Sunday 31 October 2021

November Hurricanes

I'm back to work tomorrow after what seems like a very short week's holiday, so to cheer myself up I have decided to make a small start on the Finest Hour project by magnet basing and painting twelve Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale Hawker Hurricanes for my semi-fictitious No27 Squadron. This project is slated for next year but I'm keen to get cracking now, at least to chip away at the fifty or so planes I will eventually have to paint up. 

I'm also going to be painting my 1/2400th scale French Napoleonic ships at the same time, with the idea being to switch between the two as I go along, using the dark winter evenings to get them all finished by Xmas. I'm not in a rush, as you can tell, but I'm not planning to start anything else over the next couple of months either, as I really want to get both of these painting jobs wrapped up be the end of term. Tally Ho!

Bag the MiG

I've been thinking about Bag the MiG again, after my MiG Alley game yesterday, and have dusted off the rules for another look. I had always intended to use my 1/600th scale models for both Wings at War and Bag the MiG but just never got round to it for some reason. The idea is to use the first edition of Bag the Hun with the additional rules and scenarios from the Bag the MiG supplement, rather than use the slightly more complicated second edition, in an experiment to see if the old version gives a faster, more streamlined game. I used to play with the first edition rules way back when, so I have a well-thumbed copy that I can re-use for Korea rather than the Battle of Britain, which was my initial Bag the Hun focus about twelve years ago. I'm a bit short on spare time at the moment so who knows when I will be able to give it a spin but I'm sure it will be fun when I do!

Saturday 30 October 2021

PVC Terrain Mat from Tinywargames

I have a couple of nice but expensive cloth wargaming mats from Tinywargames, both for naval gaming, so I was interested to see that they now do PVC mats at a much lower price, roughly half of what you'd pay for a cloth or mouse mat equivalent. Before I splashed out on some new aerial wargaming hex mats, I thought I'd order a 4' x 4' mat of a basic design to see if they are any good. I chose a twenty quid (plus six quid postage) WW1 trench mat for aerial gaming, as it looked rather effective and would fit well on my kitchen table, to use for Wings at War Duel of Aces and Air War:1918 both of which don't require any hexes. If it's any good I may well order a proper 6' x 4' mat with hexes for the Khalkhin Gol Bag the Hun project or for the Battle of Britain Finest Hour solo campaign, assuming I can find a decent one in the range?

MiG Alley F9F Panthers vs MiG-15's

I played a very enjoyable game of MiG Alley this evening, with two flights of two F9F Panthers with regular pilots against one flight of four North Korean MiG-15's with green pilots, once again fitting everything on to the kitchen table. This meant rotating the table layout by 90 degrees and leaving off the sea area but this didn't seem to make much difference to the game itself. The North Koreans deployed three mountain upland templates but I didn't bother with ground targets for the United Nations side, as there were no bombers or attack aircraft involved.

In the game, the four Panthers entered from the south west corner at level three and turned northwards, running up a valley toward the Yalu River. The MiG's entered at level four and crossed over the Yalu in a shallow dive, heading directly for the oncoming USN fighters. In Turn Two, one of the Panther section leaders attempted to pull a tight turn to get on the tail of the MiG's but overcooked it and ended up in a spin, only recovering at level one. The other Panther pilots decided to play it safe and just turned normally, ending up without a shot on the MiG's, which also turned back toward the Yalu to pursue their enemy. 

It wasn't looking good for the US Navy but they were still in the fight and determined to make up for their mistakes and engage the MiG's head on. In Turn Three, one of the F9F Panthers managed to get into position for a head on attack but this ended in disaster when the USN pilot missed his shot, while the targeted MiG made a 'snap shot' attack of its own and shot down the Panther! This was a bad start for the USN but it would soon be time to more than even the score.

In Turn Four the Panther flight leader began his long climb back to altitude in a series of power moves, while his wingman circled above at level three to protect him from the MiG menace. The other lone Panther moved in on the MiG's and managed to pull two consecutive tight turns, putting him right behind one of the MiG-15's. This made all the difference to his chances of a kill and he proceeded to blow the North Korean fighter out of the sky with a D6 roll of 6!

