Saturday, April 27, 2024

Torpedo and Dive Bomber Missions


Truk Lagoon continues under assault by the USN, first by Avenger Torpedo Planes followed by celebrated Dauntless Dive Bombers. So strap in and let's go.

Japanese shipping swings on their anchors pointing bows.... 

Into the East wind. Captains have ordered their ships underway to escape through the North Gap. A D6 needing 2-6 was thrown for each of four merchantmen and four warships. All got underway except one Sub Chaser. The latter succeeded next turn.

As Grumman TBD Avenger Torpedo Planes arrived at Altitude 2 from the East.
These are actually Raiden I-94 1/285 Devastators. We use what we have.

Using these activation cards. Japanese Zeros are unavailable due to the Fighter Sweep Mission you perhaps read by now. They are repairing, rearming and refueling at this time. Only anti-aircraft batteries ashore and afloat will defend Truk Lagoon.

See this link for the Fighter Sweep:

That 1/300 Cruel Seas Japanese Sub Chaser and medium fuel tank (lid from a can of spray paint) are not good targets for torpedoes.

The Avengers fly past ignoring the docked freighter; a target also too hard to hit.

The Avengers swing into a "Line Astern" formation. Only the leader is required to obey movement distances/rules. The rest swing into position conforming to him.

Anti-aircraft batteries begin throwing up lots of flak. Two hit Pickett. Green simulates loss of maneuverability while Yellow reduces speed. The two White pipe cleaners indicate enough damage requiring a return to his carrier.

Bragg and Knox reduce to Altitude 1 dropping torpedoes aimed at the Maru. Then....

Both turn for home. However, the fourth Avenger piloted by Zachery believes some insurance is needed to strike the cargo ship. The latter has been holding back in case the other torpedoes miss or are insufficient.

Historical Note: Early in the Pacific War, USA torpedoes failed to detonate with prodigious frequency. Here in 1944, that problem has been solved. Remember the scene in the newest Midway motion picture showing an American torpedo bouncing off a Japanese hull failing to detonate?

This is how things look closer in.

Zachery's torpedo will probably hit adding machine gun fire into the target too.
Litko Accessories manufactures the torpedoes.

The Maru luckily received a movement card to avoid the first two torpedoes.
Later Zachery did not miss and added pilot operated machine gun fire.

The Maru begins listing to starboard before plunging to the bottom of Truk lagoon.

Knox is subjected to furious anti-aircraft fire on the way home.

Somehow he avoids damage. Flak hits with 2D6 = 11-12 at Altitude 2 or higher. (10-12 at Altitude 1) All Avengers returned to their carrier including Pickett. They will pass underneath escorted Dauntless Dive Bombers and escorts as the story continues.


Four Dauntless Dive Bombers protected by two Hellcat Fighters cross into the Lagoon. These are painted in early war paint schemes and the Hellcats are actually Wildcats. Again, we use what we have. Aircraft are 1/285 GHQ models.

All head inland with the fighters now leading.

Spotting a cargo ship, the leader orders the Dauntlessness' to trail him.

Fatal explosions ruin the cargo ship. She will sink.

Leaving the burning ship behind three remaining Dauntlessness' fly off to engage different targets when a Zero appears out of nowhere and fires pursued by a Hellcat. The Dauntless somehow survived Zero fire. (Poor dice!)

And drops a bomb on a Sub Chaser which erupts in flames and later sinks.

The last two Dauntlessness' peel off to engage targets fleeing toward the North Gap.

The bomb dropped on the cargo ship barely missed.
However, the minesweeper was fatally struck.

What About Anti-Aircraft Fire and Fighter Combat?
AA fire D6s were abysmal. Sometimes dice don't obey, don't you know?
Swirling fighter plane maneuvers were too complicated to describe here.

Suffice to say Emoto's Zero was  damaged requiring a return to base.

Jr. Ace Seto critically damaged Lacey and then ran out of ammunition.

Lacey ditched and luckily was....

Rescued by a Catalina Flying Boat.
AA fire continued to be dreadful.


(A) Later at night, surviving Japanese aircraft will attack the USN Fleet offshore. The plan is to present this story soon for your interest.

(B) As a result of multiple torpedo plane tests, the following guidelines are offered.


1. Suggest: Two aircraft/target.

2. At first fly at Alt. 2.

3. Descend to Alt. 1 to launch torpedoes.

4. Torpedoes dropped within 20cm of a target will swim under the target missing it.

5. Put torpedo in front of aircraft. It moves next turn.

6. Try to drop the torpedo so it strikes the next turn.

7. Rise to at least Alt. 2 after dropping the torpedo.

8. AA hits Alt. 1 Torpedo aircraft on 2D6 = 10, 11 or 12.

9. AA hits Alt. 2 or higher Torpedo aircraft on 2D6 = 11 or 12.

10. If dropping torpedoes at a long range use 3x Aircraft.
          2 up front drop first. 1 in back course corrects and drops next turn, if needed.

11. If close enough use MG strafing into the target.

(C) Thank you for looking in. Your comments are welcome below at Remarks.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Operation Hailstone Battletest


GHQ 1/285 Scale Zeros 5, 6, 7 and 8 on Check Your Six Bases at Airfield #1, Truk Lagoon. The defenders had been on alert for six weeks and then stood down. Some pilots were on leave when US carrier aircraft struck.

