December 9, 2023

Kriegsmarine AAR ~ Sink the Bismarck! (Or not…)

Peter Robbins, 29 July 2022

So, pride is something you have to swallow many times over as a wargamer throughout your years of playing. There are times, especially as you are still getting used to a given game where, well, you just still suck at it. 🙂 This is one of them.

I will provide a quick tutorial on how NOT to Sink The Bismark! in WDS’ Kriegsmarine In three easy steps –

click images to enlarge

Step 1.) Ignore the last known sighting marker provided with the scenario. Yep, I did that! That’ll throw you off for a good bit of time, in my case over an hour of game-time spent searching and searching for that damn Bismark! And you’ll be delayed so much that you will likely let Bismark escape; yep, that’s what happened for me.

Step 2.) Make all of your air missions as Strike missions against the ‘Unknown BB’, and then let the AI try and strike the enemy battleship on their own. The AI is commendable on most things throughout the entire game, but striking an enemy with AI aircraft using torps set with Strike missions is not one of them. I’ve been told they will be working on this aspect of the game by the designer, whom I contacted on this issue. Note: WDS have some of the best customer support I’ve ever worked with in my several decades+ of wargaming. They listen. They fix things that you find.

Step 3.) Attempt to manually intervene on said AI Aircraft by CTRL+Right Click to launch torpedoes more precisely, but still keep the darn missions as Strike missions. If you do this, the darn AI will kick in and fire very poorly (see Step 2), and it usually fires it almost within a few milliseconds or so just prior to when and where you really wanted to drop a torp! (and almost never in an appropriate direction). Yep, went through this many times over, thinking (wrongly) that when you right click the aircraft in any way that the aircraft AI was hopefully turned off. That is not the case*. It still has a wickedly horrible torpedo firing mind of its own. Again, all other AI aspects of the game are very well done.

So, what did I learn? (Gary McClellan of WDS gave me some great pointers on manual torp firing, Thank You Gary!)

  • Use Search missions instead of strike missions. Then, you steer the aircraft in manually using Right-Clicks once you’ve gotten near or actually sighted your intended target.
  • On your manual attack run, drop the torp right as you are within the blue range circle, around the 1000 yds out. Mark where you want to aim the torp by using CTRL+Right-Click. That one click will fire the torpedo towards that intended direction. Note: You are dead-reckoning the torp drop, no AI will help you doing it these manual drops. Honestly, its fun firing torps like this.
  • Don’t drop it too close, as the torpedo by default is set to not arm until it travels 500yds. So you will intuitively think, “oh I should get close”, yes you should, but about 800-1000yds seemed to be about the sweet spot. If you get too close, it will not explode when it hits the target. Note: Turn on the distance dots by using the Range Grid button (or View / Range Grid). By default those demarc each 1000 yards. Make sure the range grid is not in the Show Distance As Nautical Miles mode* when you are attempting manually fired torp from aircraft.
  • And yes, aim, as you are dead reckoning where the ship will be when the torpedo reaches it, not where its at now. Also, the white torpedo dot will disappear within a short bit of the target, this is not always a good or a bad thing. You will have to wait on when the game says, BB Hit: Torpedo or not. There is still a % chance you will miss.
  • Strong advisory: Read the darn scenario description and start by looking around where the “last known sighting” was marked on the map. Its usually visible at the zoomed out overlap map as a solid white dot. When you find it on the zoomed in map its a magenta or brownish red location marker with text near it. What? Read the manual?! Never! You better or you’ll waste precious time before finding the enemy ahead of its retreat off map or to a zone set as the racing finish line.

Once I got the hang of how to set the mission for aircraft I intend to manually guide in to launching torpedoes, I was able to hit Bismark several times. I still didn’t sink her! Urrgh, but at least I hit the damn thing. They did escape, boo hoo.

Some screen shots to go along with these instructions on what to do and what not to do.

The Sink The Bismark! Scenario introduction is below.

KM Bismark IntroText


SinkBismark 31

Previously in the scenario play thru, as shown above, I’d been sending in Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal and they could not hit the broad side of a barn. In this case the barn was the massive Bismark we’d been looking for, as shown above. They would just randomly drop the torps and at best would get in a hit only by way of strafing, which against this behemoth, does nothing but lightly scratch the paint on critical rolls. I could manually steer them in all right, and they’d usually hit, but they’d never deploy their torps properly.

SinkBismark 50

After contacting Gary McClellan of WDS about my horrible results with AI attacks on Bismark, he mentioned that if I wanted more directly control over the attacks, I should use manually dropped torpedoes at under 1000 yards. In the above shot, I’m manually getting three flights of three swordfish each vectored on the last known position we had of Bismark.

SinkBismark 51

Here I am closing in on the target battleship, leading the first to within a Range Grid markers distance from the target. The little white dots on the image above show you each 1000 yard distance marker. Once I got the Swordfish were I wanted to drop the torp, I then used CTRL+Right-Click and clicked the direction I wanted it to travel. On the above run, I missed. Yet again, but it did get within striking distance. The torp then disappeared as it was avoided by Bismark or it didn’t explode, or both.

SinkBismark 53

I line up the second swordfish for another manually dropped torp run.

SinkBismark 54

Within the red click marker you will see my torp as it approaches Bismark.

SinkBismark 55

Finally! A hit with torpedo! This manual drop from 1000 yard range works. Now, the one thing I’d additionally learned while doing this, you can’t drop it too close either. And the reason for that is the torps don’t arm until they’ve gone 500 yards in distance. There is a data parm you can change to make this closer, but this is a historic “ship” default distance for arming torps. I’m wondering if it was copied over from the ship torp arming distances usually involved in this time period. Anyhow, no worries. I adjusted for it. Its actually quite fun trying to dead reckon between 1000 yds and 800 yds from target.

SinkBismark 59

The method worked a second time, but this is unfortunately as many hits as I could get in before Bismark was well outside of striking range, and Ark Royal and its compliment of Swordfish were seemingly running out of torps to load up. (or I failed miserably at properly re-loading, likely this latter).

A great game, and a whole load of fun to both do well in and fail miserably and learn from 😀  You know, the usual result of most games I play.



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Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

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