From: San Antonio, TX
Here was my writeup in June 1942 about the early war...this may be a useful read for new players. Note: this was done some 2.5 years ago, so some of the 'patch' or other gameplay issues may no longer be relevant.
Looking back…the IJN perspective June 1942 (a theatre view):
Japan Home Islands:
A hungry beast needing constant feeding: Much of the effort for the Empire has been focused on immediate resource importation, with later added oil and fuel imports rising in importance. Shipping not used for amphibious assault is, by default, fed into the convoy system. Initially, this effort required in excess of half available transport, predominantly for resource convoys. As subsequent oil and fuel-rich lands were conquered, xAKs, TKs and AOs were recruited for transportation of needed oil and fuel. Until these lands fell, these ships were underutilized, but now are fully employed in transport of these precious commodities.
The interval between patch I and patch II was awful. In excess of 1,000,000 resources simply vanished from the map through ‘leakage’. This put the home islands in an unpleasant pinch. The home islands had only a few months of resource surplus with which to feed a rapidly growing manufacturing base. Disappearance of the surplus in the face of economic expansion required a redoubling of resource imports. Only now is the resource surplus building again. It is significantly lower than it could be and significantly lower than it probably ought to be.
I tried to use WiTP tracker to assist with economic management of the Empire. Alas, I was never able to make this program work with my system. Thus, my economic (mis)management of the Empire will be reduced to two tenets moving forward: 1. Conservative expansion of key weapon / engine / aircraft platforms and 2. Get as much as you can in as fast as you can-hoping for a friendly ‘fudge factor’.
Movement of resources, fuel and oil is not exactly as advertised on the map. I had originally envisioned the need for periodic resource trips to occupied lands to shepherd goods back to the mainland. This may not be necessary. For example, oil and fuel ‘leaks’ from Rangoon back to Bangkok, Saigon and CRB. Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai resources flow to the largest port on the Asian mainland-Port Arthur. Under patches I and II, the island of Kyushu did not communicate with Honshu and the port of Shimonoseki acted as an unsharing sink. These issues were resolved after months of gameplay with the advent of patch III. This permitted Kyushu ports to be more effective recipients of convoys from the SRA that would have otherwise necessitated transshipment to Kobe, Osaka or Hiroshima on Honshu.
Supply and factory management: Initial production of critical engines and airframes was entirely unsatisfactory. Many factories were spewing out antiquated airframes and a polyglot of different and redundant engine types. The B5N2 Kate factory in Nagasaki was turned ‘off’ for production. Just what were the previous stewards of the economy thinking?
Home island supply was initially ample, permitting expansion of factories. However, because of the mechanisms for factory repair, hex supply needed to be carefully titrated to effect. Many cities went wanting for supply until the right combination of arrow ‘pull’ demands for supply could be determined. This slowed factory repair.
The forums had useful general thoughts regarding production of armaments, vehicles, aircraft and airframes. Many of the redundant factory types were switched to more useful engines or aircraft. In hindsight, perhaps I could have waited a bit longer to modernize production on some types of aircraft airframes, as I had (and still do) large pools of these older engine types that could have been used to my benefit. It would have been nice if the game engine scavenged some value from these pools rather than just having them sit.
Otherwise, the home islands only required minor changes to prepare for the conflict. Some repair yards were insufficient and these were expanded modestly. Same with vehicle and armament pools.
Manchuria and China:
The most capable heavy artillery units, engineer units and superfluous base units were immediately identified and ‘bought out’ of Manchuria. I estimate that I spent 2,000-3,000 PPs changing the HQ of these units. Prior to patch III, heavy artillery was a butcher. These units were employed very successfully in the initial reduction of the Lochang-Nanyang-Chengchow salient. Many of the heavy artillery from the Hong Kong siege were also useful in reducing Bataan and Clark Field in the Phillipine islands. Ditto for those heavy artillery units used in the siege of Singapore. Patch III changed all that and, in one stroke, rendered these units near useless. In hindsight, the PPs would have been more useful buying out frontline infantry divisions / regiments out of Manchuria.
