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Kiwi Red One25 Oct 2018 1:27 a.m. PST

A brief after action report of a solo game of Target for Tonight that I finally got to play recently.

April 5/6 1943 RAF Feltwell 75 (NZ) Sqn

There was hushed silence in the briefing room as the Intelligence Officer drew back the curtain on the target map. "Right chaps, the target for tonight is the U-Boat Pens and dockyards at Kiel" he announced "Our friends in the Admiralty are keen for our help to stem the flow of U-boats making it out into the Atlantic so this raid has been laid on accordingly".

"This should be a good test for B flight's new Lancasters. A NNE course out over the North Sea, coming in over Southern Denmark, then running south to the target and exiting German airspace out over the Heligoland Bight. You'll be loaded with a mix of 2000lb AP and 500lb SAP bombs to help pierce the pens and any ships or subs that are alongside. The weather is not expected to be that good with a cold front moving over the North Sea meaning visibility over the target will be limited. Take off will be at 1045 tonight. Your job is to bomb the target and bring your aircraft back safely, Good Luck".

B flight's roster for the raid was 6 brand new Mk 1 Lancasters just received from Avro's production line at Woodford. A-Apple would be flown by F/Sgt Cross and crew, veterans of 28 missions. B-Beer was in the hands of P/O Massey and crew with 9 previous missions. P-Popsie's pilot was F/O Muldoon, another veteran of 18 missions. P/O Blanchflower was in command of S-Sugar with 10 previous missions. Leading the flight in X-X Ray was S/L Rowling on his second tour, his vastly experienced crew had flown 35 missions together. Rounding out the flight was F/Sgt Deans in Z-Zebra, the newest crew in the flight with 8 missions.

All 6 aircraft took off into the stormy darkness successfully, though P-Popsie's starboard tyre must have hit some FOD on the runway during their takeoff run and burst as the undercarriage retracted, not that this put F/O Muldoon off carrying out the mission in the slightest. Flying through the cold front over the North Sea bought some danger of icing, but training paid off for all the crews and no icing problems occurred, though P/O Massey's wireless operator reported that his radios were unserviceable.

Coming in over the Danish coast, gunners vigilantly looking out for enemy nightfighters, the German defences reacted vigorously, filling the sky with flak of all calibres. B – Beer was suddenly bracketed by accurate 88mm bursts from a flak battery that had her range and a heavy explosion detonated feet away from her starboard outer Merlin engine, setting it on fire and badly damaging the outer wing. B-Beer veered out of control as P/O Massey vainly fought a losing battle to control the big bomber. "Bailout…Bailout I'll hold her" he ordered. The flight engineer, wireless operator and bomb aimer quickly bailed out via the front escape hatch just in time before the outer starboard wing of their Lancaster folded in and the aircraft spiralled down steeply, disappearing into the patchy overcast below. No other chutes were seen. The flight engineer and wireless operator's good fortune continued as they were able to make contact with the local Danish resistance who soon had them on their way to neutral Sweden and eventually back to England. The bomb aimer was a little less fortunate, being captured and sent off to a POW camp for the remainder of the war.

The remaining five bombers continued on course amid the bomber stream heading for Kiel, the crews on full alert for searchlights, flak and night fighters, though none were affected by enemy actions, though P/O Blanchflower in S–Sugar was forced to corkscrew violently when his Monica tail warning radar was set off by a false return.

Turning on the bomb run to the south first was P-Popsie. The Pathfinder Force had managed to mark the dockyards with red Target Indicators despite the overcast and P-Popsie's bomb aimer was able to find and drop accurately on the TI's on their first run over the target as F/O Muldoon warned his gunners to keep a good lookout for the new German "wilde sau" single engine fighters. Next up was A-Apple. Again Cross and his veteran crew found the TI's and dropped accurately on the target despite the circus of flak, searchlights and milling aircraft, both enemy and friendly, going on all round them.

However the other three aircraft, arriving over the target later, found it fairly obscured by smoke and cloud and dropped some distance before the TI's which were by then very hard to see. S-Sugar being forced to go round again before her bomb aimer could quickly drop his bombs by almost dead reckoning on what he hoped was the TI's and then set a course for home via the Heligoland Bight.

As they prepared to exit enemy territory however the German defences proved that they had not entirely finished harassing the raiders. P-Popsie's eventful mission continued with F/O Muldoon's aircraft being forced to corkscrew violently when his Monica tail warning radar was set off by what proved to be a false alarm. However X-X Ray had to do it for real after his rear gunner spotted a Ju-88C nightfighter angling in from astern. In a long drawn out duel X- X Ray's gunners beat off no less than three attacks by the determined German pilot as S/L Rowling threw his aircraft around in violent evasive actions. The Ju-88C pilot did finally manage to achieve a firing pass just before loosing sight of the Lancaster, but only managed to lightly damage his opponent (I rolled two ones!!).

Once over the North Sea the crews could relax a little, though flying conditions were still tricky in the frigid air and the flight engineers watched their gauges anxiously for any signs of icing. Coming in over the coast towards their base at Feltwell the tower advised all crews to burn off remaining fuel till the early morning fog cleared enough for them to enter the landing pattern. One by one the big bombers landed and taxied to their dispersal areas where they were finally able shut down their four roaring Merlin engines.

