May 1, 2016

Battle Report - May 1942; Southeast of the Jomard Passage

May 1942, Southeast of the Jomard Passage, Coral Sea.

Played using the Naval War ruleset from

After a night of bad weather the morning breaks for the carrier Shoho and her heavy cruiser escort. The original fleet composition of four heavy cruisers and destroyer escort has been thinned during the activity of the past evening and night. Kako and Furutaka have been detached to support the port Moresby invasion fleet who have reported an enemy fleet approaching them, possibly containing enemy heavy cruisers. The destroyer escort is close by after having investigated an alleged submarine contact during the night; thus, the Shoho, escorted by the heavy cruisers Aoba and Kinugasa are awaiting further orders in anticipation of the Port Moresby invasion.

Suddenly, as the weather clears the Japanese scouts report an enemy contact to the south: capital ship, small escort. It seems the Americans have suffered from the same bad weather during the night, scattering their forces. Further reports confirm that it is a Yorktown class fleet carrier, escorted by two destroyers. Seeing a window of opportunity, the Japanese Rear-Admiral orders a course-change towards the reported enemy position. If the Americans can be caught by surprise, a great victory can be won!

Order Of Battle:

Rear Admiral
15 pts
5 pts
Core Fleet
Core fleet
Aoba-class CA
51 pts
USS Yorktown
 - 3x Wildcat
 - 3x Devastator
 - 6x Dauntless
Yorktown-class CV
82 pts
Aoba-class CA
51 pts
USS Hammann
Sims-class DD
19 pts
- 1x Zero
- 1x Claude
- 2x Kate
Shoho-class CL
36 pts
USS Phelps
Porter-class DD
20 pts
Close support
Close support
Mutsuki-class DD
18 pts
USS San Francisco
New Orleans-class CA
48 pts
Mutsuki-class DD
18 pts
USS Morris
Sims-class DD
19 pts
Distant support
Distant support
G4M ‘Betty’
2 flights
10 pts
PBY ‘Catalina’
1 flight
6 pts
199 pts
199 pts

Turn 1

As the Japanese ships alter course and increase their speed, a PBY appears on the horizon; it seems that their approach didn’t go unnoticed. The scouts report that the American carrier has launched a strike heading their way; Battlestations!! The Japanese Rear Admiral orders Shoho to launch her A6M2 and A5M fighters to put up a combat air patrol to intercept the American strike.

Game report
Direct activations
- Yorktown launches strike of 2 wildcats, 3 Dauntless dive bombers and 1 Devastator torpedo bomber
- Shoho launches CAP of 1 flight of A6M2 Zeroes and 1 flight of A5M Oscar’s
- Japanese Cruisers move at flank speed towards Yorktown group
- The American player calls in his distant air support on a 4+, which succeeds, the PBY arrives
Indirect activations
- Yorktown group moves at slow speed
- The Yorktown strike group flies to within striking distance of the Japanese Squadron
- PBY flies to join the Yorktown strike group

Turn 2
As the Japanese squadron awaits the arrival of the American air strike further news arrives: Mutsuki and Uzuki have returned from their submarine chase and ask for orders. They are informed of the great prize that sails nearby and fire up their boilers to get in range of the helpless carrier. Maybe not so helpless as she seems, the American carrier is aware of the new danger that draws near and launches a second strike heading towards the incoming destroyer squadron.

Then the American bombers arrive! The combat air patrol tries to intercept the incoming bombers but is itself intercepted by the escorting wildcats. A fierce dogfight ensues, but the Claudes are driven off by the escort. The Zeroes are more lucky and shrugg off the attacking Wildcats. With the path to the enemy bombers wide open they attempt to intercept, but alas too late, the bombers have already started their dives and AA-fire is all that stands between the incoming bombers and the Japanese squadron. The fierce anti-aircraft fire seems to be effective, downing the attacking Catalina but despite these efforts the Dauntlesses press the attack and bombs rain down on the Kinugasa, blowing a boiler and ripping open plates on her hull causing her to list due to flooding.

The first blows have been dealt, but the Japanese are still relentlesly closing on the Yorktown...

Game Report

- San Francisco and Morris arrive for US, Uzuki and Mutsuki arrive for Japan
Direct activations
- Yorktown strike targets Kinugasa, the CAP is repelled, one wildcat breaks off. AA fire downs the PBY and forces two Dauntlesses to break off. The american player orders Press The Attack, Japanese disruption is ineffective. The bombers proceed to damage kinugasa, causing flooding and engine damage reducing her speed
- Japan moves DD squadron towards Yorktown group
- Yorktown launches second strike of 1 Wildcat, 3 Dauntless and 2 Devastators
- Aoba and Kinugasa move at Yorktown group as fast as possible
Indirect activations
- Second strike moves towards Mutsuki and Uzuki, leaving one wildcat as CAP
- First strike returns to Yorktown, cannot land yet because of the launch of the second strike
End phase
- Fighters land on Shoho
- Kinugasa takes more damage from flooding after failed dmg control attempt

Turn 3

Reeling from the blow of the first American airstrike the Japanese squadron braces itself for the second onslaught as they steam towards their target. Unbeknownst to the Japanese, a rainsquall obscures another danger; an American heavy cruiser has heeded the calls of the endangered carrier and is moving on a course to intercept...

