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Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A)

 
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Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 12:36:28 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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This AAR will chronicle an alternate history of the Great Pacific War as played out by me commanding the forces of Japan and Erstad commanding the Allied side. It will not be a conventional AAR but rather a narrative-style AAR along the lines of the “Small Ship. Big War” AAR I did for WITP.

For those who followed “Small Ship” I will be doing things a bit differently this time around. Rather than keep my point of view with a single ship I am going to broaden the outlook somewhat. This will weaken the focus a bit but there are compensations. I will have much more latitude in what I choose to write about, for one thing, and for another it avoids the “all my eggs in one basket” risk that was inherent in following just one ship (as witnessed by Q-Ball sinking Hibiki in December ’41 in my other current game).

I hope this will prove to be entertaining. It probably won’t be for everybody. There will be no high-level discussions of strategy or logistics. Everything will be seen from the point of view of participants in the war and their outlook will be limited and at times even inaccurate.

Here are the settings for the game:

Scenario 1, non-historical start, Dec. 7 surprise on, two-day turns. House rules:
- Both players must pay PP to move units out of restricted command areas and across borders.
- Thai units must remain in Thailand.
- No strategic bombing in China. No Japanese shock attacks in China. No Allied strategic bombing in Manchukuo.
- Japan may only conduct one major port attack during the opening turn.
- Allies are limited to issuing orders to task forces already at sea or units in China during the opening turn.
- Force Z initial orders may be cancelled at Allied player’s discretion.

Settings: Player defined upgrades are on. All realism settings are in force. Expansions, upgrades, and replacements are all set to Off.

The first turn is already in Erstad’s hands. While we await the Day of Infamy let us set the scene…

Post #: 1
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 12:39:35 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 6, 1941

It is just before midnight, local time, off the coast of Malaya. Heavy cruiser Takao, part of Admiral Konda’s Southern Strike Force, cruises in line behind sister-ship Atago. The seas are calm and though the moon is bright it is shrouded by clouds which obscure the movement of the Japanese ships from watchful eyes.

On the mid-deck, port side, Leading Seaman Kazuki Hatakeda lies in his bunk. He goes on duty soon but has been too excited to sleep. From the sounds around him many others are also awake. Kazuki hears low-voiced conversations, the sound of pens scratching against paper, and the tossing and turning of restless men. It has been like this ever since Captain Bunji revealed their orders to the entire crew the previous day. Everyone knows that the war that is about to start will determine not only the destinies of every man aboard but of Japan itself. The risk is great, the stakes are enormous, and every man is determined to do his part.

Perhaps not everyone is awake, Kazuki thinks wryly to himself. From the bunk just inches above him he can hear the muffled snoring of his closest friend aboard ship, Susumu Godo. Godo is perhaps the most phlegmatic man Kazuki has ever met and seems completely unaffected by the general excitement. At the moment Kazuki envies him.

---

Northwest of Hawaii it is already four and a half hours later. The ships of Kido Butai are racing at 24 knots towards their launch point through long, heavy swells that at times break over the decks of the carriers. No one in the task force is asleep; all ships are at General Quarters.

Chief Petty Officer Sato looks out over the flight deck with a worried expression on his face. In just a few hours he, as the Flight Deck Officer, is going to have to try and launch the ship’s complement of planes on their vital mission. The big carrier is currently rolling over ten degrees; usually operations are cancelled when the roll exceeds five degrees. But today there can be no thought of cancelling. Today the fate of an entire nation depends on a successful launch.

Perhaps the seas will moderate, he thinks. But whether they do or not the attack will proceed. For perhaps the tenth time in the past two hours Sato’s lips move in a silent prayer to whatever gods might be listening.

---

At Takao, Formosa, Petty Officer Second Class Susumu Ishihara finishes writing his last letter of the night. He places it in its envelope, seals it, and adds it to the small pile. Soon he and his fellow pilots in the Tainan Ku S-1 will fly their Zero-sen fighters across the Luzon Strait and against the American planes defending Clark Field.

Ishihara is no stranger to aerial combat. He has fought in China since 1938. But this will be different. Ishihara has no illusions about the war ahead. He has seen fighting and has seen comrades die. Whatever private reservations he might have about attacking both Britain and America, however, he is looking forward to the challenge. The Americans are said to be good. Well, so too is he.

He lies down and composes himself to meditate, if not to sleep. In one hour he must arise for the final briefing before take-off.

