Wednesday 29 November 2017

Knights of the Sky WW1 Dawn Patrol

I've organised another game of the club WW1 dogfighting house rules Knights of the Sky for next week, setting the scenario in early December 1917, with a dawn patrol over the frontline in search of the occasional Hun (or Tommy) to bag before breakfast. This will be a simple last man standing scenario with everyone flying whatever crate they bring along, although I'll be supplying plenty of planes for the guest players. I'll be flying for the German side for a change in my trusty if slightly monotone Pfalz DIII, which came off much the worse for wear at the hands of the RFC last time I took it for a spin.Tally Ho!

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Gaslands Bundle

I have now received the bundle of Gaslands rules, dice and templates that I ordered a while back, so will be flicking through the book over the next couple of days. The first impression is that a simple idea, driving around shooting things and crashing, seems to have been made quite complicated, although I'm sure a playtest will make more sense of the system.

It's definitely not as 'nuts and bolts' as Axles and Alloys II, which is what I've used before for post-apocalyptic car combat. I don't like the background blurb either but as that's entirely optional, I'll just ignore it. I need to give the rules a go at some point with my existing die cast conversions but now plan to make some more, if only to have a second 'gang' of road warriors to use as the opposition.

I even bought a new Hotwheels pick up in the local newsagent on the way to work this morning!

Monday 27 November 2017

Thunder and Lightnings

I was doing some reading for the as yet theoretical but dangerously compelling Flashpoint:Fleet Air Arm project, when I stumbled across this excellent online reference website, covering numerous types of 1950's and 1960's British military aircraft. I was looking for information on the deployment of FAA Sea Vixens, Buccaneers, Scimitars and RAF Javelins in the Indonesian Confrontation but that's another story, although I quite like the sound of Flashpoint:Sarawak? Anyway, there's absolutely loads of useful stuff here and lots of cracking photos, so why not take a closer look:

MiG Alley Painting Rig

One of the things that put me off using mini-magnets for 1/600th scale planes was how to go about painting them. They tend to move around even when attached to a metal surface and holding them in your hand is a recipe for painty fingers. So, to partially solve the problem, I've literally banged together some 40mm panel pins and blocks of wood to make a painting rig (or jig if you prefer, although that sounds a bit too much like Morris dancing). I think it will do the job and can take a full squadron of twelve planes in one go, which should speed things up and help shift the USAAF through the production line to begin with.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan Finished

Well, almost. I have spent most of the afternoon finishing off the four F-86 Sabres and MiG-17's for the Target Locked On! Flashpoint:Taiwan project, which means that I have everything sorted for a game. I do have some more ROCAF planes to paint but I can more than make do with what I've got, both for 1958 and 1967. The decals are a bit out of scale but they look quite respectable from arms length. I don't have time now for a proper Target Locked On! playtest, however, so I'll have to leave that until next weekend when I can clear the decks and get it set up.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan Bases

I spent an hour or so this morning re-painting the hex bases of the Chinese PLAAF aircraft for the Target Locked On! Flashpoint:Taiwan project, so that they match with the ROCAF F-104 Starfighters. I like the shade that I've used, Vallejo Pale Grey Blue, as it is fairly neutral and will do for both sky and sea backgrounds, assuming most scenarios will be at relatively high altitude over the Straits of Taiwan. I've also started painting up four MiG-17's for the PLAAF to fly against the F-86 Sabres that I need to finish off for the ROCAF. I'm hoping to run a game tomorrow using the first edition of the rules, as I have yet to print out the updated version, with a pair of F-104 Starfighters on CAP intercepting a pair of MiG-19's. I'll post a report once the dust has settled!

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.

Thursday 16 November 2017

MiG Alley Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier

In MiG Alley there's a long table edge representing the coastline of North Korea from which you can launch naval aircraft over the mainland on fighter sweeps and ground attack missions. To make this a bit more 'visual' I've been thinking of using a 1/2400th or 1/3000th scale model of an RN light fleet carrier or US carrier to represent the warships involved. It would be completely unrealistic to be so close inshore but it's all about visual effect rather than the accurate realism.

However, I stumbled across this 1/1600th Heller model of HMS Colossus / Arromanches today and thought it would be just the job, although at 131mm in length it's a bit big compared to the 1/600th Tumbling Dice aircraft models, even when scale effect is taken into account. I'll see if I can find a cheap one in France at Xmas, so that I can cut it down to the waterline and base it up to represent HMS Theseus or HMS Triumph. I think it will look really cool and a lot more interesting than a tiddly micro scale model.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Flashpoint Fleet Air Arm

I have decided that the Royal Navy needs to be involved in my Target Locked On! and Air War:C21 'Flashpoint' projects somehow. The tenuous excuse for this is that the Chinese are sabre rattling in the South China Sea and, in particular, are involved in aggressive overflights of Hong Kong and the New Territories in the late 1960's. A bit far fetched?

According to recently declassified reports, Chinese leaders were so opposed to the prospect of a democratic Hong Kong that they threatened to invade should London attempt to change the status quo. “We shall not hesitate to take positive action to have Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories liberated,” Liao Chengzhi, a senior Chinese official was reported to have said in 1960.

The Royal Navy has dispatched a carrier task force to the region as a demonstration of force, leading to an incident in which Fleet Air Arm aircraft could clash with the PLAAF and PLANAF. This means that I have an excuse, if one is needed, to add some of those iconic 1960's British naval aircraft including Sea Vixens, Buccaneers, Scimitars and Gannets.

