Immediately after assuming command the TF is ordered to a position roughly 300 nm south of Rossel Island, being very respectful of the capabilities of Japanese land based air following the fate of Force Z I have decided that caution and carefully calculated risks are the order of the day and as a consequence the TF spends the daylight hours near this position maintaining a separation of about 60 miles between the carriers and trying to put the cruiser force between the carriers and the threat axis. Coldblooded, but such is war.
As for the land based air it has spent the day transferring to Port Moresby and carrying out air searches, several small Japanese TGs have been spotted north of my position, but outside my effective range. Being naturally aggressive I decide to try to engage these forces. Therefore as soon as night sets in my TF turns to due north and goes to 30 knts. At around 4:30 am I feel that I'm in a nice position to launch my attack and I plot an artificial contact and launch everything I have (Minus a CAP of course). Sadly no targets are found and my aircraft return home with nothing to show for the risk, not feeling like trying my luck I head south again. This decision is helped along by the presence of Japanese search planes over my formation. It is at about this point that my Port Moresby scouts detect one of the small Japanese TGs that I headed north in the hope of mauling, not feeling like hanging around with my carriers I leave them to the Port Moresby air force.
The wisdom of this decision is made apparent when one of the B-26 squadrons end up attacking the Japanese Main Force instead. There are Japanese carriers just within range of me! The retreat south takes on new urgency and I go to flank speed and feel VERY relieved when I upon checking discover that I've already shaken off my Japanese shadows. Fortunately Fortuna apparently likes me and no Japanese attacks are launched (Or at least none reach me).
As night approaches I turn west and hide under a large cloud, naturally maintaining a bit of separation between the carriers. At 2:30 am an electrifying report reaches me, our coastwatcher near Rossel Island reports that the main Japanese force just passed him heading south at 30 knts. I plot a predicted course and launch a dawn strike at it, timed so that the aircraft reach the estimated position at about 7:00 am, light enough to allow easy targeting, but hopefully to soon for the Japanese to launch a strike of their own. The next few hours are some of the most anxious of my life and I run around biting my nails and driving my staff insane, but finally the strike commander radios in, they have found Japanese main force and are attacking!
The Shokaku is knocked out of the fight, several cruisers take damaged and the Zuikaku is damaged, still capable of flight operations, but damaged just enough to slow them down and give me a chance to recover, respot and relaunch. As I've now confirmed the position of the Japanese main Force I launch an attack from Port Moresby with my B-17s (The rest of the Port Moresby force has to short a range, are busy scouting or are unsuitable (I don't think Hudsons will do well against Zeros)).
It turns out that my anxiety earlier in the day was really nothing at all compared to the anxiety I feel as the Lexington and Yorktown begin to recover aircraft and prepping them for the follow up strikes. Never have I been so grateful for cloudcover! I release some of my frustrations by ordering my remaining Pot Moresby aircraft to attack a seaplane tender that was just discovered near Rossel Island and then I receive the dreaded news, a Japanese search plane has found us and is circling overhead, the Japanese counter-attack must be launching right now. After having my blood pressure medication crammed down my throat by my staff I can only watch in a daze as my follow up strike is launched (The Yorktown was slightly closer and launches first). While I wait for this strike to reach its target my B-17 strike finally arrives and begin bombing. Sadly results are about as expected, one hit on a destroyer.
Amazingly no Japanese strike arrives and my follow up strikes (From Yorktown and Lexington) finish off the Zuikaku, Myoko and Haguro. At roughly the same time my strikes on that seaplane tender arrives and it is heavily damaged along with minor damage on its escort (a light cruiser). Intelligence later revealed that the seaplane tender was in fact sunk.
As my follow up strikes are recovered it gradually dawns on me that no Japanese counter-strike is ever going to emerge, I've sunk two Japanese carriers without retribution. As it's getting late in the day and I don't fancy the airgroup losses that would result from a third air strike and its subsequent recovery in darkness, I withdraw to the west and start looking for a nice big cloud to hide under.
By the next morning the Japanese appear to be in full retreat and my carriers spend the day hiding under a cloud near the Australian coast while my Port Moresby forces attack and finish off the light cruiser they damaged the previous day.
The next day after this sees me put in to Brisbane, but remaining ready to sail again should the Japanese be foolish enough to make a try at their planned invasion. The Shoho is detected by a coastwatcher a little after midnight, near Shortland. I suspect that this was a deliberate attempt at luring me into range of land based air and I remained in Brisbane.
When no further Japanese activity was detected it became clear that I had won the greatest victory of the war. The two largest and newest Japanese carriers, two new large heavy cruisers, a seaplane tender, a light cruiser and assorted minor damage to various Japanese craft in return for a mere 60 or so aircraft lost. (About 50-50 land and sea based)
Authors Note: The first scenario I tried after buying the game was Coral Sea and amazingly I won quite convincingly, but afterwards when I tried it again I gained only marginal victories and even outright defeats so it was quite nice to win like this once more.
< Message edited by The Warden -- 6/11/2007 2:15:32 AM >
Quality has a quantity all of its own.