RogerBW's Blog

The Force Z Scenario 27 February 2014

This is the scenario I mentioned when reviewing Fire on the Waters: Force Z plus Hood vs the Japanese invasion fleet. I played it with Mongoose's Victory at Sea, but this version is generic; it should work with any WWII naval/air game.

Setup

10 December 1941, somewhere in the South China Sea

This battle takes place in two phases.

First, the Royal Navy takes on the escorts from the Japanese invasion fleet. If the RN force is lost, this is a major Japanese victory.

RN survivors of this phase may repair damaged systems, according to whatever damage control rules are in use, before the second phase of the engagement. This takes place some hours later, when the bombers arrive. Any RN forces that survive all air attacks are deemed to have escaped to temporary safety in Singapore.

For a different alternate-historical variant, delete Admiral Holland and Hood from the RN roster and replace them with Admiral Thomas "Tom Thumb" Phillips and Indomitable, an Illustrious-class aircraft carrier loaded with 12 Fulmars, 24 Albacores, and 9 Sea Hurricanes. Adding two more destroyers, perhaps one E-class and one J-class, would adequately represent the likely additional escort force. (It's arguable just how serious this plan was; if Indomitable had been seriously intended to reach the Far East in time, she'd have had to set out from Jamaica several days before she ran aground there.)

Royal Navy

Commander: Admiral Lancelot Holland

Your objective is to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet north of Malaya. Air attack is a possibility. If severely outgunned, preservation of the force takes priority.

Your capital forces consist of HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Hood and HMS Repulse. You also have four destroyers, and twelve somewhat obsolete Brewster Buffalo aircraft (because they are land-based, only six may be used in each phase of the engagement).

John Dallman comments: The "obvious" thing for you to do, since you'll be willing to fight, is to form a battle line. Prince of Wales will lead, as the flag ship, followed by Hood and Repulse. If the Japanese heavy cruisers join the battle line then they'll be Repulse's responsibility.

"The British were systematically aggressive, but sanely so. Churchill objected to keeping three KGVs to cover Tirpitz because he felt it was a waste, a KGV should be able to fight Tirpitz 1:1. But that's chancy. The admirals knew 2:1 is a much safer bet, and that you want 3 ships so that you always have 2, even allowing for refits. But if the captain of a KGV met Tirpitz, he'd attack 1:1, because he had the enemy there and available."

  • Prince of Wales (King George V class battleship)
  • Hood (Hood class battlecruiser)
  • Repulse (Renown class battlecruiser)
  • Electra, Express (2 E class destroyers)
  • Vampire (V class destroyer)
  • Tenedos (Admiralty S class destroyer)
  • Brewster B 339 Buffalo x6
  • Brewster B 339 Buffalo x6

Nihon Kaigun

Commander: Vice Admiral JisaburĊ Ozawa

Your troops have been landed; the empty transports have been sent back to Cam Ranh Bay. Your immediate objective is to sink or drive off the British capital ships in the area.

The first phase of the engagement will be a naval battle; for this you have several groups scattered across the ocean. Each ten or so minutes of real time (map this to a convenient multiple of your game's turn length), roll 2d6; on an 11-12, roll d6 for the number of ten-ish-minute blocks of delay after which you may bring on a randomly-selected reinforcement group.

In the second phase, bombers enter by one flight of six aircraft per ten-ish minutes; you may hold back up to three flights of the same aircraft type and loading to arrive together.

John Dallman comments: The "obvious" thing for you to do, since you'll be willing to fight, is to form a battle line. All your torpedo ships should use them at as close a range as they can manage. You can't expect to cripple the battleship, but the cruisers' weak secondary armament is potentially a real problem.

"The Japanese were a bit more aggressive than the British at this stage of the war, but they weren't being crazy. Yet. They were already tending to rely on "martial spirit" more than is wise, but they were attacking forces that under-estimated them, and fortune was favouring the bold."

Initial forces

  • Haruna, Kongo (2 Kongo class battlecruisers)
  • Atago, Takao (2 Takao class heavy cruisers)
  • Arashi, Hagikaze, Nowake, Maikaze (4 Kagero class destroyers)
  • Ikazuchi, Inazuma (2 Fubuki class destroyers)
  • Asashio, Oshio, Michishio, Arashio (4 Asashio class destroyers)

Reinforcement group A

  • Kumano, Mikuma, Mogami, Suzuya (4 Mogami class Heavy cruisers)
  • Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki (3 Fubuki class destroyers)

Reinforcement group B

  • Chokai (Takao class Heavy cruiser)
  • Sagiri (Fubuki class destroyer)

Reinforcement group C

  • Sendai (Sendai class light cruiser)
  • Asagiri, Murakumo, Shinonome, Shirakumo, Usugumo, Amagiri, Yugiri, Ayanami, Isonami, Shikinami, Uranami (11 Fubuki class destroyers)

Reinforcement group D

  • Yura, Kinu (2 Nagara class light cruisers)

Bombers

  • Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" x36 configured for conventional bombing
  • Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" x24 configured for torpedo bombing
  • Mitsubishi G4M1 "Betty" x24 configured for torpedo bombing

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