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  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Slan

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The engine doesn't care if your country is surrounded, you don't need to have borders for trading on the same continent.
 

HecNev

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Interludum II - Aftermath of the Second Sino-Japanese War

The fall of China brought a huge relief.
I hadn’t actually expected to see them collapse so fast. It must have been due to the continuous skirmishes with the British near Hongkong as well as the wars against Yunnan and Guangxi. The armies of the united China had the superiority in numbers, but Japan had a clear technological advantage, besides absolute air superiority and an increased number of mobile forces.

Wherever the IJA attacked, it was always supported by medium bombers or carrier air groups from one of Japan’s numerous carriers.

Another aspect of the war that worked in favor of the Japanese was the landings in the south and the surprise resulting from it.
Without those operations, the stalemate in the north could eventually have proven to be unbreakable, whereas it lasted for the better part of the war, but could eventually be separated into several smaller pockets.

Considering that Xibei San Ma is a puppet of the Chinese Republic, I’m surprised they didn’t join the war. Had they joined, they might eventually have had the chance of disrupting my western flank in the north.
I might deal with them later, but, as of now, my priority is in Europe.

After the war, Japan had gained several benefits (also called “Strategic effects” :D )









Although they do increase Japan’s threat towards other nations, they are also important for improving the Empire’s financial situation as well as supply throughput, which is especially important considering that I intend to go for Europe next.

It’ll take some time until I can get my troops there, and I’ll develop my plans afterwards, as the situation might quite well change during all that time.

So, for the conclusion of this, here are two screens.
The first shows the current situation in the Mediterranean, i.e. the area where I intend to launch the assault from.



But I won’t plan that much yet, as the situation might quite well change while I’m still deploying my troops.

The next screen is a worldmap from the day after the end of the war, so that you can see the current situation.



The Soviets are progressing slowly through the Baltic States, they are taking heavy casualties and their advances are only minor.
The Germans have taken the whole of Poland, not leaving the eastern half to the USSR. In the west, the Wehrmacht is advancing into Holland, although their advance is slow.
Italy is pushing into the French colonies while the war at the Egyptian border is going back and forth.

-----

Author's Note:

The engine doesn't care if your country is surrounded, you don't need to have borders for trading on the same continent.
I didn't know that, thanks for the info.
 

Baltasar

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Italy doing something in Africa! Yay!

Surprised to see Germany not going for the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia is still there), but apparently Hungary got Transsylvania. Could you post a diplo screen so we can see who is in which faction and who is likely to join any of them soon?
 

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Chapter 16

15th of April 1941

Haruji gave his 18-year old son a hug.
Yuki did the same after him, only much longer.
“Take care, son. When this war is over, I want you back here in one piece, not in a wooden coffin. Don’t take too many risks.” he told Souta.
“I’m drafted by the airforce. As a pilot, I’m high above the actual combat… I’m quite sure I’ll get out of this without a scratch.” Souta answered.
“I hope so…” Yuki admitted and started crying again. She had cried almost the whole way from their house to the barracks.

The progress of the war was really making it difficult to hope for his son to come back.

During the last few days, the USSR had annexed two of the Baltic States and Italy had taken control over Greece. The amount of free countries in Europe was shrinking in seemingly no time, and it would probably require lots of lives to defeat the Axis.



It had been yesterday as the Axis declared war upon one of the three last independent nations of Eastern Europe.
Czechoslovakia. The country did immediately join the Allies but, due to the huge distance between them and the rest of this huge alliance, help could not really be given.



The huge amount of German troops along the Czechoslovakian border would surely overwhelm the defenders in no time, thus freeing up several more divisions for combat in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Haruji made himself no illusions. The war would not be over until his son was done with the basic training. And then he would have to fight.
He swallowed.

-----

20th of May 1941




Takumi felt bad.
High Command had granted him a longer leave for his wedding and a honeymoon thereafter. But now, after barely three weeks of marriage, he had to leave his wife once more. And this time, he didn’t know how and when he would return.

He thought of the wedding, of how Misaki had looked in her dress and how beautifully the blossoms of the cherry-trees had looked that day. The sun had shone brightly and no clouds covered the sky.
Their honeymoon had been on Okinawa, where he could easily get because he was a member of the military.
It had been a nice time, but, unfortunately, all good things were destined to end in some place.

Now, he was sitting on the deck of one of the troop transporters. Luckily, the deck was roofed, because the monsoon did already announce itself by strong and long rainfall.

Again, he had received a bunch of letters and information.

Once more, Japanese engineers and researchers proved their worth, as several new technologies were introduced.






