Martin Hogan
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Todd and I are embarking on our next play test round of Operation SICKLE. Following on Todd's excellent report of our last game, I offered to share the next game as it happens, from the German, i.e. my, perspective. Hopefully this will convey some of the fog of war and tense decision making that Norway 1940 provides in spades.

For the overall situation in Op SICKLE, I will refer you to Todd's intro in above play test report. In posts starting tonight, I will jump into boots of Admiral Otto Schniewind, Chief of Staff of the Seekriegsleitung (SKL) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Schniewind) to give you a view of the planning and the action in Norway.

Todd: Stop reading here. Bletchley Park was not yet cracking Enigma code efficiently in April 1940.

14 April 1940

Mission

Gruppe West identifies and disrupts Allied efforts to reinforce and supply ground troops in NORWAY in order to allow units of the Heer moving on inland routes to quickly reach and destroy Allied beachheads while protecting own naval assets.

Enemy Situation
Allied forces have established bastions in HARSTAD (near NARVIK) and NAMSOS in the last few days. The task forces - including cruisers and destroyers - which transported the troops are expected to return to UK shortly.
Enemy is expected to send an additional invasion force to ÅNDALSNES near TRONDHEIM in the next days. In addition, supply convoys from the UK, several with cruiser escorts, are expected to sail with reinforcements for NAMSOS and ÅNDALSNES over the course of the next week.
A cruiser squadron with CA Berwick and Devonshire, two CLs and destroyer escort is operating somewhere off the central coast of NORWAY.
Home Fleet with BC Repulse, CA Suffolk and York is reported anchored at SCAPA FLOW.
About a dozen Allied submarines are operating from SKAGEN to NARVIK.
Several squadrons of RAF bombers are supporting the operation and many can reach STAVANGER.
Strong Allied reinforcements are expected to become available in the next days, mostly destroyers but also a carrier and additional submarines.

Own Situation
All ports in NORWAY except for TROMSØ and KIRKENES in the far north are under German control. The Luftwaffe has rebased several squadrons of medium bombers (Ju-88, He-111), dive bombers (Ju-87) and fighters (Me-109, Me-1110, Ju-88C) at STAVANGER, providing strong air support for operations against Allied convoys. Additional Ju-88 squadrons based in WESTERLAND on SYLT are available to operate in the NORTH SEA.
Several units used in Op WESERÜBUNG need to return from BERGEN (CM Bremse), KRISTIANSAND (AGP Tsingtao) and OSLO (convoy with eleven merchant ships) to GERMANY in the next twelve days.
In addition, one MV must safely travel from KIEL to NARVIK.
After the heavy losses sustained in the opening phase of the campaign, only limited surface forces are available to oppose Allied movements. CL Emden will be required to escort MVs from OSLO, but CL KÖLN with a small escort is ready to sail from GERMANY.
20 submarines are deployed at sea, tasked primarily with detecting and reporting Allied movements. Torpedoes have been found to be faulty in the last week and attacks stand only limited chances of success. No reinforcements are expected over the next weeks.

Conclusions
As the route from UK to NORWAY is short, convoys are at risk only if identified quickly and hit decisively. Gruppe West must therefore deploy submarines and small surface task forces along likely Allied convoy routes as well as along own routes to reduce submarine threat.

Gameplay notes
The Germans set up first but really it is only the subs that have some flexible deployment. The small convoy to NARVIK was a random draw - bad luck, as it is the furthest away port and it’ll have to run up right along an enemy coast for thousands of miles!
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Martin Hogan
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14 April 1940 Situation and (rough) Planning Map
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Martin Hogan
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15 April 1940, AM

Weather and Environment

Moderate winds and reduced visibility across the theatre. The area of operations is free of ice.