---

Across the Pacific it is the last night of peace. Morning will bring the outbreak of war, a war that will be more vast and terrible than few of even the more farsighted can foresee. In a few hours the fate of millions of people across the world will be changed forever.

In Tokyo the clocks chime midnight. December 7, 1941, has arrived.



(in reply to Cuttlefish)
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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 1:33:44 AM   
ny59giants


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AND 

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 1:39:03 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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And . . . here we go!

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 2:54:48 AM   
Q-Ball


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Looking forward to it CF, I can read this one! I will be rooting for the Empire here. Ichiban!

No wonder there isn't a turn in my inbox, you're probably working on the Imperial first turn here!

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 3:39:07 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Q-Ball



Looking forward to it CF, I can read this one! I will be rooting for the Empire here. Ichiban!

No wonder there isn't a turn in my inbox, you're probably working on the Imperial first turn here!


You have a turn now!

If I have some success against erstad he can blame you for at least part of it. I've learned some sharp lessons about AE in our game and hope to put them to good use.


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Post #: 6
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 4:04:10 AM   
Fishbed

 

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Good luck son of the sun!

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 7:14:59 PM   
Alikchi2

 

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Best wishes. I like the perspectives you've chosen. Hearing from a Zero pilot will be great fun.

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 7:19:01 PM   
aztez

 

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Good luck! You are up againts honourable and tough opponent!

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 7:57:14 PM   
Mike Solli


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This is great, Cuttlefish!  There's been a void since the Hibiki saga ended. 

Are we not to yet know which ship Chief Petty Officer Sato is the flight officer of?  I hope it's the Zuikaku!

I wonder if Hibiki will occasionally wander into this AAR......

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 8:11:30 PM   
ny59giants


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I would like see a plot line for a submarine officer. 

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 10:48:28 PM   
Wirraway_Ace


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Thanks in advance for all the enjoyment this will bring to us and for all of your time...

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/22/2009 11:01:48 PM   
FatR

 

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Great! I was drawn into AE in large part due to reading "Voyages of Hibiki" (by the way, great thanks for that amazing work), so I cannot wait to read this.

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 1:36:08 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 7, 1941

To the flight deck crew aboard an aircraft carrier the launch of a deck load of aircraft is a dance, an intricate ballet where the consequence of a mistake can be injury or death. Aboard Akagi in the early morning hours of December 7th the crew, the pilots, and their aircraft all perform flawlessly. Chief Sato signals “go” and another B5N roars down the deck and lumbers into the air. Now there is only one more plane to go.

It was near dark when they started. By now the light of the rising sun is tinting the underside of the scattered clouds overhead with gold, though the rays have yet to reach the ships directly. The seas are still not ideal but they have moderated and throughout the task force every plane has made it successfully into the air. Now the planes circle overhead as the last of them climb into the air to join the formation.

The last pilot gives the thumbs up. The chocks are pulled away and one more time Sato sweeps his arm towards the far end of the flight deck. The Nakijima torpedo bomber gathers speed and takes off, hurrying to overtake the rest of the planes as they head towards Pearl Harbor.

Sato watches it go, than pulls a cloth and mops his face. Despite the brisk morning air he is dripping with sweat. He tucks the cloth back in his pocket and watches the planes again. The die has been cast. Now all he and the others aboard ship can do is wait.

---

Only a few hours later flames and smoke billow above Pearl Harbor. Battleships Arizona and Tennessee have been sunk and the other denizens of Battleship Row are wounded, some seriously. Light cruiser Raleigh lies twisted on the mud at the bottom of the harbor; an 800 kg bomb hit one of her magazines and the resulting explosion almost tore the ship in half. Three destroyers, a minesweeper, and a cutter have also been sunk and other ships are damaged.

Fires continue to burn around the harbor and a dense cloud of black smoke billows from one of the large fuel tanks. Further away smoke also rises from shattered airfields. Hickam Field is pockmarked with craters and destroyed and damaged aircraft continue to smolder in the neat rows in which the Japanese found them.

The Japanese pilots are exultant as they return to their ships, to the care of Chief Sato and his counterparts aboard the other five carriers. They have delivered a shattering blow. But it is only the first blow in what will be a very long war.


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Post #: 14
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 1:38:09 AM   
Onime No Kyo


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Hurrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Do you think we can visit with the Hibiki boys too?

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 2:50:20 AM   
Menser

 

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Kewl CF,
Thought we'd have to wait in anticipation a bit longer, ... subscribing now :)
The die has been cast. Have you been reading what's in our sigs?

