Sunday, October 30, 2011

2nd Santa Cruz

In October, 1942 the Japanese and American navies clashed at Santa Cruz in the fourth great carrier battle.  Though neither side saw any combat effective opponents, the surface ships could have engaged each other.  Here we assume Kondo has detached a group to make a night run at the US carrier force, planning to arrive at dawn.  Rules are Naval Thunder, please click to enlarge photos.

The Japanese force, "battleships" Haruna and Kongo; heavy cruisers Nachi, Myoko, Kumano; and seven Kagero class destroyers entered from the far left long edge in two columns.  On the left the Nachi and Myoko and four destroyers; the battleships, Kumano and three destroyers on the right.  The Americans entered on an intercept course with the heavy cruisers Northampton and Pensacola, followed by the South Dakota and light cruiser Omaha with three Mahan class destroyers on either side.

On turn two the respective forces came into view and opened fire with some ships.  The dice were hot and the Japanese quickly learned that any hit from the South Dakota was a penetrating one.  Two shells landed on the Haruna knocking out port secondaries.  One 8" shell hit the Urakaze knocking out a turret.  In return the South Dakota took three 14" hits, one of which managed to penetrate her armor and explode in the engine room.

The next turn the Japanese began to lay smoke and take evasive action.  That left the Americans with just one Japanese destroyer in the open and the Maikaze was quickly ripped apart.  In return the Mahan took a hit that knocked out on of the forward 5" turrets.

Turn 4 the Japanese cruiser column turned sharply with the intent of passing behind the battleship column and double up the Americans.  Unfortunately the turn was too sharp and near collisions and confusion reigned for a time.  In the shooting phase the Haruna took two 16" hits that started small fires.  Three 8" shells hit the Kongo with one penetrating.  Another 8" shell hit and with other damage put the Urakaze down.  In return three 14" shells hit the South Dakota which bounced off her armor though a fourth knocked out a secondary turret.

Not much success for anyone turn 5.  The Northampton took a 14" hit that caused some quickly controlled flooding, while the Kongo took another 16" hit and the Myoko suffered her first damage with a 6" hit from the Omaha.  During damage control the Haruna put out one fire.

Turn 6 saw a lot of hitting from the Americans as the first three destroyers began a run on the Japanese line.  Two 16" hits on the Kongo and three 8" hits on the Haruna added to the damage list, and the Myoko took four 5" hits which her armor shrugged off.  In return the Japanese only landed one 8" hit on the Perkins which of course penetrated.

Torpedoes filled the water turn 7 and both sides cut loose.  The golf tees on their sides indicate attacks and targets.  During shooting the Japanese put a 14" round into the Northampton causing a major flood and reducing her speed.  The Cassin, Perkins and Mahan were sunk, but not before their torpedoes were launched.  For whatever reason, the Japanese battleships gave up on the South Dakota and concentrated on the American heavy cruisers.  Probably to increase the chance of a successful torpedo attack from the destroyers still working through.  Meanwhile a 16" shell hit the Kongo.  Nine(!) 8" shells hit the Haruna, though only one penetrated, causing a bridge critical hit.  A hailstorm of 5" hits were scored, but the big attack was the torpedoes.  Kongo was hit once, though her underwater defenses softened the blow.  Myoko took two torpedoes at short range, one of which worked through her anti-torpedo bulges.  Not so lucky was the Nachi.  She took three torpedoes and sank quickly.  Only the USS Tucker survived the attack from the initial three, but now the second wave was reaching position.

Turn 8 saw a LOT of hitting on both sides, though the cause was clearly against the Japanese now.  The Tucker put her helm over, cut behind the Myoko and fired her unused starboard torpedo bank.  Myoko fired back as well.  Pensacola took one 14" hit and the South Dakota three.  Northampton and Omaha took 8" hits.  Shaw took her first damage from a 5" shell and the Downes was smothered by the secondaries and tertiaries on the Kongo.  The South Dakota missed completely for the first time all day, but the Kongo took minor damage from three 8" and three 5" hits, none of which penetrated.  Natsushio was sunk.  Hamakaze took major love from the Omaha and the Tucker completed her great day by putting not one, but three torpedoes into the Myoko.  Far more than this fine cruiser could handle she rolled over and sank.  The torpedoes from the doomed Downes could score no revenge as all eight torpedoes missed the Kongo.

Still, the day clearly belonged to the Americans.  Both battleships were severely damaged, though their main guns still operated.  Two of the three heavy cruisers were down, as were three destroyers.  The South Dakota, while slowed was still combat effective.  Northampton was slowed and fighting a flood but the Pensacola had a lot of life left as did the Omaha and remaining destroyers.  With two cruiser scalps to her credit the Tucker made off in a badly damaged state.  The remaining Japanese destroyers made smoke and with their speed untouched, the Kongo and Haruna quickly pulled away from the Americans.  With the carriers successfully screened Admiral Kincaid was content to let them go.  With the American radar rated unreliable, various land masses and many unexpended "Long Lance" torpedoes, it was a wise decision.

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