I present to you a new tactic I just came up with: The Italian East African Squadron; or, a way to grossly abuse the WiF supply and naval repair rules for fun and profit.
If you are not going to war immediately with Italy, consider moving a few ships or submarines into the Red Sea and/or the Indian Ocean. In return to base, send them to Eritea or Italian Somaliland. What good does that do? As soon as war begins with the CW, the Suez canal closes, and the units are completely out of supply.
When your opponent points this out, smile at him: . Move the ships out to sea zones with Allied CPs in them. The crewmembers of the cargo ships will wave at the Italians as they sail past, as the Italians will be disorganized from being out of supply and can't do anything to them. The Italians wave back. At the end of the turn, the Italian ships stay at sea, moving down a box. One does not have to trace a supply line to reorganize ships at sea or to give them oil. Suddenly, those ships are not disrupted any more. Let's see if those cargo ship crewmembers will be waving next turn!
The Allies, of course, can react to this by sending warships of their own to deal with the Italian raiders. However, this will take more ships to deal with the raiders than there are raiders. (If one goes with the traditional 0, 1, 4 sea box formation, at least three, if not six times as many ships.) And the Italians could get a lucky combat roll or two. Finally, if an Italian ship suffers a D and is not sunk, it go right back into the Italian repair pool, the same as a ship bombed in an Italian harbor.
The point of the whole operation is to distract the CW player, pulling ships and focus to a secondary theater. The Italian threat is a credible one, and must be responded to. Of course, this tactic only works so long, because once the ships have to return to harbor they can't get oil and will stay disorganized. Unless, of course, an Italian raid captures Khartoum, conquering Anglo-Egyptian Sudan....
I have never seen anyone do this, but it certainly seems like a viable tactic to me. And your opponent will probably not be expecting it, unless he reads this forum.
This clearly hideously abuses the MWiF rules, and my own WiF group would probably not let me get away with this tactic, but if you play strictly according to RAW, it is legal. The clarification: "Ships and aircraft at sea are always in supply and can be reorganized," is critical to this tactic working. Option 47 will not help, because the above clarification makes it clear that Option 47 does not apply to ships at sea.
Comments? Other than "There has to be something wrong with you come to up with such nonsense?" Well, yes, I am suffering from insomnia, and this sort of thing is what my brain comes up with when I do.
I assume all this is correct (you seem to know your rules) but if so I don't see what the problem is. The Italians did have units (submarines, destroyers and a handful of TB, sloops etc in East Africa. Okay, they weren't very successful but they were there and tried to cause a nuisance. Could the Italians have placed some cruisers there? Yes - although that would weaken Italy and potentially be of limited value - but perhaps a few older ships would be worth it.
But as you say yourself, when they have to return to base it all turns south (without other factors in play) and so mirrors a build up of oil pre-war that can't be replenished (without victories on land).
Yes, the movement to the damaged pool is unfortunate.....
England expects that every man will do his duty. Horatio Nelson October 1805