Battle of the Coral Sea

The first major naval battle after Pearl Harbor. The first naval battle in which aircraft carriers fought each other and the first naval battle in which ships from each side never saw each other. Historically, the Americans suffered a tactical defeat (losing more planes and losing the Lexington) but won a strategic victory (turning back the Japanese invasion force approaching New Guinea and destroying irreplaceable Japanese naval assets).

Task Force 17 (Admiral Frank J. Fletcher)

Choose a force of 200 points, following these restrictions:

  • Comply with 1942 year restrictions and historical class limits.
  • You may select U.S. and Australian units. No installations.
  • You must select any carriers from the following list: USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, USS Lexington, USS Saratoga, USS Yorktown. If you select USS Hornet it has Expert Dogfighter 1 instead of Embark B-25. You may not select any additional carriers. Historically the U.S. had Lexington and Yorktown.
  • You must select approximately equal numbers of fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers for your carriers. In other words, you cannot take 1 Wildcat and 5 Dauntlesses.
  • You can base only patrol bombers on your land base.
  • You cannot select B-25s.
  • You can select B-17s that have the following stats: Patrol Bomber, 6 points. Armor 4, Vital 8, Hull 1. 8-dice bomb attack at range 0. Hi-Level Bomber and Defensive Armament special abilities. Harassment special ability: When this unit is not aborted and attacks a ship, even if it misses, that ship loses an antiaircraft attack dice until the end of the next turn. A ship may be affected by only one Harassment ability at a time.
  • You cannot select Avengers, only Devastators. Feel free to use Avenger models as proxies for Devastators.

Carrier Striking Force (Vice Admiral Takeo Takagi)

Choose a force of 200 points, following these restrictions:

  • Comply with 1942 year restrictions and historical class limits.
  • You may select only Japanese units. No installations.
  • You must select any carriers from the following list: Akagi, Hiryu (sister ship to Soryu), Kaga, Shokaku, Soryu, Zuikaku. You may also select Shoho. You may not select any additional carriers. Historically, the Japanese had Shokaku, Zuikaku, and Shoho.
  • You must select approximately equal numbers of A6M2 Zekes (you can choose Elite Zeros if you want, but see below), B5N2 “Kates” (either version), and D3A “Vals” for your carriers. In other words, you cannot take 1 Elite Zero and 5 Kates.
  • You can base only patrol bombers on your land base.
  • You may choose no more than one submarine.

Map

Place three standard-sized maps in a row, long ends touching. Add three small islands in the center columns of the middle map (representing the Louisiade Archipelago). Place one objective marker in the center of the middle map.

Special Rules

First Carrier Battle – This is the first carrier versus carrier battle and nobody knows what they’re doing. The historical battle featured poor communication, ship identification, and targeting on both sides. At one point Japanese planes even attempted to land on U.S. carriers.

Aircraft returning to carriers must make recovery checks even though darkness rules are not in effect. Also, whenever a carrier-based air unit makes an attack, roll a die after you declare the intended target. On a 6, the attack targets another enemy Ship in the same sector instead of the intended target. If there are no other enemy Ships in the same sector, the attack targets the intended target as normal.

Deckload Strike – For this scenario, the aircraft stacking limit for a sector is 5 rather than 4.

Long-Range – Long-range rules are in effect.

Air Mission Phase: You must make a search check each time you place an air unit in a sector whose units are unspotted by your fleet, and each time you place an air unit in an empty sector more than 4 sectors from your nearest Ship. To make a long-range search check, roll a die:

  • Patrol bomber: Search succeeds on 3+
  • All other aircraft: Search succeeds on 4+

Determine if a unit is spotted or unspotted as follows:

  • Friendly Ships spot all enemy Ships within range 8 that they have line of sight to.
  • Friendly Ships spot all enemy Submarines within range 4 that they have line of sight to.
  • Ships and Submarines remain spotted only for the current turn.
  • If there are any Friendly Aircraft that have already succeeded on a search check within 4 sectors of the Aircraft you are now placing, you gain a +1 bonus on the new Aircraft’s search check. (Aircraft that already failed their search checks are not affected; the order in which you place your Aircraft is important.)

If the search succeeds, place the air unit normally. If the search fails, you must place the unit with an Aborted marker. Aircraft with Aborted markers don’t even find their targets, and begin the Air Defense phase already aborted. They can’t attack or be attacked this turn.

Air units rearming on a carrier (see the Air Return phase) are simply cargo for the turn. They are not assigned to the carrier’s sector and cannot be attacked. If the carrier is sunk, they are automatically lost.

Air Defense Phase: If this is the first turn you make an air attack during this game and none of your Ships have been spotted, enemy antiair attacks take a -1 penalty per die against your aircraft in the Air Defense Phase.

Air Return Phase: Carrier-based air units returning to a carrier more than 10 sectors away from the sector they operated in this turn gain 1 Rearming marker. Land-based air units that operated on your opponent’s side of the battle map gain 2 Rearming markers instead of 1. Aircraft rearming on a carrier remove Rearming markers just like land-based aircraft.

Seaplane Search – Ships with special abilities that make reference to seaplanes, float planes, fly-off planes, or scout planes (e.g. Tone and Chikuma) must make search checks as all other aircraft to use those abilities. If the check does not succeed, the ship cannot use that special ability that turn.

Vast Pacific – Treat the Loiter special ability as the Excellent Endurance special ability for this scenario. Elite A6M2 Zeros lose Excellent Endurance for this scenario. No units may base on land bases except patrol bombers, and other units may not return to the land base in the Air Return phase. If you have more air units than can base on your carriers during the Air Return phase, the excess units are destroyed.

Victory Conditions

Victory goes to the first player who:

  • Destroys a fleet carrier (not Shoho), or
  • Cripples two fleet carriers, or
  • Cripples one fleet carrier and captures the objective.

Check victory conditions at the end of each turn. If both players achieve one of these conditions on the same turn, the result is a draw. If both players mutually agree that it is impossible for either side to achieve one of these conditions, the result is a draw.

Battle of the Coral Sea

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