Jump to content


Photo

Convoy Action in the Med


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Lieutenant

  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 14 February 2017 - 02:31 AM

Convoy Action

Gulf of Sirte, November 1940

 

The Regia Marina was running a convoy of five large merchantmen to Libya in Novenber of 1940. The escort consisted of the cruiser Giovanni Delle Bande Nere and the destroyers; Antonio Pigafetta and Nicoloso Da Recco under Rear Admiral Randy. In addition there were the destroyers Freccia, Lampo, Scirocco, and Ascari under Commodore Condon.

 

A Royal Navy Sunderland out Malta had spotted the convoy and the Brits sent a group under Rear Admiral Clarkski and Captain (D) Preston to intercept. Clarkski, flying his flag in the cruiser Arethusa led the destroyers Tartar and Amazon while Captain (D) Preston in destroyer leader Grenville led the destroyers Jaguar and Jackal.

 

The visibility was about 8,000 yards and there were squalls rolling in from the north. Rear Admiral Clarkski led with Arethusa with Tartar and Amazon trailing in line astern. Preston’s division was 2,000 yards to the port of Clarkski’s column and echeloned back about 500 yards.

 

There was a squall between the Brits and the Italians moving at 10 knots and the Italians were pacing the squall while the Brit were steaming at 15 knots. The Brits were coming in at a forty five degree angle to the Italians on their port quarter. As the squall cleared HMS Arethusa’s front she was suddenly confronted with a view of most of the Italian convoy and its escorts at 6,000 yards.

 

The Arethusa opened on the Scirocco with her fore turrets firing rapidly and hit her six times, wrecking her and causing her to stagger out of line. Scirocco turned to starboard and retired from the fray for some much needed repair. Italian return fire was ineffective.

 

The leading Italian destroyers of their port column fired torpedoes at Arethusa’s column. The Arethusa increased her speed to twenty knots and turned sharply to starboard bringing her broadside to bear, but blocking Tartar and Amazon from firing. The Grenville was able to bring its fore guns to bear on the Lampo, hitting her once. At three thousand yards (even with her 90 degree turn) Arethusa’s rapid fire was devastating, sinking the next destroyer with nine hits. Again, Italian return fire was ineffective (horribly bad dice).

 

Clarkski expecting torpedoes turned Arethusa away, allowing fire from her fore turrets at Lampo only. Tartar and Amazon followed her around and the torpedoes missed. Preston turned sharply to port using the squall to get in close. The Italians now brought Bande Nere to bear on Amazon while Lampo fire at Arethusa. Bande Nere hit Amazon twice knocking out a rear gun and damaging her hull, slowing her to 30 knots while Amazon hit her once in return damaging her hull. Lampo’s fire was ineffective but Arethusa hit her twice knocking out another gun and damaging her hull. Lampo failed morale and had to withdraw.

Preston now popped out of the squall right in front of the Italian destroyers Freccia, Nicoloso Da Recco and Lampo. Grenville hit Freccia and was hit in return at point blank range. Jaguar hit Da Recco and was hit in return, again at point blank range. Jackal hit Lampo again in the hull.

 

Preston launched torpedoes from Grenville at the Bande Nere and hit her once causing extensive hull damage and an engine room hit. Jaguar’s torpedoes missed. Clarkski’s column reversed course together (trying to be cute) and steamed Arethusa right into two torpedo spreads that hit her once reducing her to ten knots and an engine hit. This time the Italian gunnery was a bit better and they reduced Grenville to almost DIW. Arethusa missed, but Tarter and Amazon hit Bande Nere four times sinking her.

 

Preston launched torpedoes from Jackal and missed while torpedoes from Condon’s destroyers sunk the Jackal. Clarkski launched torpedoes from all three of his ships as Arethusa at ten knots was left behind by Amazon leading Tartar. Arethusa, Tartar and Amazon pummeled Pigafetta for little in reply. Grenville went down.

 

The Italian destroyers turned away behind smoke leaving Arethusa with no target. Tarter hit a merchantmen five time setting her afire and causing the crew to abandon ship. Amazon hit another merchantman once setting her afire. Jaguar hit a destroyer and was hit in return, but managed to survive.

 

We resolved movement and torpedoes and called it. The Italian torpedoes fired at Tartar and Amazon missed. Amazon’s torpedoes hit a merchantman and sank her. Tartar’s torpedoes missed, Arethusa’s torpedoes hit a destroyer and sank her. Jackal’s torpedoes hit yet another merchantman and severely damaged her.

 

At this point the Italians had lost their cruiser, two destroyers and a merchantman sunk. Of their remaining four destroyers, two had withdrawn and the other two were damaged as were three merchantmen (two were severely damaged). The Brits had lost Grenville and Jaguar. Arethusa and Jackal were limping along (Arethusa’s firepower was intact); Amazon was at thirty knots and down to three guns. Tartar was undamaged. The Ref and the Italians called it a British victory and Clarkski was happy to take it as the Italian’s gunnery dice seemed to be improving towards the end and he was desperate to save Arethusa.

