Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Bag the B17 Extra Cards



I've worked up some extra cards to add to the deck that I created for the Berlin 1945 scenario last month, so that I can re-use most of the deck for the  Bag the B17 game. These include an extra section card for the USAAF fighter escort and cards for a sixth Luftwaffe rotte of fighters, together with Junior Ace cards for both. I may also do a card for a Luftwaffe Top Ace but that might be a bit too scary, so I'll probably just leave the deck as it is. There are cards for the B17's too including a Move card and two Air Gunner Fire cards. Finally, I have created some specific cards for the Sturmgruppe FW190A8/R2's to activate on once they have been spotted by the bomber crews. I'll print these out and stick them onto to thin card for the game.

Monday, 30 October 2017

One Hour Wargames


I've been dipping into Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book over the weekend, looking at the rules for Pike and Shot Renaissance battles, together with the accompanying scenarios and campaign notes. I dismissed the rules as overly simplistic when I first read them a couple of years ago but, with the rise of 2/3mm as a viable wargaming scale I've been having second thoughts. This has linked in with my Wings at War projects, as I've been looking at 2mm stuff for ground targets and terrain.

I've been inspired by the likes of Mark Backhouse and Sidney Roundwood, who have both achieved some quite extraordinary things in tiny scales, especially the Siege of Portsmouth show game that Mark exhibited last year. Not that I'm about to embark on anything like this any time soon but the attraction of large armies for minimal cost and especially time is really quite attractive, with potential for a linked campaign of scenarios based on the extensive list in the One Hour Wargames book.

'For those with limited time and space' it says on the cover, so I think the rules are definitely worth a closer look given my recurrent lack of either, not to mention my limited budget!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Bag the B17 Painting Progress



I've done the tedious anti-dazzle olive drab panels on the B17's and the P38's over the weekend, so they are now ready for an overall wash in 10:1 Future and Black Indian Ink, which will tone down the shiny silver effect a bit. They look a bit rubbish at the moment but that's not unusual at this stage in the painting process.  Next, I can move onto the canopies and black lining, with any other details blocked in as I go, before I add the decals to make them look less boring. I really should have a seventh B17 as a 'Tail End Charlie' for the formation but I've run out of stands, so will have to make do with just six!

Wings at War Duel of Aces


Next month, when I've finished the planes for the Bag the Hun game, I'm going to crack on with my MiG Alley project, which can also double up for Bag the MiG. This will require a shed load of the homemade flight stands that I prototyped yesterday and some modular terrain boards with a wintery theme.

I was thinking that all this effort could be maximised by doubling up and doing a parallel project for Wings at War, with the WW1 variant Duel of Aces as the obvious choice. Not only could I use some of the same flight stands but also the terrain boards, adding some front line trench tiles to represent No Man's Land.

I think this would be a good way to try out two different versions of the Wings at War system and would give me plenty of opportunity to scale up both games, from a handful of planes a side to something more expansive. I have quite a lot of the 1/600 WW1 aircraft already, so just need a couple more of the balloons and some ground targets to be ready to go.

Tally Ho!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Bag the B17 USAAF Fighter Escort Briefing


I hammered out the player briefing for the Fighter Escort Leader today, using the same format as the Luftwaffe one but incorporating the objectives, formations and reinforcements required for the USAAF mission parameters. The key difference is that the USAAF will be flying in full sections, apart from one close escort element, will enter the table at a higher altitude and must avoid leaving the table and the bombers at all costs.

I've also fiddled the pilot experience D6 roll, to filter in some Green pilots as wingmen, whilst retaining a core of Regulars, Veterans and Junior Aces. The VP's are also much less expansive than those of the Luftwaffe, just to make things crystal clear for the USAAF players. Now I just have to type up the B17 bomber crew briefing including the all important rules for air to air gunnery, then sort out any additional cards that I need for the turn deck.

