by Brooke, GL, IJN1 (1st Sentai)
This was a scenario that ran in the multiplayer on-line air-combat simulation Aces High.
I was the Group Leader (GL) of IJN1 (1st Sentai). IJN1 consisted of me (Brooke), culero, DaPup, gas50, KKEN (FL of IJN1), shamus, CapnMike, bmathis, fuzeman, JunkyII, uh60a, and Money. We were in A6M5b's, loaded with 100% fuel. Our takeoff field was A2 (Bangkok).
From left to right, me (Brooke), JunkyII, uh60a, and Money in pre-dawn takeoff from Bangkok. There is a think layer of clouds bisecting the moon. The rest of IJN1, as well as IJA1 and IJA2 are taking off now as well. I am to lead a sweep of these three squadrons up column 11 and as much of columns 10 and 12 on either side as we can cover as we spread out. Our mission is to sweep for Beaufighter (A-20) scouts and to kill them if we can.
Members of IJN1 as we sweep north, now in the orange light of early dawn. To my right, from left to right: CapnMike, KKEN, culero, and gas50. The other members of IJN1 are spread out to my left. We don't spot any A-20's. Some other squadrons do spot an A-20, so apparently, he got around our sweep. However, when spotted, he is south of the bombers and so, we suppose, does not see our bombers. So far, so good for the plan. Once we reach Phitsanulok, I ask the other squadrons to go join the bombers, and I take IJN1 to go fly through the Moulmein radar circle. My plan is to go south of it, then fly through it on a heading of NW, just like in previous frames, to make it appear as if we are sweeping to Rangoon from that direction, clearing a way for the bombers from the SE of Rangoon.
A view to my right of Moulmein in orange shafts of dawn light. We are flying NW through Moulmein's radar circle. Finding it clear so far, and knowing that the sweep fighters are hanging out near Phitsanulok (which is also clear) for the bombers to arrive, I have IJN1 continue on to Rangoon. We will go up to scout the area for enemies, but not trigger any base warnings there. I call for IJN1 not to engage enemies unless they are P-40's -- that we will run south if we find enemies, to pull them in a misleading direction.
Near Rangoon, we find the area clear except for a lone P-40 up at about 16k altitude. (t=0:42:51) As soon as we see the bogie, I call for a turn and for IJN1 to head south. I want to mislead this scout into thinking that we are headed back south to the bombers or to more IJAAF fighters to the south. He sticks with us, keeping pace overhead. Once we are just south of the Rangoon area, the bombers call out that they have been spotted by another lone high P-40. Now that the bombers are spotted, I call for IJN1 to head back to the bombers at top speed. As we head back to the bombers, we see two or three IJAAF squadrons heading east to CAP Rangoon. I still call for IJN1 to go back to get icon on the bombers, then take station out in front.
IJN1 rejoins the bombers, and takes a position out in front of them. The lone, high P-40 is visible in the upper left of the image. From left to right: shreck, Boildown, gas50, flatiron, (two I can't read), ZoniX, Drem, (two I can't read), Gunas, (a few I can't read), Gristle, Flossy, Kermit, ROC, bigmo, Fishpot, spiveyCH, KKEN, and AKAuger. Very shortly after this, calls of a large concentration of enemies ahead of the bombers is called out on the radio. I echo the calls on range mic so that the bombers and close escorts can hear the warning, just in case.
The 1st attack wave comes in. (t=0:53:00) It's made up of FM2's, with Spitfire Mk I's (visible upper right, and there are more to the right). I make a risky snap decision not to engage the FM2's and ask IJN1 to blow through and look for P-40's trailing this group. My reasoning is that, in past frames, we have had more problems having too many planes on the 1st wave in, not too few planes. Our issues have been one of bunching up and leaving the way completely open to the enemy thereafter. I risk it, hoping that I have not doomed close escort and the bombers. I would have fretted over my decision, but I didn't have time. Almost immediately after this wave of FM2's, there are more enemies, and IJN1 is then in a fight.
I go after a Hurricane Mk I that happens to cross my flight path. I open up on him with my cannons and hit Kotari as he crosses through from my high right. I had tunnel vision on this Hurricane. I'm very sorry, Kotari! I am so glad I didn't cause critical damage with my shot, as it is a cannon round on an A6M2 Zero. Another Hurricane is coming through head on, but he doesn't go for a head-on shot, fortunately for me.
A view back from the Hurricane I'm hitting with cannon fire. There are some FM2's around that got engaged as we came through, and many Hurricanes. From left to right: DaPup, CapnMike, gas50, Money, me (the small unlabelled aircraft in the middle), Kotari, KKEN, shamus, bmathis, Bizman, and LeitWolf (our CO).
