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This scenario was based on the possibility that the Japanese Port Moresby invasion force did not turn back after the air battles in the Coral Sea in May 1942. Historically, a combined Australian and American cruiser-destroyer group under RAN Admiral Crace had been sent to intercept the invasion group. Had the Japanese continued on, they may have met; perhaps just south of Normanby Island, coming out of the Goschen Strait, entering Milne Bay as they round the eastern tip of New Guinea. Distant escort for the Japanese unit consisted of the IJN’s 6th Cruiser Squadron and a couple destroyers. Possible reinforcements were available from the convoy escort.
The RAN/US force consisted of the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (8-8” guns), light cruiser HMAS Hobart (8-6” guns), heavy cruiser USS Chicago (9-8” guns), and three American destroyers; the PERKINS, WORDEN and WALKE. The cruisers started in line ahead, with the destroyers a half-mile ahead in line abreast. About 15 miles, bearing about 345° relative, just coming out of the haze, were the enemy.
The Japanese cruisers; AOBA, KINUGASA, KAKO and FURUTAKA (all 6-8” guns and 8 torpedoes) were in line. The destroyers WAKABA and YUGURE (both 5-5” guns and 6 torpedoes) were about a half-mile to port. On the First Turn the two lead IJN cruisers turned left, the rest moved straight ahead at full speed to confront the enemy. The American destroyers slanted towards the Japanese, with HOBART following them. AUSTRALIA and CHICAGO turned left and closed up. Turn One gunnery went to the Japanese as HOBART was struck four times by AOBA and once by KINUGASA. These 8”ers started a bad fire amidships, as they ignited the float plane refueling point.
On Turn Two, HOBART veered sharply to port as her fire fighting teams swung into action. All the other ships of both sides continued on as before. AUSTRALIA scored the only hits of the turn as she plunked AOBA stern sheets with two 8” strikes. Turn Three saw the Japanese move fairly straight, as did the Allied cruisers. PERKINS, WOR-DEN and WALKE bore left and laid smoke to try and give partial cover to their cruisers. WALKE paid dearly as she was summarily eviscerated when six tightly grouped 8” shells from AOBA tore her apart from stem to stern. On fire and breaking up amidships, the sinking ship drifted to a stop. The hulk rolled over and disappeared a few turns later. AUSTRALIA knocked a 4.7” AA mount off the KAKO with two 8” strikes.
The Fourth Turn saw all ships go reasonably straight ahead, which led to a great increase hitting, mostly by the Japanese. HOBART scored the only Allied hits, punching three vicious 6” shots into YUGURE, removing most of the bow. WORDEN took single 8” blows from AOBA and KINUGASA. WAKABA scored one 5” and YUGURE two 5”ers on PERKINS, starting a fire.
Turn Five saw some maneuvering on both sides. Although the Allied force still continued straight, PERKINS turned sharply right, towards the enemy, to unmask her off-side torpedo mount, having launched the other two mounts earlier. KINUGASA and AOBA reversed to port for the same reason. FURUTAKA must have missed a signal, going straight and rapidly separated from her companions when KAKO, WAKABA and YUGURE made sharp left turns. This put those three on an opposite course from their opposition. AOBA still managed to slam WORDEN with a pair of 8” hits, and WAKABA landed her own pair of 5”ers on PERKINS. AUSTRALIA assailed FURUTAKA with four 8” and one 4” strikes.
With Turn Six the Allied heavy cruisers continued their westerly course, nearing the coastline. HOBART finally extinguished her fire and turned northwest, towards the enemy. PERKINS made a sharp right to rejoin the beat up WORDEN. Badly injured YUGURE executed a hard-to-port, leaving a large volume of smoke in her wake as she tried to disengage. FURUTAKA turned left to rejoin KAKO, which went straight. KINUGASA and AOBA completed their about turn and were heading southwest. Hitting picked up again, with AOBA smacking PERKINS amidships with two more 8” and KAKO landing a single 8” on AUSTRALIA. The RAN cruiser returned the attention to FURUTAKA with single 8” and 4” strikes. But it was YUGURE that was the center of American attention; CHICAGO rammed home two 8” rounds, while PERKINS and WORDEN landed one 5” shell, each; holing the bow yet again and knocking out the gun director.
Turn Seven saw YUGURE slant left and KAKO move right, as the cruiser tried to assist the escape of the ruined destroyer. FURUTAKA cut right, heading for the enemy. The other two cruisers kept on course. The Allied heavies curved right, HOBART swung in behind the destroyer smoke screens, which were now moving slowly, but closing the enemy. AOBA and KINUGASA found a hole in the smoke and plugged HOBART with two 8” shots, each, destroying the off-side torpedo mount, while WAKABA added a 5”er. KAKO put two more 8” rounds aboard AUSTRALIA, one of which was a dud. CHICAGO whacked FURUTAKA with three 8s, which threatened the magazine, but to no avail. HOBART and PERKINS added to WAKABA’s woes with single 6”, 4”, and 5” thumps.
