Thursday 20 April 2023

I Mustang Around in the Sky

I recall being interested in this game when it was released in the 1990s but believe it or not was put off by the limited range of aircraft featured….How times have changed!

The underside of the box

I was always a huge fan of the board game Air Force designed by the late S. Craig Taylor. Air Force, along with the standalone Pacific theatre game Dauntless and the expansion kit that rounded out the existing nationalities as well as introducing the Russian, French and Italian air forces, were a constant part of my gaming during the the late 1970s and early 1980s. Unfortunately the rules for these required written turns for each aircraft which made solo games a little tricky. Systems wise they were very much of their time but I really enjoyed using them.

Anyways, in the early 1990s, Avalon Hill launched a series of games in what was known as their Smithsonian range. One of the range was the game to see above. Mustangs. Now this is game of fighter combat designed for up to four aircraft a side and was designed by none other than the aforementioned S. Craig Taylor.

This game is air combat stripped back to the bone. Fighter combat only - none of that bomber interception or ground attack malarkey - this is plane to plane, mano a mano. In other words, probably what most aerial gamers enjoy the most! 

One of the game counters - in this case a German FW190 A-8. Coincidentally this is my preferred fighter when flying for the Luftwaffe….

When I say stripped back I mean it is very light on aircraft types - the RAF do not feature in the base game - and does not feature written orders of any kind. All the aircraft information features on the counter and each aircraft has a control card for recording hits, altitude etc (of which there are only 6 levels). A closer look at the aircraft counter kind of reveals the links back to Air Force but this is a whole new and much faster game. 

The counter contains everything you need to know about the aircraft but it would easy enough to transfer this information into a spreadsheet if using models rather than the counters provided. There is a whole raft of order counters which again, could be readily produced in something rather more durable than those provided with the game.

A selection of 1944 aircraft, European theatre.

The copy I have acquired came to me courtesy of Mr Fox who now’s of my weakness for his type of game. He acquired t from a bring and buy some years back. An additional bonus was that contained in the box is a selection on unpainted 1:300th scale aircraft, presumably the original owner planned to use these instead of the counters, and these include three Mustangs, three P47 Thunderbolts (both of these the later version ‘bubble’ canopy), a pair of Me 262s and three FW190s. I have no idea who these were produced by and they are a little on the crude side to be honest. I am thinking possibly early Heroic and Ros but who knows?

My thanks to Mr Fox for allowing me to take this off this hands!


El Grego said...

Ohh, that game brings back many fun memories! There was a local group that played Mustangs on the regular, and the group included some of the best miniature painters around.

If you like the system, be aware that there is an expansion kit for Mustangs. It is a bit rare now of course, but has counters for more aircraft. And, there is an old edition of The General magazine that has an enormous amount of stats for aircraft - British/Commonwealth, US, Soviet, German, Hungarian, etc. Unfortunately, it is a rare find. BoardGameGeek also has a lot of resources for Mustangs.

David Crook said...

Hello there El Grego,

I passed up on the game when it was released as it seemed rather limited - a mistake I can now happily acknowledge! I found the Mustangs page on the Warflag website and there is a whole heap of good stuff on there included data cards for most aircraft types, expanded rules that capture some of the AH General stuff, variants for WW1, Korea and Vietnam and also rules for using bombers.

In short, taking Mustangs to the limit.

I am really excited about this and having one system that covers multiple periods is a real bonus.

All the best,


Aly Morrison said...

That’s a great looking little game David…
And you got some model planes… Result.

All the best. Aly

David Crook said...

Hi Aly,

Now I have had the chance to take a good look at it and the support available on the net I am really pleased to own a copy. Models are definitely the way for this and best of all the numbers required are low.

Oh and there is also a WW1 and Korean War variant….

All the best,