Enemy Situation

Agents report that Royal Navy is planning on sending a surface task force to bombard a yet-to-be-determined German-held port in NORWAY soon, but location and exact timing are uncertain.
Allied forces have sailed from ports all along the UK East Coast as well as from the bastions in HARSTAD and NAMSOS as expected. Two possible forces appear to be approaching TRONDHEIM, at least one of them likely a cruiser squadron to conduct the planned bombardment. One RN task force consisting of approximately one dozen warships was identified leaving NAMSOS on a southwesterly heading (designate: TF 4).
Reconnaissance flights with Sunderlands and Hudsons have reached far north to identify German forces. Together with shorter range patrols, enemy recon activities led to the spotting of our wolfpacks SW of NARVIK and north of the SHETLAND ISLANDS.
An attack with three flights of Skuas from land bases in HATSTON attempted an attack on TRONDHEIM at the limit of their range. Me 109s operating from STAVANGER successfully intercepted the attackers, destroying one flight before it could reach the target. The flak defences around the port substantially damaged both other flights and repelled the attack. These losses represent a significant degradation of the RN’s dive-bombing capacity.
One enemy submarine group identified near STAVANGER.


Own Situation

Northern North Sea/Northern Norway
U-Boote were ordered to move into an intercept line west of TRONDHEIM to identify Allied ship movements in the area and reinforced with aerial reconnaissance by the Fw 200 Kondors of 2. KG/40. The wolfpack ordered to close for a torpedo attack on TF 4 was unsuccessful in getting into a firing position.
A group of Schnellboote (TF 8)was ordered to patrol along the shoreline SW of TRONDHEIM but failed to find the enemy.
Three flights of Ju-88A-4 of KG 30 based in STAVANGER flew a successful bombing attack against NAMSOS, sinking AO War Pindari at the dock and returned with no losses.

Southern North Sea
No change in dispositions, but information was leaked to British agents suggesting that CL Köln and her escorts may have sailed from GERMANY.

Kattegat
Convoy 1 (C 1) from OSLO has put to sea and is enroute to ports in EASTERN GERMANY. Also, the merchantman bound for NARVIK has put to sea from KIEL along with a small escort (C 3) and a destroyer group (TF 4).


Conclusions For Further Actions
Gruppe West must direct all available resources towards identifying RN’s bombardment force and maintain contact with TF 4 in preparation for air strikes by Luftflotte X.

Situation Map


Own Forces


Out Of The Fight
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Gameplay Notes
The flak in BERGEN achieved a one-in-a-hundred result, with both dice coming up a 9.
The Me 109s' performance was roughly par for the course. The Ju-88s were lucky.
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15 April 1940, PM

Weather and Environment
Dense fog is covering all of SOUTH NORWAY while visibility is still limited across the remainder of the theatre.

Enemy Situation
Allied TF 4 continues on southwesterly heading towards UK, avoiding contact with our wolfpacks. Contacts suspected as bombardment force turned away from BERGEN, but several new suspected groupings have departed UK ports and are heading towards NORWAY. Moves into the southern NORTH SEA are likely submarines attempting to intercept CL Köln.
Allied reconnaissance focussed on coastal areas at BERGEN and OSLO, the latter an attempt to locate our convoy C1 but failed due to the dense fog. One of our wolfpacks was spotted NE of SCAPA FLOW.
Intelligence reports confirm that five additional destroyers in UK ports are assigned to Allied operations against NORWAY.

Own Situation

Northern North Sea/Northern Norway
Given that the expected bombardment force has not yet been identified, efforts are focussed on identifying task forces relocating and in particular closing in on Allied TF 4. To this end, our U-Boot screen was shifted westward towards the expected Allied convoys and aerial reconnaissance assets focused on these suspected contacts. Fw 200 Condors established that TF 4 consists of four heavy ships with escort and two convoy ships and are shadowing the force.
A possible contact at NAMSOS turned out to be a group of fishing vessels.
Schnellboote located Allied located TF 4 but were spotted during their approach, possibly due to wake luminescence. The boats were immediately driven off by intense automatic weapon fire from destroyers resulting in substantial damage to several boats.

Southern North Sea
CL Köln departed CUXHAVEN under cover of darkness, choosing a course close to the DANISH shoreline. AGP Tsingtao departed KRISTIANSAND with her supported Schnellboote, avoiding Allied submarines in the fog and heading towards a new base in BERGEN.

