Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol Scenario B

I've been busy at work this week, so painting has been postponed until the weekend, but I have continued to work on the next scenario for the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project. This is a pure fighter vs fighter dogfight on the 22nd May 1939 over the frontline but the Soviet and Japanese accounts conflict. The Japanese reported that a patrol of three Ki-27's of the 1st Chutai, 24th Sentai, encountered six I-16's and shot three of them down for no loss.

However, the Soviets claim that a patrol of three I-16's and two I-15bis of the 70th IAP, clashed with five Ki-27's, mistakenly identified as A5M Claude naval fighters, losing one I-16 flown by a pilot named Lysenkov. To make sense of this, I'm going to use the Japanese report as a basis for the total of Ki-27's and the Soviet report for the composition of the 70th IAP flight. I still have some work to do to hammer out the scenario set up, pilot experience ratings and card deck, but I think this mix and match approach will work well and result  a balanced game?

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

The Burning Sky (1940)

There are some great dogfighting action sequences in this Japanese film, released in September 1940.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Chutai Foward!

I was thinking about a way to extend the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project beyond the half a dozen or so scenarios that I'm writing, in order to maximise the use of the 1/600th scale aircraft that I'm painting and to bring in some bombers to the games. I have a box full of light and medium bomber models that won't feature in the scenarios but I'd really like to paint some up!

The best way to do this without having to write even more historical scenarios, I thought to myself, would be to customise Joe Legan's popular Squadron Forward campaign system for the Nonomham conflict. As it's designed for WW2, this would require some new tables for encounters and missions, as well as a few tweaks here and there to reflect the numbers of aircraft involved. 

The best option would be to run it as a Japanese campaign, with a fictional Chutai of nine aircraft and a dozen or so pilots, each with his own experience level, characteristics and personality traits. There's no reason why you couldn't run it from a Soviet point of view but I thought it would be more interesting to use the IJAAF as a starting point. They also have greater experience at the start of the conflict, making it easier to run rewarding games that don't end with all of them being prematurely shot down!

I need to give this idea some more thought but it would be a good way to push the project beyond a handful of individual scenarios and towards a more cohesive, narrative campaign.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Send a Gunboat!

There's a new Osprey out later this year by Angus Konstam, focussing on gunboats of the Victorian Royal Navy. It reminded me that I have a number of surplus to requirements 1/2400th scale first and second class gunboat, all based and undercoated in my ironclads project leftovers box. These were originally assembled for the Second Schleswig War Battle of Jasmund project, but that was done using card counters instead.

I've used some for last year's War of the Pacific project, but there are enough remaining to add them to my French and British fleets. It's a good way to recycle an abandoned project and reuse the models, rather than spending money that I haven't got on shiny new lead. They also don't take long to paint so I can get them done on a wet weekend.

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Scenario A

I'm starting to write up the scenarios for the Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol project, in draft format ready for playtesting once I've painted the necessary aircraft. 

The first scenario is set on 20th May 1939, with a bounce by three Ki-27's of the 24th Sentai, 1st Chutai on two I-16's and an R-5*, south of the river on the Chinese side of the border at 18.10. The R-5 was probably returning from a reconnaissance mission but was shot down by the Japanese fighters, when the I-16's failed to protect it from attack by two of the Ki-27's, opting instead to escape.

This will be a straightforward 'bounce' scenario, with the three Ki-27's deploying as bogeys from the Western short edge of the table at Level 3, while the R-5 starts at the centre of the table heading West at Level 2. The I-16's will deploy no less than ten hexes behind the R-5, heading west at Level 2. The challenge for the Soviet fighters will be to close the gap with the R-5, which will have to evade the Japanese and attempt to exit the Western table edge before it is shot down by the enemy fighters.

The Japanese objective will be to shoot down the R-5 and, for a bonus, either of the I-16's. The sun will be in the West, giving the Japanese an advantage in addition to their higher altitude. As the are flying as a Shotai of three aircraft, the Japanese will probably have to split formation, if they want to both attack the R-5 and intercept the I-16's. The Japanese pilots were Lt Col Matsumura (Veteran), Lt Suzuki (Regular) and Sgt Maj Tatsumi (Regular).

