Author Archives: Fishbreath

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Feb. 26, 2020)

It’s still the 26th.

Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague

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History

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Grab Bag


  1. Footnoted to avoid a mega-paragraph. They also mention the Zuma satellite, a ‘failed launch’ which may not have been a failure. We discussed it some little while back. I don’t think an amateur ground-to-orbit radar is quite plausible, but tracking black satellites would be a fun game if it were. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Feb. 19, 2020)

Making up for a light week last week, a heavier one this time around.

Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague

Defense

History

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Lighter Notes

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Feb. 12, 2020)

By order of the Central Commission for Calendrical Gynmastics, today is Wednesday for the next, oh, three to five minutes.

Wuhan Coronavirus

Defense

Science and Technology

  • Jailbreaking used Teslas – Tesla, in the same manner as noted corporate villain John Deere, believes that a durable good and the software that powers that durable good are sold separately. Buyers of used Teslas rightfully do not like this.

History

Guns

Lighter News

Rule the Waves 2: To February, 1913

March 1912

A good start to our campaign of trade warfare: our raiders sank six German merchants and one submarine.

A British light cruiser, the Phaeton, an obsolete 21-knot light cruiser, joins Lavoisier and Isly for a cruiser battle off of Bergen. It’s 11:37 a.m., and the weather is good but windy.

Unfortunately, the German cruisers show up and the French battlecruisers do not, so the French admiral bravely turns his ship to starboard and runs for the safety of Scapa Flow. Phaeton gives it her best, but the two 24-knot German cruisers are on hand, and she isn’t fast enough to escape.

April 1912

Here it is. The big one.

001-battle

The Battle of Texel

002-set-the-stage

Today’s forces include the full French fleet: three battlecruisers, one battleship, our entire predreadnought force, and a smattering of light cruisers and destroyers. Joining us are one British dreadnought, the Mars, and Anson, an 18-knot predreadnought, along with their escorting destroyers.

This is the first battle in which our scouting force (the battlecruisers and the three Isly-class light cruisers) are operating separately.

The weather is good, and it’s just after dawn. Let’s see what comes of the day.

5:37 a.m.

Linois, the sole light cruiser scouting for the main fleet today, spots a light cruiser to the north. It immediately turns northwest, which puts it on a collision course with the battlecruiser force.

6:03 a.m.

The enemy light cruiser turns due east.

6:21 a.m.

003

Linois spots another ship, as the battlecruisers race east.

6:53 a.m.

The enemy’s battle line comes into slight.

004

7:08 a.m.

As the lines converge, our Courbet is the first to take a hit—a harmless one to the superstructure.

The lead divisions are now engaged—Devastation firing eight-gun broadsides at the German Ostfriesland, the super-pre-dreadnought from last time, leading the way.

7:23 a.m.

005

The battlecruisers slot into the battle line just ahead of the lead battle division. The Ostfrieslands leading the German line turn away, although it may just be to open the range. (Their guns reach further than ours do.)

7:44 a.m.

For once, the gunnery duel in the early going is favoring the good guys—four hits to one.

8:00 a.m.

006

The front of the German line has turned north-northeast, so in the hopes of catching the back of the German line unawares, I order a near-180-degree turn, so that while the Germans are heading north, we’ll be heading south.

8:20 a.m.

I am content to call that a smart move. The German super-pre-dreadnoughts have disappeared off to the northeast, and the Allied line is in good order while the German battleships are entirely out of sorts.

8:59 a.m.

007

The Germans are attempting to retire from the field. Several of their predreadnoughts are heavily damaged. I expect we’ll be able to finish them off. After all, we still have… nine hours and fifty minutes before dusk.

9:26 a.m.

Duquesne takes a torpedo hit and falls out of line.

10:01 a.m.

Duquesne‘s torpedo hit proves fatal, but we get revenge for her with a torpedo to one of the Elsass-class pre-dreadnoughts still engaged.

11:00 a.m.

A glorious victory is in progress. While the German fleet ran, we managed to peel off six predreadnoughts, which we are currently hammering with a superior force.

Results

Seven predreadnoughts down, for the price of one battlecruiser (to be replaced next month; Lyon was delayed again) and two destroyers (cheap and easy to rebuild, although the question of when is a harder one).

Torpedoes proved critical on both sides, sinking Duquesne and contributing heavily to the sinkings of a number of German battleships.

009
010

011

In the after-action map, you can see the critical elements of the battle: the turn to the north to parallel the German battle line, the reversal south which permitted the German super-pre-dreadnoughts to escape but allowed us to finish off a large number of the pre-dreadnoughts, and the long mop-up to the east-northeast.

The game calls it a minor French victory, on the basis that we lost a battlecruiser. I say it’s better than a mere minor victory.

May 1912

Lyon, designed as a 25-knot battlecruiser, has difficulty making her design speed in trials. She’ll go into the books as a 24-knot battlecruiser instead. I should have liked her to be a bit faster.

