Scarborough Raid, December 1914

In December of 1914, the High Sea Fleet (HSF) sortied in support of a bombardment of the English coast by the 1st Scouting Group. Alerted by Room 40, the Admiralty ordered the 2nd Battle Squadron, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron and the Battle Cruiser Squadron to trap what they thought was a raid by the 1st Scouting Group alone. Bad weather, along with tactical choices and signaling errors prevented a major clash. See, for example, References 1 and 2.

This scenario uses an assumption of better weather to examine a potential engagement between the British force and the HSF near dawn on December 16th. Potential encounters which might have occurred if the High Sea Fleet had not turned back during the night are ignored. The 1st Scouting Group is near the coast at dawn and too distant to be involved. The battle is between Warrender (with Beatty under his command) and Ingenohl. For this date and latitude, nautical twilight begins at 0659 hrs (GMT) and sunrise is at 0825 hrs.

The orders of battle are listed in the narrative file:

Approach to contact and deployment (0825-0900 hrs)

The initial cruising formations are taken from Reference 3, Charts 5 and 7. The HSF has turned south after reaching its rendezvous position (labeled as “700 Uhr-Punkt” on Reference 3, Chart 8). The British force has reversed course to the north after passing the cleared minefield lane leading east toward the coast.

When the armored cruisers in the screen of the HSF (Roon and Prinz Heinrich) are sighted, the British force deploys to starboard (0825 hrs). The withdrawal of the British light cruiser squadron to its battle position prevents it from sighting more of the enemy, and it is left to Beatty to report the leading ships of the HSF battle line 23 minutes later (0848 hrs). The (historical) British night cruising formation had the armored and light cruisers in compact columns and not spread out in a search screen. It may have been doctrine to do this only after sunrise. In the actual action, the light cruisers were spread out by 0900 hrs and the armored cruisers by about 1200 hrs (Reference 3, Chart 11, times adjusted to GMT).

The HSF deploys to port at 0835 hrs, based on sighting the British battle cruisers, now about 4 NM ahead of the British battleships. The battleships are not sighted until 0852 hrs (and not engaged until 0903 hrs), so the HSF maneuvers in this phase are based mainly on engaging the battle cruisers.

Main action and disengagement (0900 – 0940 hrs)

Only battleships and battle cruisers are plotted in this phase for clarity.

Heavy damage to the Lion forces her to turn away at 0902 hrs, but it is too late, and she sinks at 0903 hrs. Tiger is also heavily damaged, but leads the remaining battle cruisers to the NE until her reduced speed causes Queen Mary to take the lead . Since the loss of the Lion is clearly visible to Warrender in the King George V, and since the entire HSF is now known to be present, control of the British side by the AI code was stopped and a withdrawal southward was ordered at 0905 hrs. The AI code does not yet have algorithms to decide on a general withdrawal. All units were ordered to make funnel smoke.

The HSF battle line attempts to maintain the current range by reversing course, but not realizing that the enemy is in flight, makes the turn to starboard, i.e., away from the action. It is not until 0920 hrs that the HSF turns to the SE. This allows the British to get out of range. The British are slightly faster and most would have escaped in any case, but an earlier turn to the south by the HSF might have destroyed the Tiger, then only capable of 18 knots.

Plot of the entire battle:

Tiger, Queen Mary and New Zealand pass the sinking Lion (game time 0905 GMT).
(4×4 inch acrylic on wood)

Status at the end of the game:

This (admittedly contrived) scenario shows the difficulty of destroying Warrender’s outnumbered force with a HSF consisting largely of slower heavy ships. The advance of the Battle Cruiser Squadron several miles ahead of the 2nd Battle Squadron, while it resulted in the loss of the Lion, allowed the battleships to escape before being significantly damaged.

References:
1. Goldrick, James, “Before Jutland,” Chapter 12.
2. Marder, Arthur J., “From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow,” Volume II, Chapter VII.
3. Groos, D. “Der Krieg in der Nordsee,” Volume III, Charts 5 – 8 and 11.

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:

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: