Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

TFH: Sep I 1940 (Germany)

The ships in the Irish Sea flee for Belfast, the British sink a couple more shipping points, and continue to terrorize various cities in Germany.

Preparing for the invasion of Britain is a grind. So much to be done, but not enough time or resources to do it all.

Take Dover for example. A prime spot for a German landing. It has been reinforced with extra coastal defenses. In order to facilitate a landing there, these coastal defenses have to be reduced. To achieve this objective, dive bombers are sent in. In order to protect those Stukas, almost every available Me-109 is sent to Dover to protect them.

Historically, the British ate the Stukas for lunch. They are big, slow, cumbersome, vulnerable, and the British destroyed them by the dozen. Losses were so high that the Luftwaffe ultimately pulled them out of the battle altogether. By sending so many escorts, they are protected.

This is where the British ambassador slipped a bit. He informed our intelligence services that he is not going to engage anywhere where the ratio of Spitfires to Me-109s is not roughly even. Certainly, the British are patrol attacking the Stukas, but the worst they can do is send them back to base. Stuka losses are stemmed by being protected.

The British are making the assumption that I care if the RAF joins the battle or cowers in their barracks. Honestly, the RAF is not my highest priority. I didn’t make any claims that the Luftwaffe would win the war by itself.

I’ve said before that the biggest barrier to an invasion is the Royal Navy, and to that end, I have been targeting them. I think it kind of caught the British off guard that I could reach them in Belfast.

German bombing and dispositions (click image to enlarge)

German bombing and dispositions (click image to enlarge)

Last turn the Luftwaffe managed to put a couple of hits on the BB Nelson, a hit on the battlecruiser Repulse, and chased them back to Belfast. This turn, the raid on Belfast put 2 hits on the cruiser York (crippled) and the light cruiser Southampton (crippled). The Nelson and the Repulse escaped damage, and we just cannot even get anything close to the CLA Coventry. Both the Nelson and Repulse are one hit away from becoming crippled. With more time, there could be a lot of damage done to the Royal Fleet.

In Dover, both coastal defenses are hit. One is reduced one level (to 0-1-2), while the other (2-0-0) takes a hit.

A bit to the northeast, bombers on the ground are attacked. Me-110Cs are switched from their bombing role to an escort role. Although they are facing fighters that are roughly equal to them, two of them are shot down, while a Hurricane and a Blen1-F are aborted. Two Do-17Z boimbers are also shot down, but one manages to abort a Beln-4 night fighter. The mission is a “success”, in the fact that a bunch of Hampden and a Whitley bombers were aborted. I just couldn’t get the second hit required to destroy them.

Maybe I am going about this wrong, making individual runs at targets in order to get more shots at a given target, instead of combining strengths to increase the chances of successfully placing one hit.

Time is growing short. A temporary airfield is placed in Dunkerque to help facilitate the number of Me-109s in the area.

So, since I have so many 109s available, why not spread out and attempt to hit more targets?

German naval display showing units in port and 'off-map

German naval display showing units in port and ‘off-map” in addition to the southeastern British coast (click image to enlarge)

The problem is that the British have the home field advantage. They get to pick and choose when and where they intercept. Had I split the 15 or so escorts into two groups, the British would have jumped one or the other in mass numbers and picked them apart. They have already done it once, so it has to be prevented in the future, and it has, but the price is a slowdown in progress.

I’m almost at the point where I think I might actually have a (small) chance of getting across the Channel, despite the Royal Navy. Right now it just isn’t feasible, because the KM forces are so small. Over time, three cruisers (Admiral Scheer, Admiral Hipper, Prinz Eugen) and a pair of battlecruisers (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau), and another light cruiser (Leipzig). If the RN doesn’t have battleships, the odds may be evened somewhat.

If only the Bismarck were ready. It would be interesting to put her up against the Rodney.

In the end, this is a game. Sometimes you have to say “What the hell!” and just go for it.

And the Germans will be going for it soon.

Very Soon.


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7 thoughts on “TFH: Sep I 1940 (Germany)

  1. alant14 on said:

    If the Luftwaffe doesn’t gain air superiority I may not even need to commit most of the Royal Navy. Every coastal hex within Me109 range in sea zones 11, 12 and 13 is defended. The LW will have to provide GS. If the Germans land in a port it will have to knock out the coastal artillery. LW might also want to fly DAS, that is if they expect ground units making it ashore to survive the counter-attack. They will have to fly a lot of naval bombing or the invasion will get snuffed like a candle in the wind. You have to send enough bombers to get the job done and enough extra to negate patrol attacks and AA. Paratroopers? All those missions have to be escorted, now some can be in the same hex and share escorts, but things get dicey very quickly.