To replace her on the ways, the new Requin class goes into development. On the (admittedly German) theory that the first duty of a warship is to stay afloat, she retains a 12″ armament (our quality-0 12″ guns served us in good stead in the last fleet battle, and twelve of them helps with the smaller shell). Her 22-knot speed suffices for our current battle line (lacking oil, high speed is hard for us right now), and her 14″ belt is more than enough to stop shells from the guns we’re likely to face.

013-requin

French raiders have a successful month, sinking eleven German merchants.

June 1912

On the 23rd, coastwatchers detect a German raid approaching Calais. Nine battleships and two battlecruisers put to sea in response: Devastation (our sole dreadnought, currently); Courbet (one of our two Trident semi-dreadnoughts); Ocean, Solferino, La République, Magenta (four predreadnoughts); Tourville and Dunkerque (the surviving Duquesne-class ships); and a surprise appearance from Mars, Jupiter, and Majestic, three British dreadnoughts.

The weather is breezy and overcast, but patrol boats and coastal lookouts indicate that a) the German force is quite small, and b) it’s headed directly for the narrowest part of the Channel.

014
The dot in the northeast portion of the map is an old sighting report. The line is the freshest report, along with an indication of where the enemy is, provided the sighting report’s course and speed were correct.

It’s relatively early in the morning, and being so close to the solstice means we’ll have ample time to defeat the Germans if we can trap them.

At 10:44 a.m., leading elemnents of the Scouting Force sight German ships.

By 11, it’s clear that a decent porton of the German fleet is out to play, but crucially, not all of it. I don’t think we’re going to catch the modern German ships (Ostfriesland and Rhineland, two of the super-pre-dreadnoughts), but we might end the careers of a few more German predreadnoughts if we’re lucky.

In the final reckoning, the French Navy bags all three of the predreadnoughts on the field.

015

A glorious victory. As an added bonus, it breaks the German blockade.

July 1912

In technological news, we’ve unlocked destroyers of up to 1100 tons. Perhaps a new design to replace some of those we’ve lost?

The battle this month is another fleet battle, a few dozen miles west-southwest of Brest.

Devastation is in the yards, undergoing repairs from so facing the German forces in the area are our two Duquesne-class battlecruisers (regrettably, Lyon has not finished her working up), our eight pre-dreadnought battleships, and two British dreadnoughts (Jupiter, an obsolete 6-gun/18-knot model, and Mars, a 10-gun/22-knot model which has played a starring role in multiple battles so far.)

Facing us are (probably) the two German super-pre-dreadnoughts, the remaining nine standard pre-dreadnoughts, and some light units. I’d say we have slightly better than even strength, and we’re notably well-positioned this time. We have the shorter path back to the Channel, where the German fleet would probably prefer to run, we’re downwind of them (so our smoke will blow away and theirs will get in their way), and our battlecruisers are to the north of the Germans.

016
With the scouting force in advance of the main fleet and light cruisers spread out in a search line, La Royale occupies quite a lot of ocean.

12:45 p.m.

That’s the only downside—we’re into the afternoon. Seven hours until dusk isn’t a ton, but hopefully it’ll be enough.

12:55 p.m.

The scouting force catches sight of the enemy battle line. We should be able to cut them off with time to spare.

017

14:04 p.m.

A near-textbook approach completed, the fleet closes to range and prepares to turn in line with the enemy.

018

15:45 p.m.

The German heavy units make it away, but it’s entirely possible we’ll sink most of the German Navy’s remaining pre-dreadnought fleet today.

019

Results

Night falls on another dramatic French victory. At the cost of one pre-dreadnought and a few destroyers, we sank seven German pre-dreadnoughts.

020

Tourville and Dunkerque, gunnery champions in the preceding battle by a country mile, are joined by Lyon in the aftermath, whose 15″ guns will give the battlecruiser squadron unprecedented reach and striking power.

July 1912, cont’d.

On the basis that the German fleet is now, in large part, at the bottom of the Atlantic, I’m planning on sending the battlecruisers to the Mediterranean once they’ve been patched up, where they can begin to whittle down the German cruiser force, which is largely deployed there. Britain’s contributions to the war effort have been most satisfactory in Northern Europe, so between our battleships and theirs I suspect we can keep the Germans bottled up.

In terms of war goals, I don’t have designs on many of the German colonies, which are all outside of our invasion range anyway. My primary objective is to impose debilitating reparations (which has never backfired for France re: Germany), with which I can continue to modernize the fleet even on a low-tension, peacetime budget.

August 1912

021-crush
I feel justified in picking this option.

Of course, just after delivering that ultimatum, we lose the Lavoisier (second of her name) to a magazine explosion in a light cruiser action off of St. Nazaire. This calls for a new class.

022-lavoisier

September 1912

A cruiser action in the Bay of Biscay sees Dunkerque, left behind in Northern Europe to finish repairs while her sisters sailed for Marseilles, send two German light cruisers to the bottom, a fitting revenge for Lavoisier.

December 1912

A few boring months end with an extraordinary victory.

