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AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not?

 
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AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:18:18 AM   
acbennett3


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Been out of the loop for a while beta testing board games and making VASSAL mods for them - but I have been tracking the boards. I noticed in the 1.03 RCs that the CWDB had been expanded to start including WW2 ships and AC - cool. Poking around I realized I could even build the IJN First Air Fleet - all the ships and AC were there. Some of the escorts were later models with radar (Japanese Mk 1 Mod 1 radar was created right at the same time as the Pearl Harbor raid) but I could just keep them off via EMCON settings to simulate the time period. Below is an image of the IJN First Air Fleet (Daiichi Kōkū Kantai) with its primary strike component - the 6 carriers of the Kido Butai:






Doing some quick research on the internet I was able to load up all the carriers with close to their complement of AC for the Pearl Harbor attack. There were only 3 types of AC present and all were in the latest CWDB:
A6M Zero (later model but close enough)
D3A Val Dive Bomber
B5N Kate Torpedo Bomber

Here's a link to the info for those interested:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_battle_of_the_Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

Now that I had built the IJN First Air Fleet I could finally answer a question that has been nagging me for over 30 years and match it against a particular opponent…


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< Message edited by acb3 -- 3/23/2014 1:19:14 AM >
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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:20:09 AM   
acbennett3


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The USS Nimitz (circa 1980)




Back in college they piled all of us NROTC students into the auditorium and gave us a private showing of "The Final Countdown"
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080736/
Everyone roared when the Tomcats went head to head with the Zeroes half way thru the movie. But at the end we were a bit disappointed that the strike against the Japanese Fleet had to be called off because of the return of the strange time traveling storm. We all thought the Nimitz would kick butt - but were not really sure. Now, thanks to Command, that question can finally be explored and answered…


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< Message edited by acb3 -- 3/23/2014 1:21:28 AM >

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:22:28 AM   
acbennett3


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So to setup the scenario I tried to load the Nimitz up with its AC complement circa 1980 - from quick research:
X2 Squadrons of F-14A's
X2 Squadrons of A-7E's
X1 Squadron of A-6E/KA-6D Tankers
X4 E-2C Hawkeyes
Also some EA-6B Prowlers, SH-3H Helos, RF-8G Recon, EA3 detachment.
I also tried to match the squadron names present on the Nimitz as of 1980.
CVW-8 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CVW-8

I placed the Nimitz west of Pearl at dead stop going north. None of the AC were loaded out and the local time was approximately 1030. This simulated their confusion and recovery after passing thru the time storm.

The IJN First Air Fleet I tried to place at their historical location on the morning of 12/6/41 and set them on a matching historical course for the next morning attack. I arbitrarily put 6 AC on each carrier on 1/3 rotating CAP out to 20 miles - putting 12 Zeroes in the air at any point in time. The radars were turned off on the escorts to simulate the time period.

IJN 387 AC vs Nimitz 84 AC
108 Zeros vs 24 F-14s

Finally I created a place holder base to represent Pearl Harbor for now.
Here are the starting positions:






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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:23:13 AM   
acbennett3


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In the movie the Nimitz found that all normal comms were down but they were picking up "old-style" radio broadcasts. One of the news broadcasts said something about the Germans being at the gates of Moscow so they initially assumed WW3 had started. To check that they sent an RF-8 to overfly Pearl to see if it had been destroyed. When the pictures came back they saw it was still there but did not look as expected. Thanks to the CAG being a part time historian they realized Pearl looked like the day before Dec 7th 1941 - all the Battleships were there…

To test that conclusion in the movie they sent an E-2C Hawkeye to check if the Japanese Fleet was located where it had been on 12/6/1941. So I prepped the E-2C's and since it was a possible war situation according to the radio reports loaded out both F-14 squadrons for heavy BarCAP. When the AC were ready I launched a single E-2C to check the area north of Pearl where the IJN Fleet was supposed to be and put 6 F-14A's on 1/3 rotating CAP over the Nimitz.

