Friday, November 29, 2013

The Bedford Incident

In writing about nuclear depth bombs in my previous entries has started to make me think back of the 1965 classical movie, “The Bedford Incident”.  If you are interested in Cold War dramas, this is one to add to “the must see” list.  It stars several heavy hitter actors, Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Eric Portman, and Martin Balsam. 

I don’t want to give too much away with it, but it about a US destroyer, the USS Bedford, pursuing a Soviet submarine in the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) gap.  Richard Widmark is the tough, demanding captain that pushing his men to the breaking point.  Sidney Poitier is a civilian reporter that was given permission to interview the captain at sea.  Eric Portman is an NATO advisor on the ship that is a former WWII U-Boat commander. Finally, Martin Balsam is a naval reservist doctor that has been called to duty on aboard the ship. 

Here is a copy of the trailer to give you a taste of the movie.



Nuclear weapons deployed during the Falklands Conflict 1982 Part II

I got this comment on my last entry and as I started to type up a reply, I realized that it was rather lengthy, so I decided to make it a separate entry.  (Hope you don’t mind, Benoit!) 

Below is Benoit’s comment:

“Very interesting but if:

"I am fairly confident that Thatcher would have never authorized the use of the NDB’s during the Falklands conflict"

then, why did she support to bring them there? I cannot imagine she was not aware of the embedded NBD's. What is your opinion?

Kind regards,


So here is my reply:

My opinion is fairly much in line with the official MoD’s document, as it is the only logical reason for sending the NDB’s to the Falklands Conflict.
Thatcher would have most certainly had known of their existence.  I also believe that even with her reputation as the ‘Iron Lady’ and regardless of the ultra-left’s opinion of her, she was smart enough to know that the use of nuclear weapons against a Third World nation that had no nuclear weapons and opposed no global or Home Islands threat would have been not only been political suicide, but national suicide for the UK in all future global relations, if not to provide an excuse for the Warsaw Pact the use for military intervention into the conflict.  The USSR was neutral to the conflict as the Argentine junta was furiously anti-communist, but the use of a nuclear device would have sent them in to panic. I also believe that she probably pushed the MoD to address the issue to relocate the NDB’s to the deep magazine ships so not to violate the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

I am sure that her MoD's advisors explained the reasons for needing to keep the NDB’s with the task force and that she agreed with them.  How hard they would had to persuade her would be a difficult question to answer, but with her history of a hard stance, I would say, “probably not much at all.”

The logic with keeping the NDB’s with the task force was two main reasons, which were also covered in the MoD’s document.  The first one is related to the actual operational timeline for the mission to retake the Falklands islands.  As stated, had the task force stopped at the Ascension Island to also to off-load the NDB’s, they would have lost an additional 36 hours, estimated.  This would have meant that operations would have delayed two more days.  With the sever winter season approaching fast, this was a critical factor.  Had they waited, and not knowing how the weather would be like, it was very likely that they would have to call off the operation without reaching a final objective (forcing the Argentine forces into a position to call for surrender.)  Had the task force failed to reach that objective before the winter called off the operations, The UK might have been force into a treaty with Argentina to accept their claim to the islands and to forced into an agreement similar to China at that time with Hong Kong.  The second part to this actual operational timeline was that by sitting at the Ascension Islands two more days could have possibly allowed the Argentine forces to spot the route of the task force and to intercept it with their submarines.  While in reflection this turn out to be a false fear, but for the protection of the task force it could not be overlooked.
The second reason is the UK’s commitment to NATO.  While looking back, we could see that there was not a great chance of war between the NATO vs. Warsaw Pact during the period, but it was always a threat.  Keep in mind that the international war game, Able Archer 1983, was only about 18 months later and there are conflicting accounts on how close we came to a war with the Warsaw Pact over that.  (Actually, this would even make a cool campaign tie-in for a post Falklands game and excuse to do a USSR naval campaign!) Had the task force off loaded their NDB’s at Ascension Island or the Home Islands, if a war would have broke out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the task force would have been in trouble.  Not only would they have been without a much needed resource for destroying ballistic missile submarines (better to have an assured kill, verse a crippled sub that can still launch before being hit again), but it had to sailed to Ascension Islands first and take roughly 60 hours or less to reload the NDB’s.  It could also be possible that the Soviet intelligence could figure out that the NDB’s were located there and set up a trap for the task force.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nuclear weapons deployed during the Falklands Conflict 1982

