Saturday, January 30, 2021

Off the coast of Dunkirk

This wargame was played using Wings Of Glory. The Luftwaffe fighters were controlled using my "autopilot rules" based on the Wings Of Glory Solo rules by Herkybird.

The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, was in full swing. A flotilla of hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, yachts, and lifeboats was called into service from Britain and together with the Royal Navy they were evacuating thousands of allied soldiers off the beaches at the French town of Dunkerque.

The evacuation was being hindered by the Luftwaffe which continually strafed and bombed the ships, harbour and beaches. High in the sky, often unseen by the troops on the ground, the RAF flew many sorties to protect the evacuation.

Two intrepid RAF pilots, Pilot Officers William ”Half Pint” Carruthers (left) and Emmett Hollingberry (right), took off from Little Bobbington aerodrome in their Supermarine Spitfire Mk I's and headed out across The Channel towards the French coast.

As they neared the town of Dunkerque, they spotted two patrolling Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3's.

The two enemies spotted each other at the same time and turned in towards their opponents.

”Half Pint” Carruthers followed Emmett Hollingberry towards the 109s.

Hollingberry opened fire at extreme range without doing any noticeable damage on the 109.

The two pairs of fighters closed at full speed, passing each other with only inches to spare.

As the flashed passed each other, both sides opened fire. The Spitfires were riddled by the 20mm canon of the 109s. The eight .303 calibre Browning machine guns that equipped the Spitfires did much less damage!

[Note: We have a house rules that allows overlapping aircraft to fire at each other. We much preferred the WWI damage cards to the WWII damage counters, so we printed some damage cards to use for WWII with the same values as the counters.]

The two pairs of fighters passed each other.

The Spitfires continued straight ahead. One 109 performed an Immelmann turn while the other turned right.

The two Spitfires performed Immelmann turns while being chased by one 109. The second 109 went straight ahead, the pilot preparing to Immelmann. 

”Half Pint” Carruthers, now in the lead, exchanged fire with the 109 at long range.

The 20mm canon of the 109 had totally destroyed the Spitfire which tumbled seaward.

Hollingberry and the 109 closed, flying head-on passed each other. The second 109 performed an Immelmann turn and headed back towards the dogfight.

Both planes took damage, but Hollingberry's Spitfire was beginning to resemble a sieve.

The two opponents continued passed each other as the second 109 turned in towards Hollingberry.

Hollingberry turned right as the second 109 tried to get on his tail. The first 109 performed an Immelmann and headed back towards Hollingberry.

The 109 opened fire at what was just close range.

This burst of fire was the end for Hollingberry's Spitfire.

Both RAF pilots parachuted from their stricken Spitfires.

Pilot Officer Emmett Hollingberry was picked up by a T class RN destroyer, HMS TIDDLYWINK, and was taken to the wardroom when he was given copious amounts of grog in order to keep the cold out. On returning to RAF Little Bobbington it took him two days to sober up, and another two to get rid of the hangover.

Pilot Officer William ”Half Pint” Carruthers was picked up by a fishing smack, the Ethel & Millie. After his return to RAF Little Bobbington he had to wait a whole week for the fish smell to disappear, before which he wasn't allowed into the Officers' Mess.

Monday, December 14, 2020

WWI Western Front Aerial Campaign - Episode 11

Bomb the Ammunition Dumps

This is the tenth episode of a campaign representing fictitious battles in the air over the Western Front during the First World War. It was initially planned to use the Wings of Glory rules, but these were modified to use hex based movement in order to facilitate remote play over the Internet due to Corona restrictions.

The cast of the campaign can be found here.

Mission Briefing 

Aerial reconnaissance has identified three enemy ammo dumps which must be attacked. The targets have been identified as critical, but are not within range of the artillery, so Army Headquarters has decided to order an aerial bombing mission against the targets. The KuKuK Jagd-Schlachtstaffel has been tasked with this mission; at least two of the ammo dumps must be destroyed.

