Saturday 31 December 2022

Flames Above the Falklands - La Muerte Negra!

I mentioned yesterday that I had painted both sides for Wings at War Flames Above the Falklands but had not got round to actually playing a game. So, this afternoon I decided to set up a quick 'pick up and play' game to learn the rules and to actually make use of the models I've painted. I haven't sorted out any terrain, helicopters or ground targets yet, so this game was a simple air to air clash.



The basic scenario was an interception by two Sea Harriers on CAP of a pair of IAI Daggers, the latter on a low level bomb run to strike the frigate HMS Plymouth on picket duty. The Argentinians had no IR missiles, as they were carrying bombs but did have guns and afterburners, while the SHAR's were armed with AIM-9L all-aspect IR missiles, so it was really only going to go one way!


The game kicked off with the Sea Harriers moving first on an interception course with the Daggers, whose pilots wisely decided to split up, one heading East to decoy the RN pilots and the other heading South East to work around toward HMS Plymouth. 



The SHAR pilots also decided to split up, however, with each picking a different Dagger to attack. The first SHAR moved to within 10cm of the first Dagger and launched a Sidewinder, which hit but only damaged the Dagger causing it to jettison it's bomb load. 




The two aircraft then fired close-range snap shots at each other, with neither scoring any hits but both resulting in low ammo. The second SHAR meanwhile moved to cut off the second Dagger but was just out of range for a missile attack at the end of the move. 




In the following turn, the first SHAR pulled a tight turn and got on the tail of the damaged Dagger, launching the last AIM-9L and blowing it out of the sky. The other SHAR also moved to intercept the second Dagger and destroyed it with another AIM-9L shot, blowing it to pieces with a roll of 6. 

The game ended in a complete British victory, which is what I expected and not a surprise, but it was good fun and I enjoyed it in spades. I'll hopefully get another game in tomorrow but will give the Argentinians four Daggers rather than two, which should make life a lot more difficult for 'La Muerte Negra'. 

Have a great New Year and thank you for following Jim's Wargames Workbench in 2022!

Friday 30 December 2022

2022...Where did that go?

 

Well that was a bit of a damp squib in wargaming terms, although I did achieve some of the things I set out to do this time last year. On the plus side, I completed two 2mm armies for Strength and Honour - Parthians and Imperial Romans, two 1/700th scale modern FAC flotillas for an imaginations naval project using Bulldogs Away!, both the Argentinian and British air forces in 1/600th for Flames Above the Falklands, four 1/72nd scale Spad XIII scouts and four Fokker Dr1 triplanes for Knights of the Sky, a Chilean pre-dreadnought squadron in 1/2400th for Broadside and Salvo and last but not least an early war Italian naval task force in 1/3000th scale for Find, Fix and Strike. 

On the downside, I got within spitting distance of completing the RFC and German aircraft in 1/600th scale for both Algernon Pulls It Off and Duel of Aces, bit didn't get round to adding the decals, so a job not done. I also dismally failed to get my Finest Hour campaign off the ground, again in 1/600th scale, despite preparing lots of 1/600th scale planes and doing all the background paperwork. The Argentinian pre-dreadnoughts and the American fleet are still in drydock or sitting on the workbench too. I also failed to do quite a lot of the other things on my 'to do' list, getting side tracked off in different directions on several occasions.

In terms of games, it's also been a bit of a non-starter, with hardly any trips to the local club and only a few solo games at home. I did play a solo game of AK47, several ironclad games with Dahlgren and Columbiad, Broadside and Ram or Dawn of Iron, one or two games of Wings at War MiG Alley and a small handful of club games including Cruel Seas and Knights of the Sky, but otherwise its been a bit of a poor show. I didn't even use any of my newly painted forces, not even once! One thing I did do, however, is devise and play a series of really enjoyable counter-factual 1939 naval games between my Italian and French fleets over the summer holidays, which I really enjoyed. 

Perhaps one consolation for this non-event of a year has been setting up two pretty successful and popular Facebook groups, one for AK47 and the other for Wings at War. These have really taken off and I am now able to take a 'hands off' approach to both groups, as they seem to run themselves after a few minor speed bumps. In some ways, I am reticent about Facebook as a focus for wargaming, as it seems to dominate everything these days, squeezing out blogs and websites to the detriment of the hobby, as far as I am concerned. It just can't be ignored, however hard I've tried in the past to distance myself from it, so if you can't beat them I guess you just have to join in?

So, its on to 2023! I hope it's a more productive and enjoyable year?

