Category Archives: Wings of Glory

Bag the Staaken

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.

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Breaking out the Stukas

Over recent months Ares have relaunched their Battle of Britain aircraft range and as result I took the opportunity to bolster my German and British squadrons. For the Germans I purchased a couple of Stukas and for the British I bolstered the number of Hurricanes.

Unlike the original releases the new aircraft are supplied in squadron packs. Basically, you have the default aircraft and then apply various transfers so that two or three aircraft have a similar camouflage pattern but with different individual aircraft markings. A much improved model for World War II. Of course I’m disorganised and having been focussed on some other projects I’ve yet to sit down and apply the transfers, but I suspect they will add considerably to the overall look.

Anyway, with the aircraft unpacked the last couple of Tuesday evening games have seen the dreaded Luftwaffe in the skies over 1940 Britain.

The Stukas are of course reasonably slow, and not particularly well armed. However add in a couple of Bf-109s and the British Hurricanes have a tough challenge with plenty of potential tactical options.

Above, a close up view of a veteran Hurricane – the new Hurricane model was mostly in the wrong place tonight so didn’t make many photos – except for the first photo at the top of this post. Below, a Hurricane heads in for a kill on a Stuka, only to be engaged by a Bf-109.

We are still clearly novices and our tactics somewhat simplistic. Worse, the Stuka pilots are struggling to locate the targets and complete their dive bombing mission. However, despite all this a very enjoyable series of games.

Snoopy’s Christmas

It’s almost an institution that a few of us gather for “Snoopy’s Christmas”, a Wings of Glory gaming session, just prior to Christmas. This year five of us took to the air last night somewhere over the Western Front. So to set the scene:

The Baron had Snoopy dead in his sights
He reached for the trigger to pull it up tight
Why he didn’t shoot, well, we’ll never know…

Our first scenario was the ubiquitous air superiority mission with initially three allied aircraft tackling two German machines. The allies fielded two Spad XIII and a Sopwith Triplane. The Germans meanwhile managed to place a couple of Albatross in the area.

Above, a Spad goes almost head to head with an Albatross. The Spads lived up to their reputation of being fast but lacking in manoeuvrability. The German aircraft, in contrast, repeatedly out turned the Spads.

However, the Germans didn’t have it all their own way. Below, the Sopwith Triplane flown by Pilot Officer Sutton. His first burst of fire, earlier in the battle, caused a massive explosion in an Albatross.

This kill, as well as a series of others, resulted in several additional reinforcements to be substituted. Below, an Albatross D.Va prepares to engage a Spad.

By the end of the mission all but one machine, a Spad with a wounded pilot, was suffering some form of engine damage reducing their ability to manoeuvre. All were heavily damaged, forcing the survivors to head for home.

Next up was a photo reconnaissance mission by a Breguet BR.14 B2 supported by a DH.4. Below, the Breguet flies toward the monastery while the DH.4 attempts to disrupt the Hun.

The Germans put up a series of aircraft. These included initially an Albatross, a Fokker DR.1 and a Aviatik D.1. Unfortunately the Central Powers pilots were woefully ineffective and as a result suffered heavy casualties for their inexperience.

No less than five German or Austrian pilots were shot down as they tried relentlessly to disrupt the allied aircraft. However, the allied pilots, and their expertly trained rear gunners, fought off all attacks.

Another great evening of Wings of Glory.

Eisenseiten: The Messerschmitt Bf-110

This evening we managed a couple of WWII Wings of War encounters set during 1940 during our regular mid-week gaming slot. My opponent was particularly keen to try some alternate aircraft and as a result the Messerschmitt Me-109s were replaced by Me-110s.

I’ve used the Me-110s previously as escorts for Heinkel bombers with poor results, but this was the first time I’ve seen them in action against Spitfires in scenario released from bomber escort duty. Both scenarios started in a situation which could have easily resulted in a head to head pass, something I wished to avoid given I was controlling the Spitfires and was apprehensive of the frontal armament of the Me-110. I of course wanted to break around the Me-110s and ideally attack from the side, or at least the rear. Achieving however would be harder than I expected. To frustrate my plans further in both encounters the Luftwaffe pilots were focusing on ensuring the Messerschmitts were kept together, thus providing mutual support.

