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Collision in Empress Augusta Bay

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#1 Thomas J Fitzgerald

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 04:28 PM

Empress Augusta Bay 11/2/1943 10th action in Upper Solomons Campaign 

Ref:        “USN Against the Axis” pg. 207-216

                “Command at Sea Rising Sun” pg 83

Time: 0245-XXXX

WX: Squalls (1x D4 in area), gentle breeze glassy = Force 3. 12 Kt wind. Smoke last 1 turn. No Moon.


USN Forces                                                                                                         IJN Forces

Montpelier (flag) CruDiv 12                                                                         Haguro (flag) Sentai 5

Cleveland                                                                                                            Myoko

Columbia                                                                                                             Sendai (flag) DesRon 3

Denver                                                                                                                 Samidare

Charles Ausburne (flag) DesDiv 45                                                            Shiratsuyu

Dyson                                                                                                                   Suzukaze

Stanly                                                                                                                    Agano (flag) Desron 10

Claxton                                                                                                                 Naganami

Spence (flag) DesDiv 46                                                                                 Hatsukaze

Thatcher                                                                                                              Wakatsuki




USN Mission: Prevent IJN force from bombarding landing beach at Cape Torokina. This can be accomplished by sinking or causing the IJN CAs to withdraw. CruDiv 12 is the only remaining cruiser squadron in the South Pacific area of operations, as a result, VPs for any ship sunk or crippled in the squadron are worth 1.5 times normal VPs.

IJN Mission: Destroy any transports off Cape Torokina and bombard landing beaches with cruisers. This can be accomplished by exiting the SE map edge with at least 18kts speed still available to the IJN CAs.


Notes: Torpedo dud rate: USN = 1-3 (D12), IJN = 1 (d12).

USN may launch torpedoes on radar contacts.

IJN has 2xPete floatplane in the air. A roll of 1-2 on a D12 in the detection phase indicates the Pete has located part of the USN task force (determine randomly if CruDiv 12, DesDiv 45 or DesDiv 46 is found).The ships in the Division will remain observed as long as the Pete does not search for a new target. Once located the Pete may illuminate 2x during the game. If illuminating the Pete may be attacked by short range AA fire by any ship being illuminated. A Pete that has detected a formation but does not close to illuminate may be engaged by long range AA fire from the detected formation. Only ODD results on the AA table will have effect due to night. AA fire will reveal a ships position but not count as illuminated for gun fire purposes. It will cause a 2 columns left shift for visual detection.

Due to a previous bombardment mission without ammo resupply all USN ships are limited to 12 units of fire in this engagement (use of rapid fire uses 3 units per turn, regular rate of fire uses 1 unit).

Stanly has only one bank of 5 torpedoes onboard having fired the other 5 earlier in the evening.

Haguro has engineering issues and is safely limited to 30kts. Any turn Haguro wishes to exceed 30kts roll 1 D12, on a roll of “1” she sustains an engineering critical.



The Cape Torokina beachhead is off the southeast edge of the table at approximately 38000 yards

USN formations are in column by division with each division echeloned to port. DesDiv 45 is in the lead (order C Ausburne, Dyson, Stanly, Claxton). CruDiv 12 is next in line (order Montpelier, Cleveland, Columbia, Denver). Montpelier is 5000 yards from C Ausburne and echeloned 1000 yards to port. DesDiv46 is 3000 yards behind Denver echeloned 1000 yards to port (order Spence, Thatcher, Converse, Foote). Course 340, speed 20kts. IJN center column is bearing 340 from Montpelier at 30000 yards.


IJN is in three columns. The center column is comprised of Haguro and Myoko. Running parallel to port at 10000 yard is Sendai, Samidare, Shiratsuyu and Suzukaze. Running parallel to starboard at 5000 yards is Agano, Naganami, Hatsukaze and Wakatsuki. Course 120, speed 25kts. Montpelier is bearing 160 at 30000 yards from Haguro.

