Saturday, 1 May 2021

1/3000th Navwar French



It's been a while since I have updated my somewhat irregular blog but here is what I have been working on lately after the arrival of a fairly substaintial parcel from Navwar recently......enough ships of the French  Marine Nationale to cover the activities of the Force de Raide and the French Force X based at Alexandra and various crusier and destroyer flotilla actions against the Italians (such as Operation Vado) prior to the Armistice.

So without further ado here is what I have completed so far:

Battlecruisers Dunkerque and Strasbourg, the mainstays of the Force de Raide:   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battleships Bretagne and Lorraine, the latter being extensively rebuilt prior to 1939:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some later French heavy cruisers - Foch, Colbert and Algerie:










 

And three La Galissonneire class CL's - Montclam, Glorie and Georges Leygues:


  







 

 

 

Lastly some contre-torpilleurs of the Le Fantasque and Mogador classes:


 

 







 

 

I still have a few more destroyers and the carrier Bearn's flight deck to complete, but the French fleet is now largely done.

We played a "what-if" version of the events at Mers el Kebir on 3 July 1940 last night featuring the captila ships and the destroyers pictured above, unfortunately things did not go well for the French Fleet, but the few pictures that I took did not come out too well so I have not posted any of them.




Monday, 1 February 2021

Operation C - Lessions Learnt

Well first of all thanks for following my short campaign based on the Japanese attack on Ceylon in April 1942...I really enjoyed playing it and it certainly ticked a few boxes for me personally gaming wise. 

The Good

The scenario design worked really well and I will definitely be using it again as the basis to game other short duration aerial campaigns.

As it only focused on one shotai of fighters I must admit that I really liked writing the narrative of each game and the "character building" behind each pilot.....I took the loss of Honda and Fujimi to heart a little.

As I knew from playing bits of the eariler "Buffaloes over Singapore" campaign as well as a couple of test games with Paul R the "simple" air combat rules work well and do correctly differentiate different plane types such as the A6M2 Zero and Hurricane.

I was able to purhaps end up doing slightly better than the Japanese did historically since I got enough good outcomes to end up meeting the British Fleet Carriers and damaging HNS Formidable.

The Bad  

Not much to complain about really. The one thing that did get me thinking was the high number of kills that the Japanese pilots, especially PO1c Watenabe were able to rack up so quickly and also the sheer number of missions I got them to fly in one day. 

I think that is a product of trying to represent the entire campaign through the eyes of a single flight who show up at all the main events that happen in the campaign. I can try to minimise enemy casualties by allowing damaged planes to escape without pursuit if they break off, but its a design limitation that I can live with.

Not everyone is a fan of the cardboard counters that I use, some perferring to see actual miniatures on the table....a very fair point. I went down the counter route for my WW2 stuff simply because they are easy to put together in MS Paint/GIMP etc using readily available top-down images from any number of sources on the internet and also cheap and fast to produce. I have a lot of 1/600th modern models that I intend to use for any post 1945 conflicts that I fight, but I don't have lots of time to do a whole lot of WW2 stuff as well.

The Future 

I have other gaming interests besides fighting WW2 aerial campaigns.....I am currently quite involved with getting some War of the Three Kingdoms gaming done using the "For King and Parliament" rules.

I don't intend to follow the fortunes of the Japanese Zero shotai further at this stage.....Instead its off to the sunny Med were I have started to put together a "crossover" campaign depicting the events of 11 - 13 August 1942 when a large convoy was fought through to Malta (Operation Pedestal). The crossover occurs as I am trying to tie in two flights, a FAA carrier based (equipped with Sea Hurricanes or Fulmars) one  and a RAF one equipped with Spitfire V's based on Malta. As an additional aspect there may be room to wiggle in a couple of GQ1/2 based naval games as well if the Italian navy can intercept the Malta bound ships after the British heavy units turn back towards Gibraltar on the 12th. 

We'll see where this takes me.....  