023-victory-again

I feel a little bad about not taking screenshots during the battle, but really, it wasn’t very exciting. The British indicated that a German convoy was on its way from Norway to Germany proper, carrying iron ore. The French fleet sortied, joined by a pair of British dreadnoughts, and, crucially, a flotilla of British destroyers. Rather than flee and let the convoy be destroyed utterly without a fight, the three German super-pre-dreadnoughts turned to close the range and bring their large secondary batteries to bear, at which point accurate torpedo work by the British destroyers slowed them to the point where we could overwhelm them with volume of fire.

There were some interesting bits of cruiser action off to the north of the main battle, where French ships darted in toward the convoy while Germans shuffled east and west to fend them off.

The game keeps track of your glorious victories, and proposes names. In terms of strategic decisiveness, I feel like this fits, even if it was a) a little smaller than the historical one, and b) much more tactically decisive.

024

January 1913

025

Intel has some juicy news. The German ships must be very fast indeed, because our battlecruisers are just about even with theirs, and substantially lighter.

Wrap-Up

After one year of war, the combined might of the Allied navies has utterly swept the Germans from command of the sea. They have no dreadnoughts, battlecruisers, or battleships of any kind afloat. The German heavy cruiser force has been a non-factor in the war so far; much of it is currently in the Mediterranean, cut off from its bases.

French naval superiority is about to get even bigger—in two months, Redoubtable will be in service, followed five months later by Marengo. Four new destroyers will join the fleet around the same time to fill in for losses; two new light cruisers are under construction and due in about a year and a half.

The victory point totals are extremely favorable to us: 40,340 to 14,843. We have, understandably, gained somewhat in prestige as well: up to 29, our peak so far. When the war ends, I’m not much inclined to push for colonies. Germany doesn’t have very many good ones, having started the race when the leaders were already halfway through, and reparations will help us keep building ships when the postwar budget crunch comes.

To replace the two new dreadnoughts coming soon, I have it in mind to start another next-generation Requin-class dreadnought, and to design a cost-controlled battlecruiser—something with 9 12″ guns, 12″ armor, and 27-knot speed is well within reason.

I’m going to cut this update short here—covering two years of war in great detail, especially if it’s this eventful, is tricky.

Your thoughts on strategy, planning, and shipbuilding welcome.

Rule the Waves 2: To February, 1912

July 1910

Tensions still run about as high as they can possibly run with Germany without a war, when an unwelcome event pops up.

001

We can ignore the Navy Minister, but that’ll ding our prestige and budget badly. We can commit to building half as many destroyers, but that commits us to a potentially-silly course of action without any funding to make up for it.

So, I take the deal. I’ll build a few destroyers as a tip of the hat to the naval minister, and will take the ding in prestige when he gets mad about my lack of 15 destroyers at once—unless we go to war with Germany first, which resets the clock altogether.

August 1910

002

A discount Lyon? How can I say no, even if the conning tower armor is missing? The Lille-class will be there if I want one later.

003

The naval minister changes his mind.

004
The yards are humming, but not with eight cruisers.

At least we’re putting the money to better use.

September 1910

I don’t recall if this event raises tensions with other nations, but we’re about to find out. The chance to beat up on Austria-Hungary is too sweet to ignore.

005

It doesn’t raise tensions with Germany, but also doesn’t get us near a war with Austria-Hungary, either. Since Germany is looking like our most likely dance partner, let’s take a look at their Jane’s Fighting Ships page.

006

… interesting. Unless I miss my guess…

007

… Germany’s ‘dreadnoughts’ aren’t, or at least, they aren’t on the grounds of armament. That’s an absurd amount of belt armor, though.

Their other heavy units are pretty ordinary. Their 23-knot armored cruisers are a little faster than the Mediterranean average, but they would still be easy prey for our original Duquesne-class battlecruisers (24-knot speed, 11″ guns, armor against same). The size of their pre-dreadnought battle line is a bit concerning, though.

December 1910

008

No, we can’t guarantee a victory. It hurts our prestige, but increases the budget. With the extra cash, I lay down another Redoubtable-class dreadnought, this one to be called Marengo.

009

French engineers have developed a 16″ naval gun, which we won’t really be able to mount in anything for a little while yet.

January 1911

I’ve never been at such a high-tension fever pitch for so long without a war starting. The money is nice. The brinksmanship is tense.

Italy has a 27,000-ton battlecruiser under construction, which is worryingly large. Our heaviest ship to date is 23,600 tons.

One of the nice things about playing Rule the Waves 2 in AAR fashion is that there’s less of a tendency to rush. Because I have to write things down, I have more of an incentive to take my time.

February 1911

I take the expected prestige hit from failing to build eight cruisers at once, leaving me… exactly where I was before the request, except with a bigger budget.

March 1911

We develop oil-fired boilers, which is all well and good, except we don’t have access to oil.

April 1911

Our steadfast allies the British want to buy some shell technology off of us. I happily sign off on it; it’ll buy us another month or two at our fever pitch of shipbuilding. There are currently two battleships and two battlecruisers in the yard, two each of the Redoubtables and Lyons, along with a light cruiser and three destroyers.

