Archive for the ‘wargames’ Category

001 (1100x1280).jpgI first became interested in American Football when Channel 4 began coverage of the regular season in 1982. From the off with Big Audio Dynamite’s “The Bottom Line” & later Propaganda’s “Duel” as the opening credit soundtracks I spent many Sunday evenings with my Dad repeating the tackle sounds that were superimposed over the music.

He was a 49ers fan (his Sqdn in the RAF), I for my sins supported the Oilers for no other reason than remembering hearing those words from the Apollo 13 news feed “Houston we have a problem” years before. Needless to say, Dad tended to have a smile on his face more than I when the results were read out.

Being a keen wargamer I could often be found with other spotty youths in my local games/hobby shop and during the 80’s was constantly drawn to the rather odd cover of Avalon Hill’s Statis Pro football. It somehow reminded me of Brian Yuzna’s film “Society” with the QB sprouting a second head from his neck. Following the 1986 Superbowl, I finally jumped in and purchased the 1985 Season.

From that point on until the early 90’s when girls annoyingly got in the way I began a continual solitaire campaign as it quickly became apparent that the game worked well for solo play. Realising that time would make it impossible to play full seasons (224 games per regular season) I decided just to concentrate on the play-off part of a season which at the time with 2 wild card games would only result in 9 games per season.
A game like Statis Pro I imagine, attracts a certain type of player that likes stats. I am no exception, my whole life evolves around spreadsheets to the be/amusement of many who know me. So in the advent before computers it was down to pencil, paper and joy of joy’s square paper. I have kept records of every scoring play since.

To begin with I didn’t want to just replay each season with the actual teams that made it that year, rather randomly select and see what match up’s occurred. I didn’t want to spend hours on working out a system so in the end I just used the 1985/86 end of regular season standings and added the win record of each team to a d20 roll. What resulted was failure to qualify for the Giants (historically 14-2) & Cleveland (12-4) while Tampa Bay (2-14), Indianapolis (3-13) and St Louis (4-12) all snuck into my inaugural season. Even more unexpected was Tampa Bay’s 42-10 thrashing of the mighty Chicago in the Divisional Play Off. Dallas ran out eventual winners 62-3 against a shell shocked Pittsburgh in the most one sided game I have ever played. At this stage my record keeping was not as good as I would have liked and although I kept records of who scored I did not record the actual plays. For SBII I used the fictional standings from my SBI campaign with the d20 roll. A new and improved worksheet followed to record the Raiders under QB Jim Plunkett & RB Marcus Allen’s outrageous stats sweep all before them taking the title by beating New Orleans 35-30.
After a couple more Play Off seasons I found out that it was possible to buy sets of other seasons. At the time I don’t think all were available so I chose the 1987 cards and from SBV switched to them. I was also aware that the cards I was using were becoming more outdated historically and consigned to the past as I couldn’t keep up with the real regular season. By the end 1996 I had completed 7 play off seasons using the 85 and 87 sets but was playing far less regularly. Inside the original box is a receipt from Avalon Hill in December 96 for another card set the 1989 one. It was now taking me years to complete just a few games when in about 2004 I finished a game and put the box away where it remained untouched until this month 15 years later. Time has not been kind to the box or the contents. Some cards have nasty rubber band perish stains on them and the rules needed a spot of laminating (another guilty pleasure) as they had completely separated, but apart from that the game contents are complete.

And so to bring up to date, I have finished the SBIX season and am now well on my way to playing SBX. With the wonder of the internet and BGG I have now found out what card sets are out there and being a completist have decided to fill in the blanks of my collection. To that end I am already planning (with spreadsheets!) the start 2 or 3 whole new campaigns starting with the 1980 set perhaps playing 1 season per card set. To date Minnesota and Philadelphia have never had a game while Indianapolis have featured in every play off season bar the current one so I eek out a card set over 2 or 3 seasons to improve the chances of all teams having a runout. Using one card set for 2 seasons will allow for 24 play off seasons before I need to think about the fan home made versions. I suspect I’ll be well into my seventies by then and may have finally seen an Oilers team lift the Lombardi trophy before they or I become extinct……………

The first of 2 dead rubbers after Hawthorn (Ferrari) had wrapped up the championship at the last race at Nurburgring saw Farina (Ferrari) take his second successive win. Although another victory for the all conquering Ferrari team it further strengthened the opinion of what could have been if he had not had such a disastrous start to the season not finishing in the first four races and finding himself 25 points behind the leader at the halfway stage.


