V Opening Salvo, Part 1
Welcome to our first Opening Salvo for Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures set V, as in V for victory! Set V is scheduled to release on 7 December 2010, but we‚Äôre ready to start showing off some of the models and unit capabilities from the new set. First, we‚Äôll take a look at two new rare models: The British carrier HMS Glorious, and the carrier Kaga of Japan‚Äôs Kido Butai. ¬†¬†
And, to get us started... the aircraft carrier Kaga!
Kaga and her half-sister Akagi were the children of the Washington Treaty of 1922. Both were laid down as battleships, and converted to aircraft carriers when the treaty placed a moratorium on new battleship construction. Her battleship origins showed in her large hull, thick armor, and unusually heavy battery of 8‚ÄĚ guns. Although Kaga was originally built with three flight decks and no island, she was extensively reconstructed in the 1930s, emerging with a single flight deck and a small island structure.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Kaga and Akagi formed the First Carrier Division of the Kido Butai, the Imperial Japanese Navy‚Äôs First Air Fleet. Both took part in the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941; Kaga‚Äôs torpedo bombers were assigned to attack Battleship Row. As part of the First Air Fleet, Kaga shared in the early war triumphs across the Pacific. She was part of the massive armada assembled to attack Midway Island in early June 1942. During the furious fighting on the morning of 4 June 1942, Kaga was found by the Enterprise‚Äôs dive-bomber squadron, and she was hit by multiple bombs. The bombs ignited uncontrollable fires in the carrier‚Äôs crowded hangar decks, burning away most of her hangar and flight deck structure over the rest of the day. She was scuttled that evening by torpedoes from accompanying destroyers.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Game Play: Like the other carriers built on battleship or battlecruiser hulls, Kaga is a big, tough target with a surprising punch, although the poor siting of her main battery reduces her gunnery effectiveness. If you lose the battle to control the air, you can still seize or contest objectives guarded by cruisers or lighter surface combatants with some confidence. More importantly, Kaga has excellent offensive special abilities to support her air group. In addition to Expert Bomber and Expert Torpedoes, she has Sneak Attack (ironically enough the first Japanese carrier to have the ability), which provides an even better bonus to torpedo attacks when you get a good initiative roll. Make sure you include a good torpedo bomber such as a Kate or Jill when you add Kaga to your fleet.
Like Kaga, Glorious didn‚Äôt begin her career as a carrier. She was completed as a fast, lightly armored, shallow-draft battlecruiser during World War I, and actually fought in that configuration in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight (31 October 1917). After the war, the large hull and high speed of Glorious and her sisters Courageous and Furious made them excellent candidates for conversion to aircraft carriers instead of scrapping. She was recommissioned in 1930, and served mostly in the Mediterranean Fleet throughout the 1930s.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† HMS Glorious began World War II with a futile hunt in the Indian Ocean for the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. She was ordered back to home waters in April 1940 to provide air cover for the British forces landing in Norway to repel Germany‚Äôs invasion of that country. HMS Glorious made several trips to ferry aircraft reinforcements into Norway during late April and early May, then covered the evacuation operations when the British decided to withdraw. On the afternoon of 8 June 1940, she ran into the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau with only two destroyers for escorts‚ÄĒan unforgivable blunder, since it was broad daylight and the captain of HMS Glorious had neglected to establish any kind of air patrol which might have warned him that enemy warships were close by. The Germans quickly sank HMS Glorious with heavy loss of life.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Game Play: Glorious is a fairly typical fleet carrier in terms of size and durability, but she only carries two squadrons‚ÄĒmost British carriers did not operate with the large airgroups that Japanese or American carriers routinely embarked. Her Expert Dogfighter and Expert ASW abilities make her a good defensive platform, making her a natural choice for embarking fighters for air defense and torpedo bombers for submarine-hunting.