This improved Japans light tanks greatly. It would only take quite a lot of time for those technologies to show some effect, because the tanks they were supposed to improve were currently being shipped to the Mediterranean.

The fleet was headed for Bur Saiq, near the north-western end of the Suez Channel. The port would harbor those parts of the fleet that were supposed to take part in the battle for Europe. The aircraft that was supposed to take part had already been deployed along with Japan’s only two divisions of paratroopers. The aircraft was positioned in Nicosia, Iskandarya and Tel Aviv.

Inside the envelope were also some reports about the most recent happenings in Europe. The Axis and the Soviets were expanding even more.

Czechoslovakia had fallen only 9 days after the beginning of the war.



Two days later, the last free Baltic State surrendered to the Soviets and was immediately annexed by them.



The only ray of hope amidst all those bad news was Norway’s proclamation to stay neutral, which meant that the Axis couldn’t expand to the north, at least not without force.



Then again, the Reich made some major progress in the west, as they managed to push the Netherlands completely out of Europe.



After that, Italy annexed Albania, leaving Romania as the only neutral faction in Eastern Europe. It was only a matter of time when the people of this nation would have to face the choice of either joining a global alliance or to perish.



The situation was all but encouraging.
Especially since the High command had no idea about operational plans for the area. There were ideas like “Go for Greece” or “throw out Italy ASAP”, but no fix plans were made yet, as it would take a long time until all the troops were in place. And, until then, the situation could change fast.

He put the post aside and buried his face in his hands.
McFarne swore heavily and Takumi suddenly noticed him as he was approaching.
“Damn ship! You can walk as straight as you wish, you’ll always spill some with this damned sea. Although Scotsmen live on an island, I prefer solid ground beneath my feet!” he said.
“Have a seat.” Takumi offered.
“Thanks.”
“So, now that we’re obviously being redeployed to Africa, do you intend of letting your wife return to the British Isles or will she stay in Hongkong?” Takumi asked casually.
“Well, you know, it has appealed to me of letting her return home because I’m not likely of being deployed back to that colony once we managed to dig this sh*thole out. But in Hongkong she’ll be safe, out of the reach of each and every hostile nation.”
Takumi nodded in understanding.
He was pleased that Misaki could stay somewhere far off from the actual combat, too.
 

HecNev

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Chapter 17

15th of June 1941


This day was one that would be remembered by the Allies, as it was the day as the first Japanese army corps arrived in Bur Saiq and Japanese submarines were haunting Italian convoy routes in the Aegean sea from this day on.



Takumi sighed.
It was at least a bit of good news that, finally, as it seemed, the Allies were able to strike back at the Axis.

What had reached them before had been news about the Wehrmacht occupying Denmark asking military access from the Swedish.




This could only mean that the Nazis were preparing to secure their important metal-sources in Sweden by force by preventing the Allies from intervening in the area.
Also, the Soviets have decided their war against Finland for themselves and annexed the whole of the country, making it another Socialist Republic.
The number of independent nations in Europe was seemingly shrinking with every day.



Takumi couldn’t help but wonder how they could stand against such a mammoth of enemy. The Axis, led by the Reich, was on a victorious march through Europe, and what few corps the Japanese could move to Europe barely filled an entire army, let alone an army group.

As invasions in Greece and Italy appeared to be the most plausible places of attack, the Japanese army decided to recruit several mountaineer-divisions. But it would take time until they were ready.
And it would also take time for them to arrive, just as it would for the other units scheduled for deployment in Europe.

What followed were long days of waiting in which the Allies continued losing ground.
Belgium soon collapsed under the heavy pressure of the Wehrmacht and its multiple Allies, leaving only the scattered French forces to defend their country.



One day later, Norway decided to stay neutral in the war, probably to avoid any German aggression. The result was that the Germans could still receive their metal-supplies from Narvik via sea in winter. In the meantime, without a second front to fight on, the Axis pushed further into France and towards Paris.



The days seemed to grow longer and only the occasional football games amongst the soldiers seemed to ease their minds while they were waiting for combat.
McFarne had explained the game to them, admitting that it was fun although it was an English invention.

But the distraction was only temporarily.
In fact, it lasted for about a week.

-----

8th of July 1941

Takumi opened a letter from Misaki.
The letter said she was with child since about three months now. She had visited the doter just the afternoon before she had written the letter. He was pleased at the news that he was going to be father, but also very sad because he knew that he wouldn’t see the child before all this was over. He’d miss her first words, her first steps…

What really brought them down on the hard ground of reality was the fall of Paris and the French surrender exactly one day later.




