Emden and Bremse have both developed teething problems and require immediate refits.
Five out of six battlecruisers are ready to go, so I’ve slated them for an offensive operation this turn. We’re going to lay a minefield far to the north, in order to disrupt enemy sorties or Nordic convoys. The battlecruisers, with a strong destroyer escort, will then go on north-east to hunt, trusting that the Grand Fleet are still patching their ships up.
Concerning cohesion - I'm not too sure, but it seems that fast night-cruising with lots of sharp turns is a recipe for ships losing contact. Force fatigue may be a cause, although I know for sure that training level is a key factor. At the start of the game I was indifferent to the crew ratings of destroyers, especially compared to those of the capital ships, but now I take it more seriously, as they seem to get lost less, are more adept at torpedoing things, and even sometimes survive being mined (!) when well-drilled.
In this case fuel saving was more important to me - we'd been at sea for a few days and the small 600-tonners were on their last legs.
I play on RA mode, and I can't say I've ever tried the other modes. It's useful to manually order a hard turn to a division to avoid torpedoes, say, which is why I've avoided Admiral mode.
I think you are right about cohesion, but only to a point. The level of dispersion at night is absurd. And it doesn't seem to help that much if the units are highly trained. In good weather, with no battle, even well drilled ships go off on their own. There should be a factor in the files to adjust this, but I can't find it.
Training does matter for torpedoes, and of course, gunnery. The last does matter for DDs, even Germans since you have started in 1916, when they get decent armaments.
I have found out the one thing Captain changes. Once you put a squadron on manual control, it stays there, no matter how far from the flag. (I lost a damaged BB that way. I didn't realize it was going to stay on course indefinitely, as I forgot to put it back to AI. Wandered into a DD flot.) But you cannot do that for all of them. (You can put it back.) Other than that, I see no difference. Given that, I'm inclined to prefer it. I just have to discipline myself to avoid abuse. It has the virtue of giving the AI a VP boost.
Since you are playing the Germans, it's not so big a deal as for the Brits. But beware having the whole HSF transferred to Zeebrugge in one of the post-battle rebasings. When it happens, my recommendation is to write down the number of OPs you have. Then transfer back. Then go into the .cam file, and restore the OP you had to use. You do not want to sail from an overloaded port.
I really haven't noticed that DDs' low endurance is that much of a factor. Certainly not so much as it actually was. I think the extent it is is due to the fact that they are set to max speed a lot, while cruising. Which they didn't actually do. Yes, they sped up to maintain/retain station. But rarely at 32 knots. 25 maybe, when they had to.
Last Edit: Aug 22, 2021 8:43:00 GMT -5 by georgeles
More warships come into view, turning to add their broadsides to the barrage. We make full speed and flee.
Gott und Himmel - run!
I order a flotilla attack to try and buy some time to escape. I am especially concerned for my stragglers – Stralsund took a hit in the opening exchanges and can only make 16 knots, while Brummer is still laden with her mines. She’d have to slow down to dump them, or risk blowing off her own stern by laying them at speed, so the only option is to ring ‘ahead flank’ and pray.
A pair in peril.
The flotilla attack succeeds in forcing the enemy to weave, at the price of some hits. S35 is twice struck by 14-inch shells and is ripped in half, becoming lost in the spray and smoke of battle. The other destroyers lay a smoke screen.
Fortunately night is approaching, so I can avoid being picked off one-by-one over a long chase. As the sun sets I decide to make a risky lunge back with the battlecruisers to drive their scouts away from Stralsund and maybe even get close enough to stage a torpedo attack in the dark.
Turning into the setting sun.
It appears the enemy are wary of exactly that, and they withdraw. I turn back towards port only to find another grim surprise to the south:
I don't want to mess with that either.
It looks like the RN have learnt their lessons from previous battles and are using the BCF in tandem with the Grand Fleet. I am forced to head north-west to flee another thunderous fusillade. Luckily they seem just as surprised as I am, as few hits are scored by either side. Again destroyers cover my retreat, firing torpedoes as the light fades - but for a moment daylight seems to be restored by a monstrous flash reaching high into the sky:
This is pure luck – at this range almost every hit for both sides is penetrating. We finally get away as the enemy struggle to avoid our flotilla attack in the dark. I count my blessings - Even Stralsund made it home! However, the action is not over yet, as U-6 finds a mark with a salvo of torpedoes in the morning near Flanders.
