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Voting closed: April 25, 2019, 04:30:47 pm

Author Topic: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]  (Read 50952 times)

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Offline The E

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
[Remains of a Memo, issued as an operational procedure update for his Majesty's Navy, dated January 1916, recovered by intelligence agents]

Recent developments in naval technology among our adversaries have prompted us to reevaluate our current operating procedures regarding capital ship gunnery. From what we can gather, the germans have concentrated on developing their naval gunfire doctrine around large number of highly advanced but comparatively low-calibre guns; it is believed that these guns' shortcomings compared to our own capital naval rifles are adequately compensated by the combination of high volume of fire, the inherent accuracy provided by german fire control technology and the inherent stability provided by the size of the german gun platforms.

As a result, if we are to prevail in the inevitable battle, we must do our utmost to get maximum performance from our existing guns. It is thus ordered:
1. That crew training in ammo handling and gunnery be given the highest priority. Fleet, Task Force and Ship commanders are authorized to conduct live-fire exercises as deemed necessary
2. That unobstructed ammunition passage through the ship be given highest priority during combat. To that end, ammunition hoists are to be kept open at all times. This supercedes the relevant instructions from previously issued training manuals.
3. That training to these new standards be started on all ships no later than February 1st, 1917.

[Rest of memo unrecoverable]
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Offline Col. Fishguts

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Lol at all the detonations ;)

What's with the difference between the available forces in the dialogue box before the battle to the number of ship actually present in the scenario?
Does the game RNG a fleet out of the available ships?
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Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Lol at all the detonations ;)

What's with the difference between the available forces in the dialogue box before the battle to the number of ship actually present in the scenario?
Does the game RNG a fleet out of the available ships?

Kinda sorta.

The available ships are those currently present and active in the map sector (in contrast to those which are present but not active, like mothballed or reserve ships).

The ships which participate in the battle are selected based on age (it is presumed that a nation will commit their newest and more capable ships before their older deathtraps), speed and mission type.
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Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
2. That unobstructed ammunition passage through the ship be given highest priority during combat. To that end, ammunition hoists are to be kept open at all times. This supercedes the relevant instructions from previously issued training manuals.

You know, I wonder: I know that this is a thing that regularly happened in the OTL Royal Navy, but was it ever officially sanctioned like you are suggesting here, for the ATL?
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Offline StarSlayer

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Quote


"Arising from the tendency of Hochseeflotte Capital Ships returning from their victories with a goodly chunk of the battle-area held in their hulls, sailors of Schlachtkreuzer Sqaudrons started the somewhat perverse tradition of bottling it as mementos.  Even today when visiting the famous sailors' haunts in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel among the plethora of naval memorabilia one can see bier bottles lined behind the bars filled with seawater taken from the likes of Goeben, Von Der Tan, Derfflinger and many others.  Despite its origin as a bit of gallows humor, when confronted with the volume of bottles in these displays one can only stand in awe at the durability and tradition of victory they represent."

Excerpt from "Zitadellen der Stahl: An analysis of the German Battlecruiser Force" Thomas K. Rhodes November 2, 2004
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Offline niffiwan

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
I'm don't entirely understand the reason for giving the Brits the turret flashfire weakness trait, the HSF followed the same shoddy ammunition handling procedures until Dogger Bank/Seydlitz. I recall reading somewhere that the practise started because the new explosives used in shells were much safer than those previously used. It took hard lessons on both sides (Dogger Bank/Jutland ~16 months apart) to go back to appropriate ammo handling procedures.

Having said that, I presume the games author knew this as well - can anyone enlighten me to any reasons I'm missing?

