Operation Sealion – The Battle of Brighton

Hello followers,

Well, it has been a while since I posted, and here is why.

  1. Ongoing arguments between insurers and builders about the re-instatement of our house as it was before the fire of 4th July.
  2. Arguments with caravan insurers, purchasing a replacement caravan and trying to find someone who would insure the replacement.
  3. Finding somewhere to keep the new caravan while the builders – if we ever get any – repair the house and re-fence the garden.
  4. Sourcing a new garden shed/workshop.  Achieved as a local contractor will build a bespoke shed to fit the space available.
  5. Buying an awning that fits the new caravan, and, as yet not begun, selling the old one.
  6. Undergoing a biopsy to investigate my almost certain cancer.

and finally, the fact that I am running a PBEM wargame and anything that I post will be visible to both commanders.

So, with the game now poised at 07:00 18th September 1940, here are the battle reports for the previous 30 minutes from 06:00 to 06:30.

The situation is the German attack on Brighton, with the intention of capturing Shoreham harbour to allow unloading of armoured units.

Brighton 18th September 1940 British 0630

Brighton 18th September 1940 German 0630

 

 

A day of many parts

Today, despite being well into the second half of July, is dull and drizzly, following spectacular thunderstorms last night.

So I am confined indoors and catching up with several domestic and wargaming tasks.

I was inspired after listening to the latest Meeples and Miniatures podcast and after our recent fire to start documenting my wargame collection for insurance purposes.  It will be a long task.  It took me a week to collate from memory and photographs what we lost when the two sheds burned down.

Then I found a compiled list of unit values for Panzer Leader 1940 at www.imaginative-strategist.layfigures.com for use in my Operation Sealion games, which I began to incorporate into my game records.

Next task was the pile of ironing, helped along by watching a couple of episodes of “By The Sword Divided”.

DSCN0706

This is a BBC drama series screened between 1983 and 1985, like a sort of 1640s “Downton Abbey” which coincided with my early years of  English Civil War reenactment, and later episodes included some of my oldest – and in some cases sadly departed – friends as “supporting talent”.  The DVD series was released by the BBC in 2004.

Then I turned to some figure painting, namely the 1790s 6mm MDF soldiers from Commission Figurines.  These little “toy soldier” style figures are a little fragile, and because I expect them to be handled by small people I glue them in ranks of 3 to form blocks.

DSCN0708

During the course of this I managed to drop a paint pot lid onto the beige carpet.  I hope that after some immediate panic action and a steam cleaner I have (almost) got away with it.  Time for a second application of carpet cleaner now before the Memsahib sees it.DSCN0707

And it’s still only 1:30pm!  Plenty of time for more catastrophes before bedtime.

A new project

As if I needed anything else in my wargaming life I have decided to create a game for the younger members of my ECWS cavalry regiment.

We have a couple of 8 year old potential troopers, currently very able at fetching and carrying, horse “poo-picking” and firewood cutting.

I am trying to make a table-top game that will involve them and keep them from their other nefarious activities.  At our last event I was able to pick up 4 boxes of Revell Thirty Years War plastic soldiers (2 infantry, 1 cavalry, 1 artillery) for £5 (originally £4 but the stall owner had no change).

More to follow as it progresses in time for the August Bank Hoiday.

 

A busy man

Winston Churchill once said: “If you want something done, ask a busy man.”  Clearly this did not involve blogging. (A noticeable exception to the blogging rule is Neil Shuck of Meeples and Miniatures fame. He manages to keep up a daily blog, a weekly podcast and who knows what else in addition to a full time job, a family, a hobby and recently a broken wrist)

Anyway, back to me.  I have not posted for 6 weeks.  I have had plenty to do, but little time at the “real” computer, having spent a lot of time on the iPad and iPhone simply catching up.

So what have I been up to?

I will try to cover these activities in detail later with photographs, but meanwhile, here is the boring stuff.

I have been vainly trying to progress my “Operation Sealion” PBEM campaign, which is stagnating mainly due to the fact that I want to get all my models looking as good as possible on the table (shades of Peter Stringfellow?).

The next battle is the German assault on Brighton, which calls for a lot of railway track.  My blog followers will know that I normally use Hexon tiles for my gaming area, but extensively remodelled by me.  Well, this time I tried to mount the railway track by Irregular Miniatures and Leven Miniatures onto the raised rubber-ish roads produced by Total Battle Miniatures.  This was not successful because everything delaminated, and I am now remodelling all the railway hexagons, and, having spotted it while ordering more track I have a new railway station from Leven to paint.  I should mention that Leven have taken the trouble when asked to cast in resin a new 4-piece set of double rail track that will make a 60 degree curve specifically to fit a 10cm hexagon tile (2 inner curves, 2 outer curves).  I hope to see it on the website for general order soon.

