Blue Sky Rules
by John F. Stanoch
Published by Simtac, Inc.(Review by Tom Sparhawk)
This rule set is an ongoing series that deals with various aspects of air combat in world war two. Currently (January, 2000) there are four volumes in the series.
The system centers around aircraft data sheets, which indicate the plane's abilities, such as speed, turn radius, dive speed, weapondry, and damage. Flights of planes, on "flight stands," move sequently - either one side at a time, or based on their manuever ability and a random die roll. The game is played on a hex grid system to regulate movement. You'll need plane models, flight stands, a hex grid surface, and the rules to play this game.
SquadronsBattle of Britain
A nice rule set, especially when used with the "core" rules published later. They deal exclusively with air to air combat and the bombing of land targets. Excellent possibilities for campaigns with these rules.
Red Sun/Blue SkyAerial Combat in the Pacific and South East Asia, 1938 - 1942
This is the current "core" system of rules, containing the basic information used in all later sets. It contains data for 36 aircraft - 23 Allied and 13 Japanese planes. Also included are 23 scenarios and instructions for creating your own. There are basic and advanced rules in the set, which contain the basic flying rules, torpedo and other bombing, antiaircraft rules and some useful ship deck plans and data so you can attack enemy fleets.
This core set is really quite simple to learn but quite complex in its execution. While simpler than most air rules sets, it yields quite realistic results. While you can't do the "Thatch weave" in any realistic way, there are clear tactical rules and tricks that make the game quite a bit of fun. As you might expect, the better planes usually win any air to air combat, but against experienced players they do quite poorly. When fleets are attacked the tension builds and it is common for the game to run to the last die roll - if you make it you win, if not you lose. This is the basic system we use for our groups Coral Sea campaign game.
White Star/Blue SkyThe US 8th Air Force's Strategic Daylight Bombing Campaign Over Europe,
1942 - 1944
The first supplement published, this set adds rules to the core system that cover heavy bombing and the defense against these bombers. There are data cards for 40 aircraft, 22 Allied and 18 German planes. Nine scenarios are included, plus basic instructions for creating your own. Interesting rules added include bombing patterns, crew casualties, and my favorite - German air to air rockets.
An excellent set of rules that are wonderful for convention games where nobody knows the rules. I've run bombing games in a number of conventions and they have always been enjoyed by all involved. At times, when running flights of B-17s without escorts, it is a matter of simply surviving the German attacks to try to get to the target. As in Red Sun, the game frequently comes down to the last die roll - you hit you win, you miss you lose. When I run the game I allow for all "critical hits" without the reduction suggested by the set. This allows the bombers to be destroyed with a single hit.
Critical hits are one of the fun features of these rules. When you have hit the enemy plane (with d6s or d10s) and roll doubles on the hit, you go to the critical hit table. This table, based on a single d10 roll, allows for damage to the plane form a miss to an elevator hit (plane cannot dive or climb the rest of the game), pilot killed (plane moves randomly the rest of the game), engine hit (planes slows done one hex per turn until it is out of movement), or a "fuel line hit" - which means the plane explodes and is gone...
Red Star/Blue SkyBattles over the Eastern Front 1941 - 1945
The second supplement to the core rules, this set explores air to air and air to ground combat. There are fifty seven aircraft covered, with 29 German and 28 Soviet planes. Ten scenarios and two campaigns are included. This set includes rules for strafing, tank busting and the Tartan (ramming) attack popular with the Russians early in the war.
The air combat in this set is very interesting. The outclassed Soviet plane's best bet is to try the
tartan attack, so the Germans must not only maneuver to shoot down the Soviets, but to avoid
being rammed as well! Highly recommended for those who like to wargame suicidal attacks!
All together these are an excellent set of rules. One drawback is that you need the rules and flight stands, sold by the author, as well as the plane models. That can be quite an investment. If this isn't a problem then you will like these rules. They are easily learned and taught, and they take a good tactical sense in three dimensions to make you a good flyer.