HMGS-South Founded March 1996

This scenario was fought on February 8th 2014 using FLEET ADMIRAL Volume II Naval Warfare 1925 - 1945.

FLEET ADMIRAL Volume II Naval Warfare 1925 - 1945 is a set of tactical rules covering naval warfare during a period that saw the demise of the Battleship and the rise of the Carrier as the preeminent naval vessel. So what better way to show players what is in store for them in Volume II than to run an AAR of one of our recent playtest.

Time: 1550 hours.
Location: 175 nm NNE of Henderson Field Guadalcanal.
Weather: Good.
Visibility: Clear.
Mission: US - Strike, attack and destroy HIJMS Ryujo and Tone. Japanese - Defend Ryujo against enemy air attacks.
Forces Engaged: US - USS Saratoga air group, Commander Harry D. Felt, 28 SBD-3, 7 TBF-1. The SBDs are all armed with 1000 lb. bombs. The TBFs carried torpedoes. Japanese - Detached Carrier Strike Force commander Rear Admiral Chuichi Hara commanding. Ryujo (Ryujo class CVL) minus 15 Zeros and 6 Kates out on a Strike mission, Tone (F) (Tone class CA), Amatsukaze, Tokitsukaze (Kagero class DD).
Setup: The Japanese player sets up his forces as shown, see map, course 075°, speed 25 knots. The Japanese player has seven A6M2 Zeros assigned to CAP three in sector 3 and two each in sectors 4 and 5 at a range of 30,000 yards from Ryujo at High altitude. The US player sets up his Strike mission bearing 135° from Ryujo at 20,000 yards. The SBDs are at Medium altitude and the TBFs are at Low.
Notes: Here are the stats for the aircraft involved.
Japanese: A6M2 Model 21 Zero (Zeke) - DFR: 5, Max Alt: High
US: SBD-3 Dauntless - Def. Fire: Yes, Max Alt: High, TBF-1 Avenger - Def. Fire: Yes, Max Alt: Medium

On to the AAR!

Historically Commander Felt was able to approach to within 17,000 yards of Ryujo before being sighted by the carriers screen. Therefore the scenario starts with the US Strike mission already within the Japanese CAP zone as depicted in the setup map and one turn of movement away from sighting range of the screen.

Turn 1 1550 hours: Being that the US strike mission sets up outside of the visual detection range of any of the Japanese CAP aircraft or surface vessels the US strike simply advanced 3" toward the enemy.

The speed and maneuverability difference between warships and aircraft is so drastic that in order to keep track of the position of every vessel and aircraft in play when they interact with each other we need to adjust the games time scale. So FLEET ADMIRAL uses what are called Aerial Warfare turns each representing 30 seconds of actual time whenever an aircraft and an enemy aircraft or aircraft and surface vessels may engage each other. Players can freely transition between Aerial Warfare turns and 3 minute Surface Warfare turns, as needed, keeping track of time on their Orders Card.

During Aerial Warfare turns aircraft move at a max speed of 3 inches per (30 sec) turn when not engaged in any form of combat and 5 inches per turn once they engage either other aircraft or are conducting an attack on a surface target.

Aircraft change speed when changing altitude levels. During Aerial Warfare turns climbing halves the speed to a maximum of 1.5 inches per turn and diving increases the speed to a maximum of 6 inches per turn when not engaged in combat, and 2.5 inches and 10 inches respectively when engaged.

Surface vessels move half their ordered movement every third Aerial Warfare turn or every minute and a half.

Turn 2 1550.30 hours: The US player advances his aircraft during the Movement Phase closing to within visual sighting range (10,000 yards aircraft in formation) of Tone and Amatsukaze. The Japanese Admiral immediately rolled to vector his CAP aircraft on to the strike and succeeded rolling a 2 on a D10 (the CAP aircraft may now leave station and start to close with the US stike aircraft). I will admit that it caught me by surprise that they got so lucky on the first attempt. Tone and Amatsukaze opened up with their long range AA batteries during the Reactive Fire phase but scored no hits.

CAP (Combat Air Patrol) is a standing patrol of fighter aircraft deployed to protect a task force from enemy air attack.

Players need not keep track of the exact position of each aircraft assigned to CAP. Instead, when assigning CAP missions a player will designate a range band and patrol sector (1-8), see map above, at which the CAP aircraft will patrol as well as the number of aircraft assigned to each range band and patrol sector.

Communications between CAP aircraft and their parent vessel as well as between aircraft separated from each other by any distance were extremely difficult during the time period covered by these rules. When enemy aircraft are detected either visually or by radar by friendly surface vessels or aircraft during the Detection Phase any friendly aircraft assigned to CAP missions may be released from their patrol sectors and vectored onto the approaching enemy aircraft, the CAP are free to move/leave station during the following Movement Phases.

At Extreme range (10,000+ yards) The Japanese player needed to roll The number of aircraft assigned to CAP rounded down and rolled a 2!

Turn 3 1551.00 hours: During the Movement Phase the Japanese formation moves 1,250 yards or half it's ordered speed of 25 knots. The US strike closes the Japanese formation and Ryujo opens up with her AA batteries joining Amatsukaze and Tone. Things are getting pretty hot for my fly boys but they manage to keep formation and not lose any aircraft to AA. The Japanese player has dived to attack my TBFs with his three Zekes that were initially positioned in sector 3 but has chosen to close the SBDs with the aircraft from sectors 4 and 5 at a speed of 3" staying at High altitude. I wonder what he is up to?

