Malay Barrier campaign - December 1941 – March 1942

Started by paulr, 16 January 2022, 12:11:39 AM

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paulr

To mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War in the Pacific we started playing Old Dominion GameWorks' Malay Barrier campaign in December last year. The aim is to play the campaign which covers December 1941 – March 1942 from December to March, 80 years later.

As umpire I chose to use the historic forces and not add any of the possible Dutch battlecruiser options. I also chose to not play the optional Turn 0. This means that Force Z has sortied and been sunk as happened historically.

Pierre the Shy is commanding the Allied forces which became the ABDA Command (American British Dutch Australian) on this day in 1942. Our regular host, Roy, is commanding the Japanese Western Attack Force and Lester is commanding the Japanese Eastern Attack Force.

We have completed Turn 1 which covered 16-31 December and are well into Turn 2. I can now share some information on how the campaign is progressing.
 
Turn 1, 16-31 December, was uneventful with no naval actions fought despite US recon aircraft locating what appeared to be a Japanese patrol force of cruisers and destroyers off the coast of Malaya. The British forces based on Singapore were distracted by the need to provide escorts for troop convoys reinforcing Singapore. Hopefully these troops will be able to assist in stopping the rapid Japanese advance down the Malay Peninsula from Kota Bharu.

Turn 2, 1-15 January, has started more eventfully with a Japanese convoy being intercepted off the coast of the Malaya Peninsula.

Pierre the Shy's account of the action can be found here . I will be providing my account once Pierre the Shy provides a couple of decisions and Roy and I can complete the action.

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Steve J

Looking forward to seeing how this campaign pans out :) .
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Lord Speedy of Leighton

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paulr

At 1600 15 January as the Japanese convoy continued at 10 knots on the South East leg of its zigzag course, lookouts reported masts on the horizon dead ahead. The convoy redeployed from anti-aircraft formation to surface formation. The two heavy cruisers took the lead closely followed by the 12 transports in two columns. The two destroyer divisions took up protective positions on each side of the transports.

At the same time lookouts on a Royal Navy destroyer reported smoke to the North West. The report from the US submarine had been right, there were ships in the area. The combined Royal Navy & US sweep rapidly redeployed from anti-aircraft formation to surface formation while continuing north at 24 knots.

As the forces closed the Allies identified the lead Japanese ship as a large Japanese heavy cruiser and the Japanese identified 3 British destroyers. The Allies altered course to North West to close the enemy.

The second Japanese ship was identified as another large heavy cruiser and the closer Japanese destroyer division was also identified. The Japanese identified the lead ships of the Allied centre column as HMS Exeter followed by 3 old D class light cruisers. Pierre the Shy, commanding the Allied force now faced a dilemma. This was not a convoy screened by light cruisers as the US submarine had reported. One of the Japanese heavy cruisers was probably more than a match for his cruisers, two stood a good chance of overwhelming him. The gunnery officer also reported that all Exeter's radars were inoperative removing the edge in accuracy his fire control radar may have given him.

After muttering about the traditions of Nelson, "No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy" and the court martial of Rear Admiral Troubridge Pierre the Shy sent the traditional signal, "Enemy sighted, am engaging".

Exeter opened fire with her forward turrets at 18,000 yards and scored early hits. The Japanese reply was unsuccessful.



The British centre column worked up to 28 knots, the maximum speed of the old D class cruisers, and altered course to North to open their gunnery arcs. The port column of four destroyers steadily worked up to 32 knots and altered course to West to cut off the Japanese. The starboard column of American destroyers nursed their over 20 year old machinery up to their maximum 32 knots as they tried to work ahead of the British cruisers.

The Japanese altered course to South to try and work their way past the Allied force. The two heavy cruisers steadily worked up towards their full speed of 36 knots. Their starboard column of four destroyers worked up to 32 knots and pulled ahead of the starboard column of 6 transports. Their port column of four destroyers increased speed and the rearmost destroyer started to lay smoke to cover the transports.



Exeter's shooting continued to be excellent at approximately 15,000 yards and the leading Japanese heavier cruiser was suffering badly. The D class cruisers were having little to no effect on the second heavier cruiser but were having some effect on some of the Japanese destroyers. The Japanese firing continued to be poor with Exeter, Danae and the rapidly closing British destroyers of the port column taking some damage.

The Japanese destroyers of their starboard column had finally worked ahead of their heavy cruisers, due to the damaged Kumano slowing. They were however too late to effectively engage the rapidly closing British destroyers. The secondaries of the Japanese cruisers had caused some damage to the British destroyers and set two a blaze. Despite this the British destroyers managed to launch their torpedoes. One struck and did enough damage to cause the already damaged Kumano to sink, a second penetrated deeply before exploding and set off a massive explosion in the Kumano's magazine. The two halves of the Kumano would slowly sink over the next half hour. Rear Admiral Takeo Kurita was killed by the explosion.



The second Japanese heavy cruiser, Suzuya, had temporarily reversed course to avoid the slowing Kumano and any torpedoes heading her way. She now reversed course again to support three of the four Japanese destroyers from the port column as they launched an attack on the British cruisers. The fourth destroyer continued to lay smoke to protect the convoy.

