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Tag: Desert Cauldron (page 2 of 2)

Aug II 42

Allied Turn

From the turn’s start the worried Axis player watches the Allied player’s actions in an effort to detect whether he’ll now lunge out and attack the Afrika Korp’s desert front line shield in the Sidi Barani vicinity or instead continue to build up his offensive strength in his El Alamein defensive zone bastion. In his initial phase the Allied player uses two Br arm RP’s to do the Jul I 42 upgrade of the 4-3-8 arm X 8 to a 5-3-10 arm X and also do the Jul II 42 special reorganizations and bring on the supported 4-3-8 arm X and the regular 4-3-8 arm X (23 & 24), a 1RE mot transport unit, and a Br inf RP, to boot. He also brings on with RP’s the Br 8th arm XX HQ unit. This uses up the available Br arm RP’s but leaves him a net of 1¼ Br inf RP’s. In the Mid East Forming Pool remain two 5-3-10 arm Xs (9 & 24) and the Br 10th arm XX HQ unit. Maybe even a blind man can see that with the next turn’s ample production forces the Allied player could easily bring on all three motorized units remaining in the Mid East Forming Pool along with perhaps rebuilding from the Mid East Replacement Pool the Br inf XX 50, the Br 0-2-8 hvy flk X and positional flk unit (both lost at Tobruk), and also the two supported Ind inf Xs (remnants of the Ind 5th inf XX), along with some small change items. Add this to the Br 51st inf XX coming in this turn and the reinforcements coming in on the Sep I 42 Allied turn (especially air units) and the Allied player may very soon have an attack force powerful and lethal enough to give the Axis a big “pay back” counterattack for the earlier Tobruk defeat. The Allied player keeps his one remaining ARP so he can add it on to the 11 he’s getting next turn per the WitD Allied OB and have a net of 12, allowing him up to 4 ARP builds per turn in the new air cycle. Interestingly, the Allied player doesn’t break down one of his 9 available attack supply steps to 3 resource points, perhaps indicating that he’s not currently in a hurry to build forts or permanent airfields in the El Alamein defensive zone. Perhaps the Allied player his hoarding is attack supply steps in the expectation of using them in a rapid sequence series of hopefully large and devastating ground attacks against the Afrika Korps accompanied by plenty of GS. One resource point remains at Alexandria. At the appropriate time in the initial phase the non-phasing Axis player sends the G 50bis on a CAP mission over the three Ju 52s at the coast road permanent airfield at 2629. The two SM 79-2s and the SM 84 do 3 hits of harassment each at Egyptian hexes 0921, 1219, and 1319 to hopefully protect the vulnerable areas of the Axis desert front line in the Sidi Barani vicinity from the feared possible British armored attack mentioned at the end of the previous game report. To be sure, Advanced Rule 22C-Harassment Abatement seems to have very small teeth. The trick seems to be to provide one extra hit of harassment than what the situation calls for in order to make it very unlikely in many WW desert games that the phasing player can successfully shoo off any harassment and subsequently do the ground unit movement the harassment is intended to prevent.

The Axis player also does a necessary and fortunately easy to do on-map correction that was detected in time. On the Axis Jul I and Aug I 42 turns he shipped in error 3 Ger arm RP’s to Libya instead of 2 per the Axis Production Chart found on the back of the WW OB. He was thinking of the earlier Crusader game and accidently neglected to note that beginning on the Jul I 42 turn the Axis arm RP’s reduce from 3 to 2. The three Ger arm RP’s at Tripoli are reduced to 2 and the five Ger arm RP’s at Bengazi are reduced to 4.

As usual, the non-phasing Axis player transfers the four Ju 52s in Libya (the 4th is at Bengazi) back to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box the first opportunity of the Allied player’s movement phase. Then he waits and sees what the Allied player has in store for him. At El Alamein the 0-1-4 const X 68RPC builds a 2-cap temporary airfield and, most significantly for the Axis player, the Br 2-8 eng X 8 goes SE and builds a 2-cap airfield at 2220 instead of fixing the rail hit at 1618. In an instant this reveals that the 8th Army will likely not attack the Afrika Korps this turn. The other 0-1-4 const X 64RPC is at coast road/rail hex 2218. The Allied player uses his plentiful supply of motorized ground units to regain zoc control of the Egyptian coastal area road/rail lines westwards up to 1018 & 1019 and the interior road to the Siwa Oasis up to 0725. At the start of their movement phase the Allies do their routine gsp shipping to Malta and Cyprus, but this turn the Axis fails to sink any Allied East Med ntp’s and the two islands are in supply for next turn. Most interestingly, in neither the movement nor exploitation phases does the Allied player opt to do night strat bombing attacks with his Wellington night bombers against the Axis held Derna or Tobruk harbors. He wonders out loud if he might do one against the Axis held Bardia harbor, but drops the issue when the Axis player half jokingly blurts out that he’d be doing the Axis a favor if he did. The Allied player seems to be wishing to avoid bomber losses this turn due to port flack shots or interception by the Me 110F night fighter in anticipation of maybe having in hand the maximum number of available air air units and stored up ARPs with the intention of perhaps using them to assist in inflicting a writhing blow or two against the Axis forces, in the hopes of eventually exhausting them and bowling them over. At the end of the Allied player’s turn he still maintains the El Alamein defensive zone “stop line” at 1818-1819-1820. All the above mentioned bits of Allied turn and movement data seem to reveal for the anxious Axis player that the Allied player is perhaps “biding his time,” maybe feeling assured that in the ’42 epoch of the WW II Western Desert campaign time is on his side and against the Axis. In this context the Sep I 42 Allied turn or very shortly afterwards seems to be a prime possible date for a big Allied Montgomery style attack with the intentions of destroying or crippling the Afrika Korps and forcing them on a beaten and decimated army’s steady retreat. In any event Eisenhower’s Torch invasion of French NW Africa is not far off. Time seems to be running out for the Axis in North Africa.

German Turn

Though pleased with the admittedly lucky and almost surprise fall of Tobruk into the Axis lap, the Axis player is a little frustrated with the Afrika Korps’ presumably temporary hold-up at Sidi Barani after launching its invasion of Egypt. Indeed, with a little Allied luck and Compass-style maneuvering and attacking he may ultimately become known as the “German Graziani.” The problem of advancing eastwards towards the 8th Army’s El Alamein defensive zone in the third quarter of 1942 is the Axis player’s cautious doctrine requiring that the Afrika Korps’ advance be done with a powerful desert front line shield in place and under the protective umbrella of plenty of powerful short-legged fighters (eg., Me 109Fs and MC 202s) based at forward airfields and protected by a long and hopefully non-overrunable southern flank. At the same time he feels the the rearward forces scattered in the Cyranaica need to be reshuffled to an optimum defensive footing in case a sudden pell mell retreat westwards out of Egypt becomes necessary.

In the initial phase the Axis player spends an Italian ARP to bring an aborted Z1007b bomber on-map and another ARP to move an eliminated CR 42 to the aborted box. The spend on the obsolete biplane is to begin to get it ready for its ultimate required Axis OB withdrawal on the Nov I 42 turn, when it should be on-map. With two German ARPs he rebuilds the aborted Ju88A4 and the He 111H. Then, even though he’s in fact done a 1942 Axis Special Operation, he places the supported Ramke para X reinforcement in the Mainland off-map holding box (along with the turn’s other reinforcements, remaining production chart odds and ends from his last turn, and the four Ju 52s based there) because the operation did not use any German para-troops, just the three Sp Op Ju 52s. This seems to be in compliance with Rule 40A2-Axis Reinforcements. Near the end of the initial phase the Allied player sends 10 air units out on the harassment mission and does 3 hits respectively at hexes 1018-1019-1020-1022 and also at 1319-1320. This leaves on stand-by six fighters and the Well 2 for the Allies in the El Alamein and Delta regions.

Very early in the movement phase prior to sea movement the Axis player launches another large Malta Status strat bombing night attack on the Valletta harbor using three Ju88A4s, two Z1007b’s, and the He 111H and scores three hits, jacking the Malta Status up to 8. This will hopefully abet the Cent Med sea transport of this turn’s Axis reinforcements. A third in a row big night strat bombing attack against Malta will no doubt be necessary next turn in order to help the chances for successful Cent Med sea transport to North Africa of the important Sep I 42 Axis reinforcements and production chart forces, in particular It and Ger armor RP’s. However, two Ju88A4s are aborted when they crash land at the coast road permanent air field at 1527. The two Z1007b’s and the He 111H successfully land at Tripoli, and the third Ju88A4 bases at 1527. Shortly afterwards one Ju 52 air transports two Ger inf RP’s to Bengazi and the three Sp Op Ju 52s do their 5th air transport of a step of attack supply to the permanent air field at the Gulf of Sirte coast road hex 2629. Next Axis turn they will have to be deactivated in the initial phase. The Axis player successfully sea transports all his Aug II 42 turn reinforcements across the Cent Med to Libya without loss, though the supported Ramke para X encounters a possible rendezvous with Death pending the die roll results per the Shipping Results Table, but the paratroopers live another day to tell their tale upon disembarkation at Toburk harbor along with the It 3-6 inf XX and the It 2 RE mot transport unit. The Lw 1-10 mot hv AA II disembarks at Derna because Tobruk harbor still has two port damage hits due to the earlier Axis port bombing there during its siege and no more cargo can unload there this turn. Using some of his 3 RE’s of Cent Med shipping abilities the Axis player sea transports from Derna an It positional flack unit and a Folgore 2-5 para III to Bengazi. This is the beginning of a strategy to start sending westwards slow moving ground units in order to hopefully prevent them from being run down and eliminated if and when a big late 42 Allied Egyptian counteroffensive occurs and begins to roll into Libya. In a tough decision the Axis player uses coastal shipping to send the It 0-6 const III from Derna to Bardia to assist the other two Axis construction units in the Sidi Barini vicinity build temporary airfields in the Bardia-Sidi Barini staging zone for short legged fighter protection. His earlier intention was to send it to Bengazi to maybe begin building a two turn fort there, but now he thinks top priority is preservation of the forward Afrika Korps force. Upon disembarkation at Bardia the const unit uses its remaining four MP’s to build a 2-cap temporary airfield there. The other It const III beginning the movement phase at Bardia moves two hexes to Halfaya Pass (19A:0419) and builds a 2-cap temporary airfield. The 0-8 const III Afr at 0419 moves to 0618 and builds a 3-cap temporary airfield. Now the Axis player finally begins to feel like he’ll very soon have the ample fighter umbrella protection needed to face a powerful and menacing foe like the 8th Army in the third quarter of 1942. Only then will he feel it’s safe to resume the Afrika Korps’ eastward march to the certain desert battle clash presumably in the vicinity of the 8th Army’s El Alamein defensive zone.

