Way back in 2020 at the start of the COVID pandemic I started playing the Crimson Skies 1930s aerial combat boardgame by e-mail with my boss, StuG! We got through six games and had started the final game in the campaign but couldn’t finish it because I ended up having to take sick leave for three months in the autumn. Once I was back at work we never seemed to pick it up again, but last week I mentioned to StuG that I might as well write the game up as a blog post and put it down as a win to me since he failed to complete his mission! This provided the necessary impetus for us to complete the game, as StuG wasn’t going let one of his minions (i.e. me) get the better of him!
Since some of you were following this campaign, I’ve put in links to the previous games below so that you can refresh your memories if you want to! I’d forgotten a lot of what happened so it was useful for me to go back through the games.
Background – Bandit’s Ahead! A bit of background to the campaign.
Mission 1 – Shot Down In Flames! The start of a career in air piracy!
More Background – X Marks The Spot! The Springfield Raiders get ready to head south to the Caribbean.
Mission 2 – Panama Party! The newest gang member has a less than auspicious start to his career!
Mission 3A – The Approaching Storm! The Raiders plan a rescue mission.
Mission 3B- International Rescue! Enter the Vulture Legion!
Game Background – Plane & Simple! Some of the basics of the Crimson Skies boardgame.
Mission 4 – Barge Busters! Well nobody expected that to happen!
Mission 5 – Down Mexico Way! The two flakiest members of the Raiders manage to complete a successful mission!
Mission 6 – Chaos Over Cuba! The gang leaders don’t do quite as well as their sidekicks in Mexico!
So that brings us round to the final mission! Following their last two missions, the Springfield Raiders have all come together at their temporary advanced base in Florida. This final mission sees them attempting to get a cargo of illicit moonshine over the Texas coastline to a secret rendezvous with their buyer some way inland. The cargo is being smuggled in Krusty’s bomber inside the two fuselage tanks that would normally be filled with fuel. The Raiders now have a full complement of fighters to escort Krusty, fielding three Fury fighters (flown by Bleedin’ Gums, Sideshow Bob and Ned Flanders) a Hawkeye heavy fighter (flown by Flamin’ Moe) and a Sealance seaplane fighter (flown by Adele Huffman, one of the pirates who’s tagged along with the Raiders for most of the campaign).
It’s just as well the Raiders are using all their aircraft because the Texas authorities have been tipped off to watch for increased illicit contraband traffic and two air militia units are on course to intercept the Raiders as they approach the Texas coast! The two Texas units can field two Cutlass fighters (numbered 17 and 20), two Mustangs (10 and 12), two Skua flying boat fighters (7 and 8) and an Anvil heavy fighter (15 + wing stripe). The total experience of the Texan pilots is higher than that of the Raiders, and they’ve got one more plane, but this is to offset the two most experienced Raiders pilot (Gums and Moe) who are pretty dangerous! In the account of the game that follows I’ve included a picture that represents the positions of the aircraft at the end of each move, with a brief description of what happened in that move following the picture. The Raiders aircraft are shown in Crimson with Krusty’s Ironside bomber shown in grey so that no-one loses track of it! The two Texan Skuas are in blue-grey with the remaining Texan planes in olive drab, although all carry the Texas Lone Star on red/blue national aircraft identifier on their starboard wings.
At the start of the game, the positions of the aircraft were all decided by dice rolls. The Raiders were allocated the right-hand and bottom board edges and the Texans the left-hand and top edges. To win the game the Raiders needed to get the bomber off-board at the top left corner of the map.
At the start of the action the Raiders started to close up around the bomber, while the Texan aircraft split up to try and work round the escorting fighters.
Two of the Raiders tucked in close to the bomber while the others kept an eye on the oncoming aircraft. The Texan aircraft, meanwhile, pushed on at top speed as they attempted to get in behind the Raiders.
Turning in towards the Raiders, the Texan fighters let rip a barrage of flak rockets (yes, that’s what “FK” stands for), along with some sonic and flare rockets, to try and disrupt the Raiders formation while the two fast Cutlasses moved to get behind it.
With the fighters now closing, shooting started in earnest although most of it was at long range. Both Krusty and one of the Cutlass pilots failed to push their speed successfully, resulting in slight damage to their aircraft accompanied by bad language!
The fighters on both sides now closed in with guns blazing and flare rockets flying. The Raiders though were keeping a tight formation to protect their bomber, with Moe pushing his Hawkeye through the screen of Texan fighters.
The Texan fighters were now getting round the flanks and rear of the Raiders, the latter’s fighters temporarily failing to line up on targets. To deter any of the Texan fighters from getting too close, Krusty let rip a barrage of flak rockets close to his own plane, seemingly unconcerned about the fact that his own escort would also have to dodge out of the way!
Some of the Texan fighters now swung wide to loop round and come back in at the bomber, but the rest of the aircraft got into a confused melee! Skua 8 unfortunately found itself going head-to-head with Moe’s Hawkeye and took a magnesium round into one of its fuel tanks, exploding dramatically (although the pilot managed to bail out). Moe had no time to savour his victory as the Anvil literally shot his engines to pieces with 70-calibre cannon fire, the Hawkeye now being left completely without power. Other fighters traded shots and took hits, resulting in most of the Raiders aircraft suffering from jammed guns.
