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History reveals that the ground invasion of Armageddon was preceded by three distinct phases. Phase one saw the arrival of the Orks and the overwhelming of Admiral Parol’s Imperial Navy fleet above Armageddon. Massively outnumbered Parol was forced to withdraw after suffering heavy casualties and has taken up a defensive posture, launching hit and run strikes against the Orks whilst trying to conserve as much of his fleet as possible.

Phase two saw the Ork fleet batter the orbital defences of Armageddon, a line of space stations and orbital platforms encircling the planet. Six weeks after arrival the Orks launched their attack and destroyed most of the defences. The first Orks began to arrive on the planet itself at this stage though only in relatively small numbers. It was also at this time that Ghazghkull destroyed Hive Hades, scene of Armageddon’s finest hour in the Second Armageddon War.

The third phase saw Commissar Yarrick, who by this stage was in control of all Imperial defences, order the Navy’s remaining aircraft into the sky to destroy as much of the Ork horde as possible as they transited to the surface. The fighting peaked after five days of vicious dogfights and hideous losses amongst Imperial ground attack aircraft. The fall of Acheron Hive to the traitor von-Strab and the seizure by Ork forces of a number of spaceports and airbases allowed them to establish aerial dominance over Armageddon over the next few days.

For the Imperial aircrews this was a terrible time, outnumbered in the sky and hammered from the ground they took crushing casualties as they attempted to follow Yarrick’s orders to destroy as many Orks as possible before they could consolidate their toehold. Like their brethren the men and women of the 609th were thrown into this desperate defence, the story of those five days of defiance, destruction and death are recorded herein.

(Hover mouse over picture for caption)

My next few posts will detail those five days and the 609th’s role in them over the coming week or so (real life permitting).

Eve of Invasion - Tactics

29.06.2009

POSTED IN Blog | 3 COMMENTS TAGS : , ,

Eve of Invasion - Tactics

The 609th Fighter Wing entered the Third War for Armageddon with two distinct air-to-air tactics. The first, favoured by Commander Steffi Wilkans of the 187th Fighter Squadron, was known as the ‘Flat Stack’ and was designed to counter the massed wave attacks typical of Ork aircraft. Squadrons aligned themselves in line abreast by flight, each flight stacked slightly above and behind the previous one.  Each Imperial flight was assigned primary and secondary targets by the formation commander as they maneuvered to engage.

A Squadron would attack head on if possible in the first instance in order to break up enemy formations before reforming by Flight after the attack pass. At this stage the enemy was assumed to be so disoriented and demoralised by the attack that  a commander would be able to order flights to peel off and attack specified targets at his discretion. If the enemy formation had not been broken up the Squadron would maneuver for another squadron strength head on attack and then attack stragglers and survivors at its commanders instructions. All this was designed to ensure, theoretically, that a Squadron destroyed, rather just than damaged or drove off the highest possible number of enemy aircraft.

To succeed this dictum assumed a level of control and predictability, of both Imperial and enemy aircraft, simply not possible on the aerial battlefield. In practice this cumbersome tactic proved a disaster, the xenos aerial armada rarely allowed the Imperials the luxury of dictating the when and where of dogfights took place, let alone the manner in which they unfolded and throughout the war showed a remarkable tactical nous for their kind which rendered the ‘Flat Stack’ not only ineffective but also costly to any Imperial unit that used it.

The second tactic, the ‘Fluid Four’, was a more traditional tactic that has been used by Imperial Navy pilots since time immemorial. By adopting a flexible formation the pilots of the 266th Fighter Squadron enjoyed much higher levels of situational awareness than their counterparts of the 187th. Whilst their collective firepower was diminished their chance of survival was greatly increased and the squadron maintained much higher levels of morale in the early months of the war than their sister squadron.

During the first month of the war the two squadrons earned roughly the same number of kills, 266 were credited with 34 kills and 187 with 32. Casualties however were a different matter as the following data shows:

266th Fighter Squadron

  • Aircraft Lost - 17
  • Aircraft Damaged - 11
  • Pilots Killed - 14
  • Pilots Wounded - 4

187th Fighter Squadron

  • Aircraft Lost - 28
  • Aircraft Damaged - 9
  • Pilots Killed - 21
  • Pilots Wounded - 7

Similar results were seen across Armageddon, squadrons relying on the Fluid Four returned significantly better Kill : Loss ratios throughout the early period of the war, morale was also markedly higher in Fluid Four squadrons during this period.

