More painting and printing

Today, apart from spending over an hour sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for an appointment that was “running 16 minutes late”, I have managed to do a bit more painting.
Today’s colour was Vallejo 70.875 Beige Brown.

Although I like Vallejo paints as a medium, I do not like the way they are bottled. Whenever possible I decant them into old Coat d’Arms pots.

Anyway, this previously decanted paint was applied to:
Irregular Miniatures 2mm “Tiny Town” roads for my “Bomber” project,
Some of the tree trunks on my 3d printed outline woodland for gridded wargames,
House fronts for 3d printed outline BUA for gridded games.
6mm Zulu huts,
6mm Zulu Krall, touching up bare patches of ground,
6mm ex-Confederates, overpainted to become more variegated civilian clothing and hats,
6mm mediaeval crossbowmen, leather jerkins.

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Returning indoors from the Shedquarters I found that I need more printed counters for my play by e-mail Market Garden campaign. This time it’s British glider-borne infantry and artillery. So an hour or so at the PC and they are ready to be stuck onto the plastic counters.

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I foresee an evening of cutting and sticking as we catch up with series 1 of the BBC drama “Line of Fire” on TV.

Mostly about painting

Today has seen quite a lot of time in the “shedquarters” catching up with painting.

I have been using my method of taking the next available pot of paint from my paint box and using it to catch up with the various projects “on the go”.
And so…
1. Coat d’Arms 509 Brick Red.
Added to the 3d printed outline townscapes for my 6mm grid games based on Bob Corderoy’s rules.
Added to the Irregular Miniatures “2mm” towns which I intend to use for my “Bomber” game (of which more below).
Base-coated some 6mm cattle – actual colour to be researched later.
Re-painted some hats, coats and trousers of 6mm Confederates to convert them into local militia for my fictitious 1879 game.

2. Coat d’Arms ??? Slate Grey.
Added several roofs to my IM tiny towns for “Bomber”.
Several boxes for a defensive 6mm Zulu War situation.
Tweaked the 6mm Confederates further to become civilian militia.
Added hair and whiskers to a 28mm Victorian General.
6mm medieval artillery woodwork.

3. Citadel Enchanted Blue (Gosh – that’s an old bottle!)
1 pair “Brand New” ACW Union infantry trousers in 20mm.
1 house for the 6mm outline town for a square grid battle game.
6mm Medieval Gunner tunics.

4. Coat d’Arms 505 Green Grey
More tweaking of 6mm Confederates to make 1879 civilian militia.
6mm “Zulu” British defense boxes.
6mm grid game outline tree trunks.
6mm grid game outline buildings.
6mm medieval crossbowmen breeches.

5. Coat d’Arms 107 Bright Gold
20mm ACW Colour pole finials.

6. Coat d’Arms 517 Dessert (sic) Yellow.
Bases for 2mm Colonial troop blocks.

7. Coat d’Arms 406 Muddy green
Bases for 6mm infantry of 1700 period.

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I also made a start on the comprehensive illustrated rules for my WW2 “Bomber” game, representing an RAF night attack on Germany in 1943. I have written the basics of the game, up to the point when the first aircraft takes off.

Operation Dab-It-Off

Looking back on my blog it appears that I never got around to reporting the results of Operation Dab-It-Off from 27th December 2016.  Unfortunately all photographs are also untraceable.

The game was based on Len Deighton’s book “Bomber”, and I was lucky enough to obtain a flight manual for the Lancaster Bomber to help with the detail.

The operation was so named because it was the fun game played at Chris Scott’s place on the Day After Boxing-day.  For non-UK readers, Dab-It-Off is a form of home dry-cleaning fluid.  It erases unwanted stains, including the town of Irgendwo (somewhere) in 1943 Germany.

Unfortunately the pictures have disappeared into the mists of time, but the idea of the game was that each player was issued with three 1/600 scale Lancaster bombers to fly the length of a 16 foot table, bomb strategic sites in an enemy town (using tiddly-winks) and return safely home.  Each player also had control of a JU88 night fighter to shoot down the opposition.  Every aircraft had randomised skill ratings for each crew member, adding to the same total for every bomber or fighter.  During the flight damage and equipment failures* would be rolled for against the relevant personal skill of the person responsible.

The general game scale was 1 hexagon (6cm) = 4 miles and 1 height level = 2,500 feet.  In air-air combat this was telescoped to about 1/5 of the above.

