After the last couple of rather complicated games of Bag the Hun, I wanted to try a straight up dog fight to work on my grasp of the maneuvering subtleties. I mean honestly, I really should have done a few games like this before trying to dive bomb ships.
But mistakes were made.
The Zeros have been coming off rather badly and I was pretty sure it was a combination of tactics on my part and me missing something, not bad game design.
|There were a few moments like this as I reread sections of the rules |
So, two opposing 12 aircraft formations. The Zeros are in four 3 aircraft Chotais. The Wildcats are in 2 six aircraft divisions, each division flying in 3 pairs. I deployed them in the A-B-C Formation.
|Prowling for the enemy. The Japanese are looser and more spread out |
|Americans mind their ABCs and try to stick together. |
I used the 1942 table to generate pilot quality. I now roll a handful of dice equal to the number of pilots. Best roll is the Squadron Leader. Next best are flight leaders, then section leaders and so on, until the worst rolls go to the wingmen. This eliminates crappy pilots leading flights and splits the sprogs up around the formation, which looks more realistic to me. The Japanese got 3 Junior Aces, assigned to lead 3 of the Chotai. They also got 5 Sprogs (Sprogs get a -1 for shooting, defense, tailing, and maneuver tests). The USN didn't get any aces, and 5 Sprogs. Aces get extra cards to activate and +1 (JuniorAce) or +2 (Top Ace) for shooting, defense, tailing and maneuver tests. So the Japanese having the more experienced pilots should be telling.
|Blue dice indicate relative altitude |
Both sides tried to maneuver to concentrate against one half of the enemy formation causing a few turns of bloodless swirling. I also wanted to try the historical diving attack, so everyone also kept climbing to get above and behind a target. Often aircraft would get in position to attack and then the targets would slip away, often with the use of a Formation or Ace bonus card. This helped the Japanese escape the heavier American firepower a lot.
|Turn 4 someone finally gets a shot! IJN Red Leader causes wing damage on USN Red Leader |
|Who circles out of danger, but then Green Chotai closes in|
|USN Blue Division is all over the place dueling with blue and yellow Chotai |
|The Wildcats are in position to roll over into a diving attack on the Zeros below them|
|Positioned for a "boom and zoom"|
|Success! Fuel line hit on the Zero |
|IJN ace kills a Sprog|
|Red Leader has some wing damage but shoots down the IJN Ace |
|The game has divided into two separate fights. USN Red division vs. IJN Red and Green at the left. USN Blue Division vs IJN yellow and blue center and right.|
|US Blue1 performs an Immelman and gets above and behind a Zero, but his wingman doesn't follow and flies off|
|WTF? Moment as a Rush Hour in the Sky develops. It's all going to turn on who's card comes up first next turn. IJN Red get to shoot wounding both pilots (-2 on shooting now and limit maneuvering). USN Red division is in rough shape, 2x wounded, 2 aircraft damaged, 1 shot down. Only 1 Sprog untouched. |
|Back to US Blue1 which gets a Flight Leader card and does a diving attack |
|Boom! Another Zero killed. |
|The Wildcats dive through IJN Green to escape, .50 cals blazing, destroying one. But the Zeros don't lose their tail.|
|The rest of USN Red division breaks their tails on IJN Green to help out the others |
|To good effect! One Zero vaporizes and the other is severely damage |
|Ace IJN B1, leaking fuel sneaks up behind the Sprog causing some damage. But Blue 3 &4 are in perfect position to roll into a diving attack on him|
|Which they do. IJN B1 explodes after 2 sets of .50 cal bullets tear into his aircraft |
|IJN Green dives through USN Red doing minor damage, but this puts them in front of a flight of angry Wildcats. |
|USN Blue Division breaks off. B1 goes to rejoin his wounded and damaged novice wingman |
|The Wildcats of Red flight pounce!|
|IJN Green 1 explodes giving USN Red Leader his 2nd kill and the US Sprog sends IJN Red2 spinning into the waves!|
I called it there. The Japanese losing 3 aircraft in the last turn was pretty devastating. The ruggedness of the Wildcats really helped the Americans I think. Of course, the Japanese wounded 3 of the American pilots and those could have easily become kills if I'd rolled a 4+ instead of a 2 each time.
VF-19 returns to the carrier with 3 pilots wounded, 3 aircraft damaged and 1 lost, but 7 kills to their credit.
Keeping formations, or at least pairs, for as long as possible, even if it limited firing opportunities, paid off in the long run I think. It was certainly a different experience not having bombers affecting tactics.
I almost set the game in late '43 and took my 6 Hellcats. With robustness of 3, to the Zero's 1, that would have been ugly!
Maybe I should try the Wildcats as proxies for Brewster Buffaloes for a true early war experience? Or repeat the scenario but set it over England?