From: the flight deck of the Zuikaku
26 Nov 43
No action other than the 5 subs (at least) trying to chase down the wounded Bunker Hill.
The troops at Umnak are still trying to thaw out.
Some Jills, Judies and Sallies bombed the US troops at Umnak again.
US CV TF East (minus Bunker Hill) is retiring east. That TF is pretty heavily depleted in aircraft. I'm letting them go.
US CV TF South (Enterprise, Hornet, Wolverine, Gettysburg) launched another attack against Roi-Namur with full deck loads: 103 Dauntlesses, 35 Helldivers, 72 Avengers escorted by 52 Hellcats. It appears he has his fighters set to 50% CAP. Roi-Namur's damage is 20-85-99. The airfield is definitely shut down, but there's only about a dozen damaged planes there.
Mili's airfield is up to level 3. Soon he'll be able to station 2E bombers there and isolate the Marshalls. But, he'll most likely have a decision to make with them: keep Roi-Namur damaged or work over the rest. Either way, I'll eventually pull my fighters out of the area and write it off. No reason for the fighter drain any more with no real possibility of a success worth writing home about. This battle was worth the expenditures. I trashed the air groups of 4 CVs and badly damaged an Essex class with the real possibility of sinking her. This should require that carrier group to have some down time.
Unfortunately, US CV TF South is still at full strength. It appears that I've probably burned through most or all of the reserve aircraft so new losses will begin to wear it down. Unfortunately, I don't have the fighter strength in the Marshalls to do that. I'll have to rely on op losses and the occasional flak loss to do it, which is unlikely. I guess op losses are a real possibility now because those aircraft have been in combat for a week or so and their fatigue has to be creeping up.
Well, the long awaited invasion of Aitape has occurred, using the 8 Aussie Division. KB3 moved to 7 hexes of Aitape which allowed the entire load of Judies and Jills to be available to launch. It wasn't meant to be, however. Only 1 deckload of aircraft launched, and that was fragmented. Unryu was the CV and her air units were trashed. She had 36 A6M5s, 15 Judies and 12 Jills. Ted had 22 P-47D2s on LRCAP. I wonder how many he used to get that many to actually LRCAP. Anyway, they never lost a plane. The first attack was 7 Judies escorted by 12 Zeros. One Judy and 5 Zeros survived. The second attack was 12 Jills escorted by 19 Zeros. Eight Jills and 4 Zeros survived. Actually, flak got most of the bombers, but they attacked (unsuccessfully) BBs Arizona and Mississippi and CL Raleigh. They didn't even bother to go after the APAs.
That was surprising and disturbing. I had totally fooled Ted. He told me he had no idea my carriers were there. He said he probably wouldn't have attacked had he known. I was really pissed that less than a quarter of my bombers flew. Anyway, here are the losses:
Zero: 26 planes, 10 KIA, 10 WIA
Judy: 6 planes, 4 KIA, 2 WIA
Jill: 4 planes, 4 KIA
I'm withdrawing the carriers. They had their shot and blew it. There's really no reason to stick around with probable enemy subs in the area. Aitape is doomed (a division against a beat up 1 & 1/3 Naval Guards). Those Thunderbolts really did the job. Intel did say they lost 7 op losses, so they're most likely reduced but still tough opponents.
I am aware that CAP will trash escorts every time, but I'm going to withdraw the A6M5 from carrier (and frontline) service. That lack of armor is telling. I had them on carriers (maybe a third of my carriers) for their range. Not worth it any more.
Nothing to report. The CVLs disappeared, I think to the SE of Darwin. I have a Glen sub searching with a couple more ready to attack.
Ted told me he had no intention of invading Saumlaki. He was just hunting for some shipping he spotted in the area. He said he almost died when he saw carriers down there. When his CVLs returned, he had lost track of my carriers and thought I had sent them north to guard against the Aitape invasion. He knew I had some carriers in the Aleutians and figured I had no others. He never knew the existence of KB3 (the 3 Unryus). I think he still is not sure of my actual carrier strength.
I shot down a Hurricane over Chittagong.
I've changed my strategy here. I have 4x Helen sentai in this AO. They were doing a nice job of keeping the airfields at Akyab, Cox's Bazaar and Chittagong suppressed. They're now going to focus on keeping Ledo suppressed.
I have some 6-7 sentai of fighters, Tojos and Franks, 1 Oscar and 1 George. I usually use 2 of them to sweep two of the 3 coastal airfields and a Frank to sweep Ledo. I'll still use 2 to sweep the coastal airfields and the Frank to sweep Ledo, but I'll use the Oscar to escort the Helens to bomb Ledo. I see some 3 dozen auxiliary aircraft at Ledo, obviously transports. I'll bet they still are sending a little supply to Chungking. That's over.
Bombers destroyed 16 and disabled 82 squads. The final division will arrive tomorrow and the next deliberate assault will go in the day after.
Once the deliberate assault goes to ~1:2 odds or better, I'll combine both assault forces and do a shock attack to do the garrison in. It was 1:5 on the last assault with 1 remaining fort. Stopping that dribble of supply will help a lot. I know he gets some 180 supply a turn from the LI, but that should be all.
And before anyone asks, we have a house rule that does not allow strategic bombing in China.
Reinforcement: MTB G-158
I pulled Zuikaku out of pier side repairs. She'll leave Ulithi in 3 days. Her damage is: 3-51(51)-19(19)-0. She'll be in the shop for awhile.
Akagi is 1 day out of Kobe. Her damage is 3-7(7)-0-0.
Soryu is repairing and refitting at Kobe. She'll be finished in 14 days. Her damage is 17-14(14)-0-0.
< Message edited by Mike Solli -- 10/27/2018 1:19:38 PM >
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