In addition, this battle – without giving away too much to my German commander – needs a lot of British transport.  I have loads of 6mm trucks and lorries for 1944, but I want to get it right, so several packs of GHQ vehicles were ordered from Magister Militum, my UK supplier.

All of this stuff needs painting.

A failure to paint in time resulted in me not taking my semi-portable in-period wargame to the (bizarrely) 217th anniversary of the Battle of Marengo.  For wargamers, I am building armies from the Commission Figurines MDF range, but my figures are glued together in blocks for small people’s fingers to handle.  The project to create, initially French and Austrian,  armies for the French Revolutionary Wars is ongoing.

The trip to Marengo occupied much of my time, including all the necessary requirements of taking my dog camping in Europe and bringing him home again without quarantine. Superb driving over the Alps, including the St. Bernard Pass, last visited in 1989 in full Napoleonic kit for a reconstructed crossing by Napoleon in 1800.

Additional problems are having my car fixed after a sunroof motor failure (luckily it was a heatwave with the roof jammed open) and some kind individual ramming the rear end of my car in the Marengo car park.

We took our new caravan (collected the day after my return from Italy) to Wales for an English Civil War re-enactment weekend, and I am still resolving, and paying for, the failures of the vehicle.

I have also been instructed by my GP to have certain areas of my body checked for issues that affect gentlemen of my age, culminating – I hope – in an hour of MRI scanning this morning.

And so I am returned to the “real world” of painting, modelling, and hopefully actually playing some wargames, with a resolve to post more frequently in future.

 

 

Always something else to prepare…

I want to know why it is that, with a former “walk-in” wardrobe and half a loft full of wargaming impedimenta, every time I want to play a game I have to prepare some new models?

For my next game I have already painted up some GHQ A13 and Mark VIb tanks for the British, not to mention several Adler Vickers MG teams marching and firing and about a dozen new trucks and lorries.  The Germans needed cyclists and new MG34 teams, as well as more infantry and a captured truck with hastily applied white crosses.

As for the terrain (I use Kallistra hexagons, pre-flocked and then customised) I have to make some more embanked railway lines and three level crossings which must involve ramped roadways.  Alternatively I may make road bridges across the railway, but that will be even more work!

To help this game along I have just received the first consignment of double curved railway track from Leven Miniatures, designed to my specifications so that four pieces  – two inner curve and two outer curve – will exactly fit a 10cm hexagon with a 60 degree curve.  I urge all gamers of late C19th onwards to buy some of these if only to repay Mick for his development time!

In addition, and very oddly, I needed to model an ancient British hill fort that would meet the requirements of the ground scale (10cm hexagon = 250 metres side-to-side) and also accommodate bases of at least 15mm x 20mm.   Pictures will no doubt be forthcoming in the battle report when I finally get around to playing the game.

Polish uniforms 1939

I have a dilemma, or possibly a trilemma if such a thing exists.  I am watching the DVD “The Battle of Westerplatte 1939” and it appears that the Polish khak uniform is significantly greener than most painting guides suggest – assuming the film makers got it right and my TV colour balance is correct.

So, looking at the title photo on this post, should I:

a. Try to repaint these fellows?

b. Paint their reinforcements as their existing comrades?

c. Use a greener tint and claim it was a different issue or that colour has faded in the field?

A second question. Does anyone know which of the two tents in the photo would be more appropriate as to colour for Polish forces in 1939?

 

A trip on the briny

Battle of the River Plate

This was an adapted rules playtest, taking the Axis & Allies War at Sea game and moving it to a hexagon cloth.  Unfortunately several photographs of this game were unusable.

For my small (6ft x 4ft) table I translated the game’s sea areas into 3 hexagons per area as a starter.  This can be varied according to the size of the table, but in effect meant that one 6cm hexagon represented about 200 metres of real life and the model ships were twenty times too big.

I decided that if ships began to reach “the end of the world” all models would be shifted to bring the action back onto the centre of the table.  Therefore the game would progress for a number of turns before the Graf Spee was deemed to have reached the protection of Uruguayan territorial waters (or had been sunk in the process).

