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Battle of Coral Sea-Interactive History

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  • Battle of Coral Sea-Interactive History

    I'm figuring that this is a good idea. While I'm not the military man I would hope to be, this is usually very entertaining, and usually provides quite a bunch of important decisions.

    While this isn't the easiest battle to work on, I'm going to give it a swing, and see about how you like it. This is similar to the interactive in the magazine, but more strategic than usual. No prizes, but a good deal of fun.
    I'm going to lay out the strategic situation of the Americans, and provide you to take the soles of Rear Admiral Jack Fletcher, commander of Task Force 17. Decisions will be chosen by popular approval. So discuss, and get some majority.


    In the month's following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Axis forces have rolled across the world. December brought the German forces to Moscow, stopped by the cold Winter weather. In the Pacific, the Japanese naval blitzkrieg has taken Guam, Wake Island, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and most of the Dutch East Indies. While Halsey had launched the Doolittle Raid against Tokyo, the results were mocked by Tokyo Rose as a 'Do-nothing raid'. The morale improvment said otherwise. The key to the war isn't in words, but in actions.

    The actions of the Imperial Forces indicate a new movement. Their radio traffic, decoded by the Naval Intelligence offices in Pearl Harbor indicate that an operation is being planned. The details are to be flushed out, but there seems to be a plan in order, to cut the Australians from the United States supplies. This can only mean Port Moresby on New Guinea. The operational forces had been given the sign MO.
    The operational plans were classical Japanese. The orders indicate an attack the Solomons, Tulagi, and from Rabaul they were to send an invasion force to attack Port Moresby. To block the Anglo-American attacks, the Japanese Imperial Navy decided to send the Zuikaku and the Shokaku, along with supporting ships to destroy the American carriers.

    Now the issue is in the hands of Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher. The tall, weathered Rear Admiral had lead several raids against the Solomons and Japanese held New Guinea. Commander of a joint US-Australian force, his two prides were the American carriers Yorktown and the affectionately named 'Lady Lex', the Lexington. These warships were out at sea, May 1st. Your warships are sailing from several ports in Australia, and the combined fleet has four options of movement. The Japanese attack may commence any time from now to May 8th, the decoding wasn't as accurate as hoped. What to do. Task Force 37, with the 20 warships are at your call. Some will be joining the Lexington and Yorktown from Australia. The Australia, Chicago, Hobart, Perkins, and Walke.


    Option 1-Turn your fleet to the west, and move to Port Moresby. The Japanese invasion fleet will be heading there, so why not move into the area and sink the transports as they approach.
    Option 2-Move into the Solomon Island chain, and have your fleet await the Japanese navy there. Their assault will establish land-based planes capable of attacking any convoy's that pass close. This would hamper the trade between the two nations. However, the closed waters and shallow channels would move your warships into zones that would allow the Japanese to destroy your warships.
    Option 3-Go straight for the gullet. Launch your task force between the Solomons and New Guinea, and strike Rabaul. The Japanese fleet will be there, and your bombers and torpedo-bombers would wreak havoc amongst the carriers, cruisers, and destroyers.
    Option 4-Assume a sitting position between the Solomon and Port Moresby, allowing your air forces to strike either the invasion or enemy carriers,and then retreating to Australia. Hopefully the sting will force the Japanese to reconsider.
    Last edited by Marshal Murat; 03 Feb 07, 21:00.
    For despite the silly sayings about violence never settling anything, history IS changed on the battlefield: ask the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
    -Jerry Pournelle-
    Introduction to 'Hammer's Slammers'

  • #2
    Hmmmm don't know much about the Coral Sea other than the meat and potatoes. Option 3 seems the most agressive and I'm totally against option 1 and 4. So for me its between 2 and 3. 2 seems like it would result in an Ironbottom Sound type engagement while 3 might be better or worse.

    Let's go with 2. I won't give them my carriers but I'll try and tie them up something fierce away from their intended objective.
    The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

    Hell is other people. -Jean-Paul Sarte

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    • #3
      Option 1 resembles the carrier raid that preceded the Coral Sea. US carriers waited south of New Guniea & launched a strike on a transport convoy approaching the north coast of NG. Not a spectacular victory. Just another of the anoying raids that pushed the IJN towards the Midway campaign.

