Thursday, December 31, 2015

The War in the Air - First Steps on the Road to Chaco

Now that I have been able to confirm the Chaco War aircraft that are actually available in 1/288th scale from Arctic Skunk, the next step is to decide what types of aircraft to purchase.  While these may be small scale, using the frosted ultra detail material to create these aircraft results in a much higher purchase price than comparably sized metal or resin offerings.  Therefore, I need to make my purchase decision with some intelligence and perhaps a little less on the "that is cool looking so I must have it" side.  Most likely I will be the only person within my gaming world who would be getting into the Chaco air war, so I need to provide enough aircraft for a multi player game, and typically when using Check Your 6! a player controls two to four aircraft.

A few other details need to be considered; most players like dogfighting scenarios, yet the Chaco War did not see many fighter vs. fighter encounters.  When there were dogfighting opportunities, the number of aircraft engaged were just a handful on each side, which does not translate to the normal practice within Check Your 6! of giving each player at least two planes.

Before we worry too much about scenario generation/creation, let's look at the numbers of frontline fighters and bombers for each side to give the reader a better understanding of the lack of numbers each side had.  I am only going to list those types that are available on Shapeways in 1/288th scale.

Type - Nation - Role - Number

Curtiss Hawk II (includes Sea Hawk II) - Bolivia - Fighter/Bomber - 10
Fiat Cr.20bis - Paraguay - Fighter - 5
Potez 25 (includes A-2 and TOE) - Paraguay - Bomber - 14
Curtiss-Wright C14R "Osprey" - Bolivia - Bomber - 20
Breguet 19 A2 - Bolivia - Bomber - 7
Vickers Type 143 "Bolivian Scout" - Bolivia - Fighter - 9
Wibault Type 93 C.1 - Paraguay - Fighter - 7
Vickers Type 149 "Vespa III" - Bolovia - Bomber - 9
Curtiss "Cyclone Falcon" - Bolivia - Bomber - 9
Junkers K43h - Bolivia - Bomber - 3
Junkers W34ci - Bolivia - Bomber - 3

Based on the above alone, that gives Bolivia 19 (or 9) fighters and 51 (or 61) bombers, against Paraguay's 12 fighters and 14 bombers.  Of course not all aircraft were airworthy throughout the entire war, but one can see a larger force of Bolivians being fielded, particularly a bomber force.  One scenario idea is to have larger formations of Bolivians trying to bomb Paraguayan targets, with the Paraguayans trying to intercept the bombers.

A random scenario generator could be devised that could determine type of mission as well as what type(s) of aircraft would be used.

More on the Chaco War in the air in future posts!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Chaco War in the Air - Additional Planes

Fiat Cr.20 from Arctic Skunk
Contrary to my previous post, Arctic Skunk does make a much larger range of 1/288th scale Chaco War aircraft than mentioned.  They do not appear for some reason under his Interwar Aircraft section, but if one does a search for a specific plane, one can find the 1/288th scale offerings.  This means the following are all available:

IW01B Curtiss Hawk II (1/288)
IW02B Fiat Cr 20 (1/288)
IW03B Potez 25 (1/288)
IW04B CW-14R Osprey (1/288)
IW08B Breguet 19A2 (1/288)
IW09B Vickers Type 143 Scout (1/288)
IW10B Wibault 73C1 (1/288)
IW11B Vickers Type 149 Vespa III (1/288)
IW12B Junkers W34 Transport
IW13B Junkers K43 Bomber
IW14B Curtiss Cyclone Falcon (1/288)

Many of you will already know this, but typically one can buy planes in what is called White Strong Flexible (WSF) material.  It does live up to its name, but is produced with a very grainy texture that detracts from the smooth lines of aircraft.  WSF takes a fair amount of surface prep work to remove some of the grainy feel and to allow paints to adhere to the surface.  As WSF is very porous, one cannot simply apply a coat of primer as the paint will get sucked into the WSF vortex.  Typically it takes several coats of a 50/50 white glue/water solution to prep the surface for painting.  Sound like a lot of effort, and it is.  However, with these 1/288th scale offerings, the material used is called Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD), which allows details to be seen more clearly, and does not have the grainy texture of WSF.  FUD is more expensive than WSF, and its more delicate, but in order to produce aircraft in this scale FUD is the only material that will print.

Thank you to Arctic Skunk for his timely responses to my messages on Shapeways to clarify the availability issue.  He did mention that he is having issues with the W34 and the K43 and they need to be reworked, but the other offerings seems to be fine. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Chaco War - Revisited

From time to time I come to the realization that I have far too many interests and far too many figures within those interests to contemplate ever completing.  The Chaco War is a perfect example.  While I have a great interest in doing the ground war in 15mm, using both Khurasan and Irregular miniatures, and have purchased plastic trucks and tanks, along with figures from both the aforementioned companies, painting more infantry just doesn't appeal to me.  Add in terrain considerations and my restricted gaming space takes another hit.  However, air combat projects are easy to work on as I already have a gaming mat for Check Your 6! and smaller scale aircraft are very easy to store and transport.  While the Chaco War doesn't offer a lot of air combat scenarios of any notable size, there are enough details available to create recon and bombing scenarios, as well as the occasional dogfight that most gamers seem to love.

