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  • #121322

    Just Jack
    Participant

    All,

    1040
    7 May 1942

    Greetings, and welcome to my return to the Pacific!  Both the US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy are on the prowl in the southwestern Pacific; the Japanese have their eyes on Australia, or at least cutting off the lines of communication between the US and Australia, and the Americans are looking to not allow that to happen.  On 3-4 May 1942, while fighting raged on New Guinea, the Japanese attempted secure their flank, sending an invasion fleet into the Solomon Islands to put troops ashore on Tulagi (across the channel from Guadalcanal), in order to conduct an amphibious assault on Port Moresby on 10 May.

    But the Americans noted the Japanese invasion force in the Solomons, and the USS Yorktown launched strike aircraft that sunk or damaged several Japanese warships, though now the Japanese were aware the US carriers were in the vicinity, made doubly worse by the fact the Americans were shorthanded: they had only the Yorktown and the Lexington in the area because the Hornet and Enterprise had just returned to Pearl Harbor following the Doolittle Raid.  These were faced by the Japanese fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku, and the light carrier Shoho.  The two opposing forces marshalled their troops, refueled, consolidated, and began searching in earnest for each other.

    Both sides made various, confused sightings of the other sides’ forces, mostly believing they’d found each other’s carriers when they hadn’t.  At 0915 on 7 May, Japanese aircraft found the US fleet oiler Neosho and the destroyer Sims (earlier reported by scout aircraft as the US carriers), sinking the latter and badly damaging the former, leaving it dead in the water, later to be scuttled.  At 1040 that same morning, the US strike aircraft from Lexington and Yorktown spotted a Japanese task force.  Believing they’d found the Japanese carriers, they assumed attack formation and descended on the enemy ships, only then realizing they’d found a Japanese surface force with the light carrier, Shoho, attached.

    The VF-63 “Killer Pelicans,” led by Lieutenant Case, an Ace after the squadron’s combat debut in the Dutch East Indies, were now embarked upon the USS Lexington.  Lt Case had broken the squadron up, one six plane division devoted to strike escort, the other two divisions dedicated to Combat Air Patrol, protecting their floating home base.  The six strike escorts, led by Lt Case, lifted off, aiming to protect the SBD Dauntlesses of VB-2 and VS-2 (the two dive bomber squadrons, “Bombing 2” and “Scouting 2”), and the TBD Devastators of VT-2 (the torpedo squadron, or “Torpedo 2”), but the strike package was jumbled, the Americans not yet having ironed out all the kinks of carrier operations.  This resulted in the Devastators forming up first and immediately departing without escort, then the SBDs, and lastly Lt Case’s six Wildcats, making for a very difficult escort mission!


    This is my arena for aerial combat; simple, yet durable and, to me, beautiful (in a simple, durable way).  I’m using tiny aircraft designed by my buddy Thomaston; not sure what size they are, just that they are much smaller than 1/600.  They’re 3D printed models that I mounted on cut-down bases from Litko, and I’m using a very simple rules system called “Battle of Britain,” which I found for free over on The Miniatures Page (I’ve already played a good 20 or so fights with them).  North is left, where the Japanese carrier Shoho is present, as is her six-plane CAP, while at right, approaching from the south, is the Lexington’s strike group, minus the Devastator torpedo planes, which have been unable to locate the target.


    The US strike formation, from top:
    Ensign Riggins, a rookie pilot on his first hop
    Lt(jg) Casey, a regular with two kills in two sorties, and Riggins’ section leader.
    The six SBD Dauntless dive bombers, which are referred to as Bomber 1 through 6
    Ensign Warren, another rookie on his first hop
    Ensign Didier, one more rookie on his first hop

    Of course, missing from this fight are Lt Case, the Ace squadron leader, and Ensign Dahlgren, a regular with one kill.  They missed this fight as they were searching for the Devastators, then tallied on a Japanese aircraft a few miles back that ducked into some clouds.  By the time Lt Case and Ens Dahgren gave up the search, this fight was over.*

    *Strike missions only get four fighter escorts, so this is the back story to explain why Lt Case and Ens Dahlgren are not in the fight.  And if you’re wondering why I played three rookies and left out these two, it’s because I rolled dice to see which US pilots would be in the fight, and this is how it turned out.  Not optimal, by any means, but it does mean Lt Case and Ens Dahlgren will definitely be in the escort fight(s) on Day 2.


