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PWCG P-38 Lightning Strikes Co-op Campaign

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Lightning Strikes

PWCG P-38 Campaign for Il-2:GBS


Welcome, pilot, to the Ninth U.S. Army Air Force, the United States Tactical Air Force in the European Theatre of Operations. You will be providing direct air cover and close air support to our troops on the frontline as they slog it out with the Nazi German forces still occupying the beleaguered nations in Western Europe. Our ultimate goal is not simply to push them back to the German frontier, but to smash through that border and finally crush the Nazi War Machine and march on - and through - Berlin!

The going will be tough – the German forces, whilst reeling from consistent defeats on all fronts, are battle hardened and experienced, and whilst our efforts in the air both strategically and tactically have caused serious material losses and supply problems, make no mistake, what the Germans do have is excellent technology and given the opportunity to use it, they will do so effectively. Combine this with the fact that as our ground forces approach the German border, their resolve is sure to harden and their will to resist become even more implacable, and you can be sure we are in for a hell of a fight.

But then, that is why we are here. And we’ll give it back – with interest!

 You’re to be posted to the 370th Fighter Group, flying P-38s. Group HQ is at airfield A-78 Florennes/Juzaine in Belgium. Report there to find out which squadron you will be assigned to.


370th Fighter Group HQ, A-78 Florennes/Juzaine

1st October 1944

Welcome to the 370th, pilot! We’ve had a long hard slog since we went operational back in April, and it’s not letting up any time soon. Since the invasion we’ve been supporting the 1st Army under General Hodges push through France & into Belgium, with a brief diversion to support Monty’s failed bid to cross the Rhine in Operation Market Garden.

The Allied Armies have been chasing the Krauts flat-out since Falaise, with the Kraut’s generally falling back so fast that we’ve struggled to keep up, over extending our supply lines which currently still stretch all the way back to the invasion beaches in Normandy, other closer ports either still in German hands having been fortified and therefore bypassed by the Allies, or so comprehensively damaged by their former occupiers that repair work to make them useful is still ongoing.

As such our advance slowed and the concern is – and has been somewhat bourne out already - that this has given the German’s time to dig in and resupply. We are starting to butt our heads against the outer edges of the Siegfried Line, a line of heavily fortified positions that extends up and down the entire German frontier – time will tell how bloody our brow will become in the effort…


Current Operations

British/Canadian North Sector

We captured Antwerp at the beginning of September and the hope was to have the port - captured almost wholly intact - available for supply open in short order. However, the deep-water estuary accessing the sea is still in German hands and heavily fortified. Monty is to begin an offensive to clear the Scheldt in the coming days.

American Centre Sector

First Army, Hodges - current operations are focussed on the capture of Aachen and the clearing of the Hurtgen Forest. Enemy is well entrenched and fortified, providing stiff resistance and inflicting heavy US casualties.

American South Sector

Third Army, Patton – having stalled their advance in mid-August due to a combination of overextended supply lines and prioritisation of the capture of Antwerp, progress through the Lorraine was correspondingly slow. The capture of the fortified French city of Metz is now a priority but unseasonably heavy rainfall has delayed this action.


401st Fighter Squadron

Codes: 9D-

Markings: Red Spinner & Cowl w. Yellow Tip; Tail Square

Radio Callsign: “Zebo”

Base: Le Culot East

 CO: Major Damien Thaw


  402nd Fighter Squadron

Codes: E6-

Markings: Red Spinner & Cowl w. White Tip; Tail Circle

Radio Callsign: “Leakage”

Base: Florennes

 CO: Major Tom Fen


 485th Fighter Squadron

Codes: 7F-

Markings: Red Spinner & Cowl w. Blue Tip; Tail Triangle

Radio Callsign: “Zenith”

Base: Le Culot Main

 CO: Major Mick Payne-Less


Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

For operating the P-38 check your flight manuals.

