Sunday, July 1, 2012

Battle of Casablanca - Nov. 1942

Played with five players in two and a half hours using Naval Thunder.  It started historical, but with a twist.  Click on the images to enlarge.

As the curtain raised on the scene the American invasion of Vichy Africa was in full swing, as was the French response.  No sitting idly in harbor awaiting destruction as at Mers-el-Kebir.  No, action would be taken.  Accordingly, in the darkness the submarines Amazone, Antiope, Meduse, Orphee and La Sybille slipped out and took up stations covering the anticipated American approach.  Steam was raised in the light cruiser Primauguet and the destroys Malin, Fougueux, Boulonnais, Albatros, Brestois, Frondeur and l'Alcyon.  The shore battery at el Hank was manned and ready and air cover was being arranged.  Sitting in a half-completed state was the fast battleship Jean Bart.  Unable to take to sea and only with half her main guns mounted, the excellent range of those guns made her a force that the Americans felt needed to be neutralized.

Accordingly, the fast battleship USS Massachusetts (aka. "Big Mamie"), heavy cruisers Tuscaloosa and Wichita as well as destroyers Mayrant, Rhind, Wainwright and Jenkins were set in motion.  In close support were the heavy cruiser Augusta, light cruiser Brooklyn, destroyers Rowen, Ludlow (sporting some damage from a French shore battery), Wilkes and Swanson.  The carrier USS Ranger with a light escort was also close by and a huge troop and supply convoy needed to be preserved at all costs.  Already the reports of losses among landing craft, mostly through accidents, was staggering.
Massachusetts leads in the Tuscaloosa and Wichita

Brooklyn takes the point for the Augusta

Turn 1: The Massachusetts opened fire on el Hank and the Jean Bart fired upon the American battleship.  Predictibly with no result.
The sortie begins with a better-than-should-be looking Jean Bart

Turn 2: The Massachusetts took a non-penetrating hit from the Jean Bart, who had a lot of water splashed on her from a very close miss.

Turn 3: The Jean Bart is missed again, as is the Primauguet.  The Jean Bart shifts fire to the Tuscaloosa and is rewarded by two penetrating hits that start small fires which are immediately extinguished.  The Massachusetts receives a radio report from the Ranger that another group of warships, presumably French was approaching from the west headed by a capital ship.  They would arrive turn 5 on their present course.
View of the table and the dreaded el Hank battery

Turn 4: A big swing and a miss from the French.  The Primauguet is hit and penetrated with a flooding result.  The Rowen in the Augusta group picks up a sonar contact and prosecutes an attack, though without result.  Note: I ruled that for effective sonar use the destroyers had to be at speed 4 or less.  A roll of a "1" on a d10 meant that someone in the group picked up a contact.  Similarly, a "1" by the French meant that a possible firing solution was available somewhere.

Turn 5: The Antiope finds herself with a firing solution on the Wichita and takes the shot.  The Jean Bart takes a 16" hit from the Massachusetts.  Brooklyn opens fire on the Brestois, scoring once.  The Rowan delivers a killing blow that sinks permanently the submarine Amazone.  [My ruling was that they needed a 9 or a 10 for a successful attack]  Richelieu along with the light cruisers Gloire and Montcalm and three Chacal class destroyers open fire.  The Richelieu scores a non-penetrating hit on the Massachusetts.  Brooklyn takes a 6.1" hit from the Primauguet.  Two torpedoes slam into the Wichita out of the four fired.  One is partially defeated by her underwater protection but the other finds her vitals.  A series of explosions occur as ready ammunition cooks off and the Wichita sinks.  The sortie from Casablanca harbor is starting to get chewed up.  Jean Bart suffers a flooding result, quickly controlled.
Steam rises from the wreckage of the Wichita

The squadron from Dakar

Turn 6: Massachusetts takes a penetrating hit this turn.  Jean Bart scores on the Tuscaloosa.  El Hank continues to be utterly ineffective.  Albatros takes two hits from the Tuscaloosa.  Primauguet is hit twice with 8" shells from the Augusta.  The Bretois finds her rudder jammed hard to port.  Creating some exciting moments.
Sound collision alert!

Turn 7: The Wainwright lays smoke to cover the Massachusetts from the Richelieu.  Firing in frustration the Richelieu missed the destroyer.  The Rowen is hit and suffers a flooding result.  The Jean Bart takes two 16" hits from the Massachusetts, one of which penetrates and starts a fire.  The heavy fire from the secondaries and destroyers begin to rack up hits and kills.  The Malin succumbs to flooding.  The Frondeur sinks under a hail of shot.  Ready ammo explodes on l'Alcyon taking her under.  Several flooding results are taken under control by French damage control parties.
Smoke being laid

Turn 8: A dozen SBD dive bombers from the Ranger arrive overhead, manage to identify the friendlies and attack the Jean Bart (safe target).  They score five hits though only one fully penetrates.  French AA fire is ineffective.  Things are not going well for the French elsewhere.  The Primauguet takes 5 8" hits from the Augusta, sinking her.  Albatros and Fougeux join her quickly.  The fire on the Jean Bart spreads.  All is not totally the American way however.  The Warrington is splintered by the Richelieu and the Rowen is over-taken by flooding and sinks.  A penetrating 15" hit is made on the Massachusetts by the Jean Bart.  El Hank keeps their record intact by missing again.
The airstrike and results

At this point I made the sortie roll a determination check and the French failed.  So the Bretois, who had finally regained control and the Boulonnais, barely afloat ran for cover.  Finding their enemy covered by smoke and no radar, though plenty on the American side, the Dakar squadron decided to break off.  They had taken no damage.  Jean Bart was down to 75 of 140 damage points (she started the battle damaged).  On the American side the Massachusetts was down 45 of 152.  Tuscaloosa was down 30 of 41.  Brooklyn just took the one hit to be down 3 of 39.  Ludlow took no new damage and the Augusta, Wilkes, Swanson, Wainwright, Mayrant and Rhind were undamaged.

Historically the Brooklyn and Wainwright were attacked by French submarines which all missed.  Most of the sortie was sunk or run aground to prevent sinking.  The nightmare scenario of a sortie by the Dakar squadron didn't occur but I felt it would make for an interesting twist.  With this the French did better than historical, even without the Dakar group.  Lots of low percentage things could have happened and I kept the players largely on edge with real or imagined threats. 


  1. Sounds like it was a lot of fun, sir.

    -- Jeff

  2. Ahoy Michael,
    Thank you for the report and images. This is a very interesting scenario.
    I was aboard Massachusetts in the early 1980s and found a website here:
    Interesting history for the BB.
    Bill P.