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Subject: A month in 1943 - eight raids reported rss

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Andrew Hobley
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As someone with a strong interest in the RAF Bomber War this was one of those games I had no hesitation in buying once I had discovered it. As I play solo after a few one off raids a campaign was the obvious step. I am aware of the various solo options others have produced; I prefer to play the game straight. All the German moves have to be logically based on what they know – or when a choice is necessary a die roll. And given the lack of direct interaction between the two sides (other than card play) I find this works fine.

Raid 1.

Target Köln. Most of Europe clear weather and moderate visibility. Raid plan – Mosquito raids on Hamburg and Hannover, timed to bomb at same time as a heavily laden Main Force, routed straight in and out via Aachen / München-Gladbach. Gardening raid in the Emms estuary.

The Germans very quickly cut through the British jamming and had an excellent view of the incoming raids. A Flower attack closed IIINJG2’s base. The Main force was identified and as it flew past Beacon Kurfürst a IV NJG1 of Me110 infiltrated the raid, shooting down two bombers immediately. The stream had straggled and passed through the Himmelbet on a wide front, losing another 5 bombers; although one alert rear gunner shot down a Do217. Flak over Koln claimed another two bombers, but the Me109 Wild Boars coming in from Dusseldorf did not inflict any losses.

German tracking then failed completely as the main force crossed the Himmelbet (where another bomber fell) and Beacon Kurfürst. The Tame Boars were helped when contrails developed, and another two bombers fell victim to them.

The Mosquito raid on Hamburg avoided two JG of Tame Boars, who did not have the speed to get to the city before the bombers left. The Hannover raid was undisturbed.

Over Köln Group 5 and Pathfinders put the TIs in the city centre and a thanks to the backer uppers and the MC a good concentration was achieved. A decoy site and good civil defence reduced the impact, but two major fires broke out in the city centre and four in residential zones. [Fires 24 VP, bombs 17 total 41 VP.]

A searchlight and flak claimed another bomber over the coast. As the stream passed over Beacon Kurfurst Tame Boars infiltrated; five bombers fell, but a fighter fell to an alert rear gunner. As the bombers approached Britain the fighters left; one damaged bomber crashed on landing.

Losses – Bomber Command 18 bombers, 1 Mosquito. Nachtjager – 3 fighters. Result – 29.5 net VP. Major British Victory.

Raid 2

Heavy cloud over JG3 and fog over southern Germany determined the target to be Stuttgart, with Main Force sent via Aachen. Mosquito raids on Kassel and Berlin might distract the Germans and a gardening force was sent to the Little Belt.

A Serrate attack was foiled by Sn2 radar. Early indications were of two raids to the north. One was identified as a mining sortie and infiltrated, losing six bombers coming and going. It was not until late that the Main Force was detected approaching Aachen. All non 7JG twin engine units were scrambled, despite the weather. The Himmelbet attacks scored no kills, and lost so much fuel searching in the cloud one unit had to return to base. Tinsel jamming and the weather prevented units at beacons Kurfürst and Lore intercepting and then command failures meant all the German controllers knew was there were bombers somewhere over southern Germany.

As TI’s fell on Berlin, Kassell and Stuttgart the latter was identified as the target – but there were no Nachtjager within reach. The Wannugi marking drifted badly, but half the bombs fell on the industrial suburbs and two large fires were reported. [Two fires 16VP]

On the return Tame Boars from Otto and Ida infiltrated, but a fast moving bomber stream and alert gunners meant the NJ lost three fighters for one bomber. Even the formation of contrails did not help. One bomber was lost on landing – and also 17 NJ!

Losses – Bomber Command 12 bombers, 1 Mosquito. 33 VP. Nachtjager – 20 fighters. Result – 16 net VP. A draw.

Raid 3

Heavy cloud over JG2 and cloud over JG1 and 3 and a strong tailwind directed the first strike on Berlin. The Main Force was to go in via Osnabruck and Magdeburg and return via Hamburg. Mosquitoes would attack Hannover to confuse the defence and a decoy attack would sweep past Antwerp, Brussels and then home.

The Germans detected two raids heading towards the Dutch coast and scrambled JG3. Himmelbet combats were reported from the Amsterdam area as stragglers with contrails allowed three easy kills. This contact made it clear the main raid was heading towards Munster. 3JG units round their beacons were too far forward and pulled back to Munster. JG1 scrambled their twin engine aircraft, JG2 also scrambled their single engine Wild Boars Cloud and wind prevented seven Gruppen of twin engine fighters intercepting the main force.

