This time the Allied player rolls a six for the game turn’s weather die roll; so it’s still mud in the E weather zone and rough seas in the Mediterranean. Per Advanced Rule 36D2-Desert Storms and Temporary Airfields, he rolls again to check for desert storms and they do indeed occur this turn. The single on-map Axis temporary airfield at the Tripoli dot city hex is unaffected by the desert storms due to the presence of the It 0-6 const III 5A in the hex. But the Allied player’s numerous temporary airfields in Egypt are hard hit for the second time in the current WD/Cauldron scenario. Bad luck with his die rolling for the sand storm’s effects at temporary airfields without the presence of a const/eng unit inflict nine more damage hits (some are double hits per the success table) at his Egyptian temporary airfields, jacking up the total damage hits in Egypt due to sandstorms to an incredible total of 22. A withering total of 12 air units are rendered inoperative by the wind blown sand of the two Western Desert sand storms recently endured. I wonder if this is a world’s record in WW for the desert storms? Ironically the Egyptian coast road temporary air field at 19A:1519 where the Allied player just last turn airlifted the 0-1-4 const X 66RPC with the US C-47 air unit has no air units at the hex. Perhaps miffed by Fate’s mean trick done to him, he has the const X repair the rail hit there during the movement phase.
At Mechili (18A:4019) the 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC builds a 2-cap temporary airfield. A little westwards, at stony desert road hex 3423 (one hex west of Msus) the Br 1-2-8 eng X 8 builds a 3-cap temporary airfield, complementing the one at Msus (3523).
Early in his movement phase the Allied player gets down to his last game turn’s war business and unleashes a final big bombing offensive against the Bengazi hex. After staging some fighters to his newly built airfields, he first sends the two B 24 HBs and the US B 25C on a day bombing mission escorted by the SA Spit 5, a Br P 40K, the US P 40F, and a Br Hurri 2C. This compels the Axis player to send the four Axis fighters defending Bengazi to intercept the Allied mission. The intercepting force contains the MC 202, the two Me 109G2s, and the Me 110E HF. The four Axis fighters based at Bengazi are too far away from another Axis airfield to fly “a 1-leg air transfer [scramble] mission” per Rule 23D2-Scramble, and so they fly to their fate. The P 40K and the Spit 5 are aborted, along with a Me 109G2, but the Allied bombers score no tac bombing hits against the Bengazi airfield.
Having made the Axis player use up all his operative fighters at Bengazi against the initial Allied air attack, the Allied player then flies the three A 30s and two Hurri 2Cs on a tac bombing mission, but they also miss the Bengazi airfields in the mud weather.
Finally the Allies send the two Well 1Cs and the Blen 5 on a strat bombing mission against Bengazi’s port capacity. The bombers miss their port target and the Blen 5 is aborted by the port’s flack.
In the movement and exploitation phases the Allies send westward along the Libyan coast road what might be called a stalking force towards the retreating Afrika Korps forces. The Allied stalking force eventually enters the Sirte hex at 18A:1727, but then backs up and ends the turn at 2127, 12 hexes away from the Axis desert front line at hex 1025. This westernmost Allied occupied hex at the game’s final Allied turn contains the Br 7th Arm XX, the two Br 2-1-10 lt arm II’s 1HRC & 1DG, the Br 2-10 lt flk X XXX, the Br 1-10* support group X 2, and two steps of attack supply. The other three Br arm divisions 1, 8, & 10, along with a large array of powerful 8th Army arm/motorized ground units, remain at hexes 3129 & 3130, available for a hypothetical “next turn” to either strike northwards and attack Bengazi in (hopefully) clear weather or westwards down the Libyan coast road, if perchance the Axis gets frisky and changes direction.
By the end of the exploitation phase the Allied player transfers westwards some more fighter units to facilitate the siege of Bengazi. At his forward airfield at 3423, next to Msus, is the Br P 40K, the Br Spit 5, and a Hurri 2C. At Msus is the US P 40F. The Allied player reassures me that in a hypothetical Feb I 43 Allied turn he’d rebuild the aborted SA Spit 5 and the Br P 40K with two of his 17 now available ARP’s and place them at Msus along with the US P 40F. At Mechili are two Hurri 2Cs. This gives the Allies a total of 8 good fighters in the Bengazi zone. At Tobruk is an old Hurri 2 and at the 3-cap permanent airfield at 4818 are the three A 30s. A variety of other mostly bomber types are available at airfields farther east.
On the last turn of the game the Axis player wants only to put an exquisite end to what he thinks has been a good Europa desert war game. With the one Ger ARP available he rebuilds the aborted Me 109F2 and places it in Sicily. This leaves available one It ARP. In Libya he symbolically continues the Afrika Korps westwards retreat towards Tripoli, while not actually exiting the west edge of Western Desert map 18A. The three Axis attack supply steps at the road hex at 18A:1025 can only move to coast road hex 0622, six hexes away from Tripoli. One of them can move one coast road hex further west. A couple of It ground units keep them company (and prevent a potential Allied capture) and a coast road “rat tail” connects them to the Tripoli hex.
The Axis player uses his 3 RE Cent Med sea transport capability to safely coastal ship to Bengazi another step of attack supply beginning the turn at the Tripoli hex. This gives Bengazi a total of six attack supply steps. Right now it seems to the Axis player that a plentiful supply of attack supply steps at Bengazi (about 6) is more important/useful than attempting to somehow slip (and presumably hopefully eventually out) a WD scenario It 0-6 const III into Bengazi. Sadly however, he air transfers the three remaining Axis fighters at Bengazi, a MC 202, a Me 109G2, and the Me 110E, back to Sicily. He sees no point in wasting good Axis fighters and ARPs in an air war of attrition over the besieged, permanently cut-off, and frankly doomed Bengazi hex. From now on until its fall it will no doubt be “raining bombs” on Bengazi, regardless of good or mud weather. The good Axis fighters there can be of greater use elsewhere in the Med/NA Command for prolonging the existence of the Third Reich.
The Ju 52 based at Tripoli (transferred during the previous Allied turn) airlifts another Ger inf RP stored there to the mainland Europe off-map holding box.
There are still bombers at Scarpantos and Rhodes menacing the Allied facilities in Egypt and eastern Libya, but the Axis player keeps then grounded, wishing to avoid last turn air unit losses due to the formidable Allied flack at virtually any and all tempting Egyptian target hexes, particularly at the Suez Canal. Admittedly, in a WW North African or WitD scenario all these Axis air units currently in the east Aegean zone would in this time period be very busy and frankly very likely more useful in the Tunisian area.
At the end of the game both players happily declare the reported Western Desert/Cauldron scenario Europa war game a draw.
The game reporter will attempt for the EA a final WD/Cauldron game report which will attempt to be a summary of lessons learned and a description of Europa desert war gaming insights derived from the current game. A very brief WD scenario VP analysis will be presented.