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Thread: Tanks and balloons 1916

  1. #1

    Default Tanks and balloons 1916

    In September 1916 in the final phase of the Battle of the Somme, three Nieuports armed with Le Prieur rockets were sent to destroy three German observation balloons that were overlooking the ground over which tanks were about to be used for the first time. From this loose historical basis the following scenario was woven...

    Two balloon busting aircraft chosen from the following:

    • Nieuport 16 armed with Le Prieur rockets
    • Nieuport 16 armed with phosphorus bombs
    • DH.2 armed with incendiary bullets
    • DH.2 armed with phosphorus bombs

    The aircraft must return to the start line to reload, and they respawn if destroyed.

    Three tanks that start to move towards the German trench line (about 2.5 rulers away) after "zero hour" (the third turn). The tanks move one range ruler width per phase.

    Three observation balloons. Balloons respawn after three turns if set on fire or if the observer is incapacitated.

    A line of trenches (serving as the objective for the tanks)

    Machine guns and AA guns.

    Special rules
    Rockets may only be fired across the "tail" end of the balloon card (based on research in this thread, rockets were normally fired into the wind).

    Phosphorus bombs - normal bombing rules apply, a single D damage card is drawn for a hit.

    Incendiary bullets - normal rules, but once 4 damage cards have been "fired", the aircraft must return to reload.

    German artillery - off board batteries, fire at the tanks using solo AA gun rules (draw an A card, if it has special damage, draw a C card for the target). If an observation balloon is airborne at the end of each turn after zero hour, the artillery fires at the corresponding tank.

    The action

    The setup:
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    We headed for the balloons in our chosen aircraft (me in a Nieuport 16 with rockets, my son in a DH.2 armed with incendiary bullets), drawing plenty of fire from the ground:
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    My first lucky shot - before swinging round to fire my rockets into the wind I fired a normal machine gun burst at the balloon and set it on fire!
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    I never got the chance to fire my rockets and the DH.2 didn't manage to set a balloon on fire, we both got shot down by heavy AA fire:
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    Having respawned (both in DH.2s, mine with phosphorus bombs, my son's with incendiaries again), we fly over the tanks. These are slowly moving forward and two are starting to take fire from the enemy artillery, since two balloons are still up:
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    I dropped my phosphorus bomb on the balloon only to draw a zero card. Meanwhile the other DH.2's incendiary rounds were failing to ignite the another balloon:
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    I bit the dust again and respawned as a Nieuport 16 with rockets again. This time I had another lucky shot and took out the observer of a balloon! The balloon is therefore taken out of action for 3 turns while they haul it down and rush the observer to a casualty clearing station.
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    By now the tanks had nearly reached the trench line and one started to take fire from a machine gun:
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    I finally managed to get behind the balloons and loose off my rockets, to good effect!
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    And the tanks finally reach the trench line, with not too much damage to show for it:
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    This was a fun game with lots going on. It did get a bit tedious trying to manage all the AA reloads, off board artillery and tanks though. In retrospect had we assumed a tank was knocked out by fire or engine damage it would have been a close run thing and only one tank would have made it. Also, we realised that there isn't much point in having phosphorus bombs available to both aircraft, because the DH.2 is the same speed as the Nieuport but stronger! In future I think I would restrict the bombs to the Nieuport, since I haven't read about them being dropped from any other aircraft types.

  2. #2


    Great scenario Dom with multiple elements of ground and air interaction. Thanks for posting. Rep inbound.

  3. #3


    Very interesting scenario, Dom. I really like the use of the tanks. I looked in the forum files but could not find tank mission card.
    Last edited by Larry R.; 11-21-2023 at 17:44.

  4. #4


    The tank cards I used can be found here (along with other vehicle cards):

  5. #5


    Nice scenario Dom.
    Tanks always add a bit more fun to the action.

    "Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death."

  6. #6


    Well played, Dom, I like the idea of pulling the Balloons, arty & tanks together.
    To make the arty reloads a less of a nause you could shorten the sequence and have them all fire on the last card of every turn rather than as soon as they come into range.

    "He is wise who watches"

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by flash View Post
    To make the arty reloads a less of a nause....
    This is a bit off subject, but I have to comment on the word "nause". This must be purely British English; American English search engines refused to acknowledge the word, at first. It's great fun to enrich one's vocabulary; I'm waiting for a conversation into which I can slip this word, which will raise amused eye bowses, I'm sure.

  8. #8


    Good idea, Dom, and an enthralling AAR.

    "Tanks" very much for posting it!
    I laugh in the face of danger - then I hide until it goes away!

  9. #9


    Another great AAR. It is a wonder that we do not have more tanks in our AAR's. Thanks for posting.

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