Axis ship-watching activities in the Gibraltar area implemented into the game

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InfArmMot

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Dec 18, 2018
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Recently I read a few chapters in a book about the German planning to defeat the Gibraltar position. It was pretty detailed. For instance it explained how Franco constantly demanded a high price of corn, in exchange for allowing the Germans to march through Spain. Without his permission they could not attack and Neutralize Gibraltar.


The book also told the story of how the Abwehr had spies positioned on a hotel, on the African side, just across the cliff. How the spies observed every surface vessel passing through the strait and even how the British fortified the cliff. They also observed the incoming and outgoing air crafts. At least during daytime, where the airstrip could be easily seen from across the strait.

From 1939 until January 1944, the intelligence services of Germany and Italy, with the assistance of the Spanish government, maintained a network of stations in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar. The stations tracked the movements of Allied warships and merchant vessels and became a valuable source of intelligence to the Axis, for attacks on Allied convoys. The British Government considered attacking the stations on two occasions during 1942 but decided instead to use diplomatic pressure to have them closed. The stations are believed to have ceased operations in January 1944.

Gilbratar Strait and the small british Gilbratar position.png

Suggestion
Shouldn't we incorporate this spy activity into the game. And this goes for if not all, then most straits. Regardless of nation.
 

ConjurerDragon

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The article on WIKI you linked mentioned how the agents activity was ineffective the first year, better established with infrared detection stations and working 1941-1943 and stopped by Franco for the last two years of the war (1944-1945).

So it is not something you could do for "any strait" as simply sending some agents with a spyglass somewhere would be simple but ineffective, e.g. due to fog, rain, night, distance.

And being able to install real observation stations with technical equipment would require the knowledge and permission of the owning state.

So Franco Spain would allow it - as long as Germany appears to be winning and Spain is going for a "friendly neutrality" towards the Axis.

As a reason not to include it: It is unreliable. England did have a number of coastal observers in their own country and still did not manage to prevent the Channel Dash.
 

InfArmMot

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Dec 18, 2018
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Perhaps it could be an option, to invest in a spy operation at certain straits, where a neutral country is located?Besides of Gibraltar, it could be the Danish/Swedish strait, the Strait of Malaccae, the Bospurus strait and so on.

There are plenty of straits on the map, however, it is true that some of them, like Gibraltar, perhaps are too wide (7 kilometers from each side) - but then again, some are narrow enough. Maybe the strait of Gibraltar could be used as a template for how difficult it is to observe a ship passing through. As you mention, rain, fog and darkness can certainly play a role, reducing a ships vissibility.

What would be the maximum distance, that we could agree on, for observing a ship in clear weather? 2, 4, 7 kilometers, or more?

Example on how an event could be made, involving two events

First event:
INVEST IN SHIP WATCHING ACTIVITIES: 200 money
25% chance of spotting convoys
35% chance of spotting navies with 10+ ships

Second event:
INVEST IN SHIP WATCHING ACTIVITIES with Infrared equipment: 450 money
45% chance of spotting convoys
55% chance of spotting navies with 10+ ships
And of course you could also invest in anti spy operations in a certain province adjacent to a strait.


Another wikie link, this one is a list of straits on the world map:

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
V
W
Y
 
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Altruist

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Well, I guess, if you are keen on implementing it, go ahead.
But I would severly shy away to ask any Modder to implement such a long list.

PS: Nevertheless, great to have such a linked list available in the forum.
 
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InfArmMot

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Dec 18, 2018
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Well, far from all straits should be accepted as useful for ship-watching-activities. Some, however, like the Little Belt — between the island Funen and mainland Denmark, accounting for only 800 meters at its minimum width (a maximum of 400 meters observation from each side), should probabæy be acceptable. Or the Strait of Messina — between Sicily and mainland Italy, accounting for only 3.1 kilometers at its minimum width (a maximum of 1550 meters observation from each side), might be acceptable?

I am talking about spotting ships in bad conditions, without infrared. Thus, night, rain, snow, fog or sandstorm.

Perhaps the Strait of Gibraltar was a bad example? Because, those 7000 meters from each side, is in fact quite a bit. Unless the weather is clear and it is daylight.

In terms of the event, I am thinking of an option to invest in a network of coastal intelligence stations. This in minimum two preselected provinces, adjacent to a list of acceptable straits. The provinces must not be on enemy ground and perhaps relations between the host country and your nation, has to be above 100. Maybe there should even be an ideological requirement? So for instance fascist and national-socialists governments, would allow each other to set up stations. However, they would not allow a democratic government to do it, regardless of the level of relations?

But what should such an investment cost? I like the idea of a coastal station network in two technological phases, the first without and the second with infrared equipment.

First event:

INVEST IN SHIP WATCHING ACTIVITIES (network of coastal intelligence stations): 650 money

5% chance of spotting lonely surface vessels in bad weather (night, rain, snow, fog, sandstorm)

10% chance of spotting convoys in bad weather (night, rain, snow, fog, sandstorm)

15% chance of spotting navies in bad weather (night, rain, snow, fog, sandstorm)

90% for all spotting in clear weather, daylight.
Second event:

INVEST IN SHIP WATCHING ACTIVITIES (network of coastal intelligence stations — INFRARED Equipment): 1400 money

55% chance of spotting lonely warships in bad weather (night, rain, snow, fog, sandstorm)

65% chance of spotting convoys in bad weather (night, rain, snow, fog, sandstorm)

75% chance of spotting navies in bad weather (night, rain, snow, fog, sandstorm)

90% for all spotting in clear weather, daylight.

