Monday, 8 August 2016

Table Air Combat: Dogfight (Wildcats vs Zeros)

I had a crack at the standard dogfight scenario for Table Air Combat last night, using a flight of F4F-4 Wildcats against a flight of A6M-2 Zeros. This scenario is common to all the fighter aircraft in the range and is a simple head to head, last man standing set up with the objective of shooting down or damaging as many of the enemy as possible.

To make things easier to work through, I borrowed an idea from the author's T.A.C. Facebook page and plotted all of the moves on a large piece of plain paper, so that I could work out what happened once the game was finished. This was a simple but effective means of recording the details of each turn and ideal for writing up an after action report.

In Turn 1 the two flights approached each other head on at maximum speed, four ticks for the Wildcats and five for the Zeros. In Turn 2, the Zero flight leader zoomed forward first another five ticks but the Wildcat flight chose a more cautious approach, cutting back to only a two tick forward move. The second Zero element then decided to try to get into gun range by boosting to a full six ticks.

This was a bad idea. In the combat phase, the Wildcat leader rolled his three gun dice and got a '6', which was one pip greater than the Zero's defence factor of '5' resulting in a hit. A re-roll of this single dice, with a +1 firepower modifier for the .50 cals, gave an overall score of '4', which being equal to the Zero's airframe factor meant that one of the Jap fighters went down in flames.

The Zeros flight fired back simultaneously but only gained a '4' and a '3' on the two gun dice, so no damage was inflicted on the Wildcats. At this point I screwed up, forgetting to flip the Zero counter over to the damaged side and instead eliminated the counter from the game. I should have left it on but with the reverse side of the counter to represent a single remaining fighter. Oh well.

In Turn 3, the USN moved first, having two elements to the IJN's single remaining counter. The Wildcat leader made a second cautious move forward of only two ticks. The Zero flight leader now decided to do the complete opposite of Sailor Malan's ten rules for air fighting (Rule 5) and turned away from the Wildcats rather than into them, with a tight five tick bank to the left!

The second Wildcat element then swung in behind in an easy two tick right turn for a perfect zero deflection shot. A three gun die roll of '2' / '4' / '6' caused a single hit but this was followed up with a '3' and a +1 firepower bonus for a damage total of '4' which meant that the Zero counter was flipped to it's damaged side as it's airframe rating was equalled by the overall firepower total. 

The Zero leader was now in deep trouble so decided to do something radical, using a point of energy to perform an Immelman turn. The Wildcat leader had already completed a four point right turn and this was followed up by the second element, using a point of energy for an extra one tick boost. This brought the fighters into a head on, collision course in which the last remaining Zero, with it's +2 firepower factor, hoped to inflict some damage despite being reduced to a single gun dice.

In the end, the Zero leader rolled a '5' resulting in a singe hit, but this was followed up by a disappointing '2' for a total firepower factor of '4', two pips short of the Wildcat's airframe factor of '6'. This meant that the hits had no effect. In return, the second Wildcat element rolled a double '6' to hit, then a '5' / '6' for damage, +1 for the firepower factor, giving an overall total well in excess of the Zero's flimsy airframe.

With a characteristic 'whoosh' the Zero's wing fuel tanks exploded and the last remaining IJN fighter went down in flames. Not a surprise, given the daft decision to turn away from the oncoming Wildcats and the relatively weak airframe of the IJN fighter, which was easily overwhelmed by the firepower of the F4F-4's .50cal armament.

I enjoyed this game a lot even though I got a couple of things wrong and mishandled the Zeros so badly. The sprog enjoyed it too, especially as he was flying for Uncle Sam. A couple of things to add would be rules for zero deflection shooting, perhaps a -1 modifier for a perfect rear shot in line with the optional rules for High Deflection attacks in the manual, and some rules for pilots bailing out.

Anyway, for a first try out with the rules, scenarios and components, this went really well and I'm looking forward to the next game. I need to remember to flip the counters when damaged and to stick to proper tactics, but otherwise I think this little game is very good at modelling fighter to fighter air combat in the Second World War. It's also really quick and very straightforward, so a big thumbs up!


  1. That seems very good to me - thanks for posting it Jim!

    I'm off to WGV to see what's available!

  2. The Battle of Britain bundle is good as a starter. Or just grab the free Spitfire and add a 109!