I rolled 5xD6 for the number of game turns, which resulted in 20 turns.  The Graf Spee rolled a 5 turn lead on the British pursuing ships (HMS Exeter, Ajax and Achilles), but the 20 turns would begin when the British arrived.

Graf Spee Plate 01.jpg

 

The pursuing force approached from the SE corner of the table.  HMS Exeter in the centre, flanked by HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles.

Force G Plate 02

Turn 1

The Germans won the initiative roll 4-3, and therefore (counterintuitively) moved second.

The three British ships steamed approximately NW (see note). Exeter continued directly ahead while Ajax and Achilles swung west and then resumed course to the NW, the idea being that the two lighter cruisers would attack from one side while Exeter moved to the other side of Graf Spee to split her fire.

A note on compass directions.  Standard compass directions are generally given in increments of 90° (N,E,S,W), 45° (N,NE,E,SE, etc) or 22.5° (N,NNE,NE,ENE,E,ESE, etc.). Hexagons work in 60 degree increments. A truer conversion of the hexagon directions would be close to: NNW, W, SSW, SSE, E, NNE.  For game purposes I used NW, W, SW, SE, E and NE. North and South are excluded.

Conversion of movement rules.

All the ships in this specific game occupy two hexagons.  All have the same speed of two sea areas in the base game:  By using 3 hexagons per sea area they would all move at 6 hexagons.  However by converting 1 hexagon to 10km/h I researched the maximum claimed speed for each ship, and adjusted accordingly.  Graf Spee moves at 5 hexagons per turn, Exeter, Achilles and Ajax at 6 hexagons per turn.

I also had to include rules for steering.   All ships reduce their maximum speed by 1 hexagon per 60° turn.  Large ships must move at least 1 hexagon forwards before the first turn and at least 2 hexagons forwards between turns in the same move. (This gets around the argument of “But I just moved two hexes at the end of the last move”). Large shops will pivot around the stern hexagon.

The Graf Spee continued W at full speed (5 hexagons).

Shooting. 

Rule conversion. Ranges are given in the standard game as 0, 1, 2, 3 and occasionally 4 or even 6 sea areas.  Allowing for the ship itself to occupy the centre of the area, this was translated, in hexagons from the ship, as 1, 4, 7, 10 and 13 hexagons.  Also, using hexagons the arc of fire for front and rear gun turrets could be taken into account.

The ships were 22 hexagons apart, so no shooting was possible.

Turn 2.

The Germans won the initiative 3-1, so the British moved first.  All ships moved NW and then turned W.

Graf Spee continued W.

(The positions were adjusted to keep the shops on the table.)

All ships were still out of firing range.

At this point I calculated that with a speed advantage of 1 hexagon it would take 10 turns before the first British ship could come within range of Graf Spee’s guns (which have an extended range of 4 areas = 13 hexagons).  I moved the game on by 9 turns as a straight pursuit.

Turn 12

The British won the initiative. All four ships steamed W.

Graf Spee was able to reach Exeter at extreme range of 13 hexagons with her main armament.

At this range the full die roll is 3 dice. However, firing astern, only one of her two triple 11″ turrets could fire, so I allowed two dice.

Rule: if fire is divided between front and rear turrets, and the result is an odd half, the player may round up either, provided that the total for the ship is not exceeded.

Graf Spee rolled 2, 3.  4+ is needed for a hit, so no damage was done.

Turn 13 Plate 04

None of the British ships could reach Graf Spee with their 6″ or 8″ guns.

Turn 13

The British won the initiative roll 6-4 and moved second.

All they could do was to try to close the gap between them and the Graf Spee.

Graf Spee fired again at Exeter, scoring 1,2. Still not good enough.

Turn 14.

The Germans won the initiative roll 5-2.  The British steamed W at full speed to close on the Graf Spee, who turned NW to bring her full armament of 6 x 11″ guns and 8 x 6″ guns to bear on the Exeter.

Exeter fired first with 4 dice (two twin 8″ turrets at the front of the ship). A lucky shot scored 3,4,6,6.  A 4 scores one hit and a 6 two hits, so 5 hits were scored. Graf Spee’s armour rating is 4, so she suffered one damage point.  Ajax and Achilles were still out of range.

Graf Spee returned the fire with primary and secondary guns.  At a range of 10 hexagons her primary (11″) guns rolled 10 dice and her secondary (6″) guns a further 5 dice.

