Last Flight of the Albatros
Paul B, one of the chaps in our regular gaming group had to take a day off before Xmas you see.  Avid wargamer that he is he wondered if anyone else could make a
mid-week daytime session.  Well, after a few posts on our Lardlovers Yahoo Group I decided that I could take a day off the busy painting schedule and offered to host
a game.  

Too Fat Lardies WW1 aerial rules 'Algernon Pulls It Orf', like its WW2 aerial big sister 'Bag The Hun', requires minimal preparation, terrain and miniatures to have a fun
session.  This is important personally as I had to set up, play and put away the game in between taking and collecting the kids from school.  Moreover Paul was really
keen to have a crack at Algy having missed the last three times I've arranged games.  Algy it was then.  Usually 'time poor' Max then decided he could afford to join us
in our fun.  Huzzah!

Recently the RFC in our games
'Bloody April' and 'Somme Like It Hot' have been taking a bit of a pounding from the Boche.  This time I decided to make it a bit more
of an even bash.  Setting the game in May/June 1917 I determined to let Paul and Max use my SPAD S.VIIs for the first time.  Fast, rugged and a good match for the
Albatros D.III's which were their main opponents, two Squadrons (19 and 23) were operating SPAD S.VIIs on the Western Front in 1917.

The game would start with a Hun artillery spotting mission by another recent arrival at Wally HQ, an Albatros C.III two-seater.  Initially this would have a free run at
correcting the fire of a Boche battery on a 'shoot'.  Dom Skelton, of
Dom's Decals fame, long ago on the TFL Yahoo group, came up with some simple rules for
artillery ranging which I've found do the job well enough.  

To successfully spot, the observing aircraft should fly at level 3 and only be able to make easy maneuvers whilst spotting.  In addition the plane has to stay within say
five hexes of target.  The observer must undertake no other action whilst spotting.  Players might like to decide that the observing plane has already ranged in one, or
more, guns already making the mission slightly easier or more difficult to taste.

Each turn on its plane fire card, or character card or even Ace if applicable, roll a d6; 5 or 6 and it's ranged the first gun in and can start with the second next turn.

A flight of four SPADs would arrive as Bogeys if a 5 or 6 was scored on a D6 roll when their card was drawn.  We would determine the height and table edge entry
point with further rolls.  If a five or six was scored on the Hun Bogeys card, then enemy unspotted planes would arrive.  However, only I would know that they were
infact fakes if a five had been thrown, with a six being required for the bogeys to be five Albatros Scouts.  

Would this be the last flight of the Albatros?  A small simple mission, but hopefully a fun one.  

The picture below shows the table set up at the start with the British and German lines marked and the target hex.  The Albatros is deployed on table within five hexes
of the target.  It also shows off the cloth nicely.  

We rolled a D6 and deducted three for how many guns had been ranged in so far.  We rolled a four hence one gun zeroed in, with three needed to be ranged in.  Not
too bad I thought.
The Veteran crewed Albatros makes yet another pass over the target, Archie bursting dangerously closely.  
However I just couldn't manage to score the necessary five or six score required to successfully range a gun on no less than three attempts.

"Verdammt! Ze enemy above us"   

Arriving as Bogeys but spotted fairly immediately a flight of five SPAD S.VII of 19 Sqdn RFC.  These are F-toy repaints.

It was Paul's first game of Algy so I decided to use one of each pilot type to show their strengths and weaknesses.  
Paul got two planes as I didn't want to overburden him.  He got the Top Ace and a Regular.  
Max, more experienced, could handle three planes easily and got a Junior Ace, Veteran and the Sprog.

Each RFC player got a 'character' each, both being Aces.

However,  fortunately Nigel rolled well and German 'Indians' arrived.  "Indians are what the Huns called Bogeys, don't you know Old Bean?".   
Once again these were spotted immediately.

Four Albatros D.III and a D.II of Jasta Boelcke.

