18. Conducting Air Missions


  • The role of the different Air Directives
  • How to change aircraft loadouts
  • How air missions are conducted
  • The air war in the Theatre Boxes

18.1 Types of Air Directives

18.1.1 Outline

Most air missions are set up using air directives and carried out in the air execution phase. The exceptions are ‘ground support’ directives that are created using an air directive but executed during the ground phase; air transport and air drop missions which need no air directive and take place in the ground phase (or in combination with an amphibious landing) and the transfer of air group units between airbases which can take place in either the air planning or the ground phase.

Note that due to doctrinal approaches, not all mission types are available to every air HQ or Air Operational Group.

18.1.2 Target Priority

Some Air Directives contain a range of possible targets. These include Reconnaissance, Ground attack and Strategic Bombing. The role of each of these is discussed below. If a given target is set to ‘none’ then no planes will actively attack that particular target but it may be struck by accident.

It is possible that even if a target is set to ‘none’ that it may be affected by the mission. For example, tactical reconnaissance missions will improve the detection level of any ground unit in a targeted hex regardless of the focus of the mission. Ground attack missions aimed at ‘units’ will generate some interdiction and, in reverse, ground attack missions aiming to create interdiction will inflict some losses on units in the target area.

Strategic bombing missions may also see targets set to ‘none’ hit during an attack. Thus a mission aiming to attack industry or fuel production may also inflict manpower losses.

18.1.3 Ground Support

These are created when the F2 key is depressed In WitE2 this is probably the main focus for both air forces.

Ground Support air directives are created by assigning AOGs or air group units (either manually or automatically) to a particular HQ unit. The mission will then be available to support all the combats of ground units under that command in the ground phase as long as the planes are in range of that combat and have sufficient air miles remaining. You can turn on and off this automatic allocation by using the ground support toggle option.

Ground support missions are used to provide ground formations with direct air support during ground attacks. Air group units assigned to this directive will fly during ground combat in support of ground units that are in the chain of command of the target HQ.

An HQ can only have one air HQ unit set to provide it ground support. If an air HQ unit is assigned to support a ground HQ unit that already has one air HQ unit assigned, the new air directive will take effect and the older directive will be deleted.

A ground HQ with an air HQ unit providing support will not receive ground support from another air HQ unit providing ground support to a higher ground HQ to which they are attached. Ground HQ units without direct support will receive ground support as available from air HQ units directly supporting ground HQ units to which they are attached.

The allocation of planes to a given ground support mission is automatic. These allocations can be influenced depending on how the relevant air doctrine is set (17.4.3) to influence the percentage of bombers and escorts that can be assigned., However, it is unlikely to draw on more than 300 bombers in a given attack regardless of how many are available or how the air doctrine is constructed (see figure 18.3 below).

Related to this, even if the GS mission option has been turned off, relevant fighters will contest an enemy attack even if no friendly bombers can be allocated due to the restriction. This intervention will occur even if no enemy bombers or fighters are actually sent (so is best seen as a precautionary move). The fighters can be drawn from those in the relevant GS AD, those in a different GS AD or those available for automatic interception missions.

Note that ground support missions can also see substantial air to air combat as both sides commit planes. These can be escorts allocated to that GS directive, fighters that flew AS in that region in the air phase or are available for auto-interception (18.1.10).

Very roughly, the relationship between the status of the fighters and their commitment to flying CAP over ground combat is:

  • Fighters in the GS AD, and with GS turned on for the attacking side – maximum possible response.
  • Fighters in the GS AD, but with GS turned off for the attacking side – medium response.
  • Fighters not assigned to this GS and with GS either on or off – low to medium response.

Note that air leader admin and air values will affect the commitment of air planes to a particular mission and this may well lead to considerable variation in the number of planes assigned.

In addition to direct losses caused by successful bombing attacks, planes allocated to GS will cause some extra disruptions. This reflects the impact on ground movement and coordination caused by the need to avoid air attack.

18.1.4 Ground Attack

These are created when the F3 tab is selected. Ground attack missions must include some enemy held hexes but the area of the air directive can include friendly hexes (these will be ignored when the mission is conducted).