This meant that the only front that did currently remain in this war was North Africa, where the British had taken the whole of the Cyrenaica, but would probably soon be pushed back into Egypt.

High Command forbade any support for the British in the desert. The Japanese were required to invade one of the Axis nations in Europe, opening a second front as a distraction.

First plans for an invasion were made, although it was not yet clear whether the invasion would start in Greece or Italy.

And one day later, on the tenth, all ideas for invasions in Europe were put on shelf and Takumi and the whole 1st Konoe Gundan as well as the 1st Tanku Gundan were redeployed to the border between Iraq and Transjordania, whereas the 16th Homegun was redeployed to Oman.



Iran had decided to join the Axis and their direct access to the Indian Ocean might threaten Japanese supplies in the coming campaign in Europe. Also, an occupation of Iran might secure Japanese oil-supplies, as the diplomatic relations between Japan and the USA had grown cold recently.

On the same day, the Germans attacked Norway, which joined the Allies immediately after the attack.

It was only fitting that, one day later, the Iraqis decided to liberate themselves from the yoke of British suppression and thus joining the Axis, too.



The result was the oil-rich states of the Middle East had become enemies of Japan and open for the Empire to conquer.
Occupying those states might stress the diplomatic relations with the British, but this was an opportunity the Empire couldn’t let go.

Therefore, High Command developed a plan for a fast invasion.
The operation would be called Sosa Kowareta Mikazuki (Operation Broken Crescent).



The idea was that the mobile units of 1st Konoe Gundan and 1st Tanku Gundan would advance into Iraqi territory, using the flat terrain to their advantage, while 16th Homengun and the marines of 1st Kaiyo Gundan would land in Homyel and invade Iran from the south, hoping to take over much of the country before the British could push too deeply into it.

In this case, the Empire started the invasion with the official reason of bringing peace back to the Middle East, but, unofficially, it was all about the oil. High command had actually no doubt that the British would be able to handle the conflict for themselves.

-----

Author's Note:
Here's the diplo screen:
 
Last edited:

SSmith

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Interesting developments!

It's a shame France fell before you could intervene... or perhaps that was your intention? It does make the task ahead harder, hence more interesting. :)

I'm not sure how the British would have got on with this Middle East problem on their own. I find they can usually deal with Iraq, depending what the Italians are throwing at them, and it certainly helps if Iran sides with the Allies. Having both Iraq and Iran in the Axis (and at the same time) is not something I've seen before - but I'm sure Japan will save the day.

Iran doesn't usually get forced into war unless Germany is fighting the Soviets (Operation Countenance). Have I missed the start of Barbarossa in this game?
 

HecNev

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Interesting developments!

It's a shame France fell before you could intervene... or perhaps that was your intention? It does make the task ahead harder, hence more interesting. :)

I'm not sure how the British would have got on with this Middle East problem on their own. I find they can usually deal with Iraq, depending what the Italians are throwing at them, and it certainly helps if Iran sides with the Allies. Having both Iraq and Iran in the Axis (and at the same time) is not something I've seen before - but I'm sure Japan will save the day.

Iran doesn't usually get forced into war unless Germany is fighting the Soviets (Operation Countenance). Have I missed the start of Barbarossa in this game?
France fell indeed before I could interevene. i had some troops that could be shipped over to France, but I decided this would be a complete waste of time and men.

The developments there were rather funny, but also gamey, which is why I rewrote things to what they are in the update.
Actually, Iran has declared war on the Allies, but didn't join the Axis. Naturally, they were also at war with Iraq, which joined the Axis and Iran followed suit one day afterwards. For what reason I don't know.

About Barbarossa, well, I can say that Stalin attacked the Nazis in early August. It wasn't Hitler who brought the Soviets into the war...
 

Avindian

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Are you officially part of the Allies, or are you just being a nice guy and helping out the Brits?
 

HecNev

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Chapter 18

6th of August 1941

The beginning of August had been disturbing for both the military as well as civilians.

Several old French colonies saw uprisings and states of emergency. Especially the uprisings in Indochina seemed threatening.




If a coup d’état should erupt from this, then the supply lines to Europe would be threatened, and there might even be a direct threat to the Japanese isles themselves.

But what shocked Haruji the most on this day was some kind of news that he hadn’t really expected to read:
Stalin had declared war upon the German Reich! The Red Army was pushing into the west, conquering some border-regions while the bulk of the Wehrmacht was still in France. Unfortunately, no exact information about the attacks was given, but it appeared like the Red Army was doing anything but good. After some minor territorial gains, the Soviets had to take some heavy beatings.