As the Raiders tried to re-group and clear guns, and Moe tried to bring the Hawkeye into some sort of firing position before it stalled, Krusty failed to push the bomber’s speed, causing the escorting Sealance that had covered him so well to overshoot. A Cutlass and Mustang took advantage of this oversight to get in the first clear shots on the bomber, shredding its starboard wing and destroying one of its engines, but not inflicting enough damage to force it down. Both Ned and Sideshow Bob also took damage, the latter’s Fury burning fiercely.
At this point Krusty decided to take his safety into his own hands and boosted the bomber’s speed by adding some of the highly volatile moonshine to the remaining engines’ fuel mix! Despite the danger to his engines this involved, it paid off and let him put on a good burst of speed, with the Sealance tucking back in behind him to protect his tail. This was just as well as Mustang 10 had got back on line with them, but its shooting only resulted in some slight damage to the Sealance. In the meantime Gums had veered off in his Fury and opened fire on Cutlass 17, putting a magnesium round into into its port wing that would shortly burn into its fuel tank. Moe’s Hawkeye was still in the air but with its airspeed dropping rapidly he couldn’t manoeuvre to find a target.
With Krusty continuing to use moonshine to boost his plane’s performance the Texan fighters were now struggling to catch up with the bomber, although Skua 7 managed to get in behind the Sealance and damage it. As Moe bailed out of the Hawkeye it plummeted into the sea, the pilot of Cutlass 17 also bailing out just before it exploded. Two of the Furys (Ned and Gums) lined up on targets and things looked momentarily awkward for the Texans, but the Raiders’ firing was poor and not enough damage was inflicted on either the Anvil or Mustang 10 to bring them down. Unfortunately for Ned this proved his undoing as a furious burst from the Anvil tore off his port wing and he was forced to bail out (this fortunately being the second occasion in this campaign where he has failed to become “Dead” Flanders)!
With Krusty still burning the precious moonshine cargo to push the bomber’s performance (without damaging his engines so far) he started his final run to the exit point, the Sealance still covering his tail, This was just as well as Skua 7 was still following and firing at the Sealance. Lagging behind, the other Texan fighters had trouble covering the Raiders’ two Furys, leaving Sideshow Bob to get in some hits on the Cutlass. At this point, with the bomber about to leave the area and none of the fighters on either side wanting to push their luck, both sides broke off the engagement (none of the Texans wanted to accidentally fly in front of Gums’ Fury, but by the same token none of the Raiders wanted to find themselves in front of one of the eight-gun Mustangs)! Despite Krusty burning some of the moonshine as a fuel additive, the Raiders had got away with two thirds of their cargo. To the credit of the Texas pilots, they shot down the same number of planes that they lost themselves and probably had the better fighter force left at the end.
So that’s the end of the Springfield Raiders adventures for now, but StuG has mentioned that he’d like another campaign with a new pirate gang! This makes some sense, as I have trouble matching his two best pilots in combat because of the high number of experience points (he has a gang of five pirates, I have multiple air units of different nationalities with over a hundred pilots, so individuals get less flying time). He has asked if Ned Flanders can make a guest appearance in the next campaign and I’ve said no problem, mainly because if Ned’s flying for my opposition another more capable pilot isn’t!
As far as the aircraft go, I’ve taken some pictures of my Texan Crimson Skies models, although the pictures haven’t come out great at all!
Shown above are two Skuas, these being official Crimson Skies models by Ral Partha. The Crimson Skies plane is actually called a Skewer, but I thought Skua more appropriate for a flying boat. I also use it with the game stats for the Skewer and Skylance (which I call a Sealance) switched over, since the Skua is a much bigger model than the Sealance. The Skua’s not a great performer, but not too bad either.
Shown above are two Cutlasses in Texas colours, one slightly more out of focus than the other! These are also official Crimson Skies miniatures. The Cutlass is a fast mid-range fighter but is let down by having only two guns, although they are 60-calibre weapons (the second largest permissible in Crimson Skies). Good enough against light fighters, the Cutlass struggles against more heavily protected opponents and my Cutlass pilots do not have many aerial victories between them!
Last of all are the Anvil and Mustang, pictured above (left and right respectively, with the Anvil looking like it could do with a better coat of matt varnish). The Anvil is an official CS design but no model is available so I converted mine from a Scotia Micromodels P-47 Thunderbolt, building up the raised fuselage with milliput, adding chunky exhausts filed from plasticard and filing down the single fin and adding two new ones. The Anvil is slow and cumbersome but carries four 70-calibre cannon that let it rip opposing fighters to sheds if it gets the chance! The Mustang is a Scotia Micromodels P-51 Mustang mini with no modifications to it. I’ve got my own game stats for it that make it a medium fighter with average performance, although it’s well protected and carries eight guns, so more than likely it’ll always hit something!