Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Knights of the Sky 1918 Game Photos

We had a very enjoyable game of Knights of the Sky at the club this evening, with the RAF winning by a long way despite the efforts of the German Imperial Air Service to disrupt their ground attack mission. The game ended up with more players than I expected and, as a result, the British / Belgian team had a distinct numerical advantage which swung things their way. The ground attack rules worked well but I have decided to use the special Yellow (frontal hit) dice for the impact of damage, as the General dice didn't result in as much shooting down as I had hoped. All in all, however, it was a solid scenario and a good overall game. Tally Ho!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sturmovik Commander

I've been thinking about the potential of 1/144th scale model kits for WW2 air gaming again, with an eye on something suitable for a simple multiplayer, participation style club or show game. I had some initial thoughts about this 'upscaling' idea before and had picked up a few Zvezda and Revell aircraft model kits with this is mind. These kits are quite cheap and there are sufficient aircraft available to re-enact some early to mid-war low level actions on the Russian Front:


However, I got stuck on a set of hex based rules to fit with the Hexon terrain that I decided to make use of, as the most convenient way to organise movement and firing. I was thinking of a simplified version of the original Bag the Hun but thought it might be too fiddly. I didn't even consider a non-hex based option until I found a download of Sturmovik Commander on the laptop hard drive. Now, this would be a potential set of rules to use, being hex less and relatively user friendly, not to mention being completely free. I will have to give them a closer look, especially as I have a very nice 6' x 4' winter terrain cloth that would be perfect!

Scrimgeour's Small Scribbling Diary

I found a decent, hardback copy of this famous first hand account of life in the Royal Navy during the First World War in the Oxfam bookshop on Saturday. It's of particular interest to me as my great grandfather was a Royal Navy artificer, at the same time and pretty much the same places as the author, although not on the same ships. They were also both at Jutland but luckily for me my great grandfather was miles away from the  main action. I'm looking forward to reading it over the half term holiday, which can not arrive too soon!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

B17G Masking Up

I've spent most of today at my daughter's rugby tournament in Alton but got back at about four this afternoon, giving me some time to mask up the B17G's for the next stage of painting. This involves both the olive drab anti-glare panels on the engines and nose, together with a 3mm wide diagonal unit stripe in black on the starboard wing. I could use decal strip for this but it's probably easier just to paint it then tidy up the edges afterwards. I'll try to get some paint on these tomorrow, if I get back home at a sensible time.

Trench Strafing Dice

I have bodged together the trench strafing dice for the club WW1 game on Tuesday, using a couple of GW scatter dice, some white sticky labels and good old fashioned Letraset rub down lettering.  In the end I decided to have only one hit face, two aircraft damaged faces, a gun jam face and two target missed faces, making it a little harder to knock out the target.

This was after I did some test rolling and found that two hit faces on a D6 made it too easy. The two aircraft damaged faces also make it more likely that at least some risk is involved in low level ground attacks, although the follow on damage dice roll won't always result in any actual holes in your plane. If this system works I will keep it like this but I can easily modify the dice on the day if it all goes wonky!

In other news, I've managed to dismember one of my four 1/72nd scale Fokker DVII's, so only have three left for the game, plus an Albatros DVa that one of the players is going to bring along. This will mean the Germans will be outnumbered 4:6 but I don't think it matters as they have the advantage of anti-aircraft fire to shoot down the RAF and the Fokker DVII is a better aircraft than the Se5a's and Camels of the enemy.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

More Blue Swastika Rampant Russians

I've been reading up on the Continuation War and realise that I will need some more Soviet aircraft to extend any scenarios up to 1941-42. This includes more modern fighters including the MiG-3 and some reconnaissance aircraft like the Pe-2, which both seem to appear more and more as the conflict moved into the early forties. In fact, there is a lot more potential in 1941-42 than in the earlier Winter War conflict of 1939.

As Scotia have both of these aircraft in the their 1/300th scale range, I was able to order a single Pe-2 and nine MiG-3's to supplement the I-16's, I-153's and so on that I already have. The Pe-2 is a lovely model, very clean and crisp and with some beautiful lines, while the MiG-3 is more workmanlike but equally good looking. I am now a definite convert to the Collectair range, having dismissed it for years as being a bit crude!

