Balloon Cruiser Rus

The Rivers class ocean liner SS Lahn, was built at Glasgow by the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company for the Norddeutscher Lloyd shipping company. Starting in 1888, she sailed between Bremen and New York as an express liner.

In 1904 she was sold to the Russian Volunteer Fleet, converted to a balloon cruiser and renamed Rus (some sources say Russ). Her specifications were:
Gross tonnage: 5,099 (as SS Lahn)
Length: 448.4 ft.
Beam: 49 ft.
Speed: 18.36 knots (average from Southampton to New York in 1889)
Armament: 4 3 inch and 10 six-pounder British weapons (1904)
Balloons: 4 Parseval-Sigsfeld kite, 1 spherical observation (1904)

She sailed for the Far East as part of the Third Pacific Squadron, but only got as far as Aalbeck Bay, south of Skagen, before her poor condition caused Admiral Nyebogatoff to send her back to Libava (Reference “Tsushima Japan’s Trafalgar,” pages 218-219).

The photo above is a crude version of the Rus in 1/6000 scale, converted from a Figurehead Otranto. The lump aft is intended to represent a Parseval-Sigsfeld being prepared for ascent.

1905 Battle of Singapore

This scenario is a fictional battle where the British attempt to stop the 2nd Pacific Squadron from reaching its destination in 1905. The idea for the game came from this blog post with a memo by the Director of Naval Intelligence, Prince Louis of Battenberg, which includes the proposed British force to be assembled at Singapore:
https://simonharley.com/2022/03/01/prevent-the-russian-baltic-fleet-from-reaching-the-far-east/
Since the memo’s proposed location for the battle (west and south-west of the Straits of Sunda) assumed that the 2nd Pacific Squadron would not go through the Straits of Malacca as it did, the location has been moved to the open water between Singapore and the Island of Borneo.

With the exception of the 4 “Duncans” from Mediterranean, the memo does not list specific ships. The order of battle for the game attempts to reconcile the memo with the fleet deployments listed here:
http://www.naval-history.net/xGW-RNOrganisation1900-14.htm?fbclid=IwAR2ESrVd8GGc80XW1-i7shHVBNvEBki_-zpPa3vnVBVmbFRCZA-kJv2Tk4w
The two ‘PARTIALLY-ARMOURED CRUISERS’ from the China station are taken to be the protected cruisers of the Powerful class, although they may have been the Amphitrite and Argonaut of the Diadem class. The latter class is not yet included in the game code. The British third class cruisers are not included.

The code AI ran both side’s forces.

The sea conditions and orders of battle are listed on Page 1 of the Narrative file:


Force reports:


Plots and commentary:
The 2nd Pacific Squadron cruising formation is that of the Battle of Tsushima. The formation is compact, with no screening or scouting ships. This is consistent with the intent to pass north unobserved. The British force (dubbed the Far East Fleet) cruising formation has two battleship divisions in line ahead, the armoured cruiser division stationed ahead, two divisions of cruisers in a screen ahead and the destroyer flotilla stationed abeam to starboard of the flagship Duncan. The wide scouting screen is deployed to assist in finding the opposing force.
After the initial sightings, the Far East Fleet alters course to close the range. The 2nd Pacific Squadron deploys to port to gain a downwind position. The Far East Fleet later deploys to starboard to engage the enemy battleline.

Once the battle lines open fire, the 2nd Pacific Squadron reverses direction to the south to engage on parallel courses. Since visibility is good and the torpedos carried by the destroyers are short-ranged, the flotillas remain out of action on the disengaged sides of the battlelines.

This simplified plot omits all but the battleships for clarity. Few hits are obtained until ranges fall below about 8,000 yards. As the range continues to decrease, hits from both primary and secondary batteries shatter the leading battleship divisions of both sides. The four Duncan class are sunk (one blows up) and the four Borodino class are damaged. At this point it was assumed that the fleets would disengage.

This plot shows the entire engagement.


End of game status:
The damage to the best ships of the 2nd Pacific Squadron would seem to make it pointless to continue toward Vladivostok, so the British objective was achieved.