The KuKuK Jagd-Schlachtstaffel flight consisted of Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie”von Salzbach and Slobomir Kraijnc in a Rumpler C.IV two-seater loaded with four 25kg bombs being escorted by Gaspard Hauser in his Fokker D.VII scout.

At this stage in the war, bombing sights had been improved, and missions were flown at around 10,000 ft. Knowing his Rumpler’s flight characteristics, von Salzbach decided to fly the mission at the slightly lower altitude of 9,000 ft.

The 1er Escadrille International was patrolling in the air over their rear area at 12,000 ft. The patrol was made up of Alphonse Lacourt in a SPAD XIII and Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers in a Sopwith Snipe. When they spotted the approaching Huns, they descended to the same altitude as the Huns.

The Action

As the Germans approached the area containing the ammo dumps, they spotted two enemy planes descending to meet them.

Note: The two hexes containing the Union Jacks indicate the target ammo dumps.

The two sides flew straight ahead towards each other.

The German's continued straight ahead. Gaspard Hauser's Fokker D.VII was still slightly behind the Rumpler C.IV thus not in a position to protect it.

Half Pint slipped his Sopwith Snipe to the right in order to meet the Rumpler head-on. Lacourt turned his SPAD XIII left to fly behind Half Pint.

Half Pint in the Snipe exchanged fire with Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie” von Salzbach piloting the Rumpler.

Half Pint was aware that his rotary engine made his Snipe better at turning right than left, so he had kept the Fokker to his right. However an unlucky bullet from von Salzbach's machine gun, hit the Snipe's rudder and prevented Half Pint from turning right.

”Dickie”von Salzbach piloted the Rumpler purposefully straight towards the ammo dumps.

Being unable to turn right, Half Pint turned his Snipe sharply left in an attempt to chase down the Rumpler.

Using the superior speed of his SPAD, Lacourt turned right, but missed getting on the Rumpler's tail. He was however careful to make sure that he was safely behind Half Pint's Snipe.

Gaspard Hauser had expected the enemy scouts to be further behind the Rumpler, so he misjudged his turn. 

Half Pint in the Snipe exchanged fire with Slobomir Kraijnc in the back seat of the Rumpler.

An unlucky shot from Slobomir Kraijnc caused the Snipe's engine to start smoking.

”Dickie”von Salzbach turned the Rumpler towards the left-hand ammo dump and prepared to hold it straight and level on the run-in to give the best chance of hitting.

Half Pint in the Snipe followed after the Rumpler.

Gaspard Hauser turned his Fokker D.VII in behind the Rumpler to protect it and ended up tailing the Snipe.

Lacourt in the SPAD flew straight ahead, still not having fired a shot in the dogfight.

Gaspard Hauser opened fire on the Snipe, large holes appeared in the Snipe's fuselage before the Fokker's Spandau machine guns jammed. 

Half Pint opened fire on the Rumpler, he could see his bullets hit the tailplane, the Rumpler would have trouble turning left. The Rumpler was so badly damaged that it was a miracle that it was still in the air.

Slobomir Kraijnc in the back seat of the Rumpler returned fire.

An unlucky bullet from Slobomir Kraijnc's Parabellum MG14 machine gun caused the Snipe's already smoking engine to catch fire. Half Pint was now in serious trouble.

With his Sopwith Snipe full of holes, and flames shooting out from the engine, Half Pint turned away from the dogfight and headed for home.

The Rumpler flew over the ammo dump and dropped her four 25kg bombs. One bomb was a lucky hit and the ammo dump exploded.

Gaspard Hauser turned his Fokker D.VII in behind the Rumpler still trying protect it while attempting to un-jam his machine-guns.

Alphonse Lacourt in the SPAD now finally entered the fight. With his only machine gun burst of the day, he put the final nail in the Rumpler's coffin and it started to spiral downwards. Despite this, Slobomir Kraijnc heroically returned fire damaging the SPAD and wounding Lacourt.

Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie”von Salzbach tried to pull the Rumpler out of the spin, but it was to badly damaged that he couldn't succeed leading to the inevitable result that he and Slobomir Kraijnc were killed when the Rumpler plummeted into the ground next to the still exploding ammo dump.

Gaspard Hauser circled his Fokker D.VII while un-jamming his machine guns in preparation to take on the SPAD.

Having shot down the Rumpler, the wounded Alphonse Lacourt turned his SPAD for home and using his superior speed he left the dogfight.

Half Pint managed somehow to extinguish the fire in his engine and miraculously returned to his aerodrome where he landed safely in his singed and bullet-hole ridden Snipe [only one damage point remaining]. 

Even Gaspard Hauser returned safely to his aerodrome, where he claimed the flaming Snipe as a kill.

The Result

Central Powers Victory

Campaign results:

  • Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie”von Salzbach:  KIA
  • Slobomir Kraijnc: KIA
  • Gaspard Hauser:  +6 XP, +1 luck
  • Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers:  +1 XP, +1 luck 
  • Alphonse Lacourt:  1 kill, +7 XP

Campaign Log

The Score:
1er Escadrille International 4     -     KuKuK Jagd-Schlachtstaffel 6     -     Draws 1

   Missions   Kills   XP   Luck   Notes 
Premier Escadrille International
Charles “Half Pint”
Carruthers (GB)
6 2 26 6  Skills: Sniper &
 Tough As Old Boots
“Dirty” Bertie Parker (AU) 3 1 20 3  Skill: Acrobatic Pilot 
Captain Jack Yates (GB) 5 1 19 4  Skill: Luck of the Devil.
 Serious leg injury.
Alphonse Lacourt (FR) 4 1 10 2  Wounded miss mission 12.
St John
Featherstonehaugh (GB)
3 0 8 3  
Hank Snapmulder (US) 2 1 9 1  
Captain Tsiolkovsky (RU) 2 1 9 1  
Kaiserliche und Königliche und Kaiserliche Jagd-Schlachtstaffel
Udo Lockbach (DE) 6 0 13 4  Skill: Quick on the Trigger
The 1st Erbprinz Rupprecht
zu Sachsen-Zenda (DE)
2 0 3 2  KIA Episode 6.
The 2nd Erbprinz Rupprecht
zu Sachsen-Zenda (DE)
1 0 2 1  
Florian Meier (DE) 4 0 11 3  
Jörg Fritzl-Falconi (HU) 3 0 9 3  
Gaspard Hauser (DE) 5 0 16 4  Skill: Not Yet Determined
Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie”
von Salzbach (DE)
2 0 4 1  KIA Episode 11.
Slobomir Kraijnc (HR) 1 0 1 0  KIA Episode 11.

Note: 12 XP is required to obtain a skill.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

WWI Western Front Aerial Campaign - Episode 10

Long Recce

This is the tenth episode of a campaign representing fictitious battles in the air over the Western Front during the First World War. It was initially planned to use the Wings of Glory rules, but these were modified to use hex based movement in order to facilitate remote play over the Internet due to Corona restrictions.

The cast of the campaign can be found here.

Mission Briefing

When Major Brackton returned to the Premier Escadrille International's aerodrome from his flying visit to the County of Dampshire infantry regiment; the back seat of the DH.4 was filled with bottles of beer. He jumped out of the cockpit, ordered a nearby officer to take the beer to the bar. He ran into the office looking for the intelligence officer, Major Redmond. Before leaving the Dampshire’s, their colonel had given Brackton a few pages containing the artillery plan for a new offensive. “We sort of discovered this by mistake”, explained the colonel, “so we aren’t sure if it is genuine, it was so easy to find that it could be a Hun attempt to trick us. But if you can check it out, that would be really helpful!” 

Majors Redmond (left) and Brackton (right) discuss whether the document is a fake! - by MW

Major Brackton showed the plan to Major Redmond, the squadron intelligence officer, and told him to organise a sortie to verify whether the plan was genuine or whether the wily Huns we trying to confuse us.

