Search This Blog

Friday, December 27, 2013

From the BOBGAMEHUB mission vault...

December Cliffs of Dover mission feature: Operation Sealion Mission Packs

What if Germany had invaded Britain in September of 1940 after all?

This mission pack recreates the invasion of England, using the findings of a 1972 Royal Military Academy wargame conducted using surviving senior commanders of the Luftwaffe, RAF, Kriegsmarine, Wehrmacht and British High Command.

It features air warfare on a narrow front over a shifting front line driven by epic land battles which take place underneath you during each mission. 

The series starts the day before the start of Operation Sealion - Sealion Day (S-tag) minus 1. A series of Single Missions, each containing several individual sorties for both RAF and LW, each with their own briefings, primary and secondary objectives and individual challenges. 

It has been compiled into two campaign sets (RAF or LW perspective)

Full set, Missions 1-28 (up to Invasion Day 10): 

Sealion RAF Point of View:
Sealion LW Point of View:

Get both at

Mission Editor for Battle of Britain 2!

What? You didn't know one existed?

This BoB Developer Group tool has not previously been widely promoted to the public. It makes it easy to create your own missions, by using the existing instant action missions as a template for new missions. You just need to adjust the number, type and other details of the main combatants, save and fly.

This is the mission editor that was used to create the much downloaded Whirlybird Megapack of BOBII missions, containing more than 200 sorties in missions covering Battle of France, Operation Sealion, Alan Deere and Aces of the BoB.

You can get it right here:

And if you don't have the Whirlybird Megapack for BOBII, you can get that here too.


This editor allows users to edit the so called quick.dat file which contains a big
part of the instant action missions, for example you can add missions, change the
description, category and name, number of planes and "groups" of planes etc.

Manual installation:

Put it in the main game directory of Battle of Britain 2.

Make sure to make a backup of the quick.dat which is located
in the Battle of Britain2\BFIELDS folder. It's easy to do a mistake
with the tool, and that might lead to a game crash.

If you use the autoinstaller, it will make a copy of the quick.dat file for you.

Using the installer:

The installer should guide you through the installation process.

How it works:

When you have made a backup of the quick.dat in BFIELDS dir (note, if you used the installer, it automatically did that for you), you can start the editor from the main game dir.

When you are inside the program, the first thing you need to do is to select a mission. These missions are the ones you can also find inside the "Quick missions" in the game, and these are the ones we will modify or even
create new ones of.

Now let's take a look on the main dialog which holds the 3 tabbed sub dialogs.

On the top part, you can define which side you want to play as, the weather and
the time for the selected mission.

Then we have a simple menu bar, from here you can save, just exit, save & run, check the readme etc.

Below that, we have 3 sub dialogs. Main, Edit units and Edit Description.

Finally we have two buttons. Save & exit, and just Exit.

All pretty self explanatory.

So what are you waiting for? Get mission-making!

Known bugs

On some PC systems, the mission editor can be a little unstable, so just save your work every time you make a change, if you experience that the app is unstable in your environment.

Sneak peak, episode 4 of the Oleg files...

Episode 3 of the IL2 retrospective  is published, just one chapter to go...

So what is left to talk about?

- under what conditions did 1C agree to let Team Daidolos mess with its code?
- what does Oleg Maddox think about the fact there are still 150 items on the Team Daidolos 'wishlist' to improve for IL2
- what does Maddox say about the whole Cliffs of Dover debacle?
- what is his next flight sim project (if any!)

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sprechen zie gratis/free?

If so, you have 24 hours to grab this free Cliffs of Dover JG 51 campaign from Desastersoft! Christmas day only!

If you read this too late, don't despair, you can also pick up BOLOX new 501 squadron autum/winter campaign, which is also free...


Monday, December 23, 2013

Sneak peek - episode 3 of the Oleg files...

In the next Chapter of the SimHQ retrospective interviews about IL2:

Preview of Part 3 - pacific fighters...

- what was maddox games biggest fight with Ubisoft?
- why did Afrika and the Med never get a map?
- IL2 Korea, myth or reality?
- why the Battle of Britain to kick off the new platform?
- which episode was the biggest seller?
- what did Oleg regret about making aircraft skinnable?

Out soon...

What's new at and Mission4Today?

It's yule time, the kids are off playing with their new Superhero Action Figure with the Kung Fu grip, your wife is in town exchanging the gift you thoughtfully bought her one size too small (tip for learners, never buy clothes in your wife's actual size) and my goodness, you have a little SIMTIME to yourself!
How should you spend that precious coin?

Here are a few of the gems that have appeared lately on the free to download user content sites for sims like BOBII, Cliffs of Dover and IL2...

For Cliffs of Dover

While of course we recommend the Malta Mod to transform your 1940s Britain sim into a fully fledged Med theatre conflict, there is other content out there.

Try the 'Winter and Autumn missions' for the Team Fusion mod v 4.0.

These three missions use the new winter and autumn maps that shipped with TF4.0 and enable you to fly Axis or RAF aircraft in combat missions over the snowy or dusky landscape of France in winter/autumn 1941. Based on real combat events.


