Jump to content


Photo

Makassar Strait What If


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 25 January 2023 - 02:55 AM

Makassar Strait

February 3, 1942

 

Rear Admiral Dormann’s war had not been going well up to this point. But here we will divert from history and steam into the realm of “what If”. What if the Japanese LBA had not found his striking force and what if the Boise had not found a submerged rock to ground upon.

 

There were reports of what appeared to be another invasion convoy heading South through the Makassar Straight and Dormann’s mission was to stop it. The ABDA Striking Force was organized into a cruiser squadron and two destroyer divisions (one Dutch and one American (DesDiv 58).

 

The ABDA was arrayed in three columns heading due North at 25 knots. The cruiser squadron (HrMs De Ruyter, USS Houston, Boise and Marblehead followed by HrMs Tromp), in that order; was in the center and flanked by (port) RNN Destroyer Group 2 (HrMs Bancket, Piet Hein & Van Ghent) and (starboard) DesDiv 58 (USS John D. Edwards, Barker, Bulmer and Stewart). The wind was from the NE at 5 knots and the visibility was clear.

 

At 1600 hours the lookout spotted the enemy ahead at 30,000 yards (good eyes and I gave him a cookie). The enemy appeared to be in two groups. The first group appeared to be a pair of Myoko class cruisers with a pair of (Fubuki & Hatsuharu class) destroyers. The second group consisted of a Nagara class cruiser and four (Asashio class) destroyers.

 

At 1606 hours the ABDA increased speed (it took a few minutes to get the command relayed to the DesDivs) and turned 2 points to port. Myoko opened on Banckert and deluged her in shell splashes. LTC Chompff’s sense of humor had him flash a “Thanks for the sea water shower” to the Japanese.

 

At 1612 hours the ABDA had settled on a heading of 30 degrees and the DG2 was covering itself, De Ruyter and Houston in smoke. DesDiv 58 was covering itself, Marblehead and Tromp in smoke also. Dormann’s idea was to slip around the Japanese to starboard. Besides, it was the best way to stay dry in the face of a bunch of Japanese determined to get them wet.

 

At 1618 hours Myoko and Boise exchanged shell splashes at approximately 21,000 yards.

 

At 1624 hours the ABDA had turned two points more to port and DG2 was far enough ahead at 36 knots that its smoke was no longer covering Houston. The lead Japanese cruiser continued to fire at and miss Banckert. The Nachi however hit Houston twice knocking out a fore turret and slowing her to 26 knots. Houston in return hit Nachi thrice and her fire slacken somewhat. Boise missed the Myoko, but the Nagara hit John D. Edwards twice, knocking out her fore gun and slowing her to 30 knots.

At 1630 hours Banckert hits the leading Japanese destroyer (Fubuki) thrice slacking her fire and slowing her. The slowing of the Houston had caused De Ruyter to also emerge out of DG2’s smoke and she took advantage to hit Nagara once causing her fire to slacken a bit. Boise hit Myoko again causing her fire to slacken even more. On the other hand the Japanese heavies were now concentrating on Houston hitting her twice and knocking out her remaining fore turret and setting her float plane on fire. The Asashio having sat it out long enough, fired at John D. Edwards and hit her, knocking out her port 4”.

 

At 1636 hours The ABDA turned DG2, together, sharply to starboard to avoid the torpedoes they were sure the Fubuki and Ikazuchi had launched. The gamer (me) knowing full well about the dangers of the Long Lance sought a decidedly gamey solution to that problem. Of course, he also fooled himself as I just now remembered that the Fubuki class carried Type 90 torpedoes (but that Hatsuharu class carried Type 93, so only half deceived).

 

Ikazuchi to just let Banckert know she was being gamey hit her twice knocking out her fore gun and slowing her to 30 knots. Myoko hit Boise twice, knocking out a SL, her float plane and setting her afire. Houston hit Nachi and Boise hit Myoko. DesDiv 58 had reversed course together to clear the cruiser squadron and get to their unengaged side. De Ruyter, Marblehead and Tromp all engaged at shooting at anything not a Japanese heavy cruiser and got a couple of sundry hits that affected nothing.

 

1642 hours Boise and Banckert failed to put out their fires suffering further hull damage. The ABDA turned its collective rear to the point they believed torpedoes had been fired from while sheltering under smoke. The torpedoes arrived but were in the third range band and determined to have a rear aspect, auto failed to hit (more gamey stuff).

