Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: The Maelstrom [1]

In Summary:
  • IJN Right attacking (or rather 'under the guns') the ABDA cruiser line
  • IJN Centre being attacked by ABDA destroyers with belated ABDA cruiser support
  • IJN Left deploying (menacingly)
The van of the ABDA cruiser formation turned in succession to meet the ominous threat of the IJN heavy cruisers, forcing the Japanese Admiral to quickly react and shift the focus of his fire away from HMS Encounter. The De Ruyter opened fire first but found it an uneven fight as she had to engage both enemy ships before HMS Exeter joined the fray on the following turn.

De Ruyter began to suffer immediately taking mostly heavy hull hits, slowing her down and losing a turret into the bargain. The IJN fire was accurate and very hot. HMS Exeter was quickly straddled, taking damage but without impairing her speed or her ability to fight at full effect.Worse luck followed for ABDA as the De Ruyter took a critical hit in the boiler room slowing her down to a crawl and bunching up the ABDA line of cruisers that were dutifully following her like ducklings.

However the ABDA cruiser's intervention did save HMS Encounter from receiving the full fury of the Japanese heavy cruisers main 8" batteries, as she sneaked in danger close (see above, middle right). With an "average" dice roll the prospects for HMS Encounter surviving looked very bleak as the IJN secondary armament seemed ominously sufficient to pulverise her.

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: A mighty big melee.

Several actions occur simultaneously.ABDA shows it's card to the Japanese destroyers and the IJN heavy cruisers take on the ABDA destroyer screen.

To the ABDA left, HMS Electra stops making smoke and the ABDA cruiser line is deployed. Stunned silence from the Japanese commander. The concentration of ABDA cruisers is somewhat unexpected, he was briefed to expect perhaps something like three enemy "light cruisers". He also now knows (see last post) he has to get in far closer than he would want to do in order to deliver an "effective attack" on fast moving targets. Being on the receiving end of the broadsides from these five cruisers is definitely going to hurt/sting.

And hurt it does, from line-of-battle top to bottom the cruisers belch fire at the destroyers.
  • De Ruyter (Flag)
  • HMS Exeter
  • HMAS Perth
  • USS Houston
  • Java
Back on the far ABDA left the plucky HMS Electra is suffering badly, particularly from the attentions of the IJNS light cruiser giving chase and is all but reduced to a burning wreck topside defiantly firing back with one gun, but importantly hull (and hence speed) intact.

The IJN destroyers start their attack runs at the ABDA battle line know they have at least three turns 'under the guns' before they are in effective torpedo range. The damage is savage and with one turn or so left to press on the formation is approximately down to half strength armament strength and battered hulls.

Meanwhile at the van of the ABDA formation those Japanese heavy cruisers (IJNS Nachi and IJNS Haguro), assisted by their float planes reporting fall of shot, start a deadly game of destroyer hunting (their only targets). Running out of options Doorman signals attack as the Japanese "eyes in the skies" means that they will be able to shoot through any smoke screen, while ABDA would be blind. The RN/Dutch destroyers find to their dismay the IJN heavy cruisers to be very powerfully armed indeed and it looks certain to be a one way trip.

The Dutch "Witt de With" (bottom left) is the first to be sunk, followed by the Dutch Kortenaer (top middle) left dead in the water with no functioning armaments, their stoic sacrifice and the van of the ABDA cruiser line coming into sight (De Ruyter and HMS Exeter) allows HMS Encounter, though badly damaged (down to half strength) to make an attack run on the heavy cruisers.

All the time the Japanese left hand side counter draws closer, rather too aggressively to be considered as likely non-combatant transports. The last remaining fully functioning ABDA destroyer HMS Jupiter (above far right, HMS Encounter top left) closes to investigate revealing:

Another IJN destroyer flotilla and light cruiser (flag). Doorman seethes in a low guttural voice that he is caught in a classic "horns of the buffalo" Zulu style attack.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: IJN revealed [Middle Counter]

The left Japanese screening force cuts down the left flank of the ABDA force. HMS Electra responds by laying shielding smoke to hide the remaining ABDA counters (one dummy and one representing the ABDA cruisers and American destroyers) from direct IJN line-of-sight.

The IJN right flotilla is now in line astern formation of:
  • IJNS Jintsu (Light Cruiser) chasing HMS Electra
  • IJNS Hatsukaze (Destroyer)
  • IJNS Oshio (Destroyer)
  • IJNS Yukikaze (Destroyer)
  • IJNS Shiratsuyu (Destroyer)
  • IJNS Asashio (Destroyer)
  • IJNS Shigure (Destroyer) lagging at reduced speed due to a GQII "critical boiler hit"
To Doorman's (ABDA's Commander) surprise the Japanese central counter moves relatively closer to the ABDA forces. The tactical tabletop units can go up to their speed, but non-revealed hidden counters can only move 6" at best. Two turns and they should be in eye-to-eye contact with the invasion convoy? All ABDA has to do is continue on its course and fend off the close escort an be amongst the transports. The ABDA commanders senses an opportunity.

