Battleship Command AAR – The Battle of the Denmark Strait

Historical Overview

The German Battleship Bismarck and Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen had set sail from Germany and were expected to sail westward and break through into the North Atlantic via the Greenland, Iceland and UK gap.

On the evening of the 23rd of May 1941, despite the poor weather conditions , the two ships were spotted by the British Heavy Cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk heading for the Denmark Strait (Between Greenland and Iceland). Throughout the night the cruisers shadowed the German ships, reporting their positions to the rest of the British fleet.

The next morning (24th May) a force of eight British ships was waiting to intercept the Germans in the Denmark Strait. The British fleet included the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, the Battlecruiser HMS Hood and 6 destroyers. Prior to the battle the destroyers were detached to the south.

This game fought the action between the capital ships.

The Fleets

Kriegsmarine

  • KMS Bismarck – Günther Lütjens, Ernst Lindemann
  • KMS Prinz Eugen -Helmuth Brinkman

Royal Navy

  • HMS Hood – Lancelot Holland
  • HMS Prince of Wales –John Leach

The Battle

Both battlegroups began on gradually converging courses, just out of visual range. By the second turn both fleets had spotted each other and began to fire their opening salvos. At this extreme range the fire was largely ineffective. There was one tense moment when a shell from Bismarck hit Hoods deck but luckily for the British a 1 was rolled for armour penetration meaning that no damage was caused.

Prinz Eugen then made a bold turn to port and attempted to rapidly close its range with the British ships. while Bismarck continued on a steady course and continued firing its guns.

Once it was closer to the British ship the Prinz Eugen fired a spread of torpedoes and opened up with its 8″ guns. Bothe the torpedoes and its gunfire were largely ineffective against the heavier British ships who managed to score a critical hit damaging Prinz Eugens steering gear. Un able to maneuver and taking heavy damage the Prinz Eugen continued on its course and withdrew from the battle.

This allowed both the Hood and the Prince of Wales to focus their efforts on the Bismarck, closing the range and firing multiple salvos zeroing in on their target. eventually the weight of the British firepower was too much for the German battleship and the Bismarck was sent to the bottom leaving the heavily damaged British ships to limp back to base.

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A rough plot of the battle

Post Game Thoughts

As a playtest game for my new Battleship Command rules this game went very well. The Gunnery rules provided the desired outcomes and the command and control dice rolls made for some tense and exciting moments.

Both fleets were lucky in that the number of critical hits scored were relatively low (down to poor dice rolling) and the British had the advantage of the fact that we forgot to use the scenario special rules concerning Prince of Wales having maintenance issues with its gunnery as it was a brand new ship and still had contractors onboard at the time of the battle.

A big thanks to Ivan (of the Williton gamers) for being my opponent for this game.

Unfortunately I was too focused on the game to take many good photos.

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Prinz Eugen fires its torpedoes while under fire from Prince of Wales and Hood

 

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One of the last photographs of the Bismarck before she was sunk.

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