 

Friday, 29 January 2021

Operation C - Attack on the British Fleet Carriers

Time - 4.30pm April 9th 1942

Scenario - Attack on the British Fleet Carriers - This time the Shotai pilots must escort a strike of 6 D3A2 Val dive bombers as they finally get to launch an attack on the fleet carriers of Admiral Somerville's Eastern Fleet. Due to the Japanese victory achieved in the last scenario the British are aware that they have been sighted and have abandoned any thought of a second attempt at a dusk strike against the Japanese carrier force. Instead they are now retiring at high speed to the South West towards the "secret" anchorage at Addu Atoll. Any defending FAA fighters will be already airborne as the British will be expecting a Japanese strike on the retreating fleet.  

Victory Conditions - In order to attack the targets the two Val dive bomber flights must fly the length of the playing board. Each one that survives inflicts 1D6 points of damage on the target. If the total damage inflicted exceeds 25 points the target is considered to be destroyed and the mission to be sucessful. 

 

The defending British fighters are vectored onto the strike by the fleet's Fighter Direction Officer....for this scenario the first defending fighters to appear (tope right) are a flight of 3 Fulmars flown by two regular pilots ("A" and "C") and a junior ace (in "B"). The 2 flights of Val's are in the middle and the Zero shotai is bottom left.

 

The Fulmars are slower than the Zeros in the rules I am using (Fulmars get 1D6 basic movement while the Zeros get 1D6+2), allowing the Zeros to close with them quite rapidly. After some very helpful discussion online with BigJackMac about some of the eariler campaign games I tried once again to play the defending fighter's tactics a little differently by having some of them engage the Zeros while others attack the strike aircraft.


PO1c Watenabe as always leads the shotai by example (I rolled a 6!!)...he barrels into the Fulmars as they attempt to close with the Vals and attempts a front quarter shot at Fulmar "B" (top right) but misses completely (next roll was a 1!). PO1c Ashai and PO2c Fujimi can't match his speed and so veer right to meet the other Fulmars as they close on the first Val flight.


The junior ace flying Fulmar "B" finds he cannot manuvere against his much more agile opponent (kept on rolling very low dice) and soon finds the A6M2 Zero on his tail. This time PO1c Watenabe makes no mistake and the Fulmar's crew is forced to take to the silk after as his 20mm rounds lace the British fighter.

Meanwhile Ashai and Fujimi both attack their British opponents as they pass, but no hits are scored. Val "B" hopefully fires off a burst from its forward guns, but Fulmar "C" 's pilot easily avoids the Japanese fire as he Immelmann's onto PO2c Fujimi's tail.....


And fires a long burst from dead astern of the A6M2 fighter.....which riddles the plane with hits. Fujimi stands no chance as the unarmoured Zero explodes in midair...(centre right). The shotai has suffered its second fatality of the campaign!

PO1c's Watenabe and Ashai can only watch events unfold (bottom right) as simultanously Fulmar "A" makes a firing pass at Val "C", which smokes and dives vertically into the Indian Ocean far below (centre). Fulmar "A" then heads on towards the second Val flight.

The two remaining shotai pilots will have to act fast if they're going to prevent any further casualties amongst the remaining Vals. 


PO1c Watenabe throttles up and pursues Fulmar "A" , latching onto his tail, but at the critical moment his shots fly wide of the mark. Meanwhile PO1c Asahi loops over and fires at Fulmar "C", but misses yet again!. Undaunted the pilot of Fulmar "C" lines up behind Val "B" and scores his second victory in as many minutes as the Val falls to his guns.....

But the Fulmars both still have much more manuverable fighters behind them and their luck is about to change.....PO1c Watenabe turns sharply in behind the British section leader in Fulmar "A" (bottom) and sends a long burst into the fighter which explodes. Fulmar "C" seems to have suffered from target fixation as he doesn't react when PO1c Ashai turns onto his tail and fires....as the crippled Fulmar dives towards the sea the crew somehow manage to bail out. Ashai has in turn shot down PO2c Fujimi's nemisis, but he takes little satisfaction from that knowledge.

