Each turn represented a day in the campaign and the ‘action’ part of the turn was divided into 6 phases. The starting point of the game on turn 1 was Monday 12th August – the day before Eagle Day and finished on turn 35 – Sunday 15th September. On the first phase any flight could move 2 squares to start (one square for gaining height) with and 3 squares thereafter. Bombers could operate for 6 phases and fighters for 3 phases or if engaged in combat. Both the Luftwaffe and RAF could avoid combat if desired to save their fighters.
The Luftwaffe lunched their raids for the first few turns and had to focus on radar stations. The RAF deciding which of their flights they would launch and vector in on the incoming raiders. The flights for both sides were represented by wooden blocks with flags bearing a cross or roundel on the RAF operational map. Unless the Luftwaffe flight crossed over a square that had more than 50% land the RAF were not able to determine its composition. The German commanders fed in their Stukas early knowing that at some time in the actual battle they were withdrawn and after a few turns successfully bombed 7 out of the nine radar stations. On each bombing run the bombers threw dice equivalent to their bombing factor; seeking roundels for hits, blanks were misses but crosses were AA hits and negated a successful bombing roundel.
Phil in charge of dice rolling for the Luftwaffe, proved lethal in nearly all of his dog fights - I actually can’t recall a poor set of dice rolls. The RAF on the other hand found their dice doing the opposite of what they wanted. Both sides used special dice from the board game. The Luftwaffe used black dice which had 3 roundels, 2 blanks and a German cross on them with the white RAF dice substituted roundels for crosses. In combat roundels for Germans and crosses for the Brits caused hits and their own symbol were self-inflicted hits (only one counted per combat to represent mechanical failure, collisions etc). The RAF were losing the aerial combats and the Luftwaffe were taking apart their valuable radar infrastructure.
To compound matters further on their recovery rolls rather than getting roundels (what they needed to recover planes and infrastructure) they were getting all crosses which they did not get in their dog fights. German intelligence picked this up after hearing Dowding (Noel) utter expletives that grew louder as the dice rolled. This intelligence was masked on Sunday by Park (Jonathan) who brought along a music system that played music of the period – a clever tactical move on behalf of the RAF.
With radar down the RAF had real problem intercepting the Luftwaffe in the first phase leaving targets on the South coast very vulnerable to early raids. Also if caught over their airfields in phase 1 they fought at a disadvantage not getting enough lift to fight the raiders. After a few days of radar bashing the Luftwaffe were turning their attentions to the RAF airfields. It was looking rather grim for the RAF who were praying for rain so they could lick their wounds and recover infrastructure and planes without interference.
This game originally started out as a boardgame The Battle of Britain by TSR. It was converted onto a miniatures game by one our long standing club members Dave. He created the fantastic maps and painted many of the 1:300 scale model aircraft. We have played the game several times at the club and it has been a great success. Unfortunately for Dave but fortunately for me he no longer had space for the game on a recent house move and I was very eager to acquire it from him.
The War room was divided up into 3 sections (using washing line and sheets) to create an operations area for the RAF and an operations area for the Luftwaffe. In the centre was the battle map. The battle map was a 5’ x 5’ map showing Northern France and a large part of the UK on which were models of the principal targets of the Luftwaffe, Radar stations (converted model railway electrical pylons), Airfields (Mix of Monopoly houses, balsa wood and clay) and Cities (Monopoly houses). The RAF operation room had a replica battle map covered by a sheet of Perspex and an intelligence map to keep on top of their losses. . Their forces were divided into the 3 sector groups (10,11 and 12) each with their own flights. The Luftwaffe operation area had 2 smaller maps one for their movement and one to keep track of their bombing results. The Luftwaffe forces were divided into two Luftflotte (Air fleets) (2 and 3).
Teams were decided by pulling out folded paper from a hat with either a roundel or cross on it. Lined up for the Luftwaffe were Phil (Hermann Goering – I think more Adolf Galland as the game progressed), Brian (Hugo Sperrle) and Alan (Albert Kesselring – “Smiling Albert”) who lived up to his namesake by laughing/smiling throughout the game. The RAF was led by Noel (Hugh Dowding) and supported by Jonathan (Keith Park - Sector 11), Patrick (CJ Quintin Brand - sector 10) Richard (Friday) and Dave (Sunday) (Trafford Leigh Mallory - sector 12). The game was divided into various phases. The first phase was reconnaissance / mission planning / flight organisation, second phases was movement / dogfighting / bombing with the final phase was recovery. Each side has some Ace and Commander cards which they could use for re-rolling combat dice in the case of the Aces and recovering lost squadrons in the case of their commander’s cards.
Germans undertook reconnaissance flights (apart from turn 1) on targets they had hit to see if they were still damaged and selected a targets for each of their flights. Their targets were often restricted to match the orders of the real campaign. To start with they were focused on the radar stations, progressing to airfields, airfields and cities and finally on London and cities. As the game developed later they were unable to select certain targets to follow historical orders such as Goering’s insistence that they were on longer to bomb radar stations as they could not be destroyed.
