Carrier Battle is the part of 1942 THE PACIFIC AIR WAR dedicated to strategy and tactical play. Most of the other play options, including Single Mission, Career Pilot, and Mission Builder, are primarily flight-oriented. If you’d rather be an admiral than a combat pilot, Carrier Battle is the optimum first choice for you. Those of you who have played Task Force 1942 Surface Naval Action in the South Pacific will find portions of the command interface familiar, but the tactics quite different. Resource management – making sure that your ships, aircraft, and pilots are put to best use and are available when and where you need them – is an important part of commanding carrier task groups. Again, Task Force 1942 players will find they have experience with this, and it may count as an advantage. Despite its focus on command and strategy, Carrier Battle does sometimes give you the opportunity to push one of the pilots out of the cockpit and fly. You can take over (in mid-flight!) and fly the “meat” of many of the air strikes you order.
Once you’ve chosen Carrier Battle from the Main Menu, there are still a few decisions to make before the battle begins. The first two are fairly obvious – you have to decide what battle you want to fight and which side you wish to command. Lastly, the Realism Options allow you to make the battle more or less difficult to win, depending on your level of competence.
The first and probably most important choice is in which of the five historical carrier battles you want to take part. Each is based on the actual events of 1942. Force concentrations and strengths differ, as well as which ships and Commanders are involved. You may be outnumbered and outgunned in one battle and command far superior forces in the next. A winning strategy for one scenario will almost undoubtedly not work in any of the others. At this point, you could also re-load any of the battles-in-progress that you have saved in the past. You will notice that these are not detailed descriptions of the historical progression of these battles. If you are regularly defeated by the game’s “AI” Admirals, the historical details could be useful for developing winning strategies. A good history of the World War II Pacific Theater can be helpful; visit your local library.