Many people do not realise a new aircraft, with complex flight model, is available for BOBII - the Tiger Moth.

First released as a beta in 2010, you can download it now with final flight model and a challenging mission pack which replicates the Ab Initio training RAF pilots underwent before being set loose in Hurricanes and Spitfires. In addition to flying around the BOBII world in a faithful modelled trainer, the module ships with an exciting mission set, based on Special Operations activities over France and the Channel Islands in 1940.

Fly recon missions, pick up SOE agents, evade enemy fighter attacks, or try to identify enemy installations in France in your Tiggie.

For IL2

It is hard to go past the latest update from Team Daidolos, the 4.2.12 megapatch, which brings all the latest TD goodness to your official IL2 46 game base.

And one of BOBGAMEHUB's favourite time wasters at the moment is the Fall Blau campaign from Greybeard, which is made for the 4.2.12 update.

Fall Blau puts you in the cockpit of a Henschel 129 ground attack plane from II Gruppe of Schlachtgeschwader 1 operating against Soviet ground forces during second half of 1942, together with Italian, Hungarian and Rumanian allies.

We like the ability to fly a lesser known aircraft (which packs a heck of a punch), together with some lesser known allies, over the same terrain that we will soon be flying in both CoD (winter map) and other Easter Front sims soon to be released.

And if you are a fan of WWI stringbags, you are spoiled for choice these days, including a free add on to IL2 called Canvas Knights!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas will be late this year...

Bugs in Team Fusion mod 4.0 for Cliffs of Dover.
You'll have to live with them a bit longer...

Is 'scope creep' starting to plague Team Fusion?

The team modding Cliffs of Dover has just announced that while a preview video of mod 4.01 may be released around Christmas, the bug fix won't be ready until later.

In their latest update the team stated:

Right now there are two tiers of work going on in TF.

1) Finalization of beta 2 TF 4.01 (sorry can't give you a deadline, this is a bigger patch than we expected, so taking longer, many more new elements)

2) Longer term work is underway in many different areas for TF 5.0.

In the meantime, we expect to post a promo for TF 4.01, not sure if it will be after Christmas or after New Years, that will depend on the release of TF 4.01.

(We acknowledge up front it behoves everyone to be patient...remember these guys are all volunteers and do this in their own spare time).

Team Fusion released their version 4.0 update on 18 October, but while it introduced some nice new features like improved GFX/frame rates, more and better clouds, and some new aircraft variants like the Blenheim IVF and an armed Sunderland, it basically broke CoD for offline players trying to use the new version of the mod.

The reason was that another feature included in mod 4.0 was the modelling of stiffer controls as dive speed increases in fighters. Great for online flyers, but the game AI was not able to cope, with the result the AI becomes lawn darts whenever it gets in a dive. So TF has been telling single player fans to stick with its previous mod 3.01.

This lawn dart bug, and several others causing game crashes and game freezes were to be fixed in mod 4.01, but it seems that in their desire to keep adding new material to mod 4.01, instead of just fixing the bugs in mod 4.0, delays are creeping in. 

For example TF has announced it will be adding Enlightened Florists' dynamic campaign generator to the game in mod 4.01 as well. Why deliver something users haven't asked for, instead of just fixing what is broken, as quickly as possible? 

This is typical scope creep behaviour unfortunately - the original IL2 team was legendary for it, and it seems Team Fusion has caught the bug too!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Desastersoft revisited: 303 Squadron Campaign

We recently had a highly immersive time playing through a Cliffs of Dover campaign which was part of the Desastersoft 'Fighter Aces: Galland' release, but which we had neglected.

The campaign is '303 Squadron: The Polish Squadron', a 36 mission campaign featuring the unit which was the highest scoring RAF squadron of the Battle of Britain

303 Squadron: A 36 mission campaign starting in Hurricanes out of Northolt, in the famous Polish RAF squadron
One of the great features of this campaign, in contrast to others, is that the missions feature large formations of both enemy and RAF aircraft. So yes, that means that even with the TF mod, you do need a PC with good specs to run the missions comfortably, but if you have that covered there is some innovative and challenging gameplay to be had.

As you go into battle, you will often fly alongside 35 other RAF fighters in a wing, or 3 squadrons. One squadron will be flying top cover for you, and another will be 'on standby' ready for you to call it into the action. 

You do this via the radio, and the squadron on standby will immediately scramble from their airfield and fly to the position where you issued the call for help! This requires some thought, as they cannot be redirected when in flight, but I found it works very well if I am engaged in a big swirling furball with a mass of enemy fighters. These tend not to move very far and you feel a huge sense of relief to see a squadron of fresh pilots and machines barrel in to take on the enemy which often outnumbers you.

It doesn't work so well if you are tyring to use the reinforcements to intercept enemy bombers, because unless they stay on a straight and predictable course, the point at which you issue the call for help, is rarely where the target actually is by the time your reinforcements get there.

Nonetheless, an engaging and challenging campaign and great to get an insight into the missions flown by this band of very brave brothers.

See more about 303 Squadron here:

And download the add on from Desastersoft here:

Full SIMHQ review here:

When aerial chivalry was still alive...

