Look what we got here:
That's right ! It looks like General Mannerheim has mustered a Finnish Air Force in Lahti. But it seems one of the elements composing it, is in a pretty bad shape. Let's have a closer look at the different elements independently:
The first element is the Air Base personnel itself. The second is composed of reconnaissance planes. And the one which has been bloodied is in fact our fighters squadron.
Can we see in the Log what has happened ?
First it looks like there has been some fighting over Lahti, to prevent an air reconnaissance mission from the communists. No casualties though.
But on the next line:
Damn ! They have intercepted our reconnaissance mission over Tampere, and there was a fierce air battle: We lost 9 fighters against only 5 of them.
Well. Air combat won't revolutionised the war yet, but it is a nice addition to the game. How does it work ? Let me quote the manual.
Air units, and their support units, are a new feature in RUS. The game represents air forces via squadrons attached to an air base. This air base is a land unit consisting of all the staff necessary for the maintenance of the planes.
The air missions are implicitly made, if the air base is capable of operating its planes. There is therefore no specific order to give during your turn, but it is up to you to position your air bases in places adequate to the air missions, or to remove them from the front-line if your squadrons need to rest and receive replacements.
Air units can only be active if they are operating from a structure. Setting up an airfield, even in the early XXth century, requires a minimum of ground staff, fuel, engine parts, etc... Therefore, you need to have you Air Unit in a region with a structure for it to operate missions. Note that any structure will do and that a simple depot is sufficient.
Air Missions Type
There are three types of possible missions for your air squadrons:
- Air fight
Note that Air fight only occurs as an interception of one of the two other mission types and never for another reason. Note also that bombardment only occurs in support of a land battle.
Each squadron, represented by a single element, consists for simplicity of a single type of aircraft. These are generally capable of fulfilling at best one of the mission type but they can provide support in a secondary role. For example if fighter participate in a bombardment mission, they will strafe enemy columns with their machine-guns; if they participate in a reconnaissance mission, they will bring a slight bonus to its chances of success.
Mission range is at most on an adjacent region. It is unnecessary, even foolhardy, to stack your Air unit directly in the region a battle is occurring, although if your land units are attacked, planes in the same region will provide some support in the battle. Similarly, planes can intercept enemy planes performing missions in any adjacent regions to your air base.
Air Advices Remember that your air units represent both aircraft, pilots, ground staff and maintenance equipment. This means that you can move your air units by train or, more slowly, by wheeled carts or trucks (they would then move like a land unit, but with a speed penalty). Remember to place them in a structure if you want them to conduct air operations (you may want to build a depot specifically yo use them somewhere, to represent the effort of clearing and installing an aerodrome).
The planes are fragile, and quickly destroyed or damaged, so do not hesitate to switch the air unit posture to passive or even to withdraw it completely to the rear, to give time for your pilots and equipment to recover. Don't forget to buy replacements for them!
The basic concept of air units in RUS, is that your planes will operate automatically if an opportunity arises at a distance of at most one region away. They are easier to use in defence than in attack, but the period saw aircraft with a very limited range, and the military concept of the Blitzkrieg had yet to be invented. So, if you nevertheless want to use you air units in an offensive, do not risk them by moving them with the army your are committing to storm a region; rather, prepare your offensive against a strong opposition by setting a depot first in an adjacent region, and then move to go to battle, leaving your air unit (and a small protection/reserve force) behind. This will ensure, first that your attacking units are well supplied for the combat, and then, that the air units will help from a distance, taking off from this newly built aerodrome.