Posts Tagged "SCC"

I love ForgeWorld, I have for a long time and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve got buckets of FW stuff in the drawer next to my knee as I type this very entry. I’ve got Red Scorpions, Elysians, the magnificent Rhino Damocles Command Vehicle that I can’t bring myself to assemble for fear of ruining it with an inadequate paintjob and lots lots more. I also think that the Imperial Armour books are better than most of the stuff GW has put out recently and that they rival the BL campaign books in many ways in terms of the pure fluff enjoyment I derive from them.

But…but, they frequently fail to live up to my expectations given what I pay for their product. The art in their books is too reliant on Photoshopping the same models again and again (and I acknowledge I’ve done that for this blog already, difference is I’m not selling this to anyone nor do I have an art department behind me to diversify my image catalogue). And the models, well, get a nice early production piece and they’re tremendous, the detail is spot on, there’s hardly any warping and in general they’re everything you could hope for. Get a bad batch or a late production cast and all bets are off though.

Like my Marauder Destroyer, which was bought years ago when it first came out, in fact, I think I ordered it within a fortnight or so of release, so there’s not even the excuse of it being from the end run of a mold.

1. Complete Marauder Destroyer Model:

2. One of several razor thin areas that will need repair/strengthening prior to assembly and painting. Advice gratefully received on this work - greenstuff, plasticard, thick CA glue spread across the exisiting areas, some sort of wall putty?

3. Tailplane section: note warped rudder (which is also cracked, the section where it joins the fuselage is only joined on the rear 1/3rd or so) and warped stabiliser (right hand side of photo).

4. Hellstrike missiles. I think. There are a total of 12 of these with my kit, some have what might be pylons, others don’t and they’re all poor casts, perhaps 3 or 4 might be salvageable for actual use, the rest might end up as scenery, they’d make neat expended or dud missiles embedded in mud or something at least.

All in all I’m disappointed with this model. There’s plenty of detail, it’s a great looking aircraft and the rules for it are pretty swish too, but there are too many issues on this particular model for me to consider this reasonable value for money given it’s cost me roughly $30AU to buy it and get it shipped over (with a couple of other models). And that’s the problem with FW, if you’re going to charge an arm and a leg for a product then you need to make sure you get it right, each and every time and they don’t. As a customer I feel shortchanged by this aircraft and I’ll be damned sure that on my next FW order I will mock assemble everything as soon as it arrives and if everything isn’t in reasonable order they’ll definitely be hearing from me.

I’d also urge anyone else out there seduced by FW’s detail or the variety they offer compared to regular GW plastics that you too check everything carefully as soon as it arrives. When FW gets things right it’s one of the best things in the hobby for me, they just don’t get it right often enough…

Although I haven’t yet made any of my ‘First Five Days’ material public I have been slowly working on it when work and uni permit, one major problem I’m having though is fitting the details into a solid, GW canonised background. As most of our readers will be aware there’s a dearth of material on the Imperial Navy in general and how it handles aircraft as opposed to spacecraft in particular. So, what details are there out there about the IN, especially with regards to bombers, fighters and the like?

Well, I’ll catalogue what I’ve got so far and hopefully some of our readers and other bloggers will be able to chip in with some other sources and tidbits too. Once we’ve got all the info we can find I plan to create a workable background for Imperial Navy flyers that I can adhere to for the rest of the 609th material I produce.

So, what do we need to know?

Personnel

  • Ranks
  • Awards
  • Titles
  • Training
  • Period of service

Aircraft Types

Organisation

  • Squadrons
  • Wings
  • Larger formations? (’Air Armies’ like the 8th Air Force or 2nd Tactical Air Force of WW2?)

Air/Space differences
Do IN units specialise in orbital or atmospheric combat? Are there distinctions between the two types of unit?

Imperial Guard
We know that the IG don’t field ‘fast-movers’, aircraft like Lightnings and Thunderbolts that is, except for the Phantine squadrons. Why? Did Guilliman ban it in the same way he banned the Astartes from commanding IG units? It would make sense certainly, but where do the Phantine fit into that?

PDF
PDF and militia flyers are mentioned in several locations, particularly Dan Abnett’s novel ‘Double Eagle’. What role do they play? Are they subordinate to the Navy or Guard? Are they ever drafted into the IN, like PDF units are into the IG?

And then we get to what we know about IN aircraft in the 3rd Armageddon War.

