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Allied Sub vs. Axis Sub

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In all of the WWII history I have read (and I have read an awful lot), I cannot recall any indication of sub vs. enemy sub. Did this happen? COULD this happen? I'm afraid I am a bit ignorant of whether this was something that could have been possible, so I was surprised to notice that in SC the axis and allied subs are unable to attack one another. Obviously it is possible with modern subs, but can someone out there enlighten me on this? And if it was possible, how about incorporating the possibility into SC: Global Conflict?

:confused:

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There were a number of submarines sunk by submarines in the Second World War, although it was not especially common in the ETO. In the PTO the USN silent service did reasonably well against Japanese submarines and the few U-boats dispatched to the Pacific, proving especially good at ambushing submarines using intelligence cuing. It would take while to dig out total numbers – I don’t have an easy summary handy, but it certainly did happen.

There was only one recorded instance of a submerged submarine successfully attacking a submerged U-boat (and this remains the only known successful submerged versus submerged attack to date). HMS Venturer torpedoed U-864 on 9 February 1945 off Norway. This wreck has been found, apparently, and there was a special on History Channel about the incident.

While there were successful submarine versus submarine attacks, they were – of necessity – ambushes. Once a submarine became aware it was being attacked or stalked by another submarine it could easily evade a World War II opponent by submerging. A submarine did not have the ability to really hunt its opponent, the way destroyers did, for example. I suspect that is why submarines are not permitted to engage other submarines directly (although they can be very useful, in a gamey sense, as spotters).

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Another transgression of the SC naval model brought to the developer's attention a few times in the past. Every major belligerent suffered sub losses from enemy sub operations, whether ambushed or not there is historical context for sub vs sub engagements and it should be "in the game".

For the bean counters, total losses from submarine attacks accounted for 66 subs, 5 UK, 1 USA, 21 German, 14 Italy, and 25 Japan.

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Well then, based upon what both of you (Sea Monkey and Ludi) have said, I would think an appropriate idea would be to introduce the ability of a sub attacking another sub in SC would be when a SUB TECH reaches say, 4 or 5. This would be seem to me a realistic option to have in the game, especially in what if scenarios, and would certainly make the BOA that much more interesting in developing strategy. It certainly may alter one's strategy of the English or American Navy vs. the German U-Boats.

Question is, would Hubert and Co. be willing to do it? ;)

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The number of submarines sunk by submarines in the ETO is relatively modest. Using Seamonkeys numbers, which seem reasonable, you also need to look at total losses. For U-boats, that is 648 boats lost in frontline service (757 to all causes – both figures from Niestle, Axis U-boat Losses). 21 U-boats destroyed by submarines out of 648 is a reasonably small percentage – about 3.5 or so. The Pacific war is more interesting – the IJN lost about 128 submarines, and 25 out of that number is getting close to 20%. So in a global war the argument for submarines having some sort of sub attack capability gets more interesting.

However, I would suggest that sub technology is NOT the main criteria – early war submarines were just as capable of sinking other submarines as late war ones. The real thing that mattered was intelligence. The USN quite deliberately cued their submarines to take shots at Japanese warships using intelligence, and this included submarines. Other warships, such as CVE groups, were more likely to use intelligence in this manner to hunt U-boats in the Atlantic. This is partly due to the different nature of the two theatres – the Japanese rarely used their submarines to attack merchant shipping in US controlled areas of the Pacific, making CVE groups for ASW hunting uncommon, while the Germans used their U-boats to contest Allied controlled waters quite frequently – and it proved far more effective to use CVE groups to hunt U-boats than to use submarines in Allied controlled waters.

The fact that intelligence proved the most important factor in facilitating submarine on submarine kills makes introducing the capability into SC challenging. It might make sense to link the possibility of a submarine on submarine attack to a level 4 and above intelligence tech. But there really isn’t much of an argument for linking submarine on submarine attack to sub tech advances.

(As an aside, acoustic homing torpedoes in the Second World War, which might be roughly equated as part of level 3 or 4 sub tech, were NOT a very useful submarine versus submarine weapon. The reason for this is that the Allied acoustic homing torpedo was painfully slow – to deal with self-noise issues – while the German acoustic homing torpedo was optimized for surface ship propellor noise AND had no sub-surface capability. In fact, standard operating procedure for U-boats firing an acoustic homer was to dive well below periscope depth until the torpedo exploded, to avoid the torpedo ‘self-targeting’ the U-boat. Therefore this torpedo was again only useful against another submarine in an ambush situation.)

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arado, sure, todays subs are far superior at hunting each other because there was a concerted effort to make them so. The danger of a nuclear strike from just offshore made it a necessity.

