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B-17: Queen of the Skies» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Another Flight of Fancy rss

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John McDonald
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What if.....

What if........




The Premise
The boys at Consolidated Aircraft could certainly build them; their triumph with the B-24 Liberator and Catalina certainly proved that. However, throughout the war they showed an obsession with a stranger idea. While the design of lifting bodies, or even flying wings, wasn't totally out there Consolidated took a different approach.


Cover of American Secret Projects 1 by Tony Butler and Alan Griffith, showing the tailless Consolidated bomber


The "P5Y" as depicted by co-author Alan Griffith

That's right; a tailless two-engine heavy bomber. Bristling with twin gun mounts and lacking any sign of a tail it relied on the one large wing coupled with Liberatoresque vertical stabilizers it certainly was a curious design.

Have You Gone Mad?
Yes.

I have attempted to cobble together standard Queen of the Skies, McMurry's B-24 Variant, Jim's 281st Variant, B-29 Superfortress, and a little old fashioned 'that looks rightness' to come up with a very crude simulation of what I dubbed the B-41 "Whip-poor-will", since it looked like the clearest omen of death I'd ever seen.

1. Nose
2. Pilot Compartment
3. Bomb Bay
4. Tail
5. Port Wing
6. Starboard Wing

The crew positions for the mission would be:
1. Pilot
2. Co-Pilot
3. Bombardier/Navigator
4. Flight Engineer/Forward Dorsal Gunner
5. Radio Operator/Ball Turret Gunner
6. Nose Gunner
7. Aft Dorsal Gunner
8. Tail Gunner

For roll changes; any hit to the tailplane would instead be rolled on the radio room chart. Similarly, any hit to the rudder or tailwheel/autopilot would be rolled on the waist chart. The aft dorsal gunner would be counted on the waist chart, along with the ball turret for damage, but the radio operator's health would depend on the radio room chart.

Since there are only two engines, one on each wing, on the first 1d6 roll for engine damage, a result of 5 or 6 would be counted as an empennage hit instead. I spitballed a few performance modifications that never showed up in play with regards to the estimated handling characteristics so I won't really brush on them much more then you want a good trained pilot at the stick of this thing.

Crude? Yes, but this was all put together in about two hours and I wasn't intending to rewrite the whole game.


Plane and Crew
The ship was B-41B-5-CO 44-32667, "Belle of Aylesbury" with a stalwart, terrified crew of 'volunteers' on board who were no doubt hoping and praying to live long enough to get back to the 15th Air Force. The Due Date crew members along for the ride were:

Pilot: Captain John Garibaldi
-Missions Completed: 32
-Medals:
--Distinguished Flying Cross
--Purple Heart w/ oak leaf cluster
--Air Medal w/ five clusters

Co-Pilot: 1st Lieutenant Edgar Ely
-Missions Completed: 25
-Medals:
--Air Medal w/ four clusters

Bombadier/Navigator: Captain Carl Downing
-Missions Completed: 33
-Medals:
--Purple Heart
--Air Medal w/ five clusters

Flight Engineer/Dorsal Gunner: T/Sgt Jason Hutson
-Missions Completed: 25
-Medals:
--Distinguished Flying Cross
--Air Medal w/ four clusters
-Kills: 11.5

Radio Operator/Ball Turret Gunner: T/Sgt Ronald Collins
-Missions Completed: 15
-Medals:
--Purple Heart w/ two clusters
--Air Medal w/ two clusters
-Kills: 3

Nose Gunner: Sgt Warren Parsons
-Missions Completed: 14
-Medals:
--Air Medal w/ two clusters
-Kills: 4.5

Rear Dorsal Gunner: Sgt Ewart Kidd
-Missions Completed: 13
-Medals:
--Air Medal w/ cluster
-Kills: 1.5

Tail Gunner: Sgt Keegan Garner
-Missions Completed: 10
-Medals:
--Air Medal w/ cluster
-Kills: 2.5[/floatleft]


Mission Narrative
I was feeling optimistic as I rolled up the mission information for the first flight of this terrifying dream of Consolidated's demented design department; weather was predicted 'Good' for the target and take-off was clear in England. Fighters were thick as fleas in the cold, unpredictable January skies. The first day of the new Year of Our Lord 1945. Sure enough, the experienced Jug and Lightning pilots kept the skies clear of what few Luftwaffe jocks dared come up to confront them as we cruised along above Belgium.

