Life has pulled me away for some time but I have returned to continue. I am still working on this overall session but I thought I should post at least a Taste of what is coming. So get comfortable and I hope as usual that it is found enjoyable or at the very least interesting.
Well I have spent many months in my Bunker working hard to dismantle German Industry and tear up the Luftwaffe. I have had some good overall successes as well as some Whoopins but mostly I have been having a lot of fun. So I thought I should get back to it here and get some more posted. So with that in mind let’s get going.
OK…. Recall now I have shown and described my basic Opener for this campaign. Move and organize your forces and then Recon. But before you can do that you need to have an overall plan for your Daylight Strategic Bombing forces. I have selected to follow the pathway of Power and Transportation. However regardless of which pathway you select for your campaign in order to be successful you should be following a basic sequence to prepare for and carry out a Strike with your Daylight forces against Industrial targets.
What I am presenting here is for the most part a sequence of steps I would recommend you take to build a typical Daylight Strategic Strike. Just as with my use of Bomber Command assets my goal is for maximum immersion with my Daylight assets. Again my standard Disclaimer is that this is not to be considered as me saying this is the “Only” way to success. Rather my perspective is that this is “The KayBay Way” of doing things and as stated before, not necessarily the best way or even a good way. Following my way of doing things could lead to disaster but my hope is that it will lead to some very in depth enjoyment of this fantastic game. And as before if you are not looking to play this game at my level of immersion then I recommend that you stop reading right now. Because continuing to read on will just annoy you.
As with my use of Bomber Command for Night Operations my Daylight Strategic strikes are broken down into a sequence of Phases. However these phases are not necessarily executed all in the same day or during the same overall operation of just one day. In Daylight operations you don’t have the cover of darkness and your assets are not very difficult to locate and intercept successfully. So if you don’t want to get spanked on a regular basis you need to us the “T” word and “Think” about what you want to do, how you intend on doing it and build a plan to carry it out. Remember that not having a plan for success is having a plan for failure. To build and execute a strong Daylight Strategic Operation requires typically several days of planning and preparation. Once you get things rolling it becomes much easier to set up the next operation and then on again to the next as you work to destroy German Industry. As you continue to carry out your operations they should congeal into one overall fluid like system in which each day you are executing various stages of several Strategic Operations. You will have many setbacks, Political Targeting Constraints will always be looming and the Weather will always be unpredictable and very troublesome.
So where do we begin? First we must organize our overall strategy into groups of common activities or phases. I see a basic Operational Strategy organized into a group of particular phases each to be carried out in a standard sequence. These phases are namely, Target Selection Phase, Reconnaissance Phase, Strike Preparation Phase, Strike Execution Phase and finally Post Strike Assessment Phase. Each of these are further broken down into various sub categories or sub operations associated with each as you will see. Some may overlap into other phases depending on the specific purpose of a phase and the needs of your operations. So let me give a brief overview of what each of these phases are. Then I will begin working through each phase in an example that I hope will bring it all together and make more sense of it all.
Target Selection Phase
This is the selection of the actual Strategic Target or Targets that will be the focus of your Primary Strategic Strike for a single days’ operations. These are the Targets that all other missions and operations are being planned and executed in support of. Recall your target selection must fall within your selected Targeting Pathway or within what ever Political Targeting constraint you are dealing with.
This early in the campaign the equipment you have is not very good, doesn’t fly very far and doesn’t carry much. You also don’t have a lot of anything with the possible exception of near obsolete AC. You have plenty of that. Over time you will need to address that by replacing AC type of various squadrons but that is a complete other topic and I will go into that much later.
So any Target Set you select will be influenced by these constraints. This is therefore no simple matter to make this selection. You also have to be considering the long view over time in front of you. In order to stay on track with what ever Strategic Pathway you have determined to follow you must always consider the following questions among others. Is this target set part of your primary Strategic Pathway? Is it detracting you away from your primary path? Are the conditions of your assets and the overall Theater configuration or situation appropriate to select this target at this time? Do you have enough assets to attack more than just that target at that range? What do you have to fly through to get there and back? How exposed to Luftwaffe interception is your Strike Force once over the continent on the way to and from that target?