We don't usually cover 'Stringbag' sims on BOBGAMEHUB but this is a release we simply can't ignore, because it represents such a long labour of love by a group of dedicated and talented WWI flight enthusiasts.

What is the sim? What else could it be but...

For a preview of gameplay in this impressive title, see here for quick combat:

And here for campaign combat

Here is a post from a newcomer to the sim on SimHQ forums, 'Nibbio'

I am not articulate enough to write an in-depth review, but would like to explain to anyone inerested why WOFF is so much fun, at least for me.

You are placed in a complex world, with which you can interact, populated by a high number of AI pilots, gunners, troops on the ground etc, with believable behavior. After some 15/20 hours in various campaigns I found no real game-breaker, no instances of those frustrating non-realistic events which break the suspension of disbelief and suddenly make you realize that you are just wasting your time, while many other useful and necessary things demand your attention (like going to work, emptying the dishwasher, cooking, setting the table, eating, going to the gym for a workout, feeding the bunny, watering the plants, whatever...)

The graphics are outdated, but crisp and pleasant to the eye. The graphics effects are tasteful, often subtle, never excessive and, most importantly, believable. The scenery is fantastic. I can't comment on the music because I only want the wind and engine roaring in my ears, the hammering of the machine guns, and sometimes, when you are very close, the screams of the enemy pilots going down (another very nice subtle effect, or maybe a figment of my imagination ).

The same can be said for the flight models. They are believable, and not so hard to master as to become necessarily the only focus of the game. You can quickly learn the strengths and weaknesses of each a/c and then you are ready to exploit them in combat and try to master the real focus of the game, which is survival in a very unpredictable and harsh environment. Maybe the turn rate of the Sopwith Camel is not 100% accurate, or the climb rate of the Fokker DR1 a little off? I wouldn't really know and honestly couldn't care less.

In a word, WOFF is exactly my idea of fun, at least while sitting in front of a PC so let me join the chorus of praises showered on the developers. Well done!

p.s. I think the original CFS3 team also deserves to be praised; there must have been a very good design basis in that game to allow something like WOFF to grow out of it

It's almost enough to tempt a man away from monoplanes. Some players cite the drawback that it uses the venerable CFS3 platform (heavily modded) and if you don't have it, you need to buy that first, before adding the WOFF content. But this is a simple, automated process and the upside is that WOFF will run nicely with good GFX settings on older rigs.

CFS3 is however no longer just a simple click and download deal (and no, we don't support just ripping it off TORRENT). We aren't aware of any sites that sell a digital download, but you can still buy it new on Amazon for about 10 USD or used for half that price. Add in the 60 USD WOFF price and you get a fully fledged WWI flight sim for a very standard price of 70USD.

Mouth watering yet?

More details from the devs official blurb below.

Some of the important features are listed in the feature sections above. OBD is proud to bring what we believe is the most immersive single player flight sim available for World War One.Many features you will discover yourself in Wings: Over Flanders Fields! Here are some of WOFF's superb features;

NEW Artificial Intelligence "AI"

Now a thrilling WW1 experience as the AI pilots possess knowledge of WW1 Fighting maneuvers, Landing, Formation Flying, Ground attacks, Observer/gunner awareness, AI Vision, Dynamic Fatigue, Dynamic Morale, ability to handle Wind and Wind Bumps, and aircraft weight including various loads and more.
See AI Features!

NEW Campaign Engine

Controlled by a new WOFF Manager with hundreds of improvements, re-written to produce and control the many brand new AI and Campaign Features.

55 Flyable aircraft included from the start!

Includes NEW and improved aircraft. See Aircraft Features.

NEW Scenery and Scenery Objects

Stunning realistic colored landscapes. See Scenery Features..

NEW 'Outcomes'
Now actual events are tracked more than ever and used within the campaign as discussed some inDev Comments section.

NEW Damage systems

New damage controls and methods give more complex damage including fire damage spread,progressive damage, engine and component failures and more. See Dev Comments section.

NEW Full Original WOFF Musical Score

by MATT MILNE, 19 exclusive tracks and also includes the popular theme from previous release.

Soon Available to purchase separately.

...and so much more in WOFF please see other features sections.
Here are just a handful examples:

.: New In-Flight Map
.: Immersion Labeling system, including DOTS option, Activity and Identity options for immersion.
.: TrackIR - smooth fast implementation.
.: Prop Blur - see the Prop from the Cockpit now.
.: New Flight Training instructor, with flight instructor messages for key events.
.: New Collisions
.: New Engine Failures
.: New Wind and 'air bumps'.
.: New GAI flights - these will be waiting on ground to get the call to intercept you
.: Gun Jams and Unjamming.
... and much more you will discover when you fly with Wings: Over Flanders Fields.

Oleg Maddox on life, love and IL2

Oleg Maddox in 1999

For those who may not have seen it yet, one of our BOBGAMEHUB contributors, Fred 'Heinkill' Williams, recently took a walk down memory lane with Oleg Maddox, discussing more than ten years of history for the IL2 franchise - what worked, what didn't and what he wished he had done differently. The conversations turned into a four part series on SIMHQ. Part I is featured here

Part 2 is in layout as we speak and expected to be published before Christmas. Enjoy!

