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"WW1 rules that address British shell performance" Topic

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warren bruhn Inactive Member03 Nov 2012 7:10 p.m. PST

Does anybody on this forum know of WW1 tactical rules that adequately simulate the tendency of British heavy shells to explode before penetrating against armor? I've been reading multiple sources that refer to brittle shell casings, lack of delay in the fuses, lack of quality in the fuses, and tendency of the charge to explode due to the concussive effect of impact.

The net result was a lot of British heavy shells exploding before penetrating, or before fully penetrating, with most explosive power outside the German armor.

I'm trying to set up a simulation of the first several months of WW1 in the North Sea for some of the guys in my local area, most likely using the old AH Jutland map and a set of miniatures rules that we like. It seems to me that, on balance, the many small advantages of the Germans would make a general fleet action in the North Sea in 1914 or early 1915 a very near run thing. But one of the biggest advantages that the Germans had was the poor performance of British heavy shells, APC specifically, against armor.

I'm not seeing this taken into account in either Fear God & Dread Nought (but I might have missed it in my two plays) or Fleet Action Imminent. Not sure if it's accounted for in Naval Thunder or any other tactical WW1 rules.

Any thoughts on this topic here?

Charlie 1203 Nov 2012 7:59 p.m. PST

Actually, it is taken into account in Fleet Action Imminent in the way the RN CRTs are constructed.

21eRegt04 Nov 2012 7:11 a.m. PST

I believe there is an optional rule in NT to simulate this problem.

warren bruhn Inactive Member04 Nov 2012 10:20 a.m. PST

coastal2, I studied those FAI charts intensively yesterday, and I don't see any indication that poor British APC penetration was taken into consideration in creating those charts. It seems to me that the FAI charts are based entirely on ballistic performance of the guns, as if the APC shells of Britain and Germany had equivalent performance. Looks more like the charts are based on the 1918/1919 improved British shells.

warren bruhn Inactive Member04 Nov 2012 10:27 a.m. PST

21eRegt, I noticed a prior comment about an optional rule in NT regarding WW1 British shells. I may purchase and download those rules.

I don't recall seeing anything about this in the old General Quarters 2, nor in Fear God & Dread Nought. I suppose that I could have looked it up when I had a copy, but I sold it a couple of months ago. I played it a couple of times and didn't notice any factor for British shell performance. Did Sea Power or Seekrieg take this into consideration?

CampyF04 Nov 2012 3:15 p.m. PST

General Quarters 2 Designer's notes say the rules do take the British shortcomings into account.

Charlie 1204 Nov 2012 3:44 p.m. PST

Warren: The CRTs do take the degraded performance into account. If you compare similar caliber shells on the German and British CRTs, you'd notice that the British penetration is less. If the tables had been based on the later 'Green Boy' shells (which entered the fleet too late for war service), the RN CRT would've been considerably different (and deadlier).

warren bruhn Inactive Member04 Nov 2012 11:31 p.m. PST

coastal2, the problem with comparing same diameter shells is that same diameter shells don't have the same penetration. Or at least the Germans didn't think they did. Everything I've read on the topic over the last few decades indicates that the Germans felt that their 11 inch gun was not significantly inferior in penetration capability to the British 12 inch to justify going up to that diameter shell in the Nassau and early battlecruiser classes. Nor did the Germans think their 12 inch was very much inferior to the British 13.5 inch, at least at anticipated battle ranges. This was due to higher muzzle velocities compensating for lower shell weight. What I see comparing the British and German hit and penetration charts in FAI is simply an implementation of that muzzle velocity vs. shell weight balance in penetration.

