So, Graham and I started the 6th Mission. Once more I forgot the camera, but managed to take shots using my cell phone.
Mission starts with a little dialog and decision making. Americans launch Marines in Wildcats & Army Air Corp in Aircobras to intercept the Japanese bombers approaching Henderson Field. Due to the Army fighters being delivered without proper Oxygen gear (?!?), the Wildcats leave the Army Fighters to catch up as best they can. Unfortunately, the mix-up delays the intercept and the Marines don’t get to the bombers until after the bombers have dropped their payloads on Henderson Field. (Bombers did pretty bad – only managed to knock out 3 US Aircraft on the ground out of a possible max of 8.)
Japanese with 9 Betty Bombers (all Skilled) in a V-Formation, trying to fly off the eastern board edge (Approximately 30 hexes away), escorted by 2 groups of 3 Zero fighters (all Skilled Pilots) within 15 hexes of any bomber.
Americans with 5 Wildcats, 1 Veteran pilot, 2 Skilled pilots and 2 Green pilots.
We rolled for Variable rules:
Americans ended up replacing the 2 Green pilots with a single Skilled pilot (Group now had 4 planes: 1 Vet, 3 Skilled).
Japanese rolled to replace 2 Skilled pilots with 2 Green pilots. I decided to put both green pilots into 1 group with a Skilled flight leader.
Bombers were deployed as far forward as I was allowed for the scenario. I placed the group of all Skilled pilots about 3 hexes in front of the bombers, between the American fighters and my bombers. I placed the 2nd group another 3-4 hexes in front of the 1st group of fighters. That way, in the event the “Green” group got bushwhacked, the Skilled Zeros should be able to take decent shots at the Wildcats. That was the theory, anyway…
Basically, we moved closer. I started side-slipping the “Green” Zeros to my right, while shifting the “Skilled” group to the left. I hoped to catch Graham in a pincher in the next turn or two. Bombers would continue to fly straight and level, 2 hexes per turn throughout the game (unless mentioned elsewhere).
Turn 2: No Picture:
Ya know the old joke about the left hand not knowing what the right was doing???
I had each Zero “group” on its own check sheet. Unfortunately, I mixed them up! I gave the right orders to the wrong groups! As a result, my Zeros on the right, turned further right and the squad on the left went and turned further left! Left a WIDE open hole in my formation for Graham’s Wildcats to fly through!
So, in wild desperate maneuvering, I got my Zeros facing the right way again. The “Green” group was too far out of the way to help this turn, but the “Skilled” group managed to catch Graham’s Wildcats in a deflected angle attack. One Zero went head-to-head with the Veteran Wildcat (In the picture, he's facing the wrong way - I had removed the model from the stand for a pic and forgot to face the correct direction.). Though the Vet Wildcat hit and blew the Zero out of the sky, the Zero managed to do engine damage to the Vet before he was destroyed.
Graham, realizing his Wildcats would be easy pickings if he played it safe, tried to “Razzle-Dazzle” me and split up – going in two directions. Two Wildcats broke left and failed to do any damage. Two Wildcats flew through the bomber formation and broke right, each going after a bomber – destroying one (Big white Cotton ball) and damaging the other (Airframe damage – white cotton stream). The bombers opened fire with all guns that could be brought to bear – no effect. The “Skilled” Zeros group could not turn fast enough to engage this turn, but the “Green” group got shots off at the Vet Wildcat, failing to damage but now one was in a good tailing position.
So, the two Wildcats attacking the left wing of my bomber formation were becoming a major nuisance. The two fighters shot down the previously damaged bomber and damaged another bomber (Engine damage – black smoke). His damaged Vet tried to disengage by flying towards the board edge, with a Green Zero on his tail, guns blazing (and missing). The last Wildcat did a Split S or Immelman and went after the bombers on the right wing of the formation. The Skilled Pilot from “Green group” anticipated the maneuver and caught him with a second blast of weapons, causing Airframe damage, but running out of Ammo in the process! The remaining planes of the “Skilled” Zero group went after the fighters chewing up my left wing and blasted away, failing to hit. Bombers also fired and failed to hit.
So, the last remaining bomber on the left wing – with engine damage, slowed to Speed 1 and did a side-slip to the left, taking himself out of the pursuing Wildcats’ line of fire (WHEW!). The damaged Vet Wildcat and the Green Zero ended up in the same hex and managed to avoid a collision (Vet passed his crew check, the Zero did not). The remains of the “Green” Squad went after the damaged Wildcat on the right wing – I had forgotten one was out of ammo, so placed white cotton on the base as a “reminder” for future turns. His wingman missed but sped up to try and catch-up to the Dang Yankee Flier! The Damaged Wildcat managed to damage the bomber in front of it, in spite of the attention he was receiving. On the Left wing, the “Skilled” zeros opened fire and one managed to destroy one of the cursed Wildcats, but ran out of ammo in the process! TWO Zeros out of ammo now! Bomber gunners threw out another ton of lead into the skies to “dissuade” the Americans. At this point, it dawned on me that in the previous 3 turns, I had rolled misses, by 1, over a dozen times! The problem wasn’t damaging the Wildcats when I hit – it was hitting them in the 1st place! The only weapons that were hitting were light machine guns (usually required a 5+ roll on 2D6 to save from damage).
Well, the Zeros without ammo started to climb to take themselves out of the battle. The Green Pilot and the Vet Wildcat again ended up in the same hex – this time Colliding! The Zero pilot was killed and his plane tumbled into the sea, whereas the Wildcat just kept chugging on… The undamaged Wildcat shot and missed his target, while the damaged Wildcat managed to blow up the damaged bomber, but also ran out of ammo in the process! Three Fighter planes ran out of ammo in 3 turns!!!
Turn 8 – The remaining (Armed) Wildcat finally shot down the bomber he had been after for 3 turns. The Zeros and Bombers were unable to hit any of the remaining Wildcats.
At this point, we ended the game. Graham was down to 1 operational Wildcat and decided he would have left the battle area rather than risk it all.
Graham’s damaged Wildcat was destroyed trying to land (Failed Aircrew check by 1), bringing a total loss of American Aircraft at Henderson Field to 5 (1 shot down, 1 crashed on landing, 3 bombed). That leaves Americans with only 21 planes left at Henderson Field. In Mission Victory Points, that would be 1 fighter shot down and 1 damaged: 5 VPs total.
Japanese suffered horribly at my hands. 4 bombers destroyed (32 points), 1 damaged (2 points), 1 fighter destroyed (crashed in collision – 4 points) for a total of 38VPs.
Japanese still have only 900 troops on the island.
So – what went wrong with the Japanese this time? Two things.
First: That mis-plot in turn 2 totally screwed up my strategy and allowed the Wildcats a full turn that I should have been able to shoot at them and hopefully get into tailing arcs for following turns. That was 6 planes worth of shooting that went up in smoke. It also made 3 planes out of arc and range on turn 3 as well. So in all, it cost me 9 aircraft worth of shooting. I probably could have hit and done damage with at least 4 of those shots. More importantly, it meant I was not able to tail the Wildcats starting in Turn 2 and made it harder to re-engage after I corrected my error. Dad-gum Air-Traffic controllers on the Japanese radio! :oops:
Second: Rolling. Dice. Stinks. Those bombers have guns facing every direction. On average, each of the bombers had a single shot at one of the Wildcats every turn. Many had 2 or more shots from turn 3 through 5. To miss over a dozen shots by a single pip of the dice was demoralizing and depressing. My curse with dice has been renewed. I need to break that kind of jinx in my head, heart and soul. Maybe then things will work better for the Japanese.