Up at the desert front line shield the Axis player breaks down the motorized divisions at the start of the movement phase to better advance eastwards Axis zoc control of the Egyptian coastal road/rail line hexes and better do rail damage hits to the Matruh-Tobruk rail line. But before advancing eastwards he sends the Ju88A4 recently brought on-map with ARPs and based near Tobruk on a port strat bombing air raid at Allied owned but unoccupied Matruh. He rolls good and scores a hit. Then, systematically advancing eastwards, the Axis player pushes the rail hits up to 1319, two hexes east of Matruh, and also pushes the Axis coast road zoc control to 1618, two hexes west of the Allied “stop line” at 1818-1819-1820. Though annoying the Allied harassment doesn’t hinder a successful outcome of these maneuvers.

After closely checking the dispositions of the operative Allied fighters in Egypt, the Axis player notices that the Port Said hex 3413 is just out of interception range of the long ranging Bftr 6F based at the Cauldron at start 3-cap permanent airfield at 2719. Late in the exploitation phase he sends to the Port Said hex the two SM 79-2s and the SM 84 based at the temporary airfield at coast road hex 4718 just west of Tobruk on an extended range tac bombing Naval Harassment mission, which seems to both players to be legal per Rule 20G1f-Ports. The three Italian bombers arc around the northernmost all-sea hex 2711 interception range limit of the Bftr 6F, get through Port Said’s three factors of flack (two intrinsic and a positional flk unit), and when he rolls three dice on the 1 column of the Bombing Table and comes up with a 6, the war gamer nets 1 VP for the Axis side. The Italian bombers return to base at 4718, and no doubt at the watering holes of small Tobruk town have a tale comparable to the Ramke paratroopers or the Matruh bombing Ju 88 flyers.

Close to the end of his exploitation phase the Axis player air transfers three Me109F3s to the new air field at 0618, two MC 202s to 0419, and bases a MC 202 and the Re 2001CB at Bardia. Two hexes due south of Tobruk at 4819 are the Me 110 E&F, and at Tobruk is the fourth Me 109F3 and two Ju 87Ds. At the desert front line hex 0818 is a stack with 19 defense factors, full AECD/ATEC, five flack factors, and the 15th Pz XX. At 0819 is a stack with 17 defense factors, full AECD/ATEC, five flack factors, and the 21st Pz XX. The Italian motorized forces stand in a presumably out of harm’s way stack at 0720, containing 20 defense factors (including the 2 RE mot transport unit), half AECD and ATEC, and five flack factors. There is an attack supply step at 0818, Mechili, Agedabia, and coast road hex 2629; and at Tobruk are two attack supply steps.

Aug I 42

Allied Turn

Though stung by the loss of Tobruk, the Allied player is by no means beaten. Indeed, this turn brings on some additional reinforcements for the still formidable 8th Army in Egypt and also plenty of replacement forces. He rebuilds with inf RP’s two 3-8 art Xs and the 0-1-4 const X 64RPC, all three lost at Tobruk in the July turns. The Ind supported 1-2-10 mot anti-tnk X is again resurrected for at least the second time in the current WD/DC scenario. He spends 3 arm RP’s to build the 4-3-8 arm X 8 upgrade from the Mid East Forming Pool. With Allied ntp I turn replacements he replenishes his West Med ntp contingent sea transporting gsp’s to Malta and jacks up his depleted East Med ntp’s to eight. Lately the Axis Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls have been torpedoing with effect. With ARPs he brings on-map two Well 1Cs from the aborted box and the Bftr 6F from the eliminated box, leaving him 1 ARP for the next turn. In the Mid East Forming Pool remain three 5-3-10 arm X upgrade units along with a supported 4-3-8 arm X, a regular 4-3-8 arm X, a 1RE mot transport counter, and the 10th arm XX HQ unit, all reorganization units per the WitD Allied OB. All these units are awaiting arm RE expenditures before going on-map. After the end of his builds the Allied player has a net of ½ Br inf REs, 2 1/2 Br arm REs, 3 Aus REs, ¾ Ind REs, ¾ SA REs, and 1 3/4 FF REs. Near the end of the initial phase the non-phasing Axis player sends the G 50bis on a CAP mission over the three Ju 52s based at the permanent airfield at the coast road hex 2629.

At the beginning of the movement phase the Allies send gsp’s to Malta and Cyprus and ships into Alexandria or Suez his reinforcements and replacement forces starting at the east edge sea hexes of the Red Sea. One West Med ntp is sunk en route to Malta by the Axis anti-shipping die roll. At the first movement phase opportunity the non-phasing Axis player air transfers all four Ju 52s in Libya to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box.

The Allied player then abandons the far western Egyptian defensive zone that was the necessary counterpart of the defense of Tobruk and begins a strategic retreat of the 8th Army all the way back to 19A: 1818-1819-1820, carefully destroying all the Allied permanent airfields in between. Although definitely a prudent and force-saving measure in the short-run, this is by no means the retreat of a beaten and decimated army unable to stand up close against a significantly superior enemy force. It is rather a calculated means of gaining some time, perhaps 2 to 4 turns, in order to build up a potent and lethal counterattack force poised at a defensive bastion base replete with forts, a south flank protected by the advantageously funnel-shaped (for the Allies) Qrattara Depression impassable hex sides, very close to the Allied standard supply source, and possessing lots of close-in airfields for basing short legged fighters and other Allied desert air units. This strategy lures the Afrika Korps ever eastwards down the seemingly endless North African coast road, like a long scraggly chicken neck stretched to its limit, into an alien battle zone devoid of Axis defensive positions/terrain or established airfields and far away from their general supply sources/ports or stores of RPs, eg., into something like a death trap. Since the Axis cannot use it, the Egyptian coastal rail line is left intact for the Axis to tear up. To be sure, the Allied on-map armor inventory is formidable even during the current Allied movement phase featuring a major retreat: two 8-7-10 arm XX’s, two 3-2-8 arm Xs, two 4-3-8 arm Xs, a 6-4-6 arm X, a 3-2-10 arm X, a supported 3-2-10 lt arm X, a 2-1-10 lt arm X, three 1-10 lt arm II’s, two 1-10 mot support Xs, and three 1RE mot transport counters. In this same El Alamein defensive zone are at least four inf XX’s, three 3-8 art Xs, four inf Xs, three const/eng Xs, and numerous other inf, lt AA II’s, and positional flack units. In the vicinity are at least 9 attack supply steps and an unused resource point. All are currently under the protective canopy of the now close-in Allied desert air force.

Late in his exploitation phase the Allied player sends the two Well 1Cs on night strat bombing missions against Tobruk’s harbor and also night bombs the Axis owned but unoccupied Bardia harbor with the Well 2 and Blen 4, but scores no port status hits. Afterwards the Axis player does non-phasing air transfers of his SM 84 and the Z1007b from the Gazala-Tobruk airfield zone to the Tripoli vicinity in obvious preparation for a next turn Malta air attack. Back in the Gazala-Tobruk airfield zone the Axis player does a big reshuffling of his Luftwaffe forces, even though the closest Allied forces to his Tobruk front line are at least 20 hexes away eastwards. Significantly, he sends to Sicily no Axis fighters from the Axis desert front line zone (via Crete and the Mainland Europe off-map holding box base) revealing that the Malta attack will certainly be a night bombing strat attack against the Malta Status, risking crash landings afterwards. At the end of the Allied exploitation phase the Axis player rebases the CAP flying G 50bis at Agedabia.

Some lessons of Tobruk. At the game board the Allied player finally talks some about his ill-fated Jul II 42 attack on the DAK XXX marker at 4918 and reveals that it was done maybe in haste due to a fit of anxiety caused by the fear of a very possible Axis attempt against Tobruk on the Jul II 42 Axis turn (in order to go after the +30 WD scenario VP award for control of Cyrenaica) and increased frustration caused by the growing defense/supply crisis engendered by the ’42 siege of Tobruk. He had hoped to maybe inflict casualties against the Axis side and/or perhaps lift the siege by a DR, thereby restarting the whole isolated/supply status cycle over if the Axis subsequently surrounded Tobruk again. The Axis player reveals that he only had two additional It hvy flk II’s to contribute as “reinforcements” for a Jul II attack against the improved fortress, which in the projected attack factor tally, as still recorded in the botched Axis Jul I 42 attack attempt, would have added maybe only ½ to one additional attack factor, depending on how he would have had to reshuffle his 10 RE attack force crafted around the It asslt eng II in order to do away with the -1 die roll modifier. In the context of the recorded combat numbers after the DAS/GS AA firing of the botched JUL I 42 attack, the Axis player would still be ¾ to ¼ attack factors short of a raunchy 3 to 2, and in that case would have had to roll at patently miserable 1 to 1 odds (possible AH if a 1 is rolled) with maybe a trembling hand. At the end of the table talk both tentatively agree that on his Jul II 42 turn the Allied player should have perhaps “sat tight” without doing any relief of Tobruk attacking then and instead maybe have done the max to assure fighter coverage over the improved fortress and have tried to make available within range lots of DAS tac bombing factors to throw into the next turn’s looming fray, come what may. This could maybe have decreased the chances of the Axis taking Tobruk on his Jul II 42 turn and thereby dashed any Axis hopes for the +30 VP award for control of the Cyrenaica. After the Jul II 42 game turn there would be no scenario VP pressure for the Allies to hold onto Tobruk and then maybe a gradual withdrawal could have been attempted, starting with the sea transport removal of one of the SA inf XX’s, as they get no regular SA inf RP’s in ’42. Even the old Bombay transport could have been flown in at night to pick up a ground unit without heavy equipment and air transported it to safety. So what if it would have crash landed in Egypt; it would have done a heroic rescue mission. Both players readily see that a ’42 siege of Tobruk requires a significantly larger Allied defensive garrison than what was required in the earlier ’41 siege in the Wavell epoch, and this would likely have precipitated an eventual unfavorable U-4 supply crisis there. But with a little luck, no telling how many more turns the Allies could have held onto Tobruk while maybe each extra turn retrieving some of its gallant defenders to fight the Axis again at the newer and better Egyptian desert front line in the El Alamein defensive zone. The two SA inf XX’s and the expensive Br 6-4-6 arm X 32T in the Mid East replacement pool, both lost at Tobruk, will likely not be resurrected in the current desert scenario. In this same Western Desert military grave yard rest the 0-2-8 hvy flk X, an Ind inf X, and a point of positional hvy flk, all lost at Tobruk. Keeping them company amongst the grave markers are the Br inf XX 50, the supported FF 3-8 inf X, another Ind inf X, and also the 8th arm XX HQ unit, the latter placed there per the Jul II 42 WitD Allied OB.

