18 April 2016

The Battle of Tarawa: Mini Campaign, Day 1

This week we have a very special article series for you all. Perhaps one of the most acclaimed aspects of the new Battlefront PTO books are the mini-campaigns included in them. We talked briefly about them several weeks back, but they are worth mentioning again. These are by far my favorite aspects of the book and I sincerely hope we can see more of these sorts of gaming ideas in future books.

Today we embark on an article series written by Dr. Michael L. McSwiney, Ph.D, I've had the absolute pleasure of working with Mike over several book projects during my time at Battlefront, and he's continued to support projects such as the PTO books through great articles and writing. He's got a great grasp on blending historical research with the action on the tabletop. We're honored to have him share a mini campaign like the ones found in the PTO books, So with our sincerest thanks to Dr. McSwiney, and without further ado, we'd like to present his Flames Of War mini-campaign following the Battle of Tarawa.

- Mike

Battle of Tarawa: Part I

With special guest writer, 
Dr. Michael L. McSwiney, Ph.D.

The Battle of Tarawa was largely fought on and around the island of Betio.  The Japanese had been fortifying the island for over a year, and had brought in several coastal guns to defend the atoll.  Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazaki, commanding the Japanese forces at Tarawa, boasted that “it would take one million men one hundred years” to capture the island.  Over the course of the four day battle, casualties on both sides were high, with only one Japanese officer and sixteen Japanese enlisted surrendering out of an original garrison of over 4600.  Korean laborers brought in to fortify the island also suffered greatly, with only 129 surviving out of an original strength of 1200.  American casualties were almost 900 killed in action and nearly 2200 wounded in action sparking protests on the home front.  However many lessons were learned from Tarawa and would lead to the success of future amphibious operations in the Pacific.

Day 1 – November 20, 1943, Assault on Red 1, 2, and 3

The Mission
Play “Atoll Landing Mission” with a Marine Rifle Company attacking a Veteran Yosai Hohei Chutai. The battlefield should be a beach table with a clear reef and lagoon.

USMC Force
The Marine force should all be equipped with LVT(4) Amtrac armored personnel carriers, as these were the only transport craft able to make it successfully to the beach during the first day of the battle.  The Marines should have strong naval gunfire support, air support, and can have one or two platoons of 75mm M4A2 Sherman tanks as some were able to make it ashore and proved effective. The Marines should not have any artillery (apart from mortars), self-propelled gun platoons, naval construction platoons, light tank platoons, or amphibian tank platoons.  

Japanese Force
The Japanese on Tarawa were generally well-supplied and well prepared and included both IJA and SNLF personnel.  The Japanese force can field anything available in the list except Air Support, Naval Air and Sea Support.  The only armor available to the Japanese was roughly 14 Type 95 Ha-Go Tanks. 

Good luck, soldiers!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for: Day 2 – November 21, 1943 ...

Be sure to check out Mike's blog: Miniature Ordnance Review for more excellent articles and painting guides!


  1. Do you have a points level in mind for this?

  2. Not in particular - key would be balancing it with a representative force.

    Best regards,