Silent Hunter III Happy Times Scenario

Happy Times is the fifth of 10 single player scenarios available in the game. It takes place in April 1940 and is based on the infamous period of operations where the U-Boat enjoyed a virtual supremacy over the weak Allied antisubmarine warfare capabilities at the time. Lacking sufficient radar and high-frequency direction finding equipped ships, the British were at a distinct disadvantage in detecting nighttime surface attacks by the Germans. This resulted in catastrophic losses among the merchant fleet, with over 280 ships being sunk between July and October 1940.

This particular scenario however begins in April (three months before the historically recognized start of the “First Happy Time” period) and just before dusk. The player controlled submarine starts in an optimal approach location away from a weakly escorted convoy that is moving toward a reinforcement of additional surface warships.

The default submarine selection is a Type VII-B (1940 series) U-Boat, and as with other single player missions I am running the game at a moderately increased realism setting of 49%. The primary objective of the scenario is to sink 25,000 tons of merchant shipping. Although I did not know it at the time, there is also a secondary objective (the first of these missions) that is not displayed here.

I am captaining the U-48 (arguably one of the most successful submarines of the entire war) and begin on the surface, approximately 7 kilometers off of a small-to-medium sized convoy operating in the Rockall Banks area.

I order ahead slow and periscope depth as I work to position the boat into a firing position against the convoy dotting the haze in the horizon.

Frankly I consider this a large convoy for a single U-Boat, even if weakly defended at the moment. There are some fat targets in there for sure, but I don’t see myself sticking around to nightfall for a surface attack using the deck gun with supporting warships coming to link up with this group. Once I achieve the mission objectives or expend my torpedo stores, I intend to exit the battlespace.

Using the Crew & Damage Management interface I stock up the bow torpedo room with a full complement of personnel to increase efficiency as I am using realistic torpedo loading times.

The VII-B U-Boat contains a single aft torpedo tube which will come in to play during this scenario.

The U-48 is outfitted with 10 T I (G7a) gas/steam torpedoes and only two T II (G7e) electric torpedoes that are already loaded into the bow tubes three and four.

The convoy with its single weak escort red contact line spike to the left is moving east to link up with the much more robust surface force to the right. I will want to inflict as much damage on the convoy as I can and exit the area before the group in the west can come into play.

Using the TDC (Torpedo Data Computer) interface I set tube three at a 10 meter depth and a magnetic pistol intended for the T2 Tanker that has a 9.5 meter draft, and tube four is configured at 11.5 meters for the T3 Tanker which has a draft of 10.7 meters.

Raising and lowering the periscope refreshes the icons on the Navigation Map interface from simple contact spikes to more detailed information on the various ships observed. Here I notice the lead vessel in the fourth row is not a standard merchant identifier, but that of a warship (a red triangle with a tail instead of a red square with a tail).

The contact is a big fat Auxiliary Cruiser weighing in at 13,850 tons (more than half of the required tonnage to successfully complete the scenario). Because the draft is similar to that of the T2 Tanker I have reserved torpedo three for, I immediately flood the tube and release the fish at 4,162 meters.

What a mindless waste on my part of a perfectly good T II (G7e) electric torpedo, one of only two that I have on board. These fish have a maximum range of 3,000 meters and I just sent one to the bottom of the ocean.

Not wanting this rich target to slip away I evaluate my situation, remaining torpedo stores and prepare the necessary setup to engage this fat pig first.

Torpedo four (the sole remaining electric onboard) is reconfigured to a 10 meter depth and is fired from a range of 2,958 meters. With no visible wake on the surface and my U-Boat not having been detected yet, the target ship should have no indication as to the threat.

Typically I lock the setting in the periscope view and then open tubes, then release the lock to allow the crosshairs to drift to the sweet spot of the vessel I am attacking. For the Auxiliary Cruiser this was ahead of the lock mark slightly, in front of the smoke stack and behind the bridge. The warhead detonated under the keel of the ship and cracked the vessel into two distinct parts.

