667th Bomber Squadron of 444th Bomb Group belonging to the USAAF 58th Bombardment Wing has another mission over Japan. They are scheduled to route individuall to the target at 4200'. Each B-29A would carry its own internal jammer to disrupt the Japanese Tachi Radar systems. Opposition had been heavy over the last few weeks with Japanese Ki-45 Nick nightfighters achieving some success against the Bomber stream. The clear night sky, illuminated by a Half Moon, means that they will have be extra vigilant tonight. The American pilots can see the Japanese Searchlights active ahead as they rapidly close the distance to the target.
A lone Ki-45 Toryu ("Dragon Slayer") is airborne and its Ace pilot Sadamitsu Kimura is looking at slaying yet another American Bomber to add to his impressive total of 15 kills to date. American Jamming isn't as heavy as previous nights and he is warned of approaching targets. The Cloudless sky and light of the half moon will make his job slightly easier. The Yankees had a habit of running in fast and low and his aircraft had the height to gain speed in a dive onto a target appearing below him.
This is a "hard" mission for the Nightfighter. With only a single Tachi 6 RADAR, that is being jammed and unable to provide a bearing of any contact but with a useful range of 3.
As there are only 3 B-29A in this cell the umpire decided to hold the entry of the first Bomber until Turn 3 and then bring a pair on at once at low level relying on their 3* speed to outrun any interceptor if they can get ahead. I had gone forward to the middle of the board with the Nick rather than wait on the Searchlight beacon and hope to get an indication on the Tachi even if I didn't get a bearing. No one said this was easy!
Turn 1 - Moving forward slowly and scanning I relied on the Tachi to provide coverage on the LH side of the board. Nothing
Turn 2 - Still being cautious the Tachi was now scanning the centre of the table. I hoped that the delay was just one turn and he hadn't come in the now vacant LH side. You take your chances!
Turn 3 - There had to be at least one bomber on the table and somewhere between 1 and 10 hexes in (3/4/3 movement = 10) I had searched with the Radar in a Inclined Pattern 3 Hexes, 7 Hexes and now 10 Hexes in roughly in the middle of each "box". This gave me a reasonable chance of picking up an early entry bomber. So at the end of turn 3 I was pretty certain he had delayed entry by at least one turn. It now meant that I had to guess where to start the search sweep again. If he was on the table at 10 hexes next turn he would move 4 hexes and I probably couldn't catch him if I had this wrong without a dive.
Turn 4 - I opted to search the RH box first this time moving forward to the 10 hex point to make sure nothing had come in on turn 2 with the RADAR. CONTACT! Problem is with no sweep I don't have a direction just that I have a positive return within 3 hexes. Now if 2 bombers came on in Turn 3 moving to prosecute this one would leave the other side of the board open and any B-29 would scoot through. I had probably a chance to nail this one for a victory and possibly get a chance on the 3rd Bomber when it came in on turn 6 (or 7 or 8).
Turn 5 - The Bombers are going to move 3 this turn. The RADAR contact didn't happen in Turn 3 so I am pretty sure that the B-29A is just entering the zone. Which means I need to get a move on with the Nick or the B-29A will be past me. The bombers move first. I follow and complete a 180 degree turn by moving speed 4 This should put me roughly level of just behind a bomber. I can use a slip and spot each turn to try and tidy up the contact. The B-29A will be in the Searchlight zone hopefully in Turn 7 at the earliest or more likely Turn 8. So I just need to be patient and take my time. The RADAR search comes back 3 and over 1 towards the centre just to make sure. CONTACT is maintained but again no direction but I have an inkling that it is on the edge of the zone. In which case if I sideslip next turn I have a chance of a tally due to the good visibility. Lets see
Turn 6 - Bombers are going to move 4 this turn and this is the earliest the 3rd Bomber can enter. Keeping at Speed 4 I am hoping that I am not too far behind the Bomber. I still have 3 turns of speed increase from diving available but that reduces the amount of shooting I can take. I opt to bring the RADAR back 5 hexes this turn just to confirm the hex row of the Bomber. If I lose contact it means he is two hexes in Front and to the left. LOST CONTACT. Result from my perspective I am now 90% sure
Turn 7 - Bombers are going to Move 3 this turn and the 3rd Bomber is either on table or could enter this turn. With no contact last turn I am pretty sure where he is going to end up. I side slip right and keep my speed at 4. Moving the RADAR across and back 3 I hope this turn to pick him up again which means I am in the right position. CONTACT. Next break goes my way as the Searchlight zone is active and Searchlights indicate a bomber is present. Careful. A Fix. A B-29A is illuminated in the middle of the Searchlight zone. I have two chances of getting a visual spot on this aircraft one from the Nightfighter itself and one from the fact that it is caught in the searchlights. There directly in front of me is a B-29A. Over on the other side of the board the LH searchlight zone goes active which means that they did enter two bombers back on turn 3. Unfortunately no fix so that one is probably going to get away. I am too high to get a shot at the B-29A and too far away as well this turn so Turn 8 beckons. The B-29A is going to move 4 next turn so I need to dive down. Lets be careful...
Turn 8. Bombers move 4 this turn and the 3rd Bomber must now be on the table (I just don't know where). Watching the B-29A scoot forward 4 is fine as I will use all my remaining dives in one turn to get into an attack position. Problem is that the oblique gun system cannot be used while diving so it will be regular firepower. Lets not get ahead or ourselves. Move first and get in a position to shoot. Luckily the Searchlight Zones keep the B-29A fixed as it moves over the boundary. I follow down in a dive ending up in a good attack position. Careful. The B-29A doesn't respond as I line up the sights. Rolling 8 (+2 Expert, +2 FP) gives me 3 hits not enough to down the Bomber but enough to cripple it. The crew is busy fighting the damage and doesn't respond (unlucky roll of a 1 by the umpire). My RADAR is sent looking for the last bomber. NO CONTACT.
Turn 9. Bombers move 3 this turn however my B-29A is alerted and the throttles are pushed to max so it can move 4 as well. It shouldn't make any difference to me as that matches my movement. Still no contact on the RADAR for the 3rd Bomber. The Searchlights on the LH side finally fix the second bomber but it too far away and will complete its mission. I am now in a position with Oblique guns to get a shot off. But the wounded B-29A still has teeth. Luckily the Oblique guns and Ace pilot mean that they cannot get a shot off before my cannon shells finally cause fatal damage to it. Sadamitsu Kimura follows the prey down to make sure of its destruction. As a result it is at the board edge and cannot turn which means that in Turn 10 it would leave the table.
Game end. Victory to the Nightfighter in something that was pretty close. From a miniatures perspective not a lot of models on the table. The lone Nightfighter was the only model on a 4 foot table until turn 7 which saw a fix model being almost straight away being replaced by a Tally model in the same turn. I didn't get a fix on either of the other two aircraft. So I am now under the impression that actually I should be looking at a smaller rolling map affair probably no bigger than 2 x 2 and just handle the main activity from the Umpires map. That means I then still have to work out how to do the other search activities and then a problem if I have more than one Nightfighter on the table. More to ponder.