USS PT-105 running at high speed

PT Boats in the Med – a selection of 1943 scenarios for Cruel Seas

Introduction

I have produced a few scenarios involving PT boats for the rules ‘Cruel Seas’ which I present here for your enjoyment. There is a certain commonality to all the scenarios which I will outline first followed by the specific conditions for each one. Almost all of the information in these scenarios comes from the book At Close Quarters – PT Boats in the United States Navy by Captain Robert J. Bulkley, Jr. USNR (Retired).

A supporting PDF can be downloaded here: PTs in the Med Ships.pdf

Context

After landing in North Africa in 1943, American forces brought in almost every type of land, sea and air unit. That included two squadrons of PT boats, which set up in Bône, Tunisia. From there they struck east to protect the northern sea flank of the Allied advance.

General

Unless indicated, it is night time with average seas, all crews are Regular and all vessels start at Combat speed. All of the PT boats are Higgins class and have radar. All E-boats are S-38b (armoured wheelhouse) and the forward gun on all Fairmile Ds is 40mm AA (the 6 pdr was installed very, very late in the war). Some scenarios use ships not mentioned in the main rules. Such ships are detailed in the Appendix at the end of this article.

I envisage these scenarios on a six feet by four feet playing area. Scenarios with destroyers and larger ships probably need a six by eight area. Except when the ships start at close quarters, always try to start a scenario with markers, using the same number of dummies as real ships. If torpedo boats go against big ships, strictly enforce visibility rules. Don’t allow players to see the force list or specifications of their opponents. The emphasis is on recreating the historical events rather than creating an artificial balance. For such balance purposes tweak crew quality, weapon set and vessel count. Or the weaker force could inflict some damage for points and then run away!

There is no turn limit to any scenario. You decide when it is over. For victory points, use the points lost from each ship, divided by ten and rounded down. This gives value to damaging enemy boats in addition to sinking them. The side with the most points wins. Boats can leave the table to keep the enemy from earning more points.

Necessary Rules

1. If a vessel runs over a torpedo, roll for a hit.

2. If a vessel sinks before it moves in a turn, move its torpedoes when its die/chit is pulled.

3. In a minefield, roll once for every 10cms moved. Place 1D10 next to each vessel to track any leftover movement.

4. Turning when stopped – Large and Huge vessels can make only one turn.

5. Critical Damage Table – Ignore critical hits 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8 on Large and Huge steel vessels unless caused by three inch guns or larger.

6. “In a standard night scenario, you may not engage the enemy until they reveal themselves by moving above Slow speed, open fire, or are spotted. To spot, pass a Skill Test when you are within 80cms of the enemy.” (rulebook Scenario 6, page 42)

Use a marker if a vessel is out of sight. Use models when the vessels move into visibility range. Illuminated craft (lit by searchlights, fire, star shells, shooting) can be seen and engaged at any range. With good visibility (full moon) or in daytime, everything on the map is visible. With poor or obscured visibility, reduce spotting distance to 40cms. Radar can identify the general location, size and speed of enemy ships, but you can’t shoot at them using just radar. Remove dummy markers and consider using three sizes of markers.

7. Aircraft can strafe one vessel that they pass over during movement instead of conducting a bomb or torpedo attack. Treat as normal machine gun or cannon attacks. Ignore the -2 modifier for speed of shooter and the +2 for point blank range. Apply the damage bonus for the number of guns firing up to a maximum of +3D6.

8. One torpedo can be reloaded at the end of a turn if the vessel…

– is at Slow speed

– does not make any turns

– does not fire any weapons

– is not itself under fire and

– the crew makes a successful skill test (with a +1 modifier).

This rule is mainly for E-boats.
9. All lighters have very shallow drafts, so torpedoes hit only on a natural (unmodified) 1 or 2.

10. For surfaced submarines see page 58 of rulebook plus the following addition; when a submarine is declared to be diving, remove it from the game. Treat subs as Medium targets for torpedoes.

11. When a scenario includes a convoy, use Convoy Dice System (rulebook scenario 5, page 41).

29 April 1943 – Cape Bon (or not so Bon)

This is an incredible but true special, three-player scenario. Each player is trying to earn the most points by damaging and destroying the other player’s boats, regardless of nationality. The American PTs are heading home after completing a night patrol. They run into two British destroyers which are responding to a radio intercept of three E-boats attacking.

Conditions

No radar for anyone.