Still, against expectations, the air stays clear... No bombs, no air alarms, no cracking of machine guns and crashing planes, what happened to the American planes that scouts reported? The answer comes crackling in on the radio, Mutsuki and Uzuki have been attacked! The Americans deemed the fast sailing destroyers a greater threat than the cruisers and redirected their strike to them. Without air cover, it would have been a tough gauntlet to run for the two small ships with not much else than their speed to evade the American bombs and torpedoes. Evasive action by Mutsuki saved her from the worst. Nevertheless, she fell out of formation due to fires blazing on her deck, the crew desperately trying to keep the it from consuming their ship. Uzuki emerged unharmed and relentlessly continued the pursuit.

The time bought by the destroyers is dearly needed by the crew of Kinugasa, still fighting against the surging waters flooding their ship. The Shoho launches a new CAP, this fight is far from over...

Game Report
Direct activations
- Shoho relaunches her CAP
- Second strike hits Mutsuki, Mutsuki evades but still takes damage from an american torpedo. Fire started
- Mutsuki breaks off
Indirect activations
- Fighters from Shoho move to cover the two cruisers
- Yorktown lands first strike
- Second Yorktown strike returns but cannot land yet
- Kinugsa repairs engine, still cannot contain the flooding so takes further damage 
- Mutsuki rallies and contains the fire

Turn 4

Suddenly gun splashes start to bracket Aoba with frightening precision, the American cruiser has emerged from behind the rainsquall and has opened fire. Crew rushes to battlestations and the ship starts immediate evasive action. Still, the American fire is accurate and hits one of the AA mounts on Aoba. The Japanese do not keep silent and open fire on the San Francisco, Aoba straddles the cruiser on her first salve and scores a lucky hit, setting a fuel line on fire.

In the meantime reports start coming in from all sides. The fighters report sightings of a new strike incoming from the enemy carrier while the Uzuki starts to run a gauntlet of American fire trying to get close to the Yorktown, which is slowly turning about to move away from her attackers. Uzuki launches a first bank of Long lances towards the USS Phelps, who takes evasive action, and Hammann. Phelps is hit in the stern, blocking her rudder. In response, a hail of fire is put on the small Japanese destroyer, who emerges damaged, but still afloat and penetrating the American formation.

Mutsuki is also trying to rejoin the battle after putting out her fires. Alas, she is too far from her companion to offer any assistence.

Game Report
Direct activations
- San Francisco uses radar fire control to directly range in on Aoba, still only causes one damage and reduced AA because of Evasive maneuvers
- Yorktown launches Third strike
- Aoba hits a fuel line on SF, starting a fire
- Uzuki launches a torpedo bank at the two American destroyers
Indirect activations
- Yorktown's second strike loiters because of the third strike launch
- Phelps takes a long lance in her rudder, almost sinking her
- The American destroyers and Yorktown's secondaries open up on Uzuki, failing to sink her
- Mutsuki tries to rejoin her squadron

Turn 5

Uzuki reports that she has penetrated the enemy formation and is now approaching the Yorktown, enemy fire is intense but the confused Americans can't seem to hit the nimble Japanese hunter as it hunts down its prey. While moving into position for a torpedo attack her little guns start pounding the big carrier, disrupting her air operations.

In the meanwile the Japanese cruisers endure their second air strike, with the CAP desperately trying to keep the enemy planes at bay but with the Claude being shot down and the Zero driven off, the Wildcats make short work of the air cover. The bombers focus on the damaged Kinugasa, and with the Shoho out of AA range and the Aoba having a damaged AA suite, little resistance is offered. The Kinugasa desperately tries to evade, but still takes more bomb hits, setting her on fire, combined with the still ongoing flooding, the captain orders abandon ship, but not before trying to land one last salvo on the carrier on the horizon, an attempt cut short by the impact of shells from the San Francisco which changed its focus from Aoba to the clearly visible burning hulk, finishing off the cruiser before she could fire her last...

Aoba, now unchallenged repeats her fire on the San Francisco, scoring more hits. The ongoing hits, together with the still uncontrolled fire on board makes the American cruiser break off the action, satisfied with sinking the Kinugasa, but leaving the Yorktown at the mercy of the Japanese ships.