Kattegat
Convoy C 1 reported in near FREDERIKSHAVN while C 3 is east of AALBORG.
He-111H-2s of KGr 100 have redeployed from KIEL to AALBORG and report ready for operations.

Conclusions
While the damage to the Schnellboote is regrettable, the opportunity to surprise and torpedo a cruiser of TF 4 was worth the risk. Ju-88s must scramble at dawn to attack the force before it can make port.

Situation Map


Surface Engagement
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KTB Entry
16 April 1940, AM

Weather and Environment
Winds increased steadily and have reached storm strength (6-8).

Enemy Situation
Allied forces continued to push towards Norway across the theatre with new task forces departing SCAPA FLOW and HARWICH. Allied TF 4 reached the safety of the Scottish coast near LERWICK, forcing the shadowing Fw 200 Condors to turn home and making air attacks by Luftflotte X prohibitive.

The Allied bombardment force (TF 3) reached a position off STAVANGER undetected, sailing south along the coast from BERGEN. Its four cruisers bombarded STAVANGER airfield for one hour, but targeting was inaccurate, causing only the loss of 2./ZG 76’s Bf-110s which were in alert position. Escorted by seven light ships, the task force has become a priority target for Luftflotte X as it runs for the safety of ports in BRITAIN. Air operations (see below) established the composition of the task force as CA Berwick, CA Devonshire, CL Glasgow, CL Sheffield with an escort of seven destroyers.

Combined RAF/RN reconnaissance efforts proved surprisingly effective despite the storms, with several wolfpacks only narrowly avoiding being spotted. W 3 in position in the NORTH SEA was spotted by Marylands before the boats could dive. Radio intercepts indicate that the movements of CL Köln are now correctly anticipated by the Admiralty.

Despite the rough weather conditions, an Allied wolfpack (W 3) was identified lurking off BERGEN and another (W 6) heading north having departed HARWICH.

Own Situation

North Sea/Northern Norway
All Luftwaffe forces available in-theatre launched from bases in STAVANGER, AALBORG and WESTERLAND to locate and destroy the British cruiser bombardment force (TF 3). Wolfpack 3 was sent to aid in detecting the force, despite the risk posed by British air cover.
Owing to the quick departure of the bombardment force from its position off STAVANGER and the storms prevailing over the NORTH SEA, only the He-111s of KGr 100 managed to locate the force. Forced to approach at low altitude due to low cloud ceiling, the Staffel suffered heavy damage and losses from AA fire before coming into bombing position, rendering it inoperable for several weeks.

The remaining boats of Schnellbootflotille 1 returned to TRONDHEIM at high speed while wolfpacks closed with approaching suspected British forces.

W7 pursued a possible contact north of the FAEROES that was originally picked up near NARVIK. Working jointly with He-115 reconnaissance aircraft, a group of warships suspected to be CL Southampton with a strong destroyer escort was located and is being shadowed by air while operation range permits.

CL Köln reached a position off LISTA and is aiming to put into port in either STAVANGER or KRISTIANSAND before continuing her journey north in support of operations against approaching British convoys.
Kattegat
Convoys from OSLO (C 1) and the merchantman bound for NARVIK (C 3) passed each other off AALBORG, while TF 4 deceptively moved along the Swedish coast. TF 4 will join C 3 as escort once entering the NORTH SEA.

Conclusions
The fast transit speeds of Allied task surface task forces between NORWAY and the UK make rapid, strong concentrations of reconnaissance and strike assets imperative. Even when this concentration is achieved, success cannot be assured owing to unreliable detection and navigation methods.

Game play note
In real life, Todd was on an awesome tour de force of Western Europe, so our game had a forced break. We are back to daily or so log file exchanges now, so expect the pace to quicken again.
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16 April 1940, AM
Situation map and force compositions

Bombardment Force STAVANGER


Luftflotte X Strike Attempt


Situation Map
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Roger Taylor
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The weather was kind to the bombardment force. There are a LOT of Luftwaffe bombers compared to a 1942 convoy scenario, and it would have been quite nasty if all of them had found the cruisers.
 
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