278th Squadron “The Same 4 Cats” from Quarterdeck International

278th Squadron
“The Same 4 Cats”

278th Squadron

Game Designer:

Marco Campari

Available from Quarterdeck International

(Taken from Wikipedia Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero – Wikipedia)

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (Italian for sparrowhawk) was a three-engine Italian medium bomber developed and manufactured by aviation company Savoia-Marchetti. It may be the best-known Italian aeroplane of the Second World War.[2] The SM.79 was easily recognizable due to its fuselage’s distinctive dorsal “hump”, and was reportedly well liked by its crews, who nicknamed it il gobbo maledetto (“damned hunchback”).[3]

The SM.79 was originally developed in the early 1930s as a cantilever low-wing monoplane of combined wood and metal construction. It had been designed with the intention of producing a swift eight-passenger transport aircraft, capable of besting even the fastest of its contemporaries, but had quickly attracted the attention of the Italian government with its potential as a combat aircraft. Performing its first flight on 28 September 1934, early examples of the type established 26 separate world records between 1937 and 1939, qualifying it for some time as the fastest medium bomber in the world.[4] As such, the SM.79 quickly came to be regarded as an item of national prestige in Fascist Italy, attracting significant government support and often being deployed as an element of state propaganda. Early on, the aircraft was routinely entered in competitive fly-offs and air races, seeking to capitalize on its advantages, and often emerged victorious in such contests.

SM79

Specifications (SM.79-III)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6 (pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer/gunner, radio operator, bombardier, rear gunner)
  • Length: 16.2 m (53 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 20.2 m (66 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 4.1 m (13 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 61.7 m2 (664 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 7,700 kg (16,976 lb)
  • Gross weight: 10,050 kg (22,156 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3 × Alfa 128 R.C.18 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 642 kW (861 hp) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed variable-pitch propellers

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 460 km/h (290 mph, 250 kn) at 3,790 m (12,430 ft)
  • Range: 2,600 km (1,600 mi, 1,400 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 7,500 m (24,600 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 5.3 m/s (1,040 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 165 kg/m2 (34 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.173 kW/kg (0.105 hp/lb)

Armament

Guns:

  • 1 × 12.7 mm (0.5 in) forward Breda-SAFAT machine gun
  • 2 × 12.7 mm (0.5 in) dorsal Breda-SAFAT machine gun 1 at the top, 1 in the belly (optional).
  • 2 × 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns in lateral “waist-gun” ports (optional)
  • Bombs: 1,200 kg (2,645 lb) internal bomb load or two external 450 millimetres (17.72 in) torpedoes

Game Components

The game consists of the following Components.

  • An A3 game mat
  • 63 colorful cards
    • Campaign deck (yellow back)
    • Resolution deck (red back)
    • Target Ship deck (green back)
    • Mission Deck (blue Cards)
    • Decorations Deck (Black Cards)
    • Experience Cards
    • Damage Cards

278th Squadron Components

Game Introduction

The 278th Squadron “The Same 4 Cats” is a solitaire campaign card game. The player is a pilot of the Italian Squadriglia 278, the so called “same 4 cats” (I soliti 4 gatti) which flew the famed Italian SM79 torpedo Bomber during the Second World War, scoring several torpedo hits despite the technical difficulties. Through 10 missions the player must score hits, fix his plane, try to survive, and receive the most important Italian decoration: The Gold Medal of Military Valour (Medaglia d’Oro)!

Setup

The first thing you need to do is separate the cards. Next, you need to shuffle the cards so they are all mixed up and place them face down on the player mat at their specified locations. Now, you need to setup the Event Deck with your starting hand. You need to put 7 cards into your Event Deck to start the turn. These 7 default cards that are placed in the beginning of each deck and depending on the event drawn, you will add Events to the Event Deck. Your starting Event Deck that is placed on the board consists of;

1 – Wave

1 – Sun

1 – Cloud

2 – AA

2 – Fly

278th Squardon - Card Startup

You start with these specific 7 cards and place the remaining Event cards off to the side as you will need them shortly. Shuffle these cards and now you choose a Mission Card to begin the game.

