at the 1995 NATS
This is the first-ever report from Tundra Teddy-the majestic Polar Bear perched atop the SMS Konig. Tundra Teddy oversees the battles and offers a "very unbiased" report. So grab a drink, stoke the fire and curl up with this blow-by-blow account of Thursday!
The day-and my reporting-begin as the clock strikes midnight, and while most of the battlers are snug in their beds, a select few are burning the midnight oil in the wonderful Ray Kelly Craft Center. Gerrit "Not-Quite-So-Dirty-As-My-Papa" Haynes and Curly "It's-Almost-Ready" Barrett were repairing damaged systems and improving gunnery, when into the Craft Center walks the Frogman himself, Mike Deskin! Mike is there to join the Allied fleet for the Thursday and Friday battles.
Looking around the dockyard in the wee hours of Thursday morning, many of the ships are not repaired from the afternoon's one-on-ones. The carnage is slight, but there are many hours of work ahead. Mike fixes his superstructure, Gerrit toys with his stern gun, and Curly installs a new throttle on the Konig (to replace the one that had burned out with only ten seconds to go before Night Battle started).
The Konig's throttle is ready by 2:38 a.m. Gerrit gives up on adding a twin stern gun to the Suzuya, and Mike finishes brushing up on the rules for campaign. Gerrit did find a huge hole in the bow of his ship that will need to be fixed before battle; it is obviously damage from running over all of those Allied lifeboats after Night Battle.
By 8:00 a.m. the dockyard is buzzing with preparations for the day's events. Gerrit is back at work on his battle-weary cruiser; Rick Whitsell is busily repairing the horrendous damage that had been metered out to him by the fearsome Don Cole (?...friendly fire...?); and Dirty is trying to remember if red really is positive in his wiring system. One of the more intriguing sights is Lief, donning the rubber gloves to patch the Moltke's poop deck after Night Battle, saying, "turn your turret and cough!" Talk about high-brow humor!
As the battlers are gearing up for the day, in walks Steve
"Fab" Baker, bright eyed and bushy tailed, perhaps unaware
of the score so far-perhaps a friendly guy. Regardless, his cheerful
smile is an uplifting sight-as good as a 20-oz. cup of java.
Finally, everything is patched and loaded into the cars for the short jaunt over to the lake.
As the combatants unload at lakeside, they are greeted by a calm, muggy morning with a mixture of fog and smoke hanging over the water; the cries of victims still echoing off the slimy brick wall; the wails of Allied sailors still trapped in submerged hulls; the hush of death whispering its insatiable need for more Allied captains...That need will be met this day!
The planning and strategy for the fleet battle is much like a chess game-the Axis, moving like masters, using their skills to the fullest to present the best opening with a great end game in mind, while the Allies, trying to figure out if the "horsies" move two forward and one to the side, struggle to revamp their approach...Gross Admiral Goodson is overheard to say, "We're arguing about Best of Scale Convoy Ship-you can tell, if that's what we're arguing about, we've got NATS in the bag!" The Axis strategy is simple; "We must press on and put out the small flames of hope in the Allied fleet! Everyone goes home wet!" The Admiralty meeting is discontinued to prepare for the victory party.
Meanwhile, across the battlefield, the war-torn Allied fleet is also making plans...Admiral Pearce, whose birthday was celebrated this day, was given command of the fleet for the day. "We shall make a feint to the North...Then the idea is to suck up as much damage as possible to lull them into a false sense of security. After that, we'll systematically and individually wade out and retrieve our ships!" (Note: The actual Allied Strategy was never made public information, so I took an author's creative liberty and made one up.)
Both teams are showing signs of distress, and the Axis are quick to chose "ENERGY" as the word of the day! This is going to be the deciding difference in the day. Lief is showing signs of the wear and tear of the battle (he showed up for breakfast with his teddy bear), and we all know that a group cheer is essential to staying together today. Lief will consult with his admirals for an appropriate cheer for the day.
The official Axis communique states: "Just another Axis rout of the Allied Fleet." A Moltke captain is overheard to say, "We offered a bedwetting-institute pamphlet to the feeble cabin boys of the Allied fleet." A vice admiral boasts, "They are like putty in our hands...today, we'll make a cookie jar!" This led to the question of the day: "Why don't Allied captains take showers? They like to wash up on shore!"