Game Report
Direct activations
- Uzuki moves within American formation
- Japanese CAP tries to utilize their Veteran Air crews, but the attempt is disrupted by the enemy.
- Claude is shot down, Zero is chased off
- Yorktown's third strike hits Kinugasa, which tries to evade, still damaging her and setting her aflame
- Escorting American Destroyers and Yorktown open fire on Uzuki, damaging her, but failing to sink her
- San Francisco hits Kinugasa finishing her off with radar fire control
Indirect activations
- Yorktown under attack by uzuki

- Aoba repeats fire on SF, hitting some more, SF breaks off
End Phase
- Due to being under enemy fire, Yorktown can only retrieve 3 flights

Turn 6

The moment of truth! Under a hail of fire the Uzuki has penetrated the American formation and manages to launch her final bank of long lance torpedoes towards the enemy carrier. Shortly after the enemy fire takes her toll and abandon ship is ordered.

The ordeal of the big carrier is far from over, while the long lances speed towards her the Mutsuki has been steaming into the wake of her sister and now threatens to penetrate the American formation for a second time. Desperately a token flight of Dauntless dive bombers is launched and amids bomb splashes and a hail of 5" gunfire the remaining Japanese destroyer is crippled.

Aoba is now quickly closing the range and tries to achieve a firing resolution on the distressed carrier, failing to do so... for now

Suddenly a big fountain of water emerges near the stern of the Yorktown, one of the Uzuki's long lances has found their mark, a slight list develops as compartments are flooded and the big ship starts to take on water.

Game Report
Direct activations
- Uzuki launches last bank of torpedoes
- Destroyers and Yorktown sink Uzuki

- Mutsuki moves close to the Yorktown
- Yorktown launches 3 flights
- Flights immediately initiate attack run, sinking Mutsuki
Indirect Activations
- Yorktown takes long lance, resulting in damage and flooding
- USS Phelps repairs rudder
- USS San Francisco fails rally check, leaves the battle area


 It seems victory has slipped between the fingers of the Japanese Rear-Amiral, the USS Yorktown is damaged, but far from crippled. One last chance is to hit her with his 8" guns before the carrier lands and rearms its planes. The resolution has been found and firing has started, the first salvoes are way off target though. Then, the ship is rocked by a terrible explosion, torpedoes! In its focus on hitting the enemy carrier one of the escorts has detached itself from the formation and made a torpedo run. To late to recognise the danger, the Aoba is hit and compartments on the starboard side are flooded.

While not mortally wounded, the damage convinces the Rear-Admiral that this battle is over, he signals the Shoho to reverse course and rejoin the formation, maybe they could be out of the area before the Americans could reorganise their fleet.

Game Report
Direct activations
- Aoba fires on Yorktown but can’t find the range
 - Phelps launches torpedoes
Indirect activations 
- Aoba fires secondaries on the USS Phelps, but misses
End phase
- Aoba tries to evade, but is disrupted. Aoba is hit and takes three flooding markers.

Japanese forces break off the action

End score US - 14 / JPN - 5

Post Battle analysis
I can't seem to win my own game :). Still, the game was very close fought and I enjoyed it immensely. I have been busy the first two turns explaining the game to my opponent and thus forgot to make some important moves myself. I should have initiated evasive action on the air attack on Kinugasa and I should have called in the Betties in the first few turns when I had order tokens to spare. I also could have launched my two Kates using the one excess launch capacity on Shoho during the first turns, forcing my opponent to put some air cover over his own forces. Towards the end of the game my squadrons were so scattered that I could barely scrape together a few order tokens, which severely limited my options.

I was very pleased to see the improved carrier rules hold up pretty well. I really feared that in this instance with an a-symmetrical setup the Yorktown would hug the edge of the board for most of the game, but deployment restrictions combined with movement restrictions while doing air operations really worked well, the US player really needed to consider fight or flight, since he couldn't do both.The air strikes were scary and damaging, but not crippling, and the logistics of having to balance your launching and landing of aircraft made the strikes effective at the start but gave my opponent problems when all flights returned to ship to land, which was quite interesting. I do wonder what will happen if you try to break the game by fielding 2 or 3 fleet carriers in one setup, it would be interesting to find that out.

Things that popped up
The situation arose of having 1 fighter doing an intercept and 2 enemy fighters able to escort, we resolved this issue by having one fighter fight 2, which seemed to give a realistic outcome. I'll work this into my last-minute adds to the 1.2 version.

Things we forgot
I really need to play this game more often :D. I found out that I forgot that my ships had dual-purpose guns, which could have helped out in the AA-battle. Since the most damaging strike by-passed my AA-breakoffs by using 'Press the attack' it wouldn't have made the biggest difference though, although the little destroyers could have used the help there.


Sparker said...

Most impressive Sir!

Unknown said...

Hi Ecclesiastes! Would you mind sharing what paints you use on your IJN minis? They look fantastic!

Many thanks.

Ecclesiastes said...

Hello Piotr,

I use mainly Vallejo paints. German Grey and Light Grey in varying mixtures for the hulls and highlights. For the decks Iraqui Sand with a sepia shade wash. For the linoleum decks a darker re brown that I can't remember the name of :)

Hope this helps