Gulf Clash

Marcus eschews the beach and goes Top Gun instead.

We recently decided to have a virtual club meeting, and I decided that I might play “Full Thrust” or an aerial war game with my sons. However, they proved ambivalent on the day, preferring the beach…

Now, I do have a beautiful mountain mat from Deep Cut Studios intended for Korea. I think it may also work for Indo-Pakistan and possibly Iran-Iraq along the northern Iranian border, but at 6 x 4 it is just too big for my current table.

Since it is a plush rubber backed version I can’t hang it over the sides either. Until I find a solution, I unrolled my reversible, home-made sea/space mat, which I thought could serve as the Persian Gulf (that’s the sea side above).

I have long been interested in the Iran-Iraq War. Perhaps there is something about history that happens in your own lifetime. Now more than ever, I am far more interested in the Cold War than any other period, although I have only really ever gamed it at sea and in the air. I had painted up some aircraft for Iran-Iraq a year or so ago having read the superb “Iran-Iraq War In The Air” by Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop. I decided this was now the time to bring them to the (3 x 5) table, where the mat could hang over the edge.

As for rules, I have been waiting a while for further editions of the Check Your 6 Jet Age campaign books, which promise Iran-Iraq sometime.

However, I must confess that I haven’t played CY6 yet, despite having a few of the Jet Age books. I have played the Tumbling Dice Wings At War rules however. I have tried Thud Ridge and had tried a home brew Arab-Israeli variant a while back. Given that the F4 is featured in Thud Ridge, along with the F5 and MiG-21, I thought that gave me a rough baseline, although in the end, the F5s didn’t get on and I don’t have any Iraqi MiG-21s.

Wings at War uses a deceptively simple energy/action system. You must use all your generated action points through the turn. The actions you use affects your “energy” subtracting or adding to your turn start action point. The net result gives the action point total for the next turn. The majority of my aircraft are from Tumbling Dice, and all of those used in this game.

The figures in the table were a rough guess after a bit of further research. I think the Mirage is a bit low on countermeasures and I am not sure if the MiG 23 is a bit too well rated. The MiG-25 unfortunately never made it onto the table with an ace pilot.

I should mention that in Wings At War Thud Ridge, there is a column for afterburner and height. All the aircraft has an afterburner and I didn’t think I needed a maximum height. I added some adaptations cribbed from the “Phantoms” system, which is based on the Avalon Hill game “Mustangs” but I think also owes a debt to Avalon Hill’s “Flight Leader”, notably around the missile and gunfire templates. I therefore added a Radar and countermeasures (C/M) column.

I seemed to recall reading that on introducing the Mirage F1EQ, the Iraqis had tried making attacks on the Iranian F14s by making a low approach and climbing from underneath to find a firing position. My hazy recollection lead me to deploy a pair of F14s armed with Sparrow (radar homing – RH) and Sidewinder (heat seeking – HS) missiles against a pair of F1EQs, with one Super 530 (RH) and two Matra Magic (HS) missiles.

I rolled the Iranians coming in from the east at height 3 (one ace and one experienced – the Iranians were much better trained), and the Mirages from the west at height 2 (one experienced and one green). I also had a system for rolling reinforcements. At the end of each turn I rolled a D6 for each side. if the roll exceeded the number of aircraft on the table, I rolled for the type of aircraft to come on.
A word of note on the photos. The green dots on the Mirages indicate the inexperienced pilots. The blue dot on the F14 indicates the ace.

Turn 1
The Iranians came in and went onto a shallow dive to height 2 having detected the Iraqi Mirages. The Mirages also detected the Iranians and the leader launched his Super 530, which the Iranians failed to avoid and which damaged the Tomcat to give the Iraqis an early advantage. The Iraqis rolled for another Mirage flight.

