Monday 26 February 2024


I was in need of some displacement activity over the weekend since I was keen to put off another task. So I painted some Gotha bombers instead.

As ever they're 1/600th models from Tumbling Dice.

I have no idea if the colour scheme is accurate. I found loads of different possibilities online and decided that this black, white and grey lozenge pattern was my favourite. In the example I found the fuselage was all white, so I've retained that for one bomber, but added the red rear fuselage from another, otherwise all-white, scheme I found.

Here's the bombers being attacked by a couple of Sopwith Camels, so you can get an idea of their size. They're actually smaller than the Handley-Page bombers and all are dwarfed by the Zeppelin-Staaken that's sat on my painting desk.

I did do the other task in the end.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Gunbus Patrol

I ran the solo Gunbus patrol game from the other day again today, but this time I used two Gunbus. Both had experienced pilots.

There were six possible threats:

1 - 1 x two-seater
2 - 1 x two-seater
3 - 2 x two-seater
4 - 2 x two-seater
5 - 1 x Albatros C1 (aggressive)
6 - 1 x Fokker EII

Two-seaters had a 50% chance of only being armed with a rifle and were either an Aviatik type or Albatros type (50/50)

The aggressive Albatros C would use the engagement rules for a scout, which means that it would actively engage the player planes.

Here's the Vickers FB5s on patrol.

They immediately spot a couple of Aviatik two-seaters on a mission. They were both machine-gun armed, but with the observer in the front seat their arc of fire was very limited (tail-arc only in my rules). One of them had a rookie crew.

I made the mistake of turning towards them. I knew that because of their close proximity they would almost certainly spot me, so decided to get in some shots at long range whilst I still had surprise, as this gave me a shooting bonus. It achieved very little.

The problem was that I was now behind the Aviatiks and facing in the wrong direction. The Gunbus turns slowly and is no faster than the German planes, who would now be running to safety as per the scenarios standing orders. I was never going to be able to turn back for another shot in time. 

I started turning in order to resume the patrol, only to spot an Albatros B-type drop into some cloud-cover.

As it emerged we ambushed it!

It turned and fled, with the observer popping away with his rifle. But the two Vickers crews were putting some hits on it as well.

Gunbus B engaged at long range, inflicting damage and wounding the Albatros's pilot. 

The Albatros still dodged to avoid the British planes, and the observer plugged away with his rifle. There was a sickening crack as the lucky shot damaged a spar on Gunbus B.

Gunbus B had trouble maneuvering into the fight, but the other Gunbus closed up and a long-burst was lucking enough to hit with every dice, downing the already damaged Albatros.

The patrol had achieved a kill, and with a plane damaged and very low on ammunition it was probably time to head home. However there were still cards in the threat deck, and one of them produced a Fokker.

The pilot seemed oblivious to the British planes (another rookie), and with the danger of being spotted on the way home and them chased by a faster plane, the Vickers decided to get in fast and try to inflict some damage.

They bounced the novice German pilot, badly damaging his plane.

All of the planes then turned to gain advantage. Gunbus B fired off its last rounds and then headed for home. I diced to see what the Fokker would do and the pilot decided to go after the other Gunbus.

Gunbus B headed for home and safety, but Gunbus A now found the Fokker closing in on its tail

The Fokker was now between the Gunbus and home, and easily got in behind the unwieldy pusher.

Sustained fire slowly chipped away at the British plane.

The Gunbus managed to stay in one piece and kept turning and somehow the Fokker pilot, mostly through inexperience, lost contact and ended up flying off the board.

There's a chance a plane that leaves will return after a turn or two, but also some risk that something bad will happen to them. That's what happened. Accumulated damage and the inexperience of the pilot saw the Fokker come down in no-mans land.

So both Vickers got home, albeit shot-up and, in once case, out of ammo. One had a confirmed kill on an Albatros and an unconfirmed kill on a Fokker, so not a bad patrol.

The order that threats came up actually made for a pretty dramatic game. After the Albatros went down I was certain I'd get the planes home and it was quite a surprise when the Fokker turned up at the last minute.

Friday 23 February 2024

The Fokker Scourge

I organised another game of Spandau & Lewis at the club last night. I made the scenario a little smaller than last week's, but still pitched it at four players.

