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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1 comment:

  1. Bag the Hum is one of the sets of TFL rules I don't own. This looked terrific fun with a good looking set up. Thanks for sharing.