Spanish Navy Supplement
Posted 25 October 2008 - 05:54 PM
Posted 26 April 2020 - 12:54 PM
Hello, I contributed towards a few of the free GQ3 supplements on the smaller navies a few years ago. Hence posting under this topic. Since then I haven't had opportunity to play GQ3 extensively for a while, but as I now have some floor space available it seems like an opportunity in the current global lock down situation to send some ship models off to do battle again and write up an AAR of the action.
So the scenario I've chosen is to revisit is The Cantabrian Sea Adventure, a scenario I wrote for the Spanish civil war supplement. It is a fictional scenario and as the description explains could not have taken place with the actual OOB used although not far off. It is designed to showcase all the major units of the two competing halves of the Spanish fleet in a daylight surface engagement and to do so within a plausible context of the war in 1937.
I always intended to acquire the correct models for the Spanish ships but somehow that never happened. But it was fairly easy to find appropriate substitutes. Three funnelled RN Counties for the Spanish County variants, C Class cruisers for the Cervantes class ships and WW1 BC for the the two Spanish battleships due the similar main armament layout.
I'm working on AAR which I hope to post soon. Here is the start of it.
To briefly recap it is April 1937, 0800 hours or so. The Republican navy has despatched a small convoy escorted by the major units of the fleet to the North Spanish coast in support of the threatened Republican held city of Bilbao. The Republican fleet is enforcing a blockade of the North coast and alerted by intelligence to the arrival of the Republican ships in the area plots an interception course.
I've stuck with the original scenario design but kept the detached Republican destroyers out of the game till later â€“ using god like powers I'll see how the scenario develops. One change is the Republican flagship becomes Cervantes vice Jaime I. Visibility roll resulted in 17000 yards in a force 4 wind which suits the game area. The convoy proceeding due East in line ahead with the destroyers 1 NM or so out on each corner, the Jaime I leading the Convoy. Admiral Ubieta flag aboard the Cevantes leading his cruisers some distance ahead and to the south east of the convoy. The Nationalist interception force makes contact from the south west heading north east. The three divisions in line ahead cruisers furthest eastward, Velasco's division in the centre Espana furthest west.
The opposing cruiser divisions are the first to sight and identify each other. Ubieta immediately turns his division 16 points to interpose his ships between the threat and the convoy signalling his destroyer divisions to form and make smoke. A brief exchange of gunfire ensues, the early hits being exchanged by Miranda and Velasco. As the two cruiser divisions cross on opposing courses the gunfire intensifies. No decisive hits are made but the Republicans seem to be getting the better of the exchange and the Libertad's shooting was accurately grouped around the Canarias.
To be continued...?
Image shows early stages of engagement. Jaime I in foreground being passed by a Republican DD division. Ubieta's cruisers are beyond the DD. Nationalist cruiser division 15,000 yards or so distant. Espana can be made out in the top far right corner.
Curiously the Cantabrian sea exhibits a light brown carpet quality!
Posted 28 April 2020 - 02:14 PM
Lulled into a false sense of security Ubieta allowed the range to close to under 12,000 yards. Around 15 minutes into the engagement the weight of the 8â€ť guns of the Nationalist cruisers began to tell as Libertad suffered an 8â€ť hit which 'really ate into her'. Allegedly she had to flood a magazine but this is unverifiable as a few minutes later Canarias landed a sequence of tightly grouped salvoes which literally tore her apart (rolls of 1,1,1 and 2 when needing 1+ 2 for hits). Libertad rolled over and began to sink rapidly.
The disrupted Republican cruiser line now joined by two destroyers continued heading west to cover the convoy but this only caused them to run straight into the old battleship Espana and her venerable consort Navarra. Caught between the fire of Vierna's cruisers and Espana's division the Cevantes had her gun batteries and upper works wrecked by 12â€ť shell splinters. Somehow uninjured Ubieta and his surviving officers kept their cool and delivered a two spread torpedo attack against Espana. Spewing forth black smoke the battleship's tired stokers remained hard at work and the poorly aligned torpedoes sped harmlessly astern of both Espana and the following Navarra. Or not quite harmlessly as the mine layer Vulcano was struck and sunk by one of the wayward spreads. One ship sunk by each side.
Mendez Nunez was nearly the next victim of the concentrated fire of Vierna's cruisers, flooding badly her crew somehow managed to stem the inflow of water and though wrecked she stayed afloat and able to steam. The damage however was too much for her Captain and he conned her northwards out of the engagement.