As you will see as you go through this brief description of these basic phases that there is a lot of organization, planning and preparation involved in bringing together an effective Strategic Strike. These are all important questions that must be answered if you hope to be successful. My measure of success is basically how much damage did I deliver to German Industry at what cost to my forces? So let’s look a bit deeper into some of these.
Is this target or target set part of your Primary Strategic Pathway?
As you look out across the map of Europe and the Mediterranean you should readily realize that this is the quintessential “Target Rich Environment” often spoken of. There are literally hundreds of targets under many categories to choose from. Your time is not unlimited and every day you do not destroy German Industry it rebuilds itself. And it does so to your detriment. So you have to choose your targets wisely. Your counterpart that you represent in this game, Ira Eaker and his staff, developed what was known as “Point Blank”. This was a list of the 75 Strategic Targets that had been determined necessary to be destroyed in order to cripple German Industry. This is what you are attempting to build here, your Point Blank list. However you don’t necessarily need to build the entire list up front. The idea is choose your Strategic Pathway and follow it to Victory.
The assumption is that by this time you have selected your pathway. What you must do each and every time you begin to build another days operations is insure that those targets selected for your Primary Strategic Strikes are part of the pathway you have selected. If you don’t do this you may quickly find yourself all over the map chiseling away at little bits and pieces of this massive German Industrial complex and having little effect.
Are the conditions of your assets and the overall Theater configuration or situation appropriate to select this Target or Target Set at this time?
The idea here is, do you have the carrying capacity, the escort range and escort concentration and duration capability, the overall regional force saturation level to allow you to reach, strike and heavily damage and then return from this target? With the added caveat of “And not get a Whoopin”?. A very blunt example of this question is: The date is 8/25/43, is targeting critical industrial facilities in Berlin appropriate? You have what, 8+ B-17F Bomb Groups maybe with a total force of 250-300 Bombers that have the ability to reach Berlin? But your only hopes of an escort is basically from England to the eastern border of France will be your Fighter Groups, and then from there to Berlin and back to eastern France will be the Luftwaffe performing escort duty. Your selection must be something that can be attacked and heavily damaged with low expectations of losses in doing so. Therefore selecting a critical target in Berlin at this time is inappropriate.
Do you have enough assets to attack more than just this target?
This is a fundamental question as it determines the basic configuration of your Strike. How would you determine if you have enough for only this one Primary target or others? Well you need to have a solid escort of your fighters all the way to and from the target. If due to the range you will have to spread out your fighters across the duration of the flight to and from the target once in Indian Country and use the greater proportion of your Fighter Groups to do so, then you are therefore most likely limited to only that one target. This means you are going to have to build a Strike to run a Gauntlet.
In this configuration the general strategy is Strength in Numbers. Which means you will be massing your Heavy Bombers and utilizing most all of your Fighter Groups for just this one strike. This means you will be the one central focal point of the entire strength of the Luftwaffe. I would really not recommend this at the early stages of the campaign. At most you are only going to be able to put up about 300 Heavy Bombers and maintain an escort level of about < 50 Fighters at any given time throughout the entire duration of the mission. This is extremely costly in Fighters, Bombers and Pilots. A strategy I would never recommend unless under the most dire need.
So selecting a target at long range early in the campaign is really not an option. For this reason alone I select targets fairly close which are those in the western most region of the continent. Here your missions will be fairly short durations of only a few hours at most at ranges of mostly < 200 miles. This means that you can utilize most of your fighters for at least some role in your Strike. You will also be able to include your Tactical Bombing forces which will help you spread out the Luftwaffe interception.
What do you have to fly through or over to get to and from the target?
