The day after the declaration of war, Moltke
is commissioned into the German navy. She still needs to go through her shakedown cruise before being deployed to the Baltic, but now there are four active-duty Schlachtkreuzer
flying the Schwartz-Weiss-Rot
AHAHA. Torpedo Protection II. In 1910
. **** you, fishes, our ships have beer bellies.
Most importantly, the Russians are not blockaded
. Unlike the Italians
had been. Which means that, for the first weeks after the declaration of war, they still try to slip merchant traffic through the Baltic. This proves to be a very
poor decision. The German submariners have been hammered into daredevil veterans by trying to sneak into Italian harbors; now they are faced with fat, unescorted freighters. It's a massacre.
The Russians, on the other hand, have no submarine force to speak of.
In an attempt to further drive the point home, the Germans mobilise their cruiser and Schlachtkreuzer
fleet in the northern Baltic, to hunt down more Russian shipping. The Russians sortie to meet them with the near-entirety of their battle-line.
The two fleets meet off the coast of Bornholm, in an eerie repeat of their past conflict.
Germany's battleships are still in the Mediterranean; this will be a test for the battlecruisers. The Von der Tann
are the core of the raiding force, escorted by the light cruisers Hamburg
and seven Zerstörer
. Büchsel has been recalled from the Mediterranean to command the battlecruiser force; Galster is still supervising the reconstruction of the heavy cruisers and has been placed in temporary command of the submarine forces. He will miss this battle.
The time is 07:00 in the morning of the 23rd of March. The German fleet is sailing north, near Bornholm.
For two long hours, the morning mist limits visibility. The Germans think that Intelligence might be wrong, and that the Russians may not contest their raid. They are proven wrong at 09:31, when the Bremen
It's a Russian cruiser line, and they've brought some of their heavy hitters. Three armored cruisers, of the Rossyia
class; as well as two light scouting cruisers. The Bogatyrs
would not have been a problem for the Hertha
and her sisters; but the lightly armored German cruisers present might have some serious problems with them. More importantly, however, the Bogatyrs
can only reach 22 knots. The German Schlachtkreuzer
can reach 25
Büchsel closes in with his battle-line, as the light cruisers retrat. At 09:56, Seydlitz
takes the Rossiya
under fire; and scores a hit amidships. Büchsel remembers the old war and how the German gunners had laboured to score a single hit on the Russians. How things have changed!
His lookouts also spot smoke to the north-east. The Russian battle-line is closing.
Unfortunately, they arrive too late. It only takes half an hour for the German Schlachtkreuzer
to prove their worth against their cruiser opponents. By 10:24, the Rossyia
is a floating wreck, the Bogatyrs
are running in disarray and the German ships are boring in
toward the Russian forces at flank.
the Russians. They have five
pre-dreads on station, to match the three German capitals: four Pervenets
- and one Imperator Pavel
-class. As the German battle-line closes, the Russians turn
, firing over their shoulder.
Their first shells (from 6- and 7-inch secondaries) strike the Goeben
at around eight thousand yards. The German Schlachtkreuzer
shrugs the Russian fire off and continues her charge.
Then, at around five thousand yards, the German ships turn to starboard and present their broadsides. Twenty-four 11-inchers speak in near-unison.
, in particular, reaps a bloody toll from the Pervenets
she has taken under fire. In two minutes, she scores five hits with her main battery, hits that rip through the Russian's belt and smash her superstructure to bits.
In the following ten minutes, the battle devolves to absolute chaos. This is not a civilised long-range duel; this is Büchsel taking his Schlachtkreuzer into the Schlacht itself
, in a no-holds-barred brawl. The escorting destroyer S13 gets mauled
by Russian secondaries as she seeks to lay smoke for her wards...
...the flagship, Seydlitz
receives several waterline hits that flood several underwater compartments and drop her speed to 22 knots; on the flipside, she has scored more than twenty main battery hits on her target...
continues not giving a flying ****
as she wades in after her Pervenets
, scoring twenty six
hits on her, while bouncing heavy and medium shells off her own belt and decks...
