Welcome to Platoon Forward!

Welcome to the site where the story of the battle is as important as the battle itself. Here we will focus on men thrust into extraordinary situations of life and death. They must lead other men with duty and honor to meet their countries objectives. Some will be blessed with great skill, some will carry great shortcomings. No matter what nation, no matter what war, no matter what theater, they are all called to move their Platoon or Squadron forward!

These are their individual stories as played out using my various campaign rules . Hopefully these stories will entertain and inspire you to use your own troops, airmen and sailors to accomplish your own great heroics.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

B 17 Flying Fortress Leader: 1 month

 I honestly had ever intention of playing a cold war scenario to try out my new 6mm vehicles I showcased last post.  But I watched part of 12 o'clock high on TV and I was done for.  

It is a great movie and a very good book as well.  Both authors were in the 8th AF during WW II and Maj Lay was a qualified pilot stuck in staff work.  I won't give the story away but if you haven't seen or read it you need to.  It was used by the Air Force as a leadership film for many years.

   So at first I was going to play a squadron forward mission but I wanted something with bigger scope.  That was when I remembered I had...

 This is a solitaire game where you take over the 8th Air Force and try to destroy your allotted targets.  It is an operational game along the vein of Avalon Hill's Luftwaffe but is much better.  This is not meant as a review, as you can find that at boardgame geek, but a report of my first month of operations June 1943. 

[ I haven't played this game for years so I may be making mistakes during the game.]

I chose a 3 month scenario "strategic targets" that takes place in the summer of 1943.  The USAAF has cut its teeth and now has to prove it can cripple Germany with the vast resources that it has been given.  First you are dealt 30 target cards and have to pick your 10 strategic targets that you will destroy during the summer.  I pick 3 oil because those are worth many points despite being deep in Germany, 3 Baltic naval ports because they are accessible, 3 V1,2 rocket sites because they are political and accessible and 1 factory in France because it is close to the coast and doesn't have a lot of flak.  In addition you have airfield targets and aircraft factory targets.  Unfortunatley I draw Regnesberg which is deep in Germany and will give the Luftwaffe 5 new squadrons every month it isn't destroyed!  But the points are with the strategic targets so MGen Spaatz clearly wants those destroyed.  

You now pick your squadrons based on a number of points you are allotted.  I don't like this mechanic.  While it makes for a good game it doesn't feel very historical.  I don't think the operations staff looked to maximize their point totals.  They asked for x amount of heavy bombers, light bombers and fighters and got what they got.  So I randomly drew cards that were close to point totals and picked 1 leader who I consider a great wing CC.  

I was allotted 3 B-17 groups the 97th, 398th and 388.  The 97th is experienced so they will be my lead. We have 1 B-24 group the 389 who are newish as they are green and a B-26 group, the 322; also green.  I have the eagle squadron, 4th FG still hanging on to their spitfires and the wolfpack, 56 FG flying brand new P-47s.  

You can fly 2 missions a week and can only have 1 FG per mission.  I used weather as it is simple and adds flavor.  

The wolfpack ready to go!


Weather is partly cloudy everywhere except near the North Sea where it is clear.   I was going to start small but with clear weather we can fly over water and crash into Bremerhaven and see the target.  As I am the Director of Ops [ or S-3 for you army types] I don't need to clear it with anyone and tell my staff to make it so.  FRAGs are cut for the B-17 wing to bomb Bremerhaven with 56FG escort and we will hit a V-2 site across the channel with our B-24s/B26s and send the eagles to guard them. 

 The red markers are german fighter concentrations.  They will always defend their hex and if the germans are agressive that week will fly 1 hex away to attack.   

This week the Germans are aggressive along the coast but with the chit pull I only draw 2 fighters which the wolfpack keep away from the bombers.  No big losses for either side which is a win for the bombers.  The 398th takes several loses due to flak over the target but still manage 50% bombs on target.  The other 2 groups nail it with 100% and the naval base is destroyed!  How easy was that.  The flight home is uneventful as the Germans as still refueling. 

The second mission also goes off without a hitch.  It is a quick hop across the channel and german response is poor with only some ME 109s coming up.  The eagles actually take them out earning an extra experience point.  Way to go 4 FG!  Bombing is dismal however and the target is only lightly damaged.  

Overall a good week.  1 target destroyed, 1 light damage.  Our losses are light but so are the germans.


It is partially cloudy all over and we still have good strength.  We get another B-24 group; the 448th.  With clouds everywhere I really don't want to outstrip my fighter cover so we will stay in France this week.  Our main effort will be a small aircraft factory (2 squadrons worth) in Amsterdam.  This will be my B-17 wing led by the 97th and protected by the wolfpack now stinging by the eagles success.  Second the undamaged V-2 sites continue to hit England and the boss keeps getting calls about it so we will hit another V-2 site since damaged sites don't launch rockets.  

