Thursday, 10 January 2013

Nightfighter - AAR - Moskito

December 1944 - Somewhere over the Reich

The Stab on NJG 3 had struggled to get even one of the new Ta-154A-4 Moskitos into an airworthy condition.  Two had been damaged during training.  But this one was now orbiting the Radio Beacon waiting for tasking.  A raid had been detected crossing the coast.  The Pilot strained their eyes into the night as even the simple task of orbit was dangerous now that Tommy had started intruding with his own Mosquitos.  II/NJG 3 would provide additional support with a second crew in a Ju-88G-6.

The Halifax MkIII Bombers of the Royal Canadian Airforce squadrons assigned to No.6 Group were alert in the darken zone where German Nighfighters were known to operate.  The Boozer warning devices were currently quiet but that did not lessen the need for vigilance.  This vigilance has to be kept up because accompanying the stream were a pair of 100 Group's Mosquitos out hunting the nightfighters.  In the dark with itchy fingers it would be all too easy to engage your own side by mistake.  With no moon and little cloud visibility was moderate which would keep them hidden from the naked eye but the German Radars would be out there probing the darkness.

I had the Job of defending Scenario 10c with a Ju-88G-6 and a Ta-154A-4 against 34 Halifax bombers and two Mosquitos.  The Mosquitos were mixed in with the Bombers and would be pulled out of the counter mix at random.  The only bonus I knew was that two Mosquitos wouldn't appear in the same turn.  I had one hope that the Mossies would be picked early and end up racing down the board before I had moved off the radio beacon and leave me in the unprotected stream.  I had to shoot down 3 bombers to get a victory in the 15 turn limit of the Scenario.  The other restriction I had was that from the Orbit I could only get one NF into action every other turn.  Which meant deploying early and flying slowly to get the other one up and ready.

Pre Game Set Up.
The Umpire set off the first 6 bombers ahead of Turn 1.  With a large scenario they don't have the option of delayed entry so I knew that by the end of the Bomber movement of Turn 1 that I would have 3 bombers somewhere between rows 7 and 9 and another 3 somewhere in rows 4 to 6.  From there there would be three more bombers entering each turn.

Turn 1.  Strangely enough nothing encountered.  I had a rough idea of the row but no idea of columns and had no Radar search to help.  I deployed the Ju-88G-6 first as it is the slowest relying on the speed of the Ta-154 later in the game.

Turn 2.  I bounced the Ju-88G-6 forward with its Air Intercept radar scanning the blackness quickly gaining a contact with the Lichtenstein 2B off to the right.

Turn 3.  The Ta-154 comes into play to support the Ju-88.  The Ju-88 began a 180 degree left turn to keep the AI Fix while the Ta-154 with its Narrow beam on the Lichtenstein BC becan a series of S Turns to try and pick up a target.  Despite having a solid fix on the 2B the Ju crew cannot pick out a halifax in the dark sky due to the visibility.

Turn 4.  The Ta-154 keeps its S turns going while the Ju-88 closes onto the contact.  Again in the darkness it fails to make contact visually despite strong radar returns (I found out later that the Bomber failed its response roll).

Turn 5.  There were now 21 Bombers on the Map somewhere and so far I knew where one was.  At least as it was moving speed 3 I knew it wasn't a Mossie.  I Kept up the fix on the contact and again moved in to try and acquire it visually.  If I didn't get it this turn I had two turns left before it reached the edge of my patrol area.  So question of do I prosecute it or go looking for the other 18 (I assumed that as this was likely to one of the first three the other two would soon reach safety).  The Ta-154 increase speed slightly and continued to fruitlessly scan the sky. Double 5 on the Tally Roll and a Halifax could be seen clearly just in front and above me, I was in a good attack position.  But as I manouvered in a stream of tracer came my way.  Damn Boozer was the last thought as the rounds impacted the cockpit killing the pilot instantly.  (Double 6 +2 FP for a 14 more hits than the Ju-88 can sustain and down it goes in flames).  Odds are now against me as the Ta-154 only has a narrow search beam and it will be a needle in a haystack.

Turn 6.  (Intruder Mosquito Entered but obviously I don't know this yet).  The Ta-154 on its lonesome continues to search for the bomber stream.  (In reality 15 Bombers have managed to sneak past without detection...) .

Turn 7.  Bombers Move first then the Intruders.  I decide that being half way down the map with no contact and nearly halfway through game means time to try something different.  I increase the Moskito speed to 5 and complete a 180 degree turn.  The Lichtenstein 2B almost glows white with the strength of the contact.  A Large target less than a mile ahead.  (What I didn't know was that a Mossie had already begun to pick up my trail and was five miles away).  Problem with the speed and turning is that I cannot see the target in the gloom.  (I found out later that despite the Boozer warning the Bomber didn't respond).

Turn 8.   Bombers Move first then the Intruders.  My Tail Warning Radar goes off something is either directly on top of me or directly behind me.  I can either Ignore the warning (I know that a Mossie can't follow me into a target hex with a bomber) or make an evade.  Problem is that the tail warning can also be set off by a close proximity bomber.  I chose to go for the Kill.  Problem is that I have failed the Tally rolls again. (I would find out later that I am being pursued by a Halifax closely followed by a Mossie both of which are sufficient to cause my warning radar to activate).

Turn 9.  Again my Tail warning Radar is going mad. I don't have a tally on an aircraft.  If this is a Mossie I might decide to do a 180 degree turn on him (noting that the warning tells me that the contact is in the same column as me and I might try and see if I can catch what ever it is on my tail.  So If I drop to speed 4 I can get all the way around and have a chance at a AI Search directly behind me.  Miscalculation I need to go 5 however as my BC has a range of 2 I can rely on that.  I at least gives me room to manouvre.  AI Contact is made.  Now question is what.  And what I don't know is if this is a Mossie and whether it has AI on me. (Which it is and does!).

Turn 10.  Bit of a dance contest now.  I can win the game if this is a Mossie and I get to shoot it down.  If not and it is a bomber then all I have done is dropped a definite contact for a possible which I still have to acquire and get behind.  Bombers move first.  The Mossie (has to be at that speed) moves past and comes around behind.  Intruder combat doesn't occur so I assume he failed to spot me (which he did)  but I also then failed my response roll.  Bit confused now as I am not sure if I should now get to move (which I assume I should).  The mossie matches my speed so I think i need to get in front and out the way.  The Tail warning is going off which is from the Mossie (and a Halifax which I hadn't seen) so I decide to evade and move 6. 

Turn 11.  In a pickle both Mossies are on the table (I only know about one of them).  The AI range of a NF.XIX is 8 so it means he has a fix and therefore is going to try and hunt me down.  In my turn I am going to call it a day and head off the board.

End Game.  Serious loss to the Luftwaffe.  The early loss of the Ju-88G-6 lost the game for me.  I cannot believe (despite being shown the board) that I only ran across two Halifax bombers out of 34.  The two tail warnings I had were from Halifax aircraft crossing behind me.  The search arc in the Ta-154 is awful compared to the Mosquito and one they had a Fix it was going to be trouble I just couldn't get a shot onto a bomber while having to guard my tail.

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