Today I got the chance to play the second mission for the first day of Flight A's campaign. After having done the Dawn Patrol, now I could choose between a strafing mission and a photo reconnaissance for the morning. I chose the latter (maybe not a wise decision, since the weather wasn't too good...)
Major Barnaby decided to fly the two-seater with Julian (A8), and 4 fighter would escort them: Two experienced pilots (A1-Lawrence, A2-Gerry) and two unexperienced ones (A5 - Willie, A6 - Thomas)
The weather was bad (Overcast) and soon got worse. After an uneventful flight towards the target (Advance HQ in Zone A) we managed to reach it without Archie spotting us. We were also lucky in that there was no protection once inside the target zone. The bad luck came with the weather, which by this time had turned into a thunderstorm, and a little after it started snowing, although just before that we managed to take one photo, just in case there wouldn't be another chance later (taken at -4).
So, we stayed flying over the target, hoping for a break in the weather wasting our precious fuel. Eventually it got better and we managed to take another photo (-2). A little after that, it started clering and we managed to take a third photo with good conditions (+0), but right at that point a patrol spotted us: Four D3 fighters dove from above us and a dogfight started.
Right away, all the fighters entered into duels with our pilots, except for the two seater, which didn't take the chance to escape hoping for another shot at the target when the dogfight ended, which took a while with both sides getting the chance to shoot, but no damage done. When the dogfight broke, Gerry had been driven off (I forgot about the bravery rating...) and the Major had managed to drive off one of the planes.
With the weather getting better, we managed another shot after rising to 2000ft. This would have to do, because it was becoming too risky and fuel could become a concern if we over-stayed... So we headed back in a straight line towards the base.
We crossed the trenches with some low clouds hiding us, but they managed to disperse just before we finished, and Archie managed to attack once. Luckily no one was hurt. Then, we saw a lone plane about 3000ft above us that didn't attack (we outnumbered him 5 to 1). So we continued towards the base.
On the way to the base we crossed paths with another lone plane at the same altitude than us, so we attacked and got into a dogfight that ended when the Major managed to hit the plane and it flew away with a small fire.
Now we were entering safe territory and everything seemed ok. We reached the base and were preparing to land when 3 planes dove to attack us (double 1 on the encounter roll!!). A long dogfight started, but this time the Major took the first chance to escape, for the photos had to be delivered safely. Gerry was driven off again (again I forgot about the bravery ratings...) and we managed to drive off one plane, but then the dogfight broke. We regrouped and managed to land safely, ending the mission.
When the plaques were developed it turned out the first were damaged. The second and third were ok (average) and the last one was useless. So the mission was a success with no casualties or damaged planes, and usable photos... (20vps + 3vps for the damaged enemy plane)
Notes: I did enjoy this game a lot (more than the last one). The game managed to turn the situation around twice, but in the end we did well. The weather is so important, and how it changes can make or break the mission. We had to spend 16 turns over the target with horrible weather to make sure we got a clear picture as it got a bit better. Then the it changes and becomes bright and sunny making our return trip full of risks! amazing...