|2020-04-10||(D) John Gorkowski|| vs ||Bill Stoppel|| American win||It's Japanese stealth against American firepower in this classic PTO grind with a twist, Japanese armor! |
My IJA forces set up mostly along hex column N. A HIP kill stack of 9-1, HMG, crew, HS, and LMG lurked in 56M6 with a stack of four dummies to draw fire in nearby in 56M8. Another not-HIP kill stack of 9-1, MMG, crew, HS, and LMG waited in 56Q3. A HIP 4-4-7 with DC waited in 35M10. The 47mm ATG and crew lay HIP among the palms at 35N8 with CA M8/N7. There was one HIP tank hunter hero in each of 56M9 (bamboo) and 35O10 (swamp). The dug in tanks looked north from 56O1 and Q10. I scattered remaining squads among the stone buildings at the center of board 56 with the mortar back on my left a few hexes south of the dug in tank at Q10.
Bill’s Americans lined up on hex column H. Two Shermans, an M5, and three squads with two bazookas secured his left on board 35 with everything else on board 56. His 105mm SP Gun – the Priest – and his .50 cal both started in 56H8. Several squads, leaders, the flamethrower and DC all started in the board 56 kunai.
The Americans drove south to column K on board 35 and set up overwatch facing east to interdict Japanese reinforcements. On the American right (board 56) the Priest fired and failed its roll for smoke ammo, but succeeded in firing white phosphorus at the Japanese dummy stack in 56M8. The American infantry progressed south about 120 yards to column K where the Japanese HIP HMG stack in 56M6 fired to casualty reduce one squad and break two more half squads.
The Americans spent the next two turns pushing the 56M6 machine gun stack back one hex at a time as they struggled through crisscrossing fires up the K8-P5 road. Palms, smoke, white phosphorus, and vehicle hindrances all coupled with building TEM to protect the Japanese until their HMG broke and the American flamethrower got into 56M6. An M5 tank bogged itself in the bamboo at 56L4 as exhausted squads trudged alongside. The broken Japanese HMG fell back to 56O5 where an M5 with malfunctioning main gun drove in for vehicle sleaze freeze; the Japanese failed their tank hunter hero check so the tank – still in motion – locked down their fire. The American flamethrower came adjacent, drew fire from the MMG and LMG in 56Q3, and survived to barbecue the Japanese HMG stack.
Back on the American left (board 35) the U.S. infantry-armor team advanced quickly into a Japanese trap. The HIP 4-4-7 with DC in M10 popped up after an American 9-1 and bazooka squad went by. The Japanese threw their DC to break the leader, pin the squad, and red line themselves. Next, they fired rifles to break the squad. Sandwiched between the dug in tank at 56O1 and the newly “appeared” squad in 35M10, the broken Americans were in real dangers of elimination for failure to route so the American armor rushed over to save them. An M5 rolled into 56L2 where it rolled a 5 in advance fire to hit and kill the dug in tank at O1 while a Sherman in 35 M9 scored a critical hit against the now red-lined Japanese squad. Taking advantage of the mayhem, the HIP Japanese anti-tank gun in 35N8 killed an adjacent Sherman and then pivoted to hit the other Sherman in its flank, but failed to get the kill. American infantry hit that Japanese gun crew in melee, but rolled a 12 so the Japanese escaped to die in a hail of machine gun bullets the next turn.
Japanese tanks came aboard from the east on turn 2. The 9-1 tank leader piloted his Chi He to the edge of the kunai at 35I4 and stopped for bounding fire at the American M5 in K7. The Americans shot first and hit, but failed to penetrate. Chi He replied with a kill shot that brewed up the American tank and then scooted to G6 for a future flank shot against the one remaining Sherman in L8. Next turn, that Sherman started, survived a side hit from the Chi He, and fled to 56K1. Meanwhile, three American squads with two bazooka’s and a captured Japanese anti-tank gun lurked like porcupines among the intervening Kunai. The Chi He went on to 56D3 to await American halftracks. An M5 later killed him. Other Japanese tanks took up defensive positions around the overlay 56Z1 and Z2 buildings or the bamboo field at the middle of board 35; but one Chi Ha (not Chi He) burst into flames after the Sherman hit it across the Kunai.
American squads with guns blazing plowed to the town square area (56P5) on turn 3, red-lining one Japanese squad and stripping another of concealment along the way. An M5 in motion bypass of 56O5 killed the Japanese crew and HMG there during close combat. By turn 4, only a scattered Japanese platoon held the village, while their reinforcements clustered further south around the overlay Z1 and Z2 buildings. The dug-in Ha Go at 56Q10 soldiered on by breaking an American half squad in 56K10. That inspired the HIP tank hunter hero in 56M9 to make his move and rush the M5 tank in K10. He survived a machine gun burst and dodged 37mm rounds, but forgot to bring his anti-tank mine and ultimately failed his attack roll and so vanished into history.
The Americans won several melees around town center to capture the village by the end of game turn 4. The Japanese did kill a full American squad for failure to rout and broke two more with a thrown DC.
Through turns 5 and 6 the Americans plowed south toward the last two stone buildings, 56Z1 and Z2. Along the way the Japanese whiffed about six sniper rolls and six more tank hunter hero attempts, so the Americans got away with a lot of vehicular sleaze freeze. Still, the Japanese knocked out a couple of American squads with rifle fire, one halftrack fell to a Chi Ha, and one M5 immobilized in a building where it had lodged for a showdown with the last surviving Chi Ha. Japanese turn 6 started with Samurai in the last two VC buildings, one knee mortar on each flank, and the Ho Ni nearby with acquisition on the Sherman.
During their last player turn, the Japanese did well, but not well enough. The mortars succeeded in placing smoke in Z3 on an American halftrack and in BB1 to block the view of the Priest in CC4; it threatened overlay building one with 20 FP canister from behind. Unfortunately, the Ho Ni failed to penetrate the Sherman despite two hits! The handwriting was on the wall for Japan. Anyway, a tank hunter hero killed the smoked-up halftrack and another soaked up all the Priest’s firepower. So, the 9-0 ran behind the Ho Ni to melee the American Priest in CC4; it worked and the Priest went up in flames!
On the last American player turn the Sherman laid TWO white phosphorus counters– thanks to intensive fire the second time. Infantry followed up with WP from bazookas and smoke grenades to obstruct Japanese vision. The M5 killed the Ho Ni with one shot. A bunch of pointblank assault fire and flamethrower action reduced and redlined remaining Japanese. Six American squads (three per hex) then advanced into close combat to win two 8-1 attacks for victory.