The Battle at Dawn: The first battle between the United States and Japan December 7-10, 1941

Not open for further replies.
Well The USN has a chance, but with crappy torpedoes and the Japanese alerted, may not get any telling strikes. Then it will come down to naval gunfire until the Japanese start to launch their own Long Lances. Ships on all sides will be maneuvering, and with open see, those may not get any hits either.

Looking forward to how this may come. Both sides are aware of one another, but they do not know exact numbers or types yet.
Battle of Kure Atoll Part 4 Commence FIring!

Commence Firing!
2217 The Porter opens fire at the Japanese column. A Turret fires just ahead of the Aoba, while B Turret fires just behind a total of 15 rounds a minute, illuminating the Aoba and Kinugasha in a flurry of starshells. The Porter executes a high speed turn to come to course 270 W, and her rear turrets open fire adding more starshells to the illumination already under way. The Monaghan also executes her turn, which puts her on a collision course with the Yugari. Aboard the Alywin, Commander Flynn orders his ship and the Farragut to maintain their heading and open fire at the enemy warships to their port side. The Farragut spots the shape in the darkness that can now be made out as it is backlit by starshells. Within seconds 5 inch starshells light up the Shigure.

Aboard the Japanese ships, sailors are frantically running to their battle stations and officers are hurriedly trying to figure out what is happening ahead.

2218 hours
The Porter launches 8 Mark 15 torpedoes aimed at the Japanese battle line as she turns. This takes a couple of minutes. The Japanese cruisers are 12,000 yards away, within range, but long range for the American torpedoes. She also continues to pour out starshells, illuminating the Furataka and Kako as the she passes them at 36 knots while they are still steaming at 30 knots.

The Yugure sees the approaching Monghan and makes an emergency turn to starboard while the Monaghan also spots the enemy. Both ships open fire with their forward guns, getting off several rounds in the opening exchange. Most miss, but two each slam into the respective bridges of the two destroyers, killing or wounding many at those stations. The Japanese torpedo crews hurriedly prepare their torpedoes to launch.

2220 hours
The Chicago is now at the 11 o'clock position relative to the Aoba, with the Portland at the 12 o'clock position, the Minneapolis at the One o'clock position and all 5 cruisers have the lead Japanese ships in their sights. They open fire with a total of 45 8 inch guns and 20 5 inch guns which lights up the sky, themselves, and of course not long after that the Aoba. Each 8 inch gun is able get off up to 5 rounds a minute and they all do in the opening moments. A total of 225 8 inch rounds and dozens more of 5 inch splash all around the Aoba, which has yet to open fire. In all 8 of the heavy 8 inch shells hit her from her forward superstructure to her bow. Of these three smash her forward turrets, knocking them out and starting serious fires which threaten her magazines but disaster is narrowly averted by flooding them. The other 5 hit her around the bridge or higher, killing Admiral Goto, most of his officers as well as the ships captain and starting serious fires that light up the sky. It also knocks out control, and the ship takes a turn to the port that is unplanned while the executive officer hurries to take back control from the auxiliary control station further aft. Meanwhile his rear turret is still in commission and it, along with his secondary 4.7 inch guns crews struggle to get the Porter into their sights. They are soon joined by the other cruisers as weapons are finally manned and begin to return fire.

Aboard the Kinugasha, Captain Sawa quickly realizes that the Aoba is out of control and seeing the fierce blazes already marking the pyre that was her forward superstructure he is just starting to realize he is likely now in tactical command. With destroyers to his starboard, cruisers to his front, he makes a quick decision.

As the cruisers are in action or about to be, and the Porter and Monaghan are making their brave charge, the Shigure comes under fire from the Alywin and Farragut who pour 5 inch rounds into her. Several hit, starting fires in the forward superstructure and knocking out her forward gun mount. She makes an emergency turn to port and opens fire.

The Japanese Return Fire
As of 2222 Hours the situation is as follows:
The Aoba has taken an emergency turn to port while it was out of control and during the two minutes since the American cruisers opened fire on her numerous 8 inch shells have wrecked her from end to end, knocking out her fire control, her bridge, both forward turrets, and finally her rear turret. The floatplane has been blasted off the catapult and over the side, and a fierce fire rages in her forward superstructure. A shell has also knocked out her steering compartment, two have penetrated and wiped out her boiler rooms and she is coasting to a stop. Her torpedo crews have been swept away by shrapnel as has most of her crew on exposed decks. She is out of the fight.

