In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Action in The Slot (Picture Heavy)

Solomon Islands, The Slot, January 1943

Lt(JG) Harry Bailey scanned the skies and watched over the rest of his flight of F4F Wildcats. To his left he could see the Skipper Lt Jack Robinson and the other flight from VF-19. Behind him and slightly below was VB-11, a squadron of 12 Dauntless scout bombers lead by Lt Cmdr Ewasick. He was pretty good at his job and had already sent a lot of Jap ships to the bottom. Out to the flank was a foursome of Avenger torpedo bombers, all the air wing could scramble on short notice.

Ahead of them somewhere was the target; a Jap light cruiser and a destroyer who had been making a nuisance of themselves raiding convoys reinforcing Guadacanal and shelling Henderson Field. VF-19s job was to keep any Jap fighters off the backs of the bombers.

USN Strike Force

Avenger TBFs first appearance in a game!

The objective, the light cruiser Tama and the destroyer Harusame

Answering the ship's call for air cover, Zeros start showing up, one Chotai each turn of the Blank card.

End of Turn 1. Approaching each other

Bailey keyed his radio "Hey Skipper, got bandits at 1 o'clock." Robinson replied "Right I see them. Harry, take your boys right and we'll catch them in a pincer."

Bailey pushed on the throttle, closing the gap but swinging wide to trap the Zeros between the two groups of Wildcats. "Blue! Break left!" Rolling into their attack, Harry thumbs the button at the last moment, .50 cal rounds tearing through the lead Zero which explodes in a fireball. to his right Blue 3 shoots the tail off a second Zero and it plummets intto the sea without a chute deploying.

End of Turn 2. SBDs are splitting up to bracket the ships. The TBFs are lagging behind. Red Flight is peeling off to go after another group of Zeros

2 Chotai have arrived on table now (lower right). The ships are trying to maneuver.

Harry pulled his Wildcat into a tight turn to get on the last Zero, machine guns rattling. A wing blows off and he splashes his 2nd kill.

Lt Robinson takes Red Flight into an attack. The Chotai leader (a Jr Ace) takes some damage and dives out of the fight out of control. His wingman catches fire. He will explode next turn.

End of Turn 3. SBDs making their approaches. Zeros lower right trying to get at them through the screen of Wildcats.

Red 3s victim explodes but the sky is swarming with bandits! "Jesus Skipper! they're all over us!" "Break! Break!"
Robinson pulls an Immelman hoping to shake his tail, but the Jap stays on him (IJN Sqdn Ldr and Top Ace Hiro Yokimato). His wingman clings to him through the hard maneuver, but the other half of the flight flies off in another direction.

Blue Flight of the VB-11 dives on the cruiser getting 3 decent hits. The Tama is now dead in the water with it's AA crews suppressed

A pair of Zeros try to tail Green flight, but they shake it off by diving on the destroyer. 500 pound bombs crash around the destroyer, splinters suppressing the AA crews.

"Chuckie! I can't shake him!" Red 3 tries a snap roll, but the Zero stays on his tail. Red 4 drops in behind the Zero. It all depends on who's firing card comes up first now.

Robnson's canopy suddenly explodes with machine gun bullets and his insturment panel is shattered. He tries diving out of the fight, calling to his wingman "Wilson! I'm in the shit here! Get him off me!" Hiro Yakimoto stays on the American, sensing a kill, but Red 2 drops in behind him. Heavy machine gun bullets crash through his aircraft, a ruptured fuel line engulfs the front of his plane in fire!

Dakka daka dakka!

More dakka. A long burst sets the Zero pursuing Red 3 on fire. It explodes next turn.

Fighters doing their deadly ballet. dakka dakka dakka!
Bailey leads his wingman into another attack on a pair of Japs who are out of formation. He thumbs the trigger button, emptying his guns into his target until he sees a wing fly off. 3rd Jap splashed!
As Green and Blue fly past and pull up and out, Red section does it's attack run on the cruiser, bomb hits permanently destroying AA positions.

