The Lars Chronicles:

MWC Nats 2004

The Best Nats So Far

 

by Lars

 

Copyright (C) 2004 by Larry S. Dahl

 

It wasn’t until the Monday before Nats that I knew for sure that I could go.  Work had been a bear from last September up until mid-May, but for the last two months it had been slowing down, and so was I.  Still, there was this task, out in South Carolina, at the customer’s lab, and they needed someone there on the Monday of Nats to hold their hands while they installed the commercial software our product required.  I was the obvious choice to go, as I was the one who did the same job in our lab, and had wrote the manual on how it was done.  I sat down with the boss, and told him that I would like to go on vacation that week, but if he wanted, I’d fly to South Carolina.  The boss looked at me, and after a moment of thought, said, “Vacation is therapeutic.  You look like you could use some.  We’ll send someone else.”  Turns out the boss knew what he was doing.  According to the story that I was told when I got back, when they turned on the computers to begin on Nats Monday , smoke started drifting out of it.  You can’t blame me or my wiring skills on this one, I never had contact with the machine.  The project was delayed for a week while the hardware guys poured over the beastly thing.

 

I was somewhat relieved at getting the go-ahead from work, because I was half hoping that I could make it, but now I was in trouble, because I wasn’t ready.  I’d done some boasting to Ron Horbul that I’d have the Tiger ready to go and team with his Lion, but other tasks (like a late refinance of the home loan) had slowed that project down to the point where to get it done I’d have to knock myself out.  I needed a vacation, and I wasn’t in the mood for a week of late nights before I went to Nats.  So it was back to Bellerophon.  In fair shape from her last fight, all she needed (I thought) was a new hull skin and fresh coat of paint.  That was more manageable.  I relaxed a bit, and started work.

 

The work was made more manageable in the fact that my two boys, Grant and Andy, who have accompanied me to my last two Nats, were way behind in some required school work, and there was no question that they would be going.  It was time to show them that their home-schooling mother and I meant it when we said that ‘school comes first’.  But it felt rather odd for me, not having to worry about them or their boats.  Grant’s ship was still in the dockyards, getting an overhaul, but Andy’s was in good shape.  I’d even used it earlier that year, up until I decided that I should fix up my own boat and quit getting his sunk under the guns of Bob Hoernemann’s Warspite.

 

On Friday Bob called up, and we discussed our drive down.  We were to take my stuff, Bob’s stuff, and Ron’s ships, because Ron had to stick around for a wedding on Saturday, and wouldn’t be driving down until Sunday.  “Can you be here at 6:00 AM so we can leave at 7:00?” he asked.

 

I’m a night owl, and like to sleep in.  I tried to bargain for a few more hours of sleep, but only managed to get one out of Bob.  Oh well, at least once I picked him up, he could keep me awake while I drove.

 

Saturday came, and my wife pushed me out of bed at 5:50 AM.  I’d had the boys help me load the truck the night before, as they were more nimble and I was growing fat.  Soon I was packed.  I gave the boys, my wife, and my three girls all a big hug, and then shoved off by 6:50.  Wouldn’t you know it but there was road construction between my house and Bob’s, and thus I was twenty minutes late in getting to his house.  Then we had to load.  There was one more ship than I had room for on my ship table platform in the back of the mangy Ranger’s topper, and we had to scramble to figure out how to get all the stuff in.  I left the packing of the last ship to Bob, since it was his, but I did offer to leave the Tiger behind, which I was taking along ‘in case I was bored and had nothing to do.’   I should have known better.

 

Finally, we were almost packed when Kevin Bray called.  He’d left something behind, and wanted Bob to bring his.  He called again a few minutes later, this time with Gerald Roberts on the phone, as Gerald suddenly had room when Jim Pate had to back out of Nats due to a family problem.  I had just managed to wrangle a single room (one that Patrick Clarke had surrendered when he got Dana Graham’s room) out of the Nats hotel clerk, and after all that work I had started to look forward to a nice quiet room to myself.  I hemmed and hawed and thanked him for his kindness, but finally told Gerald that right now I ‘kind of wanted a room to myself’, but that I might join him later in the week.

 

Well, we were out of Bob’s driveway about ten minutes to eight, only fifty minutes late.  Bob was instantly feeling like he’d left something behind.  “I always leave something behind, I just hope that it’s something you can buy down there.”  I told him.

 

It wasn’t long before he remembered that he’d left some pictures that he wanted to give to Kevin Bray.  Later he remembered some gag that he’d left at home.  Then down in Missouri he remembered a third thing.  I didn’t discover my forgotten item (soldering paste) until Wednesday, so I guess I did pretty well.

 

As we drove there was a fairly steady stream of conversation.  Bob, that social butterfly, wanted to make it down in time for ‘supper with the gang’, so we only stopped twice.  Of course, I had to show off how out of it I was by forgetting which side of the truck the fuel cap was on, when I pulled up to the pump for our first refueling.  Bob matched me by not properly triggering the gas with his ‘pay at the pump’ credit card.  I went in to use the restroom while he went digging for his travel directions, which were buried in the bottom in the back of the truck.  When I came back we had to start the pump over.

 

We took the scenic route through the capitol of Iowa, right past the capitol building itself.  There was tons of road construction on this stretch, but somehow they’d managed to keep two lanes open in each direction, and on a Saturday afternoon we just breezed through without any problems.

 

Later on, we passed Royal’s Stadium in Kansas City.  Our home town Twins were playing the Royals and we’d been listening to the game while we drove.  But somehow the Twins had scored four runs, and I had no idea how.  Bob did, however.  “I’ve learned how to listen to baseball while I talk,” he said.  There’s another skill where I guess he’s got me licked.

 

We had our second stop on the freeway between Kansas City and Saint Louis, just ten miles before we turned off to head for Rolla.  Bob made it into the restroom while I was pumping, but told me “You better go at McDonalds, I got in just in front of a big line from that church bus over there.”

 

The last stretch of road, after we passed through the Missouri capitol city, was down to two lanes, and had several curves.  “I hope Ron doesn’t get sleepy in this stretch of road,” I said.

 

We finally reached Rolla, only forty minutes behind Bob’s planned arrival time, and located the motel.  We drove around the parking lot and then stopped at the office.  Inside we found Fluegel and his son Dallas.  We exchanged pleasantries.  Then Bob and I got our rooms.  For some reason the lady clerk, when she heard my name, shook her finger at me, and then asked if I wanted a non-smoking room instead of a smoking room, which is what she’d told me I would get when I finally got her to give me one.  So she moved me from room 146 to room 144.  “Should be able to remember that number,” I said, thinking of my duties as TF144 Ediot in chief.  But I was puzzled because Luis Gomez ended up with room 146, and it was also a non-smoking room.  Go figure.  But Luis got a king size bed whereas I only got a double.

 

Well, as Bob’s stuff was on top, we went to drop off his and Ron’s stuff first.  We were soon surrounded by other model warship combat captains.  The Melton brothers, Tom and Mike, along with Mike Tanzillo, were in a room nearby.  Ted Brogden and Swampy were a few rooms further down.  Kevin Bray also joined us. 

 

We saw Tom first.  “Ah, Tom Melton!” I said.  A few minutes later Mike appeared.  “Ah, Tom Melton’s brother!” I said. 

 

Tom laughed,  Oh, I see it’s who you meet first!”

 

With each captain we met, it seemed like the first question we got was, “Where’s Ron?”  We started out by telling the truth, but we quickly tired of that response.  Later, Bob claimed it was he who started it, whereas I remember it as being me, but Ron’s staying behind to attend a wedding soon became ‘staying behind for HIS wedding’. 

 

“Oh really,” said most folks.  Some were amazed that his new wife would let him run off to a boat meet immediately after getting married.  “Must be some woman to let him go like that,” they said.  Others were concerned that future anniversaries would keep Ron from attending future Nats.  Only Bryan Finster pushed it further. 

 

“I thought he was already married,” said Bryan.

 

“This is his third wife,” we told him. 

 

If Bryan had pressed it further by asking if Ron had divorced his previous wives, or was widowed, I planned to respond, “Oh no, he’s a Mormon.”  I told Bob about it after he left, and we had a good chuckle.

 

Well, since we’d driven ourselves to get down here in time to join the other captains for the evening meal, we next got ready for that event.  Somehow I got all sweaty unloading my stuff, and found that most everyone had ‘gone to Shoney’s just up the road’ while I took a quick shower.

 

They were all in the back, having a good meal and lots of yucks while everyone caught up with everyone else that they hadn’t seen in a year or two.  I joined the party late and took a seat next to Chris Grossaint and Jim Coler.  I didn’t know Jim too well, but we started off well.  Grossaint had warned him that he ‘had to watch what he says because Lars will write it down.”

 

When the waitress delivered a plate for someone nearby, I asked if I could place an order.  “Oh, you wanted to eat too?” asked the waitress in a ‘haven’t I got enough to do with this crew’ attitude.  I ordered the steak and shrimp special, and when the steak came I asked the waitress where the shrimp was.  She didn’t even get to answer. 

 

“It’s at the buffet,” said Grossaint, in a tone that suggested that everyone knew that.  The waitress just raised an eyebrow in confirmation. 

 

Later during our conversation, however, we started off on the subject on what things were like in the old days.  “Back then we had to make everything from scratch,” I was saying.  “Guns, pumps, switches, props.”

 

“Back when they made ships out of rocks,” said Jim, cracking Chris and me up. 

 

“Now I have to write a Lars Chronicle this year, just for that line,” I said.

 

After the meal, it was back to the motel for the standard Saturday Night ‘Check for Leaks and Paint the Waterline” job in the bath tub.  As usual, minor leaks were found in the area around the props. 

 

I’d left my masking tape at home (the other forgotten thing!) and stopped by Ted and Swampy’s room on the way to Bob’s room.  We got to chatting about how fast some folks progress.  “For some folks, it takes forever to get out of their first year,” said Steve.  Then he turned to me.  “When are you going to do so?” 

 

In addition to the waterline, I also got one ship test out of the way.  Luis Gomez had a drop test kit, and said that the CD had told someone to go ahead and start testing.  So the tester went from Axis to Allied and back to Axis and so forth, so that the tests were done by someone on the other side.  The Bell passed in three straight drops.  I took the tester and found an Axis, Tim Beckett, I think.  I also found Ted Brogden and Swampy, and they went with to do the test so I went back to my room for some more work.  I also opened up the water tight box to swap the radio crystals.  I’d been set to swap them earlier but when Brian Lamb had backed out temporarily, I thought I didn’t have to, but with his situation reversing the next day I now had to do it.  I wistfully pulled off the lid, extremely confident that this was the only time that I’d have to go into the box for the rest of the week.

 

Bedtime was about 2:00 AM.

 

Sunday:  It was out to the lake early on Sunday.  Bob had a number of ships to test.  <Bruder_241>  I had one but as I have had problems in the past few years, that was enough for me.  We loaded the ships on the platform that we’d used on the trip down, but without the other luggage I was rather nervous about them staying there between the motel and the lake.  I had guessed correctly, despite my best efforts, the carrier took a tumble, along with Bob’s cruiser.  Fortunately damage was minimal.  Bob did whine about the loss of several anti-aircraft guns.

 

As we were getting out of my truck, Bob picked up a button that was on my dash.  It was a button from Camp Snoopy, the amusement park in the Mall of America, back in Bloomington Minnesota.  It proudly proclaimed, “It’s My Birthday!” and had been given to my daughter Lauren when we took her there for her birthday the previous September.  She’d been embarrassed to wear it, and had taken it off as soon as we’d left, and was thus in my possession.  “Here, wear this,” said Bob.  Despite being a New Year’s Eve baby, the antics with Ron’s Wedding had put me into a playful mood, and so I complied.  I got several birthday wishes throughout the day.

 

First things first for tests was the weight test.  Dave or Chris Au in years past had told me it was best to get weighed before putting the ship into the water, as the balsa sides, even without leaks, would absorb water into the siding.  Finster brought out his scale and plugged it in right next to Bob.  John Bruder produced a ship list with the required weights.  The Bellerophon and all of Bob’s ships passed their weights easily.  Lief brought his von der Tann up later, and found his ship a tad overweight.  “Must be the water,” I said.

 

“Oh, right,” said Lief.  He took the ship and flipped it over, and water poured out..  He placed it back on the scale, and it was now a quarter pound under the limit.  “Thanks,” said Lief, and went to get his test sheet for me to sign.  He wasn’t the only one.  John Bruder had a ship that came in just legal.  It also was much better after he removed some water from the hull.

 

With the two easiest tests done, I next went for the regulator test.  This one I usually failed the first time around.  Once again Finster came through with a test gauge.  My regulator registered about 145 lbs. of pressure, and Finster signed my sheet.  Now all I had left was the speed test, and it wasn’t even 11:00 yet.  I took my sweet time.  Bob, with several ships to do, had two of them up to speed before I took my ship down for her first run.  I was further delayed when during the systems check, I discovered that the pump would not run.  Bellerophon has two batteries, and plugging the pump direct to the battery kicked it off.  I had no desire to add another speed trial sink to my tally, so I decided to leave the pump hard wired to the battery.  I hoped I wouldn’t have to do several runs and thus drain the drive battery, as I hadn’t yet wired up the two new ones I’d purchased on Friday, and they were back at the motel anyway.

 

The first runs had the ship running a good second slow.  It was odd, however, how the ship was almost two seconds slower in one direction versus the other.  Jacob Bruder, who was doing my timing, also commented on it.

 

Well, despite my best efforts at remembering, I moved to a smaller gear which made the ship even slower.  I ran a speed run and discovered that it was true.  Embarrassed, I thanked Jacob for his time, and promised to be back shortly.  After moving to a gear with more teeth than the original, the ship came in at 27 seconds one way, and 29 the other, averaging out right at 28 which was what I needed.  With a heavy sigh, I figured I was done, and it was just a few minutes after noon.  When I tried to turn in my test sheet, Lief turned it down.  “We’re going to do two more tests,” he said.  “Hang on to it.”

 

So, I sat back and relaxed, watching Bob work his way through four ships.  I did feel a little guilty, but he seemed to be enjoying it.  Ron’s Lion had finished first, and Bob’s cruiser had passed quickly too.  His Warspite took a few runs to get it nailed down.  But the carrier was more difficult.  With each run it seemed that he knocked off more anti-aircraft guns.  He played with speed disks for about an hour.  Finally he was reduced to swapping props, trying to find the right combo.  <Bruder_239>

 

Bob wasn’t the only one having prop problems.  Jim Coler was sitting on the other end of the pavilion, and was complaining that 1 and 3/4 inch 27 pitch props were not to be found in either the inventory of Swampy or Charley.  “I’ve got a set,” I said.  Jim was reluctant to take them, as they were my last complete set of spares.  But since I did have two left handed props (the boys always seemed to break the right handed ones), he finally took them.  Well, I mentioned that they were ‘somewhat pricey’ and he handed me some cash the next day, so he took them home with my blessing. 

 

“Just don’t tell me you threw a prop later this week,” he said as he installed them. 

 

“Oh, I’ve got those two left handed ones, I’ll just put them on and reverse the one motor so I’ll only be crabbing through turns,” I said.  He didn’t seem to think that was a good idea.  “Then just pray,” I said, slapping him on the back.  There’s no rocks here that I can see.”

 

Jim did have something else that got him some attention.  He had homemade guns that instead of having plastic tubing to run the gas from the piston to the back of the magazines and to the breech behind the o-ring, they had brass metal tubing.  “Cool!” was the response that was heard most from those that saw them.  <Bruder_232>

 

As we were doing all these tests, we were also visiting.  Chris Kessler, who went to college in Rolla and was thus the Site Host’s assistant, finally found some time to work on his cruiser.  The cruiser looked like it had come straight from last year’s Nats to this one, as it was covered with patches.  <Bruder_228>  In addition to the patches, folks noticed that he’d painted “2004, Best Nats Ever” on the ship’s stern.

 

The Bruder’s, another one father, two sons team, were quickly done with the ship testing of their fleet.  <Bruder_227>  They spent a good deal of time helping out others, especially with the speed trials.

 

While I was roaming around, testing done, chatting with old friends and introducing myself to folks I didn’t know, I was chatting with the Florida group.  Bob and I weren’t the only playful ones, Tony Stephens took his radio frequency clothes pin (which were taken from the frequency board and attached to your transmitter), and instead of attaching it to his radio antenna, he attached it to my right nipple.  I yelped and jumped.  He laughed.  It didn’t bother me at all, except that he’d nailed my nipple directly and it refused to return to its original shape.  “I hope it doesn’t stay like that all week,” I scolded Tony.

 

At one o’clock, Lief Goodson, who was Contest Director for this year, called a captains meeting.  <Bruder_244>  At that time he and Kevin Hovis, the Site Host, described several things.  Lake rules, the site where we would set up the rest of the week, the CO2 setup, and lake depth.  We didn’t have a diver this year, and so Kevin had marked the lake depth at various places with yellow buoys.  The depth marked was about 4 1/2 feet, or about armpit level on Kevin.  <Bruder_233>

 

Lief also announced the additional two items that would be checked on the ships.  The down angle on sidemounts would be checked, along with the pump outlet.  Lief was handling the down angle checking.  Jeff Lide was given the task of checking the pumps, which he seemed to do with great pleasure.  “I’ve come to check your orifice,” he would say slowly.  “Your pump orifice.”  For some of the captains he knew better he accentuated his message by playfully slipping on a rubber glove.

 

After the captains meeting, it was discovered that Finster’s test gauge was 20 lbs. different from the ‘official’ gauges of Dave Au and Rick King.  Of course, my regulator was now showing up as 160 on the official gauges.  I’d been through this before, and set off to cleaning it.  After four attempts had refused to budge the value on the test gauge, I gave up.  Swampy had dropped a “Sunday Special” flyer on the tables and lightweight regulators were on special.  “I give up,” I told Bob.  “I’ll just get a new one.”  But Swampy had left so I had to wait to go back to the motel to finish the ship testing.  I knew it had been too easy.

 

Well, Bob finally got the CVL to make speed.  The ship had been receiving a lot of attention, both on the water and on the bench.  Bob did some more cussing as more work meant more displaced AA guns.  He’d made them out of electrical connectors, soldering a pin to them.  They made pretty good looking AA guns.  Chris Pearce took a look at them and said, “I can get you some that bend when they’re hit, for a decent price.”

 

“These are free,” said Bob.  “I’m an electrical contractor and I’ve got these coming out of my ears.”

 

“Go with it then,” said Chris. 

 

As he started to leave, Bob hollered after him, as he had been doing all afternoon, “Remember to vote for the Carrier for Best of Scale Convoy!”

 

With the days testing done, we slowly loaded up the ships.  I do remember certain folks wandering into the nearby tweaking area and testing their guns.  The Bruder’s guns sounded mean and nasty and I vowed to be very careful when in their vicinity on the water.  Brian Lamb was also tweaking, and at one point borrowed a file from me.  When he returned it, he said, “Thanks, I’ve now got all seven guns working for the first time.”  His new Iowa class ship had performed well in speed trials, but she’d not yet been tested under fire.  But Brian seemed to be quietly confident that his ship would do well on Monday.

 

As we loaded up the ships to go home, I dropped the table down to the floor of the truck, to prevent another mishap.  The ships barely fit in.  “I can’t wait for Ron’s truck,” said Bob.

 

Back at the motel, I dropped off Bob and his fleet.  I found Swampy roaming the parking lot, and gave him the money for a new regulator.  He asked if he could drop it off later, because Ted, his roommate, was taking a nap.  I needed a shower, so I said sure.

 

After my shower, I returned to Bob’s room and found that Ron had arrived.  Ron’s first words to me were,  Thanks for telling everyone I was getting married.”

 

“Not a problem,” I said.  Bob was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

 

“First I get is several handshakes and congratulations and all I can say is ‘huh’?” he grumped. 

 

“That’s what you get for being the last one here,” said Bob. 

 

It was time for supper, and soon a large group was headed for a Steak Buffet.  I’ve forgotten the name of the place, but it had a large statue of a cow on its roof.  Ron and I had fallen behind, but Bob was in his element, in the middle of all the others.  Ron and I took a seat on the end of the long set of tables the wait crew set up for us.  The food was decent but not great, the conversation was far better. 

 

When it was time to leave we started the walk back.  Ron and I had lagged behind on the way there, now with the main group, someone congratulated him on his recent marriage.  By this point he was tired of explaining also, so with a subtle dirty glance in my direction, he simply said, “Thanks.”

 

On the walk back, I had a lengthy chat with Rick King, another Lockheed Martin employee like me.  We compared notes.  Where I’d come to the company through a series of takeovers, he’d come after being laid off at Disney’s Epcot Center.  His description of working at Epcot sounded very compelling. 

 

There was an Allied Captains meeting after supper, in Doug Hunt and Chris Kessler’s room.  It was a large room, the ‘bridal suite’ they claimed.  Charley Stephens, the Allied admiral, gave his plans for Monday’s battling, and assigned us to two and three man teams.  He also picked one captain from each group to be in charge of that group.  Then he told us to go out and fight.  The opposing line up for the Axis looked tough, but it was hoped that we could hold our own during fleet battles and make up points in campaign. 

 

After the meeting I made a run to Walmart with Chris Kessler, to get some masking tape and other supplies, and some epoxy for Charley.  Someone had discovered that the rudders for the Class 5 or Class 6 boats were not as big as they could be, by rule, and folks were adding rudder surface area all over the place as the news spread. 

 

The next task was wiring up the new batteries.  I had to run back to Ron and Bob’s to borrow some solder (I later found mine), and got caught in a conversation with Ron, Bob and Jeff Lide.  Jeff had us all in stitches until he started a story on his wife complaining about him making boat noises in the shower.  To him it seemed the most natural thing in the world.  When we reacted differently, he stopped and asked, “Don’t you make boat noises in the shower?”

 

All that I had left to do was check out the pump.  I opened up the watertight box for the second time that week, expecting to find a bad micro switch, but to my surprise it was working fine.  I tried playing with the whole setup for some time.  The pump worked fine on the bench, not even a hint of trouble.  At this point I was getting mildly tired.  So I crossed my fingers and hoped that it was a one-time thing, and wouldn’t come back.  I put the box back together, loaded the guns, and then signed off and went to bed, about 1:00 AM.

 

Monday:

 

I got up once about 7:00 AM and peeked out the room’s peek hole.  I could see most of the vehicles still in the lot, so I went back to bed.  The first battle was scheduled for 9:00.  At 7:45 I got up again.  Half the vehicles were gone from the lot.  I hopped in the shower and then after getting dressed, loaded the truck. 

 

Just as I was coming out with the last items, I passed Fluegel.  “Fluegel, you just made me feel much better,” I said.

 

“Why,” he asked.

 

“Usually I’m the last one to leave the motel and the last one to get to the lake.  I guess I’m not doing so bad,” I said.

 

“Maybe you’re doing great,” he said, “but that bothers me.”

 

Out at the lake, I found a table in the pavilion, not far from Bob and Ron.  I was surprised, as the pavilion was not large enough for the whole group.  However, at least half of the battlers had brought tables and chairs and in some cases, tents, to set up down closer to the water’s edge.  The weather was perfect, about 80 degrees and sunny and a light breeze to keep things cool.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were hotter, but Friday was somewhat cooler again.

 

At this point, I usually try to describe the lake.  The best description I’ve come up with is as follows:  Think of a right triangle.  The right (or ninety degree) corner is on the farthest side of the triangle from the point where we battled.  The two sides running from the right angle are roughly equal in distance, and very straight (one reason, no doubt, why speed trials were done on one of them).  The third side of the triangle, the longest side, is not straight, however.  I’m embarrassed to say this, but looking at the map of the lake from above, the third side is more like the outline of a lady’s bosom, from above.  The bulk of our battling was done from the left bosom.  The right bosom did not go unused, but was closer to a playground, and so got less play.  A home base during campaign was set up there, in addition.  The cleavage between the bosoms narrowed to a point, at which was found a large stand of cattails, six to eight feet tall.  These cattails were enough to obscure sight of the lake and ships as one walked (or more likely, ran) from one bosom to the other.  Later in the week, someone pointed out that a bird was nesting in the cattails, and it would swoop in on anyone who came too close.

 

Bob Hoernemann had made a large map or the lake, and as the week went by and sinks accumulated, he’d put a flag on the spot where the ship went down.  The map, especially in the cleavage, soon filled with British, American, German, Japanese and Italian flags. <RobertsNatsLake>

 

But as I don’t think I can call the locations ‘left bosom’ and ‘right bosom’ and ‘the cleavage’ for the entirety of this account, I’ll instead refer to them as the ‘Left Bend’, the ‘Right Bend’, and ‘Cattail Cove’.  In addition, the cove down on the extreme left was partially roped off, due to a nearby handicapped playground that the Lions Club refused to have us close down.  This cove I’ll call Handicapped Cove.  The visibility was very good along the shore, except for moving from the Left Bend to the Right Bend, as there was a ditch behind the cattails and so captains tended to run with all haste behind the cattails in transferring from one Bend to the other.  By the week’s end a well-worn path had been created down in the ditch.

 

As for the shoreline, it started out the week being somewhat soggy.  The shoreline was ringed by long grass, and for those wearing shorts, it could be nasty.  I took a couple of scratches that left red marks on my legs for the rest of the week.  “I see you found the saw grass,” Chris Au told me at one point.  He too had some marked up legs.  However, as the week went by the grass go trampled down and the soggy shoreline got progressively muddy.  By Friday it was just down right gloppy.  Shoes and socks (for those who wore them) took a beating during the week.  Here’s a photo of some Axis captains late Monday <Melton_M_100>.  Up by the pavilion was a small water spigot, and most folks used it to wash off their footwear before leaving for the motel each day.

 

The Lineups:

 

As is normal, the lineups for the week remained relatively unchanged, but minor tweaking were done here and there as people left, or ships fell out due to malfunctions.  Friday saw a mass change in that the Allies, with nothing to lose, tried a Fast Fleet and a Slow Fleet.  But the line up for Monday morning shaped the battling for the bulk of the week.

 

Allied A:

Brian Lamb:  Brian was driving the 8 unit Wisconsin.  A new ship having had her sea trials the day before, it was hoped that she’d develop a punch later in the week to match the staying power of the big hull.  <Lamb_Melton>

Chris Grossaint:  Chris brought his tried and true class 6 North Carolina.  An experienced battler, he was expected to do some heavy hitting for the Allies.  <Grossaint_Roberts>

Jim Coler:  Jim hails from Colorado, like Chris, and had a North Carolina.  Unlike his compatriot, his ship was new and facing her first Nats.  It was hoped that Jim would be a nice match as a wing man for Grossaint.  <Coler_Melton>

Kevin Bray:  Driving his experienced class 6 Massachusetts, Kevin was another one expected to do well, as long as his rudder worked.  <Bray_Melton>

Dave Au:  Driving a class 5 Queen Elizabeth, Dave is a tough battler in any ship he captains, and the QEs are known to be slugger type ships.  <QE_Melton>

Doug Hunt:  Doug was driving a class 5 West Virginia.  The old American BB had a very wide beam, and looked like she could handle a lot of damage.  But as a newer ship, was she ready for a full week of battling?  <WestVirginia_Bruder>

Ted Brogden:  Ted was once again captaining the class 5 Valiant.  An experienced ship and captain his only problem was he spent too much time worrying about Lars.  <Valiant_Melton>

Lars (me):  The class 4 Bellerophon was the only Allied 28 second boat, and it had been mostly sitting on the shelf since the last Nats.  As such it was expected that it would be fish food.  It was only hoped that she would score some points on Axis ships on the way down.  <Bellerophon_Bruder>

Patrick Clarke:  Patrick was driving a class 4 Invincible.  Patrick had used the ship for some time, and it was expected to live up to standard I-boat expectations.  <Invincible_Melton>

Matthew Clarke:  The junior Clarke was driving the 3 unit Houston.  A natural cruiser captain, the shortest Allied battler was expected to be a major irritant with his well-worked cruiser.  <ClarkeHouston_Bruder>

Tom Brown:  Also driving a Houston, Tom was back in battling after a few years absence.  Would he be rusty?  <BrownHouston_Bob, BrownHouston2_Bob>

 

 

Allied B:

Kevin Hovis:  Kevin had the other Allied big boat, an 8 unit Missouri.  She had a few battles under her belt, but as site host, would Kevin be too tired to patch all the holes these big ships usually collected?  <Missouri_Melton>

Charley Stephens:  As Allied Admiral, Charley was bringing his well tested class 6 North Carolina.  <Charley_Melton>

Tony Stephens:  Like his brother, Tony was driving the North Carolina’s sister ship, the Washington, and the two who work so well as a team were expected to be the main punch for the fleet.  <Washington_Bruder>

Don Cole:  Don has been fighting for years, and was once again using his favorite ship, the class 6 Alabama.  Don has been a stalwart battler for years and was expected to be one again this year.  <Alabama_Melton>

Rick King:  Rick left his favored Scharnhorst back in Florida, and brought out a good looking class 5 Maryland.  That made him a natural wingman for Don.  <Maryland_Melton>

Bob Hoernemann:  Returning with his second year class 5 Warspite, and heavily refit over the long Minnesota winter, would the ship with the rotating polar bear head be more than just a flashy display?  <Warspite_Melton>

Mike Melton:  Mike was back with his class 5 Arizona.  After having done well the year before he was expected to hold his own against the raging Axis hordes.  <Arizona_Melton>

Ron Horbul:  Ron’s class 4 Lion was back for another go round.  Even if he had improved the turning on the arrow-like hull, he was still likely to get a lot of attention.  <Lion_Roberts>

Chris Kessler:  Chris Kessler, after improving every day during the previous Nats, was back again with his class 3 Brooklyn.  It wasn’t until later that I noticed in the pictures that he may have been using the same hull skin from the previous year as well.  <Kessler_Melton, Kessler2_Melton>

Pete Demetri:  Pete is one of the battlers whose name I’ve seen for years, but we’ve never crossed paths until this year.  He was driving a class 3 Des Moines with triple sterns.  It was a pity that he’d have to leave after Tuesday’s battling.  <Demetri_Melton>

Steve Milholland:  Steve showed up without a ship.  Bob Hoernemann gave him his class 3 Minneapolis and told him to ‘go have some fun’.  Would the honorary Minnesotan be able to handle the lutefisk smell and the Ole and Lena jokes long enough to bring the old cruiser’s guns to bear?  <Minneapolis_Melton>

 

 

Axis A:

Tim Beckett:  Tim had brought back an oldie but a goodie.  D.W. Fluegel’s old 1/150th scale Bismarck had been purchased and put through a complete refit.  Her first time on the water under Tim’s command were during speed trials.  The class 6 ship had a strange habit of turning hard while in reverse, could Tim get used to it?  <Bismarck_Melton>

Chris Pearce:  Fighting a well-worked class 6 Nagato, Chris is tough in any ship he has and was expected to be a major pain for the Allies.  <Pearce_Melton>

Steve Crane:  A new battler, originally from the east coast of Canada, but having since moved to warmer climes, Steve was an unknown to most of us, but his Nagato looked mean and nasty none the less.  <Crane_Bruder>

Gerald Roberts:  Gerald had also caught the Nagato bug.  However, I’m not sure if his was a new ship or one that he’d brought back after his stint in the Settsu.  I was going to miss that Settsu.  <Gerald_Melton>

Lou Meszaros:  Lou was back in the Italian big ship, the class 6 Vittorio Veneto.  The big boy had triple sterns that had a big bark, but he’s always seemed to be snake-bit in the past.  After taking a term at Charley U, could he shake out the technical bugs this year?  <Meszaros_Melton>

DW Fluegel:  DW had brought more than a couple of ships this year.  He’d also brought along his son Dallas.  Between the two of them and their two ships, the class 5 Baden and the class 2 Karlsruhe, they would alternate between days.  The old man started out on the big ship which he’d been fighting for years.  A 28 second ship, it had a haymaker that most folks respected.  <Baden_Melton>

Tim Krakowski:  Tim was back for another year with his Fuso, hoping for better times with the class 5 ship.  I’ve always wondered just how much that tower superstructure weighs, and what effect the wind has on it.  <Fuso_Melton>

Lief Goodson:  Lief was back in his tried and true class 4 von der Tann.  He’s always been a natural with this ship, and was expected to be a real pest.  <Lief_Melton, Lief2_Melton>

Chris Au:  Chris was driving a new class 4 French battlecruiser, the Strasbourg.  Always a tough nut who likes a challenge, Chris would go so far as to do the French thing and switch sides halfway through the week.  If you look at the photo, look for the stern gun that fired through the catapult mount.  <Strasbourg_Roberts>

Dallas Fluegel:  Dallas must have a very good looking mother, as he looks nothing like his father.  But as a rookie fighting his father’s ships, he was expected to do well, especially in the smaller class 2 cruiser Karlsruhe. <Karlsruhe_Bruder, Karslruhe2_Melton>

 

Axis B:

Bryan Finster:  Back with his class 6 Nagato with her rear pointing bow sidemounts, his ship was experienced and dangerous.  <Finster_Melton>

John Bruder:   The head of the Bruder clan, and President of the club for the year, John was driving his experienced class 6 Italia.  One of three big Italian boats, they figured to be returning some of the attention that they’d gotten in past years.  <JohnItalia_Roberts>

Josh Bruder:  Like his father, Josh was also sailing a class 6 Vittorio Veneto.  He was an experienced captain and was expected to do well.  <JoshVV_Melton>

Michael Tanzillo:  Mike was driving a Nagato this year.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to find out much about it.  But being that this was his third Nats, Mike should hold his own.  <Tanzillo_Roberts>

Tom Melton:  Last year’s rookie of the year, Tom was driving the Nagato he’d used the year before.  With another year under his belt, he seemed likely to improve.  <Tom_Roberts>

Rob Stalnaker:  A rookie captain from the east coast (Carolina?) he’d done some battling with the Florida gang.  A rookie captain driving a class 6 Tirpitz was likely to gain the attention of the Allies.  <Tirpitz_Melton, Tirpitz2_Melton>

Jeff Lide:  I keep thinking that Jeff’s Kirishima is a class 6 ship, as it resembles the Nagatos so closely, and the class 4 battlecruiser fights like it has the two extra guns of the bigger ship.  Maybe that’s why he occasionally forgets about his pump.  <Lide_Melton>

Jake Bruder:  The other Bruder brother (and son) likes the short, compact hull of the World War One German battlecruiser von der Tann, a class 4 ship, over the longer more elegant Italians.  His battling style was much the same, not flashy but rather steady.  <JakeVDT_Melton>

Luis Gomez:  Luis, after a good year as a cruiser captain the year before, opted for one more gun, and was driving a class 4 Kongo rigged up in the World War One configuration.  A good looking ship, it was not expected to have troubles after his Garibaldi had run so well the year before.  <Kongo_Roberts>

Randy Stiponivich:  Another von der Tann captain, the heavy camouflaged paint scheme was graced by a bright blue Smurf figurine on her stern.  The ‘Pirate Smurf’ proved to be as tough as Randy’s ship, surviving several direct hits and remaining standing.  Only the Pillsbury Dough Boy would have been more annoying than the Pirate Smurf.  <SmurfVDT_Melton, SmurfVDT2_Melton>

Steve Reynolds:  The rookie of the year from two years ago, having missed last year’s Nats, it was hoped that his class 4 Moltke would continue from where she’d left off.  <Moltke_Roberts>

 

 

Ship Identification:  If you looked at any of the photos above, you’re probably wondering how I can tell the North Carolinas and the Nagatos apart.  Well, it took me one full night of study to figure it all out.  Here’s what I discovered.

 

The North Carolinas are the toughest, as they are pretty identical.  Fortunately the Stephens brothers and the Coloradoans (Coler and Grossaint) fought on different Allied Fleets until Friday.  Charley and Tony Stephen’s boats were identical, except that Tony’s Washington had a brown painted deck rather than the birch plywood that the other three ships sported.  Another minor difference is the Washington’s pump outlet was on the opposite side <TonyAndCharley_Melton>.  As for the Coloradoans, Grossaint’s pump outlet was attached to a piece of angle iron mounted on deck, unlike the other three ships which hid theirs.  Jim Coler’s main difference was that his pump was vertical <Coler2_Melton>, rather than horizontally to the stern for the rest.