01 EAB

0245 Local DesDiv 45 steaming at 20 kts on course 340. In the distance at approx. 15 Kyds is a heavy squall line. Beyond the squall at just over 30 Kyds 3 IJN formations approach. IJN snooper skirting the storms but tracked by radar.


02 EAB
View from the IJN perspective 
0248 A snooper closes for a closer look and pays the price.
0257 DesDiv 45 in the lead followed by CruDiv 12 and lead ship of DesDiv 46 just entering. DesDiv 45 has contact with 2 IJN formations but the approaching squall line is making it difficult to contact the 3rd IJN formations. The position of this squall, initially considered fortuitous by the IJN commander would prove to be disastrous for both side later in the engagement.

05 EAB

0257 Closer view of IJN approach to the squall line. The column of 2 is Haguro and Myoko and have already been detected by DesDiv 45. The column of 4 lead by Agano (flag DesRon 10) has so far remained undetected.


06 EAB

0300 Montpelier of CruDiv 12 opens fire on the northern most IJN formation targeting the lead ship Sendai (flag of DesRon3)


07 EAB

0303-0306 Sendai makes a hard port turn but is pummeled by 17 6” hits resulting in her rapid demise. She does manage to get off a spread of 2 Type 90’s at the USN cruiser formation at a range of 9000 yards. At 0309 her consorts Samidare, Shiratsuyu and Suzukaze all launch 2 spreads of 4 Type 93’s a total of 24 torpedoes. Gun flashes and a timely flare dropped by a snooper aiding in their detection and aiming.


08 EAB

0312 USN CruDiv 12 counter marches with a turn in succession and the IJN torpedoes lance through the formation after a run of approx. 8000 yards. Columbia and Cleveland (still not visually acquired) each obligingly take a Type 93 aboard reducing their speed to 21 Kts.


09 EAB

Desron 3 after launching torpedoes turns away under the cover of smoke. The wreck of Sendai and their torpedo launch points visible astern.


10 EAB

Wider view of Desron 3 torpedo attack. Also visible is a disastrous collision of force about to unfold as the IJN appears out of the squall line at point blank range. One of the DDs in DesDiv 46 manages to get 10 torpedoes off in 2 spreads of 5 each. (This was likely Foote but the deck logs are not clear)


11 EAB

0312 IJN torpedoes have hit and a close range gun fire ensues. None of the shooting was over 4000 yards and it was rapid firing 6” vs IJN 8” with opposing formations on collision course. Haguro targets Cleveland, while Myoko targets Columbia. On the USN side Montpelier pours fire into Haguro hitting her 7 times and Cleveland targets Myoko scoring 3 6” hits.


12 EAB

0315 In an attempt to avoid collision the IJN cruisers make turn to starboard. This causes the Haguro cutting through the USN line resulting in a glancing impact with Cleveland. This caused minimal hull damage to both ships as their speed was about equal and the impact was at a shallow angle. Haguro also manages to get a spread of 4 Type 93s in the water off the port side. The torpedoes fired by Foote narrowly miss Haguro after a 5000 yard run.


14 EAB

Haguro’s spread of 4 Type 93s intersect Denver’s course scoring 1 hit resulting in catastrophic hull and engineering damage. As a result she is slowed to 10 kts


15 EAB

0315 More point blank gunnery from both sides with damage accumulating on Columbia, Cleveland Haguro and Myoko. Agano and the rest of DesRon 10 smother Montpelier with 6” and 5” fire yet score no hits!


16 EAB

View of DesRon 10 opening up on Montpelier


17 EAB

0318 IJN CA’s attempt to extricate themselves from a very deadly space by making a port turn. Unfortunately their speed at this point is only between 10-15 kts so they don’t get very far. The USN commander with a similar thought turns every one who can to starboard with the hope of getting into the cover of the squall. Meanwhile DesRon 10 seeing a tight cluster of targets fires 28 Type 93s into arcs that is hoped will miss friendlies but cross the course of the USN CruDiv heading for the squall line. Unfortunately their hopes were dashed when 2 of the type 93s from Agano gutted the Myoko. On the positive side a total of 7 torpedoes hit USN cruisers. The hits resulted in the sinking of Myoko, Columbia, Cleveland and Montpelier. Progressive fire damage and parting gunfire sent Haguro down as well.