Yellow flight makes it's run along the length of the destroyer also causing some permanent AA loss and slowing the Destroyer's speed.

Blue section of the TBFs drops it's torpedos!

Hiro Yokimato with his fires out, and trailing smoke, is trying to get out of the fight before a stray American burst blows him up. the Japanese fighter squadron is pretty chewed up and disorganized

One Mk13 goes deep passing under the Destroyer's stern, but the other hits it squarely amidships blowing a huge gaping hole in the side. The Destroyer is quickly another contribution to Iron Bottom Sound

Dodging Zeros the other pair of TBFs line up on the cruiser, launching their torpedos

Both hit! One causes more engine damage, but the second is only a glancing blow, causing some leaks.

Game end.

Lt (JG) Harry Bailey watched the Jap ship roll over and slide under the water. The cruiser was also smoking from several bomb hits."This is Bomber Eleven, we're all done here and heading home!" He could see the scattered flights of dive and torpedo bombers all pulling up and away from the columns of smoke. He keyed his mic "Fighter 19 close up on the Skipper. He's in some trouble. Watch the rear of the bomber boys on the way home too."

The Japs seemed to have lost the desire to fight too, seeing the American bombers heading away, but he was sure that tomorrow or even later that day, they'd all be back to fight over the stricken cruiser. But right now it was time to get back to the barn, grab a cup of joe and work on his letter to George back home in Bedford Falls, he could tell his big brother all abut splashing the 3 Japs and how they sunk a destroyer. Not a bad day's work really.

Another big, ambitious game of Bag the Hun played solo over the weekend. I'm getting a hang of the torpedo and dive bombing rules I think. But trying to sink ships with dive bombers is a lot of work. Of course, when it mattered, my rolls for effectiveness were pretty bad. I'm also getting a better handle on tailing and the nuanced edge the Zero has over the Wildcat. I played the Wildcats very defensively, getting them out of any bad positions and living to fight another turn, rather than trying to keep in a tight knife fight. With the Zeros I tried to keep them in their formations more too, which helped with maneuvering but eventually the fight does break down into individuals and pairs all maneuvering to get the drop on each other. Each side having a Top Ace and a Junior Ace in their fighters was interesting too, and the duel between the two Top Aces was nail biting. Lt Robinson was only saved by his wingman and Yakimoto was just lucky that his serious fire went out instead of exploding.

But the Japanese lost 7 aircraft out of 15 in the game. Their first chotai got slaughtered so quickly I let it come on again, but it didn't effect anything, as it vainly chased after bomber flights.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Hobbit Returns From War

 A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte 2015.

I was delighted to receive this book for Christmas. My other hobby is, I suppose, studying the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. So this discussion of the moral dimensions of Middle Earth was welcome. Theologically I'm a self-confessed Tolkienist, and Middle Earth is my emotional comfort blanket. 

This book looks at how the two friends,  C.S. Lewis and Tolkien wrote their great works as a response to their experiences in the Great War. Instead of turning to cynicism,  atheism and rejecting the old values like other writers of their time, Lewis embraced Anglican Christianity and Tolkien set about reasserting outmoded concepts of Goodness and heroism. But the Goodness and Heroism is still human and  flawed and doomed to failure.

Of course this is why Tolkien's writings are in my mind superior to all the fantasy writers who have come before or after with their Nietschean ├╝bermensch and moral relativism depicting mighty thewed heroes winning through strength of Will. Any other writer would have Gandalf, Aragorn or Galadriel use the Ring to defeat Sauron. Or Frodo would have resisted the Ring's power to the end and flipped the bird at Sauron while glibly dropping it into the fire, probably saying something clever while he did it too.