...and the Von der Tann
makes it through without a scratch, but having scored a respectable seven hits on her own target.
The German battle-line closes in from the east; and the Russians scramble to disengage. Their own line of battle is...disorganised to say the least. This lasts for a gruelling two hours.
By 12:00, the forward turrets of Goeben
are silent. The Germans have expended their magazines.
And both fleets have lost any semblance of order. They both fall back, to regroup; light cruisers and destroyers patrol the no-man's-sea between them. As the smoke clears, Büchsel identifies a smoking, sinking wreck between the two forces: it's Goeben's Pervenets
, listing heavily, her engines dead. The Germans have scored their first kill.
The fleets close back in. To the east, the sharp boom
of the German cruiser 6-inchers cuts through the wind, as they engage the Russian cruiser Flora
It takes them about ten minutes to put her to the bottom.Goeben
wades into battle again, taking fire for the flagship. Her belt laughs at the Russian shells; but her rear starboard turret jams in its bearings.
It doesn't matter. She leads the charge, passing less than five hundred yards away from a second, foundering Pervenets
and raking her with secondary fire. Her main guns turn to engage the Pavel
and a third Pervenets
; Von der Tann
engages the nearby battlewagon and triple-taps her with her 11-inchers, just to make sure.
The order is: 'pursue'! And the German Schlachtkreuzer
do so. Seydlitz
and Von der Tann
focus their fire on the Pavel
seeks fresh meat and slams two 11-inch shells into the belt of a third Pervenets
two hits from Goeben
. And another
three hits from Seydlitz
13:30: three Pervenets
-class battleships have now been sunk. the Pavel
is manoeuvering desperately toward the west, but the Schlachtkreuzer
are on her tail.
And by 14:45, the remaining two Russian battleships are in full retreat toward the north. Both are spotted; both are under fire. Goeben
is hot on the heels of the fourth and final Pervenets
, but is ordered to break off pursuit and focus on finishing off the Pavel
By now, she's taken heavy superstructure damage and is flooding slightly. She has only been hit six times by heavy-caliber guns, despite being in the thick of it; but she has soaked many
6- and 7-inch secondary hits. It's a miracle she's not burning. More importantly, she has scored more than sixty
confirmed main bettery hits: her gunners are ecstatic
by her performance.
The Von der Tann
, on the other hand, seems blessed. She has taken minimal damage, all her turrets are operational and she has only been hit by three six-inch and three four-inch shells from Russian cruisers and destroyers. In return, she has scored nearly fourty hits on enemy ships with her main guns.
As for Seydlitz
, she has done Büchsel proud. Sixty seven
confirmed hits, while only taking five heavy shells in return; her waterline has been breached but flooding is under control and her superstructure still stands proud and relatively undamaged. Perhaps more importantly, three out of her four magazines are empty. She only has 14 AP shells left, in her starboard wing turret.
. You will not escape.
16:28. Far to the east of the main battle-line, the Medusa
scores a hit on the Pamyat Merkuriya
. The shell penetrates the protected cruiser's magazines; she goes up in an apocalyptic fireball, which spells the doom of the Russian fleet.Seydlitz
empties her last magazine. Goeben
, however, will not give up her quarry.
And then, at 17:26, the Von der Tann's
luck runs out. The Pavel
launches an underwater torpedo,which buries itself into the German Schlachtkreuzer's
side. Three out of her six boilers are immediately
flooded; her engines sputter and nearly die. She can barely do 12 knots; and is flooding.
But the Pavel
is finished. The S19
rushes in, under her secondaries, and launches a torpedo at fifteen hundred yards. The Russian giant shudders; and dies.
Perhaps more importantly, she is denied her kill. Germans know
how much torpedoes can hurt; and even though the Von der Tann
has no torpedo belt, she is big and heavily compartmentalised. By 18:00, her damcon crews have stopped the flooding.
Night has fallen. The German fleet turns to port; the Von der Tann
under heavy escort.
The mood is buoyant. Four battleships
. And only a destroyer lost, in the first chaotic moments of the fight. Lang Lebe unsere Flotte!