The scenario covers the air attack on HMS Illustrious during Operation Excess on January 10, 1941. Over the previous months Illustrious had been a thorn in the side of the Axis, having participated in several operations including the attack on Italian battleships at Taranto. The Germans had recently deployed X Fliegerkorps to the Mediterranean and made Illustrious a primary target. As the operation got underway, the British ships were spotted and plans to attack the carrier were put into motion. The basic plan was to use Italian SM-79 torpedo bombers to draw off the Royal Navy fighters and then let the Stukas go after the carrier and other ships. Historically, that plan almost worked. The Italians drew off most of Illustrious' Fulmar fighters and the Stukas got six direct hits on the carrier.
|SM-79s closing in on the British fleet|
|Illustrious waiting for the enemy|
|Fulmars off to intercept the Italians with HMS Nubian in the backgroud|
|Fulmars just before failing their special maneuver|
|SM-79s leave the Fulmars behind|
|Approaching the carrier|
|Fulmars and SM-79s mixing it up|
|Fulmars in trouble|
The final flight of Stukas started their run on the carrier as light flak opened up. One Stuka was shot down and another damaged, with the extra damage jamming the bomber release mechanism. That left only one plane to attack and it missed.
|Stukas starting their attack run|
|But get no hits|
Everyone liked the rules, although there were a few quibbles around speed changes for changing altitude and speed losses for failed special maneuvers seemed pretty harsh (especially for the poor Fulmars).
Lesson learned – The game went okay, but we did come away feeling that some adjustments are needed. First up, the Italian morale rule needs a slight change to give them a little more staying power. I think I will reduce the damage from the heavy flak and I need to re-think my re-roll idea some. I felt like both sides had some bad luck during the game, but it might have impacted the Axis more than the FAA. We’ll make the adjustments and get one more test in before Enfilade, but overall I think the game will be interesting for players.