Wings at War Flight Stand Prototype

USAF F84 (MiG Alley)

Peruvian Su-22 (Alto Cenepa War)

I had another crack at my version of a flight stand for the Wings at War series of rules, this time using a 3mm thick 30mm x 30mm mdf base, a 30mm panel pin and a 7mm dice frame. The idea was to make a more durable stand than my previous effort using a 2mm thick mdf base. I also tried out trimming the point on the nail with my Dremel using a cutting disc, rather than snipping it off with pliers, which worked really well much to my amazement.

Anyway, the end result was textured, undercoated with Halfords Matt Camouflage Brown then drybrushed with three stages of Foundry Rawhide. I painted the panel pin stand itself with a mix of Vallejo Deep Sky Blue and Matt White but may well repaint it in a neutral green or brown, so that it blends with the playing surface. Not bad for about 10p worth of bits and ten minutes work.

(You'll notice that neither of the model aircraft are finished, so that's the next thing to get sorted, with MiG Alley as the follow on project for the workbench)

Bag the B17 Sturmbock!


I've re-written the briefing for the Luftwaffe as I thought it was too complicated and also didn't really fit the late 1944 - early 1945 tactical setting very well. Instead of a head on attack by four  bogey FW190A8's with an equal number of dummy bogeys, I've switched to a rear attack by six bogey FW190A8/R2 Sturmbock assault aircraft, without any dummy bogeys, as anything approaching a formation of B17's from behind would be fair game for the rear gunners. I could include more bogeys bit I think this would slow things down too much at the start of the game.


This is much more like the real thing and also should be fun for the Luftwaffe players to do, especially as it's a one shot deal and has to be timed just right, with the fighters diving away off table after their attack. I wonder how this will work out? Anyway, the rest of the scenario briefing stays the same although I have also streamlined the reinforcement rules to make them less confusing and given the Luftwaffe players greater flexibility in choosing their mission priorities, with the fighter controller making the final tactical decisions.

Pauke! Pauke!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Devotion


I've just started reading this book, having initially been put off by the overly American style of writing, which reminds me a lot of Stephen Ambrose, who I'm not particularly keen on for various reasons. Nonetheless, it's a good story and full of detail on Korean War naval aviation and ground attack missions in particular. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up as a film although the audience probably wouldn't have a clue about the contemporary historical events.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Bag the B17 Luftwaffe Briefing


I've hammered out what I think is a pretty comprehensive but not overly complicated mission briefing for the Luftwaffe fighter commander, who will be attempting to wipe out a combat box of B17G bombers in the club Bag the Hun game in a few weeks time. I have run several bomber interception scenarios before but wanted to do something a bit different this time round, so have incorporated a set up which tries to mirror tactics used by the Luftwaffe against daylight bomber formations. 

This includes a head on frontal attack on the combat box at the start of the scenario, followed up my slashing flank and rear attacks and dive away manoeuvres, whilst other Luftwaffe fighters tangle with the American fighter escorts. It will probably be a bit too much for some players to manage but I think it will work well enough to give the USAAF players a run for their money. I may re-think some elements of the briefing once I've worked out the equivalent for the USAAF fighter and bomber players.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Brennan Torpedo


We went to visit the relatives today in Cawsand, opposite the breakwater in Plymouth Sound, where they are staying for the half term holidays. I have been there many times before but had not walked along the nearby stretch of the coastal path for years. As the weather was really nice we all set out along the walk, which takes you past Pier Cellars 

This site looked interesting so I did a bit of a Google and discovered that it was one of the first harbour defence installations to use the wire guided Brennan Torpedo. I had heard about the launch rails for this land based torpedo system on the Isle of Wight, where I lived for a short while, but didn't know that Plymouth also had a similar defensive arrangement in place.

The site is still MOD land so you can't actually visit or get close to the fortifications but it's still really interesting from a pre-dreadnought wargaming perspective. This webpage has a really good overview of both the Brennan Torpedo system and of Pier Cellars as well, so you can read more about both in greater depth and detail:

https://www.submerged.co.uk/brennan.php

AK47 Bad Boys


This is where my last AK47 efforts bit the proverbial dust, six technicals of various descriptions and dubious origin, bashed together using old die cast trucks, AAA and rocket rails from The Scene and some spare Peter Pig pick ups and militia crew figures. I have been meaning to get them finished for months but life has intervened to spoil my plans.