JG 1 sent two Wild Boars to Berlin and one to Leipzig. Bombs began to fall on Hannover - Wild Boars arrived but could not find any bombers. Aircraft were reported over Magdeburg with the stream behind and a Ju88 infiltrated the stream and shot down one bomber.

As bombs fell on Berlin it was clear this was the main raid, and the Hannover attack tailed off. The heavy flak claimed five victims over the capital of the Reich, Wild Boars another four. Smoke and drift and decoy sites led to the markers being towards the city edge and a quarter of the bombload hit the countryside. Despite an MC and backers up concentration was poor, only one fire stated and industry and transport areas hit [33 VP].

No Tame Boars had managed to infiltrate and controllers lost the raid after it left Berlin. The Himmelbet took another victim and costal flak downed two damaged aircraft flying low, but Command was still unsure where the stream was and it slipped into the night.

The bombers all landed safely – which was more than could be said the Wild Boars – 14 of them crashed!

Losses – Bomber Command 17 bombers. Nachtjager – 32 fighters. Result - 32 net VP. Major British Victory.

Raid 4

Cloud in the south, but otherwise generally clear skies dictated a closer target. Dusseldorf was chosen, with a run in from the south; Mosquitos to Saarbrucken, Munster and Hamburg.

The Germans quickly detected the main raid was in the south, JGs7 and 3 scrambled and fomed over beacons Ida, Otto, Christa and Schaue. The Himmelbet shot down five bombers as the British straggled and SN2B equipment worked well. A new raid heading to JG3 was detected – then JG7 lost the main force!

Munster and Hamburg reported TIs falling on them – but Koln flak reported many bomber moving overhead and shot down two. Six Gruppen of Tame Boars infiltrated the stream and nine bombers down, for the loss of one of their own. Ms109’s found stragglers and shot one down, they also found the stream and destroyed another six bombers.

Over Dusseldorf the clear sky and Group 5 marking led to an exceptional concentration, but decoy sites and the disruption the stream had suffered meant this was not capitalised on as well as would have been hoped for. Two major fires were started in the city centre and two around the rail yards. [31VP]. The city flak accounted for two more bombers.

As the bombers left the city they were pursued by Tame Boars who inflicted another casualty. Another two fighters were shot down and four crashed on return to base.

Losses – Bomber Command 26 bombers. Nachtjager – 7 fighters. Result – 8.5 net VP. Minor German Victory.

Raid 5

Broken cloud covered most of Germany and Harris decided on a straight in and out raid on Hamburg, gardening in the Belt and Mosquitoes to Bremen.

The Nachtjager did not get off to a good start, one lost to a crash, another shot down by a Mosquito and then airfield raids keeping them on the ground. As bombs fell on Hamburg and Bremen Wild Boar arrived late over both cities. Three bombers fell to them; the flak took one bomber and a fighter. As the situation cleared eight Tame Boar infiltrated the stream, in the end shooting down 12 bombers for two losses.

The bombers achieved a good concentration on the industrial areas of the city and left three fires burning and one in the city centre. [34VP]. Harassed by the Tame Boar they returned home, all landing safely. Two Nachjager had bad landings.

Losses – Bomber Command 27 bombers. Nachtjager – 4 fighters. Result – 20 net VP. Minor British Victory.

Raid 6

Harris decided on Berlin again. Heavy cloud covered France and southern Germany, broken cloud elsewhere. The route was straight in via Emden /Hannover and exit to the north-west via Hamburg. Mosquito diversions were to fly with the main force, breaking out to bomb Hamburg, Kassel and Leipzig as the main force hit Berlin, hoping to attract night fighters.

The one raid was soon detected and JG2 and 3 scrambled its fighters. As it became clear the raid was heading to the north JG1 also scrambled its forces. Straggling through the Himmelbet three bombers were lost, and one fighter. The raid was then lost, and an ME109 shot down by flak over Hannover.

Berlin raid – we know you are out there somewhere

The twin engine units headed east from Beacon Ludwig; 1JG single engine units scrambled to Berlin and Magdeburg. The raid was detected approaching Magdeburg, with the bomber stream trailing back to Hannover. Of the eight twin engine JG within range five infiltrated the stream and began taking a steady toll of the bombers, in particular the Stirlings and Halifaxes. Thanks to British German speaking controllers 1 NJG 2 misunderstood orders and part of its fighters returned to base, while flak caught a bomber straggler over Hannover.

