Wednesday 7 February 2024


A straight knife fight between missile armed USN F-4s with 4 Mig-17s in early 1965. (VP 4 vs 4). Can the USN get its first MiG kill ? Pilot quality isn't a feature in the game so your USAF pilots have the same ability as their more tactically aware USN counterparts so you can play this out with either.

The real engagement is based on:

"On 17 June 1965, Navy F-4Bs were flying "barrier combat air patrol (BARCAP)", protecting a strike package that was attacked by four North Vietnamese MiG-17s. Once the Phantom pilots visually identified the MiGs, they took them on, firing Sparrows at them. Two Phantoms, one piloted by Commander Louis Page and the other by Lieutenant Jack Batson, each scored a kill. These were the first "People's Army of Vietnam North Air Force (PAVNAF)" MiGs shot down in the war."

I chose the VF-21 "Freelancers" as I liked the tail art so made up some decals for a pair which you can see here Downtown and Thud Ridge Images. Not the best reason but a reason none the less. The MiG-17 is the workhorse of the DRV until later on and I wanted to see how much mismatch there is.

As there is no air to ground, no targets and no SAMs I played this one out on a 4x4 table with opponents entering from opposite corners.

Mission Analysis

DRV first (for a change). With no missile we have to get in close. We are exceedingly manouvreable and have numbers on our side. Entering at Level 1 means little to fear from the RG missiles and the US have to get in our homing zone with the HS which we should be able to avoid. Possibly a defensive wheel formation ? never tried it and a bit early in the period but we might have a look. The US will stay up high where we can't get them and then get in behind us using the extra power available.

US. The opposite really. We need to use the RG to the best of its ability but we can only realistically engage 1 target apiece so have to be careful (could fire two a turn but that puts us in a known attitude and we still need to manouvre to bring the target into the envelope). Working in pairs is probably the best option covering the leader with the wingman. Trying to be top gun will probably see both F-4s getting shot down if we go off on our own. With no SAMs to worry us we can use the height to our advantage and pick who and where we attack. The extra energy is also benefit to get that extra distance as well as get up out of trouble if the indians get to close. And we have afterburner to dissipate all that excess energy. Remember no gun so we need to get behind with the HS. The RG is all aspect but poor performance and uses up AP and flies us in a straight line.