The other Hurricane zooms past me as I keep firing on the one I'm chasing.
I rake the Hurricane with cannon rounds, and he goes down in flames.
A view behind me as I break off the flaming Hurricane. There are many Hurricanes around, and a couple Spitfires, FM2's, and SBD's, even; but as they are swirling around, many lower than 12k, they are not a great threat to the bombers. I call for IJN1 to push forward toward Rangoon. We still haven't spotted groups of P-40's.
Another Hurricane crosses my path as I'm heading west, and I let him have it. I get numerous strikes with cannon shells all over his fuselage, and he explodes.
A picture out my right window almost immediately after the explosion of the Hurricane. P-40's have arrived! (t=0:53:37) I call for IJN1 to attack the P-40's and call out on the radio that there are P-40's in front of the bombers. In hindsight, I'm not positive that IJN1 is in front of the bombers at this point, but as the P-40's are still up high and heading east, I think we perhaps still are in front of the bombers. (This is 37 seconds after the 1st wave of FM2's.) From left to right: Huba, (can't read), bmathis, KKEN, shamus, Kotari, and uh60a. A Hurricane is headed toward me about 800 yards to my right, but I'm about to turn right to go for the P-40's and spend some time trying chasing them around and staying clear of Hurricanes.
I attack an SBD that pulls up right in front of me as I'm trying to intercept P-40's. I get cannon hits all over his fuselage and cockpit. (t=054:37)
His tail is blown off. Then . . .
Boom! He explodes right in front of me. I fly through the fireball and debris.
I'm back trying to intercept P-40's. IJN1 is mixing it up with them, causing some of them to need to maneuver and lose altitude. Shamus is chasing one of them, too. (t=0:54:49)
I take a long-range shot at a P-40E with my machineguns and get a hit. (t=0:55:11) It's not enough to harm him much, but it keeps them busy. As I chase P-40's around, I get other hits there and there with long-range machinegun shots. There are a lot of P-40's around in this developing furball, many others are behind me (not in the picture). Visible ahead are shamus and 0Egor0. Since this fight with the P-40's has been on for a while, the bombers are now past us by a little bit, but that's fine. This bunch of P-40's didn't get on them.
The fight has died down at bit, and I call for IJN1 to push forward to Rangoon. (t=0:55:46) This is a view behind me. There is still a P-40 here and there, a few Hurricanes and FM2's, but almost everything is low and not a threat to the bombers, which are ahead of us anyway. I suggest that all unengaged pilots push to Rangoon. Forward we go! From left to right: shuzon, Stresser, 613Grey, Huba, Bizman, Kotari, PEZ, KKEN, gas50, CptA, Xcelsior, SIM, shamus, and Money.
A P-40E runs up from my 6 o'clock, causing me to veer off rom my westerly course to evade. He goes on to attack Money . I call it out and am able to saddle up as he goes into a near-vertical climb, shooting at Money. I get some good cannon hits on him and knock pieces off, but he doesn't go down. AKDG (not shown) is also pursuing this P-40E. (t=0:56:59)
AKDG and I go over the top as the P-40E (bottom middle of picture) pulls down into a vertical dive still in pursuit of Money (bottom middle). From left to right: shuzon, Sethbag, AKDG, baubai, Money, UglyStick, DaPup, Xcelsior, and bmathis. Since the P-40 is diving out low, I don't follow and get back on course for Rangoon.
I arrive at Rangoon as bombs are falling on the city (explosions visible upper right). Way to go, bombers! The town has visible damage, and has already been hit. shuzon is in the picture, as is a P-40 down low near the town. I don't go down after him, and continue on to the bombers. (t=0:59:30)
Joining the bombers as they exit Rangoon to the south. There is a good number of escort around the bombers, and straggling enemies trying to chase the bombers are getting handled without our pilots bunching up. From left to right: QcareCH, LeitWolf (our heroic CO), flatiron, trotter, AKWxMan, gmoney20, Gazoom1, Gristle, postme, bijl (down to 1 bomber), Kermit, Sloehand, jedi25, and KCulon. Unfortunately, it looks like Flossy (one of the bomber pilots) was shot down.
I work to cut off an A-20 that is trying to run up the tail of the bomber formation. Unfortunately, I have only 5 cannon rounds left, but he doesn't know that. (t=1:02:20)
A picture of LeitWolf (large aircraft, center of image) and me (smaller, upper right) going after the A-20. As he squirrels around, I hit with only my machineguns, but LeitWolf hits with cannon and takes off one of the A-20's landing gear (seen flying back from his aircraft). The A-20 isn't shot down, but he dives out and away from the bombers before he can make a pass, so we break off and get back to the bombers.
