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Great Pacific War Replay
1939 Campaign Scenario
Part 10:
Spring 1943
By Doug McNair
February 2008

The U.S. tries to keep a foothold in the Philippines while striking at the head of the dragon in today’s episode of my Great Pacific War replay. As 1942 came to a close, Japan’s armies were grinding down America’s troops on Luzon but the U.S. Marines had seized Truk and Wake Island from Japan. Japan still had huge naval superiority but Britain and the U.S. were bringing increasing numbers of ground and air units onto the board. Both Allied major powers will receive large force pool additions this turn, so Japan needs to strike some serious blows now to avoid an all-out two-front war.

Year Five of the war begins.

Turn 15: Spring 1943

Production Segment: The U.S. and Britain receive large force pool additions while the Soviet Union and Japan receive just one extra unit each. There were no significant territorial gains or losses in China last year, so Nationalist China gets spring production of 9 BRPs (her base of 11 for provinces and capitals controlled minus 2 for her -2 stockpile total at the end of 1942), Communist China receives 14 BRPs and the Soviet Union 20 BRPs.

The Netherlands hasn’t lost any territory and receives her full wartime production of 19 BRPs. Britain has lost Hong Kong and Sarawak and does not meet her required minimum deployments in India, Malaya or Burma because she’s had to send lots of INF and TAC to protect Dutch colonies, but she does meet her required minimum deployment in Australia and gets a relatively healthy 59 BRPs. The U.S. has lost the Philippines capital plus Mindanao and therefore receives 155 BRPs, and counting all her conquests plus her ally Siam, Japan receives 160 BRPs.

President Roosevelt sends word to Chiang Kai Shek that the American people are demanding all aid be sent to the brave boys fighting to hold Legaspi in the Philippines, so no BRP transfers will be forthcoming from the U.S. this year unless the situation on Luzon changes dramatically one way or another. Nationalist China therefore saves her BRPs for now, but Mao spends 2 BRPs to rebuild a 1-2 INF unit.

The Netherlands has no units she can build, and the Soviet Union keeps her BRPs for now. Britain builds a 1-4 TAC unit at Broome in Australia, a 4-5 ARM and 2 SUB in the Britain box, a 3-4 and a 2-3 Indian INF and 2 LC factors at Brisbane and Broome for a total of 29 BRPs. The U.S. builds 4 CV and 9 SURF (available Winter, 1943), 2 LC factors at Dutch Harbor, 1 LC at Wake Island and 2 LCs in the U.S. West Coast box, and a 3-4 TAC, 2 x 3-4 INF and a 1-3 PARA division in the U.S. West Coast box for a total of 87 BRPs.

Finally Japan adds a total of 2 SURF and 1 CV factor to the damaged units at the Sasebo and Kure shipyards and builds 9 SUB, a 1 LC at Kagoshima, a beachhead on Marcus Island, a 1-4 TAC, a 1-3 INF and a 1-3 INF division, a 1-0 GAR, a 1-5 ARM division, and a 1-3 PARA division for 53 BRPs.

No new chits go in the political cup, and the chit drawn is NO EFFECT.

The two Chinas and Britain buy one impulse chit each, the U.S. buys two and Japan buys four.

Sea Zone Box Placement Segment: The Netherlands spends 3 BRPs to put 2 SURF and a 1-4 TAC unit in the Java Sea control box. The U.S. and Japan each spend 5 BRPs to put units in several sea control boxes, with Japan using all her SUB and most of her CV factors to screen the approaches to Japan and Wake Island. Then Britain spends 3 BRPs to put 3 SUB in the Yellow Sea raiding box and the U.S. puts 3 SUB in the Pacific Ocean 8 Raiding box.

Declaration of War Segment: Nobody declares.

Sea Control and Raiding Segment: No sea control boxes are contested, so all that happens is raiding. The Japanese 2 SURF in the Yellow Sea score no hits against the British SUBs there, and the Brits destroy 2 Japanese BRPs. The American subs in the Pacific Ocean 8 zone also take no hits but destroy only 1 Japanese BRP.

