Mission 45 ...
The Greenville Squadron reports
for duty (from left): Bill Beckman, Bryan Collars, Dan Lawall,
Scott Pfeiffer, and Ken Richards. Airman Collars is out of uniform.
The Toby Mug faces out symbolizing
the squadron will soon fly. It is surrounded by door prizes donated
by the fliers for the After Action Meeting.
Three of the last four champs
populate this wing. Note the bomber motif sported by many of
the players as they get in the spirit of the campaign.
HEADLINES FROM ENGLAND, midsummer 1943:
The 15th Annual B-17 Tournament Wrap Up - The B-17 Tournament
sets a new record with 39 participants - next year we try to
2006 B-17 WBC Tournament After Action Report - GM David Terry
First, let's look back a year. 2005 marked the year when veteran
Keith Hunsinger finally won the B-17 tournament after
14 tries and then proclaimed that he was "no longer a virgin."
Or, at least, no longer a virgin at winning tournaments, otherwise
I had some questions about how he fathered his daughter... his
being a man of the cloth, I was beginning to think that Keith
had pulled off the immaculate conception years ago, but winning
the B-17 tournament in 2005 was probably immaculate enough
And, Keith's partners in his squadron made sure Keith had
a good ride to the targets in 2006, but they managed to let the
Germans shoot him up enough that he went from FIRST (2005) to
LAST (2006). This actually takes a lot of luck (good and bad)
to go from first to worst, but Keith managed to do it. Which
did he enjoy the most? Well, if you go to the WBC web site and
see photos of him running around with his wood for winning in
2005, I am sure you know which he preferred the most. Winning.
But, if you join us - our merry band of demented folks who
are involved with the B-17 tournament year after year,
you know that the story isn't completely about winning. Sure,
doing well is the icing on the cake. But the camaraderie of getting
together again at the convention, seeing old friends, and then
shooting them down, probably ranks well up there with winning.
It doesn't get any better than that (unless beer is involved).
This year's first mission tied into the horrific bombing of
Hamburg, Germany (Operation Gomorrah) with the 8th USAAF mission
#76 on 25 July 1943. We targeted a diesel engine factory but
weather forced the bombing to hit the city's shipyard areas instead.
The second mission was against two rubber factories and the
rail yards of Hannover, Germany (26 July 1943). Of course, the
military target was intended to disrupt tire production and not
In 2005, the third mission sent us to NORWAY, but this time
around we went for the deepest penetration of German airspace
yet - to the town of Oschersleben, Germany which is halfway between
Hannover and Berlin. This attack was designed to hit an Fw-190
aircraft plant. This was also a zone 9 mission, aided by the
fact that the P-47s could now protect the bombers out to five
zones with their new fiberglass belly drop tanks.
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.
Assistant GM Mike Lam made it back to the tournament this
year and handed out all kinds of medals for years of service,
achievements in the air, and all kinds of bad things usually
involving the air and the ground. More details on some of the
medals he handed out will be mentioned later on in this after
Assistant GM Mark Yoshikawa returned with his computer to
help with the new electronic scoring system that he developed.
Again, I keep paper records as a sanity check, and Mark and his
computer has now beaten me two years in a row at spitting out
the final tournament order. We old timers do occasionally catch
a few things though. But Mark's contributions have been a very
Assistant GM Keith Hunsinger assisted with rules and some
scoring, but he also serves as the Group Chaplain and with the
bad luck he was having with his own plane, he kept himself fairly
busy hoping for better luck. And if you ever get a chance to
talk to Keith, ask him what happened when he took a break to
go get his car from the repair shop. He heard some music on the
radio that makes you wonder if things really happen by chance
or for a reason.
Friday's After Action Meeting at 2200 hours continued to be
a big success as we reopened the Officer's Club, turned the Toby
Jug back toward the wall indicating that the missions for the
year were over, and showed the very first episode of the TV series
Twelve O'Clock High. After that, we gave out Mike Lam's medals,
WBC Wood, and we conducted our Second Annual B-17 Prize Table,
in which each participant was encouraged to bring one or two
gifts (B-17 or air war books, model airplanes, VHS or DVD videos,
pictures, etc.) for the prize table. Participation in this 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 39 tournament participants this year,
we had almost 30 people show up at the After Action Briefing.
Everyone went away with something new for their B-17 collections.
Also, the prize table features a couple of 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 veteran. Two prizes were 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.
Paul Weintraub, who suggested the concept of "rotating"
prizes, reframed that B-17 photo and was the first to bring it
back and it looks in great shape. After 30 years, all of our
names will be on it. Great idea, Paul! Dave Long returned the
Castles in the Air book, so both rotating prizes are out there
waiting to come back in 2007.
We will conduct the B-17 Prize Table again next year, so if
you are going to play next year, please bring something for the
As a reminder: 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 Twelve O'Clock
High, 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 I, 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 2006, we displayed the Toby
Jug 918th Bomb Group (Heavy), and faced it toward the wall initially.
As we started the first briefing of the morning at 0900, the
Toby Jug was turned outward to face the B-17 fliers. And off
we flew to Hamburg.
This year, some of our officers placed side bets as to how
long I would talk at 0900 and when we would actually begin playing
the game. Fortunately for everyone, I got everyone set up and
running much quicker than usual, so the side bet was won by one
of our rookie fliers. I do enjoy it when the grizzled veterans
bet against me and lose.
