Guadalcanal is now the terminus for Combined Fleet plus multiple A6M/G4M squadrons, which attack the airfield at Espiritu Santo - the 2 Marine squadrons of F4Fs are quickly dominated. KB2 again stands off New Caledonia and airstrikes its airfield - here 60 U.S./ANZAC fighters intercept; losses are 55 IJN / 42 Allied, then a 2nd strike claims 18 A6Ms and 30 Vals/Kates vs 21 Allied fighters.
Adm Phillips brings his British TF with 3 R-class BBs to New Caledonia and surprises a transport TF - 3 AVs, 6 DEs and 2 APs sunk. Then a Jap SCTF (CA/CL/DD mix) engages the British, The Royal Sovereign is lost to long lances and 2 CLs are damaged, the Japanese suffer 2 CAs and 2 CLs moderate to heavily damaged.
The Japs then land the 2nd Inf Div but the base holds - barely (attack gets odds 5). [X(] Very close.
Big air strike (90 A6M, 25 G4M) hits Espiritu Santo ... Brisbane hit by IJA airstrike from Rockhampton (145 fighters, 25 bombers) and losses heavily favor the Japanese (63 allied fighters lost vs. 35 IJA aircraft shot down).
U.S. & British SCTFs bombard New Caledonia ... IJN SCTF (4BB, 4CA) bombard Espiritu Santo ... TF57 trying to deliver engineers to Espiritu aborts - thankfully [8D] ... KB2 stands off New Caledonia, B17s claim 2 CVEs moderately damaged ...
Again A6Ms/G4Ms strike Espiritu, 24 F3Fs oppose them; losses are 12 IJN vs 24 U.S., then 7 IJN vs. 9 U.S. in a followup fighter sweep.
KB (4 CV) stands off New Caledonia, allied airstikes of B17s, then P40s/B17s/B26s attack, there are a few hits but no asterisks. KB2 (1 CV, 1 CVL) stands off Espiritu and takes a few B17 strikes that do not get any hits.
Just before the TFs start returning to base, one last strike from New Caledonia hits KB, and one lucky hit from a B26 gets a ***** on a Shokaku-type CV, which sinks - the first Jap CV sunk [:D].
Strike from Rockhampton (100 fighters, 25 bombers) hits Brisbane, 71 allied fighters oppose; losses are 30 IJA/38 Allied, then 9 IJA/36 Allied in the followup sweep.
Then a transport TF sneaks in (fighter cover provided by AVs :@) and lands the 2nd Inf Div to trigger combat; this time the Aussies and Dutch hold - 2nd, 48th, 55th and Kure SNLF get odds zero on the attack.
Damage continues to pile on the IJN, plus Allied reinforcements continue to arrive (North Pac Fleet now has CVs Hornet and Formidable, BBs Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Revenge and Ramillies) so things are looking a little less desperate. And 2 engineer units finally arrive at Espiritu Santo (after about a month of trying - air zones from enemy CVs kept preventing my TFs from getting through).