Showdown Over Singapore
At Historicon I ran a WWII air game featuring Allied pilots attempting to intercept a raid by JNAF bombers escorted by Zeros. I ran this one using the Warbirds in Miniature rules, which are a derivative of the classic Blue Max and are a fun set of rules that are fast playing and easy.
I had 4 Japanese players flying Zeros divided into three shotai and 6 Allied players divided into 3 flights. One Allied flight was flying Dutch Brewster B-339D (the export version of the Brewster Buffalo), another was flying RAF Hurricanes, and the third was flying RNZAF Brewster Buffalo Mk. I’s. In keeping with many of the accounts of the RAF Brewster pilots stationed at Singapore, the New Zealand players had the option to fly the stock Brewster or to fly a “Super Sport”, which was a Brewster lightened to improve performance by removing guns, ammo, and fuel. In this game the New Zealand players opted for the heavier firepowerof the stock Mk. I Buffalo with 4x 0.50 cal machine guns. In addition each side drew cards for pilot skills, with the veteran Japanese having a significantly higher chance to get skill cards.
The Allied planes were set up to the front of the Japanese bombers at various altitudes. The best Allied fighters, the Hurricane IIBs, were lagging and at the lowest altitude. The Japanese chose to deploy well ahead of their bombers, ready to come to immediate grips with the Allies. Eager for the kill, the Japanese zoomed foward and pounced on the first Allied planes they could get to, scoring early damage on one of the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes and a couple of the RNZAF Brewsters became embroiled in a running dogfight with majority of the Japanese, while a single shotai of three Zeros lingered behind to cover the bombers. However, there were now six Allied Brewsters closing on the bomber stream. The two RNZAF Brewsters attracted most of the attention and the Dutch planes flew past the formation and looped back into the rear of the bomber formation and began to attack. Very quickly the advantageous position of the Dutch planes paid off and Bettys began to stagger from formation with heavy damage. One Betty crew abandoned their smoking aircraft while another exploded in mid-air.
A couple of Zeros broke away from the dogfight with the Hurricanes to come help the bombers and one of the RNZAF Brewsters was shot down. A Zero was caught by a burst of fire and exploded. A couple of Allied planes and at least one Zero were badly damaged by this time and slinking off toward a friendly table edge. As the fight developed into a general melee, more Dutch planes dove into the bomber formation and eventually the last of the Hurricanes broke free and attacked as well. The Bettys scored a few hits with their defensive armament and the remaining Zeros shot down another Brewster, but the bombers were taking a heavy toll.
As time ran out the Allies had clearly inflicted heavy losses on the bombers. The Japanese pilots got a little greedy and rushed to attack rather than waiting for the Allied planes to try lining up on the bombers then pouncing on their tails. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, which is all that really matters. Two players – one Dutch and one Japanese – walked away with a pair of painted Ki-27 and a pair of the painted Brewsters from the game, graciously provided by I-94 Enterprises.