Turn 1
  • Showtime 101 and 103 enter first at H4:E5 and close the distance to the MiGs (25cm). MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE . Showtime is 103 is 5cm behind 101.
  • Red 07 and Red 11 (DRV Right hand pair) enter at H2:E4; Blue 08 and Blue 09 (DRV Left hand pair) enter at H3:E4. Aircraft bases are touching with 10cm between pairs. MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE
Turn 2
  • Showtime 101 and 103 continue to close at H4:E5 and close the distance to the MiGs (25cm). MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE .
  • Red 07/11 turn to the right H2:E4 (MOVE (RT) - MOVE (RT) - MOVE (LT) - MOVE (LT)
  • Blue 08/09 turn to the left H3:E4 MOVE (LT) - MOVE (LT) - MOVE (RT) MOVE (RT) opening the lateral separation.
Turn 3
  • Range is still too great for a RG shot so Showtime 101 and 103 go after Blue 08/09. H4:E5 MOVE (RT) - DIVE (+2) - BRAKE (-1) - BRAKE (-1) - MOVE. Ending H3:E5
  • Cat and Mouse time for Blue 08/09 the US can start to go for FOX-1 so the DRV elect to drop towards the deck and bring Red 07/11 around behind the F-4s. 
  • Blue 08/09 H3:E4 POWER (+1) - DIVE (+2) - BRAKE (-1) - BRAKE (-1); Ending H2:E5 BINGO ROLLS no effect.
  • Red 07/11 H2:E4 POWER (+1) - MOVE (LT) - MOVE (LT) - MOVE (LT); Ending H2:E5 BINGO ROLLS no effect
Turn 4
  • The worst thing that the US could do in this position is to drop to H2 in a cloud of MiGs. Both Showtime 101/103 need to be more than 25cm from the enemy to get a RG shot off at a front aspect target from this altitude (they need to dive as well). They are inside minimum range and the HS needs rear aspect. Time to get some afterburn action, clear the area and reengage. They haven't used any afterburner or power yet so are safe from BINGO they can do 3 afterburn moves safely and then dive which would place them 40cm from where they are now any excess power can be removed because of the afterburn marker.
  • 101 elects to DIVE (+2) - REVERSE (D3/-1) - AFTERBURN ending H2:E6. 
  • 103 DIVE (+2) - REVERSE (D2/-1) - AFTERBURN - AFTERBURN; Ending H2:E6
  • Red 07/11 and Blue 08/09 are bemused by the US behaviour but decide not to make it easy and climb to H3 preventing the US turning and shooting next turn.
  • Red 07/11 MOVE (RT) - MOVE (RT) - CLIMB (-2); Ending H3:E3
  • Blue 08/09 MOVE (LT) - POWER - CLIMB (-2); Ending H3:E4
Turn 5
  • Afterburner back on the US still need to open the range so elect to use the massive power in the F-4 .
  • Showtime 101/103 AFTERBURN - AFTERBURN - MOVE - CLIMB; Ending H3:E6
  • Red 07/11 DIVE (+2) - MOVE (RT)- MOVE(LT); Ending H2:E5
  • Blue 08/09 know they are in trouble or will be (they US will probably reverse and come looking next turn) so DIVE (+2) - BRAKE (-1) - MOVE (LT) - MOVE (RT); Ending H2:E5
Turn 6
  • Red 07/11 are still too close to get a dive and a RG shot so the US is after Blue 08/09.
  • Showtime 101 REVERSE (D2) - DIVE (+2) - AFTERBURN (+2) - RG; rolling a 5 Blue 09 now has a radar lock marker.
  • Red 07/11 find themselves behind and on the same level as Showtime 101.
  • Red 11 TIGHT (LT/2AP/-1) MOVE (LT) SHOOT (Rear aspect) rolling a 5 and Showtime 101 begins trailing smoke before slowly turning over, two parachutes ae seen. MOVE (LT) - MOVE (LT); Ending H2:E4
  • Red 07 breaks right to keep out of the way of the shooting MOVE - MOVE - MOVE (LT) - MOVE (LT); Ending H2:E5
  • Blue 08 TIGHT (RT/2AP/-1) - MOVE (RT) - MOVE (RT) - MOVE (RT); Ending H2:E4.
  • Blue 09 TIGHT (LT/2AP/-1) - TIGHT (LT/2AP/-1) - MOVE (RT); Ending H2:E2 with 4 break lock points rolls a 2 and watches the Sparrow go ballistic.
Victory for the DRV - I still managed to get shot down (again). I still have trouble with the combinations of afterburn, dive, reverse etc with the need to balance AP expenditure with energy. There was probably an opportunity way back in turn 3 where I could have gone afterburner to close the range rather than dive and break. Bleeding energy into the afterburner is useful and you only need to use one a turn to keep you stable. The lack of gun is a nightmare and I probably was too fixated with getting a sparrow shot off, but the homing zone restriction on the early HS missiles is a killer. But it shows you how hard it is to get a shot off and also imagine protecting an inbound striker as well. Add a couple of SAMs and you will probably have the same results as the US pilots until they put a gun under the F-4. Better luck next time.

Oh look! pumpkin soup, I like that.

Surfin' bird

My first battle report is for an introductory game to look at the game mechanics. It pits 2 A-4 skyhawks on a "road recce" against a single MiG-17. The skyhawks are both loaded with ordnance . The DRV roll for strategic targets and roll a 2 and will place two targets on the playing surface. The US player must attack one of these and then return to the carrier. The two targets (rail bridge and troop barracks) are 20cm and 30cm from the DRV baseline

Table is a standard 6 x 4 table with normal table alignment. and the DRV doesn't have any SAM to use.

Mission Analysis

The US player knows with the skyhawk it will take 5 turns to get to the targets at maximum energy. Without any CAP cover the Mig will probably cause 1 of the skyhawks to jettison.

The US player also knows that bombing is a knife fight and that he will need to be down at Level 1 to have a 50/50 chance of hitting the target. Level 3 means no hits and level 2 means hitting on a 5 or 6.

This will mean he will be low and slow in the target area and not good if the DRV Migs come looking. He splits his force allocating a Skyhawk to each target.

Turn 1

Stinger 01 and Stinger 02 enter the US table at height level 3 and energy 4 which is the maximum for a loaded skyhawk. Set up directly in between the two targets, they move 20cm line abreast. MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE

For this game the DRV cannot enter until turn 2

Turn 2
Stinger 01 and 02 continue to at height 3 and energy 4 moving another 20cm. MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE

The Mig-17 enters the table at height 3 energy 4 (it can go to a maximum of 5 as it is not loaded). It heads to intercept the left hand US Aircraft.

