The Damned Die Hard: Dec II 41 (December 8 to December 15) – The Japanese
I really hope I didn’t screw this up too badly, but I think I did fairly well. I’m sure someone will let me know if I made a mistake. I also just started working again, and simply do not have time to annotate the photos at the moment.
The opening move for the Japanese requires a lot of thought, planning and preparation. There are a lot of places that landings can take place, but very few assets to work with on the opening turn. Certainly, there are a lot of troops available on the islands of Formosa (Taiwan) and Palau, but there is a lack of transport available. In addition, we have to take weather into consideration. The map is divided into three weather and sea zones:
- Zone 11: the western half of the Philippines
- Zone 12: the eastern half of the Philippines
- Zone 13: the southern portion of the map, including some of the Philippine islands, including Mindanao.
As the scenario begins, the weather and sea conditions are as follows:
- Zone 11: clear weather and calm seas
- Zone 12: mud weather and rough seas
- Zone 13: rain weather and calm seas.
Naval transports are broken down by function:
- Attack Transport (TA): can land cargo at a friendly owned port or beach and is the only transport that can facilitate amphibious landings.
- Regular Transport (TR): can only land cargo at a friendly controlled ports or beaches. They cannot embark or disembark cargo at enemy controlled beaches.
- Supply Transport (TS): can only land cargo at a friendly controlled port. Any troops carried by type TS count double their RE size for transport.
- Landing Craft (LC): coastal craft that must be carried by type TA to the landing hex. It can then be disembarked, and troops loaded on it for an amphibious landing. While they can also be transported via type TR, troops cannot transfer from type TR to an LC.
- Landing Barge (LB): another coastal craft, but larger than type LC, and cannot be carried as cargo on a transport ship. However, they can be towed. Otherwise the same as type LC.
- Landing Ship (LS): The same as type LC, except that it cannot be carried as cargo on a transport. It can land troops on an enemy beach as part of an amphibious landing, but it can also transport troops across all sea hexes. LS ships can also carry type LC.
The next thing we need to consider is attack supply. In order to make an opposed landing, one transport has to be carrying a resource point to be used as attack supply.
Formosa has two attack transports, each capable of carrying two REs of cargo (one Regimental Equivalent (RE) is one regiment, one brigade is two REs). In order to make an amphibious landing, both the LC counters must be carried by the transports. This leaves 2 REs of cargo space. One resource point is required as attack supply for the opposed landing, leaving a single RE of cargo space for the troops.
Type TR transports can’t be used for an amphibious invasion, but a beach becomes friendly owned at the start of the next phase, whereas a port becomes friendly owned at the start of the next turn.
Let’s say, for example, that the Japanese launch an amphibious invasion against Cebu City on the island of Cebu on the Dec II 41 turn. The Japanese push the Filipino troops out of Cebu City and capture the port. The port itself does not become friendly owned until the Dec III 41, but the beach becomes friendly owned during the exploitation phase of the Dec II 41 turn, meaning type TR can land cargo at the beach in the port hex.
The final consideration is a port hex for supply. The terrain key shows 6 kinds of ports, but the rules only define 5. The anchorage, the smallest of the 6 ports, can’t be used to trace supply, as far as I can tell, unless it is augmented by a baseforce units (port construction). The anchorage can be augmented to a 3RE size port (slightly larger than a minor port). This opens up all of the anchorage ports scattered all across the map.
It is also important to grab airfields and airstrips as quickly as possible to bring fighter cover into the area, as well as short range bombers.
As I think about it more and more, the weather being set in advance (per scenario rules) gives the Japanese player an advantage that their historical counterparts didn’t have, in the fact that they know what the weather is going to be and plan accordingly. It would be interesting (at some point) to have the Japanese player plan the invasion, then roll for weather.
Per the order of battle, the seaplane tender Chitose is dispatched from Palau to Wake Island, and a squadron of Bettys is transferred away.
I’m not going to give a blow by blow description of each movement point spent. Suffice it to say that the following cargo has been loaded as noted. IJA = Imperial Japanese Army, IJN = Imperial Japanese Navy
Palau (Naval Group 3FLT):
- Maru-11 (TA/IJA) loads the Kure Special naval Landing Force (SNLF) and Dai-11 Landing Craft (LC)
- Maru-10 (TA/IJA) loads the 56/146 light mountain infantry III and Dai-10 LC
- Maru-16 (TR/IJN) loads the 2DR and 24DR battalions (small battalions, count as ¼ RE each)
- Escorted by 3 x CA (cruisers Nachi, Myoko and Hejuro) and two light carriers (Mizuho and Ryujo) and sundry destroyers
Formsa (Naval Group DCF)
- Maru-1 (TA/IJA) loads 48/2For light mountain regiment and Dai-2 LC
- Maru-2 (TA/IJA) loads 21DR amphibious engineer (small) battalion, 2nd SAS SNLF battalion, and Dai-1 LC
- Maru-13 (TR/IJN) loads 48/1For light mountain regiment
- Escorted by two cruisers (Maya and Ashigara), and a light carrier (Shimane Maru), and sundry destroyers
Okinawa (Naval Group 2SAF)
- Maru-12 (TR/IJN) loads 16/20 light infantry regiment and a resource point
- Escorted by various destroyers
At Batan Island to the north edge of the map, a transport drops paratroopers on the island to secure the airstrip there.
