beneath the waves.
However, the improved weather and the limited intel gained by my submarine contact with the twins pays an immediate dividend, as the Rodney/Nelson group happens upon Scharnhorst and Gneisenau – a surprise sighting, with Allied initiative no less – in zone AJ42, northwest of Scotland.
This was simply incredible. One of the worst possible nightmares for the Germans and despite it being very unlikely it happened!
The Germans enter from the east, my ships from the southwest. My opening round of gunnery adds 2 hull hits, plus a primary, to the already-wounded Scharnhorst; a couple more hull hits and she’ll be slowed. Meanwhile Gneisenau loses a primary, a secondary and 3 hull factors. The return fire from the BC’s takes out two of Rodney’s primary factors, but the real damage is done to Nelson: 3 hull hits and a speed loss, forcing her to drop out of line.
Whew! The Germans have a little luck of their own.
As the Germans attempt to ease away to the east, Rodney gets off another shot at Scharnhorst and manages an AA hit, while four DD’s (Electra, Faulknor, Foxhound and Fearless) attempt to close to torpedo range. With the enemy now outpacing Rodney, he is able to turn his attention to the destroyers. Electra takes a tertiary hit (actually a referred secondary), the DD’s inch closer, then two of them fall prey (one to each BC) in the next gunnery round – Electra and Foxhound are no more. The others draw out of gun range, but do manage to force a second round of combat solely for the sake of making the raiders burn off another round’s worth of fuel. Neither side gets a shot off and the battle ends.
Despite the fact we halved primary gun fire against DDs as a house rule, the DDs still appear to be too vulnerable to primary gun fire.
Turn 8 sees the Germans split up the raiding team as one steams southwest and the other attempts to sail northwest. My guess is that the more heavily damaged Scharnhorst is the northbound one, a hunch that is quickly verified when CL Ceres crosses her path in AI42, rolls another surprise sighting (it’s raining again here at midday) and Allied initiative, and edges close enough on the tactical board to positively ID her. Even damaged, the BC is more than a match for little Ceres; the CL has thoughts about closing to torpedo range, but after surviving five primary and four secondary dice in one gunnery round without taking any hits (she must have done an excellent job of salvo-chasing, muses my opponent), Ceres determines not to press her luck.
While the Ceres would have been an easy target, the Scharnhorst, now only two hull boxes away form a speed loss, could not afford risking any more damage if it wants any hope of getting safely back to Germany.
The Nelson-Rodney TF divides, with Nelson (escorted by 2 DD’s) limping towards