The cardinal rule of “if you fly over it, it has guns and it will shoot at you” applies here. The only facility you actually want to fly over should be the Primary Target. Flying over other facilities exposes your forces to Flak. This should be avoided at all times when possible. The Axis has several Rail Flak units which possess high levels of larger caliber AA. These should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary to either attack the target they are defending or a target near them. Flying over Rail Flak units is always costly. It is not a question of “if” but rather “how much” will be lost doing so.
Losses to these units and other large caliber Flak at other facilities is not always readily apparent. Flying over facilities unnecessarily typically causes the “Creeping Death” to occur to AC that do so. When your forces are attacked by Flak you will most likely get messages saying “AC damaged by Flak” just after the Flak attack. This most always leads to the results of the Creeping Death with “Damaged Aircraft Crashes” message to flash from that Group later on in the mission. If your AC are flying at 20,000 feet or higher for example the only Flak that can reach you is large caliber, such as 88mm Flak or larger. This is extremely deadly. There are Flak units that have some of the 128mm Flak which is extremely deadly up to 32,000 feet.
Ok… I want to make a point here. Yes your AC can fly at this altitude and above so you could avoid Flak altogether. However to paraphrase Ira Eaker, one of the original CO’s of the Allied Air Forces in Europe, when asked the question of why he did not just have his Heavy Bombers fly at such great altitudes and avoid the Flak altogether. His reply, “It puts extreme wear on the airframes, equipment and the crews to fly at those altitudes for sustained periods of time and our losses to such activities would soon outnumber our losses to the Luftwaffe and Flak combined”.
Also, IMHO, doing so is what I consider “Ahistorical” and “Gaming the Game” both of which I prefer not to do to any great extent if I can avoid it. So please don’t post replies here about how you can game the game and get mondo results because remember as always.. this is the “KayBay Way”…..
So you have to pay attention to the path you would have to take to the target when you are making your selections. Many targets are not closely clustered with others and you can plot a path to them and away from them without having to fly over other facilities. And a word to the wise, DO NOT fly over ground forces. These formations are basically a Division. Armored and Mechanized ground forces have hundreds of large caliber AA and this can be quite costly doing so. At any rate you have several Waypoints you can use to plot a course to and from targets. My advice is to use them. Otherwise you should just let the AI run your campaign for you. If that is your strategy you shouldn’t be reading this. You’re just wasting your time here.
How exposed to Luftwaffe interception is your Strike Force once over the continent on the way to and from that target?
The idea here is that early in the campaign going after targets that are at long range exposes you to large numbers of Luftwaffe assets over a long duration of time. If in the choosing of a target with respect to other targets for that day you create this situation then you can expect heavy losses. This is where your Situational Awareness comes in to play. IE: Do you know where the majority of Luftwaffe AC are operating from that can perform daylight interceptions and are you placing your strike force into a high level of exposure to this by selecting a particular target or path to or from it?
As I have stated earlier you need to disperse the Luftwaffe response to your operations. However you don’t want to disperse your forces so far apart in doing so that you now expose a group or a strike force into high exposure to a concentrated and prolonged engagement with the Luftwaffe. This is where your Tactical Air Force, Fighter Bomber and Fighter forces can be utilized to disperse the Luftwaffe even in a relatively small area so as to prevent one particular Group from being focused on.
This is by no means everything about Target Selection you need to consider. It is however a fairly substantial start.
The quintessential phrase that should be considered here is “If you can’t find it… you can’t bomb it”. Recon is one of the most simple operations to carry out and one of the most fundamental requirements in all of your operations and at the same time it is also one of the most overlooked and misunderstood features in many players campaigns.
