Thursday, August 27, 2020

Brandenburg-class battleships ~ record cards

And so on to the Brandenburg class, Germany's first sea-going battleships. Comprising SMS Brandenburg, Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, Weissenburg, and Wörth, the class came into service in 1893, and had an unusual arrangement of three main gun turrets that foreshadowed the armament layout of the Dreadnoughts. The centre pair of guns were of shorter calibre than the others in order to avoid fouling the deck houses. With a respectable broadside of six 11 inch guns, 15 inch average thickness of armour belt and 16.5 knots speed, they could about hold their own against a Royal Navy battleship of the same period. 

Against the wishes of Admiral Tirpitz in 1900 the class was sent in its entirety to reinforce the German East Asia Squadron during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. Commanded by Konteradmiral Richard von Geißler, they arrived too late to do more than contribute to mopping up operations. They served with the fleet until the increasing numbers of Dreadnought class battleships made them obsolete. 

Ottoman Odyessey

When Kaiser Wilhelm II began to make diplomatic overtures to the Ottoman Empire, Weissenburg and Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm were sold to the Turks in September-October 1910. Renamed Torgud Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin, respectively, after famous Ottoman admirals, they saw service against the Italians (then nominal German allies) and again in the series of Balkan Wars, providing artillery support to Ottoman ground forces in Thrace and engaging Greek ships during the ineffective naval skirmishes at Battle of Elli and Lemnos. A lack of suitably trained crew led to a steady degrading of the ships' sailing and fighting capacity, and they suffered badly in two encounters with the Greek navy armored cruiser Georgios Averof, leaving them in poor shape just two years after delivery.

Even so, both Torgud Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin managed to give a good account of themselves in the Dardanelles Campaign, shelling ANZAC troops along Gallipoli. Barbaros Hayreddin/Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm was dispatched by a single torpedo from Royal Navy HMS E11, which had penetrated the Sea of Marmara, in August 1915, sinking with half her crew.

After the war the two ships were in poor shape. Torgud Reis was repaired and remained on active duty until at least 1933 and endured as an accommodations hulk for another two decades, only being broken in the late 1950s. With that, I believe she was one of the final 19th Century pre-Dreadnoughts left. Two turrets were removed from her in 1925 and repurposed into coastal artillery to cover the Dardanelles, where they remain to this day


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Apollo Second class Protected Cruisers

A little more progress with the record cards for pre-Dreadnought games. These are for the Royal Navy's Apollo-class. Under the rules the number of secondary armament guns and any torpedo tubes is halved to represent weapons bearing on each broadside being knocked out.

Technically the class was obsolete by 1903, most of them being laid-up. In 1908 Apollo and six others of her class were converted to mine-layers. I'm giving them a little longer lease of life.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Old School Naval Rules

Wonder of wonders I finally managed to lay hold of my copy of Paul Hague's Sea Battles in Miniature naval rules.

My interest here is the WW1 rules, which covers pre-Dreadnoughts quite handily. They are old school, which suits me fine since I'm not looking for complexity. The scale is for 1/4800, but can be adapted for the larger 1/2400 without trouble.

Hague divides warships into Capital and light ships. Each type has its own style of record card. I made out a set for the German Kaiser Frederich III class, shown below. 

Once I have a few sets of records made up for both sides I'll play a game to refamiliarise myself with the flow of play.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

London calling

HMS London, that is, along with Bulwark, Venerable, Queen and Prince of Wales.

A powerful squadron of London class battleships and Cressy class armoured cruisers patrol off Cape Trafalgar of blessed memory.

Three London class ships were laid down in 1898. Comprising London, Bulwark, and Venerable they completed in 1902. HMS Queen and Prince of Wales followed, being laid down in 1901 and completed in 1904. The latter were more properly a sub-class of the London, being identical externally but with a different arrangement of armour plating. The class served in Home waters and the Mediterranean.

All but Bulwark survived the First World War. Bulwark became a casualty at 7.50am on November 26th, 1914 when an explosion ripped her apart as she lay at anchor in the River Medway. The explosion cost the lives of over seven hundred men and was heard as far away as London. At first sabotage was suspected, but as she had taken on ammunition the day before it was later thought that a defective lyddite shell was the culprit.

At the moment I'm trying to track down my copy of Sea Battles in Miniature by Paul Hague. The book was published in 1981, and has a number of rules sets for periods all the way from ancient galley warfare to the First World War. I remember the latter rules give a great, quick game and think they'd be preferable to the overly-complex sets I have now.


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