18 EAB

Montpelier almost made it to the cover of the squall but her hard to starboard turn placed her in the torpedo arc of DesRon 10

0321 Both sides recoil from this horrific encounter. Of the USN’s CruDiv 12 only Denver survives and crawls back down the Slot at 10 kts. With the exception of Foote who got chewed up in the last minutes of the engagement both USN DesDivs are undamaged. The results are sobering for the USN with each of the cruisers carrying a complement of 1300 the loss of life is likely to be enormous. The ineffective use of both DesDivs should result in all Division and Squadron commanders’ relief. The IJN has no cause to celebrate with both heavy cruisers lost, Sendai flagship of DesRon 3 lost and Wakatsuki a brand new DD crippled to the point she had to be scuttled. Added to that list of woes Agano’s torpedoing of Myoko.







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#2 W. Clark

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 05:18 PM

Now that was a vicious night fight if I saw one. Great AAR.



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#3 simanton



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Posted 26 March 2024 - 09:17 PM

Totally agree, Bill!  The party who came out best was the Marines on Bougainville!

#4 W. Clark

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 03:48 AM

Well as a former Army "Puke" I'm all for keeping the Marines alive. I personally preferred to fight in Europe and that required live Marines for the Pacific.



#5 Kenny Noe

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 08:50 AM

Wow,  Naval equivalent of a dark alley knife fight!!!  "Surprise!!  Oh shite, you have a gun too!!!"   Great AAR

#6 Thomas J Fitzgerald

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 10:59 AM

The environment played a huge role in how this fight unfolded. The opposing sides start positions were historical and then the squalls were randomly placed by rolling a D12 and a D6 (D12=location on table long edge and D6=position in from the edge in feet). As the IJN player my initial plan was to hold the CA's off outside of the USN rapid fire range and let my 8" batteries do some work before closing. The weather on the other hand looked like a good opportunity to get to my exit point toward Cape Torokina (which was part of the victory conditions) without getting shot at least too much.


On my approach the IJN acquisition rolls were poor for the only formation (DesRon 3) with a clear LOS to the USN and one of my Pete snoopers was shot down before it was able to drop flares and illuminate. The USN on the other hand had detected both DesRon 3 and both CAs. DesRon 10 remained undetected courtesy of the 2 column shifts right provided by the squalls. Radar detectors on the IJN formations flagships at least provided information that there was some opposing force out there somewhere in that general direction. 


The IJN finally caught a break when the 2nd Pete snooper located and illuminated part of the USN cruiser formation. Only DesRon 3 was in a position to take advantage of this illumination eventually getting off a barrage of 26 torpedoes. Sendai got crushed by a rain of 6" fire for this opportunity but at least the torps were on the way. The USN cruisers started an in-succession countermarch at that time, but the selected torpedo arc put the spreads right through the center of the formation. The torpedoes arrived just as the other IJN formations were emerging from the squall line. After that it was a short but deadly melee. 


I don't know why the USN player never released his DD divisions in order to make contact with the IJN further out from the cruiser force. The leading, DesDiv 45, never fired a shot, and the trailing, DesDiv 46 only had one ship fire torpedoes. Court Martials likely for the destroyer leadership team. 

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#7 W. Clark

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 02:53 PM

I take it that the USN did not use star shell to illuminate its contacts. That is not unhistoric for USN to limit their star shell use as they suffered from a lot of duds from their prewar stocks. But this is a game and the 12,000-yard max night range of the 5L38 is a 2,000-yard range advantage over the Japanese that is built into the CRT. Personally, my standard approach is to make radar contact, get my DDs within 12,000 yards and illuminate. If the IJN has cruisers present and they are contacted along with destroyers, then the size difference should give some indication of which is which. So, to quote a captain of the Boise, "Pick the biggest one and shoot".

