Mission 47 ... & Still Growing
Dang! ... no wonder the Germans lost
... look at the size of that squadron!
HEADLINES FROM ENGLAND, midsummer 1943:
The 16th Annual B-17 Tournament Wrap Up:
If you have never experienced the WBC B-17 tournament,
you might want to consider doing so in 2008. Each year, we fly
three historic missions. Scenario handout sheets designed loosely
on Squad Leader scenario charts are given to each flier
at the start of each mission to brief them on the game setup,
target, air cover, and weather, complete with a detailed historical
synopsis to let everyone know what really happened on that mission
We are now into August 1943. If you know your history, you
know we are about to fly some some of the most famous "signature"
missions of the air campaign. It's been a long time coming, but
for those of you who have made the trip this far, 2008 will be
a very interesting year.
We've been flying for 16 years now, three missions per year,
with the exception of the first year when we had only two missions
(due to time constraints and, well, the painful first year learning
curve of what works and what doesn't work in a tournament, including,
yes, GM screw ups that the Royal Air Force would laugh about).
So, we have just completed our 47th mission together. Next
year, we will knock out missions 48, 49 and wrap up with our
50th mission. So, our GOLDEN anniversary mission is on the horizon.
We are NOT giving out GOLD next year to increase attendance.
Speaking of anniversary gifts, here is something relevant to
WBC plaques: a friend of mine had his fifth wedding anniversary
a few years ago, and was describing to us how he was looking
for a traditional gift of WOOD to give to his wife. I asked
him "just what KIND of WOOD are you talking about giving
Now, as tournaments go, many people avoid B-17 because they
think it is too lucky, way too dependent on the dice, and doesn't
involve enough skill (ask four -time winner Paul Risner about
that), and therefore, not worth the investment of most of one
entire WBC day, especially if you are obsessed with getting WOOD.
But, if you join us, you will know that the story isn't completely
about winning and WOOD. Sure, doing well is the icing on the
cake. But the camaraderie of getting together again at the convention,
seeing old friends, and then shooting them down, probably ranks
well up there with winning.
I do not fully understand what the B-17 tournament
means to everyone who plays in it. It can mean many things on
different levels. As the GM, I try to stress the historical
accuracy of the missions and remind people that this is much
more than just a boardgame. I hate the term "just a game."
It is a historical simulation of a brutal aspect of WWII, and
when you study the strategic air campaign, you will realize
just how significant the air war was to the success of D-Day
and the ultimate outcome.
But more than the history, the puzzling thing is why do so
many participants keep coming back to get shot to pieces year
For the most part, it is because they are having fun doing
so. Maybe not as much fun, but still, you'd be surprised at
how well people take getting shot down in this tournament. Sometimes,
people think it was just not their year (Risner has come in last).
Fate definitely plays a role. Others may be drawn back in the
same way they hope they will hit the lottery some day. And Mike
Lam's medals probably bring more people back than anything else.
Mike contributes a LOT to the success of this event. But one
thing is for sure ... while the vast majority of WBC events gradually
grow smaller over the years, our squadron continues to grow!
We must be doing something right.
If someone makes a game based on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest" I think most of us B-17ers would be ready to join
right in. We're nuts.
Anyway, enough with the introduction -- just remember that
2008 will be a signature year. Now on to a description of this
past year's event.
This year's first WBC mission attacked the Heinkel aircraft
factory at Warnemünde, Germany (Zone 9) which was the 8th
USAAF's Mission #79 on 29 July 1943.
The second WBC mission (USAAF Mission #80) was also against
an aircraft factory. This time the target was the Waldau Fieseler
Aircraft Works in Kassel, Germany (30 July 1943).
The third WBC mission (USAAF Mission #81) was against manufacturing
facilities at Bonn, Germany in the Ruhr Valley. This mission
was conducted on 12 August 1943, so again, if you know history,
you know a date with some ball bearing plants is just around
A few words of many thanks to my Assistant GMs:
Assistant GM Keith Hunsinger, serving as rules and scoring
help as well as Group Chaplain. Keith also donated some full
size wings as contributions to Mike Lam's medal awards.
