Tuesday, 10 July 2018

2018 Naval Campaign, Game 4 Rendezvous


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.


http://yarkshiregamer.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/2018-ww2-naval-campaign-game-1-breakout.html


The second game saw the two German ships causing chaos amongst a Convoy with some U Boat support.


https://yarkshiregamer.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/2018-ww2-naval-campaign-game-2-hx106.html

Whilst game 3 saw a very interesting encounter with a Danish Trawler

https://yarkshiregamer.blogspot.com/2018/06/2018-naval-campaign-game-3-denmark.html

Team Germany
Historical Background

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
German Briefing

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.

Convoy
British Briefing 

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).

Barham Group
The Convoy (use the reminants of the convoy from game 3) is going to be guided home by the HMS Repulse group and they have come to meet you. As the exchange is taking place the Germans are sighted heading straight for the Convoy. So far they have avoided ship to ship combat but today they have closed the range and shells are being exchanged.

Repulse Group
Also by pure luck a third group of ships lead by HMS Renown (see top photo) has been despatched from Gibraltar to search for the Battlecruisers and support the Convoy route. This group has an aircraft carrier, things are going to get interesting.

Carrier Group (should be Furious but again no model)
Set Up 

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.


Umpire Notes 

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.
How did we get on

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
Whilst the Germans engaged the Barham, ignoring the Convoy, the British returned fire, but with the Renown and Repulse closing range they could only bring limited guns to bear and at a range where they couldn't really do much damage.

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.

Planes away
With our British planes missing in action we used our back up counters which came from the Victory at Sea rules, the die represents the number of turns left on table.

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
Whilst the aircraft were returning to the carrier and a second strike was being prepared the two on one action against the Barham was really starting to hurt, Barham was in a bad way and lost 3 of her 4 turrets, limping badly and only a couple of good hits off sinking her escorts made smoke and she disengaged from the fight.

A badly damaged Barham retires from the action
With things going badly and with the two remaining British Battlecruisers no match for the German ships the British Admiral ordered the remaining aircraft to attack rather than waiting for the first wave to re arm and re group. The 6 fighters and 6 Swordfish made towards the Germans.

Round 2
Gneisenau was the target again, this time the AA was better and less than half the aircraft made their attack runs, sometimes however it's luck not numbers that makes the difference. Another torpedo struck home, this time there was a large explosion and a hole in the belt of the Germans Starboard. The ship was on fire, loosing speed and taking on water.


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.

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