The leading RN/Dutch destroyers report (incredibly) that they are under torpedo attack. The secret "Long Lance" torpedoes from the IJN destroyers (fired the turn before). This is rather unnerving to the ABDA player who was subconsciously thinking of combat only in terms of what his weapons could do. Calculations reveal that the ABDA destroyers are travelling too fast and outrun or dodge the fish (without even the need to roll the dice). A salient lesson for the IJN player in the use of is wonder weapon, pity he "only" used half of the left flotilla's complement to learn it.

Meanwhile the leading Dutch destroyer moves into view of the IJN middle counter to reveal, two rather heavily armed Japanese er, non-transports:

These are Japanese "heavies", 8" cruisers in fact. Ulp! Not the slow fat merchantmen Doorman was hoping to see. The IJN heavy cruiser scout planes now overhead are in perfect spotting spotting position of the ABDA destroyer screen and next turn they will be able to clearly see the ABDA cruisers too. The way the Japanese left (ABDA right) hand side counter is also converging to the battle area suggests more "non-transports".

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: IJN revealed [Left Counter]

The ABDA destroyer screen manoeuvres itself table-top into a position to "see" the left hand side IJN counter. Five ABDA destroyers deploy in line abreast and correspondingly a clump of IJN ships appear from the Umpire's "toy box".

There is a slight audible gulp from Rear Admiral "Doorman" as he was hoping for far less enemy ships, a destroyer picket rather than the flotilla above. Although the absence of anything "heavy" (8" or greater) is a great relief. He would happily take Japanese light cruiser and a flotilla of IJN destroyers if that was all their ships. Certainly something for "Doorman" to ponder, especially since the GQII player knows more than his historical counterpart and mutters "Long Lance" under his breath.

The Japanese and ABDA destroyers form a line of battle and engage in a bit of long range destroyer gunnery.

All else behind this front battle-line is still approximation via 'poker counters', though the hum of the Japanese float planes is getting ominously louder. The gunfire duel lasts but two rounds, a scattering of hits across the RN destroyers and a return pebble dashing of the leading Japanese destroyers, with the added interest of a critical hit down in a boiler room which means one IJN destroyer pulls out of line (in order that he does not slow the formation down) and starts straggling.

Doorman sees that enemy 'gun' numbers would soon aversely tell as the Jap light cruiser is about to enter the fray. Discretion being the better part of valour and wanting to hide the main ABDA line of battle for as long as possible "Doorman" orders a covering smoke screen to be laid.

The destroyers comply (Dutch destroyers to the right hand side, RN destroyers to the right).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: The Scenario

The ABDA Fleet has been concentrated to counter the threat of a Japanese amphibious invasion. Returning from a fruitless patrol a reconnaissance plane reports sighting the IJN fleet, ironically exactly where the ABDA fleet has just come from. A case of looking in the right place but at the wrong time.

The ABDA fleet does an about turn in sight of their own harbour and heads straight for the vulnerable Japanese invasion force spread out in an unseemly, non-military gaggle for some twenty miles. The head of the convoy points directly at Java.

The Japanese escorting force has been caught napping as the IJN did not expect a concentration of Allied assets so rushes all of its available forces to defend the convoy crammed full of troops.

Because of the multi-national nature of his fleet, the Dutch Rear Admiral Doorman has but one tactical command in his itinerary, literally "Follow Me".

The ABDA Fleet heads out with a fan of the five RN and Dutch modern destroyers screening a cruiser line of battle:
  • Dutch De Ruyter (Flag Doorman)
  • HMS Exeter
  • HMS Perth
  • USN Houston
  • Dutch Java
The American WWI destroyers are kept to the rear as a reserve force and try desperately to keep up with the more modern elements of the ABDA task force. .

Tabletop game:

To try and introduce an element of the "fog-of-war" a set of counters represented the sides formations until direct visual contact was made. The ABDA player could see three IJN counters, one of which was assumed to be the convoy, the others probably escorts. The ABDA commander was given two real and one dummy counters to represent his forces. The dummy would disappear if sighted by an enemy ship.

An immediate annoyance for the ABDA commander was the sight of Japanese (float) planes on the horizon, an asset he was without.

Next: What lurks beneath the IJN counters?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: ABDA [3] The USN

The USN contribution to the ABDA fleet is shown below:

Two extremes, the new (and designed specifically to match the IJN heavy cruisers on equal terms from the planning days of the Washington Treaty) the USS Houston with her powerful 8" guns, contrasting with the WWI veteran 'four stacker' destroyer "pack". Heavy in torpedo complement but lacking in everything else bar bravery.