Assistant GM Mark Yoshikawa, who has computerized the scoring
system and, he was the first person who was allowed to try to
shoot me down and notably failed. At one point, I wondered why
he was having so much fun and then I realized he was getting
into some kind of bloodthirsty frenzy.
And I can't say enough about Assistant GM Mike Lam, who again
handed out all kinds of medals for years of service, achievements
in the air, and all kinds of bad things that can happen to a
B-17 and her crew.
Here is Mike's summary of medals awarded during the 2007 tournament:
OVERALL GROUP TOTALS
Medal Of Honor: 1
Distinguished Service Cross: 1
Silver Star: 2
Distinguished Flying Cross: 7
Air Medal: 1
Purple Heart: 10
Prisoner Of War: 1
Legion Of Merit: 1
Good Conduct: 5
European Theater of Operations: 7
Pilot Wings: 1
Co-Pilot Wings: 1
Navigator Wings: 1
Bombardier Wings: 1
Flight Engineer Wings: 1
Radio Operator Wings: 1
Ball Gunner Wings: 1
Tail Gunner Wings: 1
Waist Gunner Wings: 2
Mission 1: Warnemünde
Medal Of Honor - Ruth Evinger - Flight Engineer KIA landing
plane with three seriously wounded crew onboard
Silver Star - Tim DuFour - Pilot chose to remain in formation
Distinguished Flying Cross - Mike Backstrom - Successful Ditching
in North Sea
Purple Hearts - Mike Lam, Nathan Trent, Henry Richardson,
Paul Risner, Bill Beckman - These involve loss of entire crews
from ditchings, fuel fires, and the dreaded BIP, bombs burst
Mission 2: Kassel
Silver Star - Bill Beckman - Pilot chose to remain in formation
Distinguished Flying Cross - Josh Weintraub - Successful Ditching
Distinguished Flying Cross - Jim Miller - Successful Crash
Landing at base, crew safe
Distinguished Flying Cross - Andy Chitwood - Flew back from
Zone-8, Out Of Formation plus x2 turns every even zone
Distinguished Flying Cross - Steve Munchak - Flew back from
Zone-8 Out Of Formation
Purple Hearts - Bill Rohrbeck, Henry Richardson, Joe Birch
- the usual total crew loss disasters.
Mission 3: Bonn
Distinguished Service Cross - Claude Stone - Flight Engineer
Successfully Landed plane with -11 roll modifier
Distinguished Flying Cross - Eric Stranger - Flew back from
Zone-8, x2 turns each zone
Distinguished Flying Cross Nathan Trent - Badly shot
up, wheels up landing, no ammo left
Air Medal - Kevin Coombs - 75% bomb run
Purple Hearts - Paul Risner, Tim Dufour - 2006 champ Paul
shot down twice in one year.
Medals for Overall Performance, 3 missions cumulative:
Kevin Coombs (Bomb Wings): 110% total, 3 missions by 1 bombardier
Steve Munchak (Navigator Wings): Navigator navigated B-17
Out Of Formation for 7 Zones
Jon Izer (Pilot Wings): 0 Crew Lost (won tie-breaker over
Eric Stranger and Kevin McCarthy, both also with 0 crew lost).
