Part 34: Solomon Islands: June 23, 1943
It's time to finally clear out the Solomon Islands.
Allied Turn 12 (USA): June 22, 1943
Units continue to stream onto Vangunu Island.
With replenished supplies, the Marines Stay Frosty as they finally knock out Munda Point.
Kolombangara is all but conquered as well.
We haven't initiated the attack on Prieta yet. Another round of shelling will make it a much easier task.
The Seabees force a retreat from Buin, but they are wary about rushing into the village too quickly.
Axis Turn 12 (Japan): June 22, 1943
Air raids are heading toward Kolombangara, but we're more than prepared to deal with them.
The Australian tanks are being worn down, even by relatively light units.
Enemy artillery is not too effective against our tanks.
Allied Turn 13 (USA): June 23, 1943
Some solid hits suppress the enemy guns.
We wear down the defenders from the side just as we have forces arriving from the rear to take out the flak guns. The first troops have also made it ashore near Numa Numa.
Buin is taken. Hopefully our cruisers and the Pennsylvania will be sufficient to suppress the enemy forces.
What is believed to be the last of the enemy units on New Georgia is dispatched by our M4 tanks.
Axis Turn 13 (Japan): June 23, 1943
At Numa Numa, there's a nasty surprise : heavy artillery guns (that's what is firing here), and a lot of enemy soldiers.
Scenario Gripe #3: Many of the units in this scenario are custom-made, instead of the normal ones off the unit roster. I don't know why they didn't just give them bonus experience. I can sort-of accept the unrealistic presence of heavy tanks, lots of ships, and extra enemy air power -- that at least is not too crazy for this game. But the mix of units just feels very artificial and makes the scenario feel over-designed.
The first wave of the landing fails completely against the tough resistance.
Allied Turn 14 (USA): June 23, 1943
Most of the forces at Prieta have been rendered ineffectual by our constant bombardment. We knock out the guns with ease.
Repeated assaults causes the dug-in forces in the town to yield as well.
Progress is made on Vangunu, but it's likely that more troops will be required here to really take control the island.
Axis Turn 14 (Japan): June 23, 1943
The Seabees hold against the first Japanese counterattack.
The Australian AT guns take a beating after being hit from multiple sides.
Allied Turn 15 (USA): June 23, 1943
The flamethrower tanks are clearing a path to Numa Numa.
The final Japanese airbase is on Vella Lavella, but it's defended by some quality fighter pilots.
On Vangunu, the fighting reaches a stalemate as the Japanese forces are forced back, and we regroup around the artillery guns.
Axis Turn 15 (Japan): June 23, 1943
Disaster strikes on Vangunu: the enemy pokes a gap into our lines and captures the guns.
The flame tanks are forced into an isolated position on the shoreline and destroyed.
Allied Turn 16 (USA): June 23, 1943
The Australians are galvanized by the attack on their artillery. They jump into action and make a charge on Vura.
After a furious but brief fight, the port is captured.
A tough fight in the air leads to our fighters finally coming out on top.
We don't take Numa Numa, but we are drawing close.
Troops in the hills are taking care of the forces there, to keep them from reinforcing the town.
Scenario Gripe #4: Note the path on the left side there. Because that's at the edge of the map, those hexes cannot be entered. So the map is designed to give the appearance of an alternate route to Numa Numa that does not actually exist.
Axis Turn 16 (Japan): June 23, 1943
A Japanese cavalry unit goes after the AT guns, but the infantry in the port is undisturbed.
Allied Turn 17 (USA): June 23, 1943
Combat continues on Vangunu. The Australians have a clear advantage.
We have actually landed troops on Della Lavella to deal with the last airfield, but there are a fair number of enemy forces still there.
The naval shelling decimates the enemy forces in Numa Numa.
With the capture of the town, we have gained complete command of the Solomon Islands.
