Completed: 1/125 scale Revell U99

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Steve
Had a struggle with it the whole way.

I wrote a little exposition about a patrol I played in my subsim game. I offer it to you now for your viewing (and hopefully reading) pleasure. Thank you for your viewing time...

Come to the mittelmeer", they said.

"It'll be fun." they said.

For the life of me, I can't remember why we thought it was a good idea to transfer to the 29th fleet to help out the macaronis.

I liked to think it was because I was lending a hand to my old friend Erwin and his Afrika Korps, but could just as easily been something I said out of context back at fleet HQ. Either way La Spezia is our home for the time being.

This is our 3rd patrol here and our 16th overall.

We departed La Spezia at 10:21 am, the morning of June, 18, 1942. While we were in base, after our last outing, the naval armaments office added a few upgrades to our boat (U99, too bad about Kretschmer, but he lost the bet and its my new command) and we are just looking them over now. The most important of all (besides some of the prototype torpedos) is the new advance in electro-engineering, the Fumo-29b radar. Previously, radar was too large and bulky to have on anything other than a heavy cruiser on up, or a land installation. It looks so small and unworthy and I am doubtful, but maybe it will surprise us and prove itself.

As we left port I noticed something different. Maybe it's nothing, but it seems like a bad omen. In France, even Norway, the navy band plays us off. Out here in Italy, there is no music for u-boats...

We learned a few things about our new radar set. It worked fairly well, helped us keep track of a few friendlies in the dark, so we feel if we had to rely on it we could, and, it doesn't like salt water. Who knew? Ok, so we can't use it unless the sea is reasonably calm, or else the thing shorts out. Fine, we still have our ears.

One of the things that makes me happy this patrol is that my contacts at HQ managed to secure me a consignment of the new zaunkönig "acoustic seeking" torpedos, 4 in fact. 3rd time in a row he's done it. I don't care how or whose strings are being pulled, just as long as they keep coming in. I have found them to be immensely useful, and am loath to return to base before the last one is fired.

June 21. Patrol is complete with no shipping sighted. Totally routine. Decided to check out Malta. The last time we were in the area of Valletta, we left behind 4 sunken warships and 2 tankers. The place is probably getting a bad name, but I know a few tricks.

Afternoon, June 21. Malta. Submerged approach. Through the lens I see pretty much what I was expecting. Apparently the Tommie skippers had been spoken to about shoddy seamanship because now the heat is on. 5 Destroyers I count. My sonar man tells me about 3 more outside of visual range. Nope, not today I think. Even 4 seekers would not sink enough of them before the others finished us off. I have nightmares about this...

"Helm, set new course". "Keep us close to the island, but get us out of here".

"Jawohl, Herr Kaleun".

Cursing our misfortune, we leave Malta behind, in search of shipping elsewhere.

June 23, 12:18pm, lunchtime. Surfaced. Our 1WO spotted smoke on the water. Bright sunny day, flat seas, winds calm. Deck gun weather. Perfect. A slow smile brightens my face. I head below and work out the charts with the OberSteuermann and before long we have the range and speed for intercept. "Prepare for surface action, gunnery crew to the bridge".

In a clear moment, the 3 man crew dashes up the ladder, and down to the foredeck, quickly strapping themselves on to the gun. Loading the High explosive ammunition they await the order to fire. On the bridge, with the 1WO, I raise my binoculars and scan the enemy ship for evidence I can use against it. Looks like... coastal merchant, 2000 tons. Greek. Good. A target. What's that? There on the after deck. A gun! Great, she's armed we can claim 'self defense' -a snicker. Decks loaded with crates, don't really care what's in 'em. "Range?"

"3000m, sir".

"Gun crew!" "Aim for their bridge." "Try to put their helm and radio out of action". "Let's cause some confusion over there."

Feuer frei!

The boatswain rips at the firing lanyard and with a roar, the 88mm cuts loose with the first HE shell. "Counting...3, 2, 1 Hit!" "Nice shot!" "Quickly, a few more while the range is good!"

Our luck is good and our aim is true, and as a result, we got a little sloppy. Called below by the LI, we are going over the damage reports. No worries, I assure the chief engineer blithely, as he directs the damage control parties, I will gloss over this in the war diary...

