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Posted on Oct 17, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

RAF Replay

By Terry Lee Coleman

RAF Replay

Defending the London Skies with West End Games’ Classic Solitaire Boardgame

It’s August 1940, and Hitler’s armies have overrun Poland, France, and the Low Countries. England is supposedly next. As the commander of His Majesty’s Royal Air Force, however, I intend to have a say about that. Though outnumbered, my lads have good aircraft – especially the wonderful Spitfire – and we are well aware of the consequences should we fail.

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Day 1 – August 11, 1940

A glorious day, sunny and with a slight breeze, but I doubt we’ll enjoy it for long. Sure enough, the first raid hits before lunch-time. Target is Weymouth, as the enemy prepares for what he must think is the inevitable invasion. Despite accurate information on the opposing force, we fail to do enough damage to the bombers, which punish the port in short order. Our pilots have to be more aggressive!

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Another target in Sector 10, Middle Wallop, follows in short order, but with only minor damage to the airfield. Adding insult to injury, one of our patrols in Sector 11 mistakes a fellow group for Germans; fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

Next up is Rye, a critical radar station on the route to London. Intel are able to give us accurate information on the makeup of the opposing force, so we meet them on relatively even terms. After all is said and done, radar is down for the next couple of days, and we shoot down a lot of He-111 bombers.

Day 2 – August 12, 1940

Looks to be another sunny day – thus far, I would rate us as slightly ahead. Nonetheless, I feel this will be a long and hard campaign. It certainly is difficult for the enemy: A weak attack on Biggin Hill results in a lot of dive-bombers being shot down with no losses for our boys.

Having taken out one radar station in Sector 11, Jerry now goes for Foreness. A circuitous route by the stealthy attackers, plus the hole in our radar coverage, results in an utterly smashed installation.

Day 3 – August 13, 1940

A gloomy, overcast day, but I’m not depressed. Rye radar are back on line (there is a bad pun just begging, but I shan’t grab it). The only real chink in the armour is in 6/11, so I fill it with patrols. Some of these aircraft are wasted due to a false raid, and my earlier good humour evaporates.

The clouds seem to be making a difference, as the attacks on our airfields aren’t as coordinated. We shoot down more bombers – our pilots are improving their tactics. Late in the afternoon, over-eager observers cause us to scramble more fighters for yet another false raid. So, I make a telephone call; the day ends without further incident.

Day 4 – August 14, 1940

This morning, I had intelligence that I knew was less than reliable. So, I decided not to intercept a raid. Turns out the raid had nearly half the available fighters from Luftflotte 2, so our Spitfires would have been overwhelmed. I expected them to hit our airfield in 6/11, but instead they bombed the industrial area of Rochester . Nothing much of military value was damaged (though the motorcar assembly line was a bit of a mess, so I heard). The rest of the morning consisted of no appreciable damage to southern ports.

Hornchurch also is hit pretty hard around 11am, but then Jerry moves away from airfields. Strafers around Brighton are no issue, but a huge armada sent vs. Poling is – we cannot afford to lose more radar. I send all we have in the area, and we do successfully defend the station, but at an enormous cost: 1 lost squad of Spitfires, 3 of Hurricanes.

My wife – who always seems to have a sixth sense about these things – calls to ask if I need anything. I tell her to pray for rain.

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Day 5 – August 15, 1940

Prayers unanswered: Not a cloud in the skies and the enemy finds his way to Foreness once more. This time around, however, we are ready, and shoot down a brace of Ju-88s. Meanwhile, Bournemouth suffers minor damage, as the threat of invasion looms large.

Day 6 – August 16, 1940

Torrential rains throughout England today, thank Heaven.

Day 7 – August 17, 1940

Plenty of clouds, but no rain. A bad start to the day, as Poling radar is put out of commission. Southend and Biggin Hill are hit, because we don’t have enough interceptors to cover everything.

Day 8 – August 18, 1940

Hurricanes are coming off the assembly line, but there are not enough experienced pilots to crew them. To balance out the addition of green pilots, I have a reinforcement squad of Spitfires moved down from the north (where not much is happening) to cover the rather barren 7/11 sector. More rain, so everyone can get a well-deserved rest.

Day 9 – August 19, 1940

Finally, all of our radar are back on-line. I’m cautiously optimistic after a day of scattered minor raids does no damage.

Day 10 – August 20, 1940

Rain comes again, a welcome ally. Our friends from the Royal Canadian Air Force have arrived, and I’ve assigned them to patrols in 3/11.

[continued on next page]

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2 Comments

  1. Nice review. Convinced me to try it, however, using search engines I cannot find where to buy it. Has the game been discontinued?

  2. David, It was out of print for some time. The fab news is that it has just been revamped and relaunched from WE Games – and now you can play solitaire RAF, or Luftwaffe or play 2P – it is called RAF:Summer 1940 and should be available imminently.
    And yes great review – brought me back to many a game of this my favourite ever solitaire game!

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