Redmond decided to send out the squadron’s Bristol F.2B Brisfit two-seaters flown by Captain Tsiolkovsky with Hank Snapmulder as his observer and escorted by Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers in a Sopwith Camel scout to check out the possible locations for the German artillery batteries.

As was his wont, Captain Tsiolkovsky stowed his Imperial Golden Vodka safely under the pilot seat where he could easily reach it. As this was likely to be a long mission, he took two bottles with him.

The Kaiserliche und Königliche und Kaiserliche Jagd-Schlachtstaffel had been warned that some enemy activity was expected and they sent up two of their pilots in Fokker Dr.1 scouts to stop the Engländer from scouting behind the German lines. Udo Lockbach's Fokker bore the Eisernes Kreuz and Gaspard Hauser's Fokker bore the Balkenkreuz.

Mission Notes

Four white markers were placed on the playing area. Under one marker was a German flag, this being the location of the German artillery. The Brisfit must fly over the markers to determine which flag they contain. Once the German flag (artillery) has been located, the Brisfit must return to its aerodrome (exit its board edge) with this information in order to claim victory.

The Action

As they approached the area where the artillery was thought  to be located, Captain Tsiolkovsky and Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers spotted two bright red triplanes in the distance.

Lockbach and Hauser spotted the incoming Engländer and headed straight towards them.

Captain Tsiolkovsky in the Brisfit wanted to avoid getting the very manoeuvrable triplane on his tail, so he decided to go for a head-on encounter. The other three pilots opted for the same tactic. 

All four pilots opened fire at long range, but despite the range they all scored severe hits on the opposing planes. A bullet from Hauser's machine-gun caused the rudder of Half Pint's Camel to stick and he wouldn't be able to turn left.

Captain Tsiolkovsky scored a lucky hit on Lockbach's Fokker which burst into flames.

Half Pint in the Camel turned tightly to the right. Captain Tsiolkovsky slipped the Brisfit right in order to start the search for the artillery.

Unfortunately the Huns managed to predict the Brisfit's manoeuvre. Admittedly it wasn't very difficult for them, because they saw some huge white hexagons on the ground. Looking back, this was probably poor scenario design.

Both Huns opened fire on the Brisfit and the Brisfit's observer, Hank Snapmulder, returned fire.

Half Pint in the Camel opened fire but his machine-guns jammed.

The hail of Hun bullets was intense and the Brisfit was in trouble. Its observer, Hank Snapmulder, was wounded. Another Hun bullet hit the Imperial Golden Vodka bottles stowed under Tsiolkovsky's seat and they burst into flame.

As Tsiolkovsky flew over the objective, he could see no artillery there. The only thing he spotted on the ground was a field hospital. Whether he would have been more observant, had not the Imperial Golden Vodka bottles directly under his posterior caught fire, is hard to say.

A hidden artillery emplacement - by MW

The Huns expected the Brisfit to continue towards the next objective so they headed towards it, chased by Half Pint. But Half Pint's Vickers were jammed, so he couldn't open fire, despite ending up on Lockbach's tail.

The Brisfit was now severely damaged, so Tsiolkovsky decided to half-loop and head for the safety of his own front line. This manoeuvre managed to throw off the chasing Huns. In the rear seat, Snapmulder opened fire as Lockbach's Fokker flashed past.

Nobody understands why, perhaps it was because of the half-loop manoeuvre, but the vodka bottles exploded and the fire spread like lightning to one of the Brisfit's fuel tanks: the rear tank which like the Vodka bottles was located directly under the pilot's seat. The fuel tank exploded and the Brisfit spiralled down in flames.

Lockbach and Hauser shared the Brisfit kill.

Half Pint chased after Lockbach, but he turned away from the fight and dived away.

Hauser turned left towards where he expected the Brisfit to be.

The flames finally did for Lockbach's Fokker and Half Pint could claim another kill.

Half Pint and Hauser passed head on, Hauser was wounded and his Fokker was now only held together by spit and a prayer.

Gaspard Hauser put his Fokker Dr.1 into a steep dived, headed away from Half Pint and back towards his own aerodrome. Hauser knew that the bullet-ridden Fokker couldn't stand another burst from the Camel.

Half Pint and Hauser returned to their aerodromes.

Both Tsiolkovsky and Lockbach managed to crash-land their aeroplanes, although whether it was luck, skill or just a plain miracle is still uncertain. They did however manage to stagger away from the flaming wreckage, and any landing a pilot can walk away from is a good landing.

Meanwhile back at the Premier Escadrille International, the French Inspector St Prix had invited all the officers to the mess and treated them all to bottles of wine from his own vineyard, St Prix Troisième Cru. He wanted to talk to the officers about his investigation of how efficiently the squadron was run and especially Major Brackton's way of leading the squadron. 

The Result

Central Powers Victory

Campaign results:

  • Captain Tsiolkovsky:  +1 XP
  • Hank Snapmulder: + 1 XP
  • Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers:  1 kill, +7 XP, +1 luck 
  • Gaspard Hauser:  ½ kill, +6 XP
  • Udo Lockbach:  ½ kill, +6 XP

Campaign Log

The Score:
1er Escadrille International 4     -     KuKuK Jagd-Schlachtstaffel 5     -     Draws 1

   Missions   Kills   XP   Luck   Notes 
Premier Escadrille International
Charles “Half Pint”
Carruthers (GB)
5 2 25 5 Skills: Sniper & Tough as Old Boots
“Dirty” Bertie Parker (AU) 3 1 20 3 Skill: Acrobatic Pilot 
Captain Jack Yates (GB) 5 1 19 4 Skill: Luck of the Devil.
Wounded miss missions 10 & 11.
Serious leg injury.
Alphonse Lacourt (FR) 3 0 3 2
St John
Featherstonehaugh (GB)
3 0 8 3  
Hank Snapmulder (US) 2 1 9 1  Wounded miss mission 11.
Captain Tsiolkovsky (RU) 2 1 9 1  
Kaiserliche und Königliche und Kaiserliche Jagd-Schlachtstaffel
Udo Lockbach (DE) 6 0 13 4  Skill: Quick on the Trigger
The 1st Erbprinz Rupprecht
zu Sachsen-Zenda (DE)
2 0 3 2  KIA Episode 6.
The 2nd Erbprinz Rupprecht
zu Sachsen-Zenda (DE)
1 0 2 1  
Florian Meier (DE) 4 0 11 3  
Jörg Fritzl-Falconi (HU) 3 0 9 3  
Gaspard Hauser (DE) 4 0 10 3  Wounded miss mission 11.
Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie”
von Salzbach (DE)
2 0 4 1  
Slobomir Kraijnc (HR) 1 0 1 0

Note: 12 XP is required to obtain a skill.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

WWI Western Front Aerial Campaign - Episode 9

Dawn Patrol

This is the ninth episode of a campaign representing fictitious battles in the air over the Western Front during the First World War. It was initially planned to use the Wings of Glory rules, but these were modified to use hex based movement in order to facilitate remote play over the Internet due to Corona restrictions.

The cast of the campaign can be found here.

Mission Briefing 

Before dawn, the squadron commander Major Fritz Detterman called two of his pilots into the briefing room. He explained to Udo Lockbach and the second Erbprinz Rupprecht zu Sachsen-Zenda that army headquarters had been complaining about the early morning patrols flown by enemy aircraft. So the KuKuK Jagd-Schlachtstaffel had been tasked with intercepting and destroying one of these dawn patrols in order to teach the enemy a lesson. Lockbach and zu Sachsen-Zenda would each fly a new Albatros D.V and the Major said he expected that the both would return with confirmed kills.

In the grey light of dawn, they took off and headed for the trench lines. As expected, there they found two Sopwith Camels flown by Captain Jack Yates (in two hearts) and Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers.

The Action

High up over the trench lines at 14,000ft, both sides spotted the other while still at quite a distance.

The Camels performed a U-turn in order to get the enemy on their right hand side.

The Albatros D.Vs headed straight in towards the Camels.

The aircraft turned in towards each other and both Camels opened up on the yellow-bodied D.V flown by Erbprinz Rupprecht zu Sachsen-Zenda who returned fire. 

A lucky shot from “Half Pint” caused the D.V's rudder to jam and Sachsen-Zenda could sense that he could only turn to the left!

Udo Lockbach in the black-bodied D.V was too far behind to take part. 

Sachsen-Zenda turned left and both Camels tried to get behind him. Yates in two-hearts opened fire damaging the D.V and wounding Sachsen-Zenda.

While "Half Pint" was concentrating on chasing Sachsen-Zenda, Udo Lockbach in the black-bodied D.V turned in and opened fire on him.

Both D.V's turned, in what appeared to be an attempt to trap a Camel in a pincer movement. But "Half Pint" sneakily avoided it and opened fire on Lockbach at point blank range. Some bullets tore into the Albatros but then the Vickers machine guns jammed!

Yates turned left avoiding the German trap.

"Half Pint" flew straight ahead, away from the dogfight, while trying to un-jam his machine guns.

Lockbach and Yates turned towards each other but neither got off a good shot.

Sachsen-Zenda fired a burst from his machine guns at close range, damaging Yates's Camel and wounding Yates in the leg.

"Half Pint" turned back, towards the dogfight, while trying to un-jam his machine guns.

Lockbach in the black-bodied D.V turned sharp left and opened fire on Yates doing severe damage to his Camel.

"Half Pint" opened fire on Sachsen-Zenda, but yet again his guns jammed.

With both Camels in trouble, Yates's seriously damaged and Half Pint's with no guns, both pilots decided to head for home and dived out of the dogfight leaving the two Albatros D.V's behind.

All four aircraft returned safely to their aerodromes. Both Captain Jack Yates and Erbprinz Rupprecht zu Sachsen-Zenda were dispatched to their local field hospitals. Captain Jack Yates leg wound was found to be serious and he will still be limping when he returns to active duty.

The Result

Central Powers Victory

Campaign results:

  • Captain Jack Yates:  +1 XP
  • Charles “Half Pint” Carruthers:  +1 XP, +1 luck 
  • Erbprinz Rupprecht zu Sachsen-Zenda:  +2 XP
  • Udo Lockbach:  +2 XP, +1 luck 

Campaign Log

The Score:
1er Escadrille International 4     -     KuKuK Jagd-Schlachtstaffel 4     -     Draws 1

   Missions   Kills   XP   Luck   Notes 
Premier Escadrille International
Charles “Half Pint”
Carruthers (GB)
4 1 18 4 Skill: Sniper
“Dirty” Bertie Parker (AU) 3 1 20 3 Skill: Acrobatic Pilot 
Captain Jack Yates (GB) 5 1 19 4 Skill: Luck of the Devil.
Wounded miss missions 10 & 11.
Serious leg injury.
Alphonse Lacourt (FR) 3 0 3 2
St John
Featherstonehaugh (GB)
3 0 8 3  
Hank Snapmulder (US) 1 1 8 1  
Captain Tsiolkovsky (RU) 1 1 8 1  
Kaiserliche und Königliche und Kaiserliche Jagd-Schlachtstaffel
Udo Lockbach (DE) 5 0 7 4
The 1st Erbprinz Rupprecht
zu Sachsen-Zenda (DE)
2 0 3 2  KIA Episode 6.
The 2nd Erbprinz Rupprecht
zu Sachsen-Zenda (DE)
1 0 2 1  Wounded miss mission 10
Florian Meier (DE) 4 0 11 3  
Jörg Fritzl-Falconi (HU) 3 0 9 3  
Gaspard Hauser (DE) 3 0 4 3  
Freiherr Friedrich ”Dickie”
von Salzbach (DE)
2 0 4 1  
Slobomir Kraijnc (HR) 1 0 1 0