Part 41: Philippine Sea: July 19, 1944
Just as it seems we have a pretty fair command of things in the Marianas, there's a sudden alert. Japanese warships are heading our way! Most of the support fleet is called away to deal with the problem; it shouldn't take long to handle them and then the offensive can be completed.
Someone seems unaware that we've had troops on the islands for over a month now.
I don't know if you're not expected to take the route of doing the land battle in the Mariana islands, or if this is just a result of the rushed production (the battle's date is a month off from history as well). This scenario comes in the campaign after the Marianas one instead of before it. We will see the remainder of the ground fight, it's just going to be put off while this little battle is fought.
Philippine Sea : July 19, 1944
Victory Points: 0 - 804
Core land+air : naval / aux slots: 4:4/0
Unit Name Unit Type [Transport] Exp Land Units -none- Aux (by qty) -none- Air Units 1.7th F4F Wildcat F4F Wildcat * 2.8th F4U Corsair F4U Corsair ** 3.9th F4F Wildcat F4F Wildcat * 4.10th SBD Dauntless SBD Dauntless ** 5.32nd TBM Avenger TBM Avenger - Aux (by qty) 7 USMC F6F Hellcat ** 3 USMC F6F Hellcat *** 2 SB2C Helldiver ** 2 SB2C Helldiver *** 3 TBF Avenger - 1 PBY Catalina ** Naval units 6.New Orleans CA New Orleans *** 7.Northampton CA Northampton *** 8.Yorktown CV Yorktown - 9.Atlanta CL Atlanta 44 * 10.Gato SS Gato * 11.23rd Somers DD Somers - 12.24th Cleveland 43 CL Cleveland 43 * 13.Independence CV Independence - 14.16th Iowa BB Iowa - Aux DESRON 4,5,7,9 DD Sims ** DESRON 2,3,6,8 DD Somers ** Mobile CL Cleveland 43 ** Reno, Oakland, San Diego CL Atlanta 44 ** New Orleans CA New Orleans 1944 - Minneapolis, San Francisco, Tuscaloosa CA New Orleans ** 'Gato' SS Improved Gato ** Hornet, Wasp CV Essex ** Enterprise CV Yorktown ** Lexington CV Lexington **
Starting Prestige: 728 after purchases
Note: Some prestige was spent to upgrade land units; we'll see all of the upgrades in the next ground battle.
Our best fighter pilots get the F4U Corsair, the latest and greatest model; this should give us at least one unbeatable unit in the skies. The ships are generally doing well, but we opt for the upgrade to the Atlanta, making it an anti-aircraft support ship. Both of these should ensure that the enemy planes have no chance of hurting our carriers.
We don't yet know precisely where the enemy fleet is, but we have a pretty good idea, and the aircraft are already on the way. The plan here is to send most of the carriers westward, probably along the southern edge of the battle. Three carriers will go roughly northward, to ensure the Japanese fleet doesn't get close to the islands. Aircraft can, if necessary, make a sweep over the enemy fleet from one side or the other and head for safety to either group. The surface ships will stay close to protect the carriers, although we may let the subs go hunting if there's a good chance of scoring a kill.
Our core is making up the bulk of the northern group. All our planes will move together for now, and the cruisers will screen for the capital ships.
Allied Turn 1 (USA): July 19, 1944
The scout planes spot more of the enemy fleet. One carrier, the Zuiho, is seen. Other contacts include two large battleships.
Axis Turn 1 (Japan): July 19, 1944
As the Japanese press onward, we see another carrier alongside the Zuiho.
More carriers are seen not long afterward, and then the Japanese fighters down our search planes.
In all, we've detected five enemy carriers and at least three battleships, plus a complement of cruisers. We're in for a real fight now.
Allied Turn 2 (USA): July 19, 1944
Our fighters head in to shoot down the Zeros screening the enemy fleet.
The first group of dive bombers can't make it to the best targets, and go after the cruisers instead. Losses are heavy due to accurate AA fire.
The Iowa gets its first taste of combat, and scores solid hits on the Kongo.
Axis Turn 2 (Japan): July 19, 1944
Uncertain of the strength of our force, the Japanese carriers halt and reverse course.
The Japanese can no longer keep up with our fighters. We've learned how to handle them with no difficulties.
Allied Turn 3 (USA): July 19, 1944
As the surface ships get into range, our subs actually score a hit on the cruiser Maya.
The Tone has been diverted away from the enemy fleet and will soon sink.
With the fighters wrangling above the big carriers, we're able to strike the battleships with our planes. The Haruna takes some bomb hits.
Axis Turn 3 (Japan): July 19, 1944
The upgraded Atlanta is ready for air attacks, but it's still not so strong against regular old naval guns.
