Last week saw the completion of the latest Crimson-Skies-by-email game with my boss, StuG. Since I didn’t manage a post setting the scene for the latest game before it started, it’s all been rolled into one, so this is maybe another long post and no doubt good for insomnia!
At the end of the last game, StuG’s air pirates, the Springfield Raiders, had been in action around the western Caribbean island of La Isla Negra. Whilst Sideshow Bob flew an autogyro in to rescue downed pilot Ned Flanders, two of the other Raiders, Bleedin’ Gums and Flaming Moe, managed to get themselves shot down in the process! The good news is that no-one who bailed out over the Caribbean got eaten by sharks and the Raiders got on with the job of planning to get new planes with which to continue their piratical activities.
A tip-off from a disreputable source indicated that two barges loaded with disassembled fighter aircraft were preparing to ship from a small port on the Colombian coast. The Raiders’ plan was to sink the tug towing the barges and then use a pirate vessel to hijack the aircraft shipment. While the seaborne group were en route to the target, the Raiders would use all of their aircraft to sink the tug before their arrival and prevent the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC, or Colombian Air Force, controlled by me) from interfering with the operation. The plan, however, was upset by a tropical storm, resulting in the Raiders’ aircraft becoming scattered on the inbound flight and arriving in a piecemeal fashion over the target!
First of the Raiders to arrive was Ned Flanders (you just knew that would happen) flying an Aguila heavy fighter, with an FAC Mustang fighter turning up moments later (Ned’s top left in the above picture, the Mustang top right, the tug is bottom centre). The map background is from a Google Earth image with a hex grid overlaid on it. I’ll have to apologise in advance for the smaller size of the planes in these pictures, but with aircraft arriving on the map over the course of several moves, I opted to keep the full map views rather than any details. The dull colouring of the FAC aircraft doesn’t help either!
Unperturbed by his lack of support, Ned started his run in towards the tug (see above), the FAC Mustang also trying to close the gap between the aircraft. The tug was armed with two flak guns and, not being sure of the identity of either of the aircraft, it opened fire on both (and, as I mentioned in the last game report, “FK” stands for flak)!
As Sideshow Bob appeared in his Skua, Ned opened fire on the tug, scoring multiple hits (see above). At this point, an FAC Battleaxe heavy fighter also appeared on the scene.
Closing on the tug, Ned let rip with all of his rockets and the tug started to take on a noticeable list. At this point, neither of the two FAC fighters seemed to be doing all that much! But everything was about to change!
As Bleedin’ Gums, the leader of the Springfield Raiders, arrived in his Rifleman fighter, Sideshow Bob spotted Ned Flanders putting his Aguila into a dangerously steep dive over the tug. Whilst another FAC Mustang had also appeared on the scene, the other two FAC fighters opened fire . . . on the barges! This was the point at which a couple of things became clear:
- the FAC aircraft had orders to sink the barges and stop anyone getting their hands on the cargo of aircraft.
- Ned Flanders had decided that the best way to sink the tug was by crashing his plane into it! I should have realised StuG would try this game tactic, since the Crimson Skies rules allow for aircraft to be crashed into things and I’d told him about this a day or two before we started the game!
So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Ned adjusted his plane’s course to impact the tug and bailed out (see above)!
In StuG’s words “Over the radio comes Ned, “I’m going to bail and pitch this bird straight into the barge! May God save me!” For some strange reason ‘Sideshow’ considers himself a bit of an amateur psychiatrist after hosting a KACL radio show in his university days. He radios Ned and tries to talk him out of this act of madness. Nothing comes back, only silence”! (I didn’t understand any of this, but StuG informs me that any dedicated followers of The Simpsons will! Personally, I’d have been surprised that Ned Flanders could find the “transmit” button on his radio).
As Ned floated down on his parachute, Sideshow Bob moved in to check he’d landed safely, allowing Mustang 22 to riddle his aircraft with gunfire and putting a magnesium round into his starboard wing, burning its way towards the fuel tank (see above)! In the meantime, Flaming Moe had appeared on the scene in his Hawkeye fighter, with an FAC Lancer fighter also arriving to back up the other fighters.
As the FAC Battleaxe closed on the leading barge while the tug settled on the seabed, Bleeding Guns opened up on the second Mustang (Number 33, see picture above). Keeping his cool, and staying on mission, the Mustang pilot ignored the oncoming fighter and fired at the leading barge (which, to be honest, was an easier target to hit)!
As Sideshow Bob bailed out of his Skua moments before it exploded, Bleedin’ Gums put a long burst into Mustang 33, with the inevitable magnesium round burning towards one of the wing tanks (see above)! StuG was pretty pleased at this, as it gave Bleedin’ Gums his fifth aerial victory and ace status! At the same time, the Battleaxe hit the leading barge and it started to slowly sink below the waves! The last Raiders’ fighter, a Sealance, also appeared on the scene, but no further FAC aircraft arrived.
The trick was now for the FAC fighters to try and get shots in at the remaining Raiders’ planes, since the Rifleman and Hawkeye pilots were both dangerous opponents (see above).
However, luck was not with the Colombian pilots (and, worse than that, I let them down with a couple of poor moves)! In a move I should have expected, Flaming Moe got his Hawkeye in behind Mustang 22 and took its wing off (see above)! Fortunately, pilot experience helped here and the Mustang pilot successfully bailed out.
To add insult to injury, Flaming Moe than lined up on the Battleaxe and took it down with a long burst as well (see above), the crew also managing to bail out. If that wasn’t bad enough, Bleedin’ Gums damaged the Lancer and Mustang 33 finally exploded, the pilot also managing a dangerous, but successful combat bail-out (I’d tried to make a high speed turn in the expectation that I’d fail to do it and damage the Mustang’s wing in the process, causing the fuel to leak out of the wing tank and prevent it from exploding! Typically, just when you want things to go wrong, they didn’t, and the plane exploded)!
So, a successful mission for the Raiders, in that they destroyed the tug but lost two aircraft in the process. The FAC were hampered by my poor moves at the end, losing three fighters but successfully sinking the leading barge and its cargo of heavy fighters.
Just a couple of extra aircraft pictures to go with the game views. The Battleaxe fighter (shown above) was converted from a Scotia 1/300th Heinkel He 111 bomber and based around a 1937 British heavy turreted-fighter design. I’d originally converted it to a more conventional design with milliput and painted it, but then decided it looked very uninspiring so I extended the cockpit forward and added the forward-facing turret.
And for those of you concerned about the well-being of the Vulture Legion aircrew forced to bail out in the last game, they were successfully picked up by a German Erprobungskommando 99 (Testing Command 99) Dornier Do 20 flying boat (see above). Although the Vulture Legion has its own air-sea-rescue and maritime patrol flying boats, Epkdo 99 is a unit operating experimental German aircraft out of a clandestine base on the Caratasca Lagoon (all of course fictional). The aircraft is also fictional but based on German designs that mounted powered gun mounts in remote controlled barbettes. The model is based on a Scotia 1/300th Sunderland flying boat, but with milliput used to build up the cockpit, gun turret and gun control blisters (the gunners observe from the blisters mounted in the rear fusleage and remotely control the gun barbettes mounted either side of the cockpit, added here from plasticard). The conventional Sunderland tail has been replaced by a twin-fin design in plasticard. As with my other Crimson Skies models, the Battleaxe and Do 20 date from the early noughties.
So, what happens next? Ned is undoubtedly the hero of the hour, although his boss will most likely give him a black eye for deliberately crashing his plane! This time it’s Ned and Sideshow Bob left in the lurch, but for how long?
Stay tuned and stay safe!