Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Sinking the Bismarck (Again!)

I have just started watching Sink the Bismarck! Starring Kenneth More for the first time and I am enjoying it immensely. Unbelievably I had never seen this film despite having several books on the subject; not to mention having owned several version of ship in differing scales, and so this is very much filling in a gap in my film CV. I have just gotten past the loss of HMS Hood and already several ideas have occurred to me for representing the said operation. Certain readers may recall Operation Seeadler – the mini campaign based on a reinforced Bismarck breakout – that I organised at the club a couple of years ago (was it really that long ago?) and since then my collection now has more of the actual ships that took part in the operation so refighting the action historically is certainly a possibility.

The thing that has struck me most forcibly from the film was the scenes in the naval operations centre. The large scale map of the North Atlantic, complete with wooden ship shaped blocks (complete with oversized Union Jacks for the RN and swastikas for the Germans) being moved around based on contact reports etc must be crying out for a game – not only for the Bismarck affair but any other naval operation you can think of. It would be incredibly cheap to set up as all that would be needed would be plenty of paper and some wooden blocks for the ships – you would not even need to buy any models (heresy I know!)!

I suppose in a sense this has reinforced my long held conviction that map games are the truest representation of the command experience – more so than perhaps the tactical game. To run such a game would certainly need an umpire or two but the rewards would be many as the sheer ‘fog of war’ (literally, in the case of the Germans entering the Denmark Strait – in the film the shot of Bismarck emerging as huge mountain of steel from within the murk and the shadowing County Class cruiser quietly slipping away looked really evocative) adds immeasurably to the playing experience.

I need to revisit this operation again methinks!


Paul O'G said...

I cant believe you havent seen this classic before - compulsory viewing!

David Crook said...

Hi Tas,

Incredible I know but I have never seen this film! I am really impressed with it thus far and I note that one of the ship models used for the battles used to be available on ebay - this was the Bismarck and was about £4,000 IIRC. Very impractical but lets be honest, I would love to have something like this in the lounge (assuming SWMBO would agree...!).

All the best,