Campaign Game Background:
The historical 88th Bomber Group existed in WW2 as a training and replacement group stationed in the United States. It never saw action nor did it ship out overseas before it was eventually deactivated in May 1944.
Unit history: Constituted as 88th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 15 Jul 1942, but not manned until Sept. Equipped with B-17's. Served for a short time as an operational training unit and afterward as a replacement training unit. Assigned to Second and later to Third AF. Inactivated on 1 May 1944.
For the purposes of this game, this is an alternate-history campaign, a 'what if' reality. This alternate-history is based that the Department of the Army designated the 88th BG to be part of the massive buildup of the 15th AF taking place for 1944. After training its crews in Walla Walla, Washington, the 88th is shipped overseas to southern Italy in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). Arriving in early December 1943 at Sterparone Airfield in Foggia, Italy, it joins the 5th Bomb Wing along with the other B-17 groups that had just recently transferred from Tunisia, the 2nd, 97th, 99th and 301st. This is where the campaign game commences.
Historical Notes: The aircraft serial numbers assigned were actual production numbers that were canceled. Sterparone Field was the home field of the 483rd BG that arrived in April-May 1944.
THE BASIC OVERVIEW OF THE GAME:
This is a play by e-mail event using the solitaire board game, "B-17, Queen of the Skies" published by the Avalon Hill Game company circa 1983.
The subject of the original game covered the strategic bombing campaign carried out by the US 8th Air Force from Nov. 1942-to-May 1943. The game represented the missions of a single B-17 bomber faced during this time period as its crew attempted to fly the necessary 25 missions in order to earn their ticket home. A variant was later published by Avalon Hill's house magazine, "The General", which expanded the game to include the 15th Air Force flying from southern Italy in 1944. This alternate-history campaign will be using this variant.
The group CO will post the mission's parameters, covering the target, friendly fighter escort, weather, flak intensity and other pertinent information pertaining to the mission. The players will then 'fly' the mission on their own and then will report back to the CO their results within a set time period, usually set beforehand between 21-to-28 days. The details of the mechanics are included in the following procedures section below.
Ownership of the game is a requirement. The game is no longer in print but it may be found on E-bay or at game convention auctions or flea markets. Be warned that the game may be costly. Ownership of the 15th AF variant is helpful but not necessary.
If you wish to join in on the fun, please visit the "Uncle Sam & the 88th BG Wants You" recruiting link.
One of the things that makes this type of format enjoyable to be a part of, is the role-playing element contributed by the imaginative players. Players are encouraged to write not only descriptive mission narratives but to write on other events happening other than the missions. On other virtual bombing groups like this, some players really enjoy the role-playing aspects that this type of game provides. They have written short stories as in the form of the servicemen writing letters back home to their families, on the daily life on the base and surrounding countryside during the non-missions time periods, going to a nearby town on a 3-day pass, events played out in their imaginations as if they were there too. It is hoped the new members to the group will continue to do this.
Change, 10 April 2005: Based on some inappropriate submissions, some decorum must now be observed. Taking a page out of Scott Settlemire's 99th BG site, the following addition is required for all participants:
GAME CONDUCT: During World War II, units of the 15th Air Force took part in
the war in the skies over southern Europe. The men of the 15th AF made
tremendous sacrifices and many gave their lives. I, and the vast majority
of war gamers, have the greatest respect for what these men, and many other
millions from around the world, did in defense of freedom. There is a risk
in giving a name of a historical unit to a game, even one as the 88th that did
not see action. I have every confidence that those involved in “Power
to Shatter” with me will treat their subject submissions with the
appropriate respect and historical content that it deserves. Those who do not
will be promptly and without appeal removed from the game.
1) RULES AND PROCEDURES:
All rules in the game, the 15th Air Force variant, plus errata published in The General will be used. The following exceptions are noted:
2) New Vastly Different Rule Changes From the Original Game Now Being Used:
TAIL-END CHARLIE & LEAD PLANE RULE
Each mission briefing will include a formation diagram that identifies a Lead Plane and “Tail-End Charlie” (the aft most outside aircraft in the low squadron).
As stated in the rules, each of these planes will bear some extra burden in the way of extra fighter opposition.
If “Tail-End Charlie” is downed or drops out of formation, a new plane MIGHT assume the ‘honor’.
