Pulling together a quick game of Axis & Allies War at Sea at the local game shop I decidced to save time by using the same ships I'd already pulled fort he Victory at Sea battle a week or so ago.
This time I took the French, while a couple of Game Store denizens took the Italians. Toadd a little variety and showcase the rules a little bit I added a sub to each side and gave each side 5 planes. The Italian side got a higher point value in planes, one Falco, one Stuka, two SM-79s and a seaplane. The French had less to choose from and got two fighters and three Vinidcators. One Italian player commanded the planes while the other took the ships.
The battle itself didn't suprise me much. The Italian ship admiral has a definite tendency to treat all tactical problems as having one solution -- charge! And so the Italain fleet gallantly closed the range at full speed, while the air force commander did his best to provide judicous support.
As is the case so often in War at Sea there was a general slaugter all around, but the Italians came out on the short end of it, eventually losing all their surface ships and three units of aircraft (the SM-79s survived). My French fleet lost both destroyers, the Richelieu and the Provence as well as the cruiser Suffren. Two of the Vindicators also perished. Each side claimed one objective, but the disparate ship/aircraft losses gave the French side a lopsided victory. The game ended with the Casabianca just one move way from collecting its bonus victory points, which I would have liked to see for the first time. The point score could have been much closer because the crippled Vitorio Veneto was sitting on the third objective but a good attack by the last Vindicator sunk the VV!
It's surprising how often combats in War at Sea can turn on a single point. I think the Richelieu was hit by at least a half dozen Italian shots that fell one success short of cauing damage. In the Victory at Sea game the Italian fleet concentrated on the French battlecruisers first, reducing the enemy's number of gun tubes as rapidly as possible. In this battle the Richelieu was a shell magnet for the Italians, who fired on her at every opportunity, which spared the twin battlecruisers from much attention. Indeed, the Strasbourg was unscathed while the Dunquerque has just a single point of damage -- and that came from an SM-79!