As a general note the following should be adhered to:

War Emergency Power - 3,000 RPM and 60" with a 5 minute limit

Combat - 3,000 RPM and 54" with a 15 minute limit

Max Continuous - 2,700 RPM and 46" with no time limit

Cruise - 2,200-2,400 RPM and 35" with no time limit

Economy Cruise - 1,800-2,000 RPM and 30" with no time limit

Leaders Note – in any flight regime requiring formation to be maintained  you MUST avoid going to max continuous power - you NEED to give your wingmen some RPM and Throttle "headroom" to make adjustments without having to resort to combat power.

Wingmen - avoid going into Combat Power to catch your leaders at all costs. Use Max Continuous (2,700RPM @46") at the most.



Squadrons are broken up into Flights of 4 aircraft where possible.

In order of priority these are:

1.    Red Flight

2.    White Flight

3.    Blue Flight

Squadrons will adopt Finger Four Left, for all flight regimes except when ground attacking.


During form up, transition through cloud and when far enough from enemy activity that the formation leader deems it safe enough, formation should be close, with ~25ft (half a wingspan) between aircraft.

When the formation leader deems that there is a risk of enemy air attack, he should open the formation till there is at least 200ft between a/c (4 wingspans).

The position of White and Blue flights in relation to Red Flight is left to the Formation Leader’s discretion as this is best judged by conditions encountered.


Form on Take-off

Squadrons assemble at the head of the designated runway in pairs with the lead of each squadron/flight/element (the odd numbered) on the left side and ahead of his wingmen.

Take off is in pairs with 5 seconds between each pair commencing their run.

It is recommended to hold the aircraft on the brakes, powering up to 46” before releasing brakes to ensure the turbos are spooled up prior to brake release. Once brakes released and the a/c is rolling increase power to 54”.

Formation leaders - Once airborne, reduce power to 2700 and 35” and commence a gentle climbing turn to port. Once established at 3,000ft hold the left orbit until all elements of your squadron are in formation before setting on course to target.

For those joining the formation after take-off it cannot be stressed how important it is to cut the corner properly to rejoin - and I mean properly! You fellows joining up need to put your formation leader at your 2 o'clock, not stick your gunsight on him and try and overhaul him! Otherwise all that happens is you end up with an extended conga line merry-go rounding home base for 20 minutes! Use Max Continuous Power to catch up, then worry about tidying up the formation after.

Done effectively and with people getting off the ground in good order a squadron can be formed in a maximum of two orbits.


Climb to Cruise Altitude

Leaders need to get to cruise alt promptly but the cohesion of the formation is of primary importance, thus we recommend a setting of 2700 RPM and 35”-40” to give your formation members some headroom to maintain or join formation.


Ground Attack – General Notes

Target Intelligence is generally sparse – don’t expect photos, or models or much specificity when being briefed. Target nature is about all we’ll be given.

Ergo, it is up to Squadron and flight leaders upon reaching the target area to attempt to establish the format of the target and any AAA protection it may have visually and assign what forces they have accordingly.


Ground Attack – Dive-Bombing

Despite what mission orders might say, we do things our own way in the ’38.

On Dive-Bombing Missions, we will cruise to target at anywhere between 6,000ft and 10,000ft, with the aim to commence our Dive Bomb attack from Angels 10, cloud and target location permitting.

Leaders should take note of the wind direction and attempt to make their bomb runs directly up- or downwind; any crosswind will substantially reduce the accuracy of the attack. If wind is negligible attempt to attack from the sun if possible.

On the run-in to target Leaders will get their formations into line-astern in plenty of time.

Just prior to roll in the following procedure must be adhered to:

1.    Check bomb release pattern

2.    Go max RPM, (3,000)

3.    Open Dive Flaps


On commencement of the attack dive:

4.    Close throttle

5.    Roll in on dive to target using a wingover to bleed some speed off

6.    Release bombs at 3,000ft MINIMUM above target

7.    Steady progressive pull with the aim of egressing the target area at low altitude, jinking to avoid flak

8.    Only once you have attained level flight increase power to 46”

9.    After 15-20 seconds have elapsed reduce RPM to 2,700

10.  Gain altitude and rejoin your leader

The flight leader will then determine if another attack run is necessary.

Any deviation from steps 2-7 will result in a loss on control from compressibility and your subsequent demise as you do you a spectacular impression of an exploding pile-driver.


