What a pain....
This mission sucked. I tried about a dozen different tactics and didn't get any of them to work, but here's how I finally did it:
At the start of the mission, open up the tactical map and send the John D. Ford somewhere in column B on the line between 2 and 3. The objective here is to keep it far enough ouside the border of the island that the destroyer won't attack it as it circles. It can sit there until you need it....
At the same time, send the Parrot to the east. It's going on a suicide run down the top of the channel, but don't head south too soon or the destroyer will give you trouble.
When the destroyer is clear, send the Parrot to the main opening of the channel. There are two ships outside the cluster of islands. Fire 4 torpedoes at each as you steam toward the channel. You need to be within 1.3 (not 1.5) miles, but both ships should be easily in range along your way.
When the Parrot enters the channel, keep going full speed and take out as many ships as you can, starting with the closest ones. Hammer them with artillery. You should be able to get at least 2 or 3 before you go down.
When the Parrot sinks the destroyer should be near the south end of the channel. Send the Ford directly at the southwest ship. Fire torpedoes at it as soon as you're in range and have a clear shot (make sure you won't hit the outer islands). Deal with the destroyer if you have to, then head toward the gap between the outer islands.
This is where the magic comes in. Use the tactical map to locate and target ships in the channel, but sail around the outside of the channel islands. You should still be within range of the fortress guns, but you should also have good shots between the islands at the last 2 or 3 cargo ships. Take them down as quickly as you can before you're done in.
I think a healthy dose of luck is required no matter what your tactics, but this is what finally worked for me. Pray you don't get a 1-hit-kill shot in the magazine. Can't even guess how many awesome runs were "sunk" by insta-kills.
P.S. This method can be done quickly enough that you don't have to fight the reinforcement ships. I finished in 6:29.
Last edited by SpeleoFool; 02-11-2009 at 03:39 AM.
Reason: Clarified tactics