January game night was held at Black Labrador and featured The Marianas Turkey Shoot, the greatest air battle in history. Scenario was based on the morning intercepts of the first raid sent by Ozawa to the Saipan invasion fleet. New guest Gunnar and Andy played US naval aviation with Matthew who faced his father Larry, and Barry who flew for the Japanese.
The Sons of Nippon were on a bomber escort mission, guarding a flight of four Judys with their four Zekes. TF58 fighter direction vectored three sections of Navy Hellcats and the fight was on! Scenario specific rules were a favorable tail wind for the Japanese bombers which gave them a free first move, and some of the US Navy planes had been in action prior to the scenario start and already had their First Fire box checked.
The Japanese got to place clouds on the table and surprisingly placed them closer to the entry point than the exit. A different strategy would have been have the clouds on the exit side so the bombers could slip away from the interceptors before moving off the table.
The Judys bore straight in to reach their objective exit side while the USN angled in for a deflection intercept. Zekes got right into the fight and shots were traded. When the merge broke up, the outnumbered Zekes had fought well and downed three Hellcats and damaged a fourth. Two Hellcats latched onto the tail of the bombers and were able to kill one and caused damage to a second which caused it to abort the mission.
Final Victory Point tally 29 to 8 favoring the Japanese due to downing 3 Hellcats and 2 Judys successfully escaping. USN scored only 1 kill (Judy) and damages to 3 Zekes and the other Judy. USN guns just couldn't get the high damage rolls.
We had a fun time with a rule set we know very well. I was happy to get my late war Pacific planes out and am already working up another scenario to take on the road to Historicon 2017.
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