Turn 2
The Iranians again had the first move, detecting the second Mirage and both F14s fired Sparrows. The leaders Sparrow failed to launch, possibly as a result of the earlier damage. The wingman successfully launched, but the target evaded. The Mirage leader dived for the deck, but his wingman went for an optimistic (and unsuccessful) head on shot at the incoming F14 wingman before following his leader down. The second pair of Mirages at height 3 dived to level 1 also.

Turn 3
The first Iraqi element tight turned to the north and west. Iranian reinforcements, a pair of F4s now entered from the east. The F4s detected the second Iraqi element. A sparrow destroyed the Iraqi leader and another damaged his wingman. Both Tomcats pull a tight turn, but it is the damaged leader who lines up for a Sparrow shot. This time he launches successfully, but it misses. His prospective target, the lone Mirage has spotted the F4s and climbed to height 3.

Turn 4
The first Mirage group turns to face the F4s, who attempt another Sparrow launch, but this fails. The Iranian leader tries to launch another Sparrow, but fails again. That damage is playing havoc with his electrics!

Turn 5
The F14s move first and the leader now goes for a heat seeking sidewinder shot, but misses! The Mirage pair turns after the F4s, but can’t get on their tails and pass them as the Mirages head west. The F4s heading north will try to turn after them…

Turn 6
The damaged Iraqi Mirage turns east with the F4s turning after it and the second Mirage group, who have pulled away after the F14 leader, who hasn’t spotted them. The Mirage leader launches a Magic heat seeker at close range and brings down the already damaged F14. However, the F14 wingman closes in behind the Mirage leader and destroys him with a sidewinder.

Turn 7
The Iraqi’s wingman now attempts the same on the F14, but he evades the heat seeking magic, the F14 then turns south and dog-legs for home on afterburner. The F4s try for a sparrow shot and the leader launches successfully. He gets a hit but only damages the retreating Mirage which also turns south on afterburner. His wingman picks up the second Mirage, but his sparrow fails to launch.

Quite an exciting last couple of turns, even playing solo. The Iranians lost one F14 with an ace pilot but the Iraqis lost two Mirages and a third damaged. Overall, the Iranians were more experienced, so the result isn’t too surprising. The rules worked reasonably for a cobbled together variant. There are some issues with playing Wings at War with a hex mat, as it isn’t designed for one, but I managed to get around those (you definitely need to add a sideslip maneuver!). The chrome add-ons worked pretty well, although I would have to codify them a bit for head to head play. I am tempted to read Cooper & Bishop again, and make a mini campaign out of it!

Now, I just need to finish off my Fleet Air Arm Phantoms and Buccaneers and I can do a Cold War gone hot in the North Atlantic 1972 scenario…more variants!

Virtually Meeting

Last Saturday, at Stephen’s suggestion, some club members held a ‘virtual’ club meeting; some played solo games or with family members at home, and three even managed to play a board game over Zoom. Here’s a round up of what went on.

Mark H, Mark J and Seán – Nightfighter
Mark H ran a three-player game over Zoom – he’s written it up fully in a separate report.

Marcus – Air Combat in the Gulf War
Marcus played a solo game of modern air combat using Wings at War; this will also be getting its own write-up soon.

Phil – Space Hulk
Phil broke out the new (ish) re-issue of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk with his eldest son; unpainted figures, really!

Stephen – Full Thrust
Stephen, whose idea this all was, went for some solo Full Thrust. Which just sounds all wrong…

Mark J – Kobolds and Cobblestones
Mark.2 played out a Fantasy rumble at the docks.

Tony F – Lord of the Rings
And finally, the webmaster played out a simple Lord of the Rings scenario (the one where Sean Bean/Boromir gets shot full of arrows defending Merry and Pippin).

Wargaming in the Pandemic – Playing Nightfighter over Zoom

As we currently have no meetings and gathering indoors is not possible, we have been starved of our wargames for 2 months!

We tried a game of GMT’s Nightfighter over Zoom.  The game uses some house scenarios that allow multiple players on the German side.  The main game map is enlarged and uses miniatures to substitute for counters.

