[4427 ASW Escort]
.P The date on the back of these ASW and ASW Carrier counters do not relate in
any meaningful way to actual build dates for the ships that took undertook the
convoy escort role during World War II. The counter date should therefore be
.P These counters do not represent an individual convoy or any specific ships,
but are designed to represent convoy escort groups. They have mixed values
reflecting the fact that the make-up of an escort group could differ from one
convoy to the next.
.P Being an island nation dependent upon trade, the Japanese, like the British,
had every reason to pay more attention than they did to the need to protect their
vulnerable shipping lanes. However, during the inter-war years the Japanese were
guilty of placing too much emphasis on the offensive weapons of war such as
aircraft carriers and battleships to the detriment of other ship types. The
Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) destroyers that were constructed were generally
powerful vessels and useful in the fleet role. However, they were less useful in
the convoy escort role as the Japanese failed to develop sonar and radar to the
same extent as their future enemies.
.P Once war began, the limitations of Japanese industrial capability meant that
they were not able to build the much needed specialist escort vessels in the
numbers required; and they compounded their problems by starting a destroyer
escort build program only in 1943. As a result, the IJN had to employ what
vessels they could in the escort role as their destroyer fleet started to suffer
irreplaceable losses once the war began.
.P Because these smaller ships do not have their own counter, some of the more
important non-convoy related episodes of the war that involved these ship types,
are also told within some of these write-ups.
.P This Write-up looks at the Mutsuki-class destroyers, and specifically the
Kikudsuki (sometimes referred to as Kikutsuki).
.B Engine(s) output: 38,500 hp
.B Top Speed: 37.2 knots
.B Main armament: 4 x 4.7-inch (120mm) guns, 2 x 7.7mm MG
.B Displacement (full load): 1,445 tons
.B Thickest armour: N/A
.P The Mutsukis were the second destroyer class built for the Imperial
Japanese Navy (IJN) following the end of World War I. Twelve ships were built
between 1924 and 1927 and not only did all twelve see action during World War II,
but all were lost during the conflict.
.P The details above reflect how the ships appeared upon launching, however, six
of the destroyers were converted into fast transports during 1941/42. The
remaining ships spent the war mostly in the convoy escort role.
.P The main differences, for those that were converted, were the removal of two
4.7-inch guns, the addition of ten 25mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns, and a
strengthening of their depth charge capability. Top speed was reduced by around 4
.P The ships were originally known only by numbers, but names were given to each
vessel in 1928. No.31 became Kikudsuki, which means Chrysanthemum Moon.
.P Kikudsuki was completed in May 1926. At the outbreak of war in December 1941
she was part of the 23rd Destroyer Squadron. She was part of the invasion force
that landed on Guam at the outset of the war, and then took part in the invasions
of New Ireland and New Britain in January and February 1942 (see Transport
Counter 4446). Kikudsuki assisted the invasion of New Guinea in March (see
Transport counter 4448) before transferring to the 4th Fleet the following month.
.P At the end of April she was part of the invasion fleet that seized Tulagi in
the Solomons Islands. The landing there was part of a wider operation, codenamed
Mo, that also attempted to land Japanese troops in southeastern New Guinea (see
Shoho). This write-up will look at the Tulagi arm of the operation only.
.P Tulagi is one of the smallest islands in the Solomons chain, but in 1942, was
the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. The Solomons lie
approximately 1,500 kilometres northeast of Brisbane, Australia.
.P Following their incredible victories during the first five months of war, the
Japanese decided to try and cut the supply route between Australia and the United
States. As the first step, they decided to occupy the Solomons Islands, starting
.P Resistance on Tulagi was expected to be light, although in actual fact the
invasion was uncontested as the small Australian garrison had earlier been
evacuated. To conquer the tiny island, the Japanese deployed a detachment from
the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) together with engineers from the
7th Establishment unit. The Tulagi Invasion Force, commanded by Rear-Admiral Kiyohide Shima, took these troops to the Solomons.
The force consisted of the destroyers Kikudsuki and Yuzuki, five minesweepers, two patrol boats and two
.P Two covering forces were also deployed to provide protection to the invasion
fleet; both of which would head west to assist the New Guinea operation once
Tulagi was secured. Firstly there was the MO Main Force, which consisted of the
light carrier Shoho, four heavy cruisers of the 6th Cruiser Division: Aoba, Kako,
Furutaka and Kinugasa; and one destroyer. Secondly, the Covering Force consisted
of two light cruisers from the 18th Cruiser Division, Tatsuta and Tenryu; the
seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru, two gunboats and two minesweepers.
