Absolute, absolute, absolute newbie here.
But thought I would share what seems to be a pretty decent Allied game-plan (after many, many, many iterations). The doctrine is probably quite scandalous from what most consider sane carrier operations, i.e., it is highly defensive.
(1) Seriously stiffen up Port Moresby's air assets. In particular, in the first round move some Catalina squadrons from Australia there. Over subsequent rounds, bring in the P-40's, A-20's, and B-25's. When the P-40's come in, set up 50% CAP patrol level.
(2) The Catalinas should be set to 100% search tasking. Focus on saturating the arc from 0 to about 200, all the way out to beyond the Solomon islands.
(3) The Wirraways at Port Moresby set to search the south/southwest/west; 100% searches, don't worry about strikes.
(4) Pull both your carrier task forces together NW and merge them. Set CAP patrol levels at 70% on one carrier and 50% on the other. Don't worry about setting up naval searches: the Catalinas will have you covered. Don't worry about ASW: the Japanese submarines seem to be pretty ineffectual. Set all aircraft altitudes to be 10000 ft, so any strikes launched will be coordinated.
(5) Set the combined carrier TF to head NW and take up station right next to Port Moresby. This seems to allow for mutual fighter support (from the incoming P-40's).
(6) Merge the three cruiser task force with the carrier task forces.
(7) Wait it out. The Japanese carriers will come to you. You will take hits, but along with the reinforced Moresby aerial assets, you will also give as good or better than you get. You will shred the invasion force, and with luck, take out the Japanese carriers.
I have no idea how the above will work with a human opponent, but against the AI this highly-defensive game-plan resulted in the Allies winning decisively (as in relative scores of ~1700:~300), with Port Moresby remaining in Allied hands and:
- At least one Japanese carrier sunk
- Invasion force seriously damaged
- No Allied carriers sunk. Yorktown took a couple of hits, but nothing serious. Lexington seriously damaged, but not sunk: retreated to Australia (aviation assets transferred to Port Moresby, where they continued to operate).
EDIT: From inspection of the logs, it appears that only the Zuikaku was definitely sunk. There is no mention of the Shoho, and, wrt to the Shokaku, the logs say: "Previous report of sinking of CV Shokaku incorrect. Intelligence reports ship is still in service". Yet, after the game was over and I was allowed to look at the Japanese side, I could see no sign of any carriers at all. So what happened to the Shoho and Shokaku?
EDIT 2: It seems that the AI may have pulled back the two carriers and stuck them in port. Strange since the Shoho does not seem to have been damaged at all?
< Message edited by glyphoglossus -- 9/29/2016 7:09:51 AM >