First up are the B-24 with the eagles.  The eagles again keep the ME 109s away and flak is light.  Unfortunately while the 389th bombing is great our newest group only has 50% so the target sustains medium damage.  Better give those boys some practice Colonel!   

Next is our trip to Amsterdam.  The German response is more fierce here...

 as we run into 2 groups of FW 190s including some veterans and 1 group of ME 110s.  The wolfpack...

keeps most of the fighters away and manages to take 1 group out!  They do sustain some loses however. The veteran Folke Wolves do rough up the 97th some[ 4 points or 12 bombers] but the 97th eliminates the ME 110s.     Flak is light at the target and the 97th comes through again but the 398th [33%] and the 388th [66%] don't bomb as well this time so the factory sustains medium damage.  

Overall a modest week.  We have damaged an aircraft factory but really could have taken it out and we did take another V-2 site off line.  Our losses are starting to mount and we really are not atritting out their fighters.  


Lousy European weather!  Storms on the continent except for the North Sea where there are partial clouds.  I really wanted to hit the V-2 sites this week but can't.  I am afraid they will be repaired and start shooting again which means I will get chewed out.  Think we will rest the eagles and the wonderful 97th BG.  We also add another B-24 group; the 392.  Since we have to go to the North Sea we will send our 3 B-24 groups to Wilhelmshafen without a FG since our fighters can't get there anyway.    Our 2 remaining B-17 groups will go back to Amsterdam to finish off that factory.  We will send the wolfpack with them. 

First mission

 The target...

Bombers on the way...

Unfortunately the Luftwaffe was waiting.  Veteran FW 190s, ME 109s and ME 110s pounded the column.


  The 389th lost 24 planes.  My brand new 392 lost 15.  Only the 448th escaped with minimal losses [6].  When the armada reached the port only the 448th put bombs on target.  The rest barely registered hits. [25%].  The port was

moderately damaged.  

Apparently the Luftwaffe was all east because the B-17s running to Amsterdam ran into only 2 groups of ME 109s...

Sorry forgot to take a picture with ME 109s... and this time the wolfpack...

Cleared the skies!!!

Unfortunatly the bombing was poor [33%] so the factory's damage level ...

remained medium.

Overall week 3 was a disappointment.  The only positive was we have finally started taking down german fighters. [ When you destroy 5 you get to remove a red counter].  Otherwise my B-24s were mauled and we have little to show for it.  I need some P-38s so I can escort those missions to the German ports.  


Weather partly cloudy everywhere except over the North Sea where it is clear again.  My B-24s have to rest.  I can use the 448th if need be.  My B-17s are alright.  The wolfpack is tired and deserve a rest.  They have eliminated 3 groups.  With the North Sea clear I would really like to take out Wilhelmshaffen before Jerry rebuilds.  I have no fighters that can make it but I shouldn't need 3 groups as it is already damaged. I will send the freshly rested 97th, my best group, and the 398th.  I will use my B-26s to launch a diversionary raid nearby to draw some confusion. [ This creates a -2 to the German response roll.]  Finally I have been lucky that the V-2 sites haven't been repaired.  I will send my last B-17 and the 448th B-24s across the channel to hit the last V-2 site.  The eagles can cover.  

I can only imagine the dread that the 97th and 398 feel as they take off alone, unescorted toward Germany.  Greatly exaggerated rumors of the B-24 massacre in their ears. "Who planned this suicide mission anyway?"  


The B-17s drone on... and on... and on.  It appears the Luftwaffe too is licking it's wounds.  

At the target flak is light and no bombers are lost.  Both groups hit 100% and the target is demolished. Not a single bomber is lost.  

Down in France at the V-2 site only a handful of veteran FW 190s contest the bombers.  The Eagles block their way successfully but suffer for it losing 18 planes in the process for only a handful of kills.  The bombers, however, take their vengeance out on the rocket site destroying it with precision daylight bombing!  

Big week!  Two targets destroyed with minimal losses save for our eagle squadron.  


At month's end we get 18 replacement points which I use to bring the B-24s back and buff up the B-17s and Eagles.  The Eagles convert to P-47s and we finally get the 20th FG armed with P-38s.  Unfortunatly German industry cranks out 11 new "squadrons".  1 each goes to russia, tunisia and to reserve leaving 8 new red counters to face us next month.  I have to do something about those aircraft factories.  

