checking of the chronometers. Sunset is two hours away; at that point, it would be suicide for the Niobe to push the convoy. Given the visibility ranges in the dark, if you're spotted, you're well within torpedo range and pushing against destroyers under those circumstances is brain-dead.
Yep, confirmed. It's the Niobe. That thing has as many guns as my entire destroyer escort force combined.
The wise choice, to preserve the DDs for the upcoming war, would have them abandon the convoy and use their superior speed to escape to Tsingtaou. That's what the Germans had done ten years ago, when Izumi
had savaged their convoys.**** that.
The DDs have one
job, and that's to defend the convoy. Signals are raised, to the lead convoy transport: "Head to closest port" and "Escorts will engage the enemy", followed by Asanagi
raising the flags for "Tennōheika Banzai
", a signal repeated by all escorting DDs and, shortly after, by the entirety of the convoy.
The DDs take up screening positions, between the raider and the convoy and accelerate to flank. The Niobe
can either try to snipe at them from a distance or risk closing to a more effective range and eating torpedoes; neither of which is a good option.
Fourty-five minutes after first contact, the German finally decides on the latter, accelerates to attack speed and charges the destroyer line. Asanagi
is hit, and the shell buries itself in the engine room, knocking out one boiler, killing twenty-three of her crew and dropping her speed to 19 knots. The German cruiser has now entered torpedo range, but the destroyers hold their fire.Shimakaze
takes over lead for division A and holds her course; as the Niobe
continues to close, Hatakaze
peel off in a mad torpedo run on the enemy. The Niobe immediately switches her fire, scoring a hit on Hatakaze's
funnels, that sends red-hot shrapnel scything across her deck.Hayate
is the second ship to be hit; the Niobe
takes out her centreline torpedo mount. Her torpedoes go off in a massive explosion, that vaporises all nearby crew and rips of more than half of the ship's superstructure. However, her engines are only minimally affected and somehow
, impossibly, she's still in the fight.
40 minutes to nightfall. Shells and tracers scream in both directions.
20 minutes to nightfall. Shimakaze's
starboard torpedo mount is hit and the torpedo explodes. The funnels and superstructure guide the explosion away from the ship, but a massive hole is ripped out of her hull above the waterline and her uptakes are clogged with debris. Seventeen crewmembers, including Captain Sukarnoputra die in an instant.Hayate
shakes her ass in front of the enemy and cuts her speed to 25 knots. Captain Xuang orders his crew to make smoke intermittantly, to give the Germans the impression that she's hurt more than she really is. The Niobe
takes the bait and follows the destroyer away from the convoy, just as the sun slips under the horizon.
At which point Hayate
speeds back up and curves around to meet up with her division leader. The destroyers move to rejoin the convoy at cruise.
Then, an hour later-YOU MOTHERF-
steams out of the dark at flank speed, trains her guns on the Shimakaze
and blows her out of the water in a perfectly executed broadside. Asanagi
eats two shells that punch through holes in her bow, letting in water.
The Niobe turns and fades into the dark yet again. There is little the destroyers can do beyond regroup, pick up survivors and rejoin with the convoy.Asanagi
is lost, less than four miles from Tsingtaou, the flooding finally overcoming the crew's efforts to keep her afloat. Hayate
picks up her survivors.
The battle was immediately claimed by the Germans as a victory; but the Japanese knew it was a hollow one. The valiant sacrifice of Shimakaze
enabled the entirety of the convoy to reach Tsingtaou safe; Tsukuba
would take over escort duties for the rest of the trip and no German ship risked facing her
Take notes, Gaijin swine
is how you defend a ****ing convoy.
Now we really
have to win the war.
In May, the R & D department brought yet another
improved torpedo design on the table. The response of the Admiralty was grim satisfaction. 3,8k yards at 30 knots? Yes PLEASE
The Silent Service and the Japanese raiders continued to reap a surprisingly non-bloody toll. Prize rules were in effect - German crews were allowed to abandon their ships and were often given supplies and directions to the nearest harbour. That said, more than 50k tons of German shipping were lost in a single month.
The enemy response was...anemic
In May, the Japanese laid down a revolutionary new battlecruiser; the design was codenamed Kongo
. She was an A-XY 'runner', with three triple 12'' turrets, two of them pointing aft. She was more lightly armoured than Tsukuba
and her secondary batteries were lighter (only 8'', with a 6'' tertiary battery), but she could (in paper) reach a staggering 29 knots, as fast as the Itsukushima light cruisers. She was primarily meant to hunt down and destroy enemy raiders, but her main guns were big enough to allow her to contribute in the line of battle, if necessary.
The initial costs were a bitter pill to swallow, but the Admiralty felt certain that Kongo
would be a valuable investment.
The 'Maru boys' bloody delivered again, nailing
two German submarines that tried to sneak into the Tsingtaou - Sasebo convoy route.
I should laugh that much, but holy crap
was that cathartic.
And then, finally