German Turn

The Axis player feels a new phase is beginning in the WW Western Desert campaign scenario after the fall of Tobruk on the Jul II 42 turn. An Axis advance eastwards certainly seems in order to occupy and control some of the hex void caused by the Allied player’s strategic withdrawal to the El Alamein defensive zone “stop line” at 1818-1819-1820. But how far, and in what manner, and to what final end will the North African coast road lead the war gamer’s cardboard Afrika Korps force? For sure it leads straight towards a war game battle clash for possession of the strategic prizes of Egypt.

The Axis player gets some reinforcements and replacement forces this turn, and so turns to these issues in the initial phase. With ARPs he builds an aborted Ju88A4 and an aborted Z1007b, leaving the Germans and Italians with a net of 3 ARPs each. He places both in the Tripoli/Sirte area in preparation for a big Malta Status night strat bombing mission at the very beginning of the movement phase, before shipping, to hopefully improve the chances of the Axis reinforcements and replacements making it across the central Mediterranean to Libya. Using Italian arm and inf RP’s stored at Bengazi, the Axis flips to full strength the Cauldron at start 3-8 arm cadre 133 at ridge hex 4818 overlooking Tobruk, which in a stroke uses up all the meager Italian RP’s so far sea transported across the Mediterranean and carefully stored up in Libya. There are no German ground units in the Med/NA replacement pool. In spite of the interesting array of Italian units in the Axis replacement pool, he does no other builds with the turn’s new It inf and arm RP’s because he feels the need to hoard them in Libya in order to be able to quickly rebuild Italian armored and mot inf divisional losses in the looming climactic Egyptian battles of the Western Desert saga. The Allied player then sends three hits of harassment to 0419-0420 and 0818-0819 each. This annoys the Axis player, as it fouls up his initial plans for advancing eastwards beyond the Libyan border into Egypt. The Br 8th Army’s armored force is very powerful and the next Allied turn will be likely further reinforced by Allied OB armor reorganizations and armor upgrades called for at somewhat earlier turns that now he is ready and stacked for.

The first thing during his movement phase the Axis player sends three Ju88A4s and two Z1007b’s on the Malta Status night strat bombing mission; all make it through Valletta’s flack, but he rolls bad on the bombing table and scores no hits. On their return to base a Z1007b crash lands and is aborted. This leaves the Malta Status at 7, but the Axis player is lucky and the Allied Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls score no hits on the sea transported reinforcements and replacements. The turn’s 1½ It arm RP’s and the Ger 164th inf XX HQ unit and inf III reinforcements all disembark at Bengazi. The Lw mot hv flk II reinforcement is shipped into Tobruk in order to get to the desert front line by exploitation. The three Ger arm RE’s are significantly shipped into Tripoli, an indication that the Axis player doesn’t want to keep too many RP’s in Bengazi and then be caught in a bind when and if a hasty pell mell retreat westwards out of Egypt subsequently becomes necessary. Per the original intended plan the three Ju 52s brought in from the Axis 1942 Sp-Op Forces Pool air transport another attack supply step (the fourth) to the Gulf of Sirte coast road airfield at hex 2629 and the Jul I 42 reinforcement Ju 52 airlifts to Bengazi one It and one Ger inf RP. This turn’s other attack supply step and two Ger inf RP’s remain in the Mainland Europe off-map holding box. At Derna the It 0-6 const III uses all 6 MP’s to finish repairing the damage hits on the harbor. The other It 0-6 const III moves into Bardia and the Ger 0-8 const III Afr moves to 19A:0419. Next turn both will almost certainly build 3-cap temporary airfields in order to help provide short legged fighter protection over the systematically advancing Afrika Korps force sallying into Egypt.

The bulk of the Afrika Korps motorized divisions advancing into Egypt break down and fan out in order to eventually gain hex control of the roads to Giarabub and Siwa and the Egyptian coast road/rail line up to 19A:1319, including the Matruh hex. The rail line is torn up from the rail head at 4818 up to 19A:1119, just west of Matruh. The Axis force penetrating into Egypt eventually settles into a longish defensive perimeter just east of Sidi Barani, with one Pz XX in a stack at 0818 and the other Pz XX in a stack at 0819, both hexes forming a desert front line shield. The Ariete arm XX is at 0720 and the Trieste 5-8 mot inf XX is at 0620. A presumably non-overrunable south flanking line runs 0520-0420-0320-0219-0120 to 18A:5020. This gives the Axis a two hex land buffer to the Mediterranean Sea, hopefully providing free admin movement along the coast road from Libya up to the front line in Egypt. For fighter defense three MC 202s, two Me110s, and the Re2001CB are within CAP range of the desert front line shield, and the two Ju 87Ds are within DAS range.

Meanwhile, at an obscure southern Cyranaican ravines hex at 3928, the It 2-1-8 supported lt arm III 3 and the It 1-8 mot art III 2 AC finally catch up with the U-4 Br lt arm II 1DG “desert rats” and attack them at 9 to 1, -1. Using Advanced Rule 12D3-Minimal Attack Supply, the Axis attack factor becomes 2½ to the Allied ¼ (out of supply and unsupported); elimination is automatic. Late in the movement phase the G 50bis based at Agedabia flies CAP over the remote and desolate battle zone. In the exploitation phase the two It motorized units push northwards towards the Msus-Mechili road.

Late in the exploitation phase the Axis player sends a Ju 87D at extended range to bomb the rail line at coast hex 1618, where he wants a rail hit to better assure the protection of the desert front line shield of his Egyptian invasion force just east of Sidi Barani. The Allied player still has hex control of the coast road/rail line up to 1418. He initially sends the single Stuka to 1618 to presumably lure into interception the lone Allied fighter within range (the P 40C) and then quit the mission and return, but for some reason the Allied player doesn’t take the bait. The tac bombing die roll misses, so the Axis player sends another extended range Ju 87D and finally a SM 79-2 to the same hex before finally scoring the rail line hit he desires. Another SM 79-2 is sent on a second rail line bombing mission to coast hex 1418, but misses. Finally, the Axis player transfers the SM 84 based at Tripoli back to the 3-cap temporary airfield at coast road hex 4618, where the two SM 79-2s are based. At Tobruk are the two Ju 87Ds, the Re2001CB, and a Me109F3. At the 3-cap temporary airfield at 4819 are the three MC 202s and at 4718 are the Me 110E & F and another Me 109F3. A Me 109F3 is based at the 3-cap temporary airfield at 4719 and also at Derna, and a MC 200 and a Ju 52 are based at Bengazi. The G 50bis bases again at the 1-cap permanent airfield at Agedabia. A Z1007b is based at Tripoli and three Ju88A4s are based at the 3-cap permanent airfield at coast road hex 1527, two hexes west of Sirte. At the end of the exploitation phase the five on-map Axis attack supply steps are at the front line 19A:0818 stack with one of the Pz XXs, at coast road hex 4718 just west of Tobruk, Mechili, Agedabia, and at the Gulf of Sirte coast road airfield hex 2629 along with the three Ju52s based there.

About 10 minutes after the Allied opponent leaves for the night, the Axis player, upon reviewing his finished turn at the game board, suddenly sees flaws that maybe earlier desert storms must have blinded him to. Maybe the reason the Allied player wasn’t too concerned abut a rail line hit at hex 1618 is because the 8th Army 2-8 eng X is only four hexes away at the bottom of an Allied stack at the coast road/rail hex 2018 and can easily repair the rail hit. This makes both the Ariete arm XX or the Trieste mot inf XX liable for a very powerful British armored attack along with plenty of GS and fighter protection. Moreover, rearward hexes 0618&0619 are vacant. Egad! The two SM 79-2s and the SM 84 will certainly have to be used for harassment. But the 15 defense factor stack (full AECD/ATEC) at 1819, spearheaded by the 21st Pz XX, is still in harm’s way. Next turn will be interesting.

 

Jul II 42

Allied Turn

First we had to put a patch on the rules errors detected by the EA discussion of Game Report #6. Beginning with the easiest fix, the Axis player moves backwards the two steps of attack supply he air transported with the ’42 Axis Sp Op Ju 52s from the mainland Europe off-map holding box to Libya and subsequently moved in the Jun II and Jul I movement phases. One attack supply step backs up to Tripoli and the other supply step backs up to the at start permanent airfield at 2630 where the three inoperative Ju 52s are still based, waiting to do a non-phasing air transfer the first opportunity during this turn’s Allied movement phase. Though technically this frees up some Axis SMPs used on the Jun II and Jul I Axis turns, he feels OK with where the other supply steps are at (one at 4918, 4920, 4618, & 4417).

Second, on the Jun II 42 Axis turn the Axis player scored three tac bombing hits to the Sidi Barrani at start permanent air field and claimed aborts on the inoperative Hurri 2C and P-40C fighters based there. We agree that the Allied player gets back the ARP he used to rebuild the P-40C the next turn, but agree to leave the Hurri 2C in the abort box where it’s at because we now realize that the Allied player began the WW WD/DC scenario with a Hurri 2C on the map that probably should have been in the abort box at the game’s start (my error when drawing up the revised DC May II 42 at start OB for the WD/DC scenario).

