Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Battle of the Sea of Japan

Our first 1:2400 pre-dreadnought game (see previous post) saw the Russian Pacific Squadron be partially successful in evacuating the threatened Port Arthur and sailing to Vladivostok.  There they joined the Vladivostok based Independent Cruiser Squadron.  After making repairs to the damage suffered by the battleships in the Yellow Sea action, the Russian squadron, now under the command of Vice Admiral Skirdlov sailed forth to do battle with the Japanese.  Knowing that the Baltic Fleet was sending reinforcements, Skirdlov hoped to catch the Japanese separated and defeat them in detail making the task of the Baltic reinforcements that much easier.

Russian Pacific Squadron:

1st Sub-Division, Battle Division (VAdm Skirdlov [Electric Ed]):  battleships Tsesarevich (flag), Retvizan, and Pobieda
2nd Sub-Division, Battle Division (RAdm Vitgeft [Sean Campbell]):  battleships Peresviet (flag) and Sevastopol, armored cruiser Bayan
Independent Cruiser Squadron (RAdm Baron Shtakelberg [Col Campbell]):  armored cruisers Rossiya (flag), Gromoboi, and Rurik, protected cruiser Bogatyr

The Japanese fleet had suffered severe damage to its armored cruiser component (1 sunk and 5 badly damaged, out of 9 total) so their repair work was concentrated on getting the four battleships back into combat condition.  Admiral Togo kept his battleships and Vice Admiral Kamimura's remaining armored cruisers together, leaving his protected cruisers to patrol the shipping lanes and the various choke points around the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan.

Japanese Battle Squadron

1st Division (Adm Togo [Jay, Lord Sterling]):  battleships Mikasa (flag), Fuji, Skikashima, and Asahi
2nd Division (VAdm Kamimura [Kansas Bill]):  armored cruisers Izumo (flag), Azuma, Tokiwa, and Iwate

The Russian and Japanese squadrons sighted each other through the mid-morning sea mists and begin to close into fighting range.  Please click on each picture for (hopefully) a larger image.

Photo by Col Campbell
The Russian 1st Battle Sub-Division comes under fire with all Japanese shells falling on the IRN Tsesarevich, the squadron flagship.  The lead battleship of the 2nd Battle Sub-Division is just entering the picture.
[For a description of the shell splash markers, see Splash Markers posting on ColCampbell's Shipyard blog.]

Photo by Col Campbell
 The Japanese 2nd Battle Division, all armored cruisers, comes under return fire from the Russian battleships, two of whom concentrate in the IJN Izumo, the division flagship.

Photo by Col Campbell
 The IJN Izumo is soon set on fire and suffers a bridge hit, forcing her to continue straight ahead for two turns.  But the efficient Japanese damage control parties soon have the fires under control.

Photo by Electric Ed
 The Russian battleline continues to slowly close with the Japanese; the 1st Sub-Division in the foreground and the 2nd Sub-Division in the background.  Note single size of the "splashes".  Firing is at long range and being done by only the main guns.

Photo by Col Campbell
 Meanwhile, the Russian 2nd Battle Sub-Division turns to port into a line abreast formation.  But the Japanese battleships concentrate all their fire on IRN Peresviet, sub-division flagship.  Asked after the battle why he made such an unusual maneuver, RAdm Vitgeft said that he was attempting to get around behind the Japanese battleships.  The large and small splash markers mean that the range has fallen enough that the secondary batteries can now engage.

Photo by Col Campbell
But soon the IRN Peresviet is set on fire and begins to sink.  RAdm Vitgeft transfers to the IRN Sevastopol to continue the fight.  Unfortunately, he waited too long and the Japanese battleships sailed away from him.

Photo by Col Campbell
In the distance, the IRN Pobieda receives fire from a Japanese battleship and an armored cruiser and is set afire.  In the foreground the IRN Rossiya, flagship of the Vladivostok Independent Cruiser Division receives fire from three (!!) Japanese battleships and is also set afire.