So those are the questions. Below are the answers I can come up with:

Aircraft Types

  • Thunderbolt - ‘heavy’ fighter, orbit capable but not a ’starfighter’ ♦ ‘Double Eagle’ notes Thunderbolts have some thrust vectoring capability♣
  • Lightning - ‘light’ fighter, orbit capable, no details if ’starfighter’ , recent addition to IN ranks, STC rediscovered Karnak III♦
  • Valkyrie - airborne assault carrier, crewed by the elite of the IN ♦
  • Vulture - multi-role gunship, atmospheric ops only ♦
  • Fury - a true ’starfighter’, interceptor, appears roughly analogous to Thunderbolt ♦
  • Starhawk - ’starfighter’, bomber, minor details noted in BFG (BFG)
  • Aquila Lander - light personnel shuttle, orbit capable ♦
  • Arvus Lighter - light cargo shuttle, orbit capable ♦
  • Marauder - medium (?) bomber, interdiction bomber ♦
  • Marauder Destroyer - Marauder variant first used during 2nd Armageddon, close air support and ground attack aircraft, crewed by ‘handpicked IN pilots’ ♦
  • Marauder Vigilant - Marauder variant, support aircraft with C3, EW, ESM etc. equipment ◊
  • Marauder Colossus - Marauder variant, payload is one very large guided bomb, used for special target types only ◊

Organisation

  • Standard Imperial formation appears to be the Wing. Wings seem to be deployed as such rather than as individual squadrons (no specific source, simply the most commonly mentioned formation), although Phantine units seem to be deployed as ‘Flights’ (squadron sized units).
  • 717th Fighter Wing consisted of 10 squadrons, each of approx. 20 aircraft during Siege of Vraks ♥
  • 1099th Bomber Wing consisted of 7 squadrons, each of approx. 12 aircraft during Siege of Vraks ♥
  • IA Vol 6 implies that squadrons can be of mixed aircraft models if of same type, i.e. Thunderbolts & Lightnings in one squadron, or multiple Marauder variants ♥
  • One bomber wing & one fighter wing appear to be total IN aerial assets committed to liberation of Vraks, a Forge World, may offer some perspective on potential deployment sizes in other battle zones? ♥
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests Valkyries and possibly Vultures are attached to specific IG regiments rather than used as separate IN formations
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests most pilots/aircrew are male and that there is a bias against female aircrew ♣

Known Units/Actions

Sabbat Crusade, Enothian War, 772. M41 ♣

  • 63rd Imperial Fighter Wing ‘Sundogs’, notable member (commander?) Flight Commander (?) Leksander Godel (40 kills)
  • 409 Raptors (Fighter Wing?), commander Wing Leader Ortho Blaguer (110 kills)
  • 567th Fighter Wing
  • 786th Fighter Wing, Lightnings
  • 96th Fighter Wing, Thunderbolts
  • 101st Fighter WIng, ‘The Apostles’ - wing  of celebrated aces (members include: Quint, Wing Leader Etz Sekan (CO), Harlsson, Major Suhr, Captain Guis Gettering)
  • Fleet Admiral Ornoff appears to be senior aviation officer on Enothis
  • 42 Fighter Wings, 16 bomber flights deployed to Enothis (also listed as ‘58 Wings’)
  • ‘Battle of the Zonophian Sea’, multi-day (weeks?) battle on Enothis. Imperial losses 948, Arch-Enemy losses (claimed) 7840

Taros Intervention (Imperial Armour 3)

  • Fighter Wings: 83rd, 386th, 1002nd, 2774th
  • Bomber Wings: 5012st, 2424th

Siege of Vraks (IA 6)

  • 717th Fighter Wing consisted of 10 squadrons, each of approx. 20 aircraft
  • 1099th Bomber Wing consisted of 7 squadrons, each of approx. 12 aircraft

Third Armageddon War (Codex: Armageddon)

  • Imperial Fleet lists 43 Bomber Strike Wings and 67 Interceptor Strike Wings on its strength. Presumably these are Furies and Starhawks but no details are provided.
  • Furies may have been used from ground bases as well as fleet units
  • 2-3500 Ork Fighta Bommer squadrons listed as being present at 3rd AW plus 2100+ Ork attack craft (spaceborne/capable aircraft???)

