Wings of Glory03 Apr 2014 0
Wings of Glory is the successor to the extremely successful line of Wings of War World War I and World War II cards and miniatures game which has been available since 2004. While the game started as a card game where each card represented one airplane, anti-aircraft gun or balloon, it has evolved in to a non-collectable, non-randomly packaged, air war game where players could purchase a starter set and then purchase ?booster? packs with individual airplanes or even large models of observation balloon and bombers.
Ares Games new Wings of Glory air plane packs integrate with their tactical airplane combat system makes for a wonderful gaming experience. Their new 1:144 scale World War I airplane miniatures and 1:200 scale World War II airplanes have hit the airfields and are ready for action.
First up are the new World War I airplanes which includes a nice mix of late war airplanes including the influential Sopwith Triplane, and the high performance but trouble prone Siemens-Schuckert D.III.
The Aviatik D 1 was a single seat fighter flown by pilots of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With over 700 airplanes produced, this relatively fast, durable and stable fighter was known for its ability to reach high altitudes. It had a top speed of approximately 115 mph. The minis for this type airplane are very attractive ? all three variants feature a tan base. Two of the planes have additional camouflage and are armed with two machine guns while the all tan version of the plane (flown by Karl Sabeditsch) is armed with one top wing mounted, unsynchronized machine gun. The two machine gunned versions would fire using A damage cards which tends to do more damage than single machine gun, B damage card, weapons, although, experience has shown me that guns firing B damage card weapons tend to cause more fires on the target airplanes than A damage card weapons. The plane has a respectable 14 hull points.
The Hanriot HD.1 was a French fighter primarily used by the Belgians and the Italians. Over 1200 of this model were produced. The Italians outfitted many of their squadrons with these planes and preferred them to the Spad XIII. The American government purchased 10 of these airplanes and used them to help develop a fighter capable of launching from ships at sea. The plane was reported to be very easy to fly, very maneuverable and the guns were extremely easy to service while in the air in case of the all too frequent problem of gun jams during the First World War. The three minis of this plane include a beautiful single gunned, blue painted version flown by the 37 kill Belgain ace Willy Coppens. Coppens is also known as being the highest scoring ?balloon buster? of the war with 34 of his 37 kills being heavily defended observation balloons. The other two planes were duel machine gun models flown by Italian aces Mario Fucini and Silvio Scaroni. Scaroni was the highest scoring Italian ace of World War I with 26 confirmed kills and 4 unconfirmed kills. As with the Aviatik, the Hanriot also has 14 hull points and while the Aviatik and the Hanriot have much of the same maneuver cards giving them similar performance characteristics, the Hanriot has a very nice edge in maneuverability with a tight side slip card that the Aviatik can?t perform.
The German Siemens-Schuckert D.III was an outstanding aircraft with some serious technical problems which interfered with its adaptation as the late war German fighter plane. The design was built around a new more powerful engine which was very innovative for its time. When the plane was tested against the amazing Fokker DVII and the Albatross D V, the DIII was faster and could both out maneuver and out climb both planes. The DIII was immediately adapted by the German air force and sent in to active combat duty but, it was found, the new engine not only had overheating problems but the engines also had a far shorter life span before they needed to be replaced. It was found that after only 10 hours, the engine began to fail. This halted the deployment of the fighter until the engine issues could be solved. Eventually, the DIII?s engine was perfected and more of this type of plane entered service but, by that time, the Fokker DVII had become the darling of the German air force and only 80 of this type were produced. The minis of this plane are all beautifully painted with blue lozenge patterns on the wings and brightly colored fuselages. All three planes feature duel synchronized machine guns and 14 hulls points. I can say that in terms of a Wings of Glory fight, this airplane is a joy to fly and fight with. It?s a beauty. At least Ares Games didn?t factor engine issues in to their mini design!
The final airplane of this new batch of Wings of Glory World War I minis is the Sopwith Triplane. The Sopwith company is best known for their Camel and Snipe designs but the Triplane was a modification of their very capable Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter and Pup airplanes. The third wing gives this airplane incredible maneuverability and, while it wasn?t terribly fast, it could out maneuver and out climb any airplane out there until the Fokker DR1 Triplane took to the skies. In fact, it was the German pilots? stunned reaction to the Sopwith Triplane that motivated Anthony Fokker to improve on the British design and create the famous DR 1 Triplane. Wing stress issues and the limited light armament eventually led to the Sopwith Triplane falling out of favor. The three versions of the Sopwith Triplane released by Ares Games include two one gun versions and a two gun variant of the plane. While the two synchronized guns allow the Sopwith Triplane to compete against the other German designs from a firepower perspective, the extra weight degraded the air planes performance. When played, the mini is amazingly maneuverable but not terribly fast and has only 13 hull points. All but Raymond Collishaw?s plane feature one gun doing B Damage. Collishaw?s plane has two guns and does A Damage.
Now, it?s time to examine the new Wings of Glory World War II airplanes and they are all amazingly fast and deadly high performance airplanes! In fact, these four airplane minis are so fast that Ares Games ad to create oversized maneuver cards to accommodate them! When traveling at ?slow? speed, these planes are almost as fast as other Wings of War and Wings of Glory World War II planes traveling at fast speed! It makes this reviewer wonder what a Me262 will be like when Ares releases that mini.