The 'Blue Maus' is an F-toy with Werner Voss's being a Wings of War plane.  The other Albatri are Shapeways.  
I decided, as with the RFC, that each pilot level ought to be represented, with the Sprog flying the Albatros D.II at the rear.

Nige I decided should have the Top Ace, Veteran and Sprog.  I got the Junior Ace, Regular and also controlled the Veteran Albatros two-seater.

Nige and I both had an Ace 'character' and I decided to make the Albatros two-seater pilot a character also.  
This is a good idea if you've got a single two-seater on any sort of observation mission.

Quick as a flash Paul's Top Ace broke the formation on his Ace card and dived on the Albatros, keen to dispatch it before the German scouts
could intervene.

Not on the tail but a five second burst from one hex range is tellingly effective.  
Not surprisingly
Really Critical Damage sustained.  The Albatros catches fire, the Observer leaping to his death as the plane slowly begins its
descent, whilst the pilot battles trying to extinguish the flames....a probable Paul.

Paul decides to make it a confirmed kill by making a large turn and then engaging from the front.  However the German pilot manages to
squeeze off a burst first.  As Paul flew away light Archie hit the Albatros forcing it to sideslip into the ground.  KER-UMP!

OK so Paul has his first kill in Algy.

It was indeed the last flight of the poor Albatros.

First blood to the RFC.

It was beginning to look very good indeed for the RFC when Max's Veteran snook up and tailed Nigel's D.II Sprog.

Straight away the fire card came up!

DAKKA...DAKKA...DAKKA....[eight second burst]

Nigel managed to throw a hat full of sixes saving the Sprog!

Next turn Max's fire chip comes up immediately....


Amazingly, Nigel repeats his saves with a plethora of fives and sixes.  Minor damage again.

Max has used 16 seconds of ammo and managed to hit nothing vital.  Oh dear another surely not another black day for the RFC?

...and it gets much worse.

My Junior Ace peels off from his Kameraden and lines up a target.  Once again a fire chip is drawn straight afterwards

OK an eight second burst...


"He's hit, he's hit..."

Structural Damage

Nigel's Top Ace (Werner Voss) now gets involved lining up the climbing RFC Top Ace of Paul.

Too late, Paul is off.

I manage to get another good burst into Paul's Regular on my Ace card.


Catastrophic Structural Failure.  DOWN IN FLAMES!


Nigel's reputation as our group's 'Shit Magnet' is in tatters as his Sprog manages to shrug off Max's Veteran with some deft flying.  

Admittedly Max throwing a one in his staying on the tail test did help, a bit.

The twisting dogfight begins to fragment and open out as each side climbs and turns to gain advantage.

In aerial gaming altitude is king.

There are numerous near misses as each side tries to line up deflection shots to no avail.

Max's Junior Ace on Nigel's Top Ace is one.

Paul's Top Ace behind the 'Blau Maus'

...and again for the third time the fire card comes up straight away.  Crazy, crazy?


Paul's dice throwing lets him down just when he needs only to average to get hits, where I threw loads of fives and sixes.  Minor damage.


My Junior Ace's Albatros D.III has a higher ceiling than Paul's SPAD so I climb to altitude 11 to lose my tail.


Now Max can't hit anything either.  Nige throws more fives and sixes for saves.  It IS one of those days for the RFC, all over again.

Voss is chasing a SPAD!


He's hit, and he's off and running for home, off table.  
Doubtless Voss will claim it as a kill and say that it was going down but there being behind British lines no one will confirm it.

Nige just can't shake Max at all.

Paul is too far away to get on the tail and lines up a long distance shot against Nigel's Sprog.

An Archie near miss and a sideslip.  That was lucky Nige.  "It really is your day mate."

At last Max get a proper burst in on Nigel's Veteran.  

Fuel tank hit! He's trailing vapour.

Run away, run away...