Each side put together their flights at the start of the turn. The RAF had 10 flights to prepare each of 2 squadrons (chosen from either Spitfires, Hurricanes, Defiants, Gloucesters, or Bleinheims). Spitfires would prioritise fighters as targets and Hurricanes would target bombers. The Luftwaffe had 6 flights each of 4 squadrons. They had to include at least one bomber squadron per flight choosing from Me109, Me110, JU87, Do17, JU88 and He111. The configuration of the Luftwaffe flights were selected to match the missions they been assigned. Flights were put together for both sides based on the number of cards they had for each type of plane and also the models that were provided, which restricted both sides choice at times.
With a roll of the dice their prayers were answered and the Spanish held on. All eyes were now on the north where the French attack had destroyed the Spanish and was pressing the British hard. With the British infantry committed in the centre, the British light cavalry were the only force available to stop Rob’s French columns and cavalry outflanking the entire British line.
It was at this point that the British luck deserted them with a couple horrible dice rolls causing the British army to break. Was that a smile on Cuesta’s face - despite his rash decisions on the day it was the British that lost the battle and not the Spanish.. The French plan didn’t win the battle – I think it was Captain Scarlet to whom that honour should go – if the British infantry had not advanced the fateful cavalry charge and subsequent dice rolls would not have happened.
Scotty was left to consider that the Wellington boot might have to be renamed – as no Marquess Wellington of Talavera would be created.
Another entertaining and enjoyable day in Rob’s war room. Many thanks to Rob and Mrs W.
The Spanish compound
Brian and Peter had rallied their stalled attack on the fortified compound and were once again advancing. Reaching the walls, the assault succeeded in gaining a foothold ion the compound but the fight continued for the rest of the day with no clear winner. The Spanish held their ground well considering their reduced reserves.
On the central hill Scotty (Wellesley ?) was having a quiet day – perhaps even a snooze. But there could now be heard the refrains of Captain Scarlet (he of the Mysterons) – what relevance that had to the current situation I don’t know but somehow it brought out the gung-ho spirit in Scotty. He decided to attack – Simon would advance on his right and support the Spanish defence of the compound in the process and Chris on his right would extend his line to cover the probable collapse of the Spanish in the north. Scotty himself with the Gentlemen’s sons and the devils in skirts would press forward onto James and Jonathon’s French divisions opposite.
There began a long running firefight and combat around and across the stream drawing in much of the French infantry and most of the British. The British were making progress and reducing the pressure on the Spanish but not enough to break the French centre. Ultimately when the first British units broke the prospect of success disappeared but left the British too heavily involved to retire.
The Spanish attack in the south had failed. The cavalry attack collapsed and the division was routed and fled in time for a siesta, leaving a weakened infantry division horribly vulnerable and exposed. Possibly in a fruitless attempt to support them, the Spanish infantry emerged from their entrenchments and advanced – some were almost immediately ridden down by French dragoons but others seem miraculously to survive. The momentum of the French counterattack subsided as attention was drawn elsewhere – perhaps to the centre.
In the north the Francis’s Spanish finally gave up the ghost and with the losses in the south to add in the whole Spanish army was in danger of breaking. Mike’s gritty defence in the centre might be all for nothing - betrayed by the rash attacks in the south and the hopeless task in the north.
The Road to Madrid
Even before the French attack faltered and with disregard for the potential difficulties in the Spanish in the centre, Cuesta embarked on a massed cavalry attack skirting round the end of the Spanish line and heading for the massed ranks of the French dragoons. With infantry following them up much of the Spanish reserves which Mike might been relying on for support disappeared.
At this point there was some debate as to where the Road to Madrid was – no not a reference to one of Bob and Bing’s lesser known adventures – but a rather strained excuse for the Spanish attack in the south – apparently intended to cut the French line of retreat. Cuesta’s knowledge of Spanish geography was seen to be woeful as the road to Madrid was not that heading south-east just across the battlefield from the Spanish but far to the north. Cuesta would have to ride through nearly the whole of the French army to succeed – beyond even his vainglorious ambitions – but not enough to stop him ordering the Spanish infantry to emerge from the comfort of their entrenchments to ‘assault’ the French dragoons later in the day
The northern flank
Far in the north Rob pressed his attack, the French columns advancing steadily with cavalry support to their flank. James was moving forward in support and the Spanish looked to be in serious trouble. Just in time the British heavy cavalry arrived and were thrown into headlong charges on the French columns. Some columns were broken and others formed square – but ultimately the British were seen off with the arrival of French dragoons brought north to bolster the attack. The attack had bought some time for more British cavalry, mostly hussars, to move north. Rob’s French cavalry, venturing into decidedly uncavalry like country, had pushed on and after several combats and renewed support from the infantry had destroyed much of the Spanish forces.. Francis’s day was not going well – a crisis was brewing on this flank.