Like a breath of fresh air, Willard arrives on the scene. His energy helps everyone battle the fatigue of NATS. Mike Deskin's arrival also bolsters the spirits of his Allied teammates. And now, down to business.
Fluegel throws out his first cup of coffee, signaling there has been too much delaying and talking, and not enough damage. A 10:15 battle time is set, but the Allies already have the look of defeat-Jim Pate, laid out on his back, moaning a weak rendition of Anchors Aweigh, says, "Nature is winning the fatigue battle." That sums it up for the Allied camp.
Over at Club Lief, after a rousing game of shuffle board on
the fantail of the Musashi, the Axis captains meet to discuss
their dissection of the Allied fleet. "The snowball is rolling..."
"They are down two capital ships-up Mike Deskin's Frog..."
start back between the islands and work the pressure cooker until it's time for the Quaker's pincer movement..." "When the Grump is in the slot, make sure the wagon's press the Phoenix, but save ammo for the Bay of Pigs..." As the meeting breaks, the Axis captains huddle around their admirals, put their hands into the middle and yell, "GOOoo Chris!" (The Konig's Oom-pah band strikes up a muddled rendition of Happy Birthday)
The Bismarck prepares to launch with only four units, tied with the Konig for unpreparedness. Then, the Bismarck, sans captain, runs into the island hard enough to earn the Bismarck a 400-point ram penalty from the DNR and nearly hard enough to ram-sink the island. Bad start!
Fleet Battle #4 begins at 10:28-after
Steve Andrews, who has taken quite nicely to the Axis fleet, starts a ripping rendition of the Ride of Valkyries. As the BBs start to fly, Lief warns his troops of being sucked into the channel. Nathan's Musashi, pressing forward into The Slot with Ron Hunt's Scharnhorst and Will Montgomery's Nagato, starts dealing out damage and drawing the Allied long-boats out into open water. Jim Pate's Washington and Don Cole's Alabama, along with Rick Whitsell's North Carolina jockey for position and sling lead at their Axis counterparts. Chris Pearce's Q. E. and Francis' Gangut are mixing it up with Frank Pittelli's Bacon Maker and Marty Hayes' Nagato. The lines form and both sides pick on each other, looking for a niche in the other's armor. The shooting increases, as do the pump streams. Finally, a break develops. Admiral Pate unleashes a set of triples that sever a battery lead to Ron's receiver!
The Scharnhorst is Five-Out-of-Control in the slot! The Allied fleet is on him like flies on a British ship. The water churns with the ferocity of piranha feeding on a slaughtered cow. The audio recording sounds like the typewriter wars at a large paper as a big story breaks! Pate: (on attacking Ron) "I coasted up to Ronny, I stopped, I looked around, put it in park, set the brake, I yawned, I walked the cannon up with the elevate on it, then I just emptied all three stern guns. Then I looked around again...then I left!" now that the Washington has unleashed its triple sterns, the Gangut joins the Washington on a "parade of side mounts," which culminates with the Q.E. dumping its entire starboard stern side mount into the ventilated hull of the Scharnhorst. In hindsight, Ron realized that he would have been better if he had declared it scuttled.
Man-In-The-Water! Mossed up cruisers give a small, but altogether too late, breather for the German battle cruiser. Ron's ship is shooting out a great stream of water, which threatens to shower the captains and their radios, but Ron (who is expecting to get very wet in the near future) stands in front of the steam and shields everyone from the water, earning him the gratitude of friends and foes alike! Resume!
The Axis have strict orders to attack attackers rather than
to defend the Scharnhorst, and that order is carried out. A ring
of enemy ships circle the crippled battle cruiser. The Allies
eat Ron alive, and he slides under the water up against the wall
in The Slot.
An unidentified Washington captain says, "Major carnage! My appetite for damage is satiated." Wow! They're brutal. From where I sit atop the mast on the Konig, I can honestly say this about Ron's boat, "Better him than me!" Resume!
