Battleshed Diaries

Thursday 4 February 2016

Contrails over the Pacific

This week I donned my flying helmet and grabbed some wet celery for a spot of Pacific theatre WWII Wings of War.

Ok, Ok. There was no wet celery involved. I may have mixed it up with something else. Maybe it was an egg whisk...never mind. As it was our usual Wednesday evening gaming session and it was Sam Pate's turn to host at his SamshedII, he was keen to dust off his original Fantasy Flight version of Wings of War.

First released way back in 2004, designed by Italians Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio Paglia and produced by Nexus Editrice, Wings of War had an English edition under Fantasy Flight. Originally, it was a First World War flying game with the WWII collection following up.

Scroll forward to 2011 and with the closure of Nexus Editrice, the license passed to another Italian company, Ares Games and the game re-branded to Wings of Glory.

My reader will know that I've a steadily growing Wings of Glory WWI aerodrome so I was intrigued when Sam suggested a game this time using WWII aircraft. Surely Sam wasn't so impressed with my Wings of Glory collection that he'd secretly opened the Vault of Pate to invest in a new game?!

Well, sort of. Instead, he'd been having a rare old time sourcing and building whole squadrons of Revell 1/144 model kits. Perfect for this game and an alternative to the more recent Wings of Glory range.

And when I say squadrons, he's already got a whole pile of these elusive models kits stacked ready to be unboxed and painted! He's even dropped subtle hints that even I could pick up like, "Hmm, I've enough to do a huge the Battle of Britain..."

For this game he'd produced four planes, specifically for the Pacific (I just had to put that in!) second world war theatre: 

The US aircraft:

Douglas SBD Dauntless Scout/Dive Bomber / Grumman F4F 'Wildcat'

The Imperial Japanese aircraft:

Mitsubishi A6M2 'Zero'
Kawasaki Ki-100
We played through a basic game with two models each, somewhat ignoring historical precedence! I chose to go with the Japanese as the only plane I'd heard of was the iconic 'zero' and being of a certain age and crammed full of recollections of old black and white WW2 movies I thought it would be rather interesting to have a go with one.

Except it was blown up with the first contact with the American Wildcat. Baka! Players draw randomly from the appropriate set of damage tokens. And I drew the rarest of the lot - Explosion! Typical!

The 'Zero' being zeroed
So it was all down to my Kawasaki Ki-100 fighter to defend the honour of the Imperial Japanese air force. And quite a fight it put up too. Especially when I discovered it was pretty devastating at close range, with two fuselage-mounted 20 mm Ho-5 cannons and two wing-mounted 12.7 mm (.50 in) Ho-103 machine guns. It took a few chunks out of the enemy. The US Dauntless was trailing a lot of smoke at one point!

However, it was only a matter of time before the Zero started taking damage. It hung on desperately, somehow still in the air despite it now resembling a flying colander with an engine.

In an all-out last attempt to use its fire-power to at least take out one of the enemy the pilot performed an Immelman turn, hoping to catch its closed rival in a short range frontal attack. Unfortunately, the enemy pilot was also hurtling long and the two pilots could only momentarily blink through their canopies at each as they zoomed past.  

The Zero throttled on, bullet riddled as it was, to try and gather speed for another Immelman. This time hoping to try and catch the Wildcat in a similar manoeuvre. But it was too late. The Wildcat opened fire and with tracer rounds streaming in at an angle the Zero was hit. The engine spluttered and died and with the rudder controls destroyed the Zero hurled towards the deep azure of the Pacific below.

It was really good to have a game of Wings of' again. We only played the basic rules, including Special Damages, but nevertheless it's a simple, fun game. 

Once Sam has painted up a few more from his hoard there's plans afoot to play through some scenarios and larger aerial combats at some point this year. Indeed, I spotted a Spitfire and Hurricane amongst his Revell boxes. We may have to duel for them!

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