December 11, 1941
Every Allied player can identify with what I felt as I watched this turn unfold: "Well, at least he's using a lot of torps and ammo and he'll have to go home to reload soon."
Some good, some bad, some pretty horrible, adding up to December 1941.
1) The very intense submarine war continued with multiple ASW prosecutions around Pearl with no hits by either side. His subs expended more fish shooting at ASW vessels, and they responded, in one case to the point of ammo exhaustion, scoring no hits but accumulating a bit of crew experience. Near Balabac an I-boat proved it is indeed possible for the Japanese to miss a surface vessel. Near Jolo, four crack IJN DDs worked over KXVIII, scoring no hits and no damage. Near Aparri, S-36 in shallow water took on five escorts guarding two transports and got away scratch-free, but was then jumped by two DMS W-class and took five hard hits, then was attacked AGAIN by the same original five escorts. But she stayed on station.
2) Landings continued at Beaufort and Davao. Mike continues to demonstrate a lot of discipline in his landing operations, waiting to attack until the landing is well along or finished. At Beaufort in particular he could have this base with two girl scouts and a lemonade wagon, but he takes it slow, again unloading from his lone APD. This behavior may be caution, it may be bait, or it may be his core play style, or it could be something else. I can learn from it, but he is also using precious days and I do not so far feel extremely pressed by his landing pace. I continue to wait for the other shoe to drop, with magic TFs dispatched to the four corners of the map to appear, but every day which goes by leads me more to the conclusion that this is how he plans and plays. I'll take the breathing room while I have it. I have my own problems.
3) In a very good outcome for the IJN my four old DDs TF out of Manila headed for the landings at Vigan are jumped by a patrolling surface force of evildoers. The force turns back for Manila afterward, not getting close to its mission. I did remember, however, to LRCAP these ships this time, which pays off in the day phase.
Night Time Surface Combat, near San Fernando at 79,73, Range 8,000 Yards
CA Ashigara, Shell hits 2
DD John D. Ford
DD Peary, Shell hits 15, and is sunk
DD Pope, Shell hits 2
4) The Tale of the Three Little Ships begins out in the South China Sea. The three RN DDs, refugees from a beseiged Hong Kong, are making their separate ways toward Singers on different courses and waypoints. Recall the stiff exchanges with a IJN TF several days ago which resulted in a collision between two enemy ships and a very good display of gunnery by the Jolly Tars. Alas, each of the three, in a series of running battles spanning night and day, fall to superior numbers while inflicting only minor damge. Mike has stacked at least three stiff surface TFs N-S across the South China Sea in mutually supporting patterns, to guard his N. Borneo landings and to sweep up refugees fleeing HK and the PI. All three do their job. In the process, as I said at the outset, they expend wave after wave of Long Lance and dozens of cycles of main gun ammo, which is cold comfort to the men of the RN, but which might play into the second week's op tempo. RIP HMS Scout, HMS Thracian, and HMS Thanet.
5) If these TFs were also designed to intercept Force Z they will fail. That Force is orbiting out in the IO on a tight triangle zone, positioned to aid Palembang, Batavia, or Perth if a bolt-from-the-blue were attempted. Their full speed dash from Singers has made the fuel situation difficult, but I have a few more days before I must pull them in for a drink. My Sumatran and Javanese tankers have fled on different courses for their next jobs and are not handy for the task.
6) Initial landings on Guam begin with a TF of seven escorts and one xAK. I have no subs nearby. At the beginning I prefer to focus on harbors where I know there are targets and essential choke points where my very few good-torp boats can increase their attack odds. Islands, with a 360-degree approach, are a lower percentage opportunity it seems to me. Later on I will focus a lot of interdicting island re-supply, but at the beginning it's all about disrupting landings and forcing the Japanese to send another unit to replace one sunk or decimated.
7) In a side-note, there has been no activity at Wake since the war began. This turn I took the CAP there down a notch to rest. Wake can be a bear if the scenario-assigned forces are not stiffened, but it WILL fall. I have almost gotten Forts there up a number, however, and the Marines tend to take some landers with them, so I appreciate the time.
1) In an addendum to the Tale of the Three, as I said these battles spanned both phases. Before she was sunk, HMS Thanet gave the Emperor a gift:
xAK Fushimi Maru, Shell hits 3, on fire
This 2-ship xAK TF was the first I have seen whcih had no escorts. It was southbound across the S. China Sea in an area my opponent knew there were DDs. Oversight? Or too lavish an escort for the initial wave at Guam and the PI?
2) Near Aparri, S-36 gains her revenge for the hard night before. Breaking up noises noted:
Sub attack near Aparri at 83,72
PB Shonan Maru #17, Torpedo hits 1, heavy damage
SS S-36 launches 2 torpedoes
S-36 bottoming out ....
