Once they had secured Guadalcanal, the Allied focused on
the great Japanese naval base at Rabaul. Operations
against this base proceeded along two lines.
From the south, forces commanded by General MacArthur consolidated their
hold on New Guinea and applied steady pressure.
From the southwest, forces under Admiral Halsey pushed their way up the
Solomons chain in a series of leapfrogging invasions.
With the U.S. Navy planning a
vast campaign in the Central Pacific, Halsey’s forces at Guadalcanal assumed a
bit of a step-child status. Seldom
did his available warships amount to more than a collection of destroyer and
escort craft leavened with a few light cruisers.
But Halsey was adept and aggressive at using the forces at hand, and kept
the Japanese continuously engaged.
Fortunately for Halsey, the Nihon
Kaigun was also biding its time and husbanding its forces.
The battles around Guadalcanal had seriously strained the Japanese Navy.
Particularly hard hit were the Japanese carrier air units, which the
Japanese recognized were crucial to their plans to fight a vast, decisive battle
with the Americans when the U.S. Navy did attempt to force its way into the
Even though the main naval forces
of both sides were building for new efforts in other theaters, Halsey’s push
up the Solomons precipitated a series of sharp night naval actions that recalled
the actions off Guadalcanal. There
was a crucial difference though: these actions show the steady evolution of a
coherent and effective set of American night combat tactics.
Note: For older scenarios, see the updated ship forms on the FOTW Ships page. These have been revised to include the gun tables on the forms, to make merchant ships easier to sink, and in other minor details.
Kula Gulf -- The Japanese try to run reinforcements to a beleaguered island garrison, but the Americans bring their 6 inch gun cruisers into play.
Kolombangara -- Another nighttime melee between cruisers and destroyers.
Vella Gulf -- American destroyers are finally untied from their cruisers' apron strings and loosed on the Tokyo Express.
Action off Horaniu -- A Japanese-American night destroyer battle in 1943.
Vella Lavella -- Outnumbered Americans, with the hope of reinforcements, struggle to derail the Tokyo Express.
Empress Augusta Bay -- The Japanese attempt a reprise of their initial success against an Allied landing in the Solomons.Cape St. George -- American destroyers steam almost to the gates of Rabaul.
Action off Enogai -- The Japanese intrude on an American bombardment mission.
Ormoc Bay -- Skirmishing off Leyte, later in the war.
Action off Manila -- Another late war destroyer action.