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 Hun B17 Combat Box 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:

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!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Bare Metal Finish B17's

It's been a really packed weekend so I haven't got much done much on the Bag the Hun B17's apart from preparing the last two and giving them all an overall basecoat of Foundry Spearpoint. They are looking a little bit more like bare metal finish bombers than they did with just the basic matt grey undercoat, so I'm moving in the right direction, albeit very slowly! I've also based up the last two Me163 Komets, so will aim to get them painted as well, ready for the next game at the club in a few weeks time.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bag the Hun DIY Flight Stands

I have now run out of Raiden Miniatures flight stands for my 1/285th scale Bag the Hun projects, although a recent offer of some spare bases from a fellow club member will help me to keep my existing Battle of Britain, North Africa and NW Europe projects up and running. For any new projects including the Blue Swastika Rampant Winter and Continuation War set up, I will have to make my own flight stands and bases, both to save money and due to the fact that Raiden Miniatures will no longer be stocked in the UK by Magister Militum.

As a result, I've been experimenting again with laser cut mdf hexes, 40mm panel pins and 7mm dice frames, in an attempt to scale up the bases that I scratch built for my 1/600th scale Target Locked On! modern aircraft. This seemed to work out fine, although I will need to countersink the head of the panel pin in the base to stop the whole thing wobbling about too much. I did consider adding a washer to the bottom of the base to add some weight and to avoid the counter sinking hassle, but it didn't look right when I mocked it up, so I may have to think of something else?

....back to the workbench!

Friday, 6 October 2017

White Bear, Red Sun

Just noticed that this has popped up over on Wargame Vault, so will definitely be taking a closer look tomorrow, it being far too late to download it tonight. I have plans in place for just this sort of thing using the 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice warships that I have collected, albeit for a counter factual Great Britain against Imperial Japan campaign setting. I'm sure I could fiddle with the campaign system in these rules to do something along these lines. Very interesting!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blue Swastika Rampant Russians

I added a handful of Scotia Collectair Soviet aircraft to the Blue Swastika Rampant project lead pile today, with the arrival of twelve I-153 Chaikas and one enormous Tupolev TB-3. The I-153's are listed as I-15's but they don't have a fixed undercarriage, so are actually better used as Chaikas. The TB-3 is a very impressive model but will need some detailing to make it look the part, with some dorsal and front gunners as an obvious addition. I now have even more aircraft to paint but at least I will have some variety when it comes to fighters.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Discount Death in the Dark Continent

Northstar had a very brief sale on yesterday of these rules, the last two versions of which I already have but never got round to playing, despite being keen to give them a go. So, for no very good reason at all, I have now got the third edition in glossy, 'ooh shiny' hard back. I have lots (and I mean lots) of 28mm lead and plastic for this but a little voice keeps whispering 10mm to me, which would be an ideal scale given the multiple figure basing and no casualty removal factor, not to mention the cost and visual impact. Oh well, at least I'll have lots of glossy pictures to flick through and an excuse to dust off the plastic sprues of Zulus and the metal Matabele from the various boxes they have been stashed away in, if only to put them all back in again like I did with Congo!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Knights of the Sky 1918

I've organised a game of the club's home grown WW1 aerial rules, Knights of the Sky, for a couple of weeks time, as a follow on from the game that I ran back in February. This time we'll be taking to the skies over the Western Front in October 1918, for a bit of trench strafing by RAF Sopwith Camels and top cover Se5a's, with Fokker DVII's and the occasional Albatros DVa out to spoil their day. There will also be a single Belgian Hanriot HD.1 flying into action. I have yet to work out the scenario but I do have a pretty good ideas about how it will work, once I've done a bit of historical background research to set the scene. Tally Ho!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Spitfire on my Tail


Here's my latest addition to the actual as opposed to the virtual bookshelf, found as usual in the local Oxfam second hand bookshop at the weekend. Having just finished Thunderbolt! by Robert Johnson, which was excellent, I'm definitely interested in the other side of the equation, so to speak. It will also be nice to read a real life, paper and print book, which will be a pleasant diversion from the digital versions that I usually read these days. You can't beat the genuine article, even if digital books are so much easier to cart about and to get hold of in the first place.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Basing the B17's

How small is that Komet..and **** fast!

I have been scraping, filing, sanding and cutting away at the Scotia Collectair B17G's this afternoon and have managed to base and prepare four of them, with one left to do and one sadly consigned to the bin after a little over enthusiasm on my part. Not to worry, as I've ordered a replacement which is on the way from sunny Scotland at some point in the week, along with some other bits and bobs for Bag the Hun. Luckily, I have a couple of stands left so will be able to complete the whole combat box as soon as it arrives.

Anyway, these are very atmospheric sculpts and really capture the look of the B17 Flying Fortress, with all it's power and streamlined curves, even if they do need a bit of attention when cleaning them up for painting. I briefly toyed with the idea of adding tiddly gun barrels in the various beam, rear, cheek and ball turret positions but then sanity intruded on my mental conversation and knocked that idea firmly on the head.

I'm really looking forward to getting started on the bare metal paintwork but this week is busy in the evenings, so I may not get much done?