Thursday, 23 November 2017

Flashpoint: Target Locked On!

I was having a chat with one of the players at the club who is interested in 1/600th scale modern air gaming, so I mentioned the Target Locked On! rules by Rory Crabb when asked what I was using. I then realised that I haven't actually play tested them yet, despite setting out on my Flashpoint:Baltic and Flashpoint:Taiwan TLO! projects nearly a year ago.

Now that I have some painted 1/600th PLAAF and  ROCAF fighters it's about time I gave the rules a proper test drive, so this weekend I'll be heading for the Straits of Taiwan c1967 to see what happens when two F-104 Starfighters clash with two MiG-19's. If I get the time, I'll also dig out the Oddzial Ozmy 1/600th scale modern fighters for the Flashpoint: Baltic project, if I can find where I stashed them?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Heller HMS Theseus for Korea

The kit bits and bobs including decal sheet

TD Sea Fury for scale effect

Nice box art too!

I managed to track down a Heller kit of HMS Colossus in 1/1600th scale via eBay, to use as HMS Theseus alongside 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft, for MiG Alley, Bag the MiG and possibly even Wings over Suez. The idea is to assemble it as a waterline model on a textured sea base, then use it as a visual prop to represent a Royal Navy light fleet carrier lying way off shore. The kit comes with a decal sheet for the deck markings, so all I would need to do is glue it together, paint it up and add the decals together with two big 'T' identification letters on the flight deck. I'm really quite pleased with this find and think it will look brilliant!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Rocketeers over the Reich Report

The Bag the Hun 2 game this evening was a qualified success, ending in a narrow victory for the Luftwaffe, overturning the historical outcome completely. The rules for cloud cover and visibility worked well, although I had forgotten to think about auto spotting which caused some frustration when I decided to not allow it. This slowed down things to start with but didn't adversely affect the game in the long run.

A big surprise was the early shooting down of the USAAF Junior Ace and Squadron CO, Captain Fred Glover, who parachuted his way into captivity in Stalag Luft IV. The decision to limit the USAAF to a single unit Move / Fire card thus meant that the USAAF players were restricted in their options, so I added in a special 'Rocketeers' card from a previous scenario, giving them a bonus Move / Fire option for one formation.

The Luftwaffe also had to deal with some painful losses including an exploding Bf-109K and a couple of others badly shot up and forced down, thus adding to the Victory Points for the 336th Fighter Squadron. In the end there was only half a dozen points difference between the two sides, so I think it was really a draw. I'm sure that I can fiddle with the scenario set up to produce a more accurate historical outcome but I think everyone enjoyed it anyway.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Magnifcent Seven

I've been reading this excellent online article about the F86 Sabre and the WW2 veteran pilots who flew it in combat against the MiG15 over MiG Alley during the Korean War. It really is stirring stuff and great as inspiration for both Bag the MiG and MiG Alley, not to mention CY6 Jet Age and all the other various rules that cover the Korean War. There's some cracking digital art as well!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Little White Dice

In Bag the MiG and quite a few other sets of modern rules, there are more than six levels of altitude, which you can usually represent using D6 or a counter of some sort. I use 7mm blue D6 for games of Bag the Hun and will do the same for the Target Locked On! flashpoint projects. For Bag the MiG, however, you need up to twelve levels of altitude, so the humble D6 isn't really up to the job.

I've decided to use two different coloured D6 as a result, with the normal blue one for Level 1-6 and a white one for the higher altitudes up to Level 12. This should make it easy to track altitude over all twelve altitudes without having to come up with a different system of basing. I did consider using two smaller 5mm dice together in a double frame but thought it would look silly and would be far too fiddly.