Other than being a repository of surplus units, Manchuria was quickly identified as the training ground for at least half of the IJAAF fighter and bomber pilots. Rosters and training orders for these units were maxed out with an eye towards long-term training programs. The Home Islands harbor the balance of these training units. Here, antiquated aircraft flourish in their training role.
China has been a ‘softer theatre’ than expected. My initial goals in conquering China were quickly seized, permitting a grander strategy than I had initially held. Chinese infantry are rabble by themselves. When behind fortifications, defensive terrain or in the presence of good leaders (rare), they become much more formidable. The Chinese should seek to abandon those less defensive terrain features, lest they be encircled and annihilated. I did not anticipate the need to ship copious supply to the Chinese theatre from the home islands to support IJA offensives, but this is necessary for any prolonged offensive.
Control of the air in China has been interesting. If I wished, with maximum effort, I could overwhelm all of the gaijin airforce elements in China, due to the polyglot use of antiquated airframes handed down these second tier forces. However, a maximum effort in China would limit my available airforces in other parts of the expanding Empire. A compromise needs to be made then. This compromise involves keeping limited air superiority but waiving the possibility of air supremacy in the Chinese theatre. This will allow the Chinese airforce to live on and fester, but at least at this point, it must be so. One more thing about Chinese air forces-the region has a dearth of satisfactory base forces. These must be secured in order to support reasonable numbers of fighting aircraft.
Long term goals in China are a question now. I decry the ‘take it because you can and it’s there’ philosophy of so many JFBs. Without long-term strategic benefit, I just don’t see the value of plunging the IJA in a schwerpunkt towards Sian or Chungking. Cities with large amounts of light or heavy industry are tempting targets, however. There is also merit to clearing the main rail line running through Changsa.
Several dot hexes have tremendous resource production-a very laudable goal for capture. One, just South of Changsa, was liberated by IJ forces and reoccupied by Chinese rabble after the IJ forces moved off the hex. The resources were entirely intact when captured by the Japanese. Fortunately, the Chinese never attacked the vacant base hex to claim it for their own-they just sat there. Had they attacked and changed hex ownership, the resources may have been damaged, requiring significant supply to repair.
Phillipines and DEI:
I hate dogface submarines. When properly employed, the Allied submarines can be a significant blow to efforts to import the lifeblood (read: stolen stuff) of the Empire of Japan. It was with this in mind that I decided to erase the East Asian USN fleet at Manila on turn one. The initial attack and follow up went well, in terms of exterminating shipping at Manila and Hong Kong. SCTFs adroitly picked off commercial shipping evacuating HK and worked their way through the 3 RN DDs that scurried from this port. BB Fuso ate a vengeful torpedo from one of the DDs and required about 3 weeks of yard time to repair the damage. Fuso’s 40cm guns made a mess of the DD in turn.
Apart from submarine mining the approaches to Manila, I wanted to treat the Bataan guns with a certain measure of respect. Accordingly, I ordered my surface ships to stand off at least two hexes with a maximum ‘react’ setting of one hex. No sense being drawn into the shore batteries while chasing some rabble shipping.
Anticipating the flight of most shipping from the Phillipines towards Soerbaja, KB was tasked with sweeping the Celebes sea clear of enemy shipping and striking the port of Soerbaja. Prominent in the minds of the Imperial high command, however, was the fact that the BB Prince of Wales, BC Repulse, CA Houston and CL Boise (and other Dutch and British cruisers) were unaccounted for. These ships could make a powerful surface force to be reckoned with. While KB did have an escorting SCTF with BB presence, it was uncertain if this would be sufficient to deal with an aggressive early allied attempted intercept of KB. Such an outcome, if successfully performed by the allies, would have been disastrous for the Japanese hopes. With this in mind, KB’s approach to the Soerbaja was somewhat cautious. A days’ worth of strikes netted a body of escort types of craft in Soerbaja, but apparently missed a large cruiser force that had departed the day prior. Mores the pity.