Ground attack missions can be ordered against a range of targets including:

  • Airfield
  • Unit
  • Railway
  • Port
  • Ferry
  • Interdiction
  • Railyard

A given mission can be ordered to attack one or more of these targets and the relative priority for each target can be adjusted. At least one option must be set at priority level 4.

Airfield attacks will damage or destroy both planes based at the airfield and the infrastructure of the airfield itself. If the airfield is overloaded, extra damage will be inflicted by an airfield attack. Unit attacks will try to disrupt, damage or destroy enemy ground elements in the target hex(es). It will also generate some interdiction but much less than the ‘interdiction’ mission. Such missions may also reduce unit morale and experience.

Railway attacks will slow rail movement (22.4) in the target hex(es) by increasing usage on the rails. Port attacks will both damage the port (reducing its value as a transport hub) and reduce the level of interdiction it can project into the surrounding sea zones (24.2). Ferry attacks will increase the cost of using ferry hexes and inflict losses on ground units and freight using those hexes.

Railyard attacks will directly reduce the available rail capacity from that location. This has two primary effects. It reduces the rail capacity on that sector of the rail system increasing the costs of sending units or freight by rail (22.4.4). It also reduces the effectiveness of any depot in the same hex as depot capacity and efficiency is closely related to the size of the co-located railyard (25.7.1).

All the above missions will also generate some interdiction in the selected target hex(es).

If a depot is present in any hex struck by a ground attack (regardless of notional focus) this can result in damage and losses to ground element equipment such as guns as well as affecting the movement of freight into and out of those hexes.

Interdiction attacks will tend to target hexes with a lower movement point cost (i.e. the clearer terrain) and will be spread out across the selected target box but focus on the places where movement is to be expected. Each interdiction attack hits one hex but some interdiction will then be placed in adjacent hexes.

Interdiction will affect any enemy movement in the hex(es). This includes the movement of ground units (including attacks or retreats), the commitment of reserve units to combat, the commitment of support units to combat and the movement of freight.

If ground combat subsequently takes place in a hex that has been affected by interdiction in the air resolution phase then the detailed combat report (37.1) will show the presence of planes (and any damage they cause) even if there was no direct ground support.

The effectiveness of interdiction bombing will be affected by the weaponry used (18.2), the terrain, weather and the detection levels present in the affected hex(es). In addition, the time of year will affect the mission as in winter there is less daylight and thus it is easier for the enemy to move undetected. The interdiction values generated by airstrikes are thus modified by a certain percentage due to the number of hours of daylight based on the month as follows:

% Modifier -20 -10 0 +10 +20 +30 -30

In addition to disrupting/damaging or destroying Ground Elements, Interdiction has the effect of raising the Movement cost of each hex once it reaches a certain level (38.7.2).

Note that any interdiction >0 has the effect of cancelling Administrative Movement (22.2.1) and this also affects the movement of freight.

18.1.5 Strategic Bombing (Bomb City)

These are created when the F4 tab is selected.

Note that two of the potential targets (Port and Railyard) can also be attacked using the Ground Attack missions and the effect is the same regardless of the type of Air Directive selected.

Only two and four engined bombers can be used for Strategic Bombing missions. As with Ground Attack missions, multiple targets (and hexes) can be selected and the target priority screen can be used to indicate the relative importance. Note that there is a possibility that a mission designed to attack one target may hit another.

In each case the mission will damage the relevant ‘factory’ that produces that particular item unless a Port or Railyard has been selected.

As with Ground Attack missions, the effectiveness of a given attack is affected by the weather, detection level, skill of the pilots and extent of any anti-aircraft fire.

Note that some strategic bombing attacks on Germany will result from Western Allied raids generated by in-game events (40.5).

18.1.6 Air Reconnaissance

These are created when the F5 tab is selected. All reconnaissance missions must target enemy held hexes. If the wider target area covers friendly hexes these will be ignored when carrying out the mission.

Air Reconnaissance missions are separated into strategic and tactical missions. Strategic reconnaissance can chose from the range of targets that can be attacked using the Strategic Bombing directive.