      Like Barcelona I dont know enough of the SE Pacific campaigns to consider further.

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      • #4
        Option two does not seem good. Moving into the Islands would likely allow the Japanese to get destroyers close enough to attack the fleet. In the real battle the Americans had no Battleships so a surface battle would probably go badly for the Americans. Option three is risky but could pay off big while Option one does nothing about the enemy carriers and Option four gives the momentum completely to the Japanese. To me Option three is the best as we can do heavy damage to the Japanese and it gives us the momentum.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Engineer 1888 View Post
          Option two does not seem good. Moving into the Islands would likely allow the Japanese to get destroyers close enough to attack the fleet. In the real battle the Americans had no Battleships so a surface battle would probably go badly for the Americans. Option three is risky but could pay off big while Option one does nothing about the enemy carriers and Option four gives the momentum completely to the Japanese. To me Option three is the best as we can do heavy damage to the Japanese and it gives us the momentum.
          Hmmmm totally forgot the surface engagement aspect. I would stick to my guns to see what happens, but I think we need to be in agreement here....

          I'll go with either two or three. Three sounds appealing but doesn the IJN Carrier Group outnumber us?
          The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

          Hell is other people. -Jean-Paul Sarte

          Comment


          • #6
            Option 2 puts the big ships in confined waters for the Japanese to use thier superior (at this stage) surface fighting ability to thier advantage. Option 3 puts TF37 under land based Japenese air.

            Option 1 may lead to the sinking of the transport fleet-is stopping the invasion the #1 priority of TF37?

            Option 4 leaves the Japanese invasion force under both land based and naval air, while leaving enough maneuver room to go after the Japanese carriers when they show up.

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            • #7
              I think I would definitely not choose option 2... you don't want to get into somewhere you cant get out of and give the enemy more options than you have.

              Option 3... not for me given 20/20 hindsight. The IJN is more experienced and at this point has just about every edge but intel. Hitting them at Rabaul is only going to get a lot of pilots shot down and endanger the ships.

              That leaves me opttion 1 or 4 to choose from... My gut tells me option 1 is leaving me open to a reverse Midway... my ships set up for a kill on the transports while the IJN shows up and knocks my carriers out... aggressive against a known target but again leaving yourself too open to a more experienced IJN attack. It shows initiative, but I'm not sure it leaves enough reserve 'just in case'; you trade initiative for flexibility... I prefer flexibility.

              So, that leaves me with option 4... hit one and/or both groups just enough to give the IJN a bloody lip and make them think twice about reaching further than they can grasp. It plays it safe and at this point that may or may not be a good thing, but I'm one for being more careful than audacious (no French Army for me). Besides, time is on my side; if the Japanese can be slowed down, they can be stopped and rolled back, but they have to suffer the death of a thousand cuts right now since I'll get my butt handed to me in a stand-up fight (and why would I want a fair fight when I can read their messages anyway?)
              If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.

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              • #8
                I agree that Option two is out but I think we still need to consider Option three. The Japanese will not be expecting a strike at their main base so we will have the advantage of surprise.

                I also agree with you on option one we will have no clue where the Japanese carriers are so they have the advantage of surprise.

                Option four leaves us sitting out in the open waiting for something to happen. We may have a large reserve but that will do us no good if the Japanese find us but we don't find them. To me it is better to have the intiative but no reserve than our entire force in reserve waiting until the Japanese find us or make their move.

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                • #9
                  Consensus

                  Do we have a consensus view here? I'm hearing an Option 4, an Option 1. As far as I know option 4 has precedent.

                  I'll leave this open for a couple more days, and then I'll see.
                  For despite the silly sayings about violence never settling anything, history IS changed on the battlefield: ask the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
                  -Jerry Pournelle-
                  Introduction to 'Hammer's Slammers'

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                  • #10
                    I want Option three but will go with anything other than Option two.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The priority must be to get the Jap carriers, the transports will have to be dealt with by land-based air which will be able to attack uncontested if the Jap naval air is tied up with or sunk by the US fleet. Although it galls me (Attack!), I vote for Option 4 but the main goal is to get the Jap carriers without losing our own if possible. Patrol an area, send out the search planes, and be ready to launch a strike as soon as the enemy carriers are found. Historically the Japenese invasion force retreated when the 2 Japenese main carriers were damaged, maybe they would do it again here?

