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Bill Estes, gives the "thumbs up" signal as his Japanese torpedo bombers race towards American Destroyers!

On June 2, 2001 The Jackson Gamers' fought a sea battle called:

The Jackson Gamers played this game to test the Aircraft vs. Ships rules section of their Surface Warship rules set.

An arial photo showing Japanese ships clustered at the northern end of Guadalcanal. Sensing a chance to trap them while unloading (loading actually) the Americans charge northwards to attack them with 4 cruisers and 4 destroyers.

Early in the game, the table is littered with rules, dice etc. The US ships are still in neat formation.

Japanese Player’s Briefing

Your mission is to evacuate the Japanese Army’s forces from Guadalcanal. Your ships will enter the table from the south, at the extreme western edge and steam to the north to escort the transports. The composition of the enemy forces is unknown but they may be expected to try to interfere with your activities.

You will have:
2 Heavy Cruisers
2 Transports
1 light cruiser
6 destroyers

Your ships need refitting and repair. Roll a D20 for each one : If the result is 15+ that ship is limited to 24 knots because of engine problems. If the result is 1, a main battery turret is out of action. These damages cannot be repaired during the game.

Note that on all destroyers, reload torpedoes have been left ashore. All you have are the torpedoes in the tubes.

The transports are limited to 18 knots. Speed. 14 above-water hit boxes, 12 below-water hit boxes, 2 engine rooms, 1 bridge, no armor.

Victory conditions are dependant on how many infantry companies are evacuated.

Each Cruiser can hold 2 companies
Each Transport can hold 8 companies
Destroyer can hold 1 company

28 companies evacuated = Outstanding victory. The Imperial navy will promote you.
24 companies evacuated = A victory. Your superior officers speak highly of you.
18 companies evacuated = Minor success. You worked hard but feel others could have done more.
12 companies evacuated = Draw. You feel that you should have worked harder.
8 companies evacuated = Defeat. You are ashamed of yourself. You ask for assignment to a naval infantry battalion, as you are not fit to command a ship.
Less than 8 companies evacuated = Abysmal You apologize to the emperor and commit Seppuku (ritual suicide by disemboweling yourself).

His Imperial Japanese Majesty's Navy was represented by:

Luke Brister - commanding Destroyers: IJNS Hamakaze, Arashi, Ikazuchi
Bryan Thompson - commanding Destroyers: IJNS Yugumo, Akigumo, Onami
Bill Estes - commanding Light cruiser IJNS Sendai
David Causey - commanding Heavy cruiser IJNS Atago
Robert Whitfield - commanding Heavy cruiser IJNS Maya, and the two transports: Kagoshima Maru, New York Maru

Bryan Thompson (Japanese Destroyer commander) does not seem worried as the Americans steam forward. He knows what the Americans have yet to find out - that waves of His Imperial Majesty's Naval Air Force bombers are inbound to punish the impudent Yankees!

American Player’s Briefing

Your mission is to engage the Japanese forces escorting transports that are evacuating their forces from Guadalcanal. You will enter the table from the southeast and steam to the north-west to locate the enemy. The composition of the enemy forces is unknown.

You will have
2 Heavy Cruisers
2 Light Cruisers
4 destroyers

Your ships have been worked hard and minor damage has been accumulated by most of them. Roll a D20 and if the result is 11+ then each ship will take damage equal to one 8” shell at long range. Ignore Bridge hits. Do not use DC boxes to remove this damage.

The victory conditions will depend on how many or how few troops are evacuated by the Japanese. Sink all that you can - you know no more than that.

NOTE: The American Player had no idea that the Japanese aircraft were about to attack his ships.

The United States Navy was represented by:

Scott Malone - commanding Destroyers: USS Buck, Sims
Sean Pitts - commanding Destroyers: USS Benson, Livermore
Simpson Whitfield - commanding Heavy Cruiser USS New Orleans
Jim Pitts - commanding Cruiser Heavy USS Northampton (Flagship)
Fred Diamond - commanding Light Cruiser USS Brooklyn
Tim Latham - commanding Light Cruiser USS Cleveland

USS Cleveland twists as two "Betty" horizontal bombers near the ship at medium altitude. AA shells are bursting behind the aircraft. None of the U.S. ships had the newer, deadlier proximity-fuzed AA shells.

