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Game #11 : Computer Air Combat (1980)

Tell me, Tenente Narwhal. Why is our Regia Aeronautica so chronically under-motorized ?

It is on purpose, Generale !

But… why ?

As you very well know, planes can only shoot every 7 seconds. If we went too fast, the enemy would be first out of range, and 7 seconds later it would be behind us. But if our planes go slowly enough – no such risk.

Couldn’t our pilots just slow down ?

That’s what pilots from the other countries do, Generale. But ours cannot go slower – they are Italians !

Released in November 1980, Computer Air Combat is the last 1980 SSI game I will cover (I leave the sixth 1980 SSI release, Computer Quarterback, to a blogger who actually understands the arcane rules of American Football, I am myself more of a rugby guy). It is credited to Charles Merrow and Jack T Avery, and just like for Computer Conflict they seem to have been developers in search of a publisher – SSI. Merrow seems to have been a junior designer but a very experienced developer, whereas Avery seems to have been more on the design side. In any case, they work as a team and are credited together on Computer Baseball (1981) and Fighter Command (1985) – and then pretty much disappear from the scene.

Computer Air Combat had two versions :

  • The original November 1980 version, featuring 4 nations : United Kingdom, United States, Germany and Japan and 5 game modes,
    1. Air Race, to test plane performance,
    2. V1 Interception,
    3. Night Fighter scenario,
    4. Bomber Interception, the first scenario against a “reactive” opponent,
    5. Dogfight,
  • The 1.1 edition, released around Spring 1981. It runs faster and more critically allows the game to use data disks. Only one data disk was released (also in spring 1981) – it introduces Soviet Union, Italy, Poland, Romania and Finland, in addition to more German planes. Finally, for players who want to simulate a Korean War battle, the disk also included planes for North Korea and the United Nations. The data disk offers the same game modes, except the V-1 one which is removed. The scenarios have a few more customization options though.

I wanted to play with the data disk (I like to play with “minor powers” and the commenters who volunteered their names were not hostile to the idea) so I played with the 1.1 edition, and so I am now presenting you…

Tumble over Tobruk

Early May 1942, a wing of MC-202 Folgore led by Capitano Dayallu is on a routine patrol North of Tobruk, at an altitude of roughly 12 500 feet.

Actually those are Fiat G-50 Freccia but I am sure you did not notice.

Suddenly, Dayallu spots something&