 

1648 hours Boise put her fire out while Banckert continued to burn for two more attempts. At this point real life reintervened and I had to go home. I concluded I was in no way nearer to accomplishing my mission then I was at 1600 hours and conceded defeat to Rear Admirals Takagi and Hara (played by the honorable Robert Bishop).

 

Robertsan made every damage repair role and successfully flooded every 8” turret hit during our little foray into history. All in all, gaming with Robert (win or lose) is always a joy. I on the other hand drove back to Salem from Portland quite tired. I put on a pot of coffee and sat in my recliner with my feet up and my JRT in my lap and promptly fell sound asleep. I woke up some 4 hours later wrote this AAR from my memory and notes. It is written entirely from the ABDA (my) point of view and all mistakes are mine.

 

WMC

 


  • Kenny Noe and healey36 like this

#2 simanton

simanton

    Lieutenant

  • Members
  • 180 posts

Posted 25 January 2023 - 11:24 PM

Nice game, nice AAR!



#3 healey36

healey36

    Major

  • Members
  • 494 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 26 January 2023 - 09:13 AM

Seems an example of ABDA going toe-to-toe with the IJN in a running engagement and holding their own, at a time early on when such things happened rarely, if at all. It demonstrates what might have been possible if/when the Allies were able to keep IJN at arms-length and there was a dearth of air assets for both sides. Thanks for the play and recap.

 

That said, it saddens me to hear of the Myokos getting beat up. They were such a lovely class of ships  :)



#4 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 26 January 2023 - 07:49 PM

I don't think that the ABDA was going to get past the IJN cover force and escort (the two groups on the table). But campaign wise as it stood; both Myoko and Houston are gone for repair as was Fubuki, Banckert and John D. Edwards. Personally, when thinking in campaign game terms (only) I will happily trade Hiouston. for any of the Myoko, Takao or Mogami class cruisers. Gamey; but I took some comfort in that.

Something of note is that all of the IJN destroyers present (6 total) started out in the WAF and are in early February; already transferred to the EAF. It just goes to show that even the IJN agrees with my assessment that the EAF needs help from the WAF and needs it early on.

 

WMC



#5 healey36

healey36

    Major

  • Members
  • 494 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 27 January 2023 - 01:14 PM

To be honest, I'm surprised Takagi and Hara didn't chop them up worse than they did. What was the closest range achieved? I saw notation of 21000 yards at 1618, but I'm wondering if either side was able to close further to any great degree.

 

I just finished playing the old GDW boardgame 1942 with a teenage neighbor who wants to learn about wargames. The game covers the Japanese onslaught in the southwest Pacific operationally during those early months. Playing the Allies, one comes to quickly realize just how bleak the situation was; if you try to defend everything, you likely get your butt handed to you. Best to try to hold Singapore (a long shot) or Java (which seems do-able, especially if the Japanese bog down and get distracted on Luzon or coming down the Malay Peninsula).

 

I'm hopeful the kid gets into it. I sent him home to do some reading. I'll spring the fleet cabinets on him later.  



#6 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 27 January 2023 - 11:11 PM

The cruisers got within 15,000 yards and the DDs within 12.000. I just could not roll a hit with Boise consistent with having 7 dice to roll. I never had any intention of getting within 10,000 yards. The Type 93 third range band begins after 9,600 yards and I fully intended to get no closer. Its gamey on my part admittedly. I should not know the characteristics of the Type 93, but I do. I pay close attention. to any IJN ship that moves straight for last half of its movement. If any does, I mark the spot where it ends its movement. If it fires torps, then I know exactly where they were fired from. I make sure my ship's sterns are towards that point when I finish my movement three turns later. A stern shot drops down two rolls and off the chart for an auto miss in the third band. It screws with my gunnery, but that is a small price to pay to avoid a long lance in your puss. I just cover myself with smoke and avoid the end on fire.

 

Keep in mind that no IJN cruiser of any kind has better than CS armor for its gun's houses. Boise's 6" penetrate CS armor as far as she can shoot. and she hits on 1 & 10 out to 18,000 yards. The IJN 8" cannot penetrate her CA(CA) armor until they get within 15,000 yards. Every hit has a 25% chance (results 4,5 & 11 on a D12) of knocking out a turret. Yes, she is risking a FP fire, but she does not have torpedoes let along the full hull box fire of Type 93s. So, a daylight gun fight over 15,000 yards is a Brooklyn's fight versus any IJN heavy cruiser. You are not going to sink them. But knock out 3 turrets and they are gone from the campaign for repair. 

 

Exposing Houston (and her CL-CL armor) was a miscalculation on my part, and she immediately paid for it. That loss of speed compromised my plan from the moment it happened. If we had been playing a campaign, I would have made smoke and turned away to protect Houston from further damage. But we had not done any naval for over year and I'm not that gamey. Besides, Rob knows me very well and was ready for all my tricks. I try not to have my tactics lose for me, but I'm only going to win if his dice are good. 

 

I agree about the Allies trying to defend everything. In DTMB in my experience the Allies have their best chance in the campaign if they are able to concentrate everything in front of Surabaya on GT 5-6. But that's a game and I don't think the Allies had a prayer historically. The problem for the Allies is lack of air cover and ships able to meet the IJN on even terms. There is no possibility of a successful land defense IMHO because the Dutch were essentially an occupying force. They got a pretty good showing out of the Ambonese and other Indonesians who has Christianized as they had some stake in the status que. The rest or at least a very large majority initially saw the Japanese as liberators. Of course, that changed once they got know those sons of Nippon. But that took familiarity. to breed contempt. Remember, the Dutch tried to come back after the war and had some success where the natives had also been stake holders. For the rest it was not only no, but no backed up with guns.

 

WMC



#7 Dave Franklin

Dave Franklin

    Captain

  • Members
  • 303 posts
  • LocationColorado Springs CO

Posted 31 January 2023 - 09:23 AM

Healey36,

 

I had to go look up 1942 on Boardgamegeek.  I'd not heard of it, and as the author of the Defending the Malay Barrier campaign, I had done quite a bit of hunting around for references back in those days.  Or perhaps I just don't remember?  It appears the naval aspects in 1942 are quite abstracted?  I base that assumption only on the fact there don't appear to be any ships on the images of the game counters...

 

Dave



#8 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 31 January 2023 - 02:42 PM

It's very interesting scenario IMHO. The ABDA has to get past the IJN with enough light to find the convoy and enough combat power left to do something about it. Now you can try all the gamey tricks you can think of (I did) but that does not change the above. Each go round of torpedo provocation and evasion takes about 4 turns (24 minutes). The IJN can put 4 quad mounts in the water three times with just their DDs. That does not count the cruisers or reloads; not to mention fake launches. The scenario starts at 1600 hours (the time I estimated that they would have sighted one another if Doorman had not aborted after being bombed by IJN LBA). Having the IJN string you out until nightfall is not out of the question. we are going to try it again with better organization (remembering to bring the needed playing aids and what not) and hope we can fight it to a conclusion. 

 

Heck I'm not even taking into account any games the IJN could try using smoke. IMHO if the ABDA does not abort the convoy (their assigned mission) it is a defeat, and any other positive result is just gilding the Lilly. If I can make it work with the Americans, then I'm going to substitute the Eendratch class cruisers and the other Dutch DDs for the Americans and try it that way. 

 

WMC



#9 healey36

healey36

    Major

  • Members
  • 494 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 31 January 2023 - 08:04 PM

Dave, 1942 is one of GDW’s Series-120 games from back in the 1970s I think. They were designed to have a relatively small map, not too many pages of rules, 120 pieces or less, and playable in 120 minutes or less. In my experience, nearly all of them take more than 120 minutes. Topics were pretty diverse, ranging from Agincourt to Beda Fomm (Brits and Italians in North Africa). There were four “strategic” WWII games, 1939 covering Poland, 1940 covering France and the Low Countries, 1941 covering Barbarossa, and 1942 covering the opening moves in the South Pacific.

1942 is, as you observe, quite abstract. You’re not going to find much detail in the OB. This game is about executing and managing a campaign to seize a number of objectives with a limited number of high-level resources on a tight timeline. Troops move by sea using naval movement points; air/naval units (best described as assets operating in a targeted area) are used for interdiction. Transports and amphibious operations operate within an allotment of naval movement points. It’s not a detailed look at all, but is great fun to play and gives a good sense of what faced both sides in the early going (some desperate, some self-imposed).



#10 healey36

healey36

    Major

  • Members
  • 494 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 01 February 2023 - 12:16 PM

WMC, I get lost sometimes in the big-picture context and chronology of these tactical engagements, especially in the early going. Are the engagements detailed in DtMB scripted serially, or is there variability in the sequence and the OBs based on the results obtained in a string of prior events/fights? I realize this one was hypothetical in form, but likely based on an actual engagement's context. I guess I should invest in a copy of DtMB to better understand how the flow works. I'm keenly interested in the connection between high-level operations and the occasional trips to the table to settle the resulting tactical engagements. 



#11 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 02 February 2023 - 12:33 AM

I put this scenario together from a sortie mounted by the ABDA against an invasion convoy (against Ambon as I remember). The IJN are the ships that historically escorted the convoy, and it passed through the Makassar Strait enroute to its goal. The Boise had recently grounded on an uncharted rock and had been withdrawn for repair. IJN LBA found and bombed the ABDA sortie, knocking out USS Houston's rear 8" turret. Doorman aborted the sortie because he felt that he had loss the element of surprise and that coupled with damage from the bombing made withdrawal the soundest option open to him. Hart and Helfrich disagreed, and Helfrich offered to relieve Doorman. Hart demurred and Doorman remained in command of the Striking Force. So, we almost had a Java Sea in early February. As with Java Sea an encounter would have occurred in late afternoon. I took the visibility and weather from what I could glean from my sources was what could have been expected. So, the scenario is a what if, but much less of one then many others I've seen or concocted.

 

DTMB does not script any engagements. They are the random results of contact die rolls (there are modifiers that up or down the chances). And if a contact occurs, it is between opposing sorties in same area in the same game turn. The WAF (strike against Malaya, Sumatra and Western end of Java) comprises one such area. The EAF (strike against Celebes and Eastern Java) is divided into two areas: the Central and Eastern axis. The Allies are divided into four groups decided by where they are initially based. The West Group (RN at Singapore), Central Group (RNN at Batavia) and East Group (US Asiatic Fleet at Surabaya). A forward portion of the Americans starts at Tarakan and joined by the remainder at Surabaya on GT2. For play balance, Dave added the entire ANZAC Squadron (not just Perth & Hobart) at Darwin. The Dutch and ANZACs don't appear until GT2.

 

The WAF starts out with 7 CA (4 Mogami and 3 Atago), 1 CL (Sendai) and 24 DD (14 Fubuki, 8 Asashio & 2 Hatsuharu). The EAF starts out with 2 CA (2 Myoko), 1 CL (Jintsu) and 7 DD (6 Kagero & 1 Minekaze) as well as a CVL. A further 3 CA (Atago and Myoko), 2 CL and 18 DD will become available to the EAF depending on its choices. There are also some reinforcements possible for the WAF. The above is from memory as my copy of DTMB is out in the van (I have not unloaded yet) and I don't feel like going out in the cold just now. The largest that a single sortie can be is 6 cruisers or capital ships and 12 DDs. So, a Java Sea sized engagement is not only possible but likely.

 

If you look in the DTMB section, you will find several posts by me that analyze each groups strengths and weaknesses as well as their concerns with counterpoints by Dave where he found my observations too harsh. There are many options for the composition of the Brits, Dutch and Americans and there is even provision for a Free French Force at Darwin (a huge what if). I've run the campaign a total of 8 times as well as a couple of solo plays. I don't even feel that I have exhausted the standard start; let alone the options.

WMC


  • healey36 likes this

#12 healey36

healey36

    Major

  • Members
  • 494 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 02 February 2023 - 08:39 AM

Thanks for that; very helpful. The approach sounds quite different from North Sea Campaign, of which we have played pieces a number of times. It's that variable operational response bit leading to table engagements that seems so hard to replicate, at least in my simple mind. We have a scenario involving late-war North Sea convoy battles coming up, and creating OOBs of available assets has been difficult. Huge pieces of the Grand Fleet and High Seas Fleet are "available", but what drove Beatty and Scheer to commit them, and in what form. Scheer is greatly limited by the deterioration of morale within the fleet by late 1917 and early 1918, and Beatty seemed uncharacteristically reluctant in committing much to defend/protect the Scandinavian and intercoastal routes.

