Hello to all, I can't promise this will be a regular thing, but I'll try to post my subsequent sessions.
I am using the following additional rules: - Abbeville Boys (There is a chance of meeting the infamous JG 26 on missions) - Bomber Group (the game simulates how the other 17 bombers of your squadron do)
All fluff text will be cursive, while comments or mechanical details are normal font. The actual mission starts and ends after the [*], everything else is supposed to let you get to know the crew of the B-24. So if you're only interested in the way the mission went, feel free to skip the parts before and after.
Campaign: 2 Plane: B24-D Liberator Target: Citroen Plant (Industry) in Paris
Deathtrap "Alright, lemme talk to that whizzkid." Simmons finished his second British Ale and was finally persuaded by the rest of his crew to stop giving their new pilot the silent treatment. Hanson, their original pilot and one of only three guys his age on their freaking plane, had to come down with the measles right after they moved across the Atlantic and to that lonely field of grass close to Southhampton. That itself wouldn't have been so bad, if it hadn't led to a serious encephalitis that the medics were so worried about, they sent him right back to the states. And now that 20-year-old sunshine of William "Billy" Brown was to fly them over to the jerries and back, with him in that deathtrap they call "Ball turret", although he was only half joking whenever he said he was only gonna climb in there when he knew a good friend of his was on the controls of their Liberator. Someone who wouldn't leave him exposed to the German fighters swarming below them like bees on a bad day more than necessary, someone who wouldn't one day forget to extend the landing gear before crushing him with all the weight of a four-engine bomber, if he ever got stuck in that bizarre piece of aluminium and acrylic glass. "Ah, what the heck", he said out loudly, before slowly moving over from the bar of this rural establishment to the table, where the Sunnyvale graduate Wunderkind was enthralling his comrades and the local ladies alike with an amusing tale from his time in the West Coast Army Air Corps Training Centre: "Of course we wanted the cigarettes back, but those guys were way too bulky for us to take on - ", "Billy, wait a moment, you were what? Like, 15 back then? Of course they thought you weren't supposed to smoke! How many years did you skip in college anyway?", interrupted Perez, their Port Waist Gunner. Everyone laughed and Billy looked embarrassed for a moment and Simmons never hated that young man any more, but he finally overcame his anger (was it envy?) and sat down with the rest of the group.
The "High & Mighty" and the rest of the 328th Bomber Sqaudron of the 2nd Division, 2nd Bomber Wing, 93th Bombing Group was lifted up into the sky gently on a rainy Wednesday. That kid sure knew how to impress as he circled upwards until he reached his position in the back of the High bomber cell. They were going to Paris to bomb some truck factory but Simmons could only focus on recounting how many drinks Billy had last night and if his swift maneouvring was just blind luck. Another Liberator, the "Missy" with their experienced crew would lead this raid and gave everyone hope that they were gonna deliver their payload as precisely as that "pickle jar drop" that the news hounds liked to hear so much about.
Their trip across the channel was uneventful and the clear weather gave a magnificient view of nothing but blue water beneath their bomber formation. As they arrived over France and idle chatter spread across the internal intercom about why they could see only so few German fighters that didn't even get into firing range before being scared off by their "little friends", Melvin, their Radio Operator, couldn't help but admit that HQ had taken great pains this time to send misinformation to the Krauts about a deep penetration raid into Germany today: "I've heard they even relocated the Abbeville Boys closer to Germany yesterday. But shush! You know they'll bust my ass if you tell anyone outside this plane about this, right, lads?" They didn't need to reassure him about their secrecy.
Their "little friends", P-47 Thunderbolts, were so efficient at binding the German Jagdgeschwaders into small turning dogfights that even when multiple 50.cal machineguns froze due to the extreme cold at 25.000 feet, no one got into a panic and methodically everyone got his guns working again.
Over Paris, the light resistance from German fighters didn't send down a single Liberator before having to fall back due to the incoming Flak shells. The "High & Mighty" got really lucky with not a single battery pointed their way, but several other planes, along them the lead plane "Missy" got beaten up pretty badly by the German 88s. Distracted by the shells bursting around their plane, the Lead Bomber on the "Missy" mistakenly gave the command to drop their bombs too early after they lost sight of their target through the broken cloud cover, but by a stroke of good luck, some of the bombers listened to the anonymous, defiant Bombardier yelling "Mistake! No!" before opening their bomb bay doors and (as later photograph material would show) about ten percent of the bombs would still hit the French truck Plants.