They won't take long to do up, so I may well tackle them at the weekend when I'm back from my holiday in not so sunny Cornwall. They are designed to reinforce my existing militia technical force, enabling it to be split into two or even three technical militia units for my Dictatorship and/or Superpower Backed armies. Very handy indeed!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

AK47 Ztum Setum is Back!


This is where I first discovered the crazy world of AK47:Republic. If you haven't seen this site before you have missed out, as it is full of inspiration for factions, units, vehicles and terrain, a lot of which is bashed together from diecast toys and spare parts from other 15mm projects. I have gone on to have many really hilarious games of AK47 and have two whole armies as a result, one Dictatorship and one Superpower Backed.

It reminds me that I really should paint that Colonial Settlers army that I based up years ago, or even put together a People's Popular Front army with all the leftover bits I have accumulated. I certainly should do some more terrain and ad hoc units either way, as I've been promising to sort out some decent 15mm African battlefield scenery for ages.

Anyway, if you get the time, why not pop over and take a look: https://ak47ztumsetum.wordpress.com/

You can read about my AK47 adventures here too:
http://jimswargamesworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/AK47

Bag the B17 Scenario Design


I now have about seven players signed up for the Bag the Hun B17 combat box game on the 21st November, which is spot on for what I'm planning for the scenario. The players will split into two 'teams', one for the Luftwaffe and one for the USAAF, with the bombers controlled by one or two players and the fighters split between the rest. I think the bombers will have  a lot of gunnery to deal with, so splitting them into two parcels of three planes with a player controlling each one probably makes sense, although I may just scale it down to one player plus the umpire (that's me by the way, as I don't usually fly anything).

The USAAF fighters will have an initial pair flying close escort to the B17's but will subsequently be joined by further pairs coming on as reinforcements during the game, representing the top cover zooming down to intercept the Luftwaffe fighters. These will enter from the mid points of the table edges, the exact table edge determined by random dice roll. The Luftwaffe will initially have a pair (or schwarm) of fighters attacking head on against the B17's, then will also get pairs of fighters as reinforcements appearing from the diagonal corners of the table, again determined at random and possibly as bogeys. In fact, it's all a bit like AK47, which is where I have pinched the idea from!

The old AK47 reinforcements diagram

I need to work out how this will fit with the Bag the Hun 2 game mechanics and how the Luftwaffe aircraft will leave the table once they have made their attack run, leaving the USAAF fighters on the table to continue their role as close in defence. The numerous accounts that I've read of this sort of thing always have the German fighters diving away pursued by the American fighters, so it would be sensible to try to model that in the game, albeit with the USAAF pilots ordered to stay with the bombers. I think it should work, if I can make the card deck nice and tight without too many cards to slow things down.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Royal Navy Handbook 1914-1918


I found a hard back copy of this interesting reference book in a local second hand bookshop today. It is a bit eclectic and probably covers too much in far too little space but, nonetheless, should prove to be both interesting and useful. There's a particularly good section on the Gallipoli Campaign and on the Royal Naval Air Service, with some photographs of both that I haven't seen before, so well worth a look if you can track down a copy.

I will be doing a lot more naval wargaming in 2018 including my WW2 Schnell Rules for Schnellboote coastal warfare project, the 1864 Second Schleswig War Broadside and Ram project and the planned pre-dreadnought Royal Navy vs Imperial Japanese Navy 'What if?' project too, so this book fits very nicely right in the middle. In the meantime, however, it's all very much up in the air, with air wargaming very much in the ascendant!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Holiday Reading


I thought I'd read something completely off the radar over the half term holidays, so picked this Osprey as a good place to start. I remember following the Falklands War on the TV when I was a teenager, so have mixed feelings about wargaming the conflict, although you can't ignore the appeal of Sea Harriers and Mirage III's. It's another Wings At War or Target Locked On! project somewhere over the horizon perhaps?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bag the MiG / MiG Alley


As you may have noticed, I've been bitten by the air wargaming bug again, with another Bag the Hun game scheduled for next month and a follow on game of Knights of the Sky in the run up to Xmas. I have plenty to do to get things ready for both of these club multiplayer games but, in the meantime, I've been digging out some of my old air warfare projects that didn't quite get off the ground.