The air reconnaissance target priorities are used to determine the targets selected for each mission. For example, if airfields are set to low and units set to medium, when a reconnaissance mission is formed and sent out, it picks its target hex, and there is a good chance it will pick units and a smaller chance it will pick airfields. If airfields were set to none and units to high, only hexes with units would be selected for targets, but the increase of reconnaissance values in the hexes flown over by the tactical reconnaissance flight would raise the detection levels of all possible targets including any airbases.

For tactical reconnaissance, the reconnaissance values in the hexes go up along the flight path to the target hex, which should see the largest increase in reconnaissance value. Any of the target priorities can be selected; however, tactical reconnaissance will only increase the basic reconnaissance level of the hex, which only impacts the detection level of Units, Rails (usage and damage), Depots and Airbases. For example, railyards could be set as the target priority and the reconnaissance mission would fly to a railyard target hex, but the mission would still only increase the detection levels of units, depots, rails, and airfields that the reconnaissance aircraft fly over during the mission.

If you select ‘Unit’ as your target, the missions will focus on raising the information about already known formations. ‘Interdict’ will focus on uncovering units that may be in apparently vacant hexes. If the mission has fulfilled its primary purpose it will swap to the other function so a ‘unit’ mission may show up as ‘interdict’ in the air reports.

Reconnaissance aircraft automatically change to the altitude that is the best fit for their load out when they reach the target hex(es). In effect, they fly (and generate some detection information) to their target hex(es) at the mission altitude and then adjust automatically so a formation with a low level camera will always adjust to the most effective altitude.

In the main, only flying reconnaissance missions for 2-3 days a week can be effective. This will give you an idea of the rough situation in the area you are targeting but will limit losses to what are often relatively rare assets.

18.1.7 Air Superiority

These are created when the F6 tab is selected.

This is designed to ensure that your fighters will seek to engage enemy planes in a particular zone. AS missions can be ordered to take place in both air phases, the friendly air phase or the enemy air phase.

Air Superiority missions will be less vulnerable to flak than other types.

Note that an Air Superiority mission is not the only way to ensure your fighters will seek to intercept and engage enemy aircraft. If a fighter (or fighter-bomber) air unit is at an airbase and not in reserve mode then it will seek to automatically intercept any enemy planes that come within range.

Air Superiority missions are used to gain control of the air so as to minimize enemy air interception of other friendly air missions while degrading the effectiveness of enemy air missions. Air superiority can impact the entire turn, with both sides capable of conducting missions during both player turns. Fighter units will fly to a target area and try to disrupt enemy missions that are flown into that area.

Aircraft assigned air superiority missions can intercept enemy air activity both on the way to and in their target area. Air superiority missions can be used defensively to protect a target area, or offensively as a fighter sweep type mission.

Air superiority flights can gain altitude when intercepting enemy raids or joining defensive battles. In consequence, fighters on an AS mission will often have a tactical advantage over those escorting bombing or reconnaissance missions.

Air groups that are specifically assigned to an Air Superiority air directive, either by the computer or player manual air group unit selection, will have a better chance of flying interception missions during the enemy movement phase in the target area of the air superiority air directive.

This allows them to intercept enemy Ground Support and Transport missions. This is because the miles they flew for air superiority missions in the friendly air execution phase are tracked, and these miles are available to be used in the enemy movement phase for these interceptions.

This takes into account the simultaneous nature of real life air missions against the IGO/UGO nature of the game.

It is assumed that the air group units were possibly out flying air superiority missions when the enemy ground support or transports came into the area. The chances of this interception being made will be related to the number of ‘air miles’ the fighters expended in their phase.

No additional fuel or ammo will be expended for these movement phase intercepts as they were already “paid for” during the AS missions during the air phase.

Night Fighters cannot usually be directly assigned to AS missions if they fly at night. The exception to this is if they are allocated to the ‘night intruder’ mission and ordered to target airbases where enemy night bombers or fighters may be based. Instead Night Fighters rely on auto- interception to engage with enemy air missions.

18.1.8 Naval Patrol and Naval Interdiction

Naval patrol missions are used to project naval interdiction to exert control over ocean and sea water hexes.

There are two ways in which air group units may fly naval patrol missions. First, air group units may fly naval patrols to an area under direction of an air directive to their Air HQ unit. Second, air group units not set to night only missions will automatically fly naval patrol if they are not assigned to any air directives and their HQ unit’s air doctrine for Auto Patrol is set to yes.

