improved weather to find and sink a romper from HX.9. There goes my perfect convoy escort record…still, with Rodney now in the area, as well as Hood, if the German persists and the weather holds, I should have a fair chance to catch her (her attack pinpoints her for me in AP26, just one zone from the convoy.) And if she hangs around and hunts just a hair too long, the Stringbags of Furious should be in range in a day or so. Or if she persists too far east, she’ll come within range of my Beaufort torpedo bombers at Aldergrove, while still far from the protection of Luftwaffe fighters in Germany.
Arrrgh! Radio detection removes some of the British guessing in regard to the current objective of the Scharnhorst. Fortunately for the Germans, the British are not in a position to exploit the detection.
I decide on Turn 20 to move my fighters from Digby to the airfield in AC49, and to hover my French TF within 2 zones of that strip – if I expect German air attack, I’ll send the fighters on a protective sweep. Don’t know if the Huns will take the bait, though.
On this same turn I somehow, against all odds, manage to sink a Type II U-Boat in the North Sea (Zone AX53.) My guess is the Catalina popped out of a low rain cloud and stumbled across the sub running on the surface.
Also this turn, I finally make contact with the elusive German TF off the coast of Norway – and it turns out I have been chasing (as Jim puts it) a Norwegian freighter. Well, at least I know it was a decoy now. Time to send my ships home to rest and refuel for the next enemy sortie.
I got outstanding "mileage" out of that first dummy task force.
And HX.9 loses a second straggler to Gneisenau, who deftly avoids contact with several of my TF’s (the convoy and my “loose escort” of dummy battleships zigged directly into the German’s path, then out again, without contacting her) before sending the unlucky freighter into the icy depths of the Atlantic.
Gneisenau continues her rampage in Turn 21, now fading off to the west (and closer to Repulse and Furious, though not in Air Search range just yet) but still finding another romper. My Catalinas spot another sub near the previous kill, this time in AW52, but are unable to attack it before it crash dives. (It’s probably from the same flotilla as the one I sunk.) And just ahead of HX.9, directly in her path but a shade east, a U-Boat finds Rodney sailing solo as she intends to join the dummy BB squadron. A torpedo hits her square amidships, marking off four hull boxes and taking out her hull-mounted torpedo equipment. Finally, as dusk falls I lose 2 of the 3 Catalina steps landing in the rain and deepening skies at Belfast, though my Sunderlands survive landing at Greenock.
So far, commerce raiding is going very well for the Gneisenau. The Germans also get a lucky torpedo hit on the unescorted Rodney.
Overnight, weather turns to Squall and then Storm, and nothing of consequence occurs other than some TF rearranging on my part. Oh, yeah: two new German TF’s appear. One sails slowly out of Wilhelmshaven, most probably the light ships that opened the game in the North Sea. The other appears almost as far west as possible on the north