Seems some of those Greek sailors were paying attention in naval gunnery class and they managed, much to my chagrin, to return some of our "medicine". Fortunately for us, the damage was more severe to my pride, than to our hull. Dashing back up to the bridge, I survey the scene. We are laying on some speed now, pulling ahead. The merchant is on fire and his bridge is smashed, but his turret still works and I guess the helm wheel is not on the bridge, because he is still taking evasive action. Through the UZO, I see he is 1300m at 210 degrees.

"Open tube 5, set 4m, aim...and...fire!"

Normally the seeker would only be sensitive to targets going 12 knots or faster and this guy is only doing 9, but he's starting to lay on the speed, and he's on a bearing favorable to our attack. Just as expected our seeker does its job and slams into the props and rudder of the merchant as he tried to turn a broadside on us to keep shooting.

Raising the glasses, I see the plume of water jetting up the side, aft, of the merchant, glittering as it falls back down. Soon fire, smoke. Might have been the gun crew blasted from their mount but was too hard to make out in all the confusion. Within minutes, an oily slick and a few burned crates are all that's left.

After our damage is repaired and the spare external hoisted in readiness, we resume course towards Gibraltar.

June 24th, 6am, surfaced.

Up enjoying some fresh air, while we can, because, well...you never know...

W/T message sir. Cargo ship in the area, be on the lookout for opportunity.

Worked it over with the Navigation officer again. And on the surface, got to the appointed place in time.

"Take us to periscope depth"!

Clips pulled, vents closed, crew piling into the forward torpedo compartment to hasten the sinking, U99 slips beneath the waves, until the surface is peaceful and quiet again.

Our hydrophone guy has a good set of ears and once below, has our bearing worked out for us. Sounds big. Heavy. Engine labouring even though the seas are fairly calm. I ask for a weather report. Calm enough for the deck gun? Yes, comes the reply. Looking back into the control room from the radio shack, I still see the signs of our last encounter. Broken glass, missing bulbs, a few blown bolts. Pretty sure I can hear a steady dripping coming from somewhere, but nevermind that now, how's that freighter doing?

"Range, 4500, bearing red 340, speed, 7 knots"

"We'll stay under" "open tubes 2 and 3", set 9 meters, standby to fire"

I hop up the ladder and take my seat at the captain's saddle. Up scope.

Papenburg shows 13.5m. Let's have a look. Eye to the lens I see a C2 class merchant edging into range. Greek. Aft turret. Again seems to be cargo. Range, 2950. Not yet. Just a little closer. The angle looks off, and if I fire these fish now, they almost certainly will not hit. I study the target a little more to kill some time to go. Looks old, worn, a workhorse. Probably why the engine is working so hard even though the seas are pretty nice today. And those stacks on her decks, she must weigh in at 6000 tons, easily, maybe more. Choice morsel for the lack of success lately. Oh my! what time is it? Better check the range...

2100 meters and closing, bearing 350, solution positive for firing.

"Tube 2, fire!" Waits 5 seconds "Tube 3, fire!"

The boat shudders as the fish leave their tubes, and the diving officer has to put on the trim so that the bows won't break the surface, giving our position away. Down scope. Back down the ladder. Sharing an earphone with the hydrophones guy, I notice his cheek is rather scratchy and he has an odd smell, likely the colibri that he got from the watchman. Never cared for it much...

Listening... waiting... counting down the minutes...

Times up! first fish... impact! Second fish... impact!

Checking the observation scope because it's closer, I get the lens up in time to watch an abandon ship operation in progress, ship definitely sinking. Note time and position in the log, so that when feasible, we will radio that information to help facilitate the rescue of the survivors...

I lower the scope. "Helm, resume course to Gibraltar". "We'll stay under for now".

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papa 695

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That looks very good Steve and a nice story to go with it

But I don't know which took longer the build or the story

:smiling3:
 
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Superb boat, Willi.

Really like the painting, it's very effective.

... And the story too.

Francesco
 
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The story was easy, the model was hard.

I didn't have to chip/sand/cut/or scrape my texts nearly as much. :smiling3:

Thanks for the kind words, you've all given me an idea about a career direction. No, not model building...