 

There were six Nagatos, and they were divided up three to a fleet.  The Axis B group gave me the toughest problems.  Fortunately there is a picture with the three of them together <AxisB_Nagatos_Melton>.  Finster’s Nagato is the furthest away in the picture, and is the easiest to identify, due to the smaller pagoda superstructure and the rear-pointing A and B turrets.  Tom Melton’s (middle) and Mike Tanzillo’s (closest) ships are virtually identical to the casual observer.  However, their sidemount turrets are set up as mirror images of each other <TanzilloAndTom2_Roberts>.  In addition, Mike’s rear barbettes are white, while Tom’s are painted dark gray like his turrets.  To cause further confusion for this fleet, the battlecruiser Kirishima has a similar profile to Finster’s ship, and has a red painted section of deck just above the rear step deck, just like Finster’s. 

 

In the other fleet, Chris Pearce’s Nagato is also a near match for Tanzillo’s and Melton’s ships.  Pearce’s ship differs in that the bow sidemounts are opposite from that of Melton’s, and Chris’s stern haymaker is opposite that of Tanzillo’s.  The other two Nagatos were Steve Crane’s and Gerald Roberts <GeraldCrane_Melton>.  Steve’s Nagato was painted a lighter gray, and had his radio antenna mounted forward of his A turret, from which he flew a flag most of the week.  This made him relatively easy to pick out.  Gerald’s Nagato was painted a shade of gray between that of Chris’s and Steve’s.  Sometimes this helped, sometimes it didn’t, like when it got cloudy.  Gerald’s Nagato was sporting a plane just forward of the rear turrets, seen in this picture along with Pearce’s ship <PearceGerald_Melton>, but it may have been shot off as it is not there later.  Another distinguishing mark for Gerald’s ship is that it has several lines with flags flying, coming from the pagoda mast structure. 

 

During the week, at various times, some of the Nagato captains adopted further identification aids.  Pearce’s, Melton’s, and Tanzillo’s three ships each has a small wire rod sticking out of the stack.  For Monday’s afternoon battle, Pearce mounted a clown’s head on his ship <PearceClown_Melton>.  The clown was removed later in the week.  As for Tanzillo and Melton, Tom mounted a heroic figure holding a sword and wearing a funny hat on the very bow of his ship (note it’s not there in the group picture which came from Monday), but was definitely there at the end of the week <TanzilloAndTom_Roberts>.

 

By the way, I figured all of this ship ID stuff out after I finished writing the fleet battle on Thursday, and I doubt if I’ll go back and review 5 hours of videotape to correct my descriptions.  But as I kept things generic when I couldn’t tell whose ship it was, the description is technically correct.  Hopefully the readers will now be able to tell from the pictures as to whose ship did what.

 

The Action descriptions:  I don’t know what it was this year, but I’ve been tangling with borderline sleep apnea since February, and even had surgery in an attempt to correct it back in May.  While at Nats I thought the surgery had cured the problem, but I found when I got home that I’d been half-asleep the whole week.  I found that other than a few incidents, like most of my sinks, I could barely recall any thing from these battles.  For some strange reason I remember most of the evening meals fairly well (go figure!).  So I’m using Bob Hoernemann’s and John Bruder’s videotape footage to help me with my faulty memory.  As for the photos, they come from mainly three groups of guys, the Meltons, who posted theirs on the web, and Gerald Roberts and John Bruder.  Thanks guys!  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then their pictures have turned the Lars Chronicles from a light pamphlet into a 1000 page brick like ‘War and Peace’.  For the most part, I’ve tried to match up the photos directly with the narrative, and I think most of them come from exactly the spot in the battle I’m describing.  There are cases where I don’t have an idea where a good photo went, and so I tried to place it with a description of the ships involved, but this doesn’t happen as frequently.  But I’m pretty sure I’ve got all the photos matched up with the correct battle sortie, especially for the Bruder and Melton photos.  In addition, late in the writing, I found myself taking frames from the video.  It started because I didn’t have a good picture of Tom Brown’s cruiser (most of the cruisers were tough), and I’d thought my video captures were pretty fuzzy.  His ship picture didn’t turn out too bad, so I started doing it elsewhere.

 

 

Fleet Battle One, Monday Morning:

 

At the lake, I found out the first battle was delayed to 9:30 AM, and would be Allied A vs. Axis B.  I was surprised, as the A fleets usually pair off first on Monday mornings.  When I asked why, Lief said that was how the random drawing came out.

 

 

I’d gotten out to the lake earlier than I usually do, and so I was ready to go with nothing to do for a bit, after filling up the CO2 bottle.  I sat on the bench and stared off into space.  Folks would walk by and say, “Lars doesn’t know what to do without having three boats to worry about.”  Actually, I was in the midst of a root canal, and I had problems all week with a temporary structure.  Most of the week, when it appeared I was staring off into space, I was probably working on freeing a piece of meat stuck in the teeth from the night before.  I was curious if the resident dentist would figure out what I was up to, so I didn’t mention it to anyone.

 

 

Allied A vs. Axis B, first sortie:

The first sortie of Nats is usually the worst one for butterflies.  The only other battle that sometimes comes close is when the score is very close on a Friday morning.  The contest director was calling out time intervals to begin, and then there were delays as one captain and then another needed a few extra minutes, and the admirals each called for an extension.  At last the extensions were gone and the CD called out the count down to zero.  Battle was called.

 

“Happy Nats everybody,” called out a small group.

 

“2004,” added Kevin Bray.  “And a whole lot more.”

 

The Axis started with a run around the outside.  The rookie Tirpitz was leading the pack, and the NCs headed out to meet her.  Don’t everyone counter that,” yelled Patrick Clarke, as the other Allies reacted.  Just as the Tirpitz took her first salvo, the Axis hollered “Bonzai!” and there was much whooping and yelling as the first shots hit home. <Melton_M_013>

 

I had been set up in a three ship team, myself with Bellerophon, Patrick Clarke and his Invincible, and our leader, Kevin Bray, with his Massachusetts.  Our mission was ‘targets of opportunity’.  As such, we held back when battle was called.  At last the Pirate Smurf VDT appeared before us.

 

“Well, should we go get him?” ask Kevin.

 

“Might as well,” said Patrick and I, and we were off.  <Melton_M_016>  Meanwhile, the Tirpitz had wound her way around and now came in close to Allied slow boat country.  <Melton_M_014>  In addition to Kevin’s group, Ted Brogden’s Valiant, Dave Au’s QE, and Doug Hunt’s West Virginia were defending the same turf, and the Tirpitz sailing through our ‘turf’ was an unexpected surprise.  She circled through once without much attention, and then headed out to deeper water.  Some of the Allied fast boats, including the new Wisconsin, flashed by to scare off some Nagatos coming in on the left.  <Melton_M_015>  Then the Tirpitz circled back into slow boat country.  She escaped once again, just as another Axis ship, Steve Reynolds’s Moltke, went down stern first.  <Melton_M_017>

 

It was too soon for the ship to have been sunk by gunfire alone, so I later asked Steve what had gone wrong.  He said that his weight setup in his ship had been towards the stern, which had worked great for speed trials.  “However, it didn’t work when my ship and the ship I’m sitting next to both hit full forward at the same time.  The stern deck dropped under and never came up,” he said.  “Shifting some of the weight forward took care of the problem,” he added.  On the video, it looks like Dave Au’s QE next to him as he went down, so to Dave (and the Allies) went the first sink of Nats. 

 

“Yankee Doodle!” cried out Charley, trying out a new Allied cheer to counter the Axis Bonzai. 

 

“Tall Trees!  Tall Trees!” yelled out someone else.  I didn’t understand the reference at all.

 

After battle resumed, the Tirpitz swung through again and backed into the Allied slow boats to fire twin sterns at Kevin Bray’s Massachusetts.  Kevin and Patrick took the outside, Kevin hitting with sidemounts and taking a few in turn, while the Bellerophon took the inside.  Doug Hunt’s West Virginia looked to follow the Bell but then swung out to fire her twin sterns at the Tirpitz’s rear.  I was plinking away with the Bell’s sidemount when Kevin swung around and nosed his ship between the Bell and the big ship.  Kevin’s sidemounts were firing fast, while Patrick had pulled up and was working over the other.  Then Robert Stalnaker, the Tirpitz’s captain, called five out of control.  The Tirpitz was now sitting dead in the water.  Her wingman, Luis Gomez’s Kongo, sailed off and left her.

 

“Now’s your chance for glory,” a spectator said. 

 

“Get him Larry,” Bob, manning the video, was yelling. 

 

“Why don’t you declare it sunk,” suggested another spectator.  At this, the Axis started hollering, “Stop, he declared, stop he declared!”

 

By this time Ted Brogden’s Valiant had backed in with his twin sterns, but didn’t fire, and took a ram from Doug Hunt’s ship in the process, and announced that he was coming in on ram check.  The other Allied ships drifted away from the big ship, but Bellerophon stayed right beside her.  Behind me, the questioning began.  “You did declare it, didn’t you,” someone asked.

 

“I didn’t say a thing,” said Rob.

 

“Never mind, it’s live,” said Lief.  I started plinking methodically away again with the Bell’s sidemount.  I got in several shots before Kevin’s Massachusetts came in and pushed the Bell away while the Massachusetts’s sidemounts started rapid firing.  The swarm was returning elsewhere as well, even the Wisconsin was moving in, when Rob suddenly declared her sunk. 

 

“Make up your mind,” called Ted as the Allied ships cleared the area once more.

 

Rob went in and picked up his ship.  A pop was heard and Rob said, “There it is, now it’s working.”

 

After the Tirpitz’s departure, the Allied slow boats seemed to control the immediate area close to shore.  The two von der Tanns (Randy Stiponivich and Jake Bruder) contested the area <Melton_M_020> while the two big Italians (Josh and John Bruder) picked on the left flank.  <Melton_M_018, Melton_M_019>  The Japanese ships (Lide, Tanzillo, Melton and Finster) were further out, along with the two NCs and the Wisconsin.

 

It was several minutes of this melee.  The Bellerophon floated down close to shore, in the middle of things, without much to shoot at.  She spent more time trying not to run into Ted’s Valiant than she did engaged with the enemy.  She did have another interesting occurrence when maneuvering in tight spaces when the West Virginia and Bellerophon rammed each other bow on bow.  Imagine two bicycles coming in opposite directions playing chicken, and ramming their front tires squarely into each other at full speed, and you’ll get a feel for this hit.  There was a strange sounding crack when they hit, and my ship jumped like it had gotten an electric shock, but other than that there appeared to be no damage to either ship.

 

Dave Au’s QE got on the outside of one of the Italian VVs, and stung the ship with several sidemounts.  <Melton_M_021, Melton_M_022>  The Pirate Smurf moved in to take on four Allies, the Bell, Bray’s Massachusetts, the Invincible,  and the Valiant, and appeared to take little damage.  Those VDTs are hard to hit where it hurts.  <Melton_M_023>

 

Finally, not long after a cry of “Allied cruiser beached” (which everyone seemed to ignore),.the dreaded Kongo caught Tom Brown’s Houston with several sidemounts.  The Houston was low in the water and someone called for her pump.  The pump stream, when it came, was hard and heavy.

 

“Sit and pump,” Bob H. called to Tom.  The dreaded Kongo made it difficult.  The cruiser was obviously heavy with water.  “Go help Tom,” said Bob to Matt Clarke.  Matt was slow to respond, as he had Bob check to see if his props were both turning.  In the meantime Tom drove deeper into Cattail Cove, and with the dreaded Kongo beside him, the stern of his ship went under, the bow rising out and then sliding back like a knife into a sheath.

 

When battle resumed, Bob H. noticed the pirate Smurf for the first time.  “Who’s got a Smurf on their ship,” he called out.

 

Out in the deeper water, one of the NC’s was playing with a Nagato.

 

“Coler!” yelled out Chris Grossaint.

 

“Shut up,” said Jim.  “Or get over here, one or the other!”  The NC headed out towards deeper water with the Nagato in pursuit.

 

Back in the shallower water, the Invincible was low in the water.  Patrick was one of my wing mates, but I had no idea who had stung him.  One of the big VVs was chasing him with their triple sterns as the I-boat ran along shore.  <Melton_M_024>   With a little waddle she turned right and nosed into shore as her stern kept dipping under.  Upon hitting shore, her stern settled to the bottom.  <Melton_M_025>

 

“Bonzai!” came the cry as Patrick handed his radio to someone else and went in to recover.

 

Apparently his pump quit working.  “Worked all day yesterday, worked all morning, until now,” he said as he poured water out of her hull.  Later he blamed the sink on the speed controller glitching and somehow knocking out the pump servo. 

 

Out on the water, the VV now took a pass at the Bell, who turned away easily.  The Massachusetts and the Valiant moved in and the VV thought better and moved away.  However, she kept moving back in, along with her sister, and the Bell, the Massachusetts, and the Valiant spent several minutes fighting back as best they could.

 

The main action now moved into Cattail Cove.  The Jap ships were working on the Wisconsin and one of the NCs.  It wasn’t obvious which one they were chasing, as the ships’ paths criss-crossed and both were fired upon.  Finster’s Nagato did have to stop and pump out for a time.  Jeff Lide worked over the Wisconsin until she came in on a ram check.  <Melton_M_026>

 

After she went back out, she took a run across the battling area, from right to left.  On five, she was just looking to survive, but her pump was kicking out a heavy stream.  “Brian, if you come back this way, we can protect you,” called Kevin Bray.

 

“I’m trying,” called Brian Lamb.  She came in and tucked between the Massachusetts and shore, while the Kirishima was forced to go wide (hey, the Bell almost got a shot at her as she went past).  Kevin and Matt Clarke held her off for a few more moments, but the Kirishima squirmed in and fired some more sterns into the big ship.  The other Jap ships were now playing with the two NCs, which had followed the Wisconsin back towards Cattail Cove.

 

By this time, I realized that the Bellerophon had been out on the water for a good long time.  While the guns weren’t empty, it was time to think about saving some battery for the second sortie, so I called five.  With the rest of the Axis chasing Brian, I only had the two big Italians to worry about, and they seemed to be low on ammo themselves, and didn’t press home any attacks with any vigor.

 

The Bellerophon was pumping just fine, and I thought I had no worries.  But then with just under 90 seconds to go, the pump stopped.  I knew very quickly that she wasn’t going to make it.  So did Josh Bruder, who started calling, “Hey, the Bellefonte’s going down!”  I tried toggling the power on the transmitter, and the pump switch itself, but it was no go.  I don’t remember trying the throttle, but probably wouldn’t have helped as this would have sunk her even sooner.  The Bell rolled slightly and slid under the waves with 48 seconds left on the timer.  <Melton_M_027>

 

“Bonzai!” yelled out the two Italians.

 

“Larry!” muttered Bob H, in that mildly scornful tone a parent uses when his kid lets him down, and so quietly that probably only the camera heard it.

 

The Wisconsin made another run out of the cove and along the Left Bend, pursued by three Nagatos and the two NCs which were trying to help.  The Wisconsin tried to stop and reverse at one point, but Finster’s Nagato stayed with him and kept on firing sidemounts.

 

“Wait ‘til second sortie guys,” said one of the watching Axis, referring to the pursuit.

 

“Second Sortie!” said another, as if he wasn’t aware of such a thing.

 

The Wisconsin spun around and headed back for the cove.  The cove was empty except for the Massachusetts and the Kongo.  The Kongo would have been eating triple sterns if Kevin had had any left.  As the Wisconsin sailed past, Kevin kicked the Massachusetts into reverse and blocked the pursuing Jap.  “Whisky off five,” yelled Brian’s timer.

 

“YES!” said Brian, and turned the ship towards shore.

 

Many of the Allied captains were worried she’d sink, and started yelling, “Hurry up and touch it!”  Brian complied.

 

That pretty much ended the sortie, as the ammo was very low by this point, and no one else was in serious danger.  I’d waited for the action to slow down before I went out to recover my ship.  Fluegel took my transmitter from me as I stepped towards the water.  Just as I was about to step in, a large froggy type critter jumped out of the grass and disappeared under the water, scaring the jeepers out of me.  “I didn’t need that,” I muttered.

 

When I picked up the ship, and was wading back to shore, the guns started to fire.  Startled, I moved for the off switch, and then looked at Fluegel.  “Oh, I was just clearing the guns for you,” he chirped. 

 

“I didn’t need that either,” I muttered quietly to myself.

 

Allied B vs. Axis A, first sortie:

 

The Allied fleet set up on the left side of the left bank, while the Axis took the right.  With a minute to go to battle, Bob Hoernemann’s Warspite and Mike Melton’s Arizona found themselves on the wrong side.  They hesitated to run to the other side, fearing to get caught in the middle just as battle as called.  But then they ran for it, Warspite leading.  “They’re running the gauntlet!” hollered Lief.  

 

Arizona was a bit pokey so Ted Brogden called out, “Hurry up Arizona, go go go go go!”  When she still dawdled, Ted added, “Peddle faster, dammit!”

 

The other disappointing news for the Allies was that Kevin Hovis had to pull his Iowa off the water before battle was called, due to a loose motor connector.

 

War was called.  Almost immediately, like a switch had been flicked, Lou Meszaros’ Vittorio Veneto (VV) started spitting her stern guns on the fringes of Cattail Cove.  “Whoa!” muttered some of his fellow Axis.

 

At the same time, a challenge was called out.  “BOB HOERNEMANN IS A SISSY!” called out Lief.  I’m not sure if it was their gauntlet run a few seconds before, or the rotating polar bear head on the bridge of the Warspite that generated the challenge.

 

Meanwhile, the VV was still firing off shots at regular intervals.  The other Axis had moved away to attack, except for the Fuso, which stayed back a safe distance.  “I can’t get the channel!”  said Lou, swearing at his Polk radio. 

 

“Did you try to turn it off?” asked Tim.

 

“Yes, but it keeps going back to channel 17!  I don’t care about channel 17!” said Lou, getting more exasperated. 

 

“Go on five out of control,” said Tim.

 

When the VV spit another load from all her guns, he called, “I’m on five minutes.”  Okay, he added a colorful metaphor as well, but he apologized for it immediately. 

 

With the quick call for five minutes, the Axis fleet came back to defend their teammate.  The Warspite and the Arizona followed them.  The Axis came in close, to make it harder for the Allied attackers to reach the sitting target.  However, the VV’s guns continued to fire sporadically, and at random, so the defenders called out to ‘stay away from him.’  <Melton_M_032>

 

The increased distance opened up gaps in the line, and with Don Cole’s Alabama and Rick King’s Maryland drawing attention <Melton_M_028>, the Warspite circled around the line and came in on the VV from the rear.  Bob hit the VV with a few sidemounts, and the VV got underway.  Lou apparently had regained control, but with the bulk of his ammo gone, was running out the rest of his five.

 

Catching some twin sterns from Fluegel, the Warspite left the VV.  “Where’s my wingman,” called out Bob as Lief’s VDT moved in to sidemount the Allied ship.  The Arizona reappeared, but the two ships now found it difficult to get back to the VV.  <Melton_M_033>

 

In the distance, a cheer went up.  A ship had sunk on the left side of Left Bend, and it was the honorary Minnesotan Swampy.   The Minneapolis had a strange sink.  Pursued by a Nagato, she rolled in a turn and took on water <Bruder_251>.  Like a dying hare she kept running <Bruder_252> but the stern gradually pulled her under.  The ship slowed as the stern went deeper, and then it seemed to stop altogether <Bruder_253>.  But instead of the bow following the stern under, it stayed proudly afloat <Bruder_255>.  The ship kept moving like her props were crabbing her across the bottom towards shore.  Folks were laughing and shouting, and several ships sailed by as if in salute <Bruder_256, Bruder_257>.  Finally she was close enough Kevin Bray stepped in and grabbed her still floating bow.

 

Bob continued to try to get to the VV, but finally someone pointed out, “Ah, Warspite, it’s four on one there.”

 

“I know,” said Bob, sounding disappointed, dropping the pursuit.  The VV came off five about five seconds later.

 

The battle now moved to the left side of Left Bend, some of it moving into Handicapped Cove.  The Arizona and the Warspite were getting a lot of attention from the Axis slow boats.  Peter Demetri’s Des Moines was picking on the edges, and finding targets for his triple sterns.  <Melton_M_039>  Ron’s Lion was dashing here and there through the middle of the battles.  The Nagatos, Steve Crane’s for one, and Chris Pearce too, seemed to be trying to keep the Allies pinned into the Cove.

 

Then the Fuso called five, and raced past the firing stern guns of the Maryland.  The Fuso headed off as far from Handicapped Cove as she could get.  Several seconds later the Lion raced by as if in pursuit.

 

Back down in the Cove, the Warspite was once again in the middle of things.  His teammate the Arizona was in trouble too, and went racing along the shoreline under the screen of the shore weeds, while the Alabama and Maryland worked to cover him.  <Melton_M_040, Melton_M_041>  As the video followed him back towards the center of the Left Bend, it picked up the Lion chasing the Fuso over by the bridge on the extreme right of the Right Bend.  Later Ron said, “I chased him all that way and only got off two shots.”

 

The Allied fast ships, the two NCs of Charley and Tony Stevens, were trying to keep the Axis big fast ships busy, but there were too many of them for the twin NCs to pin down.  <Melton_M_038, Melton_M_036>

 

The Warspite was getting low in the water by this point, and the Polar Bear Head was spinning slower and slower.

 

There was a near sink as Steve Crane’s Nagato was extremely low, and Steve can even be heard to say, “I think I’m sunk,” but his pump was working great.  The ship was out of trouble by the time the hard pumping Warspite arrived to try to finish him off.  He might have taken on the water while checking out a ram, as the camera had caught him bending over his ship for a minute or so.  He easily shook off the slower ship, with the help from a block from the Strasbourg.

 

Now the Axis moved in to finish off the Warspite.  The Bismarck, the Strasbourg, and Gerald Robert’s Nagato sandwiched him, while Bob only had the Des Moines for help.  <Melton_M_042>  The Warspite backed into shore, and rolled to it’s right <Bruder_275>, sinking to the bottom <Bruder_277>.  It was in shallow enough water that while on the bottom, the Polar Bear Head remained just above the water and continued it’s slow spinning <Bruder_278>.

 

Meanwhile, Kevin Bray jumped into the camera frame, saying ‘Hey, there’s live critters in there.” 

 

After Bob sank, the last surviving Minnesotan became the target.  Ron’s Lion became the center of attention, with even the Baden getting into the pursuit, catching the Lion by the bow and turning him into shore.  The Lion backed out and away.  The Bismarck turned him back in again.  <Melton_M_043>  Ron had lots of coaches by this time.  “Back it out,” said his friends.

 

“Have a triple gun salute,” said an Axis. 

 

The Lion caught the Bismarck with a thump, and the Bismarck came in on ram check.  Meanwhile the Strasbourg kept outward of the Lion and kept her from running up the far shore line.  Instead she was forced deeper and deeper into Handicapped Cove.  <Melton_M_044>  Somehow she broke free <Melton_045> and headed back up the Left Bend, with the two NCs running beside her.  “Don’t stop, Ron,” said a spectator.

 

Ron laughed.  “I’m not stopping!”

 

Steve Crane’s Nagato got outside and managed to get alongside for a few sidemounts, before being forced to swing wide to avoid the light cruiser Karlsruhe.  However, the Nagatos were running faster this day than the Lion, and when she came back in the Nagato was able to get her stern in front and turn the Lion towards shore.  Another Nagato had moved up on the inside to cover the Lion’s starboard side. 

 

The Lion shook herself free again, but the Strasbourg and the Bismarck were now on her tail, and the Baden got off a shot or two too.  <Melton_M_046>  Now, when Ron touched the rudders for slight turns to starboard, the Lion rolled further and further to port.  The roll was finally too much, and the narrow bow lifted high in the air as the stern went under.  She too slid back under like a knife into a sheath.  BTW, thanks to Dallas Fluegel and Steve Crane for ducking down so the sink could be captured on video and camera.

 

With the Lion’s sink, the battling was soon over, as most ships were out of ammo and on five by this point. 

 

 

 

Allied A vs. Axis B, second sortie:

 

I didn’t watch this sortie.  After handing the video camera back to Bob, I went back to check out the intermittent pump problem.  I opened up my water tight box for the third time, and cleaned all the contacts for getting power from the main switch out to the pump.  As the motors seemed to keep working, I didn’t think I had to work on that as well.  I took my time and slapped the thing back together during the break for lunch.

 

So this description comes totally from Bob Hoernemann’s tape.

 

Down in Cattail Cove, the Allied slow boats, the Valiant, West Virginia, and QE, tangled with a couple of Nagatos.  The West Virginia liked to pass by sterns very closely, either just ramming, or just missing a ram, as she passed.  Thus the other captain would withhold firing their sterns as it would have been hitting superstructure only.

 

For the first time, a large group of captains were over on the Right Bend.  The reason was that that was where the Wisconsin had launched.  There was a large cluster of boats, including the two NCs and Kevin Bray’s Massachusetts to run escort for the big Wisconsin, against two or three Axis ships.  But the ship was too badly damaged, and sank very quickly, to big cheers from the Axis.

 

Amidst the cheers was Dave Au and Doug Hunt discussing a damaging ram that Doug had taken from Dave.  Doug wasn’t sure of the damage, but Dave was, and pulled his own QE into shore.  “You got a crunchy there,” said Dave.

 

“Oh, that’s a big one,” said Doug.

 

While Brian Lamb and Patrick Clarke were recovering the sunken Wisconsin, Dave was urging Doug to hurry so that they could rejoin the battle when it was ready to go again.  They didn’t make it, and when battle resumed the Axis appeared to have far more ships.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that Randy Stiponovich’s VDT was running without his Pirate Smurf.  With captains fighting from both Bends, the action tended to remain in the Cattail Cove area, in general melee conditions.  Even Matt Clarke’s Houston braved the torrid waters and escaped without serious injury, although his father did yell at him once to turn his pump on.

 

With all the ships and all the shots, something had to give, and soon the camera centered in on a Nagato being worked over by Kevin’s Massachusetts.  She was pumping hard and getting low in the water.  She looked for a moment like she considered hiding in the cattails, but then backed away past the Valiant and Massachusetts.  She kept backing as if to back all the way out of the Cove, but then stopped and moved into a quiet spot in the melee, hoping to gain some on her pumps.

 

The camera then swung to the action near the Right Bend.  The West Virginia was pushing a Nagato sideways through the water.  There was some incoherent yelling, but the WeeVee kept moving forward.  The Nagato, which looked like Finster’s, gradually had her bow swing around next to the WeeVee’s hull, and hull splashes were soon seen.  Finally the two ships broke apart, and the WeeVee circled in close to shore.  The turn finished her off as she kept rolling to port, her red starboard side rising in the sunlight, along with a gray duct-tape ram patch.  “Bonzai!” came the cheers.

 

When the battle resumed, the hard pumping Nagato, which belonged to Mike Tanzillo, now had her pump momentarily losing prime, so she’d benefited from the small break.  But the Massachusetts was back on her quickly.

 

“Keep her right there so I can get your sink on video,” said Bob to Mike.

 

The Massachusetts  and Nagato were nearly bow to bow, and as the Massachusetts approached it was obvious that she was going to catch the Nagato’s overhanging sidemount gun barrel.  The Massachusetts eased off the throttle to keep from damaging the gun, and as the Nagato moved forward the gun barrel caught the Massachusetts’s bow and spun the Allied ship around so that they were now side to side going the same direction.  Kevin, for his small act of mercy, got time for a long series of sidemounts from the port side, and Mike kept his gun.  Then the two NCs came by, and Mike decided to call five and get out of the fight.  The Nagato backed up about ten yards, out of the Cove, and then tried to turn and run, presumably away down the Left Bend.  But as she moved into forward and turned, the water shifted to starboard and her stern rolled under.  With her pagoda mast at nearly an eighty degree angle, the sinking ship moved slowly straight for shore.  She didn’t make it, settling to the bottom, and as she came to rest the pagoda mast slowly swung back into an upright position, half out of the water.  <Milton_M_048, Milton_M_049>

 

“Yankee Doodle!” came the Allied cry.  Several others cried “Nicely Done!” as the ship settled upright.  And a final “Who Rah!” was also heard.

 

The camera stopped for a time, and then picked up the QE chasing Jake Bruder’s VDT.  Jake had called five just after the West Virginia had sunk, so he couldn’t fire back.  Unknown to the crowd, her pump had burned out.  A NC joined the chase, passing along a few sidemounts while the radar mast on the top of the VDT’s second stack rotated, much like a certain Polar Bear Head.

 

The QE was back, and finished off his haymaker into the German hull.  Jake’s father was coming to the rescue, but just as he was coming up alongside his son, the Italia miscalculated by just an inch, and caught the VDT’s stern.  The VDT rolled unto her starboard side and the stern went under.  Everyone gasped as the stricken ship freed herself and started to right herself while she headed for shore, but she had gone too far and went under by the stern.

 

“Who did it,” someone asked.

 

“His dad did it,” said Ted.

 

“Thanks, John,” called Bob.

 

Jake took up the theme too.  “Thanks, Dad,” he said in a ho-hum voice, which generated much laughter.

 

When battle resumed, there now began two parallel chases.  The QE came racing by and matched bows with the faster Kongo.  The QE pushed the Kongo over (without rolling) until her bow matched with the bow of Randy’s VDT.  A split second later the VDT was pushed into the Italia, and the four ships sailed off, the three Axis pushed by the one Allied.  Racing behind, Josh Bruder’s VV was getting chased by a NC, and a nice block from the Massachusetts let the NC get in several sidemounts.  Then as the Massachusetts drifted past, the VV was open for another run and took off forward.  Unfortunately, the QE now cut across her path, and the big Italian T-boned the smaller Brit.  The ram was called quickly, but the QE was settling even quicker.

 

To make matters worse, Dave jumped into the water to rescue his ship, but he’d placed his radio on the ground and then caught it’s strap with his foot and pulled it into the water behind him. The loss of his QE for the afternoon’s battle was going to hurt.

 

The next chase was the two NC’s trying to catch Finster’s Nagato, but the ammo was low and shots were difficult.  The Valiant helped out too, but seemed to be low on ammo too.  As the ships moved along the Left Bend towards the right, the captains moved up the shoreline, sloshing as they went.

 

“Slosh, slosh, slosh,” Fluegel is heard to mutter, to the accompaniment of sloppy footsteps.  “Sounds like war.”

 

Behind the camera comes the comment, “There she goes!”  The camera swung quickly but caught only bubbles.  Josh Bruder was out quickly to recover his sunken VV.  The VV’s pump had  a few bbs clog the pump intake, aiding significantly in her demise.  As he was bringing in the ship, Bob said, “Why don’t we just extend the battle until everyone sinks.  I mean, there’s no one left!”

 

There was still life out on the water however.  Randy’s VDT was still alive, and led the two NCs and the Valiant on a merry chase as he ran out his five.  The Kongo was also spinning out in the distance, but was left to herself.  And after the VDT came in off her five, the Valiant can be seen playing with Jeff Lide’s Kirishima, which had somehow missed the camera for most of the sortie.  The Houston raced away, then the action moved back to Cattail Cove where the Massachusetts, the NCs and the Valiant were fighting Finster and Lide.  Chris Grossaint somehow managed to get his NC into a “Jap sandwich” and the camera footage ends with him calling ram and bringing in his ship partially, at which he stopped and waded out to retrieve it.

 

     Allied A beat the Axis B fleet  by a score of 18,635 to 15,700.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Brian Lamb (sunk)                                3515                 74-9-27

     Doug Hunt (sunk)                                  2405                 43-5-19

     Chris Grossaint                                      1755                 38-9-23

     Lars (sunk)                                           1540                 4-6-11

     Dave Au                                               1525                 70-5-14

 

     Rob Stalnaker (declared)                       3210                 46-8-11

     Mike Tanzillo (sunk)                              2520                 77-2-14

     Josh Bruder  (sunk)                               2245                 62-5-10

     Randy Stiponovich                                 2135                 56-5-29

     Jake Bruder (sunk)                                1670                 32-2-10

 

 

Oh by the way, note to the score keeper, Ted Brogden did not have a score for this sortie.  I don’t want to seem to be picking on Tim Krakowski, who did the bulk of the scoring.  Instead I’m just trying to point out errors as I find them, in the hope that it might help in future events.

 

 

Allied B vs. Axis A, second sortie:

 

At the start of this battle, folks were quizzing Bob on which ships would sink.  Since they said, “That one and that one, and that one,” it’s hard for me to guess which lucky vessels they were talking about.

 

When battle started, Kevin Bray hollered out, “Watch out for Fluegel, he’s eyeing the Arizona.”

 

Fluegel can then be heard in the background muttering, “It’s a vicious rumor.”

 

Almost immediately, Ted told Charley that Gerald’s Nagato called five immediately, and the Stevens brothers’ NCs soon departed in pursuit.

 

The camera cuts for a bit, coming back on the Des Moines collecting shots from the Strasbourg and Bismarck.  Then it swung back quickly to catch Gerald’s Nagato turning into the NC and nearly getting rolled.  Gerald called ram in case of a sink, much to Ted Brogden’s loudly vocalized chagrin, as the Nagato’s stern was sliding under, but the Nagato eased off the throttle, straightened up and then continued sailing.  She headed for the large cluster of ships, hoping to lose herself in the crowd.  It worked, the NCs pulled up and started stern gunning another tempting target, Tim Krakowski’s Fuso.

 

The Allies were trying to hold their own and still protect Mike Melton’s Arizona, which was pumping hard.  <Melton_M_053>  Don Cole, who could be heard all week working with Rick King, was directing both ships and his own now.  The Arizona ran to get under his wing, followed by Fluegel’s Baden sailing very straight and purposeful in reverse.  It was no good, the Arizona nudged the shore and sank, rolling to starboard. <Bruder_292>

 

After the fighting resumed, the melee moved down to Cattail Cove, where there was a chain reaction ram, VDT to NC to Fuso, with all the last two calling ram and coming in to check.  The action continued here for several minutes, with fast boats mixing with slow boats and everyone firing for a few shots before the target disappeared.  <Melton_M_056, Melton_M_059, Bruder_294>  Then Fluegel called five.  His Baden was sitting in the middle of the melee, and Kevin Bray hollered, “Fluegel’s pump is not working!”

 

Normally that kind of a call brings sharks like blood in the water.  However, the Allies had trouble disengaging and swarming the new target.  The Baden’s props still worked, and she backed away from an approaching NC.

 

“Can I get some help here, or should I declare?” called Fluegel.

 

“Just let it go down,” said Jeff Lide, Axis Admiral. 

 

The Axis closed ranks now, Lief’s VDT driving off a NC <Bruder_295, Melton_M_060>, and then the Bismarck, a Nagato, and the Strasbourg kept her from coming back.  <Melton_M_061>  But most had heard the Admiral’s command.  Still, a NC and Don Cole came in for more tries, Don’s Alabama getting punished by some Nagato sidemounts for his efforts.  Just after the Alabama coasted past <Roberts_003>, the Baden’s bow went under, the ship rolled to starboard <Bruder_296, Roberts_004>.  Before she had time to settle Fluegel already had a foot in the water and was recovering her.

 

When the battle resumed, a call went up, “Hey cruiser, I’m on your side!”  Dallas Fluegel was sitting next to the Strasbourg and the Karlsruhe was happily firing away.  I’ve heard his father likes to shoot the French ships no matter what side they are on.

 

Chris Pearce’s Nagato and the Bismarck next took a long run at the Maryland, driving her up the shore along the Right Bend.  Out in front of them, running away madly, was the Fuso, probably running out her five.  The ships were getting further and further away, and finally the two Axis broke off their attack.

