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Battle of the Atlantic is on!


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Very much appreciate the following new features. The Battle of the Atlantic is on! One of the first wargames I played was AH's 60's classic -> War at Sea, and it was simple but great fun!

1) OK, we now have the ability to measure (... and adjust, and re-adjust) the effectiveness of the U-boots. That new! Expanded reports dialog will surely make it MUCH easier to determine how that campaign is going, at any point in the war, and from either side.

2) RAIDERS! Man, is this feature a sight for sore eyes! I realize that - in toto - the GErman raiders did not account for a very high percentage of convoy kills, but I've ever believed that EACH little added aspect (... such as the Katyusha rocket-trucks in the land campaign) that conforms to WW2 history is a benefit and hardly a hindrance.

NOW there is some reason for the Axis player to actually send Bismark or CA Eugen into the convoy lanes. Not merely to raid themselves, but to fend off the potential UK response.

Should REALLY make this theatre quite the "cat & mouse" game! Hooray! Hubert!

3) Convoy supply silhouettes at appropriate Ports is a grand idea, and kudos to whoever put this feature - in there!

Tho... I can't foresee the cirucumstance that any Axis player would shadow the mid-coast around Liverpool.

Which brings up a comment: I would suggest having the "spotting range" for SB's reduced to match that of the naval bombers.

Why? In ALL my games thus far - and that's quite a few, I usually was dismayed that the SB in Iceland (... or that one in tandem with the one assigned to UK @ start) would so easily locate subs - and now surface ships! Yay again! - that would attempt to travel from Norway, say, out into the high seas.

Yep, I appreciate that "fog/rain and storms" do allow for some occasional passage. However, thinking on it... a couple things come to mind:

a) Correct me if mistaken, but I remember reading that there was NOT ONE, no not one single U-boot... was EVER sunk when going to or from port/sub-pens.

B) Coastal air recon is not nearly the same as hi-altitude SB's TRYING to spot some tiny little ship in that VAST ocean expanse.

There is a reason why ships are painted mostly in hues of gray and not, let's say, red or orange or yellow.

Upshot: I think it best to reduce spotting for SB's.

Can be done - in the best EDITOR that I've seen ANYWHERE, and I've played 'em all almost, but I'd recommend for the standard game as well.

Or... and this may require too much re-coding... perhaps have it where EACH non-coastal tile absorbs TWO (2) spotting range allowance?

Or... introduce a new! Tile. A "deep-water" tile which would accomplish the same thing. This might also be parlayed for further enhancement, say, by costing TWO (2) MP's, which would allow the map maker(s) to expand the seas and oceans to more exacting size.

Well, whatever is ultimately done, I for one am REALLY excited about the potential for some great and innovative "Battle of the Atlantic" encounters.

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Desert Dave

Very interesting comments – I am really looking forward to an improvement in the naval aspects of the SC game engine, as the naval war has always been the weakest aspect by far, IMO.

Your comments on spotting identify one of the key challenges in the game. To answer your first question briefly (a full answer would take a bit of research) quite a few U-boats were destroyed while transiting to and from port en route their patrol areas. The best example of this is the campaign mounted by Coastal Command in the Bay of Biscay. The measures and counter-measures in that campaign (Piening Way, AA U-boats, transit in packs and submerged transits are all examples) were indicative of the problems U-boats and their hunters faced.

More generically, your comments on spotting highlight a key weakness in the SC engine – spotting is either “comprehensive” or “none”. That is, if a unit is within spotting range it is spotted (assuming weather conditions allow), and if it is outside it is not spotted. The weather aspect provides a mild element of chance in relation to spotting, but this is essentially an arbitrary chance and is not really affected by player actions.

The reality is that spotting is (and was) always a probabilistic action. The probability of spotting a submarine or surface ship was always higher closer to shore as more aircraft would pass by, while the farther out a submarine or ship is the lower the probability of it’s being spotted. Camouflage, be it paint for lower visibility or radar absorption material to reduce the radar cross-section of a vessel, is intended to lower the probability of detection.

A possible solution would be to change the spotting formula in the game so as to make spotting very high probably at short range, and lower the probability of detection as range increases. Probability could be improved by improvements in tech level for search units. Probability of detection might be reduced by either improvements in the tech level of submarines, or by changing operating modes. For example, at tech level 3 or so submarines might be allowed to adopt “schnorkel” mode. This would reduce speed to ¼ normal allowance, but make the unit 90% less detectable. Anyone doubting the impact of the schnorkel on detecting U-boats is invited to read the last chapter of “Fighting at Sea: Naval Battles from the Ages of Sail and Steam”. The entire chapter is about the incredible efforts required to find and sink a single schnorkel-fitted U-boat in August/September 1944.

I suppose that programming probability into searches is challenging. But without that change, the naval war in SC will remain rather ‘cookie cutter’ simplistic, and therefore rather unrealistic. And don’t get me started on the incredibly poor speed choices associated with the game – carrier speeds in SC are absolutely ridiculous, and make carrier operations more resemble slow motion than the reality of fast moving and hard hitting naval assets that they were.