The German controller directed all units to Berlin and Leipzig, as bombs began to fall on the various targets. Contrails formed as the cloud gave way to haze over Berlin; the flak only took four bombers, but four twin engined and one single engined units of Wild Boars took advantage of the conditions to shoot shot down another ten bombers. One of the Wild Boar units also infiltrated the stream over the capital.

The Pathfinder units detected the wind reports were faulty and the Parramatta TI’s were on the aiming point, in the industrial areas to the north-east. The Master of Ceremonies kept bombs on the general target area, but the disruption from the fighter attacks scattered the bombing. Major fires were reported in the aim point and the city centre along the approach route and industrial and transport areas were well hit. [29 VP]

Berlin under the bombs

As the bombers headed home the Tame Boars inflicted further losses, not leaving the stream until it was well out over the North Sea. Despite the stream still straggling though the Himmelbet the ground controlled fighter managed a score draw – two bombers for two fighters. Two bombers crashed on return to base, five night fighters failed to land safely and one Mosquito was lost.

Losses – Bomber Command 42 bombers. Nachtjager – 13 fighters. Result – 5.5 net VP. Minor German Victory.

Raid 7

Stettin was the next target, as fog covered JG2, with haze in the north. The route was straight in, with a gardening force heading for the Baltic and a decoy force of OTU aircraft heading towards Amsterdam.

As raids were detected heading towards north Germany JG2 scrambled two Gruppen to cover the Himmelbet – four aircraft crashed in the fog and the survivors were scatted. JG3 then scrambled, heading either north or to intercept if the raid moved south-east. A Flower raid closed one airfield. With JG2 clamped by the fog JG1 then scrambled all twin engine units to move and cover the north-west. The raids, lost so far, were detected heading for Kiel, with another force in the south. NJ Command was confused – where was the main force?

Some clarity arrived as the raids passed over Kiel – four bombers, two of which were Stirlings, were shot down so these were either the main raid or a mining sortie. But what was the raid detected in the south heading for Saarbrucken? As the haze in the north turned to broken clouds the night fighters gathered in the Rostock-Hamburg area. JG301 was grounded by a lack of fuel and the already weakened Himmelbet unit had to leave after claiming two more bombers, as it was low on fuel. Scatted by the fog and losing two more fighters in crashed II/3 was out of the fight for tonight.

It seemed clear whatever was in the north could be heading for the Baltic or Berlin. Fighters were ordered to beacon Bertha to protect the capital. First one, then two JG infiltrated into the bomber stream – but where it was heading was still unclear. One JG was sent to patrol Stettin, which luckily had been reinforced by a mobile flak unit; the rest covered Berlin. As bombs fell on Stettin the real target became clear. The mobile flak had not had time to set up properly and scored no hits, the Wild Boars only claimed one victim, but as more JG infiltrated the raid 10 bombers fell, for the loss of two fighters.

At Stettin the weather allowed Newhaven marking and the Pathfinders hit the aiming point straight on, despite marking from higher than they should have. Using low level Group 5 marking counteracted the smoke pots the port authorities had stated up and with good accuracy and concentration two fires were started in the city centre with other fires in residential and industrial areas around the city. Stettin was hard hit that night [33 VP for bombing plus 8 for mining]

Stettin burns

The JG1 units gathered around beacon Bertha, to intercept the raid on its return. With six JG in the stream the losses were less then might have been expected – only nine bombers for the loss of a further two fighters. The Kiel Himmelbet box had been reoccupied by a unit from further south; they took another three bombers down. And JG IV/1 infiltrated a raid over the North Sea, which turned out to be the returning mining force, three of the bombers joined their mines in the sea. Five bombers crashed in the heavy cloud over England. Stettin had been hit hard – but so had Bomber Command.

Losses – Bomber Command 42 bombers. Nachtjager – 13 fighters. Result – 5.5 net VP. Draw.

Raid 8

Despite the good weather and clear conditions over southern Germany the last target of the month was Schweinfurt [I needed the Target VP!]. A Mosquito force would go to Berlin via north Germany; the main force would cross via Aachen and Kassel; then Mosquito diversion raids would confuse the Germans as the main attack began.

The Germans quickly detected two raids in the north and south and established the main force was the southern one. All of the front line twin engine JG scrambled – was this a shallow penetration or something longer? Gathering over beacons Ida, Schnake and over the Ruhr the fighters were poised for anything. But the controllers then lost the raids. It was clear the bombers had penetrated around the Aachen area, Koln reported bombers overhead and as the steam scatted three bombers were shot down. The only clarity was the raid in the north were Mosquitoes, as the single engine JG300 found out when they tried to intercept.

