We began our Richthofen’s War campaign on September 19th, 2015. Every 3rd Saturday of the month from 10am to 3pm we play a wargame. People permitting, we’ll play our Richthofen’s War campaign, but on occasion, we’ll play something else just to be different. People, young or old, male or female, military or civilian… are all welcome to join us. An interest in history is good, but not necessary. The game is easy to learn and we’ll teach you all you need to know to play.
In September’s session, after a brief discussion, we agreed to make Star Stevens the Squadron Commander for the German squadron, now known as Jagdstaffel Dreizehn and to make Jed Cook the Squadron Leader for the British squadron, now known as No.2a Squadron RFC, aka the Flying Gytrash. The two commanders selected players present to be in their squadrons and then we all learned what planes we would have to fly and what we had for aircrew. Each German player starts with a pair of Fokker E.IVs and a Roland C.II plus 3 pilots and 2 observers. Each British player starts with a pair of Royal Aircraft Factory FE/2s and a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter plus 3 pilots and 2 observers. The game begins in July 1916. The Fokker scourge is coming to an end as the Allies have introduced aircraft to beat the Fokkers in a dogfight and the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Verdun are both raging as the Germans struggle to hang on to gains they made previously. In the air, our players attempt to affect the overall strategic situation by winning so decisively as to allow Germany the opportunity to win, or to prevent the Germans from a decisive win in order to allow history to unfold as it did. The pressure is on the German players to rack up the victories or lose the campaign.
All players named their aircrewmen. All aircrew start as “Regular” meaning they are well trained, but inexperienced. Replacement aircrew may be Regular or “Novice” meaning they didn’t die in flight training, so they are sent to the front. Obviously no one wants to lose aircrew and risk getting Novice characters.
We then went over the campaign rules and played a practice game, Fokker E.IVs vs. RAF FE/2s. In the practice game, the Germans won, but learned to be very frightened of the FE/2s. Tactical discussions followed.
October’s session began our campaign. A mixed force of German Roland C.II and Fokker E.IV of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn were ordered up on patrol. While on patrol they encountered a squadron of RAF FE/2s of the No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps over the battlefields of France, July 1916. The Rolands charged in low and fast while the Fokkers hung back and climbed, ready to dive in on the Brits as circumstances permitted. The British responded by sending two thirds of their force after the Rolands and one third up after the Fokkers. The initial pass of the Rolands under the FE/2s was superbly executed and frightened the British high cover enough to cause them to swoop down in dramatic fashion to engage the Rolands. The Fokker E.IV, fragile little planes that they are, could not dive down into the swirling fight fast enough, a fight that was descending away from them as the Rolands stayed under the FE/2s, their blind spot. The Fokkers only arrived when the fight was over. A Roland C.II flown by player Karl Holtz finished an FE/2 heavily damaged by a Roland flown by player Kevin Letherwood giving the Germans a confirmed kill. The other FE/2s limped home, heavily damaged.
The following day, No.2a Squadron RFC, known as the Flying Gytrash, were ordered up to intercept an incoming bomber force. A mixed force of FE/2s and Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters engaged a large force of Roland C.IIs. The Brits bravely engaged the enemy, but while laden with bombs, the Rolands were tough and well armed, driving off the Flying Gytrash without loss. Two of three German targets were successfully bombed.
The session ended with the Flying Gytrash gaining no kills and losing several valuable aircrew. Aircrew of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn gained one confirmed kill and the Imperial German Flying Corps players are up two games to zero over the players of the Royal Flying Corps.
The Royal Flying Corps Needs You!
The Flying Gytrash is short a player and may be short more than one before the year is out. The game, “Richthofen’s War” is an easy to learn wargame. Just show up to our next session and we’ll teach you what you need to know to play. If you like the game, we’ll be happy to put you on the roster.
Thank you Jason for sharing this NOVA video:
Our wargaming group welcomes new player Annie to the front lines. Annie has jumped into the fray to help out the Royal Flying Corps. Thanks Annie and glad you enjoyed the session. New players are still welcome.
The battles of July 1916 continued with Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps carrying out a tactical bombing of French rear areas. The French Ack-Ack was bypassed (sorry Lee) and a pair of French Nieuport 17s attempted to stop the German mission. The Nieuports were found to be excellent aircraft and were flown well. The tactic of focusing fire on one German Roland c.II almost worked. Fortunately for the targeted German aircraft (and player), the Roland is a tough little plane, the Lewis guns on the Nieuports don’t carry much ammo, and the all of German pilots aggressively fought off the French planes. All German targets were successfully bombed and all Roland c.IIs returned to base.