Naval only air group units are significantly more effective than other units at flying naval patrol. The bomber and patrol aircraft will attempt to create naval interdiction points in the target area (as well as along the path to the target) while fighters (including those flying air superiority missions) will attempt to prevent enemy aircraft from creating naval interdiction points. These naval interdiction points help to take control of sea hexes. When interdiction is shown, enemy controlled sea hexes are shown in red, neutral are shown darkened, and friendly control is shown normally. Naval air directives are flown during both friendly and enemy air execution phases.

All automatic naval patrol flights, whether bombers or fighters, are limited to 30 hexes from their air base unit.

Naval patrols will be less vulnerable to flak than similar missions over land hexes.

Naval interdiction also acts as tactical air reconnaissance and can increase the detection level of enemy units utilizing naval and amphibious transport that remain in water hexes at the end of their turn (24.5).

18.1.9 Air Transportation

Although not an air directive as such, the air transport of units (22.5.2) and freight (22.5.1) takes place during the ground phase. Air drop of airborne units can take place either in the ground phase or in conjunction with a naval invasion.

Air Transport (including freight, the movement of non-motorized units to a friendly airbase and airborne operations) missions can be accompanied by fighter escorts. For airborne operations, fighters are assigned using the airdrop screen (22.5.3) for transport missions.

If an air transport mission is intercepted, this can lead to losses both among the transport aircraft and the cargo. Aircraft conducting the air transport mission that are aborted will return the ground elements they are carrying to the staging air base unit used to commence the mission.

The detailed rules for air transport missions (all types) can be found in section 22.5.

Also see the rules on auto-interception (18.1.10) for information on when enemy fighters are likely to intercept an air transport mission.

18.1.10 Auto-Interception

Technically this is a not an air directive but another way in which fighters can seek to engage with enemy aircraft. In this case, fighters will try to engage enemy aircraft as long as they are not manually assigned to a particular Air Directive. If the ‘auto-assign’ routine has been used then any fighters with unused air miles may seek to engage with any enemy incursion in the air phase or during the ground phase (either as a ground support or air transport mission).

For a fighter air group to be eligible for auto intercept the following conditions must be met (and, in addition, leadership dice rolls will have a bearing on if the air group actually intercepts):

  • The air group must not be manually assigned to a particular AD (it can be used by an AD using the auto assign routine).
  • In order to intercept GS and/or provide CAP to a specific ground battle:
  • It must be assigned to a GS AD itself supporting the ground HQ that controls the battle (23.11).
  • Be in a AS mission the has flown miles over the battle site or that intersects with the enemy air cover moving from their bases.
  • Not be included in any AD apart from the GS mission covering the battle.
  • In order to intercept enemy transports, the air group must:
  • Be in an AS mission that has flown miles over the combat/drop hex (or intersects with the enemy planes moving from their bases).
  • Not be allocated to any mission over than the above.

In this case, the mission will use elements of your overall air directives (above) to see if it will fly in the current weather conditions.

The system will now check first to see if there is a GS (ground support) air directive covering the HQ in charge of a ground battle. If so, then all air units attempting to fly auto CAP, Ground Support (escorts and bombers), and auto intercepts of enemy GS will check the GS AD setting for the weather to fly (no matter if they are in the air directive or not).

If there is no GS AD set for the HQ in charge of the battle, then any auto CAP and auto GS intercepts will check the air unit’s Air Command’s GS air doctrine setting to determine when they are willing to fly.

Note: Auto intercepts in the air phase always check the Air superiority air doctrine of the unit to determine if they are willing to fly in the current weather conditions or have enough planes to meet your chose percentages ready to fly (17.4.4).

18.1.11 Ineraction Between Various Air Directives

Ground attack missions with a focus on interdiction disrupt and reduce MP’s in units and damage freight (supplies) moving to and from depots. Remember that any interdiction greater than 0 will also prevent administrative movement (for both troops and supplies) in that hex thus increasing MP costs regardless of the level of actual interdiction generated.

If the ground attack is aimed at ‘units’ it may also generate some interdiction but will mostly aim to disrupt, damage or destroy ground elements in the target hex(es).