I also bought three Su-2 reconnaissance / ground attack light bombers, as they just looked really funky with their rear gunner turrets. I'm not sure if they operated against the Finns but I wouldn't be surprised if they did, as the Russians had loads of them and they were a fairly new design. It will be interesting to see if they live up (down?) to their reputation as being virtually useless and an easy target for enemy fighters?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Agema RJW Paper Naval Fleets

I was thinking of getting these in order to play test both David Manley's new Russo-Japanese War naval rules and Rory Crabb's pre-dreadnought rules, as an interim adjunct to the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale warships that I've gathered together. As I don't have much time for painting at the moment, due to a very early start every day and a later return home in the evenings, the print and play option is looking very attractive, if only as a stop gap before I get round to the real thing. I may well download the Imperial Japanese fleet set from Wargame Vault and have a go at printing out and mounting a few battleships, cruisers and destroyers, just to see what they look like?

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Trench Strafing Rules Draft

These are the special rules that I've devised for ground attacks in the club WW1 aerial games, which use the club's own rules, Knights of the Sky. I'm not sure about the rules for observer machine gun fire, which I have disallowed for ease of play, but the rest is pretty workable, at least as far as I can foresee. I've asked for some feedback from the grizzled grognards at the club, so we'll have to see if they agree with me or not?

Trench Strafing

Trench Strafing attacks can only be made at altitude level 1. The strafing aircraft must make an Ahead (S) manoeuvre and perform a Dive in the turn in which the strafing attack is made. The aircraft must cross the hex that is being targeted in a straight line but should not end the turn in the target hex.

To resolve the strafing attack, a number of Ground Attack dice equal to the number of machine guns fired should be rolled i.e. a pilot with two forward firing machine guns should roll 2 dice. Observer machine guns cannot be used for strafing attacks. Strafing cannot be combined with low level bombing. Cross off ammunition fired. The results of the dice roll should be cross referenced with the Strafing table:

Target Hit and Destroyed

Gun Jam (refer to rules for Ace Shots and Jamming)


Miss (no effect)

Damaged by ground fire (roll a General dice and 2D6 applying the effect to own aircraft)

Low Level Bombing

This applies to ground attack by aircraft equipped with hand dropped bombs or light bomb racks e.g. 4 x 20lb Cooper bomb racks. Use the procedure for trench strafing, rolling one Ground Attack dice for each bomb dropped on the target. A bomb rack with multiple bombs e.g. 4 x 20lb Cooper bombs may be emptied in a single attack or the bombs may be dropped individually or in a salvo up to the total loaded. An A/J result means that a bomb has been released but has failed to explode. All other results are the same as trench strafing.

The Ground Attack dice will have: 2 x D / 1 x A/J / 1 x Blank / 2 x Target

There are two D sides because loss rates were very high from ground fire but two Targets because ground attack was very effective as a whole. However, I might change the ratios if it turns out to be too hard or too easy to hit the target or to avoid being shot down.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Knights of the Sky Trench Strafing

I am working out some additional rules for bombing and strafing for the WW1 Knights of the Sky aerial game next week, as the RAF will be supporting the advancing troops on the ground with some well-placed strafing over the German front lines. The KotS rules use a very straightforward system of special coloured dice for dogfighting, so I thought I'd use some specially adapted GW scatter dice as the basis of the bombing and ground attack system. 

This will only be for light bombing using 4 x 25lb Cooper bombs, with the possible option of some trench strafing factored in, so nothing too complicated or too cumbersome is required. The bombs can be toggled, so that players can roll one to four dice per ground attack on each target, either dropping them all in one go or spreading them over a number of turns. I've been reading up on the subject and, although most pilots did drop all four in a single attack run, I think the bomb rack on a Sopwith Camel was capable of a salvo of individual bombs if required.

The idea for bombing is to keep the 'Direct Hit' symbols on the two faces of the D6 but to replace the directional arrows with blank faces for a 'Miss' and perhaps a couple of 'Near Miss' labels. I was also thinking of having one or two faces marked with symbols to represent taking hits from ground fire, as this was often the result of low level flying over the front lines.

I think this will be a workable approach to bombing, with machine gun strafing possibly built into the overall outcome rather than as a separate mechanism. I need to sit down and work this through over the next couple of days, so that I can write up the rules for the players who will actually have to do the ground pounding.

Monday, 9 October 2017

B17G Insignia Options

I've been working out the unit markings and squadron codes for the Eighth Air Force Flying Fortress combat box and have got a couple of options based on the contents of I-94 decal sheet US-142: USAAF Natural Metal Finish B17's. The first is to assign them to the 100th Bomb Group and the second is to assign them to the 95th Bomb Group, with the squadron codes made up from individual decals letters. I am leaning towards the 100th BG, which used a square and 'D' tail and wing insignia, as there are some excellent reference drawings available including this splendid three view guide from the 1/72nd scale Airfix kit of 'Skyway Chariot' 351st Bomb Squadron. Very nice!