The fix at Tobruk after firing the DAS/GS AA and punking out on the combat die roll is a little more complex, but here’s what we agree to. Basically neither player wants to do the straight up 1 to 1 combat die roll attack; the Allied player fears a possible 6 roll: DR, and the Axis player fears a 1 roll: AH. So we agree to tweak the past a bit and “say” that the Axis bombing mission to Tobruk “in fact” occurred the first thing during the Axis exploitation phase. The AA aborted Axis Z1007b doing GS is kept in the abort box and all Allied and Axis air units ultimately remain where they based at the end of the Jul 1 Axis turn. No Allied DAS bombing air units over Tobruk were ever aborted or eliminated by phasing player AA. Two of the nine Axis air units bombing Tobruk do an airbase attack and the rest do a port bombing attack. The airbase raid fails to make a hit but the port gets 4 bombing hits, converting to two port hits for Tobruk’s strong natural harbor. However, at this war game table the Axis player feels that, had the Allied player insisted he go through with his 1 to 1 attack at Tobruk, he would have been obliged to do so. Both players believe that the port bombing attack was probably not in fact the optimum redo choice for the Axis player, all things considered, but both believe it was the best in the context of game and WW rules integrity and redo simplicity. In the context of abetting a possible Axis attack against Tobruk on the Jul II turn, perhaps the best bet would have been an air raid against the Allied permanent airfield at 0819. But attempting this begs maybe an additional redo of how both side’s air units would have landed at the end of the botched Axis combat phase (minus the Tobruk attack) and also at the end of the exploitation phase airfield attack itself, not to mention certain Allied interceptions or exploitation CAP, making the thing perhaps too complicated and risky for game integrity to attempt.

In the initial phase the Allied player brings back with ARPs an aborted A-30 and a Hurri 2C, and also an eliminated A-30. But he does no ground unit RP rebuilds, possibly waiting until the Aug I turn to bring on some big Br arm upgrades and maybe waiting for additional Allied inf RP’s coming then. Near the end of the Allied initial phase the Axis player once again sends the two Ju87Ds on harassment missions to hexes 5018&5019. A G-50bis at the 1-cap Agedabia DC at start airfield does CAP over the Ju 52s at 2629; and the Me110F, accidentally based too far off for interception, does CAP over Benghazi. In the sea movement segment of the movement phase four Br ntp’s carrying gsp’s to Malta or Tobruk are sunk by Axis Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls. Some of the gsp’s shipped to Malta come from Gibraltar per the “Gibraltar convoys” clause found in WW Rule 41B1b, but as one of the very few at start house rules we allow up to four to come from here as would seem to be the case if we were playing WW desert scenarios using the Europa West Med maps (24A&25A). Note that up to 2 Allied ntp’s can be replaced each I turn per Rule 35D. The single Axis SM79-2 on naval patrol from the airfield at coast road hex 4618 goes after an Allied ntp from Alexandria with 2 gsp’s at 0717, but ends the mission when the P-40C intercepts. But this is to make at least one good Allied fighter inoperative for the rest of the turn and hopefully maybe make things a little safer for the non-phasing Axis side. Afterwards the Allied player sea transports another attack supply step to Tobruk, making a total of 4 there now.

Late in his movement phase the Allied player dramatically reveals that he’s tired and annoyed with the current Western Desert military situation and sends two large and powerful stacks to 5017 and 5018, menacing the Axis DAK XXX marker stack at the coast road hex 4918 (adjacent and east of Tobruk) containing the 21st Pz XX, the 90 Le mot inf XX, and the 0-1-10 mot lt AA II. Beginning to worry, the Axis player quickly responds by sending a MC200 and the Re2001CB (too far away for interception in the combat phase) on CAP over the DAK hex. The two adjacent tall Allied stacks contain every Br arm unit on the map (except the 6-4-6 arm X in adjacent Tobruk and a single 3-2-10 remaining at Halfaya Pass), including three lt arm II’s, and each stack contains a primo 8-7-10 Br arm XX. Two 1 RE mot transport counters carry a Br 3-8 art X and the 2-8 FF 2FL inf X. And that’s not all. The intimidating force also contains the non-motorized Br 7-8 50th inf XX, indicating that evidently the Allied player is intending to stay put in the Tobruk vicinity at his turn’s end and not subsequently back away in the exploitation phase to the relative safety of the Allied defensive zone in far western Egypt.

At the beginning of the combat phase the Axis player is faced with the DAS and fighter interception issues. The Axis player sends on DAS mission to 4918 the SM 84, a Z1007b, two MC 202s, and three Me 109F3s without escort because no Allied fighters are within interception range. To be sure, only five Axis air units can actually give DAS bombing factors (halved) per Rule 20G2c, but additional ones are sent due to possible DAS AA flack shot returns/aborts. There are no Allied fighters at the Tobruk airbase and have been none there since the ’42 Tobruk siege began. The Axis player holds back two Me109F3s within interception range of hex 4918 to assist the two It fighters there on CAP when and if the Allied GS comes in. No Ju88A4s fly DAS because the Axis player has accidently based them too far away at Benghazi to fly the half-range B-type DAS mission per Rule 20G2c. The Allied player begins to tip his hand by sending ample GS with four fighter escorts to 4918. The Axis sends in the two nearby Me109F3s on interception to assist the two weaker It fighters flying CAP; he throws three intercepting fighters against the four Allied fighter escorts and opts to attempt bypass with a Me109F3. The MC 200 is eliminated and so is an escorting Br Bftr 6F, but the bypassing Me109F3 returns an A-30. The SM84, Z1007b, two Me109F3s, and a MC 202 make it through the attacker’s flack; the rest are returned except for an aborted MC202. An A-30, two Well 1Cs, and the Blen 4 make it through the DAK’s flack to give GS, but the defender’s flack returns an A-30. And so the Allied attack tally becomes: 26 from Tobruk, plus 29 from 5018, plus 20 from 5017 and plus 6 GS= 81 attack factors. The Axis defensive tally becomes: 18 at 4918 plus 8 tac bombing DAS factors halved per Rule 20G2c to 4= 22 defensive factors. The Axis has full ATEC and the Allied player is 1/10th AECA due to the Br 50th inf XX, the Tobruk 0-2-8 hv flk X and the two SA inf XXs, and the FF inf X brought up by the 1RE mot transport unit. The combat equates to a 3 to 1, -1, and the Allied player manages to roll a 1: AR. Alas, from one perspective not enough Allied GS got through to make it 4 to 1. For combat results the the Tobruk attacking contingent is eliminated: the two SA inf XX’s, the hv flk X, the 6-4-6 arm X, and two 3-8 art Xs. Three attack supply steps are expended (one in Tobruk) and the two attacking stacks outside Tobruk AR one hex eastwards.

During the exploitation phase the retreating 8th Army attackers withdraw to 0419 (Halfaya Pass) and 0420. At Halfaya Pass await the 7-8 4th Ind inf XX and the Br 1-2-8 eng X, making for a total of 24 defense factors (1/2 AEC); at 0420 stands the 8-8 2nd NZ inf XX, helping make for a total of 27 defense factors (½ AEC). The unfortunate 7-8 Br inf XX 50 remains alone on its own at 5018 where it retreated in the combat phase. The Allied player has a secondary western Egyptian defensive zone force at Sidi Barrani and rail hex 0819. At the Sidi Barrani airfield are the Hurri 2D and a Hurri 2C. At the airfield at 0819 are the P-40C, a P-40 E, and a Hurri 2C. In the Matruh vicinity are a P-40E, the three A-30s, and the Blen 4. In the Alexandria/Delta area are two Well 1Cs and the old Bombay transport. The long range Br 1-10 lt arm II limps at Axis U-2 to 18A:4020 and the supported 1-2-10 Ind anti-tnk X goes south to Giarabub at 0327.

In Tobruk the surviving supported Ind inf X 29 and the 0-1-4 const X 64 RPC write farewell letters back home. From the overlooking ridge hex 4818 south of Tobruk the Ariete tankers see the pall of smoke rise from the Allied destruction of their three remaining attack supply steps (4 gsp’s remain) and also a small column of smoke coming from the British commander’s chimney as he burns his despatches.

German Turn

The Axis player is as stunned as the Allied at the ramifications of his costly AR retreat last turn in attempting a November ’41 Crusader-like relief of Tobruk in the summer ’42 Cauldron epoch, resulting in the loss of 26 of the 29 defense factors at the improved fortress. But both WW II desert gamers know that in the smaller and compacted Europa desert games (eg., along the North African Mediterranean coast road) big attack “coup de mains” can cause sudden and almost brutal turns in the desert war game’s course. Specifically, big attacks against an opponent’s main desert front line stacks (often containing around maybe 18-34 defense factors) that result in big losses can bring pounding Allied Crusader-like offensives to a dead stop or else turn static front-line Sidi Barrani/El Aghelia/Gazala/El Alemein deadlocks or sleepy-headed Tobruk sieges into “pall mall” retreats. As reflected contemplation of the Allied player’s big attack die roll against the DAK XXX marker stack fades into memory, the stinging Allied loss was maybe due to a combination of both Allied GS being turned away and Axis DAS getting through. I’ve got by with risky big attacks before (eg., when we played a WW Western Desert/Crusader scenario) and know and respect the Allied player too well to call his attack a case of bad judgment. From the game board perspective here I say it was specifically a case of bad die rolling.

In the initial phase the Axis player spends two ARPs to rebuild the Me110E from the eliminated box, leaving 4 Ger ARPs. He uses It ARPs to retrieve a MC202 and a SM79-2 from the abort box, leaving 4 It ARPs. This means that the Axis player must spend ARPs wisely and sparingly to make it without regret to the next Sep I 42 air cycle. The Allied player currently has 5 ARPs left. Using It inf RP’s, he finally rebuilds an 0-6 const III at Derna, where much earlier he sea transported an It inf RP before the Allied player destroyed the use of the harbor by port bombings. During the movement phase the const III does 6 repair MP’s to the port status, leaving a net of 2 effective port hits at Derna. At Bengazi he rebuilds the It 1-8 mot art 2AC. Both units were in the Axis player’s Med/NA replacement pool per Watson’s DC battle scenario. The Germans loan the Italians 1/2 arm REs to assure them the possibility of rebuilding the 133 arm cadre to full strength next turn, providing it’s not in Allied ZOCs.