The battle now breaks open, the lines of defense give way and
the big boats scatter for open sea and turning room.
The North Carolina and the Alabama go after the Konig, and the sizzle of bacon can be heard as the Bacon Makers of Mike and Frank go in after the swine and turn up the heat!
Man-In-The-Water! A survey of the resting ships shows that Pate's pumping good-wounded-but not fatally. The damage is starting to take its toll, as pumps sprinkle the pond. Resume!
Baker's Invincible and the Musashi side up and thrash each other without concern for their own well-being. The Japanese fleet worked hard to cut the Q.E. out of the fold and give Pearce a birthday present he would not soon forget. Steve Andrews was there with a pretty bow (in the form of BBs), which he attached to the Q.E. Cameron's little French Gloria is darting in and around the big boats, tagging Don Cole on the snout. That thing sure moves well! The Invincible is holding its own against the Musashi and both show a healthy stream of water to boast of their foes gunnery. The Q.E., with troubles of his own, moves in to help the Invincible by coming along side of the Jap long-boat. Man-In-The-Water! Resume!
As the battle starts up again, the Musashi, Konig and Dirty Dave's Mutsu are teaming up on Pate, how executes a few sharp turns and escapes, thanks to the Konig's ability to park in front of the Musashi. The Gangut, even with rudder problems, is boldly owning The Slot, and those that come to challenge him have a good fight on their hands. Also present in The Slot is the "neutral" Swedish pig boat, Sverige, of James Foster. No stranger to these waters, the Sverige dances across the surf like a Yamaha Wave Runner. Somehow, the formidable Bismarck has slipped around the island and is making the pigs squeal! Frank P. and Mike B. are getting near-constant attention from the Sverige, but most is above the black tape. Bismarck on Five!
Man-In-The-Water! The heat is extreme, the humidity is intense, and the damage is incredible, but this is NATS. During every halt in the action there are "random" shots. Some are radio glitches, some are "love shots," some may even be from the captains of the Senior's Division (low batteries on the hearing aids), but most captains swig a cold beverage, head for shade or just mop the sweat from their bow. Resume!
Curly's Konig and Dirty's Mutsu mix it up with Don Cole's Alabama, who is helped by Rick Whitsell's North Carolina, "Drag 'em past my stern guns, Don!" Just then, Admiral Pate sets the tone for the Allied fleet-he goes On Five! Steve Andrews' Kongo counters by going On Five, too.
Man-In-The-Water! We stop for Fluegel, who removes the Bismarck. As the captains scan the horizon, the call goes out, "Jass is hurtin'! Jass is hurtin'!" The Marlboro sits, a twisted wreck of metal and men. Pumping to stay afloat, lifeboats lowered into the water-the hull is low, the stream is high! It looks bad for this veteran battler. Resume!
The Konig angles for the wounded foe, as does the Von Der Tann of Paul "Doc" Broring. The Konig and the V.D.T. come side-by-side perfectly, but the Marlboro is not between them. "DON'T SHOOT ME!" both captains yell. "Do I look like Don Cole?" is the reply from the Oom-pah band aboard the WW1 flagship. The Axis line up on Jass, but never take their shots.
Man-In-The-Water! The Bacon Maker 2 checks for moss, as Mike has practically had to chase Milholland's South Carolina onto dry land to catch it. Oink! Resume!
Lief's Moltke and Francis' Gangut are really tearing up the water between their ships-damage looks very high! The Musashi and the Nagatos are chasing Don Cole, when the Konig blocks the Musashi for what must be the fifth time!
Man-In-The-Water! Moss check. When one person comes in to check moss, most of the other captains bring theirs in also-to save time and avoid further stoppage. This time, about nine battlers check for moss, and clear it from their props. Resume!
The Mutsu is still chasing after the Marlboro, and is dishing it out to the slower foe, when the Invincibles of Steve Baker and Joe Kutz come sailing in to help. The Invincibles bring with them a Konig, which promptly rams the Marlboro and allows the esteemed Mr. Jass to bring his ship safely ashore for a check, as the time on his Five expires.
