Friday 17 July 2015

The Great Tripoli Dash - WW2 Naval Campaign - Game 1

Date: November 1941 Location: The Straight of Messina

Ranging Shots
Well this is something we have had planned for a while. Last year we did a WW2 Naval Campaign based in the Far East in 1941 (read it here), the game went down well so I decided to do a similar idea but this time based in the Med using my British and Italian Fleets.

The initial idea came from the wonderful, if rarely updated Naval Wargame Society Website and the Malta Strike Force Campaign which is listed there. It didn't seem to fit exactly what I was after and following a good old ponder I came up with a few modifications and off we went.

This is not a campaign in the true sense of the word but more of a set of linked scenarios with damage and losses carried forward to the next battle. Our game will feature a number of linked games following an Italian Convoy on its journey from Naples to either Tripoli or the bottom of the Sea. If you are interested in playing along I would suggest that only the Umpire reads on from this point.

It takes SO long to set up a Naval game
Briefing Document Italian Navy 22.30 hours 8th Nov 1941

You are in command of a vital convoy carrying supplies to North Africa in preparation for the planned major offensive on Torbruk, on your ships you have hundreds of vehicles and thousands of tons of supplies and fuel. Having departed Naples in the late afternoon you have assembled your convoy and been directed to sail to the East of Malta and have just cleared the Straights of Messina.

The convoy is preceding at 20 knots (quick but it works for our rules !) and it is a dark moonless night, you are planning for air attacks from Malta the next day when you suddenly and unexpectedly come under fire from ships off your starboard, you put the convoy to Battle Stations and get ready to defend the precious cargo.

Star shells fall around the convoy illuminating the ships
British Naval Commander Force K briefing 22.30 hours 8th Nov 1941

Having arrived in Malta on 21st October 1941, Force K despite a number of attempts had failed to get to grips with an Italian Convoy. You have been alerted to the presence of another convoy heading south towards North Africa and you have been detailed to intercept it.

Its late evening and you have closed to 10,000 yards off the convoy and as yet you are undetected, you pass the order to fire and Star Shells streak out into the night, its time for battle.

Set Up

British Force K consists of the Destroyers HMS Lance and HMS Lookout along with the light cruisers HMS Calcutta and HMS Orion (I know its not the exact ships but its the closest I had), set up using blanks just shy of 10,000 yards of the convoy.

Italians Use 8 convoys ships set up in two lines of 4 and surround them with 6 Italian Destroyers. Use Maestrale, Euro, Fulmine, Grecale, Libeccio and Oriani (see the second photo above for set up)

Umpire Notes

Its not straight forward to give umpire guidance when I don't know you're rules and how quickly they move but these are my thoughts. I planned this initial game to last one of our evening sessions which is usually about 7.30 pm to 10 pm. I had decided that a superior Italian force of two eight inch gun Heavy Cruisers and four destroyers would turn up at about 9.30 pm or before if the Italians were in real trouble. This would send Force K packing and limit the scenario. Regardless of positions you should draw a line under this scenario at the end of one short gaming session.

Fuel Fire someone in trouble
How did we get on

We do always seem to have a good game when we do WW2 Naval and tonight was no exception, tonight it was all about Royal Naval incompetence. The Brits managed to get involved in two collisions and it didn't end well.

As the forces converged there was plenty of manoeuvring and it just went wrong for the Brits, the first collision saw the Light Cruiser Calcutta plough into the back of the destroyer Lance leaving both ships stationary and Lance with critical damage, Lance sank next round and the slow moving Calcutta got hit badly as she regained her speed. The look on the RN Admirals face at his subordinates boat driving was a picture.

Collision No 1
The Brits where quite aggressive and managed to get a torpedo attack off on the convoy, only one hit but it was enough to sink one of the convoy ships.

The various play aids on view, Torpedo Tracks (new wooden ones especially commissioned, golf tee hit markers, yellow dots for searchlights and star shells.
Things weren't looking too bad for the British at that stage until collision two, the Italian Destroyer Fulimne at full speed hit the mid ships of the already damaged HMS Calcutta, both ships sank but the Italians where much happier with losing a destroyer than the Brits were with a Light Cruiser.

Collision No 2
There was a moment in the last move when the Brits thought they had got some revenge with a torpedo hit on the Italian destroyer Libecco. Sadly for them they rolled for damage and it was a dud.

So at the end of the first game Force K had literally been cut in two losing one destroyer and one light cruiser, the Italians had lost one Freighter to a torpedo, the destroyer Fulmine in the collision with Calcutta and Euro to sustained gunfire. Tune in for part 2 soon.

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