No more FAA fighters appear to challenge the remaining Vals as they approach the British carriers from astern. They dive down through a thick curtain of both light and heavy flak to attack an Illustrious class carrier with a white "F" painted on its round down right at the stern....its HMS Formidable. Dispite its violent manuvering the speeding carrier is hit by three 550lb bombs dropped by the veteran Val pilots, causing major damage.  

Result - Partial Japanese victory.....The 4 remaining D3A2 inflict 17 points of damage on the Formidable, enough to heavily damage but sink the British carrier.       

Kills - PO2c Watenabe -  2 Fulmars, confirmed. PO1c Ashai - 1 Fulmar, confirmed,  PO2c Fujimi - None. Killed in Action 9/4/1942.

The surviving Japanese planes return to the Akagi in the evening twilight and are quickly struck down to the hanger decks below. 

Once recovery operations are complete the Japanese ships turn towards the East to begin the long voyage back to Japan. 

Rumour soon spread that after refitting and leave in Japan the fleet will once more sortie against the Americans in the Pacific Ocean to cover an operation to take a small group of islands to the west of Hawaii, the largest of which is called Midway....         

 
 

    

     

     

 

 
 

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Operation C - IJN Recce

Time - Noon April 9th 1942 about 100 miles South East of Ceylon

Scenario - IJN Recce - a lone IJN B5N2 Kate is flying on a recce mission to locate the main body of Admiral Somerville's Eastern Fleet has just sighted part of the British fleet South East of Ceylon. Part of the defending Fleet Air Arm Combat Air Patrol (CAP) orbiting over the task force is directed by radar towards the Kate and moves in to attack.

Victory Conditions - The Kate must survive for at least three turns against the British fighters in order to fully transmit its sighting report back to the Akagi. If the Kate survives that long then the sighting report will be considered to have been completed. If it can exit the table then the Kate will considered to have escaped the defending fighter CAP by flying into cloud etc.


Turn 1 - The defenders are three Sea Hurricanes flown by a junior ace ("G") and two regular pilots ("H" and "I") which begin closing with the recce plane. As the Kate's crew spots the fighters bearing down on them the pilot wings over to try and avoid them, the observer gets busy taking oblique photos of the British ships in the distance while the wireless/air gunner frantically begins sending his report.


 Turn 2 - The fighters sluggishly close the distance with the Kate (kept on rolling low dice right through this game....) while the Kate slowly turns away.

Turn 3 - The fighters form up in line formation astern as they continue to approach the Kate from astern. Unmolested by the fighters the wireless/air gunner is able to report that the sighting report has been sent and reciept acknowledged. He then mans his single 7.7mm flexibly mounted machine gun as the Kate desperately tries to reach a huge cloud bank before the fighters arrive (if the Kate can exit the board (2 squares to the right) it will have considered to have escaped). 

 

 

Turn 4 - The FAA flight leader in Sea Hurricane "G" (centre) rolls a 1 for movement and so still trails astern of the Kate, but his wingman barrels in, guns blasing from directly astern of the Kate. The Japanese rear gunner empties a full drum of 7.7mm rounds in reply, but no hits are scored (Sea Hurricane "H" rolled a 1, the Kate rear gunner a 2).

 

Next the third Sea Hurricane "I" roars in from the Kate's left rear quarter just as the Kate is about to enter the cloud bank and another fusilade erupts, but again no hits are scored (Sea Hurricane "I" rolled a 2, the Kate rear gunner a 4).  

Untouched the Kate soon evades the fighters in the clouds and returns to the Akagi where its recce photos are quickly processed to show the ships that have been sighted. They are identified as the battleship HMS Warspite and carriers HMS Formidible and HMS Indomidable.


Result - Japanese victory. The British Eastern Fleet's main body has finally been sighted.

Kills - None

Just after noon on the 9th April 1942, realising that the British fleet's position has been accurately reported, Admiral Somerville concludes that his somewhat hopeful (and totally ficticious) gamble to try to manuvere into position for a dusk strike against the Japanese carrier fleet for a second time has not worked. Immediately he orders a course change to the South West at maximum speed, taking the fleet back to their anchorage at Addu Atoll. This means that the Japanese will only be able to launch one strike against him before nightfall....