An added bonus.
Meanwhile, the gun crews at Helgoland stare in amazement as a miracle sails by them.
It’s the aft half of S35. Somehow she has been steamed, in reverse, back to port on the one boiler that can be made to work!
I simply cannot believe my luck this turn. From the jaws of a vastly superior force, I’ve snatched two dreadnoughts!
A costly loss for the enemy...
...and a propaganda coup for me.
Busy day at the office, eh?
I’ve gathered a few bits of information about the enemy from this operation:
Queen Elizabeths are operating with the BCF. This makes them even more fearsome, but slows them to 23 knots if this wasn’t a one-off. I can't hope to fight them with my battlecruisers, but at least I have a chance of running away (again)
The Kongos are operational.
Pre-dreadnoughts have been transferred to Harwich, presumably to add some stopping power there and to threaten Zeebrugge and Oostende. There isn’t really a way to respond in kind, as my bases down there are small and near the Western Front.
I should expect the BCF and Grand Fleet to be closely cooperating more often. That combo will be a tough nut to crack!
The war is now two years old, with no clear end in sight. The slaughter at the Somme continues, while our propagandists spin that "our enemies will probably realize in time that they are biting on granite." We'll see.
Bayern, Salamis, Lützow, and Westfalen have all competed repairs. Slowly the dreadnought fleet is returning to strength, but still I. AG must do the dirty work - Command wants a battlecruiser sweep again, despite last week’s lucky escape. The mission is similar but less far-reaching than last time. The plan is to pass by Dogger Bank, lay a minefield and then retreat to the relative safety of our own Texel minefields.
The Big Six are out again.
All the battlecruisers, now repaired, are battle-hardened. I considered attaching the 23-knot Salamis to add some heavier guns, but I want to be sure I can outrun those fearsome Queen Elizabeths if I meet them.
The turn starts with the patrolling A-boats finding a merchant that has strayed too close. Caught so close to Zeebrugge, she is boarded and then sailed towards home as a prize. Fortunately the captured Deptford reaches the safety of the guns before a pair of C-class cruisers can interfere.
Meanwhile, U-70 reports a trio of cruisers heading into the main objective area, as the battlecruisers press on westwards.
The first objective is reached in the night.
On to the next two.
The trio of objectives are completed (although I forgot I needed eight big ships for the last one!). As we turn east in the morning, our scouts, still speeding up to reach their daylight posts, report enemies on the horizon.
It's a pair of Revenges! Quickly our line turns to fire broadsides. We vastly outnumber our opposition in terms of barrels and speed, and I outnumber them six-to-two, but the enemy are better armoured and carry impressive 15-inch guns. As the range closes we have so many more muzzles flashing that it seems the enemy can barely get a word in - fighting at a distance against those big guns in this situation is folly.
Superior volume of fire.
Keeping the fire rate up, our line arcs around the north side.
At this time a rain squall moves in and for a while we lose sight of the enemy. It lifts as we press west in pursuit - towards the minefield we have just laid!
The Revenges keep tacking to bring guns to bear while staying ahead of our quicker line. Unbeknownst to them, this brings them ever closer to the minefield.
Achtung - minen!
A great splash erupts on the far side of the leading ship – she’s struck a mine! Before we can pass around the field to carry on shooting them up, the rain picks up again. This time we lose them for good, so I break off, wary of enemy reinforcements.
Upon return, spies inform us that the mined ship made it to Grimsby, but looks to be in an awful state and will be in repair for months:
At first this engagement looked like an open-and-shut case. I was confident of success given the numbers balance, as well as my speed advantage and good crew quality. Seydlitz garnered an outstanding 3.5% hit rate, well above the still impressive divisional average of around 2.5%, resulting in over 20 hits on each target. The problem is that all these hits couldn’t finish the job – no turrets appeared to be knocked out either, thanks to the 13-inch armour the enemy sported (as well as some rain). The conclusion to draw here is that 11- and 12-inch rifles are just too weak to deal with the newest capital ships.