USN Houston had already taken damage via a IJN air attack and her rear turret was out of commission. Therefore at the start of the scenario she had already lost a full armament box and cannot shoot in her rear arc with her main battery. As per the other ABDA cruisers her float plane is out of commission.

Next the ABDA Battle Plan ...

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: ABDA [2] The British and Australian

The Royal Navy had an odd box of kit floating around in the Pacific at the start of hostilities. The better side of the selection (away from Force Z) did however fight at the Battle of the Java Sea (see below).

They are/were:
  • HMS Exeter (leading cruiser)
  • HMAS Perth (trailing cruiser)
  • HMS Electra (top left)
  • HMS Encounter (top right)
  • HMS Jupiter(bottom)
HMS Exeter, veteran of the Battle of the River Plate, packed the biggest punch with her 6x8", whereas HMAS Perth carried a lesser calibre but respectful 8x6". Of the destroyers HMS Jupiter was the pick of the bunch. HMS Electra's claim to fame being the recovery of the three survivors from HMS Hood after the Battle of the Denmark Strait . 

Away from the historical forces there were "in area" veterans RN cruisers from the end of the First World War era  that were best kept out of the way of the modern IJN kit.

Scenario Notes: Reference to David Manley's Naval Wargame Page and Jimmy's Sperling's GQ scenario found there as inspiration for my efforts

Next the USN ...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Battle of the Java Sea: ABDA [1] The Dutch

After reading a bit of "The Pacific Campaign" by Dan Van Der Vat (try saying that after a few beers and it will sound like a bad Meatloaf lyric) I got interested in the Battle of the Java Sea. It seemed as if both sides were fighting it with their second teams, while the big boys were elsewhere. In essence it was a cruiser and destroyer action with an annoying bit of strategic Japanese air power lying about.

Following on from their immediate successes against the Americans at Pearl Harbour the Japanese pushed forwards into the European Dutch Colonies (Borneo, Sumatra, Java) with the simple expansionist objectives of driving all before them and obtaining the valued raw materials they so desperately needed.

In February 1942 the combined local forces of the Americans, British, Dutch and Australian (ABDA) had gathered in sufficient force to attempt to check the Japanese advance. This became known as the Battle of the Java Sea.

It is of interest to me as although the ABDA fleet was outnumbered the Japanese were quite reckless in their advance as to give a fleeting "best-bad" opportunity (one that pans out slightly better in a wargame than the historical reality). Also of historical interest the most senior admiral and hence in charge of this multi-national force was in fact Dutch, Rear Admiral Karel Doorman.

The Dutch contingent is seem below (Navwar 1/3000 kit):

  • Cruiser (Flag): De Ruyter (leading)
  • Cruiser: Java (rear)
  • Destroyer: Kortenaer (top)
  • Destroyer: Witte De With (bottom)
Of special note none of the ADBA ships have NO serviceable spotting planes, thanks to recent Japanese air activity shooting down or damaging them
Next the British (RN) Forces

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Mighty Maus in 1/72 [3]: Dirty and Yellow

Following on from the Pink Terror (see previous post) I decided to backwash the Maus with a watered Anita's Acrylic Black Metalic wash:

As usual the dirty effect was intended to be slightly "over the top" to be calmed by steady wet brush of Tamiya Sand Yellow (the more traditional German colour) that followed:

Leaving a rather stark looking chap, more yellow than pink now though. I think I will experiment with the Flames of War painting guide advice on painting German tank tracks next. It is all to do with there red anti-rust primer showing through. I have the required Vallejo paints, I just have to attempt their recipe.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest we forget

1914 to 1918 was a terrible folly

To a grandfather I never met, but who survived four years of the terrible trenches on the Western Front

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Deadly Six are finished: Japanese 1/3000 CV's

Not quite as impressive as Steve Backshall and his "Deadly Sixty" (a kids 'nature/animal' programme that is literally sweeping the nation as a 'craze' here in the UK) but the Pearl "Deadly Six" ruled the Pacific up until Midway when the Six were reduced to Two (and boy did it all go downhill from there for the IJN):

From on high (above) the massed concentration of IJN aviation.

A USN dive-bombers dream. Leading the pack from left to right is the:
  • Kaga (60 Planes, 28.5 Knots)
  • Akagi (60 Planes, 31 Knots)
Both of these were built on converted capitol ships scrapped by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, on battleship and battlecruiser hulls respectfully, hence the much slower speeds (as they still carried a significant amount of dead-weight in 'belt' armour, superfluous for a CV) and lesser plane capacity through compromises in machinery spaces (as the conversion occurred part-way through the build).