US Navy testing an ASROC NDB in 1962
One of the things that is talked about in hush tones about the Falklands Conflict is the deployment of nuclear weapons by the British with their task force.  This of course is done for good reasons, one they could have been violation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which makes Latin America a nuclear weapons “Free Zone”, and secondly the public relations backlash if they did confirmed that nuclear weapons were indeed with the task force.  Even today, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) official statement is that they can either confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons, but that the task force was instructed not to enter the territorial waters of the Falkland Islands with their nuclear weapons (violating the Treaty of Tlatelolco).  But in an official document from the MoD states the nuclear weapons that were part of the task force did not arrive back the UK until two to six weeks after the hostiles had ended on the RFA Fort Austin and RFA Resource, respectfully.  A PDF of the eight page MoD’s document can be found here (link - click on the link "View the item you were looking for"). In this entry, I am going to write up a bit about these nuclear weapons, what happen with them during the conflict, and how will this will play into my upcoming Falklands naval games (and bit more on that too).  I am hoping that anyone playing a combined arms Falklands campaign can use this information to make a more interesting campaign.

So, what nuclear weapons did the British have?

WE.177A nuclear depth bomb - inert

According to the MoD, they only had the WE.177A nuclear depth bombs (NDB), or the official nomenclature, “Bomb, Aircraft, HE 600lb, MC (Medium Capacity)”   To my knowledge, the Royal Navy did not have nuclear armed torpedoes for their submarines.

The WE.177A was designed to be dropped from either an RAF or a RN aircraft or helicopter, with either a 0.5 kt or a 10 kt warhead depending on the depth or location of the enemy forces.  The WE.177A was also designed for either air burst, ground burst, or submerge burst.

Westland Wasp carring a WE.177A

As I am only interested in discussing the immediately availability of the NDB’s by the task force at the time of the Falklands operation, I am limiting the following list of aircrafts capable of delivering the NDB within the task force at that time.  Those aircraft include for depth charge attacks only: the Westland Wessex HAS.3, the Westland Wessex HUS, and the Wessex Wasp.  The Sea Harrier FAS.1 was capable of dropping the WE.177A in laydown (parachute to delay impact), retarded (time fuze to detonate after impact) to allow the jet more time to escape.  Also, the HMS Bristol was able to deploy the WE.177A with its Ikara missile system. 

What ships had the NDB’s? 

HMS Hermes and Invincible in 1982
In the MoD’s document, they show which ships were carrying live NDB’s, training NDB’s, and surveillance rounds.  I am only interested in the live rounds for now, so the following ships had live NDB’s assigned to them prior to sailing for the Falklands: Invincible, Hermes, Broadsword, Brilliant, Fort Austin, Regent, and Resource. It should be noted that the Broadsword removed her training NDB’s prior to sailing, but the live NDB’s did set sail with her towards the Falklands.  It should also be noted that these ships were carrying a significant percent of all of the NBD’s in the Royal Navy inventory.  I will be touching on how many in my next section.

Why did the ships not off load their NDB’s at shore, either the UK or Ascension Islands?

There was a major argument to fully off load the NDB’s to a safe land location would have delayed the Falklands operations and put the time schedule in jeopardy (remember, they were in a rush to beat the sever winter conditions which could have stopped all operations.)  The ships had only 24 hours at port and it was determined that it would take another 36 hours more to safely removed all of the NDB’s.  This delay could have also alerted the Argentine forces that the RN was located at the Ascension Islands and to be better prepared for their arrival.

What happen to the NDB’s in the task force? 

According to the MoD, most of the NDB’s were transferred at sea (by helicopter or Landing craft) to ships in the task force with deep magazines (deep in the ship and most heavily protected from bomb attacks.)  Those ships with the deep magazines were the following: Hermes, Invincible, Fort Austin, and Resource.  The Hermes was the most heavily protected and it was expected that only had a moderate chance of damage from a mine or torpedo and minimal chance from an Exocet missile.  The protection on the other ships had a greater chance of damage from torpedoes.  In the MoD’s document, it shows when and which ships transferred their NDB’s to which specific ship with a deep magazine.  By the end of the transfers the Hermes was carrying 40% (!) of the entire RN’s NDB’s inventory (not the task force, the whole RN!), the Invincible was carrying 25% (!), and the Fort Austin and Resource was carrying even more, but not noted.  So just between the two task force carriers, 65% of all the RN’s NBD’s was located. 

