Thursday, 27 June 2019

Battle of the Denmark Strait Re-Fight using GQII

The RN Battle-cruiser Force (HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales [RHS-top below]) has intercepted the German Raiding Squadron[bottom left] in the Denmark Straits thanks to the good work of Admiral Wade Walker's cruiser squadron (see below, historical starting conditions as per David Manly's blog post, with the only exception that we could not position HMS Suffolk on table - she is deemed off table to the rear, [HMS Norfolk top-middle]):

A close up of the German Raiding Squadron (see below, the KM Prince Eugen leads the KM Bismarck):

Seeing an advantageous tactical position the German Squadron turns to try and cross the "T" of the RN Battle-cruiser Force (see below, the Prince Eugen leading is in a very exposed position, but she may inadvertently take some of the heat off the Bismarck - shortening the range at this point may be seen as a controversial choice but it intends to make life awkward for the RN and hurt the Hood):

First moves over, broadside firing commences (see below, the German Commander [me] is choosing a very aggressive [too?] tactic of closing the range and is prepared to have a "knife fight in a phone box" - this could be a very quick and bloody affair):

To the shock and horror of the German Commander [me] the RN gunnery is good, the Bismarck takes hull and armament damage and the KM Prince Eugen is straddled by HMS Hood - but no damage, the RN player was going historical in this regards):

The British keep throwing good dice, they must drill very hard (see below), another hit ["0"] and another "roll on the critical hit table, please" (see below, everybody was expecting a magazine explosion at some point in the battle):

The Germans (aka the Bismarck) is giving the Mighty Hood hell, as she looses two flotation boxes and is reduced to 6 cm speed (see below, Vice Admiral Holland (aka Renko) is absorbing the punishment to close the range and then turn his two full broadsides on the Bismarck - [post script] I did forget this was also a critical on the Hood, but nought save an extra flotation box damage came of it [no catastrophic explosion]):

Bismark plays "follow the leader" part way through her actual move (see below). We were playing the GQ Squadron Rules so this could lead to tactical awkwardness - personally I think that the Bismarck would just do her own thing [in the real battle Lutgens ordered the KM Prince Eugen away from the battle rather than waiting on attracting battle damage]. As it happened at the end of teh move Bismarck maintained a full broadside on her target, the mighty HMS Hood (see below, firing is taken at end of movement despite salvos taking place throughout the move - it is just one of those "rule mechanism things"):

HMS Hood is still suffering from accurate early German firing (see below, both British sides are only firing half their broadsides as their rear arcs are covered):

Again the RN hit the KM Bismarck with telling blows (see below, a turret is "abstractly" put out of action, 25% of the big hitting power is gone - it has to be said that HMS Hood is looking a battered ship too):

Another hit (by HMS Prince of Wales) on the Bismarck and this time a "critical hit" that causes a serious fire (see below, the red counter demoting a fire burning out of control and extra half hull box damage):

The Hood then smashes a broadside into the KM Prince Eugen, destroying two full hull boxes and reducing her immediately to 6 cm of speed (see below, both German ships commerce raiding days are over as a lengthy spell in dry dock would be a minimum):

HMS Hood soaks up more damage but I see no "catastrophic exposition" just a steady advance to a point where she can make a turn to expose her full broadside and that of the Prince of Wales (see below, Admiral Holland must have nerves of steel):

At least good German "Damage Control" puts the fire started by the critical hit out (see below, the Germans at this point have received far more critical hits than the British RN ships - fate, fickle fate):

The KM Prince Eugen has to [? - maybe it was as well that I continued for a chance or threat of a torpedo attack] turn away because of the battle damage she has taken (see below, luckily she does not obstruct the Bismarck's shooting for the next round):

Likewise HMS Hood buckles away releasing the PoW, her speed reduces to 6 cm and she has a "turret" missing (see below, as the Prince of Wales is much further back she can still fire "over the Hood"):

Again the British ships fire with telling effect, the Bismarck (at the bottom of the picture) is clearly losing this exchange (see below, the Bismarck really wants to dispatch the Hood with a quick killing blow - this Admiral Holland has done better than his historical counterpart and now can effect a 3/4 killing broadside):

Bismarck covered the withdrawing Prince Eugen and takes yet another critical hit [black marker] in the process (see below, the Prnce Eugen herself is now being engaged by the British cruiser HMS Norfolk - which thankfully misses):

HMS Norfolk in return is straddled by some very good shooting by the Prince Eugen (see below, this is quite off putting to Vice Admiral Wade Walker, but no real damage is done):

The British have now reached their desired position where both battleship (PoW )and battle-cruiser (Hood) broadsides can be targeted at short range on the Bismarck, this will be the "short and brutal affair but on the wrong side of the statistical line from the German perspective (see below, although very tough the Bismarck cannot this amount of punishment for long):

Especially when the British gunnery is as crack-shot as this (see below, another German battleship  turret disappears and yet another critical hit alongside more flooding): 

Bismarck is a mess. Her bridge is gone, her fire control is gone and she is limping along at 3 cm (see below, credit to her manufacture that she is still afloat at this point):

Both German ships are now engaged in separate duels to the death. The crew of the Prince Eugen are dismayed to see another RM County Class cruiser (HM Suffolk) enter the fray (see below, the German Atlantic Raiding Squadron is racing to a Wagnerian fiery ending (see below, the fighting prowess of both ships are now reduced to a shadow of their former selves):

With only one gun firing defiantly the German battleship with fight on to the last (see below, not even the arrival of a fleet of U-Boats and tug boats would save her now):

The KM Bismarck is now more wreck than fighting warship as all forward propulsion fails (see below, I don't think she will be around long enough for a damage control repair party roll for "impulse power" recovery):

The end is in sight for the German battleship and the KM Prince Eugen has left it too late to make a tactical exit (see below, the Royal Navy gunnery has been excellent):

Gone but not forgotten (see below, the combined weight of broadsides from the "Mighty Hood" and a 100% functional HMS Prince of Wales puts paid to any ambitions of German "Cruiser Warfare" in the North Atlantic):

KM Prince Eugen puts a straddle on HMS Norfolk as it closes the range. This critical hit put takes out the bridge and with it Admiral Wade Walker. This day will not be without loss for the Royal Navy (see below, the two British County class cruisers bar Eugen's exit):

Telling fire including another critical hit puts paid any hope for the escape of the Prince Eugen (see below, this extra damage added to the earlier fore from HMS Hood had doomed her to a watery grave):

The KM Prinz Eugen disappears to the murky depths of Davy Jones Locker, courtesy of a barrage 14" shells from HMS Prince of Wales, 15" shells from HMS Hood and 8" shells from HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk (see below, no independent commerce raiding operation for you - who finally killed her is up for debate as all firing is simultaneous):

The end of the KM Bismarck om close up (see below, 1:1200 scale model diorama succumbing to the might of the Royal Navy bombardment):

The game was tense but ended up with the mathematically expected result. Good game and GQII seems to once again stand the test of time (since 1977) unlike the KM Bismarck in this scenario.

The British Admiralty have also posted a blog post of the re-fight which is well worth a look [savaging the German Admiral somewhat]:

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