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The Last Fight of the ABDA AAR

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#1 W. Clark

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Posted 26 December 2017 - 12:34 AM

The Battle of Surabaya East

Time: 2000 hours       Wind: Force 5/SE       Wind Speed: 20 knots           Sky: Overcast

Max Visibility: 16,000 yards  Dusk Reduction: 1,000 yards                        Squalls: Yes/2

Squall Visibility: 4,000 yards Sea Haze: No

Admirals Glassford USN and Palliser RN were not in a good mood. They had been harassed by Japanese LBA all day with HMS Dragon having been reduced to 13 knots from four hits. Admiral Glassford had felt compelled to send Dragon back to Surabaya with HMS Tenedos as escort. HMS Exeter and Mauritius were still suffering from hull and turret damage from their last engagement. Never the less they needed to be at sea. The Japanese had at least two convoys at sea aimed at Dilli and Surabaya itself. The Japanese had to be stopped if ABDAFlot was to have any chance of surviving. Floatplanes reported a Japanese force of cruisers and destroyers dead ahead; the ABDA force of 3 American cruisers, 2 British cruisers, 4 British destroyers and 7 Dutch destroyers pressed on, on course 045 at 25 knots.


Admirals Kurita, Kenzaburo, Tanaka and Nishimura were very happy, naval LBA had reported bombing and damaging at least one cruiser in the ABDA force ahead. If it was not for the loss of a turret in Mogami and two in Kumano it would have been perfect. Admiral Kurita’s force of 3 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers and ten destroyers steamed on at 25 knots on course 135.


At 2018 hours USS Boise punched through a large squall to see three Mogami class heavy cruisers crossing her tee at 12,000 yards. Boise opened rapid fire on the lead cruiser (Mikuma) and a Nagara class light cruiser trailing them. Boise hit the leading cruiser thrice with her fore turrets and the light cruiser four times with her rear turrets. All three heavies returned fire hitting Boise at least four times knocking out her engines and a fore turret. Boise went dead in the water but she had started fires in both cruisers she hit and the light cruiser staggered out of line to port.


Boise’s black gang trying to fix her engines broke one beyond repair and Boise stayed DIW. USS Phoenix, next in line swung out to starboard to avoid the Boise and the long column of ABDA ships followed her round as they could not see Boise because of the squall. That turn coupled with the squall moving at 10 knots to the SE caused Phoenix and Marblehead to pop out of the squall at 29 knots. Phoenix fired at the leading Japanese heavy cruiser (who had put her first fire out) causing two more fires and her main battery fire to slacken considerably. Marblehead opened on the second cruiser and her hits appeared to bounce off. The Japanese return fire was ineffective.


Boise’s black gang managed to fix one of her damaged engines and she got under way again at 5 knots and turned to starboard unmasking her full broadside. The Japanese launched torpedoes from at least two of their cruisers at Boise. Phoenix pummeled the leading Japanese heavy and she (Mikuma) slid under the waves at 2042 hours. Marblehead, Exeter and Mauritius (now, all out of the squall) all pounded on the second Japanese cruiser and her main battery fire appeared to slacken. Boise fired her remaining four turrets at the trailing Japanese heavy cruiser and set her afire. Return fire from the Japanese heavies hit Phoenix in the hull and knocked out all of Exeter’s turrets. It was looking pretty glum for the Japanese as they seemed to be down to four functioning turrets between two cruisers when Admiral Palliser’s flag ship, HMS Exeter failed her morale. The British cruiser division then refused action and Admiral Glassford felt compelled to break off the fight (three failing die rolls for morale will do that). This aborted the sweep. The Japanese took Surabaya and Dili completing their conquest of the DEI and won the campaign for the first time using the standard start option. The Japanese torpedoes missed Boise astern and everything else in the water.

#2 Darren Burnside

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 11:18 AM

good report

#3 W. Clark

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 07:47 PM

We've been fighting this one round after round for the last two years now. The Japanese won the first one when we used the Force Z sortie option even though weather prevented them from finding Force Z. We then went with the standard start option thrice with the ABDA winning the first two. We intend to start it up again, just as soon as we figure out which start option we want to go with this time. As far as we are concerned we have not even scratched the surface yet; far less having exhausted the different ways to play the campaign. I like TSC, but I love this one' The campaign is a real gem.


The campaign is best when you have more than one player per side. Optimally, you would have six players with two taking up the Japanese cause; 1 each to the Western Attack Force and to the Eastern Attack Force. If you then had an Allied player for each of the ABDA nationalities that would be best and just might give you some of the competing interests that plagued the campaign historically. We've had to make do with just two and it works fine that way also. We used the gaming group we belong too in Portland for some of the fights and a tactical team does not have anything to do with operation decision making adds another wrinkle to it.


The ANZAC Squadron acts as a serious balancing force. The EAF needs help from the WAF in order to deal with it and the two Japanese losses occurred because the Japanese were discovering just how much help is in fact needed along with some bad luck. Even this last Japanese victory was a near run thing that was realized because of an Allied morale failure. It has been hammer and tongs each time with neither side knowing if they were going to win or lose until the resolution of the last game turn. The Japanese are more powerful, but they have a lot to do and not much time to do it in and the ABDA with a bit of luck can pounce just when the dice screw the Japanese plan. You just don't know what is going to happen until it does.

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