In summary, the bombers took off in three waves, starting at 21:00.  Each game turn was 10 minutes of real time.  Points were awarded for successful navigation, so there was considerable jostling to fly over or near the first beacon.

As the bomber stream flew over the North Sea a convoy escorted by a FLAK ship was passing*.  The umpire had fun engaging the bombers as they flew overhead, and three aircraft were downed before reaching Holland.  After the first Lancaster crossed the enemy coast the German night fighters were activated.  (D6=6 each turn to activate).  During the approach run one Lancaster was downed for the loss of one JU88.

The first two bombers to arrive at the target decided to ignore the Target Indicators and flew across the target at 90 degrees to the planned approach.  X-XRay was hit by FLAK immediately after bombing and crashed with all the crew lost.

The remaining aircraft followed the TIs (the last one was dropped in the wrong place by the pathfinders*).

Eventually 168 x 1000 pound bombs were dropped.  Of these:

10 hit factories, 6 hit the railway yard, 4 hit the town hall and 4 the army barracks.  10 hit other parts of the railway, 46 hit residential districts and 68 landed in open countryside.  The church and hospital were spared, much to the chagrin of the umpire.

2/3 of the bombers reached the target.  40% of the bombs were wasted, 15% hit valuable targets and 45% hit domestic infrastructure.

Individual aircraft performance:

D-Dog.  Did not bomb.  
E-Easy. FLAK ship hit starboard wing.  Crashed, no survivors.
H-How. 60 pts vital, 90 pts other targets.  "A milk run".
I-Item.  105pts other targets.  Navigator killed.
J-Jig. 120pts vital, 90pts other targets, flew home on 3 engines.
K-King. 120pts vital, 30pts other targets, shot down JU88. Beers all round.
M-Mike. 45pts vital targets. Navigator and bomb-aimer not on speaking terms.
N-Nan. 180pts vital, 75pts other targets. Point-blank hits.
O-Oboe. Engine Fire, Pilot and Navigator bailed out over North Sea, others lost.
P-Peter. 45pts vital, 120pts other targets. Bombed across the stream.
Q-Queen. Hit by FLAK, exploded, all crew lost.
R-Roger. First to cross enemy coast. Hit by FLAK, crashed with all crew lost.
S-Sugar. Engineer dealt with 3 engine failures, aircraft hit by FLAK at low level.
T-Tare. 105pts other targets. Flight Engineer on Elsan throughout flight*.
V-Victor. 60pts other targets. uneventful flight.
X-XRay. 90pts other targets. First to bomb, across stream, but hit by FLAK and crashed.
Y-Yoke. Shot down after unsuccessful bombing run by JU88. Tail Gunner bailed out.
Z-Zebra. 75pts other targets. Last to reach target. Front Gunner killed.
-------
B-Bruno. No combat contacts.
D-Dora. Shot down in combat.
E-Emil. Destroyed 1 Lancaster.
F-Friedrich. No combat contacts.
H-Heinrich. No combat contacts.
I-Ida. No combat contacts.




The game ended due to time restrictions before the bombers could return to their now fogged-in airfield, but all agreed it had been a jolly good game.

Maybe other raids – Brest submarine pens, the Tirpitz, the Dambusters raid, etc. will be created for the future, but meanwhile I rest upon my laurels.

*Each turn I, as umpire, drew a “Gremlin” card to randomise damage, change of wind direction or strength, enemy shipping, and other similar effects.

Bomber – an update

We playtested the Bomber game using the Dambusters raid as a scenario.  It was quite clear that the Flak rules are extremely nasty at low level, and that flying at low level is precarious.  Even though the next game will be flown at a higher altitude I have revised the rules to reduce the damage inflicted.   It would be useful to keep all players in tbe game!

The rules for flying were deemed to be too complex for chaps operating on post-Christmas hangovers, so they too have been simplified.  So has bombing.

I hope to post some more information about this game in the run-up to Christmas.

Meanwhile, festive felicitations to all.

Bomber – the Wargame. Part 2

I thought it may be of interest to publish the draft rules that we will be using.  After drafting the rules I found the booklet shown in the header photograph, and was very pleased to find that the technical specs for a Lancaster matched very well with my own performance estimates.  The booklet is very useful for extra information on such things as take-off and landing speeds and – something I had not previously considered – which engines also power which subsidiary functions like gun turret hydraulics.  This in itself has added an element to my game.

And so to the draft rules:

BOMBER – Draft rules.

