Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TDDH: Feb I 42: The Japanese

Up until now, I have not been keeping track of victory points based on units eliminated. Of course, I need to have this information, so I had to do a back check to find where the two sides stand, VP-wise.

The Japanese currently lead the Allies 169 to 64.

The Japanese find themselves in nearly the same situation that their historical counterparts did at this point in the campaign.

February 8, 1942 – General Masaharu Homma, Supreme Commander of the Japanese forces in the Philippines, came to the realization that he did not have enough forces to break the Bataan defenses. He ordered a withdrawal from the position on the peninsula to await reinforcement. General MacArthur, on the other hand, forbade an Allied counter-offensive, because he did not want to consume scare resources, knowing that no relief was coming.

At this point, the Japanese could just sit back and wait for reinforcements as their historical counterparts did. There is a division that becomes available next turn (Feb II 42), and several air units and non-divisional units that become available in March, as well as replacements.

However, sitting and waiting does not capture Manila.  As the Japanese commander, I want to bring this campaign to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible.

The Japanese have a strategic reserve available, and there are three divisions available in the strategic reserve, along with a pair of IJN Zero squadrons, and a pair of parachute battalions. Using these forces will result in a victory point penalty of 6 points per regimental equivalent, parachute unit or air unit called up. Each division is broken down by regiment; three infantry regiments and an artillery regiment. The maximum penalty would be 96 VPs if all 16 units are called up.

The Japanese have some VP capital that they can spend, and it could bring the campaign to a quicker close, but is that the wisest course of action? These VPs can easily be recouped, as there are still a lot of islands to be captured.

On the northern end of the island, forces are very thin to nonexistent, and cannot withstand an onslaught of Allied forces, but Allied forces are also getting thin. Unfortunately, the Japanese cannot rescue everything. The baseforce that is stationed at Olongapo has to be rescued. The railroad engineers, not so much a priority. The two resource points in the north will likely have to be abandoned, along with the transport counter.

As the Japanese commander, I have to ask myself, “Do I want to sit around for a month and wait while the Allied forces to the north run wild? Do I want to sit and wait for forces that may not even guarantee the fall of Manila?” Every turn the Japanese dither, the less time is available to conquer the rest of the islands. Here is where the situation diverges from General Homma’s. He had the Allies bottled up on the Bataan Peninsula. In this situation, the Allies are roaming freely, unchecked, and Manila has yet to fall.

Do I want to withdraw to the south and fight again for the same terrain, then return to Manila after regularly scheduled reinforcements arrive, or do I want to dip into the strategic reserve and call up reinforcements that can arrive in a more timely manner?

Initial Phase


  • Zone 11: Clear skies/calm seas
  • Zone 12: Rain/rough seas
  • Zone 13: Rain/calm seas
Japanese supply situation

Japanese supply situation


Every unit is in supply, except for the two Japanese artillery units (15th mt. mortar battalion & artillery battalion), in the swamps across the Pampanga River from San Fernando, These units start their first turn out of supply.


One resource point is produced in Formosa.

Reinforcements and Replacements

No reinforcements arrive this turn. Instead, the 43HC, 48HS and 56HC static brigades are withdrawn. The 56HC is in the replacement pool, but the 16HC is still in play, and is substituted for this withdrawal. The ‘B’ construction regiment that was destroyed last turn is also withdrawn, putting the IJA at a deficit of -4 replacement points.

At this point, the Japanese spend 8 victory points in order to eliminate the replacement point deficit they have been enduring. This expenditure cannot be made again until the March I 42 turn.

Two heavy AA battalions are also withdrawn, one from Dagupan, and one from Mariveles, leaving that town completely defenseless.

A single air replacement point is spent to repair the Ki-27 fighter at the Vigan airstrip (I forgot that it was sitting at that airstrip, aborted).

The Japanese call up three reserve divisions, at the cost of 72 victory points (6/RE, 4 RE/division, 24 VP/division). They are called up as regiments and assemble in Formosa. Total VP expenditures are 80 VPs for this turn, leaving the Japanese with a 89 – 64 VP lead over the Allies.

The baseforce (32) at Olongapo flips to the mobile side in preparation for evacuation.


Naval Movement Subphase

The IJN delivers fresh troops to Luzon

The IJN delivers fresh troops to Luzon

The IJN leaves Lucena bound for Formosa to pick up the newly available troops. They make it with no trouble. The Pensacola chooses not to attempt reaction, because it is pretty much crippled, and running the minefield when it doesn’t have to may very well sink her, giving the Japanese more victory points.

A supply transport pulls into Olongapo and starts loading a resource point while the rest of the fleet continues to Formosa. Although there are 2 resource points at Olongapo, the supply transport can only load one because the port only has a capacity of 1, and the transport cannot load anything off a beach.

At Formosa, the new troops are loaded, along with a resource point, and head back to Luzon. At Olongapo, they meet up with with the supply transport. As they pass near Corregidor, the Pensacola chooses once again to not react, but the A-24s out of Manila fly out on a naval patrol mission. They easily find the fleet, but fail to hit any targets. they return to Corregidor.