This was followed up with a second attack on the MiG-15 in front, which also disintegrated in a fireball with another roll of 6! In turn five, the Panther pilot now calmly turned onto the tail of a third MiG and pulled off a hat trick, with his victim blasted out of the sky in a hail of cannon shells. The game was now over, as the USN had matched it's Victory Target points total, with three MiG's shot down for the loss of one F9F.

I really enjoyed this game and will be running another one tomorrow if I can squeeze it in. I think this is a great little system with lots of depth and playability, despite being only a very concise set of rules. It is also ideal for solo play, as it has an IGOUGO structure which allows for one side to complete all of its moves an attacks before the other side, with the exception of snap shots. I don't usually like this way of doing things but it works very well here and makes it very easy to manage for one player. I also like the way each set of rules is neatly adjusted to the specific conflict involved, which gives it a lot of historical flavour. Great fun!

Friday 29 October 2021

The Battle of Arica Game Report


I played the Battle of Arica scenario for Dahlgren and Columbiad this evening, which ended in a minor Chilean victory and a Peruvian bloody nose, although the latter did force the Huascar to withdraw by the end of the game. In Turn 1 the Huascar steamed toward the two advancing Peruvian warships as they moved out of the roadstead to intercept the Chilean ironclad. The spar torpedo boat Alianza made a plucky attack run on the Huascar but was immediately hit by her twin 8'' rifles causing heavy damage. 

Not to be deterred, the Alianza sped forward in Turn 2 in an attempt to torpedo the Huascar but was hit again, although this time causing only light damage and jammed steering. However, as Huascar steamed past she opened up with her mast mounted Gatling Gun, raking the plucky torpedo boat from stem to stern and causing her to sink with a D6 dice roll of 6. The Manco Capac meanwhile steamed on at a snails pace to close the range with the Huascar.

In Turn 3 both of the ironclads traded shots but caused only harassing fire, as they began to circle one another at ever closer range. This continued into Turn 4 as the San Jose and Santa Rosa batteries also joined in, firing on the approaching Huascar at long range to no effect. In Turn 5 Huascar scored a hit and light damage on Manco Capac, with her hull badly dented, reducing her defensive factor to 2. The Santa Rosa battery kept firing but missed while the Manco Capac also failed to score any hits.

In Turn 6 and 7 the ironclads continued to spar at close range, with the Huascar managing to inflict harassing fire on the Manco Capac but little else, while the Peruvian monitor consistently fluffed her gunnery to miss in both turns. In Turn 8, however, the Huascar landed another hit with light damage, temporarily jamming the steering of the Manco Capac. Satisfied that honour had been served, the Huascar now began a fighting withdrawal, heading out to sea while the Manco Capac struggled to keep up with her top speed of 3cm half that of the Chilean ironclad.

In Turn 9 and 10, the Huascar managed to get away although the Manco Capac pushed her boilers to the limit, eventually to close to within 5'' of her Chilean adversary. In a final parting shot before exiting the table, the Huascar turned and fired a close range blast from her twin 9'' rifles, hitting the Manco Capac again and once again jamming her steering. The commander of the Manco Capac, Captain Lagomarsino, had done enough and decided that the Huascar had been shown the door, so it was time to limp back to Arica for repairs.

I decided that the scenario ended on Turn 10, as it was a very evenly matched battle which could have been won by the Chileans were it not for the heavy armour of the Peruvian monitor. If the game had continued there was a fair chance that the Huascar could have inflicted heavy damage on the Manco Capac but it would have been a slog for both sides to achieve a complete victory. I have added a time limit to the scenario as a result and downgraded the Peruvians victory conditions to heavy damage too, so that it would be possible for either side to win.

In the end, both sides could claim a tactical victory, with the Chileans suffering no damage and sinking the Alianza, while at the same time inflicting three light damage hits on the Manco Capac. On the other hand, the Peruvians did force the Huascar to withdraw, which was their overall strategic objective, although it was a very marginal claim as the Huascar was more than capable of a repeat performance. If only the Manco Capac had rolled better dice or the Alianza had succeeded in her spar torpedo attack!

(once again, apologies for the rubbish photos!)

Finest Hour No27 Squadron Reserve Pilots

Sgt Fraser, P/O Ramsay, Sgt Jarvis, F/O Hamilton

Here are the four reserve pilots for the Finest Hour campaign, who will be on standby for sorties when the pilots currently assigned to flying duties are not available.

