Check Your 6! – The Japanese Advance
We played another couple of Check Your 6! games last week and I am really liking these air combat rules. For this week I decided to put on some games based on the Japanese advance through Malaysia and the Philippines, looking for games with a little different flavor than the late war European scenario we played last time.
Game one was a bomber escort with some stragglers from a Japanese bomber flight making their way to Singapore. Three G4M1 bombers (Bettys) were escorted by a couple of the famous A6M2 Zero fighter with a skilled and a veteran crewman. Opposing them were a pair of RAF Hurricane IIB’s and a pair of Dutch Brewster B-339D (an export version of the Buffalo). The Allied aircraft had a skilled and a green crewman in each flight and were starting low, climbing up to meet the intruders. Bob’s roll on the variable scenario rule table resulted in his bomber formation being dispersed forcing him to begin the game with them separated rather than bunched for mutual protection. The Allied roll allowed one flight to enter the table a little behind the Japanese rather than ahead of them.
The battle started badly for the RAF, as accurate cannon fire from a Zero blasted a Hurricane from the sky in the initial head to head pass. The remaining skilled Hurricane pilot managed to dodge the two Zeros for now. The Brewsters in the meantime were closing in on the bombers and began to open up with medium range gun fire. The Bettys were hit several times but suffered no significant damage. However, their low velocity cannon in the rear position was also unable to reach out and hit the more agile fighter at range. The remaining Hurricane pressed his luck by closing to close range on the rear of one of the Bettys. While this game the Hurricane an excellent shot, it also gave the cannon a reasonable chance to hit. In the ensuing exchange of fire, the Hurricane was damaged and the Betty suffered a lucky rudder hit forcing a right turn. The Zeros were temporarily out of position as the hot shooting Brewsters closed in for the kill. Ken hit one aircraft and scored the maximum possible result on the 4 damage dice – which in CY6! is not a good thing since you ignore any die roll with the maximum score! Still, even with 0 daage scored, Bob had to make a Robustness roll for the lightly built Betty, needing only a 4+. He easily passed the die roll, but rolled doubles – a lucky hit… which happened to explode the bomber’s ordinance! The pilot of the nearby bomber was killed by flying debris from the explosion, but the co-pilot was able to grab control of the plane in time. However, in short order both of the remaining bombers were shot down or damaged and Singapore was spared a few more bombs. The Hurricanes were inept through the fight (I rolled many low to hit scores) but the Dutch Brewsters were very effective.
For the second game the action moved to the Phillipines, where remnants of the US pursuit squadrons fought almost an aerial guerrilla war against the Japanese, working from dispersed hidden airfields and striking targets of opportunity whenever able. For this scenario, a flight of P-40E’s was out to try and strike a Japanese transport coming into Manila harbor. A trio of Ki-43 Oscars was assigned to protect the transports (2 skilled and 1 veteran). The US players could decide how many aircraft to load out with bombs and chose to load two and keep two as escorts. Each US flight had a green and a skilled pilot. Finally, a destroyer accompanied the transport to provide AAA protection.
The Japanese roll for the scenario variable rule gave them advance warning of the US attack, allowing them to deploy after the US. The US on the other hand suffered from lack of spares on their makeshift airfield and one of the P-40E’s had low acceleration for the game. As the two groups closed the Oscars barrel-rolled, hoping to avoid a head-to-head pass with the much more heavily armed P-40s. The P-40’s were able to get some shots, but my abyssmal shooting continued from the previous game and no aircraft were harmed. The Oscars hit, but the P-40’s easily shrugged off the fire from their puny armament (1 7.7mm and 1 12.7mm machine gun). As the two groups of fighters swung by each other, both twisted violently, with the Oscars trying to get onto the tails of the P-40’s making the bomb run and the escorting P-40’s trying to get on the tail of the Oscars. The P-40’s swung around for a bow to stern attack run on the transport and were just about to start their run as the Oscars pulled into firing position. One P-40 took engine damage, slowing the aircraft and saving the ship for another turn. In that next turn the Oscars closed to very short range and let loose a hail of fire. The reduced agility of the planes heavy bomb load was telling as the Oscars were all able to pour fire into the P-40s and both went down. However, the escorting P-40s were able to get into firing position as well and the effect of six 0.50 cal machine guns on an Oscar was predictable – one was destroyed and one suffered engine damage. With the bombs all sinking into Manila Bay, the remaining P-40s made one strafing pass over the transport (destroying a little cargo on deck) before taking some hits from AAA and deciding to bug out. A minor Japanese victory.
We were able to play both game to completion in about 3.5 hours and had a blast.