.P The initial landing on the 3rd May went smoothly for the Japanese, and they
set about building a seaplane base on the island. However, the US Navy carrier
Yorktown was in the Coral Sea and her captain, after learning of the Japanese
invasion, ordered Yorktown to steam north to launch a series of four air strike
against whatever targets could be found. The Japanese had no fighter protection
as Shoho and the two covering forces had sailed west immediately after the troops
were ashore in order to cover the New Guinea operation. As a result, the American
aircraft had pretty much a free hand. Five Type 97 "Mavis" flying boats that had
been flown to Tulagi to operate from the seaplane base were all destroyed as
were a number of minesweepers and transport vessels. Also sunk was Kikudsuki.
Although the Americans later raised her, she never sailed under her own
steam again, and indeed the hulk still lies off Tulagi to this day.
.P And so ended the invasion of Tulagi. But while this part of the story ends
here, the fighting in and around the waters of the Solomon Islands was only just
beginning. In the weeks to come the Japanese landed on the other islands in the
chain, including a much larger island directly south of Tulagi. On this island
the Japanese began to construct an airfield. From here, they intended to fly the
fighter and bomber aircraft that would assist the capture of islands further
south; all part of the plan to cut-off Australia. The name of this island was
Gadarukanaru, or in English - Guadalcanal.
.P The airfield was almost complete when, on the 7th August 1942, US Marines of
the 1st Division landed on both Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The Japanese did not give
Guadalcanal up without a fight, but over the course of the next six months they
were to suffer such appalling losses in men and material, that by February 1943,
evacuating the island was the only practical option left open to them.
.P Before then however, the IJN ensured that in achieving victory, their US Navy
counterparts would pay a high price. The Japanese fight-back started in earnest
on the night of the 8th/9th August and an encounter - The Battle of Savo Island -
that turned out to be the worst defeat ever suffered by the US Navy (see Kako).
[4223 ASW Carrier]
.P These ASW counters are only used if playing with the Convoy In Flames optional
rule. The counters do not represent any specific individual convoy or any
particular ships, but are designed to represent convoy escort groups. They have
mixed values reflecting the fact that the make-up of an escort group could differ
from one convoy to the next. Examples of the main ship types that were used in
the convoy escort role during the Second World War are: escort carriers,
destroyers, destroyer escorts, corvettes, sloops and trawlers. As can be seen, a
wide variety of ship type was used in the defence of convoys.
.P In the years following the end of the First World War, the United States Navy
(USN) neglected the subject of trade protection. As a continental power, the need
for defending merchant shipping was perhaps not seen as being as important as the
ability to field a strong surface fleet; after all, it was argued, such a fleet
would sweep the oceans clear of any enemy shipping.
.P As a result of this thinking, at the time that the United States was thrust
into World War II, courtesy of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler's
subsequent declaration of war in December 1941, the USN was unprepared for large
scale trade protection operations.
.P This shortcoming was still in evidence despite the fact that elements of the
USN had been employed on convoy defence duty since the start of the war in
Europe. On the 4th September 1939 President Roosevelt ordered the setting up of a
"Neutrality Patrol", under which USN ships were initially tasked with tracking
and reporting the movements of belligerent naval vessels in the Atlantic Ocean.
As time went on however, and with the USA still neutral, USN ships took part in
convoy escort operations as far eastward as Iceland.
.P The escorts were ostensibly to protect American shipping, but in actual fact,
stretched US neutrality to the limit, and indeed led to the loss of the destroyer
Reuben James to a German U-boat in October 1941.
.P Fortunately for the Americans, when war came in the Pacific, the Japanese were
not in any position to take advantage of the USN’s unpreparedness. The IJN
submarine service proved a largely impotent force, and in any case, the Japanese
high command simply did not appreciate the value of attacking the Allied shipping
that took troops and supplies from the US to Australia and numerous Pacific
islands; strongpoints from which the Americans and their Allies would launch
their comeback against the Japanese.
.P Sadly, in the North Atlantic, the USN were punished more severely. German
U-boats inflicted many months of pain on Allied merchant shipping sailing along
the US East Coast before the USN got on top of the situation.
.P During this second "Happy Time" for the German U-boat crews, they were able to
take advantage of the US decision not to mount convoys in those waters. However,
a combination of US industrial strength and capable administrators and naval
personnel, meant that before long the Germans were on the back foot once more.
.P During 1942/43, wave after wave of escort carriers, destroyer escorts and
patrol frigates were built in US shipyards. Merchant shipping not only benefited
from an ever increasing number of escort vessels, but also from the increased
effectiveness of those escorts, as better anti-aircraft (AA) and anti-submarine
(ASW) capability was developed.
