The Coral Sea is the scenario I’m most likely to lose in this campaign. Your primary objectives are destroying one Jap Carrier, keeping at least one US carrier alive, and preventing the Japs from taking Port Moresby. Port Moresby is undefended and far, far away from your initial carrier locations. Failing any primary objective means losing the scenario and the war. The secondary objectives further complicate matters. The Guadalcanal scenario is easier to win if you can destroy the Tulagi invasion force. But Tulagi is in the extreme NE of the map. Destroying the Tulagi invasion and saving Port Moresby requires splitting your carriers.
Every Jap Fleet carrier sunk gains 150 reinforcement points – a big incentive for aggression. Survival of all carriers grants additional bonuses. Unlike the Marshall and Gilbert Island Raid, your Carriers must be exposed to high levels of danger merely to complete the mission.
My overall strategy is relying on Dauntless Dive Bombers for my Carrier Offense. They are highly effective on land units and smaller ships. They attack every turn. Torpedo planes do more damage on large naval targets but cannot attack every turn. Dive Bombers only sink large naval targets by landing multiple successful attacks.
I’m using almost all destroyers in a long-distance spotting screen. Hopefully the destroyers can both spot enemy ships and delay Jap surface ships attempting to reach my carrier task forces. Destroyers are also capable of torpedoing Jap Carriers if they penetrate the Jap navy escort. Destroyers are inexpensive costing 54 resource points compared to the 288 point cost of a Yorktown Class Carrier. My two scout planes do not need refueling. But scout planes are slow, have no offensive ability and are very susceptible to fighters.
The Port Moresby attack must be stopped. The Jap troop ships must be sunk to foil the attack. The troop ships must be spotted before they can be sunk. Thus, one scout plane will move NW towards Port Moresby in hopes of spotting the troop transports. It will take the scout plane many turns to get into troop ship spotting range. Task Force 2 centered on the CV Yorktown will be charging NW towards Port Moresby with the primary objective of taking out the troop ships. I’m willing to sacrifice Task Force 2 to stop the Jap troop transports.
High losses are expected. My scouting destroyers are highly exposed, and the scout planes will probably perish. Task Force 2 including the Yorktown may be sacrificed to prevent the loss of Port Moresby. One more thing, by sending most of my destroyers out to scout my Task Forces are far more vulnerable to Jap submarines.
I get multiple bennies from my successes in prior scenarios. My pilots are more experienced and the Jap pilots less experienced plus I get a battleship for Task Force 1.
I have fifteen uncommitted air command points. A squadron of fighters, bombers or torpedo planes will cost 3 command points. A squadron of scouts counts 1 air command point. I place two Carriers in Task Force 1 and man them with two squadrons of F4F Wildcat fighters and 3 squadrons of Dauntless Dive Bombers. Task Force 1 is taking on Tulagi and only Dive bombers can hit ground troops. Task Force 2 has one carrier pre-placed in the scenario manned with one F4F squadron, one torpedo squadron and 1 dive bomber squadron. The deployment area mandates tight initial groups. Except for 1 destroyer squadron escorting the withdrawing fleet tanker (in blue), all units are under my control.
Turn 1 – Task Force 1 Launches its Tulagi Strike of 4 Dauntless Dive Bomber Squadrons and 1 F4F Wildcat Escort. The remaining F4F squadron is in the hangers if needed to protect the task force. The task force steams North towards Tulagi to speed the recovery of the strike. Task Force 2 is steaming NW at full speed.
Turn 2 – The Tulagi strike force spots a supply ship off of the island and an engineer unit building a seaplane hangar. Two other ships are spotted but not clearly identified by ship type (that is the ghost image of a ship). The Dive Bombers will launch their attacks on Turn 3.
Turn 3 – A scouting destroyer spots a Jap carrier plane close to Task Force 2. The Carrier launches its F4F squadron to intercept, hopefully before it spots the carrier. The Tulagi strike force punishes the Jap invasion force sinking one ship and damaging two others.
Turn 4 – The Tulagi strike force has lost about one plane in 10. Two of the four Jap ships are sunk, one is sinking (1 point left) and the supply ship can be easily destroyed next turn. Last the Jap Engineers will be targeted. Looking at the big picture, Task Force 1 is has closed to within a two-turn flight to recover the Tulagi strike force. Task Force 2 is rapidly steaming NW. The F4F Wildcats have intercepted the Jap squadron. The fleet oil tanker has almost withdrawn to the South. The float plane scouts and the destroyer pickets are moving as rapidly as possible to expand the radar envelope.
The Jap plane means a Jap Carrier is out there somewhere. But no Jap ships have been spotted outside the Tulagi invasion force.