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Mediterranean Campaign Restart


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#1 W. Clark

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Posted 11 April 2024 - 07:59 PM

I decided to change game turn length from 10 days to Bi-monthly to shorten the Campaign to 7 turns with an optional GT Zero (start to mid-July including any French action, Mers El Kebir & Calabria). Here is the refight of the "Action" of Calabria with the time of day and weather reroll option used.

 

The Action of Calabria (Punta Stilo)

10 July 1940 0730 hours

The RM (Regia Marina) had sortied a convoy to Benghazi with Squadra (Fleet) 1 as escort. The convoy had reached Benghazi and off loaded. It was now returning to Taranto. At the same time the RN (Royal Navy) Mediterranean Fleet had sortied to cover two convoys to Malta (a kind of British one upmanship). One was fast (16 knots) APs to reinforce specialist personnel and evacuate civilians and the other was slow (11 knots) AKs to resupply Malta and return fleet stores to Alexandria. The RN was divided into three groups (a die roll dictated), Forces A, B & C. Force A was fast (cruisers & destroyers). Force B was powerful but slower (QE class battleships & destroyers). And Force C was a crawler (R class battleships, Eagle, C class cruisers & destroyers directly escorting the convoys).

 

RA (Regia Aeronautica) and RM aerial reconnaissance had spotted at least a portion of the RN and reported the contact. Admiral Campioni had done the math and concluded that he would contact them around 2000 hours on 9 July and decided against a night engagement. Admiral Campioni swung the RM westward to avoid contact until morning.

 

At 0730 hours on the morning of 10 July, Force A was leading on a heading of 290 degrees at 20 knots. Force B was 9,000 yards further East and also at 20 knots. Force C was 5,000 yards behind that at 11 knots. Cunningham had ordered the Fleet’s FPs launched at dawn to prevent surprise and they along with HMS Orion’s masthead reported the enemy in sight, 4 points off Orion’s port bow on a heading of 45 degrees.

 

The report of an enemy fleet off his port bow brought Vice Admiral Tovey out of his chair on the bridge of HMS Orion (his flagship). Tovey ordered that Force A (HMS Orion, Neptune, HMAS Sydney, Gloucester & Liverpool followed by DesFlot 2: Hyperion, Havock, Hero, Hereward, Hostile, Hasty, Ilex & Imperial) to 25 knots and a change of course northward to avoid closing with the RM battleships and 8-inch cruisers he was sure were ahead of him.

 

The wind was a Force 3 Southerly at 10 knots and the sky was overcast. Visibility was 25,000 yards. There were at least 4 squalls marching with the wind between the two fleets. They were about 2-3 thousand yards apart and about 4,000 yards across. They appeared to reduce visibility by 3,000 yards. There was no sea haze present but it looked like more squalls to the South (they were generating 1 every third turn).

 

0736 hours

Further reports from the squadron’s FPs were coming in and it was an enemy fleet indeed. There were at least 2 battleships and three cruisers (Zaras no doubt). Someone was counting destroyers, but apparently doing it on their fingers and toes as it was taking too Bloody Long. Tovey and Cunningham had discussed this situation (in my mind) and concluded that 6-inch cruisers had no business taking on something like this without immediate and overwhelming support from our battleships (ironically, I agreed).

Cunningham had increased Force B (Warspite, Malaya & the 5 J & Tribal class DDs of DesFlot 14) to 23 knots (Malaya’s best speed) and was continuing West as fast as Cunningham could flog their hamsters to go. Force C had split into two groups (Ramillies, Royal Sovereign, DesFl ot 10’s 7 DDs and the 5 APs/AKs in one), (Eagle & the C class cruisers, Capetown, Calypso & Caledon in the other). The convoy portion had turned to a heading of 335 degrees at 11 knots while Eagle’s group had turned South into wind, accelerated to 16 knots (so far) and was warming a strike package (if 4 Swordfish flights qualify) on her deck. Rear Admiral Lyster hoped to get three strikes in before nightfall. But this was the RN, not their star students (the IJN) so martialing air strikes took a bit longer than anyone (except for the RM maybe) wanted. In other words, no guarantee.