1st – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Ferrari – 8 points

2nd – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 4 points (6 points minus 2 dropped points)

3rd – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 4 points

4th – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Maserati – 0 points (3 points minus 3 dropped points)

5th – Onofre Marimon (ARG) Maserati – 2 points

Lap Leader bonus point  – Felice Bonetto (IT) Maserati – 0 points (1 point minus 1 dropped point) 

Championship standings

1st – Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 35 points (4 wins) – 1953 CHAMPION

2nd – Farina (It) Ferrari – 22 points (2 wins)

3rd – Fangio (Arg) Maserati – 21 points (0 wins)  

4th= – Lang (Ger) Maserati – 19 points (1 win)

4th = – Ascari (It) Ferrari – 19 points (0 wins)                                                                    

NEXT – Season finale and celebrations for Ferrari in front of the Tifosi – Monza ITALY

Fangio (Maserati) returned but his title challenge was now over. Only Lang (Maserati) could stop Hawthorn (Ferrari) from the championship title and that would be a tall order requiring him to win all the remaining 3 races as well as claiming all the bonus lap leader points in each race. Macklin returned for HWM as it was confirmed that both de Graffenreid (Maserati privateer) & Galvez (Maserati) would miss the rest of the season.

LAP 1 – A wet start and a closely packed grid led to inevitable consequences at the first chicane Castrol “S”. It began when Moss (Cooper) slid into Prince Bira (Maserati privateer) and was quickly followed by Schell (Gordini) colliding with Brown (Cooper) who crashed out heavily. It was confirmed post race that Brown would miss the rest of the season and possibly never race again. Macklin (HWM) only just returned from injury was next to go clipping Marimon (Maserati) who luckily escaped without damage. Other retirements at the same corner were McAlpine (Connaught) hitting a stationary Macklin, also Claes (Connaught privateer) suspension, Collins (HWM) , Wharton (Cooper privateer) and Marimon (Maserati) collisions. At the front Lang (Maserati) and Bonetto (Maserati) set the early pace exchanging the lead with Lang getting the bonus lap leader point to send the home fans wild. His mission impossible chances of taking the championship from Hawthorn still just alive. Ascari (Ferrari) chose not to pit which allowed him to move up to second but with worn tyres. Fangio (Maserati) further back chose to do the same but Hawthorn languishing near the back after a lack lustre first lap did come in for fresh tyres.       

End of lap. 1st – Lang (Maserati), 2nd – Ascari (Ferrari), 3rd – Fangio (Maserati), 4th – Bonetto (Maserati), 5th – Villoresi (Ferrari)

LAP 2 – 10 runners were left, a solitary Gordini and Connaught at the back behind the big guns of Ferrari and Maserati. Ascari moved ahead of Lang and into the lead early on at the Castrol “S” but further damaged his tyres in the process. Fangio was also a man on the move passing Lang at the 2nd corner and moving up to 2nd. Lang’s supreme effort to hold the lead was now beginning to flag as perhaps he began to accept that his task was a hopeless one. Farina made the most progress of all storming through the field to challenge for the lead halfway round the lap. This was achieved at cost as a catalogue of errors between Ascari and Farina meant both drivers would have to pit for running repairs if they made it to the end of the lap. Less lucky was plucky Brit Salvadori in his Connaught which gave out at the unforgiving Castrol “S”. At the end of the lap, Lang was foundering while Bonetto (Maserati) had caught the front runners and with his car in better condition, just moved ahead. 

End of lap. 1st – Bonetto (Maserati), 2nd – Farina (Ferrari), 3rd – Ascari (Ferrari), 4th – Fangio (Maserati), 5th – Lang (Maserati)

LAP3 – Farina quickly retook the lead at the dreaded Castrol “S” after pitting but again damaged his tyres exiting the corner. Bonetto managed to stay with his illustrious countryman and going into the final corner bravely dived past him. Farina however was in no mood to let his chances of a win go begging and using all of his experience managed to pass Bonetto exiting the curve to take his first victory of the season. Ascari took the final podium place but Lang who had led at the end of the first lap could only finish 5th behind Fangio’s Maserati and only pick up a single point. The result confirmed Hawthorn as champion who cruised home in party mood in 6th, world champion with 2 races to spare. 


