Dust Battlefield Unit Assessment: Allies P-48 Pelican “Stormstrike” and “Thunderstrike”

The Allies most advanced fighter aircraft the P-48 Pelican allows this bloc to maintain air superiority.  It is armed with the best air-to-air guns and as an Aircraft 2 (A2) is should be able to weather an attack from enemy flyers.  But how does it stack up otherwise?  In this article I will discuss some of the stats of this unit as well as my opinions to its usefulness.

For the most part, I like the old names for the units in Dust Tactics/Dust Warfare.  So much so that I generally ignore the current names when writing these articles for Dust Battlefield.  I just find most of the name changes either unnecessary to outright undesirable.  The worst offender I can think of is the Tommy Cookers, though; the Axis Ghost _______ must also be mentioned since I never can remember which one is which.  Sure, Heavy Laser Grenadiers isn’t exactly the most creative name ever, but I know which unit that is instantly and has a sort of stereotypical German efficiency to it.

Perhaps the one time I actually agree with the name change is with the Allies Pelicans aircraft.  I have always felt that Bellowing Berty and Diving Dottie seemed like the names of specific aircraft like the Enola Gay (Which was a B-29 Superfortress).  The new names seem more like Allied fighter names like, “Lighting”, “Spitfire”, or “Mustang.”  Even though I don’t think they would have been give different names just for having different payloads.  I would also say normally the sameyness of the names would make it hard to remember which is which, but I liken the Stormstrike raining bombs and the Thunderstrike pealing rockets.

Common Traits of the Pelican

As mentioned, the P-48 Pelican is an Aircraft 2 unit and share many stats with the Axis A2 Fledermaus jets in Damage Capacity, Move, and March Move.  As an A2 I find that the Pelican in many instants isn’t as durable as the SSU helicopters despite the choppers being Aircraft 1 (A1).  The occurs becuase the SSU flyers have 2 more Damage Capacity and many weapons actually cause the same or virtually the same damage regardless of the target unit being an A1 or A2.  Even so, the way the rules are setup in Dust Battlefield it isn’t very difficult to shoot down any aircraft unit even more than the fairly fragile light to medium armored vehicle units (Vehicle 2 to Vehicle 4-5).  Especially when you consider how outrageously difficult gaining cover can be for aircraft.

The Move and March Move these units are some of their best features.  If deployed from just off the long table edge these aircraft can be Moved to any place of the table allowing them to take a shot.

The Pelican is equipped with the best set of machine guns, in their case Six .50 cals, of any current aircraft.  These machine guns are a terror to any infantry, light vehicle (mostly Vehicle 2), and other aircraft. It is possible, though unlikely, that any of those targets can be destroyed in a single attack.  These machine guns suffer the same weakness of almost all aircraft based weapons in that they are very short range (we are talking shotgun range).  Which is the other big weakness of Aircraft units in Dust Battlefield.

Stormstrike

This is the light bomber variant of the two Allied aircraft choices.  It carries a payload of two 500kg bombs which have the Limited Use and Volley rules attached to them.  They are anything special against infantry unless you are looking to weaken a hero attached group.  They are decent against vehicles up to Vehicle 6.  They can even put a dent in Vehicle 7 units with Volley (which given the lifespan of Aircraft is highly encouraged).

Of the two Allied aircraft choices, I like this one more.  Firstly, it is a point cheaper.  Which is important for a unit that isn’t likely to spend much time on the table.  Secondly, it gives more options as to what it is targeting.  The guns on the Pelican are likely to remove 2 soldiers just by themselves and can be augmented with the bombs if a player really wants to wreck a squad (like a Command Squad) early in the game.  At the same time, the bombs could be used on a vehicle (say an anti-air vehicle or heavy hitter) and the guns could still be used on an infantry squad trying to use that vehicle for cover.

Thunderstrike

This aircraft is armed with two Limited Unit, Volley 5.5 inch HVAR Rocket pods.  The Rocket Pods are better against infantry (twice the dice) as the bombs, but they are considerably weaker to vehicles (about half as good).  They do feature a little (I do mean little) more range which allows split firing to work a little better.  The Thunderstrike is also a point more than the Stormstrike.

I find this aircraft to not be as useful as the Stormstrike unless you absolutely want to almost guarantee the destruction of  single infantry squad.  Which you are paying a pretty steep price to be able to accomplish.  While it possible to target two squads with the rockets and machine guns, it can be tough to pull off given the limited range of these weapons.  Worst yet, if your opponent runs a vehicle focused list, you could having nothing to shoot at that will cause much damage.

Conclusion

I have only fielded these units once.  In the same army list.  Against a Mao Zedong.  The Stormstrike came in first targeting a Red Thunder squad with guns and actually hitting both a Matrioshka and the Mao.  Unfortunately, it didn’t hit the Mao at all, though; it did destroy the Matrioshka and crippled the Red Thunder.  Only to be shot down my the Mao after the tank was reactivated.  The Thunderstrike can in from reserves the following round targeting two infantry squads (the Killers and a hurt Yana/Red Thunder group).  It wiped out Red Yana but did little to the Killers since I decided against Volley.  I figured that even if my opponent’s Mao could get a shot, I actually had cover.  That didn’t save it as it was also shot down the same round it came in.  All in all, I think those aircraft did really well.  Much better than expected actually for the limited time they were on the table.

I just can’t recommend using aircraft in Dust Battlefield.  They are too expensive of units that can be shot down by far too many things that are even in an army list to cover anti-air.  You might get lucky and destroy a single enemy unit or do a little damage to a couple, but I don’t think you get your points out of what aircraft add compared to what you could buy with those points.

Which is a same really.  I think the points are just about right.  I could even stand for Aircraft units being a little more expensive if they were a little harder to shoot down and/or had better, longer range firepower.  I also think that aircraft should either be allowed to be a valid target for the Officer skill at least in some respect or be given a third action that can only be spend on movement.  Even if that movement is limited to say a straight line or front arc.

Right now, aircraft are not really worth taking unless your gaming group some how creates army lists with little anti-air in them.  Which outside the SSU, it kinda hard to accomplish frankly.  Even though the scale of Dust Battlefield makes absolutely no sense for aircraft to be placed on the table, I really like their inclusion to the game.  I am deflated on how useless they are.  I try to include them in my army lists quite often, but when I do I never expect to win.  So far, that trend hasn’t been altered.  I have never won a game when I include aircraft.  I think eventually I will always have an aircraft in my army list and see if I can achieve victory despite that apparent handy cap.

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