The Roland c.IIs of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn later met Sopwith One and a Half Strutters of No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps known as the “Flying Gytrash” in a low altitude battle near the Somme. The Sopwiths quickly found themselves on the defensive and the Flying Gytrash lost two of their aircraft while the Germans suffered no losses.
July 1916 seems to be a dark time for the Allies. What it will take to beat back the German scourge? The next new player we get will go to the Allies giving them an advantage in manpower which will more accurately reflect the reality of the conflict; that the German planes were frequently outnumbered. If you are interested in joining us, please let us know? Thanks.
The third week of July 1916 saw Fokker E.IVs of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps tangle with a flight of Bristol Bullets north of Verdun. This battle of monoplane fighters vs. monoplane fighters was one much anticipated by some members of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn. Although the Bristol aircraft had some advantages over the Fokker, it was a battle the Fokkers should excel in. Excel they did. In a short, sharp, aggressively fought dogfight half of the Bristol Bullets were downed and the other half fled for home. The fragile little Fokkers suffered no loses, proof that though outdated, the little Fokkers were still dangerous foes when flown aggressively and wisely.
During the same week No.2a Squadron RFC aka the Flying Gytrash flew a photo recon mission over the southern edge of the Somme battlefield. A camera equipped Sopwith One and a Half Strutter aircraft was escorted by Royal Aircraft Factory FE/2s. The FE/2s took a beating, but the only loss was one losing its wings as it dove away from the battle area. The Recon aircraft got it’s photographs and though shot up, safely got the photos back to Allied headquarters. This mission gave the British squadron their first victory of the campaign.
The last week of July 1916 saw Fokker E.IVs and Roland C.IIs of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps attack at troublesome observation balloon. The attackers came in low and fast and on the first pass, took out the balloon in a fiery explosion that killed two of the squadron’s best pilots. The mission was a success, but a bitter pyrrhic victory for the Germans.
No.2a Squadron RFC aka the Flying Gytrash sent a flight of FE/2s to intercept a flight Fokkers of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn. The Germans were superior in number, and after a short, sharp fight, the Brits extracted themselves and successfully ran for home in order to fight another day. And fight another day they did as they attempted to hit Jagdstaffel Dreizehn on the ground in a low level raid. German ground observers gave Jagdstaffel Dreizehn warning and the Germans were able to get into the air and tear apart the incoming Brits in a fight that never rose more than 50 meters above ground level.
Later in that same week, the Flying Gytrash intercepted a force of tactical bombers. The bombers got their targets and got away despite the best efforts of the squadron. Despite this, the squadron seems to have improved its combat abilities.
The month of August 1916 saw Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps perform admirably over the front. In one mission, a Roland C.II spotted for artillery over the front. Despite a slow to arrive escort of Fokker E.IVs, the enemy found the plane a difficult target to bring down. When the fighter escort finally did arrive, they drove off the enemy, but not before the Roland’s gunner downed one of the attacking DH/2s, adding yet another kill to the squadron’s tally. The squadron also participated in trench strafing missions. These low level missions proved hazardous and hard on the machines, all of which came back to base riddled with holes.
Fortunes for No.2a Squadron RFC known as the Flying Gytrash improved over the month with the squadron winning a majority of it’s missions. As with the Germans, the British engaged in very dangerous trench strafing. The mission was difficult, but all planes and pilots returned from the mission victorious. The Flying Gytrash also intercepted German tactical bombers, forcing them to jettison their bombs and flee for their lives. In one mission, half of the German force was shot down.
At SoonerCon25 we played 1 mission with 2 new players. In this mission, the No.2a Squadron RFC, aka the Flying Gytrash, flew a tactical bombing mission behind German lines. The bombers were escorted by a small number of FE/2s. This British force was intercepted by a small force of Halberstadt D.IIIs The Germans came screaming down out of the clouds at the bomber force. Many planes limped home, but 2 out of 3 bombers hit their targets and only one bomber was lost, while the Germans lost one of their fighters in the fierce battle.
Next session begins October 1916 and the arrival of Sopwith Pups for the No.2a Squadron RFC and the arrival of Albatros D.IIs for Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps.