Thematic game days can be fun, interesting and compelling. They ought to be significantly different too. My next one is adapted from Operation Hailstone. On 17-18 February 1944 approximately 500 USN carrier aircraft attacked Truk Lagoon otherwise known as The Japanese Gibraltar of the Pacific.  Our plan is to have four missions shown below. The first three have been tested solo many times.

Mission 1:
USN Fighter Sweep to clear away Japanese aircraft.
We'll use Wildcats and Corsairs versus Zeros. We use what we have.
Ships are beating to quarters and may not move.
Estimated time: 2 hours.

Mission 2:
USN Torpedo Plane Attack versus shipping.
Surviving Zeros are grounded repairing, refueling and rearming.
Anti-aircraft batteries will solely defend the Lagoon.
Shipping will get underway to escape.
Estimated time: 1 hour.
This will be a very easy mission. So we'll eat lunch concurrently.

Mission 3:
USN Dive Bomber Attack versus shipping and shore targets..
Some USN aircraft will escort.
Surviving Zeros will defend.
Shipping will continue to escape.
Estimated time: 2 hours.

Mission 4:
IJN night Counterattack versus the US Fleet.
A small and odd mixture of planes will fly out to take revenge.
Zeros, Torpedo and Dive Bombers plus Army Bombers.

The following is a final test to acclimate our pilots and for your enjoyment. 

Fighter Sweep Test

GHQ 1/285 Wildcat Fighters of VF 2 in echelon arrived at area 5 starting Turn 1. They could have arrived at location #4 off the bottom of the image or at location #6 toward the top of the photo. The white altimeter arrow shows they are at Altitude 6. Their mission is to engage Zeros operating out of Airfield #1. 

Designer Note: Below black Check Your 6 Flight bases are larger stands from Litko. Reason: Better stability and aircraft are not jammed too close together. 

On the way in an alert GHQ anti-aircraft battery spotted the foe, fired but missed.

The Americans flew over the battery seeing....

Anchored 1/300 Cruel Seas cargo ships in the lagoon as flak explosions come nearer. The enemy airfield is barely discernable in the upper left of the photo. The Americans are 165cms into the lagoon.

Rising to Altitude 3, the Zeros have traveled only 35cms toward the foe simulating historical unreadiness.

However they swing into their own echelon formation as....

The two sides fly toward each other ending Turn 2.

Nimble Zeros close in maneuvering to advantage on Turn 3.

IJN Jr. Ace Seto got on the tail of one foe as....

The Americans maneuvered away.

Based on Bag The Hun by Too Fat Lardies, with our modifications, the Zero fired D6s for....

Range: 4, Long Burst 2, Jr. Ace 2, Tailing 2, Foe Size 1, Aspect 4, Weapons 8 = 23.
Fives and sixes are potential hits. Ones consume ammunition with one set aside because of Seto's skill as an Ace.  Seto lost two rounds of ammunition plus two more for the Long Burst = 4. All other D6 results were misses.

The American Pilot now has an opportunity to cancel Seto's hits.
Wildcat Maneuver Ability 5, Jr. Ace Wyatt 2 and Range 1 = 8.
Three of Seto's hits were cancelled but 5 hit Wyatt.
Other D6 results were discarded.

The engine was disabled. Wyatt fell into the sea. We allow a Catalina to try to rescue downed pilots but Wyatt did not survive the crash based on a D6 throw for him.

Through Turn 5 each side maneuvered for advantage without further damage occurring. Things look good for the Wildcats if cards fall the right way for them on Turn 6.

Digression About The Rules 

Bag The Hun turns cards for movement, fire and several other fun options. Shown above are hand-made based on BTH solely for Operation Hailstone's Fighter Sweep Scenario.

BTH uses hex movement. We use turning templates and tape measures instead.

If you are interested in aerial gaming, BTH is an A+. It is loaded with information and aircraft stats.

Turn 5
The first card turned allowed for a Japanese Jr Ace to fire or move. At that moment Carson was directly in front of Seto who fired. Luckily Carson veered left out of harms way. The next card allowed Allied Pilot fire. Carson engaged Miyaki causing his Zero to explode.  Burnside and Livingston heavily damaged Hori with two Go Home white markers and one loss of speed yellow marker. Japanese rookie pilot Emoto is off image to the left unengaged.

View of the previous image from above.

Turn 6
Flak hit Burnside causing a loss of speed and damage forcing a return home.

Turn 7
Flak hit Burnside again. The aircraft exploded.

Turn 8 (No photo)
Emoto and Seto disengaged as if returning to their airfields. This caused the Americans to decide to return to their aircraft carrier. Then I changed my mind and elected to turn the Japanese back into the fray.

Turn 9
It is sometimes surprising to play a game solo. Don Featherstone said, the solo player has the advantage to change his mind. So I did gritting my teeth because Jr. Ace Seto and Rookie Emoto came up fast on Livingston's tail blazing away. 

Seto fired first but ran out of ammunition disallowing any hits from him! Emoto fired next causing two results, Go Home and Loss of Speed. Livingston dodged disaster. Whew!

Turn 10
The Americans continued heading out to sea with Emoto still lingering to their rear. So I maneuvered Carson to protect Livingston firing at very long range at Emoto. Result: Damage forced Emoto to return to base!

Turn 11
Carson (left) and Livingston (right) reach the outer ring of Truk Lagoon after several more turns dodging flak. Intrepid will be turning into the wind to receive them soon.
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