One week after the slaughter of German bombers on a forlorn night mission, it was time for us to run ‘Dogfight Over Convoy BOSOM’. This scenario is the first in the Battle of Britain scenario book that actually takes place during that battle. Scenario in question depicts one of many raids aimed at the Channel convoys in the initial phase of the campaign. Although the targets of those attacks were obviously British ships, the real goal of Luftwaffe was to lure slender R.A.F. forces into a battle of attrition.
At first sight, ‘Dogfight Over Convoy BOSOM’ does look like another milk run for the British. Not only do they have superior fighter force, they are also allowed to setup very close to their primary targets, a group of nine Ju-87:s, more famous as Stukas. German side has one rote each of Me-109:s and Me-110:s, although it has to be said that German fighters are severely hamstrung by rather restricting setup rules.
With setup rules allowing the British airplanes to start basically on top of the Stukas, this scenario can be characterized as “short and sweet”… which it was, although not in a way that one would expect.
British fighters (one vic of Spitfires and Hurricanes) approached the bombers out of the sun, ten o’clock high relative to the German formation. With German escorts far behind the bombers (a calculated risk on the part of the Germans), Brits had opportunity for one freebie pass on the bombers before they had to tangle with the escorts. This was a temptation that guys on the British side couldn’t resist - Spitfires went after the group closer to the British entry point, while Hurricanes selected to make a head on pass against the remaining Stukas a bit further back. The reward for the trouble was surprisingly slim – one Junkers received a solid hit to the engine, while another started to burn after a lucky hit from a .303 bullet.
Seeing the Brits splitting up forces, German fighters did the same – Me-109:s side slipped to the right to meet the Hurricanes, Me-110:s dove toward the Spitfires, two of which surprisingly choose to disregard the escorts and turned behind the Stukas. Remaining Spitfire left the formation in an attempt to try his luck with 109:s and was immediately shot down in what can only be described as a nonchalant manner by a single burst from German rote leader’s cannons.
This unexpected kill was the start of a nightmare for the British side. Leader of Spitfire formation was the next one to pay the ultimate price – after his engine was damaged by accurate fire from Stuka rear-gunners, he was unable to do anything against Zerstörers at his six o’clock.
Last survivor of the Spitfire formation tried to get away, but was unable to shake off the Me-110:s. 20 mm cannon shells found their target in next round and last Spitfire immediately went down in flames.
Demise of the Hurricane formation was equally rapid, but far more memorable. After a completely unsuccessful head-on pass, British fighters choose to repeat the mistake of their comrades flying the Spitfires – they turned to the left with the intention of gaining tail position on the Stukas. The fact that two Me-109:s were rapidly closing on them apparently didn’t bother them… however, the fact that the formation leader managed to turn so tightly that he managed to collide not with one, but two Ju-87:s struck everybody with complete amazement. Miraculously, the first Stuka suffered only scratches on its paint, while the Hurricane suffered minor damage. British pilot wasn’t as lucky in his second ramming attack – his plane blew up. It has however to be noted that his perseverance paid off and he managed to bring his victim down with him.
Remaining Hurricanes were bounced by Messerschmitt immediately afterward. Position advantage of German fighters made the dogfight a foregone conclusion and both British fighters were shot down after a short dogfight. One of Me-109:s was damaged in the process, but that was a small price to pay for the complete triumph of Luftwaffe in this fight.
Musings after the battle
The entire game took less time than it took me to write this post – it was all over after only two hours, or six game rounds. This however is unimportant. It is however worth noticing that “Check Your Six” once again proved to be an excellent game ruleset and you will suffer if you ignore Boelke’s Dicta. In this game, both British players choose to ignore the threat of German fighters at their back and suffered the consequences.
Meanwhile in the other room…