Photo by Electric Ed
The IRN Pobieda suffers 2 fire hits from the Japanese in one turn.  The rules state that when the critical hit die is a 1 and is from a Japanese hit, then both a regular fire and a "raging fire" are started.  He had been targeted by two different Japanese ships, which both started fires.
Photo by Col Campbell
With the IRN Pobieda aflame and slowly sinking, the Japanese armored cruisers and battleships turn their gunfire against his division mates, IRN Retvizan and IRN Tsesarevich.

Photo by Col Campbell
But the Japanese return to the IRN Pobieda and start more fires, fully engulfing him and soon forcing him from the line.  His division mates also receive their share of Japanese fire.
Photo by Col Campbell
But the Japanese ships aren’t totally immune.  The armored cruiser IJN Izumo has turned away from the fight with very heavy damage, drawing long-range fire from the IRN Bayan, which is steaming as fast as he can to overtake the Japanese fleet.  The IJN Izumo eventually surrenders due to IRN Bayan's shellfire.  The other Japanese three armored cruisers and the four battleships are all under fire from the remaining Russian battleships and cruisers.
Photo by Col Campbell
 The IRN Pobieda has turned away from the fight.  The fires are too much for him and he sinks, the second Russian ship to be sunk.
Photo by Col Campbell
 But not the last.  The IRN Rossiya has been set ablaze by shellfire from the Japanese battleships.  He has turned away and is endeavoring to reach Vladivostok.  But the fires also prove too much for his crew and he sinks, taking many of them to a watery grave.
Photo by Col Campbell
With the IRN Rossiya out of the fight, RAdm Baron Shtakelberg transfers to his next cruiser, IRN Gromoboi, who immediately draws the Japanese battleship fire and is set ablaze.  He won’t last long either.
Photo by Col Campbell
 Finally the Russian battleships score some telling hits, setting two of the Japanese armored cruisers (background) afire and forcing them to turn away from the fight.  But it is too little, too late, as the Japanese battleships (foreground) turn to close the range even though they continue to draw fire from the remaining Russian ships.
Photo by Jim Pitts
 A closer look at the Japanese armored cruisers, as the IJN Azuma and Tokiwa have turned away and the IJN Iwate attempts to cover their retreat.
Photo by Col Campbell
 As darkness begins to fall, the IRN Tsesarevich is targeted by the IJN Iwate (#8) and the IRN Retvizan by the IJN Mikasa (#1).
So, who won.  I think it is fairly obvious with the sinking of two battleships and two armored cruisers that the Russian Pacific Squadron were the losers.  Although they forced the surrender of the Japanese armored cruiser Izumo, they couldn't board her.  She was later recovered by the Japanese fleet (and her captain committed seppuku).  The Russians retreated back to Vladivostok while the Japanese continued their blockade of the Russian port.  Can the Baltic Fleet's reinforcements, now called the 2nd Pacific Squadron, turn the tables on the victorious Japanese?  Tune in later next year for what may be the final climactic battle.

Note:  All ships are from Panzerschiffe Miniatures.  The flame markers are from Litko Game Accessories.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Battle of the Yellow Sea

A small group of the Jackson Gamers met Saturday last (Nov. 6) at Fondren Presbyterian Church to play a recreation of the August 1904 Battle of the Yellow Sea.  We used Jim Pitts' 1:2400 scale Panzerschiffe models of the Russian and Japanese ships involved in the battle.

Jay Stribling  and Ed Sansing commanded the Russian 1st Pacific Squadron as it attempted to break out from Port Arthur and sail to Vladivostok.  John Murdaugh, Sean Pitts, and a late arriving Travis Melton commanded the Japanese Battle Squadron.  We used a pre-dreadnought modification to Travis' Seas of Steel rules.

As usual, click or double click on the pictures for a larger image.