With the death of Commander Wilkans in the third week of the war Captain Neymeyer of the 266th was promoted to Major and took command of the 187th. The change of leadership brought a change of tactics and the performance of the 187th improved markedly under the auspices of the Fluid Four. Though hardly remarked upon at the time Neymeyer’s attainment of Squadron command at the young age of 24 is nonetheless notable and the youthful Major would make a major impact on the air war over Armageddon in the coming months.

A Brief History of the 609th Fighter Wing

Eve of Invasion

999.M41

One of the things we’re trying to do here on the BfA blog is combine modelling, painting, gaming and history. To that end I’ve begun to catalogue the history of the 609th Fighter Wing and hope to eventually produce a potted history in PDF form of the unit, it’s aircraft, notable figures, prominent battles and so forth. If you’ve ever seen the Osprey series of military history books you’ll have an idea of what I’m trying to do, just think Aviation Elite lite and that’s the aim. So, to begin with I’m creating a framework to hang this history on and I thought I’d do it graphically just to make it a little different and hopefully a little more interesting.

Brother Argos worked wonders in moments to come up with the silhouettes, I think they look pretty snazzy and the aquila background is the work of Madscuzzy from the Bolter & Chainsword forum, thanks guys!.

Below is the FOC for the 609th at the beginning of the Third Armageddon War along with some notes you might find interesting on famous (and infamous) members of the Wing.

(Please click for a larger, more legible version of the FOC)

For those wondering what the Thunderbolt (R) is, it’s an unofficial variant I was thinking of making, it’s simply a Thunderbolt with the weapons removed and a series of recon pods in their place, these pods would also be replaceable with ECM and ECCM pods to allow the (R) to accompany its brethren on strike missions and provide electronic jamming support.

Well the postman had a package for me this morning, sadly it was very damp, from the inside. This was concerning to me as I had recently got dangerous liquid chemical Ferric Chloride delivered!

It turned out to be something else entirely, it was the product I use for stripping paint off of old models. Now … over my many years I have had the pleasure of living around the world and for a few years lived/travelled back and forth between London and Long Island, NY. While in the states I found and used an excellent paint stripper for my models, that doesn’t harm plastics, metals or resins (disclaimer: always test something a little to make sure yourself) the sad thing being it was almost impossible to find outside of the USA. So after settling full time in South London, I was unable to get any more, and with all kinds of bans on travelling with fluids on planes, my chances of getting more had diminished, as had my stock of the product.

The product is called Simple green, I fill a small container, and literally drop the figure I want cleaned into it. Its possible to pull it out 20 minutes later and with an old toothbrush just wipe/scrub the paint off, or you can do as I do and leave it for a few days and its almost all fallen off. So far its worked on anything I have put into it even some old figures painted with enamels from ebay. Now with a vehicle you can just fill the bottom of a large bowl and do one side at a time, rather than waste a whole load filling the bowl, or alternatively you can fill the bowl and then filter/strain the old paint out and put it back into the bottle (using a funnel).

So as you can its good stuff, and hard to come by outside of Northern America, but as I was running out of it, I thought I would look to see if anyone was selling it anywhere in the UK before trying to order from the states. Well as you can deduce from the opening paragraph I did indeed find a supplier, it was Simple Green themselves in the UK, who had recently opened an e-shop for Europeans.

For UK & europe you can find it here: - Simple Green UK

In America its often available at Walmart etc, but if not it can be found here: - Simple Green - North America

Now be aware it can be expensive in the UK, however it is reusable and can last a long while. I haven’t tried diluting it personally, so if anyone does try that please post the results.

I will take some before and after pictures over the weekend so you can see what it does :)

In planning how I intend on producing the Strikeforce Alpha 492 of my Praetoris Aeneas I have come up with all sorts of ideas, including plenty mad ideas!