.P Convoy protection work was extremely tough, hazardous work but had none of the
glamour that was associated with the carriers and battleships of the fleet. But
the work was vital, and thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of those sailors and
airmen that undertook these operations, thousands of essential troop and supply
movements were completed, enabling the Allies to take the war to the enemy on
both sides of the world.
.P Note, the date on the back of these ASW and ASW Carrier counters do not relate
in any meaningful way to actual build dates for the ships that took undertook the
convoy escort role during World War II. The counter date should therefore be
ignored. These ASW counters are also used to tell some of the more important, non
-convoy related, episodes of the war that involved these smaller vessels.
.P This write-up looks at the first escort carrier to enter service with the USN,
USS Long Island.
.B Engine(s) output: 8,500 hp
.B Top Speed: 16.5 knots
.B Main armament: 1 x 4-inch (102mm), 2 x 3-inch (76mm) guns
.B Aircraft: 16
.B Displacement (full load): 15,126 tons
.B Thickest armour: N/a
.P USS Long Island began life as the merchant vessel Mormacmail, a cargo
vessel built under a USMC contract (see US Transport Counters) for the Moore-
McCormack Line. Having been laid down in July 1939, she was requisitioned by the
USN for conversion into an escort aircraft carrier. This work was completed in
.P The need for these small, relatively cheap, aircraft carriers was recognised
by the USN at around the same time as the British Royal Navy came to the same
conclusion. Both navies’ first escort carriers were commissioned at almost exactly
the same time, USS Long Island beating HMS Audacity by two weeks.
.P USS Long Island's aircraft complement was a modest sixteen aircraft, and these
were operated using a single catapult. Given their expected role, speed was not
essential for these ships, and USS Long Island could achieve just over sixteen
knots, which was to be the standard for future escort carriers.
.P Armament was basic, although as the war progressed, her AA capability was
strengthened. USS Long Island was named after the island in New York State.
.P USS Long Island was completed in June 1941. She was initially deployed on the
Atlantic seaboard, from where she was essentially used as a test bed for future
escort carrier designs.
.P In the months leading up to America's entry into the war the USN were adopting
an ever more belligerent approach to the defence of merchant shipping in the
western Atlantic. At the end of August Long Island was deployed in search of a
German surface raider believed to be at large. The reports proved to be false
.P However, six months later, the United States were in the war in earnest
following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Long Island was then used to
transport supplies to the Pacific theatre.
.P The Americans invaded the Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal and Tulagi in August
1942; the first major step in pushing the Japanese back in the Pacific. However,
despite the initial landings proceeding smoothly (see Transport Counter 4247) the
bloody campaign on Guadalcanal was to last almost six months. Following their
victory at the Battle of Savo Island (see USS Vincennes) the Japanese had mastery
of the waters around the island at night. But the daylight hours belonged to the
USN. This was initially due to the presence of a three-strong aircraft carrier
group, commanded by Rear-Admiral Frank Fletcher, operating off Guadalcanal. More
importantly in the long term though, was the presence of fighter and bomber
aircraft on Guadalcanal itself. Having captured a partly completed airfield that
the Japanese were constructing, the US Marines on the island quickly set about
completing it. They named the airstrip Henderson Field in honour of Marine Major
Lofton R. Henderson who had led one of the air attacks against the Japanese
carrier force in the early stages of the Battle of Midway.
.P The first two squadrons of aircraft delivered to Henderson Field, were
delivered by USS Long Island on the 20th August; nineteen Wildcat fighters of
VMF-223 and twelve Dauntless dive-bombers from VMSB-232. The addition of
land-based air power was to prove vital in ensuring that the Japanese would never get
close to defeating the Marines.
.P Having succeeded in delivering her much needed cargo, Long Island left the
southwest Pacific and sailed for San Diego, California. From there, she was used
to train new pilots in the art of taking off and landing from the deck of a
.P This work ended in 1944, at which time Long Island was used for ferry duty,
delivering aircraft to US bases all over the Pacific. It was in this role that
the USN's first escort carrier ended her war.
.P At the end of the war Long Island was used in Operation Magic Carpet - the
ferrying home of troops from overseas. She was then decommissioned in March 1946.
After leaving service with the USN, she returned to civilian life, under-going
numerous name changes before ending up as a students' floating hostel in Holland.
.P USS Long Island was scrapped in 1977.
< Message edited by Extraneous -- 11/6/2011 12:45:43 PM >
University of Science Music and Culture (USMC) class of 71 and 72 ~ Extraneous (AKA Mziln)