Thursday 29 December 2022

RFC Nieuport 17

 


I got back home from France yesterday, so have been doing some catching up, finishing off a few things and tying up loose ends. This Esci Nieuport 17 was originally painted as an Imperial Russian aircraft in light grey but I repainted it a couple of years ago in RFC silver dope. At the time I was happy with that but, as the tailplane was still black and there was no wing mounted Lewis gun, I decided today to sort it out properly. I added a spare Aeroclub Lewis gun and scratch built a Foster mount out of spare parts, painted over the tail in three colour stripes and added a spare serial number decal on either side. Nothing too tricky but it looks much more like an RFC Nieuport now. Jobs a good'un!

Back of Beyond British Air Support

 


I found one of these old Aurora 1/48th scale kits on eBay for a fair asking price yesterday, so now have two of them as air support for a potential British expeditionary column in the Back of Beyond. The British Indian army list is the only one to include up to two aircraft, so mine will be used to represent DH-9a light bombers, which were very common in India and the Middle East. With some Copplestone aircrew they should look really good.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Thank You Flight Deck Decals Dan!

 

A few days ago I posted a query about decals for the Burkina Faso aircraft in the Agacher Strip war on the Wings at War FB group, asking for advice about how to make some of my own for the Merry Xmas Mr Sankara campaign. Lo and behold, Dan from Flight Deck Decals popped up and offered to make some for me, if I could wait a bit as he was quite busy. This was a very generous offer and I immediately jumped on it, so I was even more chuffed when he posted on the FB group today to tell me that he'd made up a sheet including not only the Burkina Faso decals but the Malian ones too and, on top of that, all the bort and serial numbers as well! Flipping heck! What a star! I've shot off my order today and I'm really looking forward to Mr Postie delivering the envelope in a few weeks (months at the current rate) time. Thanks Dan!

Three Aces Scenario

 

After all that effort to devise a fictitious Luftwaffe fighter squadron for the Battle of Britain Finest Hour project, I've decided not to use it for the club game in a couple of weeks, instead running one of the scenarios from the Red Star Rampant article instead. This is the 'Three Aces' scenario, which has three Japanese aces in obsolete Ki-10 biplane fighters, taking on a full squadron of I-16's on 2nd September 1939, right at end of the Khalkhin Gol incident. I have played this one myself but haven't used it for a club game, so thought it would be a good option and would allow me to spend the last bit of the holidays on something more interesting than scenario writing. The only thing I've had to do is work up some aircraft record sheets using my template, as this is better than a single squadron record sheet when you have multiple players rather than just one or two. It's a bit of a different scenario and I really enjoyed it when I played it solo, so I'm hoping the club players will too.

Finest Hour 7/JG31 Boelcke Pilots

 

Here are the pilots of the 7/JG31 Boelcke, rolled up for my Finest Hour solo campaign and for the club game in a couple of weeks.

Schwarm I

Staffelkapitan / Scwharmfuhrer

ObLt Wolfgang Schubel (Junior Ace)

Age 28, From a comfortable middle-class family in Hamburg. A veteran of the Condor Legion, where he shot down six enemy aircraft. A committed anti-Nazi and career officer. He's respected by his men as a no-nonsense, 'by the book' professional.

Rotteman

Lt Luther Feldt (Sprog)

Age 20. From Magdeburg in Saxony. His father flew with Von Richtofen in WW1. Inspired by a sense of duty and his father's wartime stories to join the Luftwaffe after his studies at technical school. He's popular in the squadron but has a reputation as a bit of a lady's man.

Rottefuhrer

Lt Hans Schroder (Regular)

Age 24. From Berlin, where his family owns a furniture business. He just wants to survive as long as he can without having to take any unnecessary risks. Although well-liked and a proficient pilot, he has a reputation for being a bit work-shy.

Rotteman

Uffz Paul Pfeiffer (Regular)

Age 22. From the Saarbrucken. Son of a coal miner. A good pilot with a strong sense of duty to his unit, he is nonetheless indifferent to the war effort.

Schwarm II

Scwharmfuhrer

Lt Joachim Buchel (Veteran)

Age 27. From Augsburg in Bavaria. From a military family, with two brothers in the army. He is a 'glory hunter' and has a reputation for being argumentative, especially when his idealistic ideas about the war are challenged. A professional and very skilled pilot, he is not popular amongst the squadron pilots or ground crew, due to his notoriously bad temper, which may explain why he has been passed over for promotion.

Rotteman

Lt Ulrich Stengel (Regular)

Age 22. From Berlin. Before the war he worked in a number of bank and office jobs but couldn't settle down, so joined up to escape the tedium of life in the financial sector. He is a reliable and professional officer, well-liked by his fellow pilots.

