Friday evening found a group of us gathered in Robin’s new games room with plans to dominate the air over the Western Front during the Great War. In all we would play three multiplayer Wings of War games with all set in the period 1917 to 1918.
It’s impossible to provide a clear overview of the encounters as they can at best be described as free wheeling seat of your pants encounters, especially those involving fighters. During the course of the evenings Spads, Triplanes, Albatross, SE5 and others weaved, climbed and dived across the table.
One particular interesting game was that involving a four engined Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI. It was the first time most of us had seen the model and after discussion decided that the Staaken would undertake a bombing mission and intercepted by six fighters over London.
Only 18 of these monsters were built during the war. Wikipedia states that the Staaken Squadron on the Western Front had an average of five R.VI’s available for missions and conducted 11 raids on Great Britain between September 28, 1917, and May 20, 1918, dropping 27,190 kg (27 long tons; 30 short tons) of bombs in 30 sorties. Flying at night the aircraft flew individually to their targets on moonlit nights, requesting directional bearings by radio after takeoff, then using the River Thames as a navigational landmark. Missions on the 340-mile (550 km) round trip lasted seven hours. None were apparently lost in combat over Great Britain but two crashed returning to base in the dark.
Armed with one forward firing machine gun and four rear firing machine guns we all tried to engage the beast from the front. However, once past it gaining the front was slow work and instead a gaggle of aircraft soon formed biting at its rear as it slowly manoeuvred for its bombing run on Buckingham Palace.
Above the Staaken being pursued by Allied aircraft.
While German propaganda would declare the palace was bombed successfully in fact only one bomb fell any where near the palace and that fell harmlessly in the palace gardens. The Staaken of course failed to make it home, finally succumbing to the constant fire of the pursuing fighters, resulting in a victory for the Allies.
A first rate series of games which was ideal on a cold winter’s evening.