Sergeant Pilot J. ‘Jock’ Fraser

Age 25. From Halifax, Nova Scotia. A drifter. Spent time as fisherman, lumberjack, construction worker and merchant sailor. Enlisted after jumping ship in October 1939. No27 Squadron is his first posting. Sprog.

Sergeant Pilot P.F. Jarvis

Age 23. From Lincoln, Lincolnshire. Former gamekeeper. Enlisted in September 1939. Selected for pilot training due to his marksmanship. No27 Squadron is his first posting. Sprog.

Pilot Officer H.K. Ramsay

Age 22. From Newcastle, Northumberland. Former laboratory technician. Enlisted in October 1939 alongside his brother, a navigator on Whitley bombers. No27 Squadron is his first posting. Sprog.

Flying Officer D.E. Hamilton

Age 30. From Bristol, Somerset. A pre-war regular RAF pilot. Enlisted in June 1932. A confident and able pilot. Did not take part in Battle of France due to pilot training duties in Scotland, from which he has just been transferred to No27 Squadron. No combat experience. Regular.

Painting and Decorating

I'm tied down with DIY at the moment, with the only painting being done on the bedroom walls rather my 1/2400 Napoleonic warships. I'm hoping to get most of the decorating finished by the weekend, however, at which point I can crack on with the sails and masts, working my way from top to bottom to get the French fleet underway.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Finest Hour No27 Squadron Pilot Roster


Here's the biographical background for the pilots of No27 Squadron, based on the stuff I've already rolled up and some lateral thinking. It's an interesting mix but I think not atypical of an RAF fighter squadron in July 1940. I will sort out the reserve pilots as and when I need them.

‘A’ Flight Red Section

Red Leader

Squadron Leader J.F. ‘Prof’ Thompson

Age 38. From Shaftesbury, Dorset. Modern History Don at Oxford University. Former Royal Auxiliary Air Force pilot. Studied in Berlin until 1938 where he witnessed the Nazi regime at first hand. Promoted to CO of 27 Squadron in May 1939. Claimed six E/A during Battle of France with 27 Squadron. Junior Ace

Red Two

Pilot Officer T.B. ‘Tubby’ Goodall

Age 22. From Preston, Lancashire. Postgraduate English student at Durham University. Enlisted in September 1939 when war declared. A competent pilot. Flew in Battle of France with 27 Squadron but spent most of the time in reserve. Regular.

Red Three

Sergeant Pilot P. ‘Micky’ Flynn.

Age 25. From Belfast, North Ireland. Former shipyard electrician. Forced out of his job at Harland and Wolff in 1938 and blames anti-Catholic prejudice for his situation. Enlisted in RAF in October 1939. Selected for pilot training due to his natural aptitude and attention to detail. 27 Squadron is his first posting. Sprog.

‘A’ Flight Yellow Section

Yellow Leader

Flight Lieutenant H.M Baker

Age 27. From Greater Manchester. Former bank clerk. Enlisted in RAF in May 1936 as bored with his job. Keeps himself to himself. Not popular in the mess due to his sullen attitude but an experienced and able pilot. Flew in Battle of France where he shot down one E/A. Veteran.

Yellow Two

Pilot Officer E.D. ‘Ginger’ Fox.

Age 21. From Alnwick, Northumberland. Undergraduate medical student at Edinburgh University. Very bright. Just finished pilot training. Sprog.

Yellow Three

Flight Sergeant H. ‘Spanner’ Higgins.

Age 24. From Coventry, West Midlands. Former mechanic. Just married. Enlisted in June 1938. A solid pilot. Enjoys spending time with the riggers and fitters. Assigned training duties during Battle of France. Regular.

‘B’ Flight Blue Section

Blue Leader

Flight Lieutenant R.H. ‘Taffy’ Stainton

Age 33. From Caernarvon, North Wales. Pre-war regular RAF pilot. Joined as ‘Trenchard Brat’ in January 1927. Commissioned in May 1933. An experienced, able pilot and flight leader. Flew in France with 27 Squadron and claimed two E/A destroyed, before being shot down himself. Veteran.

Blue Two

Flying Officer D.M. Hobbs

Age 34. From Dundee, Scotland. A pre-war regular RAF pilot. Enlisted in June 1925 after studying engineering at Glasgow University. An experienced pilot but not popular in the mess due to his habit of never repaying his debts. Passed over for promotion to flight leader. Did not take part in Battle of France due to hospital operation after flying accident. Veteran.

