It was do or die time for Staffel Roy as they were attempting to defend the Third Reich from Allied B-24 bombers in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
The final mission of the first “season” in the campaign game for Storm Above the Reich, the Luftwaffe pilots were getting a little antsy.
Would they be disbanded due to poor performance?
Or would they live to carry on?
Well, some of them would live, anyway.
It was early 1943 and the stakes were high. The claxon rang and our brave pilots scrambled to their fighters.
This was it.
Would they be able to do it?
Let’s take a look.
(Reminder, you can always click on a picture to see it full size. Also, for the specific rules of what I’m talking about, see the Mission #1 & #2 report)
The first thing to do was roll for our wounded pilots.
Sadly, both Claussen and Knoken were still wounded (Knoken’s been infected by Claussen’s indifference!)
Once again our fighters jumped the bombers on their way home after releasing their payload.
I managed to actually roll well and was able to have 7 fighters coming after them, all equipped with cannons.
Those bombers wouldn’t know what hit them.
Since I felt I needed some expert flying and two of my experts are wounded, I drafted Ahrens and Oesau to lead the formation, along with regular (and mostly untested) pilots Frey, Grislawski, Ruhl, Sprecht and Unger.
I had three fighters coming at the Tail of the formation, three coming at the Nose, and Sprecht was coming in from the side.
On Turn 5, an Escort of 5 P-40 Kittyhawk markers was set to join the fray. There was also no sun to provide an advantage to me.
I spent the first couple of turns entering the field and arranging the fighters to come in at different angles and elevations.
On Turn 3, I sent the fighters in two waves (maximum 6 fighters in a wave, so I split them up with one wave at 5 and one wave at 2).
I sent Ahrens and Grislawski at the Tail of one bomber, Unger at the Tail of another one, and Frey at the Tail of a third. Sprecht comes in Low from the side of Frey’s bomber.
This qualifies for all three advantages (Position, Schwarm, and Rotte). Two of those advantages allow me to ignore one hit to one of my fighters while the Schwarm does two extra hits during the combat round. These hits can be used for any bomber that I’m attacking.
Ahrens and Grislawski need to check for Collision because they’re in the same space. Ahrens’ expert skill is Flyer, so when he’s involved in a Collision check, I can draw two Proximity markers and choose which one I want to use.
One of them would have been really damaging while the other one just required me to roll a 2 or more on a 10-sided die to avoid a collision.
Easy choice, and everything worked out.
Unger fires at his bomber, ripping into the Wing but only for 3 points of damage. He also takes a Wing hit in the process.
Ahrens fires and misses, but takes his own hit. I used the Position Advantage to nullify that hit (can’t have another Expert go down!)
Grislawski does one hit but takes two of his own!
I used the Rotte advantage to nullify one of the hits. He makes the bomber fall out of formation by raking the fuselage with his bullets, but he takes a Wing hit himself.
On Frey’s attack, he runs out of ammo! But his shots do two hits to the Engine and knocks the bomber out of formation.
Sprecht now has nothing to shoot at, but takes a hit to his Fuel line as the bomber falls.
During Continuing Fire, Unger uses the Schwarm Advantage to do two more hits to his bomber. A Fuselage and a Wing hit don’t knock it down but do four points of damage. It’s hanging on by a thread!
Continuing Fire is kind of brutal, though.
Grislawski takes another hit to his Fuselage.
Ahrens doesn’t take a hit, but gets a Power Bleed event, which forces him to Evasive Mode and back to the Tail instead of Nose direction which he wanted.
Frey also took a hit to his Wing. Sprecht gets an Elevator hit from falling debris and a Continuing Fire hit to his Fuselage.
For the second Wave, Oesau and Ruhl come in from directly in front of the badly wounded bomber.
Being in the same space, they also have to roll for a collision.
A Collision is rolled but Oesau’s Expert ability is to change Mode whenever he wants. He goes Evasive which discards the Collision.
That unfortunately also affects his ability to hit, as Evasive fighters don’t hit as often.
While Ruhl comes in and rakes the Wing for 2 more points of damage (taking a hit himself to the Wing and also having to make a Collision check, which he passes), Oesau’s new Evasive mode results in a complete miss! He also takes a hit to his Fuselage.
The bomber remains in formation, but struggling (8 points of damage, and 10 will destroy it).
In Continuing Fire, debris does one more damage to the wounded bomber (it’s so close!) but Ruhl also takes a hit to his Elevator.
Oesau avoids getting a further hit.
Now we’re on Turn 4 and I have to see whose hits are bad and whose are superficial.
Rolling Recovery results in Grislawski (Wing), Frey (Wing), Ruhl (Wing) and Sprecht (Elevator) being out of the fight.
The other hits were superficial.
After one attack, my force is cut in half!
The bomber element loses cohesion, though, with all of those markers on the board.
On Turn 5, the Escorts arrive but just maneuver around. The formation degrades further.
On Turn 6, my returning fighters move into position for another attack run. Some Escorts come onto the board, but not near any of my fighters.
On Turn 7, another attack! The Escorts continue moving around a bit, but don’t inhibit my remaining fighters.
Unger goes after the wounded bomber from the Nose direction while Ahrens and Oesau go after another one from the Tail.
Once again, there is a Collision check that Ahrens uses his ability to avoid anything bad happening.
Unger destroys his bomber with a Wing hit! But takes a Rudder hit himself.
Ahrens does a Wing hit to his bomber and takes a hit himself, but uses the Position Advantage to nullify it.
Oesau does a Fuselage hit but runs out of ammo!
Continuing Fire doesn’t do anything bad.
On Turn 8 (the last turn), Unger’s Rudder hit ends up knocking him out of the fight.
The remaining fighters can’t get back into the fray before the mission ends, but I do have to continue because the Escorts may do something.
Thankfully, they don’t.
The final disposition?
Two bombers Fallen and one Destroyed. Not a bad day for Staffel Roy!
Now all that’s left is to see the results of my downed fighters (five of them!)
The first one I rolled was for Ruhl’s Wing hit. He crashes and…does not bail out! Another KIA.
Frey crashes his wounded fighter with a Wing hit and is wounded. He’ll get to join Knoken and Claussen in ogling the nurses.
Grislawski’s fighter catches fire from its Wing hit and he is also wounded. They are all getting way too comfy in the hospital.
The hospital’s getting filled up quickly.
Sprecht successfully bails out from his Elevator hit as his fighter went to the ground. He’s fine.
Unger actually managed to land his plane safely!
The mission ended with 3 VP (2 Fallen and 1 Destroyed bomber), which gave me 11 for this season of the campaign.
Since 10 VP is the “did not lose” threshold, I get to continue!
The fighter pilots of Staffel Roy had a little bit of a celebration to commemorate the occasion.
While they did not “win” and there is more work to do, the German High Command will let them continue.
The middle part of 1943 is coming up next. Six more missions and we will see what happens.
I do have four wounded pilots. I’m hoping at least one of them comes back for the next round. Claussen and Unger are the only two pilots to have actually destroyed anything (as opposed to just knocking a bomber out of formation), so we do need to step up our game.
I think I will play with at least one of the Advanced rules for the next season. This is “Pursuit,” which means you don’t get points for knocking bombers out of formation, but you can send fighters off to “pursue” bombers who are knocked out. You only get points for destroying them, but hopefully as you pursue them, you will destroy a lot more.
I will have two Green pilots now (Though Ehrhoff is one points away from losing his Green status) so we will see what the future holds.
Stay tuned for more accounts of the adventures of Staffel Roy!