Rottefuhrer

Lt Robert Ziegler (Regular)

Age 23. From Erfurt. A pre-war pianist in a concert orchestra, he is a daydreamer with a keen sense of adventure. A solid pilot, he is respected by his comrades as a great entertainer, especially at the keys of the mess piano where he loves to play jazz, even though it's not permitted. 

Rotteman

Fw Matthias Kriesel (Regular) 

Age 19. From Dusseldorf. From a working class background, his father was a communist trade union activist, arrested by the Gestapo in 1934 and sent to a labour camp. He hates the Nazis but is a fatalist, realizing that there is nothing he can do about his father's fate. A proficient pilot, he has a reputation for surliness and for being a bit of a loner.

Scwharm III

Schwarmfuhrer

ObLt Max Von Lippert (Veteran)

Age 27. From Konigsberg. An aristocrat from an old East Prussian noble family, he is an excellent pilot and highly respected by his fellow officers. He is known for his hatred of communism but is also a confirmed anti-Nazi, although keeping his political ideas firmly to himself. He is a 'hands off' leader, preferring to let his pilots learn from their own mistakes. 

Rotteman

Fw Andreas Wepper (Sprog)

Age 19, From Munich. A university student studying art, he dropped out of his course to join the Luftwaffe and to learn to fly. He dreams of becoming a fighter ace and is desperate to score his first kill. A live wire in the mess, he has a reputation as a whippersnapper who can't hold his drink. 

Rottefuhrer 

Lt Hans Loffler (Junior Ace)

Age 21. From the Black Forest in Bavaria. Son of a minor landowner, he was brought up on the family estate, where he learned to shoot from a young age. A superb marksman, he downed five enemy aircraft in the Battle of France. He is determined to gain more victories but downplays his achievements. He has a reputation in the mess for his sense of fair play and for a friendly rivalry with his fellow officers.

Rotteman

Lt Walter Pracht (Regular)

Age 30. From Mainz. A pre-war salesman for a technical firm before joining the Luftwaffe in 1936. The 'old man' of the squadron but a true professional, he is known for his patriotic beliefs and sense of duty.  A good pilot and respected by his fellow officers.

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Operation Fuller

 

I was doing some reading in the hunt for Whirlwind scenarios today, when I found what could be a cracker. This was a sortie by four Whirlwinds of Yellow Section No137 Squadron on 12th February 1942, ostensibly to escort a flotilla of RN destroyers but, in reality, an accidental clash with no less than twenty Bf-109F fighters of III/JG2. These were part of the fighter escort for the Channel Dash, which the RAF pilots knew nothing about. In the ensuing dogfight, two of the Whirlwinds were shot down and the other two badly damaged. There's lots of potential here for a really challenging game, so I'll get scribbling and see what I can come up with.

Monday 26 December 2022

7/JG31 Squadron Pilots

I spent some time over Xmas rolling up the pilot characters for 7/JG31 Boelcke, my fictitious squadron in the Bag the Hun Finest Hour campaign. To do this I once again used the personality generation system from No End In Sight, with a few tweaks, so that each pilot had some background details. The idea behind this is to add a bit of a roleplaying element to the campaign but also to give players in the next club game a bit of extra gloss to the scenarios. I may or may not start this solo campaign in the next couple of months, as I have other things to do and not much time to spare, but it's a good place to start.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Happy Christmas

 





As we spend Xmas with the in laws, we don't open our presents until we get back home, apart from a few stocking fillers. This year I know what I'm getting from my family in advance, a copy of Lion Rampant 2nd Edition and Never Mind The Billhooks Deluxe, plus some Perry Miniatures 100 Years War box sets and command figures. Very nice! I wonder what my big workbench project for 2023 is going to be? Have a great Xmas Day!


Saturday 24 December 2022

Friday 23 December 2022

Bag the Hun Plan B


If I don't get my act together to run the Battle of Britain Finest Hour scenarios at the club in January, I was going to fall back on my Japanese and Soviet Khlakhin Gol option, but instead I'm now thinking of running another 1/285th scale mid-war RAF Vs Luftwaffe game.

This was inspired by some fantastic art work I discovered today by a French artist, Antoine Crespin, whose style and subject matter is very similar to Romain Hugault, although with fewer pin ups! It's also an obvious choice, as I have the aircraft models and cards already prepared, assuming I just do a re-run of Sinker Saves the Day.

I'm tempted to have a crack at a new scenario, however, based on some research I did a few years ago into an escort mission in April 1943 by six No146 Squadron Spitfire V's for three No238 Squadron Whirlwinds. Nothing actually happened on that sortie but my scenario would see the RAF attacked by JG2 fighters, leading to a proper scrap over the Channel Islands. 