Mini-KB was active in the area as well, sinking stray Allied shipping. The small size of the Imperial CVLs was an important limitation to their usefulness here. They quickly ran out of torpedo stores and were reliant on less effective bombs for naval targets.
Furthermore, their fuel stores (‘short legs’) necessitated their withdrawal rather early from the combat in order to refuel (and rearm). Alas, their departure seems to have minimized any ‘hammer / anvil’ possibilities for cooperation with KB.
However, attacking Soerbaja early in the war served to send a message: Clear out now as quickly as you can lest you be destroyed. The Allies seem to have taken this to heart and quickly removed all manner of shipping (save some annoying submarines) from the theatre. This wholesale egress did facilitate subsequent invasion of Java, as Japanese surface combatants could not possibly have covered all necessary landing forces employed in the liberation of the island.
The invasion of Sumatra was focused on early liberation of Palembang and its intact capture. Heaven was smiling on her sons with providence-the vital production center was captured entirely intact. Thank goodness for the inefficient Dutch engineers and random luck! A crippling of Palembang production would have set back the Imperial Japanese war effort in the Dutch East Indies by 4-6 months or more. Balikpapan was captured with about 50% damage to production facilities as was Miri. Oil centers here were repaired to maximum. Tarakan was mostly intact at capture.
The invasion and liberation of Java went well. After capture of S. Sumatra and Billiton, fighters were based there to provide LRCAP coverage of some ersatz xAKL invasion fleets. As expected, Dutch bombers sortied to attack these fleets, resulting in the downing of many dutch planes. Combined with regular fighter sweeps, these preliminary steps were useful in reducing numbers of capable Dutch combatants in the air capable of resisting the main invasion.
HIJM naval warfare experts debated about the best place to land on Java. Tjitilap was an early favorite because it was being used for resupply and extrication of Allied forces on Java. Japanese planners exchanged heated discussions about sending landing forces around the Northern tip of Sumatra and then South to surprise Tjitilap from the IO side. However, this port was too isolated from fighter cover and subject to possible interdiction by surface forces in the area. A port on the Northeast coast near Batavia was less defended, under air cover and nearer erstwhile invasion transports. It was selected for invasion. Land opposition was quickly rolled in Java, resulting in a sizeable bag of prisoners both in Batavia as well as Soerbaja. Japanese land forces were ordered to bypass areas of considerable resistance with a goal of cutting off retreat on the island back to Batavia or Soerbaja. This was paramount. Once retreat was disallowed, the island’s defenders were split into several pockets that could be reduced in a comparatively short period of time.
The IJ timeline for liberation of the DEI was a bit behind desired. Timor, for example, was not liberated until mid-late April 1942. All in all, however, HIJM was satisfied with the successes realized and pleased at the comparative minimal cost to His Majesty’s surface fleet and / or land units.
The Phillipine struggle:
After landing in the usual places on Luzon and driving forces back to the Manila / Clark Field / Bataan triangle, heavy artillery forces were brought in from the siege of Hong Kong as well as Manchuria to affect the siege. For the Manchurian artillery, political points were paid with the anticipation that the artillery would be better able to liquidate pockets of resistance and cause significant casualties. 24cm howitzers and larger caliber mortars were preferentially selected for this purpose, as they were not being currently utilized in the Manchurian standoff.
Bombardment results were excellent at Clark and Manila, less so at Bataan. Eventually, supplies for the Yankees at Bataan drew short and they were liquidated. Fatigue and disruption for Japanese forces were at the breaking point, so it was fortunate that the Yankees surrendered when they did, lest the siege be protracted while IJA units shuttled back to Clark and Manila for rest.
Elsewhere in the Phillipines, resistance was about as expected. Some islands (e.g. Panay (Iliolio)) were not able to be ‘addressed’ with available land forces, so they were left to wither until they can be brought into the fold at a later time.
Supply issues for these bypassed land units must be acute in June 1942. They certainly aren’t being helped at all by regular bombing from IJAAF units currently stationed at Clark / Manila or Mindanao. The bombing will continue until spare IJA units can be found to liquidate the remaining pockets of resistance.