As far as I know, there was no real emphasis in WW2 to create a hunter/killer sub type for its own kind, the threat level was obviously concluded to not be that great, but what if it was?

The Los Angeles and Seawolf classes of today specialize in hunting the opposition's submarines because they are a high value target, do you want to be limited by the hard code in the SC editor from creating a contemporary game that allows subs this capability?

And who's to say if it was beyond the WW2 tech level to establish a hunter/killer class if there was the proper incentive?

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I think this thread has gotten a little off track. During the Second World War submarines most definitely destroyed other submarines. However, the ONLY capability submarines had during that war was for an attack on surfaced (or near surface) submarines. The only ‘submerged’ submarine destroyed by another submarine during the war was an attack on a German U-boat operating at schnorkel depth, which was close enough to the surface for torpedoes of the day.

Regardless of the hypothetical possibility of a submarine engaging a submerged submarine (an extremely challenging technical problem that was not solved for a number of years after the war), the SC engine should still allow for submarines to engage submarines as this really did happen. Preventing such interaction, as the game engine now does, actually encourages some extremely bizarre game behaviour. For example, one of the most useful roles of an Allied submarine is to find U-boats – by ramming them. There is no penalty, the U-boat cannot teleport away (no ‘attack’ took place) and other Allied ASW units can now engage a ‘spotted’ U-boat. Bizarre? Yes. Possible in SC? Unfortunately, yes.

Possible game solutions? Submarines should be allowed to attack other submarines, but the nature of the attacks and the results of attacks should be different than ‘normal’ naval engagements.

First, a submarine seeking to attack a spotted (by intel or by other ASW units) enemy submarine should have a low probability of success – say perhaps a ‘basic’ attack chance of 20%, with a ‘basic’ chance of inflicting one strength point loss. This would keep submarines hunting submarines from inflicting massive losses, and this is consistent with the historical record – it was hard for wartime boats to attack other boats, as an alert opponent could dive and evade an attack very quickly.

Adjustments to the basic attack success and damage level would be linked to the RELATIVE intelligence levels of the two respective submarines. A submarine attacking with a relative advantage could have its chance of success and damage increased by 10% and 1 strength point for each point of relative advantage (and vice versa if at a disadvantage). This would be a very useful way to make investments in intel R&D more worthwhile.

A defending submarine evading an opposing submarine’s attack would have a much higher chance of teleporting. Instead of the base chance of 25% for a defending submarine being randomly moved, he chance of random movement in the event of a submarine attack on an enemy submarine would be significantly increased to, perhaps 75%.

A submarine that inadvertently ran into another submarine WOULD suffer an ambush result, and the defending submarine ‘discovered’ in this way would be displaced randomly after the encounter. The ambushed submarine would suffer a minimum of one strength point loss, and would NOT displace. This would certainly discourage the intentional use of submarines to ‘find’ enemy submarines.

Historical commentary

The ONLY ASW torpedo developed during the Second World War was the Mk 24 mine, an air-dropped Allied weapon. It had a maximum speed of twelve knots. Submarines had no capability to engage deep submerged enemy submarines, and no R&D was invested in developing this capability. However, engaging a submerged submarine from a submarine is an extremely complex technical problem. In the thread on R&D elsewhere in this forum, there seems to be no attention paid to the difference between incremental (or evolutionary) development, and radical or revolutionary R&D. Bigger tanks and things like drop tanks were evolutionary – strategic rockets and atomic bombs were radical and revolutionary. Trying to get one system to simulate both possibilities is very hard, and probably accounts for much of the frustration voiced by gamers.

A submarine engaging submerged enemy submarines is a revolutionary, not evolutionary change. Post-war development to achieve this capability took a long time. Two basic solutions were developed, but neither was cheap nor easy. The simplest in concept was to put a tactical nuclear device on the end of a torpedo or rocket (subroc). This could very efficiently kill a submerged submarine – but it was so good at killing submerged vessels that getting the detonation sufficiently far away from the attacker became a major problem. The second solution was to develop homing systems for a torpedo that could seek out and destroy an enemy submarine. This was difficult for many reasons. Getting a torpedo guidance system to work in three dimensions is mildly complex by itself. Using a sonar homing system had two challenges – one, eliminating enough of the torpedoes own noise so that an enemy sub could be detected if using a passive system (this was a primary reason for the slow 12 knots of the MK 24 US ASW torpedo), or developing a sufficiently small active sonar system that could find an enemy submarine. All three solutions were eventually developed, along with wire guidance, but it took a LONG time, and it is really difficult to conceive of such a development occurring within the relatively short time constraints of the war.

