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  • #197276
    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke
    Participant

    Although I haven’t finished my Guadalcanal campaign, I’ve decided to embark on a new naval wargaming project.
    Over last summer I read two excellent books about the Pacific War that I had not read before:
    The First Team; Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway, by John B. Lundstrom; and
    Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully.
    Having recently been reading David Manley’s Find, Fix & Strike and Sam Mustafa’s Nimitz rules, both of which were designed with carrier battles in mind, the two books got me wondering whether I could game the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway with miniatures.
    The Battle of the Coral Sea seems the obvious place to start, because it’s a battle that either side could have won, because it was chronologically first and because it’s one of those battles that I have always been fascinated by.

    Rules
    My first question, which I have yet to resolve, is what set of rules to use. Both David Manley’s Find, Fix & Strike and Sam Mustafa’s Nimitz have been designed to replicate carrier operations on the tabletop. The two games are similar in scope, though Nimitz is better presented and explained.
    I think I prefer the four-hour operational game turn in Find, Fix & Strike to the eight-hour campaign game turn in Sam Mustafa’s Halsey campaign rules. I found a map of the Coral Sea originally published in Avalon Hill’s The General magazine for a Coral Sea expansion of its old Midway wargame that could work well with Find, Fix & Strike, but I’m wondering whether the greater simplification of the Halsey campaign map might be a better option.

    Naval miniaures
    My next decisions were what miniatures to use. I already had most of the warships I need for the Coral Sea campaign in 1/3000 from my Guadalcanal campaign, because most of the surface warships on both sides at the Coral Sea went on to fight in the battles of Guadalcanal.
    So the biggest gap in my order of battle was the aircraft carriers. My favourite miniature designer for 1/3000 Second World War warships is Tiny Thingamajigs. But aircraft carriers on Shapeways are painfully expensive, even in 1/3000 scale, working out at more than £10 a ship; and, for some reason, Tiny Thingamajigs doesn’t list the US carriers in 1/3000 scale anyway. So I needed other options.
    Then I remembered the Fujimi 1/3000 kits that I had considered but dismissed for my Guadalcanal campaign. While I still don’t like the unsightly thick plastic masts on the Fujimi models, the carriers are not affected by that design decision. The Pearl Harbor set contains all six Japanese pre-war fleet carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku, which even come with flight-deck decals. The kits are good value for money provided that you want most of the models included in the particular bundle, and as it happens I don’t have a Tone or a Chikuma either.

     Fujimi’s 1/3000 Pearl Harbor set includes all six Japanese fleet carriers.

    So a quick order for the Fujimi Pearl Harbor set sorted out the Japanese fleet carriers. But Fujimi doesn’t offer the American fleet carriers, or pretty much any Allied warships, in 1/3000.
    So my next question was where to get the American carriers Yorktown and Lexington, as well as the Japanese light carrier Shōhō. I decided that my best option was to order some 1/3000 Davco miniatures from Navy Models & Books.

    Davco 1/3000 miniatures come in small packets with a short description on paper.

    I added a few other ships: the American oiler Cimarron (for her sister ship Neosho) and the Japanese auxiliary Tsugaru, as well as the Enterprise and Hornet for Midway and the light carrier Ryūjō which fought at Eastern Solomons.

    A selection of Davco 1/3000 miniatures for the Pacific War: (left to right) Lexington, Yorktown x 3, Cimmaron, General John S. Pope, Ryujo, Shoho and Tsugaru.
    Left to right: Lexington, Yorktown x 3, Cimarron, General John S. Pope, Ryūjō, Shōhō and Tsugaru.

    I have been slowly painting these up.

    The carriers Lexington and Yorktown formed the core of Task Force 17
    The carriers Lexington and Yorktown formed the core of Task Force 17 at the Battle of the Coral Sea.

    The Japanese light carrier Shōhō would be the first Japanese carrier to be sunk in the Pacific War
    The Japanese light carrier Shōhō would be the first Japanese carrier to be sunk in the Pacific War.

    Aircraft miniatures
    The choice of aircraft miniatures is a bit less obvious. I could just use card or paper counters, and there are some nice ones in Nimitz. But counters spoil the visual effect of miniatures and I might as well just play a board game.
    Three flights of Swordfish attack the Italian cruisers Trento and Bolzano
    Unfortunately, aircraft in 1/3000 are ridiculously small and almost indistinguishable from one another: fine for showing aircraft on a miniature carrier deck, but far too small to game with.
    I’ve seen larger scale aircraft combined with smaller-scale ships, such as in the games by the French club Jeux d’Histoire du Ponant, and I think the visual trick works.
    For the Battle of the Coral Sea, I need Grumman F4F Wildcats, Douglas SBD Dauntlesses and Douglas TBD Devastators for the Americans and Mitsubishi A6M Type 0s, Aichi D3A Type 99s and Nakajima B5N Type 97s for the Japanese. Various other aircraft, like the Consolidated PBY Catalina and Kawanishi H6K Type 97 flying boats, would be nice to have.
    Although there are a variety of scales available, I’ve settled on 1/700 because of the availability of a large range of good quality, injection-plastic miniature naval aircraft at reasonable prices. I am slowly working my way through painting a batch of US carrier aircraft.

