Old Warriors - New Titan AAR.
Here is another AAR based this time on the Soviet supplement.
I thought I would rerun a trial of the Baltic fictional scenario, mostly as it means I can deploy Soviet battleships and of course the Tirpitz. One change from the original scenario, I decided was that rather than mandating the German mine laying group to abandon it's mission at the start of the scenario I decided to follow the mine laying rules for abandoning the mission. That means a moral check on coming under fire from Soviet forces. This allows a minefield to be laid and form part of the tactical area. As it turned out the minefield played a significant if indirect part in the action. As per the Spanish game this was played solo trying to make sensible realistic decisions for both sides based upon what could be known aboard. Not easy but possible. On the whole I think I largely succeeded except for one significant error of judgement for one side as we shall see.
So weather Force 5 (I rolled higher but too rough for mine laying so reduced to fit the scenario) and visibility 18,000 yards. Tactical area I used was of fair size so it took a couple of turns steaming at cruising speed for the Soviet Advance guard to sight the mine laying force. This gave plenty of time (I also rolled a D6 (result 4) for pre game turns of mine laying undertaken. So Emden carrying 130 mines laying 15 per turn laid 90 mines in 6 turns and carried on to lay for another turn after contact, so she only ditched 15 mines after coming under fire. The TBDs carrying 30 mines each completed laying a second row behind Emden's line which ran northwards from the southern edge about a third of the way across the tactical area.
On sighting Emden, Kirov's captain split his force conning Kirov south westerly directly towards Emden while Leningrad was detailed to lead the destroyers north westerly trying to catch the Germans in a pincer movement. Both groups advanced at speed seeking to reduce the range to help the Soviet gun teams. Kirov's 7.1” fore guns took Emden under fire and she opened her A arcs forcing Emden to abandon mine laying and return fire. Despite her age and lighter fire power Emden repeatedly hit her opponent and established gunnery superiority.
Undeterred the advanced guard pressed ahead, confident that with the support of the battle force, now arrived in the tactical area early setbacks would be overcome. As the Soviets closed, Emden led the mine laying force back around on a south westerly course seeking to draw the Russians over the newly laid mines. At this point before the battle force had yet engaged Tirpitz and her battle group arrived on the scene.
Responding to Emden's contact reports Admiral Ciliax pressed his group on an easterly at speed, Tirpitz in the van leading Scheer, Nurnburg and Z28. Knowing he could not venture further south than Emden's sighted position for fear of running into the new minefield he maintained course even after sighting the Leningrad destroyer group ahead and just to the north. The Soviet ships were soon under effective 5.9” fire from the battle group and responded by turning south crossing the T of the advancing Germans. With the range closing rapidly Ciliax realised too late that the Soviet destroyers had gained an excellent position from which to launch torpedo attacks against his force. A less than ideal situation for Tirpitz as she also had now to deal with the ancient pair of Soviet battleships.
Turning NE to open A arcs at approx 14,000 yards Tirpitz opened fire and soon had the range of the Soviet flagship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsia, a 15 “ round destroying gun turret 3 and another causing heavy damage inside the old hull. The massed 12” guns of the Soviet vessel hit back however, but could not penetrate the heavy armour of the German leviathan, 1 round bouncing spectacularly off Anton turret and another doing negligible damage after exploding against Tirpitz's main belt protection system. Marat found herself engaged by Scheer, one 11” round also destroying one of her main battery turrets.
At this point 1 torpedo from the first wave (10 torps in all) launched by Leningrad's division stuck the Tirpitz. Damage was not extensive but it clearly shook Ciliax's confidence and demonstrated that though relatively secure from Soviet gunfire, underwater weapons were a potent threat to her. The Soviet destroyers having launched two waves of torpedoes now turned away making smoke to cover their retreat, hampering the line of sight between the contending battleships. Thus briefly Tirpitz shifted fire to Kirov, 15” shell splinters silencing her main battery and forcing her to retire from the action. Similarly both Soviet battle wagons concentrated upon Scheer which had fallen some way behind Tirpitz and remained visible. Though difficult to distinguish their own shell splashes the volume of fire from their surviving 18 guns resulted in multiple hits causing extensive damage to the 'pocket battleship' which consequently turned out of line to retire westwards. Scheer's retreat unfortunately took her into the path of one of the second wave of Soviet torpedoes (7 torps due to damage) one of which struck her quarter. Too much of a blow for the already badly damaged Scheer to withstand, she quickly rolled over and sank.
Scheer's sinking was a great success for Soviet Admiral Trubitsky, he might yet have achieved more. Marat switched fire onto Nurnberg next astern in the German line, forcing her to beat a hasty withdrawal before the hail if heavy shells. The flagship traded fire with Tirpitz as she emerged from behind the retiring Soviet destroyers smoke screens. Tirpitz having reversed course to cover the rescue of Scheer's survivors again found the range and landed multiple hits upon O.R causing extensive damage and flooding to the Soviet vessel. With his flagship crippled and near sinking Trubitsky ordered his force to retire. Ciliax had no desire to risk further losses himself and so with the mine laying mission complete he was content to disengage also and rescue as many German sailors as possible.
The game lasted 14 turns before both sides broke off, no sightings were made until turn three. Aside from the loss of Scheer (7 VP) only minor damage was inflicted onto the other German ships. Overall Soviet gunnery performed well below the German capability. Both Kirov and Ok. Revolutsia were heavily damaged as was Leningrad. Most Soviet ships received some significant injury which I counted as amounting to 9 vp plus the mines were laid and survivors rescued by the German light ships. But was this success equivalent to the loss of such an important unit such as Scheer? Probably not.
Tirpitz was pretty much invulnerable to the Soviet battleships and shrugged off the torpedo hit (set to run deep) which with the mines was the only real threat to her (at these gunnery ranges). However the rest of the German force was very vulnerable to the heavy fire from the pair of Soviet battleships including Scheer as was demonstrated. German 5.9” guns were excellent against the entire Soviet force except the battleships, but the battle group posed no real torpedo threat to match the Soviet DD division. Tirpitz was more than capable of taking on the O.R and Marat by herself however. On the Soviet side Kirov barely hit anything all game, the modern destroyers however mounted an excellent torpedo strike, while the large 12” batteries of the battleships posed a dangerous threat to all the German cruisers.
Ciliax should have recognised the threat posed by the destroyers sooner which he disregarded until to late. Keen to support Emden and engage the Soviet battleships he led his forces into a dangerous crossfire of torpedoes and heavy shells. Tirpitz could weather that storm but Scheer could not. Tirpitz would perhaps have been better supported by a destroyer division than the assorted force allotted.
Note - for anyone interested I've added some pics which randomly seem to load inverted. I figure easy to spin around the right way!