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1 vs 40
Part of Zipang (manga)
300px
Mirai's single 127mm cannon claims three of many victims. TBM Avengers are no match for a 21st century warship.
Date 23 August 1942
Location Between Truk and Yokosuka
Result Japanese tactical and strategic victory
Belligerents
Flag of the United StatesUnited States Navy Flag of JapanJMSDF
Flag of JapanIJN
Commanders
Flag of the United StatesSamuel D. Hatton (VB-6)
Flag of the United StatesRear Admiral Leigh Noyes (fleet)
Flag of JapanSaburo Umezu (DDG-182 Mirai)
Flag of JapanEiichiro Taki (I-21)
Strength
1 aircraft carrier
10 other ships
40 warplanes (in the first wave)
1 cruiser
1 submarine
Casualties and losses
First wave:
30 planes shot down
83 aircrew killed
Surface fleet:
1 aircraft carrier sunk
Hundreds killed or wounded
1 cruiser moderately damaged
5 killed
12 wounded

1 vs 40 is a fictional Pacific War battle that takes place in the Zipang manga. It involves the fight between a 21st century JMSDF warship (the JDS Mirai) and forty World War II-era U.S. Navy fighter planes.

Before the battle Edit

Mirai leaving Truk Edit

Before Mirai left Truk for Yokosuka harbor on 20 August 1942, preparations for battle were already underway. U.S. Naval decoders at Pearl Harbor decoded a signal that a mysterious ship (by the letters 'CX') was going to set sail from Truk. This gathered so much attention that William Halsey got involved. A strike force consisting of the USS Wasp (CV-7) and 10 other ships (which included the USS San Francisco (CA-38) and USS North Carolina (BB-55)) was assembled to intercept and sink this mysterious ship.

The JDS Mirai left Truk with the intent of reaching Yokosuka six days later, with the IJN submarine I-21 following closely behind. Kadomatsu and Umezu (Mirai's captain) soon realised that the submarine was sent to watch, not escort their ship. Three days after leaving Truk, the Mirai's anti-air radar picked up an unidentified aircraft apporaching. The battle was only a few hours away from beginning.

Because IFFs did not exist in the 1940's, the crew of the Mirai could not immediately tell whether the lone blip on their anti-air radar was friendly or hostile. The unidentified aircraft would have to get into visual contact range before it could be correctly identified, but by then it might be too late.

The crew on lookout communicated to the I-21 submarine via searchlight whether the incoming plane was Japanese or American. They got a 'Japanese' reply. However, Yanagi was suspicious of the reply.

Kadomatsu decided that he should meet the I-21 commander, Eiichiro Taki, face-to-face. Along with Yanagi and two other men, he rode to I-21 (to the surprise of the crew on the I-21, as they've never seen a launch being prepared and moved so quickly) in one of Mirai's launches. Inside the I-21, Kadomatsu and Yanagi realises the truth too late as the I-21 submerges, sealing off their escape.

Taki revealed that an easy-to-break code was intentionally used to communicate details on Mirai's course.

Samuel D. Hatton's role Edit

Samuel D. Hatton was chosen to lead the aerial attack on the mysterious ship. He had taken part in missions in the Atlantic against the Germans and was reported to have not lost even one of his men in battle. Before being sent to the USS Wasp, he was sent to meet Chris, a submarine captain who had a close call with the mysterious ship two months ago.

On board the USS Wasp, he jokes about American taxpayers getting angry if they discovered that 11 ships were assembled to intercept just one Japanese cruiser. Later, he was shown pictures of a special weapon that was fired two months ago by the mysterious ship near Guadalcanal.

Just before the battle Edit

On the Mirai, Atsushi Oume (who was watching the radar screen) realised that the incoming plane was American. ECM was initiated to jam the scout plane's radio communication. Meanwhile, the radar crew on the USS Wasp encoutered a huge field of interference on their radar which was thought to be a technical fault. But Hatton suspected that their target was in the area of interference. He manages to get permission to fly.

File:TBM VT-90 CV-6 Jan1945.jpg

The first wave of warplanes, which consisted of a total of forty TBM Avengers and SBD Dauntlesses with Wildcat fighter escort (VB-6) were launched from the USS Wasp. They headed towards the target's suspected position.

Mirai's anti-air radar detected the huge formation of U.S. planes 440 kilometers away at 380 km/h relative speed and altitude 2000 metres. Kadomatsu and Yanagi could not be brought back from the I-21 and the launch with its two remaining men was hastily retrieved. Preparations for anti-aircraft warfare were made on board the Mirai.

Within one hour, VB-6 came into visual contact with the JDS Mirai. By then, Mirai was moving at maximum speed with her main 127 mm cannon and Sea Sparrow missiles ready to fire. But only six Sea Sparrows were prepared against the raiders - on the grounds of conserving ammunition. Gunnery officer Kikuchi hoped that the Americans would turn away after seeing the incredible firepower of their ship - thus also reducing the death toll on the American side.

However, the battle would turn out quite differently from Kikuchi's expectations.

The I-21 submarine would keep some distance from the whole battle at periscope depth, with Taki observing the carnage safely from underwater.