Man-In-The-Water! Tom survived...the first sortie, but he knows he will get special attention in the second sortie. The Von Der Tann and the Q. E. both clear the area in a gentlemen-like fashion. Don Cole comes out using the dolly extraction tool. Pate is also off of Five and clears the water. The feel of an Axis overwhelming is ever present. There are a great number of Axis ships remaining, but few targets. Resume!
The battle flares up over in The Pig Pen. It should be noted that at this late point in the battle, Frank Pittelli is overheard to say, "Nice bacon' makin', you got him!" This is the first time Frank's voice was picked up on the Konig's black box (float recorder). Francis is off Five, Sverige is off Five, and with the slot unguarded, attention to the pig boats intensifies. "Get the piglets (Milholland, Bart and Frank)!" Will's Nagato leads the way, followed by Lief's Moltke, Frank's Bacon Maker 1 and Mike's Bacon Maker 2.
In an heroic feat that would stand the test of time (until his high-damage performance on Friday), Joe Kutz's Invincible comes in to save the little pigs, and is set upon by a horde of big bad wolves, most notably, Will. The Konig, trying to get at Joe, blocked Will's Nagato and gives Joe some breathing room. The Q.E., not to be left out if death and destruction are involved, quickly joins fray. This is as exciting a battle as this polar bear has ever seen. The Bay of Pigs is churning, and as the Axis boats go to market, several pig boats go wee-wee-wee all the way home!
Man-In-The-Water! Moss abounds in the pig sty, and the battle winds down with several pumping ships waiting out their Five with mossed-up props. That is the end of the first sortie.
Lunch is a barbecued affair, with an excess of good food and story-telling by captains! The worst part was the spanking machine that the Allies had for their Birthday-Boy-Admiral, Pearce...I could have gone lifetime without that visual haunting my brain. Then-back to counting and loading.
The damage after the first sortie is very low for several Axis
captains. Most notably for the Lutzow of Paul Fluegel: 0-0-0 (Above-On-Below).
It should be pointed out that, though pursued, Paul successfully
eluded all BBs and only took this one good verbal shot: "You
run just like a Fluegel!"
Jass had 48-6-11; not enough to sink, but not a great start! When asked if he is contemplating not battling the second sortie, Tom replies, "I feel a need to prove my manhood by shooting every shot I've got." Then, under his breath, adds, "I've already called Five."
The Bacon Makers did a good job of frying Bacon: Bart 18-4-14
and Steve 25-2-5. But the smell of poached pork was not enough
to offset the roast gruberschnitzel: Ron 71-8-26 + sink. Other
notable scores: Pearce 62-6-6, Gerrit 6-0-0, Dirty 31-1-3, Joe
24-4-5, Doc 25-1-2, Marty 7-1-2, Frank P. 63-3-1!
Cameron Hunt escaped with only 1-0-0?!? Was he on the same pond? Will had 34-1-5 and a 200-point ram. Don 36-5-17, Lief 45-2-3, Foster 4-2-1, and the damage-sucking Bismarck of The Great One rolls in with only 6-0-0!
As the time extensions roll in, the waiting is interrupted by a loud POP! hissssss! James' boat has blown a hose and will require a little more time. The Allied captains will benefit from this, as now, they may not have to go into the water until a full hour after they eat. (Note: did I mention that I'm an Axis polar bear and my view of the battle may be slightly biased?) The talk on the Allied shore is trying to determine which of the many cripples to protect...the talk on the Axis shore is trying to determine if Ron's pounding can be avenged. The consensus from the East is, "We're thinking on a plateau far higher than they'll ever achieve!" 'Nough said, let's battle!
Fleet Battle #4, Sortie #2 -- BATTLE!
The battle resumes with an electronic "CHARGE" bellowing out of a ship and a wall of Axis storming the slot in search of Tom Jass. Marlboro on Five! This was expected, and much attention will be given to Jass in the next five minutes. "30-second moss!"
Man-In-The-Water! Moss check? Perhaps, or simply a clever ruse to provide their British underdog with some damage free time while on Five. Resume!
The Bay of Pigs is a very busy place, with shots firing constantly. The rest of the lake sees sporadic engagements, as the pendulum of the battle swings into the frying pan. Frank Whitsell is doing his best to thwart the offensive efforts of the Axis swine-hunter patrol, led by the Bacon Maker boats of the East, but he is quickly amassing damage and is soon in danger of sinking! Life for a pig is tough.
