Here we are back on the Blue gaming mat with Game 4 of our ongoing Naval Campaign, regular viewers will know by now we are following the sortie of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau into the Atlantic in early 1941, known as Operation Berlin. Links to the previous games are below,
Our first Game was a confused night action as the Germans broke out into the North Atlantic.
The second game saw the two German ships causing chaos amongst a Convoy with some U Boat support.
Whilst game 3 saw a very interesting encounter with a Danish Trawler
As the two sisters searched the seas for merchant ships and convoys to prey on, the risk of meeting a group of transports escorted by larger warships was always a risk, the biggest risk even though very small was locating a Convoy whilst it's escorts were in the process of changing. In early March 1941 this nearly happened so this is my what if scenario for that event.
|Germans under heavy calibre fire|
After three successful outings your powerful force has fallen on a Convoy of Transports, it looked like easy pickings and you moved in for the kill to save expending your stores of 11" shells.
A typical Atlantic squall had hidden the British Battleship escorting the merchants until it was too late and you are now engaged in combat, one old Dreadnought wont cause your two modern ships too much of a problem but there are other problems on the horizon. Survive until nightfall so you can use the darkness to escape.
Even with the two German Battlecruisers loose at sea the convoys can't be stopped, the fragile war effort would fail without them. Your SL Convoy has been escorted so far by the British Battleship Barham (should be Malaya but I don't have the model).
|Carrier Group (should be Furious but again no model)|
Apologies for the poor quality of the set up photo this week, after all this time I should know to check each photo for quality before moving on.
Anyway this slightly blurred off centre photo will have to do. Table is 12 x 6. North is to the right, East closest to the camera.
Germans are sailing ESE about 3 ft in from the western table edge, on the Northern table edge.
The British Line up as follows,
Repulse group heading NE with rear ship touching the South and East corner.
Convoy Group 1ft in from the western table edge heading East.
Barham Group heading ENE 6 inch in from the southern edge just in front of the Germans.
Renown Group heading NW on the southern table edge 12" from the eastern table edge.
Carrier Group is off table behind the Repulse group, we put it on table to show it's presence but the actual ships are out of range of the Germans.
Unlike with the other games so far in this series no Umpire is required, there are no ships to id or Danish Trawlers to confuse the players, like in previous games, this is a straight up fight.
We determined that night would fall at the end of the gaming day (11am to 4pm with a generous break for Fish and Chips).
|Both Germans engage the Barham, it was going to be a long hard day for the old girl.|
Another fun day on the Blue baize and a day we learnt how powerful these German ships are, with Battleship Armour and modern guns, they might only be 11.5" but outrange the, what are really WW1 ships, they were facing.
|Game carrier deck plan|
The main response was taking off from the Eagle, it's a bit like a ballet using aircraft carriers in our rules but as deck officer for the day I managed to get the first wave in the air without issue.
The first attack was a close run thing, German AA wasn't too effective and 11 aircraft managed to launch torpedoes but only one hit it's target and that exploded harmlessly against the belt.
|A nervous moment for the Germans|
|A badly damaged Barham retires from the action|
The above photo shows the carrier in full action, the second wave has just landed on the deck. The first wave is rearming whilst one flight of fighters waits in the hanger and one is in the lifts heading for the deck.
But even with that damage the British were not going to make any in road into the German ships and with the day ending and the British unable to mount a third air strike the Scharnhorst and her wounded sister were able to escape.
At the end of the game both German ships had lost just over a quarter of their damage value, mostly to hits on the deck and superstructure. Gneisenau had lost 5 knots of speed after repairs and both had secondary guns missing.
Barham however was a wreck, if she made it back to port she would be being repaired for a long time, Renown had also taken some hits losing around a quarter of its damage points as well but all her systems were active and she had only lost a couple of knots of speed.
A close encounter and all nicely set up for the final game where the British will throw everything at the two sisters to stop them from reaching home.