Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Mission #2: Meaulte, France

For this mission, the crew of Rocky the Flying Squirrel have been assigned an aircraft factory in Meaulte, France. Once again, we are assigned to the middle squadron.

Meaulte is not far from the airfield that we bombed during our last mission. It is in the same zone.

Over the English Channel, we have a -2 for interception checks, and no DRM for over land.

Incoming fighter at 12:00 high (click image to enlarge)

Incoming fighter at 12:00 high (click image to enlarge)

Our formation flew out over the English Channel, and was greeted with poor fighter cover. There must be missions that High Command felt were more important.

We were intercepted by a single wave of fighters over the Channel, a single Me-109 at 12:00 high. Mst. Sgt. Ken Shike opened up on the fighter from his top turret, while Lt. Chris Miller shot with his nose gun.  Lt. Miller hit the target, but only slightly damaged it (-1 on to hit roll).

The Messerschmitt sprayed a few bullets as it passed by, but failed to hit anything.

We find good weather over the target zone yet again. to accompany our poor fighter cover.

To our surprise, we find no interceptors to greet us. We must have done a number on that airbase.

Again, to our surprise, there is no antiaircraft protecting the target. The enemy must have moved it all to the airfield.

Despite all of this good luck, we are unable to put our bombs on target, yet 0% of our bombs were off target, according to the charts.  So, if we didn’t hit the target, and 0% of our bombs were off target, where did our bombs end up? Is there some sort of black hole they fell into?

Now that our mission is finished, even though we missed, we turn for home.

Fighters attack as the formation returns to England (click image to enlarge)

Fighters attack as the formation returns to England (click image to enlarge)

We still have very few escorts as we fly back to base. This time, however, we are greeted by two waves of intercepting fighters. Two Me-109s come in at 10:30 and 12:00 level, followed by an Me-110 at 10:30 low. Fighter cover doesn’t drive any of them away, leaving the bombers to fend for themselves.

As the fighters come in, the shooting starts and all targets are missed. The Me-110 climbing from below and the 109 at 12:00 level both achieve hits, the Me-110 hits once, and the 109 hit twice.

The Me-110 hits the nose, resulting in only superficial damage, and the 109 placed shells in the pilot compartment and starboard wing. Colonel Hogan is hit with a shell, resulting in a light wound which does not impair his ability to fly the plane. The wing hit results only in a hole, both the engines and fuel tanks were missed.

Both planes swing around for another attack, our fighter cover failing to drive them off, and they attack from 12:00 level (Me-110, straight in front), and 9:00 high (Me-109).

This time, Lt. Miller aims his nose gun at the Me-110, while Mst. Sgt. Shike and Sgt. Miles aim for the 109 coming in from above. All fail to hit their targets.

The Me-110 fires and hits and puts another 2 shells into the plane, both doing only superficial damage, while the Me-109 misses and flies off.

The 100 swings around for a third and final pass., this time climbing and coming in from 12:00 high. Master Sergeant Shike and Lt. Miller aim for the target, both missing again.

Finally, the pilot of the Me-110 misses, and he flies off to his base.

German fighter attacks over English Channel (click image to enlarge)

German fighter attacks over English Channel (click image to enlarge)

We fly over the Channel, escorted by very few fighters. The Germans decide to chase us out over the Channel, and we are attacked by four Me-109s: 12:00 high, 3:00 high, 9:00 high and 9:00 level. Fighter cover fails to drive them off.

  • 9:00 level: Ball turret (Sgt. Cerulli)
  • 9:00 high: Port Waist (Sgt. Miles) & Top Turret (Mst. Sgt. Shike)
  • 12:00 high: Nose gun (Lt. Miller)
  • 3:00 high: Starboard Waist (Sgt. Denker)

The enemy comes in too fast for my gunners to track, and they all miss.

The 109s at 9:00 level and 3:00 high hit the bomber, both putting 3 shells into the plane (this is where it starts to get dangerous).

Luckily, the 109 at 9:00 level places a shell in the Radio Room resulting only in superficial damage, while the rest are superficial damage as well. The fighter at 3:00 high puts two shells into  the starboard wing, and one in the waist. One hit to the wing is only superficial, but the other hits the inboard fuel tank. Fortunately for us, the tank seals and has no further effect.

The waist hit wounds both the waist gunners, Sgt. Miles and Sgt. Denker. Both are seriously wounded and are knocked out of this fight. Sgt. Dan Anderson races from the Radio Room to the waist section, pulling both crewmen away from their stations, and taking over the starboard waist. Meanwhile, the co-pilot (me, Lt. Shields) heads back to take over the port waist gun.

Nose of the B-17E (click image to enlarge)

Nose of the B-17E (click image to enlarge)

Both planes swing around, one coming in from 12:00 level, and the other from 10:30 level. If I had left the waist guns unmanned, they would have come from that direction. You just know they would have.

Lt. McAllister (Port Cheek), Lt. Miller (Nose) and Mst. Sgt. Shike (Top Turret) all fire at the two remaining fighters, but miss (the dice have gone cold for the bomber crew), but fortunately, the fighters miss as well, flying away from the formation and back to base.

We make it back over English soil, and have completed our second mission. No more enemy fighters.

I (Lt. Shields) return to the co-pilot chair just in case the Colonel needs assistance landing the plane, and Sgt. Anderson returns to the Radio Room (while the two seriously wounded men lie bleeding on the floor. I’m sure someone is taking care of them). Weather for our return is good. As we approach the strip to touch down, a sudden gust of wind lifts the plane slightly, then slams it back on the ground. No damage, but it is the perfect ending to a bumpy ride.

The Purple Heart (click image to enlarge)

The Purple Heart (click image to enlarge)

The wounded are taken to the hospital, where both Sgt. Denker and Sgt. Miles recover.

Sergeant Denker, Sergeant Miles and Colonel Hogan are all awarded the Purple Heart.

Sergeant Denker, however, is hurt seriously enough that he is sent back home to the States, while Sergeant Miles resumes his duties aboard Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

Now comes the task of finding a replacement for Sgt. Denker before the next mission.

A lot of this was due to the poor fighter cover. The P-51D Mustang does not exist at this time, so we are on our own for the most part.  No one was killed, though we did lose a crewmember to wounds. The shot to the pilot and the shot to the fuel tank made me nervous. I had visions of my trial run all over again, but this time the radio was working, so if we were forced to bail out, we would have been rescued.

Or the plane could have exploded if it were a tracer round.

Fortunately, the entire crew survived this mission.

If this is how it is going to be during the first five missions, the last 20 are going to be hell. We may need to transfer to 15th Air Force in Italy.

Our record so far:

3 Purple Heart Award winners

Master Sergeant Ken Shike: 2 kills


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