Saturday, 20 September 2014

Battle of Britain Day - Spitfire MK1s

Two Spitfires scramble in the skies above Albion.

Dear readers, as September the 15th is the official ”Battle of Britain day”, what can be more appropriate for this week’s blog post than a pair of Spitfire MK1s?

Excellent and fast playing rule for aerial wargaming!

Fellow wargamer Mark (follow his blog here) recently turned me onto Check Your 6. I found the rules easy to learn and fast playing, while at the same time adding a lot of reality to the aeronautic element.

After one test game I had to succumb to the charm of aerial wargaming and face it – I was hooked on yet another unforeseen diversion. This time, however, a very affordable and quickly painted one.

The Battle of Britain - fought between July and October of 1940.

Since Mark have a very extensive and nice WW2 aircraft collection in 1/285, boasting some sharp looking Messerschmitt 109s, I went for the Raiden Miniatures 1/285 Spitfire MK1s, offering us a chance to play some of the Check Your 6 Battle of Britain scenarios.

Check Your 6 offers an great scenario book
 on the Battle of Britain.

Assembling my first Spitfire plastic kit already as a young teenager, the charm of this very graceful “English lady” has always had a certain sway over me. I love the dynamic shape, the silhouette of the wings, and perhaps if you will, the myth of this plane that seemingly saved a nation if not the entire war, and became a symbol of British resilience in an otherwise very dark time. I love the story of these brave young RAF pilots, sometimes limping in with shot-up planes, while 10 minutes later scrambling off in a replacement in the 24/7 drama of these days in 1940, when the fate of Europe was decided in the skies over Britain.

A German bomber has its sight seeing tour cut short.

Fought between July and October of 1940, the Battle of Britain was essentially the “big push” of Göring’s Luftwaffe to damage British defenses, gain aerial superiority and open the door for a naval supported invasion of with the seemingly unstoppable Nazi land forces – Operation Sea Lion. 

Raiden Miniatures offers a very nicely
 sculpted Spitfire model and easy to apply decals.

As Luftwaffe raids commenced, the German bombers would be under fighter support from the very advanced and also incredibly beautiful Messerschmitt Bf109Es. In many ways arguably the better plane, the Messerschmitt however had a few challenges when pitted against the British Hurricanes and less numerous but more famous Spitfires.

Two well designed adversaries.
The Supermarine Spitfire Mk1 & the Messerschitt Bf109E.

The Bf109Es only had two machine guns and two low velocity canons against the RAF’s standard eight 7.7 mm Browning machine guns. At the same time, the fuel consumption of the German Daimler-Benz motor paired with the lengthy raid radius over the Channel, would have pilots stressed during combat with one eye on the fuel gage – every Messerschmitt pilot knew when it was time to break off, and head home before fuel the level would be too critical. The RAF had thus the advantage of closer supplies of fuel and ammo, meaning many squadrons could and would do several “scrambles” per day. 

Despite a hot tail, this old boy made it home for tea
 - with a great story to tell.

The slight advantage in aerial maneuverability of the Messerschmitt was thus nullified by the factors above. Nevertheless the Germans gave it their best shot, and went all in, even with the much feared bombing raids on London, aimed at zapping public and political morale. However, offensive operations costing the Luftwaffe 25-30% casualties during September, something that the Nazi war machine could not replace in a 1:1 timeline, took its toll on the striking power of the Luftwaffe. Eventually Hitler had to face the facts. The Nazis had attained their first defeat, and Operation Sea Lion was subsequently archived for good. 

The back bone of British moral. 
No further introductions needed.

Churchill’s famous words from a speech made during the fateful days of the battle, would resound to form the corner stone of public sentiment: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”.

Thank you very much for reading!

12 comments:

  1. Definitely appropriate - nice! BTW, might be a good time to watch that great movie too. Best, Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean, yeah you're right. Also I found my way to Youtube for a few good documentaries with actual footage from air combat shot from within the cockpits of both sides, interesting stuff!

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  2. Nice post and beautiful planes...

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    1. Thanks Phil, they were something quite different to paint. A single plane in 1/285 is smaller than a 28 mm figure, so they paint up really fast. But with the decals, they look the part I think.

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  3. Great post and models Soren, when I was a young teenager I remember my Grandad describing the awesome noise of the German planes flying over him at night and Blitzing Sheffield ,which he said glowed orange in the night sky!
    Cheers
    Chris

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    1. Thank you very much Chris - what a story you have there. It can't have been easy. Imagine the sky just humming with bombers like a dark omen, enough to keep anyone sleepless with fear. My Granddad was a metal worker apprentice after the war, and they were cutting up Stukas that had fallen down over Denmark to re-use the precious metal. Even with a blow-torches, they couldn't get the bloody thing apart. The aluminium parts within the wings simply melted together again as they worked their way through. In the end it took seven guys slugging with hammers and chisels and one cutting just to dismantle a wing!

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    2. Great story Soren, I bet there was a fair bit of scrap war metal lying around after that bad war for your Granddad to cut up!

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  4. Hej Soren!
    Great post! The planes look great! I am thinking of getting the CY6 flight bases for my aircraft. The old ones are old and not doing very well and the ones with the adjustable height just will not work out like I had hoped. The CY6 flight stands are the ones with the speed and altitude on the base and there are two arrows that the player moves to indicate the speed and the altitude. I will probably get about 24 of these stands so we will have enough for some big fights.
    Great paint job. I have two ME-262's in line for a paint job.
    Have a good Sunday!
    Mark

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    1. Hi Mark, yeah I saw the new planes - they look really great! I've also had a look at those stands in a webshop, and they look very pro indeed, certainly they'll also help keeping track of ones speed/altitude when playing larger games with many planes.
      They'll be perfect for our coming Battle of Britain or Finnish Winter War campaigns!

      Take care my friend.
      Søren

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  5. Lovely looking planes and write up!

    Christopher

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  6. The Spitfire was one of the first plastic kits I put together as a kid so it will always have a special place in my heart – very iconic indeed! Mind you, it didn't look half as good as these even though the model was ten times as big ...

    Seriously, great work Søren! Another game to look out for I guess.

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  7. Mine neither I tell you - found the old one the other week when going through some boxes in the attic. Not quite as photogenic as I remembered it :0) Anyways, thanks for the kind words and for dropping by for a read. Take care, and se you soon in Solberga - hopefully for a game of Lion Rampant!

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