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Sunday, 26 February 2017
Bag the Blenheims: No14 Squadron RAF
Wing Commander J.K. Buchanan DFC and crew
The mission objective for the British players in the Operation Crusader scenario will be to bomb a convoy of Axis vehicles whilst not getting shot down by either the enemy flak or fighters. The bombing itself is the job of six Blenheim IV's of No14 Squadron, flying in tight formation at 6000 feet, each dropping four 250lb bombs fitted with daisy cutter rods to ensure that they didn't just bury themselves in the sand. This was the standard operating procedure at the time. In the actual mission there were six more Blenheims of the Free French Lorraine Squadron following on behind, forming what was described as a 'Buchanan Party', but I've decided to leave these out to keep the scenario manageable.
In Bag the Hun terms they will be flying at Altitude Level 3 for the full length of the table, using Level Bombing against a vehicle target which will be represented by twelve individual model bases in a continuous line, each occupying a single target hex. The convoy will be defended by flak but, to keep things simple, I'll use the rules for Flak - The Simple Way (p42) or Joe Legan's Lazy Anti Aircraft Formula, with the convoy itself chucking light flak at the bombers rather than having specific flak units. There will instead be a flak zone through which the bombers and any escorting or enemy fighters will be forced to fly!
Wing Commander J.K. 'Buck' Buchanan DFC
The pilots of No14 Squadron were all highly experienced light bomber crew and so will be rated as Veterans. There will be a Top Ace leading the formation, however, in the form of Wing Commander J.K. 'Buck' Buchanan DFC, who was described by some of his squadron as '..an outstanding pilot, madly brave' and '..a pilot's pilot if ever there was one. He was utterly fearless and flew with tremendous skill'. Apparently, he was so keen on close formation tactics that pilots would end up with blistered hands from gripping their control columns so tightly!
In addition to Top Ace status, W/Cdr.Buchanan will also be allocated a character card to reflect his coolness under fire and evident skill as a bomber pilot. This will allow the formation to gain a valuable additional move in addition to its Formation Bonus and Formation Move cards. I will also let it be used to give an additional fire option to his aircraft, reflecting his tactical instructions via the W/T to the rear gunner. This will help to add some extra weight to the firepower of the formation, which otherwise will only get two Air Gunner Fire cards.