The Hurricanes tussle with the Me110's having a tough battle with the frontal passes (see below)
Mixing it up they find contrary to popular belief the Me 110s can be nimble and actually having the drop on speed against the Hurricane move and hence can shoot first (see below):
Numbers should help though as four more Hurricane friends swoop in to assist (see below):
Meanwhile in the entangled melee of Spitfires and Me109s the two Germans are fighting for their lives. Although not shot down the Germans have acquired five "boom" chits through narrow misses from the Spitfires shooting. Two more "boom chits" and the formation will break its morale and run for home. This was the gamble the British player sought as he passed the Me109's head on (perhaps a bit too risky on calmer reflection). The Spitfires also got in some telling side shots but failed to get on Jerries' tail and produce a clear kill (see below):
Realising that the key was to down the bombers a Spitfire pair broke through to get the Dorniers. Two hits required to down a bomber so you have to be persistent. The good news was that if you hit them the bombers have a very poor chance to dodge unlike those crafty Me109 fighters. One bomber was sent spiralling down in flames but a Spitfire paid the ultimate price (always watch your six) as a Me109 got on its tail and downed it. However only one more German bomber downed to 'stop the raid' (see below):
A wider panoramic view sees the Spitfires giving the lone Me109 hell, but with a Skill of 4 the German pilot is just managing just to hold it together, praying for the other escorting Me109s to come to his aid. Luckily for him the frantic cries of the bomber crews have released them from their static positions and eight fighter escorts sweep down [4 x Me110s and 4 x Me109s] at an 'advantaged' state (see below):
Across the other side of the table and to overuse a common wartime phrase, "all hell breaks loose" (again) as the Hurricanes have to deal with four Me110s arriving just at the wrong time (if you are wearing RAF Blue). Cannon fire sweeps the sky. One Hurricane pilot pays the ultimate sacrifice and the mission suddenly looks to be "hanging in the balance" or rather "gone to rat-poo". Off camera the Spitfires fair better and manage to survive the initial onslaught of the 'bouncing' four additional Me109s, and eventually break the Me109's squadron morale. The Me109s will "bug out" having still their complete number plus one enemy (precious Spitfire) kill to their credit, although they failed to protect the bombers! That certainly will not go down well at Headquarters back in France. (see below):
The bravery and skill of the Hurricane pilots pays dividends as "F" for "Freddie" gets in amongst the bombers and in a skilful display of "this is how you do it" with two shots in one turn downs the second Dornier, thus breaking the German Bomber Squadron's morale. With nothing left to protect the Me110s are more concerned for their own safety and 'also 'break off'. The Me110's claim two kills. Three RAF fighters were lost in total to two Germans bombers (three engines to four engines in Albert Speer terms). The RAF claim a strategic win as the bombers did not get through (see below, the Hurricanes bring home the bacon):
Back in France a different sort of hell breaks loose. The Bomber Squadrons again complain of "no protection" from the fighters. They claim the beloved fighter tactic of "High Escorts" is a flawed concept. What is the point of having any fighters at all, if they don't turn up until the bombers are being attacked and shot down. The German fighter pilots are appalled as this means meeting Spitfires on very unequal terms - which one particular Level Skill 4 Me109 pilot knows will probably be the end of his Me109 squadron. He returns home to his squadron after the unruly staff conference to hear the hearty sing song from the officers canteen. This is bitter sweet as they are in good spirits. He knows for sure there will be far less Luftwaffe pilots returning from the next mission thanks to Goering's decision to deploy "close escorts" so that the "bombers will get through".
Meanwhile a recently "downed" and abashed Spitfire pilot is being lectured by a more experienced comrade. "Listen Fango [his Mess nickname], you would have still been in the air if you had thought a little quicker and performed the 'defensive tactics' [a card in the British player's hand] manoeuvre interrupting the Hun with a simple 'tight turn', then that nasty blighter of on Me109 would not have been on your tail and you wouldn't have been at a disadvantage. It's like a game of cards Fango, don't miss a trick. Now take a look at the new Spitfire we've got for you and get a good night's sleep. You'll be up again tomorrow."
PS: Once again thanks to Renko for the hosting the game with very nice models and a much more complete understanding of the rules. In the words of Amazon and Whiskers if you like the above, nine out of ten cats who expressed a preference, also liked: https://twtrb.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/blood-red-skies-over-channel-tale-of-j.html?showComment=1526677918061#c7630556548291730388
PPS: Many thanks to Asgard Games for hosting this event. Always nice to have access to a hot cup of tea during a wargame ;)