Thursday, August 24, 2017

War in The Pacific Aviation Roster


So, I've gone off the deep end.  I was going to follow a US Marine fighter squadron throughout the war in the Pacific, just like my rifle platoon.  But I figured I've already gone outside the realm of US Marines (see the naval battles I've done recently) so I may as well keep going, and when I was thinking about following the exploits of some fighter pilots, it suddenly occurred to me that some inter-service rivalry to see who gets the most kills could be a good bit of fun.

So I've decided to follow not one US Marine fighter squadron, but three fighter squadrons, one Marine, one Navy, and one Army Air Corps.  The Marine and Navy squadrons will begin the war in F4F Wildcats, while the Army will start in P-40 Warhawks.  The Marines will graduate to F4U Corsairs, the Navy to F6F Hellcats, and the Army to P-38 Lightnings.  All three squadrons will begin the war based in the Dutch East Indies (arriving there after Pearl Harbor and the initiation of War Plan Orange, of course).  With the fall of Java the three squadrons will evacuate: the Army will go to Australia and fight in the vicinity of New Guinea, the Marines to Guadalcanal, and the Navy to various aircraft carriers.

Each squadron is pared down quite a bit in order for me to get the pilots more sorties in fewer games, so each squadron only has six named pilots.

US Marine Corps, VMF-343 "Dirt Divers"      (Sorties/Kills/Losses)

Squadron Leader: Captain Chandler (Veteran) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 1st Lt Broussard (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Rison (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Tuggle (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Haynes (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Gardner (Regular) - 0/0/0

US Navy, VF-63 "Killer Pelicans"      (Sorties/Kills/Losses)

Squadron Leader: Lt Collins (Veteran) - 0/0/0

Pilot: Lt (jg) Case (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: Ensign Gordon (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: Ensign Radecek (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: Ensign Green (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: Ensign Bruce (Regular) - 0/0/0

US Army Air Corps, 565th Fighter Squadron "Chickenhawks"      (Sorties/Kills/Losses)

Squadron Leader: Captain Jordan (Veteran) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 1st Lt Case (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Gann (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Sanders (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt McKyer (Regular) - 0/0/0

Pilot: 2nd Lt Cotton (Regular) - 0/0/0

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Battle of Badung Strait II


It's 0245 on 20 February 1942, and several hours ago American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) surface forces were severely beaten after being dispatched to see off a Japanese convoy landing troops on the island of Bali.  While the ABDA force was able to destroy the two Japanese troopships (and they'd already landed their infantry), two Dutch light cruisers were sunk, and the three accompanying destroyers were damaged heavily enough that they were forced to leave the area without picking up the survivors from the HNLMS Java and HNLMS De Ruyter.  The Japanese had four destroyers escorting the two sunken troopships, two of which were heavily damaged, so the Japanese retired towards Bali, into Benoa Bay, in order to conduct repair of their damaged ships before getting back under way and escaping to the open ocean, ideally before sunrise brought more ABDA bombers.

What the Japanese didn't know was that another surface force had been dispatched by ABDA command, and they were nearing the east coast of Bali.  Their initial mission had been to intercept and destroy the Japanese invasion force of Bali, but the first ABDA surface group informed them the enemy troopships had been taken.  Now the ABDA force entered the battle area with one mission: recover the survivors from the sunken Dutch cruisers Java and De Ruyter.

Overview, north is up.  At left (top left, off camera to left, the two abutments at top center, and bottom left) is the island of Bali, with the point at left center being Cape Tafel and the little island just above it being Serangan.  The big island at far right is Besar (which apparently is now called Penida?), the smaller island to its left is Ceningan, and the mid-size island just above it Lembongan.  The Japanese destroyers are in Benoa Bay (far left), repairing their ships, while the ABDA force is at top right, heading southwest into the battle area.

The Japanese destroyers, from top to bottom: Michishio, division leader Arashio, Oshio, and Asashio.  Two of the Japanese destroyers were heavily damaged in the first fight, but they've since been repaired and suffer no negative effects from the first fight in this one.

The second ABDA force, led by the Dutch light cruiser, HNLMS Tromp (top right).  The four destroyers are, from top left to far right: USS Edwards, USS Parrott, USS Stewart, and USS Pillsbury.

Let's get it on!

The time on deck is 0245, and the ABDA force begins to break up, with the USS Pillsbury cutting left to dash through the narrow channels in the east.

