The Japanese are desperate to get a supply convoy through to the Philippines. The oiler is their #1 priority. They have scraped together an escorting force to include the Tone and will try to get through the ring of american airpower. They have also assigned a CAP force to cover it's entry into Phililpine sea.
TO HQ IMPERIAL NAVY
FROM HQ NAVAL FORCES PHILIPPINES
SUBJECT AFTER ACTION REPORT OF US ATTACK ON JAPANESE CONVOY 22 DEC 1944 AND ANALYSIS OF LAAF AND BRAGGING RULES TO BTH 2 SYSTEM
Prepared by Cmdr Lee Gan (Due to US Freedom of Information Act we have full knowledge of US forces and plans)
Our convoy consisted of 1 CA (Tone); 1 CL (Sendi) 2 DDs (Kamakazi) 2 PG (Saga) 1 Oiler, 1 Large merchantmam and 2 medium merchantmen. CAP at the time of attack consisted of 3 Zero fighters and 3 Raiden fighters.
Enemy forces consisted of 4 Corsairs armed with rockets and 12 SBD Dauntless divebombers. (These should have been Helldivers but despite being an arsenal of democracy, at 1/300 scale the US currently does not have the funds to purchase these aircraft so SBDs were used instead. But admiral, you should see the detail at 1/300th...) It should be noted that the englishman who designed BTH 2 clearly showed his western bias when rating the Corsair's manuverability as a 6. It actually is a 5 with a good roll rate and was used correctly for this playtest.
It appears the devil's plan was to have the Corsairs sweep in first to supress the AA fire with rockets. 6 SBDs would attack the oiler, 3 would attack the large freighter and 3 would tarry and finish up whichever ship needed to be attacked.
The Raidens approached from 3 o'clock but were spotted early. The Zeros approached from 12 o'clock. The fighters broke up the divebomer's formation but the Corsairs kept them busy. Interestingly neither side could gain the upper hand which worked towards the enemy's advantage as the SBDs jinked their way towards the convoy. Only 1 SBD was shot down by a zero fighter. No kills for our brand new Raidens. 3 SBDs were forced to abort their deadly mission; one with a critical instrument damage, one with a fuel leak and one with the pilot WIA. This pilot, Ens Wholaver, blacked out and crashed his aircraft into the sea. Interestingly the brand new Corsairs also failed to score. 2 Raidens were damaged and forced to leave early.
Overall, I expected 1 more SBD and at least 1 Japanese fighter to have fallen in air combat. These lack of kills are attributable to the speed differences in the aircraft which made tailing difficult and poor shooting.
IJN Tone was the bulwark of our AA defense
CL far left; Oiler and Large MM next in tandem
2 small MM next in tandem followed by Tone
2 DDs flanking either side of large MMs off screen
2 gunboats flanking small MMs off screen
Attack came from top of screen
The Tone and Sendi opened up with heavy AA at long range and continued during their envelope of attack. The large mm combined guns with the starboard DD and managed to "Shake" an SBD early on. (This is the one SBD that missed the oiler due no doubt to this accurate fire) The Sendi then destroyed an SBD. As the attacker transitioned into Lt AA range the rocket firing Corsairs managed to supress the CL, PG and pin the DD. This significantly hurt the AA fire in the near attack run; decreasing it just over 50%. Several Corsairs recieved minor damage from flak but this is occured after they had fired their rockets. Just before a Dauntless started its dive for the large MM the Tone's 25mm guns finally hit home and it blew up in mid air! This is doubly impressive since our 25mm guns are far inferior to the devils 40mm guns for AA duties.
9 SBDs and 3 Corsairs started attack runs. They were in zone for flak for 6 turns. 2 SBDs were destroyed, 1 shaken and 2 corsairs recieved minor damage.
Overall these results are deadlier than predicted and the deadliest we have seen in any playtest. I would have expected a 35% chance of destroying an aircraft; the same for shaken one and close to 100% for one causing a plane minor damage. (nothing is 100% in probability except our ultimite victory!) The rules do play faster than the ones in BTH 2 as you are not looking up how many dice to throw. I attribute the convoy's success to their bushido spirit that overcame the odds facing them! Banzai!
rocket attack on the Saga
3 Rocket attacks were executed. All hit their targets as expected. The first on the kamakazi took out 2 25mm gun mounts with significant crew casualties. These rockets not only supressed the AA fire on the ship but the loss of these guns depleted her AA capability for the rest of the battle. The second rocket attack was on the Sendi. These rockets caused some shrapnel damage and pinned the AA crews but no mounts were damaged or destroyed. The third rocket attack was on the gun boat Saga. While small this ship has 10 25mm guns so was critical to the light AA defense of the convoy. Unfortunatly the rockets caused a fire to break out on the deck and rapidly spread. The confusion of damage control parties and the smoke kept this ship out of the battle for the rest of the action.
Overall this is a small sample size on which to judge. The fire is unusual but possible occuring 20% of the time.
As you know we have improved upone the englishman's to hit procedure as well. His process has divebombers too accurate particularly the western ones! 7 planes dropped their bomb. (they all dropped 1000lb bombs, for simplicity we ignored the 2 100lb bombs). 3 bombed the oiler with 2 hitting. The one that missed was the shaken pilot. 2 bombed the large MM with 1 hitting. 2 bombed a small MM with both hitting. I would expect a hit rate on a large MM of 60%. 5 hit out of 7 which gives us 70%. Close.
The first bomb that struck the oiler penetrated several decks causing significant structural damage. (about 25%). The second bomb that hit buckled the already weakened keel and caused a fire. The ship was 75% damaged and had lost most of its speed.
The next ship attacked was the large merchant man. The first bomb hit a 25mm AA mount aft and exploded. This destroyed the gun and crew but prevented more serious damage to the ship.
The next bomber to attack was destroyed by the Tone. The third missed.
The last ship attacked was a medium merchantman. The first bomb penetrated several decks causing significant structural damage (about 25%). The second bomb struck aft into the engine room causing significant damage there and causing the ship to come to a complete stop.
Immediately after the US attack the oiler was burning as was the PG Saga. The large merchantman was superficialy damaged and a medium merchantman was significantly damaged and dead in the water.
Overall the results were realistic. They do show variation but this takes into account variables such as where the bomb hits; does it penetrate ect. It takes some time but definitly adds flavor to the battle.
Lastly the Fate Of Ships table was consulted. The oiler sank. The fire on the Saga was put out with only minor damage. The medium MM through heroic efforts of her crew managed to start engines and limp to port with about 33% of her cargo intact. She will not return to Japan however.
In conclusion it must be stated that we lost this battle with a minor loss. Our oiler did not reach the Philippines. The devils lost 4 SBDs and we had a large MM and 1.33 medium MM get through but it was not enough to claim victory. The english system of BTH 2 with our vast improvements added to it is a great system that does produce a fun and reasonably historically accurate portrayal of air sea combat in WW II. Most importantly it will give us the detail to brag about our final victory over the west!!!
Cmdr Lee Gan
Great battle and I am now done with BTH 2 for a while! I am ready for some Platoon Forward Russian Front style next.