View Full Version : Surface attacks at night
07-29-2005, 02:57 AM
From my reading it's clear that the preferred means of attack in the first few years of the war was at night, on the surface.
But what are the benefits of a surface attack versus a submerged attack? I typically get ahead of the convoy, submerge, and fire away when they get close. The very few times I've tried this on the surface I've found...
-I'm spotted right about the time I fire, and everyone begins a zig zag
-Sometimes I'm spotted before I attack, and I have to rush my shot so I can hurry up and get under.
-I may be fired upon and take damage
-The escorts get an exact fix of my position. With a lot of submerged attacks I slip away without them every fixing my location
In general, I find it easier to attack while unobserved. Partly because I do manual targeting and find it more difficult to do the equations if the convoy starts zig zagging, or I have to alter course to evade an escort.
So why attack on the surface?
The only advantage I can think of is speed, but I don't need it if I'm already well positioned. Other benefits? Is this something where the game failed to model certain aspects of a nighttime surface attack, or am I just missing something in my attack strategy? I admit that I've only tried surface attacks 2 or 3 times ... and wow I sure did feel exposed out there.
07-29-2005, 03:10 AM
There is no right or wrong really... whatever is successful for you!! I like surface because I can line up the big ships properly even if it means a few shells exploding all around and on me. Tonnage and more tonnage is all I care about :rock:
07-29-2005, 03:17 AM
I always try to attack on the surface until late 1942 when it becomes too dangerous. I should qualify this by saying that I use the improved convoys mod which makes the whole nightime surface attack far more realistic.
Generally speaking the nightime surface attack allows you more options if its done right, you should rarely go in at full speed because you have more chance of being spotted. I find manual aiming far easier on the surface and its easier to get a much better idea of the disposition of the convoy and where the escorts are positioned. If I do it right I can sneak in fire off the torps and sneak out again and shadow the convoy, whilst reloading the torps, hopefully if there is still enough darkness left I can go in and attack again.
It is a better tactic than being submerged IMHO, but it takes practice to evade the escorts. Later it becomes more dangerous to do, but it still gives you a good simulation of the reality, the only downside is that Snowflake illumination flares are not modeled in the game and I find the escorts don't fire starshells as much as they should after your first torpedoes find their mark.
07-29-2005, 03:26 AM
Interesting. I play generally at full realism with exception to the map plottings. Perhaps this is why I don't experience the benefit of a surface attack ... simply raising my periscope gives me a bird's-eye view of the convoy on my map.
You are typically able to fire without being spotted? At what range do you fire?
07-29-2005, 03:38 AM
edited for wrong thread:
depends at which realism factor you play the sim. Try it once at 100 percent, no exterior camera, no map updates but the "x" you plot there for a contact. Being submerged you will be blind, not able to see any destroyer or merchant good enough, and the convoy making a tack ruining your torpedo solution.
They used this tactic in reality because your boat is virtually invisible at night, only the bow wave giving some clue to your enemy. Then ASDIC is useless when you are going in surfaced, and you are so fast that you will be racing out of the convoy before the enemy even realizes your presence. With more than 15 knots you outrun every trawler or "Flower" class corvette.
Even with 100 percent you will be able to sink far more than any real U-boat commander, but it is getting closer to the real thing. I have to admit i play with exterior camera mostly turned on because of those graphics - i just love it - but i quickly become aware of situations i would not see without it.
Catfish, wrong thread. ;)
I just had a great thrill last night in February 1941 attacking a huge convoy west of Ireland at night. (Improved Convoys) I got pretty close and ended up getting a T3. Wil post on the improved convoys thread as well. Got within 500 yards before getting spotted. Keep your speed down and profile to the convoy.
07-29-2005, 03:46 AM
oops, yes wrong thread - must have doubled the post somehow, sorry.
I'll edit it and put in the real msg.
07-30-2005, 12:53 AM
Just had my first chance to try a night surface attack in a while - patrolling off the coast of Portugal in early November 1941 and found a C2 traveling with a small freighter on a moonless night, with clear sky and dead calm seas
Angling in from ahead/starboard quarter at about 7 knots (kleine fahrt voraus), I managed to get to within about 1500m and was just about to launch my torps when I got the word from my bridge watch that we'd been spotted - I rushed my shot and managed to miss :nope: , and then the stern gun on the C2 opened up on me so I dove to 'scope depth and fired off one more torp - that hit the C2 under the stern and she quickly went dead in the water and settled by the stern enough to the point where her deck gun became useless. Therefore, I surfaced and gunned down the small freighter (which was unarmed), and circled back to finish off the C2.
So, it looks like you can get close enough for a night surface attack if you're lucky and the weather/lighting conditions are favorable - I might have been able to get a little closer perhaps if there had been a little heavier sea state to mask my bow spray/wake, though I'm not sure if the game models that or not. I know I've gotten spotted further out before when there was a significant moon out (half or more), so it seems that the game may well model the lighting effect at least.
Generally, the sea state and fog density will dictate how close I get in to loose my eels; always at high speed and hitting the frontmost rows of the convoy; at 90 deg. or thereabouts.
I have had good results (even against C2's) at firing ranges of 2000 - 2500 yds as long as my AOB is no less than 75%. If the escort is out of position I sometimes blast right in and penetrate the columns seeking out the tankers! :arrgh!:
...particularly if there are slimy neutrals shielding the convoy and how determined I am at the moment.
07-31-2005, 05:22 AM
Slimy neutrals... hehe that was a good one. For my operation it depends on weather how I approach a convoy. At night with calm sea and good visibility I stay away, and collect the data of the ships for a run, until I have really precise heading, and speed data. I make my run, fire all my tubes from about 2000m, turn away reload, and see the guys ziggzagging and the escorts getting crazy.
In real bad weather I got into the convoi with visibility at 400m I cut ziggzagging though the convoy lanes and deliver the fish from the closest range possible. In fog you can see the escorts very good, because of their searchlights... running at flank between the freighters avoiding the DD´s in heavy sea and fog is real thrilling thing... :rock:
A convoy at day... well submerged of course ;)
07-31-2005, 05:58 AM
apart from the speed with which you conduct your attack, your situation awareness is much better, as soon as you dive you only have a quickly degrading mental picture.
What is wrong in the sim - in my opinion - is that you are spotted too early by merchants and warships. They really did not see you without radar, destroyers were passed at 200 m without being spotted - later in the war the warships detected you on radar, but not if you were within 1200 m, the radar was not able to see anything below this distance. You had a good chance of manoeuvering away, destroyers were spotted long before they saw you. It is how Mr. Oesten wrote: the simulations (even AOD) are more difficult than it really was.
In calm seas and full moon a surface attack would be impossible until a cloud shielded the moon and you would instantly go in, but in any other condition no one would see the small barrel of your conning tower.
Additionally later in the war when the merchants were fitted with guns, there is no evidence that a merchant's gun EVER hit a U-boat. OK, U-boats would not take the risk to attack an armed merchant surfaced later in the war, but i have heard of no incident that those guns ever hit anything. In the game merchant's guns hit my boat after the first three shots :88)
Realism does not mean making a simulator more difficult than it really was - at least for me.
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