That is B-17 leader in a nutshell.  I like it alot.  Like most solitaire games it gets repetitive so you have to leave it up and come back to it.  There is a lot there and I am just begining to scratch the surface.





Wednesday, March 8, 2023

GHQ and Heroics and Ros vehicles

 One of my rules of wargaming has been not to get tempted into various scales with different projects.  I have always gamed land battles with 15mm and air combat with 1/285th.  For a solo gamer this keeps costs down. [ I have failed with the sea though.  I have slowly moved to larger scales both with AOS and WW II until I am at 1/300 for WW II and 1/700 for AOS.  I take a little solace in that it is relatively few figures and a museum actually wanted my smaller AOS ships. For those of you that visit the USS Constitution...]  

As I moved up in land scale from 1:1 to 1:2+ I have thought about micro armor.  My friend Jack sold me a bunch of his modern stuff which you have seen on these pages.  I am still unsure if I prefer it to 15mm [ 1/100] but thought I would flesh out my modern US forces at  least.  I asked on TMP which vehicles and infantry to buy.  As you might expect I got multiple opinions but the vibe was GHQ for vehicles and H+R for infantry.  The sentiment appeared to be GHQ vehicles are larger [ 1/285] and more detailed but more expensive but since you live in the US postage will even much of the cost out.     

So I purchased some Abrams from both companies and some M113s and present here my findings.  

H+R abrams.  Not as detailed as GHQ and a tad smaller but still looks like an Abrams to me.  Straight cost without postage or specials about $1.  GHQ is $2.80 but you have to buy 5.  Of course I needed 6!

  Not exactly a M113 but close; a M901.  Same comments as above but as the M113 has less detail there is less detail missing.  Straight cost $0.9.  GHQ $2.80.  I needed only 2 of these for a platoon.  

The 3 H+R pieces I painted up plus some terrain [ close up]

Gaming distance.

Next a series of side by side comparison pictures.  If you are paying attention the 1/300 H+R does look smaller because it is.  

Not as clear as I had hoped but you get the idea.

H+R closest now.

From the rear.  There is some detail lost in the H+R Abrams compared to the GHQ in both the turret and the hull.

2 platoons of Abrams at closer to gamers distance.  From here if I wasn't concentrating I would need to look to find the H+R model.  YMMV.

A little more obvious which is the H+R model here.  

From gaming distance.

2 H+R tracks plus one GHQ.  The width of the GHQ is noticeable to me but nothing else unless I am really looking.  

From gaming distance I wouldn't notice anything unless I was concentrating on it.  

Those are the pictures.  While the GHQ Abrams do have more detail at gamer distance it is harder to tell. The GHQ are larger and more detailed but much more expensive.  Would I rather not mix them; yes.  Will I; yes because here I don't see much difference at gamer distance. 

If I was still stationed in England H+R would be a no brainer; very good figures, can buy only as many as you need and cheaper.  In the US I wasn't as confident because postage from H+R to me is almost 50%.   So lets do some math shall we?

Let's take 2 examples, ordering 1 Abrams and ordering 40.

If I want 1 Abrams from H+R that would cost me [in theory at least] $1.50.  that is $1.00 for the tank plus $0.50 for postage.  I can't buy just 1 Abrams from GHQ I have to buy 5.  That will be $14 plus postage so clearly an expensive tank. So my GHQ tank is literally 10 times as expensive at a H+R tank. Do you think the GHQ tank is 10 times better?

If I want 40 Abrams from H+R that would cost me close to $60 including postage.  This is where the 50% postage really kills.  If I want 40 from GHQ that is 8 packages at $14 a piece equals $112plus postage.  But GHQ gives you 10% off any order of $100 or more so lets call it $100.  There shipping is $8 so It is $108.   So now my GHQ tank is "only" 40% more than a H+R tank.  Do you think the GHQ tank is 40% better?  I suspect some people would argue yes.  For M113s, trucks, jeeps and the like I would say absolutely not.  




1/285 scale is nice.

Models are great


Expensive anyway you look at it.

Have to buy 5 at a time.



Nicely detailed models particularly those vehicles without much detail at 1/300 scale such as M113s, trucks, halftracks ect.

Can buy individually


1/300 scale is smaller than GHQ.

Postage is a killer to the states


Obviously the more you buy at once from GHQ the better your ratio will be.  Another wrinkle to add is GHQ will normal have a Christmas sale with 20% off if you can wait.  

I think everyone in the US will weigh how important a 1/285 vrs a 1/300 tank is and make their decisions accordingly.  Hopefully I have given you some more data both pricing and photographically to help you decide.  I know I would have found this helpful 5 months ago.  

Next I will look at infantry.