From: Bexhill-on-Sea, E Sussex
Confirm that when you start your game, when you select your side and then your difficulty level, that you select 'Default'as your difficulty level? I believe this is the only way you can ensure that the AI will not set up formations for you at the start when you set it up that way using the launcher. If you're selecting, say, easy, that will override your launcher settings.
As far as your manual method of removing stations goes, looks like you are going to too much trouble. You don't have to wait for the planes to get to bingo fuel to land. Once you de-select the formation control option, just bring up the formation editor, select the aircraft you want to remove from this formation and click twice on the 'air ops' menu button (the one in the formation editor box, not the main screen). The aircraft will RTB right away and not re-launch.
Now sometimes, these aircraft will retain their 'plotted' mission designation in the main screen 'launch' window. If that happens, you can't send them on a mission, nor can you un-assign them from the plotted status while landed. As a workaround, you must launch them in the main screen launch window, unassign them using the U key, then either select a target and send them off or land them, as need be. That USUALLY works.
Good luck, you'll get there!
I know about the launcher.
I know you can land aircraft earlier. Makes no difference to the problem
That's part of the problem. The other part in not being able to delete stations.
I played Harpoon 2 extensively when it first came out, around mid 1990, and although it was buggy I do not remmeber a problem with unassigning aircraft from missions or deleting stations from a formation. I still have the original game on floppies but cannot install it as I do not have a floopy drive any longer otherwise I would test it.