 

In shore, the Alabama was tangling with Steve Crane’s Nagato and Lou Meszaro’s VV.  Lou got his elevating stern guns in range, and fired off about a dozen triples into the Alabama’s bow.  <Melton_M_063>

 

The salvo brought several exclamations.   Cooter!” drawled Jeff Lide.  “You’re da man, Cooter!”

 

“Yes,” said Lou calmly but with a hint of pride, “Yes I am.”

 

Now the Alabama called five, and as she headed for deep water she picked up a four ship Axis escort.  But then Don called a ram, and had to sail her all the way back in again <Bruder_297> to check her hull.  The Alabama was getting low in the water as she approached shore.  <Bruder_298>

 

The camera cuts, and the next shot is Lief’s VDT, pumping hard and decks nearly awash.  “Come on VDT,” a spectator called, but the ship got lower and lower until the starboard gunwale was awash, and Lief stepped in and plucked her out. <Bruder_299>

 

The Alabama was back out on the water, and the wolves were circling.  The Alabama ran down the left side of the Left Bend, down into Handicapped Cove.  The only Allied ship there to help was the Des Moines, who picked on the edges.  Meanwhile, Don was down to thirty seconds left, and folks were yelling at him, “Don’t move!”

 

The Alabama’s pump is aimed to squirt straight behind her, and she was pumping furiously.  “That’s the pump moving her,” called Don in response.  <Melton_M_065>

 

There weren’t many folks with BBs left, so the big ships were trying to prop wash the Alabama.  The Karlsruhe came out of nowhere.  “Hey, Dallas, you got any bbs left?” called D.W.

 

“Yes, but folks are blocking me,” the youngster called back.

 

“Well, you’re on the wrong side anyhow,” said his father.  The Alabama swung around slowly, however, and the light cruiser backed in to try some sterns.  The Axis called for him to ‘back off’ but the Karlsruhe’s stern gun hit the big ship once, just before her stern tapped the side of the bigger ship, and a second later the big ship rolled slightly to port and went down.  <Melton_M_066, Roberts_005>

 

“Ram,” murmured some of the Allies wistfully.  Others just groaned.  The tape ends here, but I’m guessing, as there was no penalty points given to the youngster, that Don did the right thing and waved it off. 

 

 

     Axis A beat the Allied B fleet  by a score of 17,620 to 10,575.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Bob Hoernemann  (sunk)                       3160                 71-6-28

     Mike Melton (sunk)                               3010                 51-12-26

     Don Cole (sunk)                                    2910                 106-8-13

     Charley Stephens                                  2475                 95-7-27

     Ron Horbul (sunk)                                 1840                 49-6-8

 

     Lief Goodson (sunk)                              1825                 25-7-12

     Tim Beckett                                          1540                 64-10-13

     Gerald Roberts                                      1410                 61-8-12

     D.W. Fluegel (sunk)                              1315                 24-3-2

     Chris Au                                               1220                 57-8-9

 

 

Fleet Battle Two, Monday Afternoon:

 

The noon hour brought a stand-down.  It was a ‘fend for yourself’ week for lunch, and some of the folks ran off to get some food.  I had a package of PopTarts, and munched on those.  Lou, as usual, brought a big bag of snacks and was offering them around.

 

Meanwhile we relaxed and patched.  Bob and Ron and I bemoaned the fact that we’d all sunk in the first sortie.  Even Swampy, the honorary Minnesotan, had done the same.  “At least Ted is upholding the honor of the British Fleet,” said Bob.

 

When I went over to get my CO2 refilled, Fluegel, who had very nicely given me a ‘happy birthday salute’ on Sunday, noticed that I was once again wearing the “It’s my Birthday!” button. 

 

“Hey, you can’t have two birthdays!” he protested.

 

“You’re right, but coming to Nats is like getting a birthday present,” I said, to which he readily agreed.  “And besides, I’m really a New Year’s Eve baby,” I said.

 

Allied A vs. Axis A, first sortie:

 

The winners of the morning, both unaware of that fact, although the Axis probably could have guessed, faced off against each other first.  The Allies were at full strength, but the scoresheet has the Axis going without the Fluegels.

 

The battle started off the center of Left Bend, with the Allied slow boats clustered in towards shore, and the Axis wolves pecking on their borders.  <Bruder_102>  A Nagato shot through the center and the West Virginia picked her up and drove her off.  Kevin called for me to follow him.  It was just he and I this battle, Patrick had been told by Charley to team with Ted Brogden and Doug Hunt, as Dave Au’s QE was on the bench, and Dave was driving his cruiser.

 

This battle seemed to start with a long series of quick exchanges, with no long running chases for the video to center on.  Bob the cameraman, kept the camera jumping here and there as series of triples could be heard, but rarely caught the action as the ships broke away.  Towards the end of the sortie, however, the quick exchanges would change into prolonged chases.

 

The camera cut, and came back to the West Virginia playing with a Nagato, when Tom Brown’s Houston came running in from the side, listing and pumping.  <Melton_M_067>  Oh, I’m going down,” Tom said.  His ship was sailing in a circle and she bumped momentarily against the side of the Nagato, then spun off and sank by the stern.  <Melton_M_068>  He hadn’t taken any damage and so it was an unseaworthy sink.  I think I heard he had a weight shift, and a leaky deck seal, which caused the sink.

 

When the battle resumed, the Bismarck and a Nagato raced twenty yards from the left to the right to catch Doug Hunt’s West Virginia.  The WeeVee spun back to the left, <Melton_M_069> and then backed out and away, and escaped. 

 

In the background Lief called out, “That’s me behind you Steve.  I’m a good guy, not a bad guy.”  Kind of late for introductions, but Lief as CD, can be given some slack in this case I think.

 

After having the WeeVee escape, the Bismarck and two Nagatos now found they had the Valiant surrounded.  <Melton_M_070>  Once again, the target escaped by backing free.  <Melton_M_071>

 

In the meantime, more Axis ships had come in from the left, like the Strasbourg and the VV.  Bellerophon found herself tangling stern to stern with the Fuso.  I would have liked to have stayed and played, but the VDT backed in and grabbed my attention.  After eating some sterns, the Bell backed free and found both the VDT and Fuso coming back for more.  I took off to the right in search of friends, as the battle was drifting towards Cattail Cove.  I soon found the Massachusetts and together we briefly had the Fuso sandwiched but the Bell didn’t keep up and she broke free. <Melton_M_072>

 

Meanwhile Lief’s VDT was now playing with Patrick’s Invincible.  <Melton_M_073>  A Nagato and the VV came to help, and then a pop was heard and CO2 started venting.  It was coming from Gerald’s Nagato.  He called five and moved away.  No Allied ship took up the chase.

 

Patrick’s Invincible and Ted’s Valiant were staying fairly close, <Melton_M_075> and the West Virginia seemed the third man out.  But she was tangling with a Nagato and just as her teammates finally found her, she was listing to port and pumping hard.  Sailing in a circle she bumped into the bow of her attacker <Melton_M_076> and then bobbed away with an increasing list as the Nagato backed away from a possible ram sink.  The WeeVee’s port stern went under and her sharp bow rose in the air and then disappeared.  <Melton_M_077>  At some point, Ted’s Valiant got stung and was close to sinking, <Melton_M_081>, but managed to survive the sortie.

 

When battle resumed, the Axis drove the Allies back deeper into Cattail Cove, backing in with their stern guns ready to bark.  It was too hot for the Bellerophon and she squirted out of the melee like a wet watermelon seed pinched between two fingers.  The Valiant and the Massachusetts were in their element however, and mixed it up with the bigger fast boats.  <Melton_M_078, Melton_M_080>  Lief’s VDT was made for this kind of battling, and was everywhere too.  The Allied NCs were fighting on the outer edges, <Roberts_002>  trying to use their triple sterns to their best advantage.  Matt Clarke’s cruiser even came in on the fringes, running under the guns of a Nagato and the VDT before breaking back out to open waters.

 

The camera cuts again, and then comes back on the Bellerophon, being pursued by the VDT while the Massachusetts tries to help.  <Melton_M_079>  In a comical maneuver, the Bell rammed into the side of a Nagato with her bow, then backed up and rammed the Massachusetts stern to stern, and then bounced back forward into the side of the Nagato again.  The Bell spun off the side of the Nagato, <Bruder_107> taking a few sidemounts, then momentarily free, she was picked up almost immediately by a hungry Bismarck.  <Bruder_110, Bruder_111>  Pumping hard by this time I decided it was best to call five, as the ship was pumping steadily.  The Axis were sensing blood, and every spin away from one big ship brought the Bell into the path of another.  The VV got off a couple triple sterns in her direction next and then the VDT picked her up again.  <Bruder_112, Bruder_113>  The Bell ran for the far reaches of the Cove <Bruder_114>, stopping just short of the cattails.  The pursuing VDT’s captain is heard to say, “I will relentlessly pursue you.”  His ship drifted into the cattails, and he muttered again, “Well, I’m going on five.”  But then the VDT backed up and turned around.  “But I will still relentlessly pursue you,” Lief added.

 

The Bell had a brief respite, backing slowly away from the cattails, but then the hounds were on her again.  Pearce and Beckett had come.  <Bruder_115>  Let me have the outside, the outside, the outside,” Lief’s instructions tailed away as the Bell backed up along the shore of the Right Bend.  <Bruder_116>  Then with a feint, she hit forward and passed her pursuers and cleared them as she headed back towards the cattails.

 

The camera now swung away.  Grossaint’s NC had gotten caught in a sandwich of three Allied ships and one Axis, <Melton_M_082> and took a beating for it.  The Bismarck moved off, leaving the NC, Massachusetts and Invincible.  In the background Chris Pearce starts to say, “Careful, Lief, careful, careful.”

 

In so doing, the camera missed the ram sink of the Bell, just catching the end as several captains were groaning, and Lief himself said, “Call it, call it, call it.”  I called ram as the ship’s bow disappeared.  The ram had come from a strange combination of the Bell turning away from Pearce’s Nagato into the side of VDT.  The Nagato had tried to turn away to avoid the ram but her stern had refused to slide over due to catching the stern of the VDT.  As a result the Nagato’s bow caught the water-heavy Bellerophon’s stern and tipped her towards her starboard side and the ship just rolled over.  <Bruder_118>

 

Immediately Lief said to Chris, “When you said ‘careful’ to me, I was backing as hard as I could.”  It was an accident, free and clear.

 

I’d sunk with about 3:30 left on my timer.  The ram sink rules did not come quickly to mind, and so I just let the ship sit on the bottom, taking my time as I walked over to the shore on the Right Bend, and then emptied my pockets.  The battling continued with Grossaint’s NC now getting some heavy attention.  The Massachusetts was trying to help.

 

About this time, a loud call is heard, “Dallas Fluegel is off five!”  (Another note to the scorekeeper.  Dallas is scored with the Axis B fleet.)

 

Grossaint’s NC was now eating some Bismarck haymakers, and Pearce’s Nagato came to get some too.  Instead, the NC spun her stern over and caught the Nagato’s bow.  <Melton_M_084>  The sterns fired away.  In a short but very effective exchange, the NC opened up huge holes in Pearce’s bow.  “YAH!  Beautiful!” Charley Stephens was yelling.  Others were too.

 

While the NC kept up her lonely fight with Beckett and Pearce, folks started calling to me.  “Lars, you can go get it any time,” called Tony Stevens.

 

“Lars, look out, there’s a big stump right about where you sank,” called Kevin Hovis.

 

With all the attention, I decided to go get my ship.  Firing the guns again brought a bubble to the surface, <Bruder_122>  and I found her with no trouble.  She came up with the pump still running, and immediately a big stream came out when it broke the surface.  <Melton_M_085>  I almost squirted my own radio with the Bell’s pump stream as I waded back to shore.  <Melton_M_086>

 

The Beckett-Pearce-Grossaint battle continued when battle resumed.  <Melton_M_087, Melton_M_088>  The Nagato was kicking out a healthy pump stream, but the NC was pumping only sporadically.

 

A healthy string of shots was now heard, and the camera caught the tail end of Lou’s VV getting pummeled by the twin sterns on Matt Clarke’s Houston. 

 

When the camera swung back, Grossaint had been rejoined by his wingman, Jim Coler.  Jim tried to continue the work on Pearce’s bow, <Melton_M_089> but his turn to fire sterns took him the wrong way as Grossaint headed back down to the cattails.  <Melton_M_090>

 

While Grossaint tries to avoid the Bismarck and Nagato down there, I can see the Bellerophon back out on the water, emptying her guns.  After I had recovered her and dumped the water, I’d noticed that my timer was still running and had a 1:30 to go.  So I put her back out there and waited for my time to expire.  I don’t know why I did that, I still hadn’t thought about the ram sink rules.  It just seemed like that was what I should do.  No one bothered her, as there were tastier targets to be found.

 

After a brief exchange down in the cove, Grossaint now took his NC for a run back along the shore of the Right Bend, pursued by Beckett, Pearce and Coler.  Lou’s VV looked interested in picking up the chase too.  Way out there, the Wisconsin can be seen, playing with the Strasbourg. 

 

The camera cuts, and back in shore, the Invincible was being tag teamed by Steve Crane’s Nagato and Lou’s VV, but looked to be holding her own.  Kevin’s Massachusetts was there too but must’ve been out of ammo.  <Bruder_136, Bruder_139, Bruder_140>

 

The camera cuts again, and from the angle, Bob the cameraman had run over to the Right Bend.  Grossaint’s NC was pumping very hard.  “Get out of there,” hollered Coler, as Chris was taking hits.  <Melton_M_092, Melton_M_093>

 

The talk on shore was about the huge holes in Pearce’s bow, plainly visible from shore.  But the NC was getting low in the water now, and target area was disappearing.  Pearce moved in to prop wash now.  The Wisconsin appeared, wanting to help, but couldn’t seem to decide on who to shoot at, Pearce or Chris Au’s Strasbourg.  <Melton_M_094>  Coler’s NC was holding off the Bismarck on the far side. 

 

Barely moving, driven only by her pump stream, the NC’s bow slowly dipped under.  “There she goes,” muttered Bob H. softly.  As her bow sank, it pulled the NC slowly forward, then accelerating slightly as she went down.  <Melton_M_095>  But then the bow struck bottom and she stopped abruptly, her stern hanging for a brief second, <Roberts_001> and then falling back and under like a door swinging closed.

 

As Grossaint was recovering his ship, Pearce called from shore.  “Hey Chris, by the way, good work on my bow.”  <Melton_M_096, Melton_M_097>

 

That was the end of the major action, as the ammo was pretty much exhausted by then.

 

 

After the sortie, I got to talking with Chris Pearce and Lief about my ram sink.  Chris wanted to make it clear that he was going to take the ram sink penalty.

 

“I forgot you were supposed to pull your ship off the water,” I said to Pearce, the thought just hitting me then.  Lief and Chris looked at each other, apparently they’d both forgotten that rule as well.  “But then I didn’t go right in and get her for a full two minutes,” I continued.  “It kind of bothered me but I didn’t know why, so I threw her back on the water after I’d dumped it out, and at that point you were legal again,” I said.

 

“Yeah, sounds fair for now,” said Lief, somewhat chagrined.  I guess even the old hands like us can forget a rule or two.  Either that or we’re all going slowly senile.  Or maybe it was the sun….

 

 

 

Allied B vs. Axis B, first sortie:

 

About this time, James Foster showed up with his daughter and her boyfriend.  A long time battler, now retired, he had driven over from Springfield to visit with old friends.  Several folks tried to offer him a ship, but he wouldn’t have it.

 

There was eleven Allied boats facing 12 Axis in this battle.  Fluegel’s Baden, for whatever reason, was transferred to the other fleet.

 

During the countdown to the fight, the shoreline chatter was going big time.  “Hey Kevin,” said Brogden to Kevin Bray.  “Look sideways so I can see through your ears.”  The chatter was needed because all week long every sortie started with at least one admiral calling a delay, and usually both.  So folks were a little anxious by the time a battle actually began.

 

This sortie started with a Mexican Standoff right off the center of Left Bend.  The Allied ships were on the right backing in with their sterns, and the Axis on the left doing the same.  It is a strange dance, watching ships back here and there, looking for a quick shot, then darting away.

 

“Fluegel, don’t be the only one,” cautioned Lief, as the Baden backed in alone, closer to shore than the rest of the Axis.

 

“Don’t tell me I’m the only one,” said Fluegel.

 

“Get him Fluegel, you’ve got them surrounded,” laughed Brogden.

 

“I have them cornered,” corrected Fluegel.

 

After a time, the line started to break, especially further out on the pond.  <Melton_M_108>  The Missouri circled through the melee, trying to sidemount an opponent.  Randy’s VDT appeared alongside the Baden, with the Pirate Smurf back at his position on the stern deck.  The Missouri got a string of triples off in the close proximity of a VV. 

 

The standoff was now down to the two NCs of the Stevens brothers, and the Arizona, facing the Baden, two VDTs, and a Nagato.  The rest of the battlers were moving off away from the camera. 

 

A chatter of shots off to the left brought the camera around, onto the Lion, the Minneapolis, and the Brooklyn.  “Hey, Swampy’s still in the fight!” cheered Brogden.  <Melton_M_101>

 

After a move up the shoreline, the camera next catches the Arizona caught next to shore by Jeff Lide’s Kirishima.  “Ow, Ow!” cried someone, probably Mike Melton’s brother, Tom.  The Warspite backed in to shoot sterns at the Kirishima, but was then swarmed by four other Axis boats, and moved off.  <Melton_M_105>  The Arizona and Kirishima went left along the shoreline, firing away, <Melton_M_102, Melton_M_103, Melton_M_104>  out of sight behind the still standing grass.

 

Out in deeper waters, the Lion and the two cruisers had found a VV and were trying to peck it to death.

 

The Arizona returned, still chased by the Kirishima.  A NC and Finster’s Nagato tried to join the battle, and the Nagato’s sharp stern ended up putting a ram hole in the Arizona’s port bow when she backed in for a shot.  Both ships came to shore, one to patch, the other to wait as per rule for Mike’s repairs to complete.

 

Charley’s NC now found itself with it’s stern about 10 feet away from the bow of Jake Bruder’s VDT.  About a dozen triples rang out, striking the smaller German battlecruiser.  The VDT soon left the area, looking for friends.  Others moved in to pick on him, like Don Cole’s Alabama, while a VV and Randy’s VDT tried to screen.  Sidemounts were flying between the Alabama and Jake’s ship, and both seemed to be taking steady damage.  As the frenzy continued, the two NCs came in to pick up the VDT when the Alabama had to break off under assault by the Kirishima’s double stern guns.

 

Jake’s ship was now listing slightly, and after spinning away from the NC’s she cut throttle and coasted.  Randy’s VDT came in behind her, and Jake’s ship, like a wounded beast, started firing sidemounts to keep her clear as she passed.  The for some reason, the ship started to move again, maybe to come in towards shore, but as she turned slightly to port her starboard side rolled under.  Jake hit reverse to try to bring her back, but it only seemed to pull her under the waves.  <Melton_M_110>

 

After the ship recovery, Bray called out that John Bruder’s Italia was at half speed.  The ship drove right past the camera, growling menacingly.  It sounded  as if a gear was going to pieces.  Other folks speculated that she had lost a prop.  Whatever the case, the tag team of the Alabama and the Maryland moved off in pursuit.  <Melton_M_112>  When a big fast boat loses that speed, it’s time for the slow boats to feed.  The Italia ran down towards Handicapped Cove, then turned and started to run up along the far shore towards the speed trials area.  Then the camera cut away.

 

Next was a minor furball centered around the slow movements of the Arizona.  The Kirishima, two NCs, and the VDT were taking turns attacking while the Arizona and a NC tried to defend.  The Alabama came along to help too, just missing a block on a fast rushing Kirishima in reverse.  The Kirishima was taking water over the stern, the water breaking off the stern turret, and no doubt taking water up the barrels.  She paused once, to break the wave, then hit reverse again to continue pursuit.

 

She dropped pursuit however, to come back and play with the Alabama.  She fired off a couple sterns, then swung  to bring her sidemount to bear.  After a bit of jockeying in which the Alabama came alongside for her own sidemounts, the Kirishima’s gun came on target first and Jeff started firing away.  However, there were no sounds of shots hitting home, just the gassy puffs of empty barrels.  “I hear’d that Jeff, I hear’d that,” laughed Don.

 

The Kirishima drove away.  “Five minutes,” said Jeff emotionlessly.

 

The camera cuts next to the center of Left Bend.  The Des Moines is firing triples at Finster’s Nagato, which is itself wailing away on the long hull of the Missouri.  The Minneapolis (yeah Swampy!) and the Warspite are chasing the VV.

 

“Stay there, Kev,” called Mike Melton.  “I’ll bring him to you.”  The Arizona circled around the Missouri’s stern with a Nagato in pursuit.  The Warspite came out to help, and the Warspite and Nagato bumped sterns once.  “Take that, Finster,” called Bob.

 

Then Finster tried to back the Nagato down to catch the Arizona, but the Missouri got alongside and hit home with several double sidemounts.  The Warspite came back, and the Nagato was caught between the two ships.  Sidemounts were hitting until Kevin yelled, “Oh I’m out of ammo.”  The Nagato sped off, with the Missouri sailing alongside in reverse <Roberts_008>, while the slower Warspite trailed behind.  Then the camera cut due to spectator interference. 

 

Randy’s VDT and the Italia then sailed past, while someone asked, “What about Bob?”

 

“WHAT ABOUT BOB,” responded Bob.

 

Sailing behind them were the two NCs, the Alabama and the Maryland, working on Mike Tanzillo’s Nagato.  <Melton_M_99>  The Nagato stopped and headed back towards Handicapped Cove.  As Mike is listed as having sunk in this sortie, and there is no more footage of his ship, I can only assume that the four Allied ships did manage to finish him off.  <Melton_M_113, Melton_M_114, Melton_M_115>

 

The camera stayed pretty much on the Warspite from here on.  Steve Reynolds’s Moltke approached her from the wrong side and got caught by the Warspite’s haymaker.  After taking about a dozen shots, the Moltke backed off.  “You showed him,” said a spectator, getting a laugh.  The Moltke wasn’t done however, and managed to get on the Warspite’s starboard side where the Moltke’s haymaker could now hit home.

 

The Moltke then circled around, and the two ships came to dance with both their haymakers facing off directly.  The Warspite’s pump stream was coming hard, and the stream continually struck the Moltke’s funnel which diffused the spray into a nice sprinkler effect.

 

The Warspite suddenly broke away, and raced up alongside the VV.  “OHHH!” groaned Bob, as the VV’s five minute timer sounded just as the Warspite was going to open fire.

 

The Moltke next went on five out of control.  “Hey HOVIS!,” shouted Bob in a call for help, and sent the Warspite in pursuit. 

 

“I’m just getting a bit freaked out by that rotating bear’s head,” murmured Lou Meszaros as he slowly followed the action up the shoreline. 

 

Kinda has that ol’ exorcist thing going, don’t it,” laughed Patrick Clarke, walking along with him.

 

“Absolutely, it’s demonic in nature,” agreed Lou.

 

The Warspite and Missouri chased the Moltke, until the Baden reappeared and distracted the Warspite.  The Baden drove the Warspite back across the Left Bend to the left side, where Tom Melton’s Nagato still had some BBs left.  The Warspite turned around and raced back across the Left Bend and up along the Right Bend nearly to the bridge.  Then she circled around, never using reverse, and came back nearly to Handicapped Cove when her five finally expired.

 

 

Allied A vs. Axis A, second sortie:

 

This sortie, the last of the day, started off lazily.  Dave Au’s Iszuzu, a Jap light cruiser but fighting on the Allied side due to the temporary loss of the QE, was playfully teasing Lou’s VV by backing up to it while Dave yelled, “Bam! Bam!”  A nice little tap of the stern against the VV’s side was another bam.  <Bruder_178>

 

Five, … Two, One!” yelled Lief.  Battle!”  Then after a short pause, in a much quieter voice, he added, “Where’s Lars?”

 

The Bellerophon, during her trials in the first sortie, had taken a large, nearly dime sized hole just under her forward turret.  Fortunately it was a half inch above the waterline, but the sight of the thing didn’t leave me with the desire to run in circles.  Instead, I planned to make as little movements as possible and let the wolves come to me.  I had a full load of bbs and planned to use them, however.  I launched in the center portion of the Left Bend, while most of the rest had launched down closer to Cattail Cove.  <Bruder_179>

 

There was no rushing to start this sortie.  Most ships remained sitting after the call for battle was made.  Sporadic firing wafted over the water.  <Bruder_180> Pearce’s Nagato, sporting a clown’s head on top of the rear funnel, drew some attention.  The light cruisers of Dallas Fluegel and Dave Au seemed to be the most aggressive.  Folks explained to Dallas that the ‘little three stacker’ was on the Allied side, and that it was, in the words of his father., ‘kind of your own flavor.’

 

The camera cuts, and comes back to the Bellerophon, sitting still and pumping.  Lou’s VV tried to line up her sterns, but the Bell backed away a few feet, spoiling the aim.  “Hey, Hey, Hey Dallas!” called Tim Krakowski.  Evidently the Fuso took a little friendly fire.

 

“Hey Lou, Bang!” yelled Dave Au to the VV’s captain.  Then his Iszuzu backed in and fired for real.

 

“What is that, a gentleman thing?” asked Kevin Bray.

 

The VV backed in towards the Bell again, but Kevin’s Massachusetts with her triple sterns scared her off.  The two big ships went into a stern to stern face off.   Meanwhile, the Karlsruhe tried to back in along shore and catch the Bell sleeping.  With a rush, the Bell accelerated and slid up alongside the light cruiser, in perfect position to sidemount the small ship.  “Way to go Larry!” yelled Ron, running the camera.  The Bell got off two shots before the cruiser zipped away.  Bellerophon chased briefly, but a quick brush with Pearce’s Nagato reminded me of her damage, and I let her stop and sit.

 

Steve Crane now came to play, along with Lief’s VDT, but the Massachusetts picked up the second ship.  Gerald Robert’s Nagato joined the fray, and the two Nagato’s moved to attack the Massachusetts instead.  <Melton_M_117>  Meanwhile the Bellerophon’s pump stopped it’s steady flow.  A toggle of the throttle gave no response.

 

“Bellerophon Five out of Control,” I said with a tired voice.  <Bruder_181>  At that point the camera cuts off.  Ron must’ve been trying to save me from re-living the anguish.

 

I was somewhat anguished.  The only feeling worse than having a ship dead in the water is not having your ship ready to go at all.  And a sink after a hard fight is far easier to live with than a ‘gimme’ to the enemy.  The ship slowly got lower, taking fire from the nearby Axis, but they kept some distance, not wanting another ram sink.  Once the ship got low enough for the water to reach the dime sized hole, it didn’t take long for the sink to follow.

 

“Bonzai,” said Lief, in a half-hearted tone of voice, as if he was already thinking of another target but couldn’t bring his mind to focus on it.  A couple of other half-hearted ‘Bonzai’s’ rang out.

 

“Oh, COME ON!” I said.  My pride was somewhat damaged but the Bell had given a decent effort in the first sortie.  “You can do better than that.  BONZAI!” I called out. 

 

The Axis started to laugh, and responded with a far healthier ‘BONZAI!’  “Give him another one,” said Fluegel, and another Bonzai rang out.  “He deserved it,” said D.W.

 

As I recall, I went in rather quickly to recover the ship.  Steve Crane’s Nagato was sitting directly in my path, not far from the sunken ship.  I could see the smoky outlines of her gray masts in the cloudy water.  “Steve, move your ship please,” I asked.  I expected the Nagato to sail in the direction she was pointed, which would have cleared her nicely, but Steve swung her to port and sailed right over her.  I winced, expecting to hear the Nagato’s props chewing the Bell’s masts to bits, but she must’ve sailed directly between the twin masts as I did not hear a thing and they came up intact.

 

The battle lazily continued.  The Valiant sailed away from the pack, with the Invincible following for a bit.  “Patrick, you have a Nagato backing down on you,” warned Ted.  The Nagato fired four long distance twin sterns at the I-boat, which moved off.  “That’s what I was trying to tell you,” said Ted.  Patrick then found himself in the center of the VDT, Fuso and VV, and the I-boat raced away.

 

Out in fast boat land, the Bismarck could be seen chasing Jim Coler’s NC <Melton_M_118, Melton_M_120, Bruder_183>, and the Wisconsin was not far away, being chased by the Strasbourg.

 

Then the camera came back in, where the Valiant and the Invincible where taking on about five Axis boats <Bruder_184>.  Valiant took a ram from the VV.  <Bruder_185, Melton_M_119>  Kevin, come out and play,” hollered Lief at Kevin Bray, perhaps feeling the need for more targets while Ted checked his boat.  The Valiant was soon back, taking haymakers from Pearce’s ship.  <Melton_M_121>  The Invincible, chased herself by the Fuso, came in and chased away Pearce.  Pearce returned quickly, her stern now on the other side where the haymaker could score, and made Patrick pay for his insolence.

 

“What’s the matter Lief,” called out Ted in the background.

 

“You told me you were over here,” said Lief.

 

“Can’t you see me, I stand out like a big neon sign,” called Ted in response.

 

Meanwhile, Pearce’s Nagato continued to score on the Invincible, which was trying to chase but soon learned that the back end of the big ship was a nasty place to be.  But Gerald’s Nagato was trailing in pursuit, and there wasn’t too many options open for the I-boat other than to peel off.

 

The camera cuts next to Matt Clarke’s Houston sailing alongside Steve Crane’s Nagato, taking sidemounts.  The Houston was ahead of the big ship, but her rear turret was right under the Nagato’s bow gun.  The Houston tried to pull away in forward, but seemed stuck to the bigger ship.  After a few moments, the Houston reversed, the light ship backing easily away from the bigger ship.  “You needed that reverse right there,” said Fluegel to the young Allied captain.

 

“Yah,” said Matt.  “I know.”

 

Steve’s Nagato came charging back and swung in front of the Valiant, which was engaged with the VDT.  “Ah, I’ll check that,” said Steve.  The Valiant didn’t hesitate, but headed directly to shore in the correct assumption that there was ram damage.

 

By this time, Jim Coler’s NC was on five, after tangling with the Bismarck for most of the sortie. <Bruder_186>  The Wisconsin was being pursued around the pond by the Strasbourg.  The Invincible, had played too long with Pearce’s Nagato <Melton_M_124, Melton_M_126>, and was getting low in the water, <Bruder_187> and somehow Patrick escaped to Right Bend without being pursued, but it didn’t help, the ship soon sank.  The Axis were ignoring the Houston except when she got in the way of a shot.  With the Valiant on shore, that left the Massachusetts to take on about five ships.

 

The camera cuts, resuming on the Massachusetts coming in to play, with the Bismarck joining the pursuit.  “Does Kevin have guns?” asked Tim in a loud voice.  <Melton_M_130, Bruder_198>  I didn’t hear an answer, but I didn’t see the Massachusetts fire either.  The VDT caught the Massachusetts with a few haymakers.  “Thank you Kevin,” murmured Lief.  “It was worth the wait.”  <Bruder_189>

 

The Massachusetts barreled around the pond like an old cow chased by a pack of nipping terriers.  The bites being inflicted weren’t highly damaging, but the frequency of them got her moving this way and that, without real regard for where she was going.  Whenever the Massachusetts managed to break away for a moment, one of the fast boats, like the Strasbourg, or a Nagato <Melton_M_129>, outran her and got in front and forced her around back towards the pack. <Bruder_190> 

 

 “OH NO!” yells Lief in the background.  Then in a more resigned voice he added, “von der Tann on five.”  As he can be seen on the video looking in a direction other than the Massachusetts, I can only assume that he’d been waiting patiently for the Valiant to return, when Steve’s Nagato repaired her ram damage.  Now that she was back, he’d had little or no ammo left to give her.

 

With the Massachusetts facing four to six ships at a time <Melton_M_131>, it seemed like one Axis got a good setup every ten seconds of so <Melton_M_133>.  Lou’s VV <Melton_M_128> fired several sterns into her bow.  The Bismarck’s haymaker got plenty of shots.  The Nagatos’ took their turns.  Still the big blue ship kept sailing.  On a run up the Right Bend, the Massachusetts passed a hard-pumping Valiant.  The pump stream squirting high in the air was like waving a perfumed handkerchief in front of sailors just going on leave.  The Massachusetts was quickly forgotten by all except the von der Tann, which was on five anyway.

 

The Valiant’s death throes was an odd spectacle.  The Axis ships were all gathered around, but the target was in such delicate shape that the slightest nudge may have sent her to the bottom <Bruder_193>.  Not wanting a ram sink, the Axis ships just kept station alongside <Bruder_194>, as if in salute of an honored enemy that could do no more harm.  Or else they were standing by to take on survivors.  On shore, her captain, Ted, could be heard laughing along with the rest of the spectators.

 

Finally, she went down on her pump side, no doubt the strong stream tipped it just enough to roll it to starboard <Melton_M_135>.  She rolled onto her beam ends <Bruder_196>, hung there for a moment, and then went down by the stern <Melton_M_136>, to a chorus of cheers.

 

With the Valiant’s demise, the Massachusetts was soon under the guns again, on the far right of the Right Bend.  Amazingly, it looked like the Allied ship still had sidemounts left, and managed to score several good shots on the Strasbourg, but there was no protests heard from shore, and careful slow motion review of the video showed that they were in fact coming from the Strasbourg.  After the Strasbourg slid past, the Bismarck returned for a final flurry of shots <Bruder_198>, but then Kevin called out, “Off Five!” and then reached out and touched his ship.  Then he drove it back slowly to the point closest to his work bench.

 

 

     Axis A beat the Allied A fleet  by a score of 19,530 to 8,165.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Patrick Clarke (sunk)                             4160                 61-12-49

     Kevin Bray                                           3420                 82-10-47

     Ted Brogden (sunk)                               2825                 60-5-24

     Chris Grossaint (sunk)                           2235                 26-3-18

     Lars (sunk)                                           1960                 16-4-18

 

     Lou Meszaros                                       2300                 85-10-24

     Tim Beckett                                          1885                 31-11-26

     Chris Au                                               1365                 24-11-17

     Chris Pearce                                         895                   57-3-5

     Tim Krakowski                                     660                   26-2-7

 

 

Allied B vs. Axis B, second sortie:

 

The tape for this battle starts with the battle in progress.  Like the previous sortie, it starts with a relaxed atmosphere.  Ships were spread out here and there, and moving with no great sense of urgency, and firing sporadically.  <Melton_M_138>  Then a whoop is heard, far to the right.  The camera flips over to see the triangular shape of a ship’s bow disappearing, far over on the Right Bend.

 

“HEY, I SUNK A SHIP!” hollered out Kevin Hovis.  The sunken ship was Bryan Finster’s Nagato.  Later Kevin would say,  I didn’t sink him with gunfire, but he’d been chasing me all during the first sortie and came back for the second, and was so intent he forgot to turn on his pump.  So in a way it was me who made him sink, and that felt pretty good.”

 

As for Bryan, he’d been driving around before the sortie started, and his first clue that something was wrong was ‘the sound of a haymaker firing under water’.  His Admiral Jeff Lide later ordered him to secure a rubber band to his transmitter such that held his pump switch in the on position.  Only when Bryan held it would it stay in the off position.  And as the Axis Admiral was known for “zonin’ in on a target” and becoming an easy sink, having done once in each of the last two Nats, he too installed the device and used it.

 

The bulk of the action, still fairly spread out, was taking place of the left side of the Left Bend.  On the right side of Left Bend, the Missouri was taking sidemounts from the Tirpitz for a short spell, before the Tirpitz dropped back for a breather.

 

Back in the big group, the spread out melee continued.  For a time it seemed like the twin NCs were holding the center <Roberts_011> and driving everyone else wide <Roberts_012>.  In the middle of the battle, someone yelled out, “Hey, is that a SMURF on that ship?”  <Roberts_010>

 

While the battle moved slowly deeper and deeper towards Handicapped Cove, the Warspite was off in Cattail Cove, tangling with the VV and Italia.  The two bigger ships were doing a good job of keeping the slower ship between their guns.

