by Brooke, GL, VT-2
This was a scenario that ran in the multiplayer on-line air-combat simulation Aces High.
I was the Group Leader (GL) of VT-2, the torpedo-bombing squadron on the USS Lexington. We were flying TBM Avengers. Today, VT-2 consisted of me (Brooke), Tudza, KKEN, Snefens, Babalon, flight17, CLONE155, Jerkins, pope14, Beefcake, LTARhamr, Teufl, and Dipsy (who is from the old Air Warrior days -- welcome, Dipsy!).
A picture of VF-2 (Lexington's fighter squadron) taking off into the morning sun in their colorful F4F-4 Wildcats. From back to front: Klingan, Floatsup, TedrikII, gosthntr, shifty95, Limbo0, Bruv119 (the GL of VF-2), and Amsoil.
VT-2 taking off from Lady Lexington in our TBM Avengers. The cruiser USS New Orleans prowls ahead. From top to bottom: pope14, KKEN, flight17, LTARhamr, BarryBD, Teufl, Snefens, CLONE155, Jerkins, Tudza, and me. t=0:02
As we take off, IJN scouts are already nearing Lexington and Yorktown, and we head northwest to get some distance from the area with hopes of not getting shadowed.
About 20 minutes out, I call for a reverse to join up with VS-5 (the scout-bombing squadron from the Yorktown). We are to go to target with VS-5 and VF-2. From left to right: flight17, Snefens, LTARhamr, Beefcake, pope14, KKEN, Jerkins, Babalon, me, Dipsy, and CLONE155. t=0:19
We went northwest a bit, then north. For about half an hour, no IJN carrier had yet been spotted, but scouts spotted it once we were 35 minutes out from the Lexington (t=0:35).
Our strike package on its way north. We are throttled back to stay with the Wildcats, which are throttled back to save fuel. VT-2 is the closer group, in our Avengers. VF-2 in their Wildcats are off to our right, and VS-5 in their SBD Dauntless divebombers are behind us. We are on our way to 10.12.5, where the enemy carrier group has been spotted. From left to right in VT-2: me, Babalon, Snefens, CLONE155, flight17, Teufl, Jerkins, LTARhamr, pope14, Beefcake, Dipsy, tudza, and KKEN. From left to right in VF-2: Floatsup, Bruv119 and a group I can't make out, and pritchy. From left to right in VS-5: dmDUBYA, Kommando (the GL of VS-5) , some I can't make out, OldDirty, 22ace, and Rebel59. t=0:47
Once we get closer to the target location, I had VT-2 dogleg to the right and come in behind VF-2, letting VF-2 and VS-5 go ahead of us to soften up the target and drive down the enemy CAP. There was also a divebomber squadron to our left that passed us on the way to target. So, VT-2 was positioned to follow it all in. I asked KKEN to select half the guys to be in his flight, and the others to be in my flight. KKEN's group would take the north side of the CV, and my group would take the south side of the CV.
A view back out of my top-gunner position as we get jumped by two Zeros. This took us by surprise as, at this point, we were very close to the reported carrier and scanning around to spot it. I heard "Check six! Zeros!" on my radio, and they were making their run on our formation. These two must have been off to the left of all the formations and come running when they saw the large formations of bogies going in toward their carrier location. I call for folks to dive out if in trouble. From left to right: CLONE155, LTARhamr, tudza, Teufl, Jerkins, Beefcake, Dipsy, KKEN, pope14, and Babalon. t=0:59
One of the A6M2 Zeros got close to me, and I did a diving barrel roll to stay away from him. Dipsy also dove to avoid an attack run. The Zeros made some runs, but people dove hard if threatened, and stayed out of the reach of the Zeros. KKEN's group dove to gain some speed and stuck together, and my guys stayed with me. Shortly, we had outdistanced the Zeros, which did not seem eager to follow dives for all that long with lots of high-altitude bogies in the area. From left to right: CLONE155, Babalon, pope14, Jerkins, tudza, LTARhamr, Teufl, me, KKEN, and Dipsy. t=0:59
Shortly after this, we spot the enemy carrier group.