On the other hand, the Japanese Army had finally launched an invasion in Iran, conquering the port of Hormuz during the assault.



As it appeared, there were forces at the Iraqi border, but supply issues did not allow them to progress into enemy lands, throwing up the entire timetable and enabling the Red Army to launch its own invasion into Iran, though it was only a minor attack and advancing slowly.

The amount of information that reached the home-front everyday was incredible, and, although the cruel pictures weren’t shown, they brought a very realistic view of the war, especially as every division had its own photographer.

Haruji shivered at the thought that Souta would soon take part in this conflict.

-----

18th of September 1941

The lack of supplies had denied their advance very long, enabling the Soviets to grab some of the territories in northern Iran.
The desert had proven to be an enemy much fiercer than the Persian or Iraqi defenders.

Takumi found this time very depressing, as their advance was halted by the lack of things as simple as fuel and water, whereas the Axis were continuously expanding, leading to the fall of Norway a few days ago.



Also, thoughts of Misaki and their child almost made him go mad because he knew he wouldn’t be able to see them before this conflict was over.

But now, sitting in a truck besides McFarne, he pushed those thoughts out of his head and concentrated on the task at hand. The flat deserts in Western Iraq were ideal territory for mobile units and therefore their progress was fast. What contributed to this was the complete lack of resistance, too.



Triggered by the successes of the army, a surge of volunteers wanted to join the armed forces.



Takumi and his men were able to continue unchallenged through Iraqi territory, and the situation in Persia had turned into a complete Japanese victory, too.
Iran was yet to surrender, but the IJA advanced steadily and had even managed to get ahead of the British, thus denying them access to the oil sources in the western part of the country.



That was surely not how allies should behave, but, as the US are more and more siding with the Nazis, the vital oil trade with the Americans might soon cease its existence, and the Empire had to look for alternatives.
As an outraged Churchill sent a letter to his Japanese colleague, it was explained that the British already controlled all the sea-lanes to India and that the Persian infrastructure was so minor in quality, that the land-road wasn’t of much use. If it were about oil, the British were currently occupying Libya, which did also have lots of reserves.

But the oil was secondary as of now. What was far more vital on this mission was the supply with water. They encountered several small sources on their advance, but didn’t dare drinking the water there, as they suspected the Iraqis to have poisoned the water before their retreat. Although the supply problem had been solved, this kind of really vital things took lots and lots of days to arrive. Fortunately, they never ran completely out of it.
McFarne probably contributed heavily to this by starting to drink some whiskey instead of water in the evenings, claiming it would improve his aiming. Thus, more water was available for the rest of the men.

Baghdad was occupied on the 26th of September. They met absolutely no resistance at all.



It wasn’t that he wasn’t thankful for not having to kill someone to gain possession of this city, but it was weird that the Iraqi militia didn’t even defend its capital.
Intelligence reported that they were concentrated in the very northern and southern parts of the country and therefore too far off to change anything.

On the 30th, a small Italian unit landed in Bur Said, thus blocking the Suez Channel for the Allies and hitting the European High Command heavily and unprepared.




However, before taking the port back, the Japanese secret service brought a spy into their lines, hoping to be able to steal some research from the Axis. Such research might proof vital, especially when one was thinking about tactics.

The 2nd of October marked the end of an small war that was fought and won without any battles. The resistance had started to turn and run wherever it heard the engines of Japanese airplanes or trucks.
Iraq was liberated from all remnants of their Axis-membership and the state of Iraq was re-established in order to avoid provoking the British too much. Annexing their former colony would have stressed the relations between the two major nations within the Allies too much.



However, the Japanese government insisted upon taking strong influence in Iraq.

“You know, I never thought I might find war boring. Almost missed the feeling when you recognize that damned bullet that just hit the wall behind you missed you by an inch or so.” commented McFarne on the Iraqi surrender.

Iran followed on the 7th and was annexed by the Empire to be used as an own outpost in the Mid-East and as an important station for supplies in the European campaign that was scheduled to start in early ’42.




-----

25th of December 1941

Dear Misaki,

Today the British soldiers in our camp in Bur Said are celebrating a religious holiday they are calling “Christmas”.
McFarne explained to me it was some kind of a family holiday on which they celebrated the birth of Jesus, a central figure of their religion.
On this holiday, gifts are also a tradition. So I sent you a kufiya. It’s a traditional headscarf used by the locals, but it can also be used as a scarf or to wrap our child in once it is born.

