RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (Full Version)

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kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/23/2017 12:45:32 AM)

September 21st

Norfolk Island Bridgehead.

The word spreads out among the grunts. “Whatever you are doing, at midnight, drop down, dig as deep as you can, and under no circumstances raise your head.”
There is no need for translation. The battlewagons will give the yellow ba$terds another touch of softening up before the Marines attack in the morning. The news is welcome; infantry loves any help it gets. At midnight, each grunt is in the vicinity, or actually inside, the deepest hole to be found, or dug. Knowing that, at night, they will see the flashes on the horizon some seconds before shells arrive overhead, the men keep their eyes fixed on the distant, almost invisible moonlit line beyond where the allied ships perform their intricate dance.
The first flashes of light throw all the men to the bottom of their foxholes where they wait for the thundering crash of heavy shells flying overhead, but they hear nothing. Cautiously, they raise their helmeted heads over the rim of their foxholes. The sky continues to show flashes, many flashes, flashes galore. A constant rumble, like that of a distant thunderstorm, accompanies the lightning.
“A battle,” someone says, “a naval battle.”

A naval battle. Yes, an old fashioned one. And one where the Japanese excel at.
Two enemy battleships, the former battlecruisers Haruna and Hiei, with four heavy cruisers, the 8400 ton Furutaka and Kako, and the heavier Nachi and Haguro, with six escorting destroyers, came to hit the invasion fleet but met instead the far superior bombardment force.
Two old battleships against the not quite as old twenty seven thousand ton Nevada, the thirty one thousand Pennsylvania, thirty two thousand Mississippi, California, Maryland, and West Virginia, and the two Pensacola class heavy cruisers, Pensacola and Salt Lake City, and four destroyers, Jarvis, Hull, Peary, and Brooks.
Allied radar gives the US Navy the first salvo at 8000 yards, but the enemy responds with fast and accurate fire. The enemy destroyers head for the allied formation at full speed and launch their torpedoes. Five of them will find their targets; California shakes under the impact of two fish, and twenty one shell hits. Salt Lake City founders under fifteen armor piercing shells and a final coup de grace by a torpedo. Nevada takes a torpedo and several shell hits but steams on, while it only takes one torpedo to put the Clemson class destroyer Brooks under the waves.
The final score is one 1913 vintage battleship, Haruna, for a 1926 heavy cruiser, a destroyer, and a heavily damaged battleship that may not survive.
Japanese Ships
BB Haruna, Shell hits 9, and is sunk
BB Hiei, Shell hits 5
CA Haguro, Shell hits 3, heavy fires
CA Nachi, Shell hits 1
CA Furutaka, Shell hits 8, heavy fires, heavy damage
CA Kako, Shell hits 12, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Kazegumo
DD Kagero
DD Oyashio
DD Shikinami
DD Oboro
DD Akebono, Shell hits 1

Allied Ships
BB Maryland, Shell hits 4, on fire
BB West Virginia, Shell hits 4
BB Nevada, Shell hits 8, Torpedo hits 1
BB Pennsylvania, Shell hits 10, on fire
BB California, Shell hits 21, Torpedo hits 2, heavy fires, heavy damage
BB Mississippi, Shell hits 7
CA Pensacola, Shell hits 2, heavy fires
CA Salt Lake City, Shell hits 15, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
DD Jarvis, Shell hits 11, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Hull, Shell hits 14, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Peary, Shell hits 1
DD Brooks, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/23/2017 12:50:06 AM)

The remainder of the day forms a welcome coda to the naval battle of the night. A shock attack by 1st Marines and the base is taken. It will be secured in one more day.


BBfanboy -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/23/2017 1:02:11 AM)

Looks like the Allies were a little shy on DDs there! But it looks like Kako and Furutaka will likely go down too. Hang in there California! Watch out for IJN subs - they love cripples!

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/23/2017 4:41:56 PM)

September 23rd

xAP Klipfontein, struggling home after the Norfolk invasion meets her doom in the form of three torpedoes from SS I-170.


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/23/2017 4:42:47 PM)

Burma front

Far away, over Burma, the air battle continues and the fortunes of war continue to favor the Japanese empire.
Twenty three Tojo sweep Jorhat at 27000 feet. Five hurricanes rise and two die.
One hundred and one! Sally bombers with forty two Oscar escorting hit an empty Ledo. The AA damages five bombers and destroys one more. As if that raid was not enough, twenty six unescorted Sally follow, with two of them damaged by AA, and the final insult, a raid by thirty six, also unescorted bombers that lose one of their numbers to the flak that damages four more.