The Konig has been generally watching the battle from a safe distance, waiting for the Sverige to abandon the slot. When the slot is left in the able hands of the Gangut, the Konig moves in for a shot. As it turns out, the Gangut has major problems, and the Konig is able to fire successfully without enduring return fire. The Gangut goes on Five and is in need of help. There's no shortage of ships heading for the slot, but most are AXIS! Will this untimely problem cost the Allies the valiant Gangut?
Man-In-The-Water! Another stall tactic? Resume!
Gangut attracts some attention from Konig, Von Der Tann and Moltke. Suddenly, steaming over the horizon comes the big (not quite as big as it would be in 144th scale) shape of the Bismarck. The Gangut shakes with fear. As Fluegel and Goodson deal damage to the Gangut, the minnow-esque Sverige returns to the slot and effectively harasses the Axis bullies! Francis is taking damage, but not forcing in water by running across the pond. His pumps look up to the task.
Man-In-The-Water! Bart looks low in the water as he removes a sumptuous lump of moss from his pig, "Think of it as a garnish for the pig roast!" Somewhere in this fray, Fluegel has bent Francis' antennae...oh, the ravages of war. Resume!
Lief orders everyone to stay on the Gangut. During the ensuing slaughter, someone manages to ram Frank Whitsell, but Francis is still afloat.
Man-In-The-Water! Francis urges his teammates, "I'm fine; don't worry about me." Resume!
I look over the stern of the Konig, out into the big part of the pond. My eyes behold a wonderful ballet of Jap long-boats and American targets, with a few British pig-dogs thrown in for good measure. Paul Fluegel's museum-model of the Lutzow can be seen slinking down the shore toward the Texas border, with captain Fluegel barking his standard order, "Do what you want with the women, but leave me alone!" The French canoe of Mike Deskin is zipping in and about, lashing at the cruisers and taking few shots in return. Maybe Curly shouldn't have been doing so much day dreaming, because the Gangut and the Marlboro are off Five.
Man-In-The-Water! Pate and Will check for moss. Resume!
The pig boat convention in the slot grows to a frenzied free-for all. Paul Broring and Lief Goodson are all over Bart Purvis and Frank Whitsell. Bacon Makers 1 and 2 (Frank Pittelli and Mike Blatteau) are Steve Baker's "best friends." And Rick Whitsell lines up and shells Steve Milholland (amazing how those Americans can so effectively hit another American). After breaking free from his teammate, Milholland gets Curly Barrett to follow him in a Spiral of Death...good tricks die hard!
Frank P. finds his mark on a hapless Bart P., prompting Lief to resound, "Good job, Frank! Good job!" The sizzling of bacon hits an all-time roar. Bart, battered and bewildered, goes on Five. Bart cries out, "I need some help Milholland!" "Sorry, I've got company of my own," comes the reply from the fellow pig boat. And though there were many who thought Bart would succumb to the battle of gravity versus flotation, he never again called out for help-a brave captain. The Bismarck, dodging through the slot to land a shot, was unfortunate enough to ram the Purvis Pig Boat (while avoiding the Konig).
Frank P. is really mixing it up in the fryin' pan. His relentless
attack sets a standard that the rest of the pig boat killers follow.
It should be pointed out that, during the last halt in battle, little Frank Whitsell shot the Konig, not once-but twice (thirty seconds apart). Perhaps he should be sailing an Axis boat.
To avenge the crew, the Konig and the S. Carolina do the damage dance to the title track of The King and I.
Man-In-The-Water! Lots of moss, but we agreed that safety (read: FUN!) was our #1 goal in this hobby! Resume!
Little Frank goes on Five. With Pate out in the middle of the pond pumping out his Five, and Pearce and Baker fending off the Mighty Marty and his six-piece band of renown, the action in the Bay of Pigs was heavy and one-sided. Bart's pumping steadily, and is being pressured greatly by Doc and the Bacon Makers. The Bismarck comes alongside Bart to assist the Allied sailors into their lifeboats, for the ship looked low. Many people were getting various levels of moss. Little Frank is getting mossed up and that signals a stop in the near future. Alabama on Five; Moltke on Five!