Reconnaissance is so much more than simply knowing where the Target is. It is much more about being able to actually locate and identify the target than anything else. You must consider that the various factories and facilities are not just standing all by themselves surrounded by farm and grass lands. Where you can see them from a hundred miles away when at 24,000 feet. They are actually for the most part surrounded by other structures that may look very similar to them. It is difficult to actually be able to identify a particular Target structure and differentiate it from other structures around it. This is why having the most current Recon on a target is vital to your Strike Force to being able to actually locate and identify it.
There is also the weather to consider. For the most part you will be dealing with bad weather, or cloudy and overcast conditions throughout the entire campaign. Bad weather conditions make it very difficult to locate and identify a target. The older your Recon is for that target the more likely you are to not locate it or even misidentify it and bomb Aunt Gertrude’s Bakery instead. If your Strike Force fails to locate the target they will go on to the Secondary target. However if they misidentify the target and bomb it they will report what ever damage they did to the wrong target as damage to the actual target. You will never know you missed it unless you run damage assessment Recon after the strike.
Having recon of a target that is 1 day old or less is important with respect to your Strike locating, identifying and damaging the target. It doesn’t matter if your Strike is Heavy Bombers, Tactical Bombers, Fighter Bombers, etc… What matters is the age of your recon. You can get same day pre strike recon if your Strike is run later in the day. However if your Recon mission fails to locate and photograph the target and return successfully before your Strike launches then they are going on what ever the current Recon status of the target is. And there is NO Recall in this game. So I strongly recommend previous day Recon for your Primary Strategic Targets.
I will discuss the various types of Recon and ways in which you can setup Recon missions later when we get to the example portion.
Strike Preparation Phase
Just to get you off on the right track, this is by no means fueling your AC and loading them with bombs. This is all those steps taken days or even weeks prior to Strike Day to allow you a high probability of success. This starts with moving Squadrons and Groups to the appropriate Airfields to be able to operate from to carry out the operations. It ends with your coordinated array of various Tactical and Strategic Strikes as well as Fighter Sweeps and Patrols and Fighter Bomber operations on various preparatory intermediate targets. With a lot of other tasks in between.
The appropriate questions to be considered are for the most part as follows. Are all my Fighter and Bomber Groups operating out of the appropriate Airfields to reach their operational targets or to perform their Primary missions? Are they up to acceptable numbers of operational AC? Are the Pilots and Crews at acceptable Morale, Fatigue and Experience levels to fly their missions? Are there any intermediate targets that need to be dealt with in order to promote the maximum chance of success of the Primary missions? What is the weather conditions and forecast for the various Target areas?
So let’s take a closer look at some of the more pertinent questions here.
Are all my Fighter and Bomber Groups operating out of the appropriate Airfields to reach their operational targets or to perform their Primary missions?
I am not even advocating that you should be moving your Air Groups around every other day. If that is what you are thinking right now then…(Spoken in the voice of Foghorn Leghorn) “Ah say there Bwoy… pay attention to me when I’m talking to ya!”. The point here being that you should by now have done your homework and selected your Primary Strategic Pathway. You should have some formulation of your Point Blank target list. You should therefore also have some idea as to where your targets are and where you are going to want to be launching your Strikes from for some time to come. You then need to plan out what Groups are going to operate out of what Airfields. Your Groups should be posted based on their relative range capabilities. IE: shorter ranged AC should be in the most forward bases of their Commands and the longer ranged AC should be to the rear bases of their commands. I am stating this very simplistically here but the basic idea is sound. If you just start off with the default base postings of all your groups I would highly recommend you reassess your strategy and make some moves.
Are all my Fighter and Bomber Groups up to acceptable numbers of operational AC?
Using Air Groups that are heavily depleted is unwise. Remember there is strength in numbers and this is a sound doctrine to work with all throughout your campaign. A Heavy Bomber Group typically has 32 AC in it. This is for both the B-17 and B-24 variants. These comprise the backbone of your Daylight Strategic Forces. Fighter Groups typically have 48 AC (This is for the USAAF Fighter Groups) but depending upon Theater and AC type may be broken down into 16 AC Squadrons or 20-24 AC RAF Fighter Groups. Yes there are many exceptions so lets don’t get nit picky here, it just serves to derail the discussion and it’s primary purpose.