May 1911

Wonder of wonders, tensions with Germany are slightly reduced.

French naval architects have hit upon the idea of superfiring forward turrets as well, which is apt to yield a very traditional-looking 10- or 12-gun dreadnought (two turrets forward, one superfiring; two turrets aft, one superfiring) when the money is there, in ten or twelve months.

June 1911

010

Italy’s new light cruiser is now the Mediterranean’s fastest. I believe our ships are a match for it, though, given that our fleet-service cruisers have quality-1 6″ guns—more or less equivalent to standard 7″ guns.

011

Word of German experiments with airships has reached France, and not to be outdone, we begin to look into the idea.

July 1911

Continued problems in the shipyards have delayed a number of our vessels—in particular, the two Lyons have not been trouble-free ships, each delayed by a month. (Since costs in Rule the Waves are per month rather than overall, delayed ships end up costing us more.)

October 1911

012

Rising tensions between Germany and Great Britain rattle an otherwise calm autumn. War has not yet been declared, but it’s very close.

February 1912

013

Well, it was a good run of peace, but now it’s time to turn the dogs of war loose once again.

The first month’s battle is an inconclusive destroyer action just north of the English Channel. Outnumbered, the French force manages to stay at the edge of the German ships’ range until dark, at which point it retreats into port at Dunkerque. Two old Fauconneau-class destroyers take damage, but neither sinks.

War Planning

What with it being Trademarked Football Game Sunday this week and a beer-brewing day Saturday, I don’t expect to have the time to get too deep into this war before I would have to write the update, so I think the thing to do here is to cut this entry short and sound out the naval staff (i.e., you, the readers) on how this war should be prosecuted.

20,000 Yards: Forces and Shipyard Plans

At present, we have five units of note building:

  • Redoubtable and Marengo, 23-knot, 23,600-ton battleships with 12.5″ belts, 10 12″ guns, and 10 6″ secondary guns, arriving in 12 and 17 months, respectively.
  • Lyon and Marseilles, 25-knot, 22,000-ton battlecruisers with 12″ belts, 6 15″ guns, and 12 4″ secondaries, arriving in 2 and 10 months, respectively.
  • Cassard, a Pascal-class light cruiser, also due in 2 months.

In addition to those, there are eight trawlers in the yards being armed, to run down submarines and serve as cheap trade protection.

Compared to the Germans, we have more full-on dreadnoughts (one), but they have three of what I’d call super-pre-dreadnoughts, with 16″ belt armor and 4 13″ guns, and one presumably more modern dreadnought under construction, due 1914. Our battlecruiser force is superior to theirs. We’ll have five battlecruisers, two of them armed with 15″ guns, before they have a single one (theirs are due 1914 and 1915).

In sum, our dreadnought force is superior (one battleship plus two building, three battlecruisers plus two building), even though we only have second-line ships in service at present. Our first-line ships (by the standard of 1912) will be ready before theirs.

In predreadnoughts, the Germans have a massive edge in numbers (19 to our 8), but even our old La Républiques are superior to all but their latest ships.

The German armored cruiser force is quite large (13 ships to our 5), and their two most recent ones (built 1908 and 1909) feature 10″ guns and 24-knot speed (but very light armor). Otherwise, nothing to write home about. Our Gueydons, though old, can outrun everything but the two recent ships.

In light cruisers, we have the edge in numbers (18 to 12) and in modernity. The best German light cruisers are likely better than our best ships, however, and many of our light cruisers are overseas fulfilling colonial requirements. Further, the Germans are engaged in building a number of light cruisers at present.

In destroyers, the Germans have an edge in numbers (42 to 30). Quality is a toss-up. In submarines, the Germans have an edge.

In general, we’re a bit behind on quantity, and even or ahead on quality. The question here is, what should we focus on? Large ships, and try to nibble away at the Germans where possible? Fast ships, and destroy their commerce and their raiders while avoiding risky fleet actions? Submarines and destroyers, and try to torpedo them into submission?

10,000 Yards: Deployments and Roles

At present, even with the larger part of our fleet stationed in the Northern Europe zone, the German fleet has us blockaded, which will sap our victory points over time. Given how little Great Britain contributed to the last war, I don’t think we can count on them all that much to pitch in.

I’ve taken the liberty of engaging in a a relatively robust raiding campaign out of the gate. Two of the reactivated Gueydons, one Tage, and all four Chateaurenaults have been dispatched to the far corners of the German colonial empire, where they will snatch up merchants left unprotected by the German fleet. Raiders and submarines will earn us easy victory points, which may help make up for the fleet battles we may be avoiding.

Should we focus further on raiding, or keep the fleet closer to home and hope for some even battles?

Should we turn the battlecruisers loose as raiders and raider-hunters, or keep the battlecruisers with the fleet?

Broadside-to-Broadside: Battles and Tactics

As was the case with Italy, our ships are generally faster than their German equivalents. Technology has come far enough now, though, that our older light cruisers and predreadnoughts are slower than some of the ships they might run across in battle.