Jagdstaffel Dreizehn greeted October 1916 with the new Albatros D.II fighters. Sleek and fast, the Albatros planes would quickly prove their worth in the sky as they escorted a flight of Roland C.II bombers against allied forces around Verdun. The force was intercepted by a squadron of Airco DH/2s. The Albatros D.II kept the DH/2 fighters well occupied and even downed a third of their force without loss to the Germans. Later Albatros D.II of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn escorted a Roland C.II photo recon plane over the trenches. Again they were intercepted by Airco DH/2 fighters. The Roland took its photos and escaped without a scratch while the Albatros shot down every single DH/2 in the sky.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the trenches, No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, aka the Flying Gytrash, had converted to Sopwith Pups. The group found the Pups a joy to fly and in their first combat mission with the new planes, they intercepted a force of Roland C.II bombers. The Rolands had struck fear into the hearts of the Brits before with the old FE/2s, but the Pups quickly showed the pilots of the Flying Gytrash that the day of the Roland C.II had come and gone. Although 50% of the German force was able to make it through to bomb their targets, the Rolands were savagely mauled by the Pups.
We saw some great battles this session starting in mid October, 1916 with the No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, aka the Flying Gytrash flew a photo recon mission over German lines. The battle was fierce as Fokker E.IV intercept them. The British pilots gave better than they got, getting some much appreciated kills, but the photo recon aircraft was too shot up to complete it's mission. Days later the squadron participated in a balloon busting mission which they pulled off brilliantly without loss.
Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps flew missions of it's own, also starting with a photo recon mission. The German fighter escorts take on a superior force of French Nieuport 17s and destroyed them, making "Thilo" played by Karl, the first Ace of the Campaign. Days later the squadron flew their Roland C.2s on a successful tactical bombing mission against French supply depots defended by AAA and Nieuport 11s
Our missions this session began with a chill November rain falling as the ground campaigns wrapped up for the winter. Royal Flying Corps No.2a Squadron, The Flying Gytrash, flew a patrol along the battle lines when they encountered Albatros D.II fighters of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn. The swirling fight resulted in no losses to either side, but the British were forced to retire with their damaged machines back to their own base.
Later, Imperial German Flying Corps Jagdstaffel Dreizehn encountered French Nieuport 17s and shot down one with the others fleeing for their lives.
Royal Flying Corps No.2a Squadron flew one final mission in November before falling snow blanketed the battlefields below. In this mission photos were successfully taken of supply routes to the front. Although a flight of Fokker E.IVs attempted to intercept the flight, the Brits had no real trouble with the now obsolete fighters.
The Battle of the Somme ground to a halt in November 1916 for the rest of the year and into 1917 as military operations on the ground by both sides were mostly restricted to surviving the rain, snow, fog, mud fields, waterlogged trenches and shell-holes. As preparations for the offensive at Arras continued, the British attempted to keep German attention on the Somme front. Constant rain wet the ground so badly that horses drowned and men became stuck up to their waists; in December ropes were issued to drag soldiers out of the mud. New trenches collapsed as they were dug.
In the skies above No.2a Squadron, “The Flying Gytrash” of the Royal Flying Corps clashed multiple times with Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps. The Germans found the Sopwith Pups formidable opponents and with superior numbers behind them, the British were able to force the Germans to flee with no losses. Elsewhere on the battlefields, Jagdstaffel Dreizehn jumped an observation balloon and managed to shoot it down and knock out some AA guns as well.
Torrential rains that started in November 1916 continued into December. The mud was so bad that special rescue-parties had to be sent to dig out troops caught in the mud. Despite swift medical attention, a large number of soldiers on the ground had to be taken to hospitals. High above a German artillery spotting aircraft flew adding to the misery of British soldiers by calling in Artillery fire onto anything that moved. A Squadron of Royal Flying Corps Nieuport 17s rushed into the dreary skies to drive away the enemy, but the sharp eyed German aircrew spotted the approaching Nieuports. The lone German aircraft began to climb, but did not flee the approaching British. The reason for this soon became clear as Albatros D.II fighters of the Imperial German Flying Corps squadron Jagdstaffel Dreizehn rushed out of the clouds to engage the Brits. In the ensuing dogfight, the young British pilots in their Nieuports fought bravely, but one by one were turned into flaming heaps of trash, littering the muddy ground below.
This was the last major action on this section of the front of 1916. As the calendar rolled over from December to January rain changed to snow. Snowstorms covered such landmarks as existed across the battlefields and the ground froze into a jumbled mess, but in the skies above the British were on the move. Pilots of the No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, known as The Flying Gytrash, welcomed a new pilot and took him into the air on his first mission in their brand new Bristol F.2a. Confident in their new aircraft and their recent successes against the Germans, the Brits went looking for trouble over the snow covered trenches below. Trouble is of course what they found, or maybe trouble found them, as they were jumped by not Albratros D.IIs, but the brand new Albatros D.IIIs of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn. The Bristols proved to be excellent aircraft in a fight and badly shot up the Germans, but in the end, the Germans were able to force them to run for home.