Checking the Group or Squadron Detail page you will find how many AC are Ready, how many are in Maintenance and how many may be held in Reserve for a particular Group or Squadron. This “Reserve” is not to be confused with the overall Force Pool Reserve which may hold hundreds of AC. I am speaking of only those actually assigned to a particular Group or Squadron that are being held in Reserve.
The point being made here is that if, for example, the Fighter Group that has a full capacity of 24 AC but only has 14 Ready to fly a mission on a given day and 10 AC in Maintenance (IE: Being repaired from Battle Damage) is IMO Depleted. This unit should not be flown unless under dire circumstances. The same goes for your Bomber Groups. If the full capacity of a Bomber Groups is 32 and a Group has 17 Ready, 7 in Maintenance and 8 in Reserve, this Group is IMO Depleted and should not be flown unless absolutely necessary.
You need to allow Groups and Squadrons in this situation to rebuild and get much closer to full strength before you start working them in combat. This is why this is part of your Strike Preparation Phase. You must prepare a large enough overall force to allow you to strike and heavily damage your selected targets in your Strategic Pathway.
Are the Pilots and Crews at acceptable Morale, Fatigue and Experience levels to fly their missions?
Groups and Squadrons that fall into the “Depleted” category are typically also exhibiting low Morale and / or high Fatigue. I will NEVER fly a Group or Squadron unless Morale ≥ 50%. Even then only if they are really needed. Crews with low Morale have a high rate of losses, a low rate of locating and identifying the target and a low rate of damaging the target due to high inaccuracy. Your Crews will rebuild 5 points of Morale each day of resting. You must continually monitor Morale of your Groups and Squadrons and rotate them in and out of combat so as to maintain a high Morale. Fatigue has similar effects but doesn’t accumulate as quickly. Fatigue accumulates from continuous days of combat and can only be reduced by standing down and resting. Same as Morale so you need to pay attention to these or pay the price.
As for Experience, the higher the Experience level of a Group or Squadron is the better they perform in all categories. This can be heavily affected by Morale and Fatigue. Surviving a Mission increases Experience. If you want to build Experience then you need to carefully select and build a Groups’ Mission and Role to promote survival. I place only the most experienced Crews in Lead Roles as this will facilitate locating and identifying targets.
A word to the wise here….. Low Experience, High Fatigue, Low Morale and Old Recon = Hitting Aunt Gurtrude’s Bakery and thinking it was Berlin Ball Bearing accompanied with heavy losses.
Are there any intermediate targets that need to be dealt with in order to promote the maximum chance of success of the Primary missions?
This is huge and second only to that of moving Groups and Squadrons to more appropriate Airfields. This involves Radar sites, Enemy Airfields and any targets other than the Primary Strategic Strike Targets. These other targets are any target selected other than the Primary for the purpose of dispersing the Luftwaffe intercept. These targets may have to be dealt with days prior to the actual Primary Strategic Strike. For example if you don’t want the Luftwaffe warming up at the same time you are you need to deal with their Radar sites that have operational areas extending out to near and over your Airfields and paths of approach to the enemy coast.
These also include Airfields with active Daylight Interceptor squadrons. You can run Sweeps to destroy AC on the ground, damage the Airfields and if you work out some details with timing you can kill Pilots on the ground warming up to take off to intercept your Bombing forces. These are also other targets you will be attacking such as Rail centers or other facilities to disperse the interceptors across a larger region than just your Primary Strikes. These can also be Fighter Patrols you can draw interceptors to where you can gain localized air superiority and destroy Luftwaffe assets in the air. These are just a few examples of what these intermediate preparatory targets can be.