In terms of the maximum width, where you invest in coastal stations in two opposite provinces, what should the acceptable maximum width be?

If we use the video below, as an example of how difficult it is to spot a blacked out surface vessel, in this case the German vessel Blücher at Drøbak Sound, then we can see that at a distance of around 1800 meters, it seems that the Norwegian coastal station, is only able to detect the lonely German warship, with the help of active search lights.



So, a German spy, at the Gibraltar, equipped only with binoculars, will not be able to spot anything passing through the center of the Gibraltar strait, at around 7000 meters. Clearly, here, infrared is needed.

Therefore, the acceptable maximum width, should be under 1800 meters. However, I am not sure how low the width have to be?
 
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ConjurerDragon

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Well, far from all straits should be accepted as useful for ship-watching-activities. Some, however, like the Little Belt — between the island Funen and mainland Denmark, accounting for only 800 meters at its minimum width (a maximum of 400 meters observation from each side), should probabæy be acceptable. Or the Strait of Messina — between Sicily and mainland Italy, accounting for only 3.1 kilometers at its minimum width (a maximum of 1550 meters observation from each side), might be acceptable?
Geographically - sure. But for whom? Spain controlled both sides of Gibraltar and was aware and allowed the german presence and installations due to ideological and pragmatical considerations - for a while. Would Germany need to put agents there - or better fly recon missions over the med for the same purpose?

Regarding the detection chance - I would never give anything a 100% chance to detect something - not even in full daylight and unobstructed view, but 99% at most. After all you just might miss e.g. the Heavy Cruiser that travels through with a battleship on each side. Or like in the battles in the Pacific you might mistake one ships for another - some pilots reported carriers when they actually spotted tankers... Or if you have 3 guys on each side of the strait for 24/7 observation and everyone taking 8 hours watching through a binocular... Everyone has to blink, drink, eat, visit the toilet sometime. If that is supposed to be a covert agent operation we are not talking about dozens of soldiers on foreign soil. And we should make sure to make it an option that is feasible only for places where you can´t operate some air reconnaissance, because flying over a strait with a high resolution camera is far better than trying to spot something from the shore with handheld or even tripod binoculars.
 

InfArmMot

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Dec 18, 2018
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Geographically - sure. But for whom? Spain controlled both sides of Gibraltar and was aware and allowed the german presence and installations due to ideological and pragmatical considerations - for a while. Would Germany need to put agents there - or better fly recon missions over the med for the same purpose?
It would be for the nation installing the coastal spotting stations. So in the case of Gibraltar, when both sides are controlled by Franco's Spain, it would be either for Nazi Germany, or Fascist Italy. However, only if the requirements are met. These come in two phases. The first is a diplomatic phase and the second consist of the two investment events, each one being granted when the technological level has been reached and the money are there.

I. THE DIPLOMATIC PHASE

Requirements for Germany to request Spain, to install German stations and German agents in the two provinces; Gibraltar and Tangier, for ship watching activities.

1. The diplomatic relations between the Germany and Spain, should be at least 100.

2. The two nations should run the same or a similar ideology.

3. The host nation is official a neutral country.


II. THE INVESTMENT EVENTS.

First when the requirements of the diplomatic phase has been processed, then the technological level has to be researched. Only hereafter the first of the two investment-events pop up on the players screen, on the left, along with all the other event-options. After this, the money has to be there, in order to launch the event.

These two are as follows:

1. INVEST IN SHIP WATCHING ACTIVITIES (network of coastal intelligence stations): 650 money.

2. INVEST IN SHIP WATCHING ACTIVITIES (network of coastal intelligence stations — INFRARED Equipment): 1400 money.

In terms of technology, it could be a quickly researched technology, under Naval Doctrines, with the title COASTAL SHIP SPOTTING. The requirement to research it would be basic computers.


Regarding the detection chance - I would never give anything a 100% chance to detect something - not even in full daylight and unobstructed view, but 99% at most. After all you just might miss e.g. the Heavy Cruiser that travels through with a battleship on each side. Or like in the battles in the Pacific you might mistake one ships for another - some pilots reported carriers when they actually spotted tankers... Or if you have 3 guys on each side of the strait for 24/7 observation and everyone taking 8 hours watching through a binocular... Everyone has to blink, drink, eat, visit the toilet sometime. If that is supposed to be a covert agent operation we are not talking about dozens of soldiers on foreign soil. And we should make sure to make it an option that is feasible only for places where you can´t operate some air reconnaissance, because flying over a strait with a high resolution camera is far better than trying to spot something from the shore with handheld or even tripod binoculars.
True. And it should probably be 90% at max.

Thanks for asking these questions. Also in terms of counter measures, there should be something the allies could do to stop or obstruct the ship watching activities?
 

Baron Jukaga

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Not a terrible idea but I'm pretty sure that any further patches will just be bug fixes and polish not new features. I'd like to be proven wrong!
 

InfArmMot

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Dec 18, 2018
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Let's hope so, because I have no idea of how to make a small modification like this one. However, what I can do, is to promote the idea and attempt to formulate how it should be implemented in the next patch.

Especially in multiplayer games, this small and realistic modification, will provide different nations with important know how. This, potentially speaking, for:

  1. The Baltic Sea at the Danish and Danish/Swedish strait.
  2. The Black Sea at Bosporus and the Dardanelles.
  3. The Mediterranean sea at Gibraltar and The Suez canal.
  4. The Panama canal.
  5. The Strait of Messina.