Lockdown has delayed play, but here is Mike's Facebook post of our 32nd session which was two weeks ago. And what an exciting session it was!
J/F 1943 – The Battle of the South China Sea
A new year J/F 1943 and with the dice gods still favouring the Axis who won the initiative and rolled a helpful bad weather (7+2) for a 9, blizzard on the arctic again (Russia mumbles) snow in the Temp and Med and fine in the North Monsoon and the South China Sea. With the EOT advancing by 3 it will be another short, probably 2 - 3 impulse turn.
GERM, Italy and Japan all take combines. Japan’s Comb sees it sortie out its CA’s to hunt for the US Conv in the Bismarck Sea, with the hope of cutting US supply to Manila – these are surprised by the escorting BS, resulting in a damaged CA and the other aborted. Japan flys Acft into the S China Sea and China Sea to protect its Convs and provide air cover for a fleet move into the S China Sea 4 box. Failed searches as both the US and Japan fail to find, both rolling 8/10 - their now habitual high rolls. Italy commits the Balbo HQ to the defence of the Suez, transporting him by sea from Sicily direct to Port Said. The GERM gives its ‘Naval move’ to the Vichy Fleet as it sails a fleet into the W Med to block and potentially intercept any British ships that try to interfere in the E Med operations. GERM fly a long range Nav into the Red Sea 4 box to hunt the CW Convs and put the CW Mountbatten Eastern Expeditionary Force (MEEF) OOS – both find with a 1 and 2 rolled incl the British CV air group that luckily aborts the Nav back to its base in the Suez with a handy roll. Axis forces advance East and occupy the Eastern border of Egypt, now bolstered by Balbo and GERM Divs. In Southern Russia, Russian acft intercept GERM Stuka’s attempting to GS the Rumanian/Russian city of Chisinau, shooting it down (19) with its pilot being captured by angry peasants. The Russian also take a loss as the Lagg3 - (16) is shot down by the escorting GERM Ftr – good rolling from both sides.
Allied 1st Impulse US takes a combined and Russia a land as it rearranges its front moving forward its reinforcements. The CW takes a Naval and covers its convs and resets its convoy lanes that were broken by the EOT success from U-Boats last turn, several reinforcements arrive in Jordan. The Red Sea is reinforced with the Far East Fleet including BS and CV covering Tpts to maintain supply. A search by the British sub in the E Med finds the Italian Conv and sinks its prey – the Axis N Africa/Egypt is now OOS. The CW delivers a US built air-cobra to the Russian with ‘how to fly’ instructions taped to the cockpit. The US drops off another LND bomber in Morocco, but the prime interest is the S China Sea. The US flies into the 3 box and sails part of the Pacific fleet into the China Sea from bases in the Philippines. Ominously for Japan the Pacific fleet then sails out of Manila threatening both the South China Sea and the China Sea. Searches in the S China Sea sees the US find and sink 5 Japanese Convs. Second searches fail to find Japanese long range acft nor do they find either.
A Russian long-range Strat bomber successfully bombs Lodz and, in the Baltic, the US FTR escorting a Russian and CW NAV find the Kreigsmarine’s Tirpitz all alone. Luck was on the side of the ‘Queen of the North’ as she saved both an X and a D result – good damage control, that is Krupp steel for you.
Axis 2nd Impulse weather was a 2+2 (4) snow in the Artic, blizzard in the Temp and fine in the N Monsoon. Japan takes a Naval and sails its combined fleets into the S China Sea from Hong Kong to challenge and search for the US Pacific fleet, again no finds despite the massed shipping of two high box fleets supported by Nav air and Ftrs. With snow in the Arctic, GERM take a land to reinforce his Russian arctic front, the 12.5 SS ARM arrives in Romania by train to act as a Reserve against the expected Russian 43 Summer offensive. GERM ensures that where possible, there is a winterised or at least a ‘big’ stack on every front-line hex, so reducing the winterised opportunities that the snow offers for the Russian. Italy take a Comb and delivers a GERM AA and Cav Div to Egypt to support the defence of the Suez, leaving its 2nd Tpt at sea in the E Med under the cover of massed Axis air to maintain supply.
Allied 2nd Impulse, the US takes a naval and combines its fleet to ‘go after’ the Japanese fleet in fine weather, the Japanese roll a 1 and the US a 6 – it’s on, and the Japanese is confident with the split. The Battle of the South China Sea has commenced with the Japanese having three shifts in their favour. Electing to take the US down, the A2A is a -1 JPN and -2 USA. However, the dice gods having helped the Japanese find the American, now taunt Japan. With persistent average dice rolled by the Japanese in the A2A combat (lots of 9’s, 10’s and 11’s) which allow the US to bounce Japanese bombers and clear their own through – the Japanese were somewhat unlucky. It is not all one way though, as the US lose several CVPs including their best 6 CVP ftr, and 4 other CVPs – so not entirely one way traffic. The US 7 FTR land-based air took several bounced results before it was forced to abort to Manila. The subsequent AA rolls were similar with the US rolling a perfect 9, destroying a CVP and aborting 4 points of Jap Nav – result 1 x US CV is aborted to Manilla. The Japanese AA is poor with a 1 and 3, aborting only 4 points of Nav air (no CVP kills) – with 9 US Nav air points attacking the Jap fleet the fleet carrier Akagi and a CA are sunk with another, the CV Shokohu and a CA damaged. The Yamato and Musashi absorb damages and abort back to Hong Kong.