Personnel

Flight Personnel Ranks (in approx. order of seniority), no info on groundcrew available

  • Wing Sergeant (WS in IA is noted as being second in command of 83rd IN Fighter Wing, ‘Eagle’ squadron) ♦
  • Flight Commander/Commander (sep. ranks?) ♣
  • Captain ♣
  • Wing Leader ♣
  • Fleet Admiral ♣

PDF Aviation

  • Aircraft Type: KT4  Wolfcub (pulse (rocket) engines, quad cannon (nose mounted) )
  • Aircraft Type: Cyclone (twin piston engined, delta form, ‘Interceptor pattern’, twin seat)
  • Personnel: Rank: Pilot Cadet
  • Personnel: Rank: Major (appears equivalent to IN Wing Leader)
  • Personnel: Rank: Air Commander
  • Planet Enothis air units known as ‘Enothian Commonwealth Air Force’, part of PDF

Imperial Air Force

  • Only known units are Phantine or ‘Imperial Phantine Air Corps’ (’only founded IG regiment who are fliers’)
  • XXI Wing ‘Halo Flight’, deployed as part of reinforcements to Enothian War 772.M41, Sabbat Crusade
  • Halo Flight was equipped with Marauders and commanded by Captain Oskar Viltry, strength 12 aircraft & crews
  • Aircraft nicknames appear permissible, known nicknames ‘K forKillshot’, ‘Widowmaker’, ‘G for Greta’ (aka ‘Gee Force Greta’), ‘Hello Hellfire, ‘Throne of Terra’, ‘Mamzel Mayhem’, ‘Get Them All Back’, ‘Consider Yourself Dead’,  likely based on aircraft serial numbers or aircraft markings with a squadron
  • XX Wing ‘Umbra Flight’ commanded by Commander Jadgea Bree,  equipped with Thunderbolts, strength is 12 pilots & aircraft
  • XX Wing ‘Obris Flight’ commanded by Wilhem Hayyes
  • Ranks: Pilot Officer, Commander (Flight Commander?), Captain (seniority unknown between Cdr & Capt.)
  • Umbra Flight flys as three flights, each of 4 aircraft
  • As part of IG can recruit from PDF units unlike the Navy which either doesn’t or isn’t permitted to do so

Sources:

  • Aeronautica Imperialis
  • ◊ FW website
  • ♥ Imperial Armour Vol. 6
  • ♣ ‘Double Eagle’
  • Codex: Armageddon
  • Imperial Armour 3

Fledgling

14.07.2009

POSTED IN Blog | 3 COMMENTS TAGS : ,

Wing-Pilot Faunk grinned as Commander Macroy’s voice fizzed and popped over the vox.

‘Tally-ho!’

The ancient hunting cry signaled the Squadron’s attack and the Thunderbolts of the 266th sliced into the attack, each flight peeling off and diving as one. Faunk picked out a lumbering transport as the Imperial pilots stooped on the Ork aircraft like the Falcon-hawks of his homeworld. His eyes flickered across his instruments in the standard check. Speed, 1200KPH indicated and building rapidly. Altitude, 18,000 metres and falling rapidly. He ran through the rest of them just as quickly, attitude, angle of attack, fuel, a half dozen others, each instrument showed a needle in the green or held a solid green telltale. The young pilot’s grin widened and he returned his attention to the enemy below.

The transport was part of what passed for a formation among the Orks, a loose gaggle of lumbering, ugly aircraft trailing fits and starts of black and brown smoke. Hecould see why veterans of the Beast’s first invasion called them ’smokers’, it seemed to him you could pick up such a formation from miles away simply by the cloud of fumes surrounding it. The 266th continued their plunge towards the enemy and Faunk felt the controls stiffen as his speed built up to almost 1500KPH. With an effort he dragged his nose up, putting the glowing orange crosshairs over the spine of his target.

His hands tensed on the controls as the first flight, Macroy’s own, let loose with their weapons for the first time in the war. Lascannon bolts lit the sky with their brief incandescence, autocannons filled the gaps between lasbolts with the slower strobe of tracer rounds. Quicker than the young pilot would have believed possible the Ork formation scattered, one aircraft trailing even more smoke than before and a second little more than a cloud of rapidly expanding gases. Excitement swelled in him as he wrestled his aircraft into a hard bank, following his target as it broke away from the Imperial fighters. The vox crackled again.

‘Faunk! Faunk! Where the hell are you?’

