April 14, 1942
The Flight of the Fish
Operation RIFF-RAFF is in full swing, yet the most important war action today was far, far away. But first, the mines!
1) After yesterday's bad air results the US Navy re-programmed and bulled ahead. The wait-and-see was junked and the bombardment group was ordered in. Range at midnight meant the mission would be executed in daylight. "Land the landing force!" was issued by flashing light and semaphore flags and the big boyz heaved forward toward the reefs surrounding Johnson, figuring staying in the Bigger Boyz wakes might save them from the mines probably lurking. Red sub icons were in Johnson harbor, as well as two more due east in the TFs' path from Pearl.
The carriers moved forward toward their stand-off on "Station 'h'" due east of the objective. After a staff meeting (in my head) the TF commander decided to hold the four CVs together one more day to maximize CAP cohesion. One Hornet DB squadron was sent back to Pearl and a new carrier-capable USMC Wildcat squadron came aboard. Whether they will contribute is uncertain, but they can be sent ashore immediately when the base falls.
The four DMSes, given a break from ASW, begin their mission at night under 3% moonlight. At first 2 mines, 3 mines. Then, with DL up, 9 mines, 11 mines. The Air TF commnader is sweating on his flag bridge. After daybreak the totals skyrocket. 20 mines. 81 on the next pulse. Overall, including the few found by the landing force, 197 mines are located and swept WITH NO EXPLOSIONS! There is still a red mine dot on the base, but this has to be the majority. Even if not, the landing force gets to the beach and begins to disembark safely.
A lone mini-sub tries for the bombardment group, but fails to connect and is driven under by the ASW escort. The BBs, supported by several float planes spotting, go to work. Results are excellent, especialy in the matter of Zeroes.
Naval bombardment of Johnston Island at 164,112
Japanese aircraft losses
A6M2 Zero: 28 damaged
A6M2 Zero: 7 destroyed on ground
BB New Mexico
CA Salt Lake City
Japanese ground losses:
835 casualties reported
Squads: 3 destroyed, 5 disabled
Non Combat: 49 destroyed, 131 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 9 disabled
Guns lost 10 (5 destroyed, 5 disabled)
Vehicles lost 30 (12 destroyed, 18 disabled)
Airbase hits 11
Airbase supply hits 12
Runway hits 34
Port hits 16
Port supply hits 12
The first wave goes in, and, with only about 40 prep, experiences severe disruption. But the Shock attack, while not decisive, goes well. The base should fall tomorrow.
Amphibious Assault at Johnston Island (164,112)
TF 349 troops unloading over beach at Johnston Island, 164,112
Allied ground losses:
382 casualties reported
Squads: 0 destroyed, 68 disabled
Non Combat: 0 destroyed, 19 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 0 disabled
Guns lost 35 (0 destroyed, 35 disabled)
Vehicles lost 15 (0 destroyed, 15 disabled)
Ground combat at Johnston Island (164,112)
Allied Shock attack
Attacking force 1989 troops, 101 guns, 37 vehicles, Assault Value = 118
Defending force 3635 troops, 25 guns, 58 vehicles, Assault Value = 32
Allied adjusted assault: 10
Japanese adjusted defense: 4
Allied assault odds: 2 to 1 (fort level 1)
Allied Assault reduces fortifications to 0
Defender: disruption(-), preparation(-), experience(-)
Attacker: shock(+), disruption(-), fatigue(-)
Japanese ground losses:
546 casualties reported
Squads: 7 destroyed, 22 disabled
Non Combat: 2 destroyed, 19 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 11 disabled
Guns lost 15 (3 destroyed, 12 disabled)
Allied ground losses:
60 casualties reported
Squads: 0 destroyed, 6 disabled
Non Combat: 0 destroyed, 0 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 2 disabled
110th Combat Engineer Battalion
7th Marine Rgt /2
249th Field Artillery Battalion
6th Base Force
10th JAAF Base Force
Tomorrow will see more sweeping and the landing of the Air HQ and base force. I don't htink the Ind. Reg. will be needed; it will be held off-shore. Intel recieved of intense radio at Kwajalein, which I have to assume is the KB if it isn't already on the way. The USN carriers will move to a more defensible location, and the bombarment group will be sent home. My goal is to only risk CL and smaller, and to get some LBA, especialy patrol, onto the island ASAP.
Overall an A- effort. The sweepers get an A++.
2) At Bataan the supply ship makes port. Air attacks concentrate on the AF, letting it begin to unload. No criticism of Japan. After these months with the PI behind the lines as it were no air unit would be expected to be on Naval attack. A large TF loaded with escorts and one xAK is moving past Lingayan a couple of hexes offshore. It is attacked by an RN submarine to no avail. It would be easy to strip an escort off to wait for the merchant to come out if the Bettys have other jobs. No idea if a small dollup of supply will help Bataan, but it can't hurt.
3) The mountain bombing of the Tsuyung stack continues, this time with a big (30) Oscar escort. The AVG, with a handful, comes long-time from Paoshan to meet them. One Oscar is downed and no casualties on the ground ensue from the disrupted raid. The next comes unescorted and the AVG destroys 1 Sally and damages 3 for 8 casualties on the ground. The final escorted raid of 32 bombers and 11 Oscars destroys an AVG fighter, but again scores no damage on the ground.
