Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tsushima Part 3: Results

When I ran the first phase of the battle I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I decided to play as the five lead Russian pre-dreadnoughts and let the AI handle the four Japanese pre-dreadnoughts along with two armored cruisers.  As fitting Admiral Togo's disposition at the time, the computer controlled units were set to aggressive.  Following an almost immediate intercept, I began the combat encounter and steadily issued broadside orders to each of my pre-dreadnoughts in sequence.  Additionally, I didn't designate any priority targets.  In this way I hoped to recreate certain conditions of the battle, namely the poor gunnery and ill-suited formation of the Russian ships.  The results of the engagement were surprisingly authentic.  Initially, there was an impressive lightshow of green tracers, backed up by purple rounds moments later.  As both sides closed the distance to under 10km an eruption of red secondary battery fire began.  When the pyrotechnics finally subsided four of the five Russian pre-dreadnoughts were out of action, their radiators completely shot away.  A few had even been blown in two by concentrated fire.  The last surviving Russian pre-dreadnought, while technically still capable of fighting back, had lost all its fuel tanks leaving it unable to maneuver.  Meanwhile, the Japanese had only suffered the loss of a single armored cruiser and even then the damage wasn't especially severe.  As for the Japanese pre-dreadnoughts, only the lead ship had taken a significant number of hits.  Two others, in addition to the one remaining armored cruiser, were completely unscathed.

As one might gather, the results mirrored the actual battle quite closely.  Of the four Japanese pre-dreadnoughts at Tsushima only Togo's flagship, the Mikasa, took a substantial number of hits.  What's more, the only Japanese capital ship knocked out of action during the battle was the armored cruiser Nisshin (over 100 casualties including a junior officer who lost two fingers and went by the name Isoroku Yamamoto).  Even then the ship was repaired and returned to service not long after.  Japanese naval guns had used a special kind of incendiary ammunition called "shimosa."  It set fire to Russian ships quite effectively (going so far as to ignite the paint) and in some cases forced Russian crews to abandon ship or else be roasted alive.  It's a decision that must have also faced the crews of the spaceships once their radiators ceased to function.  The glowing hot hulls of the smashed Russian pre-dreadnoughts are eerily reminiscent of flaming hulks seen in artwork and photographs of the actual battle.

For the second phase of the engagement things went a bit more off-script.  Six Japanese armored cruisers attacked a force of three Russian pre-dreadnoughts and one armored cruiser.  Two Russian pre-dreadnoughts were disabled at the cost of two Japanese armored cruisers destroyed and a further two crippled.  In the actual battle none of the cruisers in the Japanese second column took serious damage, but then again they probably weren't as aggressive as in the simulation.

The third and final phase was basically a wash.  The torpedo boats proved wholly ineffectual due to the limited performance of their torpedoes.  No hits were made and several boats were knocked out of action by Russian gunfire.  I ran this last part of the simulation twice more with more-or-less identical results.  While not a true representation of the actual battle, the results do line up with the state of self-propelled explosives at that point in history.  Torpedoes wouldn't come into their own until the first World War, and it wasn't until decades later still that all the kinks finally got ironed out.  At Tsushima real torpedo boats were only used to finish off badly damaged Russian ships or else attempt surprise strikes under poor visibility conditions.

Thus concludes my attempts to re-create the Battle of Tsushima in a space sci-fi setting.  For me it was an interesting experiment that let me get a bit more millage out of the game while waiting for updates.  I hope it proved to be entertaining to read about as well.

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