And then the Stewart cuts in behind her, rather aggressive and close for maneuvers in the darkness...

Sensing something amiss, the Oshio pulls out of the bay, turning starboard to hug the southern coast.

Back in the northeast, the Edwards dashes ahead, hugging the coast (top left)...

Accompanied by the Parrott (top left).

While the Asashio joins the Oshio in the south.

In the northeast, the Dutch light cruiser Tromp (bottom right) moves up between the two pairs of US destroyers.

The time is now 0250, and the Michishio's eagle-eyed lookouts spot the US destroyers (top right) in the north, and her skipper orders up full speed and they depart the bay (center top).

The Michishio's main batteries roar, and the Edwards is hit!

The Arashio then pulls out of the bay and joins the Michishio (left).

The time on deck is now 0255, and I remembered to mark the whole reason we're here: at top center is a cotton puff marking the location of the Java's survivors floating in the ocean, while at bottom right the cotton puff marks the location of the De Ruyter's position.

The skipper of the Michishio, brash as ever, spots another prize and swings his ship to starboard (center top left, with the Arashio at bottom left and the Edwards and Parrott at top right).

Feeling their oats a bit from having already sunk two Dutch cruisers earlier this evening, the Michishio (bottom center left) lines up a shot on the Dutch cruiser Tromp (top center left), and launches her torpedoes (white bead just above Michishio).

Not to be outdone, the skipper of the Parrott (top left center, with wake) charges in...

Closing the distance and going nose to nose with the Michishio, where his gunners opened fire at point blank range, damaging the Japanese destroyer (that's Edwards at bottom right, shocked and damaged).

With Michishio (bottom left) hit, the Japanese division leader, aboard the Arashio, orders his ship into the fight (center).  They also line up a shot on the Tromp (top left) and put fish in the water...

*Quick rules note: mostly ships get two actions per turn, but if you draw a face card they get three.  I just drew a face card for the ABDA ships, and I'd love to give it to the Tromp, have her swing to port and duck behind the islands at top center/right in order to dodge the incoming torpedoes, but there's not room, the turning radius is too wide...

The Captain of the Edwards (top center, with Parrott right behind them) is too busy directing damage control in repairs to rally the troops, but it works, and the ship is back in fighting shape, other than being a big gun shy due to the shock of battle.

The Edwards pulls abreast of Michishio and opens up at point blank range, seriously damaging the Japanese ship.

With the close-range knife fight happening in the north (top center), the Oshio continues moving laterally in the south (bottom center), looking to keep the ABDA forces boxed in.

And she's joined by the Asashio.

The Tromp's Captain has spotted the wakes of about a dozen enemy torpedoes inbound; to turn would only present a larger target, so he directs his ship to advance, full speed ahead (center top)!

With the US destroyers in the north already pounding the Michishio (top right), the Tromp's 6" guns are unleashed on the Arashio (top center), getting two solid hits, badly damaging the Japanese division leader.

The USS Pillsbury begins sneaking through the channel between Lembogan and Cengingan (bottom center).

The Tromp cuts loose another ferocious salvo on the Arashio, scoring three more critical hits!

The crew of the Michishio (top left, with Edwards and Parrott just to her right) look on in horror as their sister, the Arashio, blows up (bottom left)!!!

With pieces of the Arashio still falling into the ocean (top left), the Pillsbury pops through the channel (bottom center)...

Emerging on the other side, she lines up on the Oshio and Asashio and launches her torpedoes.

The Stewart pushes west (bottom center right), catching up to the Pillsbury (bottom left).

But then the Japanese torpedoes arrive; two slam into the Tromp, but good order and discipline prevail, with watertight integrity saving the ship.  She's badly damaged, but still afloat, and the ship's officers immediately set the crew to repairing the damage.

As the clock strikes 0300 and the Tromp, belching flames and smoke (top center), slows to a crawl, the Pillsbury pushes ahead (bottom left).

The crew bangs away with its 5" batteries, targeting the Asashio.  The rounds miss, harmlessly tossing geysers of water hundreds of feet into the air.  Even worse, the Pillsbury has suffered a mechanical or electrical failure that has brought her main batteries off line!

The Captain of the Stewart, hearing the desperate pleas for support from the Pillsbury (center left), cranks up and shoots through the gap between Ceningan and Besar, moving up to aid their sister (far left, with the Oshio and Asashio at top left).

The Oshio (bottom center) turns to face the Pillsbury and Stewart.

Engaging the Stewart, though the shells are off target.

