Follow this guide to the letter and you will sink ships on your very first mission. I will explain in step by step fashion how to avoid detection, maneuver into attack position, determine convoy course and speed, and fire torpedoes that will find their target every time you fire.
I will be using 'in-game' data from a test session of mine to help you follow along with the step by step process. Your ranges, bearings, speeds, and convoy course are obviously going to be different numbers than found in this guide.
Settings and Qualifications
These are the settings to use: Bay of Biscay, 1940, easy, 2100/2130hrs. Enable bots. Enable close encounter.
This will have you on the surface, at half speed ahead, with the convoy somewhere behind you at the start of the scenario.
This guide supposes you are already familiar with operating the submarine with the aid of the 'bots' option. The following subjects will be covered in this guide and you will need to understand the different operations and concepts to succeed in a torpedo attack:
- You must understand the "Kingpost" method of determining the course of the convoy.
- You must be familiar with the Identification Manual and be able to identify individual ships.
- You must be able to use the stopwatch to time individual ships for speed determination. (Length/seconds x 1.94=speed to first decimal point)
- You must be able to operate all of the Target Data Computer (TDC) controls. This guide will give you the step by step process to input your dope later in the text. (dope-the speed and course information you are busy gathering) Being able to set the TDC controls is all you need to know to input a proper solution when the data is given to whomever is operating it.
- You must be able to understand how to align the vertical centiradians for accurate range determinations. This guide explains all you need to know in a different section.
- You must be able to set the Angle On Bow. This guide will explain the concept in a different section.
Bearing and Magnetic Bearing
The debate rages on the proper terminology when it comes to headings and bearings. Magnetic or relative. The purists out there are especially aggrieved if someone dares use the word "magnetic" improperly in Wolfpack.
Fortunately for you, I don't care what other terms or definitions are used by the armchair submariners in the Wolfpack world. In this guide, magnetic refers to north on the chart or in the game world. Bearing means what angle from our submarine.
- If the target was directly on our right I would tell you to look bearing 90 degrees.
- If I am determining a target course with the kingpost method I would call out 90 degrees magnetic, or whatever magnetic bearing I was reading in the attack scope, bottom tape.
There are uses for both terms as you will see. I know the people reading this guide are more than smart enough to do their own research on the gyrocompass and magnetic declination and be able to understand this guide is using the term magnetic for a defined purpose understandable by players who are not familiar with tracking and plotting a moving target. The proper use of the terms are readily available to those who like to know the details.
My apologies to all offended members of the Kriegsmarine, real and imagined.
I've heard many different ways people explain to new players how to determine the range to your target.
I do it my way, and other players may have other methods. Whatever works for you to get an accurate number is the important thing.
Here is my method
- Pick your target and know what mast to focus on and what height the mast is.
- Put your center horizontal periscope line on the bottom of the target ship exactly at the waterline.
- By waterline I mean where the bottom of the ship and the water meet. You will see a red or copper colored band on the bottom of the ship. This is the plimsoll line and is the bottom of the ship for the purposes of this guide. Put the horizontal center wire of the periscope on the waterline and align the vertical centiradian wire alongside the target ship mast you are using for ranging and count the number of centiradians from the center wire/waterline to the top of the targeted mast. You will have to practice lining the wires in unison. Don't "wish" the centiradian line onto a particular number. By this I mean pay close attention to the horizontal waterline line and be sure it is actually on the waterline before you count up the centiradians. I find myself making this mistake a lot of the time and try to stay aware of it. "A man has to know his limitations". Clint Eastwood, Magnum Force.
- Now with some simple math you have the range of the ship you are targeting.
The formula: number of centiradians / mast height x 4 when the periscope in zoomed in. Omit the x4 step if not zoomed.
- This number is your range for the TDC input.
- This is all there is to ranging a target.
Angle On Bow
There are terrible explanations concerning Angle on Bow floating around out there. Lots of them.
People make Angle on Bow more complicated than it has to be. It is the most basic and simple concept, it blows my mind how many people have trouble with it. After reading my explanation you will feel the waves of understanding wash over you.
- Go to the Target Data Computer and click / enter the station.
- Look at the green and red diagram in the lower left corner. That diagram is the target ship in abstract. The green side represents starboard/right side of the ship. The red side represents the port/left side of the ship. Obviously, the green and red ship diagram you are looking at on the TDC is facing "up" or north.
- The needle on the Angle On Bow is your submarine. The tip of the needle is your submarine.
- It is not any more complicated than that.
- If you are looking at the right side of the ship then the TDC will be bow right.
