Thursday, 9 September 2010

Narvik [9]: Death Ride of the German Destroyers

With each successive salvo from HMS Penelope Z3 suffered grievously. Soon Z3 was little more than a wreck. Her speed reduced to 3 inches and upper armament swept away, holding on to a set of torpedo tubes as her only offensive weapon. In an act of calculated desperation Z4 and Z5 charged head on to HMS Penelope out of the protective smoke-screen..

HMS Penelope was still  in complete control of the engagement choosing to shorten the range only for her own benefit with ruthless efficiency. The German guns were still reliant on getting "lucky hits" because even the light armour (LC) of the cruiser was sufficient to protect her at the 30" bands from the German 5" guns. Girding their loins for more losses the German destroyer pair pressed the attack.

Z3 dropped astern retiring back to Narvik. Soon Z4 staggered and sagged under the weight of 'Main' and 'Secondary' armament from HMS Penelope despite violent evasive actions. The cruiser was an altogether better gun platform and her shooting in turn was good. Z4 was reduced to half (6 inch) speed and half her armament boxes were set ablaze. She hung in for the hope of a long range torpedo shot. Z5 knew her turn was next, but at least now the range, although it meant murderous incoming, allowed at last for potentially effective German return fire. 

To be continued ...

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