22 Jul 43
Two Allied convoys moving to Darwin ran into I-22 in the shallow waters near Wessel Islands. 2 torpedoes miss xAP Edwin M. Stanton, and the sub was hit by a depth charge. I-22 didn't get a shot at the second convoy, and was hit by another depth charge, and was reporting heavy damage.
I got aggressive with a 3 ship subchaser task force at Ponape. Long range Australian bombers, trained in ASW, have been spotting about 6 subs between Ponape and Truk, in 2 lines forming a barrier. The closest were 5 hexes from Ponape. I decided to take a chance and send the subchasers through the sub lines. The first engagement with a subchaser resulted in RO-67 getting a torpedo hit on SC-639, sinking her. Then 13 Bettys arrived and sank SC-644 with a torpedo. So, 2 out of 3 US subchasers sunk, and 2 enemy subs damaged but not in danger of sinking.
On the previously mentioned convoy route from Balikpapan to Babeldaob, Dutch sub KXVII fired 2 torpedoes at E-boat conversion W-15. No hits. W-16 hit the sub with 3 depth charges, forcing her to surface. The sub then fought it out with W-14, W-15 and W-16. W-16 was hit once and set on fire. W-15 was hit with 2 shells from the sub. But KXVII was finished off with many small caliber rounds. KXVII got 2 torpedo hits on an xAK on the third day of the war near Mersing, a hit on an xAK near Ponape in May '42, and another 9 days later near Ponape. In June '42, it hit an AO with 2 torpedoes near Ontong Java, sinking it. KXVII hit destroyer Fumizuki with a torpedo near Kusaie Island in November '42, and sank another AO with 2 torpedo hits near Donggala in May '43. The Dutch boat had an excellent showing.
Submarine Hoe had a dud torpedo hit on a YO in the same area west of Babeldaob today.
Between Truk and the Mariannas, Pompon fired 4 torpedoes at xAP Hakone Maru. 2 torpedoes hit but one was a dud. The task force also had an AK and an AS, with multiple E-boats escorting.
I did a 4 squadron sweep of Truk. First, 37 P-38Gs swept at 20,000 feet, finding 90 A6M5 Zeros. Then 22 P-38Hs at 25,000 feet, and then another 21 P-38Hs. Total air losses were 55 Zeros for the cost of 15 P-38Gs and 8 P-38Hs. Fair results, but not sustainable for the US. P-38Gs are out of production, and I get only 40 P-38Hs a month. The enemy could be producing 40 A6M5 Zeros a month, or 200 A6M5s a month. Whatever OPilot is choosing to spend his HI on. The limiting factor for the enemy is good pilots. I want to keep showing interest in Truk while moving my forces away. I am moving some Fletcher DDs to Ponape, where they'll be seen, and some transports will be there loading a couple of units.
The bad news over Truk was the loss of my two top scoring pilots in the war: Major F.L. Lawlor got his 19th kill over Truk before being shot down. Captain B.D. Wagner was lost, having 16 kills in the campaign. He had an experience level of 90. Another pilot lost had 13 kills. But the P-38 squadrons have elite pilots. There's 5 more pilots with 15 kills just in one squadron.
SigInt says that the 57th Division is loaded on an AMC and headed to Batavia. No doubt part of the anticipated reinforcement of Java. Had I been able to land 3 divisions at Banjoewangi instead of 1, I could have been approaching Soerabaja soon. I didn't anticipate such a weak defense. I'm tentatively advancing out of Banjoewangi with less than divisional forces. If the defense increases, I'll pull back into Banjoewangi and the nearby mountains. I'm still planning an end-around at Tjepoe, west of Soerabaja, later on.
Shipping for the upcoming Kendari area invasions have been assigned orders, and are sorting themselves out, mostly at Derby. Most of the troops will load at Roti and Kavieng, after the reinforcements land at Mataram. The carriers are escorting those reinforcements, and some APAs are being used there. With Kendari being fairly well defended, I'm going to use a division at Kolaka and then land another division for the push to Kendari. A third division will land to the west, at Watampane, to threaten Makassar.
< Message edited by apbarog -- 12/18/2019 5:01:47 AM >