Fred Diamond commanding USS Brooklyn, looks on gleefully as Japanese bombers target other ships. The Japanese aircraft attacked in three waves (Randomly generated).
  1. 5 dive bombers and 5 torpedo bombers
  2. 5 dive bombers and 6 torpedo bombers
  3. 6 dive bombers and 4 horizontal bombers (2 carrying 4 x 250kg bombs each, 2 carrying 2 torpedoes each)

"Flash Red - Enemy aircraft inbound!" Small red marks show the location of Japanese bombers on the horizon, hard to see. They seem to be making for the Cleveland and the New Orleans.

Six enemy dive bombers head towards the "push-over" point where they will began their runs on the USS Northampton. The playing card represents the Cruiser's final defensive maneuver, while other cards (dimly seen behind the Japanese aircraft) represent their aim ajustments.

Honorable Luke Brister-San moves Japanese dive bombers towards the American Cruisers.

The American cruisers USS Cleveland and USS Northampton steam towards the Japanese ships. A Japanese player measures the range to an American Destroyer. Note the shell splash indicating the ship is under fire.

Cruisers USS Northampton and USS Cleveland are shown in the forground. In the background a Japanese officer (Bill Estes) looks on impassively. Dimly seen beyond the yellow dice, are a forest of shell splashes falling about the Japanese fleet.

Hands, turning circles, dice, splashes, ships! What a confused cacophany of modern (all right WWII) naval warfare. When the dust had cleared, the Japanese had lost only one destroyer and a light cruiser. The Americans had only one damaged cruiser remaining and the Japanese were going to exit the game table with 27 infantry companies on board their ships. A very fine victory for his Imperial Japanese Majesty's ships and aircraft!

Special Rules for this game

  1. Infantry Ready to load

    Roll a D20 to see how many Japanese infantry companies are ready to load. Add 8 to the result. If your ships are not fully loaded, you can said with that many or try again next turn. On the second and subsequent turns do not add anything to the D20 result.

  2. Aircraft in each raid The Japanese player rolls a D20 to see how many aircraft are available.

    1-5 Small numbers - roll again

    1,2,3 = 4 DB, 4TB
    4,5,6 = 5 DB, 4TB
    7,8,9 = 5 HB
    10,11,12 = 6TB
    13,14,15 = 6DB
    17,18,19 = 4DB, 5TB
    20 = 6 HB

    6-15 Average numbers - roll again

    1,2,3 = 5 DB, 4TB
    4,5,6 = 5 DB, 5TB
    7,8,9 = 5 HB, 4 DB
    10,11,12 = 4 DB, 6TB
    13,14,15 = 6DB, 4 B
    17,18,19 = 5DB, 5TB
    20 = 6 HB, 4DB

    16+ Large Raid - roll again

    1,2,3 = 5 DB, 5TB
    4,5,6 = 5 DB, 6TB
    7,8,9 = 5 HB, 6 DB 13,14,15 = 8DB, 6 B
    17,18,19 = 8DB, 7TB
    20 = 6 HB, 8DB

  3. Escorting fighters

    Roll a D20 to see how many Type “0” fighters escort the raid. This is the number for the first raid. If this is an additional impulse - halve the number.

  4. Raid Timing

    The first raid starts on turn 2 unless the game-master rolls a 16+ on a D20. If so, then he rolls again on turn 3, same numbers apply.

  5. Aircraft Types

    1. Fighters

    Japanese Fighters are type 0. These are superior quality to American Wildcats but not to Corsairs which are of equal quality. American fighters entering the board roll a D20. On 1-10 they are Wildcats. 11+ they are corsairs.

    2. Dive bombers

    Japanese dive bombers are type 99 “Vals”. When they enter the board, each unit will roll a D20 to see what they are armed with. 1-13 = 250KG bomb. This has the effect of a 16” shell hit. On 14-20 they have a 500KG bomb. This has the effect of TWO 16” shell hits, one of which MUST be underwater.

    3. Torpedo bombers

    Roll a D20 for each unit as it enters the table. On 1-3 it is twin-engine “Betty” bombers each with 2 torpedoes. On 4-8 it is the same but with only one torpedo. On 9-19, it is “Kate” carrier based torpedo bombers with one torpedo each. On 20, the unit is “Kate” aircraft armed with two 250KG bombs and must attack as horizontal bombers.

    4. Horizontal bombers

    Roll a D20 for each unit as it enters the table. On 1 it is twin-engine “Betty” bombers each with 2 torpedoes and may attack as torpedo bombers. On 2-4 it is the same but with only one torpedo. On 5+ , it is “Betty” bombers armed with two 250KG bombs and must attack as horizontal bombers.


DB = Dive bomber
TB = torpedo bomber
HB = Horizontal bomber

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