Given that conditional superiority, the clear choice is to fight this war much like the last ones, engaging only when success is reasonably assured and running from the other fights (or avoiding them altogether). If you have any other ideas, however, I’m all ears.

Status

The above more or less suffices, but for a quick budget report:

The monthly wartime budget is 24,908, of which 11,569 goes to maintenance and 12,828 goes to construction.

Research and intelligence bring us to a monthly deficit of 1,732, with 4,022 in the bank. Two ships coming out of the yards in the next few months will put us back in the black before we run out of money.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Feb. 5, 2020)

One month into 2020 already. Goodness.

Upcoming features for February include a continuation of parvusimperator’s Cadillac Gage commentaries (probably), a holster review (my wife has been pushing me to carry more often), and, of course, the continued exploits of our fictional French Navy for Thursday wargaming.

Wuhan Coronavirus

Defense

Guns

Science and Technology

History

Grab Bag

  • What happened to the Iowa caucus results? – And how are they going to steal the primary from Bernie? (Not that I really care how one part of the left screws over another part of the left, as long as it suppresses left-leaning turnout.)

Rule the Waves 2: To May, 1910

June 1908

We have the chance to establish a protectorate in Iceland, but it doesn’t go well, and a local warlord takes over.

(That’s the fun thing about random events, the randomness.)

The two Mediterranean Gueydons go into the reserve fleet, along with the older Tages and Fauconneaus. Our starting ships are beginning to get the (O) next to their name which indicates that they are obsolete and, more to the point, old—I don’t recall, but that may have reliability-in-battle implications.

July 1908

Tourville and Dunkerque, the other two Duquesne-class battlecruisers, finish their working up and make their way to the Mediterranean.

September 1908

Expanding private shipbuilding and industry yields efficiencies for the Navy, which means another Pascal laid down to replace another Gueydon.

October 1908

Spies get a hold of the blueprints for Italy’s dreadnought.

001

It’s at least on par with our Devastation class. Similar broadside—the Devastation can bring all eight guns to bear on one target, while the Andrea Doria can’t, and has slightly heavier armor, but the Andrea Doria is a little faster.

November 1908

Tensions are rising steadily with Germany. (It isn’t even my doing—tensions can go up without events.)

On the plus side, our next class of battleship will look almost conventional.

002-4-turrets

I lay down another two submarines. We’re falling behind somewhat in that realm, but because our interests are mainly close to home, the cheap coastal boats will suffice for as long as we care to invest in submarines.

March 1909

Germany is clearly pushing for a war with us, which doesn’t bode well. It’s apt to be a strongly commerce-raid-y war on our part. Big fleet actions won’t go well.

Per a reader suggestion, I put the finishing touches on a battlecruiser to mount those new 15″ guns.

003-lyon
Trying something new as far as drawing ship designs goes.

Later note: I just realized I forgot conning tower armor on the Lyon. I guess that’ll be a one-off. Costly mistake.

July 1909

The keel of the first Lyon is laid. Devastation is looking like a one-off, especially since we just developed improved 12″ guns. Perhaps a 10-gun ship will follow.

September 1909

Don’t look now, but tensions with Austria-Hungary are rising. Fingers altogether crossed.

January 1910

Catching flak for not deploying enough in Northern Europe to counter German aggression (tensions ahve been rising again), I begrudgingly move the battlecruisers up that way.

April 1910

We’re on the brink of war with Germany, but a new dreadnought design is on the way:

004-redoubtable
Note the 10-guns-in-4-turrets arrangement. These are quality-0 12″ guns, with a range of about 17,000 yards—better than the 15″ -1 guns on the Lyon/Lille-class, if also less punchy.

I redid the Lyon class with conning tower armor; future ships will be part of the Lille class.

Two-Year Reports

Not much has changed since last time, with the exception of budget (we can just about afford a Redoubtable, a Lille, and the Lyon currently under construction, along with a light ship or two), and high tensions with Germany.

tension

We are still allied with Great Britain, on the one hand; on the other hand, Britain was worth a whopping 100 victory points in the last war. Maybe they’ll be more useful against Germany.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jan. 29, 2020)

Workshop Projects of the Month

Wuhan Coronavirus

Defense

Guns/SHOT Show

Science and Technology

History

Grab Bag

Rule the Waves 2: To May, 1908

By shirking other responsibilities, I managed to fit a full two years in.

June 1906

We uncover an Italian spy, pushing the issue for some extra budget.

July 1906

Britain is working hard to win the new dreadnought race. In addition to their one completed dreadnought, they have four more under construction, along with two battlecruisers.

August 1906

Tensiosn with Germany continue to decrease. I think we might have turned the corner on that crisis.

September 1906

001-cross-deck-fire

A new technology allows us to plausibly design eight- or ten-gun battleships even with our current three-centerline-turret limitation.

002-pistolet

Improved engine technology and doctrinal allowances for 700-ton destroyers let us design our best class yet, with two guns, four torpedo tubes, and 31-knot speed.

