- Primary objectives
- Prevent the landing operation (sink all landing ships - 4).
- Prevent the bombing of the HQ.
- Secondary objectives
- Destroy the retreating enemy fleet!
- Hidden objectives
- Do not let a single landing ship reach the shore.
This is an inherently defensive mission, but getting a gold medal requires offensive maneuvers at the start.
The Defence of Guadalcanal is a base defence map involving the player managing a lot of air power and a few flying boats coupled with patrol boats. To respond to the threat, you are given a command post, an airfield with a fighter wing already deployed, and a dock. Since you'll want to have fighters in the air to interdict the enemy Higgins boats, most of your firepower will come from your shipyard's flying boats so try to keep them alive.
The flying boats - the Mavis and its Emily upgrade - have received significant improvement since the last game. Most notably, both flying boats now have four hardpoints instead of two - meaning they can carry four torpedoes or four bombs. This notable shift in firepower will help against the enemy landing ships, but know that neither plane can take as much damage as, for example, an American B-17.
If you've done well recently, consider upgrading your Gekkos to Shindens, or your Mavises to Emilies. The Emilies can take a bit more punishment and are faster, but the Shindens can help you against the enemy's CAP or if you have finally beaten the game, you can upgrade your Betties into Ohka Carriers or G5N Shinzans. The choice is yours.
The first wave
To the northeast of the shipyard you'll encounter the first enemy wave - led by the Northampton-class USS San Francisco, this landing group consists of a pair each of landing ships, LSTs, and destroyers. Providing the CAP are a few squadrons of Buffalos. You won't be able to strafe any of these ships, so you're going to need Gyoraiteis, flying boats, or G4M Betties. Any of these will work - you won't need them for the second part of the mission either. Deploy your Gyoraiteis against all the enemy ships, taking shots where necessary.
Focus your Gyoraiteis' firepower on the LSTs. These can't be strafed and are faster, and unlike the LCPs launched by the troop ships they can't be intercepted, so sink them first. A single torpedo should be able to remove them quickly from the fray, while fighters should circle above to eliminate the Buffalos and to draw fire away from the more vulnerable Gyoraiteis. Work quickly and torpedo all the enemy ships, focusing firepower on the LSTs and the enemy troop ships. Launch your Gyoraiteis in waves to ensure at least one or two get through. Sink an enemy warship if the opportunity presents itself.
Betties are somewhat difficult to use here, as their bombs tend to fall short. They are best employed on the troop ships when they start launching LCPs - have them bomb from bow to stern to maximize their bomb hits. Once they're done, have them return to base. The second part of the mission is unrelenting at best, so you'll want fighters in the air as soon as it starts.
Be sure to mop up any LCPs once you've sunk the rest of the fleet. None of the landing ships must reach the shore for the gold medal, and they do not despawn once you've sunk the fleet, so be sure to mop them up before moving on.
A Needle in a Haystack
After the Americans have failed to capture the base, they apparently have decided the base is worth too much trouble, and intend to simply destroy it. The trick, however, is to find the bombers on your minimap. They are nestled in with a lot of fighter escort, and as such are difficult to find. Not only that, but some of the escorting Corsairs have air-to-ground rockets that can cause quite a bit of damage to your base.
Therefore, as soon as you can, launch as many Ki-43 Oscars as you can. The Gekkos aren't as manoeuvrable as the Ki-43s and therefore the Oscars are the preferred choice. If you've upgraded your Gekkos to Shindens, however, you'll be able to use both Shindens and Ki-43s to good effect against the enemy waves.
If you don't have a lot of faith in your flying skills, you can instead try to put up a large flak barrage using base. With all the units going around, it's very easy to forget that you have command of your headquarters and can use its AA guns against enemy aircraft. Although not as accurate as another aircraft, the ability to focus your base's fire will quickly bring down enemy aircraft, particularly enemy bombers that are attempting to flee. Keep in mind also that enemy payloads, just like yours, will regenerate. Just because a Dauntless dropped its bomb doesn't mean that it's not going to come back around for another run.
There are three waves of enemy planes. Each time they show up as a giant cloud and you must isolate the bombers and rocket-equipped Corsairs from the dedicated fighters. A good CAP and solid AA fire (possibly even backed up by surface fire from Gyoraiteis, although don't trust them too heavily) will keep your headquarters secure. You can select the command post to shoot AA from while your fighters' AI meets them in the sky, or you can take to the skies yourself.
Once the enemy has exhausted all three waves, you'll have successfully defended Guadalcanal.