The first independent Lt AA brigade arrives at Ledo with twenty two 40mm Bofors; while the engineers and base dwellers welcome the new guns, the gunners themselves know that the 40mms are effective only up to nine thousand feet. Yes it’s true, the Sally are not as accurate flying higher but a formation of a hundred machines does not need to be accurate. Drop their eggs in the general area and some are bound to hit something! There is not that much left to hit in Ledo, but perhaps the 6th Heavy AA with their 3.7” Mk II AA guns leaving Chittagong and heading for Jorhat might get there and be ready when the Sallies come calling.

South Pacific

Reinforcements land at Tongatapu. With the support of B17s from Pago Pago, the island is sure to fall.
An enemy task force is spotted nosing around Nadi, near Suva. Seven ships are reported and one of them seems to be a carrier. Torpedo and dive bombers at Vavau, and the F4F-4 fighters prepare to receive them in the morning.


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/24/2017 2:04:08 PM)

September 24th 1942

Tonga Samoa Fiji AOPs

The first strike is by the TBF. Thirteen torpedo bombers arrive escorted by thirty five Wildcats. Sixty A6M2 Zero fighters create a hot reception for the allied pilots. No enemy fighters are touched by the inexperienced Wildcat pilots. Fifteen of the stubby fighters will go down over the sea. The heroic pilots did their job though and the Zeros only claim three Avengers destroyed and four damaged. One more TBF falls to enemy AA. Seven bombers get through and attack CV Akagi, Kaga, and Shokaku. They are equipped with bombs though and they drop them from six thousand feet, two 500 lbs eggs apiece, all of them into the ocean.

The SBDs arrive soon after, they failed to link up with the TBF and fighter cover so they attempt to attack alone. Only forty four Zero remain on CAP. They are enough. Five SBD return, none were able to penetrate and attack.

Engineers have completed the expansion of the Vavau airfield, it is now class 4, all the better to provide a larger target for the enemy bombers, should they decide to attack the airbase.


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/25/2017 5:56:09 PM)

September 25th

The air opposition having been knocked out the enemy carriers, Kaga, Akagi, and Shokaku turn east.
It is the Betty bombers from Suva that strike first. Forty three of them escorted by twenty two Zero, attack shipping at Tongatapu. The flak is strong, heavy and accurate; fifteen G4M are damaged and two destroyed. Only one of the torpedoes scores a hit, on xAP Robert Morris.
Carrier aircraft show up shortly afterwards. Fifteen Val dive bombers and eighteen Zero. The smaller dive bombers evade most of the AA, only one of them gets damaged and CLAA Atlanta takes five bomb hits.

The afternoon brings no respite. The Betties from Suva come again, thirty two of them this time, with twenty two Zero. Seventeen bombers damaged by AA. Only one torpedo hits, xAP William Davies can thank her stars as the enemy fish turned out to be a dud.

The carrier aircraft prove themselves much deadlier than their land based counterparts. Thirty Val bombers, thirty four Zero. They reach attack position and dive through the same flak that proved so effective against the twin engine bombers. Three Val are damaged, one destroyed. xAP Willam Davies three hits, xAP Robert Morris five, DD Fanning one.


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/25/2017 6:02:29 PM)

On the island, there is no need for the officers to inform the sergeants, there is no need for the NCOs to motivate their men. They’ve seen the carnage on the bay, their transports burning, the few surviving ships making their escape, or trying to. There is only one way. The men of the 24th Infantry regiment, of the 2nd Marine raider battalion, and the 3rd USMC parachute battalion know that they must capture the base, must take the airfield today. Otherwise there will be no tomorrow.
Their desperate assault succeeds and the enemy is forced to retreat, away from the base, away from the harbor, away from the airfield. Someone raises the Stars and Stripes over the half destroyed huts where the Rising Sun flew but hours ago. The sun races towards the western horizon and the men dig, and dig, and dig. They took the base, now they must hold it.


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/27/2017 7:12:38 PM)

