A few more notes:
- On expanding Allied production. While in 1942-43 greater numbers of planes at the Pacific can primarily appear at the cost of other theatres, in 1944 US already started reducing their military program IRL because the perspective of victory was obvious. Some players notice a drop-off in fighter reinforcements in second half of 1944 and complain about it. In case of stronger Japan, 1944's US air reinforcements can be increased by several times. Any tweaks in this area so far, John (I don't have time to read the entire Allied side thread)?
- I believe we need to reduce accuracy for 4E defensive armament, after all (not for other bombers, these are undergunned, for both sides).
Reading up to current. FYI, somewhere in the forum read a recomendation that the allies fly b17/24 at 50% rest to preserve air frames from stress of overuse. So about 2 months ago in real life I modified my air war to this effect in Burma to great success. In addition to an accumulation of 4e frames I started to get aces for the units. Only because I was resting 50% at all times. Before I did this I was not ability to fill all my bomber sqns w/ planes because of overuse and frame/pilot fatigue.
In general I am not happy w/ the current power of the jap ftr units VS allied ftr units up to late 43 and call for a return to stock speeds for IJ fighters. I suspect a gaming issue exist(w/ frame production manipulation I am facing a6m8 in sept 43) in the ability of IJAAF to produce large amounts of pilots and frames in game and I sense the 4e is one counter balance solution to this inequity and strongly disagree to any thought of watering down the 4e effect.
It's difficult. I suspect the efficiency of bomber defensive fire is on some level based on stuff like this:
Wakde, Sarmi, and Biak had been attacked prior to the RECKLESS landings, but the first large daylight strikes on the three areas began on 28 April. Forty-seven B-24's from the 43d and 90th Groups flew from Nadzab to bomb Mokmer drome on Biak. The 90th Group, arriving first, encountered twelve fighters, shot three of them down, and destroyed an additional ten planes on the ground. The 43d Group, meeting only one interceptor, was credited with three grounded aircraft.
Twenty-four Liberators had taken off at Munda on the preceding day and staged to Piva strip on Bougainville. Twenty of them, topping off with additional fuel at Nissan, bombed the airstrip on Eten Island, Truk Atoll, at 1300 hours on 29 March. During the bomb runs, the planes met AA fire variously described as heavy, moderate, and generally inaccurate, and immediately after the "bombs away" some seventy-five Japanese fighters, evidently having held off until the AA had fired, pressed aggressive attacks for three-quarters of an hour. In this furious engagement, 307th gunners claimed thirty-one definite victories, but two B-24's were lost, fifteen damaged, twenty men were killed or missing, and eleven others were wounded. One of the Liberators, trailing gasoline from a damaged engine, was set on fire by a phosphorous burst bomb, a new aerial weapon which the Japanese fighters lobbed in among the bombers to break their defensive formations. The other planes landed safely at Nissan Island, whence they returned to Munda.
On the following day, eleven B-24's of the 5th Bombardment Group hit the runways and revetments on Moen Island, releasing their 100- and 500-pound bombs through a partial overcast. They were intercepted by about forty Japanese fighters, and in a running fight lasting more than an hour some eleven of the enemy planes were shot down at a loss of three B-24's. The 5th and 307th Groups teamed up on 2 April to execute a highly successful raid against Dublon town and the Nanko district of Truk Atoll, despite murderous AA fire and interceptions by some fifty fighters. B-24 gunners were credited with thirty-nine fighters destroyed, but once again the Liberators were badly damaged and four of them did not return from the mission. After such heavy losses in day raids, XIII Bomber Command next sent out a night attack, in which four 868th Bombardment Squadron "snoopers" led twenty-seven B-24's of the 307th Group to Dublon town on the night of 6/7 April. One B-24 was lost, either to flak or to a hostile night fighter.
These are from here; if you go backwards and forwards through the chapters and search for "B-24" or "Liberator" there are a lot more similar. Obvious points to note:
- This was written in 1950 in the US, so kill claims are obviously not reliable. At the same time, a fighter that turns around and smokes for home after you shoot at it might as well be a kill...
- 60 B-24s is still an unusually large raid in early 1944, and to lose four on one mission is considered terrible
Personally, I find, in 1942, that my bombers (usually putting about 40 B-17s up against 25-50 Japanese fighters) get very few outright kills - I have three B-17 pilots with confirmed kills, one each - but usually write off about 5-10 fighters as operational losses at a cost of 2-4 bombers. Which, uh, seems pretty in line with the 1950s stuff, at least...so I'm not sure there really is a problem there. There was obviously a problem with night bombing, in that the bombers were able to fight as a formation, but it's now been changed so they come in separately, so I'm not sure how big a problem it remains.