Forces

British

HMS Laforey (L class destroyer) and HMS Harwich (Hunt class destroyer and Veteran)

American

PT 202 (DuBose), PT 204L (Clifford) and PT 205 (O’Brien)

MTB Squadron 15, Cmdr. Barnes (not veterans yet)

German

Three E-boats –the 3rd Schnellboot-flotille, KKpt. Kemnade (Veteran)

Set-up

Place the PT boats in the centre of the playing area, in any formation, facing west. Place the destroyers in any formation 35cms to the north of the PT boats, facing east. Place the E-boats in a line abreast due east of the PT boats, facing west, within 45cms.

Exiting the board

Americans – western edge only. Germans – eastern edge only. British – any but the southern edge. The southern edge of the play area is land and impassable. If using a rectangular table make the east/west axis the longer one.

Historical Result

The PT boats turned and fired on the E-boats, damaging one. They then turned and fled west, chased by the destroyers, which fired with all weapons on the strange craft.

9 July 1943 – Operation Husky

The westernmost screen of the Allied landing in Sicily consisted of the destroyer USS Ordronaux and 17 PT boats. They were expecting attacks from E-boats based at Porto Empedocle in Sicily. They did not just wait out at sea, but attacked the town. Historically the nine remaining E-boats of 3rd Flotilla pulled out and left the area (mining the entrance to the harbor) so this is a ‘What If…’ scenario.

Conditions

Day time.Choppy seas. American PT boats have radar (in all scenarios from now).

Forces

American

USS Ordronaux(Benson class desdtroyer) and nine PT boats

Axis

Four E-boats (Veteran), contact mines. May exit western edge.

Set-Up

The Americans enter from the eastern edge, in line abreast, with the destroyer to the rear. The Germans enter from the centre of the northern edge in any formation. Consider the northern edge land and impassable for the rest of the scenario. The German player places two small, light minefields at least 45 cm from the American entry edge.

27/28 July 1943 – Stromboli Island

The Americans run into F-lighters for the first time. Axis ships should remain as unidentified markers until they start to shoot. Do not tell the US players about Rule #9 above until after they roll for a torpedo hit.

Forces

American

PTs 202 (McLeod), 210 (Davis) and 214 (Olson)

Axis

Seven Motozattera (MZ) in convoy

The scenario can be scaled by removing two lighters for each PT boat removed. For balance, double the number of PT boats. With more PTs you can also use a mixture of ‘flak lighters’ and MZ.

Set-up

The PT boats set up in the SW section of the map, in any formation, facing east. The Axis set up in the SE corner, in a line, heading north. Place a large round island between the Americans and the SW corner of the map. The map should be long north to south.

Historical Result

The PT boats closed to 300 yards, fired their torpedoes and left. The torpedoes passed under the lighters without impact. One PT boat was damaged.

28/29 and 29/30July 1943 – Mare Nostrum?

Forces

American

PTs 203 (Reade), 214 (Olson) and 218 (Henry)

Axis

Four MAS boats and two Motozaterra (convoy die)

Again, this can be scaled by removing 1 PT Boat and 2 MAS boats.

Set-up

The convoy is attempting to cross the map, in any formation. The PT Boats come in 90 degrees to the convoy’s line of travel. Rule #9 still kept from US players until they roll.

Historical Result

1 MZ and 1 MAS boat sunk.

15/16 August 1943 – Patton’s Left Hook at Spadafora

General Patton sped up his advance along the northern coast of Sicily by launching amphibious attacks on Axis positions using Task Force 88. German schnellboote attempted to penetrate the screen of PT boats protecting one of these landings.

Forces

American

PTs 205 (Boebel), 215 (Steele) and 216 (Sanders)

Axis

Two E-boats (Veteran)

Set-up

Germans start in the north, heading south. Americans start in the south, heading east. Germans receive the hull value divided by 20, in points, of each E-boat that exits the southern edge.

Historical Result

Damage to both sides, no sinkings. The Germans had to turn back.

19/20 October 1943 – Damn the Torpedoes!

Forces

American

PTs 208, 211 and 217 (O’Brien) (Veteran)

Axis

Two E-boats (Veteran), one R-boat, one flak lighter and the cargo ship Giorgio*, in convoy

*use ‘Merchantman’ specifications

Set-up

Germans start in the centre, heading north, any formation. Americans approach from the south, heading north. The east side of the map is land. Map should be long north to south.

Historical Result

The PT crews adjusted their torpedoes to run shallow in an effort to hit the flak lighter. Most of the American torpedoes malfunctioned. No result.

2/3 November 1943 – South of Giglio Island

Forces

American

PTs 206 (Oswald), 212 (Sinclair) and 216 (Sanders) (Veteran)

Axis

Two E-boats (Veteran), Two R-boats, one corvette carrying cargo(use Gabbiano class, but with no weapons – 110 points) in convoy

Set-up

Germans start in the centre, heading north. Americans approach from the south, heading north in line ahead. One modest oval island (long north-south) in the northwest, one large circular island in the northeast. The east side of the map is land and north-south is the long side.