 



Operation C - Attack on Trincomalee 1st Wave

 

Time - 7.30am April 9th 1942

Scenario - Attack on Trincomalee 1st Wave - The now reorganised Shotai pilots must escort a strike of 6 D3A2 Val dive bombers as they attack designated targets at Trincomalee's port and naval base. Due to the narrow victory achieved in the last scenario the return of the Japanese carrier force has not been detected by the British, so any defending RAF fighters will have to scramble as the raiders appear overhead. This is represented by the defending fighters remaining stationary for 3 turns before they can move to engage the attacking Japanese aircraft. 

Victory Conditions - In order to attack the targets the two Val dive bomber flights must fly the length of the playing board. Each one that survives inflicts 1D6 points of damage on the target. If the total damage inflicted exceeds 25 points the target is considered to be destroyed and the mission to be sucessful.

 


Initial set up showing the first defending RAF Hurricane flight (top with dice showing turns remaining till they can move), The Vals on the right and the Zero Shotai on the left. I took the photos in a bit of a hurry, not all of them turned out too well sorry... 

 


Leading the Shotai for the first time since the loss of CPO1c Honda is PO1c Watenabe. Spotting the rapidly climbing enemy fighters he opts to dive down to engage them before they can intercept the Vals.....his wingman PO1c Ashai sticks with him but PO2c Fujimi struggles to stay with them in the dive (I kept rolling one and two for his movement....).   


PO1c Watenabe fires at Hurricane's "G" and "I" from their front quarters (bottom left) as he flashes through the formation but misses both aircraft completely, meanwhile the other members of the flight keep up with him as best they can, well aware that the first Val flight (top right) is now becoming vulnerable to interception by the Hurricanes.


The Hurricane section leader in "G" decides to split his flight - he and his wingman in "H" will take on the Zeros while his third, less experienced pilot in Hurricane "I" remains free to attack the bombers. The leader (right) turns into PO1c Ashai for an attack from his 9 o'clock position but misses the high deflection shot. Meanwhile Watenabe is suddenly aware of .303 rounds whizzing past his Zero and Ashai's voice screaming in his earphones "Behind you Watenabe.....behind you.....break......now!!". He breaks right but not before Hurricane "H" manages to hit his Zero from astern, luckily only damaging him (red dot), but not enough to force Watenabe to return to the Akagi. (If I had rolled one higher PO1c Watenabe would have been shot down....a very close call). 


PO1c Watenabe's near death experience swiftly sharpens his situational awareness and he sees an opening....he throttles up in pursuit of Hurricane "H" as it turns away and easily manages to get on its tail. A quick burst and the Hurricane streams smoke and dives away on its back, the pilot bales out of the stricken plane....then its a quick jink to the left and he is postioned on Hurricane "G" 's rear quarter.....Watenabe fires another long burst and the second Hurricane falls away then explodes. He then rolls to the right to clear his tail... he scans the sky all round, but he doesn't spot any enemy aircraft.

Meanwhile PO1c Asahi manuveres against Hurricane "I" and damages it. The British pilot, an inexperienced newcomer, having seen the fate of his comrades, wisely decides to wing over and dive away rather than face 3:1 odds in his heavily damaged fighter. Asahi does not pursue him. 


 PO2c Fujimi positions himself to cover the leading flight of Vals, but no more British fighters appear to defend the port, allowing the Vals to attack their targets completely unhindered apart from some desultory AA fire. They manage to destroy their assigned targets, and all aircraft return to Akagi fully intact apart from PO1c Watenabe's somewhat bullet ridden Zero.   

Result - Japanese victory. The D3A2 Vals inflict 26 points of damage, which is enough to destroy all the assigned targets without the need for further strikes against Trincomalee.       

Kills - PO1c Watenabe - 2 Hurricanes, confirmed, PO1c Ashai - 1 Hurricane, damaged, PO2c Fujimi - none. 

As the strike returns to Akagi word is received from the B5N2 Kate search planes that have been sent out to locate any enemy forces that at least one British carrier has been sighted....