Here's what Lonnie Gill himself said about how he reflected the British shell problem in FAI, on November 1, 2010 on the ODGW FAI forum:

"G� Day Kaarle 308,You ask an excellent question, and one that since I did not properly documented the rationale in my notes (my bad), has led me to rebuild it. With the advent of face hardened armor and plunging fire by WW I, the question of better designed AP shells and delay fuses to allow deep penetration into a heavily armored target assumed greater importance. This required a complex mix of proper shell design, AP caps and robust delay fuses to enable the shell to penetrate deep into the target before detonating. These issues are extensively analyzed for the British and German navies in Part Three of The Riddle of the Shells by Iain McCallum appearing in Warship 2005. Although crude by WW II standards, Krupp led the way in developing a proper delay fuse, which it did not share with its British subsidiaries. The effectiveness of the fuse (dud rate) and shell design can be debated – and experts still do � but this gave the German and A-H navies a capacity the British and French did not have.Further, the hyper-sensitive picric acid based explosive fillers used by the British (Lyddite and later slightly less sensitive Shellite), French and Japanese (Shimose) would be set off by the shock of hitting armor plate, regardless of the fuse. Indeed, as an authority on the subject reminded me recently, post war tests with Lyddite filled shells showed they went off about the same even without fuses. By contrast, the German and A-H navies used less sensitive Trotyl (TNT) based explosive fillers, which did would not detonate until set off by a fuse. Thus, while both types would penetrate armor (provided they have the punch) in a fraction of a second, picric based explosives will explode shortly after, before the shell has traveled more than a few feet, while the more stable explosive shells can penetrate deep into the target before being set off by a delay fuse. This is reflected in the WW I GUNFIRE DAMAGE tables where all can cause immediate damage to BA – BD by penetration of turrets and barbettes, but only navies with non-picric acid based shells and delay fuses can penetrate into engineering spaces.OK, but what about the Italians? Their major caliber guns were designed and built primarily by British companies, but the Italian navy switched to Trotyl (TNT) about 1909, about the same time as the Austrians. The source for this is L�Artiglieria Italiana Nella Grande Guerra. The answer on fuses is less well known, but it is likely that Krupp derivative fuses were used as British fuses would not work with Trotyl filled shells or vice versa. Pre war, the Italians were much romanced by the future Central Powers [most everyone expected them to side with German and A-H well into1914] and some of their smaller fuses were even listed as �tipo Krupp.� Thus, my assessment is the use of Trotyl filled shells and corresponding fuses provided a deep penetration possibility for Italian shells that British and French shells lacked.If other Forum members have more, I invite them to provide the rest of the Italian story.Ciao,LONNIE "

My problem with that is that it seems to flatly contradict what John Campbell wrote in his summary to Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting, on pages 385 through 387, which doesn't describe many British APC shells penetrating a short distance before exploding. Instead, he's describing most British APC exploding outside the armor. That's not short distance penetrating hits. That's non-penetrating hits.

Charlie 1205 Nov 2012 12:22 a.m. PST

Warren: Well, I guess it comes down to how you take the raw data and distill it into a workable game system. As the game stands (given the totality of the combat model, not just one element of it), German ships are extremely tough when confronted by the Grand Fleet (and I've played more FAI games than I care to count). The results (and that is, afterall, the bottomline) have been consistent with the limited real life results that have been examined (including Campbell's 'Jutland'). Keep in mind, FAI is a results driven combat system; it is not process driven. From what you've said, I believe you may be more satisfied with one of the more process driven game systems such as Fear God & Dread Nought or Seekrieg.

warren bruhn Inactive Member05 Nov 2012 4:50 p.m. PST

I just sold my copies of Fear God & Dread Nought and Seekrieg IV to a friend across town. I didn't really like the "process," meaning the way things got resolved. Haven't tried Naval Thunder yet. I did try an early WW1 version of Supremacy at Sea (not published yet), and it seemed great as a simulation, but methods of resolving actions seemed a bit slow. Fleet Action Imminent comes closer to what I like in terms of method, but like many miniatures players, I can't help but want to add this and subtract that and tinker with numbers.