Also, for Sir Enioch - have you actually lost any battles in your playthroughs? (ignoring Japanese surprise attacks). It's getting a bit... predictable :(
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Offline StarSlayer

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
I read in Osprey's British Dreadnought vs German Dreadnought that while some unsafe handling procedures by the RN contributed to the disasters the differences in powder played the major role.  HSF utilized a slow burning powder while the British used a much faster one that created intense over-pressures, that combined with sub-par flash doors led to the three battlecruisers and two armored cruisers blowing up.  By contrast st Dogger Bank the Seydiltz took a 13.5" shell in the aft turret barbette that  ignited 62 charges but she didn't blow up due to the powder.
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Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
I read in Osprey's British Dreadnought vs German Dreadnought that while some unsafe handling procedures by the RN contributed to the disasters the differences in powder played the major role.  HSF utilized a slow burning powder while the British used a much faster one that created intense over-pressures, that combined with sub-par flash doors led to the three battlecruisers and two armored cruisers blowing up.  By contrast st Dogger Bank the Seydiltz took a 13.5" shell in the aft turret barbette that  ignited 62 charges but she didn't blow up due to the powder.

This.
Also, Germans utilised hard metal casings for their cordite, while the Brits stored it in bags. Combine that with the fact that British cordite was of inferior quality and tended to break down and soak into the bag fabric, and you had a considerably more dangerous environment and a high likelihood for bags going up together.

Also, for Sir Enioch - have you actually lost any battles in your playthroughs? (ignoring Japanese surprise attacks). It's getting a bit... predictable :(

Spoiler:
Yes. :p

But, in all honesty, if you're looking for something more than an overall curbstomp of the AI, eeeeeeh.  :doubt: Sorry to say, but the AI insisted on following the worst possible tactics for dealing with the German fleet and ships, throughout the game.

Snip

<3 <3 <3

This is now canon for the timeline.
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Offline The E

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
2. That unobstructed ammunition passage through the ship be given highest priority during combat. To that end, ammunition hoists are to be kept open at all times. This supercedes the relevant instructions from previously issued training manuals.

You know, I wonder: I know that this is a thing that regularly happened in the OTL Royal Navy, but was it ever officially sanctioned like you are suggesting here, for the ATL?

I honestly don't know. But it seems to me that, at the very least, this practice must have been tacitly approved by the senior noncoms and commissioned officers in charge of the gun mounts. Whether or not this was ordered directly or indirectly (as in, the Captain telling the gun crews that they must reach this fire rate target, whatever it takes) doesn't really matter -- I don't think that this is something that the on-mount personnel would decide for themselves, not this consistently across the fleet.
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Offline The E

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
DOUBLE POST: I've taken the liberty of updating the index.
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis

 

Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
 :hopping:


Seriously, thanks. Now I need to fix the threadmarks  :nervous:

EDIT: hey, mods / admins, I found a forum bug. Emoticons don't work after a yt bracket.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
ALSO DOUBLE POST.

Threadmarks and navigation are now fixed and updated.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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Offline Spoon

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Spies report the brits are testing a new torpedo, suggest immediate upgrading of our underwater protection:
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Offline Enioch

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
*Snip*

Foolish Brits.  :lol:

Everybody knows that the Pickelhaube gives German human torpedoes improved penetration.
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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
"Those darn Jerry sewer pipes aren't quite sporting, I say!"
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Offline Enioch

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Bergen or: 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Blowing up'




"The message sent at 12:06 to the Chief of Support that we were engaged with two enemy battle-cruisers on a southeasterly course showed that we had succeeded in meeting the enemy, and that, as we fought we were drawing him closer to our Support Fleet. The duty of the Support Fleet was now to hasten as quickly as possible to support the Main Fleet, and to endeavour to hinder the premature retreat of the enemy."

"The subsequent damage suffered by the flagship might well have been fatal, if not for the daring of the Chief of Support and the bravery shown by the Support Fleet."


-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, GERMANY'S HIGH SEAS FLEET IN THE WAR, 1920 London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne: Cassell and Company, Ltd, p. 146



In the aftermath of Lerwick, the German fleet is victorious, but mauled. Graf Spee, Hindenburg and Derfflinger suffered the most and will need at least three months in the yards to be repaired. Zähringen has also taken severe damage, but this is mostly limited to underwater compartments and cannot be compared to the Graf Spee's total loss of her 'C' turret. The docks give a more optimistic estimate for her: work on her torp belt and her watertight compartments should be complete in fifty to sixty days.

