From: Glasgow, Scotland
Any thoughts on what may be my biggest mistakes up to this point? Are there areas where I should be doing better than I am doing now? If so, what should have I done differently? I would love to learn lessons to take into future campaigns.
In terms of lessons to take forward, sending raider task forces into the IJ shipping lanes can be profitable in the early war if the Japanese player makes a deep push for the likes of Fiji. A pair of long-legged USN DD's cutting between Ocean Island and Ndeni can hit traffic across a large stretch of ocean.
A Japanese response is difficult, as surface assets have a lot of ocean to cover and the infrastructure for a proper air search network won't be set up until March.
With Wake in Allied hands, that can be applied to the seas around the Bonins. USN ships that close to the Home Islands will make any IJ player twitchy.
One further thing that the Allies can jump on in the face of a lax Japanese commitment to the Central Pacific is Marcus Island. It starts ungarrisoned, and if Japan isn't diligent in garrisoning, it can be grabbed on the cheap. Impossible to hold against a serious Japanese commitment to retake the island, but worthwhile as a distraction effort.
Excellent tips, thanks. I remember entertaining the idea of a carrier strike on Marcus before realizing it was completely empty.
An early offensive at Marcus and the Bonins has been used in the past to great effect. Considering Marcus itself, best move to my mind would be a sacrificial USMC Defence Battalion or two and some AA aboard xAK's. Dump them, let them take the empty base and annoy the Japanese. Should generate a decent return, if not in VP's but in "sand in the gears" as stuff has to move away from the spearpoint to respond.
In my view, the optimum carrier raiding territory is the North Pacific, specifically around Hokkaido. The resource/manpower sites on Hokkaido are virtually undefended, and IJ air presence in the Home Islands on Dec 7th is pretty anaemic. Bombing resources there is a VP piñata until Japan shifts units into there. Plenty of shipping in the area too, and it tends to make IJ players verrrrry worried.
Other good carrier raid material is the Gilberts, given the pretty dismal Japanese air presence on Dec 7th - with no KB in the Central Pacific, it can be worth smashing IJN shipping in that area. Land based air is a threat, but unless there are Zeros to escort the Betty/Nell strikes then the risk is fairly low.
If you're a bit more aggressive/bolder/reckless, Truk is the high-risk, high-reward strike. Sinking the support shipping (especially the ARD) can be a real nuisance to Japanese capabilities in the early war.