If you wanna get lots of awards, take big risks; you've got 30 seconds, you don't have time to wait for safe choices. Get used to making "dumb moves," they might pay off. When an opportunity opens up, take it. 9 times out of ten you'll die when it closes with you halfway through, but it's worth it. If all seems lost, run into enemy fire for a quick restart. Luck matters more then skill, so if things aren't going your way, roll the dice again.
1) The AI is very bad at predicting your movements. Moving in a straight line or a sharp turn always seems to trip them up. 2) The AI does not understand the dangers of the gas. Don't be afraid to drop it in an "obvious" place; the AI will ignore it and dive right where they were planning to go anyway. 3) There are 60 total stars to earn, so don't be afraid to take a 1 star mission. Personally, I found 1946 to be much harder then the next few levels.
Those multi-tiered upgrades are really irritating. More then once I've bought a new part, only to find that it's worse then the old one because I upgraded it so much, so I have to spend even MORE resources getting the new one up to par. It almost encourages an abstanant playstyle, "I should hold off on upgrading for now, because I know I'll just get a newer better part soon anyway." Either way, there's going to be dry periods where you go for days without getting any better, and that's just not fun.
The problem isn't that it's "too luck-based." It's a card game in which you don't build a deck, it could only ever come down to the luck of the draw. Solitaire is luck-based, but it's still good. The problem is that it's too easy to get into the flow of the game and act faster then the game can keep up with. You spend so much time waiting for the little animations when you already know the game is over, and you just want to get going so you can start the next one. THAT'S why it's frustrating.
13th level has started splitting the colored portions strangely, small 1-pixel or 2-pixel bits keep winding of out of bounds. What's going on? This wasn't happening a few weeks ago. Did you update the engine?