Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Monday 23 September 2019

Portable Air Wargaming Over The Pacific - Fight Two

For the next run out of the Portable Air Wargame from Bob Cordery's Developing the Portable Wargame, I again pinched used an imaginary scenario from Just Jack's Island Hopping With The Old Lead Breed blog.  This time, it features a USAAF squadron assigned to ABDA for the defence of Palembang.  Equpped with P-40s, they have been ordered up to intercept an incoming escorted Japanese bombing raid.

Aircraft Statistics:
Four P-40Es: SPEED 7, DAMAGE 5, WEAPONS 3 red
Three A6M2 Zeros: SPEED 7, DAMAGE 3, WEAPONS 2 red, 1 white
Three G4M1 Bettys: SPEED 5, DAMAGE 6, WEAPONS: front: 1 white*, left: 1 white*, right: 1 white*, rear: 1 red, 1 white*

P-40Es Nos.3 & 4 had one energy chip each and all the Zeros had two.

The P-40E and the Bf110C have been the two aircraft so far that on the pure performance figures look much better than their typical opponents (Zeros and Hurricanes respectively) but in ways that don't seem to reflect the historical record.  With the Bf110C vs Hurricane match-up, it seems to have been a combination of advantages in wing-loading, rate of roll and acceleration that enabled the latter to do well, whereas I am not quite sure why the P-40s should have ended up being considered worse than the Zero.  Were early USAAF fighter tactics inappropriate against Zeros?  On paper, a P-40E looks much better than an F4F-3 Wildcat.  Educate me...

The change I tested in this game was to allow fighters to turn and move at the same time rather than spend a movement point turning without moving a hex.

The Game:

I stuck closely to Jack's original scenario, except made the Bettys fly the full width of the table, because the speed differential between the P-40s and the Bettys is smaller (the P-40s wouldn't have been able to intercept them at all if I had stuck with the same directions).
The first of two pairs of P-40s sent to intercept...

And the second.

The Bettys flying in tight formation

The Zeros head in to intercept the interceptors...

The first pair closes in...

But the Zeros (left) try for a head-on intercept...

The lead P-40 dukes it out with the Betty's powerful rear-facing guns... does his wingman (right)

The Zeros break into the P-40s, causing some damage to the wingman...

Leaving the P-40s a choice: enter the dogfight or try and get a quick kill of a Betty or two...

For better or worse, the USAAF Captain continues on against the bombers...

And is joined by his wingman.  Both the P-40s and their targets suffer some damage in the exchange, but not enough to bring anyone down

The Zero leader gets in on the P-40s six...

And down goes the P-40!  The other Zeros attempt to destroy the P-40 leader, but miss

The leader of the second P-40 pair takes a head-on shot, but does no significant damage

The other P-40s join in but still the Bettys keep on going, as the only holes appear in the fuselage, not in the fuel tanks or engines...

The Zeros are still on the tail of the P-40s

And more line up to take a shot

And down goes a second P-40!

The remaining P-40s race for safety... (top-centre & bottom-centre), whilst the Bettys fly serenely on (right)

But the P-40s were in a terrible position and the Zeros easily get onto the six of one of them

And down goes another one!

One of the Zeros gets just into range of the remaining P-40, but misses and the American leader escapes!

Game Notes:
"So, how do you feel that went?"...
Well, the rules worked well, although on balance I am inclined to reject the turning and moving idea, since it seemed to enable the fighters to avoid choices about speed vs turn as the best use of energy (which is what the game should basically be about).  The Americans made a choice to concentrate on the bombers and hope to bring one or two down quickly.  Unfortunately their shooting was both poor and unlucky and the Zeros pounced.  I still felt this was a successful game since it all played out very quickly and the American fighters were made to pay for their arguably poor tactical choice very quickly (I would never have made the same decision if playing a flight sim!).

The current state of development is discussed on this thread on TMP. I will write it up more clearly and comprehensively and post it on the blog at some point soon.


  1. Having been away, I missed this when it appeared on your blog and TMP.

    You really have done what I hoped, and turned my basic game into something far better than I ever hoped it would be. Well done, and thank you!

    All the best,


    1. Many thanks Bob, I very much appreciate it. I have been having a lot of fun with these rules, so I imagine there will be many more games coming up. In due course I will pretty my game up by getting my 1/600 aircraft into the air for it.