Ground Attack – Glide/Shallow Bombing

Should weather or terrain conditions interfere with a dive-bombing attack, a Glide Bomb Attack should be used, generally with a dive angle of between 20° and 45°. Throttle should be open just enough to maintain sufficient speed across target to minimize exposure to ground fire without compromising controllability. Bomb release can be made at a lower altitude; however, it is advisable to stay above 2,000ft to avoid the blast and fragmentation of one’s own bombs or those of the aircraft preceding. It is the discretion of the formation leader to assess how the bombing will best be carried out and as to the spacings between aircraft rolling in to avoid exposure to friendly bomb blasts.

Again, attacks should be made up- or downwind where possible, and if wind is not a factor, use of the sun to blind your approach is recommended.


Ground Attack – Low-level/Skip Bombing

It is essential to have bomb delay fusing if attempting this form of attack.

This type of attack must be reserved for specialist targets or targets of opportunity. Attacks must be made level under 500ft altitude, tree-top height being preferable. High speed is recommended to minimise exposure to ground fire. Wind direction is a negligible factor on bombs due to the short time of flight of the bombs, however it will affect your flight path so adjust accordingly. Terrain will be the greater influence as it will dictate what your best line of attack and egress will be.

Leaders need to set-up this attack carefully – aircraft should attack either in pairs in close order or in single aircraft. Each wave, be it pair or single will need at least 10 seconds between each release, dependant on fuses.

It is advisable to break hard left or right immediately after release to ensure you are clear of blast. On no account should you break upwards else you expose yourself to every enemy gunner in the vicinity. Stay low and put whatever you can between you and the flak guns, be it trees, hills, barns or preferably, other Germans!

After attack run turn away immediately but stay low, jinking to avoid AAA then after 15-20 seconds have elapsed gain altitude and rejoin your leader who will assess effect on target and whether a further run is necessary.


Ground Attack – Strafing

Strafing can be an effective form of attack – when an appropriate target is chosen. Trucks, jeeps, artillery, trains, aircraft on the ground, even light armoured vehicles will all feel the effect of .50s and the 20mm. Try it on heavy armour, however and you’ll come away disappointed. So save your ammo for targets that will benefit from it and leave the Tigers for those with bombs.

Leaders should take note of the wind direction and attempt to make their strafing runs directly up- or downwind if possible; any crosswind will substantially increase the complexity of getting rounds on target and consequently reduce the effectiveness of any attack.

Strafing attack runs should be made at 2700 RPM and 46” unless there is significant flak opposition, at which point it is advised to go to Combat power setting.

On the run-in to target Leaders will get their formations into line-astern. Approach the target offset from the wind by at least 45° from the attack heading, aircraft breaking into the attack at 5-second intervals so that the preceding aircraft is not in the line of fire of those following and risks of ricochet hitting the a/c in front are minimised.

After attack run turn away immediately but stay low, jinking to avoid AAA then after 15-20 seconds have elapsed gain altitude and rejoin your leader who will assess effect on target and whether a further run is necessary.


Air Combat Tips

The P-38 is a good dogfighter and an excellent gunnery platform and can hold it’s own against the majority of the Axis fighters in most situations, if not outright best them. It is surprisingly manoeuvrable for its size, but much of this will depend on the weight of the aircraft at the commencement of combat. Understandably, dogfighting E/A whilst carrying bombs is a bad idea for many reasons, not least the impediment they present to manoeuvrability, so it is highly recommended to jettison them. With a full fuel load (>75% or ~310 gallons) even without bombs it will mush and be sluggish on the elevators as you approach the pitch limits, so if possible, avoid dogfighting with E/A until you are below this figure.

Manoeuvre flaps (50%) can be of great assistance but use them carefully; only deploy them under 250 IAS and make sure not to go faster than this speed with them deployed or they will jam. Also avoid sticking them out and leaving them there as they do create drag, slowing your acceleration and generally eating away at your airspeed; you can quickly find yourself grinding slow speed holes in the sky with FWs and 109s racing around you and with limited options for an avenue of escape. Use judiciously when you really need them and put them away at the earliest opportunity.