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Ludi,

Very good idea. :cool:

This seems to me a very worthwhile and realistic approach for the developers to put into the game. Hey development team, what do say about this?

Some feedback on this would be greatly appreciated. ;)

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What Ludi says would be a good idea but perhaps the fact that the Allied( who it mostly benefits)subs can spot for their A.S.W.units should be left as is because in imho this crudley represnts the effect Ultra had on the Allied uboat effort.Being able to find the location of subs without taking any real losses is EXACTLY what Ultra did.It also helped greatly in avoiding uboats alltogether(is the option available to re-route convoys or are they still hardwired).

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Arado

While you make an interesting point, you rather exaggerate Ultra’s precision in most circumstances. In reality Ultra only provided the ability to find U-boats without taking losses in relatively rare circumstances. To understand this requires more detail on Ultra and intelligence than is usually found in these forums, so those not interested in long descriptions can stop here.

The intelligence battle between German U-boat HQ (BdU) and German codebreaking teams (B Dienst) and the Admiralty OIC and Bletchley Park (as well as OP 20G and Tenth Fleet when these organizations became involved) was a very complex affair. The German staffs were far from stupid, although the fact that they never grasped that the Allies were decrypting a number of their messages is often taken as meaning they were not too swift. What is often forgotten is that it took the Allies almost 4 years to realize the Germans frequently decrypted Allied convoy codes, with the Allies finally changing their convoy codes decisively in June 1943. The Germans were also well aware that their radio traffic had the potential to provide clues to their opponents, and took a number of measures to complicate the Allied efforts to take advantage of this radio traffic. While they failed to prevent the Allies getting sometimes far too much information, this did NOT mean that the information always provided ‘exact’ U-boat locations.

German operational procedures often complicated the precision of Allied information. That is, the Germans seldom sent out radio information with the precise location of their U-boats, or when they did it generally referred to at most the starting point of a moving U-boat. U-boats were also very much encouraged to use their initiative in many circumstances, and this initiative often disrupted Allied efforts to employ their knowledge of German intentions.

Where the Germans did promulgate precise information for U-boats tended to be rendezvous’ between boats. Starting in the summer of 1943, for about 9 months, the US Tenth Fleet was especially aggressive in using this information, resulting in quite a number (almost all) of the German re-supply U-boats, the Type XIV milch cow, being sunk by CVE Hunter Killer groups. This example is one of the few where Ultra provided, to quote Arado, EXACT information leading to the destruction of U-boats, although even here there were some losses and it needed the capability of a CVE HUK group to successfully use the info.

More commonly, Ultra provided a good indication of where wolfpacks might be forming up. This did not usually provide enough time or precision for individual U-boats to be attacked, but did allow Western Approaches Command (most often the command authority in control of threatened convoys) to decide whether to avoid the wolfpack, or to reinforce the convoy escort and steer the convoy into the pack. Sometimes one convoy would be steered around while the second was steered at the pack’s general location. The reinforced convoy then acted as something of a tethered goat, and U-boats would often be detected as they tried to close with the convoy. This could lead to high U-boat losses, although there was generally some loss to the escorts or even the merchantmen.

However, German efforts to complicate things for the Allies included using a changing grid reference when sending out their pack starting positions, and the Allies often had trouble deducing the exact reference location when the reference point was changed. This could result in unexpected convoy battles, such as the one between ON 202/ONS 18 and wolfpack Leuthen in September 1943. The incorrect plotting of the pack location by OIC resulted in a convoy course diversion that inadvertently steered the combined convoy right into the middle of the wolfpack, rather than around the north end of the pack as had been the intention.

It is also important to understand that the intelligence advantage was hardly clear cut at all times. Ultra was of no help at all for most of 1942, an important factor in the high convoy losses experienced in the fall of that year. (The high losses of the first half of the year had much to do with ineffective USN tactical decisions upon America’s entry into the war).

Ultra was an important asset and ultimately gave the Allies important advantages in the Battle of the Atlantic. But only rarely did it provide precise enough information for U-boats to be directly attacked. This is somewhat different than what Purple (equivalent of Ultra in the Pacific) enabled in the Pacific, where Japanese operational procedures were more easily exploited by the USN. The amazing efforts of USS England, which sank 6 Japanese submarines in a short period in late May 1944, were greatly facilitated by Purple and Japanese doctrine. What USS England essentially did was roll up a static submarine barrier deployed by the Japanese. Of course, this should not overly detract from the impressive feat of the England, which still had to actually kill a submarine even though it knew its general location. But it should also be understood that the German navy did not often use a static barrier, which is part of the reason that the Germans proved such a formidable opponent.

