Malta on the offensive!
Last nights scenario saw the players having to escort 4 Blenheim IV’s on a bombing raid on Comiso airfield. The airfield was defended by a medium AA battery (which would only fire on the bombers although the hurricane pilots didn’t know this), 2 Skilled (+1) Mc. 200 Saeta’s which could set up anywhere within 3 hexes of the airfield but at a TAL lower than the incoming Raid. The Blenheims were set up 10 hexes from the airfield at TAL 4 and the Hurricanes were free to set up where they liked but were at speed 2 (Determined by a D4 roll). I’d predetermined that there would possibly be 2 cannon armed hurricanes for the sortie, which carried the house rule that ANY double would cause them to jam. Cannon ammunition on Malta was notoriously bad according to my reading. Cloud blanketted TAL 5 & 6 and the players were told about the cloud plotting procedures as we’ve never played them before.
Paul volunteered to fly the bombers meaning his Veteran (+2) pilot remained at home and the team were devoid their second best pilot. This would be telling as the game progressed. Additionally, Kit, the axis player was given 2 Mc.202’s flown by a Veteran (+2) pilot and a Green (+0) pilot out on a familiarisation flight. I allowed him to have these in the cloud bank and he was to nominate a turn for their arrival. He chose turn 6. Their location would be determined by the sum of d4 x number of turns from the Axis base line, a d6 used for speed, another for direction and a third worked out which lateral sixth across the table they appeared. The British players guessed there’d be something nasty in store for them when they saw only 2 enemy planes, but didn’t know what it was.
The bombers move forward with their escorts as the Mc.200’s attack head on, scoring no telling hits but a double rolled on the robustness test results in the forward LMG on one of the bombers being put out of action. As the escorts fire back, one of the Macchis is airframe damaged putting paid to Kit’s idea of immelman turning in behind the bombers. One Macchi immelmans and the other breaks to the right. One of the bombers takes a lucky hit from flak jamming the rudder and throwing the aircraft away from the target.
The flak again targets the bombers, causing airframe damage on one, and with the engine damaged on another Paul rolls and they head for home having failed their aircrew checks to continue on to the target. The damaged Macchi is obliterated in a hail of return fire from the bombers and escorts while the other macchi doggedly remains on the tail of a bomber but fails to make any telling progress as the escorting Hurricanes pile in around him although one of the cannon armed aircraft is already heading for home; Adrian opened up with his cannon at a Mc.200 and immediately misses and jams. It’s a long trip back to Malta cursing his groundcrew, the armourers, the ammunition and his luck in general.
The last Macchi falls to several Hurricane attacks and the bomber presses on while the rudder jammed one turns to try to get back on track.
Some poor flying on Dan’s part puts his aircraft in danger of colliding with Dave. Both pilots fail their checks and the Hurricanes smack into each other, resulting in Dan’s elevators becoming stuck and his engine damaged and reduced to half speed. Dave is on fire and out of control from a rudder jam!
The Macchi 202s drop from the clouds between the British and Malta, it’s going to be a tough trip home since the bombers are already split off and damaged while the escort is spread across the table with several crippled planes.
The bomber drops his targets and misses the airfield entirely.
The veteran Macchi 202 turns towards the full laden bomber and manages to inflict airframe damage. The Flak targets the bomber who has just bombed the airfield and chunks of shrapnel rip large pieces from that aircraft also. The Hurricanes scramble to try to deal with the new threat which has appeared between them and home, the crippled Hurricane of Dan unable to change altitude and reduced to speed 2 turning in a wide arc so not to bleed the speed off, while Dave inexplicably climbs for the cloud in his damaged aircraft. (I missed that he should have rolled a check to climb, which he then failed retrospectively two turns later!) Dave’s aircraft fell from the clouds in a spin, out of control as the green 202 headed his way.
As the Hurricanes struggle to help variously the bombers and their damaged comrades, the veteran 202 dodges the attacks and replies, shooting Steven into the sea. Dave manages to recover from being out of control while Richard shoots the green 202 down, his cannon shredding the Folgore. Dan mean while is barely flying and with enemy bearing down on him opts to jump and trust his parachute rather than be shot down. The Flak sends up a last barrage as the bombers move out of range but the gunners are good, and one of the bombers crashes in flames.
Two of the bombers were shot down and the other two damaged while the airfield was not damaged. Because of the scenario specific rules, this will cost the players 6 points (1 per damage level, 2 per aircraft destroyed). The mission would have been adjudged a success if the bombers had either survived or had damaged the airfield.
Two hurricanes were lost but it would appear that the prevailing wind blew the chutes away from the enemy held coastline and both pilots were picked up although Steven was injured and will miss the next sortie.
Two pilots managed to increase their XP, but for the majority the mission cost them points, both Dave and Steven losing enough to put them back to being Green.
The next game is in a month and will see the players once more facing the odds as the Italians attack Malta.