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
~John McCrae

Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
~Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959

< Message edited by Menser -- 12/23/2009 3:04:48 AM >


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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 3:28:38 AM   
thegreatwent


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Looking forward to reading more.

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 3:45:29 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 8, 1941

PO2 Ishihara tugs off his leather flight helmet and climbs wearily down from the cockpit of his Zero-sen fighter. The round trip from Formosa to Clark Field is over 1000 miles and he has just flown it twice in two days. And he doesn’t have a kill to show for it yet. The only opposition they have seen is half a dozen obsolete Boeing fighter aircraft with fixed landing gear and Ishihara did not get a crack at one of those.

Though he is tired Ishihara takes a moment to chat with his flight crew. Some pilots treat these men like servants or lackeys but this has never struck Ishihara as wise. He describes the bombing of Clark Field and the sight of American B-17 bombers burning on the ground, then mentions a couple of things on his plane he wants the men to look at.

As he trudges towards the pilot barracks Ishihara wonders if they will be sent out again tomorrow. Though it would be nice to have a day of rest he finds himself hoping they get sent out again soon. He wants that first kill.

---

Off the coast of Malaya darkness is approaching. Takao cruises with the rest of the Southern Strike Force off Kota Bharu. From his post at one of the starboard-side Type 92 searchlights, located next to the funnel, Leading Seaman Hatakeda can see smoke rising into the air from shore. Already the battle has moved inland, away from the beaches, and rumor has it that Japanese troops are close to overrunning the airfield.

In the foreground more smoke rises from the shattered hulk of Hirokawa Maru, canted over in the surf and still burning above the water line. Most of the British air attacks over the past two days had been broken up by Army fighters but at one point earlier in the day eight biplane bombers had dropped out of the clouds over the invasion force and with lumbering grace planted three bombs on the transport.

Hatakeda wonders if his searchlight will be needed tonight. The British ships Repulse and Prince of Wales are said to be heading this way. Japanese bombers had reported sinking them in the morning. Through some miracle, however, both ships had been spotted again late in the afternoon less one hundred miles from Kota Bharu, moving north and not significantly damaged. The British ships had been attacked again and once again reported sunk, but as they had already risen from a watery grave once today it does not seem to Hatakeda beyond the bounds of reason that they could do so twice.

It might be an interesting night.


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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 9:46:27 AM   
cantona2


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Best wishes CF. Just settling in with a good scotch and ready for the ride!

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RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/23/2009 10:57:27 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 9, 1942

Susumu Ishihara is awakened in the dead of night by a hand shaking his shoulder. He is tempted to mumble curses at his tormentor but it might be an officer, so instead he opens one bleary eye. It is Nozawa, another PO2 in the AG.

“What the hell is it?” he asks.

“Get up, Ishihara, something is happening out in the harbor!” says Nozawa. Ishihara becomes aware that most of the other mats are empty and he glimpses a couple of other pilots padding outside.

“I don’t care if there is a volcano erupting out there,” he says, but then curiosity gets the better of him. He gets to his feet and follows Nozawa out into the cool night air.

All around pilots and air crew are standing in the darkness and looking down the hill towards the water. They are in small groups, talking in low voices among themselves. Ishihara looks out to sea along with the rest of them and for a moment sees nothing. Then, perhaps a mile out, he spots a series of flashes. A moment later there are more a little ways away.

“What is it?’ he asks.

“A battle,” says someone. “The enemy is attacking.” Just as he finishes saying this there is a brighter flash than before and a spurt of flame leaps high enough to briefly illuminate the underside of the clouds. Less than ten seconds later the sound of a distant explosion reaches the group.

“One of ours or one of theirs?” Nozawa asks. But no one knows the answer.

---

What Ishihara and the other pilots are seeing is the first surface action of the Pacific war, a small but sharp engagement. Three British destroyers, Scout, Thanet, and Thracian, have sortied from Hong Kong with orders to attack Japanese invasion forces mustering at Takao. But the Japanese are not caught unawares.

It is a dark night. The moon shows only occasionally between the thunderstorms that are sweeping the area. Outside the harbor Japanese destroyers Yugumo and Hokaze are on picket duty. They have just passed each other and are on the outward leg of the patrol line when a lookout aboard Hokaze spots the oncoming British ships, just over 2000 yards away and closing.

Hokaze opens fire immediately. The lead British ship, Thracian, realizes that there are Japanese destroyers present when shells begin falling nearby. Thracian immediately signals the other ships and swings to port to unmask her aft batteries. As she begins to return fire Hokaze finds the range and a shell hits Thracian just below the chart room.

