Mission 42 ...
The squadron in flight ...
HEADLINES FROM ENGLAND, midsummer 1943:
The 14th Annual B-17 Tournament Wrap Up - New Twists to the
Tourney: New Targets, the New Toby Mug (12 O'Clock High), a New
After Action Briefing, Awards Ceremony AND Prize Table (everyone
goes home a winner) on Friday evening, and a New Champion which
was a First-ever Wood for an Old-timer B-17 Veteran
2005 B-17 WBC Tournament After Action Report - GM David Terry
2004 marked the 13th year, and we were all happy to get by
that unlucky number 13. So with 2005 - the 14th year in our
bombsights, the grizzled veterans of the Mighty Eighth U.S. Army
Air Force took to the skies for three more historical missions,
to battle the Luftwaffe and attack key U-Boat installations in
1943 with one big surprise for Mission 42.
This year's missions started off against the familiar U-Boat
pens in St. Nazaire, France, (28 June 1943), which at six Zones
turned out to be the SHORTEST of our three missions. Little
did the flyers know what the GM had in store for them, but the
ruthless Air Commander warned everyone that 2005 was going to
The second mission (#41) was against the lock gates, port
area and U-Boat pens at La Pallice, France, (4 July 1943, Independence
Day) which is near La Rochelle and eight Zones from our friendly
airfields in England. La Pallice is not in the game's original
target set, but WBC's squadrons have been to that location before,
And then came the third mission of the day (#42) and the FIRST
NEW TWIST to the tournament. Reaching far beyond the game's
original target set, and requiring a lot of late night research
by the GM to even find the place on a map, the twisted Air Commander
sent the entire squadron to a new country - NORWAY. The target
was the nitrate works, aluminum and magnesium plants that were
part of the aviation industry in HEROYA, NORWAY (24 July 2005).
Where the heck is Heroya? Well, one piece of advice - don't
try to find it on an atlas that was a waste of about five
hours. Satellite imaging was how the GM found it, and if I hadn't,
it just wouldn't have been right to send the bombers out to a
place that the Air Commander wasn't even sure where it was on
the map. But it was found, color target maps were provided,
and we lit it up like a Christmas tree, knocking the plants out
of the rest of the war. The Germans didn't bother trying to
repair them after we were through with them. Oh, and by the
way, Heroya, Norway was in ZONE TEN, the longest mission we have
ever flown in the tournament, and it was a real nutcracker.
It assured that whoever won the 2005 tournament had survived
our hardest three missions yet. So the GM threw the biggest
hurdle yet at the fliers. Who would overcome the most adversity
ever? The answer is revealed below.
The Norway mission included an optional rule that permitted
fliers to land in Sweden and be interned for the rest of the
war. The GM feared 20 pilots might choose that option, but fortunately
only four planes out of 36 wound up in Stockholm. Of note, Pilot
David Long, in a plane called "Conscientious Objector",
got worn out and deliberately flew to Sweden instead of taking
the long ride back to England. Finally, the Air Commander actually
broke someone's morale. Well, sort of. Pilot Long looked very
happy sitting in Sweden.
Next year's historical missions will continue the European
bombing campaign. We are inching ever closer to the Regensburg/Schweinfurt
raids of August 1943, which will involve new maps and shuttle
missions to Africa.
The SECOND NEW TWIST was an unfortunate one. For the first
time in a long time, Assistant GM Mike Lam could not make the
tournament. He got stuck having to work and couldn't make the
annual trek from California. But here is why the B-17 tournament
values him so much: despite being absent, Mike graciously provided
the sets of medals to award all of the players again this year.
This costs Mike a lot of money. At about $4 per medal, Mike
has contributed about $200 to $300 worth of medal to this tournament
for SEVEN YEARS in a row, not counting the airfare to get to
the east coast. Mike is the iron man assistant GM, and as announced
at Friday's 1st Annual B-17 After Action Meeting, if I ever have
to step down as GM for any reason, Mike Lam is my choice as a
replacement. He goes the extra mile every year, and we all appreciate
him and his help with the tournament and the medals that he provides.
A list of medal winners follows below.
Service medals and medals for first year players were not
given out this year because of Mike's absence, but he assures
me he will be back and resume these next year. We took notes
as to who the new folks are this year - welcome aboard Nathan
Trent and Mike Windle. The Luftwaffe especially enjoys shooting
at new replacements.
The squadron continued its run of having more than 30 planes
in the air. This year we had 36, which was near an all time
high and was welcomed because we were worried about the effects
of moving to Lancaster, PA. And Lancaster turned out to be great.
