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The Battle of Blit, 1910


Pre-Dreadnought, Perfidious Albion, 1/1200 scale

We were all at sea this week, fighting a fictitious naval battle using some of my beautiful pre-dreadnought ships, built by the late Mike Earll. Essentially it all centred around the succession of Montenegro from the Ottoman Empire in August 1910. I concocted a convoluted reason why this might lead to a clash between Austro-Hungarian and Imperial German naval forces somewhere in the Adriatic, and the result was the Battle of Blit.pre-dread-march09-09The German objective was to exit the eastern table edge, so entering the Montenegrin port of Blit, and lifting the Austrian blockade. The German admiral had five ships at his disposal – all battleships (Hessen, Deutscland, Kaiser Freidrich III and Brandenburg) apart from the armoured cruiser Friedrich Karl. The Austrians had a similar-sized force – the battleships Radetzky, Hapsburg and Erzherzog Karl, supported by the French battleship Charles Martel and the light cruiser Tiger. Actually, the Radetzky was classed as a semi-dreadnought, which gave her a lot more punch than the other battleships on the table. To offset this, the French ship had limited “rules of engagement”, and could only open fire if fired upon, or if a radio message reached her from the French consulate in Dubrovnik. In addition the Austrians had a small hidden minefield, somewhere in the approaches to the port.pre-dread-march09-04The battle began well for the Germans. The Radetzky was hit in the first German salvo, and a lucky (or unlucky) shot hit her magazine. She was the first of several ships to blow up that day, but her loss was a major blow for the Austrians. Three German battleships plunged straight through the gap this left, heading for the port. The two remaining German battleships (my ones) circled round, in an effort to “cross the T” of the remaining Austrian force. With the French ship unable to fire, the Austrian players were now heavily outnumbered – two battleships against four.pre-dread-march09-15Then the odds turned a bit. the Freidrich Karl was hit in the magazine and blew up, just before a desperate Austrian player resorted to ramming the Germans, in an attempt to stop them exiting the table. The ramming attempt failed, and instead the bows of the Hessen neatly carved their way through the Erzherzog Karl, sending her to the bottom. The German players were still doing their victory dance when the Deutschland blew up, hit by a lucky shot from the Hapsburg. Rather than stop to pick up survivors, the German admiral steamed his flagship Hessen off the table, to fulfil his victory conditions. pre-dread-march09-06It was now all over bar the shouting. two German battleships were left, to face two enemy ones, supported by a light cruiser. The commander of the Charles Martel was delighted when he rolled a dice and discovered he now had orders to open fire. He promptly opened up on the Kaiser Freidrich III, leaving the Hapsburg to take on the Brandenburg. Nothing vital was hit, but on the next turn the Germans returned fire, and once again a magazine was hit, and the Charles Martel blew up. With nothing to stop the two remaining German battleships from entering Blit, the Austrian player broke off the engagement. The final tally was one German battleship and one armoured cruiser sunk, in exchange for two Austrian and one French battleship. I suppose you could call that a costly German victory. As for the hidden minefield, nobody even came close to it all day!pre-dread-march09-05As you’ll gather, the rules aren’t really designed to be taken seriously. The way hits are determined is vaguely reminiscent of “Battleship”, where the shot hits somewhere on a gridded profile of the ship. If it penetrates the armour in a ship box, everything in that box is knocked out. Unfortunately, three times during the game the box contained the word “magazine”! Sure, the rules are a bit silly, but they still result in a highly entertaining game.

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