Malaya and Burma:
IJA land forces, buttressed by additional heavy artillery from mainland Asia swept quickly down the Malaysian peninsula. At least half of these land forces were offloaded at Bangkok and railed South towards combat. The other half arrived by amphibious delivery on ports in the Gulf of Thailand.
Several pockets of Allied infantry were cordoned off and liquidated during the move towards Singapore. Movement of IJA forces was helped significantly by IJAAF ground bombing support. Concentrated Lilly and Sally (with occasional Nell and Betty participants) bombing of retreating ground forces created large numbers of Allied casualties and hindered rapid movement of same towards more defensible lines. On several occasions, Japanese armored or infantry forces ‘caught up’ to these fleeing units and punished them further. Singapore was invested in late January and liberated within the same month. Again, Japanese artillery was helpful in promoting casualties during the siege. The timing of Patch III (which ‘nerfed’ artillery) thankfully followed after Singapore’s demise had been assured.
The loyal subjects of Thailand gladly offered five divisions of the RTA for use in vanquishing his majesty’s enemies. BANZAI! Eh? What’s that? You want to only stay in Thailand? And you’re at <50% effective strength? And you need to be withdrawn in a couple of years? And you are of a restricted HQ designation that cannot be ‘bought’ with PPs? Gee-thanks arot. Can you AT LEAST break open the gates into Burma for us? Gee-thanks arot.
The RTA divisions were a big disappointment in terms of their capabilities, both due to structural deficiencies as well as necessary House Rules for their deployment. A happy medium was derived by which they would break open the gates to Burma for the exploitation of the REAL Japanese combat forces as a follow-on eschelon.
Early on, it was determined that Pegu was being reinforced by the Allies. Rather than shock attack across the river to entrenched forces, both RTA divisions as well as regular IJA forces forded the river North and enveloped Pegu to the South. During this movement through rough terrain, forces were air supplied by available transport aircraft. Once Pegu fell, this interim supply system was no longer required. After the inevitable fall of Rangoon, RTA divisions were redeployed to defensive positions in the co-East Asia Prosperity Sphere. RTA divisions were kept within 4 hexes of Thailand at all times, but had their transient uses.
Things went swimmingly in Burma for the victories armies of his Imperial Majesty. Oppressed by the jack boot of the Empire of Britain for so many years, Burmese forces were unfit for a stand up fight against even light Japanese forces. Those that resisted were summarily destroyed or sent packing across the malarial hinterland towards India. Many units were liquidated in their entirety, while some that fled will be able to rebuild in puppet India in time.
I was surprised how much ‘mileage’ I was getting out of a comparatively small invasion force. When it became clear that I could take all of upper and lower Burma with what had previously been considered a local ‘clearing force’, I did so. The theatre is unstable, however, and will need reinforcement to be capable of defense against a strengthened British / India assault.
Ceylon / Indian Ocean:
Invasion plans for Ceylon will not be discussed at this point due to a need for operational security.
The IJ approach to Ceylon to this point has been to interdict any British shipping plying the sea lanes between Ceylon and Java (early) or Aden-Karachi-Bombay-Ceylon (more recently). Mostly, this has taken the form of a minimally successful submarine campaign on the (mostly) Western Indian Ocean side of the subcontinent and around Ceylon. Some submarine mining has been conducted, to indeterminate success.
Shortly after the fall of Singapore, a rearmed and refueled KB stood out from the Malaysian peninsula towards Ceylon. Its goal was to attack shipping in Ceylon. In excess of 100 ships had been spotted by submarine-launched Glen aircraft at port in Colombo. These consisted of all manner juicy targets with minimal fighter CAP. Too good an opportunity to let slip. KB’s silent approach was apparently a surprise and the denizens of Colombo were treated to large port raids on two consecutive days. Both days saw maddening hyperfocused and exclusionary targeting of the BB Royal Sovereign, sparing the more valuable support and transport ships present. Limited shipping claims at Trincomalee were at least a consolation prize. On day two, eventually the RAF scrambled some well rested Hurricanes for CAP duty. These exacted a toll-particularly on an unescorted (doh!) Kate group. As it was clear that a third day’s strikes would only bang further on an already crippled BB, KB was withdrawn.