The THIRD NEW TWIST was adding a third assistant gamemaster,
who is Mark Yoshikawa. Mark earned this honor by creating an
electronic database to automate the complex scorekeeping which
has me pulling my hair out in between answering rules questions.
Mark's database prototype worked very well, and he and I had
a contest to see if his laptop program could get the answers
out faster than my back up paper calculations. To his credit,
Paul Bunyan lost again and the machine beat the human (me).
FOURTH NEW TWIST was Friday's After Action Meeting. But I should
describe the FIFTH NEW TWIST first. I found a replica copy of
the Toby Jug that was used in the film Twelve O'Clock High.
What's the Toby Jug? Well, it is a ceramic jug made with the
shape of a face that is masked and looks a bit like Robin Hood.
The jug was used in the movie, and normally sat on the mantle
in the Officer's Club facing the wall. The "Turning of
the Toby" to face the room was a way to alert crew members
in the Club of an upcoming mission. The "Turning of the
Toby" is actually based on fact. In World War One, similar
codes were utilized by the RAF to signify that a mission was
upcoming. Many of the heavy bomber groups of the 8th Air Force
used the "Turning of the Toby" to signify that it was
time to stop drinking and get ready for a mission the next morning.
So, to start off the missions for 2005, we displayed the Toby
Jug 918th Bomb Group (Heavy), and we faced it toward the wall
initially. After the first mission briefing of the morning at
0900, the Toby Jug was turned outward to face the B-17 fliers.
And off we flew to St. Nazaire.
At the end of the third mission and the end of Thursday's
hostilities, Pilot Tom Pavy was the last straggler to return
home to England, and at that point, the Toby Jug in the Officer's
Club was turned back toward the wall, and packed away so there
will be a respite until next year when we will pick up the dice
and see what fate holds in store for us once again when we fly
out of our new Lancaster home field.
So, back to the FOURTH NEW TWIST - the After Action Meeting,
Awards Ceremony and Prize Table at 2300 hours on Friday evening.
In what became a usual long-winded debriefing by the Air Commander,
who promises to make it shorter next year, we talked a little
about the tough missions, particularly Norway, and what went
in to that scenario design. Then we awarded the medals, announced
the final standings from bottom to top and gave out the B-17
WOOD. And that brings us to the SIXTH NEW TWIST. Assistant
GM Keith Hunsinger, who has been through a lot in recent years,
was awarded the B-17 Championship Plaque, based on his outstanding
score of 180, just edging out his wing bomber Paul Risner who
came in second with a score of 176. This was Keith's FIRST EVER
wood, in any tournament dating back to 1992. After all that
Keith has been through, and what he has done for the B-17 tournament
over the years as an assistant, it gave me great pleasure to
award him the B-17 plaque at our After Action Briefing. It was
also great to see that he repeated the experience on Saturday
night at Slapshot. I still have to find out why he was
wearing an orange vest on Saturday night though. Congratulations
to Keith, and as we all knew, he was flying with more than just
good luck this year. He had spirits with him, and wasn't flying
alone. So this was an altogether fitting outcome for this year.
We're proud that B-17 was your first ever WBC tournament
win. Congratulations and godspeed.
The SEVENTH NEW TWIST was the 1st Annual B-17 Prize Table,
in which each participant was encouraged to bring one or two
gifts (B-17 books, or air war books, model airplanes, VHS or
DVD videos, pictures, etc.) for the prize table. Participation
is optional, and the GM doesn't want anyone spending more than
$10 to $20 or so on their prize offering for the table. The
result turned out well. Of the 36 tournament participants this
year, we had 25 people show up at the After Action Briefing.
Everyone went away with something new for their B-17 collections.
Also, during the Briefing, it was suggested that one or two
prizes be official "rotating" prizes which are brought
back year after year and re-donated, with the one who got it
signing their names to it as a record of being a B-17 tournament
veteran. Two prizes were thus established as rotating prizes
- one is a book "Castles in the Air" by Martin Bowman,
and the second is a framed picture of a B-17 that was donated
by John Jacoby, the GM of Circus Maximus, who graciously
donated six items for the prize table (and he doesn't even play
in the tournament). Thanks again John you always go beyond
the call of duty.
We will conduct the B-17 Prize Table again next year,
so if you are going to play B-17 next year, please bring something
for the prize table.
(By the way, in case you are wondering, I have to credit Alan
Moon, a former AH employee and author of one of my favorite columns
in the AH General - "The Asylum", for coming
up with the prize table idea.)