The RFC are making a proper fight of it now.  Paul's Ace is at last tailing Nigel's Sprog.

Voss is trying to shoot him off the tail....

However, action moves on before he can get his thumb on the trigger.

Paul is so close that the faster SPAD overshoots the slower Albatros D.II

He's in front of the Sprog!

But before the Sprog can fire, Paul makes a hard turn and suddenly he's got a deflection on Nigel's Top Ace.  
This is amazing stuff its hard to see who has the upper hand.  The SPADs are really able to challenge the Albatri Scouts.

Max gets another burst in on Nigel's veteran...


Lots of hits, +3 for effect on damage from last time as his plane is a flying bomb.


Aircraft explodes!  

..and amazingly Max survives being so close and flies through the smoke and wreckage.

Maybe luck is with the RFC after all?

Voss escapes and lines up on another SPAD.

You'll notice that thus far, apart from a kill early on, my Junior Ace has kept out of it all by climbing to his ceiling and choosing his moment.  

This is important.  Its how Aces get to BE Aces.  You pick your moment.  

My Regular lines up Paul's Top Ace with my own Ace gradually using his extra moves to descend down.  

He needn't have bothered. My Regular damages the RFC Ace and he wisely flies off table.

This is how you get to SURVIVE as an Ace.  You know when to quit.

I actively encourage players to fly off table if they sustain damage. There are no prizes for dead airmen or bragging rights in our group if you get
your pilot killed.

The German's now outnumber the SPAD's and really go over to the attack with even Nigel's Sprog determined to put up a good show.

Max does a magnificent controlled spin to evade his pursuer shaking Nige off the tail.  
This is a great manoeuvre, especially in a SPAD as its a fast plane and only uses three hexes of speed, leaving four plus throttle for other

Also a spin is rated as a
Hard manoeuvre for staying on the tail tests.

Nige's Sprog can't live with this.

Max's Junior Ace has company.

Two Hun Aces and a Veteran in pursuit of Max's Junior Ace.

"Come 'ere you little Fokker?" as Max emerges from his controlled spin.

"Er...that's a SPAD, surely Kev?"

"I know what I meant"


"Und ver do you zink you are going, eh Englishman?"


Remember folks.  You pick your fights, you get in close...


You are victorious again.  You get to go home.

Another RFC pilot going down in flames.

Two Kills for my Junior Ace!


Two SPADs shot down, three damaged and heading for home.
One Albatros D.III shot down, but also the Albatros two-seater.
A cracking afternoon.  Great story, great game, great company and pizza for lunch.  What's not to like?  We should do these sessions again chaps?
Fabulous flying fun with friends.

After DH2's the SPAD S.VII's were a refreshing change and a really good match for the Albatros Scouts.  They're particularly strong in a dive which
Albatri aren't.  Yet again the Huns emerged victorious.  Three games in a row now.  Its becoming Bloody December for the RFC at Wally HQ.  Again
there was nothing that the RFC did wrong really they just failed (again) in key decisions.

SPAD's, under my house rules, are great at dive and zoom tactics.  The Albatros has better guns and a higher ceiling.

Nige's performance was nothing short of miraculous.  His Sprog defied all belief in surviving two eight second bursts at close range, lost his tail twice
and then got in some shooting too.  I think Nige will be the first to admit, his ability to throw fives and sixes was incredible.  Paul reckoned he must be
on at least 60% of his overall rolls.  I'm sure it was more than that.  I was over 50% also which meant [sigh] another black day for the RFC.  

Its hard to fight against that sort of luck chaps.  Still there were no arguments, gripes, whinges or bad losers as is typical with our games.

Paul thoroughly enjoyed losing his Algy 'Cherry' and did very well indeed for his first time.  

Algy and his chums will fly again soon.

....Next time we try Balloon Busting with Nieuport 17's in April 1917.

You can view my RFC
HERE and Luftstreitekrafte HERE.

My Tactical Tip for Algy are