I’m not ignoring that you’ve asked me about when I will be on the battlefield again, but, once more, I can only repeat that I’m forbidden to talk about this. It might endanger the whole operation.
Rest assured that I’ll come home safely and unharmed. I promise you this.
When all this is over, I will leave the army and lead a normal life with you.

For now, remain strong and keep your faith into what we are doing and about to do, because it is the right thing to do.

Love,
Takumi


-----

1st of January 1942

Dear mother, dear father,

As you know, I have been assigned to the air group that is serving aboard the IJN Kaga, one of our proud carriers.
I’m eager to carry the war to the enemy, but know that I’ll be cautious too, so that you can welcome me at home in one piece.

The squadron recently received new airplanes, so rest assured that I’ll be well, for I have the best airplane the Japanese factories can produce. If this will not protect me, nothing can.

Where and when I’ll finally cross blades with the enemy, I may not say. You will hear it on the news once we’re at their throats.
Mother, don’t cry for me, all will be alright.
Father, thank you for your support during my life. I’ll be back to repay this support thousand-fold.

Your loving son,
Souta


-----

Author’s Note:
Ingame, the delayed invasion of Iraq was caused by a bug in which the provinces I conquered did always switch back and forth between me and the Iraqis, although only I had troops stationed in them.

However, I found it more fitting to present this as caused by a lack of fuel.
 

Baltasar

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Persia might come back to you if you decided to continue the game past the point where the Axis are defeated. The Russian bear is lurking overhead ;)
 

HecNev

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Interludum III – The year 1941 and Sosa Jupita

So, you might have expected it, it is time to sum up the global situation after the end of 1941.



As you can see, the Reich has advanced eastwards since Stalin attacked it in August. The armored and motorized corps of the Wehrmacht and its allies are pushing back the soviets heavily.
Yet, the winter is seemingly taking its toll. The Red Army has been pushing back the Germans for two weeks now. It is a slow process, but the eastern front is far from being a stalemate.
A reason for the halt of the German advance might be the lack of Romanian Axis-membership. I.e. the Tri-Partite-Act is not complete and the Axis are lacking the troops and resources that would normally be provided by Romania. One might debate that this army is just small, but it can be decisive after all.

In Northern Africa, the British are advancing through Libya with speed and ease, while I was gathering up my forces in northern Egypt.

This brings me to the first stage of the invasion of Europe.
The two obvious options were either Greece or Italy. Considering the numerical superiority of the Axis and that I’d have to fight them on my own, as the British were still occupied with Northern Africa, I decided to start the attack in Italy. Italy offered many positions that could easily be defended against counter-attacks and, due to it being a “boot”, the danger of overstretching my forces was very low.
Of course, it will be a problem that I can’t field many mountaineer units, but that can, hopefully, also be helped by the lack of space in Italy.
Another advantage of an attack in Italy is that Italy is, safe for some garrisons in important towns, absolutely empty. Most of the Italian army is fighting either in Russia or in Northern Africa.
By attacking Italy, I have the chance of throwing the second-most important nation of the Axis, removing its armies from the fronts of this war, which will also help the Soviets on their advance towards Berlin. The Soviets, on the other hand, will provide a perfect distraction so that my invasion force needn’t fear the full power of the Wehrmacht.

After all those considerations, Sosa Jupita (Operation Jupiter, named after the major god of the ancient Roman Empire) came to my mind.

The basic idea is to limit the presence of the Regia Marina even more by conquering several islands.
The landing in Tripoli is rather optional should the British have problems with their advance. At first, there will be landings on Sicily and then another one near Taranto to encircle any reinforcements headed for Sicily.



The cover for this operation will be provided by 3 carrier-groups, numbering 2 carriers and two light carriers with several light and heavy cruisers.
Besides, there will be three transport fleets.
Air-cover will be provided by 6 CAGs, 1 light bomber squadron, 3 medium bomber squadrons, 1 heavy bomber squadron and 1 light fighter squadron.


-----

Author's Note:

Persia might come back to you if you decided to continue the game past the point where the Axis are defeated. The Russian bear is lurking overhead ;)
Indeed it is, but, by now, the bear is busy fighting against the Reichsadler. But rest assured I haven't forgotten the existence of the probably largest post-war-threat to the great Japanese Empire.
 

Avindian

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An ambitious plan. One question -- I can obviously tell some of your paras are headed for Sardinia, but I'm assuming Malta is still British, so where are the paras there going? Sicily?
 