 

The Alabama and the Maryland came out further towards the central area, to be met by the Kirishima and Tirpitz, both Axis ships spitting out twin sterns in defiance.  Then a cry came from Cattail Cove.  John and Josh Bruder were congratulating themselves, as the Warspite had gone down.  The Warspite’s pump was still running when Bob brought her up.

 

Back in Handicapped Cove, the Lion and Des Moines were taking shots from the Kirishima and others.  The Arizona had some ship pinned down deep in the cove <Melton_M_139, Melton_M_143>.  Further out, the Minneapolis was still in the fight.  The Alabama caught the Kirishima and fired nearly a dozen sidemounts into her. 

 

The camera then cuts, and returns with the NCs working over the Kirishima <Melton_M_142>.  Fluegel’s Baden came in and like a good school teacher, broke up the fight.  Twenty seconds later the Baden is sitting in the middle of a NC crossfire, and the Baden backs in to hide by the shore line.

 

Every time the Moltke kicks on her pump she sends a heavy stream high into the air <Melton_M_140, Melton_M_141>.  This finally catches the eyes of the NCs, who start to pursue.  The Des Moines comes along for the ride, and when the Moltke shakes the NCs temporarily, the Allied cruiser is there to match bows and drive her in to shore.  The Moltke dropped back for a second, and then managed to break out to sea when the NCs failed to close, perhaps fearing a ram sink.  The Moltke gets on the outside, and then swings around to head towards the right.  The chase is interrupted by a Man in the Water call.  This may have been where the Minneapolis sank  <Roberts_007>.  The break was short.  When the chase resumes, the Alabama and the Maryland have joined the pursuit, the Alabama elbowing her way through the two NCs to get to the stricken Axis battlecruiser.

 

Running right along the shoreline, the Moltke suddenly nuzzles up to the side of the NC, safely under her guns, and turns out to sea.  This opens up some room to turn away temporarily, but the Maryland came around the outside and managed to get in front of her, blocking her escape.  The Alabama and a NC then came up on each side, shooting furiously.  The Moltke broke free again, and called five as she swung around for a run back to the left. 

 

The Moltke now got a brief moment of relief, slowing slightly to edge between the Baden and shore, and the Baden then shoved her way to shore after the Moltke’s passing, which effectively cut off the Alabama.  The Moltke continued her run, shadowed by the Kirishima, while the Des Moines leads the Allied ships in a chase from behind.

 

The camera cuts then, and comes back for the final moments of the Moltke.  The Kirishima and the Baden are working on the ships circled around the barely moving Moltke, but then move off in pursuit of the Arizona <Roberts_009>.  The NCs, Alabama, Maryland and Des Moines are still in the area, however, and fire as their guns bear.  The Kongo now tries pecking on the edges, as the Moltke moves slowly towards the shore.  But then the ship turned and moved left, as an opening appeared near shore <Melton_M_144>.

 

The camera cuts again, coming back with the Moltke still afloat.  The ship was being escorted by the VV, but the Alabama managed to wiggle between the two, and bring her sidemounts to bear on the Moltke.  But the Moltke managed to escape again, running very close to shore, and the Kirishima returned to run alongside as cover.  The Maryland gets the Kirishima’s attention, and then pulls out in front of both ships to block their forward run while the Alabama was coming in from the rear.  But the Moltke didn’t have anything left, and the water came over her decks enough to be called a sink.  Steve Reynolds reached in quickly and grabbed her before she could settle to the bottom  (is that an Axis thing, not letting them settle?)

 

“Good job, Steve,” said Don Cole, and the others watching agreed.

 

A VV now raced in, as if to shoo the Allied ships away, and then ran off back to the right herself <Melton_M_137>.  The Alabama called five, just in time to take a ram from the Kongo, which was trying to snipe while Don’s attention was elsewhere.  There was no damage, but now there were plenty of ships just sitting there, resting, with seemingly nothing to do.  The Maryland was out in deep water, dumping her ammo.  That’s where the video ends.

 

 

     Allied B beat the Axis B fleet  by a score of 15,710 to 11,810.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Bob Hoernemann (sunk)                        2455                 33-7-21

     Mike Melton                                         2035                 61-9-24

     Charley Stephens                                  1650                 65-10-15

     Don Cole                                              1180                 58-2-11

     Ron Horbul                                           1090                 29-6-13

    

 

     Steve Reynolds (sunk)                           2685                 51-11-22

     Bryan Finster (sunk)                              2130                 43-6-11

     Tom Melton                                          1770                 42-10-22

     Mike Tanzillo (sunk)                              1605                 28-1-6

     Jeff Lide                                               1455                 68-9-11

 

 

 

 

After the battles were over, it was time to pack up and head for the motel.  However, as there was limited parking, I usually waited for folks to clear out so I could bring my truck in closer.  So I sat and patched at the lake.  Bob and Ron did likewise.  While we were working, Lief came up to examine Bob’s large poster of the lake.  Bob had been putting the flags of the nationality of the sunken ships onto the map, marking the approximate spot they had sunk.  Lief continued to check on the map all week, to see if Bob was ‘keeping it accurate’. 

 

Soon most folks were gone.  Kevin Hovis, the site host, had a huge covered trailer to carry all his gear, and was usually the last one to leave each day.  Several others stayed to help him, Jeff Lide being the most outstanding in my mind. 

 

Back at the motel it was unload, take a quick shower, and relax for a short bit.  When I went out to find out what the others were doing for the evening meal, most were already gone, and the ones that were around were all munching on pizzas.  I also noticed that several pairs of shoes were carefully propped here and there.  Some were against walls, some leaning against the air conditioner outlets, and still others were sitting on windshields.  Most were facing the sun.  My own were back in the room, propped in front of the air conditioner to get lots of air movement through them.

 

As for my meal plans, I decided to go shopping for some needed items instead, which included a run out to the edge of town to Lowes, and on the way back I stopped at Papa John’s to order my own pizza.

 

Back at the motel, I only had power concerns to really trouble me.  With only the pump being bad Sunday and Monday morning, and the cleaning in the morning, I was thinking the problem lay with my brass connections for getting power into and out of the water tight box.  The brass screws go right through the plywood, and the brass nuts on the inside and outside allow for somewhat easy disconnects.  I opened up the watertight box for the fourth time, and spent the night working over and cleaning these connections, some which seemed like they needed it.  It worked well when I got it all back together, but then as it was an intermittent problem only lengthy runs would prove that it was gone.

 

I had taken my time doing the repairs, and was astonished to see that it was 1:30 AM.  I decided to take a stroll around the parking lot to get a breath of fresh air before bed, and found Patrick Clarke outside his room, working on his pumps for the Invincible.  Seems he had more than one, and was having problems getting them and his speed controller working together.  He’d switched back his old MAG throttle, and the pump was the last thing on his list for the evening.  When I left, I wished him well for the evening, and better luck in the morning.

 

Tuesday:

 

Tuesday was brighter and hotter than the day before, but it was not intolerable, like the 2000 Nats in Perry.  I got up without much trouble, and was instantly wide awake when I put on my still wet lake shoes, which, if you recall, had been leaning against the a/c all night.

 

The table setups out at the lake were pretty much like the day before.  The cycle started again of unloading, setting up, getting the CO2, and then waiting for the battle.

 

Fleet Battle 3:

Allied B vs. Axis A, first sortie:

 

This battle started with Bob Hoernemann pulling his Warspite out of the water just ten seconds before the battle started.  He asked for an extension, was told there were no more to give, and then asked if he could get into the next sortie.

 

The battle started slowly, with the Allies waiting for the Axis to come to them.  Two fast Japs and the Bismarck circled in from the deep water.  About thirty seconds into the battle, Josh Bruder asked if the fighting had started.

 

“Yes, we are battling,” replied another, to the sound of a smattering of shots.

 

“Oh, I guess I was confused,” said Josh Bruder, “because Tim Beckett was supposed to go out there.”

 

“Ooo, an evil plot,” said another spectator.

 

The tape cuts, and comes back on the Allied group in a big circle on the left side of Left Bend.  Ron’s Lion is pumping hard, and the Axis slow ships are sitting in the foreground, waiting for their chance.  The Karlsruhe is much closer to the action <Melton_T_003> than the Baden, which was due to the Fluegels swapping ships for the day.

 

Away from the Allied circle, the Des Moines was getting worked over by the Bismarck.  Bismarck was pumping as she pulled away, but the Des Moines had taken most of the shots.

 

One of the NCs was enticed away from the group, trying to briefly catch a napping VV, but then got caught herself by Lief’s VDT when she retreated to the circle.  The Arizona backed in to get a few haymakers into the Baden, then pulled back to the circle.

 

A call for Man in the water is heard, and then another call to resume comes almost immediately.  The camera didn’t pick it up, but this may have been the declared sink of the Karlsruhe.  D.W. later reported that a shot had hit the Karlsruhe’s radio switch, and turned off the radio.  Without control he quickly declared it sunk to keep the damage (and the patching) to a minimum.

 

In the Allied main circle, Axis are chasing the Lion, which just keeps circling through his friends so that they can fire on his pursuers <Melton_T_001>.  Off to the right, the Bismarck has caught the Des Moines again near shore, and is hammering on her with the bow sidemount.  The Des Moines decides to retreat <Melton_T_004> in reverse back to the main Allied Circle, and passes the Lion which is running in the direction the Des Moines has just come from.

 

The Lion also runs afoul of the Bismarck, the Axis ship being very free with its haymaker <Melton_T_005>.  Ron gets some of his bow sidemount into the Bismarck <Melton_T_006>, but it’s not an even exchange.  Another “Man in the water” call interrupts the battle.  The likely sink was the Des Moines, which went down with the ship’s bow nuzzled against the shore <Bruder_199>.

 

Due to the quick recovery, battle soon resumed, but Ron didn’t hear the call.  When the VV started hitting him with triple sterns, he protested.  “’Man in the water’ and I’m getting blasted,” he said calmly. 

 

“Resume was called,” he was told.

 

The Allied circle was breaking up.  The Arizona and the NCs ventured out towards the center, and the Arizona got pounded by a Nagato, forcing the Allied ship to reverse direction.  A pair of Nagatos raced past off to the right, I’m assuming to join the pursuit of the Lion. 

 

The NCs were staying fairly close to the Arizona, protecting the ship as it seemed she too was a target of a group of Axis.  Like a pair of protective parents, they were trying to drive off the attacking wolves, but when they chased after one that got too bold, it drew them away so that another could dart in.  <Melton_T_009>

 

The Bismarck and Pearce’s Nagato appear, backing into the battle.  The Bismarck was having problems as she couldn’t back up straight.  Tim said later that he had lots of trouble getting used to her ways, as she always wanted to turn to the right when she went into reverse, like one of those cheap radio controlled cars from Radio Shack. 

 

As the battle continued, the three Nagatos, the Bismarck, and the VV were taking shots at the bows of the NCs as they presented themselves.  The battle started to spread out.  The Axis slow ships were off somewhere else, probably chasing the rest of the Allied fleet.

 

The camera cuts, and comes back <Melton_T_007> on the slower ships, back over on the left again.  The Lion can been seen skirting by on the outer fringe of the fighting.  The Alabama and the Maryland can be briefly seen, along with a VDT.  Then the camera swings back to see a NC sidemounting a Nagato.  The NC then paused to fire her triples into a second Nagato that tried to pass behind her to get on the other side, and the Nagato swings away instead. 

 

The wind is blowing, whipping up the waves a bit, making the ships bounce as they sail.  The wind has also been buffeting the camera’s microphone, drowning out the shore chatter.  Then a rasping sound like a kid making propeller noises by humming and blowing bubbles in the water is heard.  Soon it is obvious that the noise is coming from Gerald Robert’s Nagato, whenever the ship goes into reverse.

 

Thinking she was in trouble, this attracts the attention of the Arizona and the NCs <Melton_T_010>.  The Nagato still has guns that work, and she strafes the Arizona as she races off to the right. 

 

The chase is halted by Ron’s recovery of the sunken Lion.  This got several folks to wondering where the Warspite was. 

 

After the battle resumed, it moved to the center of Left Bend.  The Alabama and the Maryland seemed to be playing with the Strasbourg, and a Jap ship or two.  The NCs fired a few shots at Lou’s VV.  Lou was still playing the back and forth game, or perhaps more appropriately, forward and reverse, while looking for targets for the VV’s triple sterns.

 

The Maryland now came circling in, a Nagato in pursuit.  At a point close to shore, she suddenly turned and pointed her nose at the grass.  “Don’t turn into shore,” said Don, but the Nagato sailed past the Maryland’s stern.  “Shotgun him!” said Don, suddenly changing his tune.  Then the Nagato went past, and the Maryland backed out to deeper water, taking a couple stern salvos from the VV.

 

The NCs and the Alabama almost had Steve Crane’s Nagato sandwiched, but the Jap ship pulled away and escaped, while the Bismarck and Pearce’s Nagato raced to her aid.  It was soon a stalemate, and the two sides looked to be heading back to their huddles, but a parting stern shot from a NC distracted Pearce. After a short bit of wobbly driving Pearce’s Nagato swung slightly (due to another feint from the NC) and T-boned Steve Crane’s Nagato dead center amidships on the port side.  “Whoa!” yelled several folks.  Steve followed with a quick ram call, and brought his ship directly to shore.  He spent several seconds looking for damage, which included help from Patrick Clarke and Ted Brogden.  Nothing was found, and the Nagato backed out to resume the fight.

 

At this point, it seemed like we were back to the beginning of the sortie.  The Arizona was again in the middle of a circle of larger Allied ships, surrounded by a second circle of Axis ships <Melton_T_012>.  The action was heavier now, as folks may have been tiring, or else were worried that they would run out of targets first.  Lou’s VV was getting in several good shots, and his triple sterns seemed to have a more audible bark to them when they fired, as opposed to the rest of the Axis ships.  I suppose I should point out that the other Axis ships were limited to double sterns.  Soon the gasping of air signaled empty guns, and the VV called five and left for quieter waters.  She was followed by the Baden, which sailed out of the center of battle like she’d been hiding there all along.  The Baden stopped however, possibly thinking of her heritage, and returned to the battle.

 

The Arizona was still there, not moving much, and the Alabama stayed close by <Melton_T_013>, driving away Pearce with several triple sterns.  Then, I’m not sure if the Arizona came off five, but the Allied big ships left her behind and chased Pearce’s Nagato out into the deep water for a time.

 

No one was really hurting at this point, and so the battle broke up gradually into smaller chases as folks called five.  The Alabama was pursued by the Bismarck when the Alabama called five.  The Missouri even made a late appearance.  Kevin, due to the amount of work he had done as site host, had also been having troubles with his ship, and had been granted special leave by the CD to ‘come in whenever he’s ready.’  The camera cut to some action that had moved into Cattail Cove, where the Missouri caught a few shots from the Bismarck, and then that was it for the video footage. 

 

 

Allied A vs. Axis B, first sortie:

 

I had assumed that Bob Hoernemann had asked to fight in the second sortie with his Allied B fleet, but to my surprise he and his Warspite showed up on the shoreline with the Allied A fleet.  Too much of a measly minion to say anything in protest, I left the matter for others to worry about.  If Bob was looking to fight a full battle, he’d have to change his battling style, after all.  And besides, having another Minnesotan for a target should’ve increased the odds for the Bellerophon’s survival.

 

The battle started in a cluster between the two Bends, but outside Cattail Cove.  I believe captains were standing on either side of the cattails.  Once again, the Allied slow boats and cruisers clustered together, like a herd of nervous sheep, while the Axis wolves were waiting to race in to nip at the slowest and weakest one.  

 

The firing was quickly hot and heavy <Melton_T_014>.  “Spectators please stand back,” called the Contest Director.

 

“Including those with cameras!” added someone else.  As Ediot of the club newsletter, I feel that I must protest this callous censorship of the free press.

 

The Bellerophon is in the video footage only briefly.  The Warspite and Valiant are pounding the Pirate Smurf while a Nagato looks on, and the Bellerophon breaks away to swing alongside the Kirishima’s unengaged side as she worked over an opponent.  Then the camera cuts to a point after the Bell has sunk.

 

Working from my faulty memory, I remembered being challenged by one or two powerful ships.  My memory has it being Beckett’s Bismarck, but he wasn’t in this sortie.  I don’t think it was the Tirpitz as I remember a black ship, so it may have been Tom Melton’s Nagato or Lide’s Kirishima.  In any event, I backed the Bell away from the challenge, back into the middle of the cove.  It was an extended run in reverse, maybe fifteen yards are more.  Then as the other ship slid alongside and fired a sidemount, I pushed the throttle back forward and spun the ship to leave at a right angle to the attacker.  To my shock, the ship turned very sharply, so sharply that she rolled to port and went down by the stern.

 

The suddenness of it surprised everyone, especially me.  “WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?” I asked loudly of no one in particular. 

 

The camera starts again with a pumping Moltke, free of the battle, but then she backs in again with the Nagatos and VVs.  The sound of firing is quick and heavy <Melton_T_015>.  Doug Hunt’s West Virginia spins away from the Kirishima and plugs her with several double sterns.  Then a thump is heard followed by a quick ‘RAM!” 

 

The camera cuts, and comes back on me, picking up a piece of superstructure in the water.  A few seconds after I got to shore, the QE showed up with a large open area amidships, I’d say the superstructure came from Dave Au’s QE, and it was his ship that had been rammed.  After grabbing the QE’s smokestack, I then needed a burst of gas from the Bell’s guns to locate my own sunken ship.  The camera zooms in, and I looked like a big blue Sta-Puft Marshmallow man, as my open blue shirt puffed out like a ship of the line’s sails in a healthy wind.  I think my hat has gotten too small for my head, too.  I quickly located the sunken miscreant, and reached down and grabbed her by the top of her bow.  I turned and walked towards shore, dragging the Bell along beside me as if she was a small child I was pulling along by the ear.  As I reached the shallows, this became awkward, so I slid my hand further back, and cradling the ship like a football, I straightened up.  This brought the ship above water.  The pump was running (Hey! I still had power!) and the pump spray hit me in the shoulder and the water spattered all over my front and face.  I remember getting quite a bit in my right ear.  “Turn the shower off,” I said as I waddled back onto shore.

 

When battle resumed, the Warspite tried to follow three Jap ships that were after Bray’s Massachusetts.  The Invincible got in her way, and took a solid hit to her stern section.  Patrick was very calm as he called for a ram check, and followed with an announcement that he had ram damage. 

 

Meanwhile Finster’s Nagato and Lide’s Kirishima had sandwiched the Massachusetts and were pummeling her with sidemounts.  The Valiant tried to attack the Nagato’s open side, but the ships move away, Kevin finally getting some freedom by scraping the Nagato off in a turn in to shore.  Finally more help arrived, as the Valiant and the Wisconsin joined Kevin in battling the two Axis. <Melton_T_016>

 

The Warspite and the WeeVee caught the Pirate Smurf momentarily napping, forcing the VDT to back away.  Matt Clarke’s Houston cut through the scene, having called ram and pumping a healthy stream, and then Dave Au’s QE, with her smokestack returned to its proper location, drove off a Nagato which may have been following the Allied cruiser.  The Houston, with a pump stream shooting about twelve feet in the air, made it to shore.

 

The camera cuts to Tom Brown’s Houston sitting quietly on the shoreline, then moves out to follow the Pirate Smurf and Melton’s Nagato working on the Warspite <Melton_T_020>.  A long series of sidemounts, I counted about thirty, were heard coming in a steady and consistent firing from the same gun.  Which ship doing this firing was difficult to determine, however.  The Warspite, however, decided to halt and reverse and have her tormenters slide past her.  <Melton_T_021>

 

Next the two VDTs swing in on the Valiant, Jake Bruder’s ship doing the bulk of the firing into the Allied ship’s port bow <Melton_T_22>.  The Warspite returned to put some double sterns into the Pirate Smurf, while Dave Au’s QE came outside of Jake and caught him for some action.

 

The camera now follows Tom Melton’s Nagato as it chased the Warspite <Melton_T_23>.  The Warspite was pumping quite frequently now.  The Nagato looked like it gave up the chase when the Warspite got out into the waters where the Kongo was cruising.

 

The camera cuts now, coming back to a Nagato pumping hard, surrounded by the Warspite <Melton_T_024> and the Valiant <Melton_T_025>.  It’s not Melton’s ship however.  It belongs to another.  Although wounded, it is still firing shots that count into the hulls of its attackers.  Down nearly to the gunwales and pumping hard, she attracts the attentions of friend and foe alike.  The two VDTs try to torment her attackers <Melton_T_026>, but also end up blocking her path <Melton_T_027>.  A NC tries to bring her stern guns to bear, but the Pirate Smurf pushes the Warspite into her path to block the shot and drive off both <Melton_T_028>.  It was like a running back blocking a linebacker and a defensive end from getting to the quarterback.

 

Relief is only temporary.  The Warspite is like a hungry hyena, returning again and again to strike at the wounded <Melton_T_030>, only to be driven away herself <Melton_T_031> when Melton’s Nagato plays the part of a lion protecting its young.  But there are other scavengers to harass the dying ship, the Valiant especially <Melton_T_035>.

 

The camera cuts in what seemed to be a shoreline collision (Ron is heard to say, “Sorry!”)  The Allies seem to have backed off as they didn’t want a ram sink <Melton_T_037>.  A couple shots are heard and someone hollers, “Shore battery!  Shore Battery!” but I don’t think the shots came anywhere near the wounded Nagato. 

 

The Invincible now swings in for a quick shot, followed immediately by the QE blitzing past her stern.  Melton’s Nagato was hard pressed to catch her and shove her away <Melton_T_040> from her sinking sister, her own props and its wash jostling the ship into a further list and nearly putting it under.

 

Amazingly the Nagato righted itself, and the pump stream seemed to pick up in such a strong way that she looked to be pumping herself out <Melton_T_042>.  The Warspite was back and moved in to get her moving again.  The Nagato swung out into the middle of the cove while the Warspite tried to get in front of her to use her sterns, but the Warspite rammed the Invincible which cut in front of the two ships.  Melton’s Nagato escorted the Warspite in a direction away from the action, but the Valiant finally caught up with the sinking ship <Melton_T_043>, only to take a fairly hard tap from the Invincible’s bow.   At this point the water came over the stern gunwale of the stricken ship.  The pump stream was down to nearly nothing <Melton_T_045>.  An Allied bow appears close, but Jake Bruder’s VDT forces it rudely aside as the Nagato rolls further to port.  “Don’t touch it!” yell the Allies.

 

The stubborn ship, now with almost her full port gunwale in the water, still refused to sink.  Suddenly reversing, she darted with amazing speed back away from her tormenters.  “Bail!  Bail!  Bail!” yelled one of the spectators.  But then when her captain stopped her reverse run, she seemed to lose life, and the Invincible came up and tapped her lightly with the bow, much like Dallas Fluegel had done to Don Cole’s Alabama in a previous battle.  The sink was a foregone conclusion, the tap maybe shortened her misery by a second or two.  She rolled further to port and went down <Melton_T_046>.  “Ram sink,” muttered a spectator. 

 

“Yankee Doodle!” hollered Charley.

 

As the Nagato settled on the bottom, she came to rest on her bottom, and her tower superstructure and the mainmast stayed defiantly above the surface <Melton_T_047>.  “Good fight Mike!” said several folks.  Mike Tanzillo reached in and pulled out his ship.

 

The camera cuts again, and returns to catch the bow of the sinking Warspite as the ship sinks by the stern <Melton_T_051>.  “Oh Polar Bear!” Don Cole cries. 

 

Bonzai!” yells an Axis. 

 

After Bob’s sink, the cameraman got confused on the state of the record switch, and I report further based on audio combined with quick, sideways glances of action on the pond.  Tom Melton and Jim Coler are seen walking the shoreline, but far enough apart that they didn’t seem engaged with each other, but maybe not <Melton_T_048>.  Other chases seem to be going on up and down the shoreline.  The two NCs and Matt Clarke’s Houston end up chasing the Kongo.  One of the NCs gets alongside the Kongo and pins her against shore, but he doesn’t seem to have any sidemounts left to take advantage of the situation.  The Invincible also makes an appearance.  “He’s hardly pumping and only has 38 seconds left,” says the cameraman.  “They aren’t going to get him.”  Since the video stops here, I assume they didn’t.

 

In action not covered by the video, Kevin’s Massachusetts apparently went down.  I have no idea who got him or how.  If I had to guess, I’d say it was the twin VVs, Kirishima, Finster’s Nagato, the Moltke and maybe the Kongo, as they were rarely in the video.  Way to go Kevin, tying up all that firepower!  Again, this is just a guess on my part.

 

 

Allied B vs. Axis A, second sortie:

 

I thought all the bumping and banging of ships running into each other in the sortie just past, was a thing peculiar onto itself.  However, the sortie that follows continued the series of thumpings and thwackings between opponents and friendlies alike.  If these had been cars we were driving, the police would’ve shut down the freeway and sent us all home.  I began to think that something was in the air to cause this, like say, the sun.  But while the orb was high and bright, it wasn’t square in our vision, and so the rash of rammings must be due to something else.  Tunnel-vision, vendettas, obsessions, or fun, it could have been any of these.

 

As the sortie is starting, our intrepid CD calls out to his Axis brethren, “All the little boats are us.  If you see a little boat, it’s good.”  The little boat he was referring to was Tim Krakowski’s Mogador.  Tim had been having radio frequency problems with the Fuso, and was running his campaign ship to get some control time.

 

Again, the battle starts in the center of Left Bend.  The two fleets converged on each other in reverse, the Allies teasing with the Arizona being closest, the Axis obliging by sending a few stern salvos in her direction.  Then they pulled apart, looking for a feint.  A Stephens brother NC came in on the outside, and the Alabama along the shoreline, with the other Allied ships holding the center, and the Axis gave way, except for Lief’s VDT.  The Mogador comes along next to the shoreline, darting here and there like a water bug.

 

Charley’s NC has raced ahead and then stopped, her bow right in line with the twin stern guns of Gerald Robert’s Nagato.  Lief’s VDT sails past the NC and nuzzles up to the Nagato, and pushes her away to take her place.  Then the VDT backs down to bring her haymaker up to the NC’s port bow.  Her stern catches the NC’s deck, causing her to bounce as she slides past, giving the NC a chance to shoot several sidemounts herself. 

 

The VDT is sitting still, and the NC turns and pushes the VDT towards the waiting Alabama on her other side.  “Don! Don! Don’t do it,” hollers Lief in suspense.  “Oh, there!” he continues, his voice changing from dread to glee as the NC’s bow floats away and gives the VDT an opportunity to fire more haymakers.   The Alabama pummels the VDT’s other side but Lief barely notices.

 

The ships pull apart, and the Arizona comes in to tangle with the VDT.  As they circle out and away, side by side, the Alabama circles around and nails the VDT’s stern with her bow.  Lief calls a ram and brings it in to check.  The Arizona is left to eat sidemounts from the Bismarck.  Way off in the distance, the cry “Ram! Ram! Ram! North Carolina!” is heard. 

 

The action is now hot and heavy and ever changing, ships circling in and departing like a Busby Berkeley dance routine (this 1930’s film reference shows my schooling, I having took several film classes in college).  <Melton_T_056>

 

The camera cuts to an exchange between the two NCs , Arizona, and Pearce’s Nagato <Melton_T_053>.  The Arizona seems a bit lackadaisical and takes several shots.  Then when Pearce leaves the scene the Arizona wandered away to find a nice spot under the Bismarck’s sidemount <Melton_T_054>.  The Arizona was probably firing too, but the Bismarck’s guns seemed to be making the most splashes.  “Hang on him Tim, hang on him,” counseled Pearce.  The Arizona finally pulled in front and cut across the Bismarck’s bow, which had stopped and was trying to reverse away from two hard charging NCs.  The Arizona’s turn took her right into the side of one of her rescuers.  “Sorry, Charley, eh, Tony,” says Mike.

 

Then the Arizona called five, as Pearce’s Nagato returned to the chase.  The Arizona comes to shore and heads off to the right towards Cattail Cove.  As the camera pulls back and swings to cover the action, we can see Tony checking his NC for a ram.  Even more interesting, and I probably would have missed it if Bob hadn’t told me to look for it, was the last half of an interesting tale.  Out by the buoy closest to the Cove was four ships, Lou’s VV, the Missouri , the Strasbourg, and Rick King’s Maryland.  The Maryland was sending out a pump stream and circling to starboard and then her stern went under and pulled her down. 

 

Rick later told Bob (who relayed to me), “As far as I can tell my sink was caused mostly by my own ineptitude. I was banging sterns with the Dunkerque(I think) when my stern went under his for a second. I hit the throttle and attempted to pull away. When I did this, the bow went up and the stern went even lower. Instead of letting off the throttle I kept pulling away, a huge pump stream started and she went under stern first real quick. I do have a pretty good deck seal in the stern but I think that water washed up the deck into the barbette and by keeping full throttle I never gave the bow a chance to lower so all the water rushed into the stern and she sank. There certainly wasn't enough damage to the Maryland to sink her.”

 

Meanwhile, the chase of the Arizona continued without folks even noticing the Maryland’s demise.  The Arizona and Nagato got along side of each other, each kicking out a mighty pump stream <Melton_T_055>.  As they turned back out into the pond, the pump streams swung towards shore.  “WATCH YOUR TRANSMITTERS!” hollered Patrick.  The Nagato’s forward progress was stopped when she rammed the other NC.  “Call it,” someone tells Charley.  Instead the NC’s guns are blazin’, and as Pearce’s Nagato moves away, Chris says, “Good job Charley!”

 

“Man in the water!”  The call comes just as we hear the cameraman grunt loudly and the camera swings up to catch the treetops behind us.  No idea on where he took the shot, however.  Kevin Bray went in to get Rick’s ship, which gave the Arizona some breathing room, as Bismarck had been hot on her tail.

 

When the battle resumes, three quick shots are heard.  “Thank you Charley,” calls Pearce.  Chris Kessler’s cruiser darts into an opening in the melee, fires some sterns, and races away, passing in front of Charley’s NC which then rocks the Arizona with a T-bone ram.  The ram is high and no ram call is heard.

 

A blast of firing attracts the camera’s attention to the Bismarck torturing the Alabama.  The Alabama turns away and sails off into the two NCs and others who are now working on Pearce’s Nagato.  The big Jap ship moves off, pumping a solid stream, a NC on her starboard side.  She heads off slowly towards Handicapped Cove, with the NC and the Bismarck in close pursuit. 

 

The Arizona is still out there.  A brief camera shot has her in the open, pumping hard, with Gerald’s Nagato coming in to attack.

 

Then the camera returns to Pearce’s Nagato <Melton_T_057>.  Both NCs are there now, to block and shoot for each other <Melton_T_058>.  Kessler’s cruiser is there to try sniping, but pulls back in deference to the big NCs.  Pearce’s Nagato finally turns towards shore, just as waves start lapping at her starboard gunwale.  She continues on towards shore, but when the rising waters meet her pump stream her doom is sealed <Melton_T_059>.  Her stern hits bottom with her bow about four feet from shore. 

 

Washington on five!” hollered Tony.

 

“Bonzai!” yelled an Axis.

 

“Yankee Doodle!” yelled Charley.

 

Pearce went in quickly <Melton_T_060>, and when battlers on the other side of the bend ask, Charley responds, “It’s a Yankee Doodle!”

 

When the action resumes, the Strasbourg is tormenting the Missouri.  More interesting was the little act Steve Crane’s Nagato was putting on.  Every turn to starboard had her listing threatening to port.  Don called for help from Charley.  The Nagato slides past the Missouri, taking double sidemounts.  “Nagato sit still!” yells someone.

 

“Oh, I better check that,” Don Cole is heard to say.  An off-camera ram no doubt.

 

The Nagato sat for a moment, but Charley’s NC sent her off again, to take a nudge from the Washington when Tony tries to block for his brother.  Steve calls for a ram check. 

 

While he does, the Alabama, near shore, spins away from Gerald’s Nagato, and sails directly into Lief’s VDT.  “Oh!” hollers Don as his ship pushes the smaller battlecruiser a few feet.  “You’re okay,” he calls to Lief.

 

“I’m okay,” says Lief, taking Don at his word even though his ship is pumping hard.

 

Steve’s Nagato is back out now, running from a NC and still acting tippy in the turns.  He sails off to the right and disappears in the direction of Cattail Cove.  Charley’s NC is still looking for game, and someone tells Gerald that Charley is coming for him.  “He is?!” asks Gerald.  But Charley’s NC finds himself cornered by three ships with ammo, and the NC turns and heads for open water.

 

“Allied ship out of control,” Lief calls out.  When others ask which one, Lief responds, “This one.  The Iowa.”

 

“It’s a MISSOURI,” corrects Ted.

 

One or two Axis race off, but most stay when the two NCs circle back to play.  Steve’s Nagato bumps the NC fairly hard as he slides his bow up along the Washington’s side, to bring his sidemounts into range.  The Nagato returns to her ‘tip and tease’ tactics, pulling the NCs into range of the Baden’s guns.  “Get ‘im, get ‘im, get ‘im!” hollers a spectator when another tip almost takes the Nagato’s pump stream below the water’s surface.  “Stop turning!” calls out an Axis.  Chris Kessler’s Brooklyn comes in and gets her twin sterns in range of the Nagato.  “Good job Christian!” calls Patrick as the Brooklyn’s guns fire.

 

The NC finally gets back alongside the teasing Jap, but first her port sidemount, and then her sterns spit out breathy bb-less bursts.  “Oooo!” moans Charley. 

 

The camera cuts back to the left of Left Bend.  A hard pumping Bismarck and a hard pumping Alabama are playing, but the Alabama is heading for shore.  A stern that looks like the raised rear turret of a VV is seen as several shots hit the Alabama.  The Strasbourg and Lief’s VDT dart in briefly to check as the Alabama pushes her bow into the grass.  “Come on boys!” Don called.

 

“I’m coming, I’m coming, I want some,” calls Lief, but it is too late.  The Alabama’s hard pump stream pushes her starboard gunwale under and the big ship continued the roll as she went under.

 

“Bonzai! Bonzai!” yelled the Axis. 

 

At this point most of the action ceased.  The remaining ships were either off five, pumping hard, or both.  “Don, I wouldn’t sail over here before you sink,” said Fluegel.  “Elephants have places where they go to die,” continued Fluegel as the tape cuts off the last two words.

 

 

     Axis A beat the Allied B fleet by a score of 19,575 to 10,050.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Don Cole (sunk)                                    4220                 122-14-33

     Charley Stephens                                  3600                 100-18-43

     Chris Kessler                                        40                     4-0-0

     Ron Horbul (sunk)                                 3145                 72-9-28

     Mike Melton                                         2670                 92-12-29

     Pete Demetri (sunk)                              2035                 46-3-18

    

 

     Chris Pearce (sunk)                               2750                 85-6-15

     Lief Goodson                                        1700                 40-8-22

     Tim Beckett                                          1210                 56-6-10

     Gerald Roberts                                      1210                 96-6-2

     Chris Au                                               910                   16-6-12

 

For all the ram hits the only penalty assessed was an 1800 point one to the Baden, which leads one to guess that he ram sunk a class 5 ship, probably the Arizona as the only other candidate was Rick King’s Maryland which had been playing with the Strasbourg.

 

 

Allied A vs. Axis B, second sortie:

 

This sortie continued the rollicking ram-fest.  A new theory came to me as I watched the video.  Perhaps folks were more careful on Monday, with the brand-new balsa and the shiny paint jobs.  People drove their ships like they were new cars.  But now, after a day of heavy battling, with the balsa battered and covered with patches, folks now felt like there was nothing to save, so they drove like they were conning the old beaters.  We weren’t quite to the smash-up derby stage, but it was getting close.