It's a bit sketchy and I'll need to reference my original notes but there's a game in there somewhere!

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Merry Xmas Bonus Mr Sankara


I've been reviewing my project plans for next year, with my air wargaming scaled back to things that I've started but need to complete or things that I didn't get round to in 2022. One of the latter is the Agacher Strip War solo campaign using Nick Jones' excellent Merry Xmas, Mr Sankara system. 

I mentioned this on the Wings at War FB group, with a specific query about decals for Burkina Faso, which is the only thing I need to get the project off to a flying start. I'm really pleased to say that Dan Arute of Flight Deck Decals has now offered to make a sheet for Burkina Faso, as he already has done for Mali. 

This is excellent news and means that I can now move this project from the feasible to the definite 'to do' list for next year. 

Thanks Dan 👍

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Magasin de Presse




Three really good magazines today, especially the copy of Los! which includes an excellent article on German destroyers, one on the Pacific Fleet Air Arm and another on the Spanish American War, all of which are on my wargaming radar. The French really do have some superb journals!

Monday 19 December 2022

Mad for War


I'm really looking forward to my pre-order copy of Mad for War, which I have placed today and is scheduled to turn up in January, possibly in time for my birthday. It's not cheap but, considering what you get and the quality of the product, it's definitely well worth the expense. It's actually really good value for a hard back set of rules and in line with similar products, so an absolute bargain. Needless to say, this will be one of my naval projects for 2023, in fact probably topping the 'to do' list, both in 1/2400th scale for starters but also in 1/1200th scale for ship to ship, duelling actions. Bravo Barry!

Sunday 18 December 2022

AK47 Facebook Group Update

 

Back in May this year I decided to set up a Facebook group for the AK47 Republic rules. This was a very popular move and with some gratuitous PR stunts and eye catching stuff like the picture above, it soon picked up a strong following, so much so that I decided to step aside and let others run the show. 

This worked for a while but recently there have been a few management issues, so I was asked to return to my role as admin to smooth over the cracks. So, all of a sudden, I'm back as the AK47 group admin, ably assisted by a slightly tweaked admin team. 

It's not a 'coup d'etat" by any means but we've had to be quite firm to get the group back on an even keel. Hopefully, things will settle down now and the group will continue to thrive. Anyway, it also means I really should get a few games in, as well as some new units or terrain in 2023.

Saturday 17 December 2022

Blueprint for Victory


I've had this book for a while but had only dipped into it until now, when I have some decent holiday time to read it properly. It's actually a very good overview of the development of RFC and RNAS doctrine from 1900 to 1919, including the design and deployment of different aircraft, aerial strategy and approaches to tactical problems. It's also very readable and hard to put down. Highly recommended!

Thursday 15 December 2022

Argentinian Coastal Battleships

 


The two pre-dreadnought Argentinian coastal battleships, Independencia and Libertad, have now been added to the Tumbling Dice range, so my squadron will soon have some additional firepower. While classified as riverine battleships, these were more than capable of riverine action and would be deployed for defence of Argentinian claims to the Beagle Channel and Tierra Del Fuego, for example. Although comparatively small, lightly armed and armoured, these two pre-dreadnoughts will be very useful as a counter to the armoured cruisers and protected cruisers of the Chileans.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Fokker Fodder

Nice box art Airfix!

Be2c 

Be2e conversion potential!

I have recently acquired a couple of the Airfix Be2c kits via eBay for use in Knights of the Sky. This might seem a bit of a pointless exercise, given their reputation as unarmed 'Fokker Fodder', but I will be using one for 1916 games and the other as a conversion to a Be2e using a spare Re8 upper wing and struts. I'll also be arming mine with the rather nifty backward firing Lewis gun mount included in the kit, with the Be2e also having a forward firing Lewis gun, albeit with a very limited arc of fire. The kit options are both for home defence anti-zeppelin aircraft, but mine will be for reconnaissance sorties over the Western Front, so a very useful addition to the kit pile for potential scenarios. The kits are also really well-designed and will be a lot of fun to build.

Bag the Hun JG26 Historical Scenario Research



The fictional fighter unit that I've rolled up for the Bag the Hun Finest Hour campaign will be used when I am playing solo, taking the role of the Luftwaffe in the scenarios I will play out at home, as well as being used for some club games. However, for historical scenarios I will be using the Bf-109E models to represent the 7th Staffel of III/JG26, which will display identical insignia and white lettering. To explore the potential scenario possibilities, I'm going to be doing some historical background reading over the holidays, with these two books by the acknowledged expert on the subject as my starting point. 