If you star shell works (and it always does if you are playing the RAW) then you have illuminated his cruisers. Due to the shift, he will almost certainly acquire your DDs, but not your cruisers. That leaves your cruisers firing at an illuminated target while they are unengaged, a two-range band downshift that will almost certainly allow for rapid fire from your 6-inch cruisers. The odds are with you getting at least 3 hits and the EDR fire(s) that follow even if you don't set them afire otherwise.

Your star shell firing destroyers turn away under smoke to break contact. The next turn your cruisers do the same. As long as you maintain radar contact you should retain situational awareness and that should allow you to do it all over again. 

The fly in the ointment is the IJN torpedoes. But as your cruisers are some 12,000 yards away, they are in well outside the LL second range band limit of 9,600 yards. If you are monitoring how the IJN moves, then you know roughly when and where they can fire torpedoes. Make sure your sterns are towards that point at the end of your third turn of movement after you expect torpedoes to have been fired. A stern target aspect has a two band down shift and in the third range band falls off the bottom of the CRT and is an automatic miss.

The above is why I have started using limits on the reliability of star shell to limit this advantage the RAW gives the Allies. Lonnie is looking to it as we speak.

I seldom play scenarios after 1942 and actually prefer even earlier ones in 41 and 42. We are talking =SWR (with its 16,000-yard limit) and no 5L38. This swings the overall advantage back to the IJN. But, because their gunnery superiority is really based on the Takao, Myoko and Mogami classes whose guns are housed in CS turrets it's a very vulnerable advantage. Their only other real advantage is their torpedoes and I've already pointed out how to generally neutralize them. 

Of course, if the Allies don't have radar or their radar contact die roll is really bad then lead with crappy old DDs and run away under smoke upon contact to live to fight another day with a better contact die roll.



PS Give squalls a wide berth as only bad things happen to the Allies in squalls. I once lost the entire Dutch East Indies Fleet when I literally ran into a bunch of Myokos in a squall. I lost the collision damage exchange which given the displacement difference was to be expected. That extra hull damage at the start meant that I didn't have the speed to run. Takagi (the IJN admiral) sank De Ruyter, Java and Tromp and 6 out of 7 Admiralen class destroyers and IJN LBA got the last while it was trying RTB. I did sink the single AP and aborted the convoy, Whoopie!

#8 Dave Franklin

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 07:59 AM



You wrote "...a two-range band downshift that will almost certainly allow for rapid fire from your 6-inch cruisers."  Note that 1.5.8 Rapid Fire says "Hand loaded batteries with high rates of fire can employ Rapid Fire in gunfire attacks at 12000 yds or less, indicated by the reverse print on the CRT."  My bolding...  The point being the ability to Rapid Fire is based on the actual range, not the adjusted row on the Gunfire CRT.  This was confirmed in a thread on the forum titled "More Rapid Fire" several years ago.



#9 Thomas J Fitzgerald

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 09:08 AM

That is how we play rapid fire. Regardless of shifts on the CRT you must be 12000 yards or below. If up shifts take you over the 12000 yard band, we still allow rapid fire if the actual range is below 12000. 



You wrote "...a two-range band downshift that will almost certainly allow for rapid fire from your 6-inch cruisers."  Note that 1.5.8 Rapid Fire says "Hand loaded batteries with high rates of fire can employ Rapid Fire in gunfire attacks at 12000 yds or less, indicated by the reverse print on the CRT."  My bolding...  The point being the ability to Rapid Fire is based on the actual range, not the adjusted row on the Gunfire CRT.  This was confirmed in a thread on the forum titled "More Rapid Fire" several years ago.



#10 Begemot_



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Posted 30 March 2024 - 12:20 PM

Thomas - A great game and AAR. There were moments in the battle that started to look like the sea battle in the movie Ben Hur.


Thanks for posting.



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