    Here is the process as I understand it.

    1. German player lays mines in the British player-turn prior to invasion in sea zones adjacent to Continental Europe and Norway. For purposes of the invasion sea zones 10, 11, 12 and 13 are adjacent to Continental Europa, adjacent to Britain and are within Me109 escort range.

    2. German player turn announces he is making an opposed landing I the initial phase of the German player-turn.

    3. German player flies all of this air missions.

    4. RAF conducts patrol attacks and flies interception, air to air combat takes place.

    5. German player places shipping counters and ground units adjacent to landing hexes. They are there for all the world to see and are naked until German surface ships show up to protect them. Better hurry KM!

    – Begin 1st of 7 Naval Action Segments –

    6. German ships/subs can move from port to an adjacent sea zone.

    7. British ships/subs can move from port to an adjacent sea zone, rolling for contact with mines and subsequent possible damage.

    8. Submarines can attack ships and/or shipping in their sea zone.

    9. RAF flies naval bombing missions and escort thereof. Germans make patrol attacks and fly interception. Air combat and AA fire. Air units can attack ships, shipping and search for subs.

    10. Surface Combat takes place in a series of rounds until one side is sunk or disengages. If there are no German surface units in the same sea zone or if all German surface units have disengaged then the invasion is over if even a single British DD is in that sea zone. Each undamaged hit box of British surface ships sinks a transport point and ALL remaining transport points are “scattered”.

    11. Naval bombardment subsegment – ships can fire at ground units, hoping to disrupt them. Ships and CD shoot at each other.

    Repeat steps 6-11 six more times.

    12. Landing Segment – cargo lands on beaches and in friendly ports.

    Note rule 30B (Basing): “A ship needs to be resupplied if it fired any of its gunnery strengths or its torpedo strength at any time during a naval phase. In following naval phases, the gunnery strengths and torpedo strength of a ship that needs to be resupplied are halved.”

    Now I am not saying the Royal Navy will tag-team the Germans over multiple action segments, but that is what happened to the Spanish Armada.

    I still say there is not nearly enough Luftwaffe to provide GS, provide DAS, sink the Royal Navy (if that was all they try to do I doubt the entire LW could get this done before the invasion is squashed) and protect the invasion from RAF naval bombing. A dozen Ju88s spent 2 turns attacked British ships in the Irish Sea and again in port at Belfast and have yet to sink a single ship. Yes they damaged some (6 hits), but it is illustrative of Luftwaffe capabilities.

    British subs can disrupt some of the transports, but they could not by themselves defeat a large invasion force. The RAF, if left unmolested, could make a mess of an invasion, but not stop every transport.

    All German DD, torpedo boats and shipping points are in Amsterdam, adjacent to sea zone 13. German ships larger than DDs and all U-boats that are received on the turn the invasion is announced start in German ports adjacent to sea zone 14.

    Enough British ships to stop the invasion are in port adjacent to sea zone 7, which itself is adjacent to sea zone 13. Small numbers of British DDs and Subs are in ports adjacent to sea zones 10, 11 and 13. Another large British surface group is in Belfast Northern Island, within sailing distance of any German landing site.

    If the British defeat an announced invasion they score 70 VP, which is the equivalent of 350 Strat Bombing Factors dropped on London or sinking 35 hit boxes of RN ships or reducing the RAF by 14 Group Allowance (killing 40+ RAF air units in air to air combat).

    The British start with 95 hit boxes of surface ships, get 10 DD (10 hit boxes) of replacements and can call in special reinforcements if they want to spend Victory Points to do so.

    There is simply not enough Luftwaffe to get the job done, and rightly so.


    • I understand that you wrote this for the benefit of those who do not have access to this game. I do, however, need to correct you on a couple of matters.

      Rule 30B (Naval Movement & Basing – Basing): “A ship needs to be resupplied if it fired any of its gunnery strengths or its torpedo strength at any time during the naval phase. In following naval phases, the gunnery strengths and torpedo strength of a ship that needs to be resupplied are halved.”