In the few FAI games that I've played so far, the Geman ships have been plastered. Had three German battlecruisers blow up in quick session against equal numbers of British, while other German dreadnoughts were losing floatation and mobility as fast as their British counterparts did. Didn't seem as close to history as I was expecting. Also saw the Geoben get hurt pretty severely by Troubridge's squadron. Then again, I haven't played dozens of dreadnought actions with FAI yet.

Charlie 1205 Nov 2012 6:12 p.m. PST

I've tried Naval Thunder but had some reservations about it (ships, especially DDs, seem to go down quickly and dramatically. Struck me as counter to history, especially from the experience of the DDs in the Solomons).

As for FAI: I've seen the whole gamut of results. Everything from German ships absorbing massive punishment to your results. Sometimes the dice Gods are cruel that way… As for the Goeben vs Troubridge; we just played that one out and Goeben slapped Troubridge's squadron silly with barely a scratch (I think she took a couple of hull hits from non-penetrating half hull box hits). So results can vary wildly.

As a suggestion, if the RN penetration seems too ambitious by your reading, you might amend the RN CRT by slightly downgrading the pendetration (specifically at the break points between armor grades (ie, for the 12" at 9000 yds change the BB to BC and at 6000 yds change the BA to BB). This would have the affect of degrading the Brit performance. (Personally, I don't see the need, but as Lonnie has always said, the system has always meant to be open to 'house rules'.)

warren bruhn Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 5:47 p.m. PST

I'm going to ask my friend Rob to run a little game of Naval Thunder so that we can see how it works. Since we are planning some big convention games for the 100th anniversary of the Great War, we will need something very fast for the convention players.

I tried modifying the way the local control ranges worked in FAI in the two games I ran at Enfilade in 2011. Instead of switching to 2000 yard bands for ships without director fire control, I just used the 3000 yard bands and had the players for those ships throw d20 when the range was over 6000 yards. That avoided the need to look at two different range numbers. I might up that to 9000 yards for actions with well trained ships without director fire control. That was actually based on Lonnie Gill's suggested option of having the British 1st & 2nd BC squadrons at Jutland roll d20 instead of d12.

I thought about just having British heavy shells need to exceed the penetration capability rather than equal it, as that would be an easy experiment, and wouldn't add another "saving throw." However, after going back into Campbell's book the last couple of days, I think that might be too much. FAI damage is mostly dependent on penetration, and Campell's book described huge amounts of damage from British shells hitting unarmored portions of German ships, exploding against armor and still doing some damage, or exploding underwater short of the hull and still causing some leakage. So maybe I won't experiment on the low penetration capability of British shells for now. Anything I would try would likely not give plausible results given how dependent most damage in FAI is on penetration.

What I might do is simply give the German dreadnoughts (only) an extra hull box before any speed decrease. That might be an experiment limited enough that I could sell to the player in our group who usually only likes to play with rules "as is" out of the box. Deep down, that's a nod to the old AH Jutland game, which had more hull boxes for the German dreadnoughts. I never really understood why GQ2 and FAI didn't do the same. After getting back into Campbell last night and this morning, I see that the Germans took a lot of water on board, but leaks were often slow through vents, voicepipes, and cable routing. It seems to have taken hours to significantly slow down the German ships, in spite of the water that they eventually had on board by the time they got back to port.

Another experiment that I might try for FAI is upping the explosion number for the Germans to 12 instead of an 11 or 12, expecially after Dogger Bank. If 62 charges igniting in the Seydlitz at Dogger Bank wasn't enough to blow up the ship, then it's hard for me to see how a German dreadnought could blow up at all. (Pre-dreadnoughts did after torpedo hits though, so I suppose it should be possible.)

stenicplus Inactive Member07 Nov 2012 2:51 p.m. PST

NV CoD does have an optional rule called:
Bad British Shell Design & Quality Control

This downgrades roll that result in and odd number.

We enjot NV CoD, much more than Vas AoD. I'd say it's great for a convention if they all have a ship or 2 each and the game is moved along fast. Try to ensure they have restricted comms between players (Chinese whispers) as the results can be frustrating for admirals yet funny for the rest of the players !!

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