A couple of years ago I finally got round to a Wings at War MiG Alley project, which doubled up as a Bag the Mig project using the Bag the Hun variant for the Korean War. I magnet based a shedload of 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft for this and even painted then washed the basecoat on the USAF fighters, before being side tracked onto other things.


I also devised a basing system using 13.5mm, 20mm, 30mm and 40mm panel pins glued into mdf bases, allowing me to swap the planes for different altitudes in MiG Alley and, at the same time, to use them with hex based stands for Bag the MiG. I've subsequently used a variant of this system for my 1/600th Cold War and ultra modern Target Locked On! projects, although without the magnets.


I have now decided to give the Bag the MiG / MiG Alley project, for want of a better title, a second go but this time using thicker 3mm laser cut mdf squares and hex bases, which weren't available when I started the project first time round. These will allow the panel pins to have a better grip and avoid the 'wobbly' base problem, when the tip of the pin sticks out a fraction and scratches the table.


As soon as I've finished the B17G's and P38J's for the next Bag the Hun game, I'll get cracking on the 1/600th scale USAF, USN, NKAF and PLAAF planes, so that I can get some games of both Bag the MiG and MiG Alley up and running in 2018. I've also ordered a second copy of the MiG Alley rules so that I can find an opponent to playtest the system at the club, without having to photocopy the booklet.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Blue Swastika Rampant Russian Reconaissance


I have been reading about the various aerial actions of the Winter War and Continuation War lately, trawling through relevant Osprey Aircraft titles for inspiration. As I was reading, I found several potential scenarios involving Soviet reconnaissance aircraft including the famous Polikarpov PO2, the slightly less well known Polikarpov R-5 and even the MBR-2 flying boat, which was the Soviet equivalent of the Supermarine Walrus.

I didn't think any of these existed in 1/300th scale but found all three in the Heroics and Ros range, which used to be manufactured by Navwar. I don't know what the quality of these models is like but they weren't expensive and I only need one of each for a decent game, so I decided to give them a go. I'll do a review when they arrive but I'm off on holiday next week so it may be a while before I get round to it.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Bag the B17 Game


I've booked in a Bag the Hun multiplayer game for the 21st November at the club, which will be built around an early 1945 bomber mission over Germany by B17G's, escorted by P51D Mustangs and/or P47D Thunderbolts, with a couple of P38J Lightning twin engine fighters as an added extra.

The Luftwaffe will be attempting to break up the combat box using waves of FW190A8's and FW190D9's, Bf109K's and Me262's, although some Me163 Komet rocket powered interceptors may also make an appearance if I get them painted. I have most of the other aircraft ready to go, so will only need to finish a handful of planes this time around.

Thus far, take up has been a bit slow but I'm sure it will pick up once the players get the message and start to sign up. I'm looking forward to working up both the scenario and the cards for this one, as there are a few rules that I have yet to try out involved, so it will be an interesting little project for the half term break.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Bag the Hun P38 Lightnings



I found two of these 1/300th scale P38L's in a box this evening and thought I'd base them for the next Bag the Hun game using  a couple of recycled resin stands. I think they are either Skytrex or Heroics and Ros models but, to be honest, I can't remember how or where I originally found them. They look well proportioned and fairly accurate but they are definitely on the basic side when it comes to detail. I think they will paint up quite nicely alongside the B17G's that I'm working on at the moment. I'll mark them up as 429th Fighter Squadron 474th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force P38J's, so that I can use them right up to the end of the war.

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:

https://jimswargamesworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/1144th-scale-ww2-russian-front.html


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?

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