Historical Result

The corvette was sunk with torpedoes.

22/23 November 1943 – North of Giglio Island

Forces

American

PTs 207 (Rosen) and 211 (Tulloch) (Veteran)

Axis

Two E-boats, one R-boat, one sub chaser UJ-2206(a converted French trawler – use trawler points and any model of the right size – speed: 4/8/12, 1 x three inch deck gun, three HMGs)

Special Use marker or a tanker model to conceal the chaser until it opens fire. Don’t tell the American players its specifications (they thought it was a tanker).

Set-up

Germans start in the centre, heading north. Americans approach from the south, heading north in line ahead. One modest oval island (long north-south) in the southwest, one large circular island in the southeast. The east side of the map is land and north-south is long.

Historical Result

The sub chaser was sunk.

29 November 1943 – Heading Home, South of Genoa

Conditions

Rough seas. Obscured visibility. Radar not working.

Forces

American

PTs 204 (Clifford) and 211 (Tulloch) (Veteran)

Axis

Three Minesweepers (there were also two late arriving E-boats, if you want to add them).

Set-up

Americans are in line ahead in the north, heading south, PT 211 in the lead, out of sight of PT 204. The Germans are placed second, in the south, within 25cms of PT 211, heading north, two to the left of PT 211, one to the right. To balance the game, or if using the E-boats, addvistory points for the Americans exiting to the south – hull points divided by 40 for each ship exited.

Historical Result

PT 211 was badly damaged by a collision with one of the minesweepers.

Interlude

In November 1943 Lt. Cmdr. Barnes, commander of the American PT boats, realised that British MTBs had better torpedoes and firepower than the PTs but also that the PTs had radar and the British didn’t. If all three types of boats were combined into a single force, you would get a more effective force. Future actions used such combinations. Also, by now, the Italians had surrendered, so all of the opponents from this point onwards are German.

Finally, the Allies started to fight the newly formed German 10th Flotilla, which used Italian torpedo boats that were built like destroyers. Spica, Ariete and Orsa/Ciclone class ships, usually referred to as destroyer escorts, were called Torpedoboot Ausland (TA) by the Germans. Choose the class of the TAs randomly if not given. Use whatever ship models you have of the right size.

18/19 December 1943 – ‘Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba’

The American ships were based at Bastia, Corsica. One night two German destroyers visited and bombarded the town. Two nights later the Americans and British set a trap for them if they returned. The island is the north end of Elba. The sea conditions are choppy in this scenario.

Forces

Allied

Force A – PTs206 (Oswald), 208 (Torrance), 210 (Davis) and 214 (Olson)(Veteran)

Force B – PT 209 (Eldredge), MGBs 659 and 663 and MTB 655M (Fairmile D) (Veteran)

An immortal Allied-controlled searchlight on the northern end of the island.

German

Two destroyers (type B)

Set-up

Place a very large island (but less than 40cms long) pushing onto the eastern third of the south edge of the map. Spread out Allied Force A evenly between the island and the western edge, within 40 cm of the south edge. Place the two destroyers side by side, in the centre, 40cms from the north edge. Allied Force B enters in line abreast on the east edge on a turn of the Allies’ choosing, but no sooner than turn four.

Historical Result

Lots of shooting!

18/19 February 1944 – The Rockets’ Red Glare

Forces

American

PTs 202 (McLeod), 203 (Reade) and 211 (Tulloch) (Veteran)

The PT boats have rockets. They have a maximum range of 60cms.

German

Eight E-boats (Veteran), one flak lighter, two MZ in convoy and two shore batteries that fire star shells which will illuminate the whole area, starting no sooner than turn five.

Set-up

The sea conditions are choppy in this scenario. Place the Americans exactly halfway between the east and west edges, 40cms in from the north edge of the map, heading south, in line ahead. Two sets of markers indicating four E-boats each in line ahead enter the south edge, heading north, one line 40cms to the left of the PT boats the other in line 40cms to the right. At the beginning of turn four the lighters enter at the centre of the south edge.

Historical Result

Apparently one E-boat was hit and sunk by friendly fire. One PT boat broke down and sat quietly to not be noticed until everyone left.

27 March 1944 – Operation Gun

To counter the Axis flak lighter, the British took three LCGs (landing craft gun), and put two 4.7 inch guns and two 40mm guns on each one. Then they made these ‘specials’ part of a trap.