Missions – The Game

Now to begin the game, you select a Mission from the Mission Deck. Depending on the Mission card selected, you will need to add Event Cards to your Event Card Deck and shuffle all of the Event Cards thoroughly.

The objective of each Mission is to hit the selected Target Ship with the planes Torpedo. You begin at a distance of 7 spaces away from the target ship that you will torpedo and the closer you get, the better your chance of success and the higher the chances of a hit from AA (anti-aircraft) fire. If you look at the Torpedo Resolution Chart, you will see that at the distance of 7, 6, and 5 there is NO chance to hit the selected target ship. Your to hit chances increase the closer you are to the target. Since the SM79 can only carry a single Whitehead Torpedo, there can only be a single attack resolution for the current mission and the closer you get, the better your chances are for success.

Torpedo Attack Chart

You begin by selecting a card from the Event Deck and placing it on the 7 space of the Distance Chart. There are three options you can choose from when resolving your attack. The options are:

  • Abort the Mission
  • Retry the Mission
  • Perform the attack and resolve the Torpedo attack

No dice are used in the game and you resolve the attack by using the Resolution Deck. You create you resolution deck by looking at the Chart and placing the Hit or Miss cards as specified on the Torpedo Attack Chart into your Resolution Deck, shuffling and then drawing the top card. Again, as I have already said, if you are at a distance of 7, 6 or 5 spaces from the target, there are no additional cards placed in the Resolution Deck.

After you have resolved the first Event Card and have placed it on the 7th distance space, you can then choose another Event Card and place the new Event Card on the 6th distance space. Now you resolve this Event Card and once the resolution is complete, you then choose another Event Card and place it on the distance space of 5 and resolve that card. You continue to repeat the process over and over and you get closer and closer, until you decide to fire your torpedo and resolve the Torpedo Attack against the ship. You repeat this process from mission to mission until all 10 missions have been successfully completed.

Victory or Defeat

The Goal of 278th Squadron “The Same 4 Cats” is to successfully complete 10 Missions and the Victory level depends on the player receiving the highest Decoration medal which is the “Medaglia D’Oro al Valor Militare”. All you need to do is complete 10 missions and sink 9 ships to win the highest reward. However, you can sink anywhere from 3 to 9 ships and you will receive a different decoration medal depending on the number of ships that you sink. The scale of victory is:

  • 3 ships sunk “Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare”
  • 5 ships sunk “Medaglia di Bronzo al Valor Militare”
  • 7 ships sunk “Medaglia di Argento al Valor Militare”
  • 9 ships sunk “Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare”

278th Squardon - Experience Card

You lose the game if you receive a total of 5 damage on your SM79. At this time your plane is considered shot down and you get to begin again. You keep track of the damage on your plane with the Damage Card and rotate the card counter clockwise to show the damage on the plane taken during the current mission. The card allows you to keep a running total of the damage to the plane as you fly the missions.

278th Squardon - Damages Card

While you may think this is a simple task, it is really quite challenging and most important of all, it is a lot of fun in this fast paced game. You will find that the more you play the game, the more you want to play the game.  This is a game that has simple game mechanics and is simple to learn, a tremendous amount of fun to play, but difficult task to master as you negotiate the missions.

Conclusion

278th Squadron, “The Same 4 Cats”, is an extremely enjoyable game but a challenge to successfully complete, to get the highest medal. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and it’s a fast moving game in which no two games should ever be the same. While you may think that its simple, the real challenge comes in selecting the resolution cards and hoping that your selections favor your SM.79.

Your strategy during game play will depend on your torpedo runs from turn to turn. You can try different strategies for each torpedo run for each torpedo run knowing that the closer you go, the better your chances are for a hit. The game is not luck as you try a sound strategy from mission to mission.

278th Squadron, “The Same 4 Cats” is an excellent CDG (Card Driven Game) based on history. It has a history based outcome as well as a history based input that will allow the pilot (player) to recreate this history during World War II. 278th Squadron is truly a solitaire game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. You can play game after game and never get tired of the game no matter how many different strategies you try. This is an extremely “FUN” game that is well designed. This game is easy to learn, and fun to play.

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