A glimpse under the hood: DCS WWII

Nice insight into the development process from Ilya Shevchenko of DCS WWII recently, as he talked us through the process of creating a new cockpit for the Me262 bird which will be featured in their upcoming sim title.

Details matter to this crew!

Well, today's update is a little different in tone. As opposed to showing exciting new things, we're going to try for a much more intimate look at the day to day work that goes into the project.

Let's look at the Me.262 cockpit one more time, one week later.

If you just look at the screenshots below and compare them to last week’s, your first impression might be, what? Where’s the beef?

Well, you have to look closer.

Compared to last week’s, the cockpit is a lot more complete. Most importantly, we now have the fully articulated stick. We now have both complete pedals instead of a single placeholder. The entire cockpit tub is there. There are new large objects on both sides, and smaller objects all around.

Still, you might say, an entire week of worth for that? Are you guys putting in the hours?

Oh yes we are.

First of all, there’s the time needed to ensure the accuracy. We’re not just looking at a blurry photo and trying to kind of sort of make a gizmo that looks like that thingamajig by the pilot’s right knee. We’re going off of original manufacturer’s blueprints and measuring and cross-checking every element. That takes time and that takes skill.

For things that are animated, playing around with the range of motion is also time-consuming. For example, the stick can move around in many different ways, has other moving things attached to it, and so on. We need to play around with all of that too and make sure it’s right.

Finally, everything you see gets mapped during the modeling process. Not a DCS requirement, just this modeler’s individual preference. We have strict texture scale and size requirements. Everything is in 1:1 scale, which adds extra work to texture mapping. So, screenshotting, measuring, and arranging all the objects on the textures like a giant free-form jigsaw puzzle from hell, that’s a lot of additional effort that cannot be accurately shown on screenshots.

And so, this is the day-to-day of DCS WWII development. Slow, steady process that requires patience and dedication to make sure all the details remain as accurate as possible, and no corners are ever cut.

Updated Browning gun sounds for BOBII

One of the many niggles I have with various WWII sims is the sound of the RAF .303 Brownings. If you listen to archival footage on youtube, or to the.303s firing blank cartridges in, for example the 1960s movie 'Battle of Britain', it is hard to be satisfied that modern sims have really captured it.

It is very much a matter of personal opinion (beauty is in the ear of the beholder!) But for me, BOBII is the sim that has always come closest to what the archived sounds portray, probably because the original Rowan sound files were based on .wav audio captured from a real (single) .303 Browning MG, stepped up to simulate the firing of 6 Brownings simultaneously.

Never happy that they have achieved 'perfection', BOBII enthusiasts continue to apply the latest in sound engineering technology to that original Browning audio file, and the latest effort is from BOBII audio modder 'Boreas' who has posted the updated files here:

Meanwhile modder 'Hazzie' has also done some tweaking, going for a more desynchronised multiple gun effect. His work is here:

Note, these are downloadable in .wav format, so you can listen to them on any audio play software.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrppt! Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Battle for Malta goes 'gold'

After two beta releases of the popular Battle for Malta mod for Cliffs of Dover, the team of Vasiliy Kucheraviy and Fred Williams has now released the final version of Battle for Malta, just in time for the holidays!


 The mod comes in two parts: the modded game files


And the 28 mission Single Mission Pack

For an insight into the depth of the research that has gone into this mission pack, see the scenario descriptions for each mission below:

Mission 1: The Battle Begins!

"Iwo Jima stands as the most bombed spot in the Pacific War. Malta stands as the most bombed spot in history."
James Holland.

17 June 1940

These are dark days for the Allies. In Britain, the RAF is facing off against the Luftwaffe's Luftflotte 2, 3 and 5, after having been beaten comprehensively back from France.

On June 10, Italy declared war, and on June 11, the first air attack on Malta was launched.

The RAF has only a handful of aircraft to defend the island, and the Regia Aeronautica is targeting Hal Far airfield and the ships of Malta's Grand Harbour with impunity.

Malta 02 - RAF Reinforces

'We shall defend our island home and with the British Empire around us shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted from the brows of men"
Times of Malta, 18 June 1940.

22 June 1940

6 more Hurricanes have arrived at Hal Far airfield to supplement the Gladiators of Hal Far flight. But as fast as they arive, they are being destroyed, either in the air, or on the ground, by the far superior numbers of Regia Aeronautica bombers and fighters.

The Regia Aeronautica however has learned that with the arrival of the Hurricanes, its bombers require escorts, and must carefully plan their ingress and egress to avoid the worst of the flak, which though light, is quite accurate.

Malta03 - The Few

"Valiantly climbing into the skies each day to meet the Italian bombers were George Burges and his companions of the Malta Fighter Flight...Harry Kirk, an RAF corporal working at headquarters on Scots Street, saw the Gladiators flying in tight formation and thought they looked rather like the three silver hearts on a brooch of his mother's. Each heart had a name - Faith, Hope and Charity. The names stuck."
James Holland

23 June 1940

The fighters on Malta, though few, are troubling the Regia Aeronautica.

The RA are now conducting fighter sweeps over Malta to try to draw the RAF up, and destroy them in the air, or failing that, on the ground.

Malta 04 - Find the Fleet

"The Regia Aeronautica appeared once more, high in the skies above. There were hundreds of them, and over the next few hours all the British ships came under fire..."
James Holland

7 July 1940

A British destroyer flotilla with fuel tenders is searching for the Italian fleet in waters south of Malta.

They were last sighted at grid reference E4, heading SE.

The Regia Aeronautica has despatched bombers to locate and attack them.

Malta 05 - the Darkest Day

"On the last day of the month, one of the Gladiators was shot down. A witness said the plane 'burnt just like a magnesium flare'...
James Holland

31 July 1940

The RAF Hal Far Flight is down to 1 Hurricane and 2 Gladiators, only flying because of parts salvaged from other machines.

The Regia Aeronautica is flying over Malta almost at will, attacking shipping and airfields. Only the AAA is troubling the Italians.

Civilian casualties are high and the Governor, Lt Gen WIlliam Dobbie, has appealed to the British government for more fighter aircraft, and AAA guns.

"At Luqa conditions were considerably more basic, and when pilots did take off, the whole procedure was something of a fiasco. Luqa had been littered with debris to deter any enemy landing and buses were driven on and off the runway whenever it was needed, both when pilots were scrambling but when they were landing too."
James Holland

Malta 06 - Reinforcements

16 August 1940

The pleas of the Maltese government have been heard. With the arrival of 15 Hurricanes and eighteen pilots, the Hal Far Flight has now been commissioned as 261 Squadron at Luqa. The Governor's plea for more AAA guns has also been heard.

Italian bomber forces have been diverted to support the navy at the Battle of Calabria, but fighter sweeps over the island, and isolated bomber attacks, are continuing.

Malta07 - Forza Stuka!

"Fortunately the new pilots of 261 squadron were given time to acclimatise to their new surroundings...without being unduly stretched by the Italians. It was a curious decision by the Italians for as the raids lessened, so Malta was growing slowly in strength."
James Holland

20 September 1940

Three Blenheims have arrived at Takali airfield to form 431 reconnaisance flight, led by flight leader Adrian Warby.

The aircraft will be used for fleet protection and enemy shipping identification, as well as photo recon missions over enemy airfields and ports.

Italian Stukas have also been brought into the attack. After training at Graz in Austria, 15 of the aircraft were moved to Italy to join the seige of Malta.

Malta08 - Taranto recon

The attack on Taranto: Part 1

"Several reconnaissance flights by Blenheim bombers (of the RAF's No. 431 General Reconnaissance Flight) flying from Malta, confirmed the location of the Italian fleet. These flights produced photos on which the intelligence officer of HMS Illustrious spotted previously unexpected barrage balloons; the attack plan was changed accordingly."

10 November 1940

Regia Aeronautica attacks continued sporadically throughout October, targeting shipping, the Harbour and airfields. Civilian losses were mounting, with a stray bomb hitting a packed bus, killing 40 people.

Italian torpedo bombers were being used to effect against the British convoys, while the British Admiralty was planning a daring attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto with torpedo bombers of its own.

Malta09 - Taranto attack

The attack on Taranto: Part 2

"The first wave of 12 aircraft led by Lieutenant Commander M. W. Williamson RN of 815 Sqn., left Illustrious just before 21:00 hours on 11 November 1940, followed by a second wave of nine about 90 minutes later.

The first wave, which consisted of a mixture of six torpedo bombers, was split into two sections when three of the bombers and one torpedo bomber strayed from the main force while flying through thin clouds. The second group continued to Taranto independently..."

11 November 1940

The Italian fleet has been identified at Harbour in Taranto, counting six battleships and several cruisers.

The first wave of a British torpedo bomber strike has already hit the fleet, damaging several ships.

Malta 10 - Fliegerkorps X

"From the day the Germans arrived, the entire Island rocked to the shock of battle."
- Malta dockyard worker ET Hedley

On 10 December 1941, Fliegerkorps X, under the command of Hans Ferdinand Geisler, and with support of his chief of staff Major Martin Harlinghausen, was ordered to Sicily in order to attack Allied shipping in the Mediterranean. By the start of the first German operation, Geisler had 95 aircraft and 14,389 men in Sicily. Geisler persuaded the OKL to give him four more dive-bomber gruppen (Groups). On 10 January he could muster 255 (179 serviceable) aircraft including 209 dive and medium bombers.

By 2 January 1941, the first German units reached Trapani on Sicily's southern coast. The Luftwaffe's two units were both Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Gruppen (Groups). The first was I./Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 and II./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 (I and II Group Dive Bomber Wings 1 and 2). The units numbered some 80 Ju 87s. Stabsstaffeln of Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 (StG 3) and 7/JG27 arrived. Oberstleutnant Karl Christ, Geschwaderkommodore of StG 3 gave orders to intercept heavy shipping, ports and airfields on Malta.

On 10 January 1941, the first Luftwaffe attacks began.

Malta 11 - 261 Sq beefs up

"With only 16 Hurricanes serviceable, and a couple of Gladiators, the brunt of defence was borne by the anti aircraft gunners around the harbour."
- James Holland

By 13 January 1941 the total number of Hurricanes on Malta had increased to 16, and two Gladiators were still flyable thanks to cannibalised spare parts.

Blenheims of the Malta Reconnaisance Flight were based out of Luqa, as were Wellingtons of the Special Strike Unit.

But the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica were destroying the British aircraft as quickly as they were being landed.

Malta 12 - The Illustrious

"The German attack lasted just six and a half minutes, and in that time the aircraft carrier was struck six times."
- James Holland

In early January the Luftwaffe was presented with the opportunity to attack the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. when British Operation Excess was launched, which included a series of convoy operations by the British across the Mediterranean Sea.

Soon they were within range of the Luftwaffe's Sicilian bases. II./StG 2 sent 43 Ju 87s with support from I./StG 1. Ten Italian SM 79s had drawn off the carrier's Fairey Fulmar fighters while the escorting cruiser HMS Bonaventure sank the Italian torpedo boat Vega.

Some 10 Ju 87s attacked the carrier. Witnessed by Andrew Cunningham, C-in-C of the Fleet from HMS Warspite, the Ju 87s scored six hits. One destroyed a gun, another hit near her bow, a third demolished another gun, while two hit the lift, wrecking the aircraft below deck, causing explosions of fuel and ammunition. Another went through the armoured deck and exploded deep inside the ship.

Two further attacks were made without result. Badly damaged, but with her main engines still intact, she steered for the now dubious haven of Malta. The attack lasted six minutes; killed 126 crew members and wounded 91.

Within sight of Malta, torpedo bombers also attacked the carrier, but were driven off by intense anti-aircraft fire.

(Gameplay note: as there is no aircraft carrier in CoD, a large freighter has been substituted.)

Malta 13 - Knockout blows

"Oh my God, my God, those bombs," recalls Michael Montebello, a child at the time. Despite being deep underground, the whole island appeared to shake and tremble. Michael sat there, terrified, a ten year old boy hugging his knees tightly into his chest, with the smell of cordite filling his nose and lungs, wondering whether the shelter would collapse.
- James Holland

On 18 January Kesselring ordered the Luftwaffe to concentrate on RAF airfields at Luqa, Hal Far and Takali.

No fewer than 11 raids were launched, and both RA and Luftwaffe fighters, dive bombers and bombers were sortied.

Standing against them were 16 Hurricanes of 261 Sq, and a Blenheim of 69 recon unit. There were no more Gladiators remaining on Malta.

Malta 14 - 69 Sq is formed

"431 Recon Flight was given full squadron status, and renamed 69 Squadron. More planes and personnel were arriving...and were kept busy photographing Italian airfields, keeping a check on the rising numbers of Luftwaffe planes there."
- James Holland

On 30 Jan with the arrival of Blenheims on the island, the RAF formed 69 recon squadron, to help direct submarine attacks on Axis convoys, and prepare for bombing raids on Axis ports and airfields in Sicily and Libya.

At the same time the Luftwaffe was flying men and machines into Catania airfield in Sicily in preparation for an offensive to seal the fate of Malta once and for all.

(Historical note: the aircraft first used for recon out of Malta were Marylands - here the Blenheims are a stand in.)

Malta 15 - LW buildup complete

"In a pre-emptive move, a number of Luqa-based Wellington bombers made a strike on the Axis airfield of Catania. The defenders of Malta held their breath..."
- James Holland

6 February 1940 saw the first attack by Wellingtons of the RAF Special Strike Squadron on the Catania airfield in Sicily. Although Axis forces had noted the arrival of the Wellingtons and destroyed several on the ground, it had been assumed they were in transit to Egypt, and not that they would be used to attack Axis forces in Italy.

The attack coincided with the arrival of the full complement of Luftwaffe forces at Catania including 7 staffel of JG26 led by Joachim Munchenberg, Destroyers (Bf110s) of ZG26, Ju88s of LG1 and He111s of KG26.

Standing against them was a single squadron of Hurricanes.

Malta 16 - Munchenberg's men

"It was in the beggining of March that the Germans began using the Messerschmitt 109 fighters in numbers over Malta, and they immediately began to make their presence felt."
- James Holland.

March 7 1941 - The full complement of 7 Staffel JG26, commanded by Joachim Munchenberg, went into action over Malta.

The small complement of Hurricanes, cannibalised and near obsolescent, patched and patched again, rose to meet them.

Spare parts, fuel and oil was not reaching the island in sufficient quantities to maintain the RAF force on the island more than a few more days. Troops, pilots and groundcrew had resorted to raising their own crops and livestock to supplement their rations of bully beef and biscuits.

The toll of the incessant bombing and strafing on the civilian population, was growing. The only good news is that AAA defences on the island have finally been increased.

