Friday, 2 March 2012

Far East troop convoy - Fletcher Pratt game report

The inbound Japanese air attack.  Each strip of thin card has six aircraft printed on it - as casualties are suffered these are simply scored off!
Let's start with the bad news first. I wasn't very happy with how this game went. Having said that, the players seemed happy.
I had decided that the time was ripe to introduce the delights of aircraft and designed a scenario involving three fast (20 knot) troopships being escorted by an RN task force consisting of a KG V class battleship, three K class destroyers and an escort carrier. Command of this force fell to Lloyd - newly headhunted by the Admiralty after his successful career in the Kriegsmarine. It was his own fault for bringing along the battleship...
The inscrutable enemy had two forces. At sea was a Kongo class battlecruiser, two light cruisers and two destroyers. Land based assets consisted of four air squadrons - two each of Zero fighters and Betty bombers. John A had overall command.  I didn't keep a precise record, but I think there were at least 16 people involved this time. 
The aircraft stands were the work of a couple of hours in the garage - I bought some lengths of 10mm dowel a while back while the bases were cut from some scrap I already had.  Add some drilling, hammering and wood glue - and steal some clothes pegs during a Ninja-style raid on the kitchen - and they're done!
The Brits started off well by sending off a Walrus on a scouting mission. While it sighted the Jap fleet it was swiftly downed by some Zeros.    Now read on....
TF Powell under way.  If the photo looks a bit fuzzy you can blame the barrage of AA fire.
The Jap air raid consisted of 18 Bettys escorted by 6 Zeros.
Although the AA gunners charged a heavy entry fee, the bombing was rather well done.
It was the interaction between the aircraft and ships which was unsatisfying.  Partly this is a result of the air rules being something of a 'bolt-on' afterthought - forgivable when it is remembered that the original game was written in the early 1930s when air power, especially at sea, wasn't being taken all that seriously.  A post game discussion produced a few ideas-  notably Martin's suggestion of an air attack sequence, dealing with the approach, flak, bombing all at once.  Watch this space.  For the moment, I decided simply to fudge the results, and produced another trio of transports...
A second Japanese air formation flies over their warships.  Clearly posed for the IJN's publicity department!
Meanwhile, the RN has not been idle, and the Ameer's full complement of 6 Sea Hurricanes and 12 Swordfish are launched.
"Vengeance is mine" sayeth the Admiralty.  The British air strike on the Japanese fleet was a thing of beauty, with Swordfish launching torps from both sides of the flagship.  Sadly only 3 Hurris and 4 Swordfish made it home.  The attacks left the Kirishima (I know it looks like a Scharnhorst but that's just a trick of the light...) making 2 knots and heading for home.
The second Jap air attack suffered mightily at the hands of the RN AA gunners but still did much damage.
The RN fleet - minus one transport.
The British flagship was a Revell 'King George V' which Lloyd had built and painted.  The pre-war style finish contrasts rather well with my own rather scruffy Prince of Wales.  To my surprise and delight, Lloyd kindly presented me with the model after the game.
The next game - expected to be on 28 March - will probably see a return to the North Cape.


Paddy said...

Nice battle report thanks and an impressive bombing run on the Kirishihorst!

Conrad Kinch said...

Well I think you're just going to have to take the compliment young Gow and try to suit yourself next time.

Tim Gow said...

Actually 'Kirishihorst' is rather is good name...

Tim Gow said...

Conrad Kinch
I think you could be right!

Peter Douglas said...


I really like the aircraft stick thingies!


Tim Gow said...

Peter Douglas
Spoken like a native!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Damn these planes they spoil a good battleship fight, back to WWI for a fair fight!

Mind you it was interesting to see how these cheap little planes can come in to spoil the navy's day

looking forward to the dark of the North Cape:

DoY to Belfast: Illuninate target with star shells
DoY Guns: Scharnhorst 14,000 yds "Shoot, Shoot, Shoot"

Tim Gow said...

The planes did rather get in the way of the gentlemanly business of firing big bloody gind at each others ships! The best bit was when poor recognition skills led to the Hurris flying home with the japs while some zeros landed on the carrier!

Pete. said...

Interesting to see another convoy game done. I've been helping my friend play testing his version (as far as I know he's not seen the Fletcher Platt rules), I may have to pick them up to see if they give us any more ideas. Our AA system is a bit fiddly atm....



Tim Gow said...

The best bit of the FP game is the range estimation. Sadly this is what makes the air side of things so clunky. We're working on it!

Pete. said...

My mate uses a non linear marked cloth for calculating pics (there are pics on my blog of the set up) what slows the game down for me is assigning how much AA fire each ship throws up. How does FP rseolve this?



Tim Gow said...

Thanks - I'll have a look. The F-P air rules are really very cumbersome, and the flak equally so - especially with WW2 ships with loads of AA guns.