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Operation C - Cruisers 2nd Wave

Time - 5.30pm April 5th 1942

Scenario - Cruisers 2nd Wave - The tired shotai pilots, now on their fourth mission of the day must escort a further strike of 6 B5N2 Kate torpedo bombers as they try to finish off two British heavy cruisers that have sortied from Columbo to meet up with the main body of Admiral Somerville's Eastern Fleet.

Victory Conditions - In order to attack the targets the two bomber flights must fly the length of the playing board. The Kates are each armed with a single 18" torpedo. Each one that survives inflicts 1D6+3 points points of damage (Japanese aerial torpedoes were very effective at this time) on the target. If the total damage inflicted exceeds 25 points the target is considered to be destroyed. The first wave attack only scored 15 points of damage.


As the sun slowly settles in the west CPO1c Honda can see more British fighters orbiting over the two damaged cruisers. One section peels off and heads for his part of the attacking force...but they are not the sharp nosed in-line engined Sea Hurricanes or Fulmars he has become used to dueling against....instead they are squat, snub-nosed fighters powered by a big radial engine...American built F4F Wildcats, or Martlets in FAA parlance....

The three Zeros race to meet the Martlets before they can intercept the Kate torpedo bombers....CPO1c Honda wants no repeat of what happened in the last mission....


They manage to head off the Martlets and CPO1c Honda goes head to head with the British section leader as they merge, but no hits are scored by either side....


Using the manuveribility of his Zero to best advantage Honda manages to tail the leading Martlet, damaging it severely before banking away to the right (red dot at bottom). His wingman PO1c Ashai banks right and manages to damage Martlet "B" while PO2c Watenabe misses unusally misses a high deflection shot at the trailing British fighter.


The British flight leader's Martlet streams smoke and flame, so he turns away to try to return to his carrier at wave top height. Martlet "B" is flown by a veteran pilot and he sees a chance suddenly open up as Honda's Zero flashes past......the Zero pilot has made a fatal mistake leaving his tail open to attack. The Martlet pilot throttles up and banks hard right onto the Zero's 6 o'clock.....50 cal slugs chew up the lightweight Zero like a buzzsaw and the fighter explodes in a bright orange fireball.....CPO1c Honda has fallen! 

"Nooooo......" screams Ashai over the radio as he looks back to see his flight leader's aircraft disintegrate. Watenabe contains his own thoughts for later, as things get a whole lot worse for the two remaining Zero pilots...."Ashai.....stay calm.....there are more enemy fighters coming, but we must protect our comrades".        


PO1c Ashai takes a deep breath and turns in pursuit of Martlet "B" with a slick Immelmann turn which puts him on the Britisher's tail, but he can only damage it again before he switches onto Martlet "C" 's tail, hitting and damaging him. Martlet "C" however continues the fight, turning in to attack Kate "C" from its 3 o'clock. fortunately for the Japanese the attack fails.     PO2c Watenabe is now a driven man as he turns hard in pursuit of Martlet "B" and gets on his tail.....the sturdy fighter has taken a lot of punishment already so when its hit again the pilot bails out, giving Watenabe his 6th kill.  

Trouble for the Kate's however is not far away as a flight of Sea Hurricanes comes diving down towards them (Top left). Ashai and Watenabe are to the right of the leading Kate flight while the remaining FAA Martlet ("C") is handily positioned to attack the second flight of Kates.....


 

The Japanese fighters do their best to protect their charges but they are outnumbered 2:1. PO1c Ashai pursues the last Martlet ("C") and shoots it down with a raking burst from astern, so the second Kate flight is safe for the moment. PO2c Watenabe faces off with the Sea Hurricanes, but they avoid him sucessfully.....

 


The FAA fighters use their energy wisely and rip into the leading flight of Kates....Sea Hurricane "A" is flown by a junior ace who first fires a burst into Kate "B", badly damaging it and forcing it to return to the Akagi immediately. He then moves on to fire a long burst into Kate "C" which just explodes as he turns away, meanwhile his wingman in Sea Hurricane "B" runs parallel with his leader and fires at Kate "A" which wings over and dives into the sea.....in one move half the Japanese strike aircraft have been absolutely decimated !!