As a rule, even without manoeuvre flaps you’ll always out-turn a 190 in either direction, but the 109 can match or exceed your turn in some instances, particularly to the left. If breaking from an attack by 109s, turn right and get some flap in.

Otherwise you have one of the best climb rates in the ETO; go Combat Power setting and put the nose skywards at an angle that allows you to keep a stable 160 IAS. Only the 109 will keep up with that, and only just. Just ensure you have some distance between you and a potential attacker and that he doesn’t have enough speed to zoom climb and close to firing range before trying this manoeuvre.

Be wary of steep or vertical dives, particularly with power on. If going down vertically (or near so) for any length of time, ensure your throttle is closed and get the dive flaps out. Even shallow dives can build enough airspeed to cause a restriction on the controls so be wary. When in doubt, dive flaps out.

The final piece of advice is to get your feet moving – the Lightning rewards good aileron and rudder coordination. Get it right and full aileron deflection rolls will start quicker and be snappier. You will lose less speed during rolling manoeuvres and turns. Finally, your gunnery will increase in accuracy two-fold, particularly in heavy turns as the bullets will actually go where the gunsight is pointing. Watch your Turn & Slip Indicator and keep that ball centred to make the most of what the -38 can give you.



100% fuel will be used for all missions.

All ordnance loadouts will be as per your Squadron Leader’s directive.

DO NOT GET IMAGINATIVE. If the leader orders 2 x 1000lb bombs and you decide to take 2x 2000lb, or 6 x 500lb, well it’s your own fault if you can’t keep up with the formation, so don’t piss & moan and expect everyone to hang about for you.

Use a 5 second bomb delay as standard unless otherwise instructed.

Squadron Leaders please note: Bazooka rockets were never used operationally in the ETO as they were too draggy, too heavy and too inaccurate, so no rocket loadouts please.

Group CO requires you to be dressed appropriately to assist in identifying the different Squadrons in the air. Please download and install all the following skins:


















Approach & Landing

If returning to base singly aircraft should orbit the field to port at a set altitude - 1,500ft min, 3,000ft max dependent on climate conditions – to ensure circuit and runway is clear of traffic.

If returning to base in formation, then the formation leader should order aircraft into Echelon Right and flights into Line Astern, with 400 yards between flights, prior to overflying the field.

When cleared to land, the formation leader must plan his flight path to overfly the runway in use, into wind, at 300-500ft.

Midway along the runway pass the leader makes a sharp break to port, selecting 2,700 RPM and zero throttle whilst using a sharp slightly climbing turn to bleed his speed, aiming to be on the downwind at 1,000ft and ~250mph.

The following aircraft repeat the break at 4-second intervals, keeping sight of the preceding aircraft to ensure they do not overtake them during the remainder of the circuit.

As soon as the airspeed is under 250mph lower half flaps to further bleed speed, waiting till 175mph to lower the gear. Increase elevator trim progressively to compensate for nose heaviness. As speed drops below 150mph lower flaps fully and add a little power to hold 125-130mph for base and final approach. Aim to cross the threshold at 120mph with the horizon just above the bottom edge of the windscreen and a positive but gentle rate of descent. Be careful not to flare too hard or you risk a tail strike.


 Emergency Procedures

In the event of a fire BAIL OUT IMMEDIATELY.

In the event of an engine failure,

1.    Immediately select the failed engine (default key binds: “1” for left engine, “2” for right)

2.    Select “Feather Propeller” command (default key bind: “Ctrl-F”)

3.    Select the remaining good engine (default key binds: “1” for left engine, “2” for right)

4.    Reduce RPM and Manifold pressure to max continuous if not already set

5.    Meanwhile compensate for asymmetric power yaw with rudder input and trim out as required/available.



Learn to fly the P-38.



 Campaign Event Dates & Times

We will fly one campaign mission on alternate Sundays and Tuesdays to give all the DDz GBSers a chance to partake, but also to allow for an evening of co-ops every two weeks to keep those parties uninterested in the campaign placated.

Campaign start hour is 2100 BST (2000 UCT) to allow for some D/F and Co-op warm-up prior. This is a hard cut-off point as I must know confirmed participation prior to generating the mission, else you don't get an aeroplane.