Anyway, looking forward to the changes in SC Global, and hoping that important issues such as naval spotting can be improved over time.

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I had almost forgot(not-really) how good it was to have your interaction in the forums DD, just imagine yourself in the grip of an amicable bear hug from this ole SM.:)

You too JJ! Sorely missed both your postings.

As you know DD, I'm in your camp, we want "The Search" and I think your suggestions are right on, just remember that poor ole AI is going to suffer with any complications, got to adhere to KISS.

Maybe, just maybe, this naval search parameter is better left to our CVs to implement and the naval spotting range be thoroughly reduced for LB aircraft. I know its not historically correct, but it sure would help create the proper effect. Its a tough call!:confused:

Can we live with this historical discrepancy at the cost of improving the game mechanics?

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I had almost forgot(not-really) how good it was to have your interaction in the forums DD, just imagine yourself in the grip of an amicable bear hug from this ole SM.:)

You too JJ! Sorely missed both your postings.

As you know DD, I'm in your camp, we want "The Search" and I think your suggestions are right on, just remember that poor ole AI is going to suffer with any complications, got to adhere to KISS.

Maybe, just maybe, this naval search parameter is better left to our CVs to implement and the naval spotting range be thoroughly reduced for LB aircraft. I know its not historically correct, but it sure would help create the proper effect. Its a tough call!:confused:

Can we live with this historical discrepancy at the cost of improving the game mechanics?

Thanks Brad, you have, quite literally, provided me... a LIFT, with that there Tex kind of "amicable bear hug!"

Hope you are yet surfing those raucous rowdy Gulf Coast Waters! Just read this morning about 50 foot waves! Out Hawaii way! Maybe we oughta unlink Hubert from SC-HQ and the 3 of us grab the boogie boards and hop a jet-plane to Honolulu?

Well, sure, you are the only CHEMIST I know of who can - with equal skill - traverse two different sorts of... "pipelines."

I realize we (... and JJ and JDF and others) have been discussing this very subject for, oh, 5 or 7 years or more. It's not easy to balance the IDEAL with the PRACTICAL, true enough!

---------------------

LUDI:

Perhaps you are correct about the sinking of U-boots in Bay of Biscay; your sources seem sound. There may indeed have been some casualties there late in the war, but up to now I've never heard tell. My apparent lack of scholastic preciseness is sometimes not any hindrance to -> my "flights of fancy!"

Then again, my own reading on this and related topics is fair extensive and I yet stand by my own (... albeit, quickly recalled) comment about NO U-boots being sunk navigating to/from port. I'll try to locate MY source, and I assure it wasn't no hokey and "fly by night" site like "Wikipedia." I am thinking, thinking... it was Liddel Hart, and so, I'll get around to re-vistiting my extensive library of WW2 books here one day soon. Too, there's always the chance that my material is dated, and not properly amended. Who knows?

Hmmm... perhaps it was? I read a "rabid and partisan" account - written by a swashbuckling U-boot Commander - in Fall of 1940? LOL!

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DD

I can assure you that there were many U-boats destroyed traveling to and from port – not sure if your source was Liddell Hart or not, but if so he was wrong. A good, easy to read book on the subject is ‘Aircraft versus Submarine in Two World Wars’ by Dr Alfred Price. Chapter 8 details the Bay of Biscay campaign in the summer of 1943. Price indicates that 8 U-boats were sunk and 16 damaged from about July 1942 until 26 Apr 43, while from 27 Apr until 2 Aug 43 (about 1/3 of the time) 26 boats were sunk and 17 damaged in the Bay. (page 159 in Price). These numbers may not be exactly correct – the book was originally published in 1973, and MoD (UK) Historical section has engaged in a massive re-validation of all U-boat kills, but they are probably not all that far off. The Bay of Biscay was the most commonly used transit area for U-boats after the fall of France until D-Day, and the Allied air forces made many efforts to kill U-boats in this area. The summer of 1943 campaign was reasonably successful, although the U-boats did begin to develop counter-measures. But I am just trying to nail down this one aspect, and keep my answer simple, so will not go on here about the measure counter-measure battle – that is well covered in Chapter 4 of ‘Fighting at Sea’.

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My Uncle was on a destroyer sunk by Bunta U-Boats. Only a handful survived, including my Uncle. At age 17, they shoved him on the next destroyer. His ship(s) served on accounted for 6 confirm kills (within their hunting group).

My Uncle came home in 1945, finished college as an engineer, got married, raised a family, and had 40 year career involved in all the glory days of the US space program.

He died early this year. You almost got him Bunta Nazis, but you didn't.