October 1906

003-alliance

A historical friend of ours comes calling. We say ‘oui’, and I think this calls for pushing for another war with Italy.

November 1906

Speaking of which…

004-ultimatum

War breaks out. The first battle is a cruiser action where darkness and poor weather guarantee the fleets pass one another in the night.

In addition to the three Duquesne battlecruisers, one Isly light cruiser, and five Pistolet destroyers on the ways, I queue up six corvettes and two armed merchant cruisers equipped with mines, to help take the pressure off of the fleet.

December 1906

Two days before Christmas, three French light cruisers (an Isly and two Tages) supported by a destroyer flotilla embark on a raid on coastal shipping. They’ll arrive south of La Spezia near dusk, doglegging a bit south to hopefully avoid any patrolling Italian ships.

At 2 p.m., the French squadron sights the northern end of Corsica and turns east.

005-north

Just after 4 p.m., the squadron sights one ship moving west-northwest at warship speeds, and turns northwest in pursuit. Another appears on the horizon to the northeast.

At 4:30 p.m., Isly‘s crew spots a line of three ships due north of the squadron, probably armored cruisers. The enemy line turns toward the French squadron just as the sun dips below the horizon, and the French ships elect to make a daring run toward the Italian coast, hoping to search out and sink a coastal merchant or two during the night.

The decision pays off, as the French squadron runs across two transports in quick succession, sinking them both. Isly and Lalande combine to take down the first one, while a torpedo from Isly sinks the second, as its crew flees in small boats.

The job done, the French squadron rings up flank speed and dashes for the Riviera. A major victory for France nets us 968 victory points.

January 1907

On the 28th, two Italian cruisers come across a French Atlantic convoy, facing off against Linois (a Tage-class light cruiser) and a pair of Fauconneaus. The weather is clear, but it’s 4:41 p.m., so the Italian squadron has a limited time during which it can press its attack without attracting torpedo fire in reply.

Confused night fighting sees the loss of both destroyers, but Linois survives and drives off the armored cruisers before they can sink very many freighters. In ship losses, the Italians are the clear victors, but because so much of the convoy survived, it goes in the books as a minor French victory.

February 1907

The Italians put out peace feelers, amusingly. I instruct the government to put the screws to them, and negotiations stall.

After a quiet first few months, French raiders come through in a big way, sinking eleven merchants to the Italians’ 2.

On the 25th, two French light cruisers and a squadron of the newer Francisque destroyers chance upon an Italian convoy southeast of Malta, and sink four transports before fleeing in the face of a superior Italian escort. The objective being six transports, it goes down as a French loss. I disagree, but what are you going to do?

March 1907

This month, it’s a convoy defense. Isly and a pair of Tage-class light cruisers drive off an attack from a similar Italian force. They probably could have defeated the Italians outright, but crews aboard our destroyers misidentified one of their light cruisers as an armored cruiser.

April 1907

Troude, a Tage-class cruiser, rather embarrassingly fails to destroy a bombardment target in Eritrea despite emptying her entire magazine into it.

May 1907

On the 11th, the Italians launch a raid on our coastal facilities. The fleet sorties.

The Battle of Nice

Visibility is good, the weather is pleasant, and we’re in that part of the year where the days are the longest. It’s looking good for something decisive.

007-set-scene

5:21 a.m.

The French fleet sights the Italian fleet to the west, and turns to engage.

6:00 a.m.

Together, the Italian fleet turns away from the French. We give chase.

6:44 a.m.

Sighting the Italian armored cruisers to the north, we ditch the battleships for now, on the theory that a stern chase is a long chase, and we have the speed to catch the cruisers against the French coast.

008

4:57 p.m.

It works. Although the Italian battle line escapes more or less unscathed, three Italian armored cruisers now dot the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The only French loss is the light cruiser Lalande, torpedoed by an enemy submarine as we steam back to port.

009

010-aar

I’m going to recommend zooming in a bit on this one. It’s a busy picture. I’ve put some numbers on it to guide you through the battle.

At 1), the French fleet spots the Italian, and turns to go broadside to broadside. The sharp turn indicates when the Italians began to run.

At 2), the French fleet turns north after the enemy armored cruisers, and at 3), we drive them up against the coast.

West of 3), the Italian cruisers scatter. We pursue a pair of them up to 4), heavily damaging two of them. One, an Amalfi-class, is dead in the water, and destroyers torpedo it until it sinks. Another, also an Amalfi-class, slinks away up the coast, harangued by light forces until I recall them to screen the battle line.

They get recalled because the fleet spots one more Italian cruiser at 5), this one a slower Carlo Alberto type. One or two heavy hits slow it further, so that the battle line can fully catch up. Eventually, the vastly heavier weight of gunfire tells, and it slips beneath the waves at around 13:00.

From that point to 6), the fleet stands to the northwest, in pursuit of the Amalfi which escaped back at 4), coming across it and engaging it further. The brief French turn southwest, near 6), corresponds to the brief Italian sally at 7). After they lose heart, we resume our chase of the Amalfi, ultimately sinking it just before the minefields at Genoa.

