I would be very interested to hear thoughts on this...
Fair to note that I have only played through a couple campaigns so far, and have needed to reference the rules a LOT! I started to post this in the Rules section as a question but after reading through some responses a few items came to light that I thought some might find interesting as what I see now may be a Variant on the rules for Attacking Aircraft.
I understand the base rules for Aircraft Attacks as follows:
* An aircraft attacks once per turn.
* An aircraft can attack before, during, or after any movement during the turn.
This is clear. It then says: "You must declare the target of all Attacks before rolling for any of them."
1) All AC Target at Once
On the first day of my first campaign, and for the first two missions, I interpretted the rules as: I declare all targets for all aircraft. And by "All AC" I mean either all Fast or all Slow, not all Fast and Slow. Understanding that there is enough of a time lag between fast and slow to allow the enemy to have a chance to attack and the Slow team at least the benefit of seeing whether or not the fast team scored hits, and allow the slow team to avoid wasting munitions on dead units. So in my first missions there was the possibility of killing a unit(s) with the first AC and wasting a munitiion from the second AC on a dead unit. Under this scenario, I did find that keeping track of which munitiions came from which AC was a challenge. ...enough of a challenge that it made me think I must not be reading the rules right because it doesn't mention having to keep track of which AC shot which rocket.
2) All AC Target at Once Adjusted for Movement Timing
As I became more comfortable with the rules and movement; particularly the idea firing one time at any point in the movement phase... I shifted my point of view slightly to actually break-up what I would call the "targeting" phase. I saw each possible movement step as a point in time. So, for all of my AC attacking "before movement", they would all target their attacks together, and then check for hits. Then for AC that attack "during or after movement", they would target together and check for hits. I group "during or after movement" as one point in time to account for the speed differential of planes vs. helos.
I liked this approach and feel it adds some strategy to the attack phase. You still have the possibility of losing a munition if the first AC kills the unit, but there is a slight advantage for the AC that fires at the end of movement because there is time to see and adjust for a killed unit. For me, although perhaps a tad abstract, it keeps the overall movement phase 'feeling' like it takes the same amount of time and I'll explain this part in more detail below. The only downside of this method is that I do still find situations where I can forget which AC has targeted which munition. Which can become an issue with the rockets that you might be able to keep (forgetting which AC they came from). Although, it is less pronounced than method 1 above because I now have 2 targeting phases instead of 1.
3) Stringed AC Attacks
While playing through and adjusting my attack logic as noted above, and encountering the situations where I maybe lost track of which rocket was fired from which AC (for possible return to the unit if the roll is good enough.) It did occur to me that I may have misinterpretted the rules for attack and perhaps I should be using a "Stringed Attack" approach. In other words: for each individual AC; target, attack, and roll for hit to determine if the unit is killed and THEN move on to the next AC and repeat. Basically, giving the benefit to the second AC of not having to expend a munition on a dead unit.
I have since searched the forum and it does indeed seem like most interpret the rules as "Stringed AC Attacks". My issue is, I don't really like it. Under this scenario it feels like the movement phase isn't quite as simultaneous. So if I have multiple AC attacking, my move phase would be (abstracting a bit here) longer than the move phase of a single attacking AC.
I mention this because it seems to give an edge to using a unit that I see people wanting to "buff-up" because they have declared it "useless"??? If you use a "Stringed Attack" approach, having 2 or 3 AH-1's on a mission flying together as a unifed squad (matching movement) would carry two significant advantages. 1) an attack against the AH1 squad would have to be applied to a single AC in the squad thus spreading the potential damage hits across two airframes and pilots and 2) a squad of 2 or 3 AH-1's can be less wasteful than a single Apache that might have to expend 2 or 3 rockets to takeout a tank. The AH-1's can take a "wait and see" approach as each fires a single rocket at the tank and rolls for the hit. Whereas a single Apache might choose to unload 2 or 3 rockets and the first one may kill the tank. It is worth noting that if I use my attack variant #2 I would still get the AH squad advantage for dispursing attacks among aircrafts and pilots.
Another plus I see for using an AH1 squad is it also seems to allow some ability to counter for a poor scout roll. If I have limited loiter time, I have the ability to split the AH1 squad and attack multiple targets. If I have more time, I fly them in a squad as if they were a single Apache and gain the defense and weapon usage bonus. I think "What if you flied them like a squad?" needs to be a standard rebuttle for people wanting to buff the "useless" AH1. I haven't done the math, but I'm even thinking 3 AH1's attacking as a squad with their guns might even be better than a single Apache gun attack? Maybe default to variant #2 but allow "Stringed Attacks" for linked units and units flying specifically as a squad (matched movement)? If movement seperates, they lose the Stringed Attack bonus? This sounds pretty cool to me.
Granted, my views may change as I continue to play, but thought I'd throw these observations out there as a noob and see if anyone has had similar thoughts or experiences. At the moment, I am leaning toward using my variant #2 above. Although the attacks are coordinated by communications I have to think in the heat of battle there might be some inefficiency in the targeting and I think this variant works well for that, also prompts me to try to plan my movement a little more to take advantage of hit resolution. I haven't played with linked units yet and I might like the idea of allowing "Stringed Attacks" as maybe another bonus for linked units and units flying in formation as a squad.
One thing I will be doing though... I am making up some little wood munition holders tonight and painting them up in various colors. Maybe 3 or 4 sets of 5; each set a different color so I can easily track which munitions came from which AC. Simple as cutting a 1/8" deep slot into a length of wood with the table saw, then cutting into appropriate sized squares.
This is my first solitaire wargame, and so far I haven't received any negative feedback during gameplay over my modified "house rules"