The ancient cruiser Frauenlob has been withdrawn for training duties, while we have a major new reinforcement:
The third of the flush-decked Derfflinger class, she brings I. AG up to seven ships. Along with this news is a vague report that the enemy are likely to be planning an operation. Ah, but what can I do about it? The fleet is still quite under-strength from Sunderland.
Not pictured: Kronprinz, still under repair at Emden.
I decide not to pre-empt the operation. Instead, I’ll lay an offensive minefield off Harwich, with the hope that those vulnerable pre-dreadnoughts the Brits deployed there will bump into it. I am concerned that the minelayer could be boxed in down there if the RN catch wind of it, so again the battlecruisers will be out, providing distant cover off Texel. Some HSF destroyers will go with Brummer, while a bunch of ships are reserved for training.
The plan. Battlecruisers will patrol in the circled area while the minelayer (black) carries on.
Looks like our intelligence was correct – the enemy is at sea, and in force. Reports come in, far to the north, but my ships will be operating in the south, so I hope to keep out of their way and undetected.
They're out there, somewhere.
Off Texel the minelaying force, consisting of the cruiser and some destroyers, departs for the next leg of the journey.
As night falls we lay our mines unmolested and turn back. I'm wary that the Texel - Lowestoft gap can easily be choked by the Brits at sea, so being undetected is a great boon to the op.
There was no enemy contact on the way back, thankfully. The forces reunite and head back along the coast for home.
That night, one of our subs reports enemies in the vicinity of the minefield – and later I find it has quickly paid dividends.
Romania has joined the war against us, while intense fighting continues at Verdun. The repair list now looks much more modest, with ships formerly right at the bottom finally receiving some work - repairs have started in earnest for the battered Kroprinz at Emden, while the forward half of S35 is still being rebuilt.
We have a repair capacity of 8.
The fourth and final of the Bayern-class has arrived in the form of Württemberg, bringing the 7th division back up to four ships (three or fewer ships in a battle division feels a bit paltry to me). Her crew will need to work up.
Another addition is the first of the new A-boats assembled at Antwerp:
A bit more capable.
Only one has been delivered, so the type will not take part in this week’s plan: a massed destroyer raid on the Channel. It’s hoped we can overwhelm anything we find with sheer numbers and the cover of darkness, whether the victim be a merchant, enemy destroyers, or something heavier. Damaged destroyers can always make use of the nearby ports in Flanders if they cannot make it home.
In addition, our minelayers will re-lay mines off Oyster Ground to maintain a forward defence near our bases. This will be covered by the pre-dreadnoughts, with the overworked battlecruisers on standby in port. I am happy to use the pre-dreads alone if they stay this close to port, as they are less valuable than our dreadnoughts, but still tough enough to hold their own to cover a retreat (or so I hope).
The plan. To have the pre-dreads with the minelayers and to have all the destroyers together required some temporary organisational oddities.
The unusual force leaves on a calm, cloudy morning.
Lots of destroyers.
Almost immediately G86 strikes a mine (or was it a torpedo?) and rolls over. An auspicious start.
Later in the day we reach the mine-line and detach Bremse and Brummer to lay. To the south, the transiting destroyers find something.
It looks like the Brits want to lay some mines here too! They have many more cruisers than us, so I turn to run north, hoping to lead them onto a combination of my minefield and the pre-dreadnoughts, which are now hurriedly making their way onto the scene. In the move, the cruiser Rostock scores a few hits, but nothing of consequence.
Soon they are between my two groups. The benefit of having so many destroyers on hand, and of being ahead of the enemy, is that they take many torpedo pot-shots. One connects with a Weymouth-class. By now the pre-dreads have opened up.
The enemy turn south to flee as night begins to approach. They can outrun my slow pre-dreads, and the destroyer group is held up passing around the north side of the minefield.