Strike Execution Phase
This is quite simply the execution of your Primary Strikes as well as any other supporting strikes or missions. This is the Main Course as it were. During this phase there is not a lot for you to do other than sit back and watch your operations unfold. I would however recommend that you take notes as your missions run their course. You can learn many vital details about what enemy units are based where as well as what types of AC they are operating. You can also glean much about their Order of Battle by paying attention. Be aware that the Fog of War is active during this phase. Not every message that pops up is accurate. Although there will be some truth to them all.
I want to take a moment to explain a couple things here that I am not quite sure that everybody understands. If you already understand this please don’t take offense but please realize that not everybody may be aware as you are. There are two things I consistently see misunderstood or completely overlooked or even unknown. These are the concepts of “Fog of War” and “Order of Battle”.
Fog of War
Fog or War is very much more than not being able to see your enemy. This includes things such as misinterpretation of results, which is more likely the significant majority of its effect on your campaign. This can be expressed in your campaign as many things. Here are a few of the more obvious ones. AC Destroyed claims by your gunners or Fighters. Target facilities bombed and the damage level inflicted as interpreted by your Strike Forces or your Recon units. Type and numbers of enemy AC encountered in aerial combat or observed at Airfields. Target facility and it’s location, (yeah, your Recon or your Strike Force can actually misidentify some ground feature as a particular target facility and your recon will be updated as such and you may never know it even after you have bombed it). As your campaign unfolds you may observe other effects of Fog of War. The point being here is, never absolutely trust any Recon or observation by any of your forces. I would always advise an attitude of trepidation when carrying out your campaign.
Order of Battle
Order of Battle is much more than a TOE. Although it is built around one. TOE is not a really big toe…. It is a Table of Equipment which includes all the various units and equipment of a military force. The Order of Battle is the What, When, Where, How and Why of the method in which a military force employs the men and material of a TOE to wage war. It is how their various types of units are equipped and organized and how they actually go to battle against you. To be able to see and understand an enemies Order of Battle is to be able to find it’s strengths and weaknesses in Strategic and Tactical doctrine as well as men and material and to be enabled to develop your own Order of Battle tailored for victory against that enemy. This is, more simply put, the ability to accurately predict what your enemy will do with what in a given situation and counter and overcome it.
Post Strike Assessment Phase
This phase is much more than just a Damage Assessment Phase. The point here being that you will be doing much more than operating Recon missions to the various targets you have attacked to assess your effectiveness. You will also be looking at the various facts and figures of your losses as well as that of the enemy. There is much more than just Recon here. This phase is where you assess what you accomplished at what cost. You must put your observations from every previous phase together and adapt for the next set of operations.
If you paid attention in earlier phases to how the enemy intercepted what forces and what you both did well and poorly etc…, you can use this to modify future operations to enhance your success and minimize your losses. This will help you to develop those new tactics and strategies needed as both your forces evolve as well as the overall campaign. You must be able to recognize changes that occur and how they affect your campaign. Then react to it with adaptations.
You need to be looking at changes in Morale, Experience and Fatigue of your crews for example. You must determine how to overcome reductions in Morale and increases in Fatigue and still be able to operate effectively in destroying German Industry. You must learn how to determine when the weather is acceptable or prohibitive to your various operations and then again how to adapt and maintain operational effectiveness.
What I have done here is to lay out a very generalized sequence of tasks or phases to follow to create Operational Strikes against German Industry. As your campaign unfolds you will quickly be performing each of these tasks or phases associated with several operational targets each day of your campaign. Each of which may be a Primary Target of your major Strategic Pathway or one of a supporting target for a Primary or intermediate or preparatory target. Remember you have command of two overall composite Air Forces, one in the ETO and one in the MTO. Some of the operations you develop may have one Air Force supporting another in a different theater of operations. This would depend on your Strategic Pathway and your Order of Battle.
What ever you choose it is my most sincere hope that you enjoy this fantastic game as much as I have over the years.
Remember the point of playing a “Game” is… To Have Fun!
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