As the carnage continues, this polar bear is amazed to see
young Frank Whitsell holding off the Von Der Tann, the Musashi,
the Svent Istvan and Konig-and Frank's barely pumping. Who is
this kid? Does he want to battle as an Axis? The dance continues,
until at last, Frank is off Five! A job well done under very tough
Andrews picks up the pace and delivers a flurry of blows to the Invincible of Joe Kutz, which is heralded by Herr Fluegel, himself! Kutz is none too happy to battle the traitor.
Man-In-The-Water! Now, I have to regale you with this story, to show you the toll that NATS takes and the foggy thought-process that a captain uses during battle. An Allied captain stepped over the body of another Allied captain-who was prone, removing moss from his ship-and asked, "Are we clear?" Maybe you had to be there to appreciate the humor....Resume!
Bacon Maker 1 leads the Konig into a confrontation with Steve Baker and Joe K...the Invincibles! Frank is laying it into Baker and Joe is actually doing a little better than the Konig at exchanging damage. Baker is pumping a very respectable stream. He has been sucking up damage in order to protect the weaker ships that would sink more easily. Foster, who is the ever-present fly in the pig sty, hisses one last time and scurries away on Five.
It is at this time that I notice Steve Baker reaching for his wallet...my first thought is-a payoff...but as his ship slides slowly beneath the Allied flotsam, I realize that bacon has been made, and he is going through the debriefing (almost literally) ritual that so many Allied captains must endure!
Man-In-The-Water! Moltke off Five! There are still six Axis boats battling for control of the seas, but only Kutz, Pearce and Foster (on Five) remain for the Allies. Resume!
The Invincible and the Konig mix it up again, and a draw is
declared as Joe sails off, only to run into the veteran (traitor)
guns of Marty Hayes, who rails on the tenacious rookie.
Marty, not wanting to ignore an old mate from the naval academy,
sets his sights on the ever-deadly Q.E. and gives and gets in
a hail of BBs (the Lord loves a strong finish). The 94-year-old
(just an estimate based on Steve Andrews' stories) veteran from
the East is able to inflict several shots down in the red near
the port bow as Joe appears abandoned by his pals.
The Konig blocks a Frank Pittelli maneuver and lines up on the Invincible. I can't speak for Curly, but this rookie (Kutz) is dishin' it out pretty good from where I sit. The next few minutes sees a good deal of blocking and driving by both fleets, trying to trap the few remaining ships so that the last BBs can be used. Man-In-The-Water! Resume!
The battle gets going and the Q.E. is in the thick of things. His dodging and weaving is of little avail, although he is able to find ample targets for his ample BBs. It is at this point that Curly attempted a brave and daring move-RAM!-right into the side of the Q.E. And while there is no damage to the Q.E., several lifeboats full of fleeing officers are smashed to pieces between the two ships. Man-In-The-Water! Resume!
At this late date, it's Kutz and Pearce against Marty, Curly,
Dirty and Nathan. The Musashi is hot on the Invincible's stern,
lashing out with bold side mount shots that shake the ribs of
the British battle cruiser. Frank points out that if Joe can just
sink every ship afloat, the score for the sortie would be a tie!
This disheartens the rookie, who flees the area.
While Joe runs for cover, the Axis captains chase him halfheartedly through the channel, pausing for a celebratory toast of champagne as they go.
The chasing is a formality, as the real outcome of the sortie has been decided already. Kutz sails with a passion, avoiding further damage, until he finishes out his Five. All other ships declare Five and head for port. As the smoke clears on the pond, the white hospital ship of Bart Purvis can be seen hoisting soggy Allied captains aboard, while churning through the Axis life boats. Well done, Bart!
