Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Carnage in the South China Sea

"Admiral Ozawa, your force must protect at all costs the troop convoy.  You are to consider your force expendable."  Such dire orders were received on the bridge of the heavy cruiser Chokai which along with the Ashigaru, Kumano, Suyuza, Mogami and Mikima were part of the escort and support force covering a troop convoy in the early days of December, 1941.

Earlier, Admiral Tom Phillips had told the crews of HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse that "We are going looking for a bit of trouble."  The words would prove prophetic. 

The game was played in 2+ hours using Naval Thunder and 1/2400 models.  Ozawa chose a night engagement, despite the British reputation, so several special rules were in effect.  Both British capital ships sported a radar array, though it proved to matter little, even on the rainy and moonless night.

HMS Prince of Wales, Repulse and four destroyers steering course 300.

IJN Chokai leads Ashigaru, Mogami, Mikuma, Kumano, Suzuya,
and three Fubuki class destroyers steering 155.

A star shell illuminates the Chokai.

The British TF adjusts course to 255 and sets a screen.

Things quickly go bad for the Japanese flagship right away.  Here
sporting two fires and a flooding result.

Two British and all three Japanese destroyers are down or mission
kills.  Now the cruisers move in through the darkness.

It becomes a knife fight at point-blank range.  The golf tees
represent targeting to determine over-concentration modifiers.

Prince of Wales has taken two "Long Lance" torpedoes.  One
was defeated by the torpedo bulge, the other started a flood effect.

Surrounded, or lambs to the slaughter?

In the end we had the worst result possible for the Japanese.  All six cruisers and three destroyers were sunk or became mission kills.  Although the Prince of Wale's superstructure was a wreck, her engines and main guns were intact and the Repulse just needed some paint touched up.  Speed was particularly important since players were told any allied ships reduced to half speed or worse were automatically sunk the next day by Japanese air power.

Around two dozen torpedoes were launched by the Japanese with only two hits.  The allies did slightly better, putting a torpedo into the Kumano with far fewer launches.  This really hurt the Japanese chances.  More important, a mistake in communication led to the Japanese exclusively concentrating on the Prince of Walls, whereas they actually could have penetrated the Repulse's weak armor.

We didn't decide whether the British would risk going after the convoy or just retire, satisfied with the cruiser kills.  Of course what they could not know was that there were still nine Japanese destroyers available.  I kept the ship sheets so perhaps one day we'll see if they can improve upon the historic results vs. the bombers.


  1. Seems like it was a good game. Made my list of the week's best: