This is a hypothetical action based on a Japanese sortie on 7/19/1943. In addition to delivering troops and supplies to Vila the Japanese added 3 heavy cruisers to the formation hoping to draw the USN into a surface action. Unfortunately for the Japanese after the "historical" battle of Kolombangara on the night of 7/13/1943 Admiral Halsey determined that sending cruiser squadrons up the slot was no longer worth the risk. In my Central Solomons campaign the US has not suffered the cruiser losses they did historically, so Halsey is sending them in one more time.
Below is the scenario set up.
2nd Kolombangara 7/19/1943
Ref: “Breaking the Bismarck’s Barrier” pg 206-207
“Dark Waters Starry Skies” pg 344-346
WX: Squalls, light breeze with small waves = Force 3. 10K wind. Near full moon (use full on acq chart)
USN Forces IJN Forces
Helena (flag) CruDiv 9 Kumano (flag) 7th CruDiv
St. Louis Suzuya
Nicholas (flag) DesRon 21 Sendai (flag) 3rd DD Flot
Farenholt (flag) DesRon 12 Minazuki (flag) Transport Group
2x flights of TBF armed with H (200lb) bombs
6x flights of B-25s in 2 groups of 3 armed with M (500lb) bombs
USN Mission: Interdict enemy supply mission. Exit area prior to sunrise.
IJN Mission: Deliver 900 troops/Supplies to Vila. Engage any enemy surface force with cruisers. Transports must exit South edge within 3000 yrds of the West coast of Kolombangara.
Notes: Torpedo dud rate: USN = 1-3 (D12), IJN = 1 (d12). Buchanan and Farenholt limited to 30 kts due to engineering issues. Each turn if they move over 30 kts roll a D12, result of “1” = 2 Eng Crits, “2-4” = 1 Eng Crit.
Use Campaign Air Chart shift 1 column LEFT for night attacks. Attacks will be resolved as follows:
TBF: 22:30 each flight will randomly attack one of the 3 IJN groups (CruDiv, 3rd DD Flot, Transport). This will be a Glide Bomb attack
B-25: 0400 (Group 1) each flight may randomly attack one of the 3 IJN groups. This will be a Skip Bomb attack. The base chance for the flights locating and attacking is 25% + 5% additional for each turn past 10 in the surface action.
B-25: 0700 (Group 2) the group may randomly attack one of the 3 IJN groups. This will be a Skip Bomb attack. The base chance for the flights locating and attacking is 40% + 5% additional for each turn past 10 in the surface action.
IJN: D4 from NW corner, course 135-150, spd 25 kts. Formation determined by player.
USN: D6 along East edge, course 270, spd 25 kts, formation determined by player.
Position of Kolombangara determined by D6 roll off. Initial placement is center of south edge. Roll 1 D6 for USN and IJN. Subtract low roll from high roll the difference will move Kolombangara west if IJN is high, or East if USN is high. Movement is 3000 yrds per difference in rolls. (E.g. If the difference was 3 with the IJN being high, the move would be 9000 yrds West).
USN and IJN approach range over 30 Kyds. There are a couple squalls in the area. Northern tip of Kolombangara is on the right with lead ships of the USN formation entering from the far end, and IJN ships entering at lower left corner (marked by yellow D6).
Radar equipped PBY shadowing several groups of IJN ships heading for Kolombangara. Reported as 4 cruisers and 7 destroyers in 3 separate groups. 6 USMC in 2 flights are vectored to the area and make a glide bomb attack resulting in the loss of 1 flight and no hits observed.
USN SG radar quickly paints the Japanese formations with CL Sendai and 4 x DDs leading some larger contacts by 3000 yards. IJN radar detectors indicate something is out there and give a bearing but at an unknown range.
Both sides leading formations continue to close and visual acquisition is made between 12-16 kyds. The USN decides to hold fire as the majority of their ships with visually acquired targets are out of rapid-fire range. The IJN on the other hand start launching torpedoes with Sendai sending 2 spreads of 2 Type 90’s from the port tubes, and Yukikaze firing 4 Type 93’s toward the lead USN DD formation.
After an 8000+ yard run the trail DD USS Radford catches a torpedo sending her to the bottom.
A few minutes later Kumano launch 2 spreads of 3 and Murasame 2 spreads of 4 in the direction of the USN cruiser formation. Gun fire is now opened by both sides. USN concentrates on the closest IJN formation with Sendai, Yukikaze and Murasame getting the most attention. IJN fire predominately focus on USS Nicholas, but the IJN CA’s target the USS Helena the lead US CL. IJN fire was relatively ineffective, but the USN managed to inflict several telling hits on the Sendai formation. Most telling was a Bulkhead/flooding hit on Murasame.
Sendai group and the CA’s begin a starboard turn, while Suzukaze and Yugure put 8 more type 93’s in the water.
To be Continued...