el cid again
From RHS Scenario 129 Test 2 (Mifune vs ElCid) - running in parallel
with a second Scenario 129 by other players - the first games to
test an AltWars scenario in which Japan eschewed capital ship construction
in favor of carriers. Unusually, this report is on both sides. There
are separate Allied and Japanese report threads. Because of a medical
situation, Mifune gives orders orally, but ElCid actually enters them using
a procedure involving "ignorance" of the other side's move. [OK - pretended
ignorance - information 'unknown' is simply ignored. Guessing is done by
die rolls.] This summary report is intended to help make sense of a battle
more or less similar to Midway in the historical war - a battle at sea far
from major land bases and near only partially developed island bases.
The Japanese decided to run a campaign of continuous suppression of the
Allied SLOC between the US West Coast and Australia. They set up a series
of raids by carrier groups - after first sinking the two carriers in the central
Pacific as well as six of the eight battleships at Pearl Harbor. This was generally
successful, and the Allies have not been able to send much to Australia via
the Pacific route. Unknown to the Allies, the Japanese decided to use the abandoned (never developed) airfield on Howland Island - left over from a pre war attempt to set a trans-Pacific crossing record and, in fact, never used at all - on an island with no port or other facilities. This is not far North of the Allied base on Canton Island. As a result, both outbound and inbound Japanese carrier divisions head toward a point in the sea not far from the point an Allied relief expedition must go to supply/reinforce Canton Island.
To counter this, the Allies did two things:
First, they assembled a serious carrier division - essentially the mirror image of the carriers which start the war (a Lexington class and a Yorktown class). Except they landed all the TBD's and embarked additional squadrons. The two ships carried four full strength fighter squadrons - all F4F-3's, F4F-3As, or F4F-4s. They also embarked no less than five SBD squadrons: 4x SBD-3's and 1 of SBD-2's. Naturally the larger carrier embarked 5 squadrons, the smaller one only 4 squadrons.
This air group was considered to outweigh a Japanese carrier division with two fighter, two dive bomber and two torpedo bomber compliments.
Second, the Allies decided to employ a "Glorious First of June" strategy - use the warship convoy to cover a logistical one - or in this instance two - such that, if an enemy were encountered, the logistical convoys would be ignored, insuring a strategic victory whatever the tactical outcome might be. The two convoys included the US Army 24th Infantry Division (bound for Australia) as well as the 2nd Marine Engineer regiment and supplies to relieve Canton Island - which was useless as a link absent supply and needed more engineers to build up rapidly.
About three days ago (game time), both sides detected some of the ships of the other side, including probable carrier task groups. At that time, the Japanese carrier division returning from the Tahiti area was spotted, but its relief - outbound from Truk - was not. For their part, the Japanese did not detect the troop convoys, but did detect the carrier task group. The Allies (correctly) believed they had immediate tactical superiority - detaching the convoys - and sought to close the enemy carriers. The Japanese believed they needed to assemble both carrier groups to have an advantage, so they withdrew to the Northeast - but sent in long range Mavis flying boats and Betty bombers (as search aircraft) to insure contact was not lost.
Finally, yesterday, both sides believed they had superiority, so both sides headed directly for each other. A bit too directly. The first clue was that the task forces made contact during the night. This was repeated the next morning. Both times the task forces disengaged, but it produced the following alarming information for the Allies:
Note there are FOUR carriers and FOUR battleships - facing TWO carriers and TWO Brooklyn type cruisers (joined, during the night, by a CA and an old Omaha CL). Not quite the battle the Allies expected.
During the day, both sides exchanged air strikes. As is fairly common, NONE of the Kates flew at all. [Half were set to carry bombs, half torpedoes - because the returning division was short of torpedoes and because bombers are more likely to fly.]
The Allied fighters (F4F-3, F4F-3A and F4F-4) lost 45 total, vs 32 A6M2m32 Zeros. Dive bomber losses were remarkably similar - 51 Vals vs 49 SBD's. At optimum range, both side's dive bombers delivered primary plus secondary bombs. The Allies engaged all four Japanese carriers, hitting three, setting two on fire. The Japanese naturally engaged both Allied carriers, as well as cruisers and destroyers, and managed to hit both big ships. But the larger Saratoga fared better - it was hit by fewer bombs (one of them a small bomb), and it managed to put out the few fires set. Yorktown took more hits, and was unable to put out all the fires - so its air group could not land back on board. Instead, aircraft from most of its squadrons landed on Sara with the result it had too many squadrons and aircraft embarked, and so it could no longer launch air strikes. The Japanese, for their part, lost most of their dive bombers - the only bombers they are confident will actually fly - and almost half their fighters - and two ships absolutely need to be repaired.
This sets the stage for a second day of fighting. Sara, by flying off squadrons to Canton, can resume air operations tomorrow. For their part, the Japanese can field two carriers, but only with small dive bomber squadrons. As well, it is unclear if the Americans will run for Hawaii or for Australia - or indeed if they will run at all? Even if they want to fight with small air groups, the Japanese must guess where to go in order to engage?
Reports and replay are in following transmissions.
< Message edited by el cid again -- 10/15/2016 1:49:28 AM >