Ground support missions are flown in the ground phase but take place before any ground combat starts (23.8). This means that any losses or disruption imposed by air power are not available to take part in that particular battle and this can be devastating if properly applied. In addition, such disruptions then convert to fatigue after the battle, affecting unit performance across the turn (23.1.1). This is probably the single most useful mission for both sides in WiTE2.

Air reconnaissance can increase the impact of interdiction and it is important to ensure your reconnaissance missions are focussed on the same target type as the bombing missions. Note that ‘unit’ missions will prioritise raising the detection level of known formations, ‘interdict’ will focus on detecting unknown formations.

Strategic (city) bombing and ground attack missions against ports and railyards lowers the effective size. Since, in both cases, the size of the facility sets the size (capacity) of any depot (25.7) in that hex this can be a very effective tool to restrict the flow of supplies. In addition such bombing can damage or destroy ground element equipment, including equipment being sent to units as replacements.

Air Superiority missions can be difficult to understand. If flown in your air phase they will seek to attack any enemy air missions flown in their allotted Air directive zone. In addition, they create ‘air miles’ in that zone that are then used to determine the chance of intercepting ground support or air transport missions in the following ground phase. To cover a given region in both the friendly and enemy ground phases means you will need to use your AS mission in both the air phases.

18.2 Aircraft Loadouts

This will be set automatically by the computer but a player can over-ride this choice and set loadouts manually.

Aircraft have many possible load outs. Load outs with a lot of smaller bombs allow the aircraft to hit more ground elements in units. Depending on the fuel situation at an airbase, an air group may not select drop tanks, thus greatly reducing combat radius. One solution may be to shrink the area that the mission is covering, as this will effectively reduce the range.

In general matching load out to mission is intuitive but see the discussion in 19.4.5. The better dug in or protected the target, the more effective will be a few heavy bombs, moving units are often best attacked with rockets or light bombs and naval missions are better if the plane can carry torpedoes or mines.

18.2.1 Automatic Selection

In this case the load out screen should be initially set to Auto.

Note there is no need to reset this each turn, as long as the Auto option is selected the computer routines will swap load outs to match available resources and allocated tasks.

Initially the computer will try to select a load out with no drop tanks or with maximum bomb effect. If the destination is not reachable, load outs with drop tanks or fewer bombs will be used instead.

When the setting is Auto it will try to select various load outs depending on the plane type and situation. For example, if the air base is below 50 percent of its fuel need it will choose a load out with minimal sortie fuel value. In case of naval patrol it will try to pick torpedo/mines/bomb. The selection algorithm also goes into two stages. For example for the bombers, first it selects the heaviest bomb load (i.e. that with the heaviest total blast value (19.4.1). If the modified endurance doesn’t allow the aircraft to reach the target it picks the bomb load with the least possible endurance modification.

If an Air Group Unit swaps or upgrades its aircraft, the load out selection will be set back to Auto.

18.2.2 Manual Selection

The player has the ability to manually change air group unit load outs, either individually or by various groupings of multiple air group units of the same model aircraft.

The selection is made using the options in the air group unit tab on the aircraft screen:

Once a given loadout has been selected the player has the option to just use that for that particular Air Group unit to all similar planes at the same airbase, all similar planes in that particular air directive, all similar planes in the same air command or all similar planes in the entire air force.

Note the match must be exact. So a loadout assigned to a Bf-109F-2 will not be applied to a Bf109E-7.

The screen will also show loadouts that are no longer available or will become available later in the war.

18.3 Conduct of Air Missions

During the air resolution phase the number of planes used in each air directive may be less than the total notionally allocated. This can happen for several reasons including failing leadership checks, air units already using up all their available air miles or losses in an earlier day reducing the number of planes available, or, possibly taking the air group below the minimum % required to conduct missions.

18.3.1 Leadership Checks

The leader air rating is checked and may increase the chances of more planes actually participating in a given mission.

Remember that Air Command HQs must be within 90 hexes of an airbase to provide their leadership score but otherwise the leadership chain works as set out in section (15.5.4) with higher levels of command offering secondary chances to pass a particular check.

18.3.2 Miles Flown

There are several factors that determine how many missions and what type a particular air group unit can conduct during a turn.