In fact, Lt Suzuki and Sgt Maj Tatsumi had to attack six times to shoot down the R-5, which suggests it was making some effective evasive manoeuvres. As a result, the unnamed R-5 crew will be rated as Veterans, while the ineffective I-16 pilots will be Sprogs, which reflects the inexperience of the Soviet fighters at this point in the conflict. I'll have to invent some names for the Soviet aircrew, as I haven't been able to find out who they actually were. The R-5 pilot, let's call him St Lt Pavlov, will get a character card, as will Lt Col Matsumura.

The Soviets have a tough fight on their hands but can still avoid defeat if they can get the R-5 off the table before the Japanese can hit it hard enough to knock it out of the sky. This will depend very much on how quickly the R-5 crew or the I-16's can spot the Japanese bogeys, as before this they will just have to keep flying straight ahead until they get 'bounced'. For the purposes of bogey allocation, the Japanese will be operating over friendly territory, having worked their way round to cut off the Soviets from their route of escape.

I'll get cracking on a proper write up for this scenario this week and should be able to play test it solo relatively soon.

(* this is usually reported to have been an R-Z but, according to the Air War book which is the most up to date account, there were no Polikarpov R-Z present at the time, so I've used the R-5 instead)

Saturday, 19 June 2021

1/600th Soviet I-16 Fighters

I've made a good start on the 1/600th scale Soviet fighters for the Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol project, with the I-16's base coated, blocked in and washed, then given a bit of a highlight to bring them up to scratch. I added three more in an overall bare metal scheme, as I need them for the second scenario where they make an appearance alongside two I-15bis in camouflage. I completely buggered up the I-153's, by giving them an ink wash before the camouflage pattern had dried, so they've gone in the bin as I couldn't salvage them and will replace them with new models. I'll aim to get the I-16's finished tomorrow if I have the time.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Ishaks and Chaikas

I'm waiting for some bases to arrive for my newly painted 1/3000th scale modern PLAN warships, so in the meantime I've been assembling and magnet basing some 1/600th Tumbling Dice Soviet fighters for the Bag the Hun Khalkin Gol project. The first lot ready for painting are twelve I-16 Ishak monoplane fighters and nine I-153 Chaika biplane fighters, which will form the core of most of the scenarios I'm working on. I've left the I-15 bis / I-152 biplanes for the moment as my painting thingamajig is full up. I'm hoping to complete most of the paintwork over the weekend and, if I get the time, I may even finish them?


I have ordered a Warlord Games Sherman Firefly for the Chain of Command summer project, as the first of a handful of AFV support units for the 5th DCLI platoon. The plan is to paint this as a tank of A Squadron 4/7th Dragoon Guards, which supported the 5th DCLI in Normandy and Holland. I will also get a Rubicon Sherman III at some point, as they made up the other tanks in A Squadron, for which I've ordered a spare set of the Bolt Action decals. It's a good start to the AFV's that I'll be adding to the project as support options.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Recycled Flight Stands

I did a recycling job a while ago on some flight stands, that I originally made for 1/600th scale modern aircraft using a wire upright permanently glued to the models. These were made for Bag the MiG but I'll now use them for the Khalkin Gol project instead. I switched over to magnet basing for my 1/600th scale planes, so I removed the wires, re-drilled the bases and inserted 40mm panel pins instead. The whole lot were then resprayed with Halfords grey primer and finally given a couple of coats of Halfords Rover Henley Blue. Anyway, I have twenty six of them ready for some playtesting of the Khalkin Gol scenarios when I finally get round to writing them, using my old blue hex cloth until I can afford a nice new Mongolian steppe themed one.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

The Miraculous Torpedo Squadron


This is my latest book, written by a veteran of the Pacific War including Pearl Harbor, Midway and Guadalcanal, so not really relevant for my Khalkin Gol project but clearly a very interesting story. It is translated from the original Japanese but very readable nonetheless, so I'm cracking along with it at a fair pace. 


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