At the start of the movement phase the Axis player air transports another attack supply step (the 3rd, so far) from the mainland Europe off-map holding box to the coast road airfield hex at 2029 and airlifts the Ger 2-8 inf III 163A/382 reinforcement to Bengazi. In the battle zone in eastern Libya, the Axis player plans and moves for what he feels are the three required Axis attacks on the game maps called for by the logic of the war game and the WW scenario’s victory conditions: Tobruk, Giarabub, and against the forsaken Br inf XX 50 at 5119. At Giarabub he sends the 15th Px XX and five other mot attack factors to attack the supported 1-2-10 Ind mot anti-tnk X. Very early in the movement phase he sends three MC202s on CAP over Giarabub to discourage Allied DAS from aiding this remote Allied held Libyan point city. In the combat phase he sends the Me110E (4 tac factors) on GS and has the makings of a 9 to 1, -1. At 5119 the Axis sends the 21st Pz XX, 7-6-8 Ariete, the 133rd 3-8 arm cadre, and a couple of other mot units to attack the gallant Br 7-8 inf XX 50 there. A mixed bag of It motorized units surround the bedeviled unit to keep the Allied player from getting special inf RP’s or having any DR space. Some GS is flown in to assure an automatic elim. At Tobruk, the Axis player has enough spare ground units, along with the It asslt eng II and fleshed out with the 8-10 90 Le mot inf XX, and with practically all the Afrika Korp’s artillery and Italian heavy flack IIs to make for a straight up 9 to 1 against the factored 2 1/2 Allied defense tally inside without committing any GS at all against the two remaining Allied flack factors (a Br positional flk unit and the WW intrinsic Allied permanent airfield flack factor). The Allies are short on fighters within range of the three attacks for interceptions, CAP, or DAS escorts, and so fly no missions. All three spots aren’t good for Allied fighter dog fights or safe DAS attempts. The Axis fighters are bunched up close to Tobruk and hex 5119 and the three MC202s based at the temporary airfield at 4819 can just make it to remote Giarabub flying CAP. All three Axis attacks result in automatic eliminations.

In the exploitation phase the Axis sends to Valletta on a Malta Status night strat bombing mission the two available Ju88A4s based at the 1-cap permanent airfield at Sirte and the 3-cap permanent airfield on the coast road hex 1527 (two hexes west of Sirte). Both Luftwaffe bombers did a non-phasing exploitation phase transfer the previous Allied turn from Bengazi to the above mentioned airfields. A hit is scored at the Valletta port, jacking the Malta Status to 9, and the two Luftwaffe bombers manage to land back at their bases without crash landing.

Near the end of the exploitation phase the Axis treks the newly built It mot art III and the It supported lt arm III 3 (spotted with its twin 32 and both retrofitted into the WD/DC scenario at start Axis OB from Watson’s excellent End of the Beginning El Alemein WitD battle scenario in Europa magazine #63) down the Saharan back road towards the remote Oasi di Gialo (18A:4033) in order to chase down the furtive long ranging Br lt tnk II 1DG, perhaps trying to hide at sand hex 4030. In the movement phase both admin moved on the long road march towards the remote Libyan oasis. They end their exploitation movement at 4031 and 3830 respectively.

By the end of the exploitation phase the Axis has ZOC control of the Bardia hex, but does not attempt to occupy it just yet. The stout Br inf XX 50 blocked Axis non-mot units, like the 0-8 const III Afr, from moving in during the Axis movement phase. Instead he opts to make a short but strong desert front line going southward from Tobruk to 4818 and 4819. A secondary and presumably non-overrunable southward flank cover line arcs westward 4719-4619-4520-4419. The Ger mot anti-tnk II guards Mechili and other Axis units are here and there along the coast road between Derna and Tobruk. The four on-map Axis attack supply counters are at the Gulf of Sirte coast road airfield at 2029, Bengazi, Tobruk, and 4618. A hasty exploitation occupation of Bardia and a greedy Western Desert scenario +10 VP grab of the Egyptian town of Siwa Oasis are both very tempting, but each would be lightly held and quite vulnerable to motorized attacks from the experienced and miffed Allied player yearning to destroy his first Axis ground units. The Allied player gets reinforcements and replacement points the next turn and the Allied Mideast forming box is chock full of new primo Br armor X units ready to be built with arm RP’s and brought on-map. The Axis player feels that with the fall of Tobruk (and Giarabub) behind him and the subsequent Jul II 42 harvest of +30 WW WD scenario VPs, it might be wiser instead to pause, regroup by Tobruk, and maybe carefully prepare for a possible coordinated lunge against the quite powerful 8th Army forces in far western Egypt by first moving up more attack supply steps, somehow building “first stage” forward airbases in the Libya-Egyptian border vicinity, perhaps rebuilding to full strength the It arm cadre 133, and maybe bring eastwards by sea and air transport to Derna, Tobruk, or perhaps even Bardia some inf and arm RP’s to be able to replenish closer to the desert front certain future battle losses in Egypt. To be sure, after the preliminary fall of Tobruk, an all-out Rommel-like offensive thrust with the Afrika Korps penetrating deep into Egypt towards El Alemein is not the only available mid summer ’42 Axis North African military strategy. The deteriorating Malta status is also very worrisome and its dire ramifications for sea transporting to Libya vital heavy equipment forces like arm RE’s and motorized reinforcements. The Axis player ponders if he should continue risky and dicey night bombing there or else possibly send a swarm of Me109F3s to Sicily and see what happens if he goes after the two menacing Spit 5s there in a certain bloody fighter death match of attrition for air supremacy of the island’s skies.

Jul I 42

Allied Turn

It’s Christmastime in July for the Allied player in the Western Desert with an Air Cycle and plenty of reinforcements and replacements pouring into the Mid East Command. This game turn may mark the beginning of a period of steadily increasing strength and quality for the British 8th Army during the second half of ’42, perhaps historically climaxing with Montgomery’s late ’42 offensive. Just for starters, the Allies receive two Br 3-2-8 arm X reinforcements. He also spends 3 new arm REs to bring on-map the “full” Br 8th 4-3-8 arm X in the ME Forming Box. Later the Allied player says he intends to upgrade it next turn to a 5-3-10 arm X. He also rebuilds the supported Br 7th mot inf X that was overrun on the game’s DC at start May II 42 Axis turn. Later he says he does this with the intention of assembling both the broken down Br 1st and 7th arm XXs to 1942 full strength 8-7-10 units during the exploitation phase. This still leaves a Br 3-2-10 arm X, three lt tank IIs, the old Br 2nd arm XX’s motorized support group, and one of the two Br 6-4-6 arm Xs in the western Egypt British defensive zone facing the Afrika Korps. The other Br 6-4-6 arm X is part of the Tobruk garrison. There are also in Egypt this turn three Br 1 RE motorized transport counters. The Allied player also uses Indian REs to replace the overrun Ind mot anti-tank X and the supported Ind inf X that was eliminated at the ridge hex at 4818. The supported Ind inf Xs occasionally mentioned in the game reports are part of the Ind 5th Inf XX. In the turn’s air cycle the Allied player tallies up 12 ARPs, meaning he can spend up to 4 ARPs per turn this air cycle. At the same time he has enough remaining unused ARPs to qualify for ¾ VPs per the WW Western Desert VP schedule. The old Hurr 1 guarding the Suez Canal is converted into a tank busting 2D and rebased closer to the western Egypt defensive zone. With the new ARPs he takes the P-40E from the ME eliminated air box and from the aborted box the P-40C and the Bftr 1C. The Bftr is then converted to a 6C per the WitD Allied OB and then transferred per the OB to the Med Anti-Shipping Box.

In the movement phase the Allied player moves the 66RPC const X to Sidi Barrani to begin repairs next turn at the smashed up airfield there. He may have intended for it to begin a 2 turn fort build at hex 2218 east of El Alemein, but probably feels that right now repairing the Sidi Barrani airfield in western Egypt more important. Another Ind inf X transfer from the off-map NE Command per the WitD Allied OB admin moves from Iraq to northern Palestine, and the famed 2nd NZ inf XX rails down from Syria into Egypt to the coast road hex at 1519, having finally been released this turn from the Levant garrison. The Gk 3-8 mtn X guards the coast road/rail hex 2318 (just west of Alexandria) from a possible though unlikely Axis surprise para-drop attack on Alexandria, just in case. This area is often devoid of Allied fighter cover and is a possible target hex of a ’41 or ’42 Axis special-op para-drop if the Axis player knows that the Allied player usually leaves Alexandria lightly defended. In the naval movement segment at the start of the movement phase, the Allied player naval transports gsp’s to Cyprus, Malta, and Tobruk. A SM79-2 based at 4618 on sea patrol and escorted by the Me 110D goes after the Allied shipping at the all-sea hex 19A:0707, due north of Sidi Barrani, the last daylight all sea hex on the sea lane between Alexandria and Tobruk. The110D is eliminated by an intercepting P-40E, but the SM79 sinks 2 gsp’s and returns to base. With the Axis sea patrol used up the Allied player then waltzes a step of attack supply into Tobruk. The Allied player’s long-range “desert rat” Br lt arm II, now at Axis U-1 supply status, limps at half mot movement rating to 4329 at the end of exploitation. Though annoying, the Axis player so far hasn’t begun chasing it. In the exploitation phase the Allied player scores another port hit on Derna, effectively closing this important Axis port with three hits. Then the Allied player begins a series of tedious airfield bomb runs against the 5-odd Axis airfields (four of them temporary) between Derna and Tobruk, returning them to base prior to the bombing mission as soon as the Axis player does interception. The intent is to make some good Axis fighters inoperative, then go after them while parked at one of these bases. This trick worked several times in the Crusader game played earlier, but the Axis player is lucky with having all his fighters bunched into the area and, having seen the trick before, is careful in his choice of interceptors. This time the plan comes to naught.