There were four Ju88C-6 night fighters patrolling to intercept bombers over the targets.  These could be coned by the searchlights on the ground, spotted by the onboard radar, or spotted visually.

Here is the hidden umpire map showing the Lancaster position at close of play:

We played until a Lancaster was shot down.  Mark shot down ‘E for East’ after a four move duel.  The bomber spotted him before he attacked and got two rounds of fire, but failed to score a hit.

The Ju88 missed on the first pass from a poor position, then scored heavy damage on the second pass.

The Ju-88 mis-timed the third pass, but finished the target off on the final pass.

Sean had meanwhile homed in on a bomber with one of his Ju-88s, but ran out of time to shoot it down.

This was the game board at close of play:

A scan of the battle map was shared on Zoom with the players and annotated with the fighter positions, radar sightings and searchlight spots.

Game play is slowed, as moves have to be described sequentially, so the game would have worked faster with less planes controlled by one player with hindsight, but the board game hex playing surface does make a game over Zoom possible!  We may give it another go having worked out the snags.

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 3

De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron, part of the Light Night Striking Force. These delivered small high level raids as diversions from Main Force raids. They were unarmed and relied on their speed to escape interception.

The results for our third session are in.  This was to be a session dominated by Wild Boar attack over the city of Berlin,as fighters sought to attack bomber caught in the glare of the clouds illuminated by the searchlights below.  One of the JG commanders was absent due to sickness and another had temporarily lost use of his headquarters (aka house) so we were down to three players on the day .  Two players babysat for the missing players JagdGeschwader for their map moves.  Absent players do not affect the tactical combat results, as each player simply flies one plane.

The day began with the Me110s of NJG engaging the bomber stream over Berlin.  This unit was depleted, so the number of tactics was reduced.  3.NJG5 was also handicapped by having some relatively slow Me110F-4s among its Me110G-4s; these struggled to match the speed of the Lancaster at high altitude.  The action was something of a damp squib with no Lancasters engaged and the Me110F of Chris damaged by fire from the defending Berlin flak batteries.

After another map turn the bomber steam continued to move through the city and the German players now had a final chance for their units to engage the tail end of the bomber stream over the city searchlights.

First in were the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision 1.  Things looked up for Chris as he was first off the scoreboard the day, downing C for Charlie.  However, he did a bit too good a job as his fire detonated the bomb bay and his own fighter was consumed in the explosion!  Things took an even worse turn for the Germans as Tony’s 109 was shot down by an alert gunner on E for Easy.

Next up was Tony’s 3.NJG5 coming round for another go. Michael got involved in a running fight with, funnily enough M for Mike.  His first pass winged the Lancaster, but the defending gunners in turn damaged the attacking Me110.  However, Mike hung on and made another pass, sending the Lancaster down.  Tony now got into his stride with his pilot bagging first N for Nab, then K for King.

As the last of the bomber stream came in over the searchlights the Me110G-4s  of 1.NJG5 also belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision1 arrived over the city.  Tony continued on his combat roll by adding J2 for Jig squared to his total for the day.

The ever persistent 3.NJG5 now succeeded in infiltrating itself into the bomber stream as it left the city, becoming the first night fighter unit to do so.

With time up for the day and four tactical combats played out, the resolution of the Tame Boar attack was left for the next session.

At the end of session 3 the points scored were as follows:

Tony (1JD)                        +5             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +3 for Wild Boar attacks, +1 for Tame Boar infiltration, -2 for fighter shot down

Michael (2JD)                   0            +1 for Lancaster shot down, -1 for fighter damaged

Chris (7JD)                        -2             +1 for Lancaster shot down, -2 for fighter downed, -1 for fighter damaged by flak

Marcus (3JD)                     –             On leave

Bob (4JD)                             –           Unable to fly

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 1JD going into the team lead with 11 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                      +5         1 session played

Tony (1JD)                       +5        1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           2 sessions played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -3.5           2 sessions played

Worth saying that you score as follows:
Map points:
1 point for each successful interception on the map by a unit, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
1 point for identifying a main force raid or mosquito raid before air picture is clarified, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
Air to air combat points:
1 point for shooting down a four engined bomber
2 points for shooting down a Mosquito2 points lost if own nightfighter shot down
Damaged aircraft score half points, for and against.  Ties decided by number of bomber shot down.