The Zekes manage to splash one TBF for the loss of one aircraft from return fire. To keep things manageable when fighter aircraft attack a formation of non-fighter types the combat is simultaneous, the number of aircraft that can return fire depends on how many aircraft are in the formation. In this case there are 7 TBFs so 5 may return fire. When fighters engage fighters they must first roll against their Dogfight Ratings (DFR), the results of which determines whether or not they were able to gain an attack position on the opposing fighter before anyone gets to shoot.

Turn 4 1551.30 hours: My TBFs split off to attack Tone all the while being harried by the Zekes but luckily I dont lose any aircraft to AA or those nasty fighters. My SBDs keep on a steady approach toward Ryujo all the while the Japanese AA blazes away and Tokitsukaze now in range adds to the fray.

Turn 5 1552.00 hours: My TBFs put fish in the water and manage to down another attacking Zeke! Go team! My torps will impact in Turn 7, all aerial launched torps impact during the movement phase two turns from launch.

Turn 6 1552.30 hours: The Japanese formation advances 1,250 yards and the first wave of SBDs dive to attack (up to 12 aircraft may attack a surface vessel during any given turn). Dive Bombing was the most effective yet most nerve shaking, for the attacking pilot, form of bombing during WWII. To reflect this, for each Dive Bombing attack conducted the player conducting the attack rolls a D6. On a result of 1 or 2 the dive bombers pilot gets rattled and conducts an early release. Dive Bombers conducting an early release are not subject to Short Ranged AA fire but the Dive Bombing attack is less accurate (short ranged AA fire is conducted when an aircraft closes to within 1,000 yards of a vessel and is at Low altitude). On a result of 3 or 4 the dive bombers pilot maintains his cool and conducts a normal release. Dive Bombers conducting a normal release are subject to Short Ranged AA fire, after they release. On a result of 5 or 6 the dive bombers pilot is determined and conducts a "pressed home" attack. Dive Bombers conducting a "pressed home" attack are subject to Short Ranged AA fire before they release their weapon, and any damaged or destroyed results are applied immediately but the surviving Dive Bombers attack is more accurate.

I rolled a six conducting a "pressed home" attack but took no casulaties from AA. Still I only managed to score one hit. I rolled a 10 on the Damage Table Aerial Warfare Vessels (CV) table knocking out a light AA mount. At least there will be little less lead coming up at my buddies in the next two waves!

Turn 7 1553.00 hours: During the Movement Phase two of the six torps launched at Tone strike home automatically inflicting two Waterline-Compartment Flooding hits. Additonal damage (rolled for) knocked out a secondary gun mount and caused a Compartment Fire. The Japanese player will roll to control these during the Damage Phase of Turn 8.

The second wave of SBDs goes in and I roll a "normal release". I lose 1 aircraft to AA but score two more hits on Ryujo. I roll a 67 "Main Magazine" causing a fire but the mag does not expload, and a 45 knocking out the emergency conning position. The Japanese will roll during the Damage Phase of turn 8 to control the magazine fire.

Turn 8 1553.30 hours: The late to the Ball Japanese CAP finally closed and engaged my first wave SBDs losing one aircraft for their troubles. The second wave turned to egress the battlefield and my third wave went in for the kill.

I rolled a 6 getting a "pressed home" attack and managed to survive the AA unscathed! My pilots dove on Ryujo determined to put her under. I scored three hits rolling a 51 knocking out one of her main 5" mounts but there was no fire, a 58 scoring a Flight Deck hit but still no fire and a 97 Main Magazine which of course did not go boom! But hope springs eternal and I will put a hex on his Damage Control rolls.

During the Damage Phase of turn 8 our intrepid Japanese Commander, Doug, rolled to control the hits to Tone and Ryujo received in turn 7. Tone managed to control one Waterline-Compartment Flooding hit but failed to bring the other under control or to stop the raging Compartment Fire. The brave crew aboard Ryujo managed to control the Magazine Fire hit taken in turn 7. All was well and Doug had that smug look that only a Japanese Admiral could manage!

Turn 9 1554.00 hours... As the main events of the battle had taken place Doug and I decided to call it a wrap and informally roll to see how things would finish up.

The Japanese CAP continued to pester my aircraft as we headed home until they took another loss. Then they turned and circled their rapidly burning home!

Tone managed to put out that Compartment Fire buy failing to stop the Waterline-Compartment Flooding. She went under shortly after the survivng crew abandoned her.

Rather than flooding the magazine our brave Japanese Admiral attempetd to fight the magazine fire aboard Ryujo to the very end, the very loud go boom end!

All in all we had a blast. The game lasted about 2 hours including setup, smack talk and taking photos. We played on a table measuring 5' by 2.5' using a scale of 1" to 1,000 yards and each aircraft stand represented 3 or 4 aircraft.

FLEET ADMIRAL will be played at RECON 2014, for more info click here.

Sign up soon as space is limited and there will be several prizes awarded at each event! I'm looking forward to seeing you there.

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