HecNev

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An ambitious plan. One question -- I can obviously tell some of your paras are headed for Sardinia, but I'm assuming Malta is still British, so where are the paras there going? Sicily?
the idea is to take Malta with paratroopers and then to use the port to launch an invasion at Sicily. Next thing will be a landing on Sardinia. But you'll see that I'll have to shift priorities already soon after the start of the invasion in the next update ;)

Edit:
How do you like the style of this AAR so far? Do you have suggestions for improvements?
 
Last edited:

Avindian

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the idea is to take Malta with paratroopers and then to use the port to launch an invasion at Sicily. Next thing will be a landing on Sardinia. But you'll see that I'll have to shift priorities already soon after the start of the invasion in the next update ;)

Edit:
How do you like the style of this AAR so far? Do you have suggestions for improvements?
I personally think it's great!

So, I think the answer to my question is, Malta is Italian? Or are you crazy enough to DOW the allies?
 

HecNev

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I personally think it's great!

So, I think the answer to my question is, Malta is Italian? Or are you crazy enough to DOW the allies?
Thanks!

Yup, Malta is occupied by Italy. I had actually thought this could be seen in the picture but, given the size of the island, I have to admit it's difficult to spot :D
 

SSmith

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It seems to be quite common for Italy to invade Malta and for some reason I don't see the British try to take it back! In fact the same seems to hold in reverse with Sardinia, as though the AI likes to take territory but can't be much bothered to recover lost territory!

Anyway, I like the plan for Italy and hopefully it will result in a useful encirclement if the Italians supply some troops. Nice overview. :)
 

unmerged(307255)

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Awesome AAR, and great narrative. Even greater is your fight to keep your democracy... seems you're getting bombarded by random events!
 

HecNev

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Chapter 19

22nd of January 1942, 7:00h


The engine of the A6M Zero roared loud as the squadron turned south.
Souta had sweating hands that were even shaking a little bit. This was his first combat mission and he was excited as well as a bit afraid regarding to whether he’d survive it or not.

Sosa Jupita, the invasion of Italy, had officially started on the 11th of January, as the carrier group of the IJN Soryu appeared in the Aegean Sea, launching numerous air strikes against targets in Greece, Crete and Rhodes. This was done as a distraction, just as with the way the air-force dealt with Malta: Heavy bombers started from Benghazi and were bombing the Italian entrenchments on the island for about six days now. The Regia Marina had abandoned the port soon after the start of the bombardments. Therefore High Command decided to let the British take their island back on their own.

The IJN Souta shipping through the Aegean led to a naval engagement with the Regia Marina, in which the Japanese airplanes inflicted heavy damage upon the Italian ships, but couldn’t sink any.



The biggest distraction was probably the British offensive in Libya, which helped diverting the Italian look for potential invasions of their homeland.

Souta and the 3rd CAG squadron were to launch an assault on Palermo, the big Sicilian port and airfield. This city was the major obstacle as well as mission target of the invasion. The fighters had to come in from the north to divert the enemy from the real position of the attack.

The sun was rising slowly in the east, shedding first rays of light onto the port of Palermo and revealing the positions of some destroyers and transport ships.

He wondered shortly how the submarines might have fared that were patrolling the Adriatic since 0:00 this morning as part of the operation, but then forced himself to focus on what was ahead of him.

“4th squadron: attack the ships in the port. Focus on the transporters, we don’t want the Italian Army to get its troops out of Libya just so that we can meet them again elsewhere! Good luck boys! 3rd squadron: we proceed to the airfield to destroy the naval bombers on the ground. Their torpedoes might endanger the whole invasion.” announced the captain via radio.

Soon, the sky was not only filled with the sound of the engines of the planes, but also with explosions, AA-gunfire and sirens.
They were above the airfield after a few minutes, as the harbor had already turned into the hell of a battlefield.
“Yari 1 and 2, take on those planes that are trying to start! The rest: Destroy the other planes on the ground and al resistance you can find. Try not to destroy the fuel-tanks, they might be of use for us later on!”
As ordered, Souta started to dive at some of the planes, destroying three naval bombers in the first run and damaging some more.

In the meantime, Italian forces rallied to the port, expecting an invasion from the north.

-----

22nd of January 1942, 8:00h



There was a strong wind coming in from the south. The sea was rougher than expected, but, due to the direction of the wind, this would only be a problem once they were at the beach.
With the Italian defenders rushing to Palermo, little resistance was coming from the coast. The heavy cruisers of the 11th Kantai provided an excellent shore-bombardment and light bombers from the air-force did their part in wrecking havoc amidst the defenders.