Forces

Allied

Force A – PTs 212 and 214 (Veteran)

Force B: MTBs 634 and 659 and MGBs 660 and 662 (all Fairmile Ds), three special LCGs (14,19 and 20. Veteran)

Optional – add PTs 208 and 218behind Force B

Special Rulesthe LCGs have star shells

Germans

Two destroyers (type A) (Veteran), two flak lighters and four MZ in convoy

Set-up

The map should be long north-south. Place the Germans in the centre, in two lines ahead, destroyers to the west, lighters to the east, heading south. The east edge is land. Force A enters on the west edge on turn one. Force B enters on the south edge on turn two. Force B is under orders not to fire until both of the boats in Force A have fired their torpedoes.

Historical Result

One destroyer was badly damaged and all six lighters were sunk.

24/25 April 1944 – Shopping for Destroyers

Forces

Americans

PTs 202, 212 and 213 (Veteran)

Germans

Two destroyers (type A) and one 1 E-boat (Veteran)

Set-up

The Germans are placed in the centre in a line ahead, crossing the short length of the map. The PT boats enter on their left, down the long side. The DDs have radar and star shells.

Historical Result

One destroyer suspected sunk.

23/24 May 1944 – Wait Your Turn

Forces

Americans

1) PTs 202, 212 and 213 (Veteran) (DuBose)

2) PTs 302, 303 and 304 (Dressling)

3) PTs 201 and 216(Oswald)

Germans

Two Gabbiano class corvettes – UJ-2222 and UJ-2223

Set-up

The Germans are placed in the centre in line ahead, crossing the short length of the map. Force 1 enters on their left, down the long side. The corvettes do not have radar. After Force 1 finishes and leaves the table, Force 2 may enter from the same edge. After Force 2 leaves the table, Force 3 may enter from the same edge. Most of the American crews are new.

Historical Result

One corvette sunk and one badly damaged. For balance use Force 1 or 2 only.

A similar battle occurred on 14/15 June near La Spezia between PTs 552, 558, 559(Elco class) and TA-26(Cicloneclass)andTA-30 (Ariete class).

31 May/1June 1944 – Does Size Matter?

Forces

Americans

PTs 304, 306 and 307 (Snodgrass)

Germans

One destroyer (Type A) and one corvette (Gabbiano class)

Set-up

High visibility due to bright moonlight. The Germans are placed in the centre in line ahead, crossing the short length of the map. The PT boats enter on their left, down the long side.

Historical Result

The destroyer was damaged. Many casualties among the PT crews.

16/17 June 1944 – Landing Commandos on Elba

While covering a landing, the PT boats were approached by larger ships which they assumed were from the landing operation, since they gave the correct recognition light signal. The Germans opened fire at 400 yards. A two part scenario on a four feet square map..

Forces

Americans

PTs 209, 210 and 211 (Veteran) (Nugent)

Germans

One E-boat (Veteran) and two German flak lighters

Part A Set-up

Place PTs 209 and 210 in the centre, heading south. Place three German markers to their south in line abreast, at a distance of the German player’s choosing.

Special -The Germans choose when to reveal themselves and start shooting. The Americans cannot shoot or change speed until shot at.

Historical Result

Damage to everyone.

Part B Set-up

Clear the map.PT 211 enters the west map edge in the centre. Choose one of the F-lighters from Part A randomly (keep the damage from Part A). It enters the north map edge, within 40cms of the east edge, which is land. The landing force is off map to the south. If the lighter exits the south edge with any working weapon bigger than an HMG, the Germans win.

16/17 June 1944 – The Chase Scene

Two Italian boats are discovered trying to get back to a harbor on the north side of Elba.

Forces

Americans

PTs 308 and 309 (Newell)

Fascist (Repubblica Sociale Italiana) Italians

Two MAS boats

Set-up

On a square map the Italians enter centre of north edge. The, Americans enter second in the centre of the south edge. Place a large island on the south edge, next to the west edge. The Italians receive one VP for each 20 hull points of their boats which exit the map within 15cms northwest of the island. Yes, the Americans start closer to that point.

Historical Result

One MAS sunk and one fled.

14 August 1944 – Faking It in Ciotat Bay, France

The Allies staged a fake landing at the Bay of Ciotat on the French coast to confuse the Germans regarding the Operation Dragoon landings. Special boats created for the operation are leaving the area when radar indicates two large ships to the east. The British assume the ships are friendly escorts. Their supporting US destroyer was some distance away, where it had overheated most of its guns trying to sound like many ships.

Forces

Allies

Ten British ASRC*, USS Endicott (DD) (Bulkley) and two British gunboats

*Air-Sea Search and Rescue boats. Use markers to represent these boats. They are unarmed and carrying equipment to make a lot of noise and light. 10/20/30 knots, 20 hull points each.