Yugumo reverses course and hurries to catch up with Hokaze. Scout and Thanet follow Thracian's maneuver and begin to fire, Thanet engaging Hokaze and Scout firing at Yugumo. For a few moments the two small columns parallel each other, then Hokaze fires a spread of six 21” torpedoes at Thracian. One of the torpedoes catches Thracian under the stern. The stricken ship's stern lifts into the air, then the destroyer settles back in the water and begins to sink.

The British commander, uncertain what forces are arrayed against him but knowing the element of surprise is irretrievably lost, orders the two remaining ships to retreat. A parting shell from Scout hits Yugumo in the bow, causing minor damage, and the Japanese ships break off pursuit and let them go.

---

In the morning, some sixty miles away, the two British destroyers encounter a Japanese destroyer division led by light cruiser Natori. Natori engages and sinks Thanet; Scout, though damaged, escapes again.



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Post #: 20
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/24/2009 8:52:48 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 10, 1941

Private Haruka Endo shuffles down the pier towards the gangway leading up towards the deck of Mizuho Maru. Ahead and behind him snakes a long line of soldiers, all carrying a heavy load of gear. Endo’s unit, the 213th Infantry Regiment, is going to war. So is the rest of the 33rd Division. Twelve transports are loading the division and four escort vessels are standing by to shepherd them to Bangkok.

Endo is a veteran, having fought with the rest of the division in China during the unsuccessful attempt to capture Changsa two years ago. He and the other veterans have tried to impress on the new recruits that they are not on their way to a picnic but it does little good. The new men are filled with fire by Japan’s string of victories so far against Britain and America and can’t wait to do their part. Endo is not immune to this excitement but his attitude is tempered by a veteran’s caution. He knows what a terrible business battle is and respects the British soldiers they will be facing. They are not on their way to a picnic, no. They are on their way to Rangoon.

At least he gets to travel in some style, Endo thinks. Mizuho Maru is a converted liner and the accommodations are tolerable. Some of the division is sailing in converted freighters. Endo has traveled in such before and they are not comfortable, especially not for a long voyage such as this. Endo squints up at the cloudy skies as he shuffles towards the gangway and hopes the weather won’t be too bad. A ship crowded with seasick men, he knows, is a misery like none other.


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Post #: 21
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/26/2009 7:06:20 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 11, 1941

Kazuki Hatakeda once again looks out across the water at Kota Bharu. The green-clad coastline is quiet now. Japanese forces have forced the defenders to retreat and the battle has moved inland. Transports sit closer to shore sending landing barges full of supplies towards the beach to support the offensive.

The last couple of days have been quiet except for a few ineffective air raids. The famous British Force Z never appeared and seems to have vanished. The general consensus seems to be that both Repulse and Prince of Wales were damaged but survived.

“Do you think they will release us soon to go hunting the enemy?” Hatakeda asks Godo, his friend and fellow searchlight operator. Godo shrugs.

“Maybe,” he says. Godo is nearly six feet tall and powerfully built but rarely says much. He is regarded by many who know him as slightly stupid but Hatakeda has a suspicion this is not necessarily the case.

“So far all we have done is watch other people fight,” Hatakeda says. “We can’t earn any glory like this, can we?”

“No,” agrees Godo phlegmatically. Hatakeda turns and looks at him.

“Do you ever say more than one word at a time?” he asks in a slightly exasperated tone.

Godo looks impassively down at him. “No,” he says after a moment, then turns away. But Hatakeda thinks for a second that he sees his friend smile just slightly.


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Post #: 22
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/26/2009 7:07:19 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 12, 1941

Lieutenant Commander Sagara, captain of Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-155, peers ahead through the rain-streaked glass of one of the ports set around three sides of the open bridge. Rain drips off the bill of his cap and stipples the glassy sea around the submarine. Other lookouts peer through the darkness but Sagara doubts they can see any better than he can. This bothers him little. The rainy night is the perfect cloak for his submarine.

They are making their way at 16 knots east along the south coast of Borneo. I-155 has been ordered to take up station in the Makassar Strait. There they will lie in wait for enemy ships attempting to flee the Japanese invasion forces even now landing on Luzon.

I-I55 is not a new boat. It was launched in 1925 and at the time it was an impressive submarine. Sagara knows, however, that in 1941 the 330-foot submarine is large, clumsy, and slow compared to the German boats the British have been fighting for over two years. But he also knows that the enemy is disorganized and that his submarine carries sixteen of the fine Type 95 torpedoes. He considers it a fair fight.