Meanwhile Vierna's cruisers were not having it all their own way. Early in the action a fire broke out aboard the Cervera which the experienced crew struggled to contain. And although only lightly damaged otherwise by the fire of the Republican cruisers they now found themselves engaged by the Jaime I. As 12â€ť rounds fell around Baleares Vierna continued to lead his division eastwards attempting to separate the battleship from the convoy. But the damage began to mount aboard the flagship. First B then X turrets where knocked out. Cursing that her Y mount was not yet fitted and with only A mount still firing Rear Admiral Vierna judged that the time was ripe to turn his division back WNW and head after the convoy. Between breaks in the smoke screen being laid by the Republican destroyers he could see large shell splashes from Espana falling around the helpless merchant men. They must surely soon be at his mercy.
Libertad sinks image. The stricken cruiser is swathed in smoke and steam as chaos ensues amongst the ships astern of her.
Torpedoes miss image. A first spread of three torps pass astern of their targets but a second spread is about to score a hit on Vulcano â€“ third ship from the camera.
Posted 30 April 2020 - 01:29 PM
Part 3 of AAR
Having seen off Cervantes, Espana's main guns had now begun engaging merchantmen targets as they were sighted beyond the covering Republican destroyers and smoke. Almost throughout the engagement her main guns had only employed limited salvoes so as to not to pop the seams in her corroded hull, but her shooting was consistently effective. Mydol was hit and damaged by one round while another caused a fire to flare for a short time aboard the Cantabrian Sea. More torpedoes were launched at her by a Republican destroyer but again they passed astern.
Sighting Vierna's cruisers which were now headed towards Espana under fire from Jaime I she again switched targets onto her oncoming enemy sister ship. Her gunnery officer was soon gratified by the sight of a round that had surely hit the Jaime I. He knew he could hit her again. But at that moment he was ordered to cease fire as the flagship had ordered the engagement broken off. Why he wondered would the flagship take that decision when the enemy were all but beaten.
After turning about back towards the convoy, Vierna had seen the Jaime I do the same and so the unequal gun fire exchange continued on the opposite generally westerly course, the range closing slowly. The Nationalist heavy cruisers could score no hits on their venerable opponent but she gradually began to find Baleares's, range. First splinters started a fire amongst ready use 4.7â€ť ammunition, then A turret was hit silencing her main battery.
Victory was almost in his grasp, the Jaime I and two remaining damaged Republican destroyers being all that stood between him and the battered merchantmen. But his own division was injured; Cervera was on fire as was his own flagship, only Canarias remained in fighting trim. His units were too valuable to risk further under the heavy Republican shellfire. Reluctantly he signalled for the action to be broken off and ordered his ship to make smoke to cover her companions. A brave but perhaps foolhardy decision. Jaime I's gunfire had been steadily improving. Now she really found the mark as multiple hits tore into the already damaged Nationalist flagship causing heavy flooding.
Both sides ceased fire and drew away from each other. The respite gave damage control parties the breathing space they all needed to contain fires and flooding. All except aboard Baleares which was overwhelmed with both fire and flooding damage to contain. The vessel came to a stop but still it proved unable for her to contain the ingress and the new cruiser slid beneath the waves.
End of action image: Jaime I followed by two DD engaging Vierna's cruisers who are making smoke to disengage. Convoy and remnants of remainder of Republican force to the right of the image.
The successful passage of the convoy was hailed as a great victory by the Republican press. Not only had the blockade been broken but the enemy flagship had been sent to the bottom. But the success was to prove temporary. Madrid mindful of the two cruisers lost (Mendez Nunez made Bilbao but on arrival was declared a constructive loss) and fearful of further losses soon recalled the fleet to the Mediterranean. For a time supplies poured into the besieged city but it could not stave off the Bilbao's inevitable capture, athough Spain's war may have been prolonged a few months.
Once the Republican fleet departed the north coast the blockade was soon reimposed by Canarias and smaller Nationalist craft. She was soon rejoined by a repaired Cervera. Vierna was lost with Baleares; at least he would not have to explain the failure.
The scenario proved to be a close one. I expected more from the Nationalist's 8â€ť gun cruisers notwithstanding that Libertad was sunk by them. Also the two battleships might have matched up to each other but in fact they both fought other opponents excepting for Espana's final shots at her sister. As actions like the Barents sea were to show in World War II it is difficult for an attacking force to overcome a determined covering force and get at the convoy. If the Republican destroyers had been more aggressive or successful with their torpedo attacks it might have become very unbalanced but as it was the Nationalists established overall tactical superiority and began to attack the convoy itself, almost carrying the day.
The strength of the opposing sides in warship victory points works out to Republican 27 (not including the detached DD) against Nationalist total of 27.5. Very evenly balanced.
Velasco was tied in a division with the slow 18 knot minelayer Vulcano which limited her tactical use. In a re-fight I would now add one of the destroyers given the Nationalists by Italy to create a genuine destroyer division in the OB , perhaps switching Vulcano to Espana's division and Navarra over to the cruiser division. Republicans I would leave as they are, there is a built balance option for them with the detached DD division.
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