An air group unit can only fly a certain number of miles per turn based on its cruise speed (37.16.1) and current unit morale and experience.

The miles flown are tracked as a percentage of maximum miles that may be flown. . The miles flown logged by a group is increased substantially when operating in bad weather. In addition, if planes operate over 25,000’ then the mileage will increase by 10% for each additional 1,000’.

An air group unit can continue to fly missions if miles travelled are less than cruise speed times the number of aircraft in the air group unit times (10+(morale/4)+(experience/4))).

For example, a 10 plane JU-52 air group unit with morale of 20, experience of 40, and a cruise speed of 160 could fly up to 40000 miles in a turn. The actual mileage flown is based on the type of air mission.

Air transfer missions pay the range in miles, transport missions cost three times the range in miles, and all other air missions, which are considered combat missions and include fighter escort of air transport missions, pay four times the range in miles. For example, an air transport mission to a target hex 12 hexes away would expend 360 miles per plane that flew on the mission, or 12 times 3 times 10 miles per hex per plane, for the transport air group unit, but an escorting fighter unit would expend 480 miles per plane.

Note that a reduction in the number of ready aircraft during the turn will result in a reduction of available miles.

18.3.3 Mission, Escort %, and % Required to Fly

These can all be set using the Air Directive tab (37.16.8).

By default the Mission and Escort % are set to 100. This means that the computer will fly the air directive on days when it has, at least, the number of planes it needs to deliver an effective mission. Reducing the % will lower this number and raising the % will increase this number.

The % required to fly is the minimum number of ready planes in the Air Group Unit on that particular day. If this number is not available then the remaining planes in the Air Group will not fly any missions on that day. Since planes can be damaged, and repaired, during the air execution phase it is possible for Air Groups to cease to be available on some days and return to action later in the week.

18.3.4 Morale Loss and Recovery

Air group unit morale may increase due to destruction of enemy aircraft in air to air combat as well as when the air group unit receives supplies. Air group unit morale will decrease due to aircraft being damaged or destroyed in combat.

In the air execution phase, air group units can recover morale during each air maintenance segment if they did not fly a mission during that day. Air Group units set to the rest mission will recover morale at double the normal rate.

See the tables in section 38.2 for the changing basic levels of national morale for the various air forces represented in WiTE2

18.3.5 Gaining and Losing Experience

Air group unit experience has a significant impact on combat effectiveness during air missions. Air group units gain experience based on the number of missions they fly. Air group units or individual pilots can fly training missions if in their reserve TB or in the Western Europe TB (13.3) if that has low combat intensity. These training missions will increase the chance of operational losses, resulting in additional damaged or destroyed aircraft from the air group units conducting the training.

Air group units will decrease in experience due to the addition of replacement aircraft pilots. In addition, pilots in air group units can lose experience due to swapping planes but this will only happen when the new plane has a different number of engines or have changed to a different aircraft type (each of these will deduct 2 experience).

18.3.6 Fatigue and Aircraft Damage

Air group unit fatigue impacts combat effectiveness, the number of aircraft operational losses and the number of aircraft from that air group unit that will conduct a particular air mission. Air group units gain fatigue as a result of air combat and the amount gained is dependent on the number of air attacks made and the total distance flown.

Air group units can recover from fatigue during the supply segment of the logistics phase. As with ground elements, the amount of fatigue reduction will be determined by the supply situation and available air support squad ground elements at the air base unit the air group unit is attached.

Fatigue will increase if the planes are flying over 25,000 feet.

18.3.7 Attrition

Air groups will have aircraft become damaged if the air base unit they are attached to has insufficient supply and/or air support squad ground elements. The airbase unit ground elements will suffer normal attrition and fatigue losses.

18.3.8 Impact of Weather

Weather conditions are based on the weather on the way to the target and over the take off base, stage base and target. The weather can be very poor, poor, fair, good, or excellent (8.4).

Whenever an air mission is attempted in bad weather, there is a chance it will be scrubbed and not take place, with the chance of scrubbed missions increasing the worse the weather.

Ground Support air missions will be significantly reduced during bad weather.

