map edge, just east of the pack ice. Probably a decoy, but perhaps Bremen. Maybe my northernmost sub flotilla can get into intercept position this time (meanwhile the other two are moving to the relatively narrow area between Norway and Scotland, where they will both be in the new TF’s ultimate path and will be out of reach of German ASW aircraft.)
Daylight sees the storm lighten to Squall; having already shed too many seaplanes, I fly no ASW but I do send some land planes on Air Search, in case I can luck out with Huff-Duff again. However, I land all but one counter (2 steps) of Hudsons operating out of Aldergrove (Belfast) at the end of Turn 25, just in case weather worsens to Storm and knocks my planes out of the air (at least I think that’s what would happen – need to re-check. No, they would not automatically crash, but they’d have a decent chance.)
In any case, the Squall weather does allow subs to operate, and the U-Boats take a heavy toll of stragglers from HX.9: one in Turn 25, two in Turn 26. Counting Gneisenau’s three, that’s six merchantmen sunk so far (out of 30 in the convoy.) I can’t reach home soon enough, but the sub flotillas doing the damage are squarely in my path. Looks like quite the gauntlet to run for the next few turns – come on, Storm weather! I’ll gladly trade my Hudson steps now on search duty for neutralization of U-Boats (sorry, my Coastal Command comrades.)
Not to mention that, on the other side of Great Britain, an enemy sub sinks (explodes, really) the modern French DD Mogador, part of BC Dunkerque’s “Attack Force,” in AY49. (The Attack Force has been making its way up the east coast, intending to put some teeth – and a ship capable of handling Scharnhorst – into the Bremen patrols.)
An outstanding success for my remaining Type II U-boat in the North Sea. The Mogador is worth more VPs than the older small British CLs.
But it seems that I might no longer have to worry about “Gluckstein”, for in Turn 26 she stumbles into Hood and three DD’s in AS31! A surprise sighting – and once again RN initiative!
Two nasty surprise sightings in one game. Amazing!
The combatants set up four hexes apart, max sighting range in a squall. Hood’s first two salvoes (10 dice, then 9 dice) net 4 hits, wiping out Gneisenau’s tertiaries and most of her AA, plus one secondary and a primary. Return fire leaves Hood with only primaries to continue the contest, and one less of those. Her third salvo hits hard, taking out the last of the German’s non-primary weapons and adding two hull hits through “excess damage” as well – plus another hull hit in salvo #4. In return, Gneisenau is able to destroy the last of Hood’s AA, and add four total hull hits besides, by the time she has shot four times. In the final exchange of Round 1, German guns miss while Hood tallies two primaries and a hull.
Gneisenau is in deep trouble. She is down to two primary factors, no other weaponry, and is at exactly 50% hull damage, meaning the next hull hit will drop her speed to 2.