This mission is extremely difficult to obtain the gold medal on. Achieving the gold relies on a near-perfect balance of offence and defence, as well as skill and gracefulness in the air.
- Protect the bombers.
- Shoot down all flying boats.
- Sink the I-36
- Shoot down all Ohka Carriers.
- Sink all Shinyos.
- Destroy the airfields.
- Destroy the Shinyo stations.
- All transports must survive.
The mission begins with you in the gunner seat of a bomber - either a B-17 or a B-29, if you chose the upgrade. Upgrading to B-29s is recommended, as the enemy employs all kinds of aircraft to attempt to protect their base on Iwo Jima - expect Raidens, Gekkos, Zeros, and Oscars to climb right into the fight. Use your cannons and keep the enemy away for as long as possible. There are several bombers in the bomber stream, but be sure not to fire on enemy aircraft out of range or if your shots are being blocked by a friendly bomber.
Defending the bombers is relatively easy, and becomes somewhat easier when a squad of F6Fs show up to assist. These fighters are one of the best the Americans have to offer, so put them to work in shooting down the Japanese aircraft. Target in particular the J2M Raidens - they sport powerful guns that can shred the toughest American bombers. Eventually the bombers spot a fortress below, and move in to "rearrange the furniture". After plastering the fortress with bombs, the bombers fly offscreen and disappear.
Around this time, the Japanese have spotted the landing fleet and begin mobilizing patrol forces - particularly a TON of flying boats - to strike against the fleet. A huge clump of flying boats lies to the north - shoot as many down as possible. Japanese flying boats are very fast, if fragile, and they can easily keep pace with the American fighters. Use your boost to catch up to them and shoot them down. Aim particularly for the H8K Emilies, as they are tougher than the Mavis. You'll likely let a few through - hopefully they're damaged enough to be finished by shipbourne AA. A single flying boat can cause considerable damage, as the Japanese flying boats now carry twice the amount of weaponry as they did in Midway.
After shooting down two waves of flying boats, you receive news of a nearby submarine. Switching controls again to a Kingfisher equipped with depth charges, your job is to simply sink I-36. This is easily enough done, and you should be able to sink it in two or three runs. Work quickly; while I-36 generally targets the warships instead of your transports, they may make future waves difficult by neutralizing the fleet's air defences.
When you sink the submarine, the enemy begins deploying a new weapon at you - the MXY-7 Ohka. As anyone with experience in multiplayer will tell you, Ohkas can cause huge amounts of damage at extreme ranges. This is when you need to balance offence with defence. You have two targets - the bombers and the airfields which spawn them. Try to have the rocket-equipped corsairs attack the airfield from low altitude. Iwo Jima is heavy with air defences. Try to neutralize the air defences as you go to make subsequent strikes easier. A single volley of rockets is almost just enough to neutralize an airfield. Neutralizing the two airfields makes defending the transports easier.
Meanwhile, your Hellcats and gun-equipped Corsairs (you'll receive both gun and rocket Corsairs in this mission) hold the tide against the enemy Ohkas. They attack all three formations of ships - two to the south and one to the southwest. This makes defence very difficult, especially when diverting your rocket planes to the destruction of the airfields. Work hard and quickly to ensure the safety of the transports.
Once you've stemmed the tide of the Ohkas, the enemy begins deploying Shinyos at you. Launched from three PT boat yards - one to the west and two to the east - Shinyos are fast, but nowhere near as fast as the Ohkas. This makes defending the transports easier. Shinyos, however, are nearly half the size of a dedicated Gyoraitei, making it very difficult to shoot both up close and far away. Because they're so difficult to shoot, newbie pilots will often be target fixated and end up crashing into the sea.
Again, divert your rocket planes to destroy the enemy shipyards. A single volley of rockets is enough to neutralize a shipyard. Naturally, try to target the western shipyard first - this makes things easier since your planes won't have to defend the western base upon the shipyard's demise.
The enemy sends several waves of Shinyos at you. Be sure to work quickly to eliminate the shipyards if you want the gold medal. Once the last Shinyo is destroyed, the landings begin and the mission is a success.