Martin B-26 Marauder: The Wingless Wonder was the name of a variant of Avalon Hill's B-17: Queen of the Skies solitaire boardgame. A draft of B-26 was available for play testing which used the B-17: Queen of the Skies rules and B-17 was needed to play. Everything has changed since then, and B-26: The Marauder Strikes! has completly new mechanics and is a stand alone game. It is a solitaire game set on board a Martin B-26 Marauder medium bomber during World War Two in the European Theater of Opearations from July 1943 until the end of the war in May 1945.
B-26: The Marauder Strikes! is a big game in that there are many target lists, rules, mission maps and details which are not found in B-17: Queen of the Skies or B-29 Superfortress: Bombers over Japan. For example, the Damage Tables are more detailed than the earlier games and the combat system is similar, but completely new. The Target Lists include a large selection of targets attacked by B-26s from July 1943 until the end of the war in May 1945 and are placed on 13 maps (movement boards) which are different depending on where your base is located, from England to the Netherlands. Different models of the B-26 is also included from the early B-26 in 1941 until the B-26G which entered combat in October 1944. The earlier models are not used in the European Theater of Operations (the ETO) in which B-26: The Marauder Strikes! is set, but will be used in 22nd Bomb Group: Marauders from Australia, an add-on variant set in the Pacific in the war against Japan in New Guinea.
The rules in this Flight Manual try to reflect the twin engined B-26 Marauder and situations and events which the crews saw on their missions and historical accuracy has been an important guideline during the development of this game.
Players familiar with B-17: Queen of the Skies or B-29 Superfortress: Bombers over Japan recognize the mechanics used in B-26. One or more 6-sided dice are rolled on tables to plan the mission, to determine if enemy fighters appear, to hit with machine gun fire and to determine damage and wounds and much more. B-26 is as easy to play as B-17 with its basic system which is similar to the mechanics in B-17: Queen of the Skies. Players who have flown missions in B-17 may find that B-26 is similar, but more detailed and there are ideas included in B-26 which can be found in the B-17: Queen of the Skies community. If you add the advanced and optional guidelines you will find B-26 to become deep, detailed and complex, but still does not stray far from the simple mechanics of the basic system. You will also find yourself in situations where you have to make a decision.
The Core Game Flight Manual will be used to play the A-20 Havoc, A-26 Invader and B-25 Mitchell add-ons.
You can begin your campaign flying missions from bases in England or jump in later in the war when the B-26 groups had moved to the continent and you will find Mission Maps with your station either in England, France, Belgium or the Netherlands depending on when you fly your missions. Put together a crew, name your B-26 and fly missions over France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria and Chechoslovakia!
The AN-M40 "Para-Frag" was a fragmentation bomb that was used by the United States during World War II.
The AN-M40 was quite unique in its design as a fragmentation bomb, particularly the fact that the weapon utilized a parachute in order to slow its descent and allow the aircraft dropping it to escape the harmful effects while at the same time being able to fly in low and achieve maximum accuracy. Notably, the AN-M40's standard fuse had the tendency to malfunction and thus turn the bomb into a dud, however the shear number of bombs that could be dropped at the same time meant that most attacks were extremely effective. This also counteracted the fact that each individual bomb had a relatively small explosive radius.
The bomb was most effective when attacking airfields as the fragments of the explosion would rip through aluminum air frames and kill any ground personnel present. The fuse on the AN-M40 was impact sensitive, though extremely sensitive. It should be noted that the designation, AN-M40 was only standardized by 1945, though the bomb had been in American usage long before then.
In order to allow for increased accuracy when using the bombs from a greater height than normal, the AN-M41 bomb was created with the addition of fins for stabilization in the air. Furthermore, a cluster-bomb variant was also created which fitted twenty-five AN-M41s into a single container and was designated the M26 Fragmentation Bomb.
The idea for the AN-M40 "Para-Frag" was first created by George Kenney in the 1920s. While the AN-M40 was not accepted for use in Europe, mainly because the Allies preferred high-altitude bombardment. However, the large amount of Para-Frags then available were moved to the Pacific. The first operational use of the AN-M40 was during an air raid over Buna Airfield in Papua New Guinea in which a large air group of various attacker aircraft such as A-20s and P-40s dropped nearly 300 "Para-Frags" over the target with an alleged seventeen aircraft ground kills despite severely poor weather. After this attack, the AN-M40 was put into full operational service with units in the Pacific. Seeing the success they had, their creator, Kenney urged the conversion of as many fragmentation bombs to the Para-Frag standard as possible. In the end, thousands of fragmentation bombs had been created during the war and used in dozens of strafing attacks on Japanese airfields during the war.
10 April: Listed as Mission #11. A group of our A-20 aircraft were flown to a B-26 Bomb Base with no prior knowledge as to why we were there. At the briefing, the A-20 crews were told they were to preceed the B-26 formation over the most heavily defended target in LeHavre, France, where the really big guns were protecting the harbor. The B-26s took off and formed up. The A-20s then took off, and flew 2000 feet below the B-26s, with tunnel gunners dropping "window" which were aluminum strips. This window provided a fake target for radar controlled guns on the ground. It worked well, with the A-20s scooting by at high speeds, with the gunners not able to track them successfully. The flak bursts all exploded into the layer of aluminum strips, well below the B-26s who dropped their bombs successfully. No planes were hit. Window mission a success.
Captain Chester Jackson with Lt. Ralph Conte, BN, led the window flights. The A-20 crews flew back to the B-26 base, where we were hailed as heroes for protecting them from the deadly flak. B-26 pilots were all inquiring about the flying capabilities of the A-20 compared to the lumbering take-offs and their hot landing B-26s.
When Jackson parked at a revetment, dignitaries of the B-26 Group were there with General Dwight D. Eisenhower. "Ike" questioned our crew on the mission we flew and inspected our A-20, never having seen one before. He and Captain Jackson stooped low to look up into the bombbay, and Jackson knocked Ike's hat off his head. Everybody had a good laugh about it, except Jackson, whose face remained red for quite a while.
That evening, the A-20 crews visited the Officer's Club where a rousing crap game was in progress. One of the shooters was Hollywood Actor Robert Preston, who was very friendly, even though he was losing. None of our crews could buy a drink, as everything was paid for by the grateful crews of the guys who were on the mission that day. We all returned to Wethersfield the next morning, feeling good for the mission we helped succeed.
The success of the window screens became standard procedures for missions of light and medium bombers of the IX Bomber Command.