 

This sortie starts with the Tirpitz calling five just after battle was called.  Sitting over next to shore on the Right Bend, she wasn’t moving.  The Wisconsin, the closest Allied ship, started to back in and fire triple sterns.  “Get him Brian!” yelled Brogden.  “Get him!”  As the shots started to strike home, the Tirpitz tried to back away, but came up against the shoreline, so she moved out in forward instead.  The Wisconsin turned to bring her double sidemounts to bear <Melton_T_062>.  “Empty the magazines!” called Brogden the cheerleader, trying to bring his own Valiant into range, but the shore and the long hull of the Wisconsin screened the Tirpitz well <Melton_T_063>.  But Wisconsin was doing such a good job that Jeff Lide’s Kirishima backed in between the two.  Further out, the Invincible, the Valiant, the West Virginia and a NC were gathered <Melton_T_065>, with the Kongo pecking at the drive-by gawkers.  “Don’t hit me!” hollered Patrick, a victim of a ram earlier in the day.  The NC managed to get a few good shots in on the Kirishima to show her what she was up against. 

 

The camera cuts now so that the cameraman could move over to the Right Bend.  Tirpitz and Wisconsin were still going at it, but stern to stern now, with the Tirpitz’s bow nearly nuzzled in the grass <Melton_T_066>.  Kirishima backs down on the Wisconsin’s bow and gets her attention <Melton_T_067>.  Now it was time for Rob Stalnaker to laugh and call, “Get him, get him, hit him!”  The Wisconsin pulled away but the Kirishima stuck with her to drive the lesson home, only pulling off when the Valiant got into range of the Tirpitz <Melton_T_068>.  The West Virginia was there to fill the void of the Valiant’s quick departure, but wasn’t close enough to hit right away.  “Come get him, he’s right here,” playfully taunted the Tirpitz’s captain.  A Kirishima and Finster Nagato sandwich was enough to convince Doug Hunt to move his ship away.

 

“AAAH!  OUCH!” cries Bob the cameraman, the camera bouncing a bit but remaining on action.  Again, the location of the hit is unknown.

 

Patrick Clarke’s Invincible caught Finster’s Nagato napping.  Finster has two bow sidemounts on the port side of his ship, so the starboard side is unprotected on the bow, and the Invincible fired about fifteen shots into her before the Nagato broke away <Melton_T_069>.  “Patrick Clarke, you’re the man!” called Bob.

 

While the Kirishima was distracted by the Valiant, the Wisconsin snuck in again to get some sidemounts into the Tirpitz, which now is nuzzling up to shore just at the edges of the cattails in Cattail Cove.  The Kirishima backed in quickly, Jeff himself standing nearby and leaning over to watch closely as he lined up his smoking guns.  “Make him pay, Jeff,” yelled Rob, following quickly with “Yah! Yah!”  <Melton_T_070>

 

Tirpitz now had just a minute left on her timer.  The Allies wanted to finish him off, but the strong defense by the Axis, Lide and Finster especially, kept them away <Melton_T_071>.  The Wisconsin tried to push a Nagato away with her bow <Melton_T_072>, and ate some double sterns for her trouble, which made the big ship decide it was finally time to find a different target. 

 

Over on the Left Bend, also in the Cove, the Pirate Smurf was slugging away with the QE, while a NC tried to get the Pirate Smurf’s attention. (See action in top of picture <Melton_T_072>.) “Give it to him Randy!” hollers Lief.  The QE and the Pirate Smurf both sink in this sortie, both off camera, but the QE <Melton_T_080> was seen far later than the Pirate Smurf.

 

The Invincible has snuck in and manages to get several sidemounts into the Tirpitz, but Rob is unfazed by this.  Despite the beginning of a list, Rob says, “She’s only got ten seconds left.” 

 

When the Tirpitz comes off five, the Kirishima is released to join the two Nagatos chasing the Wisconsin <Melton_T_073>, as she moves along the Right Bend.  The camera cuts, and comes back on the Wisconsin, now low in the water and a single pump stream shooting high in the air <Melton_T_074>.  Sailing towards the bridge, the Jap ships are gaining on her.  Wisconsin sees that she is losing the race, and stops.  A ‘man in the water’ call comes just as the Kirishima starts to fire.  It doesn’t help.  A few seconds wait and her starboard side dips under <Melton_T_075>, and Kevin Bray is in quickly to grab her before she goes under any further. “Bonzai!” yells the Axis.  Bob the cameraman is impressed with Kevin’s ability to carry the big ship full of water without straining <Melton_T_076>.

 

The camera cuts, and comes back now on the Left Bend, near Cattail Cove.  The Valiant and the QE are working on Jake Bruder’s VDT.  “I think the VDT needs to get out of there,” said a spectator, which the VDT soon did.

 

The camera cuts, just in time to catch the Moltke ramming the Bruder VDT.  “Sorry,” said Steve as the Moltke backed away.  The Italia and the VV are trying to play with the Invincible, which spins easily away from both.  The Moltke chases her away and gives her a little nudge-ram when the Invincible stops.  The action keeps circling back to the Bruder VDT, but no serious damage appears to be taken by the German ship.

 

The QE veers away from the group and catches the attention of the Kirishima and a Gerald’s Nagato as it sails deep into Cattail Cove <Melton_T_077>, but the QE reverses to escape <Melton_T_078>, but then Tom Melton’s Nagato gets alongside for some shooting time.  The camera cuts as another ‘Ram!’ call is made behind the camera.

 

The camera catches the Kongo, the Clarke Houston, and the Bruder VDT.  “Ah, that gun’s empty!” says a captain on shore.  Man in the water is then called.  All the ships are sitting quietly, but then the captains start saying, “He’s going back in!” as the Houston sails through the picture. 

 

The Invincible is back for a pass through the Bruder squadron, and as she sails off to the right the Moltke, running from a NC, comes in and gives the VDT another bump with her bow.  “Boom!” says someone, off in the distance.  The camera swings around to try to find some action, and catches a VV and the Invincible coming at each other.  Like a game of chicken, neither veers away and they ram head on, the Invincible getting pushed back by the bigger ship’s larger mass and momentum.  The Houston swings through, pursued by the VDT and passing behind a VV and the Moltke, as Matt calls five.  The Invincible gets cornered by a four pack of Axis, but backs free.  The Axis pursue leisurely, and a NC comes in and blocks the Invincible’s run to the deeper water, allowing Finster’s Nagato to come alongside.  Plenty of splashes are soon seen.

 

“Invincible off five!” comes the call, followed by several groans as the I-boat taps a VV with a ‘see you later, well done’ type tap, and sails in.  The camera cuts.

 

The next scene is the Valiant, waving a pretty pump stream, she’s now the object of affection of at least five Axis.  Running in from deep water, the Kongo takes up a position and tries to back in for a close stern shot, but miscalculates and takes a ram from the Valiant. This little ram deflected the Valiant so that she swung and rammed a second Axis ship. The rams literally came Bang! Bang! Bang! as the trailing Moltke now rammed the Valiant right dead under her A turret.  “Better check that,” said Ted.  There was damage, and Ted pulled her off to patch.

 

“Are there any Allies on the water,” asked Jake Bruder.

 

“Just Ted,” said the cameraman.  The Axis ships are forced to wait <Melton_T_082>.

 

When the Valiant returned, Ted sent her out and called “CHARGE!” as she headed left along Left Bend.  He was on five now.  The Kongo and the Moltke were closest, and they tried to get ahead of her to cut off her run.  As they finally caught up, the Valiant tried to turn outwards, cutting across the Kongo’s bow, physically scraping it as she turned back to the right.  “I’ve been rammed enough, whatever you are,” called Ted.  As the Valiant wormed her way past an oncoming Nagato, someone claims, “Hey Ted, it wasn’t me.”

 

“I know,” said Ted.  “It was that Garibaldi imitation.”  Ted had spent all last Nats tormenting the Kongo’s captain and his previous command, the ‘dreaded Garibaldi’ Italian heavy cruiser.

 

The Valiant somehow managed to keep ahead of the pack, then amazingly passed the Kirishima.  The Jap battlecruiser was sailing full speed in reverse, but she couldn’t steer as well to come alongside the British ship.  “Go Jeff Go!” yelled an Axis in encouragement.  The Valiant gave little feints this way and that, and the hard sailing Jap battlecruiser looked like she’d do the impossible and block the British ship.  But the Valiant feinted left before a hard turn to right, and the Kirishima slid past as the Valiant crossed in front of her bow.  A pursuing VV, moving to cut off the Valiant from a turn to the left, plowed into the Kirishima near her B turret with a strong blow.

 

As the Kirishima struggled to come in to shore, the VV was sitting silently in shock, and the Moltke drifted past like a traffic accident gawker, the Valiant slowly spun and headed back to the left.  “Good job Ted-ly!” said a spectator.

 

Tom Melton’s Nagato got a few shots into her as they crossed in opposite directions, and Finster’s Nagato came in from the outside to keep the Valiant from heading out to deep water.  A puff of air was heard from her sidemounts, so Ted kept the Valiant alongside the bigger ship as he gradually guided her towards shore, but the Valiant stopped before they got close.  The Moltke was the first of the following wolf pack to come alongside, but a loud groan from her captain announced that her guns were empty too.  

 

The Valiant now tried to escape by backing away, which worked for a moment but Tom Melton’s Nagato was quickly on her, and the Kongo was coming from deep water on the other side.  The Valiant stopped, and took her medicine, several sterns shots and so on from the assembled group.  She was getting heavier now, the pump was running hard.  She cut inside as an opening appeared <Melton_T_084>, and the ship listed to starboard in the turn.  “The wind is not helping him,” said a spectator. 

 

The Moltke and Finster’s Nagato are hard after him, and despite Finster’s verbal warnings the Nagato is forced to nudge the smaller Axis out of the way.  The Moltke, at full speed, now plows into the stern of a VV with a thumping ram.  As the Axis groans are heard, an Allied spectator says, “What an Axis blunder.”

 

Someone else says, “That was worth the price of admission.”

 

As the Valiant comes back to the right again, she swings in close to shore, and then swings away as if to run up the Right Bend.  For some inexplicable reason she stays in front of the pursuing wolf pack.  The Kongo finally manages to cut her off and force her to head towards Cattail Cove.  “Hey Ted, if you ram a couple of them, maybe they’ll leave you alone,” suggests Milholland.

 

Ted laughed and replies, “When I want to ram people I can’t hardly do it!”

 

The Valiant continued her turn, too smart to go into the Cove, and she made a run back left across the Left Bend.  Kongo was coming on the inside, and the Moltke was on the outside, and this time the Moltke managed to bring his bow up nicely against the bow of the Valiant.  This time the pincers closed on the Valiant, as Melton’s Nagato passed in front and took the ship away from the Moltke, which had to reverse to avoid ramming the big Jap.  The Kongo slid past too but a VV was following to pinch in again, but for some reason Melton’s Nagato had stopped and left the Valiant with an opening on the outside to turn towards deep water.  The VV’s guns were gasping, and her captain called five.  The Valiant continued her circle until she was headed back towards shore.  “Here you go,” said Steve Reynolds, his Moltke giving the Valiant several stern shots as the ship steamed past. 

 

“You can just feel the love here,” said Swampy.  “And Ted’s feeling most of it.”

 

“Valiant off five!” hollered Ted, just as the Kongo closed on her.

 

“Good job Ted!” called several folks, Finster being the loudest.

 

 

     Axis B beat the Allied A fleet by a score of 17,900 to 13,000.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Dave Au (sunk)                                                4420                 97-24-39

     Kevin Bray (sunk)                                 3100                 100-8-18

     Brian Lamb (sunk)                                2760                 36-10-19

     Bob Hoernemann (sunk)                        2040                 24-6-15

     Patrick Clarke                                       1645                 52-11-17

     Ted Brogden                                         1340                 49-6-14

 

     Randy Stiponovich (sunk)                       2950                 40-10-30

     Mike Tanzillo (sunk)                              1985                 36-1-12

     Rob Stalnaker                                       1760                 71-6-18

     John Bruder                                          1715                 69-7-17

     Bryan Finster                                        1280                 38-6-15

 

In this battle, three ram penalties were assessed. 

 

During the morning’s battling, I spotted a spectator who I thought was not wearing safety glasses.  I approached him, and discovered that he was a Lions Member, and was wearing safety glasses .  I was worried what he would think of the grassy shoreline that had been turned to muck by our stamping feet.  “Ah,” he said.  “I’m more concerned about the nasty marks the geese leave when they make their deposits on the concrete sidewalks.”  He didn’t seem concerned about what we were doing at all, and enjoyed what he saw of the action. 

 

Between sorties in the morning’s battles, I had take the Bellerophon out to try to recreate her morning’s sink, in order to understand it better and correct what went wrong.  Unfortunately, I also discovered that I’d lost reverse.  Thus it was hard to try reversing her and then turning, but I let her fill up with water and then tried her in some hard turns and found that she was especially tippy in a sudden turn to port after hitting the throttle from a standing start.  Taking her back to the bench, I opened the watertight box for the fifth time, and discovered that one of the micro switches on the throttle had stuck, and needed replacement.  I was in no mood for a jury-rig repair at lake-side, and decided to fix it later that night when I could take my time and do it right.  Besides, there was plenty of other stuff to do during Campaign, which was coming up next.

 

During the noon-time break, folks ran off for lunch.  It was a relaxed atmosphere at first.  Folks went off and got food.  I ran off to the Sonic drive-in to try it, as we don’t have such things in Minnesota.  I got an order for Ron too, but managed to drop his pop in the parking lot back at the pond.  After lunch, Kevin Hovis broke out the shore targets and port stakes, and set out to set up.  A number of people went in to help.  Josh Bruder seemed like a big help.  I wandered down, and found Kevin struggling with trying to tie parts of the campaign targets together with string.  After trying one myself, I muttered, “There’s got to be something better than this.”  Ron Horbul had a big container of zip ties, and I decided to see if he wouldn’t mind parting with a few of them.

 

On my way back to the pavilion, I passed Pete Demetri and his wife, walking from the parking lot back to his ship table by the lake.  They were holding hands and talking and laughing together.  She’d been sitting next to his table all day Monday and today, mostly reading a book but quietly talking at times.  Now I hadn’t the heart to interrupt them, but as I passed, I silently wished that every captain in the hobby had a supporting partner like Pete’s wife.  At the least the captains old enough to have partners, that is.

 

There had been other wives at Nats, and this one had more.  Patrick Clarke’s wife came and checked up on him, running a few errands and listening quietly but with interest to their stories.  I didn’t get to talk to her either but she seemed totally okay with her husband and son’s obsession with toy boats. 

 

Ron gave the okay for the use of his zip strips, and soon we were zipping the plastic tubing together.  When the floats had difficulty staying on, we decided to use the zippies on them too.  It was Josh Bruder, Kevin and I putting them together.  When we had both sets of targets complete, we’d used a whole bunch of zippies, and I hoped that Ron wouldn’t be upset.

 

Sometime during the morning, I noticed a person out on the far end of the Right Bend, just on the edge of the turn, bent over the shoreline.  He appeared to be picking up pieces of mud, dirt and grass, and plunking them down a few feet over.  I soon identified the person as Gerald Roberts.  When I ran into him later, I asked him what he had been doing.  “Making Guadalcanal,” he said.  “Got a shallow area there where the big ships can’t go.”

 

 

Campaign Battle 1:

Allied B vs. Axis B:

 

When Charley Stephens is an admiral, he usually has a secret plan.  In Houston, he’d run the carrier as a warship to suck up Allied ammo when they thought it was a convoy ship.  The other Axis convoy ships had then run with little interference.

 

This year Charley had a micro convoy ship.  About a third of the size of an LST, it was even more maneuverable, and therefore an even harder target to hit.  About eight inches long, that left about five to shot at.  I wonder if it had a rib?

 

In any case, the plan was to use this ship to keep the Axis convoy ships on the bottom.  The Axis had three convoy ships, but it was known that only one worked with any consistency.  Lou’s Yamashiro would be pulling the bulk of the convoy duties.  Two others were thought to be in very questionable shape.  If the Yamashiro sank in deep water, it was hoped that the Empire Campton, or ‘the Charley Special’, would force her to stay there the rest of the battle, due to the rule that ships cannot be recovered while a convoy is on the water.

 

The setup for this battle was as follows: the Axis shore targets were down around the bend in Handicapped Cove.  The Allied shore targets were way over just to the right of Cattail Cove.  The forward bases were up near the center of Left Bend.

 

The campaign started, as most do, with some slow action.  Shore targets were the main attraction.  The Allied cruisers, Chris Kessler’s Brooklyn, Bob Hoernemann’s Minneapolis, and perhaps another, were assigned to attack the shore targets.  Bryan Finster’s Nagato was there to provide a spirited defense.  The Alabama and the Maryland were sitting nearby, waiting for an Axis convoy ship to launch.  When the Nagato started sidemounting the Minneapolis, the Alabama come over and slowly and deliberately lined up his sterns on the Nagato’s bow, and fired a few salvos to distract the Jap bully.  It didn’t help, the cruisers didn’t get in at the targets, and ended up using their ammo on the Nagato instead.

 

The camera cuts, coming back on the Axis launching a convoy ship.  Rob Stalnaker was at the controls.  Josh Bruder gave the ship a big push out of port. “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa,” called Rob, not yet ready.  Josh’s VV was there ready to escort her, however.

 

The Alabama and the Maryland had disappeared, leaving one cruiser, currently under pursuit from Finster, and another waiting out its five before it can come in and reload, as Allied attackers.  The Yamashiro started its run to the right along the shoreline.  “Get out from shore, get out from shore,” calls Tim Beckett.

 

The Yamashiro turns for deep water as her thirty seconds free time expires.  The Minneapolis gets off a stern shot from a fair distance that may have hit.  The convoy and her escort then drift, waiting for attackers or the end of their five minutes.  The Minneapolis comes in but the VV forces her wide, and with the Yamashiro backing, the cruiser has no shot.  The Yamashiro backs and turns in reverse very well, and then continues the spinning turn when she returns to forward.  It reminds me of the way that Rockford’s Camaro always spun around  in those narrow alleys on the old “Rockford Files” TV show. 

 

Bob now asks Kessler, even though he doesn’t have ammo, to help tie up the VV so that Bob can get in at the convoy.  This is enough for Bob to get two more shots off in the Yamashiro’s direction.  But then the Yamashiro and Minneapolis touch bows and the cruiser is called for a push, and needs to come in to shore for thirty seconds.  As the cruiser comes in, the convoy ship nearly rides up and over the Minneapolis’s stern.

 

Jake Bruder’s VDT now joins the escort, and Finster’s Nagato seems to be heading off to the right.  Out way on the right, an Allied LST, along with the Charley Special, can be seen out on the waters.  At this time, they are ignored.  A quick sweep by the camera shows Allied and Axis big ships alike, sitting and waiting off the Allied home port. 

 

The Minneapolis is back after the Axis convoy, but Josh’s VV keeps her far away.  The convoy ship comes in close to shore, running in to the forward port.  The Alabama and the Maryland both are near shore, being checked for rams, as the merchant ship sails past.  She paused for a few seconds outside the port, waiting for her five to expire, and the Alabama gets in close but the VV is still there to screen as the Yamashiro finally enters port.

 

There is a big cluster of ships waiting now in the area off Cattail Cove.  They spend several minutes waiting, interrupted only by a ram call from Don Cole.  The Alabama must’ve been out in deep water because it takes a fair amount of time for her to come in.  There is damage to patch, and as Don lifts her out of the water, the Yamashiro can be seen starting her run back to home port.  “Rick, get him,” orders Don as he wades through the sloppy shore muck.  He has to go slowly to allow his shoes to break suction and stay on his feet.  It looks like Finster’s Nagato waiting for the Alabama to be patched and returned to action, and Bryan can be heard to ask if anyone can help Don.

 

The Yamashiro again has the VV for an escort, and little pursuit.  Chris Kessler’s Brooklyn is just launching, but two VDTs block her way towards the target. 

 

Just then the ‘Charley Special’ arrives at the Allied forward port.  Charley had wanted to run her once, and then hand her off to others for the rest of the week.  Jeff Lide’s light cruiser was in pursuit but the tiny ship turned easily away and sailed into port.  Charley picked her up and said, “Hey someone did get a hole into it.”  <Melton_T_085>

 

The Axis took great pride in the single hit, hollering “Bonzai!”

 

“I wouldn’t try sailing her back if I was you,” said Fluegel.

 

The Yamashiro is still out there, with little attention.  She has a strangely painted blue section on her port stern, that glows strangely on the video, like a chromo key background on a news broadcast.  She does a few ‘Rockford spins’ to tease Pete’s Des Moines.  Her escort, Josh Bruder’s VV, wants some action too. “Spray me Pete,” he calls.

 

Finally the Brooklyn and the Arizona come to help the Des Moines.  In trying to get to the Arizona, Josh Bruder’s VV rams the stern of the Yamashiro.  The Arizona swings around and fires a few stern shots before the escorts swarm him again. 

 

Someone near shore is taking a pounding, but the camera doesn’t catch it except for the audio.  “Don’t let him do that,” suggests a spectator.  The Axis convoy then sails into port.

 

The camera cuts to the Arizona being chased by Finster.  The Axis, we were warned, were likely to try to sink some of the big ships.

 

The camera cuts to an Allied convoy run, the John Brown was being run by Tony Stephens, and she was way off on the right, down by the bridge.  With the Missouri  and the Maryland for an escort, she got a little action, John Bruder’s Italia being called for a push.  Tony brought the merchant in to check for ram damage, but found none. 

 

The camera swivels for a quick glance at the Yamashiro, making another forward run.  She either had a huge escort or the Allies were finally giving her some attention.  Then a burst of guns comes from the group around the John Brown, and the camera swings back.  Finster is called for a push, and comes in.  The John Brown waddles through the crowd of Allied escorts, the Alabama nearby now, and then heads across towards the forward port.  As it comes in, the Axis convoy can be seen out in deep water, with the Tirpitz for an escort.  Steve Reynolds, conning the convoy, apparently didn’t know where the forward base was and was heading off to parts unknown.  Tim Beckett informed him of the proper landfall.

 

“I was wondering where you were going,” said Rob Stalnaker, his escort.  The two ships floated unmolested in deep water.  In near shore, the Nagatos were after the Arizona again, so a small Allied cruiser was the only ship to challenge the merchie.  He managed to wiggle in and fire a half dozen sterns at the Yamashiro, despite being up against three big escorts.  It was too little too late, the Yamashiro came directly in as her timer sounded.

 

A rarity for the week, someone calls for ‘Thirty second moss,” but I don’t know who.  The Arizona is still being pestered, the Pirate Smurf and Tom Melton’s Nagato are the main culprits now.

 

The Yamashiro is soon back for a return run.  Steve Reynolds set her in the water, and then went for the transmitter.  “Give her a push,” called Lou Meszaros, her owner.  “Or not!” he muttered quietly as she started off on engines only.

 

“Oh, let her take the mud with her,” I said.

 

Lou started to laugh with a touch of pain in his voice.  “I spent too much time working on her.”  According to him, the ship was one of the army transports that had a flight deck slapped on her.  Lou said he plans to have her in that configuration next year. 

 

As the Yamashiro slowly moved out past the VV, the Des Moines and the Alabama hit her with long range sterns.  After having three runs with little attention, the Axis escorts had gone to sleep.  Folks started checking the shoreline for possible escorts.  The Allied attackers were moving just as leisurely, the Minneapolis joining the attack but she had some distance to cover first.  “Now that’s just not right,” said Lou.  “Three warships on the convoy ship and not a stinkin’ escort in sight.”

 

I bit my tongue, the Allies hadn’t done much so far to be worthy of the attention of an escort.  The Alabama was trying to do her best now, but the Yamashiro was proving to be difficult to pin down. 

 

The camera cuts briefly to the Arizona, which is still being harassed by two Nagatos. 

 

The action around the Yamashiro was heating up.  The Alabama was working harder, and two VVs and the Pirate Smurf had shown up to make things difficult.  The VVs turned the Alabama away, but she bounced a couple of stern salvos past the Pirate Smurf’s stern to knock out some of the cargo rigging on the Yamashiro.  The white pieces went flying high in the air.  The Yamashiro’s timer starts beeping, and she does a Rockford spin and heads for port. 

 

The camera next catches the tail end of the Alabama tug boating the Brooklyn into port, a job that Don has done well for years.

 

The camera now cuts to the Allied home port, where it looks like the Princeton CVL is getting ready to launch.  It is the Yamashiro that makes it back on the water first.  A NC sails after her, and catches her with some triple sterns, but Jake Bruder’s VDT tugboats the bigger ship’s bow over to swing the stern away.  The other NC joins her sister, and the Stephens brothers start firing.  More of the Yamashiro’s cargo rigging go flying high in the air, to cries of delight from the shore.  The Des Moines stood by, wondering if there would be survivors to pick up.

 

A few seconds later, other cries of delight are heard, followed by a ‘Yankee Doodle!’.  Finster’s Jap light cruiser had sunk.

 

Almost immediately, the cry came out, “Titanic’s on the water!”, and “LST’s coming back!”  The CVL was out there too, struggling already in the breeze.  The Titanic’s motors can be heard echoing inside its hull, and the sound carries everywhere.  The attack ships head for her, and leave the other convoy runners alone.  The Titanic’s big sides reverberate like a drum as the shots ring home, making a sound that was irresistible to the Axis captains. 

 

The NCs and the Missouri are nearby to try to help the Titanic, but despite their efforts there is too much slow moving real estate to cover, and the carnage continues.  Finally there is a break for Minnesota Bob, who was conning the ship, to check for ram damage. 

 

Meanwhile, the CVL is drifting quietly outside the Allied forward port.  About the time a Jap light cruiser zips in, the drum-like sounds of the Titanic being shot to bits is heard again.  As the Titanic continues her struggle, Doug Hunt says behind us, “Hey, get this freighter.” 

 

The Yamashiro is coming in, in a much different state than before.  Her one gunwale is under the water due to a heavy starboard list.  She sails serenely through the stakes of the Allied forward port, just missing the bow of the still-waiting Princeton.  “Oh, baby, it’s going to be close!” hollers a spectator.

 

“Go baby!  It’s gotta be both sides!” hollers Rob Stalnaker at her controls.  Fellow Axis are heard plotting the shortest course for the Yamashiro to drive to get her into port.  But the Yamashiro turned suddenly and ran her bow into the grass.  “Keep going!” said a spectator.

 

“I lost control,” said her captain.  Then the stern went below the waves, deciding the issue for good.  The next question was whether the ship could be recovered, or forced to sit where she was.  Ted Brogden, who was CD last year, informed folks that she could be taken if “Man in the water” didn’t need to be called.  She was removed, thwarting the Allied plan.

 

Back to the Titanic now, she is showing signs of the beating she’s taken.  Visibly lower in the water, she’s moving with only one thought now, steer directly to port and don’t stop for anything.  But it’s obvious that she won’t make it.  The NCs are guarding each side now, and they deflect her course away.  In the background, the LST is making its way towards port too.  The NCs let the Titanic drift away, and a Nagato comes in and rocks her bow, in a non-damaging ram, to keep her from sailing into the Axis forward port.  “Ram!” calls someone.

 

“If you call a ram, you have to stop your timer,” cautions Tim Beckett.  It is too late, the big ship goes under and her superstructure starts floating away.  Bob reaches in to start grabbing pieces. 

 

Meanwhile, the camera cuts to Ron pulling the CVL up after she reached port.  The LST is still out there, tormenting two VVs, and she has a NC escort.  However, the little ship seems only able to steer to the left, and this is keeping her on the water longer than she should be. 

 

“Six Minutes!” hollers Lief.  The Alabama, tugboat extraordinaire, gives the LST a bump to get her pointed the right way.  Someone announces that the CVL is back on the water, returning home.  As she races off towards Right Bend, Don Cole can be heard trying to direct the LST into port.  Then Charley’s NC and the Alabama get on both sides of the LST, and like two elephants carrying an egg, they try to sail towards port.  “I always like this part,” says a spectator.  They get the little ship to the threshold, but the camera is screened from the finale by a spectator.  There is no protest when Chris Kessler retrieves the ship.

 

The camera returns to the CVL, pursued by a Nagato and a VV.  Her heavy list to port is straightening out, but unfortunately it is because her stern is now an inch below the waterline.  She now looks like a surfboard with 6 Avengers riding the waves.

 

The Allies now call for an extension, while Ron protests good-naturedly that the CVL is not sunk.  He’s only kidding the bow is now gone too, and even the aft part of the flight deck is under water.  Still she skates on, reaching port even though she has been declared a goner by the CD himself.

 

The Olympic is now out on the water, causing confusion among the Axis, who protest that she was sunk.  How they could forget that there are two of them is beyond me.  Perhaps it was the sun.  “It’s your imagination. This one didn’t sink, that one did sink,” Kevin Bray points out to Fluegel and crew.

 

“Well, I did imagine they sank,” said Fluegel. 

 

The question of the CVL comes up again.  Kevin is recording the score for the Allies.  “You see, it’s like the real press.  I only record things that are the truth, which is OUR truth.  Not your truth.”

 

“Actually,” said Fluegel snidely, “the winner writes the truth.”

 

This was too much for me.  “I thought Lars writes the truth,” I said.  Hey, I’d had a poor showing so far, and needed an ego boost.

 

“Yes he does,” admitted Fluegel.  “I’m looking forward to it, Lars.”

 

It’s gonna be a doozy,” added Kevin. 

 

“One hundred and thirty-two pages,” said someone else. 

 

“Full of colorful commentary…” continued Kevin.

 

“Wet sock stories…” suggested Fluegel.  “’…then I stepped in the mud…’”

 

While all this was going on, the Olympic was sailing slowly but serenely along, escorted by the Alabama and a NC.  Shots were heard elsewhere, but as yet the big ship had not taken any.  A VV finally showed up to put up a token resistance.  A call went up and down the shoreline looking for Axis with ammo left.  “Must sink Titanic!” called Josh Bruder, sounding like Frankenstein’s monster.

 

The Olympic arrived off the port, and sat waiting.  She drifted up against one of the poles marking the port, and her stern swung in.  But her timer was still running.  The VV finally got alongside and fired some sidemounts, and current from his passing pulled the big ship into the port, forcing her to sail back out again.  The Olympic circled around and stopped again, a bit further out.  Behind the Olympic, the other Axis convoy ship, the Settsu Maru, can be seen sailing for deep water.  Charley’s NC races out in front of her, and hits her with several triple sterns as the merchie passes behind her stern.  Coming in for another pass, the Maru turns suddenly, trying to touch the NC in order to call a push, but the NC deftly turns inboard, swinging her stern out and away.  It does spoil the NC’s shot, however. 

 

The Settsu comes about, listing hard to port, and crosses the NC’s bow.  “Look how he’s leaning into the wind,” comments Kevin Bray.

 

“I’m coming, convoy ship,” hollers Josh Bruder.

 

“Oh, I’m already killed, it’s gonna die before it gets here,” said her captain.

 

The Olympic comes off five.  “Touch it and go again,” orders Kevin.  There isn’t five minutes left however.  The Settsu stops, listing to port, and bobbing in the waves as the VV drives off the NC.  Her captain gives her quick touches on the throttle to keep her moving slowly forward.  “Three minutes!” calls Lief.

 

The Settsu’s bow runs up against the VV’s side, which straightens her up a bit.  Hope revives for the Axis.  “Keep her up, saddle up next to her,” Josh is ordered. 

 

“Prop wash her!” Charley is advised by the Allied spectators.  The Settsu starts leaning harder against the VV, but then suddenly flops over onto her starboard side, to groans and exclamations on shore.  Her list then decreases as she settles further, moving in reverse now.  The Alabama takes a ram from the VV, while trying to get close for a prop washing, but a ram is not called.  The Settsu’s bow is gradually disappearing, but she is moving forward again, towards port.  The NC manages to get some long distance prop wash in her direction. 

 

“It’s going!” hollers a spectator as the Settsu’s bow dips below, and the rest of the ship slowly follows it under.  “Hit reverse!” cried the Axis admiral, while the stern was still showing. 

 

“I’m going to say it’s sunk,” said Lief.  A cork deployed as a float, to mark her new address.

 

The Olympic is now back out, but the Axis quickly discover that her five minutes will expire after the battle’s end.  The Allies tactfully request that the Axis extend the battle, but the request is quietly denied.  “They made it pretty clear that they don’t want to,” said an Allied reporter.

 

The Olympic thus gets only token attention, a few shots from a VV.  Then the Olympic parks quietly off the home port, waiting quietly.  “Campaign is over,” calls Lief.

 

“Thank you, Lord!” calls Ted.  Ted says the same thing every year.

 

     Allied B beat the Axis B fleet by a score of 5,900 to 5,750.

    

     The only warships sunk were cruisers:  Bob Hoernemann’s Minneapolis, Rick King’s Salem, Bryan Finster’s Agano, and Jeff Lide’s Sakawa was declared.  Bob reports that his Minneapolis lost control and backed herself under with less than two minutes left in the campaign.

 

 

Campaign Battle 1:

Allied A vs. Axis A:

 

For this battle, I don’t have video footage for the beginning.  About two thirds of the way through, Bob H. finally got his paperwork task under control so that he could handle the camera as well.  Up to that point, we’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, from Lars’ foggy brain cells, the score sheet, and gentle proddings from the Melton picture album.

 

Charley decided to cross up the Axis by launching a large convoy group right away.  It was Kevin Bray in the blue LST, Ted Brogden in his Pundua, and myself running the Titanic.  Thirty seconds after campaign start, we were all in the water and running up the Right Bend away from everyone.  Chris Grossaint, with his NC, was running as escort.  Jim Coler’s NC was probably with him.

 

After hanging out down near the bend that led to the bridge, a couple of Axis ships finally made their way down there.  They headed, naturally, for the Titanic.  By this time we’d wasted enough time that a run back should bring us back to the forward port about the time our timers would expire.

 

The LST and the Pundua, recognizing that they were of little interest, ran off on their own, leaving the Titanic on the main stage with the Axis shooters.  The only picture of this run shows a NC ramming and nearly sinking Pearce’s light cruiser, while the Strasbourg and Lief’s VDT are nearby.  <Melton_T_087>

 

I remember Grossaint complaining that the Titanic didn’t try to evade.  I’d run the big ship the year previous, and from that experience found that the ships were slow to start, slow to stop, slow to turn and very effected by the breeze, if there was one.  I’d decided her best defense was just to plow ahead and keep her speed up.  Maybe he knew better, as they were his ships, but I was going with my gut feel.  The run back up Right Bend saw the ship taking hits, and there was a scary part when I had to race like the dickens around Cattail Cove, losing sight of the ship, and trying to catch up with her before she rammed the shore or sailed past the port or some silly thing like that.  I made it around, and found the Titanic being pummeled, but she was still above water.  I had to circle her once outside the port to let the timer expire, but only once before the timer beeped.  John Bruder’s video has a three second shot of the ship coming into port, about an inch or an inch and a half lower in the water than when she started, but still plenty of black showing.  The LST was trailing right behind her.  The Pundua made it too.

 

The Titanic was determined to be too damaged for a return run.  I wasn’t surprised.  Kevin, however, placed the LST back in the water and sent her back.  He spent his time the whole battle, except for when he had his Massachusetts out, just sailing the LST back and forth.

 

The Axis made their convoy run, with Fluegel running the Yamashiro, now with a very limited superstructure.  The two NCs and the Invincible came in to attack, but the Strasbourg, Lief’s VDT, and Pearce’s CL ran interference <Melton_T_088>.  The battle took them down into Cattail Cove, as John Bruder’s video has about three minutes of this run.  The Yamashiro circled around, then came back out, but a NC caught her and began to score with sidemounts, so she turned back and drove deep into the Cove.  One of the pursuing NCs rams a smaller Axis cruiser that crosses the Yamashiro’s path, and the cruiser comes to shore.  The ship looked like it was Pearce’s CL again. 