Caught up in the excitement of the chase Faunk didn’t hear his wingman’s desperate calls and he pulled his aircraft into an even tighter turn, chasing the yellow and red shape in front of him . Yelling with glee he urged his aircraft onward, closing the distance to the transport. The range-finder under the crosshairs blinked at him, five hundred metres, the recommended range for firing according to his academy instructors. He grasped the double triggers as his crosshairs danced across his target and the Thunderbolt spat lasbolts and autocannon rounds at the invader, the heavy airframe shaking with recoil. His fist locked around the controls he Faunk counted off seven seconds of furious fire, his ammo counter winding down rapidly and waited for the enemy aircraft to disintegrate. There was a flash of light as he screamed past the transport and a roar of exultation leaped from his lips at his first kill.

His grin wider than ever he dragged his nose around, searching for another target and his heart jumped as he felt his aircraft shake under a series of hammer blows. He twisted his neck hard to the right, then the left, looking in his blind spot for the enemy fighter that was shooting him. He swore as he he caught a glimpse of red and yellow. His pursuer wasn’t a nimble fighter but the huge lumbering transport he was sure he’d just destroyed. It’s front turret flashed and tracers curved towards his Thunderbolt. Somehow he’d missed the transport and now it was chasing him…

————————————————-

He’d screwed up royally today, he’d been told so in no uncertain terms by Commander Macroy. The litany of mistakes the Commander had reeled off seemed endless. He’d opened fire too far away and fired a wastefully long burst. He hadn’t taken deflection into account and the Commander thought he’d be lucky if his gun camera footage showed he’d come within 50 metres of hitting his target. He’d violated a dozen regs by ignoring vox calls.

Worst of all he’d left his wingman’s side and gone haring off on his own, endangering them both. Only luck and Macroy’s timely intervention had allowed him to escape the Ork transport’s attention and even so his aircraft would be off the flightline for several more hours whilst the ground crew repaired the damage. His wingman, Grueber, hadn’t been so lucky though. His aircraft had last been seen spiraling earthward, although several other pilots claimed to have seen a ‘chute. His recovery beacon was active and Wing Command had requested help from nearby ground units in locating and returning Grueber to the squadron. A small squad of Scouts from the Adeptus Astartes Exorcists Chapter returning from raiding Ork lines had acknowledged the request and diverted to search for the downed pilot.

Commissar Wenzl had been furious and Faunk had shivered as the Commissar informed him that if Commissar Yarrick himself hadn’t ordered every pilot and aircraft into the sky he’d have stripped him of his wings and court-martialed him on the spot. The Commissar’s tirade had lasted another ten minutes and Faunk was still shaking as he left the Commander’s office his ears still ringing with Wenzl’s stentorian voice, the Commissar’s words burned into his mind.

He’d barely left the office and begun the long walk to the hab-blocks where the pilots lived when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Macroy.

‘Get some food and then some rest lad. The Commissar was right, Yarrick was right, we’re going to need to every pilot we can lay our hands on. The Beast isn’t messing about this time.’

The Commander let go of his shoulder with a final squeeze and headed towards the flightline, he had another flight to lead in just a few minutes. Faunk started towards the hab-block again, then stopped with a shake of the head and turned to follow Macroy. There was no way he could rest now, not after this morning’s fight and certainly not after his encounter with Wenzl and the Commissar. If he couldn’t rest and he couldn’t fly until his aircraft was repaired then at the least he could use the sim-cogitators to practice deflection shooting, he could grab a bite from the messhall on the way…

——————————

I’ve always enjoyed writing short stories, they seem a natural fit for the pulp-sci-fi world of 40K. With the work on the 609th inspiring me I’ve begun what will hopefully become the continuing adventures of Willem Faulk as he goes from fledgling to falcon-hawk. You’ve already seen the war-weary Faulk in the initial 609th posts and hopefully you’ll enjoy what’s to come.

This story though does highlight some of my concerns regarding my Imperial Navy work. Most of my DIY efforts in 40K have been based on Space Marines or Guardsmen, two well known entities with solid canon backgrounds on which to lay my efforts. The flyers of the Navy however have far less canon material about them, a two edged sword if ever I saw one. Whilst it gives me a lot of leeway in what I write it doesn’t give me a lot of help sticking to the ethos and canon of 40K.