    The Japanese Combat Air Patrol, looking to protect their home base from those pesky Yank fliers.  I made a big mistake by listening to Thomaston, which will soon become apparent, and rolled up pilot experience for the Japanese.  To refresh your memory, pilot experience goes: Rookie, Regular, Veteran, Ace, and Natural Born Killer.  Based on the fact that some of these Japanese pilots have been flying, and fighting, for years, I rolled it so that a pilot had about an 8% chance of being a Rookie, and it went up from there, all the way to Natural Born Killer.  So, here we go, from the top:
    Zero 3: Regular
    Zero 1: Natural Born Killer
    Zero 2: Regular
    Zero 6: Ace
    Zero 4: Ace
    Zero 5: Regular

    Perfect, right?  The Japanese Zeros are already getting a +1 for being superior (in terms of maneuverability and climb) to the F4F Wildcats, and now the pilots are markedly better in terms of quality.


    The Zeros showed up hungry and are chowing down…


    The Yorktown Dauntlesses plant three 500 pounders on the flight deck of the Shoho.

    To see how the dogfight went, please check the blog at:
    https://oldleadbreed.blogspot.com/2019/09/coral-sea-day-1-fight-1.html

    The Lexington and Yorktown still had scouting patrols out to locate new enemy targets.  The scouts had identified a surface warfare task force and a transport task force (carrying the Japanese ‘South Seas Detachment,’ the Port Moresby invasion force), but with the enemy carriers still not located, Admiral Fletcher decided to hold off on launching another strike.

    The US had sent a surface warfare task force north, which was promptly located by the Japanese.  The Japanese carriers were still waiting on their strike force (which hit the Sims and Neosho) to return, so Admiral Inoue ordered two groups of bombers from Rabaul to attack.  At 1435 they did, without effect, as did an errant flight of US Army B-17s…  The US surface force then promptly withdrew.

    Admiral Inoue very aggressively continued to scout for the US carriers, and at 1515, when the strike force that hit the Sims and Neosho returned, he even quickly rearmed them and sent them south, certain his scouts would locate the US carriers, and then he could vector the strike force to them.  But it was not to be; the Japanese scouts were unable to locate the US carriers, but the strike force, flying bling in bad weather, stumbled close enough to them that the Lexington and Yorktown were able to vector their CAP over to intercept.  At 1747 the US Wildcats tore the Japanese strike force a new one, sending the survivors back north, scrambling to safety without ever having seen the US carriers!

    And that is the next fight!

    V/R,
    Jack

    #121323
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Huzzah, back to the Pacific!!! Damn you need to change the Zero and Wildcat stats!!! Cool little Japanese carrier too!!!

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by kyoteblue kyoteblue.
    #121327
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Great AAR and as you say, not pretty for the Americans…

    The thing about deflection shooting is interesting and I have been looking at it myself.  Maybe consider just ditching the deflection penalty for the USMC/USN pilots as a simple way of reflecting the tactics.  I think that giving the Wildcat a strength benefit looks a good idea, but I thought the proposed step change looked a bit big (maybe keep it to 1 ‘pip’ difference).  I might limit the “avoidance” benefit of experience/ability to only work against forward-fixed guns (i.e. other fighters), so that defensive fire always has a chance.  I think this would be more realistic as well, since lining up on a bomber doesn’t allow for the exercise of skill in the same way as in a dogfight in which both aircraft are continually adjusting.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #121345

    Thomaston
    Participant

    Mwahahahahaha, sounds about right to me. You kinda cheat in the end instead of launching another strike.
    I wonder how it’d go if you had TDB and SBD all together and the full 6 F4F escorts, might have had better result, but probably too big a game to handle.

    Tired is enough.

    #121370

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Kyote John- It’s too late now, I’ve played four fights already, and it’s been ugly.  The carrier is an Axis and Allies War at Sea model (prepainted) stuff is my favorite 😉

    Whirlwind John- Regarding deflection, I left everything the same except full deflection, which I bumped +1 (hitting on 5+, starting on the third fight).

    Regarding Wildcat strength, I dunno, I think the self-sealing tanks and cockpit armor is actually a pretty big deal.  You read about countless US pilots nursing beat up aircraft home, while their aircraft getting hit was pretty much a death sentence for Zero pilots.  I think it comes out in the wash as a second hit on the Wildcat still automatically downs it.  And if it’s cheating a little bit for the US, I’m okay with that, too, particularly given the fact this is a campaign where pilot skill and pilot losses carry over.

    I agree about the ‘avoidance’ bonus, I’m only applying that to dogfights, not intercepting bombers, though I am giving Vets, Aces, and NBKs a bonus when they are conducting defensive fire (which makes going head to head really a bad idea!).

    Thomaston- You bastard, laughing at my pain!  There shall be retribution 😉

    I didn’t cheat, I just kept the script to real life (the Shoho was really sunk on 7 May) giving the credit to the Yorktown, rather than my fliers on the Lexington (who clearly lost the game).

    Having the entire strike group together is a great idea, but it’s way too big.  The US strike was 18 Wildcats, 53 Dauntlesses, and 22 Devastators, so not happening.  I did briefly consider having the 7 May strike be three fights:

    -4 Wildcats escort six Dauntlesses of Scouting 2

    -4 Wildcats escort six Dauntlesses of Bombing 2

    -the surviving Wildcats (hmmph, if any!) escort six Devastators of Torpedo 2 (though I’d have to use Avengers as I didn’t buy any Devastators)

    But then I realized I’d have to do it all again for 8 May, and then I’d have to do the same thing for the Japanese!  Not only would I likely not have any airplanes left after that, but that would stretch my current plan of seven fights to 12.

    Which is a bit much, with all the stuff I’ve got going on. Plus I’m trying to get to Guadalcanal, and still have to do Midway and some New Guinea before I can get there.  And once there the Marine Wildcats are going to take center stage in a campaign that’s going to go on forever…

    V/R,

    Jack

    #121867

    Just Jack
    Participant

    All,

    1747
    7 May 1942

    Greetings, and welcome to my return to the Pacific! Both the US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy are on the prowl in the southwestern Pacific; the Japanese have their eyes on Australia, or at least cutting off the lines of communication between the US and Australia, and the Americans are looking to not allow that to happen. On 3-4 May 1942, while fighting raged on New Guinea, the Japanese attempted secure their flank, sending an invasion fleet into the Solomon Islands to put troops ashore on Tulagi (across the channel from Guadalcanal), in order to conduct an amphibious assault on Port Moresby on 10 May.

    But the Americans noted the Japanese invasion force in the Solomons, and the USS Yorktown launched strike aircraft that sunk or damaged several Japanese warships, though now the Japanese were aware the US carriers were in the vicinity, made doubly worse by the fact the Americans were shorthanded: they had only the Yorktown and the Lexington in the area because the Hornet and Enterprise had just returned to Pearl Harbor following the Doolittle Raid. These were faced by the Japanese fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku, and the light carrier Shoho. The two opposing forces marshalled their troops, refueled, consolidated, and began searching in earnest for each other.

    This morning, Lt(jg) Casey led the fighter escort for the Lexington strike force which, combined with the Yorktown’s strike force, managed to sink the Japanese light carrier Shoho. But the Killer Pelicans’ escorts had a rough go: they downed three Zeros and damaged another, but they lost one Wildcat, had the other three damaged, and five of their six assigned dive bombers were shot down, the sixth returning to the Lexington, damaged. Lt Casey scored two more kills to become a Veteran (total of four kills), but he was shot down and badly wounded, which will cause him to miss the Battle of Midway.

    Admiral Inoue very aggressively continued to scout for the US carriers, and at 1515, when the strike force that hit the Sims and Neosho returned, he even quickly rearmed them and sent them south, certain his scouts would locate the US carriers, and then he could vector the strike force to them. But it was not to be; the Japanese scouts were unable to locate the US carriers, but the strike force, flying bling in bad weather, stumbled close enough to them that the Lexington and Yorktown were able to vector their CAP over to intercept. At 1747, Lt(jg) Fitzsimmons led aloft the Lexington’s Wildcats to intercept the Japanese, which still (and never would) had not spotted the US carriers!


    This is my arena for aerial combat; simple, yet durable and, to me, beautiful (in a simple, durable way). I’m using tiny aircraft designed by my buddy Thomaston; not sure what size they are, just that they are much smaller than 1/600. They’re 3D printed models that I mounted on cut-down bases from Litko, and I’m using a very simple rules system called “Battle of Britain,” which I found for free over on The Miniatures Page (I’ve already played a good 20 or so fights with them). South is left, where the Japanese strike group is present, while at right, approaching from the north, is the Lexington’s CAP, the Lexington herself present to the west.