Two transports carrying a division and a resource point pull into Batangas, while the rest continue on to Lucena. The supply transport unloads the resource point, but the rest cannot unload at this time, having expended all available movement points.


Japanese movement

Japanese movement

The Filipino 1st infantry division is out in the open, just begging to be attacked, and the Japanese oblige them. All units that have surrounded Manila shift north towards the Filipino 1st.

To the south, the engineers withdraw from Cavite. If the Allies want to attack this easy target, they will have to leave Manila and expose themselves.

In the north, the transport counter moves as close as it can towards Aparri, but cannot make it until the exploitation phase.

To facilitate the attack, a resource point is moved by rail to the end of the line where the IJA only has to trace a 4 hex supply line to it. This is made possible by the control of San Pablo and Legaspi, which gives the IJA 2 REs of rail capacity. They will be in attack supply.

Two bombers are called in to assist with the attack, escorted by a Ki-27b squadron. Two P-40E squadrons from Manila intercepts. The interceptors bypass the escort, targeting a Japanese bombers. The Ki-27 misses its free shot at one of the interceptors, resulting in both Japanese bombers being shot down (KIA). (the photo shows the IJA aircraft and the Allied aircraft in two separate hexes. Both are in the combat hex of the 1st infantry XX. I put them in separate hexes for the picture to show both)


Combat and the Allied retreat

Combat and the Allied retreat

Prior to the attack, the Allies fly a B-17C and a B-18 bomber squadron on defensive support. There are no interceptors and no anti-aircraft. The bombers provide two points of defense, but hopefully it will make a difference. The rule reads that only 1 squadron can fly per 2 REs of ground units, or fraction thereof. The defenders have 3 REs in the division, and a half an RE in the engineer battalion. I think that 1 1/2 RE falls under “fraction thereof”.

Since the 1st Filipino infantry division is unsupported, it only defends at half strength, meaning it provides 5.5 defensive factors, while the engineer battalion provides .5 defensive factors. Combine all this together and the Allies have a total of 8 defense factors.

The Japanese 16th corps has 29 attack factors. The attack force is comprised of:

  • 2 x 4-6-6 supported light infantry regiments
  • 1 x 8-12-6 unsupported infantry division
  • 1 x 1-2-5 construction regiment
  • 1 x 4-2-6 siege artillery battalion
  • 1 x 4-2-8 artillery regiment
  • 1 x 2-1-6 artillery battalion
  • 1 x 2-1-8 mountain mortar battalion (out of general supply)
  • 1 x 0-1-8 mountain artillery battalion (out of general supply)

The corps is fully stacked, fully supported, and in attack supply. Although two artillery units are out of general supply for the turn, the attack supply means that they will attack at full strength.

The attack proceeds at 3:1 odds. There is a 1 in 6 chance that the Allies will be eliminated at no cost to the IJA, through a Defender Half Eliminated result. There is also a 1 in 3 chance that the Allies will be eliminated, but costing the Japanese troops, and a 1 in 3 chance of just forcing a retreat.

The Japanese roll on the low end. Exchange. Ouch! The defenders are eliminated (the 1st infantry division is reduced to its (3-5-6 cadre side). The bombers, not being affected by the combat result, do not factor into calculating losses. The defenders lose a total of 12 defense factors, and the Japanese lose 12 attack factors as well. Which Japanese units to eliminate is actually pretty easy. Artillery replacement points are rare to non-existent. The unsupported division is flipped to its cadre side (considered a loss of 8 attack factors as opposed to 5 attack factors), and one of the 4-6-6 light infantry regiments is eliminated as well. Both sides gain 3 replacement points from this battle.

The Filipinos lose the battle, but they did some damage to the Japanese Army. They retreat across the Pampanga River. The Japanese choose to sit and lick their wounds.


Naval Movement sub-phase

The IJN moves to Olongapo and picks up the baseforce unit and resource points there and return with them to Batangas. Another group picks up the railroad engineers from Dagupan, and returns them to Lucena. Naval units at Lucena replenish, but the ones at Batangas do not, for the moment.

A transfer mission of the other IJA Ki-27b is initiated to fly it to Lucena.


Japanese exploitation

Japanese exploitation

The 16th Corps sits, because some of the units cannot move during exploitation, and I do not want to abandon them. However, the reserve units at Batangas and Lucena begin their march north, moving in an effort to get to Manila quickly.

After the last of the bombers were torn up by the P-40s, it is clear that the Japanese have to spend a few more victory points to call up the IJN Zeros that are in reserve. The IJA air forces are clearly not up to the task of defeating the USAAC. (The USAAC for another 4 turns, anyway).


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2 thoughts on “TDDH: Feb I 42: The Japanese

  1. NaCly Dog on said:

    Just imagine the headlines in US papers from this turn.

    Losing those bombers had to hurt.


  2. The Japanese commander will hopefully show the answer to these questions that every Japanese commander must ask when planning his campaign.

    The question that hasn’t been asked yet is how the Japanese commander can bring this campaign to a successful conclusion quickly with his overwhelming force.


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