Just off Palembang, I-158 got the first kill of the night by sinking my fuel laden cargo ship, AK Tai Sang, with three torpedo hits.
I had dispatched the AS Fulton unescorted from the West Coast to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians to set up a forward submarine base. Along the way, the Fulton ate a torpedo from I-3 but was surprisingly in good shape after the attack. She safely made it to Dutch Harbor a few turns later.
Near Iba, SS-36 sighted the damaged AK Azumasan Maru and engaged, hitting her with a single torpedo, which was sufficient to end her misery.
SS Sculpin, another rare survivor from Pearl Harbor, was on its patrol route in the South China Sea when it sighted I-121 at 1,000 yards. It launched a spread of two torps – the first Mk14 duded as expected, but happily the second one struck home and mortally wounded the Japanese sub. If I am not mistaken, I-121 is one of the valuable mine laying submarines, so I was happy with my first ever sub-on-sub kill.
SS KXII went after a heavily escorted convoy south of Saigon, putting a torpedo into AK Nanko Maru but suffering a severe depth charging that left it limping back to Singapore.
Yet another Japanese landing came ashore at Luzon, this time in Mauban.
I combined the surviving MTB and PT boats into one squadron under an aggressive leader with good naval skill and sent them out into the night once more. They interrupted the landings at Iba, where they courageously braved the withering fire from the Japanese escorts and closed to 2,000 yards. Three torpedoes (one dud) were sent into the side of AK Maebasi Maru, sending her to the bottom. A torpedo hit another merchant ship but that torp malfunctioned as well. They even sprayed the merchant ships with .50 caliber machine guns. The post action combat summary showed that 4,613 troops had gone down the Maebasi Maru, with hundreds of squads destroyed and disabled. Unfortunately, on the way back to Manila the torpedo boats were intercepted by a large IJN destroyer squadron which sunk four of them, leaving six survivors overall.
Having heavily damaged Clark airfield with his carrier wings the last turn, I had pulled out all of my fighters to Manila. Even so, my opponent must have really wanted to close down the airfield as he sent another massive carrier raid to crater it.
My opponent also set to work on Manila’s airbase with his LBA. The first raid of 21 Bettys escorted by 19 zeros from Formosa was met by 35 fighters which heavily damaged the raid, striking a 2 to 1 kill ratio in our favor. A follow up raid of 17 Nells was weakly escorted by just 4 Zeros, allowing the still robust CAP of 19 Warhawks to brush aside the few Zeros and home in on the Nells, knocking out about 8 of them. In the afternoon, 15 Warhawks were left, and they met a relatively small raid of 4 Nells escorted by 9 Zeros. Half of the Zeros and Nells were shot down, for the loss of a few allied fighters. Finally, 9 unescorted IJA Sally bombers showed up to be met by 9 Warhawks, who severely shot them up with only a couple of bombers making it back.
The reason behind the relatively weak zero escorts for the Manila raids became apparent when my Catalinas and B-17Ds once again went after his convoys only to be met by a wall of IJN fighters. 10 Catalinas and 8 B-17Ds were lost during the turn.
A few OS2U-3 Kingfishers did make it through to an unprotected convoy, putting a 250lb bomb into the AK Igasa Maru which was still loaded with troops. Furtermore, 6 B-17Ds managed to push through the fighter CAP over another landing area to score a 500lb bomb hit on AK Takao Maru. I must have been luckily with these B-17 naval strikes from 10,000 feet during this phase of the conflict, as I was never able to replicate this type of success with heavy bombers later.
Japanese mobile tank and recon regiments take Alor Star from the Indian battalion I left there as a rearguard force.
My coastal defense guns at Tarakan finally woke up this turn and engaged the ongoing Japanese landing, putting 9 hits into AK Mexico Maru. Unfortunately, a shock attack later in the day takes the place.
I had previously placed 8 Swordfish torpedo bombers at Sinkawang, and this turn they sighted and went after AK Tihuku Maru, sinking her with 8 500lb bomb hits.
Japanese troops occupied Victoria Point, but I had already evacuated the base force back to Rangoon in a daring (foolhardy?) naval evacuation.
A second shock attack goes in, getting a 4 to 1 result and forcing my garrison there to surrender. The first major objective falls to the Japanese.
30 Betty bombers struck my forces massing around Ichang. My opponent must have been concerned enough about them to bring in these valuable naval bombers.
Following the Enterprise strike on the Tarawa landing force, my opponent detached two of the surviving Japanese destroyer escorts and sent them brazenly after my carrier task force. They connected during the night but after a short inconclusive exchange of torpedoes and shellfire, (in which the Enterprise opened up with its own guns) the task forces broke off. This was a good reminder of how I needed to be more careful – next time these two destroyers could be a cruiser force.
Japanese forces Capture Guam
The gravy train of successful airstrikes on his convoys landing in the Philippines looks to be decidedly over now. It was very good while it lasted. Still, the deviation of significant fighter strength to cover his ships allowed me to rack up some significant kills on his bombers. Given the odds, I would say things could be a lot worse in this theater.