R.I.P. Uncle Legend

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DD

I can assure you that there were many U-boats destroyed traveling to and from port – not sure if your source was Liddell Hart or not, but if so he was wrong. A good, easy to read book on the subject is ‘Aircraft versus Submarine in Two World Wars’ by Dr Alfred Price. Chapter 8 details the Bay of Biscay campaign in the summer of 1943. Price indicates that 8 U-boats were sunk and 16 damaged from about July 1942 until 26 Apr 43, while from 27 Apr until 2 Aug 43 (about 1/3 of the time) 26 boats were sunk and 17 damaged in the Bay. (page 159 in Price). These numbers may not be exactly correct – the book was originally published in 1973, and MoD (UK) Historical section has engaged in a massive re-validation of all U-boat kills, but they are probably not all that far off. The Bay of Biscay was the most commonly used transit area for U-boats after the fall of France until D-Day, and the Allied air forces made many efforts to kill U-boats in this area. The summer of 1943 campaign was reasonably successful, although the U-boats did begin to develop counter-measures. But I am just trying to nail down this one aspect, and keep my answer simple, so will not go on here about the measure counter-measure battle – that is well covered in Chapter 4 of ‘Fighting at Sea’.

First - and most important!

Is your screen name derived from the Herman Hesse novel - "Magister Ludi?" AKA: The Glass Bead Game. Recently re-read "Steppenwolf" and was charmed all over again by Harry Haller's visit to the Magic Theater.

Now, down to brass tacks... I have been looking over "The Historical Atlas of WW II" [... John Pimlott, copyright 1995, Holt & Co, NY, NY] and I note the number of estimated kills in the Bay of Biscay, and it appears to be... ~ 6. However, most of those are due NW of the coast of Spain, probably about 4 or 5 "tiles" distant from coast of France.

Well, yep, that is more than... ZERO, so either my memory is playing Hessian-esque tricks on me, or my old source is inaccurate. OTOH, there are NONE anywhere near any Axis ports, and so this all might well be a case of "relative distances?" No? Well, yes, perhaps it IS so. In one sense, I conclude -> NO U-boots were EVER sunk... in the near vicinity of their port.

---------------------------------

Following, some other methodology we might consider:

1) If we take your number of 34 U-boots sunk (... appreciating that it is not yet verified) then we need to use a RATIO.

How many times did a single solitary U-boot enter and leave port during the entire course of the convoy wars?

Then, contrast that number - and I have absolutely no idea how we might arrive at, even, an approximate #, but I would guess it would be a large # - with your number of 34, or my number which is 6 , or the average of 20 -> take yer pick.

You would then have a SMALL % - oh, surely less than 5%? I myself would estimate, oh, less than 1%

2) Given that ratio, and you need not do so, I can easily see why very many esteemed game-makers (... who've stood the test of time) have quite simply... allowed the U-boots to be placed in the convoy zones, with NO possiblity of interception. For just 2, I am considering the creators of WiFE, and J Prados' "new Third Reich." The original 3R and then, A3R, merely abstracted the BoA, as we know.

Anyway, why do you suppose that these makers would have it where U-boots need not "run the gauntlet" and could simply be situated in the convoy zones? I am assuming, of course, that they had done their research. Most all else that they portrayed seems reasonably accurate, so would they not also ponder long & hard... WRT this U-boot vs ASW theatre?

UPSHOT: I am now standing @ parade-rest, corrected! It could not have been ZERO U-boots sunk to & from port/sub-pens. Again, DEPENDING UPON "relative distance" from port.

Won't be the last time I am "a little off" but I DO appreciate when someone takes the time to correct the record. Reducing ignorance is ALWAYS a fine thing!

-------------------------------------------------

Back to my original suggestion RE: BoA.

There was NOT consistent "umbrella coverage" of the sea area between Iceland and UK, until February of 1943. [Pimlott's book, page 102] That was when RAF Coastal Command deployed 30 long-range Liberators.

Therefore, in SC game terms, having the pincer-effect of SB in Iceland and the UK SB which can be moved to very north of Scotland, is questionable.

Solution? Again, I would find a way to reduce/restrict the "spotting ability" of aircraft flying over "deep-sea" type tile areas. Your idea of reducing "spot-ability" the further out you go, is a viable one. Though, coding issues may prove insurmountable with that particular idea.

However it is done... IS done - at a higher pay-grade than mine.

*****************

Sad to note: Yeah, I am VERY "tech-challenged" I admit, as I simply cannot figure HOW the incredibly slight allotment of "emoticons" might be attached to the text.

Sure, EVERYONE on planet earth and way out on Arcturus too! Knows how to do this, but, alas, I do not.

Can someone explicity tell me how it is done? Thanks! [... no doubt once I see how easy it is, I'll smack my forehead, but, at this latter date, that's no harm]

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Upon further review:

I note [... very same Pimlott book... well, I like this one, and would recommend it to ANY scenario-maker!] that there are "very many" convoy kills all along the eastern seaboard of USA and Canada. ~ 60, as I don't care to count every indicated "tittle & dot" that denotes a U-boot kill.

So... how can we BETTER replicate the BoA? Given that USA likely has TOO EXTENSIVE air coverage, not to mention that SB assigned to Canada early in the game?

We can't.

