Saturday, 1 September 2018

Operation Nostalgia: Bombing Raid on Cattavia, Rhodes

Flying out of Cyprus and approximately one hour behind the American raid, are a squadron of Douglas Boston bombers escorted by a squadron of Hurricanes. Their target is the airfield at Cattavia at the southern end of Rhodes. As they approach the island they are intercepted by a squadron of Italian Macchi MC200 Saetta fighters who had been scrambled as a result of the earlier attack by American planes on the airfield at Maritza on Rhodes.

The Hurricanes would have to fight off the Saettas to make way for the bombers to get through.

Table size = 6' x 3'9"
Scale = 1/600 (Tumbling Dice models)
Rules = Bag The Hun 2 (General Quarters 3 for the bombing raid)



12 x Hurricane IIC
12 x Douglas Boston III


12 x Macchi MC200 Saetta (late)

The British bombers escorted by Hurricanes benefit from the sun being behind them. The red counters on the section leaders indicate that they are presently 'bogeys' meaning they have yet to be spotted by the Italians. The rules allows for dummy 'bogeys' to be placed but as I am playing this solo I have not included them on this occasion.

Continued -

The Italian Saetta pilots squint in apprehension towards the sun. They are relieved that their aircraft have been upgraded doubling up their measly 2 machine guns to 4 giving them more of a fighting chance. The veteran squadron leader is all to aware that many of his pilots are fresh out of training school although this is partially offset by the 3rd Section commander being an Ace pilot.

As the various formations spot each other, the Italians fly at their maximum altitude which is too high for the Hurricanes. It is clear that the Saettas are manoeuvring to attack the bombers from out of the sun. The Hurricanes double back in an attempt to protect the Bostons.

The Saettas seek to overfly the main British formation.

As the Bostons maintain their formation flying eastwards, the fighter sections on both sides play cat-and-mouse with the Italians seeking to gain the best advantage before sweeping down on the British.

The Hurricanes weave back and forth across the rear of the Boston's waiting to intercept and Italian fighters.

The celebrated Italian Ace Pilot and squadron leader leads the 1st Section towards the rear of the bomber formation.

2 sections of Hurricanes observing the Italian fighters above them wait to pounce.

The Italian squadron leader takes his opportunity and leads his section out of the sun into the rear of the 3rd Boston Section. Unfortunately for the squadron leader he is met by particularly accurate fire from rear gunners. His aircraft explodes under the hail of bullets. A sprog Saetta pilot also suffers from those rear gunners damaging his wing.

The squadron leader's wingman has better luck. Having got onto the tail of a Boston he gives it a long burst of machine gun fire destroying it's port engine. The bomber immediately loses altitude breaking the formation. Another regular Saetta pilot gets on the tail of the Boston Section Leader causing him critical instrument damage.

The British bomber with a smoke trail leading from its destroyed engine now drops altitude. The pilot managed to nurse the Boston safely away from the Saetta danger but was losing altitude. The wounded Boston flew off towards Cyprus but was never seen again (I gave it no better than a 50% chance of getting home and a dice roll decided their fate!).

The Bostons pull away from the Italians who have turned at high altitude ready to pounce.

With their main formation broken, the Boston sections must now act independently as they seek to put distance between themselves and the Italian fighters.

A Saetta continues to tail a damaged Boston pouring more fire towards it and killing the rear gunner in the process. 

The Hurricane Green Section leader with his wingman gets on the tail of a Saetta. He fires too long bursts towards the Italian fighter but fails to cause it any damage. He is now running low on ammo!

The 2nd and 3rd Saetta sections begin their move.

As they descend they start to gain on the bombers and put some distance between themselves and the Hurricanes. 

Seeing the Saettas begin their descent the Hurricanes desperately attempt to close the gap but so far the Italians have wrong-footed them.

The Boston's Squadron Leader realises that if they do not do something soon they risked being mauled by the Italian fighters who have opened an unhealthy gap with the Hurricanes. The Ace Leader turns his section towards the north with the others following. He continues to turn his section in a full u-turn bringing his aircraft head-on towards the Saettas.

