Saturday, January 26, 2013

Convoy Action 1941 - The Final Act

We fought out the rest of the convoy action last night.  To allow Curt and Sarah the use of their dining room table, we marked the ships' positions with tape and rolled up the sea mat in the interim.  

When we rolled up the mat last week the situation was as follows. 
  1. Sylvain had a Kriegsmarine raiding group of the ScheerLutzow and Hipper had attacked a convoy.  The raiders operated in a single group against the tail of the convoy, coincidentally attacking from downwind.  This allowed Curt to concentrate the escort and use smoke to shield the convoy, but allowed Sylvain to hit the escort hard.   The raiders were absolutely untouched but out of torpedoes.
  2. Curt's convoy  of 8 merchantmenwas almost untouched but able to steam at full speed.  The  fast transport HMS Manxman was long gone on its merry way to Gib.
  3. The close escort of 6 destroyers (3 H class and 3 Hunts), 2 C class AA cruisers was on its last legs.  Curt had used up all his chemical smoke and most of the ships were badly damaged.  The attack from the rear also gave them the chance for torpedo attacks, but while he placed these well and had multiple attacks they all missed. 
  4. A cruiser squadron from the RN covering force (HMSs Gloucester, Ajax, Arethusa and Euryalus) had arrived on table but been hidden from German eyes by smoke until the range was very close.  Further RN reinforcements were possible.

Sylvain opted to continue to close with the convoy, giving Curt the option of backing off with the cruisers or placing themselves between hunters and prey.  Curt opted for the latter and they steamed for a close encounter of the nasty kind!  Curt focused his fire on the Scheer, while Sylvain split his between all four RN cruisers.  But initially the 11" guns of the raiders hit the light cruisers hard, while initially their heavier CA armour was proof to the 6" replies.  

Then a few key turns changed the entire battle around from a German victory to a British one.  As the range closed, the cruisers 6" guns were able to go through the Germans' armour and opportunities for torpedo attacks got better.  (One problem with attacking from astern is that your opponents fish close at 70kts and yours close at 10kts!)  The Scheer was hit several times and slowed while German fire had an off period and largely missed.  Next turn, the Scheer was torpedoed and clearly in trouble.  Curt split his fire between the two pocket battleships next turn, sinking the Scheer and badly hurting the Lutzow - knocking out both turrets and slowing her.   German fire was very effective in return leaving 3 of the 4 cruisers badly shot up and with rudder hits.

By this time, further British reinforcements had arrived in the form of 3 J class destroyers and 3 flights of Swordfish torpedo bombers.  We abstracted out the denouement.  The swordfish focused on the Hipper and the destroyers on the Lutzow.  The Swordfish attack missed and the Hipper got back to Brest undamaged, but the DDs survived close range fire to torpedo the Lutzow and leave almost dead in the water.  Sylvain opened the sea cocks before the Swordfish returned or the Warspite and Rodney showed up.

Photos are from Curt.   Again the German ships are by Sylvain and the British and merchants are mine.  

The sides close with the Scheer taking fire and on fire, but largely unhurt.  The convoy legs it at 10 kts.

Red post it notes mark torpedo spreads (a very useful game aid).  Despite them, things are still rosy for the raiders as the spread in the foreground is a dummy!

Curt launched two Walrus float planes to distract Sylvain, just before the hanger on one cruiser was wrecked!  We have the Gloucester, Ajax, Arethusa and Euryalus in line.

Scheer on fire, followed by the Lutzow and Hipper.

Torpedoes away!

Close up on the Scheer - a very nice paint job Sylvain!

Three flights of Swordfish escorted by Fulmars, all operating from HMS Eagle.  In the back ground is the Scheer, by this time the fire is the least of her problems!

Another close up of the raiders - like the glaciers you should see them before they go for ever.
All in all this was a good, challenging game.  At one point, Curt's wife Sarah wondered in and asked who was winning.  Sylvain replied that each side thought the they were losing!  For much of the game I worried that I had given Curt an assignment with no chance of victory (when I wasn't worrying that I gave Sylvain no chance) but he pulled off a major coup.  As GM I put the reinforcements on table to try and balance the situation.  In the end the Swordfish and J class in time to mop up the remnants, rather than stem the tide.


  1. Hi Peter,

    Cracking looking action and the paint job are very nice indeed! I liked the shell splashes - Litko's finest methinks?

    GQ3 I believe?

    All the best,


    1. DC
      Thanks. Yes on both the markers and the rules.


  2. It was a great game. While it may have ended as being a British victory, it was a nail bitter right until the last few turns of the action. To Sylvain's credit almost the entire escort force of British light cruisers and destroyers were wrecked, but I guess the important thing was that none of them were sunk.

    In light of the pounding my escort was taking I knew both tactically and politically that I needed to take down one of the raiders or there would be hell to pay (both in the Med and at the Admiralty). Sylvain was about to round my convoy group and get clear line past their smoke so I knew I had to make a hard choice: play it safe to get in behind them but loose the convoy or try to interpose my cruisers between the raiders and the convoy (and possibly loose an entire light cruiser force AND the convoy).

    In the end I made the decision that I could not abandon the convoy so chose to go in close to concentrate fire on the lead ship (Scheer) to see if I could cripple her and make the rest of the German formation break-up. I certainly took a lashing but the British line held and the results paid off as our gunfire slowed the Scheer allowing a reasonably aimed torpedo attack to sneak in. The last orgy of gunfire pretty much did-in the British cruisers but they managed to get in a lucky salvo on the Lutzow knocking out her main turrets and more critically slowing her for a later attack-run by destroyers (which gave the coup de grace).

    A huge sigh of relief for the British escort commander (assuming he actually survived the action)! A big thanks to Peter for putting on the scenario and to Sylvain for being such a great and gracious opponent.

  3. The scenario forced me to make difficult choices. If there wasn't a convoy, I would have just shot 11" shells at the British escorts and cruisers from a safe distance. But the juicy convoy seduced me into getting closer. Thanks Peter.

  4. Gents a write up for BattleFleet would be appreciated along with Pics. Can you please accommodate our readers?

    1. Jeff

      I'll give it a go. This is a busy time of year, so it may be a week or so if that works. How much details would you like?


  5. Peter,
    What ever you would like to say about the game and how it played in general would be appreciated. Be creative! Also if anything could be improved regarding the rule set?, or anything that really worked well will be of interest to other gamer's. Also how the model's painted up and any techniques there would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Very nice looking battle!