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 lines segments. The Red heavy ships initially concentrate on the leading Blue battleships, but as the range closes and the Blue armoured cruiser’s 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:

WW1 Naval – Dogger Bank

1st and 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadrons with the German line in the distance.

This scenario, based on the Battle of Dogger Bank (January 23, 1915), was an attempt to test the AI code against a human player. Information used by the human player was limited as much as possible to what would be available in an actual game.

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


Force reports:


Plot from 0710 to 1610 Hours

The single lines (red for British, blue for German) show the movement of the forces prior to contact. When contact was made, the individual ships were set out into their cruising formations. The British Battle Cruiser Force was in two squadrons in line ahead with a line abreast screen of one light cruiser squadron. The Harwich force was in three flotillas, each lead by a light cruiser. The German battle cruisers were in a single line ahead, with a circular cruiser screen ahead and two flotillas flanking the battle cruiser line.

Plot from 1616 to 1815 Hours

The Battle Cruiser Force was headed north-east at the time that the Harwich Force sighted smoke to the south-east. The BCF then reversed course to the south-east. The cruiser screen would take some time to regain station since the cruiser’s design speeds were only 25 knots.

Sighting of a German light cruiser heading west by the destroyers of the Harwich force occurred at 16:45. The human player assumed that heavier ships would be following this screening cruiser. He therefore continued to the south-east to get between the enemy and his base.

Sighting of British battle cruisers at 16:54 prompted the deployment at 16:55 of the Aufklarunggruppe (A.G.). The battle cruisers of I.A.G. maintained course to the west to engage to starboard and allow the wind to carry smoke away from the direction of the enemy. The light cruisers of II.A.G. formed up and took station 3 NM ahead. Once the battle cruisers opened fire, the German flotillas took station on the disengaged side.

Since the light forces took only a limited part in the later action, the simplified plot showing only the battle cruisers will be discussed. The Lion opened fire at 17:05, beyond the range of the German guns. I.A.G turned north to close the range, then back to north-east when in effective range. The two lines passed on opposite courses. Once the British had achieved a position between the Germans and their base (to the south-east), they reversed course to the north. Smoke interfered with the fire of the British line, so the formations were changed to line-of-bearing, 3 points to port, and the 2nd BCS was stationed on the port quarter of the 1st BCS. This took some time to achieve, during which the British received significant damage.

The game was ended when damage caused the German line to attempt to break off to the north-east. The time (18:15) was past nightfall for this date, and the code does not currently account for night conditions.

End of game status:

Capital ship gunnery logs organized by unit:

1/6000 Naval – WW1 Turkish Navy

Figurehead 1/6000 scale ships from the WW1 Turkish navy pack.


Yavuz was the German grosse kreuzer Goeben.
Midilli was the German lichte kreuzer Breslau.
Barbarossa (Heireddin Barbarossa) was the German linienschiff Kurfurst Friedrich Wilhelm.
Torgud Reis was the German linienschiff Weissenburg.
Medjidieh was a US-built protected cruiser.
Hamidieh (originally Abdul Hamid) was a British-built protected cruiser.
Destroyer Squadron 1 consisted of German S165 class destoyers.
Destroyer Squadron 2 consisted of French Durandal class destoyers.
English spellings are from Conway’s All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1906-1921.

WW1 Naval – North Sea Operaton 1917

This non-historic encounter occurred in the open waters of the North Sea, and was run as a test of algorithms making decisions in place of human players. In order to not have an advantage, the code only gives orders at the end of each 5 minute turn, and only using information which would be available to a human player.

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


Player reports (not needed since there were no players):


Plot from 11:15 to 12:35

The single lines from the right (British) and left (German) sides show the movement of the two forces prior to enemy contact. To speed the code, only the force flagship is actually moved. Based on the force size, screening elements and visibility, at some point in this movement the individual ships of the two sides are set out into their cruising formations. In this case the British battleship divisions were in line ahead disposed abreast, with the battle cruiser squadrons ahead and a line abreast screen of one light cruiser squadron. The German battleship divisions were in a single line ahead, with the battle cruiser squadrons ahead and a circular cruiser screen for both the battle cruisers and the battleships.

Depending on the contact bearings, the formations may make course adjustments. In this case, both forces altered course, and the cruiser screens can be seen shifting positions to regain their stations.


Plot from 11:15 to 13:00

Sighting reports of British battle cruisers at 12:44 prompted the deployment at 12:45 of I Aufklarunggruppe (I.A.G.). I.A.G. turned to starboard in line ahead in order to bring after turrets to bear and to allow the wind to carry smoke away from the direction of the enemy.
Sighting reports of German battle cruisers at 12:52 prompted the deployment at 12:55 of 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron (BCS) and 2nd BCS. They turned to port for similar reasons. The sighting report was from Lion since the cruiser screen was not far enough ahead to give any earlier warning.

Plot from 13:00 to 14:00

(simplified plot)

Since the full plot may be difficult to read, the simplified plot showing only the lead ships of the battleship and battle cruiser units will be discussed. At 13:00 the I.A.G. reversed course to take station ahead of the German battleships due to being under fire of more than their number of capital ships. The leading battleships of each side were sighted by opposing light cruisers at 13:04 and 13:05. At 13:05 the 1st and 2nd BCS took station ahead of the British battleships due to being under fire of the leading German battleships. At 13:15 both side’s battleships deployed. The British formed a single line to port with the port wing (3rd Division) leading. The Germans, already in single line, turned to starboard. While moving to their stations ahead of the lead battleships, both side’s battle cruisers interfered with the fire of the battlelines.

Plot from 14:00 to 14:50

(simplified plot)

As the battlelines gradually closed the range, the destruction was heavy on the battle cruisers and leading battleship divisions. Torpedoes were launched from the underwater tubes from both sides, and several British ships were hit. When the game was (arbitrarily) ended, many of the surviving ships were low on ammunition.

Plot from 14:00 to 14:50 showing flotillas

Although many torpedoes were launched by cruisers and capital ships, none were launched by the destroyer or torpedo boat flotillas. This plot shows the tracks of the flotillas in relation to the lead ships of battleship divisions. The ordered torpedo attacks generally failed because the flotillas could not reach a launch position clear of friendly ships without being driven off by the fire or proximity of enemy ships. The current algorithm for stationing flotillas relative to the battlelines may need to be revised to address this problem.

End of game status:

Capital ship gunnery logs organized by unit: