Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Table Air Combat: I-16 vs. Bf-109E

I found this neat graphic comparing the I-16 'Ishak' / 'Rata' with the Messerschmitt Bf-109E 'Emil' today, so thought I'd set up a game of Table Air Combat to see how they compare in action. The Bf-109E looks like it has the edge in most respects, apart from the all important turning circle radius, which could give the Soviet pilots a slight advantage, if they are able to use it. I'll probably deploy the generic Dogfight scenario as the basis of the game but perhaps with a few twists to make it a bit different? Whatever happens, I suspect the end result will probably look like this!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Air Strike

As expected, the Soviet I-16's took a pasting from the Stukas in the Air Strike scenario this morning, largely due to their poor firepower and being outnumbered two to one. A taran ramming attack was a last resort but failed to bring down the Stuka it was aimed at, whilst exposing the I-16 to the tail gunner's arc of fire with inevitable results.

In the end, the Stukas wiped out the radio station target for the loss of one plane, while the I-16's lost three aircraft in return. A pretty poor result for the VVS and a decisive victory for the Luftwaffe. If I replay this again, I'll double the number of I-16's or halve the number of Stukas to even things up, as in many respects the two aircraft are evenly matched.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Table Air Combat: I-16's vs Ju-87 Stukas

I have decided to try out the Air Strike scenario from the Ju-87 Stuka set, substituting I-16 Ishak fighters for the Hurricanes Mk I's in the original set up. The scenario will obviously shift to the summer of 1941 and Operation Barbarossa, with the Stukas attempting to dive bomb a Soviet radio mast, represented by the Radar Receiver target template, rather than a Chain Home Radar station. It will be interesting to see how the I-16's with their weak armament but high manoeuvrability, cope against the Stukas, which are also fairly handy if under-armed. I hope the rear gunners have had their ersatz coffee for breakfast and are wide awake! I don't fancy the Soviet's chances, unless they do something fairly drastic?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Table Air Combat: I-16 Ishak / Rata

I fancied a bit of a change from the Battle of Britain, so have cut out and glued together the counters and turn template for the I-16 Ishak fighter. This has the smallest template of any fighter in the collection, largely due to it's high manoeuvrability and relatively light wing loading. In fact, the I-16 gets a special variation of the Immelmann turn, costing only one rather than two energy points.

As I've already altered the special manoeuvre rules to one energy point per turn anyway, I'll give the I-16 the ability to Immelmann for free once a turn, which will give the same advantage over other aircraft. I'll just use the I-16 for Operation Barbarossa scenarios, so it will be up against the Bf-109E, Bf-100C, Ju-87B Stuka and the Heinkel III, which will be more than enough for some exciting dogfights. In fact, I'll kick off with the standard Dogfight scenario today, using Bf-109's as the opposition. Za Rodina!

Le Temps de As

I acquired the habitual copy of Vae Victis yesterday including the theme game which is a French Revolutionary war hex and counter job. I'm not overly interested in this but another article about converting a previous game, Le Temp de As, to miniature play grabbed my attention. This game, which I have together with an English rules translation, is a WW1 aerial hex and counter game which features some really nice maps and components, as well as some elegant rules.

I've always thought it would be really good with Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale aircraft models, which would mean that converting the 2D counters to 3D by cutting them out and gluing them to stands would be unnecessary? I'll dig out the game when I get home and have a closer look. Even if I don't do anything with the Tumbling Dice models, it's still a game that I have wanted to play and somehow never got round to, so it's time I got on with it.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Scramble!

We played the Scramble! scenario from the free Spitfire II set yesterday, with two sections of Spitfires intercepting four Heinkel III's escorted by a schwarm of Bf-109's. This gave us an equal number of four counters per side, so we moved by elements rather than individual counters, using the standard initiative rules. I can't help thinking that initiative would work better if it was similar to the experience based system in Bag the Hun but that's another story.

The game was hard fought, with the RAF intercepting the bombers with one section, while the  other one tackled the fighters. The bombers adopted a straight up the middle approach to their mission objective, which was to fly off the opposite edge of the playing area with minimal losses. The escorts meanwhile attempted to use the Bf-109's superior energy rating and cannon armament to shoot up the Spitfires before they could get close enough to the bombers to cause any damage.

