Whereas painting’s still going very slowly, the Crimson Skies campaign by e-mail against my boss StuG has continued at a bit of a quicker pace!
For those of you following this series of games, I need to jump back two games to set the scene. Two games ago, StuG’s air pirate gang, the Springfield Raiders, sank a tug preparing to move dis-assembled aircraft in two barges. During the raid, gang members Ned Flanders and Sideshow Bob ended up losing their planes (no spoilers there) and bailing out over the Colombian coast. In their next game (so, one game ago), Ned and Bob managed to assemble two Fury fighters and escort a bomber over Central Mexico to a landing strip in the north of the country, ready to rendezvous with the rest of the Raiders off the Texas coast.
So, while Ned and Bob were
getting shot up yet again flying over Mexico, the rest of the Raiders had to fly from their island base over Cuba to their own advanced base in Florida, and that brings us to the present game! In this game, Bleeding Gums (leader of the Raiders) and Flamin’ Moe were accompanied by the pirate Sealance fighter they’d managed to join up with early in the campaign. Their objective was to get across the map and exit the far side and not hang around shooting up the opposition. Because Gums and Moe are experienced and dangerous pilots, I had to deploy a reasonable amount of opposition to give them a run for their money. Consequently, I used four Spanish Republican International Air Brigade fighters against the three Raiders’ planes, although the Republicans were spread over the map at the start. One of the Republican pilots, however (flying a Yak-4) was already an ace and consequently a considerable threat to the Raiders.
At the start of the game, the Raiders entered the map form the bottom left-hand corner, needing to leave the map by the top right-hand corner. The Republicans (controlled by me) appeared in the other three map corners – the Yak-4 accompanied by a Stalwart from the top left, an Aguila from the top right and an I-18 from the bottom right. From this point on, the game got messy!
Predicting correctly that Bleeding Gums would not be able to resist pushing his plane and getting into action right from the start, the Yak-4 and Stalwart closed right up and tackled Bleeding Gums’ Rifleman fighter head-on! This was a tactic previously used by the Raiders against me, so it was nice to flip things round. Tackling fighters head-on is not a good idea but two against one evened the odds a bit! With a lucky dice roll, Bleeding Gums managed to shoot first and elected to fire at the Stalwart, the latter exploding in spectacular fashion as a magnesium round hit one of the fuel tanks in its wing! As the Stalwart pilot bailed out, the Yak-4 hit the Rifleman with a veritable barrage of cannon shells, destroying both its engines and leaving a magnesium round burning in the fuselage. Unsurprisingly, Bleeding Gums decided to bail out before his plane exploded! Let’s be honest – despite losing the Stalwart I was dead pleased to shoot down Bleeding Gums and take him down a peg! Two moves in and two planes down already!
This move, however, left the Yak-4 up against both the Hawkeye and Sealance before the other Republican fighters could help. Consequently, The Yak-4 pilot decided to push her plane and try and catch the Raiders at close range. Unfortunately, the Raiders pulled their two-planes-on-one-hex trick in an attempt to out-gun the Yak-4. This should have been a good move, if it wasn’t for the fact that the Yak-4 and Moe’s Hawkeye collided (first time in six games that a collision’s occurred)! Whereas the Yak-4 lost some armour and a gun, the Hawkeye ended up quite battered!
Despite the damage, Moe managed to loop his plane round without further damage and put a short, well-aimed (and dead jammy) burst into the Yak-4’s wing. On top of the damage it suffered from the collision, this proved too much for the Yak-4 and the pilot bailed out!
With two fighters per side now, things were a bit more even, although the Raiders’ advantage in having Moe still flying was to some extent balanced by the fact that his plane was a wreck! As the two Republican fighters closed up, the Raiders split away from each other . . .
. . . and then looped back!
But the two Republican fighters kept up their manoeuvring in an attempt to get in behind the Raiders, although the Aguila pilot failed to turn sharply enough and fractured his port wing badly!
Despite the damage, the Aguila managed to use its high speed to close on the Sealance, firing a flare and sonic rocket and shocking the pilot into flying straight,
A high speed push from the Aguila brought it into a firing position against the Sealance, with Moe’s Hawkeye flying close alongside. Both sides fired flares and sonic rockets and the Aguila managed to get some damaging hits on the Sealance’s tail.
At the last moment, Moe tried a high speed move to get away from the Republican fighters, but this just put him into a perfect firing position in front of the Aguila! Despite being hit with almost all of the guns and rockets fired, the damage ended up being spread right across the Hawkeye and not concentrated enough to bring it down!
To be fair, the Raiders had a bit of luck in this game! Firing first near the start of the game allowed them to bring down the Stalwart, whereas if the Yak-4 had fired first the Raiders would have been left with two fighters against four. Both the Sealance and Hawkeye were also hit by magnesium rounds from the Aguila that would have destroyed them if the rounds had burnt for one more move (see the plane diagrams below – if the pink boxes showing the mag rounds had burnt for one move longer they would have reached the fuel tanks shown in orange and caused both planes to explode! That was lucky indeed, particularly given the amount of damage the Hawkeye had taken)!
But it was a good game and fairly evenly matched. It also means Bleeding Gums will have to fly a Fury as replacement fighter in his next game, since no other fighters are available (and I was so pleased to have shot him down – have I already said that)!
As in previous posts, I’ve added some pictures of the actual model planes that the game markers are based on, although these are only the Republican planes since the Raiders’ planes have all featured in previous posts. Shown above is the Stalwart, an official Crimson Skies model, painted in Spanish Republican colours, although I also have a pirate version in a plain mid grey. It has a remote-controlled turret mounted on the tailplane controlled by a gunner in the rear of the crew nacelle. I really like the model, but it’s not a particularly good fighter – when I came to record my game results I discovered that I’ve actually never used it before myself (and am not likely to after its performance in this game)!
Shown above is an Aguila, this one also in Spanish Republican colours and not as bright as the two Mexican versions featured in the last game. If I’d thought about it I didn’t need to take a photo of it, since it featured in the very first game in this campaign, although it did much better in this game. Although they’re big and vulnerable, Aguilas are fast and well-armed and have a reasonable combat record.
Last plane featured is the Yak-4 (above). An official CS design, I converted this by the simple expedient of sticking two Scotia Micromodels P-51 Mustangs together! It’s plain olive drab scheme with red distinctions allows it to pass for a Republican, Russian or pirate machine. It’s slow but well-armed and manoeuvrable and has had a decent combat record for the small number of times I’ve used it (it’s probably one of the later models I converted and painted).
So, where does that leave this campaign? Well, there is one more game to play, bringing the Springfield Raiders all back together to escort an illegal moonshine shipment into Texas.
Stay tuned and stay safe! Avoid Texas airspace ’cause Ned Flanders is going to be in it soon enough!