Meanwhile, and despite the severe losses inflicted upon the British navy, the naval blockade stays in effect. While the Hochseeflotte at their best can challenge the blockading ships, the German harbours are now firmly closed to merchant traffic.

Not to mention the delayed launch of the name ship HMS Sutlej herself. Crap. That's all the Admiralität needed - another British 15-inch battlecruiser on patrol.



The end of the month marks the commissioning of the Prinz Heinrich. She does not, yet, dare to brave the Northern Atlantic waters; her traning cruises take place in the safer waters of the Baltic. She performs to the complete satisfaction of her designers.



New torpedoes are introduced; faster, longer-ranged and packing a larger warhead, just in time for the November submarine offensive.



Which, à propos, is back to its usually devastating levels.



And to its usual result with respect to the supply situation in the British Isles. Fortress Albion is starving.





The same cannot be said for the British colonies. Arcona, sailing on long-distance raids from Tsingtao, spots a large convoy making way towards Hong Kong. She attempts to engage...



But then her lookouts spot the Diadem-class armored cruiser that is escorting the convoy. The Arcona's 6-inch guns cannot reliably hurt the British ship; on the other hand, the four 10-inch rifles that the Brit can bring to bear can very quickly sink the German cruiser...



...as the Brit immediately demonstrates with a long-range shot that strikes the Arcona's superstructure.



Discretion is the better part of valor, the Germans decide.





December comes; and on the 1st of the month, reports are submitted to the Admiralität. First, R & D arrives, with a design for a gun mount that should be able to permit elevating main battery guns up to thirty degrees. The benefit for the Zähringens is, once again, obvious; unfortunately, prolonging their drydock stay for the four-to-eight-month period that the massive overhaul of their artillery would require is out of the question.





Submarines are continuing to be utter rockstars; the British submariners, on the other hand, only bag a single ship near Tsingtao, as all merchant sea traffic to Germany has been stopped by the blockade. Of course, the blockade still hurts, badly.



Which is why, on the 2nd of December, just before noon, we find ourselves in the North Sea, near Bergen. All active German Schlachtkreuzer are on the prowl, looking to find, isolate and destroy any part of the blockading force.







The fleet is divided into two task forces. One group comprises of the Mackensen, which had missed the Battle of Lerwick due to her faulty condensers but is now fully operational. On her, Scheer has his flag. The second ship in the column is Zähringen herself, her repairs finished and back to action. The third slot would, usually, have been filled by Graf Spee, but her repairs are still ongoing. Lützow is called upon to complete the trio.

Hipper is following, this time around, in command of the support force. His flag is on the old Moltke, which is followed by the Seydlitz and the Goeben. Closing the formation are the three old Victoria Louises, ready to provide anti-cruiser 11-inch fire. Frauenlob and Bremen have, once again, sortied as scout elements (hilariously, they are so old, by now, that they are slower than the Schlachtkreuzer they are supposed to be scouting for).



This is the furthest the Germans have dared extend so far in this war; and it has taken a toll on the older Schlachtkreuzer. They have been on patrol duty for weeks before the sortie; and they have not had the chance to refill their coal bunkers. On the one hand, this limits their operational range, and Scheer is very much aware of the fact. On the other hand, they are lighter and slightly faster, which could tip the scale in an engagement. Then again, the coal bunkers themselves are designed to provide a measure of protection to the ship; being empty, that is no longer the case.



Scheer is considering calling the sortie off and retreating back to Home Waters, when the Moltke signals ENEMY LIGHT CRUISER BEARING 185. Hipper, being his usual daredevil self, does not wait for Scheer to confirm or authorise a pursuit action; he turns his ships to the south and orders flank speed. Scheer vaccilates, for a few seconds; and then follows.



Moltke does not take long to identify the lead cruiser as an Andromache. A smaller, Champion-class scout is following her (and now making billy big steps towards the south). Moltke opens fire at long range with her 11-inchers at 10:18.

Some hits are scored. The Germans fire slowly, to preserve their ammunition for a potential fleet action. An hour later, however...