The Zeros keep trying to hit at our strike craft, and keep failing to deal with our escorts first.
The Japanese surface fleet is much larger than expected. They've got several ships guarding the carriers and can still send battleships directly at our northwestern group.
Allied Turn 4 (USA): July 19, 1944
All those surface ships present a real threat, and we actually need to divert the strike craft from carrier attacks to deal with them.
The Minneapolis finishes off the Haruna.
Even then, there are still several battleships on the enemy side. The Kongo is here, and defending the carriers are the Nagato and the impressive Yamato.
The Hellcats continue to down enemy Zeros right and left.
Axis Turn 4 (Japan): July 19, 1944
A single salvo from the Yamato sends a destroyer to the bottom.
It turns out the Yamato's sister ship Mushashi [sic] is also here. They fire on the Reno, but the little cruiser manages to weave away from the shots.
These attacks on our air units seem practically suicidal.
It's been a bloody start to the battle. We may be winning in the air, but we seem to be outnumbered in all corners. It's going to take a serious effort for the fleet to make it through this without significant losses. (Not captured, but the Atlanta was already lost.)
PG Name: M4A3 Sherman/M4A3E8 Sherman Type: Tank
Effective Date: 6/44
Value:28 Cost:336 Spot:2 Move:7/6 MM:Track Trans:Naval Fuel: 45/41
Init:9/10 SA:9 HA:15 AA: NA:1 GD:12 AD:3 CD:3 TT:Hard Ammo:11
The M4 medium tank design continued to be incrementally upgraded once the first units saw action. The M4A3 was an iteration with an improved engine and better armor, and it was the primary model fielded in the war. It could be fitted with a 75mm gun (similar to the M4A1), or a better 76mm, which seems to be the model here. The E8 model had an improved suspension that offered a smoother ride but did increase the weight somewhat.
In-game analysis: This is an excellent refinement of the M4A1. For just a slightly higher price you get a well-balanced tank that can do just about everything that's asked of it. The speed of this really gives the American army in this game an unrivaled striking ability. Although this model would be outmatched in Europe, it can make it to the end of the war against anything the Japanese can put on the ground. The 'Easy 8' variant is not worth it, though, as there's no need to trade speed for initiative, given that the Japanese tanks are not particularly dangerous.
Atlanta-class Cruiser (11 built)
PG Name: Atlanta/Atlanta 1944 Type:Light Cruiser
Effective Date: 8/38 / 1/44
Value:15/30 Cost:180/360 Spot:2 Move:6 MM:Deep Naval Fuel: 62
Init:4 Range:2 SA:4 HA:7 AA:/16 NA:14 DA:0 GD:14 AD:4 TD:13 TT:N/A Ammo:40
Special: [1944 only] Radar, Night Optics
These were true light cruisers, coming in around 7000 tons displacement. Instead of having a set of large anti-surface guns, the Atlanta instead carried 16 of the 5" dual-purpose guns that proved very effective against aircraft. Although they were lightly armored, the design was fairly sound structurally. They were best when used as escorts due to their terrific AA ability. Two of them, including the Atlanta itself, were sunk in the Pacific in 1942.
In-game Analysis: This is one of the few ships that is only worthwhile after the upgrade. It costs twice as much, but the big thing that happens is that it becomes an AA ship, and a very good one at that. The relatively low fuel supply means it's only going to be an escort, but that's generally what you'd want to do with it anyway it's lacking in surface power. Of course it's really only necessary if air attacks are a concern.
Consolidated PBY Catalina
PG Name: PBY Catalina Type:Level Bomber
Effective Date: 6/42
Value:33 Cost:396 Spot:6 Move:6 MM:Air Fuel: 229
Init:3 SA:1 HA:4 Size:30 AA: NA:5 GD:11 AD:10 TT:No Ammo:5
The PBY Catalina had been used by the US Navy since 1936. It was a flying boat (capable of a water landing), and throughout the war was the definitive patrol plane in use by the Allies. While technically capable of going on a bombing run, its low speed and poor agility made it far too vulnerable to enemy fighters to remain in that role, especially when there were aircraft much better suited to the task. In the Pacific, there was a rather successful application of them as night patrollers (known as the 'Black Cats').
In-game Analysis: This is kind of expensive and slow for a recon craft, but it is actually also a passable bomber. It's nowhere near the standard of the American level bombers, which are kind of the best around, but it'll do in a pinch. It is useful to have one of these for recon (especially in naval battles) since nothing else can handle the task quite as well, but there isn't much reason to put it in the core since they usually are provided when needed, and are rather vulnerable if used for scouting.