Pilot Quality in SWWAS
By Steve Cabral
In World War II, pilot quality had a significant effect on the outcome of several campaigns. In the Pacific theater, Japan's highly-trained and experienced aviators had a clear edge over Allied and Chinese pilots well into 1942. After that, attrition took its toll so that by 1943 the barely trained Japanese aircrews could do little to blunt the American advance (even when offered undefended targets off Biak and Leyte). The introduction of Kamikaze units later was a bow to reality: Green pilots didn't return from missions anyway, so why not have them take more enemies with them? As for the Americans, their pilot quality was good and grew better over time as American training standards improved.
In Europe, most nations had competent pilots but the Axis nations had clear advantages. Germany and Italy had a sport pilot and glider craze in the 1930s that produced many experienced pilots, and by the 1940s Italy had the largest number of pilots per capita of any nation. On the Allied side, British and French pilot quality was adequate, but Britain was hampered by a pilot shortage while France had a chaotic purchase system and an inefficient aviation industry. The Soviet Union was by far the worst, and its air force proved hopeless through most of World War II. The outnumbered but superb Finnish air force manhandled them early on, and then the Lufwaffe all but wiped them out during Operation Barbarossa. Evidently, the Soviets did not learn from these experiences. They continued to build vast numbers of aircraft, crew them with green pilots and then watch them get shot down in fantastic numbers. This allowed German Aces to run up hyper-inflated kill scores on the Eastern Front, and even by 1944 (when the tide had turned decisively against the Axis) the Red Air Force never truly dominated any of its enemies.
Optional Rule: Pilot Quality
To reflect the effects of pilot quality on the performance of air units, players may wish to use the rules below when playing Second World War at Sea.
Ace and Green Pilots
In all SWWAS scenarios, a certain percentage of the Fighter and Bomber air steps fielded by each nation will have Ace pilots and a certain percentage will have Green pilots. These percentages will vary depending on the year when the scenario being played takes place. To determine the number of Fighter and Bomber air unit steps with Ace and Green pilots, the player should cross-reference the column containing the year of the scenario being played with the types of air units listed on the table below. He should then multiply the number of Fighter and Bomber air unit steps he has by the percentages listed on the table below to determine how many of his Fighter and Bomber steps have Ace and Green pilots. In all cases, the remainder of each type of air unit is average (no changes):
1930-39 1940 1941-42 1943 1944-46
Ace Fighter 30% 35% 40% 30% 10%
Ace Bomber 40%* 45%* 35% 25% 20%
Green Fighter - - 5% 15% 30%
Green Bomber - - 10% 15% 25%
Japan Army (All Ki types)
Ace Fighter 10% 10% 10% 10% 5%
Ace Bomber 10%* 15%* 10%* 10%* 5%*
Green Fighter - - 5% 20% 60%
Green Bomber - - 10% 20% 70%
Japanese Navy (all non-Ki types)
Ace Fighter 30% 90% 80% 30% 10%
Ace Bomber 30% 80% 70% 30% 10%
Ace all C-type 60% 100% 100% 40% 15%
Green Fighter - - - 20% 60%
Green Bomber - - 10% 30% 70%
Green all C-type - - - 10% 20%
Ace Fighter 20% 25% 20% 25% 10%
Ace Bomber 15%* 20%* 10% 15% 5%
Green Fighter - - - 10% 10%
Green Bomber - - 5% 15% 15%
Ace All types 60% 50% 50% 30% 30%
Ace Fighter 5% 5% 5% 5% 5%
Ace Bomber 5%* 5%* 5% 5% 5%
Green Fighter - - - 5% 5%
Green Bomber - - 5% 5% 5%
Ace Fighter 5% 5% 5% 15% 20%
Ace Bomber 5%* 5%* 15%* 15%* 15%*
Green Fighter 15% 15% 25% 30% 25%
Green Bomber 15% 15% 25% 40% 20%
Great Britain (Commonwealth)
Ace Fighter - 10% 20% 20% 10%
Ace Bomber - 10%* 10% 10% 10%
Green Fighter - 15% 10% 10% -
Green Bomber - - 15% 10% -
FAA All Average all years
France/Poland (All years)
2 step of Ace fighters
2 step of Ace bombers
Ace Fighter 5% 5% 10% 15% 10%
Ace Bomber 10% 10%* 15%* 20% 10%
Green Fighter - 10% 10% 10% -
Green Bomber - - 10% 10% -
Ace Fighter 10% - 10% 15% 20%
Ace Bomber 10% - 15% 15% 20%
Ace all C-type 15% - 15% 20% 40%
Green Fighter - - - 10% -
Green Bomber - - - 15% -
Green all C-type - - - - -
Ace Fighters 5% all years
Ace Bombers 5% all years
Green Fighter 10% all years in Europe. 20% in all years in Asia.
Green Bomber 10% all years in Europe. 30% in all years in Asia.
* Ace bomber units marked with an asterisk do not get the Ace die-roll modifier when making a Naval Attack. They do get it when making a Land Attack.
† In Arctic Convoy, all fighters are Average. 20% of German bombers in Arctic Convoy have Ace pilots and all the rest are Average.
Pilot Quality Effects
Ace: Fighter: +1 modifier to each Air-to-Air Combat die roll
Bomber: +1 modifier to each Land Attack and Naval Attack die roll
Average: No modifiers for pilot quality
Green: Fighters: Reduce the unit’s air-to-air combat strength by half (rounded up)
Bombers: Reduce the unit’s Ground Attack and Naval Attack strength by half (rounded up)
Seaplanes and Recon (no bomb factors and not fighters) are all average.
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