Hoo boy, I hope you're ready for some High Drama.
The mood in the briefing room is somber. We've been scrambled to intercept an outbound flight. Everybody knows this is it. The allies have been tearing us a new Anschluss with their raids, and unless we can down two bombers this time around, something we have yet to accomplish, we're finished.
The roster is getting thin. Clade is, of course, still wounded. Frieling bought the farm on the last mission. Dahl is our only remaining experte, so of course he goes. Kremler gets brought off the bench again, and since Richter and Zweigart acquitted themselves so well last time out, they're on the team, too. Obleser and Loos, two vets who are nevertheless new to this kind of action, round out the flight of six.
When the flight gets on station, they've got 7 turns to spend, with the escort scheduled to turn up on Turn 6. Map 1, Formation B, the big line of bombers. They're flying below the sun, so there's no big burning ball in which to hide from the guns. Four tactical points allotted. The trailing bomber got knocked out of the formation by flak before we even reached it, so there are only four now, and the Lethal Level is accordingly lower. Here we go.
Dahl, Kremler, Obleser and Zweigart enter Tail Low. I might have known and forgotten this, but you can enter in any low box, so Loos enters Left Flank Low and Richter Right Flank Low. We're going to need all the advantages we can muster.
Loos and Richter idle outside of the formation while Dahl and co. spend the turn climbing from Tail Low to Tail Level. I've never really done this before, but I've got enough spare wiggle room in my flight limit to do this so that a.) the approach from the level rather than low position will be deadlier (for everybody, but I have to take that risk), and b.) we can earn the Position advantage for approaching the element from different sides and altitudes, which will, I hope, help mitigate that deadliness.
Time to strike. Dahl, Kremler, Obleser and Zweigart move to Tail Level Approach, while Loos moves to Left Flank Low Approach and Richter moves to Right Flank Low Approach. Then they attack.
Everybody goes determined. There's no time to screw around with being evasive, even though it means gritting their teeth and taking more fire. Dahl and Richter move on the lead ship, B1, Dahl from the tail and Richter from the right flank. The others all attack the last plane in the formation, B4, Loos from the left flank and the rest from the tail.
Dahl scores a hit on B1, an engine hit, and the bomber immediately starts smoking and falls away from the formation. An incredible piece of luck. He draws a hit on himself as well but uses the Rotte advantage gained by the cluster of three planes further down the element to cancel it. Richter just draws a pass through result.
Against B4, Kremler scores a hit to the wing, and takes a hit himself that he cancels with the Position advantage. He uses the Schwarm advantage gained this turn to get an engine and a fuselage hit. None cause the bomber any perceptible difficulty. Obleser also hits the bombers wing and takes a hit to his own wing in return. His guns also jam. The Jam result on a combat card means from now on if he draws a damage result against a bomber, it's only real if I roll even on the die. Odd, and it's canceled.
Zweigart likewise rakes the bomber's wing with some fire and gets the Riding the Tail result, so he draws another hit, again to the wing. That wing isn't looking so hot. Loos, last to the party, hits the bomber's engine and causes it to fall out, taking a hit to his own wing in the process.
During the continuing fire phase, Dahl takes an elevator hit, RIchter a fuselage hit, Obleser a cockpit hit and Loos an engine hit. Brutal, but we knocked two bombers out in one pass, and those are the two we need. I just hope enough fighters are left operational to go after them!
Dahl, Obleser, Kremler and Zweigart climb away to the Nose High Return position, while Richter and Loos roll away to the Tail, Richter high and Loos low.
Kremler and Zweigart, somehow remaining unscathed through that onslaught, return to Nose High. Dahl's elevator hit turns out to be serious, as does Obleser's cockpit hit, so off to Fate they go. Semi-miraculously, Richter's fuselage and Loos's engine hits both turn out to be trivial, leaving me with four fighters to pursue two bombers. Hell yes.
Richter and Loos return to Tail High/Low. Kremler and Zweigart leave in pursuit of B1.
Richter and Loos pursue B4. Meanwhile the escort shows up, but their dance partners have all gone, leaving them all dressed up and nowhere to go.
I resolve Richter and Loos's pursuit first, because I know something they don't know. Their bomber has taken a lot of damage. When you move to the pursuit map, you shuffle all of those damage counters over. Their pursuit number is 2, which means I actually have to roll. I don't trust my luck, so I expend 1TP to add 1 to my intercept roll to make it automatic, and send them on their way. Since, however, the bomber's accumulated damage is greater on the wing than the number printed on the pursuit map, it means when they arrive the bomber is in the process of breaking up, so without even pulling the trigger we get the kill and 1VP.
Leaving us with just one left.
Kremler and Zweigart also automatically intercept. This bomber has had two engine hits, so I roll on the little table to see if the crew loses heart and bails out. No dice, but I do get 3TP from those hits, and I grab the other 3 I had on the main track to make 6TP. I've got 6TP and 2 fighters to bag 1 bomber and turn the season from Loss into Not Loss.
Sun's in the Nose High position, so that's where Kremler and Zweigart make their first pass from (which you don't have to pay TP for). Both go determined, because come hell or high water they're not letting this bomber get away if they can help it. Kremler doesn't do anything with his pass, but Zweigart manages to get a 3dmg fuselage hit. Not bad, but the fuselage can take 5 more damage before the bomber cracks up, so not ideal, either. Both go to the Return box.
It only costs 1TP to go Tail Level, so they both do, determined of course. Kremler gets a 1dmg hit on the wing, which the bomber survives, and he takes a hit, which the Rotte advantage cancels. Zweigart does another 1dmg wing hit and takes a rudder hit. In pursuit, you perform Recovery immediately, and his hit proves serious, so he pulls away for home, leaving Kremler to deal with the bomber alone.
With 4TPs, Kremler takes a gamble and spends 3 of them to approach from the Nose High position, since he can't rely on the Rotte advantage to cancel any hits with Zweigart out of the picture, so he decides to hide in the sun. Swooping in, he hits the wing again, and this time it catches fire, causing the bomber to explode in midair. V I C T O R Y.
Let's not forget our guys limping home. Despite a stiff crosswind and a half-shot away rudder, Zweigart manages to land. Obleser isn't so lucky. His cockpit hit causes him to crash, but he's dragged away from the wreckage and set up in the infirmary next to Clade, who more or less just lives there now. No deaths...yet.
Which brings us to Dahl.
Dahl, the experte, the last one, the current golden child. His elevator hit is bad. Very bad. It's hard to maintain the glide path. Too hard, in fact. His plane lurches for the ground, and it crashes and explodes in flames...but not before he bails out. Holy. Shit. Champagne shooting out of 88s rains down on the staffel. Ju88s drop cake on the runway. A girlfriend he didn't even know he had rushes out and kisses Dahl. It's over.
So there you have it. The 1942 season is over, with an official result of Did Not Lose. I haven't decided yet whether i'll continue this into further seasons, but given all the drama I almost feel as though I basically have to, now. Regardless, I've got a two week vacation coming up here that'll keep me away from the game, so plenty of time to think about it. I hope you've enjoyed these little write-ups as much as I have. See you next season!