A view forward of my Avenger as three Dauntlesses scream down in their divebombing runs, through bursts of AAA. t=1:02
Then its my turn. KKEN calls the dive for his flight, and I then call to my flight, "OK, guys! Chop throttle and let's dive!" Down we go toward the enemy fleet. flight17 and I are diving. Below, in the hailstorm of ack, are the divebombers. They have hit the CV already, as it is on fire. From left to right down there: Chump, hang5, GE063, GCW, USRanger, Curnutte, zack1234, DiVer8uP, and ooUFOoo. t=1:03
On the deck with bay doors open, we bore in toward the enemy carrier. From left to right: flight17, CLONE155, and me. t=1:05
In close, CLONE155 and flight17 have dropped torpedoes, and I'm about to do so. KKEN's northern flight is is reaching its drop point about the same time as my southern flight is reaching its drop point. Excellent coordination, guys! From left to right: Dipsy, Jerkins, KKEN (from northern flight), CLONE155, me, and flight17 (from southern flight). t=1:05
Just barely before I hit my drop button, the carrier starts to go down at the bow. Yahoo! Scratch one flattop! I'm able to hold onto my torpedo as are several other pilots in VT-2. I ram my throttle full forward and call for folks to retarget to the cruiser. From left to right: Teufl, me, Beefcake, GCW, me, Jerkins, and CLONE155. t=1:05
I fly past the outer picket destroyer (which is firing away at me), then crank over into a vertical-bank right turn to come back around for a run at the cruiser. Bruv119 and gosthntr (VF-2 pilots) are getting on the Zeros, working to keep them off our Avengers. From left to right: Bruv119, gosthntr, Jerkins, KKEN, pope14, Dipsy, Beefcake, me, and tudza. t=1:05
Torpedo away! pritchy (another VF-2 pilot) is hot on the tail of a Zero. From left to right: KKEN, pope14, Dipsy, Beefcake, prichy, and me. t=1:06
An in-cockpit view as I drop my torpedo. Teufl is off to the left in this image. t=1:05
A hit! My torpedo explodes left side, mid ship. Unfortunately for me, a gunner on the cruiser has started nailing me. I have lost my left elevator (seen tumbling away from me, bottom left of image), have a fuel leak (white smoke), and my engine is hit (black smoke). My plane explodes less than a second after this picture. Most of VT-2 survives, though, thanks to the Dauntless pilots who went in first and thanks to VF-2, who got on the enemy Zeros. From left to right: me, Amsoil, LTARhamr, Limbo0, and DiVerS8uP. t=1:06
The cruiser is sunk shortly after my untimely death. Another squadron attacked it and sent it to the bottom to rest near its carrier. We originally thought this group was Shoho's, but it turned out to be the Shokaku and the Haguro. t=1:12
While we were sinking the enemy CV and cruiser, the enemy was attacking the Yorktown and Lexington. After getting shot down in the previous attack, I manned guns on the USS Minneapolis (the cruiser near Yorktown). All other manned gun positions were taken, so I went into the 8" guns and tried using them for antiaircraft defense. I think I actually shot one enemy plane down with them. The enemy attacked with many D3A Val divebombers and a squadron of B5N Kate bombers loaded with HE bombs instead of torpedoes, which proceeded to glidebomb the Yorktown and score many hits. There wasn't much CAP over the carriers at first, but after a while more USN planes showed up (Wildcats and Dauntlesses) and cleaned out the enemy aircraft. Once the area was clear, I got ready to launch with other VT-2 pilots who got shot down in the attack on the Shokaku.
The VT-2 2nd-lifers taking off from the Lexington, which is on fire from its bomb damage. There are also some Dauntlesses of VB-2 or VS-2 landing. From top to bottom (not including me in the foreground): Cattb, xTHECATx, jollyFE (in landing pattern in SBD's), Walleye (landed SBD), Snefens, LTARhamr (taking off in Avengers), and Babalon (just off deck in Avenger). t=1:19
At this point, the good news is that we have sunk a Japanese carrier and cruiser, and our carriers (although damaged) are still both up. The bad news is that we don't know where any more Japanese carriers or cruisers are located. We have scouts still looking, but several of them got interecepted and shot down an hour ago, leaving us short of scout planes. I take up VT-2 (with torpedoes), and we will try helping with scouting. We aren't quite sure where to look, though.