 

The Invincible picks up the chase on the Axis ship.  The other NC comes up on the other side and begins shooting, and what looks like a Lutzow tries to interfere, but the NC’s bow catches the Lutzow’s stern and swings it around.  The Lutzow’s bow is rammed forward and catches the Yamashiro’s props, swinging the merchie around oddly, and the Lutzow is rolled over dangerously and could have gone down, had not the NC backed off, allowing the Lutzow to back off and free the Yamashiro to continue on freely.  The Yamashiro is listing to starboard, but as the video ends she seems to be sailing into port.

 

Meanwhile, I was called back to try a run with the CVL.  This one was not as successful.  The wind, which wasn’t very strong, played havoc with the flight deck.  I tried to keep her away from the attackers, the Strasbourg and a Jap CL being seen in the picture <Melton_T_089>, but they didn’t have much difficulty getting close, despite having a NC in the area.  A Nagato also arrived, and soon the CVL was listing hard to port, the flight deck touching the water <Melton_T_090>.  I didn’t even bother trying to make the run around Cattail Cove, I could see she wouldn’t make it.  :As in the previous battle, soon the gunwales were an inch below the waterline <Melton_T_091> and the five Avengers were surfing to shore <Melton_T_092>. 

 

At some point the Axis convoy ship, still under the command of Fluegel, made a successful homeward run.  Kevin Bray also made a second run with the LST, and despite being pursued by the Bismarck and the Strasbourg <Melton_T_094>, she was never sunk.

 

Tiring of fighting the little ant, the Bismarck decided to take out the biggest hammer the Allies had.  Chris Grossaint’s NC had already taken a beating while defending convoy ships, and so Grossaint was not in the mood for taking more damage, and so his NC tried to run away.  The NC sailed up the Right Bend down past the bridge to the far shore <Melton_T_095>.  Running out of sea room, the NC turned and found the longest run she could make, sailing from the bridge towards the depths of Handicapped Cove <Melton_T_096>.  She may have reversed course once or twice <Melton_T_097>, but was soon struggling down around the speed trials area <Melton_T_098>.  As she got lower in the water, she started back for the near shore <Melton_T_099>, but even then the Bismarck beat her there, where she probably sank <Melton_T_101>.

 

The Allied Admiral could recognize an opportunity when he saw one.  The chase for Grossaint left little else on the water for the Axis, and the Pundua made the run home from the forward port.  He also had me launch Rick King’s gray freighter.  I took the ship down by the bridge where the freighter waited unmolested for about three and a half minutes, and then I ran the ship back along the shoreline and into port.  She picked up a couple Axis bbs as I ran behind the cattails, but it was an easy thing to drive her into port.  It wouldn’t be so easy going back, as the Axis had finished sinking the NC, and were now on their way back.

 

As the battle entered the last twenty minutes, Charley wanted to launch the other big ship.  The Olympic was in pieces however, and Grossaint was off elsewhere.  Someone helped me hook up the battery, and we were half way there, having forward and reverse thrust.  The rudder servo wasn’t working, and it took another few minutes to work that out.  We got the rudder servo moving back and forth, but we forgot to check the rudder itself.  It was to prove costly.

 

From the video now, an LST hit the water (driven by whom I don’t know, as pictures not long afterwards have Kevin Bray’s Massachusetts out on the water), Ted was back in his Pundua, the little black freighter, and I was driving the Olympic.  We launched.  There were Axis on the water, but it took almost twenty seconds before they appeared to notice.  Soon the Axis swarm was headed after the big ship once again <Melton_T_102>. 

 

Now the Titanics are not the most responsive of ships, but right from the start I had a feeling that we’d made a mistake.  Rudder control was iffy, and she only seemed to answer the helm to port, and then not all the time.  Thus it was a game of trying to just get the ship going in a straight line, hopefully back to the home port if nothing else, just to avoid the sink points.  I don’t think one can ‘withdraw’ a convoy ship like that, the subject is not addressed in the rules, but that was my thinking as I struggled with the ship.

 

Pearce’s Nagato was firing a steady stream of double sterns at the slowly turning big ship.  The Wisconsin tried to come in to block.  The Lutzow made a brief appearance but then called five.  As I struggled with the steering, the Olympic sailed in circles along the Right Bend, forcing the Axis to fight at long distance.  The Bismarck was soon on her tail, but was screened nicely by Coler’s NC <Melton_T_103>.  Lou’s VV got her sterns barking as the big ship passed <Melton_T_104>.  The Titanic reversed, back into the path of the VV again, and her sterns barked again.  “Way to go Lou!” hollered an Axis. 

 

The camera cuts, missing one of the few things I remember.  As the Olympic spun another circle, her bow just missing one of Kevin Hovis’ yellow depth floats.  The float rubbed along her hull as it moved aft.  “Watch it get snagged,” said an Axis captain.  I momentarily killed the throttle just as the float reached the props <Melton_T_105>.  “YEAH!” yelled the Axis, thinking the float had been caught in the props.  Then after the ship drifted a bit more, I hit the throttle again and the wash sent the float away.  The Axis captains groaned in dismay.

 

The camera comes back with the Olympic now low in the water <Melton_T_106>.  Axis ships are picking at the carcass.  Soon they back off, and the ship goes decks awash.  Then she sinks by the stern, going completely under before her four stacks popped off and back to the surface <Melton_T_107, Melton_T_109>.

 

The camera cuts next to Jim Coler’s NC playing with Lou’s VV, but then moving off to chase the Yamashiro, sitting out near the speed trials area.  Soon the NC is alongside, hitting her with sidemounts, but trailing carefully behind so as to avoid any quick turn for a push call.

 

The NC continues the chase, screened by the Bismarck, the Baden, and the VV.  The NC has trouble getting close <Melton_T_110>.

 

The camera cuts next to Mike Melton’s recovery of the Olympic. I’d been called back to the forward port for a return run of Rick King’s freighter.  Patrick Clarke was running Ted’s Pundua back at the same time, but she had launched a minute or two later.  The gray freighter, in the words of Tony Stephens, was ‘an easy sinker’.  She’d only collected three holes on her forward run, and so there was a chance for her to make it home.  She soon attracted the attention of Pearce’s French cruiser, which knew how to put double sterns into the freighter’s bow.  The camera moves from the gray freighter, cutting across Cattail Cove, to the Pundua, loitering off of Left Bend.  Further out by the speed trials area, the Valiant and others can be seen harassing the Yamashiro.  The Axis ship looks a bit lower than usual.  The camera cuts away, but the Axis merchant had used up her luck for the day, and she was eventually sunk, but I didn’t see or hear how it happened.  I think it was close enough to shore, however, that the Charley Special ploy didn’t work once again. 

 

As for the Special, I think Doug Hunt had her out, and had been walking along the far side of the lake, after his West Virginia had sunk very early in the battle.

 

The camera is back on the gray freighter.  She’s taken on a list now, to starboard.  This leaves only one side to shoot at.  Pearce’s cruiser seems to be out of ammo, and the little ship is trying to prop wash the merchie.  I reverse the motors and the freighter backs away, towards the Right Bend shore.  Coler’s NC arrives to perform screening duty.  The freighter slows and waits for the time on the timer to tick off.  There is just a thin light gray line showing the edge of her starboard gunwale.

 

Then it is back to forward throttle to circle around and call push as Coler’s NC scares Pearce’s CL into the freighter’s side.  The CL backs away, and the home port is only yards away.  The freighter stops again, as the timer is still ticking.  The occasional wave is now lapping over the gunwale.  The VV races in, but is blocked by Coler. 

 

With the gray freighter’s timer nearly done, that means the Pundua’s got about two minutes to go.  Coler is directed to help him.  “Get that thing out of deep water,” calls Jim as his ship races away. 

 

“Five minutes remaining!” calls Lief.  The water is now over the freighter’s starboard gunwale, but according to the CD, it has to be over the gunwales on both sides of the ship to be ruled a sink.  The port side is still showing a good quarter inch.  Lou’s VV finally gets alongside, and tries to hit the remaining target area with bow sidemounts.  Lou hits, but it’s just too late, the timer sounds, and I hit the throttle to move her the last half foot into port, and then tapped her.  The watching Allies yelled “YAA!” in delight.

 

Now it was the Pundua’s turn to struggle into port.  She was still riding high, but the camera catches her in a circle of ships.  A Nagato and the VV soon sandwich her, but she backs free.  The QE is seen physically removing the Bismarck from the immediate area.  The Pundua is suffering from sporadic radio glitches, and the Allies call around quickly to check if another radio is on and interfering. 

 

The camera cuts to catch the QE still glued to the side of the Bismarck, like an offensive linemen holding off a blitzing linebacker while his dim-witted quarterback scrambles for far too long just beyond their reach. 

 

“Fifteen seconds,” says Patrick, now heading the ship towards port.  Coler’s NC comes in and gives her a rude shove to the side, just missing the VV but shoving her into the side of the QE.  The QE redirected her back the right way, and the ship crossed into port to the sound of Allied cheers.

 

The next quick cut is the bow of Pearce’s CL disappearing, leaving her superstructure stranded on the surface.  Pearce said later that he forgot to turn on his pump. 

 

All that was left was the last run of the Blue LST.  The camera picks her up as Lou’s VV is pursuing but is rammed by the QE.  A Nagato pulls up on the LST’s starboard side.  “I’m almost out of tape,” says the cameraman, and switches it off.  According to my foggy memory, the LST did make it into home port for a completed run just seconds before the battle ended.

 

 

     Axis A  beat the Allied A fleet  by a score of 7,475 to 7,000.

    

     The warships sunk were as follows:  Chris Grossaint’s NC, Doug Hunt’s West Virginia, Tom Brown’s Houston, and Chris Pearce’s Glorie.

 

 

It had been a long hot day, and after all my racing back and forth behind the cattails, I’d become pretty tired and sweaty.  Now Pearce asked nicely if I would go in and recover his cruiser.  I said sure without thinking, but the cool water felt good.  And after the recovery it was even better, as Pearce handed me his last ice cold Gatorade.  It went down real good.  Thanks Chris!

 

Once again I was in no hurry to leave.  I waited for the traffic to clear, and then finally brought up my truck.  After I was loaded, I noticed Jeff Lide scouting the area, and decided to do the same.  Several items were found down by the launching points.  There was a table left at the Allied home port.  I asked Kevin Hovis if he wanted the shore targets collected, and he handed me a box.  While we were doing this, Grossaint and Coler were sitting there talking, their NCs on the table and the Titanics still down by the lake.  Several folks offered to carry them up, but their help was declined.  The two had both had extremely long days, and were exhausted.  I told them that the rest of the Allies, including the admiral, knew they were outmatched and had no complaints about their performances thus far. 

 

At last Hovis was packed, Jeff Lide made off with most of his drinks (I think he brought them back), and so I left for the motel.  Grossaint and Coler started packing as I left.

 

Back at the motel, it was throw the ship back on the work table, unload the rest, and take a quick shower.  Then it was collapse on the bed for a half hour, watching cable news (I don’t get cable or satellite at home). 

 

When I was ready to eat, I found the parking lot half empty.  Ron and Bob were gone, I was on my own.  I decided to see if I could find someone different with whom to eat.  I succeeded only too well.

 

I found a room that I knew belonged to a battler, but I didn’t know who.  I could hear the TV playing inside the room.  I knocked on the door.  A voice invited me in.  It was Finster and Lide’s room.  They soon informed me that it was ‘the night we Japanese are going to eat raw fish’.  There was a sushi place just up the road within walking distance. I’d heard rumors from others that the Jap captains would be doing this.  Most thought they were nuts.  Finster invited me to come along.

 

Now I’m a meat and potatoes guy, and don’t like ‘exotic’ food.  I hesitated, not wanting to seem stuffy or too timid.  Still, I’m a fussy eater, I didn’t want to order something and then not eat it.  Finster convinced me that the place would have chicken or pork that an old Lutheran could stomach.  I agreed to go along, as ‘the British Envoy.’

 

I should’ve known what kind of night I was in for when Gerald came in and his eyes bugged out.  Jeff was fresh out of the shower.  I had my back to him and was glad of it.  Soon Luis joined us, and we were off.

 

At the restaurant, a lady of oriental descent assigned us to a table.  A different young lady came up and asked for our drink orders.  We gave them, and she soon returned with our beverages.  Something about our group intrigued her, and she stayed to chat.

 

She was college age, and was of Caucasian descent.  She had a slim figure, was medium height, wore small black rectangular glasses, and had her dark hair swept back in a ponytail.  Her conversation and attitude is best described as ‘perky’.  She quickly picked out that we were from different areas of the country.  She asked what brought us to town.

 

At this question, Bryan Finster looked at the rest of us like he was tempted to give her a better story than what we were actually doing, but he crossed me up and told her the truth.  “Actually, we build model warships…  he started, but got no further.

 

“You mean the ones that shoot and have battles and really sink?” she asked enthusiastically.

 

“Yes,” said Bryan, somewhat relieved when her response didn’t indicate that she thought we were kooks.  “Where’d you hear about us?”

 

“Oh, I work part time at the local paper,” she said.  That wasn’t her only accomplishment.  She also wrote magazine articles, attended the local University, helped the handicapped (that may an invention of mine, but her list was about half a dozen items long of productive and helpful occupations), and last but not least, “I’m also a Miller Lite girl.” 

 

We questioned her choice of majoring in English at a University renown for its aircraft engineers, and other technical courses.  But mostly we pressed her on her last occupation of the list.  She said that she’d been sitting in a bar one night, and some fellow told her she was fun to drink beer with, and the next thing she knew she was getting paid to ‘sit in bars and drink Miller Lite, and have fun.’

 

This again intrigued us.  “Where would be the best bar for us, coming in when we’re done battling, all hot and sweaty and muddy from stomping around the lake?” asked Lide.

 

“Easy, the Grundge bar,” she said.  “When I go there it takes me days to shake the smell.  They wouldn’t even notice you coming in.”  Jeff and Finster gave each other a raised eyebrow, as if in code that here was a piece of information they could put to good use.

 

“Thanks for the tip,” we said.  “We’ll have to leave you a big tip for that info.”

 

“Oh, I don’t work here,” she said.  “I used to, but I quit a few months back.”  We were all dumb-founded.  “But when I saw that the folks here were busy, “ she continued, “and that you would be waiting quite a while for your drinks, I decided to help.”  If ONE member of the BOD had been with us, she’d have the Sportsmanship Award on her mantel right now.

 

She soon bounced off.  After she left, someone wistfully drawled what we were all thinking, “If I was ten years younger and not married….” 

 

We sipped at our drinks, but then Gerald wanted to get some photos <Roberts_013>.  After he sat down, another waiter came and took our food orders.  Bryan, Gerald, and Luis ordered some fancy raw fish things.  “And lots of Mesabi,” added Gerald.   I found my chicken disguised under fancy oriental descriptions.  Jeff asked what I got, and then ordered something midway between chicken and fish, but definitely of the cooked variety.

 

The plates soon came.  Jeff handed his set of chopsticks to Gerald and asked for a fork.  Gerald dug in, a set of chopsticks in each hand.  I was tempted to ask for a fork too, but noticed that my chicken had been pre-sliced in strips, and I thought I could manage with the chop sticks, but I felt like a four year old.  We were murmuring over our first tastes of our meal when a thump came from the end of the table.

 

“Are you all right?” asked Jeff of Gerald.  Gerald must’ve slapped the table with his elbow or fist.

 

“Fine,” said Gerald, nonchalantly.  “And expect more of that.”

 

Jeff looked back, alarmed.  I was safely on the far end with Jeff in the middle as the buffer.  Soon I heard Gerald taking a long, deep inhalation through his nose, about thirty seconds long it seemed, and then he slapped the table again and said breathlessly on the exhale, “OH THAT’S GOOD.”

 

While he continued this display, dunking every bit of his raw fish in the light green sauce, Bryan explained.  “Mesabi (I’m spelling it like the name of the Iron Range in Minnesota, as that’s exactly how Gerald and Bryan pronounced it.  It’s probably spelled differently as I’m sure the Sioux and the Japanese didn’t cross paths until fairly recently) is like a strong horse-radish, and it’ll really clean out your sinuses.  It’s supposed to be mixed in with your food or broth in small amounts,” he said.  Gerald wasn’t taking it in small amounts, he was covering each bite of raw fish with a light green coating.  With each long inhalation he tortured us twice as much as himself.  With each bite he breathed so hard he was physically shaking.  I began to wonder if he’d burst his shirt like the old TV series character, the Incredible Hulk.

 

Jeff couldn’t stand it either.  “Does anyone have something normal to talk about?”  he asked, wild-eyed.  The dentist in him came out.  “Does anyone have any dental problems they want to talk about?”

 

With another bang on the table and a holler from Gerald to the wait staff, “MORE MESABI!”, Jeff looked away.  He spotted our drink lady leaving. 

 

“Goodbye Stephanie!” he called and waved.  I didn’t turn to see her go, I turned to look at Jeff, who had a bright chipper smile on his face and a glint in his eye.

 

“I thought she said her name was Molly,” I said quietly.  Luis and Bryan started laughing.

 

Jeff’s face fell, and he mumbled, “Her name’s not Stephanie?”

 

“No,” burst Luis.  “And whatever she once thought of us is now gone.  You killed it.  Dead.”  We laughed for several minutes.

 

Gerald kept pestering the staff, every time he saw one, for ‘more Mesabi’.  They brought a few refills.  Bryan also volunteered what he had left.  Eventually Gerald’s meal and our torture came to an end.  “More Mesabi,” he was calling at the end when we finally shushed him and pushed him towards the cash register.  The place was closed and the other customers were gone, and I think the staff was scared of us.

 

It was, to put it lightly, an experience I shall remember for a long time.  But if I ever decide to go Axis, it won’t be Japanese.  One sushi bar is enough for this potato farmer.

 

Back at the motel, I ran into Brian Lamb, and we went to my room and chatted for the longest time, both of us anxious to avoid working on our boats.  He finally disappeared, and I decided the throttle was better left for tomorrow.  Dropping back out for a last breath of night air before bed around 1:30, I saw the flare of a cigarette outside of Patrick Clarke’s room.  I walked over, and found him in good spirits after replacing his pump again.  “Got the good one back in,” he said.  “Old Trusty.  Put the MAG throttle back in last night.  She’s back now to systems that have been tested.  Things should be better tomorrow.”

 

 

Wednesday

 

I would have loved to have slept in on Wednesday, but as chairman of the Ship Committee and having not registered a committee report before hand, I felt obligated to attend the BOD meeting.  Oh, I also may have considered myself as being a resource for previous BOD decisions, if needed too.  I managed to get there only twenty minutes late.  The attending BOD members were there, and the missing BOD members were connected via cell phones.  Three spectators were there, Pearce, Ron Horbul and myself.  Soon my yawning was having a bad effect on Chris and Ron.

 

Ron finally was allowed to make a business offer for doing trophies, and then he was free and gone.  Pearce, dragged along by Chris Au, and I stuck it out to the end, only Pearce’s crinkling potato chip bag keeping me awake towards the end. 

 

Then it was back for laundry.  It took too long to do, but I felt better when it was done.

 

Back at  the motel, with the clean clothes packed away, it was time to finally fix the throttle.  It went fairly easily.  Around three or so, I took the Bell out to the pond to test her out.  I found some folks still battling on one-on-one day, but I wasn’t interested.  I plunked the ship into the water and tested her again.  I still hadn’t patched her holes from the day before.  I played and played, letting her fill and pumping her out, maneuvering this way and that, sinking her once (Matt Clarke lifted her out.  “Man, she’s heavy!” he said.), and nearly sinking her twice more.  Then the batteries ran down, a bit sooner that I would have liked.  It was my older set I was using.  I guess I should have bought four.  But she’d run perfectly otherwise in regards to her power losses of the two days before.  I took her home feeling rather good.  I did stop at Walmart and bought some round foam pieces meant for mounting flowers.  Back at the motel, I stuffed the stern and wing barbettes with the foam, as I was guessing that water may have been coming in there during hard turns or prolonged reverses.  Then I tried the lights.  They worked fine.  I patched, loaded the guns, and was ready for night battle, with time to spare.  I was feeling pretty confident that my troubles were over.

 

As for the one on ones, from the score sheets:

 

Crushing Cruisers:  The Flag team lost to the No Flag team by a score of 835 to 4400.  The Flag team had Chris Grossaint (HMS Fiji), Jeff Lide (IJN Sakawa), Matt Clarke (Houston), Randy Stiponovich (Armando Diaz) as members.  The No Flag team had Chris Au (Salt Lake City), Chris Pearce (Glorie), Dave Au (Izuzu), Josh Bruder (Lutzow).  The first sortie of this was on Bob’s video tape, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to write much about it.  I kept looking for sidemount shots that weren’t there, and that bothered me.  But the captains claimed to have fun, and Bob said he enjoyed it.

 

Smurf versus Clarke:  The Smurf (Randy’s VDT) beat Patrick Clarke’s Invincible by a score of 1620 to 1225.  Patrick reported that he did manage to hit the Smurf in the head with a bb.  The Smurf remained standing however.

 

Bruder Battle:  Jake’s VDT beat Josh’s VV by a score of 1160 to 775.

 

Second Battle of Toulon:  Brian Lamb’s Wisconsin lost to Josh Bruder’s VV by a score of 1390 to 2735.

 

Lief versus Fluegel:  Lief’s VDT battled to D.W. Fluegel’s Karlsruhe, but I’m confused by the score sheet.  With these two, they were probably fighting blind-folded anyway.

 

Bob H. versus Tim Beckett:  Bob’s Warspite lost to Tim’s Bismarck by a score of 1465 to 3610.

 

John versus Jake Bruder:  John’s Italia was beat by Jake’s VDT by a score of 275 to 1455.

 

Arizona’s Last Stand:  Mike’s Arizona was beat by Tom’s Nagato by a score of 730 to 4790.  Bob had portions of this one on tape too.  Mike’s Arizona had his gun pin on a string get wrapped around his prop.  Not wanting to burn out his motors, he called five and let it sit.  Tom, with a stationary target, spent about two minutes trying to line up but couldn’t seem to do.  “I’m going to go dead in the water when ever you come near me,” said Bob from behind the camera.  “You can’t hit anything if it’s sitting still.”  Finally when Tom found the range, the Arizona shot back a few times.  When Tom protested, Mike just laughed. 

 

Cartoon Characters versus Real People:  The Cartoon Team lost to the Real People team by a score of 2310 to 4430.  The Cartoon team had the Pirate Smurf (Randy Stiponovich) and the Port Polar Bear head on HMS Warspite (Bob H.).

 

Bob H versus Josh Bruder:  Bob’s Warspite beat Josh’s VV by a score of 2590 to 505.

 

 

 

Night Battle:

 

We knew that we’d not have a pitch black battle, as there were park lights nearby that couldn’t be turned off. 

 

The lineup was 9 Allied captains versus 11 Axis.  The Allied captains were: Bob Hoernemann, Charley Stephens, Chris Grossaint, Chris Kessler, Dave Au, Don Cole, Kevin Bray, Patrick Clarke, and myself.  All were driving their major warship except for Dave Au in the Iszuzu, and Patrick Clarke was running Matt’s Houston.  The Axis captains were: Bryan Finster (Agano), Chris Au, Chris Pearce (Glorie), Dallas Fluegel, D.W. Fluegel, Gerald Roberts, Jeff Lide, Lief Goodson, Luis Gomez, Tim Beckett, Tom Melton.

 

The battle started with the Allied fleet clustered off the center of Left Bend, the Axis were over off the mouth of Cattail Cove.  They slowly moved towards each other in the darkness.  Most ships kept in close to shore due to the darkness.  I had the Bellerophon out on the outer edge, about 12 feet out.  A light cruiser, Finster’s I think, started backing in.  “Hey Lars, watch out for that cruiser.”  Well, I didn’t get to fire a shot.  The ship started drifting, her power systems gone.  Finster fired a few shots and someone else drove him off.  Then the Bell’s power came back, and I backed up a few feet.  The Karlsruhe now backed in while other bigger ships moved to engage the Allies closer to shore.  “Lars get out of there,” Ted, Charley, and others were saying.  I’d lost power again, and called five.  The fleets parted again, and the Bell’s power came back again.  I swung the ship around and brought her over to the Allied Forward port of the day before, and parked her a foot off the shore.  Soon her pump stopped again, and she drifted.  I had a protector sitting next to me, I think, but I don’t remember who.  The battle was going fairly strongly now, about fifteen feet away, but I felt plenty safe from enemy fire.  I just hoped that she hadn’t taken a hit below the waterline.

 

Then the sound of a CO2 line bursting scared the folks just up the shoreline.  Soon Charley determined that it was his ship, and the main line had blown.  “Must’ve gotten too close to it with the soldering iron,” he said as he called five.  As his ship exited the immediate area, it opened a gap that the Axis snuck through.  The battle drifted towards my parking spot.  With about thirty seconds left on my timer, Lief and Jeff were standing next to me, and finally noticed the Bell.

 

“Are you on five?” asked Lief. 

 

“Yes,” I told him.  I didn’t tell him how much time was left however. 

 

Gleefully Lide and Lief sailed in close.  To my satisfaction, their ships got in each other’s way.  They took a bit of time to decide who was going where.  Finally they started firing sidemounts.  Then my timer sounded.  “Bellerophon off five,” I said gratefully, and touched the ship.  I couldn’t see if she was close to sinking, but she wouldn’t have lasted long under the Kirishima’s and VDT’s guns.

 

I pulled my ship from the water, as it didn’t require going in.  I took it up to the pavilion, and then started to get mad about once again losing power.  Therefore I didn’t see the rest of the battle.  Bob later told me that the Kirishima got pinned in next to shore due to coming after the Bell, and took a pounding.  Also, D.W. reported that his son Dallas suffered his first combat sink.  “He thinks he got run over by somebody, because he didn’t have a lot of damage, and the ship was there one second, he looked away, and then it was gone when he looked back.

 

     Allies  beat the Axis fleet  by a score of 3.905 to 2,790.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Chris Grossaint                                      785                   16-3-11

     Kevin Bray                                           670                   27-2-7

     Don Cole                                              570                   17-4-6

     Charley Stephens                                  240                   4-0-4

     Patrick Clarke                                       220                   12-2-1

 

     Jeff Lide                                               1225                 45-9-11

     D.W. Fluegel                                        915                   29-9-8

     Tim Beckett                                          670                   22-2-8

     Dallas Fluegel (sunk)                             570                   12-0-1

     Lief Goodson                                        280                   8-4-2

 

Jeff Lide came over afterwards to see if he’d stung me.  “You could’ve breathed on it and it would’ve gone,” I told him.  It may have been a bit of a fib.  The Bellerophon had taken 7 aboves and one below. 

 

After I got back to the motel, I sat and thought a moment.  The only thing left that could be causing an all out power outage was the main switch.  I mount the main switch outside the water tight box.  I’d had problems in the past with this system, until I found some really nice heavy duty switches that seemed to have a double contact slide.  I’d been using these on the ships since I found them.  I knew this one had been on the Bell’s box since her maiden voyage back in 1999.  ‘Well, maybe it is time that it needs replacing,’ I thought.

 

Well, it must’ve been that switch, as it proved to be a devil.  It took forever to get it out.  Mounted simply with a tee nut and a hex-headed 4-40 bolt, the bolts didn’t show any visible signs of rust but they refused to budge.  It was like I’d secured them with super-glue.  I ended up having to destroy and partially dismantle the switch in order to get enough room to get the Dremel in there to grind them away.  Putting in a spare and installing it was a breeze compared to the removal.  However, I did have to take off the lid of the water tight box one more time (the sixth!) in order to make sure the main power connections going into the box were snugged down.  I’d had yet to find a drop of water in the thing, however.

 

As that thought crossed my mind with a bit of pride, I decided that perhaps the rudder box should be checked too.  There I found a box with about a quarter inch of water in the bottom.  Fortunately the Airtronics servos are shorter, and I always mount them a quarter inch off the bottom, just in case.  I emptied the water, put on a fresh seal, decided to take a mental note for later to see if there was a leak that needed finding, and went out for a breath of air before going to bed.  It was quarter to three, and there was no sign of Patrick across the lot.  I took that as a good sign.

 

 

Thursday:

 

I was pretty shot in the morning.  I made it out to the lake in time for the battle however.

 

The fleets had minor changes.  The fickle Frog captain, Chris Au in the Strasbourg, switched sides in mid-war, and was now on the Allied A fleet.  No doubt he took some friendly fire during the day.  Kevin Bray and his Massachusetts were moved to the Allied B fleet, which had lost a departing Pete Demetri.  For the Axis, on the official scoresheet, Lief is listed with the Axis B fleet, but he’s definitely in the video fighting with the Axis A fleet.

 

Fleet Battle 4:

Allied A vs. Axis A, first sortie:

 

The impression I got from this sortie was that for the Allies, it was another day at the ballpark.  For the Axis A fleet, it was time to get serious and clinch the division title.  After three consecutive Nats losses, who can blame them.

 

The camera starts, presumably just after the call for battle, by following the Bismarck from the center of Left Bend as she leisurely sailed past several Allied ships, to find the Bellerophon sitting in the mouth of Cattail Cove.  I let him pull up alongside <Melton_H_001>, and we jockeyed for sidemounts.  The Bismarck’s guns spat, and I was firing too.  The West Virginia and the Valiant, my adopted wing mates with Kevin gone (Patrick had been previously reassigned and never came back, I now joined him), dropped back to break up the scuffle.  The Bismarck went deep into the cove to turn around, and came back full throttle after the Bell.

 

I saw her coming, and in trying to get up speed in the same relative direction, I found the Bell next to Pearce’s Nagato.  The Bismarck soon caught up <Melton_H_002> and sandwiched the WWI dreadnought.  The Bell recognized the trap and went to reverse as the two big ships slid past and bumped sides like a steel trap snapping shut <Melton_H_003>.  The Invincible now came up alongside the Bell, as the two 6 unit monsters reversed at the same time, and spent a moment or two jockeying to see which way the target would break.  The two smaller ships retreated, but the Invincible backed clear while the Bellerophon got entangled with the Fuso and the Valiant.  <Meltont_H_004>

 

“What is this, pick on Larry day?” asks Bob H., running camera.

 

“You can pick on Tim,” said an Axis.

 

“Hi, Ted,” said Fluegel, introducing his bored Baden to the Valiant.

 

I saw an opportunity and drove the Bell forward, catching the Nagato as the Bell slid alongside the bigger ship.  I fired a few sidemounts as I went past, to no response from the Nagato.  “Good move Lars,” called Pearce. 

 

The Nagato accelerated forward to chase, just as the Bell hit reverse.  The Nagato missed again, but the Bell backed up alongside the Bismarck.  More sidemounts were fired by both ships, but the Bismarck was definitely quicker on the draw. 

 

“Well we can pick on Lars,” says Lief, standing nearby.  The Bell had turned away from the Bismarck and run right into Lief’s VDT.  Off on the side, the Nagato can be seen with a high pump stream that ran for five seconds or more.

 

A flurry of shots is heard just off camera, and Fluegel cheerily pipes in, “That was recreational!”

 

The QE comes in to tie up the Bismarck and Steve Crane’s Nagato, while Pearce’s ship escapes to continue the chase of the Bell with Lief.  The camera stays on the QE as its fire shifts to concentrate on Crane’s Nagato, the bigger Jap running in to shore and firing sterns at the pursuing Brit.

 

Out further, Doug Hunt’s WeeVee says ‘hi’ to Lief’s VDT with a few sidemounts, the German ship turning away to say ‘hi’ in return with some sterns.  The camera swings, catching the Bell circling past the Fuso’s stern, then backing in to try and catch some sidemount action.  The big boys go zipping past on the far side of the Fuso, chasing the Valiant and Invincible.  The Bell is left to play with the Fuso.  The Bell’s pump can be seen to be running, but not heavily.

 

The camera swings to follow Pearce’s Nagato pummeling the Valiant, when someone says, “There she goes.”  The camera swings to catch the Bellerophon rolled to port, her stern long gone and just the tip of her bow left <Melton_H_005>, but it quickly disappeared.  “Bonzai!” yelled the Axis.  The ship closest was the Fuso, and recall I was trying to swing around to go after her when the ship did her usual roll and sink operation.  The hit tally was too low for my liking, and I think I had water coming in over the deck again.

 

I later told my Charley, “At least I had emptied one side mount before I went down.”

 

“Atta boy,” said the Admiral.

 

As the Bell settled on the bottom, Tim Beckett can be heard, “Who’s next Chris?  Pick a target.”  I know an Allied captain who was a touch upset that the heavy hitters came after the Bell.  While I wish I’d lasted longer and gotten to drive around a bit more, I figure that the best way not to be a target in this hobby is to give your pursuers a bloody nose.  I need to get better, not the other captains get nicer.

 

I didn’t go in the water right away, doing my usual ‘wait for a good moment’.  A flurry of shots over off Left Bend is heard, the VV, QE, and Baden are caught when the camera swings over, with the VDT coming in to help.  Other bigger ships like the NCs and the Strasbourg can be glimpsed off to the far left.

 

A thump is heard, followed quickly by groans, and someone follows with, “Ok, I’ll bring her to shore.”  I don’t know who got rammed, but it looked like Pearce’s Nagato may have been coming in.

 

The Invincible and the Valiant are now playing with the Fuso off the mouth of the cove.  Deep in the cove the Bismarck is glimpsed dueling with an Allied ship.  “I’ll help him,” says Lief, bringing his VDT from the group off Left Bend to assist the Fuso.  Left behind by Lief is Roberts and Crane’s Nagato’s, doing a stern dance with the QE and a NC.  The other NC can be seen further out playing with the VV and Baden.

 

Off to the side, the Baden and the Valiant are reintroduced.  “Leave my superstructure alone, Baden,” yells Ted.

 

It now seems like the Allied NCs, the Strasbourg, and the QE have the bulk of the Axis fleet contained, but maybe the Axis were circling to protect the Fuso <Melton_H_007>.  The Allied have their own hunted, the West Virginia, and the Invincible and the Valiant come to her aid.  When the Bismarck swings to come alongside the Valiant, the Invincible inadvertently blocks the Valiant’s turn away, and so the Brit dreadnought is forced to eat a long series of sidemounts, wounding her badly.  When the VDT and the Baden show up like vultures around a wounded wildebeest, the Bismarck circles away.  The Valiant shakes the WWI German ships as she calls five, only to rediscover the Bismarck, the two crossing paths near the campaign targets.  A ‘man in the water’ call breaks the chase and the video footage.

 

When the battle resumes, the Valiant is running off the Right Bend, her pump stream flaring higher than a skunk’s tail, and still the Bismarck came on.  In shore the NCs were chasing Crane’s Nagato, while others were clustered around the Fuso.  The Valiant charges through this cluster, the Bismarck on her tail, and Crane’s Nagato has a present drop in his lap.  The Valiant tries to turn across the Nagato’s bow, but she turned a bit too early <Melton_H_008>.  The other Axis yell at Steve not to ‘push him over’, so the Nagato backs off.

 

The Valiant escaped for a few moments, but when she stopped to let her pumps try to remove some of the water <Melton_H_009>, the Bismarck returned and sidemounts were soon flying again.  “Lief, why don’t we dedicate ourselves to the Valiant and the ones protecting her,” says Fluegel, standing nearby.

 

Meanwhile, further up shore, I asked Ted if he needed a break.  “You bet,” he said.  I started wading out for my ship.  ‘Man in the water’ was called.  I found her easily, and brought her back.  When I stepped back on shore, Ted said, “That was a break?”  I must admit that I didn’t dawdle, but then I wasn’t running out of the water either.  It was more like a waddle.

 

When the battle resumed, Pearce’s Nagato and the Bismarck were back on her.  The Baden soon joined them.  Valiant broke away in reverse, but could only run so far.  “You’re driving her under Ted,” said a spectator.

 

While the Axis pursuit of the Valiant continues, the NCs seem to be concentrating on Steve Crane’s Nagato, and the two pursuits cross paths in the narrow waters of the cove.  Tim Beckett thinks the Valiant has taken enough damage.  “Let her sink,” he calls, as the Valiant floats free.  But the Brit shows life, and so the pursuit resumes.  The Valiant sailed up the Right Bend and then back, the Baden keeping her company and escorting her back to the Bismarck.  The Valiant veers off and is picked up next by Pearce’s Nagato.  After a healthy sidemount greeting, a NC moves in and gives the Nagato some of what it had been giving out.  It may have been Coler’s NC, as someone hollers out, “Go Jim!”

