Hi guys! This was the third 500pt USN vs IJN battle that my brother and I have played – myself once again taking the plucky Japanese against the undefeated might of the USN. Had time to finish off painting the US carriers and finally painted up Chikuma for some extra torp spammage, although North Carolina still needed her camo painted and the Catalina and Mitchell finishing off.
Here’s the forces involved :
Along with the torp boosting Chikuma, I also wore this (hopefully!) luck boosting t-shirt ^__^ :
I won the initiative, as I would in every single turn of the game XD. As expected, the American carriers launched a full attack on Kaga and Akagi, although instead of concentrating a second attack on Soryu, the rest of their planes were wasted in separate attacks which were all beaten back by AA. I had strong fighter cover over my carriers, but even with the element of suprise, my Zeke pilots were torn from the skies by the veteran Hellcat jockeys. This sacrifice did allow my George squadron to destroy the Hellcats in turn though. For the third game running, my Zeros were unable to destroy (or even abort!) the Catalina.
Streams of AA fire from Kaga and Akagi forced 2 of the squadrons attacking them to abort their runs, however a third squadron found a gap in Akagi’s defences and was able to damage her. Following this up from a distance, the US Mitchell squadron punched through Akagi’s hull with their 75mm cannon, leaving the big carrier wreathed in flames :
My own carrier squadrons had found the US carriers as this was happening, 3 squadrons of Judy bombers peeling off to dive down on the exposed Saratoga. However I hadn’t reckoned on the long-ranged AA from USS Laffey and San Diego – the Americans had been using the lone Saratoga as bait! Thankfully the two Judy squadrons pressed the attack without any difficulty, a success only marred by Hellcats pouncing on the third squadron and annihilating them. After the smoke had cleared, the sturdy Saratoga had suffered only minor damage :
Elsewhere, my Jills crippled San Fransisco (rolling only 1 ‘6’ in 18 dice…), and Chitose’s scoutplanes had an amazing run of luck, destroying USS Archerfish outright!
Turn 2 saw the surface combatants from both fleets continue to close on one another from behind the cover of a large island :
As expected, the main action came in the air phases, and this time my carriers bore the full brunt of the attack, Kaga being finished off as well as Soryu and her escort being sunk. I lost another fighter squadron to the marauding Hellcats, although at least I finally destroyed the seemingly blessed Catalinas! :
2 carriers down, and this time I was relying on my Jill squadrons to even the odds a bit. They didn’t let me down, sinking the Saratoga and even managing a long-range strike on the Enterprise! :
Away from the carrier strikes, Chitose’s floatplanes continued their fine form in crippling the Phelps, while my Judys finished off San Francisco. Musashi cleared her guns in firing on USS Baltimore, but Hoel’s quick action in laying a smoke screen protected the heavy cruiser from any harm.
This turn the surface fleets both moved past the large island and into sight of one another, although Nagato’s engineers were unable to coax enough speed from her, falling behind the rest of the fleet. Crucially, USS Hoel surged forward: if she could lay enough smoke at just the right moment, she would be able to deny much of the Japanese fleet the chance to target the larger US ships.
Thankfully, the Emily pilot spotted the danger and radioed Hoel’s location to Kaga’s air-group – squadrons of Jills making it past the quickly scrambled Wildcats to sink the destroyer before it could make smoke (phew!).
Kaga had some respite this turn as the American squadrons were concentrating on the more immediate threat of Musashi – one of the squadrons making a successful attack run on the giant superbattleship, while the Hellcat squadron scythed the newly returned Georges from the skies: they’d now destroyed a fighter squadron in each of the three turns so far!
In the surface attack phase, the Americans were able to sink 3 destroyers, but were rocked when Musashi’s hideously accurate plunging shellfire penetrated down to Iowa’s magazine, ripping the ship apart in a thunderous explosion. Following up this devastating attack, Nagato targeted the North Carolina, hitting the ship with some of its volley, the other shells coming in dangerously close (one more success and I would have Vitalled her too!) :
Still worse was to come, as the Japanese subs had the damaged Enterprise in their sites, and with Chitose’s seaplanes having taken out the nearby destroyer, the sub skippers were able to finish the American carrier off :
This turn the remaining US surface combatants sought cover in the cloud banks, while the Japanese pressed closer. Both sides through their aircraft into the melee, however it was to be the surface ships that did the most damage – and after the smoke had cleared, the Americans had lost North Carolina to a swarm of Long Lance torpedoes, along with the Baltimore & Phelps, Alaska taking a beating and coming out crippled. In return, the Japanese lost 2 heavy cruisers and a destroyer, but importantly made it through the turn with only minor damage to their own battleships :
(Chitose’s planes also finished off Fletcher :-D)
Without any of their own heavy units left to challenge the 2 Japanese battleships, the Americans were relying on the returning carrier planes to do some damage this turn. Unforunately for them, while both attacking Helldiver squadrons were able to damage Nagato in their bombing runs, neither attack found its way into the battleship’s vitals :
Although the Americans were able to destroy Yahagi and Terutsuki, Alaska and Montpelier were also sunk, and faced with the prospect of the orphaned Japanese carrier groups returning next turn, plus their last carrier being caught between submarines on one hand and battleships on the other, the American admiral conceded defeat :
Losing Iowa & a 2nd carrier in turn 3 was certainly devastating for the Americans, up until that point I had been holding my own in the air phases but it was really still anyone’s game. Hoel not surviving the air attack phase to pop smoke didn’t turn out to be as vital as it appeared at the time, since my long-lance ships that turn were a disappointment (soon to be redeemed in turn 4 with the sinking of North Carolina!).
Have to say that Chitose’s planes were amazing this game, managing to account for a sub and 2 destroyers, and crippling another 2 destroyers! There was not a turn of the game where they didn’t do some damage!
Looks like next game will be a huge American/UK vs Japan battle royale. Time to get some more Japanese carriers finished! Not to mention Yamato!!!