The Russian 1st Pacific Squadron steams moderately towards the Straits of Korea.  The six battleships are in the lead, followed by three protected cruisers.   A protected cruiser leads the eleven destroyers in the foreground.  Jay commanded the battleships and Ed commanded the cruisers and destroyers.
In the background is the Japanese 3rd Division of two armored cruisers and three protected cruisers, commanded by Sean.

The Japanese 1st Division, four battleships and two armored cruisers, was commanded by John.  They steam towards the approaching Russians.

As the Japanese battleline changes course, eight Japanese destroyers and four torpedo boats increase speed to get into the fight.

The Russian battleships (foreground) and the Japanese cruisers (background) begin to exchange salvos.

Russian and Japanese destroyers begin to tangle with each other while the Russian  battleline sedately continues on its course.  Off to the left (out of the picture), John splits his Japanese 1st Division, sending three battleships to the right and one battleship and two armored cruisers to the left to attempt to pincer the Russian line.

Under heavy fire from the Russian quick-firing guns, a division of Japanese destroyers attempts to launch their torpedoes.  But the fish miss their target.  The destroyers are later completely wiped out.

Here is another shot of the Russian battleline with Jay's battleships in the lead and Ed's cruisers in trail.  The lead battleship in John's right column (the Mikasa) is approaching from the right.

With his three battleships in echelon, John closes with and exchanges fire with the Russian battleships.  John's other three ships are off the picture to the left, heading to cut the Russians off from the Straits of Korea.

This is a high oblique view of the battle.  Sean's Japanese cruisers are to the upper left with the furtherest two leaving due to severe damage.  Jay's and Ed's battleships and cruisers hold their line ahead formation in the center while John's battleships and armored cruisers close in two separated three ship groups.  The destroyer action is already over with one division of Japanese destroyers unsuccessfully attacking the Russian battleships.  Two divisions of Russian destroyers are just departing the picture on the right, heading towards the Japanese 5th Division which is approaching from the right.  These five older (and obsolescent) ships were commanded by Travis.

From a different angle, Travis' Japanese division can be seen approaching from the bottom of the picture.  He commanded four older Japanese protected cruisers and a captured Chinese "battleship" (the Chenyen).  They were able to sink the threatening Russian destroyers but didn't contribute much to the rest of the battle.

In the foreground, a Japanese battleship  gets down to wakizashi (knife) range as it passes through the Russian batteline.  In the background, John's other column of Japanese battleships attempts to do the same to Ed's Russian cruisers.  But the Mikasa misjudges the closing speeds and rams a Russian cruiser.  Oops!

Here's a closer view of the collision between the Mikasa and the Diana.  The Russian cruiser suffers much more damage than the Japanese battleship, but both are out of the action for a while.

As one of Sean's Japanese cruisers cuts across the tail of the column of Russian cruisers, John's other two Japanese battleships turn hard aport and engage the Russian cruisers more closely.  In the background, Jay's battleships continue their stately promenade this time with two Japanese armored cruisers to port and a battleship to starboard.  Jay's sixth battleship is lagging somewhat behind, having suffered funnel damage which slowed its speed.  Several of Sean's cruisers are engaging it.

Suddenly a plume of black smoke erupts from the Japanese armored cruiser Kasuga.  The rear main magazine has taken a hit!  It is not enough to blow up the magazine but the rear main gun turret is put out of action.

Getting first move on the next turn, Jay's Russian battleships make a turn to port across the front of the Japanese armored cruisers.  With no room to maneuver, both cruisers slam into the Russian battleships.  The result is further heavy damage to the Japanese cruisers and light damage to the heavier Russian battleships.

Meanwhile to the rear, two of John's Japanese battleships engage Jay's trail Russian battleship and Ed's lead Russian protected cruiser.  The range is pointblank and neither side seems to be missing much.

Under fire from John's Mikasa and one of Sean's cruisers, the trail Russian cruiser (Pallada) is set on fire.  The Russian crew works furiously to put the fire out.  Will they be successful?

No they won't.  When the Mikasa crosses the stern of the Pallada, its shells strike deep into the vitals of the Russian protected cruiser and he blows up!