To that end I have been revisiting the Arctic Skunk Shapeways shop, going over his offerings in 1/144th and 1/288th scale.  I have a slew of 1/144th scale aircraft for Wings of Glory, but I am not that enamored with the gaming system to take it beyond The Great War.  I do have, in 1/285th scale, several aircraft for Korea, and my Check Your 6! "terrain" and accessories are scaled for 1/285th, so using 1/288th scale Chaco War aircraft would be ideal.

But there lies the rub; while Arctic Skunk offers just about everything one could want in 1/100th and 1/144th scale, while the offerings in 1/288th are far fewer:

IW01B - Curtiss Hawk II
IW03B - Potez XXV
IW12B - Junkers W34
IW13B - Junkers K43

Missing are some of the more common types, such as:

Fiat CR20
Curtiss Wright 14R Osprey
Breguet 19A2
Vickers 143 Scout
Wibault 73C1
Curtiss Cyclone Falcon
Vickers Type 149
Fokker C-Vb

In terms of numbers, the amount of front line or combat aircraft used in the Chaco War was rather small, making this a very doable project.  Here are the numbers by type of some delivered aircraft, many being older types that may have only had a few examples left flying by the time the war started:

Curtiss Hawk II (includes Sea Hawk version) - 12
Vickers 143 - 9
Fiat CR20bis - 5
Wibault 73 - 7
Breguet 19A2 - 7
Curtiss Cyclone Falcon - 9
Curtiss Wright 14R Osprey - 20
Junkers K43 - 3
Vickers Type 149 - 9
Potez 25 - 16

There were many other types of aircraft available and/or used during the war, usually in quantities of one or two.

I have reached out to Arctic Skunk to see if his 1/144th and 1/100th scale Chaco War aircraft are available in 1/288th.  To do the most basic dogfight scenarios the Fiat CR20, Vickers Type 143, and Wibault 73 would need to be produced.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tweaking a Predator Setting

Khurasan Miniatures *not* Predator
In Classified: Special Operations Missions 1940-2010 (Force on Force 8, Osprey Publishing/Ambush Alley Games, 2013), Jim Roots presents a scenario entitled "Bungle in the Jungle," an obvious attempt to garner the feel of the Predator movie within the context of Force on Force.  Within the scenario there are some elements not necessarily movie based, such as the thirteen operatives as well as the scenario layout itself.  To me, it doesn't quite have that movie feel.  However, the scenario does provide us with ideas and ratings on how to game-manage such an alien beast while giving us ratings on the special operators.  This post is simply some ideas on fleshing out the setting and bringing it a bit more inline, to my way of thinking, to the movie.

With the addition of Tomorrow's War, science fiction moves us from human vs. human conflict to one that includes the realm of different alien species with their unique abilities.  Taking these added rules and traits into consideration, we may revisit the movie and make adjustments as needed to bring the movie onto the tabletop with some modifications to the original work completed by Mr. Roots.  In no way is this a "shot" at his scenario; indeed he has completed all the hard work, allowing me to use his scenario as a framework to tinker with.

The Scene's Special Forces
Let's start with the special ops team (covered nicely in 15mm by The Scene).  In the movie, there are seven operators dropped into the jungle.  Along the way they encounter bad guys at their camp, and come away with one prisoner.  Therefore, a recommended change to the published scenario would be to reduce the number of humans from thirteen to eight.  Also, their weaponry is a bit skewed in the scenario, with far too many M16A1s present, along with a couple of M249 SAWs, which were not in the movie at all.  What is missing are the several MP5s the team carried, along with the M60E3, the Mossberg 500, and the wannabe Milkor MGL.  Therefore I believe the team should be equipped as the picture:

  • Crazed Native American - M16A1 and Mossberg 500 - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D8/D10)
  • Wise cracking radio dude - MP5A3 (SMG) - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D8/D10)
  • Team leader with funny accent - M16A1 w/M203 (Lt. AP:1/AT:0) - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D10/D12) (Hard to Kill, Close Combat Specialist: +1D in close combat)
  • Black guy that goes crazy - M60E3 (Med. AP:2/AT:0) - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D8/D10)
  • Latino dude - MP5A3 (SMG) and Milkor MGL (Lt. AP:1/AT:0) - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D8/D10)
  • Attached CIA man - MP5A3 (SMG) - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D8/D10)
  • Former SEAL, then wrestler, then movie "star", then governor, now whack job - MP5A3 (SMG) and M134 Minigun (Med. AP:2/AT:1) - Body Armor (+1D) (TQ/Morale: D8/D10)
  • Female prisoner - after capture never has a weapon (TQ/Morale: D6/D6) - By the way, if anyone can suggest a 15mm figure for the female prisoner, I would appreciate it greatly.
As for Mr. Alien, while I have yet to test the rules governing its abilities on the table, seemingly what is being suggested should work rather well. In looking through Tomorrow's War and the By Dagger or Talon supplement, there are some other characteristics I may want to consider for the alien, such as Burst Movement, Elusive, and Stealthy.

For the special ops team, one may add in such group or individual traits such as Human Spirit, Old School, Pointman, Stealthy, and Unpredictable.

I look forward to your comments and ideas regarding gaming Predator within a Force on Force/Tomorrow's War context.  Please feel free to leave comments below.
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