Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Schnell rules for Schnellboote Destroyer Down!

I set up another scenario for SRFSB this afternoon, with a destroyer on convoy escort intercepting a lone S Boat as it tried to penetrate the convoy defences. The destroyer was a Hunt class I, HMS Exmoor, while the S Boat was an S-38 class, S-47. The Kriegsmarine were given three dummy markers, which would only be revealed after being spotted, while HMS Exmoor was deployed as normal. The idea was to represent a typical night time encounter somewhere in E Boat Alley c1941.

In Turn One the three dummy S Boats deployed in line abreast at the Eastern end of the table, while HMS Exmoor positioned herself at the Western end on a course at right angles to the approaching torpedo boats. There was no spotting as both sides were almost a metre apart, so well out of range. In the movement phase, HMS Exmoor moved first as a Very Large ship, performing a 15 point turn to starboard which brought her onto a reciprocal course with the enemy. The three S Boat markers advanced at slow speed toward the convoy screen, with the southern most boat accelerating to Fast in order to gain a lead.

No doubt alerted by the engine noise from the last S Boat manoeuvre, or perhaps from a radio intercept by the HEADACHE W/T operator, the captain of HMS Exmoor ordered a star shell to be fired by the forward 4'' guns. This burst in between two of the S Boats after deviating by 20cm to the South West of the intended target. So far, so good for the crafty Kriegmarine but the destroyer captain was definitely onto something.

In Turn Two the afterglow of the star shell enabled a successful automatic spot attempt for the Royal Navy, with the range now down to 75cm. I rolled a D6. Using an ad-hoc approach, I determined that on a roll of 1-2 the target would be the real thing but on a 3-6 it would be a dummy. The result was a 2, so the dummy markers were removed and S-47 was revealed. I suppose I could have kept the other two markers on the table but, as I was playing solo, I went with the easier option. 

Now the fun started, with the Royal Navy moving first due to the relative size of the destroyer compared to the S Boat. The captain ordered a 15 point starboard turn to bring HMS Exmoor onto a right angled course, crossing the bows of the approaching enemy. This would enable all guns on the destroyer to bear at the risk of exposing the flank of the ship to a torpedo attack. The commander of S-47 increased speed to Fast and accelerated toward the destroyer, ready to fire a salvo of torpedoes before the enemy had time to realise the threat and could blow his craft out of the water.

In the firing phase the S Boat was out of range but the destroyer could bring both 4'' twin mounts into action, the quad Pom Pom being also out of range. The range was 40cm requiring a modified  10+ on a D20 to hit. The aft gun crew scored an unmodified 1, so failed miserably, but the forward crew rolled an 18, which was modified down to a 12. A Hit!

The damage dice were rolled then modified due to target size and weapon calibre, to give a score of 5 and 15 for the hits from the twin 4'' mounting. This caused a Heavy Damage and Wrecked result so, taking the highest level of damage sustained, I rolled for the impact on weapon mounts, speed and manoeverability. All the gun mounting on S-47 were knocked out, probably due to flying splinters and blast, whilst speed and manoeuvre ratings were reduced two levels to medium. Ouch!

However, the immediate torpedo phase meant that S-47 could fire a spread of two 21'' torps directly into the path of HMS Exmoor, at a point blank range of just under 40cm. I decided to use the alternative torpedo rules, so placed two torpedo markers 15cm in front of the S-Boat, in a spread pattern based on the triangular template I had pinched from Action Stations. These would hit home next turn.

In Turn Three, the captain of HMS Exmoor realised the danger and ordered an immediate hard turn to port, in order to comb the torpedo tracks. This looked like it was going  work as the destroyer was now positioned neatly between the two oncoming torpedo markers. In an attempt to get away as fast as possible, the commander of S-47 ordered a full starboard turn of 18cm, with a final 2cm forward move away from the on-rushing destroyer. With all of the 20mm guns knocked out, the S Boat was incapable of defending herself so could only hope to out run the enemy (I would have laid some smoke floats at this point, if they were in the rules).

A salvo of forward 4" fire splashed into wake of the S Boat as it disappeared into the darkness. I had rolled a measly 5 to hit, which when modified down to 3 for the small target, meant that the shells had missed. Perhaps the gunners had been put off their aim by the sudden  swing to port, or by the two torpedo tracks that were bubbling their way down the port and starboard sides of the ship. Who knows?

Whatever the reason for their poor aim, the torpedoes now found their mark. In the alternative torpedo rules if a torpedo travels within 5cm of the target a potential hit could occur. I rolled a D20 for each of the torpedoes, modifying the score for target speed and size, with a final result of 11 and 21. I needed  14+ so one of the torps had hit, perhaps as  result of its magnetic proximity fuse actually working for a change. A damage modifier of +11 minus 4 gave  a base modifier of 9. I rolled 2 on the D6, giving a total damage score of 11. This was just enough to blow the bows off the destroyer and send her to the bottom. 

I really enjoyed this game and thought it gave a very historical outcome. In fact, the real HMS Exmoor was sunk by a torpedo hit from S-30 in February 1941 in just this way, although with a hit to the stern rather than forward. It was great to try out the rules for torpedoes which seemed to work very well and to have a go at using a destroyer sized ship, rather than just small coastal craft. I didn't have to work anything out either, which meant that there was no head scratching involved. 

Thanks again to David Manley for a cracking set of free fast play coastal warfare rules!

(I forgot to take any photos again so here's one of HMS Exmoor instead)


  1. Score one for the Kreigsmarine. A damaged cheap and cheerful S-boat in exchange for a DE sent to the bottom.

  2. Yes indeed. I think an Iron Cross has been well and truly earned!



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