Takumi stood in a landing craft filled with other men from the division. They were on their own, the equipment would be brought in once they had secured a beachhead.

“As soon as we arrive at the beach, I want you to run from the coast to search cover. You know our rally point and our mission target. Once we’ve secured the villages near the beach, we’ll be setting up a perimeter and let our heavy equipment move in. I know fighting so far from home Is difficult, but remember: Our brothers and sisters at home are counting on us! We are carrying the war to the enemy, so that they can’t avenge the fall of China and threaten us! Every inch of ground we are gaining on this campaign will bring us one step closer to end this war and to return home to our families!” Takumi shouted out loud, so that the men could hear him despite the sound of the waves and the landing craft.
“Nice speech, lad. Let’s hope we endure this so that we can see its end.” McFarne commented.

“It’s incredible. The whole beach is completely undefended. There are the remnants of some foxholes and corpses lying in artillery craters, but there is no one around here. The villages are completely deserted, not even animals are left there. Sergeant! Get to the radio and tell army command they can bring in the heavy equipment. We’re done here.” Takumi said.
“Well, I hope I’ll remain assigned to you. It’s always nice doing amphibious assaults at your side ‘cause you’re always landing where no defenders are. Whether it’s blind luck or tactics, I’d really like to keep things up like this.” the Scotsman admitted.

The men took some rest and then prepared for a march through the night to take over Sicily as fast as possible.



Takumi even had some spare time to check the latest technology reports.



Takumi’s division reached Palermo at midnight, where they immediately assaulted the town, hoping to overwhelm its defenders, who had been busy repairing the damage that had been dealt by the air attack on the landing day.



Unfortunately, the city proved to be highly fortified, but its port and airfield were crucial for further advances into Italy, so it could not be ignored. Bombers flew ground strikes at the city day and night, but the defenders fought well.

Messina fell on the 24th, leaving Palermo as the only place of resistance on the island.



Yet, the defenders held their positions.
High Command came under pressure, as the port was desperately needed to ship in supplies for the Japanese forces. Also, a delay might enable the Axis to assemble strong forces in Italy, making a Japanese invasion even more difficult. The invasion-fleet was already blocking the Strait of Messina, but even they couldn’t help when the Axis set up defensive positions in the Italian mountains.

The airborne invasion of Malta was called back because “the British can handle this for themselves” and the paratroopers were dropped in at the port of Palermo, seizing control over the warehouses there and ripping all supplies from the Italian defenders.
Furthermore, the city became completely encircled.



As the city fell on the 27th, the IJA was already two days behind its timetable, so the mobile forces gathered up at the port to be brought to the Italian mainland. The Strait of Messina was blocked for passage, so some Italian infantry divisions were caught in Regio di Calabria, unable to cross the sea.
Another IJA landing was made near Taranto, and this landing did also include mountaineers as well as light tanks.



Those tanks managed to push fast into the western boot-tip, cutting off about 8 Italian infantry divisions, while the mountaineer-units were moving north to set up a defensive line in the Italian mountains until the tanks were back to provide support for an advance.

In the mean time, the motorized divisions from Sicily were brought to the Italian mainland.

-----

31st of January 1942

Souta started the engine of his Zero.
The IJN Kaga had been blocking the Strait of Messina for enemy forces since about a day after the invasion, and now Japanese light tanks had mopped up an Italian force consisting of about 8 divisions in Regio die Calabria.
The Italians lacked air-cover and, on the bare rocks of southern Italy that didn’t offer lots of vegetation to hide in between, they were sitting ducks. As it appeared, the Italians were slowly running out of supplies and the air-planes were only needed to take out enemy hard-points such as mortar pits.

The IJN had been shelling the coast for some days now, so it should be a quick battle.
On the same day, Japanese Marines were landing on the island of Crete, aiming to take out the major Italian port in the Eastern Mediterranean and to secure the route for Japanese supplies.



Also, 2 Tanku Gundan landed on the island of Sardinia.



High Command was convinced of the low enemy strength in the area, so they decided that the tanks could handle the island easily without much naval or aerial support.

The plane rose to the air and immediately found its place amidst the attacking formation, just as it had been trained time and time again.
“This should be an easy day. The Italians lack air-cover as well as AA-guns. We’ll be back on the carrier before the sun reaches its zenith.” the captain announced.

And the captain was right. It didn’t take long for them to reach the Italian trenches and started to wrench havoc among them.
Souta dropped the light bomb that was attached to his plane into a mortar hole.
This was when the tanks started to advance. They were easily pushing the Italian infantry out of their trenches, where they were easy prey for the machine guns of the tanks and the air-planes.

“Captain! Look! They are raising a white flag! They surrender!” Souta exclaimed.
“Damnit, don’t shout into the radio that loud! Do you want the entire squadron to go deaf?? And yes, I can see it, too! Good work, lads, it seems like we’re finished here!”

On this day, 1,000 Japanese soldiers and 3,623 Italians died. The rest of them surrendered unconditionally.

-----

14th of February 1942

“I’m slowly getting fed up with digging out trenches all day long. Damned rocky Italian ground!” Takumi swore.
“Seems like our luck has once more kept us out of the fighting. And, unfortunately, that’s what’s disturbing your High Command.” McFarne threw in and jumped back into the hole that was supposed to become an MG-nest in the northern outskirts of Naples.
“I mean, the only resistance our invasion hit so far was on Palermo. Crete doesn’t count, it doesn’t belong to the Italian mainland. And us marching into an undefended Naples on the fourth was all but expected.” McFarne explained, breathing heavily while digging.



Cagliari had fallen in early February after a long but easy fight.



Occupying the island had been but a formality for 2 Tanku Gundan.

The situation on Crete had been different.
While the marines were landing on the island, the Regia Marina was attacking and managed to sink three of the fleet’s five transport flotillas. Luckily, the marines had already reached the coast, so they didn’t lose any strength.
On the island itself, the Italians had air-support, while the Japanese CAGs were still busy fighting of the Italian fleet. Fighting had been intense and the island had been won only because of the redeployment of some Japanese bomber-squadrons.



“We cannot advance any further now. We need to dig in and wait for the rest of our forces to catch up, so that we can advance as a whole, and not in single divisions that can easily be encircled and destroyed. Our reconnaissance-planes have spotted Hungarian and German forces moving into Italy. There will soon be the hell of a resistance, I can promise you that! Listen, Takumi, I know you want to end this quickly so that you can finally see your new-born daughter and miss as few moments of her life as possible. But, for Christ’s sake, you don’t help her when you return in a coffin because you are losing all caution! So stop complaining and help me digging this hole!” McFarne continued.

Aimi, Takumi’s daughter, had been born on the 7th of February, one week ago. He had received the letter on this morning and had immediately written back to his wife and asked, almost begged, her to send him a picture.

-----

20th of February 1942

Three days ago, a landing had been made on Rhodes and a Japanese spy had been taken in by a submarine. With him, he brought new technological knowledge about several techs.
The landing on Rhodes, however, went easily, as the Regia Marina did only interfere after the island was already taken.




Last night, the last few Japanese forces had arrived at the Napoli line and now, the army was preparing for a push towards Rome.

The Italians had also recovered from the serious blows that had been dealt to them with the fall of Palermo and the end of the Calabria-pocket.

Hungarian forces had arrived in southern Italy and were attacking the Japanese army together with Italian bombers.



The invasion had started about a month ago and -save for the liberation of Malta- all operational goals of stage one had been achieved or outdone, as the easy capture of Napoli moved the planned defensive line a lot more to the north.

Souta had an Italian bomber right in front of him. In fact, he was diving at him from behind with the rest of the squadron.
He liked the idea of being a pilot because he couldn’t deal with the thought that he was actually killing human beings. Thus, he settled things with himself by pretending that enemy airplanes were nothing but machines, with no humans on board.
It had worked out well so far. He had only a bad conscience for the Italians he killed during the attack on the airfield in Palermo and on the Calabria pocket.
He swallowed.
No, he wouldn’t want to be a front soldier.

“Now or never!” the heard the captain’s voice through the speaker and he pulled the trigger.
The thunder of the guns filled the air and the bomber’s left engine caught fire.


-----

Author's Note:

It seems to be quite common for Italy to invade Malta and for some reason I don't see the British try to take it back! In fact the same seems to hold in reverse with Sardinia, as though the AI likes to take territory but can't be much bothered to recover lost territory!

Anyway, I like the plan for Italy and hopefully it will result in a useful encirclement if the Italians supply some troops. Nice overview. :)
I saw the same, but, as the Regia Marina abandoned the port, i decided that the island had no longer a major priority for me and to let the British take it beack once they were done in Northern Africa.

I do apologize for the lack of screens of the Calabria pocket, I simply forgot them.

Awesome AAR, and great narrative. Even greater is your fight to keep your democracy... seems you're getting bombarded by random events!
Thanks!
Yes, the random events made things really difficult, but also believable.
Since the last elections, however, things have changed and I'm barely getting such events, which might also be caused by the fact that I'm now in a global conflict.