Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dutch East Indies #8


The Battle of Badung Strait I

It's 2220 on 19 February 1942, and all hands are at their battle stations, ready for surface contact.  On 18 February 1942, the Japanese landed a battalion of infantry on the island of Bali, and immediately set to preparing an airfield for their air forces.  An airfield on Bali would threaten the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) naval base at Surabaya, and so naval surface forces were marshalled and sent to intercept the Japanese fleet.  First up, two ABDA submarines attacked the Japanese, but were easily driven off without causing any damage to the enemy.  Then US bombers attacked, moderately damaging a Japanese troopship.

Following the air attack, the bulk of the Japanese combat ships (a cruiser and three destroyers) departed the area; the two troop transports were still conducting ship to shore operations, but finished up and got underway during the evening of 19 February 1942.  As they began moving out to sea, ABDA surface ships arrived in the area.  The problem was that ABDA command suffered from language barriers, diffused command, interservice- and international rivalry, and being caught off balance, so the ABDA ships dispatched to intercept the Japanese troopships was not only too late to affect the invasion, they were actually split into two separate forces which arrived in the battle area at two separate times.

So the Battle of Badung Strait was fought in two phases, one for each of the arriving groups of ABDA ships, and somehow my little wargames actually followed this pattern, though for a little bit different reasons.

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 are in two groups, at top left and top center, heading northeast (top right) to open ocean.  The ABDA force is at bottom left, heading north on a bearing of 040.

In the northwest, just off coast of the Bali city of Sanur, is a Japanese troopship (the one damaged by the US bombers) escorted by the Japanese destroyers Asashio and Oshio.

In the north is the other Japanese troopship, escorted by the division leader, the Arashio, and the Michishio.

The ABDA force is two Dutch light cruisers (CLs), a Dutch destroyer (DD), and two US destroyers.  The order of march (from top right to bottom left): the HNLMS (Dutch Navy) light cruiser Java, the group leader, HNLMS De Ruyter, the Dutch destroyer Piet Hein followed by the USS Ford and USS Pope.

It is time to fight!!!

The time on deck is 2220, and the Oshio's lookouts (top center left) have spotted something to the south (bottom center); their skipper orders a turn to starboard to close the distance.

Confirming the ships are enemy (top right), Oshio (bottom left) wastes no time in getting torpedoes in the water (white bead), targeting the light cruiser Java.

Oshio radios its sister, the Asashio, which quickly pivots right and joins the Oshio (left center), bearing down on the ABDA column (right).

And she adds her own torpedoes to the fray (left), targeting the flagship, De Ruyter (second vessel in line at top center right).

Michishio, with the other transport (top center), hears Oshios calls (center left, with ABDA's Java at bottom right) and speeds up.

Java notes the Japanese coming around to the west (top left), but is more concerned with the enemy troopship nearing open water (top right), and so Java's skipper orders flank speed ahead, charging straight into the fracas!

Java's (bottom center, with Asashio at left) quickly identify the northern enemy transport (top center, with Michishio and Arashio escorting) and launches torpedoes!*

*I screwed up; in real life, Java and De Ruyter did not have torpedo tubes...

The ABDA flagship, De Ruyter, also a light cruiser, begins the fight by trailing Java (center top right) forward, but then quickly realizes it's torpedo shots would be blocked by Java or the islands in the northeast (top right), so her skipper brings her broadside (far right)...

De Ruyter (bottom right, with Java at far left) opens up with her 6" guns on the Arashio (top center right, middle ship), damaging the Japanese destroyer.

With Java (center) leading the charge and the De Ruyter (far right) peeling off towards the narrow channels leading to the open ocean in the east, the Dutch destroyer Piet Hein moves up on trace of the Java (center left, with Ford and Pope at bottom left)...

And the Hein fires her torpedoes (bottom center left, white bead)!

The USS Ford moves up (left center, with Pope at bottom left)...

And launches her (bottom center, with Hein at right, Oshio and Asashio above her) torpedoes at the western Japanese transport (top center left)...

