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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Playtest of "What a Fighter" Malta 1942.

 So I have been tinkering with What a Fighter (WAF) for a month now and appear to have the basic components worked out.  My bias for these rules are that wingmen are important in a dogfight and speed is just as important as maneuverability. 

I did take a break and played a micro armor meeting engagement between a US company and a Soviet Infantry battalion.  


Every time I play at the 1/300th scale it grows on me.  

But I thought I had enough of WAF in place to take my Malta spitfires and give WAF a playtest.  I used Squadron Forward to roll up a scenario and got "intercept".  My flight of 4 spits against 3 ME 109Fs escorting 10 JU-88s.  

The siren sounds as Flt Lt Barnes boards the jeep to his plane.  He is to take his flight out on yet another mission today.  

Flt Lt Barnes           Pragmatic/alcohol                  Veteran            1 kill

           F/O  Jamie Farnsworth         Cocky               Average

Sgt "Scrum" Patson      Cocky/religous                  Veteran           2 kills

          Sgt  Joey Towson       Fickle                          Veteran          1 kill     considered unreliable wingman

Barnes didn't want Towson as his wingman so took the inexperienced Farnsworth.  Sgt Patson with 2 kills would lead the other element.  

Flt Lt Barnes flight heading towards trouble.  

As Barnes starts to scan the skys ahead for the Germans,  Scrum calls out, " Jerry on our 6!"  "Sod! Everyone break." screams Barnes. 

Very unlikely but the German fighters manage to sneak up on the Brits.  They are still out of range when detected though.  

As the British start to break up an ME 109 latches on to Farnsworth's tail and fires.  His wing is shot up slowing his speed. [ German is an ace pilot]

The second ME 109, flown by the officer, is average in skill.  He attempts to get on the tail of Sgt Patson who is a veteran.  With planes of equal performance this is a test of skill which Patson wins at the moment.  The best the german can do is a quick burst at the fleeing spitfire.  

The third german is a veteran NCO and he lines up on Sgt Towson.  This is also a test of skill which the german wins riddling Towson's fuselage and making it quite hard to fly. Towson will loose 2 dice next turn and is in trouble.  

The british now get to react.

As I previously stated my bias is on having wingman be important.  Flt Lt Barnes circles back and sees Farnsworth in trouble.  He manages to get a quick burst at the german...


and is rewarded by a flaming plane!  Barnes saves his wingman and gets his 2nd kill.  [ Lest you think that was easy.  Barnes had a 45% chance of hitting the ace and then a 33% chance of knocking him down.  You do the math.] 

Now that Farnsworth's tail is cleared he can help someone else.  Towson is in more distress but is not a team player.  Scrum is, has 2 kills and is also in a bit of a pickle.  Farnsworth moves to help Scrum.  

As the german sees 2 spitfires maneuvering towards him he breaks off his pursuit of his prey as he was losing it anyway.  The spitfires and ME 109 dance with neither side gaining an advantage.  

This frees up Scrum.  Who, acting as a wingman, goes to help Sgt Towson.  

The german veteran attempts to hold his position as he has Towson right where he wants him.  Towson tries to work with Patson to get him a shot.  As the 3 fighters dance Patson doesn't get a shot but does manage to move the german off Towson's tail, ...

which actually was the goal.    

Sgt Towson now manages to dive away to safety and back towards the airfield.  

After turn 1 out of 5.  All aircraft at medium altitude.  3 spitfires and 2 ME 109s.  No attacks against the bombers yet but Barnes has survived a bounce and knocked down a Jerry for the loss of 1 damaged Spitfire.  As all fighters regroup, he tells Farnsworth that he will take lead and they will go after the ME 109s while Scrum will go take the bombers.  

While Farnsworth is moving to get behind Barnes the germans strike.  To his horror Barnes sees the pair going after Farnsworth.  

  As Farnsworth turns the german officer barrel rolls behind the turning spitfire and starts shooting...

Barnes can see the petrol streaming from the plane as Farnsworth yells he is taking damage.  

Barnes attempts to get a shot at the german but his veteran wingman keeps him away.  [ note: wingmen are important.]   Barnes tell Jamie to dive into a split S.  

Despite Jamie's torn wing the maneuver works and Jerry is shaken off.  Also the Spitfire is more maneuverable than the ME 109 down at this altitude.  

Meanwhile, above the fighter combat, Sgt Patson looks to make a pass on the bombers...

He picks out the lead bomber and makes his pass...

to no effect!

Turn 3

Jamie can't escape so he finally tucks in behind Barnes as the fight continues.  Jamie watches his petrol go lower and lower.  As the planes swirl all the german can manage is a snap shot at Barnes that misses. 

Flt Lt Barnes moves the Jerrys away so Farnsworth can make his escape.  Now it is 2:1 but he needs Scrum to knock down some bombers!  Sgt Patson makes another ineffective pass.   

Turn 4

 As Barnes tries to keep the ME 109s busy down below the germans do manage to gain position and fire. Bullets rattle the spitfire but nothing critical appears to be hit.  

Barnes manages to return the favor and fires... and watches with satisfaction and the left wing crumples on the ME 109! 2 kills today.

Meanwhile Scrum makes his 3rd pass at the JU-88s all for nothing.  Are these bombers armored today?

Turn 5

Veteran against veteran.  The spitfire has a slight advantage at this altitude but this will be a test of skill.  

The best the german can do is a quick shot from the front quarter which misses.  It is all Barnes can do to bring the situation back to neutral.  As the flak begins to darken the sky Barnes and the german break off; acknowledging their skills are equal today.  

Sgt Patson finally gets a great position on a Ju-88.  This time we will have a bomber go down...

With incredibly poor shooting all Scrum is able to do is knock the bomber out of formation!  Poor Scrum.  On top of that his spitfire is riddled with holes but none critical.  [ a cool thing was had he not been a veteran his plane would have taken damage.]  

So ends my Malta playtest of What a Fighter.  Using Squadron Forward we still needed to see what happened to F/O Farnsworth and Sgt Towson. F/O Farnsworth ran out of gas but managed to glide to the edge of the runway and have a very rough landing.  The plane sustained major damage and he was wounded.  Sgt Towson tried to bring the damaged spit in and crashed on the airfield.  He survived and should be back but the plane was written off.  I considered this battle a draw as we did down 2 fighters for the loss of 1 spitfire but every bomber got through.  No change for squadron elan but Flt Lt Barnes is now leading the squadron with 3 kills on Malta.  

Post battle Barnes goes down with an ear infection.  We don't get a replacement for F/O Skeel who was killed earlier so we are down to 4 pilots plus Barnes, Farnsworth and Towson.  We do get a replacement plane and one back from the shop so we have 8 plus Farnsworth's in the shop.  

I thought WAF played well. The whole battle played in 80 minutes.  I didn't allow wingmen to be separated as I really wanted to see how the wingman rules played.  I think the bomber rules are sound despite Scrum's lack of success.  Will need some more playtesting though.  Now I will start to get this all down on electronic paper in a semblance of rules and see if Rich is interested in them.  






  1. Interesting AAR, certainly reads like a good game.

  2. Yes it is coming along. I am using area movement which will be different for gamers but plays fast and gives the same thrills and spills.