But Jay returns the favor and smashes the Japanese armored cruiser Kasuga, convulsing her with explosions that send her to Davey Jones' locker!

After examining the situation and considering the lateness of the hour, the game master (Jim Pitts) computes battle damages.  Both sides have inflicted the same number of points in battle damage to the other, but Jim rules that the Japanese tactics of splitting their main battleline into two elements was unsuccessful against the Russian tactic of staying in a single line ahead.  He adjudges that five of the six Russian battleships will be able to make it to Vladisvostok.  The sixth battleship and one of the two surviving Russian cruisers are too surrounded by the Japanese and will probably either succumb to Japanese guns or be forced back to Port Arthur.  The other Russian cruiser is positioned to break away to the south and likely seek internment in a neutral port.  The Russians are awarded both a tactical and a strategic victory.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Rest of the Baltic Fleet

Please see ColCampbell's Shipyard for the final installment in the Russo-Japanese War fleet preparations.

2nd Battle Division, 2nd Pacific Squadron

We had a good game on Saturday.  Pictures and commentary will be posted later this week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Battle at Hofmanns Farmstead

Please see John Murdaugh's blog, Nomadic Old School Gamer (link to right), for pictures and a report of the game we had at Jay's on Saturday.  We used John's self-cast, individually mounted 40mm 18th Century figures in an "old school" environment.  We had a lot of fun.  We'll do this again on Saturday, November 20th.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

The 1904 Russo-Japanese War Fleets

I've been working diligently painting and basing 1:2400 scale ships for my November 6 naval game.  You can see pictures of all the combatants at my ColCampbell's Shipyard blog's October postings.

Japanese battleships

Russian battleships

Please stop by for a look and then join us at Fondren Presbyterian Church (map link) on Saturday, November 6, for the action.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Russian Pacific Squadron

Pictures of the 14 battleships and cruisers of the Russian Pacific Squadron have been posted to Col Campbell's Shipyard blog.  Please stop by for a look.

1st Battle Division

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Capitania General de Florida, Battle # 2

After the Britannians failed in their raid on the Asturian outpost, they fell back to their southernmost colonial base.  When word came from their scouts that the Asturians had received some Gallian reinforcements and were advancing, the Britannians hastily constructed a defensive line with improvised breastworks and two artillery redoubts.

As in the first game, we used The Sword in the Forest variant of Larry Brom's masterful The Sword and the Flame rules to conduct this battle.  The Asturian and Britannian regular infantry were contributed by Doc Ord.  The rest of the troops and all the terrain are owned by Col Campbell.  The pictures were taken by Col Campbell and Joachim de Arkansas.  I would like to thank my church for making the fellowship hall available for our games.  As usual, please click on the pictures for a larger image.

The game master, Col Campbell (on right), gives directions to the Britannian commanders (from left):  Major Hamilton of the Georgiana militia, Leftenant Colonel Melton of His Britannic Majesty's Army in the Colonies, and Captain Sean Campbell of the Britannian light troops.  The Imperial commanders were:  Colonel Philip Count Romanski (senior commander), Colonel Baron de la Plata, and that renegade Jacobite Major Juan de Arkansas (all of Asturias) and Major Eduardo, Baron Santiago from Gallia.

The Britannian main line with the militia behind improvised breastworks and Britannian regular infantry and artillery in the main redoubt and in reserve.

A closer view of the militia behind their breastworks.

Britannians in the main redoubt and light infantry, rangers, and another artillery redoubt holding the left flank (background).

The Britannian combined light infantry/ranger company holding the woods on the left flank.  A reserve company of rangers is to the rear of the woods.

A closer view of the light infantry and rangers.

The Imperial army advances with the Compagnes de Galliens (under Major Eduardo Baron Santiago) in the foreground and the Asturian artillery and regular infantry (under Count Romanski and baron de la Plata) in the background.  Not shown (out of the picture to the bottom) are the Asturian militia and allied Indians (under Major de Arkansas).

