Tarawa is very much a timed mission – you have only a small amount of time to accomplish each objective.
- Defend the destroyers.
- Destroy the island's shore batteries.
- Destroy the island's bunker network.
- Defend the troop transports.
- Destroy the island's headquarters.
- Defend the island's airbase.
- All transports must survive.
- Destroy all anti-aircraft batteries on the island.
The first mission objective is fairly easy. A flight of seaplanes and flying boats are bearing down on your destroyer support, and it's your duty to shoot them all down. These aircraft are no match for dedicated fighters such as your shiny F4U Corsair; fly in and gun them down. Prioritize your attacks on the larger H8K Emilies versus the F1M Petes – Emilies carry a larger payload and pose a larger threat. The mission continues once you've eliminated these annoyances.
The second objective is to destroy the island's shore batteries. This, too, is easy, but is complicated by the large number of anti-air batteries on the island. All of these targets can be neutralized by bursts of machine gun fire, so focus your attacks on the island until all the designated targets crumble. Focus particular attention on areas which seem to be attacking back; you'll need to destroy all of the island's anti-aircraft batteries to continue. You have six minutes to accomplish this objective, so take your time and be thorough. It's best to not leave any standing. Try eliminating all of the designated targets except one, then activate your TacMap and search for any standing AA batteries before destroying the final target.
Your fleet is in good position now to begin shelling the island. Unfortunately, as your commanders realize, shellfire isn't enough to suppress the Japanese. "How about air-launched rockets?" they ask. Under your command now is a flight of three HVAR-equipped Corsairs. The rockets are somewhat overkill – you don't need them to destroy the island's bunker network. That said, a little extra firepower never goes awry, so use the rockets to full effect on the enemy fortresses and coastal artillery. This objective must be completed in five and a half minutes. Be sure to reduce throttle as you go over the island to hit more targets.
One of the mission's few non-timed objectives is next. A small flight of enemy strike planes are en route to your transport formation. Your objective is to shoot them all down and keep the transports alive. This easy task is, again, supplemented by your Corsairs. Shoot them all down and protect the transports. If all your transports survive, you'll be in a good position to get the gold medal.
Once that's done, you'll obtain a flight of SBD Dauntlesses. Your orders are to bomb Tarawa HQ. If you've neutralized all the anti-air batteries with your Corsairs, this is a no-brainer – drop your bomb on Tarawa HQ to secure the island. You have over five minutes to accomplish this part of the mission, so don't worry if you miss the headquarters. Unfortunately, the Corsair's rockets won't work and are of no use in destroying the HQ.
With the island under your control, the Japanese will attempt to destroy the island's airbase, by dispatching a couple dive bombers at you. Eliminate all of them and protect the airfield to complete the mission.