When poor Charlie’s after action report is submitted, the CO will review the formation diagram and looks to see who's in line to be named “Tail-End Charlie the second".
If that player has already sent in his AAR, he dodges the bullet and no further TEC are assigned.
BUT, if he had not turned in his AAR, he'll become the new "Charlie" and the CO will be inform him which zone he gets to start drawing the extra attention from the German fighters.
This same procedure will be applied as necessary, perhaps several times a mission. (In one mission flown by the 99th BG, there were three consecutive 'Charlies' and all three were shot down).
The same process applies to the Lead Plane. The moral of the story is, get your reports in early!
MODIFIED B-3 ENEMY FIGHTER CHART
To more accurately reflect Axis fighter resistance over Italy a modified Table B-3 has been created.
This is less deadly than the original B-3 chart and should help the players reach the magical 50 mission mark.
FLIGHT LOG GAZETTE CHANGES
Except for Rome missions, all zone 2 modifiers are now -3.
The Rome target zone remains unchanged.
All Athens/Piraeus missions, all zone 2 modifiers are now -4, and all zone 3 modifiers are now -3.
BASE LANDINGS (CLARIFICATION & CHANGES)
Players are not allowed to attempt to land using any non-pilot crewmember back at base without any seriously wounded crewmen onboard just so he can save a plane (which happens to cost the US Government in 1943 a little over $317,000).
Crewmembers have been ordered to point the plane out to sea, set the auto-pilot, and to bail out.
Disregarding this standing order of the CO will result in a court-martial for said crewman (if he lives).
GM Note: Yes, there was a player who did just this in another game. He ended up surviving with only a light wound after wrecking the plane but another non-seriously wounded crewman was killed in the process. He even got a medal for it!
Of course, landing with a seriously wounded crewman is still mandatory as bailing out would be considered an act of cowardice.
Priority order of non-pilots attempting to land (if applicable):
Pilot school wash-outs (-6 LD mod or a -3 LD if he had previously had made a successful landing)
Any crewmember who had previously successfully landed a plane (a -6 LD mod, and on the rare situation that he had successfully made TWO landings, -3 LD mod)
-11 LD mod (normal modifier)
-10 LD if on 5-to-10th mission
-9 LD if on 11th-to-20 mission
-8 LD if on 21st-to-50th mission
Either the navigator or bombardier. (-11 LD mod), whoever is senior in rank.
Any other enlisted man (-11 LD mod)
3) MISSION PARAMETERS
Remember, your mission parameters will be set and posted. You will be responsible for rolling for enemy waves appearing & any attacks, rolling for flak hits (remember, flak intensity is already set) and dropping your bombs.
4) AFTER ACTION REPORTS (AARs):
When the mission is complete, each player will email an after action report to BOTH their squadron and group C.O. (Group and squadron officers are posted on the group web page). Players will use the following format for their AAR’s:
Did the B-17 Bomb the target:
# Crew Evaded capture:
Names & positions of replacement crew members:
Total Enemy A/C Claimed by type: New addition requirement: The order of aircraft shot down by the crew must be reported for kill conformation.
Note: GM has to right to edit narratives (for grammar and spelling) before it is posted to the web site.
5) MISSED AARs
Any player that does not complete the mission and submit an after action report to the CO before the posted deadline (usually 10-21 days) after the mission was posted, will be considered to have not flown that mission.
If a player does not fly a mission within a player's first 4 missions, the player will be dropped from the campaign game.
From the player's 5th mission onward, he is allowed two missed missions (and not necessarily consecutive missions).
NOTE: History has shown that a player was more likely to drop without warning within his first four missions.
For new players joining in, if they do not submit an AAR and are unexcused during their first four missions, they will be automatically dropped.
Sorry to be harsh, but previous group COs in these types of campaigns would sometime wait until the very last day hoping the player sends in his AAR.
If the player had the common courtesy to inform the CO he was no longer interested, missions could have been closed out, processed and a new mission posted for the player who do want to play.
Appeals for reinstatement will be considered on an individual basis.
EXCEPTION: If you are going to out of touch for a while (vacation, medical, job, etc.) please contact the CO and leave will be granted and missed missions will not count against you.
Addition 22 January: If a player fails to submit his AAR for the current mission and provided that player hasn't been removed from the game, that player will not be assigned to fly the next mission.
