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Action in the Bay of Biscay

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#1 W. Clark

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Posted 27 August 2021 - 11:39 PM

Operation Bernau

Kapitan zur See Erdmenger was not a happy man. He had set out from the Gironde that morning with his destoyers (DesFlot 8) and a division of torpedo boots under Korvettenkapitan von Gartzen to find and escort into port an important blockade runner, the Alsterufer. She was loaded with tungsten and rubber; both commodities were in very short supply in the Reich. But he had not found her and neither had Korvettenkapitan Kohlauf’s Torpedo Boot Flotilla 4 which had just joined him from the north.

This part of the Atlantic, just to the west of the Bay of Biscay was no place to loiter. Erdmenger had Kohlauf take station to port and at 1300 hours they turned east for France.


But the Alsterufer was already on the bottom. Sent there by B24 bombers and her crew were adrift in life boats. The sinking of the Alsterufer had freed up the cruisers HMS Glasgow and HMS Enterprise to try and intercept the destroyers who had been sighted by Allied aircraft earlier.


It was a rough day on that part of the pond. The wind was a Force 7 easterly of some 30 knots. The seas were getting up and while it slowed the cruisers down; it was much worse for the destroyers and the torpedo boots.


Captain Clark as senior officer (aboard HMS Glasgow) had Captain Grant of HMS Enterprise take station as they formed a line ahead and turned NNE to intercept. 27 knots were all they could do but they expected the destroyers, let alone the torpedo boots to be even slower.


About 1330 hours the Glasgow’s masthead reported ships ahead off the port bow. Visibility was about 18,000 yards and Clark ordered a 4 point turn to starboard to open up his broadside as well as a course that would get him between the Germans and their base.


At 1336 hours Glasgow opened on the lead destroyer. The destroyers at that range in those seas could not yet reply. Glasgow continued to fire at the leading destroyer and now Enterprise also joined in firing at the second destroyer.


At 1342 hours Glasgow saw a flash on the lead destroyer’s stern, but no other effect. Enterprise’s fire was not effective. The lead destroyer finally was able to fire back but to no avail.


Over the next 12 minutes the cruisers and lead German destroyers exchanged fire without effect and then Glasgow scored a second hit on the bow of the lead destroyer and its fire immediately slackened. The German return fire was still ineffective.


By now (1400 hours) the range was down to 15,000 yards. Glasgow was able to begin rapid firing because of her radar. She immediately scored 6 hits on the lead destroyer. The destroyer slowed perceptively, her return fire slackened again, she appeared lower in the water and then she went DIW. The stricken destroyers’ return fire was even less effective. Enterprise’s fire was still ineffective. But the second destroyer managed a hit on Enterprise’s float plane which caused a fire.


It took Enterprise 12 minutes to put her fire out and she suffered more hull damage because of it. The stricken destroyer was still DIW but she did not appear to be sinking. However, she was also not firing anymore.


Glasgow shifted her fire to the third destroyer in line and scored a hit on her bow causing her fire to slacken. Enterprise continued to miss as did the second destroyer.  Glasgow now pummeled the third destroyer for 12 hits. Most of the hits blanketed her stern and her return fire ceased. But the most telling feature was that she was so low in the water as to almost disappear with every wave as she staggered out of line.


Some 42 minutes into fight, the Enterprise achieved 5 hits on the second destroyer. One on the stern and the others amidships causing the destroyer to go DIW and her return fire to cease.


Glasgow and Enterprise shifted their fire to the 2 remaining destroyers. Glasgow scored a hit but saw no appreciable change. Enterprise scored 2 hits on the fifth destroyer amidships and she slowed a bit and seemed lower in the water. The fourth destroyer hit Enterprise once causing additional hull damage and slowing her to 21 knots.


Glasgow now hit the fourth destroyer three times causing her return fire to slacken, but the result of the 2 hits amidships was not readily apparent. Enterprise also hit the fifth destroyer once and cut her speed in half. The fifth destroyer hit Enterprise again and ruffled up the debris of her float plane and catapult.


Captain Clark quite happy with the way things were going turned two points to starboard to maintain the range. Glasgow now hit the fourth destroyer six times; causing her to go DIW and lower in the water as well as ending her return fire. Enterprise hit the fifth destroyer once amidships causing her to go DIW.


The six TB had been diverging from the fight the whole time and were now out of sight to the to the NE. Captains Clark and Grant happily finished sinking the five destroyers and low on ammo returned to port.


