31/10/2014 at 11:00 #11653Steve BurtParticipant
Since it is the 100th anniversary of the battle on 1st November, we refought this last night.
The original was terribly one-sided, not least because of the excellent tactics employed by von Spee; using his speed to keep distance until it started to get dark and the British ships were silhouetted against the sky while his own vanished in the murk. So we didn’t refight it as it was, but as it might have been if Craddock had been a bit more cautious. We assumed he’s shadowed von Spee until both fleets have gone far enough south for the Canopus to get in on the action.
We used General Quarters 3: Fleet Action Imminent
Engagement started with the two lines on slightly converging courses 12,300 yards apart. Ships in line apart fromn Nurnberg which was 6000 yard to the stern. On turn 6 (after about 30 minutes of action), the Canopus appears on the south-west edge of the table; the Germans didn’t know she was going to appear. She is limited to 12 knots because of boiler trouble (the reason she didn’t make it to the battle). There’s a force 5 wind blowing, so casemated guns are not usable as per the GQ3 weather rules. That meant most secondary armament on both sides was not in use (apart from the modern Glasgow). The only ships with directors are the two German armoured cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisnau, which gives them a big advantage in range and accuracy.
It was a most entertaining game. The British closed as fast as they could to give them a chance of damaging the German ships; only the two 9.2″ guns on the Good Hope can penetrate the two German heavy cruisers at ranges over about 6000 yards. During this process, the British hit very little but the Monmouth took a bulkhead hit and resulting flooding slowed her to 15 knots. She dropped out of line, as did the Otranto which couldn’t keep full speed for too long as her stokers became exhausted (a nice simple rule in GQ3:FAI which stops coal-fired ships steaming at flank speed all day). Finally the lines got close enough for the British to start hitting the Germans – Scharnhorst took hull damage, slowing her down. At this point the Canpous appeared and the Germans turned away at once; although the Canopus has 12″ guns she has no director tower, so their ability to hit at range is not that good.
Dresden got her rudder jammed hard left, Glasgow closed in to try and finish her off but got pounded herself. Monmouth was now down to 3 knots and limping out of line, and Good Hope had all her armament out of action and was down to 10 knots. Finally, Canopus got into action, and two hits from her were enough to finish the Scharnhort, but she now came close to the German light cruisers, which fired torpedoes, and to the surprise of both of us, one hit and caused catastrohpic flooding in the old pre-dreadnought.
That was pretty much it. Glasgow, Canopus and Monmouth sunk. Good Hope disarmed and limping along – would have been captured. Only the Otranto escaped.
On the German side, Nurnberg was badly damaged but still seaworthy, as was Dresden. Gneisnaiu was largely undamaged. So the intervention of the Canopus meant the germans lost one of their capital ships, but otherwise I’m afraid it was another bad day for the Royal Navy.
We’ll have a go at the Falkands in a few weeks, again as a what-if wince the original was one sided in the other direction. I have a personal interest in that battle as my grandfather was chief gunnery officer on the Carnarvon, and I have his naval sword and his account of the battle.21/11/2014 at 15:51 #12995Rules Junkie JimParticipant
Bummer about the Canopus. That old tub’s one of my favourite ships. Very interesting “what if” though!
Haven’t seen it, but apparently worth a look:
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