Year of 2009 seems to be starting for me under the sign of reruns. First a double take on Belmont and last week I had opportunity to yet again play the Albert Canal scenario with Check Your Six ruleset.
Same Game, Different Approach
A little background info about the second bombing run on the Albert Canal bridge. Great rulesets attract the attention of many wargamers and Check Your Six is no different – William from Dansk Figurspilsforening in Copenhagen became as delighted in CY6 as I did and decided to run the Battle of Britain campaign for the club. But while our objective was the same, our approaches could not be more different. In simple terms, I choose the ‘cheap and simple’ approach – 1/600 airplanes, simple stands, as small gaming area as possible. William went ‘full monty’ – 1/300 airplanes of best possible quality, telescopic stands with custom magnetic mounts, historically correct decals… Quick comparison of the pictures from our games will show the difference in visual impact.
Once again, over the bridge
On to the game… In some respects, the scenario played out in surprisingly similar manner as my first attempt. Three rotas of Me109 were spread out all over the edge opposite to entry point of the British, but having the altitude advantage, quickly closed the gap. First blood was drawn by the German veteran pilot, who despite having to take a difficult deflection shot, managed to down one of Hurricane formation leaders with a single burst from his 20mm cannons. This caused some consternation on British side. Loss of one of their valuable Skilled fighter pilots this early in the game would have been bad enough. However, this sudden victory allowed victorious German and his wingman to fly over British bombers and then sweep behind the completely defenseless rear formation of Fairey Battles. The best comparison for what followed would be ‘fox in a hen house’. Two of the Battles went down in quick succession, while the remaining survivor was forced to turn home, trailing thick plume of smoke. The fact that wingmen of the downed Hurricane caught up with the Germans and managed to damage airplane of the wingman was small consolation for the British.
Meanwhile, a vicious dogfight developed in area around the remaining Battles. One pair of Me109 dove onto the bombers with the intention of obliterating them in a single head on pass. This maneuver was matched by the three Spitfires, shooting wildly in an attempt to discourage the Germans. This tactic was successful – no hits were scored by the Germans, but one of Messerschmitts suffered airframe damage.
Remaining German formation initially stayed out of the fight, maintaining the height advantage until the last moment. Just as the foremost Battle was about to reach the bridge, leader of German formation performed a very deep Split-S, placing himself in perfect position behind the bomber. Cannon shells ripped the Battle apart just seconds before it could drop its bomb. (Yes, it was one of my planes – and since it’s my blogg, I can brag all I want here :-)
This violent maneuver had however some unfortunate consequences – in a desperate attempt to follow his leader, wingman of victorious German pilot managed by accident to place himself in front of two Spitfires (same guys that already scored hits on one of Me109:s in the other formation). .303 bullets found their target and yet another German Messerschmitt suffered serious damage.
Next couple of rounds put a smile on the faces of British players – all German fighters were by now out of position and unable to do anything to stop last two surviving Battles from flying over the bridge and putting one of the bombs squarely into the target. One of them was hit immediately afterward by a stray bullet from German fighter and started to burn, but the fire quickly subdued (I must say that I love the shooting mechanics of CY6) and both Battles were able to turn, heading for home.
Final episode of our game occurred when one of the Hurricanes tried to pursue my damaged wingman – undeniably reckless decision, as it made it possible for three German fighters to get on its tail. Brave but foolish British pilot became an easy pray for the Veteran Messerschmitt pilot and my rote leader
The game ended on that somber note. British side suffered horrible losses – three bombers and two fighters were downed, while two more Battles were badly shot up. Germans didn’t come out unscathed out of the contest with three of the Me109:s suffering serious damage. Nevertheless, thanks to a single well-aimed bomb, it was yet again a close British victory with final the final score being 22 to 20.