Strategical thinking, stand by for a wall of text!...
I'm still unsure exactly what to expect from GBL, he's already passed through this phase of the war as the Allies so he knows what the goodies are capable of, but it's his first time as Japan. However I'd hazard a guess at India/Burma tying up a majority of his forces.
GBL will be aware of the massive numbers of Indian troops available to steamroller back through the Japanese defences in the mid-part of the war. Because of this I'd expect most of his divisional forces to be tied up there with a few more in the East Indies to guard against a US/Australian amphibious op against Java. The possibility of an Australian invasion can't be fully ruled out, but IF one were to emerge I'm expecting it to be a localised affair in the Darwin and/or Perth areas in order to hinder Allied preparations. A full invasion past the Brisbane line is unlikely lest he pull the emergency reinforcements into the fray.
I'm guarding against two potential outcomes here. Either an overland invasion from Burma in conjuction with an amphibious assault on Cox's Bazaar or an amphibious invasion of Ceylon or the Bengal coast.
Will GBL risk the ships required to land a significant force in India with a long unguarded supply line? My gut instinct is that a landing on the Indian mainland between Calcutta and Madras is unlikely. There's a big risk for GBL of losing a lot of ships and keeping the RN away would require the KB, thus opening the Pacific for USN carrier raids. By the time GBL is able to muster enough force to land on the coast there will be multiple Allied divisions holding the line, including a good Australian one.
An invasion of Ceylon is more likely, it's isolated from the mainland making it harder to shift Allied reinforcements to resist Japanese aggression. By the time I'd feel the mainland defences are strong enough to spare any extra troops the danger of invasion will be finished with the Japanese amphib bonus. An attack here would result in the likely destruction of the garrison, unlike an attack on the mainland where there is plenty of tactical fall back room and the potential for multiple lines of defence.
A third option for GBL would be invading Diego Garcia and Addu, both are lightly garrisoned at the start and sit in valuable positions to hinder the British sea lanes. The Winnipeg Grenadiers were rescued from HK in order to garrison DG and a US battalion is en route to Cape Town to either reinforce them or to garrison Addu.
The rescue of 11th Indian Div was a lucky one and it's added an extra bit of steel to the Allied defence. It's a more experienced unit than the other Indian divisions and the British 18th. The 11th will have priority for new equipment over the other Indian divisions, although the low state of the Commonwealth reserves means that full strength is likely to be some way off as is the upgrade to '42 Infantry squads. There is a supply convoy at Cape Town which will hopefully alleviate some of the issues with the artillery devices.
Added to the 11th there are a few other smaller units rescued from Singapore, including the Australian 22nd Bde, unfortunately this unit is scattered around a few bases including Singapore (still). The section in Sumatra will have to remain there as Japanese bombers are making it impossible to move any ships to haul them out. Another section is in Java where hopefully it will be easier to keep my boats safe. A few more sections are in Indian waters now, so even in the worst case there should be enough left to rebuild the unit after Singapore falls.
The RAF (and FAA) are in intensive training, fighter squadrons are practicing escort (in order to increase their defence skills) whilst the two torpedo bomber squadrons in Ceylon are training in torpedo attacks. The rest of the RAF bomber squadrons are training in ground attack missions. The lack of built up airfields is a hindrance to the potential torpedo attacks, especially as I don't want to build any coastal airfields, just in case. The most likely position to build a torpedo capable base is Bezwada, between Madras and Vizagapatam. It's in the right position that both Swordfish and Vildebeest aircraft could cover Vizagpatam whilst Swordfish could cover Madras as well. The addition of another air HQ in a week, at Madras, simplifies things as I'd have a source of torpedoes ready to go. By mid-April I'll have half a dozen torpedo squadrons (plus a USN PBY squadron), enough to potentially make a mess of any invasion even if they take casualties from the KB.
In summary, I'm expecting the major effort from the IJA to fall in this area to tie up the potentially massive Indian army from storming through Burma and reopening the Burma road and giving the Allies airfields within striking range of the East Indies. An invasion of Ceylon is possible with attacks on Diego Garcia and Addu probable.
(includes New Guinea and the Solomons)
The recent invasions by the Japanese in the Pacific have involved a relative handful of units, but the weakness of the Allied garrisons and potential danger from carrier aircraft makes defence here a tricky proposition.
The Japanese force that captured Savaii was the 52nd Naval Garrison Unit, this force was last seen on Ocean Island on the 29th December. I feel that GBL has made an error in taking this island without some AV support included. With aircraft support he could be spying on the Allied convoy routes already, the fact that he hasn't brought any along would suggest that carrier attacks are unlikely (not impossible).
Further West there has been a landing on Luganville, a prime position to take and build into an airbase to threaten New Caledonia. I'm expecting a Japanese assault on New Caledonia before the end of January, before mid-January in all probability.
An attack on Fiji cannot be ruled out, I'd expect a sizable force for such an endeavour in order to guard against any Allied reinforcements making life tricky for an invasion. If GBL wants the island he can take it with a larger attack than I can guard against. Because of this I'm tempted to withdraw the Kiwi troops to fight somewhere else, they are unrestricted which is a definite bonus for the Allies at the current stage of the war and could be part of an Allied counter strike. The other option is to reinforce the island with the Marines and Army tanks which are en route to SOPAC.
I'm expecting to hear from the Japanese 53rd Naval Gd, a unit that was last seen at Nauru Island at the same time as the 52nd were. In fact, the attack on Savaii has surprised me somewhat. There isn't much of an airfield there, no real port facilities, no shipyards and no resources. The only reason for taking it would appear to be the relative closeness of the probable (from GBL's view) proximity of the Allied convoy routes, but the lack of AV support with the assault seems at odds with that view.
There are a decent Allied reinforcements en route, 2nd Marine Rgt (AV 88) and 2nd Marine Tank Bn (AV 82) are at sea and a week or so away from Pago Pago. The 2nd USMC Parachute Bn is a couple of days out from the US West Coast and the US Army 193rd Tank Bn is on board transport and will depart with a destroyer escort. Do I send the boys to Fiji and attempt to hold it or send them to set up an Allied stronghold in Tahiti? The Tahiti plan is the current front-runner for the fact that it would secure the lines of communication to NZ and Australia. Landing in Fiji would perhaps stave off Japanese aggression there, or it could lose the units committed and leave the supply lines vulnerable. Playing it safe for now would mean trading more territory to be retaken later but would leave more Allied forces intact.
The campaign here would be most likely intended to tie up the USN and make supply of the ANZAC nations difficult. I'd suspect that the Japanese perimeter will include Fiji, New Caledonia, Canton Island, Baker Island and the rest of the Samoan Islands. An attack on the Line Islands cannot be ruled out, but GBL knows that some large troop ships have visited already and have probably dropped off some forces. There has to be a balancing act though, if GBL goes too far there is the potential for the US to write off the Pacific front and bolster the Brits in India.
The Indian airbase ideas. From this we can see the potential locations for an TB capable airbase. The position at Bezwada is a favourite as it is not on the coast, can be built to a good level and in conjunction with the AF at Madras allows Swordfish/Albacore torpedo attacks (solid white line) and Vildebeest (dotted line) against likely landing beaches along the Bengali coast line.
If you're still with me after all that reading, congratulations. If you can see some monumental flaw in the Cunning Plan MkI then feel free to speak up. I'm an airman, not a general (or an admiral, or even an Air Marshall)
< Message edited by Dixie -- 10/18/2011 9:35:57 PM >