The first encounter found both Spitfires breaking right with the intention of approaching the Messerschmitts from their left. Unfortunately the German machines turned more quickly than I expected. Pushing their machines forward at full throttle the Me-110s caught the Spitfires in their frontal arc. 

Above, the Spitfires caught in front of one of the Messerschmitts. In the next turn one Spitfire will be in the front arc of the second Messerschmitt.

In the ensuing engagement, which was notable for its briefness, one Spitfire was trailing smoke and was riddled with shell holes, while the second Spitfire’s engine was spluttering along having taken a 20mm cannon round into the engine. In contrast the Me-110s had suffered minor damage. Clearly the Spitfires needed to avoid the front arc of the Me-110s at all cost! Back to the tactical drawing board…

The next encounter was more interesting and was one of manoeuvre. The Spitfires separated with one breaking left the other right. The Me-110s, maintaining formation, focussed on one Spitfire. In theory this let the second Spitfire to manoeuvre against the rear of the Messerschmitts. Alas, too much time was lost breaking right swinging meaning the Spitfire Mk1 was out of range. Meanwhile the Messerschmitts chased the other Spitfire. Here the manoeuvrability of the Spitfire started to show. Playing with the Me-110s it moved right before dropping altitude and breaking left allowing it to turn behind the Me-110s. 

Below, a Spitfire starts to break left and is now at a lower altitude.

In an attempt to catch the Spitfire one Messerschmitt now dropped altitude, but it couldn’t turn quickly enough and over shot. The combination of turns and altitude changes had broken the strong supporting German formation. Yet in all the manoeuvring no shots had been fired. 

At this point the positions seemed to favour the Spitfires. One was about to move to level four, and had closed the range, while the other was one on level two. With the ability of the Spitfire to climb more quickly and turn more tightly there looked to be opportunities to concentrate fire in upcoming turns on one of the Messerschmitts. Unfortunately however, that was where we had to leave the encounter, so the outcome was still unknown. Perhaps next time…

Messerschmitt Mayhem

This evening, during our mid-week game, we decided on a 1940 encounter which would see the Luftwaffe tangling with the RAF using Wings of Glory. Jim was keen to use his Spitfires again while I hoped my Me-109s would perform better than they had the previous week. Now, I won’t try and compile a report of our game but instead I will just try and describe, briefly, a couple of photos.

The Germans opted for a simple tactic of a rapid high speed attack run towards a Spitfire Mk II in a staggered formation. In the initial pass one of the Me-109s clipped the Spitfire. Below, the Messerschmitts sweep through. The lead Me-109 suffered some rudder damage from a burst of enemy fire. In the background a Spitfire Mk I (light grey), sweeps in in a wide arc to support the MkII visible on the left.

Below, another view of the initial pass.

An airborne melee soon developed. The Spitfire pilots weaved back and forth often conducting Immelmann turns which ensured they were potentially on the tail of an Messerschmitt soon after a pass. However, such tactics could sometimes be expected.

Below a Messerschmitt runs in on the Mk I Spitfire that has just completed a turn. A well aimed burst caused the Spitfire to explode moments later.

Now outnumbered the remaining Spitfire gained altitude and played cat and mouse with the Germans. Both the German and English pilot able to achieve the odd burst of fire in these manoeuvres. However, the German pilots eventually reformed and manoeuvred for another run, the rear aircraft providing a level of support as a wingman. Below, the first Me-109 pumped the Spitfire in a head on pass, suffering heavy damage in the process.

Below, an alternate view from the perspective of the Spitfire with the Me-109s coming in. In the distance the second Me-109 can be seen closing at speed.

It was this following Messerschmitt that delivered the final devasting burst of fire. The second Spitfire erupted in a ball of fire.

An excellent evening using Wings of Glory. Rumours abound of Spitfires and Hurricanes tangling with incoming Me-110s next. It will likely be a very different encounter.