Monday 30 May 2016

Jutland 100 - First Game

Yesterday I attended the first Jutland centenary refight at Bristol's naval reserve centre, HMS Flying Fox. This was a charity event organised by David Miller, played out using Hallmark 1/6000 scale models and MGP's "Age of Dreadnoughts" rules (which for obvious reasons I was quite pleased to see :) ). This was also a charity event in support  of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity who I think benefited well from the game entry fees and donations.

The game was played with hidden movement in the initial stages as far as the opposing teams were concerned.  A large screen was rigged between the two teams with vague sighting reports passed as the fleets closed, and a lone "pilot" from Engadine allowed a brief opportunity to walk over to the German side to draw a quick sketch of what they saw. Communication between the main body of players (who took the role of squadron commanders) and their fleet commanders was also limited to signalling which could be by signal (possibility of interception or garbled transmission) or semaphore (definitely garbled!). Despite this the fleet commanders built up fairly accurate pictures of the relative positions of the  enemy's fleet (and their own) . So it was interesting that when the screen came down there was an audible shock from the German squadron commanders as they realised their battlecruisers were sailing into the apex of a "V" formed by Beatty's battlecruisers and 5th BS on one flank and the leading squadrons of the Grand Fleet on the other. Battle was joined and it was not long before Von Der Tann and Barham as the leading ships of their respective squadrons began to take some heavy hits
The calm before the storm - British to the left, Germans to the right

The Grand Fleet divides, seeking to catch the German BCs in a pincer movement. To the left, German light forces look at the odds and decide that discretion is the batter part of valour, departing under a smoke screen

The five German battlecruisers (bottom middle) realise they have bitten off more than they can chew

Alas other commitments meant I couldn't stay long after lunch, but in a post action communique from David yesterday evening it was reported that the German battlecruisers were savaged, all five ships being sunk, with the British losing Barham, Seeing their fast arm destroyed the High Seas Fleet sought to disengage and the battle was declared a British victory.

Semaphore in action - players were also encouraged to wear anti flash gear!

Communications distances weren't great, but were still tricky!

This was an exciting and quite enjoyable event for all concerned from what I could see, and made better since many of the players were not wargamers. and even better considering this was the first mega game that David had organised. A most impressive feat.

David was also presented with a most wonderful cake on an HMS Erin theme  - something that should be a feature of every naval wargame :)

Te very proud recipient of a very lovely cake

So, with my first foray into Jutland on the wargames table complete thoughts are turning now to the NWS game as the National Museum of the Royal Navy tomorrow......

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Denmark Strait, 75 Years On

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of Denmark Strait, the battle in which a lucky hit from Bismarck caused a magazine explosion and the total loss of HMS Hood and all but 3 of her 1415 crew. I decided, I suspect like many other naval wargamers around the world, to mark the occasion with a refight of the battle.

Let battle commence

I used my venerable 1/3000 ship models (themselves veterans of over 30 years of gaming) and my old favourite rules, General Quarters 2. As I was playing in the wargames cabin on my 6x4 table I used centimetres for inches when measuring for gunnery and movement. So the action looks a bit compressed in the photos. We started the action at 0554. Bismarck got the range immediately and hit Hood with a 15" salvo. But unlike the real battle the hit caused only minor damage. Both British ships missed.

Early hits on Hood

At 0600 Prince of Wales hit Bismarck, again only limited damage was caused, but six minutes later Hood landed a solid hit on the German battleship, knocking out one of her 15" turrets. Worse was to come. The two squadrons traded blows with little effect, Prinz Eugen's guns ineffective against Hood's armour other than to trouble the secondary gun crews, and Bismarck's accurate gunnery deserting her for a while. Then at 0618 Prince of Wales caught Bismarck with a heavy salvo that knocked out a second turret, caused flooding forward and a second flood aft (1"A" hit, 1"H" hit and a DC critical.

