Started a game of Second World War at Sea – Coral Sea. Playing Operational Scenario 2 which is a 60-turn (10 day) scenario taking one from 1-10 May 1942.
Historical Accuracy: The set-up seems historically accurate for the most part. Comparing the task force division to Paul Dull’s Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy one can see that some groups were combined but all the units are present.
Initial Setup – Japan: The Japanese start out with four task forces; the Port Moresby invasion force in Rabaul, the Tulagi invasion force at sea NW of Rabaul, the Close Covering Force (carrier Shoho and assorted cruisers) and a scouting force (seaplane tender). The scouting force is far to the SE, near the area of the US carrier set-up. The Carrier Strike Force (two heavy carriers) will not arrive until turn 10 (end of second day) along the north edge of the map.
Initial Setup – US: The US starts out with four task forces; two carriers (one at sea and another inport Espiritu Santo), the fleet train (two oilers and escort) and the seaplane tender Tangier (far to the north). A surface force of several cruisers, light cruiser and destroyer arrives Turn 15 (near end of Day 3) along the southern edge of the map.
Strategy – Japan: Victory conditions are driven by the need to invade Tulagi and Rabaul. Both need to be invaded for scenario victory. Both invasion forces have Large Transport (3 landing points which take a total of 18 turns to land). Ideally the invasion forces should wait for the Carrier Strike Force to arrive before sailing. In keeping with the historical situation, the Japanese order both forces to immediately sail by near-direct routes to their invasion beaches. The Tulagi Force will sail along the northern edge of the Solomon Islands but approach Tulagi from the west using the straits. This is a risk but needed for the most direct approach. The Port Moresby Force will sail just offshore (two spaces) but for the most part direct from Rabaul to Port Moresby. The Covering Force will sail south from Rabaul and be ready to cover either invasion force. This placement puts the Tulagi Force closest to the US carriers with little search coverage beyond what they organically provide. It is hoped that the scouting force will provide early tracking of the US carriers and provide intelligence as to the direction and intentions of the US commander. (Bottom Line: Invade and hope to pick up some additional points by sinking US ships.)
Strategy – US: Carriers to rendezvous west of Espiritu Santo and refuel from fleet train. Stay to the south and east to intercept and destroy Tulagi Invasion Force. Land-based air from Townsville will be used to attack Port Moresby Invasion Force. In order to maintain covertness for the carriers Tangier’s seaplane will be used to track the Tulagi Invasion Force. (Bottom Line: Sink the Tulagi Force and stay away from Japanese land-based air and carriers; Port Moresby is expendable.)