At first, because Yorktown and Lexington were under air alert (flashing) again, and because it looked like planes coming from the west (based on western-most CV flashing, then eastern-most), we flew west to help protect the ships and to see what was coming in. We saw one bogie that we couldn't ID (couldn't get close enough) and just some other friendlies, so we figured it was an enemy scout. During the previous attacks on the Yorktown and Lexington, the attacks seemed to come from the northeast, so we reversed and started climbing northeast to scout that direction.
We flew for a long time. There were four of us up in this scouting flight of VT-2, and I had us spread out to cover the width of a sector.
Babalon and I come across a lone bogie (the black dot barely visible in the middle of the picture near the lower cloud). We followed it for a while. It flew east. I had a suspicion that it had seen us and was leading us astray -- just a gut feel based on earlier attacks coming from the NE not purely the east. I broke off and headed NE again. I got up to about 20k altitude so as not to be as vulnerable to getting intercepted.
The four of us in scouting VT-2 spread far apart and came across bogies here and there. When I saw bogies, I tried to tell which way they were headed. If they were not headed N, NE, or E, I tried to avoid them (figuring they'd be enemy scouts or enemy spotters heading out from their CV's or enemy fighters). I had some anxious moments wondering if an enemy Zero or two would come across me. If they were headed N, NE, or E, I tried to follow them, hoping they'll lead me to more bogies that I could follow or to their CV. We were getting quite a distance away from the Yorktown and Lexington. At times, I felt like we must be away from anything important -- but then I'd see a bogie and figure that there must be an enemy CV somewhere in this vast NE expanse for there to be aircraft out here.
A view forward right from my cockpit as I come across what I suspect are two B5N's down low (because of size and color -- middle of image, below the cloud). I zoom in and check the direction they are heading (roughtly toward the Yorktown/Lexington area, although we are a long way from the CV's now). I call them out on the radio and pick a flight path opposite to their direction of flight. t=2:02
After more flying, I came across some other friendlies out here scouting -- some Dauntlesses are also looking around way out here.
A zoomed-in view left out of my cockpit as I come across a squadron of D3A Vals, again headed toward the general Yorktown/Lexington area. I call out the contact on the radio and set my course opposite theirs. This is in sector 14.10.1 -- we are way out in the boonies. I wonder if I should gather up the four VT-2 scouts, jetison our torpedoes, and attack them, but I figure that others will get on them -- I did get out a good position report. Also, we still haven't found any more IJN carriers, which is an urgent need. I continue on. t=2:14
As I enter sector 14.11, Snefens calls out the enemy CV in 14.11.2. Yeah! Good work, Snefens! I announce it on the radio and ask all VT-2 to head to that location. Some SBD's scouting around have also found the CV in this location.
A picture as I spot the Zuikaku (bottom left of image). Also in the area is Cattb and some of his fellow Dauntlesses. I can see the Solomon Islands in the distance, we are so far out! t=2:19
A view from my belly-gunner position as the Dauntlesses dive on the carrier, which puts up an ack barrage. Snibbo is in the picture as well. Go, Dauntlesses! t=2:20
Shortly after this, Snefens calls on the radio that he is going to start his torpedo run. I ask him to wait over the carrier for me to join him. Once I get there, though, KKEN calls on the radio and says that he and the guys with him (the folks who survived the attack on Shokaku) are only about 20 miles to our southwest. Because we were scouting, zigging and zagging, etc., the other VT-2 pilots who landed just took off and headed NE, listening on the radio as VT-2 scouts reported our positions. Excellent! I call for the guys who are with me to rendezvous with KKEN's group. KKEN picks the little island in 13.10.9 as a rendezvous point, and we all head for that.
While VT-2 was scouting and heading NE, the Yorktown and Lexington were attacked by several waves of enemy planes. Unfortunately, around this time, we hear a radio report that the Yorktown has been sunk. VT-2 hopes that we soon will extract some revenge.
