It’s time for another exciting (well, I think so) After Action Report for the Staffel Roy (a Luftwaffe squadron) as it tries to defend the Reich from American bombing.
The first two missions can be found here, and that’s also where I explain how most of the game works. Go there if you want to see that, then come back here for more.
This is, however, the first time I had to face Escort fighters, so I will explain that here.
Mission #3 seemed like it would start off very well. I had four Operation Points so I chose three pilots from my Staffel and equipped them all with Cannons!
Cannons just means that when you do damage to a bomber, you draw two damage chits and get to choose the one you want to apply.
I could have chosen Rockets (which allows you a one-time blast while you’re still waiting to approach the bomber formation), and may do that next time, as this time didn’t quite satisfy me.
Mission #3 was again facing off against bombers over the target, which means that Flak was an issue not just for the bombers but also for my fighters as well.
I chose three new pilots (new as in I haven’t used them before, not new as in they are Green and suffer penalties because they don’t quite know what they are doing yet).
First, I rolled to see if Clausen was still wounded, and he was. I heard that he’s regaling the nurses with the heroic tale of being the only squadron member to actually shoot down something and they’ve decided to keep him there so they can hear more.
Anyway, I chose Munster, Frey and Haase as my three pilots and with my extra Operation Point I equipped them all with Cannons.
This time, though, there were dastardly US fighters escorting the bombers over the target!
I rolled and discovered that they would be leaving the area on Turn 3 and I happened to get 8 turns to play with. There was no Sun so I couldn’t be coming in with the Sun behind me, which was too bad.
I rolled “Light” Escort coverage, which means only 5 counters of P-40 Kittyhawks were hovering around the area instead of 7.
The Escorts were hovering around waiting for something to happen. Two of the counters were “Below Trailing,” which means they are coming in from below the formation if they decide to attack you.
Three of them were “Forward,” which means they might come at you from the front (or they may back off).
One thing you can do as part of the mission is to delay your fighters’ entry, spending one Tactical Point to do so each turn. I could have done that for 2 turns (I had 5 points) and thus not faced any Escorts at all (they would be exiting just as I entered). But I wanted to see how Escorts worked and…well, I didn’t think it would be that much of an issue.
And it really wasn’t, overall, except that it did cost me one fighter.
Here’s the overall map, with one bomber lightly damaged before it reached the target.
Munster was coming in from the side while Frey was approaching from in front and Haase from the Tail.
On Turn 2, Munster was attacked by a 4-fighter group of P-40s as he was trying to approach.
When Escorts are in the same box as one of your fighters, Aerial Combat occurs.
Munster wasn’t above the Escort (actually, he was, but I don’t think it would have made any difference) and he was definitely outnumbered!
Thankfully, the roll wasn’t bad and both my fighter and the P-40s broke away. No damage done, but Munster was out of the fight.
It was up to Frey and Haase to actually try to do some damage!
They both got into Approach position, but unfortunately that does leave you vulnerable to your own Flak. Flak is just firing upwards. They’re not targeting anything and anybody can be hit if they’re in the wrong spot!
Haase took a Flak hit to the Cockpit on his plane, which isn’t very good. But he still came in, raring to fire!
With two damaged bombers in the same Element, they decided to see if they could both bring one down.
Haase was attacking from the Tail while Frey from the Nose.
Haase fired…and used all of his ammunition! The “No Ammo” result does result in a hit, but then you’re out of bullets.
He cursed himself as he sat there waiting for the Continuous Fire before breaking off. His one hit did one more point of damage, so didn’t come close to bringing the bomber down.
Frey, attacking a different bomber that had 4 points of damage already, didn’t do much either.
Until I remembered that both fighters had Cannons and thus should draw 2 chits and choose one!
Haase’s new chit didn’t make any difference, but Frey’s hit the fuselage of the bomber and forced it to fall out of formation.
One victory point (and Experience Point) for the Staffel and one Experience Point for Frey!
Coming at the bomber formation from two different altitudes and positions gave them the Position Advantage, which allows you to cancel one hit against your fighters. Haase would have taken a really bad hit to his Engine so that quickly got cancelled.
However, Continuing Fire gave one hit apiece to each of my fighters as they veered off.
Only two fighters left and they both had hits (Haase actually had 2 hits).
Would this mission be over shortly?
Sadly, it would be, as you can’t continue the mission if you don’t have any fighters left and both of them had serious hits that knocked them out of the fight.
Haase’s Continuing Fire hit was to his Elevator and it caused him to crash (the Flak hit to the Cockpit was ignored because the Elevator hit already downed him).
Frey’s hit was to his Engine and that caused a fire.
Both pilots bailed out successfully though, so no permanent harm done.
Two fighters downed (but pilots safe) and one bomber fallen (and presumably destroyed later, hopefully?).
That’s one more VP, bringing me to 5 VP after 3 missions (half-way through the Early 1943 campaign).
I need 10 VP to avoid losing.
So far so good?
I can’t keep doing this, though. My VPs per mission rate is going downward and at this rate I won’t reach the “did not lose” level.
It may be time to bring out my veterans again.
If only Clausen would come back from the hospital and show these other guys how it’s done!
Even though they might all get shot down.
What do you think? Bring in all veterans? A mix of old and new?
What about Ehlers’ replacement (Ehrhoff)? Even though he has a Green penalty, should I try to get him some experience so he won’t be Green anymore?
It will be at least another week before I do another mission, so chime in here!