A Japanese cruiser attempts to pin a U.S. Destroyer in a searchlight beam, while being illuminated herself by an American Heavy cruiser.
The Americans surprise the Japanese task force.
The game master required the Japanese to set up in column formation, steaming down the length of the table. The American forces would then dice to see where they would come on, from the sides of the game table. This represented a successful American attempt at an "Ambush". The Americans would not take the "ranging on new target" penalty on turn one, as would the Japanese.
The game master considered not allowing Japanese fire on the first turn, and in retrospect this would have been a better play-balance technique.
This game was set at night, so searchlights or start shells would be neccesary for most ships to illuminate their targets.
Before contact is made the Japanese speed forward. Another Cruiser trails the formation. They do not realize that the Americans are attempting an ambush.
At game start, the Japanese ships have a red "J" beside them, and the American ships have a white "US" beside them. There was another column of U.S. Cruisers not shown, off the bottom of the photo, and another column of U.S. destroyers off the left side, just in front of the leading Japanese Destroyers.
The two leading Japanese destroyers did not really exist. They were phantoms, or misleading sightings by the Americans. They ceased to exist (were removed from the game table) as soon as the Americans tried to fire on them. Another phantom Japanese destroyer was off the image to the bottom right.
These "phantom" images confused the Americans and caused some of thier fire to be misdirected in the first two crucial turns.
During the first turn, things got confused! The formations interpenetrated, searchlight beams reach out, and shell splashes cluster around enemy ships. The first American ship is on fire already.
Two American Destroyers in the early part of the game.
Shell splashes cluster near the Japanese cruiser while behind it, the U.S. Cruiser, New Orleans, catches on fire.
American Admiral Bill Estes (in cap) analyses the tactical situation while Japanese Admiral Ed Sansing (behind Bill) watches him carefully. Japanese Admiral Larry Reeves (in background) reads a radiogram from one of his ships.
As Ed Sansing said of his position here: "I owned the 2 Jap heavy cruisers that Bill's destroyers were dodging in order to get torpedo shots at our battleship Kongo."
U.S. Admiral Fred Diamond (in green and white striped uniform) makes his intentions clear (kind of). In the background, Japanese player, Larry Reeves, awaits impassively.
Japanese Admirals Larry Reeves (seated) and Mark Gilbert try to identify ships.
Players all lean over the table with turning gauges, moving their ships.
On the left side of the image, splash markers are next to an American Heavy Cruiser. On the right, The CA U.S.S. New Orleans has lost all guns and is on fire.
The New Orleans, on fire, has to run the gauntlet between two Japanese heavy cruisers. All guns smashed, she thinks only of escape, but the Japanese ships are going the same way at a similar speed.
The American Cruiser Pensacola illuminates a Japanese heavy cruiser with a searchlight as two unidentified destroyers roar up on her starboard side. They turned out to be friendly. Note the U.S.S. New Orleans burning fiercely between two of the Japanese CAs.
The American Cruiser Brooklyn uses a searchlight to illuminate a destroyer on her port side, but in turn, is lit up by a searchlight beam from the Japanese cruiser to starboard. The large number of shell splashes around the Brooklyn show how many enemy ships were firing at her.
Another view of The U.S.S. Brooklyn, being illuminated by searchlight beam from a Japanese cruiser on the left, while trying to catch a Japanese Destroyer in a light beam on the right. The ship on fire, to the extreme left, is the U.S.S. New Orleans.
Summary of The Battle
Another disaster for the Americans, even though 20+ torpedoes fired at the Japanese battleship Kongo, did her in. There was a very small American reserve, of three destroyers, which could have been brought on during turn 4, but the game master felt that it would be futile. These were older ships, and the Japanese already had severely damaged almost all of the original U.S. ships.
The Americans had the advantage of being "ranged in" on their opponents on turn one, and not taking the "ranging in on new target" fire modifer. The game started at unexpededly short range (The Short range bracket for most ships' weapons) and only lasted 5 turns.
The Japanese had the advantage of the "Phantom" destroyers, who destracted the Americans and caused them to fire on targets that really did not exist. The usual destructiveness of the Japanese 24" torpedoes was felt, but the Americans did very well with their torpedes in this game.
Three U.S. Destroyers got away almost unscathed, but of the cruisers, only one might have escaped. The Japanese lost their Battleship, but still had all four of their heavy cruisers afloat, and had lost only two destroyers.
A number of searchlights were used but almost no start shells were used for illumination. The searchight's disadvantage is that it serves as a very good target. The the star shell illuminates the target almost as well, and has much longer range, but does not give away the firing ship's positon. Again, the players seemed fixed on using the arc-lights for illumination.
Two of the American ships (destroyer Fletcher and cruiser Cleveland had radar good enought to use for fire control. The other American ships had poor radar and needed external illumination, as did the Japanese.
Four ships on fire, shell splashes clustered around ships, confusion everywhere! Japanese Admirals in the background seem in an excited mood.
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