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Old 12-28-2019, 11:05 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 146
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Default depth charge lethality

Talking to different players, there seems to be quite a wide variety of guestimates as to the lethal radius of a depth charge, but circa 15m seems to be the average.

This got me to thinking. Anecdotal accounts of being depth-charged, and surviving, indicate that some U-boats survived attacks of over 150 depth-charges over a period of many hours. This would seem to indicate that there's something wrong with our current model, as far too lethal, or far too accurate, or far too precise in depth-fusing; or a combination of all three.

This got me to thinking about depth-charge lethality. If we allow that the lethal radius is 0-10m (for example) at the surface, it should follow that the lethal radius at 200m should be greater, due to the water-pressure at depth already exerting a collapsing force on the hull. For the sake of argument, say at 200m depth, it is double the radius - 0-20m. In order for our U-boat to survive multiple patterns of depth-charges there needs too be other variables - the calculation of target-depth, and fusing to that depth. In practice RN escorts had depth-bands to which the fuses of DC's could be set, each represented by letters. Most charges would explode somewhere within the set band, but not necessarily at equal depths, nor +/- so many meters of the target depth, but that of the band. Squids were operated via clock-work fuses which were generally fired ahead of the ship, and could have the target depth of up to 270m set within a very few seconds of being fired.

It seems to me that looking again at the coding of escort depth-charges to simulate the fusing of DC's to bands of depths, and to vary the lethality with depth, would both be very worthwhile as a precursor to much more persistant and lengthy DC attacks being experienced by players of U-boats.

This is a necessary step before implementing a more varied damage-control model for the U-boat.

This is the next thing I'm going to consider:

As it stands, only part of the U-boat is modelled for players to interact with, although, in theory, any part of the U-boat can be damaged. Therefore there would need to be three types of damage:

1.Abstraction damage (internal): where damage occurs, and is reported to the control room, in locations other than the control-room/radio room. The captain could perhaps "deploy" damage-control party to whatever aspect of such damage he prioritises even if submerged.

2.Abstraction damage (external): As above, but cannot be dealt with from within the U-boat, damage to planes, rudder, periscopes, flak mounts etc.

3.Visible damage: damage within the control-room or radio room, which players themselves could fix, with visible leaks from pipes, broken pipes, damaged instruments, electrical shorts, fire, damaged batteries, loss of lighting, injury of crewman, etc.

As the modelled area of the U-boat increases, then of course internal abstraction damage (2) can change to visible damage (3).

Self-evidently, the captain would need a damage screen indicating flooding, bilge level, damage to systems and where his damage control parties are directed, as well as progress dealing with any particular damage, be it an NPC party dealing with abstraction damage, or players dealing with visible damage within or without the u-boat. Ideally there would be flange-nuts to tighten, or valves to close to isolate leaking pipes. As there are a profusion of un-used valves already on the boat, there's ample possibilities for this.

A regards chlorine gas, this should require broken battery cells leaking acid into a bilge with water in it. In other words, having surfaced, broken batteries could be considered tossed over-board, and the bilge once blown, to be free of both sea-water and acid - hence no further chlorine generation. However, dependant on the number of broken batteries, chlorine would still be generated until the bilge was blown, and would still persist until the boat was ventilated by opening the hatch. In the meantime, the crew would be operating with breathing apparatus of the gas-mask variety. The act of "disposing of" (or otherwise rendering safe) broken batteries would obviously reduce the total available charge therein.

Plainly some forms of damage would be too time-consuming to fix within a sensible time. These can either be given a 'time-to-fix' period much shorter than RL, but long enough to be a nuisance, or, they can be considered unrepairable within the timeframe of a typical game. I prefer the former, as if the game were to expand in future to more persistent convoys, with players logging in and out of the same game-convoy over a period of days, then truer values for damage-control can easily be implemented, if desired.

Personally, I'd like to see DC attacks take much, much longer, and many more passes, to kill a U-boat, with the accretion of damage and vertical control problems leading (eventually) to the U-boat sinking or being forced to the surface, with "direct hits" - being something of a rarity until the advent of "squids" and "hedgehogs" combined with better Asdic installations.

Ideally I'd like to see playable escorts, with the duration of the prosecuted attack being according to the instinct of the escort captain, observed floating debris/air/oil, and/or loss of asdic contact for a prolonged period, or being called back to the convoy by the convoy leader. Some mechanism would be required to prevent players on U-boats from changing submarines from one under attack to another in order to "escape". Perhaps if the initial location of the convoy was via Enigma, and thence by hydrophones, and the time taken to acquire it from a new-sub was much greater than the typical time required to escape from a DC attack, that might do the trick...?

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