Al'gel Campaign

Tau and ork ships clash at asteroid KV-9 (Part 1)

Warhammer 40K blog

Tau and ork ships engage in a bitter fight in orbit above Al’gel V.

The naval engagement known as “Clash at Asteroid KV-9” was insignificant compared to the large naval battles that would occur later in the Al’gel Campaign. Yet, for the Air Caste crew members involved—particularly those aboard the Yr’Ko—it was the most horrific fight of their military service.—”The Complete History of the Al’gel Campaign” by Aun’el Mor’kan Tal’is’ta, ethereal caste, Dal’yth Sept, (689-776.M41).

Strategic background

The Tau surprise attack on the ork fleet above Al’gel II in 735.M41 (Tau crush ork fleet in Al’gel System) destroyed all but a handful of the greenskin vessels in the ork-held system. Those that survived fled to the relative safety of the outer edges of the system.

There was no immediate chase of these enemy ships, as the Tau navy was needed to support the initial Tau landings. But naval officers did not forget this minor ork threat. After the invasion beachhead was established, naval vessels diligently swept the system for any signs of ork spacecraft.

But all seemed well. On the other ork-held worlds in the system, more primitive ork tribes, preoccupied with their own internecine warfare, appeared to pay little attention to the Tau presence. There also was no sign of enemy naval activity in the system.

In hindsight, it is clear that complacency set in.  Tau naval officers failed to extend their patrols into the cloud of debris on the outer edges of the system. There, an ork warlord named Kaptin’ Doomacka gathered the surviving ork captains under his leadershipand recruited several more ships from neighboring ork systems.

On 6 883 936.M41, Doomacka moved this modest fleet into the shadow of a small asteroid [classification KV-9) that was slowly passing Al’gel V, the outermost ice world of the system. There, he waited in ambush for the next Tau patrol.

That patrol wasn’t long in arriving. A lull in the ground campaign on Al’gel II allowed Admiral Lighting to redeploy a small task force for an in-depth patrol of the outer planets. This six-ship force, under the command of Kor ‘el Ke’lshan Dorir, conducted an uneventful reconnaissance of the system’s third and fourth planets before starting its approach of Al’gel V on the evening of 6 919 736.M41.

Tau Military Forces

  • Protector Class Cruiser: Dau He (Dorir’s command ship)
  • Castellan Heavy Escorts: Yr’ku and Lor’cal
  • Orca Gunships: Kaara Mont, Mor’gan, and Kir’topra

Ork Military Forces

  • Kill Kroozer: Da Pounda (Doomacka’s command ship)
  • Savage Gunship: Sharptooth and Gruck’s Shootaship
  • Brute Ram Ships: Red Rippa, Fangclaw, Ugbaga’s Smasha, and The BackStabba
Warhammer 40K blog

Doomacka’s ambush was launched successfully, but his direct charge at the Tau task force cost the orks much of their tactical advantage.

The Ambush

Ship logs report the Tau task force followed established protocols, deploying reconnaissance drones to scout the planet and its surrounding moons. It appears that, due to a fault in the drones’ artificial intelligence (AI) search protocols, Kv-9 was ignored as being too small (at 10 kilometers in diameter) to pose a tactical consideration.

As this fault went undetected, the Commander Dorir was unaware of the ork presence until too late.

At 20:32, with recon drones reporting no enemy presence in the area, the task force began its descent into the gravity well of Al’gel V. Ships were deployed in a standard combat formation—gunships in the lead, with the task force’s larger ships following in an inverted-V formation. The Dau He was stationed in the middle of the task force.

The Tau ships passed asteroid KV-9 at 20:41, when sensors registered a sudden spike of radiation and heat on the horizon of the space rock. It was Doomacka’s ships.

The ork ambush was a success, but greenskin tactics quickly undermined their tactical advantage. Instead of swinging around the asteroid and behind the Tau, the ork ships appeared on the far side of KV-9 and charged directly at the Tau ships.

What’s more, the ork deployment was haphazard, with ships intermixed and fighting independently rather than as a coordinated force.

The haphazard nature of the ork attack is best demonstrated by its initial weapons fire. At 20:45, Doomacka’s ships launched a wave of torpedoes from extreme range. The majority of these ramshackle missiles veered off course or malfunctioned, exploding prematurely.

The few ork torpodoes that successfully crossed the distance to the Tau ships were easily overwhelmed by the Tau’s anti-missile defense system.

With the orks in higher orbit, Commander Dorir found his task force at a tactical disadvantage, as his ships had to accelerate against gravity, while the ork ships could use gravity to build acceleration. Unable to outmaneuver the enemy and use his superior targeting array at a distance, Dorir recognized he had no choice: he ordered his ships to turn directly at the enemy.

The battle would be a slugging match.

Click here to see how the battle ends.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our adventures in the sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

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