The Asturian gun has unlimbered and is preparing to fire on the Britannians.  The Asturian "blue-coat" battalion of Count Romanski advances in field column while one of Major Santiago's Gallian companies moves around the small wooded hill.

The Asturian combined battalion of Baron de la Plata on the far left flank begins its turning movement, hoping to roll up the Britannian right flank.

One of the two Gallian companies deploys on the small wooded hill facing the Britannian lines.

The Asturian-Gallian center advances across the cleared ground in front of the Britannian lines.  Baron de la Plata's turning movement continues in the background.

The Asturian-Gallian attack in the center develops as the Asturian regulars begin to deploy into line.  The Asturian artillery has opened fire on the Georgiana militia (on right) but the Gallian infantry are still out of musket range.

The Asturian "blue-coat" battalion has now deployed into line.  They were an impressive sight to the Georgiana militia who were opposing them.  Runners were quickly dispatched from the militia requesting reinforcements.

Meanwhile, on the Britannian left flank, the Asturian militia closed on the gun redoubt.
"Load grapeshot!"  "Fire!!"
The dice were rolled and five hits were made.  The casualty cards were drawn.

And the hits were one militiaman (the nine) and four leaders (the four aces).  That's right - four aces!!
This is the first time in a game run by Col Campbell that four aces were drawn in a row for one volley.  We were using two 52-card decks shuffled together which is why there are two aces of hearts.

So the senior militia commander (right rear), the militia company commander and company sergeant (back row with red dots), and the Indian chieftain (out of picture to left) were all casualties.

But the Asturian militia, incensed by the slaughters of their leaders, unleashed a devastating volley in return, laying low three of the four Britannian gunners.  Revenge is best when it is immediate and hot!!

On the Asturian left flank, Baron de la Plata's battalion has concluded its turning movement and has deployed into line.  The red-coated Swiss company is beginning to leap-frog forward to close with the Georgiana militia.

In the center, Count Romanski grimaces as several of his soldiers fall to a well aimed Georgiana militia volley.  But he isn't worried.  Militia surely can't stand against his veteran regulars.

But the Britannian reserve ranger company is quickly redeployed from the left flank to reinforce the Georgiana milita.

And the Britannian regular reserve company advances with drum beating towards the threatened center.

Even though their chieftain was slain, the Asturian Indian allies move against the Britannian main artillery redoubt, doing their best to distract them from the developing attack in the center.  But the Britannian light infantry and rangers in the woods redeploy against them, opening fire into the Indian flank.

And the Britannian infantry and artillery in the main redoubt also open fire on the Asturian allied Indians.  This much fire is just too much for the Indians who quickly fall back towards some sheltering woods.

Reinforced by the company of Britannian regulars and the company of rangers, the Georgiana militia companies stiffen up their defense against four companies of Asturian regulars and a company of Gallian light infantry.

The Britannian volleys are accurate and Asturians and Gallians fall before the lead storm.  One of Romanski's Asturian company (back left) fails its morale and falls back in confusion.  Both of de la Plata's companies close with the Georgiana militia (right background) but can't quite get in with their bayonets.

One of the Gallian companies, having suffered severe casualties including their captain (with red dot in center) is forced to retreat.  The battalion commander (Santiago waving his hat) tries to rally them -- unsuccessfully I might add.

The last two Asturian militia face off against the reduced Britannian gun crew (only the gunnery officer and a colonial ranger are left).  The militia continued to pass every morale check they had to make.  If they are ever reconstituted after this blood-letting, they will probably be upgraded to regulars!

With darkness closing in and the Asturian-Gallian attacks unsuccessful, the Imperial army abandoned the field, falling back to their outpost far to their rear.  The Britannians didn't follow-up as they were low on ammunition.  They will have to wait for a resupply before they can take to the field again.  The Asturians and Gallians took many casualties that will require replacements.  Both sides can use the breather.

For a different look at this battle, please see Baron de la Plata's account at the Jackson Gamers web site.