What would have happen had one the ships with the NDB’s been hit?

HMS Brillant, only ship damaged with NDB's aboard, but they were the training type

According the MoD, there would not have been an nuclear explosion (which would be true, look at my previous entry on my visiting of the atomic bomb site that was dropped on Mars Station, SC.)  However, there could have been radioactive release; if the ships were still afloat, immediate decontamination of any radioactive material and the removal of the remaining NDB’s to any of the remain deep magazine ships; if the ship sank, the NDB’s were either temporary or permanently lost for NATO operations, and possible recovery by Argentine salvage operations.  This is not even including public relations nightmares for the British and could cripple their future of having ships visit other ports.

How will this fit into a Falklands game or campaign?

I have the rules set, Shipwreck, based on the recommendations by Rusty Nail over at his blog, "Hurry Up and Wait!" (link) (If you are interested in the Falklands, I highly recommend it!).  I also got to play it a couple of times while I was working in Savannah, GA.  I really like the system and plan to use that for my Falklands naval campaign.  I have 1/6000 ships from Hallmark that I will use, but might consider bumping up to 1/3000.  But the cost, size, and availability of the ships used in the Falklands conflict got me to buy the 1/6000.  I am going to try to start painting these up myself (!) over the holidays as they should be fairly easy to paint.  But I digressed from the topic…

I am looking at a board scope for my Falklands games and the naval action is a major part of it.  First off, I am fairly confident that Thatcher would have never authorized the use of the NDB’s during the Falklands conflict, so the RN can’t use them for what they are designed for against the Argentine forces.  So, the first thing is do I off-load the NDB’s at Ascension?  If I do, that means add two more days to arrive in the area of operations, plus a greater chance of detection by the Argentine’s 707 recon plane.  This will also mean a more aggressive land operation for when I am doing that to reach Port Stanley before winter conditions forces the operation to end.  Do I remove the NDB’s to the deep magazine ships?  There should be a chance to lose a NDB during the transfer and that will cause some political loss of Victory Points to reflect the need to go back and recover the lost NDB.  If chose not to transfer, I need to keep track of which ships have their NDB’s for possible air/submarine attacks.  If a ship with NDB’s is hit, is there a radioactive release (this will be a greater chance in a ship without a deep magazine)?  Do I have to I have to assign helicopters to transfer the undamaged NDB’s inside of have them for a anti-submarine screen?  Needless to say, if the Hermes is hit and sinks before a transfer could take place, there would be a major Political loss for various reasons. I have not figure up any hard points or rules for any of this, but this is brain food for people to think about.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flames of War game - 11/16/13, Operation Barbarossa

Last weekend, Steve H. ran a game of Flames of War at the Wargamer's Cave (link).  It went fairly well and I think most enjoyed themselves.  The set up was an armor heavy task force of Germans was to push across the board and exit off board at a specific road point.  The Germans were run by Glenn & Ravi.  I am not entirely sure of the German make up, but if I am correct, Glenn was pushing a platoon of Pz IIC, a platoon of Pz 38t, and the 2ic's Pz 38t; and Ravi was pushing a platoon of Pz 38t, a platoon of of Pz IVD, a weak platoon of pioneers, and the CO in his Pz 38t.  On the Russian's side, Curtis pushed a infantry platoon, 3x MMG teams, a T-28, and both the CO and 2ic; Blake was pushing a company of T-26's; and I was pushing a company of BT-7's.  We had numbers, but poor armored vehicles (my BT-7's have 0 armor rating all around!)  Anyway, here are some pictures from the game, plus a brief AAR with the pictures.

Steve is setting up the game.  Curtis' Soviets are set up with the infantry along the road and the MMG teams and the T-28 at the bend in the road.  The two Soviet tank companies start off board, but are were they are for storage until they show up.  The Germans will be coming on the right table edge in the picture.

This is either turn one or two.  Blake's T-26's are advancing down the road while my BT-7's are forming a battle line at the edge of the wheat fields.  Due to my misunderstanding, I thought the grassy field in front of me was also rough ground preventing me from moving full speed, which is the BT-7's big edge.  So I was more cautious than what I would have normally have been.  The Germans on the far corner are Glenn's and the one's in the middle are Ravi's.