A view behind me as we all rendezvous over the little island in 13.10.9. From left to right: Teufl, me, pope14, KKEN, Beefcake, Dipsy, and Tudza. t=2:23
On the way in to the Zuikaku. It's burning, which means that the Dauntlesses certainly landed hits. At this point, I'm wondering what defenses the Japanese will have up. Will there be lots of Zeros? VT-2 will be going in by itself, with its low and slow approaches, so I'm of course hoping that, if there are Zeros left, they are all low and out of position thanks to the Dauntlesses. I ask KKEN's group (KKEN, Teufl, pope14, Beefcake, Dipsy, and Tudza), to take the north side of the CV and the guys with me (me, Snefens, LTARhamr, and Babalon) to take the south side. I ask for anyone who doesn't have a torpedo (some might have jetisoned if bounced or attacking enemy planes while we were scouting) to make the runs with us (to draw fire). In the image with me: Snefens and LTARhamr. t=2:25
I take several AAA hits as I come to a position up high over the carrier. I'm surprised as I wouldn't expect to be hit much up here. I'm hoping some lucky hit does not give me a pilot wound or other critical hit. t=2:26
Once everyone is over the CV, I call for chopping throttle and dives and for KKEN's group to take the north side while the guys with me take the south side. Down we go!
LTARhamr and I bore in on the burning carrier, bomb-bay doors open. It looks clear of CAP! The carrier starts turning as we come in, throwing us some evasives. t=2:29
Explosions on the carrier as I close in for my drop. KKEN's flight has gotten at least two torpedo hits! Way to go! I'm in the foreground. Dipsy is to my left and has already dropped his torpedo. KKEN is just visible in the smoke (upper middle of image) and has also dropped his torpedo. Not very visible is a D3A near KKEN that has just lost half his fuselage and is in the process of crashing. I don't know if he hit the ship, got hit by friendly gunner fire, or if KKEN's gunner got him. t=2:29
The carrier's evasives made a bad approach for me, so I go to full throttle, draw even with it on the right side, then do a hard left turn into the carrier for my run. I'm taking AA hits, but my Avenger is seems OK so far. t=2:30
Torpedo away! Visible ahead of me is Snefens, who is trailing smoke. t=2:30
A view as my Avenger passes over the carrier's flight deck. My torpedo trail is visible (forward left-side of carrier). I look back as I pass the carrier and (I think) see my torpedo hit. t=2:30
A view back from my plane as the carrier starts to sink bow first. I don't think it was my torpedo that did it, though -- I think Snefens' torpedo hit immediately after mine. He had lauched one earlier that was running parallel to the carrier for a while. The carrier turned slightly and ran into Snefens' torpedo, which dealt the final blow. Way to go, VT-2! t=2:30
I call for any VT-2 with torpedoes left to go after the cruiser and report the sinking on the radio. I don't think any VT-2 pilots were shot down in the attack, although I did see Snefens trailing smoke, which means he would not be able to get back to base. As VT-2 leaves the area, we see a squadron of divebombers come in and call that they're in on the cruiser. We see them starting their dives and hear them calling out hits. Then VT-5 passes us, heading to the cruiser. Shortly thereafter, the cruiser is reported sunk. Way to go, guys! We are feeling elated at this point. We have lost the Yorktown, but we have sunk two enemy carriers and two enemy cruisers.
But then we get the bad news with less than 30 minutes of daylight left: the Lexington has been lost. Arg. I call for VT-2 to land at a62, which is the closest base to us. It is still over 100 miles away, though -- a long, somber flight instead of back to our beloved Lexington.
Flying through the dusk-lit clouds on the way to a land base instead of to our Lady Lex. t=2:58
A view forward right out of my cockpit at a62, which turns out to be a vehicle base without a paved runway. I let folks know in case they want to land at nearby a24 instead. It's nearly dark out by now. t=3:06
Touched down at a62.
I got a torpedo hit on the Haguro and (I think) on the Zuikaku. I was shot down by a gunner on the Haguro and survived to land back at base after attacking the Zuikaku.
VT-2 did very well. We sank the Shokaku, got a torpedo or two into the Haguro (which was also sunk), and sank the Zuikaku. We lost about four pilots in the attack on the Shokaku and, I think, one in the attack on the Zuikaku. We also participated in finding the Zuikaku. Good work, guys!
Many thanks to the brave Dauntless pilots who worked over the ships we attacked, contributing to and sharing the sinkings; and thanks to the fighter pilots who fought to protect us.
-- Brooke, GL, VT-2