Here there was a problem of interpretation.  Should the total hits be accumulated, or separated between primary and secondary guns?  The rules state: “A ship like Yamato can attack three times in one Surface Attack phase, using its main, secondary and tertiary gunnery”, but also “Ships with secondary and tertiary batteries can attack with all batteries in the surface attack phase”.

The difference was that the total hits scored were 7 for main guns and 5 for secondary guns.  Exeter has a a”vital armour” rating of 9, so if amalgamating the attack she would be sunk, but if separate attacks, merely crippled by two hits exceeding the armour rating of 3.

I opted for the separate attack method, as it would in exceptional circumstances allow a one volley sinking, but normally not.

Exeter took 2 damage points. With a Hull Points rating of 3, she was now crippled. This meant a reduction of 1 to the armour and vital armour ratings (now 2 and 8 respectively), and a speed reduction of 3 (one sea area) to 3 hexagons.

Plate 05.jpg

Turn 15

The Germans won the initiative roll.

Exeter moved at limited speed and turned NW to bring Graf Spee within her broadside.  Ajax and Achilles continued W to outflank Graf Spee from the S.  Graf Spee moved NW and then turned to bring Achilles into broadside range.

 Shooting:

Ajax vs Graf Spee. Range 10. 5 dice roll 1,2,2,5,6 for 3 hits. Insufficient.  Achilles vs Graf Spee. Range 10. 5 dice roll 1,1,4,4,5 for 3 hits. Insufficient.

Graf Spee vs Achilles ( ship in range and direction of all guns) 10 hexagons is 10 dice for main guns. Hits on 2×4, 1×6 is 4 hits, equal to armour rating. Achilles takes 1 damage point. (Graf Spee forgot at this point to fire secondary guns!)

Turn 16

Germans won the initiative.

Ajax and Achilles swung NW to approach the Graf Spee. Achilles then turned W again to bring her broadside to bear while Ajax continued towards the stern of Graf Spee.

Exeter swung broadside on to Graf Spee in the hope that one more shot would be possible before she moved out of range.

Graf Spee moved W, then turned SW to engage Achilles.

Shooting.

Exeter was out of range and masked by Ajax in any case.

Ajax employed her full broadside of 8×6″ and 4×4″ guns at 7 hexagons (6 dice) for an insignificant score of 1,1,2,3,3,6 and only 2 hits.  Achilles could only bring her forward guns to bear. 4 dice rolled 2,4,4,5 for 3 hits, but 4 were needed.

Graf Spee returned fire against Achilles with 11 dice main guns and 5 dice secondaries, scoring 8 and 0 hits. Achilles was now crippled, but just survived a sinking.

Turn 16

The Germans won the initiative.

Ajax was the only British ship with any speed left, and moved NW before swinging W.  Achilles continued W at reduced speed.  Exeter pursued but with little hope of rejoining the battle.

Shooting

Achilles at 5 hexagons with forward guns. 4 dice rolled 1,3,3,4 for one hit.

Ajax at 7 hexagons with forward guns , 4 dice rolled 2,4,6,6 for 5 hits. Graf Spee took another damage point and was now crippled, reduced to speed 3.

Graf Spee replied against Achilles with her rear turret.  Main guns. 6 dice (rear guns only) roll 1,1,2,5,6,6 = 5 hits. One damage point sank the Achilles.

Secondary guns against Ajax. Rear guns only. 3 dice roll 2,2,3 for no effect.

Turn 17

British won the initiative roll.

Graf Spee moved W before swinging NW to bring all guns to bear on Ajax.

Ajax copied the manoeuvre, while Exeter tried to close up at reduced speed.

Shooting

Graf Spee vs Ajax.  Main guns at 8 hexagons. 10 dice. 1×4, 3×5, 3×6 for 10 hits. Ajax critical armour is 9, so she was destroyed.

Ajax returned fire before going down. 5 dice. 2×6 is 4 hits. Graf Spee took a third damage point and sank.

Plate 07

Final result.

The pocket battleship Graf Spee was sunk for the loss of two cruisers and a third severely damaged.

Using the game points, the Germans lost 21 and the British 2 x13 and (say) 12/2.

The British won the game by destroying the Graf Spee, but overall in the war would be 32:21 down.

Summary

As a solo exercise and a first foray into the rules, adapted or otherwise, I think it works as a game.  I will use this system if ever I progress on my “WW2 – the whole damned game” campaign.  I will continue work for our gaming group to play larger battles.  I have all the forces for Cape Matapan ready for basing.  Maybe one day…