The weather die roll is a 1, and so the weather remains calm in the Western Desert. But next turn there’s a 2 in 6 chance of mud in the Djebel Akhdar region in the Cyrenaican “bulge,” which throws a new factor of instability into the Western Desert war zone. In the initial phase the Allied player still does no ground unit replacement builds, evidently keeping his inf and arm RP’s either for quick rebuilds of important offensive units after big attacks or else maybe for VP’s at the end of the game, which in the WW Western Desert scenario occurs at the end of the Jan II 43 game turn. Near the end of the initial phase the Axis player sends out eleven B, D, and F (the RE 2001 CB) type air units on the harassment mission to possibly completely protect his desert front line from any Allied ground attacks. They fly the harassment missions to Egyptian hexes 0519-0520-0521, 0419 (Halfaya Pass)-0420-0421-0422, and 0320-0321.
At the start of the movement phase the Allied player gets all his gsp’s to Malta without any ntp losses due to the Axis anti-shipping Cent Med die rolls. He also sea transports two gsp’s to Cyprus to supply the Ind 2-8 inf X 7 and the British Colonial 1-2-8 inf X SDF defending the East Med island. The 8th Army’s 1-2-8 eng X moves westwards from Matruh, builds a 3-cap temporary airfield at 1119, and ends its movement phase at 1018. The 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC builds a 2-cap temporary airfield at 1319, and the 0-1-4 const X 66 RPC moves form 1519 to the newly built airfield at 1119. At the first opportunity in the Allied movement phase the Axis player does a non-phasing air transfer of all five Ju 52s based in the Tripoli vicinity back to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box.
Then, in the most aggressive 8th Army action of late, the Allied player advances up to within two hexes of the Axis desert front line “shield” at Bardia, 19A:0218, and 18A:5119, and ends his turn’s movement with his powerful desert front line stacks at 0421, 0420 (just south of Halfaya Pass), and at the fine overlooking ridge defensive position at 0520. Intermediate flanking stacks are at Sidi Barrani, 0721, and 0922; and the Ind 1-2-10* anti tnk X is the southern flanking lynch pin at 1024. When asked why he does no port bombing night missions against Tobruk, Derna, or Bengazi, the Allied player says that this would only be aiding the Axis player’s westward retreat “to do” list of facility damage. By the same token the Allied player has for some time declined utilize Rule 37F-Allied Raiding Forces and do any “desert rat” attacks on Axis airfields by doing the appropriate die rolls on the Success Table. Evidently this turn’s thick wall of harassment just east of the Egypt-Libyan border has saved the Axis desert front line from ground attacks during another Allied combat phase. But the Axis defensive “house of cards” becomes harder to balance each turn, and as he retreats the availability of Axis airfields for the numerous air units needed for the desert defense becomes a critical factor. Moreover, proclaiming themselves True Believers in the pursuit of a genuine “historically accurate” WW II WW WD/Cauldron scenario, both Europa war game players think the right thing to do is to use Frank Watson’s “Axis Reinforcements” OB for the Western Desert scenario found in his “End of the Beginning” El Alamein battle scenario published in Europa Magazine #63, which calls for some additional Axis Western Desert scenario withdrawals than specifically called for in the WitD Axis OB. Perhaps more later on the “hard road” in WW desert games in the second half of 1942.
In the initial phase the Axis player rebuilds the aborted Ger Ju88A4 bomber, the only Ger air unit in the Axis Med/NA replacement pool, leaving a net of 2 Ger ARPs. He also rebuilds an eliminated It MC 200 and the aborted CR 42 to be withdrawn the next Axis turn, leaving 1 It ARP. Near the end of the initial phase the non-phasing Allied player sends harassment to 19A:0223, 0323, 0324, & 0423 in order to hopefully prevent the Axis this turn from sweeping around his desert front line at 0421-0420-0520 and attacking. The harassment missions to hexes 0223 & 0323 are within interception range of two Axis fighters at 19A:0218 (the Me 109G2 and a MC 202) and the Allied player sends some fighters as escort along with each bombing mission. But once again the Axis player declines to intercept the Allied harassment missions. He has no intention of risking possibly bloody ground battle clashes (with maybe EX or HX results) at this time and place and doesn’t want to risk losing any good fighters now for the sake of attrition combat alone. Anyway, the Allied player has 12 remaining ARPs. He feels he needs every available Axis fighter and strong front line ground unit in the upcoming Nov I 42 Allied turn in order to face down potential Allied ground attacks and thereby continue a little longer his slow but steady strategic retreat westwards. To be sure, there is perhaps at least one more game turn and likely one more geographical zone on map 18A where the Axis player may choose to take a stand and risk a desert clash ground battle die roll.
At the start of the movement phase the Axis player sends out the He 111H4 at Tripoli on a Malta Status night bombing mission and scores a hit, upping the Malta Status to 5. The Heinkel bomber successfully lands at Tripoli. Then for the second time the Axis player attempts to sea transport the It air lndg XX HQ unit across the Cent Med and rolls 11, but the subsequent die roll on the Shipping Results Table results in a NE (no effect), and the air lndg XX HQ unit safely disembarks at Tripoli harbor (18A:0121) and later moves to the airfield just south of the port at 18A:0122. Using three Ju 52s, the Axis player airlifts another step of attack supply from mainland Europe to the 3-cap permanent airfield at 18A:0122. Two other Ju 52s airlift one of the It 1-6 air lndg IIIs and one Ger inf RE & one It inf RE from mainland Europe to the Tripoli airfield at 0121. Using the remainder of his 3 RE on-map Cent Med shipping ability, the Axis player then safely coastal ships one Ger arm RE from Bengazi to the Tripoli harbor.
The Ger 0-8 const III Afr at coast hex 19A:0217 moves to Tobruk (18A:4817), where it does another hit of port damage, bringing the port hit total there to three, and ends its movement at adjacent coast road hex 18A:4118 (where there’s also a 3-cap temporary airfield), along with the It 2-3-8 art III 16C, the Ger 2-8 inf III 382, and the It 0-8 lt AA II 83. The It 0-6 const III 10A at Bengazi, having completed the two turn fort there, admin moves southwards to road hex 3427, adjacent to Agedabia. The It 0-6 const III 5A at nearby hex 18A:3228 moves to the 1-cap permanent airfield at El Agheila (2930), where it spends its remaining MP’s, upping it to a 2-cap.
The Afrika Korps continues its westwards strategic retreat and creates a new desert front line shield beginning at Tobruk and going due south to 4818 & 4819, with a short close-in southern flanking defensive line angling SW at 4720 & 4620. The large stony desert hex region south of Tobruk probably aids the Axis front line defense against Allied mobile units, at least for the next Allied turn. Covering the southern flank farther westwards are two It 3-6 inf XXs at 4320 (in an at-start Cauldron fort) & 4021. At Tobruk are 18 defense factors with half ATEC and three flack factors. The Tobruk stack includes two It arm XXs, an It hv AA II, the It aslt eng II 31G, and the Lw 4-8* para X Ramcke. At 4818 are 20 defense factors with full AECD/ATEC, seven flack factors, and the stack includes the 21st pz XX. The stack at 4819 (where there’s also a 3-cap temporary airfield) has the 15th pz XX, 19 defense factors with full AECD/ATEC, and five flack factors. The third It arm XX is at 4720. Nearly every Axis B, D, and F type air unit is in the Derna-El Mechili-Tobruk triangle (a total of 23 Axis air units in this zone) except for the He 111H4 at Tripoli and the G 50bis at Bengazi. In the triangle’s rearward hexes are the Ger 4-3-8 art 221 and the 2-10 mot inf III SV 288, both poised for their Nov I 42 conversions. At Bengazi the It 136 GF HQ and inf III units are stacked for their 2-8 inf XX conversion. To the south in the central Cyrenaica, south of the stony desert region below Tobruk, at hex 18A:4525, is an It mobile force stack of five defense factors acting as a blocking force in case the Allies attempt a large westward sweep-around of the Afrika Korps in their direction. It is comprised of two 2-10 mot inf IIIs (one supported, a breakdown of the 5-8 inf XX 102 Trn) and the 1-8 mot art III 2AC. Although the It mobile force is placed there with the hopeful intention of ultimately surviving, the Allied player certainly might attempt to encircle it with zoc’s in his Nov I exploitation phase with the intention of eventually running it down and eliminating it on his Nov II 42 turn. Of course, in order to help protect the new Axis desert front line shield now only five hexes away from the Allied desert front line, a large amount of Axis harassment will need to be sent out in the initial phase of the upcoming Nov I 42 Allied turn.