First miniatures wargame of the year, and this was back to the Solomons, cruisers and destroyers stalking each other in the confined waters of Ironbottom Sound.
I had devised a not too original scenario : 3 USN heavy cruisers (Salt Lake City, Portland, northampton ) escorted by 3 Gleave Class DDs (Laffey, Duncan & Buchanan) were to duke it out with the Imperial Japanese Navy : CAs Chokai, Nachi & Aoba, and 3 Fubuki class DDs ; Fubuki, Murakami, Hatsunami.
The US Fleet
The first gme saw me play the USN, while Jean Jacques took the IJN. Initial placements : while the IJN crisers & destroyers divisions in line abreast were split by Savo Island, the US was steaming North East, with CAs & DDs in 2 parallel files.
C : Chokai N : Nachi A : Aoba
SLC : Salt Lake City PL : Portland NH : Northampton
Jap DDs sail around Savo
The US reversed heading, and turned north later, while the Japanese kept lowing souwthwards in line abreast. Soon the Salt Lake City, leading the US line, was abreast of the Chokai, the westernmost IJN CA.
The Japanese sail straight ahead
While the American try an enevelopping manoeuver
Both ships traded fire, inflicting damage on each other, the US “Swayback Maru” taking the worst of it, as flooding caused a severe list. The US destroyers however gad cxome in a good position for a torpedo attack on the Chokai. Laffey and Duncan fired 3 spreds on the IJN Cruiser (Laffey had lost a mount during the cruiser shooting phase) and sent the Chokai to Davy Jones. But during the damage control phase, the Salt Lake City rolles catastrophically and capsized, equalizing losses.
At the start of the firing phase…
and at its end. Can someone tell the differences?
This left the US some superiority, as they had traded their weakest cruiser for the Japanese strongest, but things went downhill fast from there. Northampton, which was following the SLC, was savaged by the Nachi (fire, flooding) while blesting only secondaries on the IJN cruiser, and Portland took a helm hit. In the end however, both Japanese cruisers went down as Northampton succummbed to its damages.
The situation at the end of the game, before firing.
The 3 intact Japanese DDs finished her off with gunfire, so badly mauled was she, while inn their lmast turn, the Japanese cruisers had managed to take out 2 US DDs with their rear turrets… Glug glug
This left a lot of time for a second game, so sides were reversed. I disposed the IJN cruisers in line of file on a SE bearing, Chokai in the lead and Aoba in the rear, while my 3 Fubukis raced south in order to contact the foe. The US Navy sailed north in a line abreast formation, Salt Lake City in the west, Northampton in the middle and Portland in the east with DDs interspersed between them.
The 1st phase of the battle saw the loss of Murakami and Hatsunami to the US 8″ guns (once again, terrific rolls from my opponent!) while Fubuki was damaged but coukd make it behind the line of .Jap cruisers that had turned south. Chokai had not stayed inactive, and her guns had inflicted a briidge and a rudder hit on Portland, which started to sail in circles while her guns fell silent.
The second phase saw the US cruisers and DDs turn towards the Japanese line of battle. Disregarding the crippled Portland, Aoba and Chokai fired on SLC & Northampton, while they returned fire on them. Nachi, attacked by the USS Laffey at close range, laid down a withering fire that sank the destroyer. Fubuki closed up on the crippled Portland.
The IJN ships are crossing the T of the US squadron. Portland is out of control, Fubuki closes in for the kill
During the third phase, both remaining US DDs were sunk successively after attempting to carry out single ship torpedo attacks, while the Fubuki sent a spread of 9 Long Lances into the still crippled Portland, hitting with 2 and sinking her. The SLC lost her main forward battery to the Aoba, the Chokai dispatched the Northampton. A fire broke out on teh Chokai, but damage control was up to the task this time, and stopped it soon.
Buchanan boldly, but perhaps foolhardily, tries to do something with her torpedoes…
At that stage, I ordered a general chase, breaking the Japanese formation, and it was niot long before the poor Salt Lake City was sunk as well, ending the game in a Savo look-alike.