    And that is a lot of bogeys! Sporting some real teeth, too: a Natural Born Kiler, an Ace, and two Regulars are escorting the Vals and Kates.


    The Wildcats are working together to get it done, and for the first time I find myself awarding a 1/2 kill.


    But still tough to deal with those nimble Zeros and their very experienced pilots.


    The remaining Japanese pilots made it home safely (even though, after dark, some got confused and tried to land on the Lexington!) and are rearing to go for the engagements sure to happen tomorrow.

    Both sides carried out preparation for battle throughout the night, then launched scouts shortly after 0600 the next morning, to find the other side’s carriers. The Americans got lucky first, sighting the Japanese carriers at 0820, though the Japanese were only two minutes behind. Both sides hurried to turn into the wind and launch their strike groups! The Japanese launched 18 fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo bombers, while the Yorktown and Lexington launched a combined 15 Wildcats, 39 Dauntlesses, and 21 Devastators, though the Lexington’s contingent was about 10 minutes behind the Yorktown’s.

    At 1055 the Lexington’s air search radar acquired the inbound Japanese strike group at a range of 68 nautical miles and vectored nine Wildcats to intercept, while the Lexington strike group arrived over the Shokaku and Zuikaku at 1130, facing a Japanese CAP of 13 Zeros, and went into the attack.

    Coming right up!

    V/R,
    Jack

    #121914

    Thomaston
    Participant

    One of those Zeros should have been called Green 1.

    Tired is enough.

    #121923

    Just Jack
    Participant

    When I get back to South Leon, Green 01 is going to become a smoking hole in the ground!

    V/R,

    Jack

    #121928
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    So did the Navy Flyers see off the Japanese??

    #121929

    Just Jack
    Participant

    I just realized I had not added a link to the fight:
    https://oldleadbreed.blogspot.com/2019/09/coral-sea-day-1-fight-2.html?m=1

    V/R,
    Jack

    #121932
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I thought something was missing.

     

    #121933
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    You were right Jack, these first 2 fights are ugly for the USN.

    #122061

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Told you it was ugly…

    V/R,

    Jack

    #122071
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Two more ugly fights and then what???

    #122077
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Ouch! That one hurt…good thing that those Wildcats are quite tough or it might have been even worse! Good report though…

    That advantage for the Japanese master (3+ rather than 5+ on his shot) seems quite chunky – can you walk me through the mechanics of that one please?

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #122656

    Just Jack
    Participant

    All,

    1113
    8 May 1942

    Greetings, and welcome to my return to the Pacific!  Both the US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy are on the prowl in the southwestern Pacific; the Japanese have their eyes on Australia, or at least cutting off the lines of communication between the US and Australia, and the Americans are looking to not allow that to happen.  On 3-4 May 1942, while fighting raged on New Guinea, the Japanese attempted secure their flank, sending an invasion fleet into the Solomon Islands to put troops ashore on Tulagi (across the channel from Guadalcanal), in order to conduct an amphibious assault on Port Moresby on 10 May.

    But the Americans noted the Japanese invasion force in the Solomons, and the USS Yorktown launched strike aircraft that sunk or damaged several Japanese warships, though now the Japanese were aware the US carriers were in the vicinity, made doubly worse by the fact the Americans were shorthanded: they had only the Yorktown and the Lexington in the area because the Hornet and Enterprise had just returned to Pearl Harbor following the Doolittle Raid.  These were faced by the Japanese fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku, and the light carrier Shoho.  The two opposing forces marshalled their troops, refueled, consolidated, and began searching in earnest for each other.

    Yesterday morning, Lt(jg) Casey led the fighter escort for the Lexington strike force which, combined with the Yorktown’s strike force, managed to sink the Japanese light carrier Shoho.  But the Killer Pelicans’ escorts had a rough go: they downed three Zeros and damaged another, but they lost one Wildcat, had the other three damaged, and five of their six assigned dive bombers were shot down, the sixth returning to the Lexington, damaged.  Lt Casey scored two more kills to become a Veteran (total of four kills), but he was shot down and badly wounded, which will cause him to miss the Battle of Midway.

    Yesterday evening, Lt(jg) Fitzsimmons led aloft the Lexington’s Wildcats to intercept a Japanese strike group that was searching for, but not locating, the US carriers.  Lt Fitzsimmons got separated and never found the enemy force, leaving a bevy of rookie Ensigns to do battle alone, and it did not work out well.  Four of the six Wildcats were shot down, and the other two damaged, with the Americans managing to shoot down only three of the ten enemy aircraft.