The first of the World War II Wings of Glory minis that we?ll examine is the Spitfire Mark IX. By 1942, the legendary winner of the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire, was beginning to suffer when faced by the new Fw190 Focke Wulf fighter which was fielded by Germany. The RAF called for the Spitfire to be upgraded with a more powerful engine and more powerful weaponry. The Mark IX fit the bill. With its supercharged Merlin 61 engine giving it a top speed of around 410 mph and with its armament of 20 mm cannons and .303 or 50 caliber machine guns, the Mark IX was a beast to be reckoned with. Over 6000 of the Mark IX were produced and flew in all the theaters of the war. The minis are provided in three different paint schemes representing the planes of the Canadian ace George Beurling who shot down 27 German and Italian planes in 14 days during the Battle of Malta, the highest scoring British ace to survive World War II - Johnnie Johnson with 38 kills and the highest scoring Polish ace Stanisław Skalski who scored 22 kills during the war years. The Spitfire Mark IX is a truly fun plane to fly in Wings of Glory. It is very maneuverable, extremely fast and its weapons do massive amounts of damage if they hit.
The Japanese plane which is part of this set is the Ki84. The Nakajima Company met and exceeded the Imperial Air Ministry?s request for a fighter capable of long range and high altitude performance. The plane was to also be fitted with armor protection for the pilot and self sealing fuel tanks. The Ki84 was nicknamed the ?Hayate? which means ?gale? by the Japanese and was named ?Frank? by Allied intelligence in compliance with the Allied naming system of using men?s names for Japanese fighter planes, women?s names to bombers and transports, etc. The Ki84 became one of the best Japanese fighter planes of World War II and could even take out B29 Superfortresses with its combination of high speed, superior climbing ability, maneuverability and its two 12.7mm (50 caliber) and two 20mm cannons. But a lack of experienced pilots and superior Allied numbers seriously hampered the operational effectiveness of this fine airplane. The minis of this plane are drop dead gorgeous with two having a silver base paint (one with green camo over the silver base) and one done up in all the all green paint of the elite 182 Shimbu-Tai squadron. The mini performs very well in the game. Not only can it take a lot of damage but it can dish out tons of damage if it hits with its cannons and machine guns. If you are fighting against it, watch out for its killer side slips.
The P51 Mustang was, arguably, the best single pilot fighter of World War II (P47 aficionados may protest this statement) and was used during the latter half of World War II in all theaters and in to the Korean War and even Vietnam. In fact, the final production run of this fighter was in 1967! Initially underpowered, when the American P51 airframe was matched with the British Merlin and American Packard engines, the P51 could outperform almost any airplane in the air as a fighter aircraft. Its range with drop tanks finally allowed Allied bombers full range in to German targets with almost full air cover. The P51?s six 50 caliber machine guns could chew up almost all challengers. The only area where the P51 had issues was in ground attack as its engine was very vulnerable to ground fire but even on these risky missions, the P51 could survive. Over 8000 of this fine airplane were produced. The Ares minis of this fine plane are highly detailed and very attractive. The three planes modeled are those flown by John Landers (an American ace who earned 14.5 kills total while fighting in both the Pacific and European theaters!), Distinguished Flying Cross winner and Tuskegee Airmen Spurgeon Ellington?s red tailed ?Lollipoop II? and ?The Enchantress? flown by Pacific theater pilot William Sacks. All the planes are in silver with nose and tail art. The P51 behaves in the game as you would expect it to - extremely fast and deadly. Don?t try and turn with some of the slower planes such as the Me109s - zoom at them and blast them to pieces and then turn around and line up your next target. But beware, P51 pilots, because the last plane coming up in this review is the equal to your plane!
The last plane in this mix is the Fw190 D Focke Wulf - the most advanced of the Luftwaffe?s single engine fighter planes. The D variant of the Focke Wulf improved on the high altitude performance of earlier models of this fine airplane and over 1800 were produced. The plane was used in a variety of roles including bomber interception, combat air patrols, ground attack and even as a night fighter. The Fw190 was fast with a top speed in excess of 420 mph and its weapons included two 20mm cannons and two machine guns. The Fw190 was reported to be a joy to fly with an all weather system and auto pilot to help cut down on pilot fatigue. The three Focke Wulfs in the Wings of Glory release include Waldamar Wubke, Franz Gotz and a generic Fw190 from Jagdgeschwader 26. The molding of these models is fantastically detailed and the painting is stunning. When flying these fast and deadly beauties, the player can feel the power of this war bird. It is every much an equal to the P51 in combat. While doing plays of these airplanes for this review, my opponent, Mike, and I had an hour and a half battle between a P51 and an Fw190. At the end of the game, he and I had our planes shot up and my pilot was wounded but neither of us managed to shoot the other down. We flew back to our respective airfields and vowed to fight again another day.
In summary, these minis are a wonderful addition to your Wings of Glory airfield! Good luck in your battles and keep the dirty side down.
Publisher: Ares Games - http://www.aresgames.eu/
Designers: Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio
Price $12.99 each
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Richard Martin has written film and game reviews for over 20 years and has been playing war games and role playing games since the days of Ogre and Basic Dungeons and Dragons. Additionally, he writes screenplays, games and works in the legal profession. (Don?t tell anyone but Richard prefers writing games and movies to law work any day.)