Saturday, June 11, 2016

B-17 Queen of the Skies - Mission 158 - Target: Diepholz Aerodrome

 I recently joined a 'Play by Forum' group at BoardGameGeek who play the solitaire board game B-17: Queen of the Skies together.  The group is run by BGG user 'jasta6' and represents the fictional 281st Bombardment Group (Heavy).  They have completed 157 missions over the last several years.  I created my B-17 'To Prussia With Love' and crew and was assigned to the 153rd Bombardment Squadron.  My first mission was number 158 targeting an enemy aerodrome at Diepholz, Germany on February 21, 1944.

This is how I went...

After Action Report:

Pilot: 2Lt. Christopher B. Whitman
B-17: 'To Prussia With Love' (B-17F-65-B0 42-29711 ) (1st Mission)

Squadron: 153rd Bombardment Squadron, 281st Bombardment Group (Heavy)

MISSION: 158 (This bomber 1)
Date: Monday, February 21, 1944 (1 day from last mission)
Primary Target: Werl, Germany. A/F ( Diepholz Airdrome )
Secondary Target: Diepholz, Germany. A/F ( Diepholz Airdrome )
Tertiary Target: None

Position: Middle

Crew Status: LW=0 / SW=0 / KIA=0 / FB=0

Position – Rank – Name – Missions (n) – Status
Pilot – 2Lt. Christopher B. ('Toffee') Whitman (1)
Co-Pilot – 2Lt. James J. ('J.J.') Scott (1)
Bombardier – 2Lt. Matthew S. ('Payload') Kelly (1) **
Navigator – 2Lt. Luke K. ('Wrong Way') Wray (1) *
Engineer - MSgt. Howard D ('Wrench') Rubin (1) *
Radio Operator - TSgt. Norman B. ('Mad Dog') Morgan (1)
Ball Gunner - Sgt. Ernest J. ('Serious') Reed (1)
Port Waist – Sgt. Roy M. ('Burnin') Bridges (1)
Starboard Waist - Sgt. David M. ('Deadeye') Garcia (1)
Tail Gunner - Sgt. James L. ('Back Door') Herrera (1)

½ = Half an Enemy A/C KIA
* = 1 Enemy A/C KIA
# = 5 Enemy A/C KIA

Bomb Run:
Bomb Drop: Off
Accuracy: 5%

Enemy Fighters Encountered: (KIA – 4 / Prob – 0 / Damaged – 1)

2Lt. Matthew. S. Kelly: 2 x Me109s
2Lt. Luke K. Wray: 1 x Fw190
Msgt. Howard D. Rubin: 1 x Me109

B-17s Disposition:
The 'To Prussia With Love' landed safely with only superficial damage. Crew and aircraft will be ready for the next mission.

Peckham Points: 10 points (1 x No Effect Hit from P4 (Radio Room) [5 points], 1 x Superficial Hit from B5 [5 points])

Mission Debriefing:

The crew and I were all eager for our first mission with the 281st and to put all our hard training to use in defeating Hitler and bringing peace to Europe.

The weather was fine for our take off and the 'To Prussian With Love' quickly rose into the clear skies over England. It was not long before we rendezvoused with the rest of the bomber group and as we settled into formation within our new bomber squadron, the 153rd, I silently prayed we would live up to their motto of 'Guaranteed on time delivery!'.

We were appreciative for the outbound presence of the P38 fighter escort from the 55th Fighter Group. For us the flight to Germany was uneventful. As we neared the target we noted it was mostly obscured by cloud cover. Thankfully the Pathfinders had gone in just prior to our arrival and so we were able to make out the Diepholz aerodrome in the distance.

As we approached the target we noticed some flak but it was very light and soon stopped. It was at this time that we were attacked by a wave of four Me109s. Our fighter escort drew two of them off while accurate shooting from 2Lt. Kelly and 2Lt. Wray destroyed the remaining two Me109s.

We commenced our bomb run but were dismayed to find we were off target and the majority of our payload missed. Our bombardier 2Lt. Kelly believed we may have done some minor damage to the airfield.

Regardless, we had stirred up a hornets nest. As we turned for home we were jumped by two waves of fighters, presumably from the airfield we had just bombed. The first wave consisted of three Fw190s. P47s from the 56th Fighter Group drove off two of the Focke-Wulfs. The remaining Fw190 was seen to erupt in flames and fall out of control after a burst of machine gun fire by 2Lt. Wray who was manning the starboard cheek gun.

The second wave of enemy fighters came in immediately after the first. This time it was three Me109s. Our 'little friends' were busy elsewhere and could not help us. The Messerschmitts came in from the front, firing at us from head on. We were lucky that none of their bullets hit and they did not come around for another pass.

As the 'To Prussia With Love' crossed into the Netherlands and Zone 6 we were intercepted by two Focke-Wulfs. One was driven off by our fighter escort while the remaining FW190 evaded our defensive fire and came in firing from 3 o'clock level. Thankfully he missed and we did not see him again.

Just north of Amsterdam in Zone 5 we were attacked by one Fw190 and three Me109s. Our fighter escort failed to chase off any of the enemy aircraft but 2Lt. Kelly firing from the nose turret managed to damage one of the Me109s. We took hits to the Radio Room from the Fw190 but thankfully there was little damage and Tsgt. Morgan and the radio were spared.

The three Me109s broke off contact but the Fw190 came around for a second pass. This time he came in from 1:30 level and managed to score some superficial hits on our fuselage. All crew who had the opportunity to fire their machine guns did so but the wily Fw190 pilot managed to evade. The cheeky kraut came in for a third attempt from 12 o'clock level but thankfully missed us this time. He must have thought he had exhausted all his luck with his three attacks because he did not make a fourth.

We entered Zone 4 and were happy to see the North Sea far below. England was now not far away and we were all relieved the worst was behind us.

Our thoughts of home were quickly dashed as we entered Zone 3 and were attacked by one Fw190 and two Me109s. Unfortunately our fighter escort was unable to intercept any of the enemy aircraft. However, 2Lt. Kelly again proved himself by destroying one of the Me109s and I must commend Sgt. Reed who was able to drive off the other Me109 with sustained firing from his ball turret guns. The remaining Fw190's aim was no good and he then disappeared.

The rest of our flight was uneventful and we landed safely at base.

Pilot: 2Lt. Christopher B. Whitman
B-17: 'To Prussia With Love' (B-17F-65-B0 42-29711 )

Game notes: Very relieved to survive our first mission. Being in middle position and some lucky consecutive 6's on defensive fire certainly helped. The persistent Fw190 pilot in Zone 5 inbound was an Ace. Looking forward to our next mission to drop some further 'love' on the krauts.

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