We NEED some OTHER WAY to solve this.

Also, I count 20 + convoy kills - in 1943 no less, between Iceland and UK. Hmmmm.

Down around Puerto Rico and Venezula I count OVER 30 "dots." Indicating convoy kills.

Now, Pimlott is not the ONLY research cat out there, no! Not by a jot or a lot! But, who cares to get into all that internecine brawling that is the hallmark of entrenched scholars? Not I Popeye, nope, not I! [... tried it for a year and while I liked the kids, I couldn't stomach the horrid wars in the back offices! LOL!)

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JJR

It was interesting to hear about your grandfather. Do you know what ships and groups he served with? I have copies of much of the USN Fleet ASW Bulletin from 1943 to 1945, and might be able to find something out in there about this.

DD

First, and because you are right, part of my handle is a result of Hesse. Magister Ludi (Master of the Games) is a little presumptuous for me, so I reduced it to Ludi, and added 1867 – to reflect the year Canada first became a nation. Hence ‘gamer from Canada’, roughly, is my handle. However, I have not read the book in several decades (rather alarming to note that!) and probably should go through it again.

History

While I applaud your effort to do some research, I question your choice of sources. Time-Life is a pretty general source, at best, and I have never heard of Pimlott.

Further, the discussion you enter is confused because you introduce the issue of ‘in the near vicinity of their port’. This is a third or fourth level aspect of the various operational strategies used by the major Allied anti-submarine authorities.

The RN (after a brief and disastrous flirtation with simply ‘hunting U-boats’, leading quickly to the loss of the carrier Courageous) focused primarily on convoys as their primary ASW means of killing U-boats. Convoys may seem primarily defensive (and that is certainly a major aspect) but the RN also envisioned them as ‘tethered goats’, as they would be the bait that would draw U-boats into proximity of escorts. Later in the war the RN augmented this strategy by introducing ‘support’ groups which would augment threatened convoys (good intelligence was also needed for this to be most effective). Finally, from the late summer of 1943 on the RN also used support groups to directly interdict transiting U-boats, such as in the Bay of Biscay campaign. This resulted in the Luftwaffe using guided missiles to attack support groups. From the summer of 1944 on support groups also did some direct interdiction of certain ports in France, resulting in some intensive battles between these ASW ships and Kriegsmarine R-bootes and minesweepers, who were escorting U-boats in. Not many U-boats lost in this way, although some were then picked off just off the coast by the groups working in the area.

RAF Coastal Command had two main concepts. One was to fly patrols in the vicinity of convoys, an approach the RN preferred. The other was to try to ‘cut the tree off at its trunk’, or attack U-boats as they traveled to and from patrol. This effort lead to the Bay of Biscay campaign I discussed earlier. There was also patrol efforts in the northern transit area (Shet-Far gap in particular), although these were not as productive. Sir John Slessor, a participant, has published a good account of Coastal Command’s effort, and Price is the best known, though now somewhat dated, authority dealing with Coastal’s effort. For a scathing assessment of Coastal Command’s Biscay efforts, so Corelli Barnett, ‘Engage the Enemy More Closely’ page 592-3.

The USAAF tended to follow Coastal Command.

The USN was less enamoured of convoys, although they adopted convoys through obvious necessity in the early summer of 1942, after the disastrous experience of Operation Drumbeat. However, while the USN started slow, it became highly proficient at U-boat killing from June 1943 on, especially in the use of CVE groups using intelligence for cueing. These ‘hunter-killer’ groups (see W.T. Y’Blood for the best detailed account) were used much more aggressively than the RN would have preferred, as the RN was concerned that U-boat command would realize that their codes were penetrated. The USN proved right, sinking (off the top of my head) 9 out of 10 re-supply (milch cow) U-boats in the summer and fall of 1943, while U-boat command refused to believe their codes could be broken. An excellent example of how big and proficient the USN became during the war came at the very end. Operation Teardrop, in late April 1945, was mounted to attack a wolfpack (SeaWolf, with 9 Type IXs) feared to have rocket weapons capable of striking the US east coast. Four CVEs and 42 (yes, FORTY TWO) DDEs were dispatched by the USN, and they sank 5 U-boats for the loss of one DDE. Quite an amazing operation, and the Wiki entry on it appears to be pretty well written (no, I did not write it).

So three main strategies – direct support of convoys, attack U-boats in transit, or attack U-boats in their operational areas using intelligence.

Game

First, NO game has done a good job reflecting the BOA. 3R and WiFE took the easy out and totally abstracted it. I would suggest this reflects less an effort to be accurate than an acknowledgement of how darn hard it would be to model the BOA.

SC has made an effort to model the campaign, but the mechanisms chosen actually do not work all that well. The convoy lines are depicted as static routes, and getting a U-boat onto the line is all a German player has to do. This is not completely easy, and does open up interdiction possibilities in the game. In fact, interdiction can sometimes be more effective than going after deployed U-boats. Once U-boats are ‘found’ by Allied units the engagement becomes a ‘normal’ naval battle, with U-boats occasionally teleporting all over the place. Overall this model somewhat allows for interdiction and targeted intelligence hunting, but it really does a poor job of the main RN strategy of using the convoys as bait.