The Germans close, Hood about to shift fire to Prinz Eugen

Things were looking bad for Lutjens, but his next few salvoes caught Hood and destroyed one of her 15" gun turrets. A this point it was apparent that the Germans were seeking to close the range to the British battleships with a view to conducting a torpedo attack. Hood shifted fire to Prinz Eugen. The effect was devastating, as salvo after salvo hit the German cruiser. She was stopped in the water after 12 minutes, sunk after 18. She disappeared beneath the waves at 0648.

Meanwhile, Prince of Wales concentrated on Bismarck as she passed behind the burning wreck of her smaller consort. The German battleship suffered minor hull damage as did Prince of Wales.

As the Prinz Eugen sank Bismarck shifted fire back to Hood which lost another 15" turret and suffered significant flooding that slowed her to half he maximum speed. But in the meantime Prince of Wales was closing fast on the now slowed German battleship, pumping in salvo after salvo. At 0700 Bismarck's last gun turret fell silent, she was stopped in the water by 0712 and began her final plunge to the bottom at 0718.

Bismarck stopped and sinking, in the background Hood turns back to pick up survivors

Prince of Wales checked fire and, along with Hood, moved in to pick up survivors.

Saturday 21 May 2016

Naval Wargames Weekend - Final Programme

I've now been able to finalise the programme for the Naval Wargames Weekend.

The games will be:
  • I will be running Dave Schueler's Thunderboats powerboat racing game and the Battle of the River Plate (using 1/600 ground scale and models and the NWS Introductory rules) on the lawn in front of the museum
  • Pre dreadnought Mediterranean Naval Campaign, Peter Colbeck
  • Dave Sharp's 16th Century "joint Stock Company" game
  • David Fleck will be running an Anglo Dutch fleet action using a  variant of "Blood, Bilge and Iron Balls"**
  • Russian Civil War gunboat actions by Simon Stokes
  • Gary Mitchell's "Fighting Ships" variant of Osprey's "Fighting Sail" rules in a WW1 setting**
  • Solent Wargamers are running a 1/1200 / 2mm participation game covering the 1642 siege of Portsmouth**
  • Solent Wargamers will also be running a 1/1200 ACW riverine game$$
  • Mark Barker and The Inshore Squadron will be running a 1/1200 Napoleonic naval battle (the exact battle to be confirmed)
  • Rory McCreadle will be running a Napoleonic fleet action game in 1/1200
** Saturday only
$$ Sunday only

In addition, Dave Willcocks and Stuart Barnes Watson will be putting on a display of fine 1/1200 models in the museum board room.

The event runs from 1000 to 1700 on Saturday, 1000 to 1600 Sunday.

As always the event is intended to be an opportunity for naval wargamers to get together, try out each other's games and to swap ideas, stories etc. And also for anyone who wants to find out what naval wargaming is all about to come and take a look.

Friday 20 May 2016

Our New Arrival

I woke up this morning to see this little chap in the field with Skye. It would appear that when we bought her last November she was pregnant. He's a little sweetie :)

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Almost Ready for River Plate

The next Naval Wargames Weekend is only a few weeks away and I'm a bit behind in my preparations what with one thing and another distracting me just now. But I have managed to finish the models for my 1/600 River Plate game which we'll be running on the front lawn (assuming its not raining!)

Exeter was a convrsion from a few years back when I first planned to run this game. The others are all made from restored old models that I've salvaged over the years, so they are lacking somewhat in bits and bobs and up close they look rather rough. But from a short distance they look the part and I'm hoping they'll put on a good display at the event. I may spruce them up with some battle ensigns in the next few days.

Now, on to make all the markers and other bits and pieces needed for the game!

Thursday 5 May 2016

Naval Wargames Weekend 2016

I'm pitting the finishing touches to the plan for the 2016 Naval Wargames Weekend. Pending final confirmation we have thirteen games and displays ranging from the 16th century through the age of sail, the English and American Civil Wars, Pre-dreadnought, WW2 and modern powerboat racing. I'll post more details once the final two games have been confirmed, but if you are a naval wargamer in the UK who can get to Goport on the weekend of July 2nd and 3rd we'd love to see you there :)