Since the end of the Axis Jun I 42 turn, a kind of “no man’s land” exists between the Axis front line bunched up around Tobruk and due south of it to 4819 or 4920 and the 8th Army’s western Egypt defensive zone originally standing at Sidi Baranni and at the permanent airfield on the Tobruk-Matruh rail hex 0819. During each player’s turn care is given to gain hex control of the coast road, Bardia, and the road going to Giarabub, thus per WW/WitD rules denying the other side admin movement on the roads or port use of Bardia. On the Jun II 42 turn the Axis player finally has the time and available motorized movement to begin wrecking the Matruh-Tobruk rail line from the rail head at 4818 (per the DC at start Allied OB)to 0502 in far western Egypt On the Jul I 42 turn the reinforced and emboldened Allied player moves forward the western Egypt defensive zone to the coast road hex 0519 and the rail line hex 0620, each hex containing an 8-7-10 Br arm XX and a host of additional motorized elements. A secondary rearguard force is stationed at Sidi Baranni and 0819. The Axis this turn has the 21st Pz XX at 4918, east of Tobruk and the 15th Pz XX at the road hex 4920, along with a host of other Axis units in each stack. Hex 4919 is unoccupied, but the Ju87Ds provide 5 harassment hits at both 5018&5019, thus protecting the Areite arm XX (plus some other units) at the ridge hex at 4818 overlooking Tobruk and the It arm cadre, the 90th Le mot HQ unit, the 0-8 Afr const unit, and the 1-cap temporary airfield basing a MC202 at 4819. Somewhat like jungle tigers, both sides bare their large armored “canines” to each other, threatening attack. And the Allied player is ready for bear, with at least 12 attack supply steps on the map. Four are at Tobruk at the turn’s end, four are in Alexandria, one at the forward hex at 0519, one at Sidi Baranni, and two near El Alemein at 0620. This Allied turn the Axis has 5 attack supply steps in Libya.

German Turn

The Axis player feels he has little choice this turn but to attempt an attack against Tobruk. They have only this turn and the next to try and gain the +30 VPs for Axis control of the Cyranacia. Moreover, the three hits at the airfield at Sidi Barrani now make it more difficult for the Allied player to send fighters over the besieged improved fortress, and on the Jul I 42 Allied turn they didn’t optimally rebase their remaining fighters in Egypt for Tobruk’s defense. As mentioned in Game Report #4, the difficulty in a successful attack is Tobruk’s 29 defense factors and the improved fortress defense modifiers, especially the -1 die roll without the use of engineers. If the Axis throws in everything on the map he possibly can and even with every Axis air unit with a tactical bombing strength of 1 or better getting through, they are still well below a 3 to 1, and must settle for an unacceptable 2 to 1, -1 die roll. A raunchy 3 to 2 straight up die roll is possible if the It aslt eng II is used and a fair amount (eg., over half, close to 2/3rds) of Axis tactical bombing units (assuming every available bomber and maybe a couple of fighters flying a tactical bombing mission are thrown in) make it through the 7 flack factors and Allied DAS is kept very close to 0. This is not a battle of choice, but a battle of necessity, a necessary war game risk due to the slow but steadily deteriorating Axis position in the Western Desert during the second half of ’42.

But at the start of the Axis player’s turn, he can momentarily turn away from the troublesome battle confrontation facing him and ponder the turn’s air cycle, reinforcements, and replacements. With the 3 Ger ARPS per turn the Axis player replaces an aborted Me 109F4, the Me110F, and a Ju88A4. With It ARPs an aborted SM 84 and even a MC200 is replaced, and an eliminated SM79-2 is moved up to the aborted box. During the naval movement segment the Axis player gets all the Ger and It arm REs and all his ground unit reinforcements sea transported across the Cent Med. The Malta status is currently 9. Using their three 1942 Axis special-op Ju 52s brought in last turn, he airlifts one of the attack supply steps to the 3-cap permanent airfield at the cost road hex 2629 by the Gulf of Sirte. The Axis turn reinforcement Ju 52 airlifts in 1 Ger and 1 It inf RE into Benghazi. By the end of the Axis naval transport segment there are in Libya 2 It inf REs, 3 1/2 It arm REs (the 1/2 RE was a Ger aid transfer done the last turn), 5 1/2 Ger arm REs, and 4 Ger inf REs. The Axis player hopes next turn to be able to flip the It 3-8 133 Lit arm cadre to full strength. Remaining in the mainland Europe off-map holding box is 1 Ger inf RE and the other attack supply step for this turn. However, the Axis player must withdraw the It BR20M night bomber, and for the first time since the game’s start, does no Malta bombing. This turn everything must be thrown into the Tobruk assault.

Because the Allied player is experienced, aggressive, and playing his kind of game, eg., knowing he’s gradually gaining strength ascendancy, the Axis player feels he needs to carefully plan out the attack on Tobruk. The assault OB is carefully crafted around the 1/10 ratio for the It aslt eng II. Both Pz XXs, the 90 Le mot inf XX, two It hvy flk IIs, the Lw mot hv flk III, the mot anti-tank II, and every Axis art unit on the map are adjacent to Tobruk. The 0-8 Afr const III’s dash into Bardia along with a stout defensive force is abandoned this turn because of the impending Tobruk attack and its unknown outcome. Instead, it increases the 1-cap temporary airfield at 4819 to 3-cap, then moves west to 4719 and builds a 1-cap field there. The It const III builds a 3-cap airfield at the coast road hex 4718, just west of Tobruk, but won’t participate in the anticipated assault. Plans are made for the possibilities of an EX result or an AR result and the issues of the placement of the non-motorized artillery and what to do in the exploitation phase. The Axis player feels like he gets a small break at the end of his initial phase when the Allied player decides to send two of the Wellingtons and the Blen 4 on a harassment mission to 0421. This means less Allied DAS later in the Combat Phase.

In the Axis Combat Phase the Allied player reveals how determined he is to hold Tobruk even in the face of fighter disadvantage and a not completely hopeless (for the Allies) straight up 3 to 2 Axis attack by throwing in all five available bombers on DAS and with only 2 escorts, a P-40E and the Bftr 6F. This mission force faces a swarm of eight good Axis intercepting fighters over Tobruk. At the end of the movement phase the Axis player might have used CAP to throw in over Tobruk up to two MC 200s and the Re2001CB, but elected to use them for the GS mission to hopefully jack up the attack factor. In the air combat two Me109F4s face the two Allied escorts and the rest of the interceptors go after the bombers. Two Wellintgtons and an A-30 are aborted, and the US B-24D5 is eliminated. Air combat with the bombers aborts a MC202, but an A-30 gets through and it also gets through the Axis attacking flack factor of 3. In the GS segment the Axis player gets 25 tactical bombing factors through (halved at combat for the improved fortress) the port’s flack with just a Z1007B aborted, but the final tally is just 1 ¼ attack factors shy of a 3 to 2 attack, so declines to attack at 1 to 1. From one perspective the A-30 has saved Tobruk this turn from attack. Like Lee in retirement or Donnetz at Spandau prison, he mulls afterwards if maybe he should have sent some or all the three aforementioned fighters on CAP over Tobruk instead of on the GS mission. For consolation the Axis player doesn’t have to expend the two attack supply steps he would have had he proceeded with the attack.

By the turn’s end it seems more probable that the siege of Tobruk will be protracted and not a quick fall into the Axis lap. No doubt in the near future the game’s unfolding 1942 “second” protracted siege of Tobruk will in addition feature some kind of Axis maneuver east towards the Bardia/Halfaya Pass vicinity or even farther eastwards towards Sidi Baranni. Two big Axis attacks during the WW Western Desert campaign’s Cauldron saga epoch have failed to bring Axis victory in the Gazala/Tobruk zone. The first was at the game’s Jun II 42 Axis turn Desert Cauldron start, when the big Axis attack resulting in a DR at 4619 failed to bag them a sizable “Gazala pocket” of prime Allied units. The second was this turn’s aborted Tobruk attack when the air situation was momentarily somewhat favorable for the Axis. A third factor perhaps contributing to the somewhat currently favorable Allied game position was maybe the Allied player’s “Auchinleck skedaddle” on the Allied Jun I 42 turn, rather than, perhaps like Ritchie historically, opting to attempt a second Allied close-in desert front line stand, perhaps in this war game extending due south of the improved fortress. However, the Axis side is still undefeated and so far has suffered no ground unit losses. For two turns he’s inflicted what might be called Allied air battle defeats in the sky above the besieged fortress. Though facing a dark horizon in the future of the Western Desert campaign, the game “ain’t over yet,” and the Axis player still hopes for maybe a not-too-bad VP outcome in the WW Western Desert campaign. For the Europa Association’s Total War fans who may think the WW II African desert campaign a “small potato” second-rate substitute, this Europa war gamer reassures, like an Afrika Korps Maxmillian Schnell to Brando in the movie “The Young Lions,” that “I should be in Russia! But I am here.”

Jun II 42

Allied Turn

Once again in the Western Desert, like in the spring of ’41, the British army is facing Rommel’s Afrika Korps with the Allied military forces split: the isolated and besieged force at Tobruk on one hand and farther eastwards beyond the Halfaya Pass an Egyptian defensive screen on the other. This turn the 8th Army’s defensive stand in Egypt is essentially on the two transportation lines one hex westward of the Sidi Barrani hex (w/ a fort and permanent airfield) and one hex west of the permanent airfield at hex 0819. The fort and two airfields are per Desert Cauldron (DC) at start OB. This positioning puts the British Egyptian defensive force under the air umbrella of strong Allied fighter and DAS protection and for the time being out of range of most all Axis fighters. They are also just within striking distance of the easternmost Axis ground units besieging Tobruk. This turn the farthest east Axis airfield is a freshly-built 2-cap temporary field at the coast road hex 4618, two hexes west of Tobruk. In the ’42 epoch, however, the Allied air strength is almost entirely focused in the Egyptian zone whereas in the spring of ’41, in the Wavell epoch, the then much weaker Allied air was split between the Western Desert and Greece. This time at Tobruk, now U-1 in the Allied initial phase, it is the South Africans who are holed up and not the Aussies, who, after Pearl Harbor, have largely moved out of the Western Desert save I believe for a lt tnk II, a P-40E fighter unit, and the 9th inf XX doing garrison duty in Syria along with the NZ inf XX, three const Xs, and the FF 3FL 1-2-6 inf X from the French Forces in the Levant section of the WitD OB on p. 6.