The two forces are now 60cm apart

Turn 3
Stinger 01 honours the threat and turns towards both the Mig and the Rail Bridge, Stinger 02 turns to the right heading for the Troop barracks. MOVE - MOVE - MOVE - MOVE
The Mig-17 Manouvres towards Stinger 01 increasing energy to 5 however his starting energy was 4 so can only move 4 times. MOVE - MOVE(LT) - MOVE - POWER

Turn 4
Stinger 01 has a hard choice does he ignore the Mig and go for the target or jettison his ordnance and head for home. The US player elects to jettison his ordnance and increases power. MOVE - POWER - MOVE - MOVE (RT). BINGO status is rolled for the POWER move with a 1 being rolled but this is the first power move and the aircraft are at Height 3 so the aircraft continues.

Stinger 02 can make the target so continues MOVE - BRAKE - DIVE - BRAKE which allows him to drop to Level 2 (DIVE moves increase energy by 2 and the loaded maximum is 4)
The Mig can't reach Stinger 02 in time to stop the attack but has a choice which of the two to pursue. Both the US planes will be at the same energy as him, next turn so he continues the pursuit of Stinger 01. MOVE (RT&SHOOT) - MOVE - POWER. - TIGHT(2) Rolling for the crossing shot give a 5 No effect. Tight moves drain off energy and the Mig is back to energy 4 . Luckily the D rolls for the tight were a 2 which counted as a 1 thanks to the -1 modifier for being a Mig-17.

Turn 5
Stinger 01 begins a twisting set of manoeuvres to try and get on the tail of the Mig-17 or rather making sure he isn't a target himself. Starting off with Energy 5 MOVE (LT) - MOVE (RT) - MOVE (RT) - MOVE (RT)
Stinger 02 has a complicated set of actions in order to get the bombs on target. He needs to drop a level, not exceed his energy and break off the target area and away from trouble. DIVE (DROP) - BRAKE - BRAKE - MOVE (RT). After dropping ordnance he will be clean, but at level 1 so his maximum energy remains at 4. Rolling on the ordnance table gives a 6 and 2 VPs. He breaks off the target and puts his nose towards the Carrier.

Essentially the US have won the game already with the hit on the Barracks and DRV controllers call off the Mig. Which is lucky as the Mig is on the tail of Stinger 01 and can reach a position to shoot with a better than evens change of damaging or shooting down the Skyhawk.

This very simple game took 15 minutes from start to finish. As a house rule I introduced another victory point for the DRV in the event that no target is hit and all US aircraft have left the table. The other way would be to keep the -1 for any bomber jettisoning ordnance (essentially a mission kill), but this is hard for the US already. They have on average a 25% chance of winning this game. One of the skyhawks will probably jettison and only half the attacks at level 1 will hit from the other one. If the DRV get a shot in first it will be game over and the DRV win before the target is hit.

Monday 14 February 2022

DAK - Sdkfz 233 8 Rad

 There are a couple of photos of the Sdkfz 233 in North Afrika.  They weren't manufactured until late 1942 so for my purposes would only appear in the Torch book for late North Africa or Tunisia.

I started off with a base model that had sat around in the started but not finished pile for a long time and had an DG and OG camo scheme on it.  I washed it and gave it a good scrub and threw some AK Gelb Braun (RAL 8000) on it.  This is the same RAL 8000 that I have used on my 88s.

Problem with research is that the AK colour doesn't match.  Their RC range has a different interpretation of the colour and I was bit torn between repainting models again or going with a bit of a hybrid. I wasn't happy with the placement of the stowage either to be fair.

So I stripped off the crate, tarpaulin and spare wheel and started again

The spare wheel was drilled out from both sides and superglued into the correct place.  The plastic glue marks were sanded and filed where possible.  The superstructure was then given a patchy overspray of my Tamiya RAL8000 Mix which is a lot darker.  The model was then given the chipping treatment to try and disguise any marks that hadn't been completely rectified.

Now onto the putting different stowage on it.

Original model

DAK Paints

 Despite being brought up on Donald Featherstone's books and starting as a wargamer with the Airfix desert guides I never really got into the desert as a period, focussing on the Eastern Front.

But a while a ago I was looking at Tunisia.  From there I have a couple of Panzer III G/J and and two late Js.  As I have rekindled my painting and modelling mojo these are getting a repaint.  Problem is that I don't know where to start so this is a record of how it goes.

There appear to be the following periods and associated colours:

Arrival - Early 1942

RAL 7021 - Dark Grey

RAL 8000 - Yellow Brown

RAL 7008 - Grey Green

Spring 1942 - Onwards

RAL 8020 - Brown

RAL 7027 - Sand Grey