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 2

We played out our second session of the campaign in April 2019 and as we have our third session at Next Saturday’s meeting it was high time to write it up!

The British were approaching their target and had been benefited by fog that had hampered the take-off of nightfighters from 1.Jagddivision, but the British umpire now played a weather change card as the main raid neared its target, which luckily cleared the ground in just the right area and replaced it with heavy cloud cover for the attacking bombers!

Me 110G-4s scramble – planes used in the campaign are all 1/600 Tumbling Dice with Dom’s Decals, from the Umpire’s collection

The first action resulted from a straggler interception of the main raid by the commander of 2.Jagddivision, Steve, which allowed him to vector in the Me110G-4s of III.NJG3 as the raid passed Rostock in a ‘Tame Boar’ attack.  In this type of attack each nightfighter followed the bomber stream using on-board radar to detect and close on targets.  The targets proved hard to find, but Dave detected and successfully shot down 1 straggling Lancaster, K for King.

Another night-fighter unit from 1.Jagddivision, commanded by Dave, now made the first successful infiltration of the main bomber stream.  The attacking unit was 2.NJG5, also equipped with Me110-G-4s, but it’s impact was reduced by having been scattered on take-off in foggy weather.  Not only did it fail to inflict any damage but one of the attacking fighters piloted by Andy was shot down by defensive fire when if homed in on it’s target, B for Baker.

ME 109G-6s scramble

The raid move on and the target was now revealed as the raid stream turned south and began bombing its target, Berlin.  Dave was able to vector in the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 to attack the the head of the bomber stream as it passed over the target in a ‘Wild Boar’ attack, closely followed by the Me110F-4s and G-4s of 3.NJG5, which were directed in from the radar beacon north-west of Berlin where they had been orbiting.  This type of attack was made by visually intercepting bombers lit up by searchlights.  The cloud cover reduced the searchlight effect, but bombers could still be attacked against the illuminated clouds.  The defending fighters had to take their chances with defending flak fire.

The first attack by the Me-109s resulted in heavy losses for the attackers.  Steve made a spectacular high score, shooting down four attacking Lancasters – G for George, F for Fox, M for Mike and P for Peter.  Dave added to his score with two more bombers, D for Dog and J for Jig.  John L opened his score with E2 for Easy Squared.  Chairman John pursued another bomber, J2 for Jig Squared, but only managed to damage her before she exited the illuminated zone.  The British scored back as Andy homed in on D2 for Dog Squared, damaging the bomber with his first burst, only to be damaged in turn and driven off by defensive fire from the bombers gunners.

The air picture around Berlin at the end of the second session, with the position of the bomber stream in the previous move shown as a tracked target

The resolution of the attack by 3.NJG5 was postponed until the next session, as time was up for the day….

At the end of session 2 the points scored were as follows:

Dave (1JD)                        +6             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +1 for Tame Boar attack, +2 for Wild Boar attacks

Steve (2JD)                       +5            +4 for Lancasters shot down, +1 for Tame Boar attack

John L (7JD)                      +1             +1 for Lancaster shot down

Chairman John (3JD)    +0.5       +.5 for Lancaster damaged

Andy (4JD)                         -2.5      +.5 for Lancaster damaged, -2 for Me110 shot down, -1 for Me109 damaged

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 2JD the leading team so far with 8 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                       +5         1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           1 session played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -1.5           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

The Flying Musketeers

Tony F goes aerial with his planned Open Day game.