In the El Alemein vicinity this turn the Br 8 eng X begins construction of a two turn fort at hex 2120, where the previous Jun I Allied turn it had moved to and built a 3-cap temporary airfield. On the coast road one hex east of El Alemein the 66RPC const X, resurrected last turn from the replacement pool, begins construction of a one turn permanent airfield. At the El Alemein fort hex (per the DC OB) elements of the Ind 10th inf XX recently arrived from the off-map NE command stand guard. As the Allied WitD OB has the Ind inf units arriving from the NE, the Allied player brings in some by sea using his Eastern Med naval transport and also sometimes by admin moving them 16 hexes from the westernmost Iraq hex into Palestine and ending up at the secondary rail line hex 4506 in Palestine. The WitD/WW rules may perhaps be vague in exactly how the arriving NE Ind inf unit NE transfers come into play on the Europa maps used in a WW Wesern Desert scenario. In spite of the recent Axis advances in the Caldron battle zone, the Allied player still enjoys the luxury of a bristling arsenal in the Egyptian Delta zone. Here basks the famed 4th Ind inf XX, the Greek mtn X and the Yugo inf II, and old Br Hurri 1 air unit guarding the Suez canal ports from Axis VP port strat attacks, the old Br Bombay air unit, four pos flk units here and there, the other Br hv AA X, an odd Ind inf X or two, and a stack of attack supply counters and one remaining resource point. Even at Cyprus on map 20A the Allied player has kept the supported 7th Ind inf X (from the DC at start OB) and added the 1-2-6 Sudanese DF inf X reinforcement. Each turn gsp’s are shipped or air lifted (by the Bombay) there for supply. The reason for a Cyprus force is for defense against a possible big Axis 1942 special air-op there. The Axis player is known to sometimes actually do such things. Gsp’s are also shipped each Allied turn to Malta, from Gibralter and also from Alexandria and Suez.

Back in the Western Desert war zone, the British player this turn is not intending for the siege of Tobruk to degenerate into a sleepy headed “midnight at the oasis” yawner reminiscent of the second half of ’41, and instead plans what he hopes to be a nasty little riposte against the goose stepping Axis aggressors. Around Tobruk the Axis has wrapped around on all three landward sides of the improved fort hex. On the eastern hex at 4918 are the 21st Pz XX, the 90th Le mot inf XX, the mot lt flk II, and one step of attack supply. On the ridge hex at 4818 poise the 7-6-8 Areite arm XX, the Lw 135 mot hvy flk III, and two art IIIs. One hex south at the 4819 road hex are the 15th Pz XX, the 135th mot inf III, two art IIIs, and an attack supply step. Nevertheless the Allied player boldly sallies forth and bellies up to the Axis desert front line with most all the 8th Army motorized elements poised in the Egyptian defensive zone at the turn’s start. Both Axis front line hexes at 4918&4818 appear in peril with Auchinleck’s British armor in front and a powerful Tobruk defense garrison at their backs. In the combat phase the Axis player sends DAS with escort to both hexes, but some Axis fighters still remain at their bases. When the Allied GS segment comes the anxious imperiled Axis desert front line ground forces look skyward and see the A-30s and the DB7B (and some other bombers) fly past them overhead proceeding farther westwards to, of all places, the coast road hex 4718 west of Tobruk. The sly and experienced Allied player has once again pulled a “rope a dope” on the Axis player! Here is a motley crew of Axis ground units, including an It 3-6 inf XX, the DC at start It 3-8 133rd arm cadre, an It hvy flk II, an art III, and the Ger mot anti-tank II. In the ensuing melee an escorting Bftr 1C and an intercepting Me110F are aborted. At the time of the combat roll the besieged Tobruk garrison expends one of their four attack supply steps and roll at straight up 3 to 1 odds and come up with a 1: NE. The Axis player breathes a sigh of relief and in his exploitation phase the Allied player moves his 8th Army motorized forces back to the previously mentioned defensive zone in Egypt.

In the meantime, like a little pack of furtive desert rats, a Br 1-10 lt arm II slinks westwards far to the south of Tobruk and ends its exploitation at 4728. This is a small indication that for now the Allied player feels he has enough arm and inf RP’s coming in to conduct often suicidal attrition operations such as this to force the Axis player to chase after it.

Axis Turn

Nowadays the only singing going on in the Axis side of this game are the wistful tunes of “Lili Marlene.” Gone is the initial game exuberance and excitement of the early Caludron battles and the three overruns, the ensuing Auchinleck skedaddle, the crushing DE of the Allied “sacrificial lamb” stack at the fort hex at 4919, and the menacing encircling maneuver around the improved fortress Tobruk. Well, what caused this Axis “change of tune” in the war game? Among several long term Axis game problems, a preliminary analysis of the WW Western Desert Scenarios’ Victory Conditions and VP Schedule reveals that it’d be good for the Axis side to capture Tobruk by the end of the Jul II 42 Axis turn and thereby gain +30 VPs for control of the Cyrenacia. Right now this seems to be a pipe dream, at least by the end of Jul II.

The problem of the Axis capture of Tobruk (in the Jun II-Jul I-Jul II 42 time frame) is the 29 defense factors there and the -1 to the die roll for Tobruk being an improved fortress. Can the Axis player somehow juggle the single It aslt eng II into the equation at a 1/10th factored ratio and still come up with decent odds? By the way, when earlier stating the Allied units present at Tobruk back in Game Report #2, I accidently omitted the presence of a supported 2-8 Ind inf X there. Anyway, this turn the Axis player takes a hard look at the battlefield reality of a Tobruk assault and, throwing in the It aslt eng II and every Axis artillery unit on the map, plus somehow at least 15 GS factors (halved against the improved fortress) getting through the 7 Allied flack factors present, plus somehow shooing off any Allied DAS or interceptors, the best the Axis player can hope for is an attack die roll at straight up 3 to 2 odds. There’s 2 chances for an AR, two chances for a NE, one chance of an EX, and one chance of DR. The Allied player has three attack steps at Tobruk, meaning he can routinely keep it in supply for three Axis turns before starting to roll for elimination due to lack of supply while isolated, assuming he doesn’t bother to try to sea transport any there in the meantime. At first thought, the 3 to 2 die roll seems to be an unacceptable game risk and a wiser choice might be a protracted campaign of maneuver (kissing goodbye the +30 VPs for control of Cyrenacia), somehow safely occupy perhaps the Bardia/Halfaya Pass hex vicinity, build maybe at least 2 or 3 airfields there to provide fighter cover for Axis sea patrols (remember in WW sea transports can go 10 naval MPs at night, avoiding daylight sea patrols), and then hope to starve out Tobruk later on in the fall of ’42. Even this turn the Axis dares not march into the unimproved fort Bardia hex and stay, for fear of an Allied attack with GS and fighter cover during their turn or another Allied riposte coming out of Tobruk against a weakened and spread out Axis siege force. The closest Axis const unit is at the 2-cap temporary airfield built last turn at hex 4618 on the west side of Tobruk. The 0-8 Afr const III will have to do a difficult and dangerous maneuver round the Allied improved fortress and later dash into Bardia with a stout Axis defensive force along with some flack. The ’42 Allied defensive covering force just in front of Sidi Barrani is much more powerful than what Wavell had in ’41 and is a dangerous menace to any Axis stack outside of ample Me109F and MC202 fighter cover or straying too far eastwards from the bunched up Axis desert front line currently around and to the south of Tobruk.

The Axis player now realizes that maybe one reason the Allied player committed so many ground units at Tobruk was precisely to deny the Axis player Jul II 42 control of the Cyrenaica, or perhaps at all in the present game, and so decides to play on this angle this turn and try to ruse the Allied player into thinking he will in fact attack Tobruk now and hopefully throw in his air over the fortress so far from Allied fighter cover, thereby maybe giving the Axis fighters the chance for a “turkey shoot” in the interception segment of the Combat Phase and then maybe later some Axis air attacks against Allied bases full of inoperative air units during the Exploitation Phase. The Axis has two more turns after this turn to capture Tobruk and something may happen to increase the attack odds there.

During the Axis initial phase the Axis player reveals a surprise special air-op planned at the game’s DC start and activates three Ju52s from the 1942 Axis Special Forces Pool for a -3 VP penalty. Their intended use is to airlift mainly attack supply counters from the mainland Europe off-map holding box to the Western Desert, most likely to the DC at start permanent airfield at coast road hex 2629 in the Gulf of Sirte. During the Axis turns they would be doing a one-way regular transport mission twice their printed movement rating to a Libyan airfield, then fly a transfer mission back to the mainland Europe off-map holding box the first opportunity early each Allied movement phase. The permanent airfield at 2629 is remote from the Spit 5s at Malta and for the time being is probably safe from Allied bombing attacks from Egypt. The Axis player does have to garrison the field with the It 1-8 136GF inf X to protect it from Allied Desert Rat attacks and places an It 0-8 lt flk II there just in case the Allied player decides to do some dicey long distance tactical bombing against the transports.

