|Spot the Radar?|
I've spent some time today thinking through the strengths and weaknesses of the French fleet in the Victory at Sea club campaign. On paper, the French look like a pretty strong option, which reflects the size of the Marine Nationale Francais as the fourth largest naval force in the world. However, there are some loopholes that have me angling for any advantage that I can squeeze out of the options in the rules.
On the plus side, I have at least one and possibly two very modern battleships with excellent firepower, speed and range. The only issue is a lack of radar but the Richelieu was fitted with a French radar system in 1941, so I can make a case for inclusion of radar capability which has some historical support. The Dunkerque and Strasbourg are also very handy, even without the advantage of radar.
I also have some excellent heavy and light cruisers, especially the Suffren and La Galissonierre class ships, together with some fast, well armed destroyers. There are some issues with both armour protection and anti-aircraft capability but this doesn't detract from the overall strength of the designs. I also have some half decent submarines, which could be very handy in convoy warfare scenarios.
On the minus side, the modernised dreadnoughts are both slow and clunky, with limited range and hitting power. The only aircraft carrier that I can deploy is very slow and poorly equipped, so air strikes are unlikely to have much impact when compared to the opposition. There are some question marks over the older cruisers and destroyers as well, particularly in armour and firepower.
A bit of a mixed bag, which means that I'll have to be on my toes when up against the more technologically advanced fleets in the campaign. I'm making a case for the campaign to be set in 1942 at the latest, which should limit the options open to some players while giving the weaker nations like the Italians and French at least a chance of success. Let's hope the pre-game negotiations pay off?