Here are the 1st Section of Boston's joined by the last aircraft of the 3rd Section sweeping across the front of the Italians.

At last the Hurricanes begin to close up with their squadron leader downing a Saetta.

The celebrated Italian Ace leads his section towards the Boston's with no Hurricanes nearby to intercept.

Having lined up on the rear of 2 sections of Boston's, the Italian Ace fires at long range and damages one of the British bombers. He has no time to celebrate however as 2 Hurricanes sweep around, one of them getting on the tail of his wingman.

2 more photos of the British Squadron Leader leading his wingman towards the Italian Saettas. The Squadron leader tested to get onto the tail of the Italian Ace but he was too good for him and failed. He will just have to hope he gets a chance to fire a burst into the Saetta before he loses him.

The other pair of Hurricanes in the Squadron Leader's Red Section get on the tails of 2 Saettas threatening the 1st Section of Bostons.

Elsewhere, the Hurricane Green Section leader gets of the tail of a Saetta. He repeatedly fires bursts into the rear of the Saetta but only manages to damage the Italian fighter before running out of ammo.

He is determined to finish him off and orders his wingman to take over. This proved to be no better so they broke off their pursuit, happy that the Saetta was now out of the action, and also the need to return to the main fray as quickly as possible.

With several Hurricanes now on the tail of Saettas, few were successful apart from here where a sprog pilot was shot down by a veteran pilot.

The Italian Ace pilot continued to cause the British problems, here shooting down a Boston. His sprog wingman was shot down by Hurricanes.

The other pair of Saettas from the Ace pilot's section, had surged ahead and got on the tail of Bostons ahead. With the gap once again opening up with the Hurricanes, the Boston squadron leader (middle right) turned his section towards the 2 Saettas in the hope of delaying them until the Hurricanes arrive.

Another view of the situation at the end of the move.

The Hurricanes pick off 2 more Saettas piloted by sprogs, one of which explodes. The Italian Ace pilot, now alone, gains altitude with the intention of bagging more bombers but finds a mass of Hurricanes following him. He uses his skill to prevent them from getting on his tail much to the frustration of the Hurricane pilots who see a chance of finishing him off.

The Italian Ace successfully extricates himself from the mass of British aircraft and makes for home. It turns out that he is the last of the Italian fighters to break off satisfied that there is nothing more they can do.

The remaining British aircraft approach the Rhodes coastline. 9 bombers out of the original 12 will bomb Cattavia airfield.

The total Italian losses - 6 x Saettas with a further 4 damaged.

British losses - 2 Bostons shot down with a third damaged and making for home. A further 2 were damaged but still able to participate in the air raid. Other then a few jammed guns, the Hurricanes came away unscathed.

Moving on to the air attack on Cattavia, as with the previous raid I will be using GQ3 to determine the results. Also as before this will be done in the abstract rather than setting up the board for a handful of dice rolls.

As the Bostons approached the airfield it became apparent that heavy flak units were present on the ground (88mm). One aircraft was damaged by long range AA fire as they overflew the airfield and pealed away. The remaining 8 aircraft dropped their bomb loads scoring just one near miss which did not translate to any damage caused including to those aircraft on the ground.

That concludes the air phase and I will be returning to map moves on the next posting.


  1. That's a lot of planes but spectacular to look at and very enjoyable to read. I like your cliffs too. Are they home made? Great paintwork on the aircraft as well.

    1. Many thanks Jim. The cliffs are from a now defunct 'Purbeck Terrain' system I bought in the 90's. I am gradually 'upgrading' the tiles adding more detail and sprucing them up. Also have plans to make some of my own to add to the collection.

  2. Thanks for the write-up, an enjoyable account and for a while uncertainty as to who would get the best of it.

    1. Many thanks Norm. It did look bad for the Bostons on a couple of occasions when the gap between them and the Hurricanes opened up. They were lucky not to lose more.

  3. I too enjoyed this report. Too bad that after all that, the raid had little effect!

    1. I will be having a fresh look at the rules for bombing airfields. That is now both raids being largely ineffectual. You would have expected some damage to airstrips and surrounding buildings/aircraft/ground units even though it is high level bombing.