Steve Munchak (Co-Pilot Wings): CP flew B-17 alone for 7 Zones
after pilot was SW
Dave Long (Flight Engineer Wings) - 11 Kills
Roger Knowles (Radio Operator Wings) - 2 Kills
Dave Long (Ball Gunner Wings) - 6 Kills
Rich Moyer (Port Waist Wings) - 5 Kills
Josh Weintraub (Starboard Waist Wings)-3 Kills
Dave Long (Tail Gunner Wings)-9 Kills
Evan Hitchings (Prisoner Of War): 19 Total POWs
Kevin Coombs (Legion of Merit): 10 year service
Steve Munchak (Good Conduct): 5 year service
Roger Knowles (Good Conduct): 5 year service
William Rohrbeck (Good Conduct): 5 year service
Bill Beckman (Good Conduct): 5 year service
Robert Hahn (Good Conduct): 5 year service
Andy Chitwood (ETO): 1st year
Josh Weintraub (ETO): 1st year
Mike Masella (ETO): 1st year
Claude Stone (ETO): 1st year
Carl Sykes (ETO): 1st year
Frank Cunliffe (ETO): 1st year
Tim DuFour (ETO): 1st year
Friday's After Action Meeting at 2200 hours continued to be
a big success as we reopened the Officer's Club (with Paul Risner
and Mark Yoshikawa providing refreshments), and we turned the
Toby Jug back toward the wall indicating that the missions for
the year were over.
We gave out Mike Lam's medals (with some wings from Keith
Hunsinger), awarded WBC Wood, and we conducted our Thid Annual
B-17 Prize Table, in which each participant was encouraged to
bring one or two gifts (B-17 or air war books, model airplanes,
VHS or DVD videos, pictures, etc.) for the prize table. Participation
in this is optional, and the GM doesn't want anyone spending
more than $10 to $20 or so on their prize offering for the table.
The result turned out well. Of the 42 tournament participants
this year, we had almost 35 people appear at the After Action
Briefing. Everyone went away with something new for their B-17
collections. Also, the prize table features a couple of official
"rotating" prizes which are brought back year after
year and re-donated, with the one who got it signing their names
to it as a record of being a B-17 veteran. Two prizes were established
as rotating prizes -- one is a book "Castles in the Air"
by Martin Bowman, and the second is a framed picture of a B-17
that was donated by John Jacoby, the GM of Circus Maximus.
We will conduct the Prize Table again next year, so if you going
to play, please be on the lookout for an appropriate addition
to the prize table. It adds a lot of fun to the event and everyone
goes away a winner. Thanks again to John Jacoby who donated
several B-17 related items that he has found at various yard
sales. John doesn't even play in the event but his contributions
to the prize table are greatly appreciated!
After all of that, we showed the third episode of the TV series
Twelve O'Clock High for those few of us night owls that managed
to stay awake.
As a reminder: What's the Toby Jug? Well, it is a ceramic
jug made with the shape of a face that is masked and looks a
bit like Robin Hood. The jug was used in the movie Twelve
O'Clock High, and normally sat on the mantle in the Officer's
Club facing the wall. The "Turning of the Toby" to
face the room was a way to alert crew members in the Club of
an upcoming mission. The "Turning of the Toby" is
actually based on fact. In World War One, similar codes were
utilized by the RAF to signify that a mission was upcoming.
Many of the heavy bomber groups of the 8th Air Force used the
"Turning of the Toby" to signify that it was time to
stop drinking and get ready for a mission the next morning.
Since this is supposed to be an After Action Report, a few
words about the final scoring and standings for 2007.
Consolation prizes were awarded to Dave Gantt for coming in
last (42nd) with a score of 24, and to 2006 champ Paul Risner
for coming in next to last (41st) with a score of 32. Evan Hitchings
was third from the bottom (40th) with a score of 33, Keith Hunsinger
(39th), frequent cellar dweller and one-time champ, had a score
of 50 and Chris Storzillo (38th) rounded out the bottom five
with a score of 53.
Next came 37th Joe Burch (whose plane names needed some censoring),
Henry Richardson (36th), Barry Shoults (35th), Mike Lam (34th,
who spends a lot of time awarding medals and getting shot down
too), and Tim DuFour (33rd).