Understanding how ultra actually affected the Battle of the Atlantic is in fact a rather complex task. However, it is not accurate to think of it as being a precise crystal ball in most circumstances.

Game Comments

Clearly, I do not agree that invulnerable subs spotting other subs are a good approximation of Ultra in the game. I really think my suggestions for adjusting subs in post 13 would provide a more historical approximation in SC. The current way in which a random intelligence hit can ‘spot’ a U-boat is in fact not too bad an approximation of history. The real weakness in the SC naval engine is that an Allied player can seldom react to such a spotting in a timely manner, for two reasons – first, naval units move incredibly slooowly in SC. The speed is not just a little slow, it is MASSIVELY slower than units moved historically. In the real war it only took about a week (often a little less) for a major warship – carrier, cruiser or a modern BB – to travel from New York to the UK. It takes quite a bit longer in this game. Second, there really aren’t that many ASW units in the game, especially the CVE groups that were so successful at converting intelligence into destroyed (or at least damaged) U-boats. In 1944, at a rough estimate the Allies had 400 warships and 800 aircraft engaged in ASW in the North Atlantic. SC does not ever come close to that (nor is it probably a good idea in game terms), but the relative paucity of ASW units and their very slow speeds means that reacting to intelligence spotting in the game is highly challenging, much more challenging than it was in the real world.

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Ludi,I think you mis-understood me(my fault actually)in that I know Ultra rarely provided actual uboat locations but what it did do was provide uboat intentions,meaning the Allies had a good idea(I also know about the German grid manipulation)where the subs were going to setup.This in turn helped them with their Hunter-Killer groups and helped reduce(but not totaly eliminate)heavy losses.In the end it was of course Allied might and technology and the fact that they realised the importance of the uboat war much more than Hitler did in that the Allies couldnot loose.

As far as Allied subs being the crude form of Ultra the main reason I mentioned it was in the SC series of games the idea(im guessing)is to keep the game fairly simple.I like the idea of your post 13 but again(I know I bring this up alot)if you bring that in then you would also have to adjust overall Allied war potential to makeup for the fact that the Allies dont have any type of Ultra and are going to suffer much heavier losses without the historical ability to replace them.If that is brought in then the Germans are done.

Imho alot of the things we want are left out of the game to make it winnable for both sides.I think Hubert as done a great job in achieving this.Im all for adding new ideas but its such a hard balance to achieve.

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Arado

OK, now I better understand your position. It is a fine line needed to keep SC simple, yet maintaining a balance between history and playability. In that respect I can understand your wanting to maintain the status quo as it is certainly playable. However, I find the status quo a little too “gamey”, even if some can clearly live with it!

The play balance in the base Storm of Steel and Case Weiss campaigns of SC is remarkable, and I do understand that there have been clear adjustments to history made to achieve that balance. In respect to play balance I am in awe of what Hubert has accomplished. However, I will probably continue to seek improvements in how the game is played, even if that might add a little more complexity – although, hopefully, not too much more!

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Okay well at least I know I'm not the only one who thought of something like this. I posed the question to Hubert, and was turned down, based on two reasons. The first was that it would be too much work to create the codes to allow this to occur. The second reason was that he didn't think it happened enough to throw it in there. Realistically it's probably not the most urgent thing, but I would like to see it sometime.

I find it hard to believe that it would complicate the game. That assumption I believe is farfetched. With that said I'm not sure if the amount of work that would be needed to do this would outweigh (probably under weigh) the results. Lastly I have a very strong if not definite gut feeling that it probably won't show up for a very long time.....

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Scottsmm,

If what you say is true, then unfortunately this is all a dead issue.

What a shame. Hopefully, they'll change their minds about it, but I'm not holding my breath. :(

Merry Christmas to you, nonetheless! :)

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Apologies if someone else said this but the problem as it stands now is using the mutal immunity of subs vs subs to block and locate eachother. Subs should always be in silent mode vs other subs.

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Colin,Ludi you guys are absolutly correct about the subs(considering how much ocean eachtile represnts)but I dont know if what Ludi suggests is the right way to go(I do like the idea)for this type of game and yes im all for adding more and making the game more technically advanced(if anyone has played the board game Squad Leader,they will know what im talking about)and historically accurate but since most people play against the A.I.then I guess coding the game for all these upgrades would be a tough thing to do?

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Well maybe if enough people want it they will implement it. I was just talking of an email that I sent to Hubert about 6 months ago. All isn't lost, but you have to wonder if there isn't a majority of people that want it, why would they use it?

To be honest I would love to see this feature being used, as I think it will add some variety to the game. However if they don't use it I don't think it will seriously lower the quality of the game by any means.

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