The USN forces had been in disarray if the truth be told prior to WWII breaking out. Their ability to project force effectively hampered by poor decisions made a decade ago in accords and concessions to Japan. The US and its allies had also ceded vast swathes of empty ocean and inconsequential German possessions as a part of the wrapping up of the War to End all Wars.
Now as the first few days of September ’42 rolled along with the chop and sway of the vast currents, commanders assessed their options. The IJN had intercepted their surprise attack on Guadalcanal and given the USN a bloody nose. Yet the order remained. Take the Island, keep the supply chain open to Australia and give us a victory to raise morale at home.
Whats gone before:
As we saw in the last post the US did indeed achieve surprise this month, and could now press the attack with a lower degree of risk.
At the top of Operational Day 4 (OpD4), the IJN secured local advantage and moved its activated forces [TaskForce 4] from Truk steaming directly toward Guadalcanal. Task Forces 6 [TF6] also left Rabaul. The USN were spotted and their TF7 was exposed as having 2 CV’s and 4 non capital ships as it moved into the coastal waters of G’canal.
The night shrouds all in darkness and ships run with no lights. The USN detaches forces from TF01 and TF7 with 4 Cruisers (New Orleans, Northampton and Portland bombard the airfield at G’canal:
rolling #6,6,4. of which the 4 is a hit. This does 1 step of damage to the Airfield which is automatically repaired in a later stage (it is linked to command and supply so repair is automatic with Engineers), but more importantly kills of the lone Zero step (15 aircraft) in the base.
Morning and the IJN have advantage for this cycle. they move TF6 & 4 and combine in one hex just 8 hexes away from G’canal.
US Navy fighter/bombers SBD’s bomband Wildcats strafe the Japanese Marines which suffer in silence. The attacks for several ‘Morale tests’ or T’s. The Japs have seen worse and dealt with privation beyond this meager affect and shrug off the morale checks.
Yanks take advantage and the lighting is randomly assigned. the USN needs daylight, so they can press home the attack on the island otherwise the IJN will close and attack! -Daylight!
USN TF#2 advances to the island., air attacks the troops again. this time the SBDs’ break an Engineering unit. In the rally phase the hearty engineers roll a 0 to recover!
Dusk, USN advantage. 6 cruisers are spotted along with the Saratoga and 1 other CV. The Cruisers bombard the shore, the USN air units attempt to strike also losing a step to the dusk landing, but also earning an experience point for air combat ( a air to ground attack is an ‘air mission’ we agree so it is earned). The Cruisers bombardment takes a fearful toll. with firepower ratings of 5,5,5,and 2. They roll 3,5,5,6, causing four Morale checks. An Engineer breaks but the rest of the Japs are well dug in and recover.
First Marine brigade [12 step unit] and 2nd Marine III Regiment storm the beaches. The IJN Marine formations and Engineers fight bravely.
Combat is resolved on the risky 1-5 column. Landings half Morale ratings, terrain effects drms, and the only positive DRM for the US Marine Corps is their 3:1 numerical advantage. The result is a horrid 5 steps lost for the Marines. The 2nd is eliminated and the 1st Marine takes 2 steps also. While the IJN elect to eliminate the broken Engineer.
The Marines are ashore. The Imperial Japanese Navy is closing in and it is the Reaction Move for the IJN.
Things to consider.
Can the IJN strike in time to sink some CV’s? Will they have the air power to do that? Will the Marines be abandoned for the balance of the cycle/month or will the USN risk losing cruisers to support the Marines? End of month units MUST deactivate. Both sides must return to base? OR I think some can stay in coastal waters.
Can the IJN get more forces to G’canal? How will that work? Is that a viable plan to re invade? Can you even do that? What else can the IJN bring to the table? What else does the USN have to bring to bear in the coming turns?!