04/11/2023 at 11:55 #192233AdmiralHawkeParticipant
A little while back I played through the second engagement in my Guadalcanal campaign, repeating a scenario I had previously used to test the Grand Fleets rules.
On August 21st, 1942, two weeks after the Battle of Savo Island, Rear-Admiral Tanaka ordered the Japanese destroyers Kawakaze and Yunagi, which had been patrolling off Guadalcanal, to find and attack an enemy force of two transports and a light cruiser that had been spotted about 160 miles south of Guadalcanal by a Japanese scout plane. The destroyers found nothing.
That evening, the convoy of two American transports Alhena and Formalhaut escorted by the destroyers Blue, Helm and Henley from DesRon 4 reaches Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, with supplies for the marines ashore. The American destroyers, having brought the two transports safely to Guadalcanal, patrolled back and forth across Savo Sound while the transports unloaded.
After nightfall, the American ships were surprised when the Kawakaze, returning through the waters off Lunga Point sighted the Blue patrolling in Savo Sound. Kawakaze launched her torpedoes, hitting and sinking the American destroyer before she had much time to react.
Game set up
This is the second engagement in my Guadalcanal campaign. In my campaign, the destroyer Helm has already been sunk, at Savo Island, being replaced by her sister ship Mugford.
- The Japanese have only the destroyer Kawakaze.
- The Americans have two transports and three destroyers of DesRon4.
You need to imagine that it is dark. 😉
The US transports Alhena and Formalhaut unloading off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, guarded by the destroyer Mugford.
The American destroyer Blue (Commander Harold N. Williams) patrolling from north to south at 12 knots off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal. [The model is actually a Benham-class destroyer, instead of the very similar Bagley class.]
The Japanese destroyer Kawakaze approaching Lunga Point at about 24 knots in the darkness. She is on her way back to Rabaul after landing reinforcements off Taivu Point.
[The warship recognition experts among you will spot from the rear turrets that I used a Kagero-class destroyer as I didn’t have a Shiratsuyu class.]
Kawakaze spots the Blue directly ahead of her at about 10,000 yards. The crew of the Blue, perhaps particularly alert after their experiences at Savo Island two weeks earlier, spot Kawakaze almost simultaneously.
Kawakaze swings to starboard, bringing all her 5-inch guns to bear, now heading north on a parallel course to the Blue. Kawakaze is quicker to open fire, quickly hitting Blue twice while also firing her four forward torpedoes at the American destroyer. Blue is hit hard, losing a gun and her starboard torpedo mountings as well as suffering damage to her steam lines.
Reeling from the onslaught of shells, Blue’s return fire is ragged, and fails to hit Kawakaze.
Blue turns away to the west, but Kawakaze, now moving at 32 knots, pursues her aggressively. Remarkably, one of Kawakaze’s torpedoes hits, blowing off the Blue’s stern and dooming the American destroyer. The crew of the Kawakaze fail to spot the transports off Lunga Point beyond the burning Blue.
The destroyers Henley and Mugford, alerted by the gunfire, both turn towards the Blue, though neither has yet spotted Kawakaze.
Henley rushes east, towards the burning and sinking Blue. She doesn’t spot Kawakaze, bows on directly ahead of her, until the two destroyers are about 4,000 yards apart. The two destroyers race past each other at a combined speed of about 60 knots. Mugford’s alert lookouts spot Kawakaze as Mugford heads north, and the American ship swings to port to chase after the speeding Japanese destroyer intent on driving her off. Mugford opens fire with her forward 5-inch guns at about 5,000 yards.
Kawakaze, suddenly aware of a new threat appearing out of the darkness to port, rapidly shifts her guns to fire back at the Mugford.
Mugford comes under fire from Kawakaze, but is not hit.
Kawakaze, now under fire from two American destroyers and with her crew pre-occupied, does not spot the American transports against the dark background of Guadalcanal. She fires her four aft torpedoes at the oncoming Mugford.
Kawakaze comes under fire from both Henley and Mugford, but the Americans fail to hit the fast-moving Japanese destroyer. Facing at least two alerted American destroyers, and possibly others, Lieutenant-Commander Yanase decides to withdraw.
Lieutenant-Commander E.W. Young aboard Mugford, wary of Japanese torpedoes, turns sharply to starboard, away from Kawakaze, before swinging back to port. Mugford ends up astern of the Henley, which has reversed course to the west in pursuit of the Japanese destroyer. The Mugford’s sinuous course is just as well, helping her avoid the Kawakaze’s torpedo salvo. [3, 5, 5 & 9; needing 12 to hit]
Kawakaze, facing two alert and undamaged American destroyers, heads north-west at full speed, towards Rabaul. With the range now about 6,000 yards, the Henley and Mugford, unsure how many Japanese ships are about, turn back towards the vulnerable transports, before later rescuing the crew of the sinking Blue.
Miniatures & rules
05/11/2023 at 00:29 #192254kyoteblueParticipant
- Rules. I used Grand Fleets rules from Majestic 12 Games, with a few of my own amendments, primarily to the spotting and initiative rules so that ships that spot at longer range have the initiative.
- Miniatures. The miniatures are all 1/3000 with the destroyers from Tiny Thingamajigs on Shapeways while the transports are Davco, now sold by Navy Models & Books.
- Mat. The mat is the dark sea mat from Tiny Wargames.
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Another great AAR, I hope you can get more games in soon.</p>06/11/2023 at 17:37 #192301Darkest Star GamesParticipant
Blue got really unlucky, but at least the transports survived.
Are you using any sort of AI for the ships?
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."11/11/2023 at 09:34 #192456AdmiralHawkeParticipant
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Another great AAR, I hope you can get more games in soon.</p>
Thank you! 🙂
I enjoy writing them, though they take a while.
Blue got really unlucky, but at least the transports survived. Are you using any sort of AI for the ships?
Yes. That outcome was pretty close to history, with the poor Blue overwhelmed before her crew knew what had hit her. I was pleased that my revisions to the rules produced a much more plausible narrative than my test game of the same scenario.
So in campaign terms the survival of the transports is (and was) more important than the loss of a destroyer.
I wish I was clever enough to come up with some kind of AI. I simply play both sides, trying to consider objectives, orders and tactical doctrine, though that’s usually steer towards the flashes of the guns and open fire with everything you have got. 🙂
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