Designer’s Note:  Regardless of the apparent detail in these rules, it is intended to be competitive fun in the spirit of “one for all, and every man for himself”.  I have been surprised how close my first draft was to the real capabilities of the aircraft.

Premise

Each aircraft crew member has an ability level based on his training, natural skill and equipment efficiency.  These have been randomised, but every equivalent aircraft has the same total score.  Pilots cannot have the lowest ability rating.  Nobody’s ability can fall below level 1.

These abilities will be used to determine performance against problems.  Abilities may be reduced as the game progresses.  Generally you must roll below your ability to perform a task.  The exception is trying to fly higher or faster.

 Game Scales. (For reality checks)

The game is played on a 6cm hexagon grid.  Each hexagon is approximately 4 miles from side to side for strategic purposes, but for tactical engagements and bombing this is somewhat telescoped.

One turn is 10 minutes.

One altitude level is approximately 2,500 feet.  A Lancaster will normally cruise at and bomb from around level 6-8 (15-20,000 ft).  Maximum height is 11 (27,500 ft).

Flying higher will reduce vulnerability to Flak, but may make you more of a target for night fighters and will consume more fuel.  For aerial combat the difference between levels is assumed to be reduced to around 500 feet relative to the target.

One speed level is around 25 mph.  A Lancaster will normally cruise around level 6-7 (real = 160-170mph), but the maximum speed is 11 (real = 270 mph).

The minimum (stalling) speed is 4. (real =118 mph).

One fuel unit is 10 gallons.

Flak Guns have a range of 3 hexagons.  In reality the range is around 19,000 m level (3 hexagons) or 9,500 m vertical (12 altitude levels).  In the game the range for calculating shooting is the total of hexagons + altitude, but only up to 3 hexagons horizontal.

JU88 night fighters have a speed of between 5 and 12 hexagons (200 – 480 kph) and a maximum ceiling of 13 (9,250 m).

Combat ranges between fighters and bombers have been stretched, as the minimum space between models at the strategic scale is 4 miles.  Opening fire with a Browning .303” gun at 7,000 yards in the dark would be fairly pointless.  All combat between fighters and bombers is carried out at a range of 1 hexagon.

Aircraft will move in a randomised sequence determined by the draw of a card or a chit.

Flying a Lancaster bomber.

The Lancaster bomber can fly at a height between 1 and 11 (2,500 – 27,500 ft) and a speed between 4 and 11 (100mph-275mph).  If the speed is below 4 it will require a pilot ability roll to pull out of the uncontrolled dive.   The height is shown by one or two blue dice on the right side of the base.  The speed is shown by one or two red dice on the left side of the base.  At the start of each turn, the player may try to change either speed or altitude by one point up or down.

First declare the intention.  Roll a D6 and add or subtract the pilot ability level as desired.  If the result is higher than the factor to be increased then that factor is increased by one.  If the result is lower than the factor to be decreased then that factor is decreased by one.  Note that there is no trade-off of height for speed, to keep it simple.

Turning

A Bomber may turn by 60 degrees after each forward move of one hexagon.  The maximum number of turns in one move is equal to the ability of the navigator.  The minimum number of turns allowed in one move is one.  After damage to the aircraft it may be necessary to move two hexagons forwards before each turn.

Potential Collisions

An aircraft may pass through a hexagon containing another aircraft.  No aircraft may occupy the same hexagon as another aircraft at the end of the turn.  The aircraft that arrived last must reduce speed or turn away to complete its move.

After moving, the player deducts the total of the current altitude and speed from his fuel tally on the log sheet, also marking the heading, height and speed.

The cards

 At the end of each turn after the first aircraft reaches the enemy coast the umpire will draw a “Gremlin” card and advise the relevant player(s) of the consequences.

Damage cards are drawn when an aircraft suffers hits or if the Gremlin card indicates a systems failure.  Damage must be noted on the pilot’s log.

FLAK Batteries

FLAK takes priority over other combat.   At the end of its move each aircraft must dice for damage from all FLAK batteries within 3 hexagons.   Roll 2D6.  Subtract 1 for each hexagon of range and 1 for each level of altitude.  The result is the number of damage cards dealt to the player.  Damage is inflicted in the sequence of the cards dealt.

Night Fighters.

Each player has one JU88 night fighter.  The JU88 may be deployed at the player’s discretion, subject to the following:  Roll 1D8 and 2D6.  If the D8<2D6 the aircraft may be deployed.  It is placed on the table edge in occupied territory with an initial speed of 1D8 (minimum 5) and height of 1D8.