This one was set in 1915 and was designed to use a couple of my newly painted planes and to also showcase some of the early attempts at arming planes. It featured everything from rifle-armed observation aircraft to that pinnacle of 1915 military technology, a Fokker Eindekker.

Each player had one observation aircraft and one escort/hunter (depending on how you planned to use it).

The British had a Vickers Gunbus escorting a BE2 mounting a machine-gun firing into the rear-arc only, plus an unarmed BE2 escorted by a Bristol Scout which had a Lewis gun firing forward from an off-centre improvised mount. This latter plane counted as having a front-firing gun, but counted as restricted (which gives it a firing penalty in Spandau & Lewis).

The Germans had two observation planes, both Albatros B types where the observer had a rifle only. One was escorted by an Albatros C1, with a machine-gun toting observer, and the other by a Fokker Eindekker with a proper front-firing machine-gun.

The mission was the same as last week's game; each side had two targets on the opponent's side of the board. Each observation aircraft could observe each target once and for each observation they could get home they'd score 3VP. each side also scored 2VP for shooting down an enemy plane and 1VP for each enemy plane still over the board at the end of 20 turns, or for each enemy plane that had taken half or more hits.

Here's the British aircraft - rom left to right the Scout, two BE2s and the Gunbus. They came on in a single formation to improve spotting, looking to close-escort the two-seaters to each of the targets in turn.

They spotted the Germans and moved more cautiously.

The Germans had entered in  two groups, each aiming at one of the targets. Stuart was running the Fokker, and having spotted the British sent the two-seater on its way and threw the Fokker straight at the enemy.

I had the Albatros C, and didn't spot the British for ages.

The BE2s took evasive action whilst the Bristol and the Gunbus moved to shoot at the Fokker. Stuart kept his eye on the prize and went after the BE2s.

The Gunbus closed up for a shot at the Fokker. And its gun jammed.

The Fokker did better, damaging a BE2.

Peter tried to bring the Bristol Scout into action, but couldn't get a clear shot. To make matters worse the observer's rifle on one of his BE2s also jammed.

Peter's observer quickly got his rifle back into action. Not so the observer of Daniel's Gunbus, who found that the Lewis was now totally broken. The Gunbus was now simply a Bus.

Although unable to shoot, Daniel used the Gunbus as a spoiler; interposing it between the Fokker and the BE2s to make the German shots more difficult. Stuart was left with the choice between taking less effective shots at the two-seaters or hoping to shoot down the Gunbus to get it out of the way.

Meanwhile my aircraft had finally spotted the action. The Albatros C peeled off to attempt to add its gun to the fight, whilst the Albatros B, well away from the action, continued on its mission.

Peter had some difficulty turning the Scout back into the fight, and it soon got left behind. Stuart used the Fokker to aggressively pursue the BE2s, firing steadily at one of them. This had a machine-gun and could shoot back, but also had a novice crew which limited their effectiveness.

Stuart got in close to Daniel's BE2 ...

Boom! Its engine caught fire and down it went.

I had my Albatros C in the fight now, and was adding some ineffective shots as Stuart closed in on the second BE2

Sensibly Daniel (who was now running Peter's planes, since he'd had to leave) decided not to make a run on the second target and to simply try and get the BE2 home. He banked sharply around a cloud, encountering my Albatros B returning home as well. I spotted one target and decided that a safe 3VP in the bag was better than risking 6VP by going after the second target as well. The Bristol was still lurking around that area and I wasn't up for the fight.

The two-seaters passed at close range, obscured from each other by the cloud.

Stuart brought his Fokker round in pursuit of the BE2, whilst Daniel tried to stay covered by the cloud. It wasn't enough. In the next turn the Fokker downed the second BE2.

The Gunbus was now heading for home, whilst the Bristol Scout was slowly heading towards the action.

My Albatros C wasn't up to a chase, so I turned it for home, closing up with my observation aircraft. We made it back with no issue.

This now left the Bristol Scout facing Stuart's Fokker. The Germans had got three observations home, and already had two kills, so had certainly won the fight. But the British could still achieve some honour if the Scout could shoot down the Fokker. Stuart was looking for his third kill of the evening, but only had a couple of bursts left in his gun.

