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.