...with Scheer's force joining in the action, the Zähringen scores two hits close to the waterline. And the little scout cruiser vanishes into a cloud of fire and splinters, that fall from the sky like macabre hail.



There is little time to celebrate, or collect survivors. Zähringen's lookouts identify at least two capitals, approaching from the east. Scheer curses - he still has no idea about the distribution of the enemy forces, or their composition. Is this the main enemy force? Does it make sense to engage?

The enemy ships are still just outside the range of his Schlachtkreuzer, and he is still deliberating, when the British battlecruisers open fire.





One 15-inch shell splashes right next to the Mackensen and explodes underwater, denting the ship's double bottom with the force of the explosion. A second shell strikes her belt, at an obliue angle, and ricochets off, screaming like a banshee. A third smashes into her aft engineering spaces and explodes.

And the ship dies; her electrical power disabled. Turrets jam on their bearings. The big steam turbines spin uselessly. The ammo hoists grow quiet. And her propellers slow, and stop.

The German flagship is dead in the water, and the British have already bracketed her, with what looks to be 15-inch guns.



Oh crap. 15-inch guns indeed. That's an Australia, Hipper realises, as he brings his own forces closer: the first implementation of the 15-inchers in British naval design, but by no means less dangerous than a more modern Sutlej, especially for a crippled German ship. She must be driven away from the flagship.

Hipper signals ALL SHIPS FORM LINE OF BATTLE ON SUPPORT FLAG and follows it up with his own order from the Ireland raid: SCHLACHTKREUZER RAN AN DEN FEIND. The signal is taken up by the rest of the German ships; and, still not knowing whether the battlecruisers are an advance force for a larger British fleet, the Germans charge down the barrels of the 15-inchers, hoping to get the enemy into the range of their 12-inchers and old 11-inchers.



Lützow, her own fuel bunkers now more than half-exhausted responds and pushes in first, overtaking the Zähringen, which follows as close second. Behind them, but quickly catching up, are Hipper's ships.



The Brits oblige them. Goeben, the old berserker of the Russian wars, scores first blood for the Germans, with an insane shot at the extreme limit of her range. The Brits fire right back, and their superior guns pump three hits into Seydlitz. The first penetrates her aft turret and kills the entire turret crew. The second bounces off her belt; but the third punches through her thin bow armor and detonates under the waterline. Seydlitz's speed immediately drops to 22 knots and her forward compartments start flooding.



A second Andromache now joins in, peppering the Schlachtkreuzer with high-explosive shells. Thankfully, they are defeated by the German armor. Meanwhile, Moltke finds the range, and drills an 11-inch shell into the trailing Australia's belt.

And then a 15-inch shell smashes the Moltke's bow to kindling; and a torpedo, spotted far too late, hits her on the starboard side.





Both German flagships are now crippled, the Moltke, in particular, suffering severe flooding, as a grim reminder of her old war-wound. But the mad charge of the old Schlachtkreuzer has drawn its measure of blood.

The trailing Australia, on which the German fire was mostly concentrated, has been effectively mission-killed. One of her turrets has been cracked open and is now burning merrily; two more are jammed on their bearings.

The other is, essentially, untouched; but she is running as quickly as she can towards the east, for she has seen a new threat. Her electrical systems restored, Mackensen is bearing down on the fight like an avenging god, her guns on double-time.



Hipper tries to get an idea of the damage his ship has suffered. The news are not as grim as he expected. True, the Moltke has suffered severe underwater damage (a result of her total lack of any torpedo defense system), but her crew are truly elite; and they know how to deal with flooding. Damcon crews have already limited the influx of water considerably; they should be able to stop it completely in, perhaps, half an hour. But the ship cannot do more than 14 knots and two of her turrets (half of her guns) are inoperable. Hipper decides to move his flag to the Goeben; and is ferried over under sporadic fire from the Andromache.







This close to the Arctic cycle, night falls early in December. In the twilight gloom, the combatants lose track of each other. Mackensen flashes recognition signals, as she approaches, to avoid any friendly-fire incidents; and the German ships respond in good order. But a dark shape to the Mackensen's north does not respond; and Scheer does not hesitate.