Strategic Redeployment Segment: The Chinas and the Netherlands keep their units in place, but the Soviet Union SRs a 1-3 INF unit from Nikolaevsk on the northeast corner of the board to Khaborovsk on the Manchukuo border. Britain uses her new LC at Broome to SRs a 3-4 ANZAC INF and a 1-4 TAC from there to the port of Pontianak on the south coast of Borneo near the Japanese beachhead at Kuching, and then satisfies Winston by using her other LC to SR a 2-3 ANZAC INF from Brisbane to the port of Nukulaofa in the Tonga Islands (that prevents her from losing 10 BRPs at the end of next turn). She uses her last SR to take the 14th HQ unit out of the Middle East box, through the port of Madras and overland to just southeast of Rangoon.

The U.S. SRs a 4 CV unit from the U.S. West Coast box to Pearl Harbor and sends 2 x 3-4 INF and a 3-4 TAC along with the 2 LC unit carrying them from the U.S. West Coast box to Midway. Finally Japan uses her new 1 LC unit at Kagoshima to SR a 1-0 GAR and a 1-3 INF division from Kyushu to the new beachhead on Marcus Island, SRs a 1-3 INF west by land from the south China coast beachhead to extend the line north of Bangkok, a 1-3 PARA unit and a 1-4 TAC by air from Japan to Bangkok, and the KWAN HQ by sea back from Darien to Bangkok (the appearance of that British HQ at Rangoon gets major attention).

Operations Segment: The first chit drawn is . . .

JAPANESE ATTRITION: Japan moves a 1-3 INF north from Bangkok to reinforce the line.

The next chit drawn is . . .

JAPANESE ATTRITION: The Japanese pull back from the Yangtse River to close the gap in the line, and then attack the Communist Chinese 2-2 INF that made the breach. The 5-die-to-2 attack does very well, scoring two hits to destroy the Chinese unit with no damage in return.

The next chit drawn is . . .

COMMUNIST CHINA ATTRITION: Mao’s armies recross the Yangtse to great fanfare and propaganda, chasing down the Japanese running dogs. A 7-die-to-2 attack scores one hit to kill a Japanese BRP.

The next chit drawn is . . .

JAPANESE CEA HQ OFFENSIVE: It’s now or never in the Philippines. The Japanese advance every unit they’ve got and attack the hex north of Legaspi. Both sides throw a 5-4 TAC into the fight, but neither side scores any hits in air battle. The 17-die-to-11 attack gets blitzkrieg bonuses, but the Americans fight with all possible valor born of desperation. The Japanese score four hits on offense while the Americans score five hits on defense. A Japanese 3-3 INF unit northwest of Legaspi gets reduced and retreats two hexes northward, and two Japanese BRPs are destroyed. But one of the two American 3-4 INF units in the target hex is reduced and has to retreat, but it has nowhere to retreat to since Legaspi already has two units in it (the maximum that can stack in a hex). With nothing but ocean beyond Legaspi the 3-4 INF is eliminated due to overstacking.

Then the Japanese ARM and TAC continue the attack in exploitation combat, and this time both sides score one hit in air battle to down an enemy TAC factor. Once again the attack gets blitzkrieg bonuses, and in the six-die-to-six attack the Japanese roll very well, scoring three hits to reduce and thus wipe out the other 3-4 INF unit in the hex. The Americans score one hit in return to kill a Japanese BRP, and the Japanese ARM unit advances to the hex north of Legaspi.

The next chit drawn is . . .

U.S. NAVAL: The Americans begin evacuating Legaspi, with the 9 SURF in port there transporting the 3-4 INF out to sea. The Japanese 2 CV in the bordering Sulu Sea attacks (the SURF can’t fire back because it’s transporting a unit). The torpedo bombers are merciless and score two hits on two dice, killing two American SURF factors and reducing the 3-4 INF. But the reduced INF makes it to Guam, and then the 7 SURF that got it there plus a 9 SURF from Truk head back to Legaspi so they can evacuate more units next turn. The 2 CV does not attack them on the way in, because they are empty and can fire now and would blow the CV unit out of the water.

Then the American carriers at Wake Island sail up to Dutch Harbor and rendezvous with the invasion force there, and the whole armada of 11 CV, 18 SURF and 2 LC carrying a 3-4 INF and a 2-4 MAR division steams southwest into the Sea of Okhotsk (NOTE: I miscounted the number of American CV factors on the board at the end of last turn — should have said 11). The Japanese have 4 CV and 2 SUB in the Okhotsk sea control box, and attacking a force like this would be certain death. But if they don’t attack, the Americans will capture the port of Otamari and be just one zone away from the Sea of Japan. That is not acceptable, so the Japanese make a suicide attack and gun for the landing craft.