Gunnery logs:


Hit Logs for the primary divisions

1909 Fleet Exercise

This scenario is a fictional British fleet exercise in 1909, designed to examine the idea that dreadnoughts “… were equal to any two and a half battleships at present existing.” [Reference 1]
The Red force, dubbed the ‘Royalist Fleet’, consists of all the currently operational dreadnought battleships and dreadnought armoured cruisers (later renamed battlecruisers) . It sails south from Rosyth to confront the Blue force, dubbed the ‘Parliamentary Fleet’, consisting of twice the number of pre-dreadnought battleships and armoured cruisers. The Red force includes the newest destroyers and the Blue force has a larger number of older destroyers. Both forces have scout cruisers of the latest operational classes.

The guns of the Invincible are penalized for the problems associated with the electrical turret mechanisms. These problems were never resolved, and the equipment was replaced with standard hydraulic gear in 1914. [Reference 2]

The code AI ran the blue side’s forces.

The sea conditions and orders of battle are listed on Page 1 of the Narrative file:


Force reports:


Plots and commentary:
The Red force cruising formation has the Invincible class ahead of the dreadnoughts, the destroyer flotilla stationed on the port bow of the flagship Dreadnought, and the scout cruisers in a line abreast screen ahead. The Blue force cruising formation has two battleship divisions in line ahead, two armoured cruiser divisions stationed ahead to port and starboard, two destroyer flotillas stationed abeam either side of the flagship Lord Nelson, and the scout cruisers in a line abreast screen ahead.
After the initial sightings, both sides deploy to port. The Red force attempts to use its speed advantage to gain a downwind position.

Once the battle lines open fire, the Blue force reverses direction to engage on parallel courses. Blue divisions adopt quarter line formations to allow following ships to be clear of the smoke from those ahead. This can be seen on the plot as parallel blue line segments. The Red heavy ships initially concentrate on the leading Blue battleships, but as the range closes and the Blue armoured cruisers’ fire becomes more effective, the Indomitable’s division shifts fire to the Warrior’s division. The leading Blue ships take significant damage, but the trailing Blue ships are firing undisturbed.

The faster Red force pulls ahead and edges to starboard to cross Blue’s line of advance. The Blue battle line turns away to keep gun arcs open. The scout cruisers fight their own battle between the lines, but the Blue scouts take damage from Red battleship secondary guns.

The Red force, having expended most of its armour piercing shells, and under threat from a visible Blue torpedo launch, turns away and makes smoke to break off the engagement.


End of game status:
The Red force of dreadnought type ships inflicted greater damage than it received, but left almost half of the Blue heavy ships undamaged. For the number of 12 inch shell hits, relatively little critical damage was inflicted. This was due to the defects of the shells, most of which exploded prematurely from the sensitivity of the lyddite filler, or shattered on face-hardened armour when striking at an angle from the perpendicular. It is possible that umpires of an actual fleet exercise would have judged many of the damaged ships to be sunk.
The short range of the torpedoes (3,000 yards maximum) made the destroyers ineffective in this scenario.


Gunnery logs:

References:
1. Fisher, Sir John, “Naval Necessities,” The Fisher Papers, Vol. II, page 149.
2. Roberts, John, “British Battlecruisers 1905-1920,” pages 84-85.

WW1 Naval – Goeben Ambush

1st Cruiser Squadron

This scenario, occasioned by a recent TMP discussion, assumes that the 1st Cruiser Squadron commanded by Troubridge was able to predict the future track of the Goeben and arrange a dawn attack on August 7th, 1914. The 1st and 2nd divisions of the 9th Flotilla have sufficient coal to accompany the cruisers and are positioned for a torpedo attack at first light. Neither of these conditions were likely. The Breslau was omitted from the scenario since she had separated from the Goeben the previous evening and did not rejoin until 10:30 am.

The code AI ran both side’s forces.

While the torpedo attack was evaded, the necessity for the Goeben to parallel the torpedo tracks for several minutes allowed the 1st Cruiser Squadron to close to around 4,ooo yards and achieve a significant number of damaging hits. At such short range, some lower hit probability reductions are applied (e.g., those for the concentration of several batteries on one target). Eventually the Goeben sinks, primarily due to flooding of the unarmored forward and aft portions of the ship. The Goeben’s speed loss was caused by flooding, and not by any direct hits on machinery spaces.

The sea conditions and orders of battle are listed on Page 1 of the Narrative file:


Force reports:


Plot

End of game status:

Gunnery logs: