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RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940» Forums » Strategy

Subject: On German Fighter Assignment rss

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James Fung
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I've been thinking over German raid planning and fighter assignment. In particular, I've been thinking about the difficulties in fighter assignment. For this discussion, I'm going to number the time segments 1 through 7.

The relevant rules for fighter assignment are:

Fighters which are not sent to Light or Heavy Loss boxes will return to their airbase 3 or 4 segments later, depending on which side is up in the Inflight box. I'll call these early and late turnarounds, respectively.
During the Daily Planning Phase, you assign fighters for segments 1-3. Since there's no way a fighter used in segment 1 can turnaround in time to participate in segment 3, no worries.
During the Airfield Operations Phase, right after a clock check, fighters are assigned for the current and coming segments. Furthermore, if a segment had the opportunity to be assigned fighters, it can not be assigned fighters in a later segment.

This creates the following problem. Say you want to have raids in segments 1 and 3. Then you can't assign segment 1 early turnarounds to segment 4 because, when you went through the Airfield Operations Phase with the clock in segment 3, you already had the opportunity to assign fighters. The fact that the fighters were still on segment 4 of the clock and not on the airfield, and thus unavailable for assignment, is just too bad.

I checked this with the designer on CSW today, and he says this is the correct interpretation of the rules. It's possible for fighter gruppen to fly 3 raids a day (1, 4, and 7), but difficult.

Now this doesn't mean any segment 4 raid has to fly without fighters; you just have to withhold some fighters from flying in the first few segments and assign them to segment 4 raids at the earliest opportunity.

Okay, say we get rid of the segment 3 raid. Instead, we can now assign early turnarounds to segment 4 because, the first time we're able to assign fighters to segment 4, they have come off the clock track. However, now we can't assign late turnarounds to segment 5 for the same reason: there's a raid in segment 4, so the opportunity to assign fighters came before the late turnarounds came off the clock track. The earliest late turnarounds can fly again is segment 6.

So this naturally leads me to wonder what are "good" patterns for German raid planning, though there are many metrics for good. The ultimate metric is VPs, but many things lead up to it. One measure may be how often do your fighter gruppen sortie per day, since they are the ones that create the Light and Heavy Losses that generate VPs. There's avoid rendezvous failures, meaning structuring raids so that they are small and don't have too many up at once. Small raids also mean lower detection modifiers. But small raids means more raids, and more raids without having too many up at once means raids spread throughout the day. Also, having raids in consecutive or nearly consecutive segments allows us to hit a particular area while squadrons in the area are still landing and re-arming. However, this starts conflicting against reusing fighters. Because, as we saw above, to turnaround fighters in a timely fashion, we need time segments without raids cluttering airspace.

So here are some raid time patterns I came up with off the cuff. Feel free to comment and add your own.

12-4--7 This is the only one where some fighters can make 3 sorties. Early 1's can be assigned to 4. Late 1's and all 2's must wait for 7, but early 4's can also make 7 (late 4's already flew twice that day, so they weren't ineffective). However, this leaves only 4 time slots and little opportunity for follow-up attacks (unless done in the same segment, risking rendezvous failure). However, Luftflotte 3 usually doesn't usually fly many missions per day.

12--567 1s can be assigned to 5, 6, or 7. Early 2's to 6 or 7. Late 2's can still make 7. Every fighter can fly twice, no problems. Five segments to spread around missions, and opportunities for follow-up attacks in both morning and evening. The reflection of this is 123--67.

123-567 Similar to the above, but now 6 possible segments and more opportunity for follow-up raids. However, late 3's will only fly once that day.

1234567 Taking the above to a further extreme, late 3's and all 4's will only fly one. Furthermore, the only fighter available for segment 5 are early 1's. If something bad happens in the segment 1 combats, it could produce another disaster later in the day.

Of course, the problem with regimentizing raids is that you become too predictable. I guess it's fine against the solitaire AI, but I'd bet an intelligent opponent would find a way to take advantage. Anyway, food for thought.
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