I really want them to have a pretty unique character, much as Argos is going for with his beautifully modelled troopers and tanks, so I suspect there will be lots of conversion … even on my tactical marines, let alone the sergeants and other command staff. The main thing I plan to do is have them walking, weapons holstered or clipped, as if they aren’t concerned by anything going on around them. Much as the astartes are capable of being truly frightening in battle, on the tabletop I want the flaw in the character of the Praetoris Aeneas chapter to come through in their haughty attitude to the war around them. They are the masters of battle, their mere presence is threat enough.

For the makeup of this strikeforce I figure that I’ll take a command squad with two tactical squads (and yes, force organisation chart ahoy!) then a devastator squad to follow. Gives me around 35-40 models to do plus transports. As a centre piece I thought that the command squad would look really solid, but to really beef it up what could I do to make it stand out? The Damocles command rhino upgrade with dozer blade and extra armour of course!

However of course with SSC pulling out the Thunderbolt for AI and me finding the 40k scale version in my hobby area I found myself going back to Double Eagle and my desire to do a fighter wing. So in a moment of impulse I have ordered some AI fighters, thus is born the Phantine XXIII! Brought in by my as yet to be named inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos to help the strikeforce complete their mission. Obviously I’ll need a couple of thunderhawk transports and thunderhawk gunship …

Doesn’t stop there though, in my fervour to reproduce them in both 40k and AI this led on to me doing some Epic work as well. Plink, out come the as yet unbuilt and unpainted marines and small imperial guard detachment for that scale. Hmm, how will they get to the theatre of war that is Armageddon? Battlefleet of course! Oh! I have a Grey Knights strike cruiser I could convert to be more suitable for the PA, and a few imperial ships to let me make a small battlegroup.

Tada!

Wait, thats a lot of work for me isn’t it? Guess I best get started then. More to come soon!

Dieprian Test Figure

25.06.2009

POSTED IN Blog | 3 COMMENTS TAGS : ,

So, how is the Dieprian march to war faring then?

Well, sadly, not so well as the Imperial Navy:

To briefly list the issues I’ve noticed and/or created for myself:

  • I should have used a regular non-modified mini for a test scheme first to figure out what works and what doesn’t. As usual I got all fired up with enthusiasm and jumped in with both feet. Ooops.
  • I thought I’d done a reasonable job on the green stuff, but it turns out I over-estimated my ability there. There are plenty of places where the GS work could be smoother, the joins less noticeable and generally the whole thing neater and tidier. In retrospect, again, I rushed in rather than really preparing for things carefully so I’ve only myself to blame. I also suspect that to a degree I simply lack the experience working with GS to get the best out of it right now, it all looked fine to me before the paint went on but I’ll know better what problems to look for next time.
  • The colour scheme, as you can see there are test bits all over the place here. I’ve decided on the darker, less green Charadon Granite for his armour and I’ll probably redo the bullpup rifle in that colour too. The puttees I’m still unsure of, in grey they blend in, in green they don’t stand out much either. Maybe I need to do them in a leather brown? And for that matter I need the right colour for the boots too, the dark browns are OK, but they contribute to the drab appearance over all, maybe a lighter or redder colour would work better. And finally there’s the backpack and pouches etc. I want a military look but at the same time I don’t want the figure to be so drab as to be dull.

Still, I’m quite happy with the dark grey, so we’ll see what happens from here I guess…

I have just finished the final sculpting push before reproduction, I thought you might like to see some of the results. I have one pair of legs, a female torso, two heads, seven arms, and numerous things like bedrolls, knives, canteens etc.

Here are the running legs, which to be honest seem to have taken forever, I kept on finding small things to change that I was unhappy with: -

The changes from the initial cadian legs were to cut off the original jacket bottom, resculpt a new jacket bottom to match the steel legion length, cut away the boot section, resulpt the boots, add zippers up the back of the boots, add ankles, add skulls on the top of the boots at the front, build the back heel of boot into the sole, and in one case build a complete new heel from plasticard.