A second round of combat, and Japan finds, but with only a marginal favourable shift (2 - 5), enough to select a surface action but not to shift and select tgt (US CV). So another A2A combat round with fewer acft again sees the Japanese suffering the loss of another fleet CV, the Soryu and damage to the Hiryu two defeats was enough and the Japanese abort the S China Sea, conceding Allied supremacy and the inevitable. Aborting back to Japan, a final ignominy as a US patrolling CA Astoria in storm rolls a 1 to intercept the aborting Japanese fleet, sinking the BS Yamashiro and 3 Conv points. Not a good night for the Japanese Navy, if only the dice had been kinder.
US Naval forces assist the CW in Convoy escort, including the important Red Sea with the Ranger CV and its air group - hopefully deterring interference from the Italian Navy/NAV air. In an act of bravery or recklessness the US sail a single CV and 3 x CA’s into the E Med to hunt for the ‘at sea’ Italian Tpt – the US hoping for an opportunity find and split – fortune not favouring the bold or the Axis – no one finds. The Commonwealth take a land and move the MEEF West attacking the GERM Palestine TER – splitters – and with a successful roll liberate Palestine and Jordon, the battle to retake the Suez has commenced in earnest with the arrival of Alexander and another Mech Corps. The Australians arrive in Singa’s to start the process of clearing the Japanese out of Malaya and Borneo.
China takes a land and launches its attack in the fine weather against the Japanese defenders in Hanoi, but surprisingly only rolls a 5, losing a Corps and Div, the Jap Hanoi MIL and TER hold their capital. Russia takes its mandatory land with the opportunities that snow presents. Several GS are flown against the line but are aborted, so no freebie plusses for the Russian. A single +6.8 attack against the Army Group North line with an above average roll of 15 sees the first GERM land loss as the 8.8 ATK Gun is eliminated and two MECH Corps are shattered, the Norge Mech bach home for RnR. Russia celebrates their first 43 victory by promoting the 4th GB MOT Corps to the 10.5 5th GBA – vodka all-round, and a relief for Stalin. The advancing GBA’s are halted by the lonesome Yugoslav HQ. Russia, would love to end the turn and win the first impulse as he could smash the HQ and possibly break the GERM Northern Line. Russia fails his EOT roll – needed a 3 or less, Stalin was momentary excited!
Axis 3rd impulse next session, with the weather becoming atrocious again (like last turn) with GERM rolling a 10 +1 (11) Blizzard just about everywhere – sound familiar? The Axis will get another 3rd impulse in bad weather with the GERM almost certainly taking a combined as the U-Boats will have another ping at the allied convs now that CV air has been rendered useless in the blizzard. The CW will hope that he THE GERM doesn’t roll 3 x 1’s like the last turn. The GERM would have probably liked to have taken a naval, but he must reorganise his line in Army Gp North with the Russian having successfully rolled high and punched a whole in it. The main advantage for the Allies is that with the likely probability of the Axis EOTR , the initiative will shift to the Allied +2 and with a +3 on the weather the first impulse of M/A will be highly likely clear.
A good turn for the Allies in the Far East as the first “Big Fleet Battle” – The Battle of the South China Sea saw both Japan and the US finally find each other, a battle that Japan desperately needed to win. Despite the initial 1-6 split Japan’s favour, persistent average dice rolled by the Japanese in the A2A combat (lots of 9’s, 10’s and 11’s) allowed the US to bounce the Japanese bombers and clear enough of their own Nav bombers through – the Japanese were very unlucky. With the loss of 4 fleet CVs – 2 sunk and 2 x damaged and more importantly 6 CVPs and four pilots destroyed, the Japanese hopes of an early victory to delay the US have evaporated in one single decisive battle. They will now be relegated to sniping US convs, SCS and defending the homeland by dominating the China Sea with the remaining fleet and her land-based air. The loss of 8 Jap Convs reduces her build capacity even further. In Europe, the GERM is on notice as the Russian builds up its air-force and has the ability now to inflict losses on the GERM front line, both on the land at sea and in the air. The GERM is stretched as it defends in Russia, Rumania, E Poland, Latvia, Norway, Morocco and Egypt. With Japan’s failure to win the first major naval engagement and the coming of fine weather in Europe the majority of US reinforcements will now be headed for European theatres rather than the Pacific Theatre.
The US Pacific just keeps getting bigger.
The US Pacific Fleet take the South China Sea
China - Chinese build up - a sigh of relief as the attack on Hanoi fails
The Far East looking grim for the Japanese
One of the many US CVPs that just made it back
Japan's hold on the China Sea being Challenged
US Essex Class CVs arrive in the Pacific an dare decisive in the Battle of the S China Sea
All Quiet on the Western Front
Western Med the build up continues
Morocco land based aircraft carrier
Italian NAV air guarding the E Med
The CW liberate Jordan and Palestine and look towards Egypt
The CW 6th Div arrive in Palestine
Saudi Arabia garrisoned v Partisan double rolls in 43
The Russian Front
Army Group North - lucky Yugoslav HQ - the GERM gets a bonus 3rd Impulse
Army Group South - reinforcements for both sides arrive.
The US owns the Pacific
Heavy losses for the Japanese this turn
Lots of activity these sessions with all nations, sides and players active. Our, next session had to be cancelled as we have been placed in a COVID-19 lockdown until the W/E due to a single, one person Covid-19 outbreak in our Northern suburbs!