To conclude the After Action Briefing, pilots were dismissed
and we started up the film projector to show an episode from
The World at War and the very first episode of the TV series
Twelve O'Clock High. Only four of us managed to make it through
the wee hours of the morning, with Paul Risner bailing out a
bit earlier than Mark Yoshikawa, David Terry and guest Bruce
Monnin. There were a lot of audiovisual difficulties, so if
you missed it, we will replay the Twelve O'Clock High TV first
episode in 2006. And by the way, the Officer's Club was a good
time during the Briefing. You'd have to be there to understand
that, because the whole event took on a twist that I didn't expect,
mainly thanks to Paul Risner and Mark Yoshikawa, who probably
started a new tradition.
And finally, a description of the medals and consolation awards:
were awarded to Joseph Burch who came in last with a score of
19 after failing to get anyone back to England during Missions
40 and 41. Joe's award for having such a tough time was a new
paperback restricted copy of the B-17 Pilot's Handbook, which
will also become a new tradition for last place. The GM still
has photocopies of a smaller version of the B-17 Pilot's Handbook,
and a copy was given to both Kevin McCarthy who came in next
to last with a score of 49 and to Henry Richardson who was next
up from the bottom rung with a score of 57. Middle of the pack
awards went to Chris Storzillo, Evan Hitchings, and Tom Pavy,
with scores of 114, 113 and 116, respectively.
Also, many medals were given out for mission performance,
Gunner's Wings: Paul Risner, whose tail gunner became a double
ace with a total of ten kills over the course of the three missions.
Bombardier's Wings: Jon Izer, for best overall bombing accuracy,
with a 98% hit on Mission 40, 40% on Mission 41, and 0% for Mission
42. That is a 46% average over the three missions.
Air Medal: Bombing accuracy - Jon Izer, Mission 40, 98%.
Rookie Nathan Trent, Mission 41, 98%, and David Gantt, Mission
41, 97%. None on Mission 42 as an accuracy of 75% or better
Distinguished Flying Cross: Steve Munchak, Mission 41, who
was badly shot up, out of formation in the target zone, lost
his bombardier and starboard waist gunner, yet completed the
mission and successfully returned to base.
Distinguished Service Cross: Rookie Mike Windle, Mission 1.
His bombardier landed the plane back in England with a dice
roll of 12. Mike's enjoyment increased many fold on that one
Silver Star: none this year as no pilot braved frostbite at
altitude to get back to England safely.
Bronze Star: Barry Shoults, most evaders, 5 airmen escaped
becoming POWs, Mission 41.
Purple Heart: All ten crewmembers perish on a mission. BIP
- Burst in Plane is the usual method, but some also ditched at
sea, out of formation and without an operational radio to notify
the Royal Navy. No Purple Hearts awarded for Mission 40 (St.
Nazaire), but Mission 41 (La Pallice) had three and Mission 42
(Heroya, Norway) had four. These were awarded to:
1) Stephen Quirke, the 2004 champion, took a BIP on Mission 41
in the target zone 8 from the only plane that attacked him the
whole mission. Thus is the luck of B-17, from riches
(2004) to rags (2005).
2) Henry Richardson also had a BIP on Mission 41, in Zone 7 outbound.
3) Joe Burch, just as he was about to drop his bombs on the
target, got a BIP on Mission 41.
4) Paul Weintraub ditched at sea on the way out to Norway, only
in Zone 3, all presumed KIA, on Mission 42.
5) Bruce Peckham had the same fate - ditching at sea and all
presumed KIA, but he had managed to make it to Heroya and was
in Zone 5 heading home when the Luftwaffe did him in.
6) Barry Shoults got a very early BIP in Zone 3 heading away
from England to Norway on Mission 42 and
7) Jon Izer got a BIP in zone 6 on Mission 42, thus ending his
good bombing accuracy luck. The Luftwaffe went after our best
bombardier this year.
Prisoner Of War: Brian Conlon, most POWs, 14 total (eight
on Mission 40, six on Mission 42).
Many thanks once again to Assistant GM Mike Lam for providing
the medals despite his absence. As usual, Mike goes well beyond
the call of duty.
Overall, it was another great year. I thank everyone for
their participation - including participation in the new Friday
evening awards briefing and new Prize Table. Veterans from past
years are encouraged to return in 2006 (there are service medals
for five- and ten-year veterans). And we always welcome new
flyers - replacements are always needed. Please join in on the
fun in 2006 and be sure to participate in the optional After
Action Briefing and Prize Table too.