Saturday, 15 February 2020

Bounce Back - 9 December 1941

A new day saw the three available sections of Katipo Squadron bought to readiness from first light, and soon B flight was sent up by Fighter Control to intercept an incoming raid from the north that had been tracked by the radar network. 

After climbing to alititude Flight Lieutenant Crump, Katipo Blue Leader, spotted the Japanese formation emerging from a bank of clouds below the flight, heading for the large RN Naval Base on the northern side of the island. Two vics of sleek twin engined Betty bombers and an escort of three nimble Zeros. Another section of Zeroes could have, but fortunately for the Kiwi's, did not appear.  

 
"Tally Ho Katipos....remember its the bombers we're after, and try not to tangle with the fighter escort" ordered Crump as he watched Green Section dive down, lining up for a pass on the leading bombers.  

However the Zeros soon spot the Britsh fighters and rapidly close with them before they can reach the lumbering Bettys. Kapito Green One, Flying Officer Brooker, soon got well ahead of the other fighters. Much to Brooker's surprise the Zero leader attempts a head on pass. Both pilots fire furiously but at a closing speed of over 600mph Brooker flashes by unscathed (I rolled 1's for both aircraft....).


 By the time he lines up on the first vic of Bettys Brooker realises he will overshoot, so he flies onto the second formation and opens fire on the leading bomber, which explodes spectacularly as his tracers hit home. Meanwhile, far behind, his two inexperinced wingmen, Pilot Officer Napier and Sgt Tucker try to manuver to avoid the approaching Zeros. At the front of the formation Green Section attempts to intercept the leading Vic, with F/L Crump well ahead of the others.

  
The Zeros do their best to run interference against the British fighters using their superior speed and agility to attack Blue 2 and 3 as they continue on towards Green Section who are now finally approaching the leading bombers. Sgt Tucker's aircraft takes damage and he turns for home, streaming smoke.


F/L Crump cuts down the leading Betty of the first Japanese bomber vic, but as he dives away the gunners from the other bombers open up with everything they have and Crump's Buffalo takes damage. However his two wingmen,  Sgt's Kent and Tutahi, are now faced with two angry Zero's....
One slips onto Sgt Tutahi's tail and opens fire, damaging the Buffalo. The other tries a high deflection shot at Sgt Kent but somehow misses. Meanwhile the third Zero senses an easy kill as he lines up for a shot on the fleeing Sgt Tucker but only manages to damage him again (Aircraft damaged for a third time are destroyed automatically). With lots of energy left (rolled a 6) Zero B manages to get into an attacking position on Brooker at the rear of the fight but misses.


As the remaining Bettys drone onwards their target the three Zeros do all they can to hold off the British fighters. Sgt Tutahi throws his Buffalo into a dive as he tries to get Zero C off his tail but he can't shake him, and more rounds impact the wounded Buffalo, damaging it further (top), however Sgt Kent, attempting to assist Sgt Tutahi, fires a quick defection burst at Zero A as it crosses his path and is somewhat surprised to see the Japanese fighter explode as his 50-cal rounds impact on target.
Meanwhile at the back of the fight Zero B manages to get on F/L Crump's tail, but the veteran pilot is able to break away without further damage.  

       
At that stage I decided that the remaining Katipo aircraft would break off as the Japanese bombers could exit without any real danger of further interception. I played a couple more turns till all three damaged Buffalos had managed to exit the board but nothing further happened of any significance.

Results 

The Bettys went in and bombed the Naval Base target, causing 13 points of damage (a target requires 30 points to be considered to be destroyed so no doubt they will be back). The raid cost the IJN two Bettys and a Zero destroyed while Katipo Squadron lost no pilots but had three aircraft damaged:
F/L Crump - Landed without incident, aircraft repaired overnight
Sgt Tutahi - Landed heavily, aircraft under repair for 4 days
Sgt Tucker - Landed heavily, aircraft sustained Cat 4 damage and is written off.

The Squadron will fly again today, so look out for the next replay soon....
 

Monday, 10 February 2020

Outbreak of Hostilities 8 December 1941


Finally got round to finding some time to start my Buffaloes over Singapore campaign today. 

The first mission saw Air HQ order Katipo Squadron to commence combat air patrols over Singapore in at least section strength in case of any surprise enemy raids on the island in support of the landings in Northern Malaya:


 
 The CO, Squadron Leader Mulholland, lead Red Section off for the first patrol early on the morning of 8th December 1941. While climbing to altitude they were bounced without warning by an IJN A6M2 Zero Shōtai (flight) from the 22nd Air Flotilla which was over Singapore to escort a C5M Babs recce plane which was attempting to determine if Force Z had sailed from Singapore naval base.

In a brief but violent dogfight over the island witnessed by many onlookers no less than 5 aircraft were shot down. The Squadron suffered heavily in its combat debut, losing all three Buffalo's to the attacking Zeros (It didn't help that all three Japanese pilots I rolled up were veterans!!).

Two of the Kiwi pilots managed to "hit the silk" successfully, but the CO was shot down and killed after his aircraft was damaged again, having survived the initial pass from directly astern by the Japanese fighters. Though not before managing to sucessfully manuvere onto the tail of one of the Zeros and shoot it down.

Lucky shot of the day was from Pilot Officer Wilson on his first operational flight. Before surcoming to the one surviving Zero as he attempted to break off Wilson managed to hit and destroy a second Zero. He hit it with one long burst using a full deflection shot as it passed in front of him (I rolled two 6's in a row, by far the best rolls for any of the Katipo pilots in the whole fight).    

After such a costly start further patrols were suspended for the day as no further enemy air activity was detected over the island.