At this stage of the fight I was joined by our cat Dougal who first took a long relaxed look from my knee at what I was up to.......


and then gave me a bit of advice on how to roll decent dice scores......



Back on the table PO1c Ashai wings over hard right and rakes Sea Hurricane "A", but only damages him. In a nifty show of aerobatics PO2c Watenabe Immelmann's onto Sea Hurricane "B" 's tail, damaging him, then powers on to attack Sea Hurricane "A" from dead astern causing more damage. The British flight leader elects to head back to his carrier in his seriously damaged fighter (two red dots, top), but his wingman in Sea Hurricane "B" (red dot, centre) spots more Kate's dead ahead and elects to make a pass at them before retiring.   
Meanwhile Sea Hurricane "C" makes a pass at the previously damaged Kate "B" as it tries to exit the fight, but misses an easy kill (bottom).

Watenabe now half loops for a high deflection shot at Sea Hurricane "B" but misses, while Ashai also shoots at Sea Hurricane "B" but misses as he zooms by, then repeats his action with Sea Hurricane "C".....this allows Sea Hurricane "B" to attack Kate "E" head on, resulting in yet another Japanese strike aircraft being shot down! Sea Hurricane "C" however cannot reach the torpedo bombers as he tries to disengage, instead he finds himself rapidly closing with PO2c Watenabe's Zero.....as the two aircraft merge he sees hits on the Japanese fighter, but his own aircraft is hit repeatedly, forcing him to bale out.


PO1c Ashai goes after the last remaining enemy fighter from its reat quarter, but only damages it, but PO2c Watenabe then comes barreling in from directly astern and finishes the hapless Sea Hurricane off for yet another victory.

Result - Japanese victory.....Just!. Somehow the 2 remaining B5N2 Kates inflict 10 further points of damage, which with the 15 points from the first strike is just enough to sink the British cruisers.       

Kills - CPO1c Honda - None. Killed in Action 5/4/1942, PO1c Ashai - 1 Martlet, confirmed, PO2c Watenabe - 1 Martlet, 2 Sea Hurricanes, confirmed. 

Only four aircraft from the strike return to the Akagi in the evening twilight as the damaged Kate ("B") did not make it back to the carrier.....While the British cruisers were finally sunk the cost of the two missions has been very high, especially to Akagi's torpedo bomber squadron, which lost no less than seven out of twelve aircraft dispatched. 

The mood on the carrier is sombre and the two remaining Zero pilots are devastated over the loss of their flight leader CPO1c Honda. After their debriefing they are ordered to report to the fighter squadron commander's office space. 

The Lieutenant informs them that in line with IJN tradiiton for his good service to Japan CPO1c Honda has been posthumously promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. He then congradulates PO2c Watenabe on his impressive tally and informs him that he will be advanced to PO1c immediately. Given his natural ability Watenabe will also become the new Shotai leader, at least for the rest of Operation "C". A new pilot will also join the shotai to bring it up to stength. PO2c Fujimi joined the Akagi just before she sailed and is classed as a newbie having just graduated from flight school.     

Admiral Nagumo orders the carriers to withdraw to the South East of Ceylon to refuel and rearm for two days before returning to launch a final attack on the other British naval base on Ceylon, at Trincomalee, at dawn on 9th April 1942.      

          



Saturday, 23 January 2021

Operation C - British Heavy Cruisers Sighted

Time - 2.30pm April 5th 1942

Scenario - British Heavy Cruisers Sighted - The Shotai must escort a strike, this time consisting of 6 B5N2 Kate torpedo bombers, as they attack two County Class heavy cruisers that have sortied from Columbo to meet up with the main body of Admiral Somerville's Eastern Fleet which is beileved to be operating somewhere to the South West of Ceylon.

Victory Conditions - In order to attack the targets the two bomber flights must fly the length of the playing board. The Kates are each armed with a single 18" torpedo. Each one that survives inflicts 1D6+3 points points of damage (Japanese aerial torpedoes were very effective at this time) on the target. If the total damage inflicted exceeds 25 points the target is considered to be destroyed. 

