Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Operation Battleaxe - A Bag the Hun Campaign using Squadron Forward

I have finally gotten off of my lazy rump and put together an air campaign. I am playing this one solo at home to see how it goes. The campaign will feature four squadrons. An Italian, a German and two British fighter squadrons. Bombers will appear as generated NPCs. The main player is the British Hurricane Squadron. The second is a squadron of Tomahawk equipped fighters.

General Situation - British

We are on the eve of our great offensive code named Operation Battleaxe. The men of the RAF are called upon to clear the skies so that our ground forces can drive the Hun back off the continent of Africa. Your squadrons have received some reinforcements. Specifically men just returned from their adventures on Crete. In the run up to Battleaxe, your squadrons will be called upon to gather intelligence that we need for the ground offensive.

Squadron Headquarters - No 73 Squadron, Egypt. 1953 hours June 8th, 1941

Flight Lieutenant James Edgar, commander of C Flight, was called into the Squadron Commander's tent late in the evening.

"Ah, there you are James, have a seat. Your boys are going to be called to fly a patrol over one of Jerry's air bases. Your primary mission is just to cause mischief. If you encounter any of the enemy, shoot them down. While you are over the airfield, take a look about and see what's what. No need for the whole flight to go. Send a section out. A and B flights are still integrating the new boys and your flight is just what is needed. Any idea of who you will send?"

Thinking for a moment, James decides, "Flying Officer Gould's section sir. He and Pilot Officer Ellison are steady hands and they can take the new boys up and show them the ropes."

"Very well, now that business is out of the way, care for some port?"

The meeting wound on for a while and Edgar asked to be excused to let his men know. He knew that while Elliot Gould was a solid man in the cockpit, he also was a bit too free with the bottle when not on duty. Best to keep him sober tonight before his mission.

Game System Notes

Squadron forward has a really nice scenario generator built into it. Having drawn up my squadron, I head on over to the 2. Scramble section of the doc. I am able to determine the number of aircraft that will be going and what they are to do. Now to keep it interesting, there are pre-mission things that can happen. For my first mission, I have a result that one of my men has engine trouble. I roll and it is one of my Sprogs. So he can either stay in the game but be in a damaged aircraft or return to base. Being that the pilot was a Sprog, he returns to base due to the manifold problem.

Next I can determine who has the advantage in the fight. Do my guys surprise the enemy or do they get the jump on me. Well in this case, I got the jump on the bad guys and it tells me how the game should be set up. For Bag the Hun, this means that the whole bogey/blind system is ignored and you are thrust directly into the thick of things.

It plenty of other features that keep things from getting static. So my initial game will reflect all of this.

1st Mission - 0500 hours, June 9th, 1941

Reflections of Flying Officer Elliot Gould following actions on the morning of June 9th, 1941.
"After we took off, Pilot Officer reported engine problems and returned to base. We continued over enemy territory until Brian Ellison pointed out some enemy planes below us. We maneuvered behind them and began to engage. The enemy was a group of three Macchis (Mc200).

"Despite being in good position, the Macchis were slippery customers and managed to pull away. In the dog fight that ensued, I managed to fire into one of the enemy and caused him to briefly loose control. Sergeant Hirshorn also managed to place shots into an enemy. But was unable to achieve a kill.

"We noticed that we had drawn some undo attention to ourselves as a flight of four German Bf109s came hurtling towards us. I ordered my men to retreat and we quickly dove for the deck at full speed to make our getaway. As far as we can tell, the Germans did not fire a shot during the encounter and only one of the Italians managed to get off a shot.

"Pilot Officer Brian was the last to break off the engagement and manage to slip away without being fired upon."

Wrap up

Using the Event card and the Combat events table in the Squadron forward rules, I managed to roll for enemy reinforcements. The Germans would have put a hurting on the British had they not chosen to break and run. As it was the maneuver cards for the British came up at the right points and a clean getaway was made. The Italians had two planes hit but no lasting damage. All in all, a decent result.

Consulting the after action logs, I find that Plot Officer Barnes has had his aircraft fixed. Also Flying Officer Elliot Gould was noticed by the Wing Commander (Neutral View), the squadron rating remains favorable (glory rating of 0) and Pilot Officer Ellison has just been detached off for duty with a reconnaissance squadron.

It took less time to work all of this out than it did to write it up. The post game events are worded a bit tricky and can take a bit to understand but all in all, Squadron Forward works as a campaign system. Making this work for multi-player campaigns will be interesting.