I think I need to gather the ‘facts’ and create a more coherent background if I’m to continue working on the 609th…

Death Notice

10.07.2009

POSTED IN Blog | 6 COMMENTS TAGS : , ,

This death notice was sent to the parents of Wing-Pilot T.M. Ponder of the 187th Fighter Squadron following the destruction of his aircraft. Ponder was killed on just his third operational flight by Ork Deff Skwadron Kaptin Brog Noteef, an ace who would go amass a score of at least 18 kills against the Imperial flyers on Armageddon before being knocked down by Hydra flak batteries of the Armageddon 17th Steel Legion.

___________________________

As we’ve said before here on BfA one of our aims is to expand upon the history of the battles on Armageddon and, ultimately perhaps, to create a cohesive account of at least parts of the battles. For me that means not just words, but images, artefacts and all the other elements of ‘proper’ history writing. The image above is part of that process, being ‘evidence’ of the effects of war even in as monolithic a society as the Imperium.

As an added bonus I’m slowly learning a few tricks in Photoshop, it took me 90 minutes to make that image and I doubt I could recreate it but a few things seem to have stuck which is a start…

Thunderbolt vs Fighta-Bommer

The air war over Armageddon was dominated by two types of aircraft - the Imperial Navy Thunderbolt and the Ork Fighta-Bommer. Between them these two aircraft would account for more than 40% of the air forces of the two combatants and more than 50% of the air to air kills during the war. As such it is worthwhile to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the two aircraft.

The Thunderbolt has been in Imperial service for centuries and has proven a versatile and robust aircraft, able to carry out air to air, air to ground and even limited orbital duties equally well. Manufactured on numerous Forge Worlds across the Imperium it can be found in almost every one of Mankind’s theatres of war. In addition to versatility and toughness the Thunderbolt also packs tremendous endurance and range as well as considerable firepower and maneuverability. The Thunderbolt’s key weaknesses are a relatively low cruising speed and poor top speed, indeed several types of Xenos bombers cruise at close to the Thunderbolt’s top speed, one reason that it is being supplemented in many areas by the Lightning interceptor.

Like the Thunderbolt the Ork Fighta-Bommer can be found across the galaxy, indeed it is nearly as widespread as the Orks themselves. Crewed by two, an Ork pilot and Gretchin gunner for the twin ‘big shootas’ mounted in the dorsal turret, the Fighta-Bommer excels in the air to ground role. With its high cruising speed and limited thrust vectoring capabilities the Fighta-Bommer is more than capable in the air to air role as well. Considerably faster than the Thunderbolt at cruising speeds, the Fighta-Bommer is hampered by poor acceleration, a lower operational ceiling and shorter range. These factors are offset by tremendous short range firepower and the toughness of crew and airframe which allows the Fighta-Bommer to pull off maneuvers other aircraft couldn’t even attempt for fear of structural failure or the pilot being incapacitated by G-forces.

Imperial Air-to-Air Tactics

Thunderbolt pilots rely on their superior training, sensors and ground control systems to ambush Ork aircraft where possible. Their greater acceleration and ceiling also lend themselves to hit and run attacks and most experienced Imperial pilots will maneuver to place themselves above a Fighta-Bommer formation before diving to attack and zooming back up to safety, repeating this attack until the enemy is destroyed or driven off. Given the natural inclination of Orks towards fighting and the tremendous endurance of the Thunderbolt it is not uncommon that Imperial forces are able to harass much larger Ork forces in this way for a considerable length of time, often forcing the Orks to turn for home before their mission is done as a result.

Experienced pilots avoid turning fights with almost all Ork aircraft but particularly with Fighta-Bommers. Not only is the Ork aircraft able to turn more tightly, thanks to both its thrust vectoring and the ability of its Xenos crew to withstand more G-forces than their human counterparts but even when an Imperial pilot out-turns his enemy he is often subjected to defensive fire from the dorsal turret before he is able to bring his weapons to bear. When caught in a turning fight Imperial pilots can resort to the use of the Thunderbolt’s rocket booster to disengage from the battle. Many Imperial commanders frown on such behaviour as cowardice, others simply object to the tremendous stresses use of the rocket engine under non-ideal circumstances places on the airframe and engine and such action is considered a last resort by Navy aircrew.

