Spotlight: Werfer-Granate 21

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Adapted from the Nebelwerfer artillery weapon, the Werfer-Granate 21 was used extensively against Allied bomber formations.

The tactics used by US Army Airforce bomber formations proved to be particularly effective against interceptors, maximising the firepower of each aircraft by making sure the defensive machine guns have mutually supporting arcs of fire.

A diagram of a combat box in action, composed of heavily-armed B-17s. Werfer-Granate 21

A diagram of a combat box in action, composed of heavily-armed B-17s.

This evolved into the “combat box” formation – to successfully engage any of the bombers, an attacking aircraft would have to fly through the fire of several dozen heavy machine guns, firing from every conceivable direction.

Considerable time and effort were invested in designing weapons that could engage the bombers from outside the effective range of their guns.

 

The Werfer-Granate 21

One of the Luftwaffe’s more successful inventions was the Werfer-Granate 21 – an aerial rocket with a maximum range of 1,200m and a 40kg warhead. These were adapted from the projectile used in the ground-based Nebelwerfer rocket artillery piece and mounted in a detachable tube under the wings of a fighter aircraft.

A Bf 110 with the Werfer-Granate 21 rocket tubes mounted under its wings.

A Bf 110 with the Werfer-Granate 21 rocket tubes mounted under its wings.

From the spring of 1943, these weapons were installed on Bf 109Gs and Fw 190A-7s, along with Bf 110s and Me 410s. The single-engined fighters carried a single rocket under each wing, while the twin-engined heavy fighters carried two under each wing.

A single fighter’s payload was unlikely to have much of an impact, but when volley-fired by an entire Staffel, it would likely score a few hits and disrupt the tightly-packed bombers with scything shrapnel. The psychological effect of the huge explosions might also force bomber pilots to take evasive manoeuvres and drive the formation apart.

The Werfer-Granate 21 in Blood Red Skies

 

New equipment cards are about to arrive in Blood Red Skies

Equipment cards are a new addition enabling you to represent modifications that would historically be found as the various sides vied for superiority.

Some have a points cost, others might be free. For example; Light Load is free, but you sacrifice one point of firepower for one point of agility.

 

To represent our Werfer-Granate 21 we’re going to use a Beta test Rocket card:

Main Title Card Type Date available /Cost to include Text When Played Effect Retain
Rockets Equipment 1940/ 15pts Rockets provided a big boost in firepower at a cost in speed and agility. Play this card during deployment. All aircraft designated as carrying rockets double firepower in their first attack. Until they attack they suffer -1 Speed and Agility. Remains in play

Equipping a squadron for 15 points with the Rockets equipment card will allow each designated aircraft to double their initial attacks firepower, but until then they’ll suffer from a negative to their agility and speed.

These devastating explosive weapons will allow you to disrupt your opponent’s formation before your faster-moving aircraft can scream in and finish the job.

If you’ve picked up some Fw 190s or Bf 110s and are itching to take down some bombers, this will give you an edge over the lumbering B-17s.

 

Watch out for new card expansion packs coming soon!

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