Topic-icon French vs IJN: wait, what?

Marqod created the topic: French vs IJN: wait, what?

7 years 3 months ago

I had the pleasure of playing another game yesterday, this time against Oldenbua here on the forums.

We ran with a simple 150-point game, since I can't really scrape more than that together with my IJN in 1/3000 scale.
My opponent, of course, wanted to use his own French vessels.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any pictures of the battle, so we'll have to do without.

Our scenario was to be an Encounter battle, in the day and on clear seas.
There were two land masses on the battlefield: a cape protruding from the French long table edge and a decent-sized island also roughly in the center, but slightly towards the Japanese side.

The French force:

Commander: 3 star

Core fleet:
>Cruiser squadron
CA Algerie (Algerie class) - Squadron and fleet flagship
CA Colbert (Suffren class)
CA Foch (Suffren class)

>Destroyer squadron
DD Le Hardi (Le Hardi class)
DD Le Mars (l'Adroit class) - I believe she was squadron flagship; might also have been Le Hardi
DD Tornade (Bourrasque class)

The Japanese force:

Commander: 2 star

Core fleet:
>Cruiser squadron
CA Kako (Furutaka class) - Squadron and fleet flagship
DD Sazanami (Fubuki class)

Close support:
>Destroyer squadron
CL Yubari (Yubari class) - Squadron flagship
DD Mutsuki (Mutsuki class)
DD Uzuki (Mutsuki class)

Distant support:
>Air cover
2 G4M "Betty" bomber flights

This matchup was going to be pretty interesting; the French rather outgun and outarmour me and have a solid torpedo arsenal.
I'd have to rely on my superior speed (all French vessels were speed 3) and better torpedoes, plus maybe my decent rapid-fire guns.
After all, the guns on the French destroyers are pretty solid, if only they were rapid fire...

My first squadron would also have to hold on by themselves for a bit, until Yubari and her destroyers could arrive from support.
One undergunned heavy cruiser and a single modern destroyer aren't quite enough to vanquish than entire French force.

Turn 1
Things start off pretty calmly: the French sail forwards keeping the destroyers near the cape and putting their cruisers near them as well for AA cover against the airpower I manage to call in: a whole two flights of G4M bombers, worth a grand total of 10 points.
The IJN vessels steam forwards cautiously, with Sazanami laying a smokescreen for Kako to hide behind.

Turn 2
IJN reserves will not be arriving this turn and the French choose to specialize in gunnery for their national rule.
Ships advance cautiously, with Sazanami laying another smokescreen.
The French cruisers try to range in on her with their bow guns since they're just barely close enough, but all of their shots miss.

The G4Ms go for an attack run on the outermost destroyer, but still face three dice of AA fire per flight.
One gets shot down, but the other gets lucky and makes it through only for its attacks to miss.
That would be all from my airpower this game, since I'd have better things to do with my orders in following turns.

Turn 3
This is where the tension will start to rise. The French destroyers advance aggressively, ready to deliver their torpedoes to the heavy cruiser Kako or maybe even Sazanami if they're lucky.
The Japanese leadership has other ideas and maneuvers to cut across the enemy path and put the French small craft in their broadside arc.
French destroyers open up with their bow guns, dealing minor damage.
Out go the Type 93 torpedoes, hoping to score a lucky hit. 13 of them should allow decent odds of that.
The French cruisers manage to range in on Kaka, though their sporadic hits fail to do any serious damage.
Those volleys are followed by close-range gunnery broadsides from both IJN warships, ravaging one French destroyer but failing to put it down.

Finally, the French cruisers turn to fire in broadside against Kako next turn and the IJN light squadron rushes forward to join the battle.

Then it's time to resolve the torpedo fire. Only the already-battered lead ship in the French light column, Le Hardi I believe, is hit.
The Type 93 effectively tears the ship apart, sending it to the bottom nigh instantly.

Turn 4
The loss of one of the French destroyers reduces their order pool somewhat, which is a rather bad thing at this critical juncture where battle is truly joined.

Things start off with some rapid maneuvering by the French destroyers, their commanders hoping to finally be in a position to launch those torpedoes.
However, the captains of Kako and Sazanami continue to show their guts and dash past the French, with Kako actually crossing between the two destroyers.
Some gunfire is exchanged between the two squadrons, dealing only light damage.

Then the French cruisers open up on Kako.
Her captain immediately orders her to go evasive, which she does effectively.
Each of the cruisers scores some hits, but the frantic maneuvering and solid armour keep things from getting too bad and her crew prove willing to stay in the fight.

The IJN light squadron also advances closer, with Yubari in position to launch her torpedoes at the lead French cruiser and fleet flagship, Algerie.
However, in doing so she has also entered the torpedo range of Le Mars, which fires both of its banks in an attempt to deal some damage while the ship is still in fighting shape.
Aside from Yubari, Kako also fires her starboard torpedoes against the other French cruisers.