Days later the British sent a squadron of Sopwith 1 1/2 Stutter’s behind the lines to bomb German rear areas. Jagdstaffel Dreizehn again rose to the challenge and intercepted the bomber force. Although 1/2 of the Bombers were able to strike their targets, only a single Sopwith made it hope safely. The crew was surely subject to much speculation and gossip as it was not just the sole survivor, but it survived without damage. Were they German spies? Were they cowards? Were they just that good? Only time will tell.
In the cold grey skies of the western front, pilots of the No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps flew over the lines to take photos behind German lines. The mission was intercepted by German Albatros fighters. In the fierce dogfight, the escorting Sopwith Pups were downed all too rapidly, leaving the lone Bristol F2.a to face the Huns alone. Bravely the two-seater attempted to finish the photography mission, but despite putting up a brave fight, the Germans shot down every British plane, a tragic loss for No.2a squadron.
A few days later planes of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps flew an important Artillery Spotting mission over the lines. British FE/8s rushed to intercept, but were jumped from behind by Albatros D.III fighters of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn. The Germans made quick work of the enemy and the mission was a complete success, allowing the Germans to disrupt Allied raids.
As the war entered the 2nd month of 1917, Sopwith Pups of No.2a squadron attempted an intercept of a large force of German bombers. The Brits, still stinging from their recent losses, bravely engaged the low level bombers and inflicted losses, but did not stop the bombers from completing their mission. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the battlefield, DFW C.V 2 seaters of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps flew a tactical bombing mission of their own. As missions elsewhere were expected to draw off Allied fighters, only one Albatros D.III of the squadron, flown by the squadron’s best pilot escorted the fighters. The plan worked. Only a single Sopwith Triplane of the Royal Naval Air Service, out away from the action on a test flight was in position to intercept. Confident in the new plane’s abilities, it engaged to lone Albatros at 800m while the German two-seaters dropped down to 200 meters to engage their targets. Deciding the Albatros was nothing more than a distraction; the Triplane turned and dove onto the attacking aircraft below. This was all the Albatros D.III needed to get on the Triplane’s tail and with a couple quick bursts of machine gun fire sent it down in flames. The German pilots completed their mission without loss and the Albatross pilot, now a double Ace, earned the prestigious Blue Max.
The grey February skies, just a day after Mata Hari is arrested in Paris, DFW C.V attack aircraft of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps attacked a British observation balloon. British ground fire was intense, but as the balloon was half way back down to the safety of the ground, a lucky shot turned it into a huge ball of fire.
The following week, a flight of Sopwith Pups of No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps clashed with Albatros D.III fighters of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Imperial German Flying Corps. The battle was short as the Germans rapidly downed each of the British fighters in rapid succession and the following day the German pilots did the same to a squadron of FE/8 fighters, establishing air superiority in their sector as February turned into March, 1917.
Despite the German superiority in the skies, a brave British aircrew flying a Bristol F.2a successfully snuck through German lines and collected vital photographs in preparation for upcoming attacks.
Attacking out of the morning sun, German tactical aircraft hit British targets hard. The Germans then climb up and engage British fighters rushing in, too late to prevent the destruction on the ground. A fierce swirling dogfight ensued. The British started with good tactical positioning, but slowly the German’s turned the tide and swept the skies of British opposition.
Following two days of poor visibility and freezing weather in mid-April, British troops of the Third Army resume their attack toward the western outskirts of Roeux Wood. In the grey skies above Bristol F.2b of the No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, aka “The Flying Gytrash” flew over German lines to obtain vital photographs in support of the offensive. The British aircraft were intercepted by Fokker D.IIIs of the Luftstreitkräfte, formerly known as the Imperial German Flying Corps. The Germans fearlessly attacked the Brits, but the Bristol aircrews easily handled the Germans and returned home with their photographs.
The following day British bombers crossed the lines to attack a vital transportation hub in support of the ground offensive. Albatros D.IIIs of Luftstreitkräfte Jagdstaffel Dreizehn took to the air and managed to down the bomber formation before the attack could be carried out. Thilo (played by Karl) was declared a “Combat Hero” of the German people as a result of this action and was sent to Berlin to meet with the Kaiser.
Confident in the power of their Bristol F.2b two seaters, members of the No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps again took to the air to take vital photographs. They were once again intercepted by German aircraft, not by older Fokker D.IIIs, but by Albatros D.IIs. The fight was tough and the British photo-recon aircraft was shot down by the Germans. The failed mission and the loss of such important aircrew made it a sad day for the Flying Gytrash.