September 28th 1942

Near Nadi, Cdr Goerk looks through his periscope. A big ship approaching; luck, or fate has the target steaming towards his position, almost straight at him.
“Down periscope, thirty meters,” he orders.
Dutch submarine O-19 heads down into the depths and turns to starboard to set up for a good broadside, or almost broadside on shot. Fifteen minutes pass. Launched in 1938 this is one modern submarine with the new experimental air pipe that allows her to run her diesels while submerged. This advantage meant that her batteries were full, and she could, if needed, make more sustained speed submerged than any allied submarine. This was not needed now though.
“Periscope depth, all ahead slow.”
The sub creeps up all hands ready, anxious to strike a blow for their homeland, even here, so far away from home, from occupied home.
“Periscope up!”
The skipper has his eye to the eyepiece even before the top of the scope breaks the surface of the sea.
“Stront! A carrier! A trucking carrier!”
Cmdr Goerk fires off a bearing, and an angle on the bow before ordering the scope down, he gives his first officer the best description he can and both men pore over the identification book. To establish the range they need to know the identity of their target, so the stadimeter can be used to give them the best range.
“I think a Junyo class skipper,” the first officer suggests.
“Up,” the skipper commands and takes a quick peek through the periscope, his target, and her escorts steam on unaware of the steel ship stalking them.
“Two destroyers,” he says, “A heavy cruiser, Chikuma I think, a light cruiser perhaps, or a seaplane carrier, lagging behind.”
“Junyo or Hiyo, one of them. Bearing Mark! Heading Mark!”
“Fresh of the shipyard,” the first officer comments.
“Maybe their damage control is not up to par,” Goerk gives his officer an evil smile. He had family in Soerabaja, hasn’t had news from them since early in the war. One more look through the scope. Prepare all tubes.
He watches through the scope while firing the first two fish, the remaining four go off at predetermined intervals to cover the broadest possible area while the submarine dives deep, to its test depth of one hundred meters, turns to starboard to clear the area, the steam powered torpedoes leave a bubble trail that points directly at the submarine, and increases speed to two thirds. She will slow down when she reaches her assigned depth.
“Torpedo impact!” the sonar man announces, holding his earpiece away from his ear, as the explosion, instantly transmitted by the uncompressible sea water reverberates on the steel hull of the submersible.
On the surface the two destroyers ping away, searching for the submarine that, safe in the depths, creeps away at one third speed.

At Pearl radio intercepts a coded distress call from Hiyo. Cryptographers struggle to decipher it but don’t make much headway. The report goes out that probably Hiyo was hit by a torpedo, maybe damaged, but not sunk. “Report is too short for that, and if sinking, might not have been coded,” commander Rochefort commented in a footnote to his office’s report.


BBfanboy -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/27/2017 8:16:36 PM)

Nice! Your sub crew should get a nice experience boost too, so maybe there are more successful attacks to be had![:)]

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (2/28/2017 7:16:11 PM)

September 29th

Burma front
Of course Burma front is a misnomer, as the front is actually the airfields on the North East border of India, but the term Burma front keeps the pretense that the war is being fought in, or over Burma, not over the Jewel in the Crown.
And the air war does not go well. Today it is Ledo, visited by the enemy Tojo fighters, the omnipotent Tojo, more than a match for anything that the allies can throw at them. And those numbers! Today the Japanese throw a total of seventy one machines at the allies. Seventy one top level fighters against which the allies muster sixteen Martlet II and twenty two P40K. The Japanese lose one fighter, the allies two Martlet and three P40. The losses are not that huge but over the days, weeks, and months, they add up to a huge number and to very little effect.
The airfields along the railroad represent the last line of supply for the beleaguered forces of Chiang Kai Shek, and the struggle to keep them open and the supply flying over the hump drains the meager reserves of the RAF and the not so meager, but by no means ample, reserves of the USAAF. The orders arrive at sunset. All aircraft to abandon Ledo and move to safety at Calcutta.
Tomorrow’s fighter sweeps over Ledo will be unopposed.

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/1/2017 1:14:18 PM)

October 1st 1942

All the airfields on the Northwest border lie empty of aircraft. Only the base forces, the mechanics, engineers and such remain behind, repairing, rebuilding, reconstructing. Ah, and the AA guns, the useless AA guns. The enemy bombers fly high, beyond their reach. What does it matter that their accuracy is diminished at such altitude? Enough bombers drop their loads to pulverize the runways, destroy the aircraft on the ground, rip up the flimsy buildings. The 13th Indian light AA arrives at Ledo and begins to unpack. It will be as effective as the other guns but 1st Indian Heavy AA might have a different effect. Time will tell.

The air groups will return, they must. No one wants to contemplate the alternative; Generalissimo Chiang defeated, the Japanese victorious in China, no, no one really cares about that. What they really care about is: Where will all those men, all those guns, all those tanks, go, once they finish the job in China?


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/1/2017 1:15:18 PM)

South Pacific

Betty bombers from Suva hit the allied forces at Tongatapu. The men curse and hunker in their foxholes. SBDs and TBFs from Vava’u and B24s from Pago Pago hit Japanese positions where, we presume, Japanese men hunker in their foxholes and curse in their own language.
The allied command comes up with a cute plan. The allied carriers are en route to Pearl Harbor where they are all due for upgrades. Their route takes them close to Tongatapu, close enough to try something.
Operation Sideswipe.
They will launch against the Japanese defenders while the heavies from Pago Pago will hit Suva airfield to try to take the Betties on the ground. Or at least that is the plan handed down from Pearl Harbor.


kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/6/2017 2:14:24 PM)

October 2nd.