Malta 17 - Attack on Tripoli

"A full moon was due on the night of 17-18 March, the ideal condictions for RAF bombers to launch an attack..."
- James Holland

March 17 1941, Malta based Wellingtons from the Malta Special Strike Force attacked Tripoli Harbour in Libya, after a long flight overwater, in darkness.

RAF raids based out of Malta, together with submarine and naval activity, was hampering Germany's ability to supply its forces in Africa.

The raid redoubled Marshal Kesselring's resolve to remove the threat of Malta once and for all.

Malta 18 - Evening the odds

"At last, the request for more fighter planes for Malta was being answered, which was just as well since 261 Squadron - or what remained of it - was on its knees."
- James Holland

27 April 1940.

23 new Hurricanes flew in to Malta off the Ark Royal aircraft carrier. The new machines were designated as 249 Squadron, and had been ordered to relieve the battle weary pilots of 261 Squadron, some of whom had been flying since the first bombs began to fall.

Nevertheless, the Germans held on to air superiority. Hitler ordered Fliegerkorps X to protect Axis shipping, prevent Allied shipping passing through the central Mediterranean, and neutralise Malta altogether as an Allied base. Against the 20 RAF fighters, 180 German and 300 Italian aircraft were ready to carry out the directive.

Malta 19 - Unbroken

"Suddenly, there it was, like a large dusty brown leaf on the sea - Malta. He spotted Luqa, but was horrified to see it was under attack - they had arrived in the middle of another raid. Minutes later the enemy bombers had gone, and he touched down at Luqa amid clouds of dust." (The experience of an RAF pilot landing on Malta May 1941)
- James Holland

1 May 1941

Despite constant attack on Malta from the air, and disruption of convoys by sea, the island is still grimly hanging on. No matter how many RAF aircraft the Luftwaffe destroys in one day, by the next day, they are repaired, or more are flown in.

Kesselring has been unable to persuade Hitler that invasion will be possible, as he cannot show that the RAF has been beaten. For him, it is a bitter pill, after a similar failure in the Battle of Britain. But he is determined history will not repeat itself.

He sends everything he has against the island in a single day of uninterrupted terror.

Malta 20 - Munchenbergs farewell

"Throughout May 69 Squadron reported the departure of the Luftwaffe's Fliegerkorps X. With Hitler preparing to launch Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia - Fliegerkorps X was transferred to Poland".
- James Holland

25 May 1941

Since 10 January the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica have been strafing and bombing Malta from dawn to dusk. The once grand buildings of Valetta are rubble, the port is a shambles. The population is starving, living on the meagre rations that a few brave merchantmen and submarines have been able to get through the blockade.

The three RAF airfields, Luqa, Takali and Hal Far are little more than ruined hangars and machine shops, with aircraft huddled in blast pens made from empty fuel barrels filled with sand or water. The Governor of Malta has sent a message to London, to advise that unless a major convoy makes it through the blockade in the next two weeks, the Island will be forced to capitulate.

However...on this day, Fliegerkorps X of the Luftwaffe is taken out of the theatre. Having failed to convince Hitler that an invasion is feasible, Kesselring is ordered to move his forces to Poland in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the attack on Russia.

Malta 21 - Convoy to Malta

14 December 1941, evening

"Malta could be supplied either from the east or the west so far as convoy was concerned, the decision being based on tactical considerations. From Gibraltar, the passage only became subject to air attack for (approximately) its latter half, and enemy surface force bases were somewhat more distant from that route. From the east, unless the North African desert was temporarily in British hands, air attack became probable very shortly after sailing and surface attack easier due to shorter distance. The eastern route, after the complete failure of one attempt, could only really be attempted when the enemy had been driven west of Benghazi. Both routes required very heavy escort, another factor that inhibited the eastern series due to the steady attrition of the Mediterranean Fleet."
- the late Arnold Hague, Lieutenant Commander, RNR (Rtd) (c) 1995

The population of Malta is on the brink of collapse from starvation and lack of fuel. Preparing to sail the dangerous Eastern route from Alexandria in Egypt are the merchant ships BRECONSHIRE, AJAX, CITY OF CALCUTTA, CLAN FERGUSON and SYDNEY STAR, escorted by the destroyers DECOY, HAVOCK, HASTY, JERVIS, KIMBERLEY, KINGSTON, KIPLING and NIZAM.

The convoy is assembling off Alexandria, ready to sail at first light.

Malta 22 - Convoy ME7 sets sail

"In December 1941 the destroyer HMAS Nizam was one of the screen of a powerful force, including heavy ships, taking the special ship SS Breconshire from Alexandria to Malta. The Italian Battle Fleet was at sea and a clash was an anticipated..."
- Official record of the Royal Australian Navy

Off the coast of Alexandria, 0500 hours...

Designated as Convoy ME7, and under the escort of Destroyer Flotilla Force B, the merchant ships SS BRECONSHIRE, AJAX, CITY OF CALCUTTA, CLAN FERGUSON and SYDNEY STAR, have departed Alexandria escorted by the destroyers DECOY, HAVOCK, HASTY, JERVIS, KIMBERLEY, KINGSTON, KIPLING and NIZAM.