If you want in, be on before 2100 on event night and tell me so.

The first mission will take place on Sunday 31st May at 2100BST.

The following mission will take place on Tuesday 9th June at 2100BST

The subsequent mission will take place on Sunday 14th June at 2100 BST.



Campaign Admin

You have a persona assigned to you. It is this persona who accrues the scores, medals and promotions as you progress through the campaign.

Get shot down and captured, or worse killed and your persona is removed from the roster of your squadron. With him go your scores, your medals and your promotions. You will rejoin the campaign on the next mission as a lowly 2nd Lt – however you will get to choose your new name.

Make note gents that if a formation leader gets the chop, the next down the list will have to fill his shoes…. So, if you don’t want to lead/navigate/be responsible for the flight (or worse the squadron!) better try to keep your flight leads outta trouble!

Air to air kill claims will have to be processed by me before being forwarded to higher headquarters for verification. I will require that all claims will need to be witnessed by a wingman or fellow squadron member to be confirmed, so you might well go lone-wolfing behind the lines and take down an entire Geschwader – I won’t accept a single one unless a wingman was there to corroborate.

Then there is still a chance that HQ won’t allow the claims – so be warned.

Ground kills will be logged automatically.

After each mission I will upload in this thread the days summary for each squadron and the updated roster board for all to peruse.

Please post any questions you may have below.

Best of luck gentlemen!

A pdf version of the above briefing is attached for perusal offline at your leisure.



PWCG P-38 Lightning Strikes Co-op Campaign v1.2.pdf

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Regards skins, squadron commanders will have final word on any allocations particularly where there may be any conflicts arising from two parties wanting the same airframe.

For 401st and 402nd, options are limited, something I am endeavouring to address but sources are limited. 

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I have made representations to my Flight Leader informing him of my wishes.

I must reassure him that if I do not get the requested plane, should my guns go off whilst I am behind him, it will be have been a complete accident and I am not holding a grudge nor bearing any malice to one of the squadrons most accommodating, considerate and best Flight Leaders. 

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Just read this might be important

BTW, one thing I am liking about this campaign is that it teaches you to stay close to your flight leader, especially in bad weather missions. Too often I've become lazy with that in career mode, doing my own thing on ground attack missions, since the weather there usually affords better visibility. Not so here! I just flew mission #3 and, sure enough, because I didn't make a coordinated attack with my flight lead, I had no idea where he was when the rest of the flight headed north to attack other targets. It's something I'm going to keep in mind going forward.

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Gents I am sorry to report that PWCG generated an error report during the After Action Report process subsequent to tonight's mission; for why I cannot tell you, however I have bundled another error report over to Pat Wilson to see what went wrong and whether there's anything that we did that PWCG didn't like or an issue with PWCG itself. Will keep you posted.

In the interim we will still be attempting the next mission on Tuesday 9th June, though it will ultimately be a recomencement of the first mission - regenerated to avoid the issues encountered in this evenings foray.

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Apparently I have a "feather prop" key assigned!, who knew?, I didn't, but found it on the landing down-wind after doing a great break from formation to land, grrrrrrr

Great job guys.


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Can you assign a differemt target for 485th or is it generated by mission generator, was very difficult to ghet a decent run into target as so close to map edge.

Can we also try to start a bit earlier? it was nearly 10 by the time everrything was orginised, 

Hopefullly the small teathing issues can be resolved as this had great potential and you deserve credit for hard work

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Delta and Friar, I explained what happened to you both to Tom in the de brief and as far as the near the edge of the map “kick” is concerned that is the first time anyone had heard of it. Bloody shame as it buggered up our planned approach and was the cause of you getting tagged by flak Dave. I told the boys that it was not your fault at all.
Col, you were really unlucky to discover that double key binding,(if that is what it was) just when you did as it gave you no time to react and save your airframe. We could tell you were not best pleased mate.

I am pretty sure Funflak just went over the 250mph limit with flaps out and of course they jammed which then became a problem for the whole flight on the egress. Crasheroony was a first class escort for Funflak and his rates are very reasonable !
We could and should have achieved our mission AND all got home safely if it wasn’t for those few little issues. Next time we will find some different ones 😳
Sid did a great job of leading his flight and Horus of being my wingman.