Last of all came P-Popsie with her burst starboard tyre, held back by the tower till all the others had got down safely. With the crash tenders on standby those on the ground crossed their fingers as she came in, F/O Muldoon holding her starboard wing up expertly till she met the runway and slowly veered to a halt in one piece just off the runway. "Nice landing Skipper" said the rear gunner as the crew quickly exited the aircraft to wait for the tender to take them back to the de-brief and then onto a well deserved breakfast of eggs and bacon. "Well as they say – any landing you can walk away from is a good one" laughed Muldoon.

Once the surviving members of B-Beer's crew had returned to the UK In October 1943, some 6 months after the raid, P/O Massey's bravery was recognised by his being posthumously gazetted to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on during the raid of 5/6 April 1943.

I made a few changes to make the rules a little more playable for my situation:

- designed my own aircraft sheets for Lancaster/Halifax/Wellington/Sterling.

- rather than 1/300 aircraft I use topdown views of each aircraft mounted on a 50mm x 50mm cardboard counter for the fighter and bomb run phases and an A4 sized raid map with different coloured map pins for each bomber which are advanced through each zone as the raid progresses. I get the raid routes from the actual raid reports available here: link

- assigning the gunners ratings like the rest of the crew – a good gunner has a slightly better chance to spot and hit the enemy.

- Not all Luftwaffe night fighter pilots are "experten" so rolled for German pilot quality too. Prepared a night fighter encounter table to determine what type may be encountered, including Do217N's, Ju88C's, Me 110's and rarely He219's depending on the mission date.

- lessened the chances of wilde sau nightfighters hitting slightly as flying a single engined fighter at night over a very crowded target area would leave little time for combat, especially if it has radar since the pilot workload is so high.

I still used D10's for pot luck and risk throws. Next up? A deep penetration raid and a test game to check out if portraying Operation "Steinbock" is viable using the rules (I think it would work OK).

No I am not on FB so haven't seen the TfT FB group and sorry no I didn't take any pictures of the game I played.

Thresher0125 Oct 2018 2:39 a.m. PST


Thanks for sharing your report, and the link to the raid report info.

I look forward to your thoughts on the deep raids, and Steinbock.

Not sure what the percentages are for encountering Wilde Saus in the game rules, and for them shooting down bombers, but apparently they were pretty successful when engaged over the target cities from what I've read. A lot didn't even have radar.

Fortunately, for the RAF, they were just getting organized during the Hamburg Raids, and expanding during the Berlin Raids, so numbers over the targets were limited.

From accounts I've read from both sides, there could be anywhere from a handful of bombers in view at any one time over a target, to as many as 10+, and on really bright/clear nights, sometimes as many as 20 – 25 bombers (both sides have provided the latter, higher numbers, and said it could be almost like daylight over a target city that was burning brightly, and that had lots of searchlights, or illuminated clouds).

From what I've gleaned from a few Wilde Sau accounts, once the S/E fighters got into, or near the bomber streams, they'd usually just search visually, since no doubt the radar screen would tend to cause night blindness to a degree, and interfere with closing to firing ranges. I have the impression that only one unit, an experimental one, had the radar equipped, S/E NFs, so probably only a staffel or less of them available for ops.

The downside for the Wilde Saus was the bad weather over Germany in the Winter of 1943/1944, which caused more losses to bailouts and crashes than from enemy fire, apparently.

I've been doing a little researching on the WS units, and it looks like their victories to losses ratios were about 1:1 to 2:1, depending upon the Gruppen.

Would love to see loss info for JG300, for 1943, if anyone has that info, e.g. numbers and names of pilots and numbers/types of aircraft lost, and if available, causes too, e.g. combat with the bombers, crashes, and other incidents/accidents, etc. (flak attack).

Thresher0125 Oct 2018 2:47 a.m. PST

Hmmm, can't seem to open the raid reports.

Do I need a special software app to view them?

Kiwi Red One25 Oct 2018 3:28 a.m. PST

Thresher you just need Adobe Flash to get them to open, well works on my Win 8 based system anyway.

I did see somewhere that the Wilde Sau units lost so many planes to non-combat losses that they seriously impacted numbers of Me109 and Fw 190 available to the day fighter units fighting against the USAAF daylight raids. One reason why the Wilde Sau were discounted with in late 1943.

TfT rules I think makes the Wilde Sau too good, especially those with radar.

JG 300 loss information? try here (in German)
and scroll right down to the bottom to the Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen links.

alan L25 Oct 2018 9:23 a.m. PST

Very good. Sounds realistic reporting.

Anyone interested in TFT is more than welcome on our Facebook page dedicated to these rules.

Thresher0125 Oct 2018 1:16 p.m. PST

Ah, thanks KRO.

Have a new PC, so may not have that yet. I'll have to download it.

Thanks for the link for the JG300 NF info.

The loss and other info is very useful, though I'm also looking for the number of pilots lost on the night sorties too, in 1943. Found another site that has that from January of 1944, but no details on 1943. I've inquired with the guy that owns/manages that site, but he doesn't have the info.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2018 2:15 p.m. PST

Any chance of getting a copy of your custom bomber sheets? I would like to see what you changed.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.