The middle of the pack, working upward, were 32nd Bill Rohrbeck,
31st Michael Masella, 30th Andrew Chitwood, 29th Stephen Shedden
(a returning vet last seen in Hunt Valley, welcome back Stephen),
28th Frank Cunliffe, 27th Mike Backstrom, 26th Nathan Trent,
25th Bill Beckman, 24th Roger Knowles, 23rd Bill Burch, 22nd
Mark Guz, 21st John Ockelmann and 20th David Terry, thanks to
Mark Yoshikawa doing a lot of damage during my second mission.
The top went to 19th Bryan Collars, 18th Joshua Weintraub,
17th Ruth Evinger, 16th Jim Miller, 15th Claude Stone, 14th Carl
Sykes, 13th Robert Hahn, 12th Don Del Grande, 11th Stephen Munchak,
10th Mark Yoshikawa (I shot him up a bit), 9th Paul Weintraub,
8th Jon Izer and just missing out on wood, 7th Kevin McCarthy.
For the first time ever, due to the event size, we had wood
for the top six places. These went to:
6th: Mike Windle in his plane Rocky, The Flying Squirrel
5th: Bruce Peckham in Plane Jane
4th: Kevin Coombs in Atlanta Belle
3rd: Eric Stranger in Down In Flames
2nd: Richard Moyer in Wee Willie
and top wood went to
1st: perennial bottom dweller Dave Long, who was completely
surprised at the After Action Meeting because Mark Yoshikawa
and his computer told him that we thought he was in second place
on mission day, but I insisted that all results were preliminary
until I went through the paper calculations. Well, Mark had
a bug this year and the old diehard slow paper way beat his computer
for the first time in three years. So, we unexpectedly held
Dave Long in suspense. He knew he was near the top, but not
Dave flies missions against / with Jim Miller, and Jim has
made Dave wind up near the bottom of the standings year after
year, but Dave takes an incredible toll on Jim too. It's like
they show up each year to kick each other in the butt and then
laugh about it. They are also the kings of the double entendre
so you have to watch what you say around them.
Dave decided to name his planes this year based on the amount
of grief he has suffered in the past. He had a theme for all
three missions, and named his planes as follows (with partial
Mission 1: DENIAL: No (expletive deleted) Way Jim Shoots
Mission 2: DEPRESSION: I Scored 64 On My First Mission. I'm
So (expletive deleted).
Mission 3: ACCEPTANCE: (Expletive deleted) It. We All Know
Paul's Gonna Win.
The last plan name was, of course, a reference to Paul Risner
being the defending champ from 2006. Well, now Dave Long is
the defending champ and Jim Miller probably already has his German
ammo loaded and ready to blast Dave from first to worst in 2008.
It happens. Risner went from first to next to last. Keith
Hunsinger has had similar experiences.
So, congratulations once again to Dave Long and all the rest
of the participants on another fine year. I am always looking
for ways to improve the experience and welcome your suggestions.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Overall, it was another great year. I thank everyone for
their participation -- including the Friday evening After Action
Briefing and Prize Table. Veterans from past years are encouraged
to return in 2008 (there are service medals for five- and ten-year
veterans). We also always welcome new players as Mike gives
out an ETO first year award. Please join in on the fun in 2008
and be sure to participate in the optional After Action Briefing
and Prize Table too. And remember, we had a record 42 folks
this year, so our goal is to keep having fun in 2008. For an
out of print boardgame, this attendance record is pretty good.
Join in on the fun.
Take care between now and next August. This briefing has
been brought to you by:
David Terry, Gamemaster, B-17, rules, tourney format, herder
of crazy B-17 players; pen and paper scoring system,
Mike Lam, Assistant Gamemaster, B-17, rules and medals,
Keith Hunsinger, Assistant Gamemaster, B-17, rules, Group
Chaplain and scoring
Mark Yoshikawa, Assistant Gamemaster, B-17, rules and electronic
Paul Risner, Officer in charge of the Officer's Club
And of course all the other B-17 players who are the supporting
cast of fliers that make this such a fun experience each year.
Thanks to all and see you in 2008.