The convoy departed Alexandria under cover of darkness and as dawn approaches, is still under cover of RAF aircraft based out of Egypt, but also within range of Axis aircraft based in Libya and Sicily.

Malta 23 - The Battle of Sirte

"HMS Breconshire was escorted from Malta by Force B to rendezvous with Force K near the Gulf of Sirte. Soon after, the British came across Italian warships escorting a convoy to Tripoli. The ensuing engagement is known as the First Battle of Sirte."
- Official record of the Royal Australian Navy

Gulf of Sirte, 0900 hours

Italian and British ships are converging in the Gulf of Sirte. By sheer chance an Italian convoy from Sicily to Tripoli in Libya has crossed paths with the British ME7 convoy.

The destroyers DECOY, HAVOCK, KIPLING and NIZAM have been detached to engage the Italian flotilla. The rest of convoy ME7 has moved toward the coast to remain withing range of Egypt based air cover.

The Italian fleet has radioed for help and the Regia Aeronautica has despatched aircraft from Sicily to protect its convoy.

Malta 24 - Stragglers

"By the second day convoy ME7 was out of range of all Egyptian based RAF aircraft, except the Hurricanes at Abu Sawayr. Three merchant ships had been lost and two destroyers damaged and forced to retire...air attacks that day were merciless. "
- Official record of the Royal Australian Navy

Gulf of Sirte, 1100 hours

The British convoy is now steaming west toward Malta at full steam, in sector K2.

Both British and Axis forces are aware it is out of range of most RAF single engined aircraft, and the AAA fire of the covering destroyer flotilla has been much reduced by the loss of two destroyers.

Kesselring sends all available forces against the convoy while the opportunity to send it to the bottom is at its best.

Malta 25 - The Nestor

"At about 1800 hrs, when the convoy was off the south east corner of Malta, Nestor was straddled by a stick of heavy bombs which caused serious damage to her boiler rooms. She was taken in tow by HMS Javelin but at about 0530 the next morning (16 June), with the destroyer then going down by the nose, permission was requested to scuttle. After the crew had been transferred to HMAS Nizam she was sunk at about 0700 by depth charge."
- Royal Australian Navy official record

The HMAS Nestor is disabled, and sinking, in sector G2. Her sister ship Nizam is alongside, taking aboard the crew of the Nestor. Malta coastal command aircraft are patrolling over the becalmed ships, and two destroyers have been detached from convoy ME7 to provide extra cover. While stationary, however, they are very vulnerable to further air attack.

The rest of convoy ME7 is now approaching Malta's coast from the east, in sector G3, and is now within range of cover from Malta based RAF aircraft.

Malta 26 - Crippled and lame
Of the merchant ships BRECONSHIRE, AJAX, CITY OF CALCUTTA, CLAN FERGUSON and SYDNEY STAR which left Alexandria two days ago, only BRECONSHIRE and SYDNEY STAR have made it within sight of Malta. And the destroyer escort of HMAS DECOY, HAVOCK, NESTOR, JERVIS, KIMBERLEY, KINGSTON, KIPLING and NIZAM has been reduced to just two warships, the NIZAM and DECOY.

The pitiful remnants of convoy ME7 are now approaching the northern coast of Malta, half a day's sailing from Grand Harbour at Valetta.

British forces are desperate for these supplies to reach Malta, and as the convoy is now within range of Malta RAF airfields, around the clock patrols have been stationed over the convoy.

The convoy is also sailing close to shore, so that it can covered by shore based AAA as well.

Malta 27 - Heroic welcome

Despite fierce attacks and significant damage, the HMAS BRECONSHIRE; with destroyer escort NIZAM and DECOY, has made harbour in Malta.

Carrying vital oil, food and spare parts for the RAF, the BRECONSHIRE is being hastily unloaded. The air over Grand Harbour is thick with RAF fighters covering the unloading operation.

Marshal Kesselring agrees with the RAI commander in chief, Italo Balbo, that the time is ideal for an all out combined attack on Malta. It will become the biggest air operation since May 1941.

The Governor of Malta has signalled London, that unless the supplies from the Breconshire can be successfully unloaded, the Island will be forced to capitulate.

* Caution: this mission includes a large number of flyable aircraft. Depending on your PC settings, you may want to reduce the number of aircraft in each unit. You can do this in the CUSTOM settings screen of the mission briefing.

Malta 28 - BONUS - Battle for Sidi Rezegh

On 22 November 1941, as part of Operation Crusader, British forces in North Africa moved to capture the Axis Sidi Rezegh airfield.

Valentine and Cruiser tanks of the British 22nd and 4th Armoured Brigades (the famous Desert Rats) advanced in force toward the airfield, opposed by the Panzer IIIs and IVs of the 21st and 15th Panzer divisions.

In the air, fighters of JG27 covered a Stuka attack on the British ground forces by StG 3. Scrambled from Gewala, Hurricanes of the RAF Desert Airforce 274 Squadron were ordered to secure the air over the target, while Beaufighters of 252 Squadron attacked Axis ground forces.

The Battle for Sidi Rezegh was joined...