I'm joining up over the bombers as they head south from Rangoon, now over the water. From left to right: Kermit (missing one bomber, and with one of the remaining having a couple of fuel leaks), bigmo (missing one bomber), bijl (missing two bombers), postme (has all three), jedi25 (has all three), Gristle, and SIM. (t=1:05:00)
A view behind me as more and more IJAAF fighters are able to rejoin the bombers as escort. Things are looking good, but we still need to get the bombers all the way back to Bangkok.
I try to cut off a P-40 coming in on the bombers from their 7 o'clock. I was able to climb as he approached, then turn back around and try for a lead split s. But he is going very, very fast; and in the dive, I pull back on my power to keep from going more than 450 mph indicated. Chasing him are, from left to right: (one I can't see), mipoikel, Charge, and shamus.
I am not able to do much to him, perhaps a couple of hits from my machineguns at best. However, AKAuger and shamus (top middle) take his tail off before he can get to the bombers. Way to go, guys!
Another A-20 comes in and is pushed off by escorts without being able to get to the bombers. Once the A-20 is no longer a threat (and because there are a bunch of guys chasing already), I turn back and zoom back up to my position with the bombers. From left to right: DaPup, shamus, AKAuger, and dhyran. I'm not sure if any of them got the A-20 or if they let it go since it is now low and running. (t=1:10:50)
I am hanging out just to the rear of the bombers, as most attacks have been coming from that direction. However, here, an A-20 (probably was previously scouting south) attacks from 12 o'clock high. Several close escorts are maneuvering to get on him. None of us can stop such a headon, but after that, he will be out the back of the formation and no longer a threat, so I don't maneuver to get on him. (t=1:12:21) Fortunately, an A-20 is hard to maneuver at speed, and he doesn't take out any of the bombers in his high-speed, head-on attack. From left to right: Sloehand, KCulon, bijl, postme, bigmo, Kermit, jedi25, AKAuger, SIM, shuzon, and LeitWolf.
I along with the remaining elements of IJN1 take up station to the left (north side, now) of the bombers. We are now within a couple of sectors (about 50 miles) of Bangkok. I'm feeling very anxious about losing bombers this close to home. There are calls of lots of enemies about 1.5 sectors behind us near A25.
The radio crackles with warnings of an A-20 closing on the bombers' 6 o'clock. I come back in from my position left of the bombers and try for an intercept. Chasing behind the A-20 (meaning that the A-20 is really hauling) are: KCulon, MrEllis, baubai, shuzon, (can't read), and Henry8.
I close on and commence getting hits on the A-20, but I have only my machineguns, which won't do much to an A-20. He fires back with his tailgun. As I close, I get him to dive hard, and it looks like he is diving all the way to the deck, which I take for him trying to run away. Also, there are some other IJAAF fighters firing on him, so I pull up to get back to my station. This is a mistake, as the bombers are now much lower than 10k (which I am not keeping in mind), and the A-20 is able to continue to press its attack toward them. I realize my mistake within a few seconds and get back on him, but now I'm 1000 yards out instead of 600 yards out.
I'm 1000 yards back, trying to hit him with my machineguns. He tries to hit postme. The A-20 is going very fast and is very hard to maneuver at those speeds. Postme maneuvers back and forth a bit as the A-20 goes for him, not a huge amount, but enough to cause the A-20 to miss! Also, as the A-20 climbs toward postme and maneuvers back and forth for his shots, he is losing much speed. Way to go, postme!
A group of IJAAF fighters catches up to the A-20 before he can shoot down postme, and they blow the A-20's wing off. Look at how many planes there are within about 100 yards of that A-20! From bottom to top: DaPup, trotter, LeitWolf, shamus, and me. Above in the bomber group, from left to right: bigmo, postme, and Kermit. We are very lucky -- the A-20 doesn't shoot down any bombers. We are now crossing the river just west of Bangkok -- that's how close this is.
I land at Bangkok. Behind me, left to right are: Spartin2, Kermit (now with three fuel leaks), bigmo, and mipoikel (on the fueling pad). I'm landing in advance of the bombers because there are reported enemies in the area, and I have about 3 minutes of fuel, 150 rounds in my machineguns, and no rounds in my cannon. I decide to land right away (after the A-20 attack) and get back up right away. However, once I am back up in the area, no further attacks happen on the bombers, which are shorly all landed.
I got 2 kills (the two Hurricanes), two assists (SBD and P-40E), and landed back at base.
Overall, IJN1 got 9 kills and had 5 pilots land safely back at base.This was a wonderfully fun frame. Because of a low number of pilots, we started with only six bomber pilots. Of those original 18 bomber aircraft, 11 made it back. We had to fight our way in and out of Rangoon, which was very exciting.
-- Brooke, GL, IJN1