From: the flight deck of the Zuikaku
15 May 43
Nothing to report. Ted has a few (at least) subs west of the Aleutians but they didnít do anything.
Ted also had a sub just SE of Truk that my ASW forces attacked (unsuccessfully). I was concerned that she may have spotted KB1, but it turns out she didnít.
My vaunted BBs bombarded the Allied forces stuck on Adak. The 4 BB, 2 CL & 6 DD did a fair amount of damage, killing 13 squads and disabling another 62. The TF will retire to Etorofu to rearm and refuel to return and do it all over again. I need to check the rules to see if placing AKEs at either Attu or Amchitka will allow me to rearm my BBs. That would save a huge amount of fuel and time.
In the morning, some Sallies hit the Allied troops for a bit more damage. Hopefully, all this effort is causing their supplies to evaporate.
Finally, my artillery bombarded again killing a couple more steps and disabling half a dozen. I think the US 41 Division took the brunt of todayís attacks because their AV dropped from 263 yesterday to 167 today. Not bad. There was no US ground attack or bombardment today.
Ted is now definitely aware of MKB2. Some of their Zeros escorted the Sallies. Figures. That TF is still spotted too (as it was yesterday). But, KB2 (Junyo & Hiyo) is now in the area and not spotted. No planes flew from that TF. Both TFs are going to move to the same hex, 6 hexes to the SW of Unmak Island. The US 3 BB bombardment fleet is sitting at Unmak. That should scare them away. If they donít flee, my planes should go after them. Should everything go as planned, there will be 36 Vals and 42 Kates escorted by 43 Zeros with 65 Zeros as CAP. I am a little concerned because I believe Ted has Dauntlesses stationed at Unmak, but the fighter defenses are only P-40Es and P-400s. I suspect Ted will flee with all of his ships. I would prefer to sink some, but driving them off will work just as well. That will isolate the US troops on Adak and allow me to safely reinforce the island to destroy them.
Adak is doing well and will receive two artillery unit reinforcements in the next couple of days. All of the units on ground have little or no fatigue and very low disruption. The fort level is at 5.06 and very slowly increasing. There is just under 15k supply available.
I believe I have regained the initiative here. I have no intention of advancing any farther, but I will not let Ted advance any farther here either. I suspect Ted will write off his invasion force. Thatís fine with me. Killing a US infantry division, two US separate infantry regiments and a US combat engineer regiment will probably take them out of his OOB for the remainder of the war. I hear AFBs complain about low troop replacement rates. I donít recall hearing about low US replacement rates, but having to replace all of those units would most definitely cause a shortage of US replacements that will be needed in the future bringing damaged units back up to full strength. That will also give a nice little chunk of victory points for those who are into that sort of thing. (Iím not.)
Nothing to report.
When Ted sent the turn, he made a comment about how this turn should be exciting. He was right. He made his move at Munda and I saw 3 carriers all in one spot (first time ever!) along with the vaunted Hellcat. I learned that the A6M2 on an escort mission vs. the Hellcat on CAP isnít much of a contest.
Ted used a tactic I have never considered. He parked his carrier TF (Saratoga, Enterprise and Yorktown) in the Munda hex, along with the invasion fleet. It all started with a sweep with Wildcats and Hellcats against a solitary A6M5, which was easily brushed away. Then a bunch of 4E bombers came to pummel the airfield. Finally, the invasion occurred: 43 Division, 37 Division (Ohio National Guard!), 131 Combat Engineer Regiment and the XIV Corps HQ. Wow! All that vs. the 89 Naval Guard, 15 Naval Construction Battalion and the 46 JNAF AF Unit. I donít expect them to last through tomorrow, although there are level 5 forts, so they may get lucky. (Yeah, right.)
I suspect he parked the carriers in the Munda hex so that his CAP would also defend the invasion fleet as well as his carriers. Thatís something I would never do. As an Allied player, I might use CVEs for that purpose, but not my CVs. As a Japanese player, I wonít risk any flattop that way. Anyway, thatís what happened, and the US CVs are still sitting there along with the invasion fleet. Only part of the two US divisions landed, but I suspect thatís all heíll need to take Munda. My intel says the Allied AV is 832 vs. only 60 for the Japanese. I doubt the level 5 forts help enough to get them through tomorrow.
My Betty daitai made a daylight attack against the US carriers. A total of 30 Betties escorted by 26 A6M2s found the US carriers. Sixty(!) Hellcats rose to meet them and shot down 20 Zeros for no loss (ouch). Fortunately, they were able to down only 1 Betty before they went in to the attack. Letís see, 29 Betties went in with torpedoes and made exactly 0 hits, losing 4 to flak. Really? What a waste! Their average naval attack skill was >70. Iím going to set them back to night attack and hope they send a few bombers after something. I was hoping for at least a couple of hits with all those planes attacking. Sheesh!