- If you are looking at the left side of the ship then the TDC will be bow left. Once the AOB is properly calculated and you input the data into the TDC, the AOB will always remain properly set no matter what position you or the other ships move to.
- If you are behind the ship, the needle on the TDC will be behind the ship. If you are front of the ship, the needle on the TDC will be in front of the ship.
Set TDC to "AP" on top right for AOB setting input. Use the attack periscope for Angle On Bow determination. The magnetic tape on the bottom is useful for this step because you do not have to solve for your course.
Say your target ship is heading exactly north and you are looking west. The course of the ship would be 360 magnetic. Place your attack periscope at 270 magnetic bearing and set the Angle on Bow to 90 right.
If the target ship were on a heading of 90 degrees magnetic and you were on the right side of the ship you would swing your periscope to 360 degrees magnetic and set AOB to 90 degrees bow right.
Whatever course your target ship is on you must add or subtract 90 degrees to arrive at the proper AOB setting. I use the periscope although the are other methods. Whatever method you use is not important as long as you get an accurate reading and setting.
After reading this part I'm probably as confused as you are by now. Bottom line is you must learn the concept of Angle On Bow and how to properly input the information into the TDC for whatever optic you choose to use. I always use the attack periscope, however, the UZO on the bridge or the observation periscope can be set on the TDC and the torpedoes fired from the chosen optic.
As soon as you spawn, you will be surfaced and moving at about 12.4 knots, or Half Speed ahead. The convoy will be somewhere behind you.
- Go to the ladder and climb it to the conning tower. Get on the attack periscope and swing it around to point it at the convoy and find the magnetic bearing (bottom readout tape) around the center of the group of ships. Whatever magnetic bearing you read, turn your submarine to that heading and go to full ahead. It does not matter what number it is. The important move at this point is to go straight at the convoy and close the range.
- Now go to half speed ahead. The ships will be around 6000 meters away and will be closing at a fast rate.
- You now must find the closest ship in a line where you can line up directly on it's nose.
- If you set the periscope to zero and use the bot option you can steer your boat with the rudder.
- You can also use the rudder on the bridge to maneuver while keeping your eye on the ship you are lining up on.
- You must put yourself as close as possible to a direct collision course with the closest ship you can maneuver to and set your heading exactly 180 degrees opposite your targeted ship. Come to dead slow if needed. After some practice you should be able to quickly line up a ship and remain at zero angle on bow with rudder amidships and moving towards the ship. If the ship drifts right or left after centering your rudder then you must correct your course to keep the ship in the same position on the wire of the optic you are using. This step is only a rough reading as does not need to be very precise. It should be done quickly and you must be ready to come hard right on a heading as close to perpendicular to the convoy course as you can.
- Continue closing on the ship and scan for escorts at this stage. You can easily get under 1000 meters of any ship on these settings and will not be detected so don't worry about anything other than preparing to turn 90 degrees to the right. There may be an escort directly to your left after making our turn and we want to be able to avoid ending up directly in his path.
There will be plenty of time for you to scan the entire convoy while performing this maneuver.Scan the ships and give yourself a general idea of high value targets which are usually in the center of the convoy. Your attack will be from the left side of the convoy so the ships on the right and center right are what you should be looking for. No real ship identification needs to be done at this time. I start identifying as soon as possible, however, for this guide is not really necessary at this stage of the setup and attack. Having a mental picture of ship positions now will help you visualize their position in space while you are on your attack run and the angle and views will be entirely different and confusing. You'll see in a few minutes if you are following along.
Second and Third Turns
You've now lined up on your targeted ship and your heading is 180 degrees (for this guide, all data provided from now on will be on an actual convoy approach and attack) The convoy course is 360 degrees. Again, this is a rough number.
- Now, turn 90 degrees right and bring your boat to a heading of 270 degrees. Go to ahead full.
- Your goal here is to run to the outside of the left column of ships in the convoy.
- Use an optic and pass the line of ships until they are bearing around 260 degrees.
In other words, get out of their way and get on their left side about 2000 to 3000 meters off of their track while staying at 270 degrees heading.
It is now very important you are aware of the positions of any escorts in front of you or to your left. Once you are satisfied you are well clear of the path of the ships, you will be turning 90 degrees to the left and set your heading to 180 degrees and close the distance. Your goal here is to get almost to the rear of the convoy and set up for a left hand turn.
Being aware of escorts is paramount in this step. You will have plenty of room to maneuver between the outer escorts and the convoy body. On harder settings you will have escorts close inboard to the convoy and well outside the track. For this guide and settings you will probably not see many escorts. If you do, remember you can easily get within 1000 meters or less and you will not be detected.
