You’ve pursued an extremely aggressive early war approach for the Allies. Are you surprised your pools are empty? Perhaps you’ve just exposed the problem with the early war aggression of the Allies: come ’43, you find your pools of crap planes empty. This could be an AAR to ‘prove’ that the best early war Allied strategy is to be moderately aggressive. Too sir robin, and you are just giving Japan free points. Too aggressive, and you find yourself fighting an attrition war before the Allies are ready.
The biggest problem I see in Sumatra, is that while the Sumatra invasion is “cool to do in forty-two” – there isn’t really a defense in depth at this location. Everything is at Sabang. No rearward airbases to R&R beatup airgroups, or play cat-n-mouse with sweeps and cap. No “not quite front line” bases to house 4Es to engage in IJ airfield suppression. Results of the last few days combat over Sabang show that Japan doesn’t need 1000 fighters, only a couple hundred. Where are the rest of his air groups? Are you sure that he hasn’t put “most” of his eggs in the Sumatra Cauldron? After all, there’s been very intense action in this area between Burma and Sumatra – not much of a problem to shift forces back and forth.
With the losses you state – don’t forget to factor in FOW and pilot-exaggeration. Whenever I see results from ’42, I always cut the IJ losses I see in half, and that’s usually more accurate (this isn’t empirical. This is from running a game against the AI, and occasionally flipping to the other side to see if the losses claimed match actual losses. It never does, and enemy losses are always over-stated.
If you haven’t been in combat for 2 months and your pools are empty – where and how are you hemorrhaging aircraft? Do you have some backwater groups with “replacements on”? Are you losing them via training? Ops losses flying CAP in front line bases?
All those restricted P38’s that you can’t get because you don’t have the frames. Buckup my friend, here’s what I do. I take an unrestricted group of planes in a well-supplied base (say, a group of P39’s or P40’s) and disband or withdraw them. Those planes will go into your pool. Wait a couple days, then you can switch out the P38’s in the restricted airgroup with those P-crappys from the recently withdrawn airgroup. Wait a few more days, and those P-38s will show up in your pools.
You know – I think, strategically, this move toward Sumatra was great. You stopped any and all expansion. But now you find yourself mucking through an attrition war about 6 months before the Allies are really ready to do it. You need to grind it out as best as possible. Make Sumatra into Fortress Sumatra. Work on restoring your pools. In a few months time, you should have enough men and mat’ls to open another front. Hopefully you can hold out in Sumatra until then.
Remember when you first hit Sabang – and everyone (probably myself included) was crowing how “John will throw in the towel, this is a dagger into Japans heart, war will be over in ‘43”. Well maybe not Don’t quit now… this war just got interesting You need a second front, and you don’t have one that you can create by Sea (as you’ve stated).. which leaves Burma. Start pushing hard in Burma – open a path to China, then bring in the 4E’s and start plastering everything in sight. Like Japan’s industry.
So a few things to consider – there’s currently no second front for the Allies. Your best weapon in ’42 – the 4E’s – are too far away to support your invasion of Sumatra. And play jiggly-wiggly with the airgroups to free up those restricted P38’s!
And this is, as always, my opinion... one generated by hindsight which is always crystal-clear.