WW1 Naval – Jutland, the Run to the South

Having recently made significant modifications to the game code, I used the ‘Run to the South’ phase of Jutland as a test case. Course changes, speeds and formations were followed as closely as practical, given that inputs are only changed every five minutes. The primary source was the signals information in Brooks, although plots from Marder, Campbell, Tarrant and the Naval Staff Appreciation were also used. See the list of references below.

In some cases the game code was unable to reproduce formation changes as they seem to have occurred historically. Two examples follow.

Example 1:

When the IAG (First Scouting Group) turned from their initial northwesterly course at 2:27pm GMT, Brooks Table 5.4 gives these signals:
2.27 Turn together to port to WSW
2.30 Follow in wake of SO’s ship
2.43 Turn together to starboard to WSW
and states in the text that after 2.27 Hipper “seems to have headed SW for a time in line ahead.” This is consistent with Map 2 of the Harper Report and with Figure 11 in Tarrant.

Excerpt from Harper Map 2 (times shown are Central European Time):

It is not clear to me how the steaming order of the unit was maintained through the approximately 200 degree turn. Perhaps the trailing ships slowed, with the last ship slowing the most. The game code made a complete hash of the maneuver, but since the IAG was not in combat the disorder did not matter.

Excerpt from game plot for IAG

I find it interesting that Marder (map 4) and Campbell (Chart 1) have a different plot for the IAG in this period, with no movement in the southwesterly direction at all.

Excerpt from Marder Vol III Map 4 (times shown are Central European Time):

Example 2:

When the 1BCS and 2BCS (battle cruiser squadrons) turn east in response to the sighting of the IAG, the 2BCS is stationed 3 miles ENE of the 1BCS. Brooks Table 5.9 gives these signals:
3.30 Alter course leading ships together the rest in succession to E, 25 knots
3.34 (to 2BCS) Prolong the line by taking station astern
Brooks criticizes Beattly since “… the two weakly armoured battlecruisers were thrust forward three miles closer to the enemy and with no prospect of getting into line with Lion and the 1BCS without some violent maneuvering.” The game code had no serious problem putting the 2BCS in line behind the 1BCS, although with the increase in ordered speed to 25 knots, the 26 knot Indefatigable class ships lagged a few hundred yards behind after their speed loss in the turns. The game code reduces acceleration significantly as a ship nears its maximum speed.

Excerpt from game plot for BCS:

The rest of the exercise played out as expected, up to the point where the High Seas Fleet would have been sighted. The Lion lost a gun, the Derfflinger lost a turret, the Tiger blew up, the 5BS started engaging the IAG and the IAG avoided a torpedo attack.

References:
Brooks, John, “The Battle of Jutland,” 2016.
Campbell, John, “Jutland An Analysis of the Fighting,” 1986.
Marder, Arthur J., “From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow,” 1978.
Schleihauf, William, “Jutland The Naval Staff Appreciation,” 2016.
Tarrant, V. E., “Jutland The German Perspective,” 1995.

Winds WSW at 12 knots. Sea state 3. Visibility 23,000 yards.

Narrative

Player reports
Battlecruiser Force
Aufklarung Gruppe

Plots
80-145 minutes (without light cruiser plots)
All

End game status

Computer code (described here)

 

WW1 Naval – Never Were Ships Britain-France vs Austria-Hungary

This scenario was designed to examine the tactical employment of several planned battleship and battle cruiser designs. See this post for the designs of the Austro-Hungarian Porject V and VI classes.

Winds WSW at 5 knots. Sea state 3. Visibility 12 NM.

Narrative

Player reports
British-French
Austro-Hungarian

Plots
0-25 minutes
25-45 minutes
All

End game status

Computer code (described here)

With the A-H battle cruisers wrecked and the best A-H battleships damaged and in disarray, we called the game. The scenario was unbalanced, due in part to the powerful G3 and N3 classes and the weak (four gun) primary armament of the A-H battle cruiser class. We have yet to come to any conclusions about how to effectively employ divisions with differing speeds.

WW1 Naval – Baltic Convoy 1916

This scenario was inspired by the Russian attack on a convoy of iron ore sailing from Sweden to Germany described in “After Jutland“, Chapter 6, pages 90-91. The Russian attack group of destroyers has a close cover force of cruisers and a distant cover force of dreadnoughts. The Germans expect the operation and counter with their own cruiser and dreadnought supporting forces.

Winds WSW at 5 knots. Sea state 2. Visibility 6 NM.

Narrative

Player reports
Russian
German

Plots
0-25 minutes
25-50 minutes
50-75 minutes
All

End game status

Computer code (described here)

With only two Russian dreadnoughts left to face six relatively intact German dreadnoughts, we called the game. The convoy and most of the German cruisers had been destroyed, but the loss of the Russians dreadnoughts was a high price to pay for meeting the mission objective.

WW1 Naval – Oran 1914

This alternate history scenario was a confrontation between British and French ships in November 1914. The British were tasked with preventing the return of the French fleet from Oran to Toulon. The French were to get underway from the anchorage at Oran and get past the British.

Player briefings

Status at the end of the game

Narrative

Player reports:
British
French

Plots of ship movements:
0-30 minutes
30-45 minutes
40-60 minutes
All

Computer code (described here)

We stopped play after 12 turns (60 minutes of game time) and about 4 hours of real time.

Heligoland Bight – 1916

This Friday we played a fictitious naval battle set in the North Sea in 1916. The British attempt to sweep the Heligoland Bight to eliminate German patrols. The Germans are supporting their light forces with heavy ships. The scenario includes ships not actually available in the North Sea at the time.

Player briefings

Winds WSW at 3 knots. Sea state 2. Visibility 5 NM toward the SW, 6 NM toward the NE.

Status at the end of the game

Narrative

Player reports:
British
German

Plots of ship movements:
0-30 minutes
30-50 minutes
All

Computer code (described here)

We played for about 4 hours without a decisive result. The British had suffered somewhat more damage. In spite of a lot of torpedo fire from the light cruisers and destroyers, the only two torpedo hits were achieved by the Von der Tann and the Blucher.