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.