I've been culling the bookshelves a bit and stumbled onto my father's copy of Lowell Thomas' Raiders of the Deep from 1928. Thomas was a masterful interviewer, writer, and broadcaster during the inter-war years and is generally credited with creating the mystique around T. E. Lawrence. I first read Raiders of the Deep when I was a teenager, probably rereading it ten or more times over a relatively short period of time. It may be an overly romanticized account, but it still provides a really interesting look at the U-boat campaigns and commanders of WWI.
Naval Institute Press pushed out a reprint back in 2004, but earlier editions are still around...IMHO its worth picking up a copy. If nothing else it will have you craving marmalade, coffee and fresh bananas.
So after sitting down and reading a few passages I again started thinking about FAI, GQ3 and the U-boat wars. I've putzed around with the submarine rules a bit but can't say I've mastered them. To my mind you really need multiple players and an umpire to make them work well. You also need some ships...sheep for the wolves to hunt.
Digging through the lead-pile I found a few Figurehead tramp steamers and thought I'd try my hand at merchantmen. When basing them I wasn't sure if I should provide a historical name for each or just go with some sort of generic code (i.e. SS Aa, SS Bb, etc.). I decided I'd go with actual ships…I’ll just have to produce a couple thousand of them.
The S. S. Tosto was a Norwegian-flagged tramp steamer built in 1904 at the Priestman yard in Sunderland. She was relatively small, just 1,234 tons, powered by a small single shaft 3-cylinder triple-expansion engine. In June of 1917 she set sail on a voyage from Methil, Scotland to Haugesund, Norway with a load of coal. She hadn't gone too far when she struck a mine laid by UC-49 off Noup Head in the Orkneys. From the accounts I've read she went down quickly without casualties amongst her crew.
This is a Figurehead 1/6000 medium-sized tramp...at 1,234 tons it would have been more appropriate to use the small version, but this is what I had. Painted in her Johanson Line prewar paint scheme (before they slathered everything in dark-gray). Deck-color was an unknown - I went with brown presuming some sort of linoleum or painted steel with similar hatch-covers.
UC-49 was launched mid-war in 1916 and sank twenty-five ships over her twenty-month career. A Type-II coastal minelaying submarine, she was armed with up to 18 mines and seven torpedoes. She was depth-charged and sunk by HMS Opossum on August 8, 1918, the location variously placed. Uboat.net reports it was off Start Point in the English Channel, while John Taylor's German Warships of World War I has the action somewhere in the North Sea. Regardless, there were no survivors.