Turn 6 - 7th Aug '43
8th Air force switched to deep micro raids, taking a shotgun to the Leipzig / Madgeburg area and all of Berlin too. It plays to the strength of the system of course but for me doesn't quite fit with my understanding of reality. Reading a chronology of either 8th Air force (for example - https://8thafhs.org/combat1944a.htmor Bomber command) and it does't list 50 raids on different targets over the week. I believe a number of elements are missing from the equation here; the planning involved in organising raids, processing recon, briefing etc... this wasn't done on the fly with groups heading off to do their own thing relatively b) the morale element - there was a certain safety in numbers that gave confidence flying in bigger groups that maybe is not reflected in these small raids, there should be a negative morale effect of flying in small groups over germany. As we have seen the German answer is to step up interception to 300%, which means each group getting swarmed and continually outnumbered. This would run nerves hard compared to flying in raids of hundreds where the odds are better iii) navigation, this was a pretty big deal in the days before GPS. As mentioned above my grandfather was a navigator in a pathfinder squadron, completing 2 tours in 43 over France and Germany (thankfully safely, and his old log book makes interesting reading even though sadly he has long passed and was fairly quiet about the experience himself). Finding the target at night was a big deal even with the innovations in OBOE etc... These small raids on multiple targets can't possibly be reflecting the full benefit of a properly organised, pathfinder led mission. This is not a rail on QBall at all, its not gamey I don't think but I do feel something of the flavour of the campaign is being missed here. The end result will and should be the case that the Luftwaffe will be ground to dust, and the economy will be in ruins by 45, but I would like the pros and cons of various strategies to involve more incentives than trying to get at least 1% damage in as many places as possible rather than hammering a small amount of targets properly. Anyway, to re-iterate, QBall is judging it all well, has an effective strategy and its paying off in VPs. +13VP for bombs dropped, -2VP for Uboats not scratched.
I've been playing WITW against the Axis AI for almost a year and this is one feature of the otherwise great air engine that has bothered me. Very small strategic raids have an outsized effect on the accumulation of bombing VPs. It's true that the 20th and 21st Bomber Commands took a successful shotgun approach against Japanese targets beginning in April 1945 (using 10-15 B-29s per target on daylight precision raids), but they did so after examining the difference between European and Japanese targets (particularly the smaller physical size of Japanese industry targets and the almost complete lack of Japanese air defense by that point) and taking into account the weather conditions over Japan in the late spring and early summer (lots of cloud cover limiting the number of days for effective precision raids). For a good account of these studies and the resulting strategy, see Daniel Schwabe, Burning Japan (Univ of Nebraska Press, 2015). The German industrial targets were larger and the individual bombloads carried on most raids in Europe were significantly smaller than those carried by a B-29.
What have been the losses suffered by the Allied bombers on the raids so far? From what I've read in some how-to threads and several AARs over the past year, Allied players have carried on with losses that would have permanently broken the 8th AF in one month and resulted in courts martial. Is this shotgun bombing strategy resulting in heavy losses? Should it? Given that the Luftwaffe occasionally attacked bomber formations with upwards of 80-100 fighters in daylight, individual small bomber formations would have been devastated, resulting in destroyed groups and permanently broken morale in their sister groups. And a night, Bomber Command faced an almost impossible task of locating and striking individual industrial targets.
I tend to play conservatively, since I am only paying the AI, and tend to use small strategic raids only against railyards in a particular geographic area. I don't know if there is a solution to this issue (adjusting the bombing VP structure, although then the overall VP structure would have to be re-examined in light of any changes).