Allied Turn

In his initial phase the Allied player still does no RP builds, although there are available in the replacement pool some attractive ground units. Some examples would be a pos flk unit, the 0-2-8 hv AA X 4 (lost at Tobruk), the 3-2-10 arm X 7, and two lt tnk II’s. He keeps his 12 ARPs on ice, as he’s already cleaned out the ME aborted and eliminated boxes. He does the Sep I AA unit conversion and brings on-map the Br 2-10 mot lt AA X. The Axis player is still guessing that his opponent is saving his fair-sized pile of arm and inf RP’s for quick divisional and arm X rebuilds the Allied turn following a big attack against the Axis desert front line shield in case of an EX or HX, thus enabling him to quickly hit hard again the Afrika Korps while it’s weakened and off-balance. This turn the Axis player is in no mood to find out what will happen if the Allies go for an all-out ground attack against the Sidi Barini Axis desert front line in concert with the certain big air battle over the combat hex, and so launches the biggest Axis harassment operation thus far in the current Western Desert war game. Every Stuka, Ju 88, and Savoia Marchetti based in eastern Libya do the harassment mission to nine hexes east and southeast of Sidi Barini in an effort to prevent the 8th Army from moving adjacent to the desert front line zone at Sidi Barini (0718)-0719-0619-0520 and attacking. This leaves in effect only the Me 110E and the Re2001CB available for possible DAS if the Axis player has miscounted his hexes or the Allied player is successful in harassment abatement. By the end of the Allied initial phase the Malta status is reduced to 7.

In the naval segment of the movement phase the Allies lose one West Med ntp and one East Med ntp to Axis Cent Med anti-shipping die rolls as he ships gsp’s to Malta. Later the Allies move the two 0-1-4 const Xs to repair the air raid rail hit at coast road/rail hex 1618; both end their movement at 1519. The Matruh to Tobruk railway (the railhead is actually at 4818) is busted up to 1519. The 1-2-8 eng X 8 moves to 1418 and builds a 2-cap temporary airfield there. Early in the movement phase the Axis player transfers the three Ju 52s and the glider unit in Libya back to the Mainland Europe off-map holding box. Having broken down their two armored XX’s (1st & 7th) at the start of the movement phase, the Allies fan out their motorized units to gain hex control of the inland road down to the Siwa Oasis and westwards on the coast road to hex 0919 and rail line to 0918, including Matruh. Interestingly, he does no air missions in the movement phase, nor does he attempt any preliminary harassment abatement in an effort now to lunge at the Axis desert front line.

In the exploitation phase the Allies advance westwards their Western Desert front line to Matruh (1218)-1219 and 1221, leaving 1220 vacant. At Matruh are 25 (including the 1st Arm XX), at 1219 are 24 (along with two 5-2-10 arm Xs and a 6-4-6 arm X), and at 1221 are 22 defense factors (including the 7th Arm XX). A fourth nonoverrunable stack at 1420 (including the 4-3-8* arm X 23 and three lt tnk units) does the double duty of helping plug the gap at 1220 and covering the 8th Army’s southern desert flank. Smaller stacks with some flack capabilities guard the airfields at 1418, 1719, and 1818. Some ground units still remain at the fortified El Alamein gap at 2119-2120. At the newly built 2-cap airfield at 1418 the Allied player bases the Br Spit 5 and P 40E, at the airfield at 1719 are the SA P 40C and the Aus P 40E, and at the 1-cap airfield at 1818 is the SA Hurri 2. This turn the Allies base the long ranging Bftr 8F NHF at Tanta (2917), thus covering all three Suez Canal ports from Axis day or night naval harassment bombings. Once again, the Allies do no bombing missions against hex targets in the Axis portion of the Western Desert. He must be saving his air units and ARP’s for something else. One thing the Allied player is careful to do this turn is set up the appropriate ground forces for the important two 2-10 mot inf X conversions in the initial phase of the Oct I 42 turn. This will enable him at the end of the movement phase to assemble the Br 8th and 10th Arm XX’s. This will give the 8th Army four primo 8-7-10 arm XX’s by the Oct I 42 Allied combat phase. He also sets up for the second 2-10 mot lt AA X conversion that also occurs that turn.