And then the USS Pope (center, just below the Ford) does the same.

*So, the fight has barely started and two Japanese destroyers and one ABDA cruiser and three destroyers have already cut loose with their torpedoes, the Japanese targeting the ABDA cruisers and the ABDA ships targeting the Japanese troopships.  Whaddaya think?  Is that goofy, or what you would expect?  To me it seems like what you would expect, just a little early, but these fights have been kinda fast and furious.

In the north, aboard the Japanese division leader, the Arashio, the Captain rallies his troops, then pushes his vessel up behind the cover of the island of Lembongan.

As Arashio's damage control parties get to work (center), Michishio fires up her boilers and pours on the speed (right), looking to shoot the gap between Lembongan and Ceningan.

An overview, looking west to east, with the ABDA force (center/right) charging into the Japanese western force (far left) and northern force (top left).  The Japanese troopships push east (top), looking to reach open ocean, but damn if there ain't a lot of torpedoes in the water looking to make sure that doesn't happen.  Of course, there are quite a few in the water searching for the Dutch cruisers, too.

The time on deck is 2225, and the Java's watch spots torpedoes in the water!!!  The ship (center, with Asashio at left and De Ruyter at right) takes evasive action.

And then shoots forward (top center), cutting off the escape of the western troopship (top left) and crossing the 'T' on the Japanese northern force top right).

Java's (bottom center) 6" rifles speak, putting a second damage on the Japanese flagship, Arashio (top center)!

Alerted by the Java (far right, with the northern Japanese troopship and the stricken Arashio at bottom right), the De Ruyter (far left) spots enemy torpedoes in the water and cuts hard to port, into the spread.  But as they do this, the Michishio shoots the gap between the two islands (center left) and fires her torpedoes at the De Ruyter at point blank range!  This is the classic torpedo attack maneuver, putting the De Ruyter with torpedoes off each beam.  Not looking good...

Having fired her torpedoes, the Michishio then speeds up (center) and zooms past the De Ruyter (left) in order to avoid a collision!

From the southwest, the USS Pope's skipper gets a wild hair up his butt; taking advantage of the darkness and the confusion, he rings up flank speed and dashes up the left flank (top left), hugging the coastline of Bali to slip by the Japanese Western Force destroyers (center).

The Pope cuts in behind the Oshio at point blank range, but the darkness and confusion have taken their toll on the Americans too, apparently, as no hits are scored!!!

The Captain of the Ford decides to take a more direct approach, moving up (left, with Pope at top left) and closing on the Oshio (just above Ford, with Asashio at center top and the Dutch destroyer, Hein, at bottom center right).

There the Ford's gunners open up at point blank range, but they miss too, though the near misses are enough to shock the Japanes crewmen.

With the American destroyers to the west (far left), the Hein pushes straight up into the mess (center, with Java at top center right and Michishio at far right)...

There the Hein (bottom center) goes toe to toe with the Asashio (center, with Oshio above her, Ford at top left, Pope at top right), doing what the US sailors can't seem to do, which is score some hits, damaging the Japanese destroyer.

As the Asashio (bottom center) is hit, the Oshio tries to rally and fails (left), but still opens fire on the USS Ford (top center left), damaging it!

But at 2230 violent explosions rent the night sky as the torpedoes from the Ford and Pope strike the Japanese western troopship, which is now sinking.

And then the same happens to the northern Japanese troopship, with four torpedoes from the Java and Hein striking it, irreparably damaging it, with the Arashio burning nearby.

But it's not all bad news for the Japanese: as their northern troopship sinks beneath the waves (top center left), a single torpedo from the Oshio strikes the Java (bottom left), but in some freak circumstance of war, the initial detonation is immediately followed by a catastrophic explosion which breaks the Dutch light cruiser in half, the two pieces lingering for several minutes before pitching skyward and sliding to a watery grave!!!

And further disaster awaits the ABDA flagship: the Java has just blown up (off camera to left), and the Asashio's torpedoes converge on the De Ruyter (center, with Michishio at left and Arashio at top left).  Only one torpedo hits, but the damage is catastrophic and the Dutch cruiser immediately begins settling by the stern.  Crew members rush topside and begin throwing themselves into the warm Pacific ocean...

With the De Ruyter stopped quite abruptly, the Michishio's torpedoes, coming from the east, sail harmlessly by.

Wow, only one hit on each of the Dutch cruisers, but then I rolled a six followed by another six (on a D6, in each case) to kill the two cruisers.  So ABDA has accomplished its mission of destroying the Japanese troopships (even though they'd already deposited their soldiers on Bali), but at the terrible cost of losing both their cruisers.  And the fight's not even over yet...

The Asashio's skipper gets to work trying to rally his crew and get the damage control party to work: he's successful on the former, but not the latter, and in the interim his ship drifts  dangerously close to the Oshio (both at center, with Asashio on the left, Hein at top left and Ford at bottom right, Pope just off camera to bottom center right).

In the northeast, the Japanese division leader, the Arashio, steams south (left), away from the location of the northern troopship's sinking (right).  The Japanese skipper rallies his crew and even manages for his damage control party to make repairs, removing one level of damage.

The time on deck is 2235, and already both Japanese troopships have been sunk, as have both Dutch cruisers!  In the northwest, the USS Ford tries to rally and repair damage, but fails at both, its crew (left, with white wake, USS Pope to their left, Hein at far right) more concerned with the two Japanese destroyers nearby (bottom center).

The Ford (bottom center) again fires on the Ohsio, and again the Ford's gunners fail to score!!!

As the Ford's gunners are screwing up (bottom left), the Pope comes around center top left, nearing the Hein, at center, and the Michishio at far right), looking to get its guns into the fight.

The Pope's gunners range in on the Asashio, scoring several hits and putting a second level of damage on the Japanese destroyer.

The Pope (bottom left) continues firing on the Asashio (top center left) until it becomes masked by the Hein (left), nearing the location of the Java's sinking, hoping to get there and search for survivors (just off camera to bottom left).

As Pope (center left top) nears the Java's last location, the Hein pulls ahead and turns hard to starboard (center top), pulling broadside with the Michishio (right center)...

The Dutch gunners open fire, but this time they fail to hit, though the near misses do manage to rattle the enemy crew.

With his ship still beaten up a bit, and fearful of the encroaching Dutch destroyer (center top, with Pope to her left), the Captain of the Arashio (far right, with Michishio at center) pushes his stricken ship further south, seeking shelter amongst the islands.

Narrowly avoiding collision with the Oshio, the skipper of the Asashio (bottom center right) pushes his ship forward, but he's unable to rally his sailors or repair any of the damage to his ship.

And just in time, as the Oshio creeps forward, cutting across the Asashio's wake!  The Asashio's crew is also unable to rally, probably too worried about crashing into their sister and heading to Davey Jones' locker...

Having dodged the Asashio (bottom left), the Oshio, which seems to have a lucky rabbit's foot, a horeshoe, and a four-leaf clover tucked away somewhere (fired at three times at point blank range and not hit once!), pulls around to port, heading towards the eastern islands (right, just below the Michishio).

But the Oshio is not just content to get out of harm's way, they (bottom right, with Michishio just above her) open fire on the USS Pope (top left, with Hein ahead of her, top right), damaging the US destroyer!

The Captain of the Michishio (center left, with Oshio just below her) rallies his crew and keeps his ship on course, straight through the mess.

Before themselves opening fire on the Pope, seriously damaging her!

The time on deck is now 2240, and the skipper of the Pope has had enough!  He tries to rally his crew, but they're not having it, and he knows they are only another few hits away from being dead in the water or heading to the bottom: they ring up all possible speed and dash east (top center, with Hein just below her), forgoing the mission to rescue the Java's survivors (cotton at center top, with the cotton puffs at far left and top center right being for the sunken Japanese troopships, and the cotton puff at far right marking the sunken De Ruyter) as all efforts are now devoted to simply escaping.

*The Pope failed its rally and is out of the fight, looking for the exits.

With the Pope dashing east, the Captain of the Michishio valiantly dashes west (bottom left), placing his ship between the stricken Asashio (just below her) and the USS Ford (far left).

The Michishio opens fire at point blank range on the USS Ford; they score no hits, but two 5" shells land dangerously close to the US destroyer, showering the decks with shrapnel and water...

The Ford immediately begins laying smoke and conducting evasive maneuvers, looking to escape the battle area (top center, from far left), following the Pope (top right, with Hein just below her)!!!

*The two near misses put two more shock on the US destroyer, pushing her to three, at which point the unit must withdraw from the fight.

The Oshio tries to rally but fails (center bottom)...

Then adds insult to injury when she fires on the Hein (center left, with the stricken Pope just above her) and damages the Dutch ship...

The Oshio then dashes through the channel and cuts right (far right), near the Arashio, which is still licking its wounds.

In the west, the Michishio (center right) has chased off the Ford (top center, with Pope and Hein at top right), but the Asashio (bottom left) is still in a bad way.  Her Captain lays smoke and dashes for the cover beyond Cape Tafel; their damage control party manages to provide some repairs, removing one level of damage.

And with that, the first battle of Badung Strait is finished.  The Japanese begin to reform and repair themselves in the west (far left; Asashio and Michishio are there, Arashio and Michishio are making their way there, center and bottom right, respectively), while the ABDA force retires to the northeast (top right).  ABDA accomplished its mission of destroying the Japanese troopships, but at the incredible price of both cruisers engaged.  Even worse, the ABDA destroyers were forced to flee the area without picking up the survivors from the Java and De Ruyter.

But more ABDA forces are enroute as we speak, their mission: to rescue their comrades from the sunken Dutch cruisers.  Which is the next fight, and coming right up!

The rules are working like a champ, but I do want to slow things down just a tad.  I'm only playing on a 3' x 3' table (my 8' x 6' table is covered with other stuff right now), and the current move rates are a bit too ambitious, so I'm going to halve them for the next fight and see how that goes.



  1. "*So, the fight has barely started and two Japanese destroyers and one ABDA cruiser and three destroyers have already cut loose with their torpedoes, the Japanese targeting the ABDA cruisers and the ABDA ships targeting the Japanese troopships. Whaddaya think? Is that goofy, or what you would expect? To me it seems like what you would expect, just a little early, but these fights have been kinda fast and furious."

    Given the small physical area you're playing on relative to the size of the models and ranges, no. Basically it's compressed everything into starting right at the sharp end!

    I suspect you'll see a difference when you halve the fire & movement ranges... (or clear your big table!).

    Good stuff, very fast and furious.

    1. TP

      Thanks buddy, I appreciate you providing your perspective. You'll see the next fight in a few days; I halved the ranges. It provided for just a little bit of pre-fight maneuver, a little more developed, but still plenty fast and furious. I think I like it, felt better than ships flying past each other, just stopping to fire on the way by.


    2. Pleasure! Destroyer action should be fast and furious but that looks a bit *too* fast :D Will look forward to the next bat rep with range tweaks :)

    3. TP,

      I should be able to hang the next batrep tomorrow morning. I thought I played a little slower, but the two sides still charged and got 'stuck in' pretty damn quick! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.


    4. Did it "feel" a bit less hyper? You don't want to make it into some sort of wombling, slow motion treacle race :D

    5. No, it still felt furious, but it didn't feature ships zooming past each other.


  2. This is fantastic stuff. Just tuning into this, so might have missed it, but are you using your own rules?

    1. Duc,

      Thanks buddy, and yeah, I'm using my own rules. Actually, I'm using someone else's rules, but I've modified them as they are not designed for naval gaming ;) More to come on the rules as I get things figured out.