B-29 stuff is interesting too:
En route to Tokyo seventeen B-29's aborted. Six Superforts were unable to bomb because of mechanical failures, and the weather over Tokyo made bombing difficult for the others. Formations flying at altitudes of from 27,000 to 33,000 feet were swept into a 120-knot wind which gave the bombers a ground speed of about 445 miles per hour; below, an undercast almost completely obscured the target. Only twenty-four planes bombed the Musashino plant; sixty-four unloaded on dock and urban areas. Thirty-five of the aircraft that bombed had to do so by radar. The Japanese fighter defense was less fierce than had been feared and much less effective than that which had been met by AAF formations over Germany. Intelligence officers, consolidating crew reports, figured that about 125 Jap fighters had been up--a mixture of Tojos, Zekes, Tonys, Nicks, Irvings, and some unidentified planes--of which the B-29 gunners claimed 7 destroyed, 18 probables, and 9 damaged. As usual in Japanese interceptions, there seemed to be no coordinated plan of attack, and pilots varied in skill, aggressiveness, and tactics used. The one U.S. combat loss occurred when an enemy pilot drove his damaged Tony into the tail of a B-29 in what looked like a deliberate ramming; with elevator and right horizontal stabilizer shorn off, the Superfort crashed into the sea twenty miles off the Honshu coast with the loss of all aboard. Flak was meager to moderate, and generally inaccurate.
Against Akashi, Hansell sent seventy-seven B-29's, plus three others in a diversionary strike. With good weather, 62 bulled it through to the Kawasaki factory, dumped 155 tons of GP's, and then returned with no losses. Interpreting strike photos, intelligence officers estimated that 38 per cent of the roofed area showed major damage.102 This was an understatement. Every important building in both the engine and airframe branches had been hit and production was cut by 90 per cent. Indeed, the Kawasaki Company liquidated the combined plant and dispersed the machine tools, which had suffered only slightly, to other sites. The Akashi shops were given temporary repairs at the cost of 226 tons of critical materials and over 9,000,000 yen, but the installation was used thereafter only for limited assembly jobs.
Those are late 1944; they went over to firebombing shortly afterwards:
On the basis of favorable weather forecasts, LeMay decided on 3 February to run the mission next day. Not satisfied with the concentration achieved with the M69 bombs used in the Nagoya test, he loaded his planes with E28 500-pound incendiary clusters topped off with frag clusters. Including 38 from the 313th Wing, 129 planes were airborne, but only 69 got through to the target where they dropped 159.2 tons of incendiaries and 13.6 tons of frags from altitudes ranging between 24,500 and 27,000 feet. About 200 enemy fighters attacked, proving that Kobe was not a soft touch. They shot down one B-29 and damaged thirty-five; another burned upon landing at Saipan. The results, however, were far more encouraging than at Nagoya, for post-strike photos showed damage to 2,651,000 square feet of built-up area.122 Postwar information, agreeing roughly with this estimate, added details: in the area bombed--the industrial southwestern district of Kobe--1,039 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged, and although casualties were only moderate, 4,350 persons were rendered homeless. Local war production was hit hard. Of a dozen factories accounting for 90 per cent of Kobe's essential war industry, five received damage of varying degrees of severity. One of the two major shipyards had to reduce operations by half. Production of fabric and synthetic rubber was completely wiped out and other industries suffered greatly.123
The indirect results--and indeed some of the direct results--of the B-29 campaign were not thoroughly appreciated by XXI Bomber Command at the time, and a balancing of visible damage against the effort expended was discouraging. In 22 missions involving 2,148 sorties the command had dropped on Japan 5,398 tons of bombs. Only about half of the planes had bombed primary targets. Losses had been high, rising in January to 5.7 per cent of bombers airborne. Bombing from altitudes in the neighborhood of 30,000 feet, the Superforts suffered relatively little from flak. Fighter interception, however, was often aggressive and effective, the more so because the restricted pattern of B-29 attacks allowed the enemy to concentrate his fighters in the Tokyo-Nagoya area. The long overwater trip to target and back, without a friendly base en route for refueling or repair, took its toll of wounded or malfunctioning planes. These difficulties were reflected in the statistics of losses incurred through February: twenty-nine B-29's were lost to enemy fighters, one to flak, nine to a combination of fighters and flak, twenty-one to operational difficulties, and fifteen to unknown causes.
So, flying from the Marianas, without escort, they're down 75 aircraft per month. In-game I'd expect 75 a week to be more likely under similar circumstances...if not more.
If anything, the problem is really the ability of fighters to intercept heavy bombers effectively at high altitudes - I mean, noone flies bombers at 30,000ft in-game, right? This is typical of what happens if you put 35 B-29s up against 100 Ki-61-II at 33,000ft:
Note the Japanese had 17 aircraft damaged, but no writeoffs in this case as the aircraft were all factory-fresh.
This is what happens to 46 B-29s at 7000ft:
So, losses pretty much identical - and you can imagine how much more damage the survivors did on the ground flying lower.
I'm not sure that's something that can be fixed, to be honest, short of just setting the B-29's ceiling 1000ft higher than the next highest Japanese aircraft. Altitude really doesn't seem to be a performance factor (or, at least, not a significant one) when intercepting bombers - interestingly 305mph Oscars will happily intercept and down in droves 415mph Mosquito - the former can fly higher, so they get to dive and catch.