Battleshed Diaries

Thursday 17 March 2016

Enemy aircraft carrier below!

A regular walk down the hill to Pate Manor yesterday evening for some more WWII aerial action.

As I stepped into the warm confines of Samshed II it was clear Sam had really upped the Wings of War scenario ante, for on the familiar blue mat he uses for Pacific operations sat a large, top-down view of an aircraft carrier!

We'd chatted about starting to bring in more complex and interesting scenarios for Wings of War (The Dawn of World War II set) the last time we played this system and the possibility of using terrain elements such as islands, coastlines or ships was mentioned. And, lo and behold, he'd gone an done it!
The aircraft carrier template is a free download from which represents the USS Intrepid (or the Fighting "I"), an Essex Class carrier built for the US Navy during WWII. 

The file (Chris Bishop and Chris Chant) has been designed to fit onto three 11" sheets. And it works a treat! My printer is already busy printing off a carrier. Pity it's not a 3D printer!

With Sam's range of Revell 1/144 model plane kits for the Pacific theatre ever expanding - and a fine paint job he's done too - it's not surprising he's bringing in aircraft carriers to ferry them about. And I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed last night's scenario. For me, the best I've played for Wings of War so far.

US Fighters scrambling to take-off!
The carrier template was just the trick, especially with Sam's Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless and Grummann F4F-4 Wildcat readying for take-off, the carrier bristling with AA guns each identified by a small red dot on the superstructure template.

As I chose to play the Japanese, with objectives to cripple - or better still - sink the carrier, I started to have second thoughts. There were an awful lot of AA guns! The two distinctive 'elevator' sections on the upper deck we decided were to act as the bombing targets for my two Mitsubishi 'Zero', escorted by a formidably armed Kawasaki Ki-100 Goshikisen. 

However, the higher my planes the more difficult it is to bomb as Altitude has a bearing on how far the bomb 'travels' to target before impact. 

Enemy carrier in sight!
We used a mix of the standard and advanced rules, including Altitude (with a cloud base set at '5'), Speed, Takeoff (for Sam) and AA guns. Once we got going, it was all pretty easy play.

I think my cunning plan, discussing the vagaries of Altitude limits for the aircraft and the cloud base prior to starting must have worked as Sam's surprised cry of "Oh no! They're coming in fast and low!" was met by my devilish grin as the two Japanese Zeros, each carrying a single bomb and flanking the deadly Goshikisen headed straight for the weakest point on the carrier at high speed and low altitude.

During the Planning phases, not only did Sam have to choose which AA Guns to fire he also had to get his two fighters scrambling to launch from the carrier. Interestingly, if Sam chose to fire any of his AA he had to place a flak marker on the board and guess where and at what altitude my planes were likely to be on their next manoeuvre card. And they took time to reload, representing the 'shotgun' approach to AA fire.

The Goshikisen headed straight towards the US fighters accelerating along the carrier deck, somehow miraculously dodging the first barrage of flak as it attempted to catch the enemy as the took off. It was shadowed by a Zero on it's left, which tried to manoeuvre closely behind the Goshikisen and make a bomb run on the central elevator section.

The other Zero planned to make a long right sweep, hopefully raking the US fighters from the front before aligning for a bomb run along the ships axis towards the rear elevator section.

There was an awful lot of flak coming up though. Most missed, but chunks of fuselage were being unremittingly torn off the Japanese aircraft as they fast approached the USS Intrepid. Soon enough they were on target, the rip of the Goshikisen's cannons blasting into the Dauntless as it started to clear the carrier's deck.

Bombs away!
Within a blink the Goshikisen zoomed past the carrier and starting to make the turn amongst the flak to chase its prey whilst the nearest accompanying Zero pilot was already throttling down and aligning his sights on the target.

At Altitude '1' he released the 551 lb payload and quickly throttled back up. A few seconds later there was an almighty flash and a ripping boom. A great plume of thick black smoke billowed from the carrier deck as the Zero twisted and turned to avoid the flak barrage. The bomb landed bang on target!
Unfortunately, the other Zero pilot didn't witness his comrade's victory. At Altitude '2' the pilot reduced height and speed. The two US fighters were by now airborne, racing to gain height and just out of range of his guns so he prepared make the turn towards the rear of the carrier. But he was caught by a wall of deadly flak.

The engine and fuel lines must have been punctured as the Zero - with the second remaining bomb payload - spectacularly exploded, its broken fuselage plummeting to crash in a gush of smoke, fire and spray as it hit the ocean only a few hundred feet from the carrier.

Deadly AA Flak
The remaining  Zero pilot could only watch in horror as he banked to join the Goshikisen chasing the US Fighters. Suddenly there was a loud thud and metallic rattle. His engine coughed and then died, slick oil spraying the fuselage and canopy. Blinded, the pilot forlornly wrestled the controls as the flak-blasted Zero stared to dive steeply towards the vivid blue ocean.

With only ominous crackle from the radio, the Goshikisen pilot followed his orders. His job was to protect the Zeros as they delivered their payloads. With both gone, an unremitting wall of flak bucking his plane and two US fighetrs now airborne - and turning into the fight - he wisely called it a day. Time to bug out. The carrier had been badly damaged. But at a high cost.

A cracking game and I'm already looking to have another go!

By pure coincidence, I'd watched a suspenseful and moving Japanese film called The Eternal Zero (2013) on Netflix only a week or so before. 

The story of a Zero pilot's exploits during WWII and his grand children's quest to find out who he was and how he ended up being a Kamikaze

A very well produced film with some evocative CGI aerial combat sequences.

Well, that's my printer gone quiet so I assume there is an aircraft carrier awaiting me. Cheerio for now!
USS Intrepid

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