Here is an image of the Nimitz with the E-2C in the air heading to the NE and there are 2 F-14's preparing to launch for CAP.






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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:23:55 AM   
acbennett3


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When the E-2C got close to station the Radar operator shouted "Holy Crap! - there they are!"




In response I then started arming all the strike AC:
A-7E - 500lbs Mk82 bombs
A-6E - AGM-62 Walleyes
Also prepped the rest of the AC to support a strike - but probably don't need ELINT (but will need tankers).
Also put all E-2C's on a rotating surveillance mission between the IJN Fleet and Pearl - but not close enough for Mk1 eyeball detection by the IJN CAP.
Finally the Nimitz increased speed to flank on course North to put herself as close as possible to launch when the strike AC were ready (3hrs for 2 squadrons).


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< Message edited by acb3 -- 3/23/2014 1:24:20 AM >

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:25:36 AM   
acbennett3


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At approx 1630 1 Squadron of A-7E's and the A-6E's were ready - but 1 squadron of A-7E's still needed over 2 hours to prep. The IJN Fleet was 500nm away. Since the time was 1630 and the sun would be setting in a few hours - what to do CO/CAG?
In the movie the question was whether they were really at war w/the Japanese or did they have to wait until the attack actually happened?

Options:
1. Launch the strike with all ready AC and try to preempt the dawn IJN launch?
2. Wait until dawn and then launch ALL Strike AC on the strike but potentially miss the first attack wave's departure.
3. Launch at dawn but split the strike, with part being a fighter sweep of F-14's to destroy the first wave enroute while the rest on a ASuW mission to hit the IJN Fleet/carriers.
4. Put 1 squadron of F-14's on CAP over Pearl and when the Japanese actually start the attack - thus really at war - respond. This can be anticipated by having the ASuW strike in the air near the IJN Fleet at the commencement of hostilities and letting the Pearl F-14 CAP take out the First wave over Pearl after they start attacking the base.

Luckily with Command I can explore all the options.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:27:06 AM   
acbennett3


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Let's explore option 1 first. The CO of the Nimitz decides to be proactive and attempt to preempt the Japanese attack the next morning by launching the strike AC available before the sun goes down. The strike group consists of:
X12 A-7E's with Mk82s
X12 A-6E's with AGM-62 Walleye's
X12 F-14A's with Phoenixes/Sidewinders for escort and Strike CAP

The IJN Fleet is approx 500nm away which means the F-14 fuel situation will be tight so I plan on launching KA-6D tankers to be available to refuel on the return trip. Also I will make this first strike as automated as possible.
I setup an ASuW strike mission, made the targets only the 4 (so far) identified CVs and then assigned all 3 squadrons with the F-14's set to escort. The A-7Es and A-6E's launched within 15min but for some reason the F-14's took longer to get airborne. Because the F-14's were tight on fuel I did not feel comfortable kicking up their speed to try to catch up - instead I just bumped it up a bit and hoped for the best. Perhaps this simulates the CAG saying we're running out of daylight so get the strike AC moving instead of waiting?

Below is an image of the strike groups enroute.





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< Message edited by acb3 -- 3/23/2014 1:34:44 AM >

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:27:51 AM   
acbennett3


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Below the A-7E's and A-6E's are starting their run into the target. The F-14's are still strung out behind them. I tried increasing their speed but then they started going RTB/Bingo fuel so I slowed them back down and started launching Phoenixes from the lead F-14's to try to clear the way for the strike thru the A6M5 Zero CAP.





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:28:45 AM   
acbennett3


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The Phoenixes started targeting the Zero's but the odds were not great - thanks to distance and agility the hit probabilities were only 20-30% - same for the sidewinders later. Some of the Zeros were taken out - but definitely not as many as hoped. First symptom of asymmetrical warfare?