END OF FLEET BATTLE
The Axis war machine moved in a slow, methodic fashion to clear the seas of the Allied scum. On a less-biased front, the Allies got a lift in their spirits early in the battle with the drubbing they doled out to Ron Hunt's Scharnhorst, but the enduring capital ships of the Axis were there in force to press the attack until the end. Gerrit's Suzuya sank, though to be honest, I only know that from the score sheet; I don't remember seeing it in the blur of battle and I certainly didn't here it on the audio recording (could be the Allies lost the ability to utter, "Hurrah"). In exchange, the Axis were only able to bring Smilin' Steve Baker to a ventilated halt and subsequent sinking.
Final Scores for Fleet Battle #4:
High Damage Axis-Ron Hunt...3110 (Sunk)
High Damage Allied-Steve Baker...2915 (Sunk)
Low Damage Axis-Cameron Hunt...220
Low Damage Allied-Mike Deskin...40
Sortie #1=10 Sortie #2=17 Total=27
Bart Purvis: There's a book out that describes the battle...A Day No Pigs Would Die!
Don Cole: That was not the way it was supposed to go.
Steve Baker: We wanted Frank Pittelli, but his camo kept foolin' us and he escaped. I got my undies washed...she sank, and sank well.
Gerrit Haynes: Boy, did I get nailed. Come on, dad. Hurry up and patch my ship!
Chris Pearce: Happy birthday to me... hey, how 'bout some campaign, anyone?
Tom Jass: I don't have any words of wisdom after a loss like that. Good nationals. We've been really havin' fun, worried about moss, but it's not that bad, and if we hadn't turned off the lights last night, we may even have thought about coming back here again sometime. The upcoming battle will be campaign lite-not the full campaign-more fun, less paperwork.
Frank Whitsell: The Bacon Maker group came to get me but those four or five vets couldn't catch a greased pig! My dad did better today than in other battles. He's learned a lot from me!
Herr Fluegel: Anybody see my red-handle pliers...
And so, the massive patching begins. Guns are reloaded. Convoy ships are tested and prepared for duty. Plans are quietly whispered over the tops of the tables. Alliances are made and grudges heat up!
Ten Minutes To Campaign Lite!
While sitting atop the mast of the Konig, this polar bear can see Pearce, Kutz, Pate and Haynes, patching as fast as their fingers will let them. I see Curly filling his CO2 for the campaign battle. There is a calm, a tranquility, a peace between clashes. A peace that shatters suddenly and ferociously!
While filling his tank, Curly steps back out of the way of the exhaust port on his fancy double-gang-valve fill station, only to have his thigh hit the main lever-releasing the contents of his 20-lb tank out the exhaust port. The violent rush of air sends the main tank spinning wildly, swinging the 3.5-oz tank like a mace at the end of a 4' braided-steel hose! The hose and tank whips the back of Curly's thigh and calf a dozen times in the two second it took for the tank to spin over and land in the dirt-breaking the fill station.
Amazed and stunned, everyone begins breathing again, and a friendly hand reaches in to shut off the main valve of the tank. Curly's only comment: "Let's do this again, REAL soon!" Thankfully, no major injuries to report, but all agreed the consequences could have been a lot worse. With the adrenaline flowing again, war preparations continue.
The Axis War Plan is, in general, to divide into three fleets: Cruiser Killers, Convoy Killers and The Killer Fleet. Curly is assigned to the Convoy Killers and his sealed orders say, "Do not fire on any armed ship. Save your ammo for the convoys!" The five Axis Convoy captains are to run all five ships at the very end of the campaign time. At all costs, we are to win!
The Allied War Plan is not too dissimilar, from what I was able to discern by bribing bartenders in Allied ports. The notable exception to the plan is the Sponge Role of Steve Baker, who "volunteered" to circle around in the Japanese fleet, sucking down side-mount damage to rid the Axis of their convoy-killer guns. Of course, the Axis Admiral offered the Allied Admiral a chance for unconditional surrender prior to the event, but Chris was quick to respond, "You and who's navy?"
Campaign Lite #2 -- BATTLE!
The battle begins tentatively, and there's not as much gun play as a normal fleet battle. Many captains aren't even on the water as battle begins. Two things become painfully obvious: people are saving shots for the convoys, and no one's planning on launching a convoy in the near future.