The Mackensen's guns flash in the darkness, at a target around three thousand yards away. Her secondaries fire star-shells, to better illuminate the enemy ship. Fourteen 12-inch rifles boom again, having acquired the range; and seven shells pound the Brit's aft to shreds. This is a Zähringen-class warship at her element; broadsiding an enemy at close range.



The star-shells wink off; and the British fire back, in the darkness, aiming for the German gun flashes. Goeben, from where Hipper is leading the support squadron, is hit, badly. Two of her turrets are penetrated, with massive casualties; her rudder jams on a tight turn to port and she is left circling, uncontrollably. She is also flooding, from an underwater hit near her engine spaces; she has lost a boiler and she can only do 19 knots.



But, in return, Scheer has brought Mackensen and Lützow in close, crossing the aft T of the Australia. Lützow is quicker on the trigger, and pumps two shells into her. Mackensen aims more carefully and has more guns ready. Seven 12'' shells pummel the British ship.



At this range, its armor might as well not have existed. Three of her four turrets go up in flame and smoke; the fourth one jams on its bearings. Secondary explosions turn her insides into a charnel house. Finally her guns go silent, and she drifts away in the darkness, a lifeless hulk.



Scheer will not pursue, not with his ships mauled as they are. He flashes RÜCKZUG to his ships, and the German battlecruiser force begins the long, arduous trek back home.



His reluctance spares the second Australia. The British ships were, actually, alone, against six German Schlachtkreuzer, but Scheer's ships had received such a beating that he was reluctant to take the chance that a backup force of Dreadnoughts (or, heaven forbid, more 15-inch battlecruisers) might have been in the vicinity. The HMS Monmouth, therefore, manages to reach Scapa Flow in good condition.



It is a testament to the durability of the old, relatively small, under-armed Schlachtkreuzer of Hipper's force that they managed to stand up to the beating they received by the British 15'' guns at such close range, and still claim a kill. For, on the morning of the 3rd of December, while the German ships are still at sea, the British Admiralty makes public the loss of the Australia-class Princess Royal. Having received more than ninety (!) 12'' shells on her hull and superstructure, many at point-blank range, the British ship was an unsalvageable mass of twisted metal and blood.

The Germans were quick to claim a victory and, tactically, they were right. Their ships had suffered significantly, true. The Goeben in particular, true to her 'berserker' rumour had performed better than the more modern Lützow, with 19 confirmed main battery hits; but she had also taken 9 15'' shells on her turrets and belt, more than any other ship in the German fleet. She would need at least three months in drydock to be fully repaired.



It was this battle (and the near-crippling of the Moltke and the Goeben, going up against significantly superior opponents in the defense of the crippled Mackensen) that earned Hipper the nickname 'Jagdhund' (i.e. 'Hunting Dog'), for his clear tendency to go for the throat and always bring back a kill.





But one thing was important, in the Battle of Bergen, something that the Germans did not notice at the time. The Princess Royal had taken massive amounts of damage. More than half of her crew had died on their stations; three out of her four turrets had been penetrated by German shells. And yet, despite all that-

-she had not blown up.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 10:06:31 am by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
The brits are having such a fun and engaging time.
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline StarSlayer

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Re: Bergen or: 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Blowing up'
Quote
But one thing was important, in the Battle of Bergen, something that the Germans did not notice at the time. The Princess Royal had taken massive amounts of damage. More than half of her crew had died on their stations; three out of her four turrets had been penetrated by German shells. And yet, despite all that-

-she had not blown up.

Did WG finally rebalance the detonation mechanic in WoWs this patch? :p
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Offline The E

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Re: Enioch's naval shenanigans - RTW as Germany - [Image Heavy!]
Nah, the Brits just remembered to fly the right signals before going into matchmaking :)
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis

  

Offline Enioch

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"That fateful morning 18 people fell victim to the German attack, either killed instantly, as in the case of the 14-month-old baby boy Mark Spears Lloyd, or who died later as a result of their wounds like shoemaker Horace Dawson."