4) Operation FUDD builds momentum. About a dozen TFs are moving toward rally points and a half-dozen more are loading, some at unimproved ports like Cox's B. 7th Aussie Div loses men and equipment over the side twice trying to load here.
The coordination of so many LCUs, from so many nations, some on roads, some in jungle, some motorized, some not, has beaten the staff officers. With one more day of PP accumulation to load the main landing division for Rangoon at Madras, orders are given to overtly begin to approach designated targets at Prome, Bassein, and Toungoo. A strong Indian division and a strong armor unit are almost through the jungle SE of Akyab and onto the yellow road leading to Prome. The Chinese corps trying to cross the river north of Prome is bombed again, but has LRCAP and a trade of fighters is achieved for light ground damage. Not waiting, the corps and armor due east of Prome on the road begins movement into the target, showing a dot. The para drop on Bassein will be held back until Rangoon is a clear target.
The problem with FUDD is a lack of PPs and so many restricted units which need to walk to Rangoon. It will take time.
The central question--what does Japan know? What can they see? What can they react with? FUDD rests on many assumptions, one of which is difficulty of the IJN to get into the B.of B. easily with Singers untaken. Almost the entire RN OOB is underway for Pt. Blair, but is not there yet. The Straits of Malacca are not mined yet, and have no subs on patrol. Four are heading there, but are several days away.
So . . .
Imagine my surprise. Fish CAN fly!
Morning Air attack on TF, near Port Blair at 47,58
Weather in hex: Light rain
Raid spotted at 10 NM, estimated altitude 6,000 feet.
Estimated time to target is 6 minutes
Hurricane I Trop x 6
Hurricane IIa Trop x 6
Swordfish I x 11
Allied aircraft losses
Swordfish I: 1 damaged
Swordfish I: 2 destroyed by flak
CL Kashii, Torpedo hits 1, heavy damage
CL Jintsu, Torpedo hits 1
CL Nagara, Torpedo hits 1, heavy damage
Animation results show CL Jintsu Listing, Counter-flooding, never a good sign. CL Nagara recieved a penetrating hit, with major engine damage and flooding reported.
Mike's email was, umm, rather incredulous.
Where did these ships originate? How did they get that far north? More importantly, where will they go tomorrow? Rangoon has the best piers for patching system, but so far light CAP. He knows I have B-26s at Pt. Blair which can reach most of the Thai coast. If he has flooding the nearest real help is Hong Kong. I'm assuming he doesn't know the RN is coming over the hill, or that there is a 3-ship RN reaction force of CL/DD at Pt. Blair now. I need this cruiser TF gone and quickly. Is it the lead of a stronger force? Don't know. But I don't want a naval battle as FUDD is in motion. Some of the distances are small between load port and objective, but so are escorts. It's a shoestring, 1942 lash-up operation. The next turn could be interesting.
But for today, well done, Fish!
5) Icing on the cake at Balikpapan. Leaving the heavies on Port since the anchor symbol still burns, they go in low once more. Bad losses, but hits on two enemy shiops, including a DD which might not make it.
Morning Air attack on Balikpapan , at 64,97
Weather in hex: Overcast
Raid spotted at 15 NM, estimated altitude 8,000 feet.
Estimated time to target is 4 minutes
A6M2 Zero x 17
Ki-43-Ic Oscar x 8
Ki-44 Tojo x 5
B-25C Mitchell x 5
B-17E Fortress x 7
No Japanese losses
Allied aircraft losses
B-25C Mitchell: 2 destroyed, 2 damaged
B-17E Fortress: 2 damaged
DD Amatsukaze, Bomb hits 1, heavy fires
xAK Toko Maru, Bomb hits 1, on fire
6) Canton I. forts go to 3. The garrison is still incoming. A squadron of Wildcats unloads at Christmas I. whose AF is about half-way to 2. Colombo AF goes to 7. Upgraded subs are coming back with radar. And it was another good day for future hopes. Today's arrivals:
CA Devonshire arrives at Cape Town
CLAA Atlanta arrives at Balboa
AM Benalla arrives at Melbourne
AM Castlemaine arrives at Melbourne
AM Echuca arrives at Sydney
SS Growler arrives at Balboa
SS Halibut arrives at Balboa
AE Shasta arrives at Cristobal
AP Hunter Liggett arrives at Balboa
AP Heywood arrives at Balboa
AP George F. Elliot arrives at Balboa
AP Fuller arrives at Balboa
AK Alcyon arrives at Balboa
xAP Noordam arrives at Los Angeles
xAP Tjisadane arrives at Alameda
AM Punjab arrives at Sydney
No.8 Sqn RNZAF arrives at Auckland
251 ShAD/67 ShAP arrives at Spassk-Dalniy
251 ShAD/294 ShAP arrives at Spassk-Dalniy
307th BG/370th BS arrives at Spokane
307th BG/371st BS arrives at Spokane
307th BG/372nd BS arrives at Spokane
308th BG/373rd BS arrives at Boise
308th BG/374th BS arrives at Boise
308th BG/375th BS arrives at Boise
307th BG/35th RS arrives at Spokane
308th BG/36th RS arrives at Boise
307th BG/HqS arrives at Spokane
308th BG/HqS arrives at Boise
641st Towed Tank Destroyer Battalion arrives at Cape Town
100th RN Base Force arrives at Aden
< Message edited by Bullwinkle58 -- 4/7/2013 10:11:28 PM >