The next significant addition to me “Steel Legion Sprue”, is the female torso: -

The changes from the initial cadian tanker torso were to cut off the original legs and tank hatch, adjust the collar so it meets in the middle and add tidy up with greenstuff, make the female aspects of the chest, add the webbing to the chest area, add an eagle as a belt buckle, cut grooves out at the locations where the webbing was going on the back, place the plasticard webbing into the grooved shirt, and finally add plasticard triangles where the webbing meets the belt. Look at the magnified model, I think I will tidy the lower crease on the front of the shirt, it looks rougher than I like when magnified.

Next is the officers head: -

I shaved the head, removed the ears / ear cover, smoothed the head, altered the chin, altered the nose, rebuilt the ears, and added hair and an eye patch.

I think this is my favourite piece so far, I am really pleased with the way the gas mask head looks: -

The head is from the tank sprue, I cut off the ear coverings, shaved down the items attached at the back of the neck and side. The I extended the gas mask straps to the back from the sides, added a brass etch ring to attach the straps onto, ran the straps up to the center of the head, and finally rebuilt the ears. I am really looking forward to painting this head, with stubble!

Finally for the sculpting are most of the arms: -

As you can see all the arms have had gloves in the steel legion style added, the cadian shoulderpads removed, and on appropriate arms the steel legion lighting in a circle emblem has been added. The white plasticard was cut using my new Micro Hole Punch (for those wanting to know where to order from - http://www.micromark.com ) and made the horrible task of sculpting perfect circles redundant.

With all of the above now complete, I will begin reproducing them, this will give me two pair of legs, two torsos, 4 heads, 11 arms, 2 Las-Carbines and numerous small items. I can finally start making some more of my first squad, with some of the variance I originally started the project to achieve. I have discovered legs to be really annoying to do, arms easy to do, and heads fun to do. Sadly the one thing I need more than anything else now is legs.

Its taken me a long while to get this far, but I hope it has been interesting so far. The work continues …

I’ve been making slow but steady progress throughout the week. As I’m working on all three projects simultaneously it’ll be a while before any single model is finished but in the meantime there’ll be lots of WIP pictures and some examination of how the test models are going.

First up are some images of my AI Thunderbolt, which I’m mostly happy with, a few ideas haven’t quite worked out but as it’s still a WIP there’s time to correct some of those yet:

The base colour here is Charadon Granite, one of the Citadel Foundation line and I must admit it’s a colour I rather like. It’s dull and drab sure, but it’s a very military colour and the hints of green, brown and grey through it mean you can use it as a base for lots of different colours. The wing stripes, which still need work, are Dheneb Stone (again, Foundation) and the metals are an old mix of mine that’s mostly Boltgun Metal with some blue ink thrown in to give it a slight gunmetal edge. The wing stripes will denote which flight of the squadron an aircraft belongs to, this group will be White flight (though they’ll have a dirtier, bone coloured stripe) and the next two will likely be Blue and Red flights.

So, the basics out of the way it’s time for some philosophising!

Wait, don’t stop reading just yet! Hey, come back here! Right, that’s better, now all I mean by this is that when I paint I don’t paint to create armies or masterpieces (though if the end result was either or both, that’d be great) I paint to tell little stories. Each miniature I paint has it’s own story, it’s own little background that helps me to establish what I’m going to do to the mini. Often the only one who knows the story is me, sometimes, just sometimes, I get the process right and others can figure out the story. Usually though I have to explain why I’ve done what I’ve done.

So what’s this fella’s story? Well, it’s pretty simple. The intro piece to this mini tells the story of the Imperial Navy, battered and exhausted, running low on supplies, parts and pilots and this mini will, eventually, hopefully, tell this story. If you look closely you can see some mismatched panels on there, some that are greener, others that are metallic. In my little background those are panels that have been replaced with new parts (the metallic ones) that haven’t been painted yet and parts scavenged from other aircraft no longer able to fly (the mismatched green panels). The aircraft also has lots of little chips and stains across it and I think the next one I do I’ll create little bullet hole patches for to show previous battle damage.

So, the weathering is a combination of Badab Black, Devlan Mud and Gryphonne Sepia inks liberally coating the Charadon basecoat. I’m trying to weather with inks for a few reasons, first to try and work out some techniques that work for me and second to see if I need to buy some weathering powders instead. I’ve always wanted to try the powders but never had reason to before now, I usually paint very clean miniatures so weathering hasn’t been a priority. The chips are the standard spot of black paint covered by metallics with a slight rim of black left around the edges to delineate things.