During the movement phase the Axis player first moves the 0-8 Afr const III to 4819, two hexes south of Tobruk, where it can still build a 1-cap temporary airfield. This poises it for a dash into Bardia the Axis Jul I turn. The It 0-6 5A const III marches all the way up to the coast road hex at 4718, just west of Tobruk. This is as far east as it can go. The Axis player intends for it to build a 3-cap temporary airfield there the Axis Jul I turn and it would be poised later on to either build a fort there in case a long term siege of Tobruk begins to unfold or else begin the difficult maneuver around Tobruk. By the way, the other available It const III is in the Axis replacement pool per the DC at start OB and the Axis player hasn’t the at start It inf REs to build it. Meanwhile, the Axis shuffles his ground units around Tobruk as if preparing for a Pyrrhic attack. Then, in order to draw fire, the Axis player sends two Me109Fs on CAP over Tobruk near the end of the movement phase. They are too far off for interception during the combat phase and CAP can’t be flown during the combat phase. Then the Axis player says he believes it’s the beginning of the Axis combat phase and asks the Allied player if he wants to perform any DAS missions. The Allied player has taken the bait and throws in almost all his bombers on DAS and a few long legged fighters as escort. The Axis player throws in a hornet’s swarm of Axis fighters flying interception along with the two Me109Fs flying CAP and wins a big air battle over Tobruk. An A-30 and a P-40E are eliminated. The Bftr 1C and a Well 1C are aborted. A Me 109F is also aborted over Tobruk. In the exploitation phase the Axis player sends his unused bombers to the permanent airfield at Sidi Barrani to bomb the airfield and the inoperative units based there. He rolls good and aborts the P-40C, a Hurri2C, and the DB7B, also giving the airfield 3 hits. The Axis player feels good at the end of his turn, but knows that the Jul I 42 turn is a big reinforcement and replacement turn for the Allied player and will be able to rebuild much of his losses

June I 42

Allied Turn

Even at the beginning of the turn it’s obvious the Allied player isn’t comfortable with the situation in the Cauldron battle zone. There are now no Allied air units based in Libya, neither at Tobruk nor the nearby Desert Cauldron (DC) at start airfields at 4818 or 5018, nor at the field at 0319 by Halfaya Pass. The three P-40Es, the P-40C, a Hurri 2C, and the DB7B are based at the DC at start fields at Sidi Barrani (0718) and the airfield at 0819 on the Tobruk-Matruh rail line. The Well 2, a Well 1C, and the Blftr 1C&1Fs are based at either Matruh (1318) or at one of the four other DC at start fields along the Matruh-Alexandria coast road/rail line. To the surprise of the Axis player, who has feared an Allied counter punch this turn, the Allied player does what might be called an “Auchinleck skedaddle” and scoots out most of his ground forces from Libya, save at Tobruk and the adjacent southern fort hex up the ridge at 4818. Inded, in the Allied initial phase the Axis player uses the two Ju87Ds and a SM79-2 for harassment to protect the southern flanks of the extended Axis desert front line “chicken neck” extending eastwards and ending just before the stony desert area to the south of Tobruk. During the Allied movement phase the three aforementioned Libyan airfields are removed from the map, leaving the vacant Tobruk airfield the only Allied one left in Libya. The Allied player later says the more he looked at the Axis forces’ strength, the more convinved he became that holding a desert front line in the Cauldron battle zone only invited heavy Axis attacks with probably at least fair odds each Axis turn.

A very large garrison is left at the improved fortress Tobruk which includes the 1st and 2nd SA inf XXs (both 7-8s), the Br 0-2-8 hv flk X, a pos flack unit, the 64RPC con X, a Br 6-4-6 arm X, two Br 3-8 art Xs, and four attack supply counters. The Tobruk hex and the adjacent ridge hex at 4818 essentially contain the red coats that were adjacent to Axis units with ZOCs and therefore couldn’t move out of Libya and were left behind “on their own.” I of course sang the appropriate stanzas of J. Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans,” but I assure pro-Allied Association members that I soon stopped after further analysis later on.

All is not bleak for the Allied player. In his initial phase the Desert Rat attack per Rule 37F gets a good die roll on the WW success table and inflicts a hit on the unguarded at start Axis airfield at 4218 (just east of Derna) which also aborts a Me109F there. In the exploitation phase the Allied player sends a Wellingtion and all three A-30s (at extended range) to the Erakleion airfield on Crete and gets a hit, also aborting a SM79-2 based there. Wellingtons also score a strat bombing hit on the important Axis port at Derna and jack its port hits up to 2, on top of the game’s at start 1 hit per the DC set-up.

Axis Turn

In the initial phase the Axis player spends one ARP to rebuild the Me109F aborted last turn. He uses a rigid priority schedule where good fighters are almost always brought back first, then later bombers. At the game’s DC start both the Germans and Italians had 6 ARPs. Now they’re down to 2 Ger ARPs and 3 It ARPs. If at all possible, both will retain at least one ARP up to the next Jul I 42 air cycle so as to have an initial ARP total of 9 and thereby each be entitled to spend up to 3 ARPs per axis initial phase in the subsequent air cycle turns. This turn in the desert zone the Axis has three Me109F3s, two MC202s, the RE2001CB, two Ju87Ds, a Me110D&F, a MC200, three Ju88A4s, a CR42AS, and a MC200. Based at Tripoli are the BR20M and a He 111H, and at Crete are a SM79-2 and a G50bis. The Axis aborted and eliminated air boxes are chock full of smashed up Axis air units, whereas the Allied air boxes have few damaged air units. This same trend was evident in the Crusader game played earlier.

Although still superficially on the offensive in the MTO, the Axis player inside feels the Allied player is in a strange way calling all the strategic shots in the theater. At Malta, with the arrival of the Spit 5s, the Axis air abandoned a continuation of the major air offensive there and instead reinforced the Afrika Korps air in the desert war zone. Faced with last turn’s Auchinleck skedaddle, the Axis player has no other choice but to hurl its strength against the “sacrificial lamb” stack at the fort hex 4818 south of Tobruk. Here stand the Br 50th 7-8 inf XX, a supported Ind 2-8 inf X, and a Br 3-8 art X. Although Tobruk and hex 4818 block any significant further Axis eastward penetration, the Allied player sends a large array of hasassment into the Tobruk vicinity. Still, it’s easy for the Axis player to surround the ill-fated Allied stack on five sides. The Allied harassment has only lessened the amount of available DAS that turn. The Axis player throws in a large amount of GS to jack up the attack odds, hoping thereby to avoid exchanges, and attacks with pretty much everything he’s got, except that he expends only two attack supply steps to give only 20 REs full attack strength in order to conserve attack supply in the face of increasing supply problems as the Malta status number gradually goes against Axis Central Med shipping. He wins big with a DE, giving the Axis renewed hope after the May II 42 Axis initial turn fisasco.

At Malta the BR20M and the He111H get lucky and score night strat bombing hits for the Malta Status, but the He111H is aborted upon landing after a night mission. Both fly back to Tripoli to be out of range of the Spits the Allied turn.

May II 42

Some may be surprised that we were pretty much able to use Watson’s original DC set-up considering all the OB changes required to update old WD Cauldron to a revised WitD Cauldron for WW game play. Just one OB change example would be the addition of at least five light tank/recee batts (2 SA, one Aus, and 2 Brit) to the Allied At Start OB. Since we’re playing an abbreviated WW WD campaign scenario, the Allied player doesn’t have to rattle his chain hobble regarding the garrison problem (mentioned earlier in June at the Europa Association website) of the NE Command’s Ind inf unit transfers to the ME Command as he might certainly do in a WW Mid East campaign scenario. Auchtung Allied player!

The Axis player begins by overrunning the gallant 1FL FF brig at the fort at 4620 and the hapless Ind mot antitank brig at 4721. This sets up a “guess which hex I’m attacking” dilemma for the Allies for the two Cauldron at start fort hexes at 4519 and 4619, each containing no flack and, along with some other brigade sized units, a juicy Br 6-4-6 arm brig just waiting to be put into the Allied ME replacement pool. The Axis player sends two Me109Fs on CAP over Tobruk to cover the two Allied P-40Es (Warhawks) based there, but they slip out of the Axis patrol attacks on their way to the impending Cauldron battle zone as if the 109Fs are nothing. The Allies manage to send DAS to both hexes facing impending Axis attack and only then does Rommel show his hand by sending first interception and then ground support to 4619. The fighter battles over the battleground are inconclusive and an A-30 unit (probably Baltimores, but maybe Marylands; anyone in the Association know for sure?) poises for DAS. The Axis AA attack (3 factors) against the Allied DAS is ineffective and the attack arithmetic indicates 9+3 DAS=12 for the Allies and 71 attack factors (along with GS) for the Axis: 5 to 1, -1 for the fort. The Axis player rolls a 4, which turns into a 3 (-1): DR. The Allied player happily retreats into the coast road hex at 4618. The Axis player could have gone against the lone 7-8 1 SA inf XX in the coastal fort hex at Gazala (4518), but went for the glory against either 4519 or 4619. A DE at either would have set up an exploitation all the way to the unoccupied coast road hex at 4618 and the creation of a “Gazala pocket” of likely doomed Allied units. If the large Allied stack at 4519 (2 inf Xs, a Br art X, the BR 32T arm X, and a 1RE trans unit) would have been in the sack along with the SA inf XX, the eventual loss (including the necessary DE at 4619) would likely have been crippling for the Allies.

In the Malta battle zone, the Cauldron at start OB arrival of two powerful Br Spit 5 units has discouraged the Axis player from continuing Kesselring’s air offensive against the island, and so both the BR20M and the He111H do port strat bombing night attacks to try to increase the Malta status number. Both base at Tripoli afterwards to avoid being hit by the Spits doing airbase attacks against Sicily. The single at start Axis fighter based at Sicily (the It Re2001CB Reggiane) and and the SM79-1 also there transfer to the Western Desert on the May II 42 Axis turn. The arrival of the Br Spit 5s at Malta is important, I think, for the ’42 epoch of the WW II MTO, because they seemingly turn the tide in the long running Axis air battle against Malta and in this way drive an important nail into the Axis coffin which the North African campaign perhaps often eventually becomes, in Europa often climaxing with Axis disaster at Tunis.

Meanwhile, back in the Western Desert, miffed by the Allied player’s success in evading a resounding first turn defeat in the Cauldron war zone, the Axis player looks for something to kick in the exploitation phase and does so by overrunning a 3-defence factor Allied stack at the stony desert hex 4820, where the 66R const brig (building a fort there per Watson’s at start), the Aus 1 lt arm II, and the supported Br 7th mot inf X await their fate. But the Axis player is concerned about his own fate also, and so at the end of the exploitation opts not to occupy hex 4619 where just earlier he’d spent so much effort, planning, and energy fighting for. Instead, he braces up against a still powerful and very wily and experienced Europa player and creates an Axis desert front line starting at the coast road fort hex at 4417 and going due south to 4418 and 4419, and hence dog-legging eastwards to 4520 and 4620, sticking out like a long chicken neck. At the easternmost hex 4620 lurk the Ger 21st Pz XX, the 90th Le mot inf XX, the mot lt AA II 617, and a supply step, lugged off-road across open terrain just in case of a nasty surprise Allied “surround” during their turn.

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