Saturday, March 22, 2008

RAF: No. 247 Squadron

One of the distinctive features of wargames compared to euros and family boardgames is that they often include features that are pointless or nearly so in game terms but appear because they had some real-life relevance.
One example of this is found in the solitaire wargame RAF about the Battle of Britain. Among all the squadrons of vital Spitfires, useful Hurricanes and not useless Blenheim's there's a lonely squadron equipped with the Gladiator, a biplane fighter.
It turns out No. 247 Squadron has a distinguished history:
but the Battle of Britain was not its finest hour. The Gladiator was simply too slow to catch the speedier German bombers and the squadron didn't get a "kill" until it was re-equipped with Hurricanes later, after the time period covered in the game.
In the game the Gladiators are, if anything, a tiny bit more useful than they were in real life. They can be used to cover low-threat areas outside of German fighter range with some small chance of success. Still, in game terms they are barely worth flying and can't be put into any heavy combat without actually hurting the British cause.
Historically the Gladiators were eventually assigned to night patrols, although also without success. The game does include night patrol rules, but only allows Blenheims to fly that mission. As a minor variant you might allow the Gladiators to perform night patrols as well, considering that they were assigned the mission is the actual event. As it's a solitaire game, you should have no problem getting your opponent to agree.
Although not all that useful in game terms, No. 247 Squadron was there. Its pilots were among those few who were owed so much by so many. So it's very appropriate that it should appear.

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