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Axis & Allies Miniatures Campaign: Guadalcanal
Strategic Turn 4
by David Devere & Tom Maertz

Results of Tactical Turn 3
for the
Guadalcanal Online Campaign.

There was no doubt that turn three was going to be the pivotal turn for the campaign. The Japanese fleet was the furthest into The Slot they have ever been and they were assaulting Guadalcanal. The Americans were responding with everything they could muster and also attacking a lightly defended Bougainville.

Here’s how it all played out:

Battle #11 was in sector D. The Japanese were trying to prevent reinforcements from landing on Santa Isabel. The Americans were covering the assault craft with a destroyer and shore batteries. In the end, the entire attack/defense resulted in a draw. Americans won and lost just enough to win the battle on paper but not to garner a result against the Japanese – the Japanese for their part couldn’t score a hit either. The American assault boats made it to Santa Isabel and battle #14 became a countable contest.

Battle #12 was undoubtedly this turn’s main event. This battle had the potential to determine the entire campaign – and both American and Japanese High Command believe it did. Here are three reports of the action:

Report #1 - American Hellcat and Wildcat fighters swarmed in on the Japanese dive bombers and shot them down, but not before they damaged the USS Enterprise, causing her to withdraw. The American Dauntless turned their attention on the Japanese fleet and sank one carrier, two cruisers, two destroyers and a transport. The Japanese also lost a submarine when it was engaged by two destroyers. For their part the Americans lost a heavy cruiser and one Dauntless dive bomber squadron to a Japanese battleship & two destroyers.

Report #2 - The Imperial Navy had initiative throughout the battle and it showed even though US airpower was very punishing to the Japanese fleet, sinking a third of the fleet including the one fleet carrier, an escort carrier and severely crippling the battleship Musashi when a PBY was able to vector in a squadron of Avenger torpedo bombers. USS Baltimore was blown out of the water however by a salvo from the Musashi and the Musashi was able to fend off a last desperate attempt by a US destroyer flotilla to claim the last objective.

Report #3 - This week Guadalcanal continued . . . The sea battle was a huge victory for the Americans. The yanks kept the Japanese from landing reinforcements on Guadalcanal. The Japanese fleet lost many planes as well as several cruisers and destroyers. The Japanese also lost a battleship and a second battleship was crippled. The Japanese retreated with their transport and carriers undamaged but the loss of men and materials is something they may never recover from.

In the end, the Americans scored 10 hits to the Japanese 2. The Japanese fleet is completely shattered. Surprisingly, the lone Japanese transport went un-hit and landed its troops on Guadalcanal. The Americans damaged the Japanese battleship, carrier, cruiser and destroyer and sank a carrier, cruiser, and destroyer and shot down two fighter squadrons. The Americans lost a fighter squadron and a cruiser. The momentum has shifted toward the Americans. It is doubtful the Japanese can recover from such a serious blow.

Battle #13 was in sector E. The Japanese tried to rely on bombers to stop the invasion of Bougainville but it was too little too late. Again no significant damage was done to either side to amount to a hit. Obviously the bombers couldn’t find the invasion fleet and the Marines found little resistance on the beaches. Bougainville is now an Allied island, defended by no less then six marine infantry battalions.

Battle #14 was for Santa Isabel. Since the Japanese couldn’t interrupt the reinforcements from Malaita, the Americans landed a strong force on the island. Both sides bloodied the other in sharp actions doing one hit each. But one hit isn’t enough for the Japanese – they needed to stop the reinforcements at sea. Now the Americans are fully in control of the island and it’s just a matter of time before they can mop us the remaining Japanese defenders.

Battle #15 was for Guadalcanal. “Impossible!” Was the comment from American High Command when the Japanese placed troops on the landing craft bound for the beaches of Guadalcanal. That same sentiment was repeated after the bloody destruction of the Japanese fleet when transport still remained to deposit its troops. The Japanese won this battle as reported by General Kano Keiki, “Another one-sided land battle for the tenacious Japanese. Held up by barbed wire and heavy jungle, US infantry lost the race to occupy defensive positions around the objective. MG fire from fortified bunkers swept the American lines repeatedly, setting up a lethal charge from Arisaka riflemen. American command has yet to solve the problem of heavy undergrowth and close-quarters fighting.” The Japanese needed the offshore bombardment points provided by their battleship and cruisers, with those ships sunk or in retreat the ground forces didn’t have enough points to do anything other than form a beachhead. No hits were scored by either side.

The situation for the start of turn 4 is as follows:

  • The Japanese have built a new airfield on Choiseul.
  • The Americans lead in victory points 10 to 7.
  • The main Japanese fleet, despite being mauled, has been repaired and consists of a battleship, carrier, cruiser and destroyer.
  • The Americans have placed two invasion transports full of marines in position to attack New Georgia or Choiseul.
  • The Japanese could have two ships full of troops that could attack Bougainville or they could spend the money on placing the repaired fleet into sector B and engaging the Americans if they attempt to attack Choiseul or New Georgia.

Strategic options for turn 4:

Japan is in a really tough position. They are losing the victory point battle with the count now at America 10, Japan 7. It seems mathematically impossibly for them to win. Japanese High Command humbly offers two options for turn 4.

#1 Revenge at Bougie. In this option Japan moves the fleet to sector A, spends all remaining reinforcement points on two transports and four troops to assault Bougainville. This might take back the island giving them one more victory point or it could fail - either way this strategy is not a proven winner it’s just revenge.

#2 Honor the Fleet! In this option the fleet is repaired and the remaining points are spent on placing the fleet in sector B. The fleet would then continue to sector F to counter any possible American move on Choiseul. In this strategy, if the Americans move into F, the Japanese could score two victory points and prevent a landing on Choiseul if they can sink or damage the entire American force. This is a high risk option but it’s the last turn – its do or die time.

The Americans offer these three options:

#1 Finish the Job! The Japanese will probably be out for blood. If the Navy can take Choiseul and sink the remaining Japanese fleet then the victory will be so much sweeter.

#2 Preserve the Fleet.If this we not the last turn this might be the smartest option. But the last turn it is, and if you want to play conservative, this is your best move. Victory is almost assured anyway. After all, why put our boys in harms way?

#3 Support Bougainville. If you think the Japanese are going to attempt to retake Bougainville then this option will make that an impossibility. By adding four more Marine battalions and support from the battleship and carrier, there is virtually no way the Japanese can regain the island.

Americans, victory is at hand. Japanese, can you salvage some kind of martial honor? Submit your choice by Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 8:00am PST.

Art this week is compliments Drew Wagner. Awesome set up Drew! Company Dismissed!

We have mounted 11 search lights and have added 5" guns on the beach. We made a plaque for Bill's grave today. Today the 7th pulled in to bolster defenses. USS MacCauly AA guns shot down Buck Atwood, our own pilot. Raiders and paratroopers boarded ships for the states. They had about 85% casualties. They sure rate it. We were shelled last night as a Jap planes dropped flares. The dysentery epidemic has cooled down somewhat. Our shore batteries gave the cruiser hell which shelled us. Well, today we got the word that our battalion is going to leave the beach and protect the airport from the rear. When I say jungle, I mean jungle. One thing though we don't have rats here. However, we can hear the alligators in the morning and night.

Excerpt from the diary of:
Sgt. James A. Donahue
United States Marine Corps.
First Marine Division (H-2-1)

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