The picture clarified – with what seemed to the three main force raids! Heading for where? Hannover, Braunschweig, Magdeburg, Leipzig and Frankfurt were all threatened. The German controller sent units to cover all possibilities. Some JG managed to penetrate the bomber stream, one was dispersed in doing so, another had to leave low on fuel after shooting down two bombers.

Schweinfurt – which is the main force?

Bombs began to fall. Over Berlin flak claimed two bombers and fighters five; in reality one Mosquito was lost. At Magdeburg the flak was ineffective as, despite claims, were the fighters. Over Mannheim four Wild Boar JG put in a claim for eight bombers; this was only a 100% exaggeration.

Schweinfurt was only initially defended by one JG, but with a good number of experts with SN2C and the tailwind bringing the bombers in early ten bombers went down very quickly. As the raid developed the bombers got their revenge, shooting down two fighters.

On the ground things went badly for the RAF. Faulty wind reporting and high altitude making led to the Newhaven marking missing the city entirely. The Master of Ceremonies pulled some of the bombing back, but the disruptions from the fighters meant a fire on one residential area and bombs on another. [VP 5 plus 5 for Mosquito raids].

Schweinfurt escapes

As the raid left the city it was again lost, leaving the fighters gathered around beacons Werner and Ida on the possible return route initially circling idly; then chasing towards the coast. No more JG infiltrated; those with the stream scored well at first, with another six victories, but then only caught a couple of bombers, for the loss of another two fighters. Despite the good weather tired NJ pilots crashed four fighters on return.

Losses – Bomber Command 32 bombers. Nachtjager – 15 fighters. Result – 0 net VP. Major German Victory.

Conclusion

At the end of that month the score stood -

Heavy Bombers lost Crashes – 10
Himmelbet – 31
Wild Boar – 36
Tame Boar – 115
Flak – 25
Plus six Mosquitos
TOTAL – 223

Nachtjager lost Crashes - 73
Flak – 2
Air combat - 29
TOTAL – 104

Total VP = 127.5 A Draw (technically a Minor British Victory, but only by 1 NJ loss).

Lessons learnt. For the RAF - don’t pick near targets for the first raids and be left with distant ones to make up the VP shortfall; there is very little you can once fighters have got into your bomber stream. For the Luftwaffe - Don’t scramble NJ in fog; Himmelbet kills are handy as are Wild Boars, but the real killers are Tame Boars; don’t concentrate fighters over one city unless sure of the target, pick cities a flight away then you may be able to concentrate on the end of a raid. And for both sides – pray for good dice!

So Bomber Command presses on. My next plan is a Downfall Campaign; run eight raids with randomly selected targets and see what the result is. And after that? One of the joys of solo play is not worrying about your opponent knowing your plans. So I shall try the long Berlin Campaign from November to March; 34 raids using the actual targets and, when I have the information the routes used. But don’t hold your breath for a report on this as it will be a long project.
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Murray Fish
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Really interesting report - thanks for posting.

I have this game but am yet to play, can you suggest any good learning resources?

Also, I note that the vast majority of the German casualties were due to crashes on landing. Is this typical of the game (and historically correct) or were your results atypical
 
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alan beaumont
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A little light
muzfish4 wrote:
Also, I note that the vast majority of the German casualties were due to crashes on landing. Is this typical of the game (and historically correct) or were your results atypical?
The Me109 was notoriously tricky to land, even under ideal conditions. I've no idea if the twin engined night fighters had similar issues.
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Andrew Hobley
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"good learning resources" - Martin Middlebrook's 'The Berlin Raids' cover November 43 to March 44 in detail for the Berlin attacks. His 'The Nuremberg Raid' has more detail about German defences and RAF capabilities. Both very readable.

"German casualties were due to crashes on landing" - In my case the issue was Raid Three - once you have scrambled and landed in heavy cloud you don't do it again! Middlebrook does not give much in the way of numbers for Nachtjager losses, which suggests these were some of the records that the Luftwaffe destroyed just at the end of the war. In 'Nuremberg' he said '[German aircrew] opinion is unanimous that losses from accidents and crasher were far higher than those caused by RAF action." If there are any firm numbers I assume Mr Brimmicombe-Wood has them.

As Alan said the Me109 was tricky to land, even in day. For all the Nachjager they were landing on blacked out airfields at night, often not in the best weather, tired and with little in the way of landing aids.
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Murray Fish
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Thanks for the responses.

Might follow up these leads a bit further.

 
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