Sunday, January 30, 2011

Battle of Cape Spada

Sunday morning in Perth. Tropical cyclone forming off the coast. More humid than hell. And the setting for a historical refight of the Battle of Cape Spada. I travelled to Godders house where the ping pong table became the Mediterranean Sea, Cape Spada Crete, July 19, 1940. Victory at Sea are the rules. The Royal Australian Navy, The Royal Navy and the Italian Navy are set to clash. I was playing the roll of Rear Admiral Ferdinando Casardi in command of the two Italian Light Cruisers Giovanni Delle Bande Nere and Bartolomeo Colleoni. My fine ships pictured above.

Godders was Captain John Collins of the light cruiser HMAS Sydney, and flotilla commander of five British destroyers, HMS Ilex, Hero, Hasty, Havock & Hyperion. Sydney and Hyperion pictured above.

Ilex, Hero, Hasty and Havock pictured above. The battle started off in historical positions. Ilex, Hero, Hasty and Havock patrolling the Cape. They run into the two Italians light cruisers. HMAS Sydney and HMS Hyperion are 64km's north. Their presence unknown to the Italians. The British destroyers turn northwest hoping to lead the Italians onto the Australians guns. The Italians are in hot pursuit of easy prey. Turn one begins with the appearance of HMAS Sydney.

Godders drives Sydney and Hyperion straight at me. Guns blazing. He begins to turn his Destroyers towards the Italians. I try some long range shots at Sydney from the Colleoni but I am unsuccessful. Bande Nere fires at Havock and causes two hits crippling and then sinking the Destroyer.

The Italians historically begin to turn to the southwest to escape the trap. But I am caught between Sydney and the Destroyers and must pass close to the Australian cruiser. The Sydney and Italians exchange gunfire, Colleoni and Sydney taking hits. Sydney launches her port torpedoes pictured above, crippling the Colleoni.

The British destroyers close in on the Colleoni and launch three salvos of torpedoes. The Colleoni sinks. The allied fleet celebrates. HMS Hyperion launches a torpedo spread straight at Bande Nere to no effect. All the destroyers have now depleted their torpedoes.

I race the Bande Nere for the southwest edge of the table hotly pursued by the three destroyers, Sydney and Hyperion moving to block off my escape route.

Sydney and Hyperion move to intercept. Sydney launching her final spread of torpedoes into Bande Nere. They miss. Bande Nere launches torpedoes into Hyperion. Also missing. Bande Nere and Sydney unload all their guns into each other. Sydney takes terrible damage and sinks.

Bande Nere is left cripled after the gun battle with the Sydney and is running at half speed. One more shot will sink her. The British Destroyers closed in like wolves and unleash all their guns. Bande Nere sinks. Honours to the victorious leader Godders.
Final tally. Colleoni and Bande Nere sunk. Sydney and Havock sunk. Heavy damage to Havock. Minor damage to Hasty, Ilex and Hyperion. Another fun game with Godders. I am dripping with sweat from the excitment, or the humidity, I can't tell which one.
Historical Note. The above battle was fought as described. The Italian ships were in the process of transferring base when they ran into the British Destroyers. The British believed the Sydney was 100km's to the north. However the Australian Commander was only 64kn's away. Captain Collins had been worried that the original patrol distance was too far in the event of an encounter so he had brought Sydney and Hyperion in closer to the Destroyers. The British turned north towards Sydney not knowing her location. The British began broadcasting requests for help. Captain Collins heard the distress calls but did not answer, not wishing to reveal his position to the Italians. The Italians blood was up and they wanted to sink the British Destroyers and the chase began. Mussolini himself was being updated with the status of the pursuit. The arrival of Sydney surprised the Italians and they turned tail and made a run for the southwest. Sydney and the Destroyers began to close the gap and after 50 minutes of continuous fire the Sydney hit the Colleoni's boiler room and the Italian Cruiser stopped dead in the water. The crew of the Colleoni kept firing and refused to give in. Torpedoes from Ilex and Hyperion sent her to the deep. Meanwhile Sydney kept up the pursuit on the Bande Nere until she ran out of ammo and was forced to disengage. The Bande Nere and been hit twice. One hit in the hanger and one in the bow. Sydney took one shot to her funnel.
As a result of the battle 121 Italian sailors were killed, and 555 taken prisoner. No allied sailors were killed in the battle. Mussolini went into deep depression after the battle as the war in North Africa was not going well at all.


Al said...

Cool game, different, shame the Sydney did not survive the war, but at least they found the wreck site eh?

Beccas said...

The one thing that I like about this battle was the crew of the Colleoni. They kept the guns in action until the ship was blown up from under them. Brave men.

Guidowg said...

Looks like a good game, nice report Beccas.

The HMAS Perth did the same during the battle of the Sunda Strait against the Japanese.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Good game and nice ships,reports and back story.


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Nice battle report

What rules do you use?

Paul said...

Nice report and a good looking game!

Beccas said...

Thanks everyone.

Geordie. We use Victory at Sea. Naval wargaming for dummies. But at least we can finish a game in two hours. All ships are 1/3000 Navwar.

M. C. Monkey-Dew said...

Excellent! One of my favorite scenarios for testing out new rules. Your Italians did rather better than mine usually manage : )

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Itinerant said...

I just acquired some 1:3000 ships . How did you make the bases and how big are they?

Beccas said...

All the bases are 1.5mm thick MDF. 20mm wide. And I cut the lengths to suit the ships. I buy them from Litko.

All I do is glue the ship on the bases. Get polyfilla and smooth it over the base around the ship. Once dry I paint the bases with Vallejo 840 Light Turquoise. When dry, I paint white bow waves. Then very lightly dry brush white over the whole base. The ship names are done on my printer and glued on the back. Pretty easy.