At the end of the third mission and the end of Thursday's
hostilities, as our last straggler landed in England, the Toby
Jug in the Officer's Club was turned back toward the wall, and
there was peace until next year when we will pick up the dice
and see what our luck is all over again.
Consolation prizes were awarded to Keith Hunsinger and Tony
Musella for coming in last with a score of 55. The tiebreaker
system is designed to not only see who comes in first in the
event of ties, but it also is designed to see who comes in last.
Keith only reached the target twice while Tony managed to reach
it three times, so Keith was last. First to worst was secured.
When the last plane had landed we had our closest finish ever,
with Paul Risner winning yet again, this time being his fourth
victory (1995, 1997, 2002 and 2006). He beat out 2003 champion
Bill Rohrbeck by only HALF OF A POINT. Paul came in with a score
of 190 while Bill had a score of 189.5. Rich Moyer was third
with 175 points, Bill Beckman had a 173.2 for fourth, Scott Pfeiffer
had a 166 for fifth, and sixth went to Marty Musella with a score
And the scoring went downhill from there, with so many calamities
happening, the GM could only wonder how a few folks like Paul
and Bill had escaped.
A few words on this: with a score of 190 and 189.5, the difference
came down to not just one single die roll during the day. If
Bill had one more crew member get back to England safely, or
shot down one more German fighter, or done a bit better on his
bombing rolls (where he was already outstanding), then he could
have edged Paul out for the title, and these events could have
happened on several different rolls of the dice throughout the
day. Paul obviously has a strategy, and many are out there searching
for what it is so that they can try to knock off the defending
champion next year.
One thing Paul has not done yet is repeat as champion. Only
Kevin Coombs pulled that off, and that was back in 1993 and 1994.
Kevin couldn't make it to the 2006 tournament this year because
of work, but vows to be back in 2007.
Congratulations to Paul and all the rest of the participants
on another fine year. I am always looking for ways to improve
the event and welcome your suggestions.
When I get a chance, Mike Lam and I will try to list all of
the medal winners. The medals fall into several categories, as
Gunner's Wings: I think this one went to Paul Risner again
for having a tail gunner become a double ace and shoot the lights
out of the Germans.
Bombardier's Wings: Bill Rohrbeck, for best overall bombing
accuracy, with a 50% run on Mission 1, 75% on Mission 2, and
60% for Mission 3. That is a 61.7% average over three missions.
Air Medal: Bombing accuracy Bill Beckman, Mission 2,
92% and Bill Rohrbeck, Mission 2, 75%. No Air Medals were given
out on Mission 1 and Mission 3 as an accuracy of 75% or better
Distinguished Flying Cross: This award involves something
horrific happening, yet the crew makes it to the target and back
to England. We'll look up the notes and see who some of these
winners were and edit them later.
Distinguished Service Cross: This award usually goes out to a
non-pilot (like the bombardier) landing the plane back in England
with a dice roll of 12.
Silver Star: This involves surviving frostbite at altitude
to get back to England safely.
Bronze Star: We didn't have any Bronze Stars for evading the
Germans on the ground to avoid becoming POWs. All the missions
took us over Germany and the Netherlands, which meant everyone
got captured and are now ldoing their steve McQueen imitations.
Purple Heart: All ten crewmembers perish on a mission. There
is usually a very long list of Purple Heart winners. I have to
check with Mike Lam and we'll try to list all of the walking
wounded from this 2006 B-17 Tournament. From my notes, it looks
like Evan Hitchings lost everyone at sea; Kyle McCool had a BIP
(burst in plane) that caused 10 KIAs; Bryan Collars also had
a BIP with 10 KIA; Henry Pfeiffer also had a BIP 10 KIA, and
maybe a second Purple Heart in the third mission as he scored
zero points in that disaster. Paul Weintraub had his plane explode
(fuel tanks), while Jon Izer also got a BIP 10 KIA. Matt Spitznagel
lost his crew at sea after they ditched with no radio contact
and they were out of formation. Anyway, those are just a few
of the Purple Hearts given out in 2006, and you can imagine that
the game designer did a fairly good job of making the game remind
you of how deadly the actual air combat in World War II was for
Prisoner Of War: Mark Guz, most POWs, 16 total (nine on Mission
2, seven on Mission 3). Mark named his plane for the third mission
the "Death Wish" and he got what he wanted, apparently.
Overall, it was another great year. I thank everyone for their
participation - including participation in the Second Annual
Friday evening After Action Briefing and Prize Table. Veterans
from past years are encouraged to return in 2007 (there are service
medals for five and ten year veterans). Also, we always welcome
new players. Please join in on the fun in 2007 and be sure to
participate in the optional After Action Briefing and Prize Table
too. And remember, we had 39 folks this year, so our goal is
to break 40 in 2007, while having a LOT of fun.
Take care between now and next August. This briefing has been
brought to you by:
David Terry, Gamemaster, B-17, rules, tourney format, herder
of crazy B-17 players, circus ringleader,
Mike Lam, Assistant Gamemaster, B-17, rules and medals,
Keith Hunsinger, Assistant Gamemaster, B-17, rules, Group
Chaplain and scoring
Mark Yoshikawa, Assistant Gamemaster, B-17, rules and electronic
Paul Risner, Officer in charge of the Officer's Club (and
he and his wife just had a baby in October 2006, so congrats
Paul! And we expect cigars next year.)
And of course all the other B-17 players who are the supporting
cast of fliers that make this such a fun tournament each year.
Thanks to all and see you in 2007.