Sunday 27 April 2014

WW2 Naval 1941 British v Japanese Campaign

WW2 1/3000 Naval 1941 British v Japanese Mini Campaign

HMS Prince of Wales British Flag Ship
HMS Repulse a WW1 Battlecruiser

After a year to date of 28mm gaming it was time to go off piste for a while. WW2 Naval is an old love, when I moved to my current area 25 years ago, I joined the local club and the en vogue game at the time was WW1 Naval, the lad who ran the games, Richard ( haven't seen him for years, hope he's well ) had everything and I mean everything, a model for every ship, so there was no scope to build a fleet, so I moved into WW2. My collection now has every Japanese and Italian ship from the war down to destroyer plus a good selection of Brits, Yanks and Germans.

I put together a set of rules then which remain remarkably intact to this day. Its a great fall back game, quick to set up, easy to grasp and I think fun to play. The rules to many these days will seem old school, with "sharp intake of breath" tables and "horror" record keeping. But these are the sort of rules I grew up with, I just don't understand how you can attempt to deal with all the detail of WW2 with a single roll of a d6.

A data card, each ship has one with all the info to play that ship, damage points and speed on the right. A 10x6 grid representing the ships deck to allocate hits and at the bottom a table with gun data giving number of dice and armour penetration. 
I think rule sets did use to be too complicated but to my mind they have gone too far the other way. I had my first game of Rapid Fire this week at a friends house, fun game, great company, great set of rules ? No not for me, too basic, not enough attention to detail, I'll play them again with that group but wouldn't choose them myself, horses for courses.

The Initial Japanese Fleet
The mini campaign is a "what if" based on an idea from navalwargamessociety a game based around the South China Sea in December 1941. Most of us will be aware of the loss of Prince of Wales and Repulse to air power and the shock waves it sent through the world of Naval Warfare signifying the end of the Battleship as king of the sea. HMS Indomitable an aircraft carrier, ran aground in Jamaica whilst on route to the area and this campaign explores what might have happened if she had arrived to take part. I have used ships available from my collection which is based on a Med Fleet so the names maybe wrong for the theatre ( for the pedants among you).

The joy of Naval Wargaming, sod all terrain cost and zero set up time.
The initial set up is in darkness, a Japanese scouting force is looking for the Brits, 4 heavy cruisers and 3 destroyers, spread out seeking contact. The Brits with a Battleship, a Battle Cruiser, an Aircraft Carrier, 2 Light Cruisers and 8 destroyers are heading to intercept an invasion force north of their location. Prince of Wales is the only ship with radar fire control so the Brits know where the Japanese are, they on the other hand are blind, they do wake up however when on the first turn a 15" shell from PoW lands on the cruiser Suzuya.

Pic showing the general confusion of night actions. The white discs are star shells, if they are behind a target from an observer they can see the ship, if in front they blind the observer. You can see counters for unobserved ships as well as upturned golf tees acting as shell splashes.
Initially this is quite an unbalanced game, but that's the idea, the Japanese stumble into a bigger badder bully boy and need to survive till daylight and (hopefully) some air cover or reinforcements. It got worse very quickly as well, the first hit on Suzuya hit the torpedo tubes causing a fire. Not the best thing to have as it makes you quite visible at night ! Over the next couple of turns, outclassed by bigger better guns the Cruiser quickly sank.

Suzuya learns that having a fire at night is bad
Things weren't going well for the Japanese with the other cruisers starting to suffer, then a shot hit a turret on a British destroyer, someone had left a blast door open and the explosion flashed to the ships magazine causing it to explode. It damaged the two ships next to it setting a fire on HMS Neptune, a light cruiser. It certainly lifted the Japanese players morale who had been getting a hit badly till that point.

HMS Ashanti explodes after a hit on a turret flashes to the magazine, the yellow counters signify a ship either using or illuminated by a searchlight, the card strips in the background are torpedo tracks.
The Japanese lost a destroyer before HMS Neptune learnt the don't be on fire in the dark in a naval battle lesson and was sunk from sheer weight of firepower.

HMS Neptune sinks surrounded by shell splashes.

As the sun came up the British withdrew into a tighter formation for an anticipated air attack, whilst the Japanese withdrew to maximum visibility, the destroyers using smoke to cover the cruisers and any reinforcements which arrive. The players have been given their briefings for the mornings battle and we are ready for the next game in about 3 weeks time.

Japanese fleet shadowing the British ready for daylight action
The British fleet closes up to prepare for air attack.
Starting Fleets


Suzuya Mogami Class CA                      Arashi Kagero Class DD
Kumano Mogami Class CA                    Akebono Mod Fubuki Class DD
Chokai Atago Class CA                           Akitsuki Akitsuki Class DD
Myoko Nachi Class CA


Indomintable Illustrious Class CV         Kashmir J/K Class DD
Prince of Wales KGV Class BB               Lance L Class DD
Repulse Renown Class BC                      Vanity V & W Class DD
Ajax Leander Class LC                             Eskimo Tribal Class DD
Neptune Leander Class LC                      Vimeria V & W Class DD
Jaguar J Class DD                                    Valentine V & W Class DD
Ashanti Tribal Class DD

Losses to date are British 1 Light Cruiser, 1 Destroyer, Japanese 1 Heavy Cruiser and 1 Destroyer plus one Heavy Cruiser with significant damage.

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