Things started happening fast as the strike AC got in range. Quickly they identified specific Kido Butai carriers (Kaga, Akagi, Soryu, etc). I did not try to start manual retargeting - just let it ride. Next the A-6E's/AGM-62s got in range and launched. Finally the A-7E's closed enough for their bomb runs.

Below is an image (very busy) of the strike where you see the AGM-62's en-route and the A-6E's already turned away to the west. You can also pick out the A-7s over the IJN Fleet with some red streaks representing their Mk82s:





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:29:22 AM   
acbennett3


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Here's a closer shot:





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:30:04 AM   
acbennett3


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The logfile flew by as the attack progressed - I had to export it afterwards to understand what happened. The AGM62's were by far the most effective weapon - approx 21 impacts per the logs. Unfortunately the AI targeting launched all of them against only 2 carriers - Akagi/Kaga - and the rest against the BB Kirishima. All 3 ships were sunk. If there had been a more evenly distributed targeting across the rest of the carriers there probably would have been more sinkings. Lessons learned for the Dec 7 full strike at dawn test I will do next…

There were only 2 Mk82 hits - 1 each on the BB Hiei and CL Abukuma. The A-7E profile was x/x/x per the loadout. For the dawn full strike they either need a better loadout or manual instructions to get down in the waves to increase the hits. Of course I will need to have the Strike CAP get there sooner to clear the IJN CAP better.

On the egress from the target the A-6 and 7's were chased by the remaining Zero CAP AC - and that is when they ran into staggered salvos of Phoenixes from the later F-14's as they came into range. At 20-30% hit probability there were some kills but not enough to prevent 3 A-7's from being shot down by lucky Zero shots - 20mm cannons are deadly in any time.

Below is the image of the egress w/pursuing Zero's and inbound Phoenixes.





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:30:31 AM   
acbennett3


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I launched the KA-6D's to meet the returning strike for any AC that needed refueling (mainly F-14's).
Recovery was done at night.

Lessons learned:
1. Coordinating/timing multi AC groups on long range missions w/fuel concerns can be complicated. If the F-14's had lead the assault there is a good chance the A-7's could have gotten through unscathed.
2. Modern AAM's vs early WW2 AC is not a done deal apparently. Because they are slower and more maneuverable it seems they also evade better?
3. Modern smart weapons w/no countermeasures present are accurate and deadly in any time period.
4. Dropping bombs on small moving targets from high altitude continues to be a low odds crap shoot with 1980 technology just like back in 1941.

So with the loss of 1/3 of his carrier strike force (including AC) Adm Nagumo, if still alive, would probably turn around and go home. This decision would have been strongly reinforced by the presence of high speed, non-prop driven AC, and AAM's and highly accurate/destructive ASM weapons. The 'American' technology would be both unexpected and shocking.

LOSSES:
-------------------------------
43x Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 Zero
1x IJN Kongo
54x Nakajima B5N2 Kate
45x Aichi D3A2 Val
1x IJN Kagi
1x IJN Akagi

As for the CO of the Nimitz - he achieved his goal of preventing Dec 7th - the surprise attack on Pearl. His strike results could have been better, he lost a few invaluable strike AC considering the time period, and expended large quantities of hard/impossible to replace ordinance (Phoenixes, Sidewinders, Walleyes).

EXPENDITURES:
------------------
26x AIM-54A Phoenix
3x AIM-7F Sparrow III
24x AGM-62B Walleye II ER/DL
66x Mk82 500lb LDGP

And in the bigger Global Strategic perspective the above result may have been disastrous in the long term. The current time US might have no knowledge of the planned IJN attack on Pearl until the Nimitz magically appears with scifi technology and a story of damaging an IJN strike fleet and preventing an attack. The Japanese could have responded that the fleet was only on exercises and it experienced a dastardly surprise attack by the US. How would world opinion fall?