6) OFFICER PROMOTIONS ("Rank has it's privileges" role-playing rule)
To encourage player interest and participation, the promotion rules are used. The Group CO (or the squadron CO or a designated Personnel Officer) will track the points.
Promotions will be awarded to 88th BG pilots (not players) per the following guidelines
All inaugural first pilots (unless designated as a squadron CO) begins the game at the rank of 1st LT, and their co-pilots at 2nd LT.
In the inaugural set up about one co-pilot per squadron will start as a 1st LT.
If the first pilot is lost, the player may promote his co-pilot (if he is eligible to fly again) to 1st LT or bring in a replacement pilot at the rank of 2nd LT.
Duties of 1st and 2nd Lieutenants as aircraft commanders:
Tail-End Charlie assignments when appropriate will be on a rotational basis based on rank.
All things being equal, the lower a man is on the promotion ladder, the better his chances of drawing the tail-end Charlie position.
A 2nd LT will become eligible for promotion to the rank of 1st LT when has accumulated 10 service points
A 1st LT will become eligible for promotion to the rank of Captain when he has accumulated another 15 service points (25 total career)
Rank Privileges of Captain
May be assigned as Group Mission Leader.
Assigned as a squadron leader in the first lead element or as flight leaders.
Unless a squadron is top heavy in Captains, a Captain will not draw Tail-End Charlie duty.
Collect data and calculate squadron statistics.
Review promotions and forwards them to the Group CO.
Flies in the leading first element position of the squadron.
May be assigned as the group mission leader and lead the middle squadron as the "Lead Plane".
Has the privilege to request changes be made in the mission formation chart for his squadron, i.e., "Tail-End Charlie" assignments.
Privileges of the Squadron CO
Because of the work the Squadron CO player does to help the Group CO, he is granted the following:
If one of the original sign ups, starts the campaign at Captain.
If a squadron CO is lost in action, the player may "transfer in" a new replacement CO at the same rank, with 0 missions flown, and the lowest amount of point allowed for seniority purposes.
Players may request a transfer to another squadron to assume CO duties if that post is vacant.
On transfer, the pilot will earn 5 service points for assuming command.
A player may only earn the 5 service points for his pilot as squadron CO once during the game.
Points will be awarded by the following schedule:
Each mission completed: 1 pt
Mission completed = AAR submitted before deadline
Includes aborted missions allowed within game rules
Each mission not completed without notifying CO before deadline: (- 3) pts
Each mission where 100% of the pilot’s squadron submits their AARs: 1 pt
Rule CHANGE: 12 Jan. 2005: Bonuses will no longer be dependant on a Squadron 100% participation. Starting mission 11, players will receive 1 pt if they turn in their AAR within 7 days of the current mission's posting.
Rule CHANGE: 22 Jan. 2005: Starting mission 12, no points are awarded if a player is late in submitting his AAR, that is after the posted deadline but before the posting of the next mission.
Each medal or citation awarded the pilot:
Purple Hearts & POW Medals: 0 pts
Air medal: 1 pt
Distinguished Flying Cross: 2 pts
Legion of Merit: 2 pts (addition 30 Oct. 2004)
Silver Star: 3 pts
Distinguished Service Cross: 4 pts
Medal of Honor: 7 pts
Serving as a group level officer (Adjutant, Personnel, Maintenance, S-1, S-2, S-3, etc): 3 pts
Serving as a Squadron CO: 5 pts
New crews coming into the group will be prorated the lowest possible points for their rank at the time they join the group.
Example, a new replacement 1st LT arrives at 10 points, a new Captain starts at 40, etc.
7). GROUP DECORATIONS AND AWARDS (Optional role-playing element)
The Decoration and Award rules are optional. Use them if you want. If you just want to fly the missions that’s fine too.
If a player has a crew member that he feels deservers recognition, forward the following information up the chain-of-command, first his squadron CO, then to the Group CO:
Crew member name, position & rank
A description of what the crewman did to merit the award
Proposed medal to be awarded
The medals available for consideration are (beginning with the lowest in precedence:
Distinguished Flying Cross
Legion of Merit
Silver Star - Third highest award for gallantry
Distinguished Service Cross - Second highest award for gallantry
Medal of Honor - The highest award for bravery, usually posthumous
The squadron and group CO will review the proposed award and make a decision based on information provided by the player and his squadron CO.
The Group CO has the final say in the awarding of the medal and may downgrade or upgrade an award.
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