Rain curtailed flying for a few days, but after the rain ceased, members of Luftstreitkräfte Jagdstaffel Dreizehn took to the air in their Albatros D.IIIs once again and engaged a flight of Sopwith Pups. The pups put up a good fight, but the German pilots continued their winning streak by downing all British aircraft encountered.
As April closed out Jagdstaffel Dreizehn began to receive the brand new Albtros D.V fighters, a slight improvement on the current D.IIIs the group currently was issued. Meanwhile, across the trenches, the terrific Sopwith Pups of the Flying Gytrash, were quietly replaced by the revolutionary Sopwith Camels. Pilots of No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps are now looking forward to turning the tables on their German foes.
Northern France, May 1917, the British pilots of No.2a Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps “The Flying Gytrash” took to the skies in their brand new Sopwith Camels escorting a Bristol F.2b on a photo recon mission. The mission was intercepted by Fokker D.III fighters. The outclassed Fokkers were easily swept from the skies by the Camels and “Jimmy” (played by Jason) earned a Distinguished Service Order medal for his bravery and skill in combat. In a later mission, “Jimmy” was killed by more of the Fokker D.IIIs in a failed artillery spotting mission. Friends mourned the passing of such arising star.
Across the trenches, Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the German Luftstreitkräfte in their new Albatros D.Vs took to the skies also escorting a photo reconnaissance DFW C.V over the battlefields. This force was met by a squadron of Royal Aircraft Factory FE.8s. No bullets touched the precious photo recon aircraft and one by one the Albatros fighters downed the British. Later the German fliers of the squadron scrambled to intercept a force of incoming British bombers. Three quarters of the British force was shot down, but not before most of them got through to bomb their targets.
Our Richthofen’s War campaign saw us continue our brutal encounters through the month of May 1917 and the Second Battle of Arras in which, on the ground, the British achieved the longest advance since trench warfare had begun. In the air, members of the Royal Flying Corps No.2a Squadron, “The Flying Gytrash” took to the skies to bomb key points to assist the British ground troop in their advance. Their force of Bristol F.2b two seaters was intercepted by Halberstadt D.III fighters of the German Luftstreitkräfte. The German’s fought aggressively and the Bristols went home with the bullet holes to prove it, but every target was bombed and every British plane returned safely to base.
Things were much the same of the German side of the lines. DFW C.V two seaters of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the German Luftstreitkräfte set out on an early morning raid of their own. British Sopwith Pups intercepted the force, but while the pups fought well, the German two seaters still got through, bombed their targets, and returned safely to base. All aircraft involved were shot full of holes and one Sopwith Pup was shot down by the Germans.
All was quiet on the western front when members of the No.2a Squadron “The Flying Gytrash” of the Royal Flying Corps took off into the pre-dawn skies in their Sopwith Camels. On patrol they encountered a flight of Fokker D.III fighters. Although the Fokkers were outclassed, they were well flown and forced the Camels to retreat after downing 1/2 of the German force. The following day Albatros D.V fighters of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Luftstreitkräfte intercepted a large force of British Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters who were on a bombing mission deep behind the lines. Greatly outnumbered, the Germans decimated the British bombing formation. No serious damage was inflicted on ground targets by the Brits and German pilot Ahern (played by Kevin) earned his Blue Max and became a combat hero of the German Empire.
The Battle of Passchendaele kicked off as the British launched a major ground offensive. Sopwith Camels of No.2a Squadron frequently patrolled the skies. On one occasion the Camels met an equal force of the brand new Fokker Dr.I fighters. The fight swirled, bullets whizzed to and fro as the flight climbed to the service ceilings of both aircraft. Aircraft on both sides were the best both sides had and the battle was hard fought. Eventually the Allies were forced to withdraw, but no aircraft were lost on either side.
As the battle on the ground raged, a German two-seater of Jagdstaffel Dreizehn of the Luftstreitkräfte took to the skies escorted by friendly German fighters. Together they encountered a force of Sopwith Pups. The Pups managed to get to the photo recon plane and get a lucky shot. The fuel tank was punctured and the engine was shot up. The fighters cleared the Pups off of the German two-seater and forced them to retreat. Never-the-less, the mission failed.
A British two-seater of No.2a Squadron “The Flying Gytrash” of the Royal Flying Corps was caught flying an artillery spotting mission by a squadron of Albatros D.III fighters, but escorting Sopwith Camels shot down half of the German force and drove the rest off, allowing the two-seater to finish guiding artillery down onto German positions. The days of the German Luftstreitkräfte sweeping the skies of all opposition seemed to be behind them.
I began wargaming in 1982 and have played competitively, but today, I just play for fun.