By the end of the Allied player’s turn perhaps both players more clearly realize that the Axis player can no longer stand up close against the strengthened 8th Army, and also that if he suffers a significant ground unit loss after either an Axis or, more likely, an Allied attack, the heretofore two turn gradual withdrawal westward of the Afrika Korps will likely become a pell mell rout. The Allied player is an experienced ’41 Scorched Earth player who knows how to run down retreating units and will not give the Axis the luxury of maintaining a depleted desert front line while a primo Ger panzer/mot inf cadre or It arm cadres pull rearward out of possible Allied zoc control in order to rebuild to full strength. This situation will likely be the signal for the Allies to press up hard against the Axis desert front line maybe even without a full complement of close-in fighter interception cover for protection, as the Axis player will likely not want to risk further losses (by EX or HX rolls) attempting counterattacks with already weakened forces. Like a house of cards, the current Axis desert defense strategy is becoming based on a delicate balance of hex distance (about 7-9 hexes) from the 8th Army’s front line and a mixture of both harassment and close-in fighter cover protecting the Axis front line. Before leaving for the evening the Allied player reassures the Axis that he’s given him a choice for the upcoming Axis turn: “either attack one of my front line hexes or retreat some more.” What to do?

German Turn

Early in the initial phase the Axis player announces the last possible 1942 Ger Sp Op in the current game and activates two more Ju 52s and the second DFS 230 glider unit for a sp op planned on the Jul I 42 Axis initial phase. The Lw air transport units are placed in the Mainland Europe off-map holding box. Later in the reinforcement/replacement segment of his initial phase the Axis player spends two Ger ARPs to rebuild the two aborted Ju88A4s, leaving them with a net of 4; but he spends no Italian ARPs, leaving them with 7. The Axis player believes the Ger ARPs are dangerously low in the face of a strengthened 8th Army desiring to attack and an almost halved Torch-truncated Nov air cycle to look forward to. If the two Western Desert foes tangle in a major air and ground combat clash in either or both of the two upcoming Oct game turns the Axis could easily quickly lose good Ger fighters in combat and then find itself used up in ARPs. An unfavorable correlation of forces and a paucity of available and upcoming ARPs seem to call for a respite for now through another retreat westwards, assuming the Allied player gives the Axis no opening for an ideal attack this turn. At Agedabia the Axis breaks down the step of attack supply there into three resource points and spends one of them for the It 0-6 const III at Bengazi to begin building a two turn fort there: one of the two Axis North African major ports and general supply sources (along with Tripoli) in the current WW WD/Cauldron scenario.

Late in the initial phase the Allied player sends out a large number of air units on the harassment mission in an effort to protect the Allied desert front line stacks at 1219 and 1221. Harassment is done at 1223, 1120-1121, 1019-1020, and 0920. The last three hexes are within interception range of the three Me 109s at 0618 and the Allied player sends some escorts with the bombing missions to 0920 and 1020, but the Axis player declines to intercept any of these Allied air missions. He already knows he’ll be retreating westwards this turn from 0618 and feels he can’t risk any good Luftwaffe fighters on nonessential dogfights just for the sake of attrition combat, plus the retreat will require a major reshuffling westwards of the Axis air units currently based at two forward airfields to be evacuated (the other at 0519). These Allied harassment air missions successfully protect the ground unit stack at 1221 (22 defense factors w/ 2 flack factors and half AECD/ATEC) from perhaps being encircled by enemy zoc’s and then attacked at perhaps 3 to 1 +1 odds in the combat phase of the current Axis turn, and was the Axis player’s choice spot for a possible major attack this turn.

