Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
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Brad Koziey
Canada
Oakville
Ontario
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Brad (the player, and my regular online game partner) and I played a very tense, and intense, game of Nightfighter. We played scenario 10A, with a German intruder. It was a blast.

February 1942, the first German Fernnachjagd raid commences.


Flight lieutenant Koziey brought his Defiant NF MKII about and throttled up. CGI ground search had a contact entering his patrol zone. He had finally made the crossing from his native Canada six months ago. Rather than being sent immediately to a fighter squadron, he'd been among a select group of pilots chosen to learn how to make the radar equipped Defiant into the German Luftwaffe's worst “night” mare. Everyone on the training team had laughed heartily at that joke.

No time for daydreams now, he was approaching the CGI fix quickly. His turret gunner reported fully operational.

Koziey quickly got into the position radioed by CGI, and his own AI MkVI radar confirmed the enemy bomber was out there, practically in his airspace. The moon was full, but the sky had some clouds. He searched as keenly as possible, to no avail. Where was the bastard?

Oberstleutnant Buhl scanned the night sky. The Heinkel he escorted was close by off his port side, but not so close that a pursuing British fighter would know Buhl's aircraft was present. He'd been flying night missions for a long time, he knew his aircraft, he knew his ability, and he knew how to accomplish his mission. He had to get his bomber to its target and safely home. “The war is lost,' he mused, 'but I will do my duty until the end.'

Now he sensed, more than saw, movement. Was that? Yes! A British night fighter, tracking his bomber. The position was tricky though, Buhl's Ju-88C-2 was faster than the Heinkel, and Buhl knew from bitter experience that overflying the quarry at night could be disasterous. Flying at night was nothing like the dogfighting he's cut his teeth on over the Channel early in the war. Nor was it like the ground attack missions he's flown, then quickly led (too quickly, as many of the more experienced officers in his squadron were killed) on the Eastern Front. No, this type of flying called for calm, steady nerves, gentle adjustments to the controls and throttle. Buhl knew that if he found himself having to make a violent maneuver on a night mission, he had already made a mistake by allowing the enemy to get on his tail. High Command spoke in rumors of radar that could warn pilots of approaching enemies, Buh would believe that when he saw it. Even now, he eschewed the untrustworthy AI radar that some planes carried. He would rely on skill and experience.


'Damn,' Koziey muttered, 'not enough time to get underneath the Jerry to let the turret have a clean upward shot. I'll have to take him from the tail section and hope for the best.' [In game terms, although this plane is a turret fighter, it gives the option of oblique or not. I can't find any reference that the Defiant had wing mounted weaponry, so I assume the non-oblique shots are just poorer angles of attack or something.]

“We're as close as we'll get now, gunner – splash the Kraut bastard!” The gunner responded immediately. Tracers tore into the Heinkel, but immediately Koziey realized it was a non-critical hit. He came around for another pass.

“What the hell is that?!?” he shouted at his turret gunner. “It's a plane, I can't tell which kind!” Koziey knew he was alone in this patrol zone, so it had to be German. The Gerries didn't fly bombers in tight formations did they? The ball of ice that formed in his stomach gave the answer. There were escort fighters nearby.

“Ground, this is Defiant zone A, be advised there are intruders accompanying the bombers,” Koziey radioed in, hoping he sounded calmer than he felt. “Copy that Defiant zone A, we have at least two more bombers entering your patrol zone as well. Take care with that intruder – stay alive and stay after the bombers.”

Koziey had already decided that his job was to splash the bombers, and he planned to do just that.

“Roger, attempting to re-acquire.”

'I can't chase the intruder, and I can't jink and dive if I hope to get these bombers,' Koziey thought. Ignoring, as best he could, the knowledge that his own death lurked in the inky sky somewhere, he searched for the bomber again.

Buhl realized that the British pilot was a fine pilot, but was having trouble tallying the Heinkel. 'Good,' he thought, 'because I am not having the same problem.' He eased into position, gently feeling for the trigger mechanism.

“TRACERS!” bellowed the turret gunner, wildly spinning the guns to the rear. “Get us out of here!” Koziey juked his aircraft hard left the equally hard right, eventually getting back on the bomber's tail. He would evade as well as he could, but he had to focus on the bomber – that was his mission. “Copy that, we've shaken him,” Koziey replied. He realized he was actually speaking softly, not letting the fear that gripped his spine into a rigid posture take over the rest of his body. Or was he just more afraid of failing than he was of dying? “Come back to forward firing position, we're moving back in.”

He spotted the bomber. He knew an enemy tracked him, and he also knew his patrol zone boundary was rapidly approaching. If he didn't break off contact in time, he might be shot down by his own squadron mates – or worse, shoot one of them down. He brought the plane back into attack position, but again, didn't have time to line up for the cleanest shot.

'Damn you, you know what you're doing,' Buhl muttered. He knew the Defiant could shoot before he'd be in position. 'Will I fail this time?' He saw the British guns roar to life a split second before he fired his own weapons.

