Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Fokker Scourge

A few weeks ago I hosted the Thursday game, namely  the WWI air combat game, Wings of Glory (formerly Wings of War). Awhile ago, Ares Games finally released some new, early-war model planes for Wings of Glory. Among the pile of planes I bought were three Fokker E.III's. They were the first warplanes that had interrupter gear, allowing machine gun fire forward through the propeller. The exploits of the infamous "Eindecker" resulted in the titular Fokker Scourge, when the Germans gained air superiority over the Allies in the 1915-1916 time period.

This was an interesting period in the air war. The combatants flew a lot of pre-war aircraft designs, and were trying to figure things out for the first time. Artillery spotting and aerial photography had become important uses of this new technology. Aircrew started to carry rifles and pistols to pot shot each other. The impact of the Fokker E.III was maybe out of proportion to its relatively few numbers.

I wanted some suitable Fokker Fodder, so obvious period opponents for the German monoplanes would be some Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c's. This was a very stable airplane, great for observation and photography, but not optimal for aerial combat. However, I did not have the appropriate models or stats. I pressed into service a couple of Wings of War R.E.8's, using stats from the Wings of Glory Aerodrome site, namely:
  • Maneuver Deck: P
  • Damage Type: optional single rear-facing B gun
  • Damage Points: 11

The bases of the British planes in this scenario were after-market items purchased from Keith at Aerodrome Accessories. He provides great customer service - there had been a slight error in one item in my order, and Keith immediately rectified it.

Game One: Bombing Raid, 1915

The first game we played was a plausible 1915 scenario: a single-seat B.E.2c, unarmed except for its bomb load, escorted to its target by a two-seater variant, armed with a single rear-facing Lewis gun (the British had not yet developed interrupter gear).

Below, Conscripts Bill and Brian flew the British aircraft.
(Note: Click on the photos for larger images.)


Meanwhile, Conscripts Frederick and Kevin flew the Germans.


Below, looking north, the British aircraft nearest the camera is the bomber, run by Bill. His escort, run by Brian, lies a little ways to the north. To the east are the two Eindeckers run, respectively, by Frederick and Kevin.


The initial stages of the game saw Bill angle northeast to line up on the target to the east, while Kevin flew in a wide circle to the south, hoping to eventually get on Bill's 6 o'clock.


Brian, in a brilliant bit of compensatory flying against superior aircraft, maneouvered to get his tail gun to bear on Frederick's green plane.


Bill slipped between the Germans...


...much to Brian's amusement


Bill lined up his bomb run, managing to drop his stick of primitive aerial bombs right on target.


As Bill circled wide northwards and headed home, Brian mixed it up with the Germans.


Kevin and Frederick went after Bill's plane to try and  exact some revenge.


But Frederick's single machine gun jammed as he tried a deflection shot.


Again, the British were much amused by this.


Brian bird-dogged back to protect the unarmed bomber.



Brian took some hits after Frederick unjammed his gun.


Kevin also got in some licks against Brian's plane.


The British planes reached their own lines, whereupon the Germans broke off their pursuit. Brian revealed that his aircraft had only one damage point left. Heroic, indeed!


Game Two: Dogfight, 1916

Wings of Glory plays very quickly, so we decided to have another game, a three-on-three dogfight between scout planes. The Airco D.H.2 was a pusher plane, with the engine and propeller behind the pilot, so its single gun could fire forward unimpeded.

To the west are three British D.H.2s, run, respectively, by myself, Bill, and Brian. To the east are a flight of three Eindeckers, two run by Frederick, and one by Kevin.


In a head-on pass Bill set Frederick's green Fokker on fire.


The two flights flew past each other, and maneuvered to try and bring their weapons to bear.



The flames proved too much for the green German machine, which crashed in No-Man's Land.


Frederick's other plane immediately thereafter exacted some revenge, shooting down Bill's plane after a few  long bursts.


Kevin managed to set Brian's plane on fire with a long-range shot.


Brian scored hits on Frederick's plane, causing it to belch forth smoke.


After some maneuvering, Frederick got Brian in his sights again...


...and shot him down in No-Man's land.


I managed to Immelmann around and get a burst into Frederick's Fokker, which proved too much for his damaged airframe, and he went down.


Kevin and I then got into a turning fight near the western table edge.



I managed to survive a close-range burst from Kevin's gun.


Kevin, out of room to maneuver,  flew off the western (Allied!) table edge into captivity!


3D models: The wave of the future?

Soon after game night, I ordered a pair of B.E.2c models, 3D prints, from Shapeways. They were shipped out and arrived on my doorstep very quickly.

They are neat little one-piece models, as can be seen in the photos below.

Camera Roll-391

I am glad I do not have to fiddle with and maintain the required forward-swept angle of all those struts.

The propeller was rendered as part of the wing. Some minor cleanup and assembly, and they will be ready for paint.

Camera Roll-390

I am thinking 1915-era schemes, with a buff coloured canvas dope and early-war roundels. Check out a video of a couple of flying B.E.2s, here.

I would also like to run a scenario re-enacting Lanoe Hawker's single-handed 1915 raid on a Zeppelin base, flying a B.E.2c armed only with bombs and hand grenades.


MurdocK said...

wow that 3D print is the first one I have seen that looks really good!

Ray Rousell said...

A great looking game!

Sylvain said...

Dave, have you considered buying your own 3D printer? They now sell for about $1200.
But apparrently, you are supposed to assemble the whole thing yourself.

Dallas said...

Can't you just have your 3D printer print you out a 3D printer? ;-)

DaveV said...

I do want to get the Shapeways 1/144 Bristol Scout. Lanoe Hawker fitted one with a single Lewis gun firing at around a 40 degree angle from the fuselage (say, at 10 o'clock), just missing the propeller. Everyt shot was a deflection shot!

I am not a first adopter (I got a first generation iPad when the iPad 2 came out). 3D printers will probably be a lot cheaper in just a couple of years.