The Battle of Aden After Action Report
I played the Battle of Aden 1938 Franco-Italian scenario today, once again using Find, Fix and Strike. This was based on the Battle of the River Plate, with the Strasbourg taking the role of the Graf Spee.
The Regia Marina had to inflict heavy damage on the French battleship, forcing her to evade, while the Strasbourg had to silence, cripple or sink all three of the Italian cruisers to win (I decided to even things up for the Italians a bit).
t started well for the Marine Nationale when the Strasbourg hit the Fiume at long range with a full salvo, causing crippling damage, while also forcing her Ro43 to disengage due to an intense AA barrage.
However, the two Italian light cruisers used the diversion to race in close, splitting the defensive fire of the French battleship and using their 6“ guns to good effect, followed up with torpedoes.
The Strasbourg was hit with special damage knocking out a turret and with heavy damage overall when all the numbers were added up. The Italians had some very good dice rolls and the French the opposite, which made all the difference, even if none of the torpedoes hit.
It reminded me of the Japanese fast battleship Hiei whose superstructure was shredded by close range 6“ and 8“ salvos by US Cruisers at Guadalcanal in 1942.
The two light cruisers somehow avoided any hits themselves and now moved to stay in the rear arc of the Strasbourg where her main armament could not bear. The Strasbourg was forced to retreat, as the Bande Nere and Bartolomeo Colleoni snapped at her heels, occasionally getting in each others way as they jostled to fire their remaining torpedoes.
The crippled and stationary Fiume meanwhile used a smokescreen to stay out of harms way, while her damage control parties worked hard to repair her to heavy damage, after which she was able to join the pursuit in the last turn. A final salvo at long range was a total miss, however, so the squadron commander decided it was time to call it a day.
In turn 10, the Italians decided that they had achieved their objective, and began to disengage. The light cruisers had used up their torpedoes and were unable to add any further damage to the Strasbourg, which by now was almost off the corner of the table via the exit zone.
This was a clear Italian victory and funnily enough a result not too far removed from the Battle of thevRiver Plate on which the scenario was based. Good fun. The Strasbourg would have made it to Aden where she will have been stuck, not being able to repair as the British are trying to play the Italians off against the French, getting the latter to do their dirty work for them. The Italians will use their light cruisers as a distant blockading force, while the Fiume limps back to Italian Somaliland to be patched up.
The game threw up a couple of rule queries, including using light armament for AA fire but not being allowed to use it against more than destroyers. This enabled the light cruisers to get away with some very aggressive, close range action, which seemed a bit unrealistic?
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Autor: Jim Jackaman / Jim’s Wargames Workbench
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