Options to improve? Yes, I think there are some simple ones (SeaMonkey is certainly yelling KISS as he reads this). First, using an abstract ‘convoy hunting box’ for SC might be viable. However, I would suggest placing this large box somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic - convoys diverted as far north as Greenland and as far south as almost to the Azores while traveling from Halifax to Liverpool. The Axis player could chose to place U-boats in there, or use them in direct support of fleet operations. This was, in fact, a constant challenge for the Axis, as Hitler tended to prefer to use U-boats as regular fleet assets as opposed to convoy raiders. Doenitz was forever having to pry U-boats away from guarding Norway or dispatch into the Mediterranean in order to deploy them against convoys and shipping. Having an abstract box would allow for interdiction strategies as well. The Allied player could either try and pick off U-boats as they traveled to the box, or put units into the box to directly guard convoys. Convoy, U-boat AND escort damage would result from a comparison of strengths allocated by both players and the relative tech level of units.

As for the interdiction war, I would give current strategic bombers a very low naval reconnaissance range – perhaps two hexes. I would also make them upgradeable in naval technology, for a hefty price. Each naval strategy would add ‘x’ amount of range to their detection of boats and ships. There is a very easy and straightforward rationale for this – without proper equipment (especially radar and Leigh Lights) and training, long range bombers were not very good at naval reconnaissance. Naval air units were specially trained and dedicated to the role. The diversion of long range strategic bombers was in fact one of the critical strategic decisions of the war, and reached the highest Allied levels. Roosevelt and Churchill directed the release of LR bomber assets to Coastal Command at Casablanca in January 1943, a critical aspect of the turn of the tide in the BOA in May 1943. (Time Life did get that right – not sure why Pimlott is so out to lunch on the Biscay Campaign).

Another option might be to create specialized naval air LR Bomber units that have negligible strategic attack, but good naval recon and naval attack.

Conclusion

I look forward to any improvement in the naval aspects of SC. The ground war seems to ‘work’ – it really is neat. The naval war is, to date and including PT, disappointing. So there is a lot of room to get better in the naval war, in my view, and I remain hopeful.

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@Ludi1867 --- Was actually my Uncle. I'm from an interesting set of parents. My Dad is from a family of 10, and he's the youngest. My Mom is from a family of 9, and she's the oldest. So I have Uncles who fought in WW-2 thru Vietnam. I have no idea what ship, squadrons, dates, etc. We were specifically told never to ask my Uncle about the war. For that matter, never to mention or talk anything about WW-2 (or any war) at family reunions. An Uncle who went from Inchon to China in Korea. Uncle who flew Air-Cav in Viet-frickin'-Nam. Another Uncle who was a ground soldier in 'Nam. I have a golfing friend who made 3 kills in Panama. Two cousins who served in Desert Storm 1. And thankfully, all my relatives are now out of the military. Interesting enough, all of them that actually saw combat, became Christians after the fact. My golfing buddy in Grenada told me the gritty details of his close combat in Panama, he was an MP.

The stories could go on.......on my paperoute as a kid, I had a lady who surived a Holocaust Camp (she showed me the tattoo), another dude who fought Japs (recently died), my friend's Grandfather who won the

All I was told at a young age: My Uncle fought in WW-2, he enlisted with some friends into the Navy. They were in Atlantic, their ship was sunk. Only a handful survived. Never talk about it around your Uncle or family reunions.

I'm sure the German dudes, have more interesting stories. I'm sure you have your set of stories too.

You got a good link for info?

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DD

First, and because you are right, part of my handle is a result of Hesse. Magister Ludi (Master of the Games) is a little presumptuous for me, so I reduced it to Ludi, and added 1867 – to reflect the year Canada first became a nation. Hence ‘gamer from Canada’, roughly, is my handle. However, I have not read the book in several decades (rather alarming to note that!) and probably should go through it again.

History

While I applaud your effort to do some research, I question your choice of sources. Time-Life is a pretty general source, at best, and I have never heard of Pimlott.

Very clever about yer handle - I didn't snap to that!

Excuse me, but... where in dickens do you get this "Time-Life" razz-ma-tazz, bitte schoene?

Yah! Pimlott has never heard of you, neither! LOL!

Here you go -> the Copyright, 1995 for the nation of Canada (... the 1st edition printed in England, BTW):

--------------------

Swanston Publishing Limited

Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd.

195 Allstate Parkway,

Markham, Ontario L3R 4T8

---------------------------------

As for the rest of yer info, I suppose I could take yer solemn word on it's lasting veracity, (... since you've not cited sources) but, that's not usually how I do it.

I'm sure, however, given that you are well-spoken and commit parsimonious amounts of grammatical errors, it is sure likely to be in accord with... SOMEONE'S historical gestalt/paradigm.