 

The Valiant now circles back into the mouth of the cove, but the Bismarck and others force her to reverse away.  Finally Ted yells, “Valiant off five!”  The British ship tries to now head directly to shore.  Gerald Robert’s Nagato, which wasn’t even chasing the Valiant, now does a back and forth dance when it finds itself in the Valiant’s path.  The Valiant finally goes the long way round and comes in <Melton_H_010>.  A few feet from shore the stern went under.  “Bonzai, decks awash!” calls John Bruder.

 

“No, he was blocked,” says Don Cole, as Ted grabs the ship a few feet out from shore.  I didn’t think the action by Gerald was intentional, rather it was a comical guess and guess wrong type of action.  I later heard the Axis (I think it was Lief the CD) telling Ted that he should put the ship back in for the second sortie.

 

When the battle resumes, the ships are milling about like one of them has lost a contact lens and the others are helping to look for it.  Finally shots are fired again.  The QE comes after Steve Crane’s Nagato, but Gerald’s moves to block.  ‘Man in the water,’ is heard quickly again.  Jim Coler’s NC sank somewhere off camera. 

 

After resuming, Steve Crane finally calls five.  The West Virginia, the ship currently firing the last of her sterns into Crane’s Nagato, is beset upon by Beckett and Pearce.  West Virginia calls five.  She runs for shore and looks like she may cut left for a run across Left Bend, but the Baden cuts her off <Melton_H_011>.  Gerald’s Nagato then chases the WeeVee into Cattail Cove and back to the Bismarck.  The Allied ship takes a list to starboard.  Pumping hard, her momentum and her pump stream push her to the fringe of the cattails <Melton_H_012>, where the VDT is hiding.  The WeeVee tries to turn to come back out, but the turn rolls her and she goes down by the stern <Melton_H_013>, landing on the bottom with the masts still above water.  “Bonzai!” comes the call.

 

There’s not much left for the Axis to shoot at.  The Invincible becomes the next target.  The QE is still fighting, as is Grossaint’s NC.  “Good shot Fuso,” calls Patrick to one of his tormenters.  The Wisconsin is glimpsed alone out in deep water. 

 

The camera cuts, and the NC is now under the Axis guns.  The Strasbourg and the Houston also appear, showing there are other Allied guns still out there.  The Invincible is seen running out in deeper water, a Japanese ship in pursuit.  The Fuso calls five.

 

“Fuso working good for you?” asks Bob the cameraman.  Tim replies that he had to ‘change radio, change receiver, and change frequency’ but he finally seemed to be free of frequency glitches.

 

“Changed everything but the captain,” quipped Ted.

 

The Strasbourg now makes a long run in order to ram the drifting Baden in the stern, the Baden thanks her for the wake-up call with a few double sterns as the Strasbourg passes.  Like confused foxhounds, the Axis now seem to chase whomever is the fastest rabbit, the Strasbourg’s running drawing off the attention so that the NC can chase the Fuso.

 

Finally, the NC and Strasbourg cross paths.  “Ram on the Frog,” calls Grossaint. 

 

“Hey Chris, which side are you on?” asks Tim Beckett, in a tone that says he has no idea, as the Chris Au’s Frog ship drifts near the Bismarck’s guns.

 

There must’ve been ram damage, is the two Allied boats came to shore.  Battle finally resumed.  Many of the ships are getting quite gassy by this point, but Gerald’s Nagato and the Bismarck still have shots left.  The Bismarck scores more than a few times with her bow sidemount on the Strasbourg’s starboard side.  Then the Allied ships break free.  There are several long runs along the deep water line, but very little firing or shots hitting home.  Matt Clarke’s Houston is seen coming to shore.  The Bismarck, the first ship to fire in the sortie, is the last one with ammo, and the video cuts off.

 

 

Allied B vs. Axis B, first sortie:

 

This battle started out a bit lackadaisical.  I don’t hear the call for battle on the video, but instead there is several seconds of ships maneuvering around to get next to teammates.  The Allies were centered off of Left Bend, and the Axis were setting up off the mouth of Cattail Cove.  It was kind of like a dodge ball game where the kids with the balls were still tying their shoes.  Finally the sides got into the formation they wanted, and then they backed down on each other for a stern to stern dance.

 

This dance has been the start of many a battle, and it is a bugger to describe.  Like a dodgeball game, there’s the bigger, stronger kids in the front line, teasing and taunting the other side, hoping that someone on the other side will come too far, and open himself up for a quick strike.  The second row is the smaller, less confident boys, hanging behind the big boys for cover, but looking to pounce on an opponent who stumbles.  Last and least, hugging the back row are the timid ones.  The camera doesn’t pick up any of these latter, if there are any.  We didn’t drive hundreds of miles to hug the back row.

 

Lide and Finster are the most daring of the Axis, taunting the Stephen’s NCs and the Alabama <Melton_H_014>.  Tom Melton’s Nagato backs in when the other Axis hit forward and try to draw in the Allies through to the twin VDTs <Melton_H_015>.  The Tirpitz is out on the end of the line, covering the flank.  When Finster and Lide break behind the Axis line and run towards the deep water, the NCs mirror their movements, but then the NCs turn and a torrent of twin triple sterns explodes in the direction of Melton’s Nagato <Melton_H_016>.  Meanwhile, Finster and Lide have swung around the Tirpitz and are now backing in, but the NCs see them coming and accelerate out of the Axis arc of fire.  Finster and Lide go back into forward and spin out in pursuit. 

 

Left to hold the line is the Tirpitz and the twin VDTs, facing the Alabama and the Maryland <Melton_H_019>.  The NCs race past <Melton_H_020>, and the stern dance line finally breaks up and small group battles become the norm.

 

The NCs have gotten into the rear Axis area, and are rustling the hens there.  Most of the action drifts in that direction, while Finster and Lide are left to play with a few lagging Allied ships.  Out in deep water the Lion is making a big end run towards the Axis side.

 

Out of the pack of ships comes the Warspite, chasing the Kongo <Melton_H_023>.  The Kongo shakes the British ship but then takes a ram to the stern from the Alabama.  The Kongo comes in to check for ram damage.

 

The camera cuts, the action off the mouth of Cattail Cove is still very hot, but the camera’s eye is caught by the Kongo.  The battlecruiser is running along the shore of Right Bend towards the bridge, the Brooklyn and the Massachusetts in pursuit, and the Warspite trailing a dozen feet behind <Melton_H_031>.  The Kongo doesn’t follow the bend towards Guadalcanal, instead she breaks out into deep water.  The Lion has picked up the chase, and is now the ship a dozen feet behind. 

 

Back in the main action, the Massachusetts catches Finster’s Nagato briefly, but behind him taking extended shots from the Maryland and Alabama is the Tirpitz. 

 

“Luis, come back,” hollers teammate Josh Bruder to the far out battlecruiser.

 

“Yeah, come back,” says Ron Horbul of the pursuing Lion.  The two long battlecruisers come racing back, the Lion’s bow just a few inches behind the Kongo’s stern.  Luis takes him across the Left Bend to Josh’s VV, where the Lion decides he’d like to use his guns for a bit and pauses to greet the VV.  The VV gets the better of the exchange, getting both sidemounts and then a couple of triple sterns into the departing Lion.  Lion now has a bit of a list, but isn’t pumping. 

 

The two Melton brothers seem to be battling with just each other.  Mike may’ve been trying to get back at Tom for the one-on-one of the day before. 

 

The camera swings now, between spectators, to peek into Cattail Cove.  Mike Tanzillo’s Nagato is pumping hard <Melton_H_040>, and the pump-side gunwale is touching the water.  The Pirate Smurf is pulled up on shore, probably waiting out a ram repair.  The Moltke and Jake’s VDT sail nearby, protecting and watching their wounded teammate <Melton_H_042>.  The Nagato doesn’t last long, she soon rolls as her stern goes under, the funnel tops nearly reaching the water before she lands on the bottom and starts to return to an even keel <Melton_H_043>.  Mike grabs the ship before it can settle completely. 

 

Out off the Right Bend is the Warspite harassing the Tirpitz <Melton_H_044>.  The Tirpitz runs up the shoreline and then back, picking up the Brooklyn and the Massachusetts in the process.  The cruiser gets in front <Melton_H_045> and forces the big ship to swing away from shore <Melton_H_047>.  The Tirpitz breaks back and runs into the cove for a moment. <Melton_H_050>.  The video breaks away, but the Melton camera catches another two runs back and forth the Right Bend.  <Melton_H_052, Melton_H_053, Melton_H_055>  At one point five Allied ships have him surrounded <Melton_H_056>.  Unlike Fluegel’s fictional Last Stand, the Tirpitz keeps running. <Melton_H_058, Roberts_054, Roberts_055, Roberts_056>

 

Off camera the sound of a CO2 leak is heard.  From the mumbles it sounds like it was a Nagato having the problem.  If so, then it may have been Tom Melton’s Nagato, as the Arizona seems to spend a good deal of time chasing him and the Jap ship withdraws from battle earlier than normal, running up the Right Bend to wait out her five.

 

Back to Melton’s pictures again (he had five times the normal number of shots for this battle, so he’s filling many of the gaps in the video here, as does Gerald.), the Tirpitz is set upon by a skewed Massachusetts.  The Massachusett’s superstructure looks like it took an elbow in gym class <Melton_H_063>, and comes to shore for a Band-Aid.  The Tirpitz gets sucked into the cove where the Alabama and Maryland can play <Melton_H_065>.  The Kirishima then comes in to try to teach the Alabama a lesson <Melton_H_071>.

 

The video camera stares at open water for a few seconds, then the Kongo, followed by the VV and the Lion <Roberts_044>, races into the frame.  The VV cuts the Lion off with a well-placed stern, and the Kongo races off.  The Lion swings around, back to his pursuit of the Kongo, but he did get a stern shot in on Jake’s VDT as he went <Roberts_045>.  The Kongo backed down into the cove <Roberts_046> where he was soon surrounded by Axis friends, and the Lion sailed away to go play with the VV again.

 

The VV once again seemed to get the better of the Lion.  “Arrgh!” said Ron in a polar bear growl as the Lion got several triple sterns.  “I know better than to go behind that thing.”  The Alabama then came in for a little stern dance with the VV, but it didn’t last long.

 

The Alabama soon sailed into Cattail Cove, just as the Tirpitz was breaking out of it.  The VV followed the Alabama, and caught her with some sidemounts when the Allied ship stopped and reversed. 

 

The pursuit of the Tirpitz was on again, running along the Right Bend with the Warspite in pursuit.  The Tirpitz’s pump is just spritzing and not spraying like she looks like she needs to do.  She runs up the Right Bend, and low in the water, she swings around like a wounded rhino preparing to ram the Warspite.  The Warspite steers clear, as does the Alabama.  Flashes of red hull appear momentarily as the big ship comes back towards shore, her quarter deck nearly awash.  The Warspite is now behind her, keeping her moving, while a NC circles farther behind.  The Maryland gets on the inside and forces the Tirpitz out from shore.  The Tirpitz’s pump stream is now a steady spritz, sometimes coming in a V, and it may be that her pump outlet took a direct hit and was damaged.  The water is now also coming over his bow.  “Get him Rick,” hollers Don. 

 

“Animal Rick,” says a spectator.  I hadn’t heard this nickname before.  Maybe he said, ‘you’re an animal’.

 

The camera is screened by Jake Bruder’s blaze orange shirt.  When the camera pans further, the other ships are there, but the Tirpitz has disappeared.  For the longest time I thought that the big ship had sunk here, and even wrote it up like that, but the Tirpitz must’ve come off her five and reversed course to shore, as she appears in the second sortie of this battle.  A ‘man in the water’ call comes within a few seconds, which may have been Robert pulling her out.

 

When battle resumes, a flurry of shots is heard.  “Don! Don! Don!” yell folks, Grossaint being the loudest.

 

“Sorry about that,” says Don.  The camera doesn’t catch any of the incident, so I can’t tell you more.

 

“Come on Ron, you wanted to play, so let’s play,” yells an Axis, probably Josh Bruder (but if so then his voice is changing).  The Kongo and the VV are near the Lion but it is the Lion running now.

 

“All of a sudden I’m by myself, this ain’t no fun,” laughs Ron. 

 

“Ah, this is a bit more even,” says one Axis.

 

“Are you kidding this is great,” yells another.

 

The Lion runs towards the far left, but then stops when his pursuers go wide.  The Lion now backs in, a slight list to the non-pump side.  Her pump is kicking out a steady stream but not terribly strong.  When the VV gets in range again, the Lion returns to forward and spins away out to deep water.

 

The camera swings to an exchange between the Massachusetts and the Moltke.  The Moltke has the bigger ship running in reverse, but she can’t stay around long because the Arizona is coming up fast.  The Moltke runs off towards the cove, while the two Allied ships stop to take on the two VDTs. 

 

The camera swings away to check on the Lion.  Still chased by the Kongo and the VV, she’s out on the far left and headed towards infinity.

 

The camera comes back to find the Pirate Smurf’s haymaker opening up on the Washington.  “You still got shots Tony?” asks Mike Melton.

 

“Yep,” says Tony, trying to get them to line up to take out the sword-waving figure.  But a flurry of shots announced the sudden arrival of the Axis Admiral.

 

As the shots from the Kirishima fly, Tim Beckett calls out, “Twelve inches, Jeff.”  Either he was referring to where the Kirishima’s sterns were set to hit the water, or he was mumbling something in code.  Whatever it was, the Massachusetts backed down and helped drive him away. 

 

In the meantime, the Pirate Smurf is racing back to Jake’s VDT, which is being chased by the Arizona <Melton_H_077>.  Jake’s ship gets a perfect opportunity for a stern shot on the American, but her guns fire only air.  The Massachusetts and the Kirishima join the struggle <Melton_H_079>, and Jake’s VDT hits the Massachusetts with sidemounts.  The Massachusetts swings into a turn, and had a great shot for triple sterns on the Kirishima, but the big ship doesn’t fire.

 

“He’s probably out of sterns,” says Tim Beckett to Lide.

 

“You think?” asked Lide.

 

“He had the perfect range and didn’t fire,” said Tim.  “He could have sterns and just didn’t fire.”

 

I’m believing you, Tim,” says the Axis Admiral.  “One hundred percent, man!”  The Kirishima comes racing in to follow the Massachusett’s snake dance.  “It’s all on you.  If I get opened up, it’s your fault,” says Jeff.

 

“Okay,” replies Tim. It’s always easy when it’s someone else’s ship.

 

“Here I go,” said Jeff, as the Massachusetts finally pauses, and the Kirishima comes alongside.  “Oh, he’s out,” comes the final report.

 

The camera now swings quickly to catch the sinking Lion.  Her stern is gone up to the funnels, but she’s still running forward out by a deep water marker.  Her bow then swings high and slides under.  Even in the four and half foot deep water one could tell when the long ship’s stern hit bottom with her bow still above the waves.  “BONZAI!” comes the usual call.

 

After the recovery of the Lion, which was done by Josh Bruder <Melton_H_081>, most ships are sitting, waiting out their five.  The Massachusetts is still pursued by the VDT tag team running off to the right, but the Kirishima can be seen running off towards Handicapped Cove.  That’s where the video footage ends.

 

However, the Melton’s camera catches a further chase.  The Kirishima is after the Arizona <Melton_H_082>.  The Arizona runs the Kirishima in a circle and comes back to the center.  The Kongo must’ve cut off the Arizona and sent her running back <Melton_H_086>.  The Arizona shakes the Kongo and comes running back again with the Kirishima <Melton_H_087>.  Jake Bruder’s VDT joins the chase and sends the Arizona back left again <Melton_H_088>.  The battle seemed to turn into a turning match <Melton_H_092>.  The Kongo returns from her hiatus to help sandwich and steer the Allied ship <Melton_H_093, Melton_H_094>.  The Arizona seems to break free again, as the Jap ships do a turn-about here <Melton_H_096>, but all three Axis have the Arizona surrounded for the last picture <Melton_H_098>.

 

 

As I said earlier, there were many more photos of this battle than for most, and I’ve tried to place the best of those where they occur in the narrative above.  However, due to the long chases of the Kongo, Lion, and the Tirpitz, which the video followed but the still cameras did not, there are many great action photos that I just can’t put together into a reasonable narrative.  It is a pity, as there are some very good photos like a double tag team <Melton_H_070>, a continuation of the action <Melton_H_071>, the NCs working on the Kirishima <Roberts_018, Roberts_019>, Charley’s NC working on Tanzillo’s Nagato <Roberts_025, Roberts_026>, then Tony’s Washington and the Alabama on Tanzillo’s NC <Roberts_031, Roberts_034, Roberts_035>.  A good shot of the action in the mouth of Cattail Cove seems centered on the two VDTs <Roberts_063>.

 

 

Allied A vs. Axis A, second sortie:

 

Most sorties up to this point have ranged from fifteen to twenty minutes of video footage.  This battle has a mere five and a half minutes of video footage, and it is the tail end of the sortie when half the battlers have departed.  Of course, some of those departures were voluntary, but others were forced.

 

The big interest at the beginning of this sortie was the Valiant.  After having been invited back into the sortie after the minor controversy of her exit in the first, the Axis were there to dot the I’s and cross the T’s on the Valiant’s sink certificate.  A year previously the Valiant had limped out of a first sortie, severely damaged, and had been expected to sink easily in the second, but had not only survived the sortie but had emptied all her guns as well.  So the Axis weren’t about to take her for granted again.

 

The Valiant was in no shape to run in this sortie.  She didn’t need to, the wolves were already at the door.  Ted picked a nice shade tree to stand under, down in Cattail Cove, and kept the Valiant there.  Three Axis ships were floating nearby when battle was called, <Melton_H_100> the Fuso, the Baden, and the von der Tann.  The Baden and the VDT, having teamed together for years, worked well together.  The Valiant started with her port side facing out, where her bow gun could fire <Melton_H_101>.  Surprisingly, the Fuso and the VDT managed to get between the Valiant and shore, with the VDT screening her Jap teammate from shooting <Melton_H_102>.  The Valiant seemed to want to protect her bow, and so she turned and ran it ashore <Melton_H_103>.  However, when the Axis backed off, she backed out too, in order to engage the Baden <Melton_H_104>.  The Baden, however, had her haymaker hitting on unprotected hull, and so the Valiant buried her nose in the shore again <Melton_H_105>.  The Baden followed her in and continued to hit with her haymaker, until the Valiant kicked her rudders over to push the Baden away <Melton_H_106>.  This opened up her other side to attack <Melton__107>.  The Valiant was making a game of it, but I don’t remember if she was returning fire or had called five immediately. 

 

The dark gray stern of the Bismarck appears, backing in an attempt to deliver the coup de grace <Melton_H_108>.  However, the VDT is like a terrier, not willing to back off and let the big guns finish the job <Melton_H_109>.  The Bismarck drifts, letting the smaller battlecruiser continue its work <Melton_H_110>.  The inevitable finally comes, the Valiant rolls to port and her stern goes under <Roberts_060>.  Her bow remains firmly planted on shore <Melton_H_111>.  A ‘Bonzai’ is yelled, along with accolades for Ted providing a target worthy of attention.

 

The next worthy target is the big ship.  Brian Lamb’s Wisconsin had sunk in two of her first three battles, and she was soon the center of attention once again <Melton_H_112>.  After dwarfing the Valiant, the Bismarck looks small alongside the American ship.  But with Pearce’s and Robert’s Nagatos to help <Melton_H_113> the big ship is run to ground.  In an interesting picture, she rolls to starboard while alongside Gerald’s ship, and the Wisconsin looks like she is reaching for the Nagato, either to hold herself up, or else to pull the smaller ship down with her <Melton_H_114>.  The Nagato frees herself <Roberts_061>, and the Wisconsin goes bubbling to the bottom <Melton_H_115>.  After she is recovered, a huge hole is found in her side.  In the picture, it doesn’t look bad <Melton_H_116>, but that is because there is a rough circle of shot holes about two inches round, but in reality the interior of the circle is barely hanging on and swings inward like a door.  Even on this biggest of Allied ships, the hole was too much for the ship to last long.  It seemed to suck the life out her captain as much as it had done to the ship.

 

The battle had thus far been going very well for the Axis.  Things changed.  I don’t know how they got there, but soon both Fluegels were seen in the cattails deep in the cove.  The Baden was floating near a cluster of dry brown stalks, and not moving, but his pump seemed to be just fine.  The Karlsruhe was deeper in, half screened in the tall green stalks.  The NC came in and tried to bother the two German ships, but once again the Axis defended their wounded.  Finally the Baden’s five minutes were up, and D.W. waded out to recover the battleship.  As he pushed his own ship past the cruiser <Roberts_062>, he stopped and called, “Dee, turn on your pump.”

 

Dallas replied that the pump switch was on. 

 

D.W. looked down again.  There was no water coming from the pump outlet.  “That’s not good,” he said calmly to himself.  He returned to fetch the cruiser a minute or so later when it sank into the weeds.

 

The battle resumed, but the action was soon shattered by a call, “There she goes!”  Most heads were looking out off of Left Bend, but back in Cattail Cove another ship was seen going down.  The long tall superstructure was still riding high as the ship’s bow swung into the air.  The Fuso was going down <Melton_H_117>.

 

“NOOOOOO!” came an anguished scream from the bank of Right Bend.  “NOOOOO!”  Tim Krakowski’s face broke into a grim smile.  “Eight seconds!  It had eight seconds left!” he cried in exasperated explanation.  This brought a relieved chuckle from the other captains.  Most of us know exactly how he feels.

 

Well, the series of excellent pictures from Mike Melton quit with the Fuso sink, but the video picks up with Josh Bruder’s recovery of the Fuso.  When battle resumes, the Bismarck picks up Chris Grossaint’s NC and begins to pursue.  A Nagato joins in.  While the Bismarck tries to hit the NC with sidemounts, forcing the NC to circle into Cattail Cove, Gerald’s Nagato races here and there for stern shots.  The NC then breaks out of the cove and heads for open water, picking up the Strasbourg, friendly this time, for an escort.  Then the NC turns suddenly and her triple sterns fire a long series of shots into the Bismarck’s bow.  In the background, the Invincible had been sitting off the far Right Bend’s shore, but now she heads across the deep water in search of quieter surroundings.  This may have been the start of her infamous ‘run’.  Meanwhile Gerald’s Nagato rejoins the fray just in time to take a ram from the Bismarck.  Pearce’s Nagato is coming in to support.  The NC breaks out into deep water as Pearce pursues, but Gerald’s Nagato pulls up at the buoy line, unwilling to follow.  The chase breaks down as the Bismarck veers off to try to catch the Houston napping.  The Houston gives her some double sterns for her trouble. 

 

The Strasbourg heads off to chase Gerald’s Nagato, which may be hurt from a ram she didn’t call.  The Nagato fires some warning shots as the Strasbourg circles behind the big ship, but then races off when the battlecruiser pulls in front.  The sidemounts start flying back and forth as they race for deep water.  The Strasbourg crosses the buoy line, but the Nagato veers off. 

 

The Bismarck is once again chasing the NC, trying to get her bow sidemount alongside the NC’s stern.  Grossaint’s ship does a slight turn which is enough for a glancing stern shot and the NC’s guns bark.  However, the NC is soon converged upon again when she reaches the bend to the bridge, and the Bismarck’s sterns get a bit of payback.  The Axis ships overshoot while shooting, and the NC turns and comes racing back. 

 

As the NC turns and cuts across into deep water, there is a whole lot of yelling going on.  Tim Beckett yells at Gerald to stop and pump, as his ship follows the NC into deep water but it looks very tippy.  The Nagato stops and a healthy pump spray is quickly seen.  Kevin Bray is yelling for Mike Melton go look ‘over there for the I-boat.’

 

At some point between when the I-boat moved for quieter waters, and when the Bismarck had tried to catch Matt Clarke’s Houston napping, Patrick Clarke lost track of his ship.  He’d been chatting with his son, and then looked up and asked, “Matt, where’s my ship?”  He had absolutely no idea where it had gone.  With a wide expanse of water before him and no twin tripod masts in sight, his greatest fear was that it had sunk somewhere, and he had no idea where to begin looking.  While Gerald’s Nagato coasts back to shallow water off the Right Bend, Patrick was just rounding the far corner of the Right Bend to see if the I-boat was hiding under or around the bridge.  The video ends here.

 

The I-boat was found alive and kicking, however.  With Patrick at one end of the pond, his ship had run the gamut unseen and was found by Mike Melton and crew trying to sail past the roped strung across the tip of Handicapped Cove.  Patrick had to come, half sprinting, half jogging, all the way over to regain control.  If his ship had jumped the rope, she would’ve been ruled sunk as per the Site Host’s ‘ground rules’.  Patrick was much relieved with the ship now in hand, and laughing with the rest of the crew who were kidding him all the way back to the pits, and for several minutes afterwards.

 

     Axis A  beat the Allied A fleet  by a score of 21,505 to 11,3250.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Brian Lamb (sunk)                                4055                 23-13-46

     Ted Brogden (sunk)                               3945                 87-7-40

     Jim Coler (sunk)                                    2610                 36-10-20

     Tom Brown                                          0                      0-0-0

     Chris Grossaint                                      2250                 35-4-36

     Dave Au                                               2115                 39-13-28

    

 

     Tim Krakowski (sunk)                           3970                 97-16-34

     Dallas Fluegel (sunk)                             1765                 59-3-14

     Gerald Roberts                                      1345                 57-9-11

     Tim Beckett                                          1115                 44-7-10

     Steve Crane                                          1070                 57-2-9

 

 

 

Allied B vs. Axis B, second sortie:

 

The sortie began slowly, some ships sitting, others slowly moving, while short volleys of shots were heard.  A few ships moved in the direction of the Tirpitz.  Voices in the distance are heard on the tape.  “Who’s on five?”

 

The Warspite and the Massachusetts try to back down on the Tirpitz <Melton_H_119>, and the Warspite takes a sustained beating in the process, most likely from Finster.  The Warspite gets close enough to the German ship to begin shooting and prop washing her.  The Tirpitz moves towards the shore on Right Bend, the Warspite follows to hit it with sidemounts.  When the Tirpitz reverses out towards open water, the Warspite is hit by the sterns on the Kirishima. 

 

As the camera pulls back, a long volley of shots is heard, but the camera doesn’t catch who was firing.  “Somebody come get this Carolina,” calls Finster, perhaps giving a clue.  The Moltke and a VDT challenge the NC <Melton_H_121>, just as the Alabama backs in to hit Finster’s Nagato with triple sterns.  “I’ve got them cornered!” hollers Finster.  This causes the Massachusetts to come rushing in <Melton_H_120>. 

 

In the background, the Tirpitz can be seen circling with the Kongo alongside, while the Warspite is sitting wondering where his help went. 

 

In the meantime, the Alabama, the Massachusetts, and a NC have Finster’s Nagato pinned near the cattails.  The Nagato, feeling the heat, runs into the weeds.  She rams one set of stalks, backs up drunkenly, and then buries her beaten bow deep in the grass.  There she sat, her stern poking out like a turtle’s head out of its shell <Melton_H_123>.  “Let me know when he goes on five,” says Kevin Bray.  This comment is only partially heard by others, and results in a flurry of calls asking if Bryan had gone on five.

 

The camera swings now to catch the final moments of the Tirpitz.  The ship is on its side, red hull showing, as it heads towards shore <Melton_H_124>.  The Tirpitz moves like a slowly submerging muskrat racing for its den <Roberts_074, Roberts_075, Roberts_076>, the den in this case being the shore target stand on Right Bend.  But like a gawky teenager, instead of diving for the safety of the submerged door, it instead leaves enough of its bow above water to bang its forehead on the doorsill.  With a shudder she stopped, stayed there for a moment making it look like if she pushed hard enough that she might stay afloat, but then she surrendered to the incoming water <Roberts_077> and sank on the doorstep of the mythical muskrat home.

 

The camera cuts for the Tirpitz’s recovery, and starts up again with the Massachusetts and the Alabama, like a set of terriers, trying to scare the Finster’s rabbit out of his hole <Melton_H_125>.  There’s sticks in the water,” they complain, while Finster gives his best evil laugh.  The Massachusetts makes a thirty second moss call.  Further out, the Kirishima comes in and puts a whole lot of shots into the NC < Upper right of Melton_H_126>.  “Charley, he’s out of guns,” says a spectator.

 

“And he put them all in your bow,” adds Grossaint.

 

The camera cuts, returning on the Alabama, Massachusetts and the still hiding Nagato.  The Massachusetts is pumping hard <Melton_H_127>.  “Stupid sticks, we should’ve cleared them before battle,” says Kevin.  When the Warspite joins the watch, the Alabama slides over to the Massachusett’s spot <Melton_H_128>.  “Come on,” moaned Kevin.  “Come out and fight like a man.”  Clucking sounds were then heard.

 

“Use the terrain to your advantage,” responds Finster.  The Nagato backs out a bit, and the Alabama and Warspite fire their stern guns.  “Go ahead and bounce those off that hard area, Bob,” Finster calls.  Then the Nagato backs out finally to challenge the Alabama with her own twin sterns, but instead rams the Alabama solidly near the rear turret.  The American ship calls ram and sails off, pumping very hard.  She starts to list heavily.  “Ram sink, ram sink,” is heard. 

 

“You’re not under yet, touch it,” says Finster.  The Alabama is touched moments before she sinks. 

 

“Ram!” is heard again immediately.  While watching the Alabama’s trip to shore, Finster’s Nagato has now just backed into the Massachusetts in a near repeat of the ram just seconds before. 

 

“See what happens when you call a ram sink,” says Bryan as the Nagato briefly returns to her home in the weeds.  Then Bryan brings the ship back to pull her off while the Alabama patches.  The camera cuts.

 

While the camera is off, the Arizona and the Moltke seemed to have been having a bit of a tangle <Roberts_081, Melton_H_130, Melton_H_131, Melton_H_133>.

 

Next shot has the Allied NCs, the Warspite, and the Massachusetts controlling the mouth to Cattail Cove.  The Massachusetts is pumping hard, and this is the battle that Kevin called ram, checked for a ram, but did not see a big  ram hole. 

 

Further out, the Arizona is running from one of the VVs.  She’s pumping hard and somewhat low but still sailing hard.  The other VV joins the chase, but the Arizona has the Maryland for company <Melton_H_136>. 

 

The camera swings back to catch the Warspite and a NC working on the Kirishima.  The other NC is playing with a Nagato further out.  “Hey Bruder, kill Kevin,” hollers Finster, referring to the hard pumping Massachusetts <Melton_H_134>.  The Warspite joins the Massachusetts, and fires on the Italian ship as it comes to attack <Roberts_087>.  The camera wanders further out, where the other VV is, along with the Kongo.  The Washington gets alongside her and fires a long series of sidemounts.  “Get that Kongo, get that Kongo,” hollers the Allied spectators.  Then “Man in the water,” is heard.  The Massachusetts had gone down, but the Kongo/Washington duel can be seen in the background <Roberts_095>.

 

The battle continues, the NC swinging by to hit Finster’s Nagato, which has strayed a bit from her weedy den, but she returns quickly under the volley.  “I’m not running, I’m sitting right here,” hollers Finster in response to a request for him to run.  “Come shoot me.”

 

The Allies are losing interest in the turtle however, and swing back out to find more traditional targets.  The Alabama and the Warspite find Jake Bruder’s VDT, but the camera swings over to Italia.  John Bruder’s ship is definitely low in the water.  Meanwhile Josh Bruder’s VV is getting worked over by the NC and the Washington <Roberts_097>.  “Oh ho!” laughs Ron the cameraman.  “Those shots skipped off the red and white top.”  <Roberts_098>

 

The VV circles away, but now the Warspite comes in to cut her off <Roberts_099>.  The Warspite cuts in front, and the VV’s bow comes up against the Warspite almost dead amidships.  The Warspite is pushing hard, but the VV is pushing even harder <Roberts_100>, and the bigger ship pushes him sideways for several feet while the Warspite’s haymaker is emptied.  The Italia comes by and scraps past the VV.  The NC and the Washington seem to pause for a moment, watching the shoving match. 

 

“I’m holding him, somebody come and shoot him,” says Bob.  The NC and the Washington spring back into action.  The NC gets alongside <Roberts_101>, just as the Italia sails into break up the shoving match from the middle.  Four ships in tight formation are now sailing together <Roberts_102, Roberts_103, Roberts_104>.  The Alabama has positioned herself for a nice stern shot on the VV’s bow, and then Finster’s Nagato distracts the Warspite <Roberts_107, Roberts_108>. 

 

On the audio, I’m talking to Ron about our fellow Minnesotan.  Bob’s Warspite is pumping hard but doing all right.  “It always looks like he’s going,” says Ron when I wonder if he is sinking <Melton_H_137>.  We don’t even see that the Italia is low in the water <Roberts_109>.  Jake’s VDT has come to help his father, and the VV draws off the Warspite momentarily.  The Nagato cuts off the Warspite’s return <Roberts_111, Roberts_112>, but catches volleys from the Alabama in turn.  The Warspite is then blocked by the VV again.  The Warspite finally makes it back alongside the Italia <Roberts_113>, just in time to be warned, “Don’t touch him, don’t touch him!”

 

The water is lapping at the lower gunwale of the Italia’s stern now <Roberts_114>.  No pump stream is coming, as she’s suffered a meltdown in the pump’s electrical system, and it’s just a matter of time.  “Go V, go V, go V,” I hear myself chanting on the tape.  The ship slowly circles <Roberts_115>, with her family nearby, the VV on the outer side, the smaller VDT circling inboard.  The North Carolina is waiting, and fires off several sterns as the dying ship passes, but then her guns start blowing air, which causes groans from the crowd. 

 

“Prop wash him,” comes the next suggestion, but the Italia is out of range.  It isn’t needed however.  The Italia rolls to starboard <Roberts_116>, but then returns to a near even keel as the stern plunges to the bottom.  The bow rises high in the air, where it is grabbed by the quick moving John <Roberts_117>.  “AWWW!” cry Ron and I, seeing a good sink shot spoiled.  “That was a beautiful sink,” says Ron as John carries the ship back to shore with a smile on his face.

 

Next we have video footage where Ron thought the camera was off.  Folks are calling that Bob was hurt, and Josh Bruder seems to trying to find someone to help him finish Bob off.

 

The footage on the water resumes with the Washington and the Arizona trying to keep the VV from getting to the Warspite <Roberts_119>.  Finster’s Nagato is there to punish the Arizona <Melton_H_139>.  Jake’s VDT and the Maryland come in to join the fray as the action moves in to shore and out of camera view.

 

The camera next shows the Warspite, sitting in the water.  Her once healthy pump spray is now a drizzle <Melton_H_140>.  Some spectators thought it was a bb denting or jamming the pump outlet, but that wasn’t it.  Just before leaving for Nats, Bob had gotten these nice metal strips with the Warspite’s name in them, and had mounted them on the inboard portions of the step deck.  Josh Bruder’s VV had caught the Warspite with her high mounted triple sterns.  Instead of bouncing harmlessly off the hard superstructure, they’d instead hit the metal plate.  The plate had bent, and was now blocking the pump outlet stream, about an inch or two from the outlet.  <Roberts_126, Roberts_127, Roberts_128>

 

Like a boxer with his eyes swelling shut, Bob called for help.  “Somebody get it with their gun,” he called.  No one tried it however.  The Warspite sat there, waiting for her five to finish, while much chuckling was heard on shore.  “Well, those things are getting ripped off,” said a disgusted Bob. 