The American carrier planes score two hits on 11 dice in naval air battle to kill two Japanese BRPs and cut Japanese carrier attack strength in half. The Japanese score one hit in return to kill an American BRP, and then the remaining eligible 2 SUB and 2 CV factors engage the invasion force in naval battle. It’s a slaughter — all Japanese CV and SUB factors are destroyed by the carriers alone (the 18 SURF doesn’t even have to fire), but the Japanese score one hit before dying and sink an American LC and the 3-4 INF unit on it. The other LC unit makes it to Otamari and lands a 2-4 MAR division there unopposed. The LC is lost in the landing, but 18 SURF and 4 CV stay there with the MAR unit while the other 7 CV retire to the relative safety of the Hawaiian Islands.

The next chit drawn is . . .

NATIONALIST CHINA ATTRITION: The Kuomintang armies charge across the Yangtse to match the Communists and attack the weakest point on the Japanese line. The six-die-to-1 attack scores one hit per side and eliminates a Japanese 1-3 INF unit and a Kuomintang 1-2 INF. The Chinese charge into the breach.

The next chit drawn is . . .

JAPANESE NAVAL: 12 CV from Taiwan and Japan plus 18 SURF from the Philippines converge on Otamari, and the carriers attack the invasion force. The Wrath of the Gods screams down upon the American ships as the carriers score seven hits on 12 dice! American 4 CV and 3 SURF go to the bottom of Otamari Harbor. The maximum 6 CV and 18 SURF put into the only other Japanese port on the Sea of Okhotsk, Paramushiro. The remaining 6 CV head back to Japan, and a 1 SURF from Darien heads down to the Yokohama shipyards for repairs.

The next chit drawn is . . .

BRITISH ATTRITION: A British 2-5 ARM division and an Indian 3-4 INF unit move south and attack the two Japanese 1-3 INF units holding the line north of Bangkok. The attack scores two hits and wipes out both 1-3 INF units, while the Japanese score one hit before dying to kill a British BRP. The British don’t advance a unit into the vacated hex because their ARM division is vulnerable when alone.

The last chit drawn is . . .

U.S. ATTRITION: The 2-6 ARM division remaining in Legaspi waits on the docks to be evacuated — it has no chance alone against the surrounding Japanese armies.

Supply and End Segments: All units are in supply, and the U.S. spends 1 BRP to repair the reduced INF unit that was evacuated from Legaspi while Japan spends 2 BRPs to repair the INF unit that retreated north after attacking Legaspi. All units in sea zone boxes return to base, with the U.S. sending SUBs to Otamari to support the beachhead there.

So at the end of spring 1943, the U.S. Army has taken heavy losses on Luzon and the Japanese have won the war for the Philippines. But the U.S. Navy and Marines have survived a horrific crossing under fire of the Sea of Okhotsk (an Army INF wasn’t so lucky) to take the port of Otamari. The Imperial Japanese Navy brutally punished the U.S. Navy for this, and is poised for a massive sea control battle against the remaining American SURF and SUB units there.

If the Japanese can reduce the U.S. factors in the Sea of Okhotsks control box a quarter of the Japanese factors or less, the U.S. supply line to Otamari will be cut and the 2-4 MAR unit there will die permanently. But this risky move on the part of the U.S. may be a cunning plan to lure the Soviet Union into entering the war. The Soviet 3-4 TAC at Sovetskaya Gavan can enter the Okhotsk sea control box, vastly improve Allied odds against the Japanese there and have a good shot at sinking some Japanese carriers. That plus an attack on Manchukuo would put the Japanese firmly on the defensive in northeast Asia. It would also draw enough Japanese fire to let the Brits transfer BRPs to the Soviets to keep them going while launching their own offensives in Siam and Borneo.

The Japanese victory on Luzon frees up several elite Japanese army units which could easily turn the tables on whoever they choose to attack. But if Mao and Chang Kai Shek continue to push back Japanese lines in China, the Emperor may have to start sacrificing some of his recently-won empire there to shorten his lines and free up the forces necessary to hit back at the Western Allies.

Will the Empire start to crumble or will Bushido win out over the barbarian hordes? Tune in next time and find out!

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