Night Fighter Ace, Dritter Teil

The saga of the 5th Nachtjäger 5 fighter squadron, based in Berlin, continued last evening via Zoom to combat the ravages of the current Coronavirus apocalypse and to keep us a little closer to the “sane” side of things. All the pilots who were available for actions were now flying the Bf 110/Fa series plane with its bomber finding radar. Players were finally able to “buy” some skills for their crewmen as Lt Griess getting the Schräge Musik skill for his pilot (extra fuel hit when using the SM weapons) and Situational awareness (useful when encountering a Mosquito), UFW Koznarsky got Pilot Aim (+1 hit on the part of the plane that is targeted) and Radar operation 9 (+1 to interception), UFW Mickel took Pilot Aim and UFW Williams took Air combat maneuver (-1 hit from the bomber). These would pay immediate dividends during the nights’ missions. Unfortunately, LT Al Rivers suffered problems with his plane’s electronics and was grounded and UFW Murphy remained away on personal business elsewhere in the Reich.

Interceptions started off slowly but UFW Koznarsky bagged two bombers after he reached 20 mission (an extra prestige) and upgraded his plane to a Bf 110 G-4/U5. Unfortunately, the tactic of trying to kill the rear gunner failed which resulted in his Funker getting a light wound during a no moon mission in bad weather over Berlin (the only bad weather result all evening!) The foul weather added to the annoyance of the -2 modifier for no moon and was only compounded as the plane crashed upon landing, worsening the Funkers light wound to something serious, knocking him out of action for 6 months – and only 3 missions after he had upgraded his radar skills! Lt Griess made several attempts to attempt to get the elusive second Fuel hit with his Schräge Musik without any luck. UFW Williams dodged several shots from enemy fire and, luckily, a quick recall of the rules helped him avoid getting a serious wound (no bomber return fire when using Jazz Music) – phew, a nice break as no pilots had been lost to action in the squadron. Yet…  UFW Mickel’s preferred method of coming in close and shooting up a wing was a highly successful strategy as he continued to down planes all evening, surpassing another pilot with more flying experience.

The squadron Commander commended the unit on their improvement since the start of operations. During the first sorties, the unit was downing only 0.89 planes per flight. The second evening of operations saw the unit shoot down 1.5 planes per flight and, last evening, the unit upped that to 1.75! There was even one encounter in an endurance box over the Ruhr where all four pilots intercepted a bomber. Unfortunately, only two of these resulted in kills as the British gunners were quite sharp, often identifying the fighter and getting off shots fist – the maintenance crews at the airfield received a sharp dressing down as gun jams also plagued operations last evening. A random event was even rolled (Factory sabotage = on a 1-4 on aD6 all guns jam) but this happened on a raid in which only one endurance box was available for bomber interception so did not adversely affect the plane too seriously.

By the end of operations last evening, all pilots had become aces with both the Iron cross 1st and 2nd classes and all but UFW Williams earned the Operations badge for flying 20+ missions. At 18 missions, Williams was not far off. LT Griess, now with a prestige of 5, chose to take the more advanced Bf 110 G-4/U6 with its multiple radar arrays. The kill tally currently is:

UFW Michael Koznarsky  11

UFW Dale Mickel  10

UFW Scott Williams  7

LT Gary Griess  6

UFW Scott Murphy  3

LT Al Rivers  0

One thing of note, the pilots all recognized that their prestige levels might stall at 4-5 for some time until they get promoted or earn the Knight’s Cross. This may limit their ability to change the types planes thy fly, transfer to more productive airfields and will definitely hamper their opportunity to fly many of the more modern night fighters, when available.

Everyone has remarked how much they are enjoying this game and have expressed a desire to play another, especially now that we are making fewer mistakes running things. We all cannot wait to get back into the night skies to rack up more targets and trophies – I am considering playing a game with my 10yo grandson who expressed a desire to play, as well. This has been a LOT of fun!

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