On a wing and a prayer….
I have been a fan of aerial wargames for many years although primarily via the medium of the board game. Without exception these have been plane to plane based games as have the few forays I have made into using miniatures. I have tried and owned models for Wings of Glory (WW1) and Angels 20 (WW2) and have often thought about using 1:600th models but aside from buying a few packs from Tumbling Dice (which were inevitably sold on as the enthusiasm waned) I never really pursued it.
I mentioned that virtually all the aerial games I have played have focussed on plane to plane combat which is fine and works very nicely indeed. I have taken part in some cracking games at this level however I have always fancied tackling aerial combat at a higher level (no pun intended, oh well then, if you insist). I rather liked the idea of massed bomber raids with squadrons being deployed rather then the usual solution of calling a dozen aircraft a bomber stream. The Wing Leader series of board games allows you to do exactly that.
The back of the box showing a section of the map board and counters deployed during a game
I had an eye on this for some time but for one reason or another it passed me by which, as events turned out, was probably a good thing as the second edition had rather a lot of revisions from the first including the aircraft data cards. Anyway, a chap on one the Facebook groups I use was selling a copy of the second edition Wing Leader: Victories which covers the years 1940 to 1942 in what proved to be pristine condition. The counters were punched with the corners clipped and everything was neatly bagged and sorted. It was at a price I could not refuse and was delighted when it arrived, just before Laurel went into hospital.
Rules and the scenarios of which there is really diverse selection of geographical match ups and of varying complexity
The production quality is really good although I was disappointed with the paper map playing surface - I have a pathological aversion to these so will see about getting a rather more durable alternative - but understand that the follow up game, Wing Leader: Supremacy covering the later war period has a mounted map board so when I get around to getting a copy (and don’t worry - I certainly shall be!) It will serve for both games.
An example aircraft card and two types of counters - flights at the top and a squadron underneath. The fact that this is one of favourite WW2 German aircraft has nothing to do with the selection of this type for the picture….
The game uses a square grid and the aircraft are deployed on a side profile basis. The edge of the map is the ground/sea and height goes up in 1,000 foot increments. Both players sit on the same side of the playing area. All the usual stuff you would expect in an aerial game is included - height advantage, sun position, clouds, flak, targets etc - but with a higher level emphasis for command. The smallest unit is a flight represented by a single aircraft picture whilst the two image counters are for squadrons. There is allowances for fighter doctrine - tight or loose, radio nets and ground control.
I am really looking forward to giving this spin and there is no shortage of aircraft types for me to play around with for the early war period as well as very nice selection of scenarios ranging from the Battle of France and Britain through to Stalingrad airlifts, Flying Tigers, Malta, the Pacific and the desert.
I am going to really enjoy this but first of all it is back to the hospital!