Sunday, 7 April 2013

Bag The Hun Convoy Game [3]

The all important rules for flak!

Here's the action from the perspective of the Italian convoy commander, Lieutenant-Commander B. de Moratti, once again from the very thorough and well researched article by Andreas on his invaluable Crusader Project blog:

At 15.02 the left vessel advised of three enemy bombers which approached the convoy in low-level flight. The formation at that moment was as follows: Partenope in front, zig-zagging, steamer Priaruggia and tanker A Fassio in line abreast (Fassio to the right), with Priaruggia slightly behind. The escorting plane was far off, ahead of the formation.

The three Bristol Blenheim planes formed in an offset formation on the left of the convoy, coming roughly from the north-east. Partenope immediately opened fire with its central 20mm gun at a distance of about 800 metres. While turning and climbing the planes dropped a series of small bombs and strafed the convoy with machine guns. Of the bombs, one hit Priaruggia at the base of the funnel, the others drop to the left and right of the steamer, as well as between Partenope and the steamer.

Almost at the same time, two planes appear to be hit by the precise fire of Partenope, one in a staggering turn trying to touch down on the water, hitting hard, and then dives into the sea breaking up. The other, on fire, still manages a half turn, then dives into the sea head first, vanishing completely. The third plane carries out a wide turn, then continues to remain cruising for some minutes.

I am turning around, and order Fassio to remain in the area, zig-zagging. I am moving towards the life boats and rescue floats of the Priaruggia which, after emitting abundant black smoke and steam, now appears intact everywhere apart from the centre, where it shows damage to the base of the funnel, the masts, and the loading equipment. I am ordering to put the wounded on board of Partenope, and the able to return on board the steamer to prepare the tow.

In the meantime I move to the area where the remains of one of the shot-down planes are and where a wounded airman reacts to calls. I set the whaler into the sea to recover the airman and a yellow bag, which contained emergency signalling equipment. The wounded airman is tended to together with the wounded of the Priaruggia. He shows splinter wounds on the right knee and leg, and other wounds on the forehead, the right hand, and the front of his body.

This gives the me the relative positions and movements of the three Italian ships, as well as the approach position and formation of the Blenheims as they came into the attack run.

It's also interesting to compare the description of the AAA fire from the British and Italian reports. The RAF account suggests the anti-aircraft fire from the 'large m/v', presumably the tanker but possibly the freighter, was the decisive factor, while the Italian account suggests that the flak from the convoy escort Partenope was the more effective due to it's 'precise fire'.

I'll have to think through the flak ratings for the three ships, with one or other being rated as 'experts' to reflect both the Italian and British view of events and make the scenario accurate. I also have to think of the best way to incorporate the machine gun 'strafing' of the convoy by the Blenheims, as this adds an element to the attack that I hadn't considered in much depth.

The escorting twin engine aircraft, which Andreas has suggested as an Me110 of III/JG26 or Ju88 of LG1, clearly played no role in the engagement as it was miles ahead of the convoy and, presumably, had insufficient speed to reach the convoy area before the Blenheims were away. I may still incorporate the arrival of the escort aircraft into the scenario, probably using the Ju88 as I have a nice Museum Miniatures Ju88A4 in the spares box that I quite fancy painting up.

Many thanks to Andreas and Dunc for their advice and ideas...very useful and much appreciated.


  1. Strafing from the pair of .303 would probably be best for upsetting the AA gunner's aim.

    Which, if you're going to factor that in, might be worth bringing a 'nerve' roll in for the Blenheims if they're hit by AA fire; It takes a brave man to fly into head-on AA fire with nothing by glass in front of you!

    I seem to remember 'never pull up early' was drilled into USN (or maybe FAA) torpedo bomber pilots - soon as you pulled back on the stick you were guaranteed to be shot down.

    We've also dabbled with identification rolls for AA Gunners - although this is disingenuous, as any AA Gunner worth his salt would shoot first, identify later.

  2. I wouldn't bother with ID rolls. If it comes in on an attacking low-level approach, you'll shoot at it. Ask questions later.

    You might also want to give the Partenope her nice wartime camo, and not use the high-vis red/white stripes?

    All the best


  3. Thanks chaps,

    Some good ideas!

    Another update on the way.


  4. Jim, do you play Combat Flight Simulator II?



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