It counts as a major victory, which earns us +1 prestige.

June 1907

The Italian navy declines battle over a large French convoy in the Mediterranean, and has no forces in the Indian Ocean to defend against a coastal raid conducted by a French cruiser squadron.

July 1907

An Italian submarine torpedoes the light cruiser Lavosier, a Chateaurenault. Two Italian light cruisers attack a French convoy, opposed by a pair of Tages and five destroyers. Though the French squadron took heavier damage than the Italian one did, the convoy escapes unscathed.

The first Duquesne-class battlecruiser enters service. It’ll need a month or two to finish working up before we can send it to the Mediterranean.

Design studies on the first French dreadnought battleship are finished now. In thirty months, Devastation will come down the ways.

011

August 1907

Getting vengeance for Lavosier is our submarine Euler, which torpedoes and sinks the Italian light cruiser Nino Bixio.

On the morning of the 27th, three Tage-class cruisers and a screen of six destroyers set out for the Italian coast, in search of coastal shipping. The weather is breezy and overcast, but visibility is good.

They sink a pair of ships merchants, managing to evade a pair of patrolling Italian armored cruisers by a daring run nearer the coast.

September 1907

012

The Austrians are building a very obsolete armored cruiser.

013

The French and Italian fleets collide near Nice, very briefly, before twilight intervenes. During the attempted pursuit, Fronde, a Francisque-class destroyer, strikes a mine and sinks. The fleet quickly abandons the chase, and the Italians notch a very marginal victory.

October 1907

014

The Italians have an interesting semi-dreadnought in the works, approximately similar to our Tridents, if a bit slower and much more heavily armed.

Duquesne and Jean Bart (the latter another Isly light cruiser) finish working up, and will be heading to the Mediterranean for a November arrival. Or, as I think about it, they will instead stay in northern Europe on trade protection duty, where they might run across some of the Italian armored cruisers raiding our shipping in that region.

Three Tage-class cruisers raid the Italian coast, this time destroying two merchantmen while fleeing from an Italian fleet headed by one of their 22-knot Amalfi-class armored cruisers. (Sure am glad our ships are fast!)

November 1907

At around 2 p.m. on the 8th, under cloudy skies and a moderate breeze out of the southwest, scouting units of la Marine Nationale spot an unknown vessel sailing toward Nice. The fleet turns that direction.

3:28 p.m.

The Italian fleet, predictably, is running to the west. This time, we have a few hours of daylight, so the battle line pours on some speed and tries to get downwind of the Italians, so as to avoid having to shoot with smoke in our eyes.

4:36 p.m.

015

The Italian battle line comes into view, twelve miles to the east-northeast, heading northwest. We’ll see if we can’t bag a few of these cruisers again; it doesn’t look like the battleships are going to stick around to play.

4:57 p.m.

016

This Carlo Alberto may be a decent armored cruiser. It is not, however, a match for three battleships.

017

At this range, even our inept gunners can hardly miss.

5:29 p.m.

018

The Italian battle line returns as twilight settles in. Soon it’ll be dark; perhaps we’ll be able to run down the Amalfi-class cruiser in front of us.

5:57 p.m.

Night falls. The French fleet takes a northward turn, with an eye toward catching some of the enemies in close and setting the destroyers on them.

7:15 p.m.

The opposite happens; Magenta and La République eat a torpedo a piece. Adroit damage control keeps them afloat, limping back to Nice for patching up.

019-aar

This battle was a bit simpler, and doesn’t need the explanatory numbering. You can se how the French fleet generally kept to the north of the Italian cruisers, and how, to my surprise, the Italian battleships were south of our ships for much of the action, only turning across our bow at about 3:00 p.m. When I first caught sight of them, it was toward the end of that maneuver.

November 1907, cont’d.

The victory point totals stand at 12,096 for the good guys to 4,438 for the Italians.

December 1907

On the 22nd, the Italians attack a French convoy. I had hoped that Duquesne, dispatched to the Mediterranean in pursuit of the Italian armored cruisers formerly of the North Atlantic, would play a role, but alas, she does not. Instead, three La Républiques take to the sea. It turns into a running gun battle that lasts until nightfall—three French battleships (then two, after Friedland took a hit which damaged her engines) against four Italian, plus two Italian armored cruisers.

Surprisingly, the French ships acquitted themselves well—all three battleships took light damage, inflicting light damage in return on two battleships, and medium damage on the two Italian cruisers.

Intelligence indicates that the next-generation German dreadnought has 16″ belt armor—impressive, and four inches thicker than our upcoming Devastation. A quick look at Britain’s dreadnoughts suggests that Germany is an outlier in the direction of heavier protection.

January 1908

The Italians put out peace feelers again. The Navy recommends that we squeeze them as hard as we can, and…

020-armistice
Unfortunately, the ‘considerable war reparations’ appear to be for flavor.

