Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Hawker's VC Again

It's been over three years since I last had my WW1 aircraft out and gave my 'Spandau and Lewis' rules a whirl. The last time I played them I was in the middle of modifying them, but all that fell by the wayside when something new and shiny caught my eye.

However Kevin of Warwell's Wargames recently picked them as one of his Six By Six Challenge games, so I thought I'd best try and tidy up the rules a little, if only for his sake. And whilst that's still ongoing, I did manage to fit in a quick game this evening.

I replayed my Hawker's VC scenario in which depicts Major Lanoe Hawker's exploits on 25th July 1915. Flying a single-seater Bristol Scout, with an improvised Lewis gun mount, he drove off or shot down three German two-seater reconnaissance planes.

Hawker in his Bristol Scout. In 'Spandau and Lewis' terms the plane is Speed 5, Agility B+, Power 1, Hits 8 and has a single gun firing into the left arc, but restricted. Hawker is an Ace, with the Marksman ability.

The first German appears, and Hawker stalks it using a cloud. I had one German plane appear every four turns. Two of the planes had experienced crews, whilst one had a novice crew. Hawker was assumed to have spotted the Germans, whilst each German plane had to spot him. Until they did, they would fly in a straight line towards an assigned objective, changing speed only to end a move over it. They would then turn and fly back to their base-edge.

Accounts of Hawker's VC don't seem to be clear as to what type of planes he engaged, aside from one I found which mentions that the third plane was an Albatros C1. So I made all three this type. The stats are Speed 4, Agility C, Power 0, Hits 10 and a single gun fired by the observer into the left, right and rear arcs.

Hawker managed to get behind the German unnoticed. But with his gun firing out to the side, lining up a shot was going to be tricky.

The opening shot saw the German plane damaged, but not critically.

The German pressed on to the objective, relying on Hawker not being able to line up a second shot. But he did, and this one caused the Albatros to go down in flames.

A second Albatros was working its way towards one of the other objectives. Hawker flew towards it, but was quickly spotted.

The Germans managed to overfly the objective but Hawker was soon on them. Both planes turned hard, the Germans so they could get a shot without the Albatros's tail spoiling the aim, and Hawker simply trying to get a shot. The blue markers show that both aircraft are suffering from power loss; performing a tight manoeuvre on one turn generally limits the plane's speed and ability to turn on the next.

I ran out of board; my playing area was really too small for this game. Hawker kept turning hard, and scored some serious damage on the Albatros. He took a few bullet-holes in return, but nothing to be seriously worried about.

The Albatros headed for home, with Hawker in pursuit.

It took a few more hits, but managed to make the safety of a cloud.

Hawker now had a single burst left for his gun, and a third German was heading home having flown over its objective.

Using the cloud for cover, Hawker lined up another attack. One burst might be enough to down the enemy.

It wasn't. The crew of the Albatros spotted him, costing him the element of surprise. He fired his last burst, putting a few holes in the German machine, and received a few holes back. The planes then parted ways.

Hawker got one kill, and badly damaged the second German. He received a couple of minor hits in return. Two Germans got home having achieved their mission. So overall this was a minor win for the Germans, but really Hawker has a difficult task to achieve, with his unusual gun-mount making it hard to fire effectively.

The Power rules worked fine; in an early war scenario like this the aircraft are seriously disadvantaged if they turn too tightly, and Hawker has no real advantage over the Germans in that respect. I played with reduced ammo loads; only 8 bursts per gun. But I gave the planes a larger number of hits as well. I still need to find the balance there, between the potential number of bursts a plane can fire, and how much damage the targets can take. This scenario isn't the best test of that, since the firing is, by its very nature, relatively ineffective. I need to try aircraft with more powerful offensive weaponry to see how the numbers play out.

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