Thursday, July 16, 2015

GMT's Wing Leader V04 "Penny Packets"

This is another game that has a personal connection for me. I grew up near Hornchurch in the UK and have visited the old airfield a number of times so any scenario that includes Pilots from that field is a plus.

Well here we have 74 Sqd. who flew out of Hornchurch from Feb. '39 to Sept. '40 under Sqn. Ldr. Donald Brookes. 

For those of you who are interested in a history of this airfield;


I am privileged enough to have a copy signed by the Author and many of the pilots who served at Hornchurch from 1915 to 1959.

Okay to the Scenario:

The Protagonists: Three Squadrons of He-111 H-1 tasked bombing, escorted by a Squadron of 109-E with a further 109-E Squadron sweeping. Take on two Squadrons of Hurricanes and a Squadron of Spitfires. A second Spit. Squadron is set to arrive as reinforcements.

The Bombers and Escorts. 

The Wing Display: RAF to the left and Luftwaffe to the right. The sweep squadron has the experte. I realized after I took this picture that Squadrons S and T were missing their bomb task. 
Strengths; the RAF have the numbers in terms of fighters. The Germans have the height and skill advantage. An as I have found out it is a tough prospect taking down a 4-5 protection bomber with FP-1.  

Turn 1: 

17 Squadron manage, with the aid of GCI,  to tally the lead He-111 Squadron of the formation and start a hard climb to altitude. Fortunately they get an angle that will pass through only 1 Broken cloud allowing them to maintain LOS on the formation. 
601 and 74 Squadrons are also climbing to their vector points in the path of the oncoming raid. 74 Squadron is hoping to tally the Sweeping 109s and pull them into a dogfight giving the Hurricane squadrons a chance to knock out some bombers. 

Turn 2:

601 Squadron reaches it's operational altitude and begins to close on the Bomber formation and Escorts. The Real danger is the high cover sweep above it that with their veteran status should be able to tally the climbing Hurricanes next turn. 17 and 74 Squadrons are still climbing to altitude from the left and right on the scene above. 

Turn 3:

The Sweep Squadron spots the approaching Hurricanes. The Hurricanes fail to tally in return and continue toward their Vector Point. The 109s dive to the attack. They damage 1 hurricane for no loss. 601 Squadron (Hurricanes) try to avoid getting tied in a dogfight but the 109s basic speed forces the engagement. 
On a rules note this is a classic bounce situation but I am not, as yet, using the advanced rules.


Contrails over London during the Battle of Britain. 

The aftermath: 601 Squadron now has one damaged aircraft and is partially scattered. Other than using up their ammo the attacking 109 squadron suffered no ill effects. 

Turn 4: 

The dogfight does not go well for 601 Squadron. The 109s Veterans lead by an Experte exploit the RAFs adherence to rigid doctrine "Vic" formations and shoot down 2 Hurricanes for no loss. Scattered and broken 601 breaks and turns for home. Although low on ammo the Sweep Squadron is still combat effective and voluntarily drops the Tally on H (601) Squadron thus defaulting to sweep and will RTB in hopes of running into the trailing Hurricanes of 17 Squadron leaving the escorts to fight off the Climbing Spitfires. Is this sound tactically .... we shall see.


Hurricanes in Rigid "Vic Formation" the two wing men are concerned with maintaining formation with the leader. Thus leading to reduced tactical flexibility. 


Luftwaffe loose doctrine "schwarm" formation using a more 3D approach to combat flexibility. This was later adopted by the Allies as the "Finger Four" mainly due to combat experience in the Battle of Britain.   

Turn 5:

Tally Phase: With a successful tally of the incoming 74 Squadron's Spitfires the German Staffel Leader orders one of his flights to break and attack. In game terms using the Tactical Flexibility rule the Squadron is broken into two flights P Flight is given the tally and changes to sweep orders. The Remaining flight retains the escort order. The Tigers (74 Squadron) see the diving 109s and prepare to attack. 

Combat Phase: The diving 109s have sufficient MP (+1 for the Dive) to intercept the the Spitfires (which should be marked with a -1 Climb marker right now). 

The Attack results in a loss of two Spitfires and one 109. The 109 flight is broken and 74 Squadron is disrupted after the cohesion check. 

Current VP Tally: 4 to the Luftwaffe 1 to the RAF

Turn 6:

The Sweep Squadron Tally and attack the incoming Hurricanes of 17 Squadron. The head on pass is ineffective for both side and no losses a scored. The encounter is however sufficient to break both squadrons. 17 Squadrons fight is over for today and the sweep heads back to France. 

74 Squadron climbs into the lead bomber squadron and makes an attack (letting the broken Escort flight go). Their attack damages a bomber but their day is over as they fail a cohesion check. The bombers push past them maintaining their formation. The fate of the RAF's efforts are now invested with 313 Czech Squadron.

Turn 7: 

Tally Phase: This is not good, the Escort flight gets a Tally on 313 Squadron and  the Spitfires fail to spot the 109's preparing for attack and continue on their vectored course. 

Combat Phase: The 109s dive to the attack and shoot down one Spitfire. The Czechs fight back and down two of the attacking flight. 313 Squadron is disrupted and the veterans of the Luftwaffe flight hold their formation. Both sides choose to dogfight and the dogfight is entered. 

Turn 8 The Final Turn: 

The Bombers relentlessly continue to their target. In the dogfight the Spitfires are now superior to the 109s with a slight edge in their turning ability which nullifies the effect of rigid doctrine formations. The Czechs down one more 109 for no loss. The Escorts break and the Spits take their second cohesion hit and also break. The bombers move on unmolested.

Victory Point Tally:  

RAF: For shooting down four 109s 4VP.
Luftwaffe: Shot down 5 Fighters for 5VP and three bombers squadrons make it to their objective 18VP. 

Total: 23-4= 19VP a German victory and a bad day for the beleaguered RAF.

Reflections: So that could have gone better. Maybe seeing how high the Sweep was staying lower (below the clouds) and re-vectoring for an attack from the rear of the formation may have helped. Or even trying to get at least 2 squadrons to attack together dampening the 109's tactical flexibility. 

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