There is no reaction from US ships harbored at Cavite or Manila.
Naval Group DCF is the first to arrive at their destination, the port of Batangas, south of both Cavite and Manila. As this landing is taking place, other transports split off and form another naval group (3SAF) and continue to steam past Batangas, deeper into the island chain.
Group 3SAF arrives at Calapan on the island of Mindoro. The 2nd SAS SNLF battalion and the two engineer small battalions storm Calapan, capturing the port and the airstrip there. The engineers can start augmenting the airfield as soon as resources arrive.
Naval Group 2SAF arrives at Batangas as the infantry is storming the beaches and capturing the port. They have to wait until the exploitation phase before they can unload their cargo on the beach (not the port).
Over near Mindanao, the Naval Group 3FLT steams up the western side of the island. As they approach the mouth of the Mindanao River, they split into two smaller naval groups; 3FLT and SF naval groups. 3FLT steams to the port of Cobabato, dropping the Kure SNLF regiment on the shoreline to capture the port. Naval Group SF moves 32 miles north, and lands the 56/146 light infantry regiment to capture the airfield. Once again, as soon as resources arrive, they are tasked with augmenting the capacity of the airfield.
I have been deliberately holding off on air raids until now. The Americans are severely handcuffed this turn, not being able to fly missions, intercept, scramble, or do anything to defend themselves.
Clark Airfield is the obvious target. It is attacked by three G4M1 “Betty” bombers. Antiaircraft at the base aborts one squadron, but the other two make it through. The bombs are right on target, scoring two hits of damage, and destroying a squadron of B-10Bs and B-18As, both bombers. Ki-21 “Sally”s raid the airstrip outside of Cabanatuon, tearing it up and destroying a squadron of P-40Es.
G3M “Nell”s raid San Fernando, just south of Clark Field, scoring yet another hit and destroying a P-40B.
Two squadrons of Bettys and Nells raid Manila, inflicting 2 hits on the airfield, and destroying a squadron of Filipino P-26A and a squadron of American P-40Es.
As the naval groups are preparing to weigh anchor and head home (the type TR transports are still unloading) the accompanying carriers launch air strikes as well. A squadron of F1M2s from the Shimane Maru strikes at Manila, adding another hit and destroying the PBY in the bay.
At Mindanao, the Mizuho and Ryujo launch bombers at the airfield near Del Monte, scoring two hits and destroying the B-17C squadron stationed there.
I kid you not. I could probably never repeat that. 100% accuracy. The American air force is in shambles on the ground.
Naval Group 2SAF from Okinawa offloads their troops onto the beach at Batangas, while naval group SF brings the 2DR and 24DR engineer battalions onshore to start augmenting the airbase.
Finally, airborne troops from the island of Hainan, just off the Vietnam coast, wing their way to the island of Samar, where they make a successful drop on an airstrip, capturing it. (Note: I often go back and review rules after I publish. The transport that carried this unit does not have enough capacity to carry this unit that far. It will be returned to Hainan before the Americans get their turn. I had looked up cargo capacity of transports before I made the move, but I neglected to look up the extended range rules)
After all troops have been offloaded, and the landing craft loaded again, Al naval groups return to their home ports, except the Okinawa group, 2SAF, returns to Formosa to load more cargo from there.
The Japanese have no combat/motorized units on the island yet, so, beyond offloading transports, there is no other exploitation this turn.
Why land there?
I tried to pick landing sites where I would not have to expend resource points to fight my way ashore. I tried to pick areas that the Japanese could not be counterattacked. Except for Luzon. Batangas is a minor port, but larger than a marginal port. It provides a good supply line, and there isn’t a lot the Americans can do about it.
I wanted to establish a presence on the island to maybe draw some troops away from the north so it would free up some landing zones.
That may work on a live opponent, but since I know the plan, I’m not sure how I am going to react. The only thing I know is that I can’t ignore it, but how many units do I pull down into the area?
I wish i was playing against a live opponent! =D