Looking back on my blog it appears that I never got around to reporting the results of Operation Dab-It-Off from 27th December 2016. Unfortunately all photographs are also untraceable.
The game was based on Len Deighton’s book “Bomber”, and I was lucky enough to obtain a flight manual for the Lancaster Bomber to help with the detail.
The operation was so named because it was the fun game played at Chris Scott’s place on the Day After Boxing-day. For non-UK readers, Dab-It-Off is a form of home dry-cleaning fluid. It erases unwanted stains, including the town of Irgendwo (somewhere) in 1943 Germany.
Unfortunately the pictures have disappeared into the mists of time, but the idea of the game was that each player was issued with three 1/600 scale Lancaster bombers to fly the length of a 16 foot table, bomb strategic sites in an enemy town (using tiddly-winks) and return safely home. Each player also had control of a JU88 night fighter to shoot down the opposition. Every aircraft had randomised skill ratings for each crew member, adding to the same total for every bomber or fighter. During the flight damage and equipment failures* would be rolled for against the relevant personal skill of the person responsible.
The general game scale was 1 hexagon (6cm) = 4 miles and 1 height level = 2,500 feet. In air-air combat this was telescoped to about 1/5 of the above.
In summary, the bombers took off in three waves, starting at 21:00. Each game turn was 10 minutes of real time. Points were awarded for successful navigation, so there was considerable jostling to fly over or near the first beacon.
As the bomber stream flew over the North Sea a convoy escorted by a FLAK ship was passing*. The umpire had fun engaging the bombers as they flew overhead, and three aircraft were downed before reaching Holland. After the first Lancaster crossed the enemy coast the German night fighters were activated. (D6=6 each turn to activate). During the approach run one Lancaster was downed for the loss of one JU88.
The first two bombers to arrive at the target decided to ignore the Target Indicators and flew across the target at 90 degrees to the planned approach. X-XRay was hit by FLAK immediately after bombing and crashed with all the crew lost.
The remaining aircraft followed the TIs (the last one was dropped in the wrong place by the pathfinders*).
Eventually 168 x 1000 pound bombs were dropped. Of these:
10 hit factories, 6 hit the railway yard, 4 hit the town hall and 4 the army barracks. 10 hit other parts of the railway, 46 hit residential districts and 68 landed in open countryside. The church and hospital were spared, much to the chagrin of the umpire.
2/3 of the bombers reached the target. 40% of the bombs were wasted, 15% hit valuable targets and 45% hit domestic infrastructure.
Individual aircraft performance:
D-Dog. Did not bomb. E-Easy. FLAK ship hit starboard wing. Crashed, no survivors. H-How. 60 pts vital, 90 pts other targets. "A milk run". I-Item. 105pts other targets. Navigator killed. J-Jig. 120pts vital, 90pts other targets, flew home on 3 engines. K-King. 120pts vital, 30pts other targets, shot down JU88. Beers all round. M-Mike. 45pts vital targets. Navigator and bomb-aimer not on speaking terms. N-Nan. 180pts vital, 75pts other targets. Point-blank hits. O-Oboe. Engine Fire, Pilot and Navigator bailed out over North Sea, others lost. P-Peter. 45pts vital, 120pts other targets. Bombed across the stream. Q-Queen. Hit by FLAK, exploded, all crew lost. R-Roger. First to cross enemy coast. Hit by FLAK, crashed with all crew lost. S-Sugar. Engineer dealt with 3 engine failures, aircraft hit by FLAK at low level. T-Tare. 105pts other targets. Flight Engineer on Elsan throughout flight*. V-Victor. 60pts other targets. uneventful flight. X-XRay. 90pts other targets. First to bomb, across stream, but hit by FLAK and crashed. Y-Yoke. Shot down after unsuccessful bombing run by JU88. Tail Gunner bailed out. Z-Zebra. 75pts other targets. Last to reach target. Front Gunner killed. ------- B-Bruno. No combat contacts. D-Dora. Shot down in combat. E-Emil. Destroyed 1 Lancaster. F-Friedrich. No combat contacts. H-Heinrich. No combat contacts. I-Ida. No combat contacts.
The game ended due to time restrictions before the bombers could return to their now fogged-in airfield, but all agreed it had been a jolly good game.
Maybe other raids – Brest submarine pens, the Tirpitz, the Dambusters raid, etc. will be created for the future, but meanwhile I rest upon my laurels.
*Each turn I, as umpire, drew a “Gremlin” card to randomise damage, change of wind direction or strength, enemy shipping, and other similar effects.