Ted sent 18x 4E bomber sorties against Mundaís airfield moderately damaging it. That doesnít matter at all since no Japanese plane will likely ever fly from there again. There were 42x 4E and 81 Dauntless sorties flown against the Japanese troops, but they did little damage.
Ted also sent 40x 4E sorties against Rabaulís airfield. My fighter defense was abysmal. They shot nothing down. Flak got only 1 but fortunately only minor damage was done to the airfield. About 10 aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Rabaulís airfield is still in business and will factor greatly in tomorrowís ops.
There was a nice little op involving my Nick sentai. There were 3 surviving US PT boats hanging out at Gasmata this morning. One was destroyed by a mine today leaving 2. The Nicks were sent on a low naval attack mission and 24 flew each in the morning and afternoon, sinking 1 and badly damaging the second PT boat. Fun.
More importantly, yesterday I had sent KB1 (Shokaku, Zuikaku, Soryu & Ryujo) south from Truk on a high speed run to get close to being in position to support Munda. They succeeded, sustaining light sys damage doing so. No big deal. I havenít sent the turn yet, so I am still deciding what to do down here. My thought is to move KB1 5 hexes south of Rabaul in a shallow hex. That hex is 6 north of Munda (and the US carriers and invasion fleet), which is in normal Val and Kate range. (It is also normal Dauntless and Avenger range.)
I have a total of ~120 land based fighters in this AO. Iím considering moving them all to Rabaul and setting them all to 100% LRCAP to support KB1. I figure some 20-30 will actually make it there (including some from the sentai of Ki-44-IIcs which have completely repaired and sitting at Truk). If I do this, there will be little or no fighters defending either Gasmata or Rabaul. But, if I can put 3 US carriers out of action for little damage to my carriers, that would delay the Allied offensive greatly. Itís all about delay!
Hereís the first idea: I have my carrier fighters set at 60% CAP. Thatís 78 fighters + 20 land-based fighters making 98 vs. 48 Hellcats escorting Tedís attack (assuming 60% CAP & 40% escort Ė thatís what I think he has his settings). That would give me 52 Zeros as escort against 60 Hellcats (which is what he had today on CAP against my Betty attack), which isnít good. I have a total of 54 Vals and 72 Kates available.
Fighters on escort always seem to be at a disadvantage against fighters on CAP. I want to work this in my favor. Hereís another plan:
Position some of my fighters at Shortland and have them sweep Munda. This may wear down some of his Hellcats on CAP. Also, I may set some of my carrier Zeros to sweep as well, hoping they sweep before my attack goes in. The rest would remain the same, but more of my land-based fighters would get in the action (sweep vs. LRCAP). The risky part about this plan is that some of my escorting Zeros would sweep instead of flying with my bombers. If the sweeps donít succeed in reducing the Hellcat defenders, my bombers would probably take it on the chin.
Another little piece of intel that I gleaned was the he has all his Hellcats at 20k feet. My escort was at 15k. I will adjust mine to be higher than his tomorrow. I need all the advantage I can get and diving on the Hellcats canít hurt.
I donít think Ted knows KB1 is in the area. The TF is not spotted, but he could have gotten wind of something from his intel. Given that, he still has a very good defense with his Hellcats. My pilots are superb, but the Zero airframes, wellÖ
The Akagi finished her refit today, about a week late. She and Kaga will leave Kobe tomorrow and head down here. They wonít arrive for ~5 days though. The carrier battle will most likely already be decided by then, but their 72 Zeros, 36 Judys and 45 Kates could come in handy. Weíll see. If they are not needed, theyíll head to Truk. Should the battle still be raging, both sides will most likely be low on carrier planes. This reinforcement could come at a critical time and tip the scales in our favor. Stay tuned!
Three of those pesky Beaufighters tried to bomb our supply convoy still sitting at Saumlaki. The Oscars on CAP shot one down. The bombers missed once again.
Today is the first day of monsoon. Absolutely nothing happened in this AO. Wonder whyÖ
My armies continue to maneuver to isolate Chungking from the rest of the world. I had a total of 45x 2E bombers hit Chungkingís troops and another few hit the airfield. That was only a quarter of what was available. Bad weather I guess.
The N1K2-J R&D advanced to 10/44. It should become operational in 9/43.
I finally broke 500 engines in the Ha-45 pool. I currently have 462 of 660 factories repaired, giving me 15 engines a day. Current needs are ~2-3 operational and 10 R&D engines. I didnít quite have enough to cover all the R&D factories today, but I should have enough tomorrow.
Now I am aware of the locations of 5 of the 6 US carriers. The Hornet and Lexington are nearing the US west coast, presumably to pick up their Hellcats, and the Enterprise, Yorktown and Saratoga just appeared off Munda. That leaves only the Wasp unaccounted for, with the Essex due to arrive shortly. I am confident that no more Allied carriers will surprise me in the SE Fleet AO. There may be some British CVs floating around somewhere, but I havenít seen any at all so far. I saw the Hermes in June 42 and put a couple of sub torpedoes into her. No report of her sinking and I havenít seen her since.
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