Loconte spends time explaining the intellectual and spiritual landscape of the Belle Epoque, when even church leaders were seduced by scientific and technological advances into thinking that Progress would lead humanity to a shining city on a hill. 1914-18 blew that all up and buried the Myth of Progress in a corpse filled trench. Really a bit of cynicism and turning away from old ideals is understandable. I'm surprised more just didn't go insane.

Instead, Tolkien gives us heroes who fail and are flawed,  but they struggle anyway because struggling against darkness, even without final hope, is what we have to do. The elves fight the "long defeat" and have seen many fruitless victories. The striving of the great only serve to create space and time for the hands of the small to turn the wheel. But even then Frodo and Sam fail at the end and the world is only saved by Grace unlooked for. Bilbo's small unplanned act of mercy, to not kill Gollum in the cave, is the tiny event, without witnesses or fanfare, that saves Middle Earth. 

Loconte is a religious philosopher, so he's not as concerned about a literary analysis as I am. He also gives a bit more space to C.S. Lewis and his Christian allegory The Chronicles of Narnia than I would have liked. But Lewis is, perhaps, more readily accessible to his themes. Still,  I found this a thought provoking read about J.R.R Tolkien, my favourite author. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Dive Bombers Get Targets

A happy package arrived on Friday to cheer me up after a frustrating work day. 

These Tamiya 1/700 scale waterline kits arrived from Hong Kong in a little over 2 weeks. 

With extra pandemic restrictions in place, and snow, a quiet weekend reacquainting myself with scale model building was perfect. 

Started small Friday night with the IJN destroyer, the Harusame 

Angled the guns to make it look more active 

Dauntless SBD checks it out

Came with a sprue of extra pieces; gun turrets, AA guns, torpedo launchers, FOUR different seaplanes and extra ship's boats. But no instructions on how to make use of them. Huh.

It went together ok. Although I snapped struts on both masts and had to bodge them together. 

Saturday morning I brewed a second cup of tea and started on the light cruiser, the Tama. 

Historically, I'm an impatient model builder. But I realized that the reddish-brown linoleum decking on the cruiser was a big part of its look, and that should be painted before all the superstructure, guns, seaplane etc were attached. 

This also made me pause a bit while glue set on pre-assembled parts, like the bridge and funnels. 

I also remembered these, which Mikey had given me years ago.  They were champion for dabbing glue into small spaces.

Bridge and funnels. So many pieces!

Top off the aft mast sprang away into another dimension when clipping it from the sprue. Then I remembered a box of pieces from an old HO building model and cut a new top from some window panes.

The bridge and fore mast were buggers to build. I had to really stop and think out the sequence. 

This kit came with TWO sprues of extras!

So I guess I'll be able to do a few repairs when bits break during games. I'm thinking that I might build a  float plane or two to add to the IJN aircraft inventory. Give the Wildcats something new to chase.

I kept the painting simple and relied on the plastic for the overall grey which is most of the colour scheme. 

The decals that came with the kits were a pain. The cruiser,  being an older kit had peel and stick. The destroyer had water slide, which made the flag easier actually. But the water slide hinomaru for the aircraft are very stiff and won't conform to the fuselage. 

When I was setting aside a decal sheet, I found the mast top, returned from wherever it had gone.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Shuttle From Toy to Terrain

My friend Pasha Dan found this piece in a sale bin and gave it to me a couple of years ago when I was heavy into my Firefly in the Expanse project. 

Its a playing piece from an MCU clicky collectible game. I wasn't sure what to do with it except for removing the clicky base.

It originally had big orange plastic flames erupting from the engine nozzles.  So I twisted those off.

Painted out the Deadpool markings and then dry brush some black reentry scorches to hide the rougher finish where I painted over the markings and painted the engine nozzles black.

Then it sat for a week while I pondered how to make it not just sitting on it's belly. Had a brain wave on the weekend to use pieces of sprue.

So done. Another item off the backlog and another piece of scatter terrain for a distant colony world. Also the first thing painted for my 15mm science fiction in a few years. 

"The repairs are how much!?"