 

The action finally comes back, the VV worked her way back in despite the best efforts of a NC and the Maryland.  “Just sit there, we’ll protect you,” Charley the Allied admiral tells him, but the VV’s stern swings over and just misses pushing the Warspite’s stern.  Even worse, the Maryland was right alongside the VV <Melton_H_142>, and during his attempt to deflect the Axis ship, Rick King’s ship nearly rammed the Warspite himself.  As it was, the struggling Maryland’s prop wash flooded the Warspite’s port side. 

 

“HEY-HEY-HEY!” yells Bob. 

 

“That was bad,” says Jim Coler.

 

The VV is now alongside the Warspite, and she fires a few sidemount shots.  “It ain’t hurting you,” says Charley.  “He’s only hitting decks.”  The Washington now gets in, and via prop washing, forces the VV’s bow to swing away <Roberts_125>.  The VV thinks about prop washing the Warspite, but now she’s been pushed out so that her sterns are nearly in range.  She tries a shot, and a spectator calls, “Too high!”

 

The spinning bear’s head on top of the Warspite’s bridge is noticeably slowing by this time.  The VV fires three more salvos, which might have hit.  The VV backs in then and her stern taps the Warspite <Melton_H_143>.  “Don’t ram him,” Josh is told.

 

Now the Alabama has gotten her bow up against the VV’s bow, and with the Washington nudging her stern, it looks like the two Allied ships could push the big Italian up on shore.  “I’m going to call ram if you guys don’t stop pushing me,” warns Josh.  The Americans back off, and the VV backs across the Warspite’s bow, freeing herself from the Allied protectors. 

 

The VV returns to nudge the Warspite with its bow, and a spectator protests.  “It’s a high rim,” says another.  Off camera, an Allied is scolded for prop washing the Warspite. 

 

“Keep trying Josh, have some fun,” says Lou.

 

“How much time, Bob,” asks Jim Coler.

 

“About twenty seconds now,” says Bob.  The VV now has her stern back against the Warspite’s port side.  She alternates between firing stern shots and prop washing.  “Too high!” and “There you go!” are heard.  The Allies think the issue is over, but the NC seems to consider giving the VV another push away.  The VV settles on just prop washing now, and the NC coasts in to touch the VV.  The Washington coasts in as well, and when she bumps the VV is pushed away. 

 

By this time Bob is audibly counting down the seconds.  He’s also covering all bases by counting visibly with his fingers.  “Five … four … three … two … one.”  Then all in one breath he yells, “Warspite off five man in the water!” as he lunges in to touch his ship.  Much laughter is heard when he proudly carries the Warspite off.

 

That’s it for the action footage of the battle.  Bob later told me he gave the bent piece of metal that had been blocking his pump outlet to Josh, ‘as a trophy.’  I thought it was an excellent gesture.

 

Now, according to the score sheet, the Allies won this battle by a mere 280 points.  However, Lief Goodson is included in the scores for Axis B, but he most definitely fought on the Axis A fleet, and if his 495 points are subtracted from the Allied score, that’s enough to tip the victory to the Axis.  I guess the CD got hold of the wrong colored score sheet for this sortie.

 

     Officially, Allied B beat the Axis B fleet by a score of 15,165 to 14,885.

    

     Top Five High Point ships                      Total Pts           Hits

     Charley Stephens                                  2990                 49-18-41

     Mike Melton                                         2615                 99-7-29

     Kevin Bray (sunk)                                 2150                 40-2-14

     Ron Horbul (sunk)                                 1660                 46-2-7

     Bob Hoernemann                                  1560                 41-16-15

    

 

     Rob Stalnaker (sunk)                             3875                 100-11-32

     John Bruder (sunk)                                2475                 75-5-12

     Mike Tanzillo (sunk)                              1940                 69-0-5

     Josh Bruder                                          1350                 60-6-12

     Bryan Finster                                        1345                 77-7-8

 

 

After the call for the noon stand-down came, Charley asked for everyone’s attention.  Every evening when we went home from the pond, we passed these college kids holding bill boards advertising five dollar pizzas from Little Caesar’s.  Charley announced that they were going to make a pizza run, and anyone that wanted in needed to sign up and fork over the five dollars.  Most people did.

 

Ted Brogden and two others went for the pizzas.  When they came back they had a huge stack of pizzas.  When asked, Ted said,  I walked in and ordered 35 pepperoni’s and one sausage.  The guy taking orders didn’t even bat an eye, he just went to work.”

 

When the pizzas were handed out, most captains were now taken aback.  Everyone who’d kicked in five dollars got a pizza to themselves.  They were 14 inch round pizzas.  Most folks balked, and suddenly there were cries, “Anybody want some pizza?”  I did hear someone accept, and I’m sure they were supplied with more than they could handle.

 

While this call for sharing was going on, Swampy was balking too, but he was doing it for a different reason.  He’d gotten a pepperoni, like the rest.  Turns out he was the odd man out who had ordered sausage, and it took a little time to find the special order.  He too was soon offering to share, but by this time any takers were already swamped.

 

I ended up taking the half I didn’t eat back to the motel and threw it in the fridge.  I was somewhat leery about eating anymore of it, after it had been sitting out for four or more hours.  But late that night just before bed a case of the munchies hit, and I tried one piece.  When I survived the night without problems, the rest went for breakfast Friday morning.

 

Another item occurred, but I don’t remember if it was during the noon hour or between the battle sorties in the morning.  Fluegel called for attention, proclaiming that he was ‘going to perform a science experiment.”  He marched down to the lake and tossed into the water an object that looked like a sugar cube on steroids.  It landed with a small plop and sank quickly, leaving a small circle of bubbles. 

 

“What was that,” he was asked.  I don’t remember Fluegel’s exact response, just that it was ‘sodium-something’. 

 

“What’s supposed to happen,” folks asked. 

 

“It’s different every time,” said Fluegel.

 

The water was fairly still for a few moments, then a small cluster of foamy bubbles appeared.  Finster had a ship out on the water.  “Should I sail over it,” he asked.

 

“I wouldn’t,” said Fluegel.  A few more seconds passed.

 

Then a loud crack, big enough to be worthy of a fireworks show, resounded through the air.  A small fountain of water shot straight up into the air, and at it’s peak when it dropped back, it left a cloud of bluish smoke that hung in the air, then slowly dispersed in the light breeze.

 

On shore, Fluegel beamed triumphantly while receiving many slaps on the back.

 

 

Campaign Battle 2:

Allied A vs. Axis B:

 

There is a few minutes of video footage of this battle, but it is short and in the middle.  Thus this is from the scoresheets, the still photos, and my foggy recall.

 

The Allies were still smarting from not getting the points they’d expected for Tuesday’s campaigns.  Charley was determined to run a smarter battle, and decided to start with running the smaller ships that didn’t have the high sink points if they went down.  Ted was picked to make an early run with his black freighter, and Brian Lamb was ready to run an LST.  Jim Coler took the task of running the Charley Special, to once again walk the far shore to have a convoy on the water at all times, should the Axis convoy ship go down away from shore.

 

Myself, I was ready to run convoys like before, but there were none left for the moment.  “What do you want me to do?” I asked Charley.  When he didn’t have a suggestion, I told him the Bellerophon was ready to go this time.  With the Axis looking to warship sink points to make up for their lack of convoys, and the Bellerophon spending the week acting like there was a screen door below the waterline, the choice didn’t appeal to him.  He didn’t say as much, but as he pondered the right thing to say, I could read what he didn’t want to say audibly.

 

“Bring it down here and have it ready to throw it in if we get short of ships on the water.  You’ll be the reserve,” he said.  That was fine with me.  I’d told him earlier in the week that his job was a tough one, having to keep everyone happy, and I’d try to do whatever he told me to do.  As the other three convoy captains readied their ships, I brought the Bell down from the pavilion.  I brought her down on her stand so that I wouldn’t have to sit her directly on the ground, and possibly nick up her props or rudders.  However, I carried her down on my shoulder, and when I swung her off to put her down, my grip slipped, and the ship slid out of my grasp and fell heavily on her stern.  This was very similar to a drop that had happened to the ship during late preparations for the 2003 Nats, and it had taken me two battles and most of speed trials before I found and repaired all the damage from that drop.  Thus, I was feeling quite sick as I examined the rudders and props.

 

Fortunately, there appeared to be no damage from this drop, even though she was fully loaded with guns, CO2, and batteries, whereas the previous drop had only been the empty hull.  Must have been the Missouri dirt over the cement floor of my garage that provided the cushion.

 

Out on the water, the initial work of downing the targets was underway.  The Axis launched their convoy ship rather early, taking advantage of the Allied preparations for their own run.  Their ship made it to the forward base successfully.

 

For the Allies, Brian Lamb ran the LST for quite a while.  The little ship made two complete runs there and back, and a third back to the forward base. 

 

Ted’s black freighter had problems out of the gate.  After having run well on Tuesday, Ted now lost control of her.  We could see the rudder moving, but there was no action from the prop.  She was drifting helplessly, and took a few shots from the Bruder’s VVs before Ted declared her sunk.  The ship was slowly sinking from the hits she’d taken, and she was drifting past the buoys out into the deep water.  Lief as CD made the call that Ted could go get her, ‘for safety reasons’, as no one wanted to have to dive for the ship if it sank in water over our heads.  Ted waded out into the water as quick as he could, and in water up to his shoulders, he grabbed the bow of the freighter just as it was sinking stern first.  This brought a bunch of cheers from shore.  <Vid_001, Vid_002, Vid_003>

 

The video does show the second launch of the Yamashiro.  Steve Reynolds was driving again.  She was sailing from the forward port back to the home port.  Her thirty second timer (to gain sea area) was started.  The Axis escorts, the VV and a Nagato gathered nearby.  The Allies had Chris Grossaint’s NC waiting as well.  As the ship sailed out, the warships started moving, and someone yelled out, “He’s still on his thirty!”  The Axis ships moved in to screen, but Tom Melton’s Nagato caught the convoy’s bow and swung the ship around, as it was announced the thirty had elapsed.  Both Axis escorts were between the convoy and the shore.  The NC floated in from the deeper water and started firing sidemounts into the Yamashiro.

 

“I can’t do anything,” a captain is heard to say.  Jake Bruder’s VDT joined the screen, sailing between the NC and the Axis convoy, as the convoy backed away.  Tanzillo’s Nagato also came alongside but the convoy backed past that into open water.  The Strasbourg came racing around the outside to attack.  “Watch Au!” Tim Beckett calls.  The convoy ship returns to forward, running back inside of Tanzillo’s Nagato.  However she overshoots once again, and her starboard bow comes free just as the NC’s stern swings past.  Six to eight quick triple stern salvos are heard, resulting in much Allied whooping.

 

“Way to go, Chris!” yells the spectators.  Then on the port side single shots are seen, splashing right on the convoy’s waterline. 

 

“Way to go Patrick!” comes the yell for the Invincible’s captain.  There’s a bit of jockeying then, as the Allied attackers probe for openings.  The Axis defenders are riled up, but Tim Beckett says, “She’s not going to make it.  Don’t even try, just keep her close to shore.” 

 

As another Allies ship comes near, Lou calls, “Don’t be afraid to call push!”  The freighter, listing to starboard, accelerates forward and manages to nudge the Strasbourg <Vid_004>.  A push is called, and the Strasbourg heads to shore to wait out her thirty second penalty.

 

The camera cuts, just missing Matt Clarke’s Houston firing on the merchant ship.  It does pick up the listing convoy ship running to the right across the Left Bend <Roberts_130>.  She followed the shore into Cattail Cove <Roberts_131>.  “Just run her next to shore,” say the Axis spectators.  The Allied ships see no more need to fire more, instead they stand by, hoping the ship sinks in deeper water.  The Axis captain keeps her a foot or two from shore <Roberts_132, Roberts_133>, but the camera cuts before she sinks to the bottom.  I wasn’t there for the ruling, but the Axis did retrieve her and run her one more time.

 

It wasn’t long after this that John Bruder’s Italia got it’s prop snagged in one of the yellow float buoys, near the Allied targets in Handicapped Cove <Vid_005>.  The ship was caught, like a fox in a trap.  He was taking punishment from an Allied battleship (I don’t remember who), but he called thirty second moss.  The CD was called to make a ruling.  The CD looked it over, and ruled that no one could shoot him after the thirty seconds had expired (which it had).  Unless he could somehow get the ship to shore, John was also not allowed to go out into the water and get the ship, unless all convoys were off the water.  With the Charley Special out on the far side of the lake, it looked like he might be there the rest of the battle.  The Allies were disappointed that they couldn’t continue firing on the stationary target, but the ruling made sense and there was little grumbling.  John is a military man, and as such, for a time he sported the look of a man under heavy fire being told that the cavalry coming to his rescue stopped at a nearby road-side rest area for a picnic and a few lemonades. 

 

For a time my attention was attracted elsewhere, but about fifteen minutes later I passed John, and I noticed that his Italia had made it about half way to shore.  “Hey, you moved it,” I said in amazement.

 

“Yep, but I don’t think she’s moving any further,” he said.  I’m not sure, but I think he did get to go out and get it before the end of the battle, as the Charley Special was sunk.  I didn’t see that either, but heard a rumor that it happened when the little ship tried to hide in Guadalcanal.

 

The camera next shows the two Houstons racing across the pond.  Matt Clarke had been a major pest all week, but Tom Brown’s ship had rarely been seen on camera.  She looked good here, cutting across the waves.

 

Next there’s a brief shot of the Axis convoy ship making its last run.  The Valiant is there as the main opposition, but there were other ships lurking nearby.  “Jake, just sink the cruisers if they come in,” calls John Bruder to his son. 

 

With about twenty minutes left in the battle, Charley decides it is time to start launching convoy ships, and getting big points.  The CVL was sent off with Patrick Clarke in command.  I didn’t see what happened to her, but she is credited with a complete run there and back, and I later heard Bob talking to Ron about ‘that ram damage being the best thing that could have happened to the CVL.”

 

The camera cuts quickly to the big Titanic.  I was sailing her, and the ship is nearly impossible to hide, what with her high sides towering above the sleek warships, and her single motor and prop echoing deep within her hull, so after launching I had just run her along the shore towards the forward port.  Jake’s VDT was firing on her as the footage starts.  Tom Brown’s Houston is running escort alongside, with Chris Grossaint’s NC running further out but closing in.  The Kongo is seen trying to run to get in front of the big ship. 

 

The camera cuts so that the cameraman can get in front.  The big ship knocks bows with the NC when the footage resumes, momentarily swamping the battleship.  Then the big ship turns towards shore.  She turns back parallel to shore when the VV backs in to fire triple sterns.  She backs up too far and an audible thump is heard on camera when she rams the big ship.  <Vid_006>  Call RAM!” calls Grossaint, standing right there. 

 

Unfortunately, I was not standing right there.  I was in the process of passing behind several captains and spectators to get in a better position to bring her into port.  “I didn’t see it,” I said to Chris. 

 

“RAM!” shouts Don Cole.  “V-Squared.”

 

This started a lot of people talking very quickly.

 

“You’ll have to check it,” says someone.

 

“If there’s a ram, you’ll have to stop the timer to check,” said Tim Beckett. 

 

“If there’s damage we get a run both ways,” Grossaint says.  “Forward and back.”

 

“I wouldn’t check that,” says another person. 

 

“That’s right, you’ll have to stop the timer,” says a third.

 

Jake Bruder’s VDT was now in position as the Titanic had reached the forward port, and I now put her in reverse.  “Stop shooting at it,” called Don Cole.

 

“He hasn’t said, let Lars call it,” called Lief.  “I’m checking the ram,” he said in a quieter voice.

 

“I didn’t see it,” I said again.

 

In one of those moments that seemed to take forever, I looked helplessly at Chris Grossaint, looking for a confirmation that there was damage.  After having sunk the big ship twice before, (one was the year before, and it should’ve made port but for my screw-up), I was extremely leery on stopping the timer to look for damage.  Keeping the timer running was the most important thing to me.  With all the voices and hub-bub I hadn’t heard Chris’s comment on the full run penalty points for ram damage, and thus I didn’t weigh those points (1000 for the forward run, 2000 for the return) as heavily as I should have.  Instead I was more worried about the increased chances for a sink, which was 1500 points for the Axis, and had cost us heavily the day before.  The ship was getting lower now as the hull was filling.

 

Chris looked helplessly back at me.  No doubt he thought there was damage.  If I’d have asked him, I’m sure he would have been for the ram check.  If he’d said so again on his own, I might’ve called it, but I’m not sure.  Instead we just kept looking at each other.

 

Out on the water the action had not stopped.  The Titanic was now rubbing sides with the VDT.  “You could call push,” said a spectator.

 

“Push,” I said, without really seeing who it was I’d called it on. 

 

“Sail it next to shore,” said Tim Beckett.  I wondered if any ram damage might be spotted by a pass close to shore, but the camera cuts and I think I turned it the wrong way and looked at the wrong side.  The hull was so speckled with patches that it would have been difficult to pick out had I been on the right side.  Plus, the way the big ship handles, one likes to maintain plenty of sea room, so I wouldn’t have brought it in real close.

 

The camera resumes, and the big ship is marking time by sailing in reverse and forward, just outside of the forward port.  Getting the big ships pointed the right way when a breeze is blowing and the hull is filling with water is not an easy job, and was the reason I’d had one sink the year before.

 

As the timer counts down, I cut the motor, trying not to jump the gun by having the ship sail into port too soon, and then having to sail her around again.  I’d done that the year previously as well.  The VDT is there to fire some more shots into the bow, but there was still a healthy portion left, and the other Axis gave up as the counter neared the five minutes.

 

The camera footage ends here, but as I recall, the Titanic needed help from an Allied battleship, the NC again if I remember correctly, to get the bow pointed towards the port opening when the time did elapse.  She had been pummeled heavily but she still had an inch or more of black hull showing when she sailed into port.  Someone else grabbed the ship and hauled it up on shore.  Charley called me off and I didn’t have time to check her for ram damage, and didn’t remember to come back later and look.  The question was now moot anyhow.

 

As it is, seeing the hit on video, and being able to re-run it several times, it is tough to guess if there might have been damage.  The ram itself does not seem that hard, I’ve seen worse that have caused no damage.  But there is that audible thump that comes through clearly on the video.  Now the Titanics are like big drums, and every time they take a hit, the sound echoes within the hull.  Perhaps the thump was just the drum being struck.  On the other hand, it may have been a thump from the rudder or props.  If it hit a rib, then there probably wasn’t damage, but if it hit midway between ribs then there may have been a hull breach or crack.

 

When I had returned to the Allied home port, Jim Coler had taken the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, on a run forward.  Charley wanted me to sail another merchant, to take advantage of the attention being given to the larger ship.  The only thing available was Ted’s black freighter.  There was Rick King’s freighter, but we couldn’t find the frequency pin for that one. 

 

There was also the little matter of why the Pundua had lost propulsion on her previous run.  Charley popped the deck and together we peeked inside.  The cause was quickly located.  A fitting between motor and prop shaft had come loose.  Charley located an Allen wrench to tighten it again.  It was soon fixed, and we quickly launched the ship. 

 

After launching, I spent nearly a minute or more waiting just near the home port, as most of the Axis warships were still playing with the Olympic.  There was an Axis lookout however, who had announced my launch, and soon a light cruiser or another warship was seen coming my way.  I sailed the ship along the shore and towards port.  About halfway across the Left Bend, the action picked up, probably due to the Olympic completing her run forward.

 

I don’t remember exactly when it was, but the black ship got near port, but then lost her propulsion again.  I think that an Allied may have tried briefly to tugboat her in, but it was soon obvious that she wasn’t going to make it.  She floated towards the mouth of Cattail Cove and disappeared under the waves before she got there.

 

By this time, there was little time remaining.  I think the Allies did call an extension to get the LST in one last time. 

 

     Allied A  beat the Axis B fleet  by a score of 7,650 to 6,700.

    

As for the warships, Chris Grossaint’s NC, Dave Au’s QE, and Doug Hunt’s West Virginia are all listed on the scoresheet as having been sunk.  I don’t recall seeing any of them, and so I can’t tell you anything about them.  Luis Gomez did say that both his Kongo and Dave Au’s QE had large damaging rams less than a minute before campaign was over, and that both ships were unable to check.  Dave’s QE sank moments before Lief called that time had expired.

 

After Campaign was over, I waded out to find Ted’s freighter.  I had trouble finding it, and so Josh Bruder called to see if I wanted help.  I told him to come on out, and he ended up finding the ship.

 

 

Campaign Battle 2:

Allied B vs. Axis A:

 

This battle I had no video footage whatsoever.  However, I did keep score for the Allies in this battle, and there are a few pictures from the Melton crew.  I was given a radio, and parked myself on the Left Bend where I could see the Axis and Allied forward ports.  Ted Brogden was our spy over at the Axis home base, also with a radio.  Chris Grossaint was running the battle for the Allies, and was running things, like a good admiral, from the home base.

 

The battle started the way most campaigns do.  Both sides headed for the other’s shore targets.  The Axis always take a bit more pride in downing the magnetic targets, and go at them from the start.  The Allies are usually a bit more ambivalent, saving the targets for when the Axis grow tired of guarding them, or in the middle stages of the battle while they’re marking time for the next convoy run.

 

Kevin Bray spent most of the battle sailing the blue LST back and forth between ports.  The small ship didn’t sink once all week, and earned Kevin the “LifeLine Award” for the most completed convoy runs.  Now, early in the battle with nothing else to do, she can be seen in Melton’s photo <Melton_H_145>, to have an escort befitting a king.  The two NCs and the Missouri are there to make sure that Lief’s VDT comes no where close.

 

Unable to close on the LST, the VDT took out its frustrations on Charley’s NC <Melton_H_146>.  This seemed to be the trigger for the Axis choice of which warship to sink.  The Glorie, a light cruiser, and thus having unlimited reloads, looks like she’s targeting the NC as well <Melton_H_147>. 

 

Back at the Allied shore target, the Axis had brought in Steve Crane and Gerald Roberts’ Nagatos to protect the Karlsruhe, which was trying to plunk away at the Allied shore target.  Ron Herbal’s Lion decided to contest the target shoot, and the Nagatos moved in to try to protect the cruiser.  Not many shots were fired, at least until the Nagato reversed into shore and got her props tangled in the long grass.  Gerald called thirty second moss when he was unable to free his ship, and Ron’s Lion was soon right there to punish him for his mistake.  It was now the Karlsruhe’s turn to protect his protector <Melton_H_148>, backing in to threaten the Lion’s bow.  When the thirty seconds expired, the Lion stopped shooting. 

 

Remembering the ruling on John Bruder’s ship, Gerald was uncertain what to do next.  He mumbled something about finding the CD, or the assistant CD, in order to make a ruling.  “Oh, forget that,” said Ron.  “You’re next to shore, just reach over and clear your props.”  So that’s what Gerald did.

 

The next Melton picture has the Axis pursuing Charley’s NC up the shoreline on the Right Bend.  The Bismarck and Pearce’s Nagato (Pearce must’ve decided to get serious and brought out the big hammer) took on the challenge, and Gerald’s Nagato is there too.  The Alabama is nearby, but she could have been waiting for an Axis convoy ship <Melton_H_149>.

 

The LST had made three runs by the time the Axis were forced by the rules to run a convoy ship.  The requirement was one every twenty minutes.  The elder Fluegel ran the ship for its first run.  Grossaint, in charge of the Allied fleet, launched the Charley Special, in the hope that the Axis ship would sink in deep water, and thus be unrecoverable.  The Allied warships, however, seemed to give the Axis merchant ship scant attention, finally noticing it as it hovered outside the forward port with a minute to go.  It survived easily. 

 

The Charley Special was being captained by Ron Horbul, who had parked his Lion.  He now took a stroll over to the park bench by the speed trials area, away from the other battlers.  There was one problem, however.  The little ship had been sunk with just one hit in the previous battle.  The Titanic and Olympic had been hit with hundreds.  Yet it had been the big ships that had been patched, and the little one neglected.  In this case, the ship sank below the gunwales, but the raised bow and stern sections kept her afloat.  Technically she was a sink.  Ron noticed this, but just kept her on the water as is.

 

Finally Josh Bruder noticed something odd about the little ship, and walked around Handicapped Cove to join Ron.  Ron, for his part, drove the ship out and hid it behind one of the yellow depth marker floats.  The sun was also getting low in the sky, glinting off the water, making it tough for Josh to see.  “That ship looks sunk,” he said.

 

“No, it isn’t,” said Ron.

 

“Bring it in to shore,” said Josh.

 

“Go out there and look,” said Ron playfully.  He would have liked to have kept up the charade, but decided it wasn’t worth it.  He brought the ship in for Josh to see.  Josh triumphantly announced the sink.  Then Ron gave the transmitter for the ship to Josh, who according to Ron, had a great time with the ship as he drove it back on the water to the Allied base.  Once there, it was recovered, finally patched, and sent out again later with Ron back at the controls.

 

Somewhere in here, the Axis ran their second convoy run.  Tim Krakowski was at the controls, and the ship was sunk.  Once again fortune favored the Axis, and the ship sank on the shoreline.  Next year the Allies will have to find a lake with less shoreline.

 

Another Melton photo captures the first warship sink of the battle.  With a large group of Axis ships clustered off the Axis forward port, the Tirpitz is seen going down in the mouth of Cattail Cove, with no other ships around her <Melton_H_150>.  I don’t recall who was responsible for the sink, but if I had to guess I’d pick the Alabama, the Warspite and the Washington as being the most likely.

 

The Allies, in turn, soon lost their Admiral.  Charley’s NC finally succumbed to the guns of the Axis elite <Melton_H_151>.  Charley was unfazed by the sink.  “I guess I’ll go run convoys then,” he said.  Soon he was at the controls of the Titanic.  By this time, Kevin Bray had made three complete runs there and back with the blue LST, and was told to get his Massachusetts out on the water.

 

As usual, the big Allied convoy ship attracted a lot of attention.  The Bismarck, the Baden, and the VV all came to introduce themselves with stern gun handshakes <Melton_H_152>, while the Massachusetts and Warspite tried to act as chaperones.  In the corner of the picture, Rick King’s good looking Des Moines cruiser can be seen as well.  The Bismarck was the ship most likely to sink the big ship, and as she came in close, the Warspite tries to spoil her aim by pushing her stern towards the ship, thus swinging her bow sidemount out and away <Melton_H_153>.  I wonder if this just lined the Bismarck up for a double stern shot.  There was just too much hull to fill, however, and the Titanic made it in to port with gunwale to spare <Melton_H_154>.

 

With the NC sink and the Titanic’s first run having exhausted the bulk of the Axis bbs, the Allies now began to run as many convoys as they could.  But Ted’s freighter was not to be trusted, and Rick King’s was a known sinker, and the CVL was not used either.  Ron Horbul was called on the radio and told to bring the Charley Special in for a run.  Then Ron passed the transmitter to Mike Melton, who took the little ship home for a completed run.

 

In the meantime, Charley had come back for the other big ship.  The Olympic came lumbering around the bend, but the Axis guns were nearly empty, and the big ship had an easier go than her sister.

 

As for the Axis they too made a convoy run, their last required one.  Tim Krakowski successfully brought the Yamashiro through to the forward port this time. 

 

     Allied B  beat the Axis A fleet  by a score of 5,300 to 2250.

    

 

 

 

After the battle was over, most folks cleared out quickly.  Once again I took my time.  Grossaint and Coler were once again resting as well.  The two Titanics were still sitting down by the lakeshore, and several folks offered to help carry them in.  Grossaint refused all offers.  “Well, Lars, I think you’ve seen the last run of the Titanics,” he said to me when I offered a second time.

 

“Don’t blame you,” I said.  “They seem like they’re a lot of work.”  Just having to re-skin the ships each year must have been a bear, and with all the parts of the superstructure that came off, it was easy to lose one or two or five.

 

Tim Krakowski and Lou Meszaros were also slow in packing up.  At one point I overheard them talking about what a good day they had.  Then, not wanting to appear overconfident, or jinx themselves, they started cautioning each other.

 

“Careful, don’t forget the ‘evil Lou’, said Tim.

 

“And don’t forget the ‘bad Tim’!” laughed Lou in return.

 

I told Lou that I thought his triple sterns had the meanest sounding bark I’d heard during this Nats.  “All the credit goes to Charley,” he said.  “I told Charley not to fix my ship, but to show me how to fix my ship, and the full term at ‘Charley U’ has paid off.”

 

When I was finally loaded up, I talked with Patrick Clarke.  “Where do you want to eat tonight,” asked Patrick.

 

There was a Ground Round about a block down from the motel.  Our Ground Rounds up in Minnesota had all shutdown suddenly back in February.  The one I usually frequented still has a sign advertising Valentine drink specials.  I was hungry for it, and told him so.

 

“Sounds good,” he said.

 

Back at the motel, after I’d unpacked, showered and changed, I went looking for Patrick.  He was not at his room, but a big group of other people told me they were headed for ‘the steak place’ up the road.  I thought they meant the place we’d gone on Sunday Night, and I told them I wasn’t interested.

 

Then a group of captains announced that they were going to ‘the dance place’ next door.  I again declined, and they marched off.  I was chatting with someone else that had stayed behind.  Soon the dance group had returned.  “We marched in, and while they were getting tables, we saw the prices, and we marched out again,” said the reporter.  I’m thinking it was Lou or Tim Krakowski.

 

So they all got into vehicles and drove off again, I assumed back to ‘the steak place’.  I continued chatting.  About fifteen minutes later I finally excused myself and drove down to the Ground Round.  I was seated in a quiet booth in the restaurant side, and ordered ribs and shrimp.  It wasn’t on the menu, but I asked nice and they agreed to do it, after quoting a price.  While I was eating, Gerald Roberts walked by to use the men’s room.  He didn’t see me.  Then Lief did the same.  He also appeared not to notice me.  I figured that they’d gone off by themselves too, not with the main group.  I finished up my meal, and now full and relaxed, I could’ve dozed off had it not been for some loud laughter bleeding over from the bar area.  So I got up to leave.  As I got to the door, I could see into the bar area.  Next to the wall, and taking up the entire wall, was a long table with most of the Nats captains sitting there. 

 

Stunned, I walked in.  “Hi, Lars, we were just talking about you,” said Bob.  I was too stunned to come up with anything stupid to say, as being witty on a full stomach was out of the question.  Folks tried to fill me in on some of the big laughs that I had missed.

 

Jeff Lide was sitting near the middle of the group, and was up to his old antics.  When the waitress came, he had pointed at Lou, sitting down on the end near the door.  “Could you do me a favor,” he drawled slowly.  “Could you go down to that fellow on the end, and tell him he has wonderful triple sterns.”

 

The waitress had no idea what Jeff was talking about, but she did it.  Lou thanked her, and then cautioned the lady.  “Watch out for Jeff, he’s a bit wild tonight because it’s his birthday.”

 

Jeff continued his antics.  When the waitress returned, he pointed at Fluegel down on the other end.  “See that fellow down there?  Well he just got out of prison last week, and I’d like to buy him a strawberry daiquiri,” said Jeff.  Fluegel and strawberry daiquiris had been forever linked together during an outing back at the 99 Nats in Oklahoma.

 

I stayed and chatted until the waitresses began to pass out the bills.  I was there long enough, however to see a group of four employees roll out with a small cake with a lit sparkler on top.  As they placed it in front of Jeff, they started to sing “Happy Birthday!”  Jeff’s eyes were dancing, but he let the singers go all the way through the song.

 

 

Back at the motel, one might have thought that I’d have gotten to bed before midnight.  I don’t remember why I didn’t, but I do know that around midnight I was wincing when I wondered if I my Dremel tool was making too much noise.  The reason for the Dremel was I was building two new gun barrels to replace one that had become too misshapen (but still fired) due to a dent that had upset the path of the bbs being shot.  The other one had had the tip of the barrel bent badly enough that it plain wouldn’t let a bb pass at all.  That one must’ve happened after I’d emptied the gun, because both guns had taken a full or nearly full refill when I loaded them for campaign.

 

I don’t remember even looking for Patrick on this evening, but went straight to bed.

 

 

Friday:

 

I don’t remember Friday morning.  I made it out to the lake somehow.

 

Once there, I found that Charley had changed the fleet lineup.  With the battle lost, it was time to experiment.  He’d placed all the fast 24 second ships on the same fleet, and all the slow 26 and 28 second ships on the other.  Bob Hoernemann’s Warspite is mistakenly listed with the fast ships, but the photos and video show she fought with the slows.  As for the cruisers, there were two Allied ships that fought on Friday.  Matt Clarke’s Houston fought with the slow ships, and Chris Kessler’s Brooklyn went with the fast fleet.  There were 11 Allied ships on the slow fleet, and eight on the fast.  The Axis lineup was the same as it had been on Monday.

 

As for the Bellerophon, I tried one more thing.  Stuffing the barbettes with foam had seemed to help, but I still had been disappointed with her sink of the day before, so after I fastened down her deck, I ran a bead of silicone over the crack in the decks.  While somewhat messy, I figured it would come off fairly easily, and it might actually help some when the old tub got tipsy.

 

Fleet Battle 5:

Allied Slow Fleet vs. Axis B, first sortie:

 

“Listen to those pump motors,” said Ted, as the fleets were lined up, the Allies on the left and the Axis on the right. 

 

When the battle started, both sides seemed to surge, the Axis forward, and the Allies sideways.  The Bellerophon was near the front, next to Finster’s Nagato.  I ran the ship up her side, firing a few sidemounts <Roberts_134>.  When the waddling Bell sailed clear forward, the Alabama backed in behind her and hit the Nagato with several triple sterns <Roberts_135>.  “Get him Don!” hollered Mike Melton.

 

Further out, the Valiant, West Virginia, and Maryland were lined up in a row to catch the Kirishima after she had tried to back in on the Alabama <Roberts_136>.  The Bellerophon swung around and tried to sail in the Valiant’s direction, but backed up to play with a VV that came swooping in.  The Bell and the VV appear to be dancing as the two reverse past each other on one side, and then sail past on the other when they come forward again.  It has that ‘Made for TV’ look.

 

The camera catches the Warspite double sterning the Kirishima, then the camera cuts to the Kirishima taking on the QE.  Jeff the admiral is wearing a Japanese head band, playing the part to the hilt.  To go with this getup, he also has a pair of reflective safety glasses.  The dark mirrored lenses shimmer in a multitude of colors, making Jeff look like he has the multi-faceted eyes of a giant fly <Roberts_190>.  Meanwhile the slow ships dance, the QE now playing with Finster’s Nagato, while the Warspite works on the Kirishima <Roberts_140>.  Further out the Alabama and Maryland and Massachusetts try to get into firing position.  The Pirate Smurf VDT seems to sail into the middle of this group with a charmed life, no one comes near her for several seconds.  Then the Alabama, Maryland, and QE all back in to say ‘hi’ with some stern guns.  The Pirate Smurf decides the time is right to back clear.

 

Further out, the VVs are seen sniping at the West Virginia.  Panning over, the camera catches the Massachusetts tangling with Finster’s Nagato <Roberts_142>.  The Arizona is nearby, with her sterns aimed at the Axis ship.  The Alabama joins the battle.  The camera pans back to the left, looking for a fairer fight.

 

It catches the Italia passing the Invincible, hitting her with sidemounts.  After she passes, the VV backs in, her triple sterns discouraging the British ship from pursuing the Italia.  Then the I-boat remembers that this is Friday, and ignoring the VV it sails off in pursuit of the Italia, which must have been delighted to be pursued by a slower boat.

 

The camera pans back to the right, then cuts. 

 

Gerald has some pictures of battling near shore that seem to fit here.  The Warspite, the Bell and Massachusetts back down on the VDTs with Melton’s Nagato nearby <Roberts_147>.  The Nagato threatens the Massachusetts <Roberts_148>, but then seems to disappear leaving the VDTs on their own <Roberts_149>.

 

There are also two great photos on an exchange between the QE and Finster’s Nagato <Roberts_156, Roberts_157>.

 

Back on the video, there is a short shot of Dave Au checking his QE for a ram.  Someone can be heard on the audio, “I’ll bring it in, but there’s no way I touched you.” 

 

“Don’t make him,” says someone else.  The ca