"Panic drove people from their homes, fear forced them to flee the town in all directions, whilst the sparse smattering of freshly recruited Territorials in the town tried to help the injured and wounded at the railway station."

"Some 15 minutes or so later there was a brief calm as the ships steaming southward turned northwards and commenced firing again."

"The attack lasted some 30 minutes, and the folk of Harwich suffered greatly, being left to try and save what and who they could as the ships sailed off."


-BBC archives on the Harwich raid



Mid-war; and the more recent designs for automated fire extinguishers in German ships are leaked to Italy. There is some consternation; but Germany cannot afford to look weak at this point. A diplomatic note of protest is sent to the Italian Government.





It is now January; and the promises of the Kaiser for a war that will be over before Christmas are proven...well, false is a strong word, but it kinda fits, in this case. Great Britain is suffering, but still holding fast; her fleet is still a threat; and, while the submarine campaign has caused massive damage to her merchant fleet, she still has the resources of an entire Empire to draw upon.

Once more, the German submariners brave the winter seas; once more, they savage the British convoys.



Despite the British blockade, it is not the German populace that hungers during the Christmas holidays.



It is time to push them hard. So far, the British civilians have experienced war as something distant and far away. They suffer the deprivations inflicted by the German submarines; and they have sent their young men to sea, to die; but Fortress Britain is still sacrosanct, safe. Impregnable for centuries.

The Admiralität proposes a plan to show the enemy the error of that belief. The most daring enterprise yet proposed, concocted after months-long deliberation and planning: a raid, in the Estuary of the Thames, there to engage British merchant traffic and destroy coastal infrastructure.

This is Galster's baby; he has been working on this plan for months, while Tirpitz has taken over oversight of the U-Boot operations. Galster's intelligence team have been sending fake signals from German port installations and supply bases for months; shuttling his Kreuzer and Schlachtkreuzer around; letting the British think that the Germans are planning a repeat of Bregen: a push towards the Scandinavian north, near or past Scapa Flow. Admiral Beatty takes the bait, hook line and sinker, moving his most capable 15-inch ships to the northern waters and intensifying coastal patrols near the Faroes.

And so, on the 27th of January, the German forces use the heavy rain and gale-like winds to sneak into the south-eastern British Home Waters, undetected.



It is worth noting that the force composition is a compromise. Galster had originally planned for all three Zähringens to be present, as the core of the battlefleet; unfortunately, after the engagement at Bergen, only the Graf Spee is available for action. And so, Germany is pushing in with a force very much inferior to what had been originally planned. Furthermore, the German ships are pushing in during, essentially, a storm: the same weather conditions that Scheer had warned against. Scheer himself, on board the Graf Spee, has expressed his considerable misgivings; he is not eager to have his ships charged down and sunk by British torpedo boats, in British waters.

Hipper is leading the scout element from the Lützow, followed by the hastily repaired Moltke and Seydlitz. His line is screened by Frauenlob and Bremen, and a suadron of Zerstörer.



Scheer follows him, with his own Zerstörer screen; he leads a task force composed of the Spee, the Derfflinger and the old Von der Tann.



Their target is Harwich, and it is just after noon when the British coast is sighted through the rain and gale. The British manning the coastal batteries can now see the German fleet too; and they begin manning their stations in a scrambling panic.

The German ships open fire at extreme range, cratering the ground around the British batteries; and the proceed to suppress British fire for the next hour and a half, pounding the harbour installations into smithereens. It is two hours later, after the rain stopped, that the Graf Spee lookouts see the smoke of incoming ships from the south-west.



The Grand Fleet (or part of it, at least) has responded. Now, Scheer muses, let's see what they have brought to-



What.

They are still operating predreads? Scheer finds it hard to believe it, but the lookouts are categorical: they identify at least two Mars-class predreads, leading the force. Littoral defense ships? Is that the best that the British can-



Fire flashes from the British line; twenty seconds later, a shell strikes Derfflinger's X turret and jams it on its bearings.

