8th Air Force: $65 (US)
In 1943, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) began a strategic bombing campaign with a small but growing number of aircraft. By 1945 it had, for all practical purposes, swept the German air force (Luftwaffe) from the skies, and was bombing targets throughout the shrinking Third Reich almost with impunity. But getting to that point was no easy task…
You, as commander, 8th Air Force, have a very full plate! Early on, insure victory in the Battle of the Atlantic by bombing submarine bases in western France, then support the eventual Allied invasion of occupied France by bombing railroads and river crossings throughout France and western Germany. Failure in these critical bombing campaigns is not acceptable. Long-term, you’ll need to pulverize Germany’s aircraft factories and oil facilities to reduce the Luftwaffe’s aircraft production and support, and win the war by blasting Germany’s heavy industry. There will be more challenges along the way, from providing heavy support for the D-Day invasion and Normandy breakout, to suppressing the demoralizing V1 and V2 attacks on England, to assisting your Soviet ally by attacking German army staging areas in the east. In the meantime, the Luftwaffe is developing advanced jet and rocket technology that may tip the tide of the air war if you have not crippled their industrial capacity.
(back of box)
(game board: 28″ x 22″)
UNBOXING: Take a look at the 2nd Edition Print reveal (3/8/2021) – sturdy game board, pre-cut counters (in most copies), and enhanced artwork.
EARLY MISSIONS: Railroads, River Crossings and Submarine bases – early in the game, your limited forces should concentrate on those early Bombing Campaign targets. Below, it’s July 1943 and every single USAAF bomber Group has a target. B17s in Target Track 6 will attack the Upper and Lower Seine River Crossings, while B24s in Track 7 hit the Loire Crossings. B26s to the right see an opportunity to hit the lightly defended Brest Submarine Bases (a lone Bf110 Group, unreinforced, patrols the area):
“MILK RUN” – no Luftwaffe fighter Groups intercepted this heavily reinforced B24 Group targeting the Loire River Crossings, so this should be an easy mission, then back home!
SCHWEINFURT, AUGUST 1943 – seven Groups of B17s, escorted by two heavily reinforced P47 Groups, form up to bomb the Heavy Industry Target of Schwienfurt early in the game. German FW190s, Bf109s and Bf110s defend the area…
INTERCEPTED! – the Schweinfurt raid is savagely intercepted. At this early stage of the war, USAAF commanders assumed the heavily armed fleets of B17s could defend themselves, without much fighter escort, if they flew in large, mutually defending formations (as seen below):
“BIG WEEK” – in February 1944, USAAF commanders decided to hit targets in central Germany hard, hoping to both cripple Germany’s industrial capacity and clear the skies of the Luftwaffe in preparation for D-Day. Below, six mostly heavily escorted USAAF missions line up in Tracks 2, 3 and 5 to strike at Germany’s vitals. There is great opportunity to knock out Luftwaffe assets as well: these tracks (other than 5) are heavily defended by FW190s and Bf109s:
MISSION BERLIN! – three raids line up in Target Track 1 to hammer Berlin’s Heavy Industry, Oil Facilities and Aircraft Factory targets. In adjacent tracks, USAAF raids target Peenemunde, the Gotha Aircraft Factory and the Bielefeld Railroad:
INTERCEPTED OVER BERLIN! – FW190s and Bf109s intercept a heavily escorted B24 mission over the Berlin Heavy Industry target. But the Luftwaffe faces the vaunted P51s here. Will the “Little Friends” (as bomber crews fondly referred to their escorting fighters) shoot down or chase away the German interceptors before they can engage the bombers? Time (and a roll of the dice) will tell!
LUFTWAFFE JETS! – here, Luftwaffe Me262s (and a Bf109 Group) intercept a B24 raid on the Braunschweig Oil Facilities. Your escorting P51s will have their hands full – the Me262 is a powerful weapon indeed! If you haven’t done significant damage to German industry and Luftwaffe strength by late 1944/early 1945, the German Jets could prove decisive. But if you have succeeded in shattering Germany’s industry and shooting her planes out of the skies over occupied Europe, VICTORY WILL BE YOURS!