Wednesday 17 April 2024

Defending the Malay Barrier: Turn 2, 1st - 15th January 1942, Japanese WAF Patrol v WesGroup Sweep

In this phase the Japanese have sent out two patrols with the intention of intervening any allied sweeps before they interfere with any invasion or supply convoys.

The first action sees WesGroup out of Singapore intercepted by the WAF patrol:

HMS Exeter continues its northerly route having lost HMS Dragon crippled by an air attack and now returning to Singapore. The remaining two 'D' class light cruisers and 7 destroyers plough through the force 7 sea state with reduced visibility.

Continued -
Exeter leads Danae and Durban. On their starboard beam are the 4 x 'S' class destroyers Scout, Stronghold, Thanet and Tenedos. On their port side are the 2 x 'E' and 1 x 'J' class destroyers Electra, Encounter and Jupiter.

Approaching directly from the east are 3 x heavy cruisers, Mikuma, Mogami and the flagship Chokai. They are flanked on the port side by 3 x Fubuki class destroyers lead by the Shirakumo. On their starboard side are the Arashio leading 2 x Akatsuki class destroyers.

Emerging from the gloom, both fleets sight each other at a distance of 17,000 yards. 

The Royal Navy has early success with the Exeter scoring hits on the Mikuma with its opening salvo. Its 8" shells knocked out 'B' turret and one of the secondary turrets. 
As the gap closed Exeter continued to enjoy success destroying 'A' turret on the Mogami. It was only a matter of time though when the heavier firepower of the Japanese ships began to feel their mark. Concentrating fire on the Exeter it lost its 'Y' turret and more seriously suffered a fire which it struggled to control.

It is now turn 4 and Exeter is being pummelled by the concentrate fire from all 3 Japanese heavy cruisers. A second fire has broken out and only one main battery turret is still operational. Danae and Durban do their best to aid the Exeter with some success. 6" shells from the Danae hit the Mikuma destroying a float plane and causing a fire. 

Scout's lightly armed flotilla (2 x 4" guns apiece) bravely attempt to deflect the larger Japanese destroyers from engaging the Royal Navy cruisers. One of those 4" shells scores an engineering hit on the Shirakumo severely restricting its speed. 3 of the 4 small destroyers launch their torpedoes (Stronghold was not equipped with torpedo tubes) moments before a 5" shell from one of the Japanese destroyers knocked out one of the torpedo mounts on the Thanet.

Several of the Japanese ships are equipped with the heavy long lance torpedoes and now several are in the water heading for the Royal Navy cruisers. 
Turn 5

Danae in the lead is pounded by incoming 8" shells with two fires breaking out. Durban is so far relatively unscathed.

Electra leading its flotilla comes under concentrated fire from two Japanese destroyers with one of the 5" shells causing a fire.

Overview at the end of turn 5.
Turn 6

Danae successfully extinguishes one of its fires. Both surviving British light cruisers display a high level of accurate gunnery using the close range to rapid fire their 6" guns into the leading Japanese cruisers.

Danae concentrates its fire on the lead cruiser the Mikuma penetrating a bulkhead causing flooding and an engineering hit severely reduces its speed. 

Durban focuses on the second cruiser, the Mogami, knocking out its gun director and causing damage to its hull.

All this with no accurate response from the Japanese cruisers.

All was not well for the Japanese destroyers either facing off against their British counterparts. The Shinonome was struck by a torpedo from the Thanet crippling her. Electra and Encounter followed this up with their 4.7" guns. One of which penetrated a barbette causing a massive ammunition explosion utterly destroyer the Shinonome. Electra though was itself suffering hits from the Japanese destroyers including its engineering restricting its speed.
Turn 7

Numerous torpedoes are now in the water from both sides, one of which strikes the Shirakumo (lower middle of photo) sinking her. Elsewhere only minor damage is inflicted this turn.
Turn 8

The Jupiter having positioned itself ready to fire off its torpedoes promptly gets struck by a Japanese torpedo sinking it outright. This is a serious loss to the Royal Navy having lost its most modern destroyer out of Singapore.

At such a close range, the British have the ability to use 'rapid fire' on all guns up to 6" enabling them to cancel out the heavier firepower of the Japanese. They have limited ammunition to be able to sustain this for long but they have nothing to lose. The 6" guns from both Durban and Danae pummel the Japanese cruisers including taking out the bridge of the Mogami. 

As a result all Japanese fire is now concentrated on the remaining two British light cruisers.
Turn 9

On the left of the photo Danae finally succumbs to the sheer weight of shells pouring into her and despite valiant efforts in putting out numerous fires and bulkhead breaches she slips beneath the waves.

Top right, HMS Durban damages all 3 Japanese destroyers who are attempting to slow her for the cruisers to finish her off. Durban is repeatedly hit in return and succeeds in extinguishing 2 fires.

The small S class destroyers are ordered to disengage. There is nothing more they can do to change the course of the action and self-preservation is now the order of the day.
Turn 10

The two E class destroyers fired off their torpedoes hoping to strike it lucky and two from the Encounter did precisely that. They struck the Chokai (top of photo) very nearly sinking her and only the actions of the crew extinguishing a fire saved them. It's top speed was now down to 10 knots.

The Mikuma (nearest the camera) was also down to 11 knots having sustained serious damage from incoming 6" shells. 
Turn 11

The last of the Japanese cruisers able to make good speed, the Mogami, raced to close the gap on the now slowing Durban. An 8" salvo along with the 5" guns of the nearby destroyers, finally destroyed the last of the British cruisers. 
Although the Japanese patrol succeeded in preventing the British sweep from interfering with their supply convoys it was at a heavy cost. 2 of the 3 heavy cruisers have been crippled and will have to be withdrawn for refit. The third has sustained damage and will also need to be repaired. 2 destroyers were also lost and a third crippled.

The British lost all their 3 cruisers together with a destroyer sunk and another crippled. The higher value of the Japanese vessels reflected on the victory points (VP's) gained during this action. The British scored 13 1/4 to the Japanese 10 3/4. 


  1. A very interesting game, thanks for sharing.
    The VPs thing is strange, isn't it? I understand the rationale, but intuitively it is still a little hard to accept. Perhaps something to do with how humans crave certainty (sunk) over probability (the Japanese cruisers are as good as sunk for period x, and consume additional resources whilst they are doing it).

    1. Many thanks JWH. I quite like how the VP's work in this campaign. I am not normally a fan of VP's but given the one-sided nature in this instance it gives the allies a chance of "winning" which would translate into delaying the Japanese advance and inflicting damage that will impact on its ability to wage war in the following years.

      With regard to VP's for crippling ships I agree with your interpretation. You also only gain 1/2 a ship's VP's by crippling it rather than sinking it outright. The Japanese have more powerful ships which means they have more VP's to lose!

  2. Another fine game and I thought the British did rather well against the force they faced. A good point about crippled ships and the time it would take to repair them, alongside using valuable resources they could be spent elsewhere.

  3. A costly battle for all concerned. The loss of so many Royal Navy ships, especially Exeter will have an impact on further operations I suspect.

    1. Thanks TWR. Yes, basically the RN is pretty much neutered at this point in the campaign.