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Battle of Britain: The Strategic Game
by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Game: Battle of Britain
Version: UK Release
Category: Air Combat Simulation (WWII)
Developer: Rowan Software
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Release Date: North America - January 2001, UK - Released
Links: | Playable Demo | First Look | Preview | Pilot Career How-To | Flight Models in BoB |
Article Date: January 17th, 2001
Article Type: Strategy Guide
I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'
...We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills.
We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God's good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.
---Sir Winston Churchill,
from his speech to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940.
On the surface, the odds didn't look good.
Churchill’s words reveal determination, and also the darkness of the hour. The resources of the RAF paled in comparison to the resources available to the Luftwaffe. Short of divine intervention, how could Britain possibly survive? Rowan’s Battle of Britain offers you the opportunity to find out.
Battle of Britain contains both a simulation and a strategic game. The most fun is had playing BOTH games simultaneously. This way the player can act as strategic commander and also fly the missions of choice.
The Battle of Britain occurred in five phases.
In the first phase, the Luftwaffe attacked the British convoys that crossed the English channel, hoping to attract the RAF fighters to combat. The second phase was fighter against fighter. In the third phase, the Luftwaffe made a huge air raid against all airfields, industrial centers and industries, using all the power of their bombers and fighters.
The fourth phase was the one in which Great Britain most required the support of its people: with the Blitz, London and its surroundings were all targeted by continuous German bombardments. The fifth phase represented the British reaction and the clearer skies in November of 1940 and the cancellation of Operation Sea Lion.
The critical dates of the Battle were these.
July 10th: beginning of the Battle; August 13th, Adler Tag, the first big Luftwaffe attack; September 9th, the beginning of the British reaction.
Participating RAF aircraft were the Supermarine Spitfire IA, Hawker Hurricane MK I, Bristol Blenheim, Boulton-Paul Defiant and the Gloster Gladiator. The Luftwaffe used the Heinkel He 111, Junkers Ju 88, Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, Messerschmitt Bf 109 E4/3 and the Dornier Do 17. The biggest air confrontation was between the Supermarine Spitfire IA and Messerschmitt Bf 109 E4.
The Strategic Game
Playing the strategic game can be done in one of three ways:
1. set the directives and let the game proceed
2. don’t use the directives at all
3. use the directives but interfere (depending on need)
I found the third option worked best for me. It requires that you stay on top of the game, and the sense of involvement can be quite acute, particularly if you fly occasional missions.
The Directives interface.
There are three engagement periods for each day in Battle of Britain: morning, afternoon, and evening. At the beginning of each period the Directives screen will pop up, allowing you to automate the task of mission building (unless you place the phone “on the hook” via the icons at the bottom of the Operations Room map, signifying broken contact with your information sources. Then you must manually assign targets and patrols).
I bypassed the first phase of the campaign and launched into the second phase, Eagle Attack, beginning on the 12th of August, 1940.
I select Phase II: Eagle Attack
August 12th, Adlertag, Day One
We scramble as always, my plane on the left side. The emotions die out at 20,000 feet, when we see the enemy. There are a lot of them today, they have the nerve to fly in straight rows; like evil ghosts, the Messerschmitts hover above them. The decision is quick, we dive straight into them, ignore the fighters and go for the Dorniers.
I fire a burst and the beggar goes down. The section leader is shooting as well, but the Messerschmitts won't let us finish, we have to withdraw. The swarm of aircraft breaks up in all possible directions after our attack. I turn back. 1,000 feet below, in the sunlight, fly white-nosed Me-109s. There are six of them. I press the firing button, a Messerschmitt flies through the entire burst. The other five attempt to corner me. I withdraw unscathed.
---Flying Officer Jan Zumbach, 303 (Polish) Hurricane Squadron.1
The first day went very well. The weather was only partly cloudy, 2/8.
The strategic game's situation map
There were no patrols on the coast as a result of my Directives, but I quickly adjusted by adding two patrols. Adding patrols allows you a quicker response time to vector to incoming bandits, a good idea since the period required to form up and move to the coast is often too long for an effective intercept.
Catching the inbound bombers early is important, especially since the Me109 escorts often trail miles behind.
This first day went extremely well. I used single squadrons exclusively, so that response time would be quick. Assigning two or more squadrons is not a good idea, since formation time is excessive, thereby reducing responsiveness.
The morning battles were relatively light, with the heaviest engagements taking place in the afternoon and evening. At that time I also assigned patrols to the Sector Ops at Biggin Hill and Hornchurch and ensured that southern bases were at high states of readiness (5 minutes or less).
The afternoon is where the bulk of the victories occurred. Here you see at 17:42 inbound flights all over the map. The patrols I have circled in black were vectored southeast to intercept the He111s there. The patrols circled in blue I vectored southwest to intercept He111s going for the port.
Patrols (circled) vectored to intercept He-111's
Time to consider the damages. In Battle of Britain morale affects factory output, and in turn the factories feed the airfields. Many factors influence morale in the factories, including losses of aircraft and convoys, and of course, damage to factories!
Reviewing the damage
I had no aircraft losses, except two on the ground…an amazing result. But my biggest concern was damage to repair and refueling facilities. I had also lost some pilots as a result of losses to staff buildings. A look at West Malling Airfield shows the way that BoB reports damage.
A detailed damage report
In this next image I have selected the Dover Chain Home radar site, which you see is ringed in red, indicating that it has taken damage. Notice that pulling up a dialogue on a particular site offers you some control options, such as PATROL, so that you can immediately assign air cover.
Red ring around Dover radar site indicates damage
The result, at the end of the day, was 32 enemy aircraft downed for NO combat losses by the RAF!
Day's end results page.
At the end of the day I moved several squadrons south to improve reaction time.
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