The Exeter, with its current target exploding dramatically, looked to shift targets and unfortunately for the Mitakesan Maru, last transport in the port column, the smoke laid by their destroyers was dispersing enough for Exeter to fire on her. 8" shells slammed into the artillery ammunition in her cargo hold, the series of explosions ripped the ship apart and she had sunk with 5 minutes.

The American destroyers had almost worked ahead of the British cruisers and the three that could opened fire on the closest Japanese destroyer, all missed.

The Japanese destroyers of the starboard column closed to 1,400 yards and engaged the damaged British destroyers which took evasive action and laid smoke as they withdrew from their successful torpedo attack.



[It was getting late so we finished for the evening. On Sunday we decided that Roy and I would finish the few turns remaining in the game. I was to follow Pierre the Shy's instructions to break off the action, including a texted reminder about one of his destroyers still having torpedoes]

The commander of the Suzuya recovered from the shock of seeing the flag ship explode and ordered the convoy to press on. (Much too all our surprise Roy passed the morale roll.)

Exeter managed to avoid a salvo of torpedoes. She was then hit by a full broadside from the undamaged Suzuya bringing her to a stop. Exeter's engineers managed to get her underway again. Another Japanese destroyer fired torpedoes at Exeter just as she was about to be covered by smoke by the US destroyers. Unfortunately one of these hit, causing enough damage to sink her.

Express managed to get into a good position to launch her torpedoes at the Suzuya but was hit hard by Suzuya's secondaries and only had one torpedo mount still operational. These missed as the Suzuya unexpectedly turned towards the Allied ships.

All four British destroyers that had attempted to cut off the Japanese were hit hard by the four Japanese destroyers that had been unengaged despite laying smoke and taking evasive action. With their speed already reduced they couldn't break contact.

With the majority of the Allied ships withdrawing behind smoke the Japanese broke off the action and the convoy resumed its southerly course.



It was definitely a game of changing fortunes.
Lord Lensman of Wellington
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Lord Speedy of Leighton

Crumbs!
The Board of The Admiralty will be having words I'm sure!
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fred.

A great write-up! Definitely a game of two halves. Not sure PtS will be leaving you in command again Paul!

Does the sea change colour in the photos?
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paulr

PtS will be quoting Nelson to the Board of The Admiralty :-S
And he was pretty heavily overmatched

I agree with you Fred, I don't want to be in charge again X_X

I forgot to adjust the colour balance for the different lighting between the evening and the following day
I'd already labeled the pictures so didn't go back and fix :-[
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Aksu

Very nice! Did you use the 3d printed merchant ships for the transports?
Cheers,
Aksu

paulr

No 3d printed merchant ships were harmed in the playing of this game ;)

There were some in the Japanese starboard column :)
Lord Lensman of Wellington
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Steve J

Wow, I wasn't expecting such a change in fortunes :o !!! A great looking game though :) .
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Rhys

If only I didn't have to move away for a job a decade back. Its been a long time in the gaming wilderness.
And it seems that Mr the Shy really has sold his soul for better dice rolls. This would never have happened 15 years ago.
Attack Attack Attack until;
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B: We're all dead
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d_Guy

It certainly began well and the nothing less than exceptional gunnery of the Exeter had given me hope that the IJN was going to receive a serious bloody nose! Well done PtS! Yet, as we know, all good things must come to an end. It seems that Paul did a credible job of simulating PtS's normal die rolls.  ;)

The early war in the Pacific is a fascinating period and you have captured the spirt (and many of the outcomes). Excellent report and great looking ships. :-bd  :-bd
Sleep with clean hands ...

pierre the shy

The Admiralty regrets to announce the loss of HMS Exeter and HMS Express while attacking a heavily escorted Japanese invasion convoy "somewhere in the South China Sea off the eastern coast of Malaya" recently. The other ships involved are returning to HM Naval base in Singapore.

Quote from: Rhys on 19 January 2022, 08:00:15 AMIf only I didn't have to move away for a job a decade back. Its been a long time in the gaming wilderness.
And it seems that Mr the Shy really has sold his soul for better dice rolls. This would never have happened 15 years ago.

Sold my soul for better dice roles? - if I had I don't think its made much diffrence to increase the average numbers that I roll with any sort of dice!! :) Paul was only playing the last couple of moves since we didn't think it was worth for me to make a 30 minute drive to play the breakoff moves.

Quote from: d_Guy on 19 January 2022, 03:22:23 PMIt certainly began well and the nothing less than exceptional gunnery of the Exeter had given me hope that the IJN was going to receive a serious bloody nose! Well done PtS! Yet, as we know, all good things must come to an end. It seems that Paul did a credible job of simulating PtS's normal die rolls.  ;)

The early war in the Pacific is a fascinating period and you have captured the spirt (and many of the outcomes). Excellent report and great looking ships. :-bd  :-bd

Yes an excellent game. Pity about the second half  :(

Playing the ABDA in this campaign is like being a Spurs supporter (which for my sins I confess that I am) - You know that you can do well sometimes but there will enivitibly be a downside when somewhere along the way to balance out the good stuff  :)       
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pierre the shy

Maybe there is hope if the above model is correct - I see Spurs scored twice in two minutes in injury time to win 3 - 2 this morning  :o  :-SS
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