After 7 game turns (including 2 turns of poor weather) the RAF had suffered large infrastructure loses. The Luftwaffe had reached all of their targets and had successfully bombed more than 50% of them, shooting down 28 squadrons to the loss of 22 of their own squadrons. The RAF prayers were answered on Monday 19th August (turn 8) the weather was poor and remained so for 5 days! The RAF could recover lost infrastructure and planes – the dice gods were still not favourable still but this respite kept them in the game.
By Turn 17 the poorer RAF fighters (Defiants, Gloucesters and Blenheims) were withdrawn from service – but were replaced by Spitfires and Hurricanes much to the relief of the stretched RAF commanders. A day of poor weather gave both sides a chance to reflect on progress. On turn 19 (Friday 30th August) there was great flying weather. The Luftwaffe continued their onslaught reaching all of their targets again bar one for the next 4 turns, although their successful bombing percentage dropped to 25%. Both sides were losing around 8-10 squadrons per turn in the dog fighting.
Bu the 3rd September both sides were running out of steam and for the first time the Luftwaffe were not putting up 6 flights. They were running out of Bombers but the RAF were stretched to breaking point too. By turn 28 (8th September) the Luftwaffe were down to sending over only 3 flights but were still reaching their targets. The RAF although now were gaining points more rapidly, being awarded points for each Luftwaffe non mission, they were not gaining them fast enough to overtake the huge points haul the Germans had gained early in the campaign.
With the weather in the last week being quite wet we finally got to the last turn 35 (15th September). The Luftwaffe were down to their two operational bombers. The RAF had regained all of their infrastructure and were recovering their fighter strength. The final tally was as follows; Luftwaffe; 346 points, RAF; 261 points. The Luftwaffe successfully reached their targets 104 times and failed on 27 times (a number of which were caused due to lack of flights being put up). The Luftwaffe had 61 successful bombing missions and failed on 70 occasions (again a number due to lack of flights). The RAF lost 120 squadrons (43 Spitfire, 73 Hurricane, 1 defiant, 2 Blenheim and 1 Gloucester). The Luftwaffe lost 94 Squadrons (19 He111, 17 JU88, 13 Do17, 7 JU87, 9 Me110 and 29 Me109).
The players were exhausted but all felt it was a great game and looked forward to playing it again. There are a few tweaks to be made to the rules when we fight again at some time in the future.
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.
At our club Phil’s 15mm Napoleonic collection is legendary and he is now adding to his forces some of the more obscure armies and units. His latest addition to his Napoleonic collection is the very colourful Neapolitan army. Although they looked the part, being dressed by Murat, their fighting reputation did not match their famous commander by any stretch. The Neapolitans were going to have the first outing against the British Redcoats. Using Phil’s homemade rules which have a strong connection to Shako this was the only army that we have played with that fielded units with a MR of 2.0!
The scenario entailed a small Anglo Portuguese force returning from a punitive raid with their loot to get across the table. They were being stopped by a much larger Neapolitan army. The terrain was set up to form a valley with the Brits moving through the valley. Facing them was a Division of Neapolitan Infantry. Off table for the Neapolitans were two cavalry divisions, one further infantry division and a Guards division. The Brits had 2 small Infantry Divisions and a small cavalry division. The Brits started in column of March in front a small village in the valley. Rob and Mike commanded the Anglo Portuguese whilst Noel, Simon and Jonathan commanded the colourful Neapolitans.
Rob scarred from his recent Saxon experience in similar situation tried to move his forces quickly through the valley. The Brit army was attacked by some angry citizens from the village which were swiftly crushed. The Brit cavalry sped off down the valley leaving the infantry behind. Whilst halfway down the valley the rest of Neapolitan army arrived unseen to the Brits left flank and rapidly moved to intercept the Brits. The Brit cavalry decided to get off table rather than support their infantry. The Brit commanders hoped the fabled redcoats would brush aside the weak opposition. However without cavalry support they were soon forced into square and after losing a key initiative roll had several of the battalion destroyed in the flank whilst still in line. Game over by 9.30pm! Red faces all round for the Brits. We replayed the game again with Noel taking on the Anglo-Portuguese who put a much better fight seeing off 3 Neapolitan brigades but his casualties (large numbers caused by victory casualties) reduced his force too much to get enough units off table to secure a Victory under the scenario conditions.
Noel brought along his fabulous 15mm Spartan and Theban army. The later equipped with their infamous Sacred Band. We used a version of Armati for rules with a few modifications made by Noel. We had a fair basic terrain layout with a few hills and woods. We used some old estate agents boards to split the table in half to allow both sides to deploy without seeing their opponents forces. The Theban army which had more cavalry (Led by Simon, Mike and Rob) opted to deploy all of their heavy cavalry (save for a few light cavalry units) on their left flank.
The Theban cavalry charged forward on their left flank and were met by the Spartan cavalry. On the Spartan left their cavalry advanced towards the Theban right flank which was only covered by a few weak light cavalry units. The Theban infantry advanced towards the Spartan lines. The Theban cavalry on their left were not able to use their superior numbers to brush aside the Spartan cavalry. In the centre the light troops engaged in missile fire. The Spartan light Infantry completely out classed its rivals (thanks to particular good die rolling for the Spartans and woeful dice rolling by the Thebans). Richard skilfully manoeuvred his Spartan cavalry on their left wing and proceeded to rip a huge hole in the centre of the Theban light infantry and then went on to destroy the Theban light cavalry covering its right flank
The destruction of the Theban light infantry allowed the Spartan light infantry to soften up the Theban heavy infantry as it advanced to meet the Spartan phalanxes. The two heavy infantry lines met. The Theban Sacred band lived up to its name destroying the Spartan allies opposite it. However the main Spartan phalanxes crushed the Thebans opposite. To compound the Theban problems further the Spartan cavalry had got around the rear of the Theban army and were destroying its second line. The Theban cavalry on their left wing finally overcome the Spartan cavalry in front of it but were too late to save their infantry. A great victory again for Sparta. The deployment gamble of putting all of the Theban heavy cavalry on one flank did not pay off.