Check Your Six! – Continuation War
As mentioned in the previous article, I had picked up aircraft at Historicon to play the two Continuation War scenarios from the Check Your Six! rulebook. After getting the planes ready, we played these two scenarios last night and had a great time.
The first scenario, Tigers of Finland, featured a Soviet reconnaissance mission trying to return to friendly airspace. A Soviet R-5 reconnaissance biplane was escorted by a group of I-16s and I-152s and was disguised as an I-152 until one of the Finnish aircraft approached within 3 hexes. The Finns countered with 2 Gladiators and two Moraine MS-406. I played the Finns and Bob, Ken, and Scott too the hoard of Soviets. I was allowed to move the deployment of the MS-406 group closer to the Soviets and I took advantage of that. The Soviets were allowed to place a couple of clouds and put them near their exit point to give them a place to hide.
The Soviets set course for the closest point of escape and the Finns moved to close the gap. We soon discovered the first difference between this theater and some of our previous games – many of these planes are slow! I had put the faster MS-406 out in front and I ended up with my two pairs of aircraft not able to support one another. Still, in the spirit of aggressive flying favored by the Finnish Air Force, I launched the MS-406 into the mass of Soviet fighters. The veteran leader cut through the formation aiming to get close to the I-15s and identify the R-5 reconnaissance aircraft. The trailing MS-406 jumped onto the tail of an I-16 but only succeeded in damaging it and was damaged in return by a head to head fire from another I-16. Trading damage one for one with the Soviets is a bad plan when outnumbered greater than 2:1. That wounded aircraft eventually was brought down by another Soviet fighter. The veteran MS-406 picked up the tail of the R-5 and damaged it, but before he could close in for the kill, the rear-seat gunner shot the Finnish aircraft out of the sky!
The slower Gladiators had by now finally closed the range and swung through the formation of Soviets. One Soviet fighter was shot down and one of the Gladiators suffered a lucky engine hit reducing speed to 1. Since the Finns suffered additional penalties in the second scenario of both Gladiators were shot down, I decided to climb out of the fight. The damaged R-5 was making a run for a cloud bank and was almost safe when it was struck down by a long range shot from the remaining Gladiator. Soviet losses were increased when the two damaged aircraft cracked up on landing.
In the second game, Finland the Brave, the Soviets returned to bomb the Finnish airfield they had just tried to reconnoiter. Since the R-5 had been destroyed, the Finns received an additional AA battery protecting the airfield. The Soviet roll on the variable rules table resulted in the addition of four I-152 fighters to the Soviet escort. The Finnish Air Force gained the ability to move much closer to the Soviet starting positions and to attack out of a cloud This time I planned to keep my forces together together and mutually supporting, at least to some degree. I also decided to concentrate maneuvering as much as possible on limiting the number of shots coming at my aircraft. Even though the Finnish pilots were superior to the green Soviets, giving me advantages in move order and the ability to shift maneuvers, but the experience in the first game showed that with some many enemy aircraft about, there was usually some with shots and if they shot enough, eventually they got lucky and damaged an aircraft.
The Soviets moved forward as the Finns dove out of their cloud and charged toward the Soviets. After a couple of collisions in the first game brought about by the Soviet’s inability to coordinate (they had no radios, so were prohibited from discussing plans), Ken stationed his trio well to one side of the formation while Bob and Scott flew with the bomber stream. The Glosters angled toward Ken’s I-16s while the two Brewsters cut in behind the Soviet fighters to get shots on the two bombers on the left of the formation. One suffered engine damage and the other was set on fire and suffered airframe damage. The Brewsters completed their turns to get onto the tail of the bombers and downed the engine damaged aircraft, but the SB-2s proved annoyingly resistant to the fire from even the “heavily armed” Brewsters.
One of the two Gladiators was downed by an I-16, but the second was able to even the score. A couple of other Soviet fighters were damaged, but with only four rifle-caliber machine guns the Glosters were not able to bring down any fighters. The Brewsters were on the tails of the bombers, but with half a dozen Soviet fighters around, flying placidly along behind the bombers would have been suicidal, so I continued to weave and dodge, taking shots at the bomber group when I could. Another of the bombers was damaged, but one Brewster and then the second ran out of ammo. The Finnish fighters ran for safety as the SB-2s successfully reached the airfield and dropped their payload… and completely missed.
After failing to do any damage, the Soviets attempt to land their damaged aircraft and once again cracked up everyone of them. Although the Finns had been able to destroy few of the Soviets on the table, the green pilots were unable to land the damaged aircraft, so they were kills anyway. The Finnish Air Force scored 36 VP in the two scenarios to 18 for the Soviets. I think my “avoid getting killed” tactics worked well in the second game, and although the Soviets lost a lot of VP on bad die rolls to land their damaged aircraft and for bombing the airfield, they also had phenomenal Robustness rolls throughout the games, so it about works out evenly.
These were really interesting scenarios to play and definitely different from many of the others we’ve done. The Soviets were almost all green, but their were certainly a lot of them. The low firepower and low robustness of the aircraft also created a different dynamic with a lot of damaged aircraft but few kills. The slow speeds also meant that planning poorly and ending up away from the main scrum pretty much took you out of the fight since it was hard to get back, especially in a running fight as with a bomber escort mission. We had a great time and I definitely plan to add some more aircraft for the theater, bring my existing aircraft up to four of each type and adding some Italian G.50s in Finnish colors and some Mig3’s and I-153s for the Soviets.