The RAF managed to get several attacks on the bomber formation and craftily stayed out of range of their machine guns but failed to cause much damage due to the heavy airframe rating of the Heinkels and the lack of cannon to boost their damage roll. In the end, one bomber was shot down for the loss of a three Spitfires, with two Bf-109's also failing to return to their airfield in France. This meant that the scenario was a decisive victory for the Luftwaffe, despite the best efforts of the RAF.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Heinkel III Bomb Run

I played the Bomber Training scenario from the Heinkel III set this evening, to run through the rules for flak which I haven't used for ages. The Luftwaffe managed to plaster the target with seven 4+ hits, which was pretty impressive and a decisive victory, especially as they lost only one bomber to the fairly ineffective flak. The AAA hit several times but the tough airframe of the bombers, requiring a 6 on a D6, meant that there was little actual damage inflicted by the flak bursts. It was a very quick game but got the sprogs hooked again, so we followed on with the Scramble scenario, substituting Heinkel III's for the Ju-87's in the set up (an after action report will follow).

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Bf-109E vs Spitfire MkI Dogfight

I re-played the basic dogfight scenario this evening, with a flight of Spitfire MkI's intercepting a Schwarm of Bf-109E's somewhere over the English Channel. I wanted to try out the deflection shooting rules again and also a new playing area that I made by cutting out then gluing together two blue cardboard folders from the local supermarket. This neatly folds in half and fits inside my Table Air Combat folder, so is eminently portable and perfect for an ad-hoc game as and when required.

This time the dogfight lasted for nearly twenty turns, with neither side managing to inflict much damage despite getting some good gun dice on several occasions. I was using the simplified 'one point of energy per Immelmann / Wingover' rule, which worked well, especially as only one such manoeuvre was allowed per turn. This meant that the dogfight was a real twisting and turning effort for both sides, just like the real thing in many respects.

In the end, the RAF managed to shoot down three of the Luftwaffe fighters for the loss of one of their own, the surviving pilot making a last minute run for home as his fuel must have been getting really low. I think the little red light must have been blinking away for most of the latter half of the scenario. In fact, I might include this 'No Fuel to Duel' twist to the scenario in the future, borrowing the fuel limit countdown from Too Fat Lardies excellent Bag the Hun miniatures rules.

I really enjoyed the game and will be running another one soon, this time with some bombers for the RAF to shoot down and the Luftwaffe to protect as close escorts rather then top cover. I also want to cut out and assemble the counters for the Bf-110, which with their heavy cannon and rear gunners should make things a bit more uncomfortable for the RAF Brylcreem Boys. It's just a shame there isn't a Boulton Paul Defiant or Bristol Blenheim Mk I set to provide some target practice!

Table Air Combat: Heinkel III

I've assembled the counters and templates for the Table Air Combat Heinkel He-III medium bomber, although I forgot to print more than one copy of the sheets, so only have a single flight of four aircraft and two counters. This makes it a bit tricky when choosing scenarios to play but, with a little bit of adaptation I will be able to set up at least two from the Table Air Combat 'official' scenario selection.

I can also easily devise some of my own including an arctic convoy anti-shipping strike by torpedo armed Heinkel He-III H6 of I./KG 26, which would be a bit different for a start. In the meantime, I'll adapt both the Straggler scenario from the B-17 set and the Scramble! scenario from the Spitfire II set, using the Heinkel He-III in place of the bombers in both games. In the meantime, here's the usual background video to set the scene:

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Chain Home

I played the Chain Home scenario this evening, with the sprog flying for the Luftwaffe and myself for the RAF. The mission involved a kette of Ju-87B Stukas, escorted by a schwarm of Bf-109E's attacking a radar station, while the RAF attempted to shoot them down with a flight of Spitfire II's. I didn't plot the moves this time round to speed up the game and we also moved the counters as elements, which is suggested in the scenario briefing for the same reason.

The game was pretty fast moving with the Luftwaffe losing two Stukas early in the game but things evened out half way through, with the German fighter pilots co-ordinating their fire with that of the Stuka rear gunners, to shoot down five of the Spitfires for the loss of only one more Stuka. It was game over for the British when the lone surviving Stuka successfully blew the radar station to smithereens with two direct hits. The unscathed Luftwaffe fighters then made a quick getaway, turning a marginal win into a total victory!

Both of us really enjoyed the game, even if it was interrupted half way through and literally blown away a couple of times by the wind. I used the simplified 'one energy point for special manoeuvres' rule change, which worked well and didn't unbalance the scenario, so I'll be adopting the same approach from now on. I think we'll do a fighter vs fighter game next time round, followed by another bombing mission when the sprog's had a dogfight to practice his skills, not that he needs to at this rate!