouring divisions freed up by the end of Phase I into southern China and putting Cuttlefish in a vise between major advances both north and south. Its advantages are many: 1) no risky Phase II amphibious operations; 2) MKB is free to engage in a few nasty surprises; and 3) although realistically Chungking won’t fall, we could so neuter the Chinese that scads of reinforcement divisions could bolster defenses in the Pacific, the DEI and Burma, making the enemy’s counteroffensive much more difficult.
We are strongly leaning toward Operation Red Dragon as the strategic benefits seem to vastly outweigh the benefits of the Perth concept. However, reader input is welcome as always. Perhaps there are other options we aren’t seeing from the ivory tower of Cribtop HQ.
Late War Plans
Finally, a hint for the future. Remember that auto victory was never on the table in this game due to the story nature of CF’s AAR and the fact it is Scenario 1. Thus, we need a plan for the late war. Thanks to serious off line assistance from Nemo and jrcar, we believe we have the potential to give Cuttlefish some epic headaches once the initiative inevitably passes to the Allies. More on all this later.
Thanks to everyone who has read, posted and offered advice! On with the war. Banzai!
< Message edited by Cribtop -- 8/20/2011 9:27:21 PM >