Back in the north, the USS Parrott slides forward past the Edwards, where its gun crews remorselessly pounded 5", 40mm, and 20mm shells into the Michishio, setting several fires in her superstructure and holing the Japanese destroyer several times below the waterline.  The enemy ship lost power and began to settle by the bow, slowly rolling to port as her men jumped into the sea to escape.

The Edwards (right) looks on as the Parrott continues on past, circling to port and nearing the Java's location (cotton puff at left).

The Tromp moves up, coming slightly left, getting its crew rallied and damage control removing one level of damage.

Back in the south, the Asashio (center, with Oshio at bottom center) turns into the Pillsbury (center top) and Stewart (far right).

The Japanese ship, sensing the Pillsbury (top left) is in distress (inoperable main batteries), directs her fire at the Stewart, but misses the American destroyer!

In the north, the Edwards cuts between the sinking/sunken Japanese ships (center top, with Tromp at far right and Pope at top left).

Just then, a torpedo from the Pillsbury strikes the Oshio, badly damaging the Japanese destroyer, but not sinking her.

The time on deck is now 0305, and seeking to save her sister (the Oshio, bottom center), the Asashio charges (center) the US destroyers in the south!

The situation is pure chaos as the Asashio closes on the Stewart, guns blazing, but amazingly, the Stewart does not suffer any significant damage!

*It's funny, in the last fight it was the Japanese that couldn't miss and the ABDA forces that couldn't hit anything (except for using torpedoes).

The Stewart's crew stands and returns fire, damaging the Asashio, as the Pillsbury's crew (top right) works to get their guns back on line.

The Stewart (left) pushes past the Asashio (center), closing on the Oshio (top left).

The Tromp (center right) continues slowly moving forward (with Parrott and Edwards at top right, Pillsbury, Stewart, Oshio, and Asashio at left)...

The Tromp (bottom right) fires her main batteries at the Asashio (center top left, between the Stewart, at top, and the Pillsbury, at center left).  The Japanese crew is badly shaken as their ship is battered.

Well, lookee there, I forgot my damn protractor on the table...  In any case, the Parrott (center left, near the Tromp) cuts left to aid the Pillsbury and Stewart in the south (right).  In the north (left), the USS Edwards is busy picking up survivors from the Dutch cruiser, Java.

While in the south, the Captain of the Pillsbury sails his ship out of the fight (top left, with the Stewart is at bottom center, the Asashio at center, and the Oshio at bottom left) as his crew works unsuccessfully to get their main batteries back in operation.

The Oshio (far right) is in terrible shape, but her Captain is working heroically to keep the ship in the fight.  She slowly chugs ahead, her damage control party working feverishly...

And her gun crews pumping rounds into the Stewart at point blank range, damaging the US ship.

As the Edwards continues pulling Java-survivors out of the ocean, the brave Michishio (left) slowly slips below the waves.  The American sailors attempt to rescue some nearby Japanese, but...  Well, let's just say the efforts are not appreciated.

The time on deck is 0310, and the Parrott continues to push south, at center left, just below the Tromp, with Edwards rescuing survivors at top left, the Pillsbury trying to get its guns functioning again at left, and the Stewart locked in a life and death fight with the Oshio and Asashio at bottom right.

The Parrott fires on the Asashio, and this new round of shells falling on their beleaguered ship is enough to set the ship to sinking.

With the Asashio sinking (far left) and the Stewart dealing with its own battle damage, the skipper of the Oshio decides its time to make his break.  He pushes his ship for all its worth, ultimately escaping to the southeast (right) and living to fight another day.

By 0500 the ABDA force is still beat up, but is wrapping up its rescue mission.  Tromp, Edwards, and Stewart are all damaged, but the Pillsbury and Parrott manage to rescue all the survivors of the Java and De Ruyter they can locate, and they do it all while sinking three of the Japanese ships that handled their friends so roughly in the fight earlier this evening.

Wow, that went much better than I expected, and I was really quite concerned that I was about to lose three light cruisers in two fights, against nothing but Japanese destroyers.  I swear I don't have anything against the Dutch! ;)

The fights were a lot of fun, and I think I like it a bit more now that I cut down the movement ranges.  Other than that, the rules are working like a champ, giving a fast and furious game that I hope at least somewhat looks and sounds like a WWII naval surface action.

I'm not sure what's up next, I've so many projects in mind, but I promise I'll be gaming this coming weekend, and you'll like it! ;)