At the start of the movement phase the Axis player uses three of the Ju 52s in the Mainland Europe off-map holding box to air lift a step of attack supply to Libya and two Ju52s there to air lift 2 Ger inf RP’s and 1 It RP to Libya. However, instead of going to the usual 3-cap permanent airfield at the Gulf of Sirte coast road hex 2629 and to Bengazi, the large air transport mission enters the north edge of map 18A at hex 1501 and, carefully arcing westward around the interception range of the two Spit 5s at Malta, end their long and barely within range one-way regular air transport mission at Tripoli (0121) with the Axis inf RP’s and at the 3-cap permanent airfield one hex to the south of it (at hex 0122) with the step of attack supply. For the time being the two operative It Z1007b bombers remain idle at Tripoli, the Malta Status issue by now not very important in the end game period of the current WW Western Desert scenario. Its status is now at 7.

In the sea transport segment of his movement phase the Axis player transports via coastal shipping the It 0-6 const III at Bardia to Bengazi; later in the movement phase it admin moves to the 1-cap permanent airfield at Agedabia. The three Ger inf RP’s at Homs are moved into Tripoli using coastal shipping and a fourth Ger inf RP at Bengazi is also sea transported via coastal shipping to Tripoli. The Ger 0-8 const III Afr moves from Halfaya Pass (0419) to 0218 and there builds a 3-cap temporary airfield. Meanwhile, at the start of the movement phase the Ger pz and mot inf XX’s break down and fan out to regain Axis hex control of the road and rail hexes eastward to 1018 & 1019, including the interior road from 1020 down to the Siwa Oasis, in the current 4-hex gap no man’s land between the two Western Desert foes. Then the Axis player does another carefully measured retreat westwards to Halfaya Pass-19A:0320-0220-0120 in an effort to hopefully get the Afrika Korps out of harm’s way and keep it intact for the immediate future. A presumably non-overrunnable southern defensive flanking line continues westwards at 18A:5120-5020-4921 and at 4722. The new Axis desert front line demands a major reshuffle of its Western Desert air units and in their exploitation phase the Axis also destroy with movement points the two 3-cap temporary airfields at 0618 and 0519. By the end of the exploitation phase the Me 109G2 and the It Ju 87B are based at the 3-cap airfield at Halfaya Pass. The three Me109F3s are at Bardia and the three MC202s are at the newly built airfield at 0218. The two Z1007b’s at Tripoli air transfer to the coast road airfield at 4618, two hexes west of Tobruk, where a Ju87D is also based. At Tobruk and in its close vicinity are four Ju 88A4s, two SM 79-2s, the SM 84, two more Ju 87Ds, and the Me 110E and the Re 2001CB fighters. The G 50Bis air transfers from Agedabia to Tripoli to guard the Lw air transports based there.

This new Axis desert front line again creates a 7-hex gap between the two opposing Western Desert armies and may well be the last Axis stand on Egyptian soil. In the Oct I 42 Allied initial phase the Axis will certainly need to protect with harassment the southeastward facing arc (at 0320 & 0220) of its new desert front line, leaving exposed to possible Allied attack hopefully only a one hex side “shield” at the eastward facing side of the Halfaya Pass coast road hex. At the Pass the AK XXX marker stack contains 21 full AECD/ATEC defense factors and 7 flack factors. At presumably safe hex 0320 (assuming harassment) are 19 full AECD/ATEC defense factors and 5 flack factors. At also presumably safe hex 0220 (also assuming harassment) stands the Italian arm/mobile force with 19 defense factors at half AECD/ATEC and with 3 flack factors. Thus for one more turn the Axis is barely able to hopefully maintain its slow but steady westwards retreat, maybe buying some time and space to reshuffle its Western Desert forces and maybe build some forts and additional airfields. So critical is the imbalance of ground forces and the subsequent necessity to preserve all its air units for definite harassment and potential urgent DAS and non-phasing fighter interception/escort that the Axis cannot at this time entertain the idea of another possibly large naval harassment mission against the Suez Canal Allied ports for some VPs. The Axis player feels all his air units must be kept intact this turn for use later in the upcoming Allied turn for the sake of the survival of the Afrika Korps in the current position of its desert front line. Of course the Axis wants to do battle with the 8th Army when given a favorable opportunity and at the time and the spot of his own choosing, but this ideal combination has not yet happened against the wily Allied player.