Blue Three

Pilot Officer J.F. ‘Johnny’ Parks

Age 21. From Norwich, Norfolk. An undergraduate modern art student at St Martin’s School of Art, London. A talented artist and popular in the mess but an average pilot, having scraped through training. Sprog.

‘B’ Flight Green Section

Green Leader

Pilot Officer J.M. Hart Wells Esq.

Age 26. From Kensington, London. An Old Etonian. Pre-war racing driver, playboy and private pilot. Commissioned in April 1938 in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. A recent transfer to 27 Squadron and promotion to flight leader over more qualified pilots, due to his extensive flying experience and ‘old school tie’ connections in the Air Ministry. Limited combat experience over Dunkirk with his former squadron. Regular.

Green Two

Flight Sergeant D. ‘Mutton’ Murray

Age 23. From Auckland, New Zealand. A former sheep farmer. Enlisted in November 1939 after his twin brother was killed when his merchant ship was torpedoed by a U-Boat. Hates the Nazis and not too keen on upper class 'poms' either. Flew in the Battle of France where he claimed three E/A destroyed, one by deliberate ramming after his ammunition feed jammed. Veteran.

Green Three

Sergeant Pilot R.T. ‘Dicky’ Saunders

Age 24. From Wimbledon, London. A former actor on the West End stage. Enlisted in October 1939 on the spur of the moment after a particularly bad review. 27 Squadron is his first posting after advanced training. A competent but anxious pilot. Sprog.

Finest Hour Squadron Identities

I've tweaked the characters and skill ratings for No27 Squadron, after I realised that I had forgotten the dice roll modifiers for the first phase of the battle and had rolled unusually high, leading to too many high calibre pilots and aces. The re-rolled skill levels are now much more realistic, so I've gone a bit further and have assigned names for the pilots in each flight. There's a few characters to develop here including a charismatic and intelligent CO, a disgruntled Irishman, a laid back but dedicated Flight Lieutenant, an upper class old Etonian and a Kiwi sheep farmer with an axe to grind, amongst others. I'll get on to the backgrounds for each pilot later on but this is a very good start.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Finest Hour Squadron Personalities

I had an idea to use the personality generation tables in Nordic Weasel's No End in Sight skirmish rules to create some backgrounds for the pilots of No27 Squadron, RAF. This is a similar system to the one in Joe Legan's Squadron Forward but with a little bit more flexibility and variety in terms of character motivation, leadership style and personality traits. I really like Ivan's approach to this sort of thing, so it made a lot of sense to use his system for Bag the Hun.

I allowed myself a little bit of wiggle room so that the characteristics I rolled up on a D100 matched the skill levels of the pilots that I created using the Finest Hour tables, but this was kept to an absolute minimum and wasn't really needed apart from the initial background roll. Anyway, here's the end result for the pilots currently assigned to flying duties, with more work to do to devise names and some detail to their respective stories. 

Battle of Arica Scenario Terrain Set Up

I set up the terrain for the War of the Pacific game tomorrow to see what it looked like and how it would fit onto the confines of the kitchen table. The dining room table is buried in paperwork so I've been forced to use the smaller kitchen one, which only measures about two and half by four foot. To make the terrain fit I've rotated the area by ninety degrees so that the long edge forms the coastline rather than the short edge. As I'll be using inches for gunnery and centimetres for movement again, I think this will still work and will bring both sides to blows pretty quickly, which can't be a bad thing for a fast play set of rules! The town of Arica is missing along with the 2 de Mayo gun battery and the Morro de Arica should be much higher than the surrounding coastline, but for a quick game it will do.

Battle of Arica D+G Ship Sheets


I am gearing up to play the Battle of Arica scenario with the Dahlgren and Columbiad fast play ironclad rules tomorrow, so have put together some ship record sheets for the Chilean and Peruvian forces involved, including the turret ironclad Huascar, the monitor Manco Capac and the spar torpedo boat Alianza. The coastal fortifications will be a bit of a compromise, as I only have three gun battery models to use instead of the required four, but I don't think that will matter too much in term of the scenario outcome. Here's the scenario in case you missed it:


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