May 5, 1942 –
This was a night of ups and downs for US PT boats. First off, a lone US PT boat sailed from Cairns to Cooktown and encountered the Japanese Invasion TF. The PT boat was spotted at 11K yards and the Japanese escorts – a CA and a number of DDs – opened fire. The PT boat avoided the fire and closed in to 5K yards at which point it fired its torpedoes at a Japanese DD. As expected, the DD avoided the attack. Surprisingly, the PT boat was then able to escape from the Japanese and return to base. Now it has to go south to re-arm.
That encounter, albeit unsuccessful, never-the-less encouraged me so I was looking forward to the next PT action. I had ordered the 2-ship PT TF in Townsville to sail out and try to engage the KB off shore. But instead of hearing of heroics, I received a message that the PT TF was "evading enemy ships". And that was with a hand-picked aggressive TF commander, and two hand-picked aggressive ship captains! So I ordered the Chickens-of-the-Sea up to Cairns, and I will send them off on a mission to Cooktown in another turn or two, just to see if they can regain some courage.
Daylight brought ups and downs for the USAAF too. The Air Wars started out with Japanese bombardments of Batavia, Tandjoengselor and Sibolga as usual. Then the first of my Sneak Attacks went into action.
Six of the Liberators that had flown from India to Chungking flew in and hit the Port at Shanghai. There was no CAP and the bombers hit an ACM, an AK, and also got a Port hit. Next seven B-17s that had accompanied the Liberators to Chungking hit the Port at Pescadores and again in the absence of CAP blew a CMc out of the water, as well as hitting the Port Supply. All of the Allied bombers returned to Base safely and I then flew them back to India.
Next, ten planes from a fresh squadron of B-17Es flew in and attacked the Airfields at Katherine. Three Zeros and one Oscar attacked the bombers but the bombers blew past them, damaging two of the Zeros. The B-17s then hit their target, destroying a Zero on the ground, causing casualties, and hitting the Runways.
So far, so good. Then the Game did one of its Failure-of-Suspension-of-Disbelief "random" things and Liberators and B-17s that were ordered to hit the Japanese troops on the beaches at Cooktown instead flew up to Darwin and attempted to hit the troops there.
Yes, I understand the Game Design "thing" that has random events happen in order to simulate the "WTF?" events that happen during real wars, but having two experienced bomber units flying to Darwin instead of Cooktown is equivalent to having two experienced bomber units flying from England with orders to hit Berlin, but flying to Rome instead. It didn't happen, and it would never happen. And yes, in the bigger scale of things in this humungous Game, it is a trivial thing, but never-the-less it is momentarily irritating.
In any event, the CAP at Darwin was tough and the Zeros and Oscars shot up the incoming bombers, causing the loss of a couple of Liberators. The bombers did hit some ground targets at Darwin, but all-in-all it was an irritating waste of a bomber raid.
The Ground War started with another Japanese bombardment attack on the Chinese troops in the Rough on the road to Sian north of Nanyang. As happened previously, the artillery had no effect.
Next the Japanese launched another Deliberate Attack on Batavia. The attack achieved a 1:1 result, reduced the Fortifications to Level 1, and caused roughly equal casualties on both sides.
Then a Japanese Infantry Regiment captured the empty Dot Base of Sawahloento, which is due East of Sibolga.
Finally, the Japanese invaders at Cooktown captured the empty base with a small Infantry Battalion and a JNAF AF unit. Of course, with the AF unit in place the next turn Japanese fighters immediately turned up at the Level 1 Airfield. So I've moved more 4Es forward and will hit the Airfield at Cooktown next turn, assuming that the Game doesn't have my bombers fly somewhere a thousand miles in the wrong direction.
In other news, a large number of Japanese troops have moved into Swebo in Burma. It looks as if my opponent is finally going to make a move on Myitkyina. I have multiple Recon flights assigned to Swebo next turn, and then I will hit the base with 4Es in order to slow things down. But I will reserve my main air attacks until the Japanese LCUs move closer to Myitkyina, and farther away from their CAP.
I find it interesting that my opponent would move now and not wait until June 1 when I will lose a number of British Air Units to Withdrawal.
And finally, a Japanese LCU has shown up at the empty mid-desert base of Nokanban in north-central Australia. That base is too far from anything to bother with, but I am glad that the Japanese unit is there, rather than somewhere more important.