Now that everyone knows that I am here, I set my sights on a C2 Cargo ship and fire tube one (a gas/steam fish) at a 3 meter depth and an impact pistol setting from a range of 1,884 meters. The sweet spot on these vessels is between the flag and the smoke stack.

Had this been an undetected attack it might have been more successful, however the cargo ship spotted the visible wake on the surface and accelerated a turn into the torpedo causing it to glance off the rudder housing just above the screws in the inset image.

If an AI ship can turn into a torpedo in time it can increase the angle of attack and virtually diffuse the warhead (this does not work with magnetic torpedoes configured to sail a meter below the keel of the boat).

Things are moving quickly now that the merchants are scattering about evasively on the surface. Here I target a T2 Tanker and release a torpedo configured to a 3 meter depth and an impact pistol, aimed just in front of the bridge.

The ship has no chance and is obliterated by a single fish. Once the sweet spots are learned of the various merchant shipping, the game becomes somewhat easier in that a properly configured torpedo can successfully engage and sink a ship in a lone salvo. This reduces the need to loiter to reengage a damaged vessel, which increases chances of detection and counterattack by ASW assets.

The Captain’s Log indicates that I have received credit for two kills totaling 24,632 tons. With only a few hundred tons to go to successfully complete the scenario objectives I could just engage a single Coastal Merchant and call it a day (or so I thought at this point), however this is a target rich environment and I decide to go big or go home (in an Iron Coffin).

With all bow torpedoes expended and the realistic reload time setting enforced, I turn the ship 180 degrees to a heading of 164 in order to bring the single aft torpedo into alignment with the orientation of merchant shipping above.

This allows me time to staff that compartment and configure the warhead to a 3 meter depth and an impact pistol setting which I fire from a distance of only 574 meters at a C2 Cargo ship.

6,411 tons right there, but not enough to complete the mission due to the as yet discovered secondary objective.

With three ships down on the map I swing the boat back around and hope that I have a bow torpedo come online quickly enough to engage some more shipping before I am attacked.

This tanker should do the trick and I am fast at work configuring the warhead while shouting at the crew in that compartment to haul ass and give me a live fish to flood a tube with.

During this timeframe a destroyer sails overhead while I move in for the kill (video further down below).

Having dived after my last engagement and in such close proximity to the tanker I order the engineer to blow ballast to begin an emergency ascent from my current depth of 46 meters. At 20 meters I order periscope depth which allows the boat to level off in a perfect attack depth without popping to the surface.

The sweet spot on a T3 Tanker is well aft of the lock marker, and I typically aim for the highest mast assembly in order for the torpedo to strike the fuel storage compartment.

The tanker is simply too large to maneuver effectively enough in time to avoid the torpedo and is destroyed in a single shot.

I receive a message that the primary objectives have been completed. At this point I check the Mission Orders interface and discover that there was a secondary objective to “Sink Tankers” which was not spelled out in the scenario briefing at the beginning (I will have to make a mental note to check this panel in future missions).

The Captain’s Log details my four kills before exiting the battlespace.

I could have ended the scenario there; however I dive deep and run submerged for some time to clear the convoy area and their escort threat, and then surface to avoid the “U-Boat lost” message on the AAR panel.

After-action Report

42,918 tons of Allied merchant shipping was sunk and U-48 and her crew successfully complete the mission with no damage or casualties.

Post Mortem

Back when I was really into this game in 2005 I played this scenario hands down more than any other simply because it is fun and harkens to the early days of the war when the U-Boat was effectively unchallenged and struck fear in the hearts of the Admiralty in Britain.

I was part of an online multiplayer gaming group called Red Hour, and this was our logo when we played Silent Hunter III to engage in Wolfpack attacks against convoys. The tagline reads "Fish in the Water Bitch".

This mission was played on 7/24/15 on a Windows 7 machine.

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