Perhaps the largest advantages Imperial aircrew have in Thunderbolt vs. Fighta-Bommer engagements are their much greater tactical and communications capabilities. Ork pilots are the most extreme members of the Ork Kult of Speed and rarely operate in a unified manner, this allows Imperial units to use ambushes, decoys and myriad other tricks to gain an advantage over their Xenos counterparts. Greater radio communication and better sensors as well as the many skilled ground/orbital fighter controllers in Imperial service also offer an advantage to Thunderbolt units. Finally the traditional Imperial tactic of flying as a pair affords human pilots greater situational awareness and offers a degree of protection not experienced by most Orks in air-to-air combat.

Also of note when facing Ork aircraft is the range advantage offered by Imperial weaponry. This allows Navy pilots to attack at medium or long range with a reasonable chance of a kill and then disengage using the Thunderbolt’s higher rate of climb and top speed before an Ork opponent can get into the effective range of their heavy but short-ranged weaponry.

Ork Air-to-Air Tactics

Ork Flyboyz, as the Xenos who fly these aircraft are known, are less inclined to the elegant aerial tactics of the Imperial Navy foes and prefer combat to be fast, loud, noisy and brutal. Their aircraft are designed for speed and close range firepower and it is in close ranged dogfights that Fighta-Bommers excel. Flyboyz are drawn from the Ork Kult of Speed and share the fellow Kultist’s almost physical obsession with speed, an obsession which often affects their decision making. For example it can cause them to attack at uncontrollable speeds where they have little chance of hitting an enemy or to waste the element of surprise in uncoordinated individual attacks where Imperial units would strike as a whole to cause much more damage.

They also generally lack the co-ordination shown by Imperial units, though a number of Ork Skwadrons did display considerable tactical skill and knowledge during the Third War. It is believed these elite ‘Deff Skwadrons’ were specifically created and trained by Ghazghkull to seize control of the air, an objective they managed in the opening days with the support of by their less skilled but much more numerous brethren.

Although considered mad by their ground bound relations Ork Flyboyz share many of their traits, including a certain base cunning and an uncanny sense for the weakest member or unit of a formation. They often exploit this skill by attacking the least experienced or least numerous enemies they face first before turning their on the remaining enemy and swamping them in typical Ork fashion. Experienced Imperial units have been known to use this tendency to lay traps for Flyboyz, a tactic that Captain Neymeyer of the 609th Fighter Wing would perfect in the opening months of the Third Armageddon War.

Where possible Flyboyz will mass in large numbers and attempt to overwhelm enemies with sheer firepower, Imperial pilots on Armageddon during both the Second and Third Wars often reported being outnumbered four or five to one and in the early stages of the war suffered heavy casualties when opposing the Xenos directly. In actual combat Orks will attempt to use the maneuverability of their aircraft and their tolerance for G-forces to out-maneuver their enemy before using the tremendous short range firepower of their aircraft to knock them down.

Final Assessment

In a one versus one fight between two pilots of equal ability the Thunderbolt has the edge over the Fighta-Bommer. The real life skies of Armageddon were seldom so simple however and myriad other factors played a role in the outcome of any dogfight. During the early stages of the war the Ork Flyboyz held the edge over their Imperial Navy foes. This was particularly so when they were led by the elite Deff Skwadrons whose tactics and actions, particularly their strikes against Imperial air bases and supply lines, would prove decisive early on.

However by the middle period of the war the the Navy’s Thunderbolt squadrons had once more, despite their dire supply situation, exhausted pilots and battered aircraft, had evolved a series of effective counters to both Ork numbers and the Deff Skwadrons and although unable to maintain planetwide air superiority could maintain local air superiority for moderate periods of time in selected areas. This in turn would play a large part in turning the tide against the Beast and his hordes and would ultimately be a key factor in Ghazghkull’s retreat.

A Minor Dilemma

7.07.2009

POSTED IN Blog | 7 COMMENTS TAGS : , ,

So I was working on some 609th Fighter Wing history over the weekend, writing in a sort of modern day military history manner, trying to present a balanced, fact-led view and so forth and it occurred to me: the Imperium just doesn’t produce this kind of thing. Even the more factual Black Library books, like ‘The Battle for Armageddon’ guide book aren’t super balanced and tend to contain a fair slice of Imperial propaganda and assumptions of superiority etc.

The dilemma then, is whether I should continue in the ‘Osprey-lite’ vein I’d originally envisaged or whether I need to cater for that Imperial bias a little more in these history posts. Perhaps the solution is to put together all the Osprey lite material and then leaven it with Imperial propaganda posters, catechisms and the like as the BL sometimes do…

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.

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…