Monday 12 December 2022

Finest Hour Fictional Luftwaffe Staffel

For the Bag the Hun game in January, I'm planning to set up a simple fighter vs fighter encounter, using the scenario generation mechanism in the Finest Hour campaign rules. I've selected two options, either a 'Is Bounced By' game with the RAF being ambushed, or a 'Scrambled to Intercept' game, although I may well have both, one after the other so that the new players get a good chance to learn the system.

Either way, I need a Luftwaffe Staffel to be worked out as the opposition for my system generated, semi- fictional RAF Hurricane unit, No27 Squadron, which I have fleshed out with pilot backgrounds, skill ratings and so on. My initial idea was to use the system in Finest Hour to roll up an actual unit, which gave me the famous 7 Staffel or III Gruppe, JG26. 

This was a top-scoring, highly experienced squadron with several ace pilots by the end of the Battle of Britain, not to mention Spanish Civil War veterans. While a very exciting prospect for the Luftwaffe players, I thought this might be a bit too daunting for the relatively normal pilots of the RAF, so I went back to the drawing board and devised another fictional unit in line with No27 Squadron.

I'm still working on the finer details but in essence, I now have 7 Staffel of III Gruppe, JG31 Boelcke as my Luftwaffe squadron. Its home airfield is Caffiers in the Luftflotte 2 area of operations. It is equipped with fifteen serviceable Bf-109e fighters and a squadron strength of thirteen pilots, all generated by the Finest Hour mechanisms with a little bit of a tweak. 

The commanding officer is a Junior Ace but most of the pilots are Regulars, with a couple of Veterans and Sprogs to balance things out. I've also devised a variation on the Pilot Rank Generator for the Luftwaffe, which has enabled me to pin down the different ranks within each 'schwarm' in a reasonably realistic way. It goes like this:

Roll 1D6 

Staffel Leaders (Aces -1): 

1-2 = Hauptmann 

4-6 = Oberleutnant

All other pilots (Aces -2 / Veterans -1 / Sprogs +1)

1-3 = Leutnant

4 = Oberfeldwebel

5 = Feldwebel

6 = Unteroffizier

(I've not included the Stabschwarm rankings but it would be easy to work something out for that)

Sunday 11 December 2022

Bag the Hun January Game

 

It's way too cold in the garage for any painting today, so instead I've been planning another game of Bag the Hun for the club in January. This will probably be a Battle of Britain scenario using my new 1/600th scale Hurricanes and Bf-109's which only need the decals added to be ready for a sortie. I will also aim to finish painting the He-111's that I started on a few months ago, as this will tick off a few more boxes for the stalled Finest Hour project. If that doesn't happen, I have a Plan B option of some more Khalkhin Gol / Nonomhan action, setting up one of the scenarios from the Lard Magazine article last year, or perhaps a different scenario entirely using the Polish aircraft that I recently acquired for 1939. Tally Ho!

Saturday 10 December 2022

AK47 Convoy

 

I found this lot of old Matchbox and Corgi toy trucks in the local charity shop for 50p each to this afternoon. A couple of the them will end up as technicals but the rest I'll use for a UN convoy or as transport vehicles for militia units, complete with drop in passenger bases. 

There aren't any specific rules for convoys in the original AK47 rules, unlike the reloaded version where they are liability units, but I think I could come up with something, especially for a peacekeeping force where it could be a really interesting addition as a compulsory unit or even a sixth 'unarmed militia' type unit. 

Heller (Airfix) Roland CII

For the game in a couple of months, I'm building four of the old Airfix Roland CII kits, which should be a lot of fun, having built one before and really enjoyed it. The kits are actually the Heller re-issue but otherwise identical, even down to the decals and insignia, although mine will be painted as later models with green and brown camouflage on the upper surfaces. 


The kit is an easy assembly job, as there are no struts to contend with and the fuselage is a monocoque design, the only fiddly bit being the slightly fragile undercarriage which is easy to misalign. I'll also be replacing the not very detailed machine guns with some Aeroclub white metal ones that I've managed to get hold of via eBay, and swapping out the rear gunners to add some variety to the crew.

The Roland CII is a tough nut to crack for the opposition in Knights of the Sky, as it is very robust and can take a lot of damage, whilst being armed for all-round defensive fire. On the downside, it's not that fast or agile but can still hold it's own against the DH2, which will be the opposition in the scenario, if not the much more nimble Nieuport 17. I'll get cracking on the kits after the holidays.

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