    Both sides carried out preparation for battle throughout the night, then launched scouts shortly after 0600 the next morning, to find the other side’s carriers.  The Americans got lucky first, sighting the Japanese carriers at 0820, though the Japanese were only two minutes behind.  Both sides hurried to turn into the wind and launch their strike groups!  The Japanese launched 18 fighters, 33 dive bombers, and 18 torpedo bombers, while the Yorktown and Lexington launched a combined 15 Wildcats, 39 Dauntlesses, and 21 Devastators, though the Lexington’s contingent was about 10 minutes behind the Yorktown’s.

    At 1055 the Lexington’s air search radar acquired the inbound Japanese strike group at a range of 68 nautical miles and vectored nine Wildcats to intercept; it was 1113 local time when Lt(jg) Fitzsimmons again led the Lexington CAP into battle.  And this time he found the enemy!


    This is my arena for aerial combat; simple, yet durable and, to me, beautiful (in a simple, durable way).  I’m using tiny aircraft designed by my buddy Thomaston; not sure what size they are, just that they are much smaller than 1/600.  They’re 3D printed models that I mounted on cut-down bases from Litko, and I’m using a very simple rules system called “Battle of Britain,” which I found for free over on The Miniatures Page (I’ve already played a good 20 or so fights with them).  Left is north, with the Japanese strike group there, and right is south, with the American CAP and the USS Lexington there.


    The Japanese super ace jinks his way in, then lays into Lt Allen’s Wildcat, pumping 20mm rounds into the stubby little Grumman.


    A Wildcat splashes into the warm blue water as a Zero pulls an Immelman, moving to splash a second.


    The Zeros continue to abuse the Wildcats, as the Kates press home their attack.


    The Kates split their formation and execute a classic hammer and anvil torpedo attack.

    To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
    https://oldleadbreed.blogspot.com/2019/09/coral-sea-day-2-fight-3.html

    Out of the frying pan, into the fire: the FDO comes on the radio to rally all airborne Wildcats, vectoring them onto a new radar contact believed to be the Japanese strike group’s Val dive bombers, following the torpedo bombers in to strike the Yorktown and finish off the Lexington.

    And that’s the next fight.

    V/R,
    Jack

    #122660
    Dave Crowe
    Dave Crowe
    Participant

    Awesome stuff. I really like your nice clean blue surface and great little acrylic explosion counters and motion marking pipecleaners. It all contributes to a very visually appealing game.

     

    Great work on the history too. Really bringing the Pacific theatre to life in a tiny way.

    #122662
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Oh man, that sucked. I hope the USN can put up a better fight next time.

    #122697

    Thomaston
    Participant

    I thought the skill modifiers were pretty severe when you proposed it. But I’m OK with this result. These were Rookies vs Aces and NBK. We’re just used to seeing it the other way round.

    Maybe you could tone it down. Or add in, target defensive fire like warwell did.

    Tired is enough.

    #122724
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    May it also be a result of not using the real tactics?  IIRC the Japanese started out in formations but then would go solo during early dogfights, while the USN tried to keep their wingmen close.  Maybe make USN planes a little harder to hit if they have a friend within X squares?

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

    #122789

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Dave – Thanks man, and yeah, I’m pretty happy with the overall look.  It’s kinda simple and perhaps plain, but I like the nice, clean look of it.  And yeah, I’m trying to weave some real-life history into it, while following my fake fighter squadrons 😉  On another forum a guy asked why I let the Lexington get hit so hard; the real ships are going to have things go according to real life.

    John – Yes, it did, and me too!

    Thomaston – Yes, you’re absolutely right about the disparity in pilot experience/capability, it was always going to be nasty, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be that nasty 😉  As time goes by (Coral Sea – Midway – Santa Cruz – Eastern Solomons) the table I use to roll up Japanese pilot rating will begin to skew towards the less capable, following real life with the Japanese losing tons of experienced aircrews as carriers were sunk.  What did Warwell do different regarding defensive fire?

    Darby – Absolutely not using real-life formation/wingman tactics has an affect, but I don’t really want to mess with it as the whole point of these rules is to have a simple, action-oriented, fighter pilot-driven free for all.

    V/R,
    Jack

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