 

After move 1.....a flight of 3 Fleet Air Arm Fulmar fighters (Bottom left) from one of the Eastern Fleet's carriers manuvere to attack the Japanese strike aircraft (Centre) which the fighter shotai from Akagi must try to prevent...


With a surprising burst of speed (rolled a 6 and is piloted by a FAA junior ace no less)
Fulmar "C" easily ignores the Japanese Zeros and bores in to attack the leading Kate flight. The concentrated fire of the Fulmar's eight .303in Brownings rips into the flight leader (Kate "A") which spews flame and dives vertically into the Indian Ocean below. The other two Fulmars fall far behind and are unable to support their impetuous comrade. 


CPO1c Honda must act fast to protect his charges.....he wings over and gives chase, managing to get on Fulmar "C" 's tail, but misses a straightforward shot. PO1c Ashai plays his role of Honda's wingman to perfection once again. As Honda rolls away to the left Ashai replaces him, hitting but only damaging the British fighter (red dot at the bottom of the picture, which I took after the British fighters moved.....). Meanwhile Fulmar "C" tries a head on attack against Kate "E" in the second flight but misses.  PO2c Watenabe engages with Fulmar "B", trying a high deflection shot that misses (I was rolling a lot of very low scores on everyones dice rolls at this stage :) ).

 


CPO1c Honda half loops to check where the enemy fighters are now, while PO1c Ashai manages to get into a shooting position on Fulmar "C" for the second time, but this time he misses completely. PO2c Watenabe is fast becoming aware that he is a natural fighter pilot as he effortlessly slips in behind Fulmar "B" 's tail and fires, but in line with his comrades eariler results this time the British fighter is only damaged (red dot bottom left).

While the Fulmars may not match the speed and manuveribility of the nimble Japanese Zeros they now prove that in the right hands they can be more than a match for any enemy strike aircraft......Fulmar "A" bores in on the second Kate flight leader (Kate "D"), downing it with a long burst, while the junior ace flying Fulmar "C" rolls in just behind Kate "E", which explodes  under a hail of .303 rounds to give that pilot his second victory over a Kate in this fight.....the Japanese strike is now in real trouble, with 3 out of 6 Kates having been shot down for no losses to the FAA fighters so far.....

   


But the pendulum is about to swing against them.......CPO1c Honda throttles up and turns sharply onto Fulmar "C" 's 6 o'clock, but he only damages him (Second red dot top left) before breaking to the right to allow PO1c Ashai to once again saves the day. Ashai sees his rounds impact on the Fulmar's wings and it spirals down to ditch in the water below (in these rules no aircraft can take 3 hits and survive). 

PO2c Watenabe meanwhile pursues Fulmar B, making a easy right turn and latches onto the British fighter's tail. Calmly he lines up and fires.....tracers impact the length of the enemy aircraft which wings over and plunges vertically into the sea......that's kill number 5 for Watenabe, he's done it....he is now offically an ace!!!


Suddenly Fulmar "A" is alone in the middle of a swerling mass of Japanese Zeros, the British pilot decides that he's seen enough and attempts to escape at wavetop height, but CPO1c Honda roars in from his rear quarter and quickly shoots down the last British fighter.     

Result - Partial Japanese victory. The 3 remaining B5N2 Kates inflict 15 points of damage in total, which is not enough to sink the British cruisers.       

Kills - CPO1c Honda - 1 Fulmar, confirmed, PO1c Ashai - 1 Fulmar, confirmed, PO2c Watenabe - 1 Fulmar, confirmed.  Watenabe has now scored five kills in one day.....he is now classed as a junior ace after his outstanding performance during 5th April.

Admiral Nagumo orders his tired aircrews to launch a further strike against the now crippled ships before nightfall. After that misson the carriers will withdraw to the South East of Ceylon to refuel and rearm before returning to launch a final attack on the other British naval base on Ceylon at Trincomalee at dawn on 9th April 1942....