Meanwhile, in the top of the picture and the bottom of the picture (above)
  • Soryu (71 Planes, 34.5 Knots)
  • Hiryi (64 Planes, 34 Knots)
Smaller than all the other aircraft carriers but purpose built for the CV role.

Lurking towards the back of the pack are the ultra modern looking:
  • Shokaru (84 Planes, 34 Knots)
  • Zuikaua (84 Planes, 34 Knots)
Literally packing the planes in.

Another shot of the IJN strike force as berthed (see below).

All ships from Navwar.
Right that's that "ticked" off the "to-do" list :)
What next?

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Mighty Maus in 1/72 [2] and Slightly Pink

Taking a brief rest from things naval I returned to the mighty tank that never really was, the Mighty Maus (Mouse) from a previous post.

Not a hard paint job as there were many huge flat surfaces quite easy to wet brush over. Not a pretty thing, just an armoured box on tracks, with a huge gun in an infeasible turret.

Towards the end things seemed to be going slightly pink. At first I thought it was my eyes until I checked the Tamiya label, Desert Yellow XF-59, the "modern" desert camouflage as opposed to my intended Panzer Yellow.

Ah well, it was still in the base colour undercoat so I decided not to panic and amused myself by comparing it to a Panzer I (see above and below). Tiny Tim the "Panzer I" certainly shows the breadth of WWII German tank designs.

The next stage is to black wash with a watered down Anita's Acrylic Metallic Black.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The IJNS Midway Four CV's in 1/3000

Following on from the IJNS Deadly Six WIP post, more carriers take shape in 1/3000. The Hiryu and Soryu can now be fielded on "table" along with the Kaga and Akagi.

Viewed from high level recon:

All CV's are again from Navwar.

Dropping down to a lower level, in a less realistic berthed parade formation. The rest of the IJN and US Pacific Fleet are edging their way towards the painting table. I had fun painting these, although one has to reflect on the wisdom of those large "rising suns" make rather excellent aiming points :)

Two more to go to get the Deadly Six for the Pearl Harbour attack.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

1:300 Russian Modern Forces: Soviet MR Division Project

As part of my 1/300 modern wargaming arsenal I have an ongoing project of building up a Soviet MR Division (to the Spearhead Modern Order of Battle)

So far I have two BTR Motor Rifle Regiments with assets:

The BMP Regiment (that has some [not photographed] but not all of its assets) in an old chocolate box, unlike the custom built BTR boxes (courtesy of DL from Hartlepool).

Which leaves the fourth (Tank) regiment (purchased but still to be painted) and the Divisional Assets (yet to be purchased) to complete the divisional formation.

Then it is onto paint their NATO adversaries ;)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

WWIII: The bridgehead at Dinnersdorf (2)

The silence is broken with incoming mortar and artillery rounds into the Russian columns.

Driving through the indirect fire the leading Soviet MR battalions hit the direct fire of the dug-in WG paratroopers (top of picture) in the "woods" i.e. green felt.

Reconnaissance by contact in the middle.

Red smoke indicates a kill, while the explosion counters represents a suppression (in the rules two suppressions equal a kill, although getting a second suppression can be hard). The Soviets were taken aback by the hail of Milan fire from the hills behind the Anna River. Cumulatively these pesky Milans (on motorised carts started) start taking a toll of Soviet tanks and APC infantry.

However the attack is pressed home (below).

The attack is pressed to the left (below) with Soviet regimental FOO's finally in place (can you spot him in the built up area?), bringing in an unhealthy barrage of 122mm eggs in danger close. A risky tactic which [in this case] killed more defending WG paratroopers than Soviet attackers.

With the left hand side Soviet flank battalion taking "soaking fire" but importantly shielding the centre attack from distracting hits the wood (above) is assaulted. The Soviet supported central battalion finally gets into deadly close combat where despite its losses numbers tell on the now beleaguered WG paratroopers.

Soviet success and NATO disaster looms on the Soviet right flank.

The NATO paratroopers are stubborn but are eventually overwhelmed (see above). The mathematics of defending with two companies against an attack of two battalions mean that the WG are forced to pull back as a motley gaggle of survivors. The three fresh MR battalions (out of the original six) remain and are deemed to take back and eventually clear Dinnersdorf (held only by NATO regimental support units rather than front-line infantry) well before the 'blessed' NATO relief column appears on the horizon.

Follow on Game:
This sets up an interesting follow on game with a NATO armoured column finally appearing and making an attack against a Soviet defensive bridgehead.

Forces: A WG Panzer Brigade (with the remnants of the WG paratroopers) attacking the remnants of the two Soviet MR regiments that are being reinforced by the BMP regiment and a Tank regiment (if I can paint then in time).

I think NATO/Soviet air-strikes and XX artillery may play a part too.