July 8th, 1870: After the clash with northern renegades, CINCPAC approved reinforcements for the South Pacific fleet and I've finally received critical upgrades to what was increasingly looking like a fleet of reservists and hand-me-downs.
The jewel of the new fleet is of course my new flag - FSS Retribution. Moreover, overall gunnery capability has been greatly increased by the addition of two new Lee Class scout blimps. These boys'll give the gunners time-on-target details. I almost feel sorry for the enemy now, the only thing saving them from the big FSA guns before was the odd island and fog-bank. No where to hide from those blimps, it's a marvel of telescope technology that we can spot so well from up in the clouds. Just triangulate with the recon plane and it's "rolling thunder" time.
July 17th, 1870: Aw hell. I'd just sat down for breakfast when a red faced junior officer burst into the mess-room. Some really big Prussian (the boy says 'Austro-Hungarian', those Europeans are all the same to me) ships were steaming toward us from the north. Looked like two of their battleships and an even bigger class - must be one of the rumoured Dreadnoughts. I took my chair and joked to the XO that it wasn't often you saw something big like that in the South Pacific and it might yet be the highlight of this tour!
The plan went pretty well. Our forces were taking little effective fire from these Austro-Prussians, while our Battleships were landing some good hits on the enemy.
With the island to screen us from the Dreadnought, I decided to send a lot of fire at one of the enemy battleships. It got pounded, then the flyboys swept in low and hard and finished that Hungaro-German Battleship with their torpedoes. New Orleans was reporting that the cruiser squadron was taking a lot of fire but the French-Austrians hadn't come in fast enough and we broke it off under cover of darkness. All in all, a good shake-down for the new ships and crews.
Glad it was just a dream though. No pure-inbred European Aristocrat would have the balls to use one of those Dreadnoughts like he should. The bow of it could smash a cruiser.
I got a real shock with the wildlife up that way. We were near the Empire of the Blazing Sun Co-Prosperity sphere where we might have inadvertently caused one of their Admirals to lose face. I know. Big deal. But the fat old blowhard must have been pretty connected.
Crazy with great technology though. Above the robot squid, a few scout gyros made to bombard us with rocket salvos from altitude. I'd heard of these 'Inari' so ordered the Cruisers to fire all guns in the hopes of downing one early.
No dice. All in all, the engagement was pretty inconclusive. Good thing too, I'd have hated to be back on the carpet at Pearl, explaining to CINCPAC how I'd lost something important, all because of my lack of table manners.
August 31st 1870: Well that was ..... interesting. Turns out the Pow-Wow was for a strategic arms limitation treaty. Europeans and their treaties, they'd probably wage war with paper-aeroplanes if they could. Well my instructions were clear: keep out of arguments, let the Europeans keep feuding over ship tonnage and agree to whatever helped keep a lid on the Pacific, while we set up for a big push against the Russians.
I gave it the old John Hancock and made ready to sail South and get back to work again. The XO was pressing for shore leave but I wanted to get out of there.
That bristling walrus, Admiral Melchet, had been giving me odd looks all through the signing and had kept mouthing things to me, like we were in on something together.
Mad old coot. The things I'd heard he'd done while intervening on our side during the Civil war....
Nothing for it to fight but I did not relish the thought of an engagement with his flag - the massive Dreadnought, HMS Thunderchild.
Just how many Dreadnoughts were there in the Pacific? We tried to take them down with gunnery but it wasn't getting through their shields. I had the A-17 Super-Bombers the order to flank and destroy the main enemy group but they got cut up by Ack Ack.
It turned into a mess in the middle. I had Retribution ram some of their frigates while we tried to do something to slow that Dreadnaught but it was no good. We lost her and a number of other ships too, and we lost them battling an ally!
They kept it tight this time, obviously trying to protect themselves from the fire of our battleships, while they closed.
Of course, since every non-FSA fleet in the South Pacific seems to these days, the enemy flagship was a dreadnought. So we got to work thinning out its escorts. The flying robots - John Henry's - were doing a number on the enemy cruisers. However, the enemy were getting their licks in too, with wave after wave of gun-destroyers tangling with our main group. Losses were felt on both sides and the Dreadnought drew closer.
I could get used to this change of pace from Melchett's crazed Dreadnought charge. The enemy came on, but slowly. We kept up the fire on the support ships, as the enemy Dreadnought advanced... then turned to gun down our frigates.
I clapped the XO on the back. He looked visibly relieved to not have to scramble for lifeboats. He followed my pointing arm and nodded. The order was relayed and volleys rang out from two FSA battleships. Under the furious bombardment, the other enemy battleship's magazine caught and it exploded.
Four engagements, two draws, a loss, and a win. I sure hope I can keep up this record in the face of the increasing tonnage of the enemy fleets. The spotting blimp indirect fire was good while it lasted, but I came to the party late and recent changes have eliminated that option. I ran two squadrons of cruisers in that last game. While they didn't last as long as they usually do, that was probably down to John's heavy use of destroyers, which were just the thing vs my mediums. Apparently I can look forward to twice the Dreads next time. That's all good, as long as they don't steam right for me!
Thanks for reading.