VP: 1354-898 (Decisive Victory)
As a final note on this scenario's design: Capturing the last objective ends a scenario immediately. What I don't know and haven't tested is whether that causes an automatic win. As previously mentioned, capturing objectives alone does not provide enough VP to overcome the initial deficit the American side is saddled with. So I don't know if this effectively forces you to take all the objectives, or if that's required in addition to destroying enemy units.
Something I also realized is that you can't purchase new units at just any city now -- it's restricted to predefined ones (seemingly 'ports' on this map). I had planned to add an airplane to this battle, but you cannot purchase them since none of the airfields here count for unit creation.
Ending Prestige: 2374
M4A1 Medium Tank 'Sherman'
PG Name: M4A1 Sherman Type: Tank
Effective Date: 12/42
Value:26 Cost:312 Spot:2 Move:5 MM:Track Trans:Naval Fuel: 45
Init:9 SA:11 HA:12 AA: NA:1 GD:12 AD:3 CD:3 TT:Hard Ammo:12
Prototyping of the M4 began almost immediately after the M3 'Lee', but it was recognized that to fix the M3's flaws would require an extensive re-design. A proper turret was used for the M4, and the height was reduced, although the M4 still had a noticeably high profile when compared to its contemporaries. An incredible 50,000 or so of the various models were produced, and the Sherman became practically synonymous with 'tank' for Americans. Owing to their availability and relatively decent performance, they saw action in parts of the world for several decades after World War II.
The Sherman was quite effective against the German tank models made through 1942, but its armor and main gun proved to be weak when facing anything produced later. In the Pacific, however, it was one of the stronger tanks in the theater, and could hold up admirably against almost any vehicle the Japanese were fielding (but could still be vulnerable to AT guns).
In-game analysis: The M4 tanks are all neutrally-balanced units, and this first one is perhaps the most mediocre. While it doesn't have any notable deficiencies, there aren't any features that really stand out either. Against the Japanese tanks, they are actually more than capable, and remain effective for quite some time.
Douglas TBD Devastator
PG Name: TBD Devastator Type: Tac Bomber
Effective Date: 4/42
Value:15 Cost:180 Spot:3 Move:8 MM:Air Fuel: 51
Init:2 SA:6 HA:6 AA: NA:8 GD:8 AD:10 TT:Naval Ammo:4
The Douglas Devastator was a rather forward-thinking design when the Navy first deployed them in 1937. It was the first monoplane carrier-based torpedo bomber, and the first with a canopy-covered cockpit for the crew. By the time of the war with Japan, it was outdated, and the slow attack speed necessary to drop its torpedo made it an easy target for enemy gunners and aircraft. The Navy did not have a ready replacement, however, and it continued to see use into 1942 (fairly famously in the Battle of Midway, in which losses were high).
In-game Analysis: This is a balanced aircraft that can inflict decent damage against ground targets, but it's not quite as effective against naval units. It's also not as good as the Dauntless, and is superseded by a better torpedo bomber just a few months later, so I'd skip it if possible.
Brooklyn-class Cruiser (9 built)
PG Name: Brooklyn/Brooklyn 1944 Type:Light Cruiser
Effective Date: 8/38 / 1/44
Value:7 Cost:84/108 Spot:2 Move:6 MM:Deep Naval Fuel: 113
Init:4 Range:2 SA:4 HA:7 AA:/ NA:18/7 DA:0 GD:18/14 AD:6/8 TD:11 TT:N/A Ammo:40
Special: [1944 only] Radar
This was the last cruiser design of the inter-war years, and reflects the limitations that prevented any additional heavy cruisers (i.e. ships with 8" guns) from being built. This was a ship with armor comparable to the New Orleans cruiser, but with 15 6" guns for its main armament. It proved to be a decent light cruiser, but the weaker hull of its design made it not quite as tough as a bigger cruiser. The 1944 refit removed the conning tower for stability while adding more AA guns.
In-game Analysis: This is just what you need in a light cruiser, without any bells and whistles. That makes it probably the best value in the game for this type, and arguably the best option for the Americans until midway through the war. Incidentally the 1944 model of this is absolute garbage, as it's a terrible downgrade.