VB-6 split into three groups near their target -

  • The Avenger torpedo planes: these would launch torpedo attacks at low altitude against Mirai
  • The SBD Dauntless divebombers: these would attack Mirai from high above. Hatton was piloting one of these.
  • The escorting F4F Wildcats: these would only circle over the battlefield, since no enemy fighters were present.

Firing commences Edit

The Aegis combat system of Mirai - capable of tracking up to 128 targets simultaneously - sprang into action.

The U.S. Naval aviators had no idea of what they were dealing with - one pilot even laughed at the Mirai having only one cannon.

Before the TBM Avengers could even begin dropping their torpedoes, Mirai's main 127 mm gun started firing at them. The torpedo squad was rapidly deciminated. The massacre just above sea level was witnessed by the planes high above. A salvo of Sea Sparrows from the Mirai blows up six of the diving SBDs in quick succession. Hatton's plane survives but suffers an oil leak.

File:Sea Sparrow BPDMS Launch.JPEG

Hatton realises that his target has stopped attacking and could not be sunk with an ordinary attack. He tells his rear gunner to bail out and thanks him for saving his life many times over Europe. He also mentions that he had no intention of dying yet because he could provide valuable information back to his country on the superweapon they were dealing with.

Hatton got so close to the Mirai that Standard Missile weapons could not be used against his plane. A 1000 lb bomb was dropped but the Phalanx CIWS on the Mirai destroyed it in mid-flight. The shock wave from the exploding bomb inflicted damage on Mirai's port front SPY-1 anti-air radar. Hatton dives again towards the Mirai, spraying the target's deck with .50 caliber rounds as his SBD plunges towards the Mirai.

The crew in Mirai's bridge reports to CIC that a plane is coming in from above Mirai's port side with no intention of breaking away. Umezu orders a turn to starboard with bowthrusters engaged, and all crew except helmsmen to evacuate the bridge. He also orders all crew to brace for impact. The evasive maneuver would be in vain.

Hatton bails out from his SBD short moments before impact, and the wreckage of his plane plunges into the port side of Mirai's bridge. The resulting explosion and debries from the impact damaged Mirai's bridge's port side, satellite antena, chaff containers and the officer's bedroom. A fire ignites on the no. 2 deck and Mirai's ECM device and main 127 mm gun were disabled. Mirai's engines escaped damage in the attack.

Umezu ordered that the flames be extinguished as quick as possible, and emergency aid be given to the wounded.

The losses suffered by VB-6 were staggering - 30 planes had been shot down in just two minutes.

With her radar jamming capability down, the surviving U.S. warplanes were able to resume radio communication with the USS Wasp. Requests for a second wave of attacks were overheard in the Mirai and desperate self-defence measures would have to be resorted to.

Kikuchi proposes the firing of a Tomahawk cruise missile against the USS Wasp and sinking it. Mirai's navigation officer, Oguri, objects and argues that Harpoon missiles should be used instead to destroy the Wasp's flight deck. Kikuchi counter argues that that would do no good since the Americans will complete repairs in just three hours (which they did to the Yorktown in the battle of the Coral Sea). It was finally agreed that a cruise missile be launched, but it would be detonated in mid-flight if the American aircraft carrier halts the second wave of attacks.

The Tomahawk cruise missile was launched (to the horror and shock of Kadomatsu who was observing via periscope, and Hatton as he floated in the sea) and began a 30-minute 450 km trajactory towards the USS Wasp.

Sinking of the USS Wasp Edit

Unfortunately, warnings from the Mirai to halt the second wave of attacks were not heeded and warplanes began launching less than 3 minutes before the cruise missile found its mark. The USS North Carolina's radar picked up the cruise missile approaching the Wasp at over 500 MPH. Due to the short range of their radar and the extremely high speed (for a flying object in WWII) at which the missile approached, the Americans had no time (and no possible means) to react to the threat.

The cruise missile hit the Wasp's starboard side while numerous fully armed and fueled planes were still on the flight deck. A chain reaction of explosions occurred on the flight deck and in the various ammo storage compartments below. A raging inferno ensued; The Wasp's engine room was wiped out, leaving her dead in the water. Electrical power was diminished by half and water pumps were inoperable. The list reached eight degrees and the incredible chaos made a quick report on casualties impossible to obtain when Noyes demanded one. The situation on the carrier was hopeless and Noyes was notified that the Wasp would not remain afloat for more than half an hour.

Noyes ordered that the fleet be split into two. One part would pick up survivors from the USS Wasp while the other recovered the remaining planes still airborne. Noyes also gave the order to abandon ship.

Escorting cruisers rescued survivors from the aircraft carrier as it went down by the bow. In just 30 minutes after the cruise missile's impact, the USS Wasp slipped beneath the waves and vanished from Mirai's surface radar, which had range far superior to those on the US warships.

Aftermath Edit

The JDS Mirai suffered light damage. 5 of her crew were killed and 12 injured. Repairs took place as she continued her journey. The Mirai managed to successfully reach Yokosuka harbor. Some of the Mirai's battle damage could not be repaired because the necessary replacement parts simply did not exist during the 1940's.

Losses on the U.S. side were far more severe. In VB-6, only 45 out of 128 aircrew survived. Many hundreds or even thousands were killed or wounded on the USS Wasp. Hatton was rescued from the sea.

References Edit

Original Japanese version of the Zipang manga by Kaiji Kawaguchi. Volumes 5, 6 and 9.

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