Anyway, to cut a long ramble short, I've ordered some 7mm white D6 from Minibits to do the job and, at only 60p for ten of them, it won't break the bank. I really need to start painting the 1/600th scale planes for both Bag the MiG and MiG Alley soon, now that the Bag the Hun club game is out of the way, as I'd like to get the Korean War project re-booted before the end of the month

Clouds in Bag the Hun 2

There are some perfectly reasonable rules for flying in cloudy conditions in the optional extras bit of the Bag the Hun 2 rulebook (Section 20.3 p52-53). However, for the scenario I've devised, I needed something with a little more detail that would impact on spotting and firing as well as movement. I've come up with the following simple tweaks that bolt on to the existing rules for disorientation and extend the rules for Cloud Facts (20.3.4):


Shift one column to the right on the Spotting Table for low visibility when spotting at Altitude 1, 4, 5 and 6 (replaces spotting into the sun). It is not possible to spot bogeys at Altitude 2 and 3 (see Cloud Facts 20.3.4 p52)

Add a -1 firing adjuster for attackers at Altitude 1,4-6
Add a -2 firing adjuster for attackers at Altitude 2-3
Add a +1 saving adjuster for defenders at Altitude 1,4-6
Add a +2 saving adjuster for defenders at Altitude 2-3

I originally allowed spotting in the overcast layer with a hefty modifier to make it very difficult but, having re-read the rules in more detail, this wouldn't fit with the existing mechanics. As a result, it isn't possible to spot bogeys in cloud cover but, if an aircraft enters the cloud layer in a pursuit, it is still possible to get in a shot or two only with considerable difficulty.

This matches with the account of the action concerned as the 336th FS and 335th FS pilots did chase the Bf-109's into the cloud, firing at them on the way but then pulled out when it became too hairy:

'I lost him in the thick clouds. When I could no longer see him, I feared collision. I dropped below the overcast and made an orbit, at which time I saw a fire and wreckage of an aeroplane. I believe he spun out and crashed' (1st Lt John Kolbe, 335th FS, 4th FG)

I think this fits with the letter of the existing rules and adds a bit of clarity to an otherwise obscure element of the game. I'll have to see how it all works (or not) next week?

Rocketeers Over The Reich Ready to Go

I desk top published and printed out the scenario briefings and turn cards for the club Bag the Hun game this morning, ready for the game on Tuesday. The cards have all been cut out and inserted into plastic card sleeves with an additional rectangle of white card slid behind to obscure the front details and add a bit of rigidity. This is handy as I can recycle the sleeves for other games, just slipping out the paper front sheet and keeping the card backing in place. There are twenty three cards in total, including one or two special ones of my own invention, so not too hefty a deck especially when the bogeys are in play at the start of the game. Tally Ho!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Rocketeers Over The Reich Cards

I decided to create a whole new deck of turn cards for the Bag the Hun club game today, after thinking through the deck I needed for the Rocketeers over the Reich scenario. I've now finished these and just need to cut them out and put them into plastic sleeves for the game. I debated about having two whole flights of four aircraft for the 336th Fighter Squadron as I thought it might be too much for the Luftwaffe to handle, given their relative inexperience and the large number of sprog pilots in III/JG4, but I think the 8:12 ratio in favour of the latter will help to balance things out. I'll write up the scenario tomorrow.

Warfare No Show

I was supposed to be going to Warfare today but I just can't justify the expense or the expenditure, so it's a no show for me this year. I've been to every Warfare for the last ten years or so and have the badges to prove it, so it's a shame that I won't be around for this one. At least I'll be able to save some pocket money for other things and avoid those 'ooh shiny' impulse purchases! If you are going I hope you have a great time. See you next year!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Day Fighters in Defence of the Reich

I am working up the Rocketeers over the Reich scenario this weekend, ready for the Bag the Hun game on Tuesday next week. I have plenty of information on the 336th Fighter Squadron part in this, with a second pilot, 1st Lt Douglas Groshong,  now added as a Veteran character card in the scenario in the role of Charlie Flight leader. I also have some ideas for the initial scenario set up and the way that bogeys will work, with specific reference to the overcast and low visibility. This is a challenge to get right, as I don't want it to complicate things but I do want to make it a feature of the action, just like the real thing.

1st Lt Douglas Groshong, 336th FS, 4th FG

What I needed was more detail on the Luftwaffe units involved, as all I knew was that they were equipped with Bf-109's, either Gustavs or Karls. This book has helped to fill in some gaps and has given me some direction in terms of the unit that may have been on the receiving end, possibly III/JG4. There are some really interesting eyewitness accounts for November 21st too, although they are both from FW-190 pilots, which confirm that many of the pilots were straight out of fighter school, so will be rated as Green. I'll have to factor that into the scenario without making things too easy for the 336th! I'd also like to identify at least one pilot as a more experienced Veteran or Ace Schwarm Leader.