Yep, reducing the SB spotting range to be precisely that of the NB, IE, 2, (... as I originally recommended in top-most post in this thread) is a good work-around until something better might be discovered and implemented.

[... I would put a smiley-face immediately following the word "implemented," but, as mentioned in prior post, I cannot fathom how it is done; when I click on the particular icon, it always appears @ the top, and never in the text. I've fiddled with it and yet cannot solve it. My "ludite" skills are in arrears - alas, WHATEVER the years!]

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Dave, so what exactly are you mumbling about? What's your take?

Taking all of my above posts into account, my take is a teensy tiny bit longer than, so far anyhow, YOUR take. Know what I mean? I don't recall reading - now let me pause and go back and have a good long re-look... nope, don't see where you've mentioned ANYTHING about the topic @ hand.

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Never claimed to have a take. I don't have to pull my take out to know it's bigger than yours.

So I'll repeat the question: What are you saying in 3 sentences or less about the Battle of the Atlantic relative to some intelligent dude quoting books?

LOL!

Whoa -> Idaho Ivanho! You are on a roll!

A donut roll with no hole! OOoops, sorry, didn't mean to illume forth one of yer weaker aspects... finding the h... oh, never mind, time for a nap!

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JJR

I appreciate the greater detail, and understand why you cannot provide specifics – many vets are/were reluctant to talk about their active service. You clearly come from a very military family – my family has few military ties, and I was rather a black sheep of the family. I was also fortunate in that I never had to do any real shooting – my war was the Cold War.

DD

Not sure whether to be impressed or incredulous that you remain so strongly attached to a Time Life source. While I appreciate your full citation, it does not change the fact that the source is, really, not very credible. To be charitable, I would suggest you review the part you read, as Time Life tends to be very succinct and generalized, and you may not have realized what specific period the 6 boats were lost in.

Given your concern over my lack of citation, I have pulled another book out of my library to try and satisfy you. This book was published for external audiences by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in 1989. The title is “German Naval History: The U-Boat War in the Atlantic, 1939-1945”. ISBN 0 11 772603 6. You can find a picture of it if you go to www.abebooks.com and search by ISBN. The author of the material was Gunther Hessler. Hessler served in the U-boat arm of the Kriegsmarine, first at sea and then in the HQ ashore. After the war the RN had him compile a review of the campaign, albeit without Hessler ever knowing about Allied decryption capabilities. The initial report was classified. Overall it is a fascinating view of the campaign prepared by a German participant with reasonable – although not full – access to the records.

Part of the challenge of addressing your concerns is that it is not, in fact, easy to find a succinct summary of attacks on transiting U-boats. Individual attacks are much easier to locate – summaries less so. Hessler summarizes the Bay of Biscay campaign in the summer of 1943 in sections 357 to 360 in volume III of the book (The book was originally published in three volumes – the facsimile edition of 1989 put all three volumes into one, making normal citation difficult). In section 357 Hessler notes that “Nine U-boats were lost there [bay of Biscay] in May [1943], representing a quarter of the total losses in the Atlantic area….” Further on, in section 360, Hessler indicates that “…in the first three weeks of July alone, seven U-boats were lost and three severely damaged [in the Bay of Biscay].”

The Bay of Biscay campaign is covered in a number of historical works, and some reasonable sources can be found just using google a bit. Few of these offer a good summary, but you can quickly see that this was a major action with just a little (real) research. http://www.usaaf.net/ww2/uboats/uboatspg4.htm is just one example.

There are, in fact, good things to be found on the net. A good general site is: http://www.uboat.net/index.html . Experts such as Axel Niestle, who has written the most authoritative book to date (and probably ever) of U-boat losses has contributed an article to this site. Again, no Pimlott though.

A rather amazing site is http://www.uboatarchive.net/BDUKTB.htm . This contains scans of most of the battle logs (KtB) for BdU (Befehlsahaber der U-Boote, or U-Boat HQ) for the war. If you want to read what the German U-boat staff was thinking during the war, this is an amazing site. But a little more long winded than a Time Life book! ;)

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JJR,

At risk of being a bit off topic, I just found your family history in WWII and beyond rather similar to my own family's, so I had to respond.

My father is also the youngest of ten (he joined the navy just 2 weeks after the armistice in Korea was signed). He had 3 older brothers in WWII. Two of them in the navy. One on a battleship, another on a cruiser, destroyer, or frigate whatever, but his ship had the distinction of having sunk the most Japanese subs in the WWII. Can't remember the name of the ship, but if someone around here can remember it, let me know, it may jog my memory).

Also, one brother he had was an Army Air Signal Corp man who's job was to relay enemy positions to the bombers during the landings at Omaha Beach. Instead, he just spent the time of the landing trying to stay alive (radio was destroyed during the landing, and the jeep he and four others were riding in was hit by a mortar round and flipped over, killing everyone else but himself).

Later, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received 5 bronze stars for bravery when the war was over, he just died last year.