Sideswipe fails as the carrier airplanes do not take off. The B17s and B24s from Pago Pago do come calling at Suva but they fail to catch any Betties on the ground. The Betties, all forty two of them, with thirty seven Zero fighters escorting do hit the ground forces at Tongatapu. There is a cost however as the AA damages twelve G4M2
Elsewhere, 90th BG/319 BS with 12 B24s arrives at Cape Town. The allied plan to turn the tables on the air war over Burma comes just one teeny step closer to the starting line. The heavy bombers that proved useless over the Aleutians against the Zero will try their mettle against the Tojo.

Tomorrow, the first Marine Division at Norfolk Island, having been relieved, will commence loading up.

October 3rd

At Norfolk Island RO-64 tries to attack the convoy that is loading up the 1st Marines. Escorts spot the submarine in shallow water however and give it a pounding reporting six depth charge hits. Not much damage was done however as the pesky submarine tried again later in the day to approach the transports. The destroyer minesweepers again chased it away.

At Tongatapu the attack of the day reduces the enemy fortifications.

At Cape Town 90th BG/320 & 321 BS arrive. They will load up tomorrow on a convoy bound for Colombo.

Finally, coast watchers report enemy carriers at Espiritu Santo.

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/9/2017 11:44:00 PM)

October 4th

Norfolk Island.

The allies may hold the base but that doesn’t mean that Japan is entirely ready to let go. Enemy airplanes are detected and seventeen F4F-4 scramble to meet and repel the intruders. They turn out to be a fighter sweep of twenty seven Zero fighters from Noumea or Nadi. The enemy has the altitude advantage but the Wildcat pilots are no longer the naďve rookies that they were early on. They know better now than to dogfight with the nimble and heavy hitting Zero. They try once to fire their .50 cal machine guns at the enemy fighters and immediately dive for the deck, get away and climb back to rejoin the fight if possible. This approach does not generate many enemy kills but cuts down on allied losses. When the enemy fighters, low on fuel turn back towards Noumea, the Japanese can only claim two Grumman fighters, and the Marines one Mitsubishi machine.

The fighter sweep succeeds in forcing most of the CAP to land for fuel and ammo. While the mechanics fuel the machines, the armorers refill the magazines, and the pilots take a quick whiz, eighteen G3M2 Nell bombers arrive overhead escorted by seven A6M2 fighters. Only 4 F4-F fighters remain on patrol above the airbase. They damage one Nell and lose one Wildcat. The enemy bombers score on xAK Kansan and Sadagahoc, one bomb apiece.

Eighteen Nell will return in the afternoon, armed this time with torpedoes and escorted by twenty eight Zero. Only two F4F are on Cap the remainder refueling or damaged. One F4F destroyed, one Nell damaged. xAK Kansan, ripped apart by three more torpedoes sinks in a cloud of fire and smoke. xAK Sagadahoc takes one torpedo; fire rages on the ship and it escapes further attention from the enemy.


Only the AA protects the airbase and the flak guns put up a heavy barrage. It is not ineffective as seventeen bombers are claimed damaged and one falls out of the sky in flames. The Japanese call the G4M1 Hamaki, cigar, for the shape of its fuselage; allied intelligence calls it Betty after the curves of a certain nurse. The pilots that have met it and the AA crews that fire on it call it Lighter 1st class, for its tendency to catch on fire. Seventeen airplanes are damaged and may or may not catch fire from their leaking fuel tanks on the way back to their base. One, true to its moniker spins to the ground in flames.
It is not enough though, thirty three bombers drop their torpedoes but the defenders have so disorganized the enemy that, despite the very vulnerable state of the allied transports unloading and all, only two torpedoes find their targets: xAP Edgar Allan Poe, and xAP John Hart take one torpedo apiece.
The enemy bombers, many trailing smoke, head back to their base. The AA gunners wipe their foreheads, the barrels of their weapons, red hot from the barrage, point up at the sky and begin to cool.
No one saw the last six bombers, coming in at wave height, unescorted and unnoticed. By the time someone sees them and gives the alarm, the fish are in the water and the bombers are already turning homeward. One torpedo explodes on xAP Caleb Strong.

The enemy will try again. Thirty three Betty and eighteen Zero weaving through the heavy afternoon cumulonimbus clouds. Nineteen Betty damaged. Allan Poe and Caleb Strong each take one more torpedo.