The Yugure has turned to starboard and is accelerating to her best speed of 30.5 knots on a course heading of 180 degrees S. This places her within firing range of the American Destroyer Division 9. She opens fire with starshells from her rear gun mount, trains what searchlights she has available, and illuminates the American destroyers which are 2,000 yards behind the Chester, as well as the Chester and Astoria. She launches her full spread of six Long Lance torpedoes aiming just ahead of the Astoria but as all ships are moving at over 60 miles an hour relative to each other, her torpedoes are actually going to have the Chester as a target. As she launches she is taken under fire by the Drayton and secondary 5 inch guns of the Chester. She is also under fire from the Monaghan which continues to pour rounds into her while the torpedo crews of that ship fire their spread of 8 torpedoes at the Aoba.

The Shigure has executed an emergency turn to port and is steaming due north at 34 knots and finds herself paralleling the Americans with the Alywin at 8,000 yards immediately to her portside. Her crew launches a spread of 8 torpedoes hoping to hit anything and her remaining gun mount opens up on the Alywin, scoring a pair of 5 inch hits on her aft superstructure and starting a serious fire. She however comes under fire from the 5 inch guns from the Chicago, Alywin, and Farragut and suffers numerous more hits which quickly silences her guns and starts more fires as well as killing her exposed torpedo crews. However she remains under power and in control for the moment.

The three Japanese cruisers all open fire on the Porter and she is illuminated by searchlights and in moments is hit many times by 8 inch and secondary weapons. Captain Overesch (and future CIA Director, Far East and Vice Admiral USN) survives the firestorm as does the ships captain, but the ship and many of her crew do not. The Porter comes to a halt on fire from end to end, her engine room flooding, her steering destroyed, and the ship is ordered abandoned. In all 38 of her crew die with the Porter.

Captain Sawa, who now finds himself in command of Cruiser Squadron 6, orders a 180 degree column turn, all ships to fire torpedoes as they bear. American Destroyer Division 9 will find itself squarely in this spread. Meanwhile an signal is sent to Yamamoto reporting that the bombardment mission force is under fire by an overwhelming superior force, with the flagship already knocked out of action and Admiral Goto out of command.

Last edited:
authors note:
Illustrations are actually all from the Battle of Savo Island, which involved some of the ships on both sides

The action is very similar to the Battle of Cape Esperance which started out very similarly for the Americans. As that is where Admiral Goto met his fate is seemed appropriate. His last words were cussing out what he thought was friendly fire according to some accounts

this site was very helpful
This just goes to show the confusion and chaos that can develop during a night action. Especially with the lack of good radars, thermal sites, and night vision scopes. The Japanese are down 1 cruiser and a destroyer and the US is down a destroyer for now. Lots of torpedoes in the water though, so this can change very quickly.

The art pictures really help me to enjoy this and put in perspective the crappy lighting conditions and the turmoil from flashes from turrets, shells splashing, and the beams from the search lights.

Thank you again for all your hard work.
Well from what I can guess, the Japanese are in a smaller and tighter group, the US in a wider and more spread out one.
That's backwards. The US destroyers are 2,000 yards ahead of the cruiser group, which is spaced 1,000 yards apart. The Japanese destroyers are 5,000 yards ahead, and the cruisers are 1,500 yards apart.

The US does have another group of DDs trailing out behind the cruisers.
The Japanese force is steaming due west at 30 knots and is not expecting to run into any enemy forces as none of been spotted. The last report was of a pair of old 4 stack destroyers anchored off Midway (spotted by search aircraft in the late afternoon) and they are not expected to remain in the area.

However, after the submarine attack on the 1st Air Fleet, and just in case the Americans are willing to fight with those old ships, Rear Admiral Goto has his two destroyers 5,000 yards ahead of his cruisers, with the Yugure south of the cruisers track at 2,000 yards (thus on his starboard side ahead) and the Shigure off to the north (thus port side) of the column

I think you meant Due East, as if to the North is Port side, then they are headed East.
Battle of Kure Atoll Part 4 The Empire Strikes Back and finale
The Empire Strikes Back
2224 Hours
Torpedoes are in the water from the remaining Japanese cruisers, both Japanese destroyers as well as the Monaghan. The Porter launched its torpedoes as well but none hit although two exploded in the wake of the Aoba. The first Japanese torpedoes hit the Alywin with two hitting her aft of her rear superstructure and detonating her aft 5 inch magazine, blowing the rear 100 feet of the ship to pieces and killing nearly half her crew in seconds. She immediately begins sinking, and the surviving 85 crewmen including her captain make it over the side before she goes down. Her attacker, the Shigure, meanwhile blows up under a barrage of 8 and 5 inch shells from the Portland and Chicago. Only a handful of her crew make it over the side and only a pair of young Japanese sailors are eventually rescued and captured by the US Navy.