“TRACERS!” came the call again. The gunner was rattled, Koziey knew. His shot went wildly off the mark, and the Heinkel corkscrewed out of range. “DAMN IT, GET US CLEAR OF THAT BASTARD!” Now Koziey spoke firmly, but still softly. “Calm down gunner. These bombers are killing civilians. Our job is to stop them from doing that, and that's what we'll do. This target's gone now, we'll come around and look for the other two.”

'He's breaking off pursuit? Of a damaged airplane he has fixed and tallied? We must be entering into another patrol zone.' Buhl wasn't worried about that. He'd seen enough of that Defiant, and its pilot. “We may meet again,” Buhl said out loud. His co-pilot said “I think I see flak bursts ahead.”

“Roger,” Buhl replied, wondering if he'd ever face any enemy pilot after tonight.


[The above is the description of the first 15 or so turns of our game. Brad quickly found my first bomber, and moved in for the kill. He homed in on it, but just could not make a tally. I think that he failed in 4 tally rolls? Maybe 3. Fortunately for me (the umpire) my second plane was the Intruder, AND it entered only two hexrows from the original bomber. So pretty soon, we ended up in "pursuit behavior." It was hard for me to figure out how to get the Intruder into position while avoiding my own bomber's hex. Once I figured that out, I had the same hard time tallying.

Brad tried valiantly to keep after the first bomber while the ground search crews focused on the follow up planes. He got a tally, and scored a hit in his first attack! One damage point only (it would have been 2 if he'd used the newly installed oblique guns). He stayed after the bomber, but rolled a couple of “corkscrew” responses that led to lost tallies.

He broke off as the map edge loomed and went after the other bombers. The intruder lost contact and flew on with its bomber, off the map edge. Brad again tracked the second bomber, but failed to tally it in time.

He broke off a third time, and went after the final plane. He was running out of fuel...]



Koziey was very frustrated with his gunner. The man was shaken, and not much use in searching for bombers as he scanned madly looking for the German intruder. Koziey knew that plane almost certainly stayed with its first charge. What he did not know was if there was another one nearby. 'The devil you know...' he thought.

A second plane had flown through his patrol zone, and he was convinced this third bomber would not get past. Koziey was pushing the envelope though – of his patrol zone, and of his fuel tank.

“There,” he said, finding the last enemy bomber. He wheeled into position, utilizing far more violent flight maneuvers than a night fighter should. Still, he had only one more chance.

“Hold fire until my order comes,” he told the gunner. This would be their last shot. It was going to be clean.

Koziey brought his Defiant into position, dangerously close the Heinkel, and directly beneath it. “Now gunner, give him the works!” The machine guns shuddered as the gunner held the triggers down, until the clicking sound signaled guns empty. Koziey held his course until the last round fired, knowing he should prepare to evade, but intent on bringing down the German.

The fireball that lit the sky warmed Koziey's heart as he headed back to base. He thought they had just enough fuel to get home.

He had no idea, as he gently banked toward home, that he had just scored the only kill a Defiant pilot would ever make.

[What happened, game wise, was that Brad knew where my bombers were, and flew along with them, but had bad luck on tally rolls. On the last turn of the game (the last German bomber would have flown off the map if he didn't shoot it down here), he used all of his remaining MPs to get into position, fired his oblique guns, and rolled boxcars! He'd have needed a 10 or higher to kill the plane on one shot, and he got it.

We both like Nightfighter very much. Now that we've played a few scenarios, we understand a bit more how the bluffing element of the game works. The tension of trying to find the bombers, and knowing that somewhere out there an enemy fighter is trying to find you, makes a very tense and enjoyable gaming experience, even though it's quite different than many war games. We shall certainly play this again.]
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Roger Taylor
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
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Quote:
[In game terms, although this plane is a turret fighter, it gives the option of oblique or not. I can't find any reference that the Defiant had wing mounted weaponry, so I assume the non-oblique shots are just poorer angles of attack or something.]

From Wikipedia:

Quote:
The gunner could rotate the turret directly forward and transfer firing control of the guns to the pilot, with the guns firing along each side of the cockpit canopy. However, in practice this was rarely done as the turret's minimum forward elevation was 19' and the pilot did not have a gunsight.
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Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
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rtaylor wrote:
Quote:
[In game terms, although this plane is a turret fighter, it gives the option of oblique or not. I can't find any reference that the Defiant had wing mounted weaponry, so I assume the non-oblique shots are just poorer angles of attack or something.]

From Wikipedia:

Quote:
The gunner could rotate the turret directly forward and transfer firing control of the guns to the pilot, with the guns firing along each side of the cockpit canopy. However, in practice this was rarely done as the turret's minimum forward elevation was 19' and the pilot did not have a gunsight.


Nice! I see an update to the AAR on the horizon! Thanks. I looked at Wikipedia, I flat out have missed that part.
 
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