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Afternoon Delight

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#1 W. Clark

W. Clark

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Posted 07 June 2024 - 05:47 AM

Afternoon Delight

Late June 1940, The Mediterranean

We prepared a day and night scenario but we’re old and infirm and wore ourselves out fighting the day, so we will revisit the dark another day. The premise of the scenario is that Force H has raided Cagilari on Sardina and detached a cruiser and a destroyer division to raid into the Scillian Narrows as a diversion by threatening convoys to Tripoli.


Time: 1600 hours                   Wind: Force 4 Northerly at 10 knots

Squalls: 5 on the table with a new one from the wind every other turn.

Visibility: 30,000 yards           Squall Visibility: reduces 3,000 yards into, out of or through.


Captain Q.D. Graham peered ahead through a break in the squalls. HMS Arethusa was leading HMS Faulknor and Destroyer Division 15 due East at 25 knots. The masthead reported “enemy in sight, dead ahead.” Graham turned Arethusa 45 degrees to port and accelerated to 30 knots and the destroyers (Faulknor, Foresight, Fearless & Foxhound) followed.


The enemy was heading due South at 15 knots. There appeared to be a cruiser and four destroyers. The enemy accelerated and split with the cruiser and a destroyer turning to port through 135 degrees to a heading of 135 degrees. The remaining three destroyers turned 45 degrees to a heading of 225 degrees. Graham remarked to his number one, “They seem to have a cross fire mind.”


This continued for 30 minutes until the range closed to 18,000 yards. Arethusa opened on the cruiser (later identified as the da Barbiano) and hit her. da Barbiano’s return fire missed. Graham thought he had scored hull damage but as the destroyers were now identified at Navigatori class, their presence slowed the speed of the cruiser and who could tell.


At 1648 hours the range was down to 15,000 yards and the destroyer trailing da Barbiano tried her luck as did Faulknor in response. The Regia Marina missed as did Arethusa, but Faulknor hit the destroyer (later identified as Vivaldi). So far CS Forester’s assessment of Italian versus British gunnery was holding true. That would not last.


Vivaldi quickly obtained the range and hit Faulknor knocking out her fore mount. Arethusa hit da Barbino again. But da Barbiano changed targets and hit Foresight 6 times! Foresight suffered serious hull damage including a bulkhead and a fire in her DC racks that slowed her to 23 knots while Vivaldi and Faulknor exchanged hits.


Arethusa turned to starboard on a heading of 45 degrees while the destroyers continued on 290 degrees. Graham needed to get an undamaged ship off to the West and that was starting to look less likely by the moment.


The Italians could not seem to miss (British Historians are going to have to revise their opinion of Italian gunnery) and they slowly pounded the F class down to 16 knots before the F class turned away under smoke. The Brits hit back also, but the Regia Marina did not need to have an undamaged ship to win, so the Brits were losing at this point with only Arethusa undamaged.


Arethusa fired her port triple torpedo mount at da Barbino while Foresight fired her mounts at the Italian destroyer line. Faulknor had lost all of her torpedoes to damage and Fearless and Foxhound had not been able to get turned fast enough (speed damage to the flotilla) to get a resolution.


The Brits turned away under smoke with Faulknor and Pancaldo being the only ships with a shot. They exchanged hits and the Brits escaped into a squall as Arethusa did into another squall.


Arethusa’s aim was true and she hit da Barbino twice, sinking her. Commander Lambert (Foresight) got his port and starboard mixed up (I’m a lubber and I hate the R/G designation) and fired his torpedoes the wrong way. He managed to miss the British destroyers but he also had no chance against the ones he wanted to hit.


We’re old and we were tired, so we called there. The Regia Marina at great cost beat the British off and the convoy went through. Via Italia.


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#2 healey36


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Posted 28 June 2024 - 06:39 AM

Great AAR...my attention is rotating to the Med.


One of the great mysteries to me is the notion that one can attain over-the-horizon visibility to a target from a surface ship at anything close to 30000 yards (without use of an observation plane, drone, blimp, Zeppelin, etc.). If I calculate it properly, a fire-director position on the foremast at 100 feet (roughly 30 meters), would yield LOS to the horizon of 19.75 kilometers, or approximately 21600 yards. My presumption, then, is that the height of the target must account for the difference.


Italian naval doctrine for capital ships was to engage at long range, i.e. 27000-29000 yards, so clearly the capability was there.


Inquiring minds...help me out.

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