From: Fairbanks, Alaska
April 20th, 1942
Jacks and I are still plugging along, in what has to be one of the most un-eventful games I've ever played. Japan has been incredibly passive. I still hold Palembang, Rangoon, Singapore, Rabaul, the Celebes and almost all of the Pacific islands. I haven't seen a Japanese carrier for months.
Instead, most of the action is centered around the Soviet Union. Jacks had pressed hard in the north and cut off my rail line, but I managed to force him off the line. While I was doing that, however, Jacks punched through my southern defenses to Vorishlov. I still control Vorishlov, but it's an uneasy stalemate, with both of us having about 4,000 AV in the hex and neither of us being able to dislodge the other.
I'm prepping for a counter-offensive in the north, but I need to clean up the remnants of Japan's northern assault force first, as they can still threaten the rail line there if ignored.
Vladivostok has been the linchpin of the Soviet Airforce, and is a big reason why Jacks hasn't managed to take Vorishlov, as I've been able to put up a huge CAP over the hex. Jacks has recognized Vladivostok's importance, and now has moved to break my air dominance in this area. This is a significant threat for me, as Vladivostok is my only level 9 airfield in the area.
The Battle of Vladivostok
Earlier in the week, a large battleship force had forced its way into Vladivostok harbor, shrugged of the Coastal Defense guns, and pummeled my airbase, inflicting moderate losses. Because of Vladivostok's proximity to large bases where those battleships could re-arm, Jacks was able to cycle this bombardment TF every 3 turns. The bombardment TF must have been set for flank speed, as after the bombardment, it would always wind up too far away for my land based air to intercept it.
I pulled in my subs around the base and used them to mine the approach, as well sent them to patrol the likely approach vectors. My hope was that they would act as speed bumps for the TF so that it would remain in range.
Last turn, 4/19, the plan paid off, with the bombardment TF stopping for ASW action on the way to Vladivostok, and when it got there, it miraculously didn't bombard, instead getting tied up in sub-laid mines. The ships sunk screen claim that two destroyers went under, but I'm doubtful.
Despite that small victory, I was unprepared for what came next - the largest air raid the war has seen so far. Over 500 Japanese planes are sighted over Vladivostok during the day, and by the end of 4/19, the airfield is a mess, and 3/4 of my planes damaged or destroyed. I move out what I can.
On the morning of 4/20, the battleships return.
A LOT of battleships.
They devastate my Mig-3s, which are the backbone of my CAP. This is going to be a painful day.
The air phase starts in my favor, with an errant Betty squadron arriving without escort. It is quickly taken apart by my CAP.
Then the sweeps come.
Wave after wave of Zeroes and Oscars sweep Vladivostok, and my already weakened CAP is whittled down to nothing. By the time the bombers come, there are no Soviet fighters left to oppose them.
Over 120 bombers paste my airfields, and by the time they are done, airfield and airbase damage both read 100. Only a smattering of planes are operational by the end of the turn.
The raids continued throughout the day.
During the PM phase, my DB3-T bombers launch - they've spotted the retreating bombardment group. Crap - they're protected by LRCAP.
Amazingly, the overcast weather allows my DB3-Ts to sneak under the CAP and make runs on the bombardment group.
Musashi takes a belt-armor penetrating hit. Unfortunately, it's the only hit, and the DB3-T squadron is massacred when it climbs back out of the clouds on the way home, losing a full 50% of its strength.
By the end of the day, the losses are sobering. Over 150 planes lost in the air and on the ground, with an equal number to damaged to fly. I'll have to rail the majority of the planes out of the hex to northern bases where they can repair, as Vladivostok is unable to do so. With Vladivostok's level 9 airfield knocked out, Jacks may have a chance to push his advantage in the air here systematically destroy my other airbases in the south of the Soviet Union.
And that, my friends, is how you lose 1/3 of the Soviet Airforce in one day. If I was smarter, I would have moved all of my bombers out of Vladivostok when I knew that the bombardment TF was coming again - but alas, I am not a smart man.