Other port raids in and around Darwin and Perth were also conducted. Perth was scouted by Glen subs, as was Colombo, prior to the raid. Again 100+ ships were reported in harbor, including a variety of juicy support types. KB was spotted the day before the port raid as it destroyed a small AM TF at sea. Thereafter, KB was forced to decide whether Allied combatants would make a break for it and run (thereby necessitating a ‘naval strike’-ready group) or take shelter in the port facilities (thereby necessitating a ‘port strike’ package). As was the case so often for the IJ forces in WWII, half measures were called for and produced half-results. On day one, few Allied naval forces sortied, so those naval-strike designated aircraft were left sitting on the deck of their carriers. Port strike aircraft were reasonably successful in hitting ships in harbor on days one and two. On day two, the same conundrum was somewhat assuaged by the finding of a surface combat TF in the port hex at Perth. An overkill strike sank a CL, damaged another and caused damage to smaller vessels. Allied heavy bombers on naval attack made their presence known on day two, encouraging withdrawal of KB. As KB egressed, in excess of 100 bombers were noted on the runways at Perth. Fending off waves of inaccurate lumbering Allied heavy bombers took a toll on KB fighter strength, with some carrier wings being below 50% operational effectiveness after day two. It was time for withdrawal….but…
Mischievous IJ planners expected that a multiple day Perth strike would assuage any raw nerves on Ceylon. After all, if KB is striking Perth, it must then go to a large port, refuel, rearm and sail anew in order to threaten another port, mustn’t it? A mid-IO refueling AO TF refilled KBs tanks and allowed a ‘left hook’ approach from Diego Garcia towards Ceylon. Either the KB would find some transiting TF from South Africa bound towards Ceylon (ideal!) or other convoy transiting Karachi-Ceylon (good!) or hit any nearby shipping around Ceylon (OK, I guess). With the latest experiences about alerted Colombo Hurricanes and the depleted status of the KB fighter wings, it was determined that now scarce sorties would be reserved towards striking shipping at sea. This rather than another port strike which would further damage the BB Royal Sovereign / HMS Bomb Sponge. Results were disappointing-a few AMs were dispatched, but apparently a juicy transport TF had just been missed.
Oh yeah-the Pacific:
Early on, the IJ looked at the Pacific as largely a holding area. Selected bases would be taken by force relatively early in the conflict, others reinforced, but most of the force disposition available to the IJN was deployed in the DEI. There was little initial interest or support for large island assaults with an eye towards wiping out possible base forces or interdicting the LOS from CONUS.
An exception to this was the mini-KB supported early assault on PM. The need for speed on this operation was important to prevent forceful reinforcement from Australia. As such, an entire division and base support units assaulted the port in late December / Early January. Subsequent air assault by heavy bombers from the Australian mainland were annoying in their ability to damage A6M2 aircraft and take tremendous punishment without going down. Eventually, Japanese air combat units from other nearby bases had to fly LRCAP in support of PM due to the damage the PM Zero unit had sustained. With the very high production numbers of the A6M airframe, we were willing to trade a B17 op loss for an A6M op loss indefinitely. Apparently this exchange rate was displeasing to the Allies and they eventually stopped these raids.
The carrier battle of the New Hebrides:
In WiTP classic, (as Allies), I regularly reinforced Noumea early. It was generally one of the first bases I reinforced. Expecting this same behavior, Noumea was kept under submarine watch since early in the war. The lack of any activity made the IJ high command question their judgement NOT to invade Noumea early in the campaign, like they did Port Moresby. While this debate was going on, an Allied reinforcement convoy appeared in early-mid May.
Mini-KB, operating in theatre at the time, was tasked with attempting an intercept. Transit took too long and mini-KB instead opted for a port attack. The attack was modestly successful, sinking a couple of auxiliary ships as a consolation.
