Steel Fleet   Battle of Coronel Designer's notes
Contents
bulletWhat's missing?
bulletHMS Defence
bulletOther optional orders of battle

 

  What's missing?
No rules for coal smoke, it was too windy. No rules for torpedos, nets, mines or sweeping. No rules for wireless in the tactical game. No airships, aircraft, air observation or anti-aircraft gunnery. No making smoke. This scenario was chosen not just because it has a number of intriguing 'what-if' possibilities; it really was, excepting lighting and the weather, a perfectly straightforward encounter of pure surface gunnery.

We are at this late stage1 still debating adding early torpedo rules developed for Yellow Sea.

HMS Defence
This well-armed cruiser was the subject of considerable miscommunication leading up to Coronel. It is arguable that Cradock not only expected be reinforced by her soon but may have assumed she was already overdue as events unfolded in the critical days before 1 November.

Any comprehensive simulation of Coronel should probably include her as an optional reinforcement for Cradock's cruiser squadron on a 'what if' basis.

Other optional orders of battle
Hindsight strongly recommends HMS Invincible and Inflexible could probably have been sent to Port Stanley before defeat forced the decision. The argument that these were needed at home is buttressed somewhat by the first Yarmouth raid, just three days after Coronel, but this brief demonstration against the English coast by the battlecruisers SMS Seydlitz, Von der Tann and Moltke was followed by prudent and hasty withdrawal ahead of the arrival of Beatty's 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron.

It is worth noting that by the time von Spee had concentrated at Pagan in mid-August HMS Inflexible and Invincible were back in home waters.  Inflexible, already eluded by SMS Goeben in the Mediterranean, was recalled soon after and while Invincible played a minor role at Heligoland on 28 August there seems no compelling reason why both could not have been made available; at least from September 1914 if not earlier.

Whatever the arguments in favour of their retention they were hastily abandoned when news of Coronel arrived at the Admiralty.

Alternatively, it's also puzzling that the battlecruiser HMAS Australia, a vessel von Spee surely dreaded as it dogged him across the Pacific, was held back near Suva while Cradock's intercepting squadron was inadequately reinforced even though von Spee's strength was well known.

From a designer's perspective this seems an argument for providing at least a pair of optional Coronel scenarios. One with Rear Admiral Cradock scouting the Chilean coastal waters with HMS Invincible and Inflexible already in the vicinity or arriving soon. And alternately one with an initial reinforcement of HMAS Australia accompanied by one of the cruisers HMS Encounter, Newcastle or the French Montcalm or combinations thereof.

Shaun Appleby 03 August 2014

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1 By 'late' we mean August 2014; the war has already started 100 years ago!
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