      I think you are confusing the naval action segments with a naval phase. The KM (or RN for that matter) can each fire in the first action segment in Sep I, for example, but there are no negative effects for the remainder of that phase. The negative effects occur in Sep II and thereafter, so long as the ship remains in need of resupply.

      Air superiority. You can make all the claims you want about every hex on the southern coastline being covered by fighters. The truth is that German has control of the skies over southern England. Want proof? You are afraid to come face me, and choose to cower in your barracks, shaking in your little booties. =P

      True, I have only been able to land 6 hits in two trips to Belfast, BUT, Nelson is almost crippled, Repulse is almost crippled, York has been crippled, Southampton has been crippled. If a ship has taken “major damage” as per the rules and all gunnery/aa/torpedo strengths are halved, movement should be, nay MUST BE impacted, but it is not per this game. This is a major rules breakdown, imo.

      Not a single ship has been sunk, but have you considered that my goal is not sinking ships?

      Why would I need to escort my minefields? (Just yanking your chain)

      The Germans do not need to eliminate coastal artillery to land at a port. Once they land at a port, all CDs are eliminated.

      RAF naval bombing missions: easier said than done, as I have shown when I attacked the fleet in the Irish Sea. Naval patrol bombing is a tactical mission, and the bulk of your bombers are not exactly built for tactical missions. Besides, the RAF shows that it only comes out at night, making the mission that much harder. =D

      When you sunk 2 destroyers, you were extremely lucky. That luck won’t always hold.

      When I approached you about doing this, the purpose was to show the difficulties involved in the Germans launching an invasion, let alone a successful one. It is easy to say “if the Germans had invaded, blah, blah, blah”, but the reality is that Hitler was never going to invade Britain. You and I both know it was a bluff. He was focused on the east.

      What we are doing is completely hypothetical. I had mentioned in my post that I was not making much progress, bombing wise, but I think that when you compare it to actual historical results, I may not be all that far off from where my historical counterparts were, but in other aspects, I think I’m ahead.

      In order to invade Britain, the Royal Navy has to be eliminated as a threat. This is a logical step, no? True, the Luftwaffe would be better served with torpedo laden bombers than normal ‘drop ‘em wherever’ bombs. It makes the task difficult to say the least, but from the German perspective, does that mean the attempt shouldn’t be made? Should the Germans not bomb battleships just because there are reserves at Gibraltar?

      I shouldn’t bomb airbases because they will be repaired next turn. I shouldn’t bomb air units because they will just be repaired next turn. So, what would you suggest that I bomb? And Berlin is not an acceptable answer! And neither is nothing! =D

      But the KMs biggest ships don’t arrive until late in the game. A few light cruisers and obsolete battleships are not going to get the job done. This in itself, unless the Royal Navy is damaged beyond all recognition, should provide some cluse as to when the attempt may come.

      Seriously, though, you and I both know that I expect to lose this game. It doesn’t bother me to be on the losing end of things (except for Torch. That one bothered me). But I will invade at some point. Maybe the whole thing gets sunk in transit, but I will make the attempt. I think it is important to demonstrate the naval phase, and an invasion to show how truly difficult this “river crossing” really is.


  2. twhjr68 on said:

    Tony, are you FULLY utilizing all of the Luftwaffe bombing factors every turn?

    For that matter, have you analyzed ALL the German Player’s capabilities, and laid out a turn-by-turn plan that makes BEST USE of these capabilities to achieve key objectives?

    Remember that you can conduct “Vertical Envelopments” (which are NOT considered “Invasions” -this has its advantages and disadvantages), but you don’t want to be reckless with the Fallschirmjager (it’s a pity that the ‘TFH’ game is such an old design (even the 2ndEd [which is a VERY twisted version]), and doesn’t include an updated OoB (it is short of “Ants”).

    BTW, I’m TOTALLY enjoying your game-play and discussion of the rules (Tibbetts, your knowledge of actual history is pretty thin, but you’re GREAT at dissecting a rulebook -but please include all the errata [are you aware that The Grenadier started as a GDW houseorgan?]).

