Operational Scenario #4 – “First Sortie”
Allied Player: Pat McCormick
Axis Player: Jim Dauphinais
(from the Avalanche Press website, also contained in rulebook)
With much of the Royal Navy deployed in the South Atlantic hunting the armored cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, the German high command sent Vice Admiral Wilhelm Marschall and the fleet’s only two heavy ships out to sea to take the pressure off the raider. Marschall decided to attack the British cruiser patrol line and threaten the North Atlantic convoy routes. The diversion would also help the 51,000-ton liner Bremen, trapped at the Soviet port of Murmansk, slip back home through the North Sea. The British had temporarily abandoned Scapa Flow after the shocking sinking of the battleship Royal Oak at her mooring by a German submarine. Several of their heavy ships were docked for refitting and not available, and all available aircraft carriers were hunting Admiral Graf Spee.
The set-up for the Allies (mainly Royal Navy, but with a French contingent) is limited to specific sea zones (or ports) in some cases, and a range of one or two zones from a specific point in others. The basic components are a loose “watch line” of CL’s, AMC’s and CA’s (two each of the latter) from the Denmark Strait (between Iceland and the Greenland Ice Shelf) to near Norway. Various other groups start in ports in England, Scotland and Ireland, plus a French group in Brest. (One unusual British group is a “dummy battleship” squadron, with two liners apparently disguised as battlewagons, which starts in Greenock, Scotland along with a squadron featuring the slow-but-powerful 16”-gun BB’s Nelson and Rodney.) The Allies also get a few submarines: two British “T” class and two French subs start in the North Sea, while two more “T”-boats (allowed more latitude in set-up than the others) are placed in the northeastern quadrant of the board, north-northwest of Norway, to keep an eye out for Bremen. Finally, two convoys are inbound: HX.8 starts already fairly close to home – less than three days out of Liverpool – while HX.9 sets up in the far western reaches of the map. The convoys represent the raison d’etre for my swarms of surface vessels: it is the convoys which the German raiders will seek.
Naval moves will largely be driven by events, but a few basic Allied plans are in operation. The “watch line” cruisers will do primarily that – attempt to locate the raiders while avoiding close combat – and, depending on developments, some should be free to chase Bremen if she shows up. The two TF’s starting at Greenock will trade a few support ships around as they egress from port, so that any enemy who finds them will not automatically know (by ship count from setup instructions) whether real or dummy BB’s are present. The heavies can then react to the ever-shifting intelligence, while the dummy group sails west to reinforce Convoy HX.9. A smallish TF operating out of Rosyth,