From: Chicago, Illinois
Dan (Canoerebel) had an AAR with an excellent example of how a "Fortress Palembang" strategy can cause fits for the Allies. I am playing a couple early games, and so this problem has come up on both sides, as well as thoughts around solutions. Against PzHortlund, I nearly made a critical mistake around Palembang by delaying too long, and so I think a discussion around timetables and solutions is important.
First, if the Allies want to make a fortress Palembang, I think they can do it no later than December 21st, if the Japanese do not take countermeasures before then. By the 21st, the Allies can do several things to boost the garrison:
1. Land 44th and 45th Indian Brigades at Oosthaven, and rail them to Palembang. Their TF can get to Oosthaven by the 20th, and from there it's just a 1-day train ride. This is why the 21st is most critical.
2. Move units from Malaya; this depends on availability of the sea lanes b/w Singapore and Palembang. By the 20th, you should be able to rail-down to Singapore, load-up, and move anything you want to to Palembang.
3. Using the Dutch Transport unit and Flying Boats, you can move a couple KNIL Bns for free via air; the Riouw Bn is an easy choice, and maybe the guys at Singakawang. Also, almost everyone marches over the Bn at Bengkolen.
4. If the Allies spend PPs, you can also move a Regt from Batavia pretty easily
5. It's also very easy to make Palembang torp-capable; either move ABDA command from Batavia, or pick-up an RAF HQ unit at Singapore. Either will work.
So, it's very possible to make a fortress by the 21st of December. By then, the Allies can also pull together quite alot of cruisers, not to mention Force Z. Because Palembang is a swamp, you would need something like 5 divisions to dislodge those Indian Bdes if they are enhanced by Dutch. A siege is not practical, because Palembang is a supply source, which means it would take a very long time to erode supplies.
So, what can the Japanese do about this?
Here is what I would do, but would welcome other's thoughts:
1. Land at Kuching or Singkawang no later than the 10th. Maybe both. You can use some magic TFs to get there Turn 1 or Turn 3, (Singkawang is probably not kosher Turn 1), but either way you can get there quick. You will need the KONGOS to cover this. You also want to load-up the Air HQ at Saigon on T1, and have that moving to Kuching, along with an JAAF Bn for air support. This will get Kuching torp-capable by the 11th or 12th at the latest.
The Allies can counter with Force Z to break-up the Kuching landing, but that's not a terrible thing. Force Z is likely to sustain damage from an encounter with the KONGOS, so very likely to be forced to retire from DEI regardless of outcome. Attacking Kuching, Force Z is also exposed to NELLS from Saigon if it takes damage and lingers there off the coast, very possible if PoW or REPULSE has eaten a Long Lance.
Kuching and Singkawang will each fall to the smallest combat unit you have, so don't use alot of infantry for this
2. Interdict the sea lane from Palembang to Singapore with Torp Bombers, via Kuching. NETTIES here will stop traffic between those two points. A small Zero cap is sufficient to protect Kuching from the few crap bombers the Allies have. Make sure you escort the Zeros. You can also use surface raiders to nail any transports you see.
You should also move the AIR HQ at Kompong Trach to Kota Bharu ASAP. This will put another NETTIE base within range of Singers, though typically you want to use this base to bomb Singers instead of attack shipping.
The Allies can still move an RAF HQ before you shut this down, but there isn't really infantry available before the 12th without a PP expenditure.
3. Use a "Magic TF" for Palembang; divert one of the ones ticketed for Malaya, preferably one that includes some AV Support. I think 3 Regts is sufficient, IF you land before the 20th.
Doing this, I don't think, will delay the advance on Singapore. Northern Malaya can be cleared by lesser forces, and you can land these guys later and have them catch-up via rail on the march to Singapore.
Doing all of this, though is a reaction to Allied strategy, also pays dividends, in that Palembang is a very nice airbase within range of Batavia. You can use it to support a landing on Java easily.
In the event that Force Z defeats the Kongos, you can counter this by, Turn 1, starting the BBs in Japan toward this area. They will arrive about the 18th or so in force. So, even if the Kongos are gone, and Force Z lives, you can still muscle your way to Palembang. Pull together lots of CAs too, since they can actually reach Palembang. I also like moving ZUIHO and HOSHO here to provide extra CAP support as a counter to Torp Bombers.
The Allied torp bombers are a problem; just make sure you CAP everything, (LR CAP from Kuching). It doesn't take many Zeros though to really savage the Torp Bombers so that helps. It's only Un-Capped TFs that are in real danger.
Hope that helps, would love ot hear other's thoughts on how to solve this problem as Japan.