CLASH OF THE TITANS, 20 February 1944
Briefing: Lieutenant Guy Reed was on a Weather Reconnaissance flight over the North Sea when his radio operator detected a signal. The Germans were known to be transmitting a fake homing signal to crews ferrying new B-17s across the Atlantic, causing them to miss their landfall. It was believed to come from a submarine, but as Reed emerged from a cloud bank into a perfectly clear sky he was startled to learn the source was a He 177. He realised this plane was not only an ongoing danger to ferry crews, but more immediately to an unescorted B-17 bomber force, which would soon pass this way en route to their distant targets. If they were sighted and the element of surprise lost, this force would be massacred. Reed did the only thing he could, and attacked with the only weapon at his disposal - his B-17!
|Map: ||Blue Sky||
Set Up:The He177 sets up in hex 2915, facing W, altitude 18.0, speed 5.0, banked level, The B-17 begins in hex 3330, facing W, altitude 20.0, speed 5.5
Game Length: 20 turns
Rules of Engagement:
1. Pilot Quality: Both pilots are Regulars.
2. Breaking Off: If either plane breaks off the combat, they automatically lose.
3. Exiting the Board: The Heinkel may only "exit" the South or East edge. If it does, adjust both planes 10 hexes directly away from the 'Exit' edge with no penalty. If it exits another edge, make the same adjustment but keep track of how many turns it remains "off-board" (i.e. within 10 hexes of the board edge). For each turn of "off-board" movement to the North or West, the American player receives 1 VP (this rule is to stop the German player trying to escape to Scotland or Iceland!).
4. Gun Arcs: Because both aircraft may engage in violent manoeuvres (by their standards!), it is inappropriate to use the normal vertical gun arc limits. The more adventurous may wish to use my variant Vertical Gun Arcs rules. For a simpler solution, if the aircraft is banked left or right, rotate its arcs one step in the appropriate direction in the four Side arcs (excluding the boundaries of these arcs). If climbing/diving, perform the same rotation but to the Front/Rear arcs only (including the boundaries). If Banked AND Climbing/Diving, simply perform the changes for each arc normally.
Example: If the B-17 banks left, the TT (All High) becomes High+ Only to the Right and Level to All High to the Left. If it dives, it becomes High+ Only to the Rear (and the 6:00 line becomes N/A), and Level to All High to the Front. If banked left and diving, both these results would apply.
1. Treat the He 177 as Loaded. [Historically the B-17 kept pace with it, even though it was a faster aircraft. Since its mission was mimicking a ground station, it is fair to assume it was carrying a large, powerful radio and associated batteries or generators, plus specialist radio operators. The all-up weight of these would probably affect its performance.]
2. Change the respective aircraft's starting altitudes, although the B-17 should always begin 2.0 levels higher.
Debriefing: The Heinkel tried to hide in some scattered clouds and haze, but Reed followed it doggedly, and at one point grazed the enemy's tail in the low visibility. Immediately diving below the German plane, his gunners raked the Heinkel's fuselage, and he then pulled up directly behind it in classic fighter-pilot style! The Heinkel dove away with the Boeing in hot pursuit until at 3,000 feet the German pilot suddenly pulled up, chopped the throttles, and deployed his flaps and landing gear. Overshooting to port, the B-17 was itself raked by the German gunners, killing the right waist gunner and damaging the top turret and rudder. Reed recovered his position and the two planes flew parallel for several minutes, exchanging broadsides like aerial dreadnoughts. Strikes around the German cockpit were seen, and the Heinkel heeled hard over to the right. As it did so, the right nacelle was also hit. Whether because the pilot was dead or injured, or whether due to loss of power on the turning side, or perhaps both, the turn quickly became a spin from which no-one escaped before the Heinkel hit the sea. Reed nursed his damaged plane back to base and made a successful emergency landing.
Designer's Notes: I first read of this encounter many, many years ago, but I remembered it as a fictional battle. Recently I found the source again - Big Week! by Glenn Infield - and discovered my memory was wrong, it was not fictional at all! Infield's account does not say at what altitude the initial encounter occurred at, so I fudged based on the performance figures of the protagonists. This is also why I chose the F rather than G model of the B-17, and why I included the variant. I considered improving the performance of the B-17 (on the presumption it was stripped down for recon work), or reducing the performance of the He 177 (on the presumption it was carrying a large, powerful and heavy radio transmitter, making it "loaded"), but neither option appealed, although the latter is the simpler mechanic. I will leave this as a possible modification for players if experience shows this to be too one-sided.
Best of British
1.1 Added Rule of Engagement 4.
1.2 Added more detail to explanation for Variant rule 1 (thanks to Mitch Schwartz).