The next ship hit is the Chester, which takes 2 torpedoes amidships, flooding her boiler rooms and starting a ferocious fire amidships as several 8 inch rounds from the Kinagusha hit her at the same time. Power is immediately knocked out, and she begins to coast to a stop, forcing the American destroyers behind to shift their course to avoid her. As the crew of the Chester begin an ultimately futile effort to save their ship, the Aoba is hit by 3 torpedoes from the Monaghan, one of which explodes, blowing off much of her stern and speeding her flooding substantially.


The Japanese cruisers meanwhile make their column turn, putting 24 torpedoes into the water. Hurriedly launched nearly all of them miss, but one hits the Lamson in the engineering spaces, causing her to slow enough that two more hit her in rapid succession. She detonates in a spectacular explosion, and with her die 106 of her 158 men. The Yugari in the meantime is smothered by more shells and comes to a halt completely ablaze. She sinks soon after taking all but 6 of her crew directly or who refuse rescue by the Americans.

However her death buys time for the Japanese cruisers, who complete their turn successfully masked in part by the American ships blowing the Yugari to pieces and the death of Lamson and disaster suffered by the Chester. The remaining destroyers of Division 9 are forced to take action to avoid collision and enemy torpedoes and manage to avoid further damage but also lose contact with the enemy.

2230 hours
In less than 25 minutes the battle is over. The 3 remaining Japanese cruisers are retiring at high speed west while the concussion of repeated salvos fired has temporarily knocked out the radar aboard the Chicago, while the Chester has lost all power and is rapidly flooding.

Admiral Newton sends a signal to Halsey who orders him to leave a pair of destroyers to rescue survivors and for the rest of the task force to hurry as quickly as possible to rejoin Brown.

Task Force 3
Meanwhile during the night Task Force 3 is steaming at high speed to put it 150 miles southwest of Midway and within range of the Japanese Invasion Fleet at dawn and Brown has orders to attack it as soon as it is light enough to launch and the PBYs from Midway find it again.

Striking Force
Over the tense night that follows Yamamoto receives another signal from Sawa reporting the destruction of two destroyers and the flagship and that he is retiring to rejoin the Invasion Fleet. As of midnight Yamamoto is still pondering his next move.

The Chester goes down at 0120 hours December 10, taking with her over 150 of her crew. The Aoba sinks shortly after dawn, burning all night and abandoned. She ends up taking over 650 men with her either directly or who refuse rescue later. Only 25 Japanese sailors accept rescue.

Last edited:
The U.S. may have lost more ships so far, but the Japanese have one carrier sunk and another heavily damaged, while the U.S. navy still has all of it's carriers. That is going to hurt the Japanese in the long run. Not to mention the pilots they've lost.
This is a tactical draw and strategic victory for the Americans. Any damage to the US ships can be repaired at Pearl, any serious damage to the Japanese ships means a long trip home. Not only will the facilities at Midway be fully intact when dawn comes, but the Japanese still remain ignorant about how Midway has more air assets than they expect.
Great battle, well written. This is a major victory so far for the USA. Trading 1 for 1, or even close, is a recipe for disaster for Japan...
That's backwards. The US destroyers are 2,000 yards ahead of the cruiser group, which is spaced 1,000 yards apart. The Japanese destroyers are 5,000 yards ahead, and the cruisers are 1,500 yards apart.

The US does have another group of DDs trailing out behind the cruisers.

Thanks for catching my goof and correcting my misunderstanding.
that is it for the weekend... hope you guys enjoyed it

Very much so. Both sides lose a cruiser and 2 or 3 destroyers, but the US prevented the Japanese from bombarding Midway. So, for this encounter, a US tactical win and possibly a strategic plus. It could have been worse, and unfortunately the US will remain ignorant of their crappy torpedoes.

As I could not figure it out, in OTL, does anyone know which ship this is?
Not open for further replies.