We'll be starting alpha testing on In Harm's Way: Pigboats this weekend, so I had to wrap up my current game. We have been playing IHW: Aces And Angels, as a WWII warm-up. It's sort of a sequel to the long-running game we had a couple years ago, which came out of the playtest of that game. The only character that remained the same was Iolani Kalani, the Flyin' Hawaiian, who has been promoted to squadron commander on the Escort Carrier Maui. Kalani was there as sort of a player NPC - he didn't fly at all. Kalani's old squadron mates had been broken up, off training new pilots or selling war bonds.
The replacements are mostly new ensigns, fresh from flight school. The Maui, as an escort - or jeep - carrier, has only one mixed squadron with a flight of six F-4F Wildcats and a flight of six SDB Dauntless dive bombers. The six fighter pilots, the PCs, are the flight commander, "Spic", and the kids "Tuna", "Spike", "Kraut", "Shark Bait", and "Moonshine". Spic is a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, Tuna's from Atllanta, Moonshine from Nashville, Spike's a Boston Brahmin, Kraut's from Pennsylvania, and Shark Bait is the son of a couple of professors who taught all over the world.
It is the end of 1942, and all looks grim for the US, but Midway was a huge turnaround, and momentum has slipped to the Americans, though things still hold in the balance. The new pilots practice and bond together, particularly at a party given by the Flyin' Hawaiian at his family's ranch on the Big Island. Moonshine and Kraut both get lucky with Kalani's younger sisters, and Moonshine is particularly smitten. Spike is already married, and stays a bit aloof from the others, and the others respond with relentless practical jokes.
Tehy get into action in a string of air assaults on Japanese air bases in the Solomons. Kolambaranga, Keita Point, and others. The PCs get deadly as the Captain and Kalani escalate the odds at each raid. Spic and Shark Bait both get 5 kills in a single mission on different missions. Last session was a raid on Kahili, the six fighters and the five remaining bombers of the Maui against 32 fighters at Kahili.
The fighters went in two sections, four planes at a lower level to provide cover for the bombers, and two flying top cover, higher than Zeros or Oscars could reach. The Zeros came in two gaggles - their top cover was between the PC's top cover and main body, and their main body was between the PCs and the bombers. The main body of Zeros dove on the bombers while the main group of PCs dove on them. The Zero top cover zoomed down to meet them, but the PC's top cover stooped on the Zero top cover.
In both cases, the PCs used their excellent, solid Wildcats to dive through and break up the larger swarms of Japanses planes, using vertical moves where the nimble Zeros couldn't follow. Kraut was shot down as he tried to follow Tuna on a one-man assault on the Zeros chopping up the Dauntlesses. He was later rescued by a floatplane. Shark Bait got a zero on his tail, but his wingman Spike shot it up. The smoking zero purposefully rammed Shark Bait's Wildcat, but the tough Grumman fighter kept flying, though it was hammered. Tuna had to break off when a shot penetrated his pilot armor and wounded him severely.
Only two Dauntlesses made it through, and their bombs did little damage, but the fighters did very well, destroying or damaging twenty Zeros. The planes were really chewed up, though. Shark Bait's plane could be used as a Grumman advertisement for toughness. The Maui retreated and set course for Pearl in a blaze of glory. The group loved their characters, and want to return some day.