Operation Musketeer was the codename given to the joint British and French plan to occupy the Suez Canal zone in 1956. The conflict also involved Israel which invaded the Sinai peninsula, forming part of the second Arab-Israeli war.

MiG-17s overfly a coastal town.

My game looks at the conflict in the air. It was one of the last air wars to be fought entirely with guns, before the advent of the missile age. It also involved a wide range of aircraft, from WW2-era prop planes such as the Mustang and Mosquito used by the IAF, to the latest jet fighters. Egyptian pilots flew the MiG-15 and MiG-17, the RAF deployed Hunters, Venoms and Vampires, and even deployed the first of the nuclear capable V-Bombers,the Valiant, along with the smaller Canberra, from bases in Cyprus and Malta. Not a great deal of air-to-air combat occurred during the conflict but as wargamers we never let the truth get in the way of a good game, so rest assured there will be plenty of chances to dogfight with the enemy.

RAF Canberra Bombers

The 1/600th models are all from Tumbling Dice. Buildings and other scenery come from local manufacturer Brigade Models. The rules are a home-brew variant of Spitting Fire by US publisher Majestic 12 Games.

Israeli Mosquitoes on a recce flight

The idea will be to run a number of consecutive short scenarios over the day, allowing players to drop in and out during the day.

Israeli Mysteres over a mosque near the Suez canal.

Open Day 2019

Open Day Coordinator Dave Sime gives the low-down on this year’s games…

Open Day, 22nd June 2019

The Open Day will be held on June 22nd from 11am to 4pm at our usual venue in Linton, just outside Maidstone.

Below is the list of games for the 2019 Open Day – over the next few weeks each game sponsor will be giving us more details on their respective games.

Just to whet your appetites, here are a selection of the games from last year’s event…

Dogfight ’69 at Salute 2019

Here are a few shots from games we ran at Salute on Saturday.  We were kept busy running games back to back for most of the day, each game taking 20-30 minutes, as our participants flew their Corsairs to stem the tide of the Salvadorean invasion..

Dogfight ’69

Dogfight ’69
The Hundred Hours War

Our new show game for 2019 had it’s first outing at Cavalier 2019.

The Salvadorean Invasion!

This is set in the war that briefly erupted between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969.  This was the last occasion in which piston-engined fighters engaged in air-to-air combat.

Honduran Corsairs approach

This is a participation game with the players taking on the role of Corsair pilots in the Honduran Air Force.

Salvadorean Mustangs on Combat Air Patrol

The players have to launch ground attacks on the invading Salvadorean Army column to halt their advance, whilst warding off the attention of patrolling Mustangs of the Salvadorean Air Force.

Honduran Corsairs approach the target

Congratulations to club member Dave Sime who put together the game, which scooped the Best Participation Game prize at the show.

Honduran Corsairs come in low to strafe over the Salvadorean invasion column
Corsairs and Mustangs go head to head above the Salvadorean column

Air War Germany 1944

Our new Society campaign for 2019 kicked off with the first day of gaming yesterday.

The campaign uses GMT Games “Bomber Command” board game (see https://www.gmtgames.com/p-302-bomber-command.aspx) to set up tactical actions, which are then played out using 1/600 aircraft from the Tumbling Dice range (see http://www.tumblingdiceuk.com/product-category/1600) and GMT Games “Nightfighter” rules (see https://www.gmtgames.com/p-233-nightfighter.aspx).  The action is set in early 1944 and the Bomber Command Force is controlled by the Umpire.

The Bomber Command Force. Lancaster MkI/IIIs of A and B Flights, 460 Squadron RAAF and 4 De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron

In our first session the five German players each commanded their own JagdDivision of Night Fighters, aiming to intercept the incoming bomber Command raids that night.