This AAR has been written from the view point of HMS Glasgow’s bridge.

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#2 healey36



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Posted 28 August 2021 - 07:10 PM

Similar to a spurned woman, hell hath no fury like the rapid-fire 6-inch of a Royal Navy light cruiser. 

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#3 W. Clark

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Posted 29 August 2021 - 01:33 AM

Yep, the RN and the USN worked very hard between the wars getting their ROF up. They made changes to the way they got the ammo to guns so they could keep the flow of ammo needed to sustain the rate of fire. Not all their 6" cruisers could rapid fire because they did not have in place what they needed to accomplish it. But all RN and Dominion 6" cruisers from the Leanders on can rapid fire. In the USN, it starts with the Brooklyns and goes from there. The Germans can do it also and that's about it. Everyone else is restricted to their AA weapons to fire that fast. But it eats the ammo up. I restrict rapid fire to 6 salvos. I normally put a capitalized notation of "RF" under each ship log that can rapid fire. I make the players tick off each time they rapid fire and they have to announce it before they fire. A rapid firing Brooklyn within 9,000 yards of a any cruiser or destroyer is rolling 7 D12s and hitting on 1,2,3,10,11 & 12. So she rates to hit with every other die she rolls. and half of the hits rate to be 2 or 3 hits. So, she should, given average dice get 3 hits every time she fires. But if she gets hot, I've seen a Brooklyn hit a destroyer (the equivalent hits is adding .5 hits to every hit) 27 times in one salvo. The Brooklyn rolled multiple 2,3 & 12s. The destroyer would have sunk normally, but failed to flood multiple magazine hits and blew up instead.


I don't have a problem facing Japanese heavy cruisers if I'm either within 9,000 yards or over 15,000 yards. At 9,000 yards I'm rapid firing as above and I penetrate his belt armor. I simply rate to get more hits and I'm also more likely to get hot because I hit on more numbers than he does (1,2,3,10,11 & 12 for me vs 1,2 & 10 for him). His equivalent hits will bring it back a bit but nothing is perfect. Over 15,000 yards, I'm in my immune zone. He does not penetrate my belt or my turret armor and I have no torpedoes to burn me up. On the other hand I penetrate his turret armor as no Japanese cruiser has more than 1 inch, they are all CS turret armor. And of course he has 4 torpedo mounts as well as their reloads that will cause 1 hull box per GT fires.


He will try to torpedo me, but at 9,000 yards I'm within 600 yards of the end of his second range band. I watch how he moves. If he moves straight for last half or more of his movement then I assume torpedoes are coming. I note where he is on the table. I make a 2 point turn away (to preserve my gunnery) and another 2 point turn the next GT. On the 3rd GT I turn as much as I need to put my stern towards where he was three GT earlier. I should at that point be beyond 9,600 yards from where he fired. If I'm right then I'm in his third range band; its a stern shot with a minus 2 row modifier which drops it off the bottom of the CRT and means an auto miss. Its hard not love a Brooklyn, but I seldom get to play anymore as normally I'm the one running the game.

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#4 simanton



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Posted 31 August 2021 - 05:15 PM

If memory serves, this sounds like an actual action which also did not go well for the Germans.  I think you tactics against Japanese CAs are sound!

#5 W. Clark

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Posted 31 August 2021 - 09:54 PM

Yes, this was a historical action at the end of 43 and I used historical weather. I don't think 2 cruisers of which only one can rapid fire do very well otherwise. The 5 German DDs were all 5.9" that can rapid fire. That is 15 6" D12 that fire rapidly. The Brits have 9 6" D12 of which 6 can fire rapidly. But probably 3 out of 5 DDs are going to be unengaged which counter acts their multiple batteries modifier. So in my opinion the Brits in fair weather are at disadvantage gun wise. Then there are the torpedoes. I don't figure the DDs so much for their torpedoes (even though they all have 2 quad mounts). Nope I figure them to be the base of fire while the 6 large TB/DD with 2 triple mounts each go for a torpedo shot. But a Force 7 wind knocks all that into a cocked hat. The cruisers may be up 1 row for gunnery, but the destroyers are up two. And torpedoes are down 2 rows so a first range band attack is resolved in the third range band and anything over 8,000 yards (or there about) is off the chart. Also Glasgow's +FCR allowed her to rapid fire while the DDs were half dice. And she got a bit warm there and that settled it. Also, it helps when your opponent rolls a lot of engineering hits. Power trained guns don't work when their ship is DIW. 

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