This is either turn two or three.  There has been a round of fire between the tanks already.  Blake's T-26's where trading shots with the Pz IVD's and came out the worst for it.  My BT-7's lost one tank in the first round of shooting with Ravi's platoon of Pz 38t's.  So I turned moved the rest of the company through the woods (luckily without bogging any tanks until the 2nd to last) so I could get wood cover for my 0 armored tanks and also prevent half of the Pz 38t platoon to get shots at me.  Unfortunately, they still knocked out three more of my tanks!

Revenge!  Next round I killed the only two Pz 38t's that could shoot at my BT-7's.

Blake's T-26's where wiped out shortly later and finish killing the rest of Ravi's Pz 38t's when he advanced them to a spot were they could shoot me.  Glenn decides to do a Thunder Run past the MMG and the T-28 blocking force.  So I pull out of the woods to try to beat Glenn to the corner.

The picture before the end.  Due to the rough terrain, only two of my four remaining BT-7's can get in position to shoot at Glenn as Curtis' T-28 moves up to shoot the rear of Glenn's column.  I was able to get the lead two tanks to bail and Curtis got the rear tank to bail as well.  But Glenn passed his rolls to remount and was able to double move pass me for a win.

In the end, the Soviets lost a full company of T-26's, a half company of BT-7's, and almost a full platoon of infantry.  The Germans only lost one platoon of Pz 38t's and half of their pioneers.  The one Pz IIC was bogged down behind Soviet lines, so it might have been abandoned temporary and possibly destroyed later only to be recovered by the rest of the Panzer division following on.

Also going on at another table at the same time was a game by Dave S. using his homemade rules and 10mm / 1-144th figures.  As I was not involved with it, I can not comment on the pictures other than it was also an Eastern Front game.

On a couple of final notes, one is that if all goes well, next Saturday I will be running another 10mm Vietnam game, but this time I will be using Flames of War's Tour of Duty instead of TFL's Charlie Don't Surf.  I want to try it them out because to be brutally honest, I want a every simple game system for convention games because with only 4-5 hours to set up, tear down, explain rules, and do the game, I just don't have time to do TFL's Charlie Don't Surf justice.  Plus some people can't get around the card system with TFL's games, the fact that they might not go for several card turns, or suffer the American disease (Short attention span.)  Charlie Don't Surf will still be my game of choice for Vietnam with regular gamers but not for conventions.

Next is that I did open my package of my painted figures to find that the mail service beat the hell out of the boxes and most of the stuff was chipped.  Some has very few chips, other were really bad.  I am waiting to find what paints to use for the touch up work and do the work before taking pictures of them.  I have already have a plan on a better shipping method for future paint jobs.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Whimsical Wednesday - Guilty Movie Pleasures

This whimsical is because of Richard Clarke with the Too Fat Lardies!  In a recent posting on the the TFL Yahoo Group by Richard about the upcoming Christmas Special for Too Fat Lardies, he mention that in one of the articles that there are rules for tomatoes.  Now, I know that my first reaction should have been, "oh, throwing tomatoes at other gangsters for the awaited Gangster rules in this Christmas Special."  But, first thought was, "Cool!  Rules for Killer Tomatoes!"  And then the damn singing of the theme song from "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" has been on my mind ever since!  

You see, "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" is one of my guilty movie pleasures...and yes, I have  all four movies on DVD!  (And yes, I did at one time started to make some stands of Killer Tomatoes to fight my 1/300 US Army troops!) So, because of me replaying over and over the theme of Killer Tomatoes, I had to go to YouTube.  While I was there I found this  clip that compares Killer Tomatoes to Killer Clowns...oh, and yeah, I love "Killer Clowns from Outer Space" too!


Opening theme to 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes'

Opening theme to 'Killer Clowns From Outer Space'

Monday, November 11, 2013


If you need to ask, I can never explain

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The rantings of a lunatic...or another entry on my Winter War project

I was sitting around work yesterday and I was thinking about my gaming projects; what to keep, what to get rid of, etc.  I started thinking about my Kickstarter's Winter War pledge and everything I needed as I really have nothing on the

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Whimiscal Wednesday - Teaching cats to fly!

This actually is really interesting!

Patrol Markers for Too Fat Lardies’ Chain of Command and other news

I think I finally figured out how to use the Google Drive to make PDF’s and other documents available on my blog for others, without out making all of my files accessible (Sorry folks, there are just some things I don’t want to share!)

Sunday, November 3, 2013