On their way back across France, it seemed the German Luftwaffe had finally realized their mistake and sortied heavy resistance for their remaining trip home. Frequent changes of course allowed them to never make contact with a Fighter Wave until they were close to Abbeville. There, the Abbeville Boys swarmed them: While two ME-109s flew daring head-on attacks, a third fighter strafed the Liberator from 9:00. Simmons could feel a sudden lurch in the hydraulics moving his Ball Turret before slowing down considerably. They had hit the retractable Hydraulic system! Over the intercom, the crew quickly made a headcount to ensure no one got hit, but Simmons could hardly hear them. That was it. He was trapped, just like in his worst nightmares. Apart from him being barely able to lead on the agile German Luftwaffe aces, it would only take a hit to the landing gear and he'd be ground to dust upon the belly landing of his plane. And tomorrow that damned smiling whizzkid would be telling stories about his exploits again to impress the British girls and someone else would sit in the Ball turret of a new plane and... He'd been so distracted he almost missed a bandit coming in low, right into his field of fire. He pulled the handles on his twin gun mount and the German plane lit up light a christmas tree, going down in erratic spirals. "I got one" yelled Perez from his Waist Gun Position. Simmons wanted to make a snarky remark, but the gun cams would show who hit the Abbeville fighter soon enough.
After the firefight, everything became quiet only for a short time, as an especially aggressive Jagdgeschwader attacked them over the channel. They didn't need to see the yellow-painted undernose to know that only Abbeville boys would travel that far into hostile waters just to hit some bombers that already dropped their loads. This time, two Me-109s came at the formation, making their way through the firing fields of one bomber after another before hitting the "High and Mighty" from above. Several bursts from the top turret and Nose Gun hit one of them and almost ripped off his wings, but even impaired like this he managed to duck and weave in the last moment avoiding colliding with their plane. When he came back, Calvin Howard, a notoriously good shot in his Top Turret, set the already damaged fighter ablaze. According to their Tailgunner Philip, the other Abbeville Boy got away after seeing there was little chance to inflict damage anymore.
The landing went well. Calvin said no word as he approached the airfield and during the whole landing procedure and Simmons didn't know whether to be annoyed about that obvious gesture towards him or thankful. Later that day, they learned that several other planes had encountered problems due to damaged landing gear and unlucky coincidences despite optimal weather. The Big Bopper, their Tail-End charlie in the lower Cell had an engine finally give out right during the approach, throwing the Liberator sideways violently and killing all crew members upon impact in the nearby forest. Simmons marveled at the irony: The bomber that survived being in the worst possible spot in the formation got wiped off the earth by such an unlikely event. Two other bombers bumped into each other on the runway while landing and were damaged so badly they had to be salvaged, although their crews survived unscathed. Maybe that Wunderkind wasn't so bad to have around after all...
Comments: - The Random Event "Bad Communication" basically made this a milk run (removing one German fighter from EVERY Wave, before calculating fighter escorts), so when it was confirmed that I would encounter Abbeville Boys on my way back I decided they would not be affected by the event.
- I decided to have the bomber formation (by that I mean every plane BUT the one I am playing myself) only be affected once by Flak as the results were pretty heavy, damaging multiple bombers by 3-4 levels. That damage also made three bombers crash upon landing. The rules seem ambiguous to me; do you play it with Flak hitting the formation upon entering AND exiting the Bombing Run?
- Flak again: It happened that due to good luck my plane got the "No Flak" results. Should the rest of the formation still be rolling on the table for Flak? - I decided yes.
- Fighters on the other hand never hit a single other plane in the formation. How do you handle the following situation: There is a fighter wave of one plane, but fighter cover/the bad communications event drives them off. Has my plane been attacked? Consequently, do I have to roll on the table to see if other Bombers are affected by the fighter wave? - I decided yes, since there was a wave, other bombers have to roll if they're hit by fighters.
BTW, I plan on making the Group Bombing Rules a bit more intricate. Although I like the simple nature of the rules, there is no possibility to have Tail-End Charlie be more affected by Flak or fighters according to the rules. In my case, the bomber that got damaged the most, was the Lead Bomber, which strikes me as ahistorical. Also, the system doesn't reflect whether you're facing Light, Moderate or Heavy Fighter Resistance. Lastly, the Lower Cell should be beaten up a bit more than the middle and high one, which is also not implemented. When I get to designing a variant for the Group Bombing rules, I'll let you know! Until the next time, fly safe and listen to your Pilot!
I'd say if you got no flak, consider the target and decide if you were lucky, or if the entire formation was lucky. In most cases my opinion would be either no flak, or at least no flak for your cell/squadron. Some target types will always have flak, but it may all be targeted above or below your altitude.