    #197279
    Avatar photoSchlesien
    Participant

    You may be interested; I have run Battle of the Coral Sea using the Halsey rules.  I ran the battle twice and I am currently getting ready the Battle of Eastern Solomons using the Halsey rules.  I had way too many dummy task forces for the Coral Sea games.  Ships are 1:3000 and planes are 1:700.  Table is 6′ x 4′.  If you go with the Halsey rules, I can certainly share the scenario I made up.

    This is my take on Midway with miniatures: LINK

    Pictures of Coral Sea setup:

    Eric

    #197318
    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke
    Participant

    Wow. That looks awesome. I love that you have mapped out the Coral Sea, I love the islands, and those clouds are a brilliant idea. Is Zuikaku hiding under one of them?

    You may be interested; I have run Battle of the Coral Sea using the Halsey rules.

    Definitely!

    This is my take on Midway with miniatures: LINK

    Yes. I had read your post. I am the person who commented anonymously on it. 😂

    I hope you have time to write a post about your Coral Sea games at some point. Thank you for sharing the pictures here.

    • Why do you say you had too many dummy task forces? That’s exactly the mechanic I’ve been intending to use to create a fog of war.
    • How have you mounted your aircraft?
    • Did you start your game from May 4th (Tulagi raid), May 7th or some other point?
    #197324
    Avatar photokyoteblue
    Participant

    This is excellent news I look forward to seeing your games.

    #197372
    Avatar photohammurabi70
    Participant

    Great stuff; excellent looking project.

    I have just started running a Mediterranean campaign but have adjusted HALSEY to 120-mile squares and six-hour turns.  A few queries have arisen.

    There are no rules for shore bombardment, which one would think an obvious move at Guadalcanal; did you have any?

    Aircraft ranges are poorly organized; I am currently planning a Norway campaign and have found that the rules as given allow Me109s to reach Scotland from Stavanger!  Did you find any curiosities?  I am finding that aircraft can be flown into Henderson Airfield but I thought they had to be ferried in.

    Air launched torpedoes, which had about half the explosive weight of surface launched torpedoes, have the same effect, other than the Japanese ‘Long-Lance’ torpedoes.  Of course, weight is not the only criterion for damage but it looks odd.

    Italian bombers (SM79) were sparsely equipped with torpedoes (getting a bulk delivery of 50 in August 1940 diverted from the Kriegsmarine and four a month thereafter) but there is no provision for SM79s to use bombs in the rules.  Did you find any oddities?

    Dive-bombers seem little more effective than tactical-bombers, is that appropriate?  An Me110 will have the same chance of hitting as a Vindicator and will do the same damage; the Dauntless has a 50% better chance of a hit (4+ rather than 5+).    I think the dive-bombers were a lot more dangerous than the Me110 with better chances of hitting and likely to do more damage.  Did you find any peculiarities?

    Italian bombs were lighter than British but apparently are just as effective; in practice they were barely capable of penetrating cruiser armour yet only Japanese bombs are treated as lighter.  Any similar issues in the Pacific?

    Has anyone seen these being considered online?  Or elsewhere?

    www.olivercromwell.org; www.battlefieldstrust.com
    6mm wargames group: [email protected]; 2mm wargames group: [email protected]

    #197457
    Avatar photoSchlesien
    Participant
    • Why do you say you had too many dummy task forces? That’s exactly the mechanic I’ve been intending to use to create a fog of war.
    • How have you mounted your aircraft?
    • Did you start your game from May 4th (Tulagi raid), May 7th or some other point?

    The scenario ran longer than I anticipated (twice) and most of the game was spent with neither side spotting the carriers.  The next battle I do will have less dummy markers.  Hidden markers are already hard enough to spot as it is.

    I mount my aircraft essentially on round toothpick size wooden dowels.  The dowels are painted sky blue.

    I started the scenario May 6 with the transports one square away from Rabaul.  This is based on the planned arrival date of the invasion at Port Moresby.

    Sam does mention that shore bombardment was left out of the rules purposely to focus on naval combat.  I’m sure it could be included as a victory objective that a bombardment actually was accomplished.

    I have yet to find aircraft range oddities.

    #197504
    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke
    Participant

    Great stuff; excellent looking project.