021-gains
Large territorial gains, though…

Unlike the last one, this war bears fruit. While Sardinia would have been a sweet apple to pluck, I decide instead to build a belt of bases around Italy (and, for that matter, Austria).

Finally, with an eye toward retiring some of the Gueydons and mothballing others until such time as naval aircraft are invented, I start on an overseas-service light cruiser design.

022-pascal

March 1908

Shipyards lay down the first Pascal, and our second battlecruiser enters service, with the third due next month.

April 1908

Germany’s aggressive naval program prompts an event which forces us to lose face or raise tensions. I elect for the former, dropping our prestige from 25 to 24.

May 1908

Another pair of Pistolets enters service, bringing the total to six. The shipyards enter their postwar slumber, building a pair of light cruisers (an Isly class, named Lavosier after one of the ships we lost in the war, and Pascal), and Devastation.

I don’t have time for the full update—it’s currently 9:44 p.m. on Wednesday, so I need to wrap up and get all the images ready.

Two-Year Report: Diplomacy

Mes amis, we bask in the glory of three new colonies, and a Mediterranean increasingly blanketed by the tricolor flag.

Two-Year Report: Finances

We’re at that point now where the fleet we have costs enough to maintain so that the fleet we want is hard to build. Our recently-peacetime monthly budget is 13,071 funds, of which 6,720 funds are eaten up by maintenance, 1,568 by research, and 200 by intelligence. That leaves us around 4,500 to spend on construction, which is not quite two dreadnoughts.

Some ships will probably have to be mothballed or retired going forward, and the Gueydons overseas are prime candidates. As soon as the new Pascals start to roll off the ways, the Gueydons deployed overseas will start coming home, to be stored away for later use or scrapped altogether.

Other candidates include some of our light cruisers—we still have the second-largest light cruiser fleet in the world, behind Britain, although (as I’ve mentioned before) our light cruisers pull some of the same duties that armored cruisers do in other navies.

Two-Year Report: The Fleet

We’re in good shape compared to our Mediterranean peers. We have three dreadnought-style ships in service (all Duquesne battlecruisers) and one dreadnought battleship under construction. Italy and Austria both have dreadnought battleships under construction, one a piece. Another option, one I haven’t used much in previous Rule the Waves games, is the reserve fleet option, which halves maintenance costs for ships without much long-term penalty.

Anyway, I have two questions for the gallery:

  1. Should we make use of the reserve fleet? If so, what should we reserve? One or two battleships? Older light cruisers? Old destroyers? Some combination?
  2. What should our shipyards focus on? Dreadnought battleships (i.e. 22-knot ships which don’t compromise on armor or guns, to the extent possible), or battlecruisers (i.e., 24+-knot ships with respectable armor and fewer or smaller guns, as needed to attain the above)?

Finally, some bonus material, courtesy of a reader at a different site: video of the 13″ guns firing on a predreadnought of the Royal Sovereign class.

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jan. 22, 2020)

Winter Wargaming may be slightly delayed—I have a lot of writing left to do on that front, and tonight in which to do it.

Books

  • Rainbox Six, a re-read. The last time I read it was also post-9/11, but I’m much better informed about the state of the world today than I was last time, and the starkness of the divergence between that fictional timeline and our real one is worth mentioning.
  • Castles of Steel, a re-read in progress. I’m up to just past the Dardanelles. That particular campaign (the naval side, not the ugly, unproductive land side) strikes me as one we can’t really game out. Could the Royal Navy have forced the straits alone? Maybe so. But, if so, would the Ottoman Empire have collapsed? Nobody knows for sure, and neither can we design a wargame which gives us an impartial answer.
  • The Mauritius Command, which I thought was a re-read, but now that I’m halfway through I’m not so sure. You can’t go wrong with Patrick O’Brian.

Games

  • Return of the Obra-Dinn, a rollicking good nautically-themed murder mystery. The conceit: an empty ship floats into harbor circa 1807. You, an insurance investigator, go aboard, with a watch in your possession which permits you to view the moment at which a person died, given a bit of their body (or a vision of their body in a vision of someone else’s death). Worth the price of entry.
  • A Painted Ocean. It’s not so much a game as a toy, but it’s a brilliant little toy: you’re the skipper of a full-rigged ship with detailed physics, and you sail it around. That’s the whole game. It’s delightful. The only thing that seems a bit off to me is that she has a habit of ‘sticking’ by the wind as you come out of a tack, not making enough way for the rudder to bear her up; I usually have to reef the mizzen-sails and the spanker to get her head to come away from the wind.

Defense

Guns

Science and Technology

Culture

Sport

Grab Bag


  1. I’m not much of a gambler myself, beyond the socially acceptable kind where you hold a basket of mutual funds for 40 years, but if I did want to engage in Pennsylvania’s most recently legalized vice, it would be on the back of a neural network trained to predict, say, hockey games. Sports betting is nice in the same way that poker is, in that you’re not playing against a house who is permitted by law to fleece you, but against the rest of the betters. With a little elbow grease, you can be better at it than they are.