At the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942, it was the dive-bomber that would prove the decisive factor. After most of the torpedo bombers failed to find a mark, it was the Carrier-borne Dauntless dive bombers that struck the fatal blows that altered the course of the war. In this article, we’ll look at how to use dive bombers and torpedo bombers in Blood Red Skies.

Dive Bombers at Midway

The importance of the Douglas SBD Dauntless’ performance over the course of the war cannot be overstated. Despite relatively poor manoeuvrability and only adequate performance, it was this aircraft that crippled all four of the Japanese carriers in the theatre-defining Battle of Midway. Following this performance, the type was phased out before the war’s end, though it had only entered service in 1940.

A naval dive bomber with many similarities to the German Ju 87 Stuka, the Val was armed with two fixed forward machine guns and two rear trainable ones. It carried a crew of two and a light bomb load. Used in the anti-shipping dive-bomber mode, the Val was a mainstay of the Japanese carrier-based war effort.

Dive Bomb Pilot Action

Dive bombers dropped their bombs from a steep angle to give them increased accuracy. A plane with the Dive Bomber trait can execute a Dive Bomb Pilot action if their plane Burned Advantage to Dive during its activation in the same turn.

Resolve a bomb attack against the target; for a single-engined Dive Bomber, this would ordinarily have a Firepower value of one subject to the following modifiers:

  • Add +1 Firepower to the bombload if the plane is Neutral after it Burned Advantage
  • Add +2 Firepower to the bombload if the plane is Disadvantaged after it Burned Advantage

Dive bombers have dive brakes to control their speed during a dive. A dive bomber may:

  • Make a minimum move of 0 if desired.
  • May Burn Advantage straight from Advantaged to Disadvantaged instead of Neutral if desired.

Torpedo Bombers at Midway

The TBD Devastator entered service in 1937 and enjoyed a brief tenure as the most advanced flying aircraft for any navy in the world. However, with rapidly evolving technology it was already outdated by the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. At Midway, 41 Devastators recorded zero torpedo hits and only six returned to their carriers, their only arguable success being the distraction of the enemy Zeros from the Dauntless Dive Bombers. The aircraft was withdrawn from service shortly after Midway – replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.

Although the B5N compared favourably to Allied counterparts at the start of its involvement in the war, it was already approaching obsolescence in 1941. It still served throughout the entirety of the war due to the delayed development of its intended successor, the B6N. It had a 3-man crew, pilot, navigator/bombardier/observer, and radio operator/gunner.

Curiously, there was one successful torpedo attack during Midway. On the night of 3-4 June, a flight of four US Navy Consolidated PBY Catalinas of Patrol Squadrons 24 and 51 made a night torpedo attack, scoring a hit that damaged the fleet oiler Akebono Maru.

Torpedo Run Pilot Action

Planes with the Torpedo Bomber trait can use a special payload – torpedoes. Torpedoes are only useful against ships (naturally) and are difficult to score a hit with, but offer devastating effectiveness if a hit is attained.

A plane with this trait can choose a Torpedo Run pilot action if it started its activation disadvantaged and travelled at half speed with no turn. Resolve a torpedo run attack against the nearest ship in a straight line ahead of the plane up to 6″ (the range of the shooting stick).

Roll a Pilot skill test:

  • If a success is scored the target ship suffers two Hull hits.
  • If a critical success is scored the target ship suffers three Hull hits.

Get Your Bombers

Two boxed sets are available, one each for the United States and Imperial Japanese air forces, containing a mix of dive and torpedo bombers which will fuel scenario-driven Midway-themed games. For the carrier battles of Pacific engagements up to and including Midway they are an essential cog in your aerial campaigns. Will you replicate the successes of the dive bombers at Midway, or perhaps you could score that elusive (and fairly difficult) devastating torpedo blow?

  1. Looking forward to the Official PBY Aircraft Card. The Catalina should be folded into the SBD/TBD “Squadron” (for Action Deck purposes) And the PBY card should have the torpedo attack trait, hint hint.
    Thanks Warlords for all your hard work in the PTO. Well Done!

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