Sub escapes detection
3) Near Soc Trang, the Dutch bubbleheads continue to earn their sub pay, although command at Soerbaja wishes to remind them of the cost of a torpedo:
Sub attack near Soc Trang at 60,74
xAK Meiten Maru, Torpedo hits 4, on fire, heavy damage
PB Eiko Maru
In a later attack a fat westbound AV, escorted, is missed by sub attack. This 3-ship TF appears to be out of Cam Rahn Bay headed for KB.
4) All day heavy fighter sweeps continue in Malaysia, at Rangoon where the AVG is already bleeding, and in the PI. Some air efforts swing away from the PI where footholds are established and onto China where both bombing and escort numbers increase markedly. Troops in the open are the most common target although the garrison at Hong Kong is pounded again. I expect attention to the roads will grow in the coming days and weeks as my China big-out becomes apparent.
5) Unescorted Bettys arrive to feed on the retreating DDs from Manila, but are met by P-40s. 2 destroyed, 1 damaged, but the replay shows more damage than that. Mike has been conservative with his 2E bombers so far after one bad day early. I do hate the things.
6) I sneak in two more Cat torpedo attacks in the PI for a total of four planes. No hits. I know opinions differ on this, but I have found they do get hits often enough to justify them in my play style. If they can give my CAP some relief from the sweeps so much the better. I plan to try at least one maximum effort next tturn, and then reassess.
7) I buy out one B-17 unit in the PI and send it to Batavia. I will buy out at least one more next turn. Batavia is sub-optimal for basing N. Borneo strikes due to AF size, but is far more secure than Singers. I'm going to see if the heavies will fly from Batavia on Miri next turn, in daylight. If they won't I may have to shuttle them to Singers and eat the fatigue. Cat and mouse, but some Oil hits would make me happy.
8) The mini-KB, or I should say one mini-KB (there is a second SE of Davao which is reported a CS but whcih is flying Vals and Kates), has been camping on the map letters "Celebes Sea" for a couple of days, so I visit with a Dutch sub. Attacks on the escorts, no carriers seen, but he should know I know where they are. The minis attack and sink a couple of fleeing xAKL/xAKs. I had atomized what I had left still leaving the PI. The routes south are firmly closed, so I had designated about five routes east for Midway, Dutch, and even Wake, with full waypoints, to give these poor guys the best chance I can come up with. A couple might make it.
Similarly, for a few cripples NE of Borneo which have Singers as their one, best option, I have used the new, Beta-patch-provided "Coastal" routing control to send them within stone's throw of Brunei and Miri in the slim hope they can dodge the three surface TFs which killed the RN DDs. After these ships are either clear or dead the escape phase of the initial game is done. Hordes are already well clear of western Java and Sumatra heading for Cape Town. In retrospect I should have done some things differently. I had never had the AI use the mini-KB so well. It normally uses it in a far more mobile fashion and does not camp it as Mike did here. Still, my tanker/AO losses have been light and most of the sinkings have been xAKLs.
9) In answer to an earlier question about the Mabel, here, though not at Pearl, is one action:
Afternoon Air attack on TF, near Hong Kong at 75,65
Weather in hex: Partial cloud
Raid spotted at 2 NM, estimated altitude 10,000 feet.
Estimated time to target is 0 minutes
B5M1 Mabel x 3
No Japanese losses
xAKL Halldor, Bomb hits 1, on fire, heavy damage
3 x B5M1 Mabel bombing from 6000 feet
Naval Attack: 2 x 250 kg SAP Bomb
Heavy smoke from fires obscuring xAKL Halldor
In a second atack the Mabels returned and sent Halldor to the bottom.
10) In an observation worth more to me in learning about my opponent than the tactical advantage he may have gotten, in the day phase I now see the Beaufort landings grow by three xAKs. They are reported as being in the same TF as the APD already there, which I think, code-wise, means he had to have Joined the TFs rather than had the xAKs set for Do Not Unload. Regardless, this means he did a probing landing with the APD, had no push-back, and then brought in the heavy landing ships. This is very clever, and something I have never done or would have thought to do against the AI. I will remember it for future atoll ops. In effect, the girl scouts at Beaufort now have their moms and two angry beagles to help knock over this critical target.
11) Land battles begin, and two "oooof" moments happen in China, illustrating why I hate this theater and why I hope for better days to come. Simple battles can quickly turn to a rout.