The rain intensifies. Sagara remains on the bridge a while longer, then goes below. The only way they will find something tonight is by running into it. But there are targets coming their way soon. Sagara can feel it in his bones.



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Post #: 23
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/26/2009 1:43:13 PM   
ny59giants


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Thanks for adding a "silent service" member to your plot line. 

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Post #: 24
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/27/2009 3:42:19 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 13, 1941

Tokyo, Japan

The newsroom at one of Japan’s largest newspapers, Asahi Shimbun, is strikingly similar to newsrooms in Chicago, New York, or London. Correspondent Shigeo Hata sits at his desk amid a subdued chaos of ringing telephones, hurrying people, and editors bellowing for copy pounding out a story on his typewriter. It has been a busy day for news – reports have been coming in all day of fresh Japanese conquests in the war. Guam, Wake Island, the oil center of Miri on the Borneo coast, Aparri, Vigan, and Altimonen on Luzon.

Hata’s typewriter is larger and bulkier than those used by his Western counterparts, however. It took some time for the Japanese to invent one capable of using the complicated Japanese characters. By 1941, however, they are commonplace.

Hata looks up for a minute to see his boss, Abe, come storming out of his office. Abe is a stocky man whose sparse hair is going grey at the temples. He is also a veteran newsman and has earned both the respect of his peers and his post as chief editor.

Abe plows his way across the newsroom floor like an icebreaker crashing through a floe. He is heading directly for Hata. Hata stubs out his cigarette and looks up. Abe looms over him and drops several typewritten sheets on his desk.

“I’m killing this,” he growls. “You should know better than to write such a story.” Hata looks at it. It is the story he submitted this morning about the previous day’s disaster over Manila. He thought he had done a pretty good job on it.

“What do you mean, Chief?” he asks.

“It’s negative,” grunts Abe. ”We are not printing stories about defeats or setbacks. We are printing stories about victories.”

“There was a mistake,” protests Hata. “Our bombers went in without escort. The American planes were ready and shot down almost twenty of them. It was a screw-up! They happen in war. People should know about it.”

“The government wouldn’t like it,” says Abe. “We support the government. No negative stories.” There is a ring of finality to this statement.

Slowly Hata stands. He is a small man and has to look up at Abe but his gaze is steady.

“Do you remember the old days?” he asks. “We…this paper…opposed expansionism. We criticized the entanglement in China. We were critical of the government. If a story happened we reported it.” Abe holds Hata’s eyes for a moment and then lowers his gaze.

“Things are different now,” he says in a low voice. “Japan has staked everything on this war. The military needs the people completely behind the war. They will do…what they need to do to get that. If we want to keep reporting anything at all we must do it their way. If you want to keep reporting you will do the same.”

In his heart Hata is not surprised. He has felt the fervor for the war, even here at the paper. He has not been immune to it, despite his misgivings about the wisdom of such an attack. And the message is clear; if he wants to keep his job he must toe the line. The nail that stands up is the one that gets hammered down, as they say in Japan. Slowly he nods.

“Good,” says Abe. He spins on his heel and stalks back towards his office.

“Tanida!” he bellows at another reporter as he goes. “I need that story about Wake Island! Now!”

---

Toshiba typewriter, circa 1940. The linear strips on the cylinder show characters corresponding to the type keys underneath. The cylinder is positioned so that the pointer is aimed at the desired character and then the print key is struck.








Attachment (1)

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 25
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/27/2009 10:08:33 PM   
BrucePowers


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You learn something new (about typewriters) every day

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 26
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/27/2009 10:14:40 PM   
aprezto


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You must be a typewriter enthusiast Bruce. Certainly I have to wait many days before more typewriter wisdom increases. Although sometimes I re-learn some wisdom on typewriters after the braincell in charge of remembering typewriter trivia becomes the weakest Buffalo in the herd and is culled by the alcohol wolf.

_____________________________



Image courtesy of Divepac

(in reply to BrucePowers)
Post #: 27
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/28/2009 6:41:17 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
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December 14, 1941

Makassar Straits

“It’s not large,” says Sagara. “Maybe 2500 tons. But it’s a target. Load tubes one through four.” He is looking through the darkness at a small freighter, faintly visible in the moonlight, slipping south down the west side of the Makassar Strait. There is no sign the freighter has seen I-155.

“Range is two thousand three hundred and forty meters,” comes the announcement. “Speed nine knots.” A moment passes. “We have a firing solution, sir.”