The first few minutes of campaign battling are highlighted, primarily, by small ship exchanges, most notably, Milholland, Fluegel, Deskin, Haynes and Chris "Battleship" Pearce, who is battling his "second" ship. These smaller ships maneuver in and around the battleships, many of whom were ordered to hold their fire. It was an interesting way to do battle and shows how effective the small ships can be.
Convoy ships have yet to touch the water at the 30-minute mark.
There is much posturing and false launchings by the wily Allied
campaign captains, but the Axis are more amused than fooled, and
the battle continues. Milholland is merrily attacking Fluegel's
Bismarck without receiving much fire in return. Bart's pig boat
is also snorting at the Bismarck, dealing out notable damage to
the large German boat.
Meanwhile, the campaign targets are getting shelled. Foster shoots most of the Axis targets, letting Frank Whitsell finish them off. The Maryland group has Steve Baker surrounded and is mercilessly pummeling his Invincible. It's as if Steve wanted to be there!
As the clock nears the 45 minute mark in this one-hour event, convoy ships are quickly prepared and a mass of unarmed ships from both sides hit the water and scurries away from shore, into the battle. The bottom of the pond is already littered with the hulls of Allied battleships, but there's plenty of room for convoy ships of every nationality!
The carnage that we call campaign is 50 minutes of sampling appetizers followed by a ten-minute feeding frenzy. Paul Broring and Lief Goodson descend on the first allied ship to leave port; a ship that would not return successfully.
In spite of all of the battling in the beginning of the campaign, there's plenty of ammo to go around. There are too many ships to attack and too many to defend. It's a free-for-all!
Convoy ships are rolling over and sliding under the waves so quickly and so often that the on-shore camera crews are going crazy trying to cover the action.
One of the most notable convoy ships is the large white hospital ship, USS Crutches, of Bart Purvis. Bart figures the Axis scum will give a hospital ship safe passage through the fray. Who would be so callous as to shoot a helpless ship of mercy? Bart drives out between the two island and is promptly unloaded on. Down 15 degrees by the bow, Bart heads for the convenience of the shoreline, where he slowly slips below the surf; splints, gauze and tongue depressors litter the surface. A shock comes over the entire Allied fleet as they realized how despicable their foes really are!
The other ship worth mentioning is an Axis aircraft carrier,
which sinks out between the islands. Actually, it doesn't completely
sink, because it has been illegally built to remain afloat. It
cruises around with its flight deck at the water level, circling
the pond, denying the Allied fleet its only convoy sink of the
day. While most captains got a good laugh out of the sub/carrier,
all agreed the illegal ship should be corrected before the next
One last Allied convoy ship, captained by Jim Pate, launches with only six minutes left in the battle. He sails right into a pile of moss. Due to the ammo expended earlier, Pate endures very little damage. But the moss problem is so severe that Jim can not sail his ship to the port area before the time limit expires. Unsunk-unsuccessful! The campaign ends with a legion of Allied captains, and a handful of Axis captains, removing their perforated hulls from the Sequiota Sound.
END OF CAMPAIGN
The Campaign was a fun frenzy, capped by a flurry of fire and subsequent sinkings. Most captains had a very fun time. The Axis War Machine was able get several convoy ships through, which was the difference in the battle, as neither team had any targets left.
Comments after the Campaign:
Haynes: Feel the Steel Curtain! Every ship but the Killer-Fleet ships provided support for the convoys, creating a steel curtain that the Allies could not penetrate!
Steve Andrews: My convoy ship only turned in one direction. Dirty and Fluegel escorted and steered me at the same time.
Paul Broring: I was just admiring the way the sun was shining through the side of that convoy ship I ventilated.
Lief Goodson: Campaign went well, objectives were achieved and our convoy captains did very well!
D.W. Fluegel: Bacon-makers did well. I might have to build me a Bacon-maker...
Tom Jass: Well, that was fun. It sure is easier than all the paperwork of the long campaign.
Frank Whitsell: Foster and I really nailed those targets. The Axis didn't even defend them!
Bart Purvis: I can't believe they'd shoot at those poor helpless nurses. Have they no heart?
Steve Baker: That was wet and wild! I had a great time, but has anyone seen Bart? He has my car keys.
Mike Deskin: I had no one to challenge me...I could zip in and out at will.