So there we go, one battered, tired Thunderbolt is slowly taking shape and hopefully will be done by next weekend so I can move on to the Aeronautica Imperialis Thunderhawk I’ve been drooling over all week as it sits in front of me. I’ve got some aquila decals for the wings and numbers for the fuselage, I’d like to make the highlights more obvious and to up the weathering to make it more noticeable, so that should be pretty achievable for next week even with university interrupting.

Updates on the Exorcists and IG coming soon so watch this space…

If it was in his power the Ork would pay, and not just any Ork but the infamous Ghazghkull. However he knew it was highly unlikely that he would even see the greenskin warlord in the flesh, or even at range. Not that it changed anything though, his brothers were being sent on this foolhardy mission to the accursed world of Armageddon just to appease the Inquisition so that the chapter could truly fulfil their duties back in their sub sector.

The Inquisition. Why was it they felt the need to constantly put their nose into everything, making demands no less, of the Emperor’s finest warriors the Adeptus Astartes? It was quite simply unfathomable to him, for millenia now the Praetoris Aeneas had stood guardian over their worlds, cleansing taint and facing off the despicable traitor legions time and again. Their faith tested in the fires of war and paid for in blood was proof enough surely?

“They are a necessary evil brother Captain,” he had been told as the chapter council briefed him on the mission. “We must be seen to acquiese to their … requests, from time to time so that we might continue our holy duties to the men and women of this sub sector.” What they hadn’t properly explained was why he, Captain of the third company and decorated warrior, was being forced to leave with such a small contingent of brothers to this Emperor forsaken world.

I have always wanted, like thousands of other wargamers out there, to create my own little galaxy. The idea of inventing whole cultures, worlds, factions and histories appeals to me on an almost instinctual level.  In fact I have over the years probably played every world crafting sim out there, my first real taste of it coming in the form of Megalomaniacs on the Amiga 500 about two decades ago!

Of course it is no surprise that creating my own chapter of the vaunted Astartes features in my plans! Over the years I have tried a couple of different approaches, I even have effectively a scout company somewhere in my collection, but about two years ago I struck on the germ of a concept that has grown since and continues to now. The new Ultramarines veteran models and going further back Grey Knights really struck me as that truly baroque and gothic look that I like in a marine, the over ostentatious armour and appearance is what I like rather than the default plain design. Then throwing in the various stories from the Black Library about the Doom Eagles  and a variety of other chapters, where the marines weren’t as two dimensional as many think, showing the Astartes being inhuman and yet human truly created a rich tapestry of intrigue.

All of this in the melting pot of ideas that is my mind produced the Praetoris Aeneas, an Ultramarines successor chapter who strive to protect the worlds of their home world’s sub-sector in a homage to their fathering legion and Primarch’s efforts in Ultramar. They consider themselves to be the constantly striving for the Astartes idealist perfection and some of their number are held up as exemplar. However having been invaded and beseiged by the forces of chaos or vile xenos over the centuries has bred into them a deep set unwillingness to abandon their protectorate. This of course has made the Inquisition jealous as requests for aid in neighbouring sectors have been flatly refused by the Praetoris, even if couched in a very politically contrived manner.

This is about as far as I have come with the background though, no names, a rough idea of chapter symbol and a colour scheme but thats it. Which leads me on to Strikeforce Alpha-942 (A942 denotes the first letter of the destination and year the order was placed), a small detachment of the Praetoris which are sent to Armageddon by the chapter’s council. Outwardly the force are being sent to help combat the near constant threats to Armageddon on the request of an Inquisitor from the Ordo Xenos and due to the third company having several brothers who have had active service in the Deathwatch they make the bulk of the force. However the captain of the third company suspects he may have been sent for another reason …

Ok lunchtime sculpting went well, I added the zipper to the boots at the back, touched up some rough GS work, added the last strap on the Gas Masked head and finally did the last lightning strike emblem on an arm. Photo’s next time I am near a Camera :)