Copyright © 2022, Paul Scrivens-Smith

Copyright © 2022, Paul Scrivens-Smith

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Sunday 5 August 2012

Battle of Sav 'Oh No' Island

At Mansfield Wargames Club back in 2009 we started running a series of WWII+70 games where we would pick an action that happened about 70 years ago and re-fight it at the club. What with other commitments and projects it petered out a bit. However, at the recent AGM we decided that we would give it another go and I would set up a game.

We would be playing on the 2nd August, so looking on Wikipedia for a week either side of 2nd August 1942 I came up with the following possibilities:

27th July 1942: The First Battle of El Alemain
I have some 6mm troops for this, but they are a bit early. If Greg could bring his 15mm stuff I could add it to mine and do it. The rules options were BlitzKreig Commander, I Ain't Been Shot Mum or Flames of War.

28th July 1942: Order No.227 
I've got loads of 15mm Eastern Front, again the rules options were BlitzKreig Commander, I Ain't Been Shot Mum or Flames of War.

7th August 1942: Battle of Guadalcanal
I have some 1/600 Japanese and US planes so could do a Bag the Hun.

9th August 1942: Battle of Savo Island
This is probably favourite as I already have all the ships for it and could use either General Quarters or Naval Thunder.

In the end I decided to do the Battle of Savo Island using General Quarters.

I had created a set of rosters for both fleets and a set of scenario rules that would give the Japanese all the advantages with the Allied forces having a good chance of:

  • Firing both guns and torpedoes at illuminated friendly ships.
  • Ordering their own ships to cease fire as they may be engaging friendly ships.
  • Failing to illuminate Japanese ships with star-shells as they had a high failure rate.
  • Failing to pass on, or acknowledge the position of enemy ships.

Two 8ft x 4ft tables were set up alongside each other. On one table was half of Savo Island and the North Patrol Force (Vincennes, Astoria, Quincy, Helm Wilson) along with the destroyer picket Ralph Talbot. On the other table was the South Patrol Force (HMAS Canberra, Chicago, Patterson and Bagley) along with the destroyer picket Blue. It was assumed that the northern edge of the north table represented Florida Island and the southern edge of the south table represented Guadalcanal.
Northern Patrol Force

Southern Patrol Force
Mikawa's force consisted of Cruiser Division 6 (Chokai, Aoba, Kinugasa, Kako and Furutaka) and Cruiser Division 10 (Tenryu, Yubari and the destroyer Yunagi).

The Allied ships were issued a standard patrol plot at 10knots and could not deviate from that plot until they confirmed that they were under attack. Mikawa's force entered the southern table at 22knots.

I would play the Japanese, Greg and Ben the Allies.
Mikawa's cruisers enter the fray
The Japanese started well, they were picked up by the destroyer Blue who attempted to pass the news of the raid on but was ignored. Realising that they had been spotted Cruiser Division 10 were dispatched to deal with Blue.

Blue launched a spread of torpedoes at the cruisers but achieved only a single hit that proved to be a dud. Tenryu then engaged Blue in a gunfire duel, but was herself set on fire but Blue also suffered a damaged rudder.
Tenryu set on fire by Blue (in the background)

The rest of Mikawa's cruisers continued unmolested and undetected until they were within 1500 yards of the Southern Patrol force at which point they opened up with a tirade of gun fire and torpedoes. What a shambles! The gunfire either missed or was ineffective. Out of all the spreads of torpedoes launched, with a very high hit probability only a single torpedo hit Canberra and that only did very minor damage.

Cruiser Division 6 engage Southern Patrol Force
The Allied did not have it all their own way though, the Southern Patrol Force were in confusion and despite opening fire with the Cruisers the order was immediately countermanded after only a handful of shots. Patterson and Bagley did fare better and seriously damaged Aoba with gunfire and torpedoes.

The two cruiser forces continued to engage, but even with the confusion in the Allied ranks the Japanese could not get the upper hand. Chicago was eventually sunk, but so was Aoba. The fires continued to rage aboard Tenryu and she was eventually abandoned but not before finishing off Blue.

Mikawa decided to break off the attack and head back to Rabaul, but it was not over yet, with only two functioning turrets, Canberra caused a hit on Furutaka that penetrated the magazine and the ship exploded.

At the end of the game the allies had lost Chicago and Blue, Canberra, Paterson and Bagley were all badly damaged. The Japanese had lost Aoba, Furutaka and Tenryu and Chokai was slightly damaged. The Northern Patrol Force had remained oblivious to the whole event.

A terrible day for the Imperial Japanese Navy

Vincennes and Astoria

Chicago and Canberra

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