As with all air missions, the mileage flown will be modified based on the number of ready aircraft in the air group unit that actually flew, but a weather mileage extra charge will apply, with the worse the weather the greater the extra miles charged against each aircraft that flew.

Air missions can be cancelled by the minimum weather conditions set for the air directive. For example, if the minimum weather conditions for a directive are set to fair, then any mission being created by the air directive will automatically be cancelled if the weather condition is deemed to be very poor or poor at the time the mission would have flown.

Poor weather will substantively increase the operational losses, especially for air groups with low experience.

18.3.9 Day and Night Missions

Most air missions are conducted during daylight; however, strategic bombing, ground attack, air transport, and interception air missions can be flown at night by air group units that have night missions enabled in their detail window (37.16.3).

Air group units are generally defaulted to day&night (DN) mission settings which allow them to fly in both day and night missions, although night fighters are generally defaulted to the night only mission setting.

All night interception is conducted automatically as there are no night AS flights. Note that some planes will only be available for day or night missions. Typical examples of day only planes are the bulk of reconnaissance planes that were ill-equipped for night missions.

18.3.10 Aircraft Reliability

All aircraft have a reliability rating which ranges from “really good” (lower numbers) to “really bad” (higher numbers). These reliability ratings are checked when aircraft conduct a mission with those that fail the reliability check becoming damaged.

To reflect initial production “teething” problems, aircraft reliability will be increased by five when they first come into production and then decrease by one each month until they reach their standard reliability rating. The reliability rating of obsolete (out of production) aircraft is treated as higher than their normal reliability rating, which will make them more susceptible to attrition.

The reliability of a plane is shown on the Air Group Unit tab or under the Equipment (aircraft) tab of the Commander’s Report (35.8.2).

18.3.11 Operational Losses

These are more likely to occur when there is poor weather, pilot fatigue, planes with low reliability, formations with low morale or that have taken damage earlier in a turn and planes flying to the limit of their range.

In effect, the latter can trigger high operational losses even in good weather conditions and may particularly affect the Axis side in 1941 and the Soviets in the later stages. Be careful at setting air directives to the limit of range and, if you do, consider limiting the days such missions fly or the intensity that they operate at.

18.4 Graphical Depiction of Air Missions

Air Directives will be displayed on the map when being created with the view depending on the choices made with that drop down option or by right clicking on any hex and selecting AD Targets from the map information options.

When viewing the target box on the map, or viewing the path of a strike during air directive creation, lavender in a hex in the target box (or along the path) means coverage by the strike planes (bombers, recon or fighters in Air Superiority {AS}). Green hexes means the strike has fighter escorts that can reach the hex.

Since AS doesn’t include escorts these hexes won’t be green.

In this case, the lower part of the AD is covered by escort fighters and the upper part can only be reached by planes flying the actual mission (bombers or reconnaissance planes).

Air group range circles are shown on the map for air groups. This is the maximum combat range of the aircraft and is shown in purple. Combat range is the distance that aircraft can fly on non-escort missions based on their load out (interception can go out this far too, although there’s a low chance of interception at longer ranges).

Figure 18-12 shows the combat range for the planes in the German Flieger Fuehrer Ostsee AOG. At the top of the ring are the number and type of planes that can operate at that range.

Figure 18-13 shows the same information for the JG 54 AOG. Note that there are three rings reflecting different plane types and different bases.

Air group units assigned escort missions can only fly out to escort range, not combat range. This represents that escorting aircraft must zig zag when escorting bombers and can’t travel their maximum range with the bombers. Escort range is 3/4 of combat range, while transfer range is 3 times combat range.

The execution of air missions is graphically depicted on the map using lines with the following colours:

  • Black – Air group units flying to staging base (not shown during air execution phase).
  • Red – Air Strike flying from staging base to target.
  • Green – Enemy air group units flying to target for interception.

18.5 Theatre Boxes

Air Missions are automatically carried out according to the intensity of air operations in that particular theatre. The level of commitment will influence the number of planes lost and damaged. Planes in the Axis and Soviet Reserve boxes will attempt to train pilots, while some units in the Western Europe box may also train pilots each turn.

Otherwise planes in the theatre boxes will be set to automatically upgrade (16.5.2) as new types become available or if shortages occur.