Mini-KB fell back to rearm and refuel. Then it sallied forth again after another transport group was identified heading towards Noumea. This time, the tact was to sail around from the East side of Luganville and the Santa Cruz islands (and avoid detection from Noumea-based aircraft) and hook westwards in time to cut off the transport TF when it returned to port either at New Zealand or Fiji.
Because of the paucity of torpedoes on mini-KB, and the fact that the targeted transport TF was merely xAKLs, orders were given to switch Kates to bombs. It was assumed by high command that 800kg bombs could be used by the Kates for striking naval targets. This capacity was demonstrated numerous times in various port strikes with the regular KB. Apparently, the (late) quartermaster did not wish to contradict his superior officer and did not tell anyone that mini-KB Kates do not use 800kg bombs, but rather the more mundane 250kg bombs.
As mini-KB approached the point of its Western turn, scout planes reported a surprise to the South. Numerous American aircraft carriers. Numbers of planes identified on the TF by scout planes suggested that at least 4 fleet carriers were present a mere 3 hexes from the Japanese TF’s position. A smaller CV TF was identified 5-6 hexes south.
A good-sized IJ naval strike hit the “Yorktown” and “Saratoga” with numerous 250kg bombs. Yorktown was reported with a fuel explosion and also took a supplementary torpedo to add to its woes. At the end of the action phase, both ships were aflame, with heavy damage, heavy fires and heavy smoke obscuring the ships. Yorktown is on the ‘ships sunk’ list, but FOW has been pervasive on that accursed list.
A breath of relief was uttered on the Japanese ships. There was not Allied reprisal yet. Whew! What a relief! Oh, wait-what’s that in the air? Oh…crap. Better get the Emperor’s painting shrink-wrapped for the transfer to another ship.
The allied strike fell heavily on two CVLs and two CVEs, leaving XXXXXXX aflame and XXXXX sinking. Fortunately, it only lightly hit XXXXXXX. The mother-XXXXXXX piece of XXXXXXX fighter aircraft on CAP intercepted jack XXXXXXX.
Because of the close proximity, a strong surface force centered around BB Mutsu was dispatched during the night to attempt a carrier surface intercept and buy time for the damaged CVs to withdraw North. During the combat replay of the night naval movement phase, the Allied carrier TFs danced around avoiding combat with the IJN SCTF. Undoubtedly, this disrupted their planned movement, whichever direction that may have been.
BB Mutsu and company performed admirably, putting a 40cm shell into CL St. Louis, a 63 cm Long Lance torpedo into CA Astoria and numerous large caliber shell hits into CA Minneapolis. All three are on the ships sunk list. CL St. Louis is likely hurt, but I cannot believe that one shell hit (granted, a big ‘un) put her under. Minneapolis sank during the combat turn, CA Astoria was torpedoed twice by a prowling RO boat in the next day phase-sinking her. CL Kiso was treated rudely during this exchange. She fought unsuccessfully to reach port. To Japanese surprise, the Mutsu SCTF was able to flee the scene the next day without expected air attack.
Submarine activity in the Pacific has been subdued and, to date, a disappointment. Part of this is likely the realization that Allied supply TFs have been routed near the South Pole, including Tahiti and New Zealand. This makes supply interdiction for the short-legged RO and other boats problematic. The IJN hope that, when given a more finite stretch of sea to ‘work’ with high-traffic sea lanes, more proficiency results. In the interim, the ships will continue to gain skill through at-sea training. As an ominous portent, allied ASW has dramatically increased its effectiveness in the 45 days, making it seem as though the ‘golden age’ of the IJN submarine has passed before it had a chance to truly materialize.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, defensive forces have been distributed to key bases. Digging in has commenced in earnest in anticipation of allied counterstrokes.
Secret programs have also ensured a war-winning supply of uber-weapons, including balloon bombs and more entirely useless midget subs than you can shake a seaweed rope at. Scientists have debated whether to introduce anime or manga comics onto the unsuspecting public. Although Japanese military scientists are without compunction, the emperor has asked that they stay their hand with release of these offensive materials on the American public until after the war.
< Message edited by Chickenboy -- 11/29/2012 12:54:48 AM >