Finally, without the catalyst of "Remember Pearl Harbor!", when if ever would the US/public agree to entry into WW2 both in the Pacific and Europe? And with delayed or no entry of the US into WW2 who would ultimately win? Who would develop the atomic bomb first - well the Nimitz already had that one answered? Hmmm…

Hasty attack option tested - next is the 12/7 dawn attack. The Nimitz will be closer, fuel issues will be minimized, all strike AC will be involved, and if my computer can handle simulating the IJN First wave (over 200 AC), I will send 1 Squadron of F-14's vs the First wave in flight, a reduced Squadron to take on the remaining IJN CAP, leaving 3 F-14's on rotating CAP over the Nimitz. I will also incorporate the lessons learned from this strike on better targeting spread and better loadouts/attack profiles for the A-7's.

Command continues to amaze…

< Message edited by acb3 -- 3/23/2014 6:00:33 AM >


_____________________________

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 12:49:48 AM   
Coiler12

 

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How fast were the A-7s going? Seems like they should be able to easily outrun the Zeroes despite being subsonic, unless fuel was a really big issue. (Edit: Looks like they slowed when turning and gave the Zeroes an opportunity to fire.)

Second, you've just witnessed the perils of autotargeting. Aim the Walleyes better and the IJN fleet is toast.

Third, this is really fun. Thanks for doing this AAR.

< Message edited by Coiler12 -- 3/23/2014 1:51:20 AM >

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/23/2014 2:01:46 AM   
acbennett3


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quote:

How fast were the A-7s going? Seems like they should be able to easily outrun the Zeroes despite being subsonic, unless fuel was a really big issue. (Edit: Looks like they slowed when turning and gave the Zeroes an opportunity to fire.)

Second, you've just witnessed the perils of autotargeting. Aim the Walleyes better and the IJN fleet is toast.


A-7's were at approx 420knots and probably vulnerable during their attack run and course change for egress?

Agree on the perils of letting the AI do all the attack and targeting planning. I consider this a dry run/first time to see the weapon interactions so I let the AI handle most of it and just observed. Of course taking the following into consideration:
1. Approx 1900 and getting dark quickly
2. Nimitz aircrew were new to an actual full blown carrier strike (even though they probably had trng - real thing is a bit different).
3. Even a veteran would be a bit out of it if they had traveled 40yrs into the past and been faced with the IJN attack fleet.

So overall maybe a "realistic" result anyway - if you can first get past the whole human induced time travel storm concept

< Message edited by acb3 -- 3/23/2014 3:17:50 AM >


_____________________________

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 10:56:43 PM   
acbennett3


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Here goes the 2nd test. This time the strategy is to wait until the Japanese actually start attacking Pearl before declaring hostilities. But that doesn't mean the Nimitz won't be "locked and loaded" at that point - just like in the movie.

Below is the initial detection of the IJN fleet on December 6th.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 10:57:35 PM   
acbennett3


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During most of the day on the 6th the Nimitz steams NNE at 25kts to close the IJN Fleet for a strike the next morning. Later in the night she turns East to split the range equally between the IJN Fleet and Pearl.

Dawn slowly breaks over Pearl and Battleship Row…




The earlier BBs weren't in the CWDB (BB36/37/38/39 - Pennsylvania and Nevada class). The Colorado and Tennessee class BBs were in the CWDB but in their later war updated version - lots of AAA. When I tweak the scenario later I will try to prevent their AAA fire (ammo and/or ROE).

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 10:59:14 PM   
acbennett3


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0600 Dec 7th - over the next 2hrs history will be dramatically changed (so much for my Histrionics).

At 0600 the IJN starts launching their First Wave. In anticipation the Nimitz launches an air group (9 F-14's, 1 A-6D Tanker, 1 E-2C) to patrol off of Oahu to the west. Their mission is to watch the IJN First Wave and then attack it after the first bomb/torpedo is dropped.

Below is an image at 0646. The IJN First Wave is on its way to Pearl, while the Nimitz air group is mostly in position patrolling west of Pearl. E-2C/VA-124 is still enroute.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:00:34 PM   
acbennett3


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As the IJN First Wave closes Pearl the Nimitz next launches its IJN Fleet Strike Group. The AC move to a Patrol/Staging area west of the IJN Fleet to be ready to attack after the Pearl attack.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:01:30 PM   
acbennett3


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IJN First Wave feet dry over Oahu. To the west the Nimitz Fighter Group is standing by to attack.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:02:37 PM   
acbennett3


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The IJN Pearl attack begins.
The US BBs are already opening fire w/AAA - next time around I will try to prevent/minimize this to be more realistic.




Time to release the hounds…

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:03:47 PM   
acbennett3


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In response the Nimitz F-14s salvo their Pheonixes.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:04:40 PM   
acbennett3


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Against Vals and Kates the Pheonixes get a better percentage to hit - 60% vs the 30% against the more agile Zeroes in the first test.

Eventually the F-14's start reaching Pearl and a real free for all starts - wonder what the sailors on the BBs are thinking seeing all this?





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:06:21 PM   
acbennett3


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The First Wave finishes its attack - most damage to the USS Tennessee - minor damage to a number of other BBs. Then they start their return flight to the IJN fleet - chased by a few F-14s until I RTB them.

Below is the tally:

SIDE: IJN
LOSSES:
-------------------------------
12x Nakajima B5N2 Kate
52x Aichi D3A2 Val
45x Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 Zero

SIDE: Nimitz
LOSSES:
-------------------------------
4x F-14A Tomcat

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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:07:30 PM   
acbennett3


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The Pearl Attack got busy but my computer was able to chug thru it. During the heat of the battle I could not pause the game or change the zoom (but at least no crashes). Because of this I decided to wait until the battle was over before releasing the Nimitz IJN Fleet Strike Group.

Below is an image of the first stage of the attack on the IJN Fleet. The 12 F-14's of VF-213 are sent in first to clear out the IJN CAP. Missiles are flying, dogfights are starting, and the rest of the IJN CAP is reacting in support.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:08:25 PM   
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And another free for all ensues as the fighters begin their dance.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:09:25 PM   
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Next the A-6's launch their AGM-62 Walleyes at standoff range. I tried to auto target just the carriers but the mission settings overrode and picked the closest targets instead. Luckily the first pair off Walleyes nailed the Hiryu and sank it outright (already gone on the below image). The rest of the Walleyes started targeting the IJN screen although a few locked on to a number of IJN carriers. I will manually target the A7's when it's their turn…





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:10:28 PM   
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Later AAA was getting thick over the IJN Fleet. In the image below the F-14s are low and slow (relatively) because they were taking out just launched Zero's trying to help with the IJN CAP.




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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:11:19 PM   
acbennett3


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Now that the IJN CAP has been decimated and the A-6/Walleyes have softened the IJN Fleet, I send in the A-7's with their iron bombs (Mk82). For the A-7's I first unassigned them from the strike mission and then manually assigned the weapons/bombs to their targets (IJN CVs) to ensure they attacked the desired targets.

The lead A7's score some hits starting to damage the IJN carriers. Then the one I call "John Wayne" in an A7 (VA-87 #11) nails the Soryu - 4 out of 6 Mk82s score hits and send her to join her sister the Hiryu on their way to the bottom…





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:12:48 PM   
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Wave after wave of A-7's streak thru the IJN Fleet focusing on the carriers. Below you see hits on the Zuikaku and Akagi with more A-7's inbound.





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RE: AAR - Tora, Tora, Tora - not? - 3/30/2014 11:13:53 PM   
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From: Montana
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As the last group of A-7's start their run only the Akagi was left of the Kido Butai. She had been attacked as many times as the other IJN carriers but had been only moderately damaged. Maybe it was because she was closely escorted by the two BB's in the fleet. The last 3 A-7's all targeted the Akagi - and her luck was about to come run out.

Below the first 2 A-7's have finished their runs - the white circles are their misses. The third A-7 has just released its bombs…





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(in reply to acbennett3)
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