 

The Italians pointed to the British ability to rapid fire with their cruiser and destroyers as the deciding factor. But (IMHO) it was the incredibly hot British dice (I once rolled a two threes and a two with Arethusa’s three dice sinking a destroyer in one go) versus the Italians’ absolutely horrible gunnery dice for the first three turns of firing that caused their defeat.



#2 healey36

healey36

    Corporal

  • Members
  • 95 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 14 February 2017 - 07:55 PM

Great scenario and report, with results perhaps not as far-fetched as they might seem. The Italians made a practice of inept gunnery through many engagements, a spectacular example being the action at Cape Matapan. The British on the other hand seemed to rise to the occasion. Still, from a 'game' perspective it can be disheartening to suffer through a long string of mid-range die-rolls when a few at the periphery are called for.

 

The Maestrale-class destroyers were lovely ships, perhaps hampered by having just the four 4.7 inch guns mounted in two twin turrets. Scirocco, last of the class, was a fine example:

 

Scirocco_zpsrfq6jfel.jpg

 

Like many of the Italian destroyers her performance was uneven at best. She was lost in a severe storm after the Second Battle of Sirte in '42, with only a couple of survivors of a crew of ~ 200.

 

This battle, an attempt by the Italians to intercept a British convoy, might be an interesting, considerably larger scenario to consider, although Axis airpower was the tip in the battle.

 

Healey

 

 

 

 



#3 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Lieutenant

  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 15 February 2017 - 06:20 PM

We played this with 1:1250 scale ships, 2 people per side and a Ref. We normally only game from 1000 to 1500 hours at the most with a small break for lunch, so this scenario was probably about as big as we can manage in  that scale.

 

I personally love the Med, but we normally go with the Atlantic or South Pacific.

 

I'm trying to get them to go for a Third Java Sea what if (it would be between the Japanese Eastern Attack Force (5 heavies, 2 lights and 12 destroyers) and the reinforced ANZAC Squadron (Australia, Canberra, Hobart, Achilles, Leander and Vampire reinforced with 3 Aussie N class DDs, Astoria, Chicago, Louisville and 4 Sims class DDs) late in the second week of March 42. We'd use 1:6000 scale to allow for faster play and to make the table more efficient. 

 



#4 healey36

healey36

    Corporal

  • Members
  • 95 posts
  • LocationMaryland USA

Posted 16 February 2017 - 01:53 PM

1:1250 is a sweet scale from a modelling perspective but how big of a table(s) do you guys use to get things to sorta look right? Forty-some years ago when I was in college we once contemplated trying to play a cruiser/destroyer action using 1:700 scale. I don't recall which rule-set we were using at the time but I do remember when we scaled it up for 1:700 it required a nearly nine-foot arc to turn a Furutaka-class cruiser 180 degrees. We were fortunate that one of my roommates was an NG reservist who could get us use of the local armory gymnasium for a day if required.

 

Third Java Sea sounds like a good run-through. Evenly balanced and if in good weather my money's on the IJN for a threepeat.

 

Healey

 

 

 

 



#5 W. Clark

W. Clark

    Lieutenant

  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • LocationOregon, out in the sticks

Posted 16 February 2017 - 07:27 PM

We played this on an 8' x 6' table. The table size worked because of the low (8,000 yards) daylight visibility and the fact that the Italians were packed so tightly (their choice). We normally play 1:1250 if Robert Bishop runs the game and 1:6000 if I run the game (I like larger scenarios). Robert scaled the game at 5"=1,000 yards. So we could see 40" across the table, squalls permitting. We had to set our forces up on paper before the game, specifying formation(s), distance between formations and the distance between ships. Robert randomly determined our speed (using the campaign system) and randomly determined our heading. Robert had us deploy the ships once we were locked down on paper. 

 

The outcome was that although I knew that I was coming in at a bad angle; I could not do anything about it until I had acquired an Italian ship. I then got lucky with my dice (I was about as hot for the first three turns as you could get) and doubly lucky with the Italian's dice (They missed every shot for the first three turns) and that saved me.

 

I tried not to close but it takes two to tango and the Italians were not going to dance to my tune. I spent the first three turns in so close that even though I was making many point turns and firing multiple batteries at ships (going up twice) I was still rapid firing on the 9,000 yard range band where I was hitting on 1, 2, 3, 10, 11 & 12. Given that I was firing mostly at destroyers (Arethusa's 6" hits are doubled) and rolling multiple 2s and 3s repeatedly while they were rolling 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 in return (repeatedly); its small wonder that we were so far ahead going into turn 4. After that it evened out, but the damage was done.

 

It was a well balanced scenario (both sides had the same number of gunnery dice available and same number of torpedoes). The Brits had an overall advantage because of rapid fire and TT mounts larger than 3 tubes, but dice unbalanced it because we were so hot and they were sold cold. IMHO, if you reverse the dice the Italians slaughter the Brits hands down. They had the advantage on the first turn (because of the approach angles) of firing broadsides from at least three ships and the fore batteries of a couple more against Arethusa's two fore turrets. They had end on fire and would have penetrated me easily if only they had hit. But, they missed completely and continued to miss completely for three turns while I hit with every dice I threw and mostly with 2s and 3s. I even hit with my 4" once I had my broadside on to them.

 

​I would happily play the scenario again as the Italian and rate my chances of winning as fair given something like even dice. 






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users