I peel off the pre-dreads once it is dark, while Rostock leads the destroyers at full tilt to a point ahead of the enemy’s expected line of retreat. Upon making contact again, we charge in.
Rostock takes a number of hits and detaches to head home, leaving a confused scuffle of searchlights and shell-splashes in her wake. The mission down to Harwich is called off, and after exchanging more torpedoes we all withdraw.
In the morning we count our losses: one destroyer mined in exchange for a British light cruiser and destroyer, both torpedoed. Evidently the night action was fruitless. My unwillingness to commit Rostock - she's just too valuable -meant the destroyers wouldn’t go in either. In future I will leave the Torpedo-Boote Fürher behind on destroyer raids.
With many destroyers in repair, and a few more dreadnoughts just about to be ready next turn, I want to keep things quiet again in preparation for a full sortie in a fortnight.
Not as many as I thought - although some more will be in repairs for sure.
This turn we’re going to keep mining the forward line off the Frisians. Using both minelaying cruisers is more risky, as I could lose both at once in the worst-case scenario, but I will get to lay 800 mines. Meanwhile, other units will go for more training.
A simple plan.
During the mission there are many reports of a large enemy sweep. After laying the mines we run at speed back to base to keep out of its way, and safely make it back by sunrise. Promptly, another cruiser falls victim to our efforts!
This is perfect timing. My entire battlecruiser force is ready, as are most HSF units. I am thankful for the detailed information, because now I can pre-empt the minelaying operation, and, with any luck, annihilate it. Intelligence also reports a new railway battery has been moved to cover Great Yarmouth. We are to destroy that as well.
To accomplish these tasks, the entire fleet will sortie and hang around to await the enemy minelayers, with the odd ship in repair or training as always. If all goes well, the battery is the secondary target after that meeting is concluded.
The plan. The mines and subs off the Frisians give me a decent shield against the Harwich Force if they go that way.
The two forces deploy, expectant of action today in remarkably clement September weather.
The full might of the Imperial Navy.
Soon Stuttgart spots a periscope – have we been rumbled early on?
E-dienst reports light cruisers heading up the broad fourteens, which we turn to intercept. At dusk a Zeppelin backs up the claim, adding two heavy cruisers in its report. U-5 adds battleships to the suspected force. If the composition of the enemy is uncertain, the location is not - a trio of reports from different sources is excellent, letting me track their movement towards us.
That night contact is made, as a lone ship comes across our line. A few shells are lobbed at the unknown target, causing it to disintegrate in a myriad of secondary explosions. We've caught our minelayer in the act.
With no escorts for the minelayer spotted in the night, the battlecruisers head off to shell the secondary target.
It is smashed to smithereens. As the sun rises we make our escape at flank speed, only to run into a force investigating the loss of the minelayer.
Someone's picking up survivors.
It's a division of elderly pre-dreadnoughts, maybe attached to the minelayer but fortunate enough to avoid the HSF last night. Their luck has run out.
The battle is brief but intense. The enemy desperately launch a flotilla attack, but it is too late for the doomed old ships. They put up a spirited fight, scoring some hits even, before sinking one by one. They never stood a chance against faster and better-armed battlecruisers.
This is the last action. My fears of a heavy response from the north do not come to fruition, as we head home happy. The Harwich force will not bother us as much from now on.
The fallen. The secondary 9-inchers scored a surprising number of hits.
For the third week in a row, we've detected an enemy operation - give the spies a raise! This time there are no specifics given. Since the operation we pre-empted a fortnight ago was quite small, with a larger sortie the fortnight before, I’m led to expect a medium-to-large enemy sortie this week if this sort of rhythm persists. Therefore, I’m sending out everything I can again (with only 20 OP to spare!).
A reinforcement this turn, the largest for a while, is light cruiser Nurnberg. This gives enough modern light cruisers to VII. AG for the elderly rust-tubs in IV. AG to be supplanted. The latter are slated to be withdrawn early next year, leaving the HSF with quicker scouts. As always more destroyers are coming in, while sub numbers ebb and flow.
The old and the new.
The plan is nothing fancy – sortie early, then react to reports as they come in. Let’s go get the Britishers!