The NachtJagd force. From left to right – Bottom: five Messerschmitt Bf-109 G6s of JagdGeschwader 300, 301 and 302 and one 262 B-1a/U1 of NachtJagdGeschwader 11.  Middle Messerschmitt Bf110s – four G4 and one F4.  Top: five Junkers Ju88 C6s of NachtJagdGeschwader 1-5

The Germans were lulled into a bit of a false sense of security as they did not spot any incoming raids until turn 3.  The air picture then clarified and the main force raid was identified using a northern route, with a mosquito raid to the south and two other diversionary raids emerging from the main force attack.

Junkers Ju88 C6 radar equipped night fighters of the NachtJagdGeschwader

The first unit to strike were the Ju-88 C-6 of Mike’s II Gruppe, NJG3, which had been placed on overwatch under control of the defensive radar chain in Northern Germany.  They attacked as the Main Force Raid Lancasters passed over the radar line.  However, this unit had been dispersed by the poor weather on take off, reducing its impact.

Lancaster MkI/IIIs of A Flight, 460 Squadron RAAF. The Lancaster had become the main type of heavy bomber in Bomber Command by 1944. “D Dog” was crewed as a Mid-Upper Air Gunner by the Society Treasurer’s father, then RAF Sergeant Ray Harris in 1945

Fighters were given only a very general indication of where the bombers were by their heavily jammed ground radar and mainly relied on their own airborne radar to find targets.  However, only 2 of the players had the new sets that were free from British jamming.

In the action that followed, it was Chris that got in the first attack, badly damaging Lancaster C for Charlie in a hasty attack.  However, he’d picked the wrong plane to mess with and his Ju88 was shot down by return fire from the defending gunners.

The first air to air attack. Lancaster ‘C for Charlie’ is winged, but shoots down the attacking Ju88 C6 of Chris

Next up was Bob, who homed in on Lancaster E for Easy.  However, this plane’s gunners were really on alert and they opened fire first and shot the Ju88 down before it had a chance to land any hits.

The second air to air attack. Lancaster ‘E for Easy’ plays a blinder and shoots down the attacking Ju88 C6 of ‘Experten’ rated Bob

However, at last the NachtJagd managed to get off the scoreboard as John locked on to Lancaster H for How, damaging the target on his first pass.  A second pass shot the Lancaster down.  The gunners never saw what hit them.

The first score for the NachtJagd as ‘H for How’ is shot down by the attacking Ju88 C6 of John

With the first attack completed the players returned to the raid map.  Here diversionary Mosquito raids were beginning to hit their targets in Duisburg, Witten and Hamburg.    The Duisburg raiders got clean away without being intercepted.  However, the only unit equipped with high-speed specialised He-219 A-2 Night Fighters, Chairman John’s  I Gruppe NJG1, was now placed on overwatch in the radar line astride their return route and were vectored in to attack the Mosquitos that had raided Witten.  The Ju-88s and Me-110s in the air in the area were too slow to catch the Mosquitos.

De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron, part of the Light Night Striking Force. These delivered small high level raids as diversions from Main Force raids. They were unarmed and relied on their speed to escape interception.

In this second action the unarmed Mosquito Mk IVs played a cat and mouse game as the Heinkels tried to home in on their targets, relying on their speed for protection.  Mike managed to get into position to make a power dive to pounce on one of the raiders, but his approach was spotted and the Mosquito attempted to shake him off with a corkscrew turn.  Mike second guessed this and followed the Mosquito through the turn, then shot it down with a well-aimed burst, as it began a second corkscrew evasion.

The raid will continue at the next session in April.

At the end of session 1 the league table points scored are as follows (it is worth noting that the Germans were stupendously unlucky in their dice rolls to lose 2 Night Fighters in air to air combat):

Mike (2JD)                       3            +2 for Mosquito shot down, +1 for GCI attack

Chairman John (3JD)  2             +1 for Lancaster shot down, +1 for GCI attack

Dave (1JD)                        0             no gains, no losses

Chris (7JD)                     -1.5       +.5 for Lancaster damaged, -2 for Ju88 shot down

Bob (4JD)                         -2         -2 for Ju88 shot down