JU88 night fighters have a crew of 3.  They fly under the same rules as a Lancaster, but at a speed of 5 – 13 hexagons and an altitude of 1 – 13 hexagons, using a D8 instead of a D6.  If the speed falls below 5 it will require a pilot ability roll to pull out of the uncontrolled dive.

A JU88 starts with 200 fuel points and marks off the tally as for Lancaster bombers.  It must leave the table before running out of fuel.  It may be refuelled and rearmed after 2D6 turns.

Aerial combat

Each aircraft may fire before moving, after moving, or both. When the JU88 has moved within one hexagon of the Lancaster:

Lancaster gunners (depending on angle of attack) roll against their ability.  If 1D6<ability the gunner saw the JU88 approaching and warns the pilot.  The pilot rolls against his ability.  If 1D6<ability, the aircraft may move 1 hexagon in any forward direction and 1 level up or down.

The JU88 has:

4 x 20mm cannon firing directly forwards.  If the target is within 1 hexagon and directly in front of the JU88 and at the same altitude, roll 2D6.  Subtract the die roll for each die from the Pilot ability.  The result is the number of hits.  Take 2 damage cards on the target for each hit.

2 x 20mm cannon firing forwards and upwards.  If the target is within 1 hexagon and directly in front of the JU88 and 1 level higher, roll 1D6.  Subtract the die roll from the Pilot ability.  The result is the number of hits.  Take 2 damage cards on the target for each hit

1 x 7.92 MG firing directly to the rear.  If the target is within 1 hexagon and directly to the rear of the JU88 and 1 level higher, roll 1D6.  Subtract the die roll from the Navigator ability.  The result is the number of hits.  Take 1 damage card on the target for each two hits, rounding down.

FLAK and JU88 Night Fighters.

If a JU88 strays within 3 hexagons of a FLAK position, roll 2D6 for identification.  Subtract the range in hexagons and the altitude.   If the result is positive the FLAK guns have misidentified the aircraft as a Blenheim and open fire, as for Lancaster bombers.

Lancaster Bombers – Combat

May shoot before moving, after moving, or both.  Lancasters are armed with:

Front:  (Bomb Aimer is also Front Gunner.)  2 x .303” MGs.  May fire at targets within one hexagon ahead, to left or right at the same altitude, one level above or one below.  Roll 1D6 and subtract from the gunner’s ability.  Remainder is hits.  Target takes one damage card for each hit.

Mid-Upper: 2 x .303″ MGs.  May fire at any target within the same altitude or one above and one hexagon range, except directly to the rear at the same altitude.  Roll 1D6 and subtract from the gunner’s ability.  Remainder is hits.  Target takes one damage card for each hit.

Tail: 4 x .303″ MGs.  May fire at targets within one hexagon to the rear, to left or right at the same altitude, one level above or one below.  Roll 1D6 and subtract from the gunner’s ability.  Remainder is hits.  Target takes two damage cards for each hit.

Bombing

When the aircraft is lined up on the target and one move away from overflying it, bombing will take place.  The bomb-aimer rolls 1D6<ability to move the aircraft one hexagon in any direction.  The launch point is the new position of the aircraft, moved back one hexagon for each height level, and forwards for each speed level.

The player now shoots seven tiddlywinks from the launch position. (Each represents two 1000lb bombs).  The umpire adjudicates the fall of bombs, scores the bombing and places fire and smoke markers.  The aircraft is now returned to control of the pilot who must fly straight and level on the next move (for the photographs to be taken).

Landing

Landing a Lancaster is achieved by reducing the altitude to 0 and the speed to 100mph (speed 4) at the point at which the aircraft reaches the runway.  Depending on damage sustained this may be easy or very difficult.

A note about the cards.

Anyone who has played Monopoly will be familiar with the concept of Chance cards.  In my game the umpire draws a card at the start of each game turn.  A few of the Gremlin cards may be beneficial, but most will infove a frustration factor.  maybe the predicted weather has changed.  Maybe a vital piece of equipment has failed.  Most of the cards require one specific aircraft to draw a damage card and if that card refers to a system (as opposed to generalised structural damage) the effects are applied.

The Damage cards are drawn either as a result of a Gremiln card or from Flak or anemy shooting.  These range from crew casualties to structural or systems damage.  After damage the aircraft will be harder to fly and perform bombing, shooting, navigation, etc.  These effects are generally indicated by reducing one or more crew abilities, requiring a lower die roll to succeed in any task.