Defending the Armoured Train
This was a recent air game that we played with some Russians attacking a German Armoured Train while their Finnish allies defended it. This wasn't based on any known historical scenario but we wanted to try out another Eastern front game and one of the players had recently finished painting and basing the armoured train. We quickly calculated some points and came up with the following forces (mainly based on the models we have painted)
2 Lagg3s and 2 Mig3s fighters
4 IL-2 Sturmoviks armed with 60mm Rockets
2 Moraine Saulnier MS406
2 Brewster Buffalo B339s
2 Gloster Gladiators
The Soviets objective was to destory the German armoured train with rockets while the Finns objective was to defend it. We started at opposite ends of the table and the Soviets moved first. The rules we used are called Scramble by A and A Games, which we find very enjoyable and easy to play.
The Armoured train and the Soviets tanks are from Navwar and the aircraft are a mix of Navwar, SDD and Scotia. As you can see from the pictures, we didn't have any bases in a suitable colour for the snow cloth ready in time for the game, so they look a bit strange.
The game was played at night and the lighting was not very bright, hence the poor quality and slightly blurry photos (well that's my excuse). I also tried out a new feature in Photoshop called "Auto Color Balance" which seemed to work well, and was better than I could get manually.
Click on the images to see a larger version. Note most of the full size images are quite large and may take a bit of time to load!
The Armoured train on the Russian steppes
This was the train at the beginning of the game. It is also under attack from a small soviet land force (which you can see in the background) but those were not part of the game. Since it was such a big train we decided that it had double the normal number of damage points of the train stats in the rules. We also armed it with 2 light flak batteries although they never fired their guns once during the game!
The Finnish defenders.
We split the forces between 2 players. One player had 2 Buffalos and 1 Gladiator while the other had
the 2 MS406s and the remaining Gladiator. The Finnish pilots are also well rated in Scramble and we
rolled some good dice for their stats. The poor Russian pilots had barely gotten out of flight school.
The Soviets attacking forces
In this picture you can see the Soviet forces at the start of the game, before suffering any losses. The
Soviet Sturmoviks started at quite a low altitude and some of the soviets escorts started much higher
up. The planes were painted by Simon and the Sturmoviks are from SDD and are very nice models.
The early stages
This picture shows the attacking forces moving down the table with the Finns coming on from the other end. Next
time we will try it with the defenders coming on from a random direction to make it more interesting. We use
the same height flight stands so it is hard looking at the picture, the different height of the attackers. Meanwhile
the Finns were staying just above the Sturmoviks so they could pick their moment and dive on to them.
Sturmoviks in trouble
While the Soviet escorts were too far back and too high to affect the combat, the Finn Buffalos carried out a shallow dive to swoop down onto the IL-2s. The Finn side also had initiative and this was helpful as Captain Mikko Hakinen shoot down the first Sturmovik before it could return fire on his wingman. The second Buffalo caused some serious damage on another Sturmovik but not enough to destroy it.
A big mess
A lot of our games end up in big messy dogfights like this. We tend to attack when we see the opportunity (regardless of the risks) and this game was no different. The Finns are trying to get on the tail of the remaining IL-2s while the Soviet escorts are trying to shoot them down first.
Polishing off the escorts
The Gladiator has got on the tail of one of the hapless Soviet fighters (Mig3 I think). This was a bit of a side show as the Finns main job was to get the Sturmoviks before the train got hit.
Chasing the last Sturmovik
In this photo you can see the Finnish fighters converging on the last Sturmovik, which is trailing smoke from damage it has sustained. Unfortunately it came out a bit blurry but it was the only one of had from this part of the game.
As happens in a fair bit in our games, the last plane managed to get a lucky shot off. The Russian
player, who had gained the initiative at an important time, shot first with their last Sturmovik.
The damaged Sturmovik fired all its rockets and hit the armoured train, destroying it. They needed
a 10 of a D10 to score the hit and managed to hit it with 2 out of the 3 pairs of rockets! The Finns
promptly shot down the last IL2 but the Soviets had won the scenario.
The Soviets escorts finally got into action and got some revenge on the Finnish aircraft shooting down a Gladiator and a MS406 that were tailing the remaining Sturmovik.
This was a fun game and quite even in the end. After the first couple of Sturmoviks were lost, things were looking grim for the Russians.
One of the soviet players made the mistake we see a bit in our games, which was to hang back too far or too high from the bombers. He didn't realise that the other player was planning to drop altitude fast, which left the fighters out of touch.