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Ludi:

Here is an X-tremely brief bio of Dr. Pimlott, obtained by googling, which I know how to do, and -> akin to saying my ABC's, I say, I say... now! I've done my ABC's (googles), watchu watchu think of me!! :

-------------------------------------------------------

John Pimlott is Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, England. He is the author of many works on the Second World War and coauthor of "Strategy and Tactics of War."

----------------------------------------------

Nowhere on ANY sites I just recently visited RE: Pimlott's pitiful little research effort, did I come across... ONE SINGLE SYLLABLE, even, that would lead me to believe that... "Time-Life"... had ANYTHING to do with this publication.

Or, you are just using this as a sly & snide way to dismiss my (... admittedly modest) input WRT the BoA.

Why I gotta wonder? Would you continue to relate that there... Time-Life falsehood?

Really.

You wish to appear MORE scholastic than I?

No problemo, Senor - I GIVE you that, as I am MOSTLY concerned - on this sort of forum with... simply following the vapor trail of whatever stray eidolon might dance strangely roam-antic, somewhere in the vast and (largely unreachable) crannies & crevices of my brain. It is a failing to some folks I expect, whereas others don't seem to mind much at'all.

You know Ludi, I am inordinately thrilled! That you've taken the time & effort to write about those things that you seem to know to a fair thee well.

No. MORE than excited, I am ecstatic. I have read all. I am EVER pleased to increase my poor SW American-fellaheen kind of knowledge. Thank you!

If I think of something else, I'll stick it on here!

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Ludi,

Some clarification on that ship I mentioned, after some discussion with my father this evening:

The uncle in the navy was on the jeep carrier U.S.S. Card. It's squadron and support group had the distinction of sinking the most GERMAN subs in the Atlantic in naval history at the time. In fact, it also captured the only German sub, which is on display in a museum in Chicago, Ill. USA. The other uncle in the navy at that time was on a troop carrier as an orderly to the admiral in the Pacific after the Germans had surrendered. I must have gotten the two of them mixed up a bit.

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JJR

I appreciate the greater detail, and understand why you cannot provide specifics – many vets are/were reluctant to talk about their active service. You clearly come from a very military family – my family has few military ties, and I was rather a black sheep of the family. I was also fortunate in that I never had to do any real shooting – my war was the Cold War.

@Ludi --- Nah, my family & friend tree is not "the military type". Out of all my Uncles, Cousins, & Friends not one was an officer. Not one re-enlisted. Not one gets into details, none cared for the lifestyle, nor do they care much about military related events/holidays. They went in because they were mostly young/broke or drafted; believed serving the USA was a nobel enough cause, wanted G.I. bill for college, or had nothing else better to do. The military made them grow up quickly. They figured out the politicians turn the knobs on this planet. And that the military is the poor man's job.

"Not everybody can goto college, the world needs ditch diggers too" --- Judge Smells in Caddyshack

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Snowstorm

A different ocean indeed! However, it is always good to put out a reminder of the impressive exploits of USS England, whose singular patrol remains an astonishing achievement. The RN’s best U-boat killer, Captain John Walker, and his support group killed six U-boats in one patrol, but this was more a group than individual achievement (although Walker’s influence is undoubted – and he ended up essentially working himself to death).

The USS Card was a very successful CVE, killing four U-boats in its first patrol (all aircraft kills, two with Mk 24 acoustic homing torpedoes) and five in its second (one by an escort this time). However, this group did not capture U-505, the boat now in Chicago. That honour fell to the USS Guadalcanal group under RADM Daniel V. Gallery. (The golf course at NAS Whidbey Island – near Oak Harbor WA – is named after him. I actually played a couple of rounds on that course while stationed there). I would certainly recommend reading W.T. Y’Blood’s book ‘Hunter Killer’ for more details regarding the Card and all other CVEs hunting U-boats. (I had to dig my copy out to make sure the details were right – and reading it reminded me of how good a book it is).

JJR

I stand corrected regarding your military family! It appears that military service was reasonably frequent but short in your extended family, but fewer members of my extended family spent longer in the service. Military service can, indeed, cause some degree of cynicism to develop.

Game Comments

After all this discussion, much of it not related to the game, I have given some more thought to actual possible changes to the game. One of these is relatively easy and might even be practical in coding terms, although I have no real capability in that department, so that assessment is more of a guess. The other two are less simple, but I offer them up for discussion as well.

A) Multiple convoy routes.