Only one of the Endicott’s five inch guns is working. Its smaller caliber guns are working normally. Use specifications for USS Benson.

German

Two corvettes (a converted yacht and a Gabbiano class)

Set-Up

The ASRC enter from the north map edge, heading south. The two corvettes enter from the east edge as markers. The British cannot fire or go above combat speed until fired upon. The two gunboats enter from the west 1D3 turns after the Germans open fire. The Endicottenters on the south edge 3+3D3 turns (i.e. between six and twelve turns) after the Germans open fire. The north edge is land.

August 1944 – Explosive Boats

The Germans attempt to interfere with the Operation Dragoon landings in southern France through the use of explosive boats. Every vessel must be spotted to be shot at.

Forces

American

Two PT Boats (215 and 216 or 206 and 214, Veteran)

German

Six Linse – five explosive and one control

Set-up

The north edge of the map is land. The American boats start 15cms in from the south edge, in the centre, line abreast, heading north. The explosive German boats start 15cms in from the land, in the centre, line abreast, heading west. The controller is behind them.

Variation

In another encounter, there was a smoke screen. Place a smoke screen west to east down the centre of the map. It will dissipate gradually. Split it up into four 30cms sections. At the end of the first turn, roll 1D6 for the first section. On 1-3 it is removed at the beginning of the next turn, on 4-6 at the beginning of the turn after that. Repeat this process for section two on turn two, section three on turn three and section four on turn four. The last possible smoke would be section four disappearing at the start of turn six.

13/14 September 1944 – To The Rescue?

Forces

Allies

MTBs422 and 376 (Vosper I and Veteran) and PT 559 (Elco class)

Germans

Two MZ, one F-lighter, one corvette, UJ-2216(a converted yacht – use Gabbiano class)

Set-up

The lighters are placed in the north/south centre in a line ahead, within 30cms of the east map edge. The Allies enter from the west edge in any formation. On the first turn after a lighter is sunk, immobilised or has all of its guns knocked out, the corvette appears on the south edge of the map.

Historical Result

The corvette and at least one lighter were sunk.

16/17 December 1944 – Trawling for Trouble

Forces

Allies

Five specially armed trawlers

Replace the 3 pounders on the standard armed trawler model with 4 inch guns on three ships and 3 inch guns on two ships.

Germans

One R-boat, one merchantman, four flak lighters (all flak, no MZ) in convoy

Set-up

The German convoy is placed in the centre in line ahead, within 30cms of the east map edge. The Allies enter from the west edge in any formation.

Historical Result

Much mayhem. Losses uncertain.

15/16 December 1944 – Point Monteglia

The Germans established heavy caliber shore batteries to support their convoys.

Forces

Allied

PT 310 (Wallace) and MTB 422 (Ilett) (Vosper I) (both Veteran)

German

Four MZ and three shore batteries

Set-up

Lighters running in a column along a map edge coast. Allies enter at a right angle in any formation. Before the game starts, the German player marks three points on the coastal map edge as the starting points for shooting by the shore batteries.

Historical Result

Nothing definite.

Ship Types not in the Rules

HMS Laforey destroyer – 190 hull points. Speed: 12/24/36. Yellow turn

  • Three pairs auto 4.7 inch guns
  • One 4 inch AA gun
  • One quad auto 6 pounder AA guns
  • Two quad AA HMGs
  • Two quad torpedo tubs
  • 42 depth charges – two rails and two throwers

USS Benson class destroyer – 160 hull points. Speed: 12/24/36. Yellow turn

  • Four 5 inch guns,
  • Two dual 40mm guns
  • Seven 20mm guns
  • Five 21 inch torpedo tubes
  • Four depth charge throwers and two tracks

Spica class Italian destroyer escort – 80 hull points. Speed: 11/22/33. Yellow turn

  • Three 4 inch guns
  • Ten 20mm AA guns
  • Two AA HMGs
  • Four 18 inch torpedo tubes

Ciclone and Orsa class Italian DE – 160 hull points. Speed: 9/18/27. Yellow turn

  • Two 4 inch guns
  • Eight 20mm AA guns
  • Eight AA HMGs
  • Four 18 inch torpedo tubes

Ariete class Italian destroyer escort – 110 hull points. Speed: 10/20/30. Yellow turn

  • Two 4 inch guns
  • Four 37mm AA guns
  • Eleven 20mm AA guns
  • Six 18 inch torpedo tubes

British gunboat – 60 hull points. Speed: 5/10/14. Yellow turn

  • Two 6 inch guns
  • Two 3 inch guns
  • Six MGs

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