    Keep at it Guys! -TWHJr


    • Certainly the Luftwaffe medium bombers are better at strategic bombing than tactical bombing, but, they are limited in the number of strategic missions they can perform. For example, the LW can’t bomb German shipping (although they did accidentally bomb a pair of KM destroyers earlier that year, bombing ports really has no effect on the British and hampers the Germans who will need those ports to land armor. I am not engaging terror bombing missions because I’m not doing this for VPs, and I think it distracts from the primary mission. Finally, I am not sending unescorted bombers deep into Britain to bomb factories, day or night. There are way too many British night fighters in the area, and I don’t want them crash landing upon return.

      Speaking of which, why is it that night bombing missions run over a two week period are assumed that they are only landing at night?

      I had laid out a turn by turn plan in the beginning, but deviated from it as I remembered/learned more about the game. It generally takes me a game or two to finally feel comfortable with what needs to be done and how to do it, especially a game that I have not touched for 20+ years.

      As for the Fallschirmjaeger/Air Landing units, those plans are Top Secret. =D

      Which means the British have probably stolen them already.


  3. alant14 on said:

    Tony, you’re right, I had engaged in some wishful thinking on the naval supply rule. You may have some devious invasion plans, but I honestly think there is very little chance of them succeeding.

    The Luftwaffe can’t just strap torpedoes on those Ju88As. Maybe one Gruppe of Ju88s had torpedoes at some point during WWII but I don’t recall hearing about it, though He111 were. Crews need special training on the use of torpedoes and twin engine general purpose medium bombers don’t make particularly good torpedo carriers.

    If the LW has air superiority over Southern England and RAF Fighter Command is hiding in their barracks how did 4x bombers get turned back by patrols, 2x Me110 and 2x Do17 get shot down?

    An RAF bomber with 2 or greater tactical bombing factors is just as capable as a He111 or Ju88 at bombing ships. In case you have not noticed, most RAF bombers with 2 or more TBF have not been bombing targets in Europe, they are waiting for the invasion. B-types bombing ships and subs at sea get that -1 DRM to hit, but when bombing “shipping” there is no DRM, so they are actually twice as effective against invasion barges. Plus I have these planes called “torpedo bombers”, I believe you have heard of them.

    Yes, a few of the better German ships arrive late in the game, starting with Scheer and Hipper in Sep II. But the longer you wait for these naval reinforcements the worse the weather table gets. Scharnhorst arrives in Oct II, when the weather starts to worsen, after that it really gets iffy (50% or higher that you can’t invade on any given turn).

    The German position in TFH has tough choices, beginning with whether to invade or go for Terror Bombing. There are no good VP generating targets for the LW that help with the invasion other than the ever elusive RN. British land defenses only get stronger with each passing turn. If you concentrate on taking down CD at 1-2 ports the British can react by placing more CD and more ground units in defense.

    If the Germans don’t terror bomb they will see the British get ahead in VP (as they are now) and that gets frustrating.

    A successful landing doesn’t guarantee a successful invasion. The British Army is going to counterattack the invasion beaches with armor and infantry brigades, supported by artillery and assembled Inf XX. Defending German units will be mostly unsupported and will most likely not be able to retreat, but might have some amphib tank Bns. It’s going to be tough to hold a hard won beachhead and the British get 50 VP if there are no German units Britain at the end of the game (provided Germans make it ashore).


  4. A few points.

    I agree with you, Alan. I do believe that in the end it will fail, but I’m still going to try it. Like I said, if only to highlight the naval combat system.

    And yes, the weather will get worse, and the opportunities for landing limited. But I have to try to bring the RN down to a level where the KM has a shot. Again, is not a logical assumption? RN first, RAF second, but the window in which the opportunity exists is closing more with every passing turn. Even the Allies took 18 months to prepare to come from the other direction.

    Medium torpedo bombers. The Japanese had the Nells and Bettys. They were widely used, and pretty effective as torpedo bombers. Between Germany and Japan, they had a complete army.

    Me-110s/Do-17s being shot down: That’s because you prey on the weak. =D

    You are absolutely right about the tough choices.


  5. alant14 on said:

    TFH is a better game when played against a live opponent than solitaire, that’s for sure.

    Keep talking like you will invade and you might convince me to call in some RN reinforcements. Strange how they have this huge battleship fleet which is actually on map at Scapa Flow yet call to Gibraltar for reinforcements.

    So, you admit the RAF is too much for you. Good, admitting there is a problem is the first step toward recovery.

    Weak ubermensch? Excuses, excuses! How come you have not eliminated the RN yet? You’ve been bombing them for 3 turns now. TWH would have sunk the entire British Isles by this point.


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