A head-on pass saw both planes damaged. The Fokker was now looking a little shot-up, having suffered various small amounts of damage throughout the action.

Both aircraft circled around for another pass.

Another head-on attack saw some damage on the Scout but nothing else. The Fokker was now out of ammunition.

It ran for home with the wrong-footed Scout unable to pursue effectively. The Scout was too far from its home edge to get off the board before Turn 20.

So the Germans got all four planes home, although the Fokker was out of ammunition and on its last hit. They made three observations for 9VP, and Stuart shot down two planes for 4VP. The Gunbus was damaged for 1VP, and the Scout still on the board at the end of the game for another 1VP. So a total of 15VP for the Germans. The British scored 1VP for the damage to the Fokker. 

Not a good day for the RFC. They were unlucky though. The Gunbus losing its gun early on significantly reduced the British firepower, and meant that the Fokker was in far less danger. In addition some poor movement rolls saw the Scout out of the fight at a critical stage; the two BE2s were basically fighting alone at the time when they should have been observing objectives. Stuart was man of the match, using the Fokker very aggressively and getting two kills for his trouble. My crews simply did their job - go to the target, complete the mission and come home.

Thanks to all involved for a great game and especially to Daniel for providing some of the photos you saw above.

Thursday 22 February 2024


This lunchtime I played a quick game of Spandau & Lewis so I could give one of my Vickers FB5 'Gunbus' and outing.

I used the random threat setup system from THIS POST (which itself uses stuff from a post HERE). I decided to run a single Gunbus and kept the threat list small; just six cards. They were:

1 - 1 x Aviatic C1
2 - 1 x Aviatic C1
3 - 2 x Aviatic C1
4 - 1 x Albatros B
5 - 2 - Albatros B
6 - 1 x Fokker EII

There would be one or two encounters, with the most likely being one or two Aviatik two-seaters, mounting a rear-firing machine-gun. The other encounters would be unarmed Albatros two-seaters, with the observer using a rifle. And finally, as a nasty surprise, the Gunbus could encounter a patrolling Fokker Eindekker.

I set up the Gunbus in the middle of the board and scattered three areas of cloud. I assumed that the Gunbus was alert, but the targets wouldn't be. I can't remember if I did this in previous runs of this setup. The Gunbus had an experienced crew; the German opponents would dice for quality.

Here's the Gunbus in the centre of the board.

The first card drawn was an opponent - an Aviatik C, heading away from the Gunbus.

The German rolled a veteran crew though, and quickly spotted the British plane. I have set missions for each aircraft - as a two-seater this one would turn until it was facing teh edge it started furthest from and then try and exit by that edge. This would bring it past the Gunbus, but the German had the option of seeking cover in some cloud.

The Gunbus turned tightly on the German and got in a shot, damaging the enemy plane.

The German ducked into the safety of a cloud.

Two more Aviatiks appeared, one experienced and one with a green crew. The latter seemed like a possible target, but the two planes would be flying together and their guns would provide cover for each other even with their limited arcs. In addition, whilst the first Aviatik had an excellent crew it was already damaged. So I decided to ignore the newcomers.

The Aviatik came out of the cloud and, taking a risk, turned to bring its gun to bear. The Aviatik's gun only fires into the rear arc in my rules. This gave the Gunbus a great shot, albeit with a risk of being damaged back.

The Aviatik took more hits, whilst its observer failed to score any damage on the British plane.

The problem with chasing the Aviatik was that it tended to get the initiative, making it hard to line up good shots, despite the flexible gun-mount on the Gunbus. As it ran for safety it ducked into another cloud. I was beginning to regret not chasing the other plane.

The Aviatik cleared the cloud and made the final sprint for safety. We exchanged fire at long range. The Aviatik missed, whilst I scored another hit, but couldn't finish off the enemy plane. 

So the Aviatik escaped, albeit on its last hit. It certainly knew it had been in a fight. The other two German planes also escaped; I had no time to turn the Gunbus and chase after them before they fled the field.

I'd forgotten how much fun the threat system is, and will try this one again, maybe with a slightly different mix of German aircraft. I'll keep the Fokker surprise in there, though ...

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