 

And now for what the Regia Marina was up too. Your star reporter has found out that the RM cruisers had also accelerated to 20 knots (it now appears that flogging hamsters is a trait shared by the RM with the RN) and their accompanying destroyers (its unclear to me just how many) have accelerated to 25 knots and moved to their cruiser’s unengaged side and gone to evasive maneuver (so ¾ speed) leaving those ugly little white wiggly markers behind them (a dead giveaway). The destroyers seem to be guiding on the RM cruisers.

The RM cruisers opened on the RN cruisers and missed. The RN cruisers fired back and missed except for Gloucester who got one hit on her opposite number (there was a flash). I’m waiting for the “Fascist Giornalista” to come out with that information (a respected paper, just ask them). This just in, the Fascist Giornalista reports no damage. This has been Fleet News, back after the break.

0742 hours.

Vice Admiral Tovey was not willing to subject his cruisers to a pounding from cruisers he was not able to damage in return. He turned his cruisers together to a heading of 30 degrees (matching the RM cruisers) under smoke and went to flank to prevent closure. At the same time DesFlot 2 went to flank speed and turned to 30 degrees while using evasive maneuver. Force B was still heading due West at 23 knots and had cut the 9,000-yard gap by about 4,000 yards. Force C and the convoy(s) continued 335 degrees at 11 knots. Eagle and her cruisers had gone to 21 knots and expected to launch when she reached flank (24 knots). Eagle would then launch her strike and turn to catch up to Force C.

Cunningham awaited the RM reaction, but already saw this as a stalemate in that his forces with the speed to force engagement were too weak to do so and his forces with the strength to engage were too slow. Cunningham fully expected the RM to do to him what Tovey was doing to them upon the arrival of his battleships. His sense of humor (read mine) caused him to radio Campioni in the clear and offered to move this “Standoff” to the Gulf of Mexico where it could be properly named. His one trump card was a wildly successful strike by Eagle’s string bags and he was not going to bet the farm on that.

0748 hours

Then the RA showed up with a vengeance (they needed a 1-3 and got a 3). They had 33 (!) flights of SM 79 and got 80% (rolled another 3) of them to come out and drop light bombs on me (Have you ever had a light bomb?). So, 26 die rolls looking for 1s. Two straddles later, I rolled to see who the lucky bums were. Both were against Force B. Now to figure out who is really special. There were 7 ships in Force B, but two of them were bats and Airedales being Airedales, I weighted the dice towards the bats. And they were Airedales and targeted both bats. Warspite’s AA was good and damaged the straddling flight but Malaya missed all together. Bombs being bombs still obeyed gravity and near missed both bats. So, minor hull damage for each, upholding the RA’s reputation for fair play. So much for business.

The RA now went for pleasure and bombed the RM and missed it. They are going to have some explaining to do. I mean those ships had “Barber Pole” forecastles and what more do you need. I can just hear their Fascist leaders screaming at their Fascists pilots for missing the Royalist RM.

In any case, Cunningham decided that it was folly to pursue a force that he could not catch and that the Malta convoy was the priority that could be achieved. The Regia Marina appeared to agree as they also allowed the fight to lapse and continued their Westward loop back to Taranto.

 

WMC


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#2 simanton

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Posted 11 April 2024 - 09:51 PM

I call this a realistic action, with flag officers on both sides making prudent decisions.  I would have liked to see Eagle get a strike off, maybe there wasn't time to.



#3 W. Clark

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Posted 11 April 2024 - 10:47 PM

There was time. But we are talking 4 flights of Swordfish carrying 18" torps that have their hull damage halved. If the RM's AA whiffed and if I rolled four 1's then I would have gotten 8 hits (the absolute max). I wanted to target the Zaras as they are my biggest headache. But Airedales being Airedales, I figured that seeing as how there were RM Bats present that I would need to roll to see if they would seek glory instead doing what they were told. They choose glory. They would have gotten 1 hit on a Cavour and that would have been half a hull. So, I didn't even bother to record it and decided that as I apparently was indifferent to the result it would not be right to make the pilots walk a plank. And I hope for a die roll modifier the next time they face the choice. I did my best impression of Joquin Phoenix saying, "Maximus the merciful" and got on with the test.

 

WMC



#4 W. Clark

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Posted 11 April 2024 - 10:50 PM

Of course, if those Airedales do that again then it will be my best impression of Helen Bonham-Carter saying, "Off with their heads".

 

WMC






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