That's no predread firing - they don't have the range.



And then new identifications start coming in; and Scheer realises, to his horror, that he's facing a British Dreadnought line.

These are smaller ships than what the Germans have brought, true, with more limited broadsides; but, for the first time, the Germans are facing ships with 10 or more inches of belt armor and similarly or better-armored turrets. These things can brawl, and it's a rude awakening for the Germans.



A Prince of Wales-class leads the battle-line, firing 13-inch rifles at the Lützow.



It is followed by an Albion-class and holy crap that's a 14-inch Dreadnought, with 11.5 turret armor.

OK, it's half the size of the Graf Spee, but still...





No. Scheer decides. This is not why he is here. Not with only one Zähringen-class to brawl with the British battle-line. The Germans have made their point; there is no reason to risk the Flotte any further.

He brings the Graf Spee closer to the enemy, and sails towards the south-east, giving Hipper's task force the chance to slip behind him and begin disengaging. Surprisingly, the Brits ignore the flagship and focus their fire on the trailing Von der Tann, which is hit twice in rapir succession, once on her deck and once on her aft starboard wing turret. Both shells ricochet off, but the turret jams.

In return, the Von der Tann straddles the Prince of Wales, keeping her away from the German force, while the Moltke and the Graf Spee focus their fire on the closing Mars-class predreads. These ships have overextended-



-and they pay for it. In the half-hour it takes Hipper's force to be in a position to retreat, the two British pre-dreads have been pounded into scrap. But any intention Scheer had of, perhaps, continuing the fight is quickly snuffed out when a 14-inch shell strikes the Derfflinger's fore fire control director, knocking it out of commission. With one of his only three 12-inch Schlachtkreuzer blinded, Scheer has no second thoughts about signaling the fleet to retreat.




As he does, he orders the Graf Spee to focus her fire on the Albion, scoring a couple of long-range plunging-fire hits on her decks and forcing her to turn away.



Both fleets disengage. The Germans have been driven off; but, in their wake, they have left a devastated Harwich, and the burning and slowly sinking hulks of the two old battleships, serving as grim reminders of the fact that Britain soil is not inviolate and not beyond the reach of the German fleet.



The high spirits among the German forces are somewhat dampened by the fact that the Lützow strikes a mine during the journey home.



The damcon crews spring to action and the ship is saved; she will only need a month in drydock. Sadly, more bad news are waiting for Scheer upon his return. Despite the damage inflicted upon the harbour installations, the naval arsenal (the main target of the raid) is reported by the British to be unharmed; and the coastal batteries prevented Scheer from sinking any merchant ships.



Instead, the British are crying (literally) bloody murder for the alleged deaths of civilians during the bombardment. Pffft. It was a defended city, with a naval arsenal. Absolutely legitimate target. Deal with it, Brits. No war crimes here.





However, the sinking of the two battleships is still a significant blow (both material and morale-affecting) and the Germans put this down as a victory. They have struck a blow against Britain in Albion's own home waters; the Brits, on the other hand, have yet to brave the Baltic.



And the British populace, of course, are well aware of this. The Admiralty is severely criticised for their failure to safeguard the lives and property of British citizens; and large demonstrations take place in London and other large metropolitan centres. For the first time, the opposition takes a clear anti-war stance. In return, several MPs that advocate an honourable peace, if necessary with concessions towards Germany, are arrested. This is followed by week-long strikes and riots, all over Great Britain, with starving citizens taking to the streets in angry protest.



...And just like that, every single British cruiser is obsolete. Prinz Heinrich can outshoot any cruiser they have; and she's fast enough to escape from the very battlecruisers that are supposed to be her hunters.





February; and the German submarines once again savage the British merchantmen. The waters to the south-west of Britain are now a ship graveyard.





And the riots in Britain continue. The situation is bad enough that the Parliament buildings have to be evacuated; the MPs now need to meet in bunkers, under military protection.







And this is why Germany does not fear the Russians. It's 1918 and they're building 13-inch battlecruisers, with no fire Directors.





****!


« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 10:05:56 am by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)