The torpedoes from Le Mars run true, with two of them striking Yubari.
Heavy damage is dealt and the ship is now both flooding and on fire.
However, Algerie is similarly unlucky, taking a Type 93 hit from the volley of Yubari and breaking off because of the damage.
Two of the torpedoes from Kako also hit her, sending her to the bottom.

Turn 5
The French are now in a fairly bad situation; They have lost a third of their force and though some of them have serious damage, all of the IJN vessels are still in the fight.
Fortunately for the French, most IJN vessels have spent their torpedoes; only the pair of Mutsuki-class destroyers still has theirs loaded.
Still, they will have to truly make the most of the now even more limited pool of orders they have left.

The French destroyers and the IJN cruiser-destroyer pair continue weaving around each other and firing their guns.
Continued hits finally force Le Mars to break off.
The remaining French cruisers also continue their fire against Kako, dealing more damage but ending up short of crippling her.
However, the pair of Mutsuki-class destroyers now move into position to launch their torps against the French , sending out three volleys of three into the area they're guaranteed to end up in with their compulsory movement.

Damage control doesn't go too well on Yubari and the continuing damage from the fires forces her to break off.
Finally some good news for the French.

However, things take a turn much for the worse with torpedo resolution: both of the remaining cruisers get struck by a Type 93.
Colbert breaks off, though Foch is saved from that fate by the French commander's once-per-game ability.

End of game
With this, the French had less than half of their victory points still in the fight.
This requires the flagship to make a command check, but since the fleet flagship was sunk, we weren't sure if the next senior flagship can take the test instead.

Still, we felt this was a nice moment to call it and wrapped up the game.

Final results:
IJN light cruiser Yubari: heavily damaged, will require serious repair.
IJN heavy cruiser Kako: moderately damaged, will require some harbor work to be fir for battle again.
IJN destroyer Sazanami: lightly damaged, still fully combat capable.
IJN destroyers Mutsuki and Uzuki: no damage whatsoever.

French heavy cruiser Algerie and destroyer Le Hardi sunk.
French heavy cruisers Colbert and Foch moderately damaged, will require harbour work.
French destroyer Le Mars: crippling damage, might not make it back to port.
French destroyer Tornade: minor damage, still fully combat capable.

All in all, quite the disaster for the Marine Nationale.

While their initial maneuvers were quite effective, they failed to deal with the agressive tactics of Kako and Sazanami, throwing the French battleplan into chaos.
This left the IJN fast squadron in a position to launch torpedo strikes against broadside-on cruisers, dealing massive damage.
Perhaps better anti-torpedo tactics would have allowed the French cruisers to hang in there better and deliver the pain with their eight-inch guns.
However, that would probably have left IJN Kako more free to deal damage as well, so I'm unsure if that would really have been the preferred option.

In the end, their high speed and more powerful torpedo armaments did indeed allow the Japanese to come out on top against an opposing force that is massively superior in terms of guns and pure tonnage.
Interesting matchup, especially with some of the non-standard combinations of armament, armour and speed available in the French fleet and their flexible command station abilities.

I'm quite interested in facing off against them again in the future.
I also wonder how a gunnery-focused US cruiser force would fare against a French force like this one.

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Oldenbua replied the topic: French vs IJN: wait, what?

7 years 3 months ago

Thank for the write up. A well deserved victory it was! And what can I say, I was definitely outmaneuvered. The threat of air attack was maybe in part to blame, even if that proved to be not very effective (but could have gone very differently). Getting my better firepower in a position where I could use it effectively proved to be not so easy. And when the heavy squadron was ranged in on Kako and scored some hits, your armour proved to be quite sturdy as well.

If you're thinking about a rematch vs the US Navy, at least there is a bit more historical precedence, as Vichy French forces engaged American forces in operation Torch (Naval battle of Casablanca in 1942).

Note: The 1st French destroyer was La Palme, a sister ship of Le Mars. The last one was Typhon (another Bourrasque), not Tornade.

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Marqod replied the topic: French vs IJN: wait, what?

7 years 3 months ago

Thanks on the corrections: I'm not quite as well-versed in French ships as I am for several other navies.

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Naval War HQ replied the topic: French vs IJN: wait, what?

7 years 3 months ago

Great report! Seems the French learned some fresh respect for the Japanese Long Lances. Better keep those cruisers at a distance from now :D

Game designer

"That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been;" -Ecclesiastes-

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Pugliese replied the topic: French vs IJN: wait, what?

7 years 3 months ago

Nice read. I think it's going to be interesting working around the lack of the rapid fire weapons on destroyers sized vessels that the other navies take for granted. In particular, it's going to make ranging in as soon as possible for repeat fire to free up orders for other things even more important than usual.

It'll make painting British uniforms green especially important.

(I was reading an account of Mers El Kebir, and one of the things mentioned was the dye from bracketing fire and near misses staining the uniforms of British sailors that happened to be on deck.)

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