The whisper channel worked well between squadrons and we all knew the state of play good and bad as long as the leaders say when they are on whisper and the chit chat stops briefly.

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That map edge issue was a brand new one for me Dave - never actually experienced it! It was damn bad luck that meant you caught the worst of it's effect. I have highlighted the issue to Pat Wilson, whether or not he can make any necessary changes, I can't say. For sure they won't come very soon if they do, in the interim I will have to scrutinise the mission map prior to committing to ensure a target area is not going to cause similar issues.

Regards the timing, I'm happy to push to an earlier time from my standpoint, however, it becomes more of an inter-personnel issue as to whether it's more convenient for some rather than others; I'm trying to get a balance where we don't end too late for some, or start too early for others. There's some wiggle room but it is tight, not helped by me needing to know exactly who's in prior to generating the mission. Furthermore, additional admin factors, like checking the maps for targets too close too map edge will eat into start times some. 

I can push for perhaps a 2115 start if that helps?


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Earlier starts a fine with me. It was very difficult with the big hand turning us round out of cockpit. I found myself flung back but nicely lined up with the bridge and as I couldnt see anyone making a run I decided to go for it and called out I was going to drop. With more room around the target we can get organised before the bomb run.

Do we know any of the results for last night? I think our target bridge was flatened but what else?

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402 squadron takeoff and form up.

Was Leakage red three. Everything went really well on our outward leg and Leakage red leader did a great job in gathering us all together to the rendezvous with our Spitfire escort and onto the target.  All I had to do was keep him on my two o'clock.  Then it got quite exciting and continued exciting right up to the moment on our return leg when my pc decided it needed to restart itself.  Wtf?:goodjob:

Sorry I couldn't stick around for the de-brief but my thoughts - for what they're worth; 

No question that our briefing and takeoff times will improve greatly over the next couple of missions as we all learn what to do.

402nd. squadron target was described as 'Ground Troops' I think.  After we did our initial run on the target from 10,000ft. it became apparent that ground troops in PWCG amounts to a collection of flak, artillery pieces and vehicles spread over half a square km that only reveal themselves fully when you get below 3,000ft.     This makes flak avoidance interesting!   They were also engaged in a ground battle with our own nearby troops.

Our flight leader and his wingman got the chop over the target but Leakage white leader took over command of 402nd. squadron quickly and efficiently.   Leakage red four - Dennis - did a great job hanging onto my tail and covering me.  

I thought comms went pretty well considering we're DangerDogz but again, this is something that will no doubt improve rapidly over the next couple of missions.

I hit the record button when we spawned in and then promptly forgot about it.  Surprisingly the track recorder ran for forty minutes before hitting the 500mb. limit.  We decimated our ground target leaving only one flak gun active before the LW turned up in the guise of four Bf110's. Our a.i Spitfire escort - all two of them - did stick around in the background and did engage a couple of low flying '109's on our return leg.

Leakage red section - Dennis and myself - engaged two low flying Bf110's and claim two shot down.  I understand that we won't be able to claim half a kill or joint kills but........

The first 110 we engaged dog-legged himself into Dennis's guns first and he absolutely nailed him and left him floundering along leaking fuel, smoke and coolant.  When Dennis broke off,  the target was still showing a red icon so I engaged and set his starboard engine on fire and he promptly went in.  Dennis confirmed this kill.  We then pursued another low flying 110.  I made a brief pass and scored some hits and the rear gunner shot my right aileron off.  Dennis made a pass and put rounds into him too and I then put some more into him and he went down.  Dennis confirmed this too.

On our return and just before my pc decided it wanted to talk to Bill Gates I brought the score board up and it had credited us with a kill each.  On reviewing the track it becomes obvious that Dennis put much more rounds into our first target than I did and I feel the game correctly credited him with the kill.  

Of course, we don't know yet what PWCG is going to decide when it manages to produce a result but could this become a problem?

Looking forward to doing this again in a couple of weeks and once again;  Fen - big S! for doing this:D


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