Saturday, 6 April 2013

Bag the Hun Convoy Game [2]

I've got four players signed up for the BTH2 game which I'm going to planning to run at the club in a month or so. As a result, I need to get cracking on the scenario development. The site that I've been culling information from is really useful and packed with the sort of historical detail that makes all the difference when writing realistic scenarios:

I'd usually try to find at least two other sources to cross reference the information against but, in this case, the job has been done for me. Excellent!

Anyway, to save you the hassle of reading it all for yourself, here's the RAF version of events, which has enough to set up the parameters for the game with the other details filled in from the Italian reports and a bit of educated guesswork.

11 October 1941

Six Blenheims captained by F/O. Greenhill, Sgt. Routh, Sgt. Broome, Sgt. Level, Sg.t Baker, and Sgt. Hopkinson were ordered to attack shipping in the GULF OF SIRTE. 3,000 lb of bombs were dropped. Total flying time was 20 hrs. 50 mins.

At 14.04 hours they located one m/v 3 – 5,000 tons, one Cargo boat 1 – 1,500 tons and one corvette in a position 31.53′ N 15.43′ E. They were escorted by ONE twin-engined monoplane. F/O Greenhill hit the large m/v forward and his aircraft was then seen by Sgt. Harrison to be hit in the belly and crash in the sea as he climbed over the ship. The vessel held fire until the aircraft was 50 yards away.

Sgt. Broome attacked the same vessel and hit it aft and left the vessel in flames with grey smoke pouring from it. He was chased by the escort plane which did not get within firing range. Sgt. Harrison saw Sgt. Routh attack the small Cargo boat, set it on fire and then crash into the sea having been hit by guns from the large m/v.

Sgt. Leven, Sgt. Baker and Sgt. Hopkinson did not make an attack and brought back their bombs. Four aircraft returned safely, but it is not thought that there could be any survivors from the two aircraft shot down. The crews of the aircraft were as follows:

F/O Greenhill, Sgt. Smith, Sgt. Whidden

Sgt. Routh, Sgt. Parker, Sgt. McLeod.

The only questions that I need answers for are as follows:

1. What was the bomb loading for the Blenheims - 2 x 500lbs or 4 x 250lbs?

2. What was the twin engined monoplane? - it won't be part of the scenario but I'd like to know.

3. What was the formation? - it's two flights of three but in what formation for each flight?

I think the Italian after action report will fill in some of the details but the rest will have to be improvised.

RIP all of the aircrew who lost their lives, brave men indeed.


  1. Actually asks a few more questions for me Jim.

    The bombs were probably 250lb - can't recall if the Blenheims were able to carry 500lb in 1941 without looking, but for ship bombing, 4 bombs are better than 2 in respect of hitting chance.

    The twin engined escort was probably on ASW duties - which might narrow down your search a bit.

    Formation - depends on tactics. By the time of the later Beaufort, skip-bombing had been developed to quite an art of attacking from multiple directions with suppressing fire.

    1941 doctrine on formation and attack was probably more squadron dependent though. Skip-bombing might have even been the cause of the two losses - it was bloody dangerous work, and you were just as likely to shoot yourself down with your own explosion/shrapnel, as crash into sea/ship/colleague

  2. Hi

    I'm the owner of the source of the information. Glad it comes in useful.

    I have since read 'The Ship Hunters', and the author mentions what was probably this raid but did not participate. Apparently the expectation was that it was an easy one (what's so difficult with two freighters and a frigate?).

    I would agree bombload almost certainly 4x250.

    Formation would be Vics with a leader and two trailing on approach, in very close formation, with the leader of the first Vic being the strike leader. But by the time of the attack they would break up and the run would be made individually, since they used a lot of space for evasive maneuvers.

    On the cause of loss, since the reports are quite clear that both planes were hit by AA, I guess the Italians should be given the credit.

    For game purposes I'd make the escort plane a Me 110 of III./ZG26. Could also be a Ju 88 of LG1.

    All the best


  3. Thanks chaps,

    Excellent site Andreas!

    I also thought 4 x 250lb's was the most likely bomb load, especially as the Italian report mentions 'numerous small bombs'.

    The rules give the option of skip or low level glide bombing but, based on what I've read, skip bombing would be the most likely approach here.

    Thanks for the info on the escort aircraft - I might include it in the scenario too, even though it seems to have had little impact.

    The formation details are also great. I was assuming a line astern approach with plenty of jinking to throw off the AAA.

    Thanks again for all the help.

    It should make the write up very straightforward and the game more realistic (I hope)



  4. Jim.

    If you've not already got it, recommend 'Being Silent They Speak' by David J.B. Smith on the Kindle.

    It's the story of HMS Unbeaten, a U-class boat who spent more or less her entire operational career in the Med around this time.

    Entirely worth the one hundred and fifty four pence Amazon are currently asking for it in electronic format.

  5. Nice recommendation. Periscope Patrol is also a good read.

    Regarding the attack run, I think they sometimes also attacked in parallel (but not in formation), to confuse the AA gunners. 'The Ship Hunters' is really quite good in explaining things.

    I am also not sure they really used skip-bombing at this stage. It was as I recall more a case of a very late release that then went straight into the side of the ship.

    All the best


  6. Thanks Andreas,

    I have an old paperback copy of The Ship Hunters at home. I'll dig it out when I get back from France.

    Thanks for the book tips.I can highly recommend Sea Wolves by Tim Clayton.




    Blenheim skip bombing photo. So, skip away.

    Caveat: the IWM collection descriptions are almost always 'of the period' and taken from photographer's notes. They're not always accurate - For example, I've come across some inaccurate descriptions researching the 10 Hussars at Huppy in 1940 (A13s labelled as A10s, or incorrect unit ID).

    It does appear to be the only photo in the collection identified as skip bombing.

  8. Yeah, I wouldn't use that as evidence. :) I'll have a look-see for my collection of The Ship Hunters.

    All the best




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