    Thank you. I am enjoying planning it. 🙂

    I have just started running a Mediterranean campaign but have adjusted HALSEY to 120-mile squares and six-hour turns. A few queries have arisen.
    Any similar issues in the Pacific? Has anyone seen these being considered online? Or elsewhere?

    Very interesting to read about your campaign and your queries. No, I haven’t seen questions like these, but that’s why I like this forum.

    I suppose every game designer has to make some compromises to make a game playable and we, the players, are not always going to agree with every compromise. A few mistakes are always likely to slip through too.

    Shore bombardment
    I have been playing my Guadalcanal as a series of linked tactical engagements using Grand Fleets rules, so I haven’t developed any shore bombardment rules.
    There are some rules on page 23 of Find, Fix & Strike if that is of any help.

    Aircraft ranges
    I am no expert on aircraft ranges, but the range of the Me 109 in Nimitz does seem surprising, as do those of the Hurricane and Spitfire which were, and are, well known for their short endurance. The Sea Hurricane and the Seafire have a shorter range in Nimitz, but the additional weight of a dinghy and a tail hook did not make that much difference.

    SM79s
    Aircraft torpedo attacks were indeed rare in the Mediterranean in 1940, but I didn’t know that was caused by a shortage of airborne torpedoes. Thank you. 🙂
    Italian torpedo aircraft were highly effective as early as 1940, crippling the British cruisers Kent in September, Liverpool in October and Glasgow in December as you probably know.
    I think you might be mistaken in saying there’s no provision for SM79s to act as level bombers: the SM79 counter in Nimitz has the bomb symbol.

    Dive bombing versus level bombing
    That’s very interesting. I have not yet looked at the air attack rules in Nimitz closely. If I read them correctly, there is no real distinction between dive bombing and level bombing.
    I’m not aware of a single successful attack on a ship by an Me 110 during the Second World War. I imagine there were a few, but that wasn’t the primary role of the aircraft. The Me 110 certainly doesn’t deserve the same anti-shipping rating as the Blackburn Skua (whose highly trained crews made up for the obsolesence of their aircraft). So, yes, I think those ratings are mistaken.
    The lower rating of the Vindicator seems a fair reflection of its relative obsolesence and the poorer training of the crews who flew Vindicators into combat in 1942.

    #197508
    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke
    Participant

    The scenario ran longer than I anticipated (twice) and most of the game was spent with neither side spotting the carriers. The next battle I do will have less dummy markers. Hidden markers are already hard enough to spot as it is.
    I mount my aircraft essentially on round toothpick size wooden dowels. The dowels are painted sky blue.
    I started the scenario May 6 with the transports one square away from Rabaul. This is based on the planned arrival date of the invasion at Port Moresby.

    Thank you! Really helpful. 🙂

    #197565
    Avatar photohammurabi70
    Participant

    Very interesting to read about your campaign and your queries. No, I haven’t seen questions like these, but that’s why I like this forum.

    Agreed!!  I am not on Facebook where I understand the HONOR forums have migrated.

    Shore bombardment

    The battleship guns were much more effective than cruiser guns but everyone seemed to want to lob some shells into Henderson Airfield.   It is frustrating not to now how to deal with this.  I am having to make arbitrary decisions on the levels of damage inflicted.

    Aircraft ranges

    Stavanger to Edinburgh is 341 miles and the Me109 is given a range of 300, so it can reach Scarpa Flow and northern Scotland.  Calais to London is 82 miles so I can see the difficulty in putting the whole area into one square but it does give very real issues at the shorter ranges.

    SM79s

    The bomb symbol only relates to bombing bases (page 87); anti-shipping is defined by having a blue number on the bottom left of the air unit counter.  The SM79 counter has two bombs, indicating a high level bomber.  I am just assuming it can do low-level anti-shipping attacks by bomb as well as torpedo, with torpedo hits treated according to the rules and assuming the bombs fall like a dive-bomber or skip bombing.  Two serious issues seem to be the explosive impact for both: is the only issue with torpedoes getting a hit and the same with bombs?  I think not because the lighter Japanese bombs are treated as having a slightly lesser effect, so I think the Italian bombs should also be so treated, and the rules significantly differentiate between Japanese Long-Lance ship based and aerial torpedoes so there ought to be some form of differentiation.

    Bombing 

    I do find the Me110 bombing idea very odd but I suspect it is there because of its use on ground targets.  I have the impression that the game is really designed for 1942 carrier battles in the Pacific, with torpedo-bomber and dive-bomber aircraft and the other theatres added subsequently.

     

    I do find positive that people are encouraged to adjust where they think the rules are wrong.  I have divided the Mediterranean into a grid of 20 x 11 120-mile squares but it is throwing up some significant queries.  Overall I am looking to run long campaigns on the Mediterranean, Arctic, Solomon Seas and Dutch East Indies but there are some oddities in each case!

     

     

    www.olivercromwell.org; www.battlefieldstrust.com
    6mm wargames group: [email protected]; 2mm wargames group: [email protected]

    #197580
    Avatar photokyoteblue
    Participant

    This is all wonderful information for naval campaigns. I need to reread Nimitz.

    #197770
    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke
    Participant

    I have made a little bit of progress on my 1/700 aircraft.

    I started with some Fujimi 1/700 US carrier aircraft that I already had (from a kit of the USS Saratoga), which contains F4F Wildcats, SBD Dauntlesses and TBF Avengers.
    Fujimi 1/700 Grumman Avengers
    First up, some 1/700 US Navy Grumman TBF Avengers on Litko bases. I know there weren’t any Avengers at the Battle of the Coral Sea. I’m never sure how best to paint aircraft canopies, but I think black works.

    Fujimi 1/700 Douglas SBD Dauntlesses
    Four Fujimi 1/700 Douglas SBD Dauntlesses, again on Litko bases. US Navy aircraft in early 1942 were usually painted in an overall blue grey. I like the decals, but they do take patience to align in the right place with the star pointing in the right direction. I am not sure whether I will take the time to add them to the sides and undersides of the aircraft.

    The insignia on these Dauntlesses is right for Midway, but not for the Coral Sea. US Navy aircraft markings were changed in May 1942, between the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, following a directive from Admiral Nimitz. The red dot in the national insignia on the wings and fuselage, which looked too much like a Japanese hinomaru, was painted out white, while the colourful red-and-white-striped tails were overpainted in blue grey.

    Unlike Japanese carrier aircraft, US carrier aircraft carried relatively few obvious squadron markings, other than each aircraft’s BuAer number and its squadron codes which are hard to show at this scale. According to Lundstrom, rather than being permanently allocated to squadrons, in the first half of 1942 US carrier aircraft were frequently switched between squadrons between operations to make up numbers, so the generic markings work well.

    Fujimi 1/700 US naval aircraft
    I have also got some Grumman F4F Wildcats done.

    For the Battle of the Coral Sea, I also need Douglas TBD Devastators. So I bought the Trumpeter 1/700 US Navy Aviation Set, which contains eight different types of aircraft, primarily for the TBD Devastators, though the F4F Wildcats, SBD Dauntlesses and B-25 Mitchells are all also useful for the Coral Sea.

    Trumpeter’s 1/700 US Navy Aviation set includes models of eight different American aircraft.
    The models are designed to look good on the deck of a 1/700 aircraft carrier. That means they come with separate wheels and propellers that make them a bit of a pain to put together.

    #197860
    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    You don’t often hear of TBDs being used in games, nor SB2Cs (though I guess we do see “float scouts” used in some, which would probably be Kingfishers).  Interesting that the Mitchells are part of the set, but a lot of people probably like to model the Doolittle raid on deck.

    The paint jobs look good from here.  I personally like the 3 color scheme, but that’s later than what you’re playing.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #197886
    Avatar photokyoteblue
    Participant

    Again useful information, thanks.

    #198158
    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke
    Participant

    The paint jobs look good from here. I personally like the 3 color scheme, but that’s later than what you’re playing.

    Thank you. 🙂 I agree about the three-colour scheme — though it would be hard to paint.

    In the mean time, I have made a little more progress on my US naval aircraft.
    I decided to paint my second batch of US carrier aircraft with the early red-white-and-blue national insignia, mostly because that is correct for the Battle of the Coral Sea (though not Midway), but also because the Trumpeter 1/700 US Navy Aviation box contains early-war decals that I otherwise wouldn’t use. The red dot in the decals is very slightly off centre, but you only see that when looking very closely. Painting tiny red-and-white striped tails sorely tested my limited painting skills.

    Trumpeter 1/700 TBD Devastators
    Six Trumpeter 1/700 Douglas TBD Devastators in early-war markings on Litko bases. I can see that my brush work was not very steady on the tails.

    Trumpeter 1/700 SBD Dauntlesses
    Four Trumpeter 1/700 Douglas SBD Dauntlesses in early-war markings. I have painted all six from the box, but only photographed these four. The close-ups are not going to win me any painting prizes. I don’t think these models really capture the essence of the Dauntless. The tails look too large to me and the panel lines on the wings seem out of scale.

    Fujimi 1/700 Douglas SBD Dauntlesses
    Six Fujimi 1/700 Douglas SBD Dauntlesses in later 1942 markings. I have eight of these done now, having shown four before. I much prefer the Fujimi rendition of the Dauntless: the shape of the tail is more accurate and I like the way the aircraft’s distinctive dive brakes have been rendered.

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