Monday, 1 January 2018

Devotion to Duty and No Courts Martials - Frigate Captains FTW

A hastily organised scenario, three French of the line (actually, a first rate, and two 3rds under Commodore Darling) attempt to break out of Brest and escort two troopships into the bay of Biscay for destinations across the Atlantic. The blockading Royal Navy Fleet was broken into an inshore squadron of 4 frigates, one a Razee (Alan) and a supporting force of two 74s over the horizon (myself). The rough victory conditions were that if the french could get a troopship away they won, anything else was a Brit victory.

Ships are the 1/300th scale VICTORY collection, some cut down, some shortened.

The French ships of the line lead out. The inshore RN squadron has observed the preparations, signaled the offshore fleet and lies waiting to delay them

Looking offshore from the Brest roadstead, the RN frigates loiter just upwind to the right, the two transports (proxies) astern of the ships of the line. Wind is blowing steadily from the right side of the picture (from the north). Brit station keeping is a bit tardy !

Picture looking inshore. The supporting RN 74s. They entered the game late and somewhat randomly. 

The frigates (near to camera) spot the opportunity to cross the T and form line of battle

To take the first broadside from a french first rate. The French broke the gentleman's agreement and fired on the frigates. 

The frigates put in a meagre reply, but are unable to cross the T, end up starboard to starboard.

The French bear away and engage in an uneven broadside battle, the RN unable to disengage quickly enough to windward. We use modified Trafalgar (GW) rules but have changed the sailing arcs to reflect a bit of reality. The frigate (right) is close hauled on the port tack and her only other option was to tack and present her stern to the enemy.

Overview, the French line bearing away to port, the frigates upwind.

Looking inshore again, from the offshore RN squadron. The frigate pointing south (right) is already out of action, the frigate astern of her is about to be out of action, the razee is furthest upwind (left) while another frigate soaks up the french fire.

But, while the frigates sacrificed 2 of their number for no appreciable damage to the french line, the French realise the danger to their transports and attempt to turn away to port (left side of picture) as the other RN frigates skirt around upwind. The two transports nearest to camera in mortal peril.

Finally, success, the surviving frigate stern rakes a transport with the second transport on her starboard bow ready for the next volley.

Looking offshore, the two 74s join and follow the upwind path to get around the rear of the french line, navigating around the two frigate hulks middle right of frame. The French first rate (furthest from the camera) is frustrated trying to tack to rejoin the fight and her compatriots are also struggling to come around. Near left, on the table edge is the RN Razee, having delivered the killing broadside to the second transport is bearing upwind again on the port tack, wind is from the right. The ship nearest the camera is a frigate pointing upwind, half way through a tack. The second French transport has been disabled and victory to the RN.

playing on a few turns, the frigate (foreground) shielded by a 74 as the third rate frenchie runs for cover under the lee of the two destroyed transports (left). The other Brit 74 bow just entering the pic near right 

same time as above shot. Two French having tacked are rejoing the battle at the rear of the pic, to leeward a destroyed RN frigate. Two dead transports are line abreast on the left, the scurrying French 74 hugging the table edge sailing away from the danger, only three Brits left at this stage, two 74s saling SE (roughly line astern) and the frigate closest to camera, the rest are hulks. 

The French rejoin, the Brits have to tack to avoid running into the Brest roadstead and become the prey to the French of the line. The fast frigate (down to one light cannon) has moved astern of the destroyed transports seeking escape downwind, but then pluckily turns to deliver a broadside to the French. The Brit 74s have split, one running west away from the camera, the other tacking and currently pointing north, to the foreground right in the picture.

battle ends as the Brit 74 is about to tack again (nearest), the other 74 is half way through tacking (tacking takes two turns, one to turn into the wind, one to gather way on the new tack) but in doing so is able to bow rake the french 74. The french 74 will then pass under the Brit stern and return the favour with a stern rake. Ouch.


Both the Brit and French Commodores employed unusual tactics. The Brit for attempting to engage first rates with Frigates and getting destroyed. The French for being in line astern and allowing the frigates to skirt upwind and engage the precious transports. Two transports lost in two turns.

Probably not a very realistic scenario, but the rules seem to be working, the game ran smoothly, the simultaneous firing in every player turn seems to work (and is realistic) and the importance of the weather gauge is obvious. Thanks Pete and Alan for the excellent night of dice rolling. 

No comments:

Post a Comment