The formation much more compact then they were used to, in addition to the relative comfort of a pressurized flight compartment, had everyone in a pretty good mood as they coasted in over Freidrickshaven to find the skies absolutely clear. Swallowing their worry, Captain Downing, in the lead of the 115th Bombardment Squadron (Tailless), guided them towards the target as fighters were once again run-off.

Clear skies go both ways, of course. While not particularly heavy, it was accurate enough. I'm beginning to think the AAFs are installing magnets in the rear of my aircraft. Several flak bursts shredded through the aft end of the fuselage, wounding, then killing Sgt Garner and rendering his guns useless. Damage was otherwise superficial, and Capt. Garibaldi breathed a sigh of relief as the #1 engine hiccuped but didn't burst into flames.

Dropping their payload of 500 lb bombs 20% on target, they pulled off through what seemed like a dense cloud of flak right along the squadron's route. More splinters tore through the wings without damage. Splinters struck Lt. Ely in the legs and destroyed T/Sgt Hutson's guns. Another burst incapacitated Sgt Kidd and T/Sgt Hutson struggled back to replace him for the fighters they felt were coming.

No one saw it. It was a flash. Green, arrow shaped, rocketing by before the sound roared over the sound of throbbing Wasp Majors. A jet. One of the Wunderwaffen. A little Me 163 Komet that danced by the stunned gunners, frantically trying to traverse their guns and lock them up on radar. Failing that, they tried to reacquire it as it dove.

Moving too fast, the little jet only caused light damage to the wings and the aft fuselage. Thoroughly terrified by the experience, they were barely ready for the mercifully normal Focke-Wulfes that came up to play in the wake of their speedy little brother. Ready enough, though, even as Hutson couldn't get a good bead on one coming in dead aft, Collins winged one coming up from below that sprayed more shrapnel through the aircraft's fuselage. It pulled around right into Sgt Parsons's nose guns and was blown away.

The return trip was quiet, quick, and well protected. Fighters put in more more showing at a distance, including a frightful looking thing tentatively identified as a Ta 152. Landing was rough with the damage to control surfaces and Lt. Ely's injuries. It's repairable though, and ready for another mission by tomorrow morning.


Mission Stats
Kills: 1 Fw-190
Casualties: 1 Lightly Wounded, 1 Seriously Wounded, 1 Killed in Action
Bombing Run: On Target
Percentage On: 20%
Aircraft Status: Repairable Overnight


Conclusion
This went much better then I expected! Even with a lot of flak hits, the damage was fairly light, though the crew casualties racked up quick over the target. The jet was a hoped for surprise! I've never actually played a mission with them as a possibility, so that was part of the scenario design as well. The Komet played out pretty accurate; it made its pass too fast the first time, tried again, then withdrew unharmed to no doubt crash on landing.

I'm fairly happy overall with how this stab at a bomber variant went. Even though it is basic in the extreme, modeling an aircraft of which only the most basic design notes exist, much less any concept of service performance doesn't give a whole lot of options to work with. The weight of guns and the radar guidance was a new one for me as well, not having ever successfully played a game of B-29 before.

I was satisfied enough with how the damage chart progression worked for all its primitiveness. The crew was just lucky with regard to serious airframe damage. All in all, I'll probably try this again some other evening.
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Damo
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Only two engines, for all that weight?

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John McDonald
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So Consolidated claimed! There was an AAF evaluation document floating around that I saved copies of showing the power curves, etc.
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John Kovacs
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FYI, the Me-163 Komet was rocket powered; it was not a jet. The fuel burned for a total of about 8 minutes. It was also so dangerously volatile that more Me-163s were lost on takeoffs or landings than to enemy aircraft.
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John McDonald
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Correct! It is, however, lumped into Jim's "German Jets" supplement for the game.

There was a crack about it 'probably crashing when it tried to land' but it looks like I edited that out.
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John McDonald
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As alluded to earlier, images from Consolidated's proposal on file with the War Department (not mine, from an E-Bay auction):





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