There was no fancy maneuvering on either side for Turn Eight, but the hitting slumped a bit. AOBA shifted to CHICAGO, wrecking a secondary gun director with a pair of 8” hits. AUSTRALIA took a single 8” shell from KAKO and two from KINUGASA, which started a fire. She returned the favor back to KAKO with three 8” rounds. HOBART plugged FURUTAKA with one 6”er, but then intercepted a Long Lance torpedo launched by KINUGASA. The light cruiser fell out immediately and sank quickly.
Commencing with Turn Nine the Allied group received reinforcements as the American destroyers SELFRIDGE (8-5”, 8 TT) and HAMMANN (4-5”, 8 TT) roared on with safety valves secured, moving a topmost speed northeastwards, towards their two remaining cruisers. FURUTAKA joined up with KAKO, but those two were now between their sister cruisers and the enemy heavies. CHICAGO bore the brunt this time, with AOBA and KINUGASA getting hits in pairs again, crumpling a section of the stern. KA-KO then took two 8” and two 5” hits from CHICAGO, which came close to flooding out the after magazine. PERKINS tagged FURUTAKA with a 5”er, while the still viable WORDEN added two more on the cruiser. Feisty WAKABA struck PERKINS with two of her own 5” guns, setting the American on fire, which went out almost immediately as the destroyer rolled over and sank from her relentless punishment.
With Turn Ten, AOBA turned about as KINUGASA went straight. WAKABA was trying to withdraw north, as KAKO and FURUTAKA jinked about to cover her. AUSTRALIA and CHICAGO completed their turns and settled on a southwest course. SELFRIDGE slammed two 5”, and HAMMANN one 5”, into KAKO; while WORDEN dropped a couple 5” shells on WAKABA, hitting the bridge. AUSTRALIA blasted four 8”ers into AOBA, destroying a boiler room and coming close to flooding out B magazine. But AUSTRALIA was prime target for 6th Cruiser squadron, having her bow holed by taking three 8” rounds from AOBA, two from FURUTAKA, and another courtesy KAKO. KINUGASA 8”ers hit CHICAGO twice more. WAKABA tagged WORDEN once with a 5”er.
Turn Eleven turned out to be the last of the game. All ships continued moving as previously. AUSTRALIA’s bow was further distorted by another two 8” from AOBA, FURUTAKA adding one more. CHICAGO slammed KINUGASA with an 8”er, and then the secondaries landed two 5” rounds on WAKABA. WORDEN help to finish off WAKABA with another pair of 5s landing amidships. But at least WAKABA landed two final 5”ers on CHICAGO. The game was called when CHICAGO took two torpedoes from a KAKO spread. Already a third damaged, the cruiser could not sustain such staggering destruction. She rolled to starboard, sank with most of her crew.
The end results were clear. The Japanese force, with an aggressive forward defense diverted the RAN/US task group. Even without the torpedo events, they forced the allies from a direct route and scored some key hits. Initially the allied gunnery was poor, but they picked it up later. However, with friendly smoke in the way, they had to shift targets frequently and were unable to concentrate on one our two enemies to try and knock them out.
From a critical damage standpoint, the dice produced what seemed to be an above average number of fires and blank spots on the chart, but below average in all other categories. Several “Get out of CD” cards were played to good effect.
My thanks to all participants for their enthusiasm and attention to detail on the ship cards that make this report easy to put together. Gunnery kudos go to Dave Schroeder of the “mighty” AOBA and Steve Podgorski driving AUSTRALIA. Torpedo honors go to John Zalanka for sniffing out CHICAGO’s intentions and placing the KAKO spread just right.
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COMMENTS ON ANGLE DECK ESSEX'S BY HENRY SNYDER(Scroll letter below this one for Chuck Treese's comments)
Saw the letters from Chuck Treese and have a few points. The new Wasp A515 in my opinion is closer to the Oriskany. The deck is almost an exact match for drawings in Aircraft Carriers of the U.S. Navy by Stefan Terzibaschitsch. Based on information in that book and others and looking at photographs I have come up with the following.
The older Superior model of the Wasp was close to the 1960's configuration of CV-9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20 and 33 all of which received SCB-27A. The model does not have the stern gun tubs and it appears CV-9, 10 and 15 retained the tubs until decommissioned. Typical shared features include only one Mkl 37 director, flight deck which is straight at the stern, crane aft of the starboard elevator and a single 5" gun just after of the starboard elevator. Oriskany was being built to SCB-27A design
CV-16, 31 and 38 were built to SCB-27. They had 5" gun positions for and aft that were parallel to each other. The Hansa model appears to fit these versions
CV-11, 14 and 19 were also built to SCB-27. They had 5" gun positions for and aft that were parallel to each other. The crane was forward of the starboard elevator and the flight deck angled to starboard at the stern. Attached are two pictures of CV-33, 20 and 34.
CV-33 was made on an older Superior Wasp kit I picked up from Martin Brown.
CV-20 was made from modifying the current Superior kit. I straightened the rear of the flight deck, removed the catapult bridles and reshaped the deck near the island
CV-34 was made from a new Superior kit. A s Chuck mentioned, still a few variations of the Essex class that could be made
HenryImages: Stern Bow
COMMENTS ON THE NEW SUPERIOR ANGLE DECK WASP