Ground combat at 91,39 (near Chengting)
Japanese Deliberate attack
Attacking force 5574 troops, 38 guns, 32 vehicles, Assault Value = 194
Defending force 1262 troops, 2 guns, 0 vehicles, Assault Value = 49
Japanese adjusted assault: 106
Allied adjusted defense: 9
Japanese assault odds: 11 to 1
Defender: terrain(+), leaders(+), morale(-), experience(-)
Japanese ground losses:
9 casualties reported
Squads: 0 destroyed, 1 disabled
Non Combat: 0 destroyed, 0 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 0 disabled
Allied ground losses:
719 casualties reported
Squads: 21 destroyed, 12 disabled
Non Combat: 18 destroyed, 0 disabled
Engineers: 1 destroyed, 0 disabled Units retreated 1
Ground combat at Anyang (89,43)
Japanese Deliberate attack
Attacking force 7330 troops, 54 guns, 0 vehicles, Assault Value = 303
Defending force 4554 troops, 43 guns, 0 vehicles, Assault Value = 167
Japanese adjusted assault: 223
Allied adjusted defense: 73
Japanese assault odds: 3 to 1
Defender: terrain(+), leaders(-), preparation(-)
Japanese ground losses:
91 casualties reported
Squads: 0 destroyed, 13 disabled
Non Combat: 0 destroyed, 2 disabled
Engineers: 0 destroyed, 0 disabled
Allied ground losses:
2696 casualties reported
Squads: 95 destroyed, 9 disabled
Non Combat: 61 destroyed, 3 disabled
Engineers: 4 destroyed, 1 disabled
Guns lost 4 (4 destroyed, 0 disabled)
Units retreated 1
12) Beaufort falls. Defenders retreat into jungle. Allies bombard at Davao with no results.
1) The big news of the day is no news--the KB has gone over the hill to the west. Whether it keeps going, or goes to Truk to rearm and return, we will see. The CAP at Pearl will rest a bit and repair. LCU reinforcements for Oahu and the Big Island are enroute; additional escorts are sent to bring them through the sub cordon around Oahu. But overall the bill at Pearl is not bad. The BBs are dinged, but I've seen a lot worse. Not many sinkings, and the aircraft, while very damaged, have fairly light losses. In particular my patrol planes are in quite good shape and I have 360 patrols out 10 hexes.
2) The gaggle west of Lanai is still there, and must be a bunch of subs. I put an ASW TF right on top of it and converted it to Surface, and it saw nothing. My patrol planes see no surface ships at all, and give this report:
If subs, I have no idea what they're doing. If the mini-sub carriers why are they still there? Did Mike forget about them? I doubt it; he hasn't been sloppy anywhere else. If he wanted me to worry, he did that. If he was sticking them there to hit returning CVs, why not spread them? Are they reliefs for the subs on the north side of Oahu, saving transit time from Kwajalein? Maybe. I just don't know. Right now though I'm pretty sure they aren't an invasion fleet.
3) I have slid my carriers SE farther toward Christmas Island. I lost track of the radio intel sniff I got two days ago, but I still think it's possible there is a landing force there of some size. I plan ot unleash my search effort from the carrierrs this turn now that I think the KB is retiring. A risk as he could turn it, but I don't plan to stick around if I don't find anything. Christmas Island is valauble, but not to the extent I'll lose Lex over it right now.
4) Overall, sounding like a broken record, I'm surprised at how things are going so far. The pace of landings is too slow to get the max out of the amphib bonus. He is conventionally going for the PI so far, which is OK, but it's giving me time elsewhere to dig. This could change of course, but right now I don't know if Mike is naturally cautious, taking it easy on me becasue I'm a beginner (hah!), or isn't himself sure of what goodies no HRs give him.
5) For myself, I know I'm misplaying the balance between Singers' defense and building up Palembang. I don't have enough to do both, and maybe not even one, but I want both. I've also sent my transports away for the most part, so I can't lift the Indians off Malaysia and to Sumatra very easily. Anything which moves near Singers dies, so far. And I have evidence from the large AV I missed that he's moving in even more air to Malaysia, even as he sends the troops to the PI. I'm using the Dutch air transports to their max to pull troops into Palembang, but it's very slow. I do not have a good solution for the Singers/Palembang issue this week.
6) Re AI vs. PBEM impressions, which will be a continuing theme here for awhile, the pace is also setting me off balance. I feel like I've been in this war for months already, but it's less than a week. Mike traveling last week gave me almost too much time for navel-gazing, especially re China. Mike is very quick to flip turns back, but I'm spending at least 500% more time on turns than I would with the AI, and I'm not sure this is good for my performance. Already this AAR is turing into what I promised myself I wouldn't do. I need to dial back the impulse to relate everything.
Personal Note: After five turns I want to say how lucky I feel to have found a first PBEM opponent like Mike. He has been gracious in his communications, right on time when he said he would deliver something. He sends back the replay as soon as he sees it so I can begin to plan. And so far there has been no attempt at psyops or game chat. We've talked the NFL, but there has been no gloating and certainly no thinnly disguised attempts to get info. I know he played at least one game where that was rife, and perhaps he didn't like that. But so far the turns are standing on their own, and I like that.
Final Thought For My Co-Newbie Readers: Despite numerous attacks at sea and on land, despite losing lots of ships including three prime RN destroyers, despite two routing debacles in China, when the dust settled and the piper was paid the VP shift was -45 for the Allies. Even in the darkest days things aren't all bleak.
< Message edited by Bullwinkle58 -- 10/15/2012 6:31:04 PM >