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/13/2017 8:22:20 PM)

October 6th

Burma: The usual aerial mayhem over Ledo and Jorhat with results generally favoring the Axis side.

On the 5th, the 24th Infantry Division is officially reconstituted at San Francisco. The men assigned to this unit grumble about the unlucky name, the unlucky history, and anything else that enlisted men grumble about. Their officers have no time to grumble. They are receiving raw recruits and must turn them into soldiers, warriors able to confront a merciless and determined enemy.

October 7th

Zero fighters sweep Norfolk Island again and again. They leave some behind, but eventually succeed in grounding the CAP for long enough to allow 16 Betty to come in unescorted and plunge three torpedoes into xAK Santa Rita; the ship naturally enough sinks.

1st Marine Division unloading at Wellington immediately begins prepping for La Foa. (Not that there is any intention of going there at this time, but who knows, word might get to the Japanese and anything that confuses them is good.

October 9th

A large contingent of Chinese forces tries a counterattack near Chungking and is repelled with horrendous losses.

October 10th

At Pago Pago the 102 Sep Infantry Regiment disembarks and begins prepping for Tonbgatapu.

At Calcutta the 14th Indian Division reassembles and begins to prep for Akyab.

Over Chinese skies a plucky Chinese Air Force, though outnumbered, mounts a brave, almost heroic resistance against the Japanese steam roller. These efforts are all but ignored by the allied press.

Ledo is the target for today and massive numbers of Tojo fighters sweep the defending Hurricane and P40E (74 Tojo) clearing the way for a no less massive raid by seventy six Sally with an escort of thirty two Oscar. Two C-47 destroyed on the ground.
Sixty Sally follow unescorted meeting three P40 that tear through the formation and destroy one bomber damaging two others. The afternoon raid is, in a way, anticlimactic: Thirty one bombers meeting three P40. Eight bombers damaged.

Unconfirmed reports of enemy carriers at Noumea raise the possibility of an attempt on Norfolk Island.

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/22/2017 4:11:35 PM)

October 11th 1942

Burma front.

Success has a hundred fathers while failure is an orphan. The bloody shambles that is, and has been, the British Far East front, that would be Burma, has no fathers, no mothers and no distant relatives. The efforts by the USAAF to reinforce the RAF with P40s have not borne fruit. The enemy Tojo fighters easily sweep the allied machines out of the skies. This is probably due as much to the superiority of the enemy pilots as to the effectiveness of their airplanes.
In Colombo, the new strategy for Burma is hatched. The new American heavy bombers (and the British Wellingtons) will deploy at Dacca, Tezpur, and Comilla. The medium bombers will base at Silchar and Dimapur, and the sweeping fighters at Kohima and Imphal.

One target will be chosen and pounded by the heavies. Once the damage is such that the enemy service staff is degraded, the medium bombers will come in and destroy the damaged enemy fighters on the ground. Then, on to the next target.
If this works, the allies will rule the air over western Burma.

On a different topic, allied intelligence reports that CV Hiyo is still in service.

kaleun -> RE: Part II The Hinge of Fate (3/24/2017 9:25:40 PM)

October 14th

While the Tojo fighters continue to exert their dominion over the Burma skies, at least until operation Enduring Rain takes off, the allies claim a small, tiny, probably irrelevant victory capturing Tongatapu on the 13th and liberating the small island today.

Wasp, Hornet, and Yorktown disband at Pearl to refit and upgrade their 1.1 in. AAs for Bofors. Yorktown will also discard her F4-2s and receive F4F-4s

October 16th

Ontong Java and Stewart Islands (Solomons) are occupied by the Japanese

October 17th

27 A6M3 sweep Norfolk Island. 9 P40 and 11 F4F-4 rise to contest and splash two Zero at a cost of two Grumman fighters and one P40.

Later in the day, naval air attack on destroyers at Norfolk pits twenty one A6M2, sixteen A6M3a, and thirty Val against two P40 and four F4F-4. One allied fighter destroyed, six Val damaged. DD McCallan and Farragut each is hit by two bombs. Radio surveillance reports one of the carriers involved in this raid is Akagi.

Oct 19th.
Again carrier aircraft attack Norfolk Island. Twenty A6M2, sixteen A6M3a, fifteen D3A1 meet three P40 E and one Wildcat. No allied air losses are recorded and two Zero destroyed and one dive bomber damaged. One xAKL hit by two bombs.
Later in the day a second raid by twenty nine Val bombers escorted by twenty five fighters sweeps by the two fighters on CAP to sink xAKL Kailua after scoring eight bomb hits on her.

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