The first suggestion might allow for real strategic choice for the Allies in the convoy battle, and causes some reasonably realistic challenges for the German player. For the longer convoy routes, such as that from North America to England, I would suggest that three possible convoy routes be created. The current convoy route, which is more or less the great circle path from New York to Liverpool, would be one of these. It would be the default choice for the Ally, and would not inflict an MPP ‘penalty’ for use. The two other convoy routes would diverge north and south of this route, as much as possible. Clearly the divergence would be minimal at each end – geography ensures that – but the northern route could pass close to Greenland and Iceland, while the southern route would go south of Bermuda and close to the Azores. The Allied player would have to go into the convoy map display to choose the alternate convoy routes, and there would be a nominal penalty – say 1 or 2% of total MPPs - for using these convoy routes. This would recreate, in rough but ready fashion, the evasive routing process actually used by the Allies. The German player would then have a choice. Placing a U-boat at the focal points at either end of the routes would ensure contact – and MPP damage – to convoys on a turn when the U-boat is in ‘hunt’ mode. However, operating in those locations makes the U-boat most vulnerable to Allied ASW forces, both land and sea based. Going further into the Atlantic would require the U-boats to choose a convoy route – and if the wrong choice is made, no MPP damage would be inflicted on the convoy that turn. This alteration would also make intelligence more important to both players. Intelligence hits on the ‘active’ convoy route at the beginning of a turn would make it much easier for the German player to place his U-boats to maximum effect – and this recreates the success that B Dienst achieved from time to time. Conversely, intelligence hits on U-boats (‘Ultra’) would allow Allied players to route convoys around U-boats and deploy ASW forces appropriately.

I think this qualifies as a reasonably ‘simple’ change, yet it is one that adds significant strategic choices for both players, and (a nice addition) actually provides some reasonable facsimile of actual wartime events. It may, however, make U-boats hunting convoys a little too vulnerable, which is part of the reason for my next suggestion.

B) Dispersed Hunting mode for U-boats – the current modes and occasional teleportation combat result for U-boats are designed, primarily, to give some greater survivability to U-boats. (My assessment). However, the current mechanism is at best arbitrary and is certainly rather bizarre when compared with actual actions in the convoy wars. I would suggest that a new approach really needs to be considered. This suggestion is a little more complex, but is perhaps a different way to approach the same problem.

The concerns I have with the U-boat unit now is that, when employed in convoy actions, results tend toward either no damage or absolute and complete damage. The reality was usually less extreme (in either way). U-boats suffered steady attrition in most phases of the battle of the Atlantic, but only occasionally were losses really severe – and when the losses became severe there were usually options for the U-boats to change tactics and/or modes to reduce losses. The changes ALSO generally significantly reduced U-boat effectiveness, but the U-boats were never swept from the seas, as is all too common in the many games of SC I have played. So what SC needs, in my assessment, is a way to make U-boat combat more attritional in nature, and to offer U-boats more options for survival, albeit with reduced chance of inflicting damage.

The basic change would suggest eliminating the teleporting U-boat combat result (I really dislike this concept, although it does have the charm of being simple to implement). In its place, a U-boat could adopt ‘dispersed hunting mode’. This mode would see a single U-boat break down into five (the square the U-boat is in, plus the four squares around it) units. ASW attacks would have to be against each individual unit, and each action could cause attritional losses (to both sides), although I would suggest that combat should be skewed toward single point losses the majority of the time (assumes a ten point U-boat unit breaks down to five 2 point units, or four 2 points and one 1 point, etc). This would make killing a U-boat a little harder. The German player could then choose to ‘reconstitute’ his main U-boat unit in any occupied OR ADJACENT square at the beginning of the next turn, and move the entire unit from there. This would make containment somewhat challenging.

C) Higher speed for almost all vessels, especially carriers. This third suggestion is based on the fact that MOST ship speeds in SC are too slow. In fact, ship speeds are rather perverse in an operational/strategic sense. Destroyers have high tactical speed, but are actually rather constrained in their operational/strategic speed because of fuel. The reverse is true of battleships, which are not so fast (most of them) tactically, but most have pretty good operational/strategic speeds. Carriers usually have good tactical AND strategic speeds. Yet in SC, destroyers go fast, battleships less so and carriers are positively plodding. A similar comment can be made about U-boats and submarines, which are somewhat plodding tactically but actually move at pretty good speeds operationally/strategically. Higher speeds would change the game quite a bit, and would certainly make naval warfare more open to strategic surprise than the current plodding pace allows.

With higher speeds, there might be the option for a ‘third’ U-boat mode. In addition to Hunt and Silent mode, I would suggest that a third mode be added for U-boats with tech level 2 or better – submerged. U-boats in submerged mode would travel at 1/3 of their normal movement, and would have their attack values cut in half. However, aircraft detection range of and attacks on U-boats in submerged mode would be cut by 90% (that is not a typo – schnorkels really had that big of an effect on aircraft). Ship detection ranges and attack values would be cut in half as well. In effect, this mode allows U-boats to better survive but do less damage.

Anyway, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the naval war in SC. I have commented a number of times that the current approach does not, in fact, work all that well. These suggestions are offered in the spirit of trying to find some ways to improve the one aspect of the game that really is sub-optimal.

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Desert Dave I know I have brought this up before Ultra played a huge part in the latter sinking of Uboats and convoys avoiding them all together.I do realise the difficulty and maybe even the impossibility of somehow adding it but it was VERY important for the Allies.Many Uboat at sea re-supplyings were stopped because a destroyer just happened to be at the right spot at the right time.

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