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                      • #12
                        Option 4

                        Alright, Option 4 has been chosen.

                        You launch your Task Force into the straits between the Solomons and Port Moresby. The cruiser force that is coming to support you has moved up, and joined the task force. Now you send out scout planes, watching the avenues for the Japanese attack forces. Finally, one May 3rd, a scout from the Yorktown sights a small convoy of warships, heading down the Solomons. Turning your carriers into the wind, you launch your Dauntless dive-bombers and Devastator torpedo bombers from the Yorktown. Flying across the sea, the planes encounter no enemy ships. The scout had mis-coded the call, the Japanese convoy was actually 40 miles to the north. The launch results in no casualties, and a still oblivious Task Force. Another day of scouting brings in two more calls. One is of another convoy, but your bombers don't find anything there. The second was a jackpot. Your scouts have learned their lesson, and the coded message was on the money. Four Japanese destroyers and three cruisers.
                        Launching your strike forces from the Yorktown and Lexington, the assembled 60 bombers and torpedo-bombers strikes like a sledgehammer. Your Devastators torpedoes are mostly duds, but one manages to stick, and blows a destroyers boilers, slowing it down significantly. The Dauntless dive-bombers, or 'Helldivers' in Japanese, they strike the heaviest blows. Two destroyers sink, one is slowed, and another dead in the water. Two cruisers smoking, and a third lost their forward and aft turrets. You send the cruisers under the British Crace, leading the cruisers into the midst of the Japanese ships. The cruisers wreak havoc, and the Japanese force is almost completely destroyed.
                        Intelligence indicates later that the Myoko, Haguro, and Arike, Yugure, Shigure, Shiratsuyu, and the Yubari were all reported sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy. A signifigant blow to their invasion. However, disturbing news from intelligence also indicates that the Japanese have taken Guadalcanal and Tulagi with minimal losses, and now the invasion force is preparing to launch. What do you do?


                        Option 1-Stay put. The Japanese have to pass close to get into range of Port Moresby. The Japanese carriers are still out there, and if they catch your ships before you catch them, then your in trouble.
                        Option 2-Move closer to Port Moresby. The Japanese might think your still in the area between the Solomons and New Guinea. They'll get a nasty shock when your bombers and Devastators hit them!
                        Option 3-Move into the Solomons with all your force, draw the Japanese away from Port Moresby. Their attack will be threatened with a thrust through the rear if you can take Guadalcanal or Tulagi by surprise and give them something to worry about in the rear.
                        Option 4-Send your cruisers to cover Port Moresby, and throw your carriers at Guadalcanal and Tulgai. If they continue on the offensive after you hit their spearhead, they will push harder onto the Port, and get a mouthfull of shells as a reward.
                        For despite the silly sayings about violence never settling anything, history IS changed on the battlefield: ask the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
                        -Jerry Pournelle-
                        Introduction to 'Hammer's Slammers'

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                        • #13
                          More Options!

                          Anyone want to choose some more options?
                          For despite the silly sayings about violence never settling anything, history IS changed on the battlefield: ask the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
                          -Jerry Pournelle-
                          Introduction to 'Hammer's Slammers'

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                          • #14
                            Without a map it is hard to tell. I don't know the area well enough in my head.

                            But that said I would choose number 3 as I want to keep the initiative. I want them guessing what I am doing rather than me guessing what they are doing. Damn the torpedoes...
                            Publisher
                            Armchair General Magazine
                            Weider History Group

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                            • #15
                              Map

                              Coral Sea/Solomon Sea

                              Alright, as of late, the Japanese are to the north in Rabaul, and then they are moving down the Solomon Islands on the right of the map. Down the island chain there is Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Your fleet is located in the Solomon Sea, between Bougainville and the islands off Papau New Guinea.
                              Crace and his fleet are farther to the west, returning to your task force. The Japanese have been moving down the island chain, onto Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

                              Any more questions sailors?
                              For despite the silly sayings about violence never settling anything, history IS changed on the battlefield: ask the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
                              -Jerry Pournelle-
                              Introduction to 'Hammer's Slammers'

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