I posted this exposition on a submarine simulation site where it's already got a few positive reviews. I just started over there and consider myself more acquainted and friendly with the members of this forum, and so, a little more relaxed about what I say. So to get good reviews for a rough draft from total strangers suggests I better get me an agent/publisher...
 

flyjoe180

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Nice build Steve and the story is very interesting.
 
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Part 2.

June 25, 1942. 13:46hrs. Seas, moderate. Sky, medium fog. We're submerged at 40 meters. Not long after we left our last victim, we had surfaced to refresh the air, and because the weather rushed up in a sudden squall, I had decided it was better to find smoother sailing under the waves.

Checking the map, we found ourselves at grid CH76, when our soundman caught a tramp steamer in his hydrophones.

Going to periscope depth and taking a look through the "pencil" we see a lone, small merchantman, of about 2400 tons. British. Probably on his way to Gibraltar. Angle and range are O.K., so with a bit of careful plotting, we work out a more favorable solution.

Torpedo depth setting, 6m. Range 2.5km. AoB-66 to port.

"Open tube 4"

Just..a..few..more..seconds..

"Fire!"

This time I watch at the scope and time the run, until I see the effects of our torpedo strike, confident that in these seas, our scope will remain undetected.

With a single, massive explosion, the torp strikes home just under the midships. Engine and boiler rooms. Like gutting a fish, the critical parts were instantly torn out, and with neither time for an SOS call or evacuation by lifeboat, the steamer heels over and sinks without a trace.

June 26, 1942. 10:00hrs. Seas, dead calm. Sky clear, winds slight breeze from the south east, visibility, perfect. Surfaced. Map reference, CG96, close to land. Given our location, I take the precaution of manning the surface weapons, with the explicit warning to be watchful of aircraft. Expecting my orders to be obeyed, I head back down below to my 'office', to compile my reports.

I'm barely 15 minutes into my paperwork, when a jarring blast sends me against the writing table. Near miss, but not by much...

"What the hell!?"

Climbing through the hatch to the control room, I lock eyes with the Chief. We trade concerned glances, and I continue on up to the bridge. Poking my head through the upper conning tower hatch, I see our 1WO crouching behind the dubious safety of the tower bulkhead.

"What the hell, man!" "I said watch out for aircraft!".

Coming out fully on to the bridge I too duck below the the tower structure. Not that I think it will protect me, I just want to be less of a target as now that I am forced to deal with this situation.

Quickly scanning the skies I see 2 flights of 2 British hurricane fighter/bombers. One set outbound, obviously the ones who just attempted to bomb us, and one set inbound, looking to fix the aim of the first two.

Our AA guys are a bit new at the job. Still getting used to firing at airplanes from a tiny submarine platform. Over and over we hear the jack hammering of the AA guns as they swivel and fire at the British fighters. We've gone through about 4 magazines when the lower platform AA gunner hit his first target. Looks like through the cockpit. No fire, no smoke, no fuel tank explosion. I raise the glasses to see the stricken fighter pull a snap roll to the right, and fall silently into the sea.

I think to myself 'I'm gonna put that guy down for a medal when all this is over. If I remember his name...'

When all of a sudden, a sharp blast grabs my attention, and I look up in time to see the upper tower AA guy bag his first kill. The Brit was flying just ahead and our guy must have tagged him in the fuel tank, because he just came apart in a massive explosion. Close enough off our starboard bow, that we could feel the heat from the wreckage, as the main fuselage, minus the wings and tail, fell in a crumpled heap, into the sea.

Looks like I have at least 2 new medals to award. Funny thing, but I don't recall these crewmen. I can't remember them before today...

Seeing that two of their wingmen got shot down so quickly, the remaining fighters left the area. Within 2 minutes, the sky is clear and the sea is peaceful.

Which means they're flying off to get reinforcements. Keep an even sharper lookout now. Expect to see aircraft and destroyers.

I look at the watch officer, "I'm going below to finish my reports. Keep the speed at maximum so we can get out of this area a.s.a.p. Give us 1 hour and if nothing else by then, dive."
 
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monica

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great boat Steve and nice story as well , well done on both counts, :rolleyes:
 
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I have a bit more of that story finished off.

I am seriously thinking about fleshing it out into a full-sized book, I have tons of material.
 
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