I have already unpacked my latest order from Tumbling Dice and, as a result, have a big smile all over my face in anticipation of painting them up. Paul even added an extra couple of packs of Scimitars as he packed them together with another order so saving me postage. What a nice chap he is and the models are absolutely cracking too!

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Merseberg Mash Up

Captain Fred Glover, CO 336th FS, 4th FG

I realised that I may have left it a bit too late to finish off the B17G's for the Bag the Hun multiplayer game at the club next week. I was hoping to have finished then by now but they still need the canopy highlights, black lining and decals applied before they are ready for action. I could use them as they are but, given the time left, I would rather finish them properly later and run the scenario as a future club game in January.

Having said that, I am still running the game at the club on Tuesday, so will replace the bomber escort scenario with something more down to earth. At the moment, the plan is to write a scenario based on the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, so that I can re-use the cards that I created for this unit with one or two additions. So, I've been doing some background reading and have found a possible scenario for 21st November 1944.

Glover's P51D Mustang

This involved a dogfight at medium to low level in heavy over cast conditions, with the 336th engaging a formation of Bf109's to the West of Merseberg in Saxony-Anhalt. I have only got four Bf109's but that can be fudged for the club game if I use FW190A8's instead, rewriting the scenario to fit. The action featured three kills for the 336th 'Rocketeers' CO Captain Fred Glover, who I will make a Junior Ace with a corresponding card.

The weather conditions were pretty bad with 'thick cloud' and 'overcast' which I will try to build into the scenario using the cloud cover special rules in the Bag the Hun 2 rulebook. This may be a bit too complicated but I will have it as an option to make the game a little less predictable and to allow the use of bogeys, which definitely add an element of challenge to the game.

If this ends up being too much, I can always dig out an old scenario instead, perhaps for Malta?

Tally Ho!

Monday 13 November 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan ROCAF F-86F Sabres

I've been practising my blocking in on four Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale F-86F Sabres this evening, using a small selection of bright colours over a matt white basecoat. The scheme is very similar to that used on USAF Korean War aircraft, which is no surprise as Taiwan was supplied with second hand jets after they had been used in Korea.

I now need to do some black lining and some highlights to the canopies, before I add the fiddly diamond pattern black and yellow decals to the fuselage band and possibly to the wings, cheating a bit to keep the scheme as simple as possible. It's all good practice for the MiG Alley / Bag the MiG project, for which I have to paint loads of the blighters!

Flashpoint Taiwan ROCAF / PLAAF Planes

I had a day release from work today, which is very unusual but also very welcome, so I thought I'd get the extra bits based and undercoated for the Flashpoint Taiwan project. I was also planning to do some more painting of the B17's for Bag the Hun but the garage is freezing, so that will have to wait. AS you can see, I now have four F-100 Super Sabres, two F5A Freedom Fighters, an S-2 Tracker and an RB-57D reconnaissance aircraft.

I also added four F-86F Sabres that I had magnet based and base coated for MiG Alley, only to realise that the fuselage stripe was vertical not diagonal, unlike all of the other Tumbling Dice Sabres that I'd based up. I'm not sure what happened here but I guess they were a sculpting mistake and I ended up with some of the wonky ones. Other than the incorrect stripe they're absolutely fine.

I thought I'd make use of them anyway as they will be fine for the ROCAF and it will actually be easier to add the checkerboard decals to the fuselage stripe in the vertical. Job's a good 'un. To wrap things up and provide some opposition for the Sabres, I based up four MiG17's for the PLAAF. I'm going to have a crack at painting the re-cycled F-86F Sabres this evening, if I can find the time.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Naval Aviation in the Korean War

In the run up to my MiG Alley / Bag the MiG project for 2018, I've been collating together my reference material that I've already got and adding some new books as well. This is my latest acquisition and very interesting it is too, especially as I have recently added more 1/600th scale USN and USMC aircraft to the painting production line. 

Saturday 11 November 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan ROCAF Starfighters

I decided to do a bit of small scale painting today, in advance of the Wings at War MiG Alley project, so unpacked the Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale F-104 Starfighters that I based and undercoated a few months ago. These have been languishing in a box for months, so it was good to get them sorted for use in my fictitious Flashpoint Taiwan solo campaign, for which I'll be using Target Locked On! or Air War: C21.

All I needed to do was block in the light grey fuselage with Vallejo Pale Grey Blue, then paint the engine, canopies and nose cone details. This was followed by the excellent Doms Decals insignia before I spray sealed everything in Humbrol Satin Varnish. I decided to paint the bases in Vallejo Deep Sky Blue, which looks better than the bases on the Chinese Communist aircraft that I've already completed, so I'll go back and paint them to match.

I'm quite pleased with the way these came out, so I will probably assemble some Tumbling Dice F-100 Super Sabres, F-5A Freedom Fighters and a single RB-57D Canberra reconnaissance aircraft to expand the Taiwanese arsenal. I would also like to get some F-86 Sabres but they were phased out of front line use well before the mid 1960's, when the solo campaign is supposed to be set. I could always go back a bit to the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis though?

Korean War Inspiration

A fantastic online article which, if you've seen the film, will make you want to download it and watch it again, although I'd probably read the novel as the more interesting option. The article itself has some great scenario material that could easily be worked up into a series of linked games, using CY6: Jet Age or the Bag the MiG variant for Korean War air combat, although any decent set to rules would do if they feature decent mechanisms for AAA and ground attack. It would make a superb show participation game too, which I don't think has been done before? Anyway, here's the link:


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