 

I've read Scheer's book written after the war and he's clearly leaving some of the more uncomplimentary stuff out. He talks great plans, working for one last great clash of dreadnoughts, but in reality the growing mutiny problem precludes all of that. Then there's Beatty, the junkyard dog of the fleet during the early years, largely sitting on his hands as the clock winds down. In view of Scheer's difficulties, maybe there was little reason to venture out. Certainly as the calendar turns over to 1918, the HSF is quickly headed toward mutinous vapor-lock and little goes to sea.  

 

I'll go back and read the DtMB threads you've pointed to for insight; any conceptual guidance is appreciated. I'll also pick up a copy of the supplement and give that a read. February is here and temps finally seem headed down to something approaching normal. A good time to stay indoors and read by the fire. 



#13 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 02 February 2023 - 06:20 PM

In DTMB, SS and TSC there is a contact table that varies a bit per area by number or two. You could divide the North Sea into areas (search boxes or whatever you want to call them). You then sortie sweeps or patrols in those areas and the Ref rolls to determine if there is any contact between opposing sorties in a given area. Things like weather can seriously degrade your chances of contact. Aerial recon can help but given your period and the North Sea is even more hampered by weather. You might think about adding a plus modifier for there being multiple sorties in the same area (if you allow that) but any subsequent contact should be randomized among the sweeps/patrols involved. IMHO contact should not be a given as historically there was a lot more misses than hits between the opposing forces.

 

There should be a set up table sets up the engagement (headings, speeds and so on). You should roll on the weather table for each contact and there should probably be an overall weather modifier rolled for before the players make up their sorties to give them some idea of what the weather is to be like. The desire to keep everything under the Admirals thumb should be an inhibitor against multiple sorties from the same base. But, given that the RN was spread out along the coast of England/Scotland there are bound to be multiple sorties if every base sorties. I would suggest investing in a copy of DTMB, SS or TSC and you will see what I'm talking about. This is kind of campaign I was hoping for when the North Sea campaign came out and I was very disappointed in the format it took. I've just never taken the time to put one together for the North Sea using what I'm suggesting.

 

WMC


  • healey36 likes this

#14 healey36

healey36

    Major

  • Members
  • 494 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 03 February 2023 - 11:36 AM

Appreciate the recommendations, especially with regards to search. I fear our proposed methods may prove too detailed, yet yielding too few contacts. We'll see.

 

My biggest concern is preventing the RN overall-commander from sending out the entire Grand Fleet simply because some trawler reported an encounter with three or four German destroyers. Common sense should be enough, but you never know.

 

We plan to measure weather by tracking random fronts hex-by-hex moving west-to-east. I'm not sure they will have the effect of broad fronts of bad weather, but we'll see. 

 

The first run-through will likely be more of a play-test than a complete game...hoping to learn a few things.

 

Thanks again for the Makassar write-up; it certainly got me to thinking about things.



#15 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Captain

  • Members
  • 363 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 03 February 2023 - 05:57 PM

I don't know how often you are allowing sorties, but I have some suggestions. If you used monthly turns, then no base could sortie more than 12 times a year. Its either something like that or some other logistic inhibitor that imposes a sortie limit to keep the campaign under control. I also do not know how much of the historical entirety of the opposing fleets you are using. If you are limiting it to capital ships, the number is daunting enough. Obviously it goes up with the inclusion of cruisers; and out of sight when just the fleet destroyer flotillas are included. One way to encourage smaller sorties is to only place limits on capital ship sorties and provide missions for the smaller ships such as mine laying and such. I think some kind of VP schedule with the VP awarded being graduated for the kind of mission completed. I've enclosed an example of what I'm proposing below.

 

Sweep that aborts all other enemy missions in an area 2 VP

Mine laying 1/2 VP

Marginal Victory (caused more VP loss than suffered) 1 VP

Tactical Victory (caused 2 to 1 VP loss than suffered) 2 VP

 

There are certainly other missions possible and victory would go the side with the most VP at the end and could be graduated on the ratio of VP accumulated by each side. This would allow for an attritional natured campaign as occurred rather then one big battle everyone expected. It would also add fog of war as there could be and probably would be several sorties in a turn. This would make it difficult to spot a fleet sortie amidst all the smaller sorties on radio traffic alone.

 

The other up side of several sorties is that the number of ships in an individual sortie would be smaller making for more manageable engagements when they occur. Anyhow these are all just ideas on how to possibly organize such a monster of a campaign and I wish you all good luck and god speed in such an endeavor.

 

WMC


  • healey36 likes this




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users