For the last few weeks, I noticed that Greyjoy was leaving lots of valuable ships loitering in the Hokkaido/Kurile area, all in range of Japanese land based air from Ominato (lvl 9 airfield). A couple of recon flights over the Kuriles showed many CVEs (but no major CVs) docked at Uruppu and Etorofu Jima. Battleships and numerous transports were spotted at Bihoro. A battlecruiser and numberous cruisers were based at Hokkaido. None of these, appart from Hokkaido, appeared to have sufficient fighter cover to stop a major coordinated attack (maybe 100-150 fighters at each base).
Thus, yesterday, the Japanese high command decided to unleash Sakura Sakusen - "operation cherry blossom".
Since the strategic bombing raid at Tsu the turn previous resulted in a lot of allied 4Es damaged, I figured they would be out of action for a turn or two. And Greyjoy has demonstrated a pattern of 1 day of bombing followed by a couple turns of rest. I therefore decided that I could borrow almost the entire Japanese fighter force for the operation.
Apart from a few fighter-bomber groups and a couple of Tony groups, all Japanese fighters and pretty much the entire land-based bomber force was involved in the operation. Additionally, elements of the KB joined the strike, positioned 8 hexes from both Etorofu and Uruppu, and in range of a few other bases (Kushiro, Kunashiri, Shikotan). I was a bit concerned that the allied fleet might react into range (7 hexes), but I was happy to see that it didn't - thus we got off the mythical 1-sided long range Japanese strike.
Waves of Japanese land-based and carrier-based bombers escorted by the entire Japanese airforce struck, mainly at Uruppu and Bihoro. Many attacks got chewed up (over 1100 aircraft and many aircrews lost), but enough got through to inflict some spectacular damage. There were the odd hits on CAs, CLs, DDs, APs, AKs, TKs, etc., but the big ticket items by far were CVEs - over 30 reported sunk (!). Does anyone know how many he has at this point? I think he gets 100 or so during the war, but that's got to be the majority of them for mid-1944.
Interestingly, none of the kamikazes (about 100) even made it through the CAP, but the conventional bombers (Bettys & Frances') did extremely well.
Now the KB is going to run back to safety at high speed - hopefully before the Allied CVs can show up to spank it.
< Message edited by rader -- 12/21/2011 11:30:51 PM >