6 Jan 43
Coastwatchers tracked a task force moving west from Rabaul. It ended up going to Lae. I think this is a regular supply/troop run, using fast transport. S-47 identified the ships as light cruisers Kiso and Tama, with 5 destroyers.
6 Fletcher class destroyers stormed into Koepang's port. They didn't hit any mines. First, they ran into patrol boat Urashio Maru, and quickly hit the PB with 9 shells and sank it. Then the interesting task force that I had spotted was engaged.
Night Time Surface Combat, near Koepang at 68,116, Range 4,000 Yards
Japanese aircraft losses
A6M2-N Rufe: 6 destroyed
PB Shosei Maru, Shell hits 5, on fire
PB Okiyu Maru, Shell hits 10, on fire
AV Kamoi, Shell hits 5, Torpedo hits 3, and is sunk
AV Sanuki Maru, Shell hits 3
AKE Taifuku Maru, Shell hits 13, heavy fires, heavy damage
PB Nanrei Maru, Shell hits 6, on fire
AG Koyo Maru, Shell hits 2, on fire
AD Ryuzin Maru, Shell hits 9, heavy fires, heavy damage
DD Waller, Shell hits 2
Reduced sighting due to 0% moonlight
Maximum visibility in Clear Conditions and 0% moonlight: 4,000 yards
With reduced visibility due to no moonlight, the fight ended sooner than I would have liked. 3 additional torpedo hits were duds. Waller was hit by shells from an AV, and is now SYS 17/FLOT 12-3/ENG 3-0/FIRE 0.
With daylight, the US destroyers were still at Koepang. They engaged the remaining ships.
Day Time Surface Combat, near Koepang at 68,116, Range 22,000 Yards
Japanese aircraft losses
F1M2 Pete: 7 destroyed
PB Shosei Maru, Shell hits 33, and is sunk
PB Okiyu Maru, Shell hits 45, and is sunk
AV Sanuki Maru, Shell hits 15, Torpedo hits 1, and is sunk
PB Nanrei Maru, Shell hits 19, and is sunk
AG Koyo Maru, Shell hits 34, and is sunk
AD Ryuzin Maru, and is sunk
Maximum visibility in Clear Conditions: 30,000 yards
12 Petes were destroyed, as were 11 A6M2 Rufes, "on the ground". They were presumably on the AVs. Taking out AKEs, ADs and AGs is particularly noteworthy. There's a limited number of them, and not having them in an area limits combat ship capabilities. The US destroyers made it out of Koepang, moving about 7 hexes towards Darwin, and they weren't spotted during the day air phases.
An enemy task force with a patrol boat and an xAKL was spotted at Babar, 7 hexes from Darwin. Divebombers from Darwin attacked. Some without escort. Some with escort, which didn't help.
First 18 SB2U-3 attacked, without escort, and ran into 39 Oscars. Every Vindicator was shot down. Then 18 SBD-2s with 18 F4F-3s escorting attacked, running into the same 39 Oscars. 9 Dauntlesses and 14 Wildcats were shot down. No Oscars were downed in either fight. Ugly. 2 500lb bombs from Dauntlesses did hit xAKL Natsukawa Maru. I don't think this was an intentional trap, but it was an effective one. I need to be more careful with the naval strike settings. OPilot hasn't been aggressive with combat ships within range of Allied bases. I need to avoid striking into his fighter-protected bases. The P-38s that had been at Port Moresby went to Lunga. Now they are headed towards Darwin, stopping at Gove on the way. From Darwin, they can sweep Babar or Koepang.
The final two convoys headed to Colombo will arrive there today. One has the US 43rd Infantry Division. It'll need a day to unload, and then two or three days to switch from Strat to Combat mode. Then the troop loading for the invasions will begin. Some supply loading has already started. Colombo had clear weather today, and no Allied task forces or ships in port were spotted there. Lots of ships continue to fix up very minor SYS damage there.