During this phase of the approach you will be getting the exact course of the convoy using the Kingpost method. Use the attack scope for this and calculate the convoy heading now so you have a course to steer to for turn three. Of course, you can use any speed setting you are comfortable with during this leg of the approach. Slowing down or drifting helps with the Kingpost reading.
When you are near the rear of the convoy, turn left into them and come to the heading you calculated earlier with the Kingpost method.
Once you are settled on the convoy base course, set the TDC to AP, swing the attack periscope to 90 degrees and set Angle On Bow to 90 left. Do not use the magnetic bearing on the bottom for this step. Use the top relative bearing tape.
You are now almost ready to attack. We now need to determine convoy speed.
You must now pick an isolated ship, or a ship where you will be able to clearly see the bow and stern cross the pericsope wire, and identify it. Bring your boat to a full stop. There are many methods and the way you stop is not important. The navigator table has the speed reading if you want to know exactly when you are at 0 knots.
Now time the ship and get the speed of the convoy. I usually time two ships twice to make sure my reading is accurate.
Now you have all the dope you need for a firing solution. The target speed and angle on bow should be entered into the TDC at this time. The screenshot shows how I get into position for four shots. It is important to know your target can not be behind you. 90 degrees to your right or less for the gyro angle on the torpedo. You are setting up for only two targets in this guide. The concept is the same though. You need clear firing angles. Your goal now is to maneuver your sub on exactly the convoy base course and make your speed faster or slower until two ships are distinct from bow to stern and there are no ships with deeper drafts in the path of your torpedo shots toward these ships.
In other words, you want two straight shots. If your number one torpedo target has a draft of 8 meters and he is 4000 meters away, you can shoot under any ships who may accidentally blunder into your torpedo path and mess up your attack as long as their drafts are less than 8 meters. Just be sure your torpedo run is clear of the potential for accidental hits so the convoy is not alerted before you want them to be.
Once you are satisfied with your attack angle you must now 'match speed' as closely as possible with the convoy. Slightly slower or faster than the convoy is actually ideal for this step and the actual torpedo firing phase. By slightly I mean less than five tenths of a knot. Once you have completed this step you are ready to fire.
Firing and Torpedo Impact Timing
You are now on the convoy course and your speed is within a couple of tenths of a knot slower or faster than the two targets you have set up on your approach. You by now should have the mast heights and drafts of both targets close at hand or memorized. Take ranges on both targets. Set the TDC for each range and note the time of the torpedo run.
- Target one is at 4000 meters and the run time of the torpedo is 4 minutes.
- Target two is at 3500 meters and the torpedo run time is three minutes thirty seconds.
You know you are either faster than or slower than the target. If you are faster, the centiradian count on your targets will increase. You want to anticipate this decrease in target range and set your TDC for a range in the future. When the target "crosses the wire" of the centiradian you have chosen, center the vertical center wire of the periscope on the target and fire. Quickly swing your periscope to target two and make sure of the range and re-set the TDC for the new range. At the thirty second mark you put the wire on the center of the ship and fire.
In other words if target one is 3800 meters away and we are going slowly faster than he is, you would set the TDC to 4000 meters and wait for the ship to "come on" to the range you have set by watching your centiradian count increase to the desired value as you gain on the ship. When the ship hits the proper centiradian, re-center the scope onto the ship and fire away. Your timing may change slightly on your second shot from your earlier readings due to you maneuvering ahead or behind. The times will be very close though and you can use them or pay attention to the 2nd torpedo run time and adjust your firing time accordingly. Your goal is to have simultaneous impacts, or close to it. This way the ships have no way to evade if alerted by an impact heard earlier and he turns and ruins the target solution you so carefully worked on.
After firing, I go to all ahead full and turn about 90 degrees away from the convoy course.
Just before torpedo impact I switch to electric engines and listen to the explosions while watching from the bridge in binoculars.
Once you hit two ships in this manner you can up your game and hit three or four using the same procedures.
Evading After Impact
- If you followed the guide closely, you should be well out of detection range.
- Run at full ahead while listening to the impacts and move away from the convoy and escorts.
- If you are detected, go deep and the head start you have on the escorts will guarantee they never find you by the time they get to your position.
- Always turn away from the convoy and head in the opposite direction of them if escorts are attacking you. They will break off the attack to catch up with the convoy if you move away. They seem to hunt me forever if I try to stay in the area.
If you followed this guide there should be no reason you did not sink at least the first ship you shot at. After all the steps become familiar to you it becomes second nature to get multiple hits. The advantage of staying on the surface is you can run ahead of the convoy base course and be set up for attack number two long before the convoy has settled down. Dive only if necessary to evade escorts. Surface attacks are much easier.