“Flood tubes,” says Sagara. And a moment later: “Fire tubes one through four.” Four torpedoes streak through the night towards the unfortunate target*.

---

The unfortunate target is the 2332-ton Latouche, built for Alaska Steamship Lines and launched in Seattle in 1910. The ship had the misfortune to be sold to a Manila-based line in 1940 and thus finds itself in the same position as many other ships, trying to escape the sudden and overwhelming Japanese onslaught in the Philippines.

Latouche is not destined to be one of ones that makes it. At 2:15 AM a torpedo from I-155 strikes the freighter slightly forward. Flames billow across the tilting deck as Latouche immediately begins to sink.

---

Sagara peers through the binoculars. By the light of the flames he can see men scrambling across the deck and frantically trying to launch lifeboats before the ship goes down. He figures they had better hurry. It’s sinking fast.

Sagara lowers the binoculars and orders his submarine to move south. Though he is a hard man he is not without feeling for the poor devils aboard the freighter. But this is war and there is nothing to be gained by thinking about the people aboard the ships he attacks. It is more practical to just think of targets.

“Well done,” he announces to the rest of the men on the bridge. They are pleased; words of praise from Sagara are rare. “Now look sharp, everyone. We still have torpedoes and I mean to use them.” I-155 comes slowly about and chugs off into the darkness.

---

Over Manila

PO2 Ishihara brings his fighter around and onto the tail of a P-40. All around him the sky is full of swirling planes and streaks of smoke. He and the rest of Tainan AG had bounced a large number of enemy fighters, over thirty of them, and had shot down several before the stunned enemy could react. Now, however, the melee had become general and the American pilots were fighting back with skill and tenacity.

Ishihara fires and machine gun bullets chew into the enemy’s tail. He thumbs the cannon button but the P-40 flips into a sudden dive and the burst misses. Trailing smoke but with surprising speed the enemy pilot dives for the deck. Ishihara lets him go. He knows he is unlikely to catch the heavier plane in a dive.

Off to the side he sees a Zero explode into flames. Nozawa! Ishihara curses and turns toward the enemy plane. The P-40 also rolls into a turn, doubtless hoping for a belly shot on him, but this is a mistake. Ishihara cuts sharply inside him and fires. His bullets pour into the P-40’s fuselage. The enemy pilot tries to evade but Ishihara stays with him and tries to line up a killing shot.

Suddenly he feels his Type Zero shudder as bullets rip into the plane. The enemy’s wingman! Ishihara should have been watching for him. He breaks off his attack and throws his plane into a split-S. The wingman diving on him does not fall for the trap, though, and continues his dive.

Ishihara's engine coughs, then catches again. It is time for him to leave the battle. He looks down and far below sees Nozawa’s plane plummeting towards the earth. He does not see a parachute.

---

That night there is both satisfaction and sadness in the enlisted pilot’s barracks. The AG has been credited with a dozen kills for this day’s work, along with a number of probables. But there are four empty bunks. Nozawa is dead, as is Nishiyama. Sakai took a bullet through the foot and is in the hospital, though telling jokes and vowing to return as soon as possible. Kurauchi is in the bed beside him, wounded in the shoulder.

Ishihara tries to sleep but for a long while he is too keyed up. Images from the day’s combat keep flashing through his head like a series of photographs playing over and over on the inside of his eyes. He is lucky to be alive, he knows. His crew counted eleven bullet holes in his plane. He had been too eager to get that first kill and had made mistakes. At least he is alive to learn from them. If he is to survive and leave his mark on this war he must do better.

And he will, he vows. Finally exhaustion takes over. The picture show inside his head fades to black and he sleeps.

---

*I know that in the game I-155 fired a full spread of eight torpedoes at Latouche; it has to, that’s the way weapons work. But I’m going to take a little artistic license here and there if I think it makes for a better read.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 28
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/28/2009 5:09:34 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

*I know that in the game I-155 fired a full spread of eight torpedoes at Latouche; it has to, that’s the way weapons work. But I’m going to take a little artistic license here and there if I think it makes for a better read.


I can't help but think that four of the fine Japanese torpedoes are still worth more than a 2000-ton circa 1910 freighter!

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 29
RE: Lives for the Emperor - Cuttlefish (J) vs erstad (A) - 12/28/2009 5:18:13 PM   
BrucePowers


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any hull you can kill is worth torpedos. Think of the supplies not carried.

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
Post #: 30
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