1st – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Ferrari – 8 points

2nd – Felice Bonetto (IT) Maserati – 6 points 

3rd – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 4 points

4th – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Maserati – 3 points 

5th – Hermann Lang (GER) Maserati – 1 point (2 points + 1 point for 1st lap leader  minus 2 dropped points)

Championship standings

1st – Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 35 points (4 wins) – 1953 CHAMPION

2nd – Fangio (Arg) Maserati – 21 points (0 wins)  

3rd – Lang (Ger) Maserati – 19 points (1 win)

4th – Ascari (It) Ferrari – 15 points (0 wins)

5th= – Farina (It) Ferrari – 14 points (1 win)

5th= – Bonetto (It) Maserati – 14 points (0 wins)     

NEXT – A dead rubber with nothing but pride at stake for the challengers trying to shorten the points gap between themselves and champion  Hawthorn –  Bremgarten SWITZERLAND  

Fangio (Maserati) remained absent meaning that Lang would lead the Maserati challenge against the Ferrari’s of championship leader Hawthorn and the improving Ascari.  

LAP 1 – No less than 5 cars stalled at the start including Lang (Maserati) in 2nd, Ascari (Ferrari) 3rd & de Graffenried (Maserarti Privateer) 4th. Hawthorn (Ferrari) took full advantage and pulled away while the rest of the field concertinaed. Ascari who had looked to be Hawthorns chief rival during Fangio’s absence retired on the start line when he was unable to start his engine. De Graffenried’s Maserati violently crashed as the field bunched up, (he will play no further part in this seasons championship after sustaining a back injury). Wharton (Cooper Privateer) was next to got hitting Villoresi (Ferrari) who survived the impact with no damage. Other retirements were Brown (Cooper) with suspension failure, Marimon (Maserati) who collected Schell (Gordini) at Chappell. At Abbey Curve Moss (Cooper) crashed into Bira (Maserati privateer) as well as damaging Galvez’s Maserati. Claes (Connaught privateer) retired shortly after with damage received driving over the debris from the earlier collision. At the front, Hawthorn after being put under some pressure by Lang began to pull away for a second time and took the bonus lap leader point. The British fans were even happier as both Salvadori (Connaught) and Collins (HWM) were following at the head of the chasing pack.   

End of lap. 1st – Hawthorn (Ferrari), 2nd – Salvadori (Connaught), 3rd – Lang (Maserati), 4th – Collins (HWM), 5th – Bonetto (Maserati)

LAP 2 – Almost immediately, at Copse corner Marimon (Maserati) hit Collins (HWM) taking both cars out and  promoting Farina (Ferrari) the forgotten World Champion to 4th.  Further on at Abbey curve a struggling Galvez (Maserati) came to grief when his car ran over the debris from the last lap. He lost control in 4th gear and crashed heavily into the hay bales on the trackside. Although conscious, it would appear that his injuries may preclude him from the next few races if not the entire season. The Connaughts of Salvadori & McAlpine were still running at the end of the lap giving the British fans even more to cheer about on top a near faultless display by Hawthorn at the front.

End of lap. 1st – Hawthorn (Ferrari), 2nd – Lang (Maserati), 3rd – Salvadori (Connaught), 4th – Farina (Ferrari), 5th – Villoresi (Ferrari)

LAP3 – Only 8 runners were left which very soon became 7 when Rosier (Ferrari privateer) retired at Maggotts from 7th place. Sadly McAlpine’s race soon came to an end when forced wide at Chapel attempting to overtake the stricken Ferrari of Rosier his suspension gave out on the dirty part of the track. Hawthorn continued to maintain his healthy lead but 2nd place was being keenly fought over by Lang, Salvadori and Farina. Lang spun as Salvadori gambled with an audacious move half way round the lap. But they were unable to catch the near perfect Hawthorn who took the chequered flag for an historic 4th consecutive win. Watching from the winners pavilion there was a small chance he could be crowned world champion if events went his way. They almost did when Lang desperate to keep in the championship drove recklessly into the back of 2nd place Salvadori taking the pair out. Salvadori had to be restrained from confronting Lang although his colourful use of old Anglo-Saxon expletives would not have fallen on deaf ears. Farina was thus gifted an undeserved 2nd place with Villoresi making it a 1,2,3 for Ferrari on the podium. Trintignant (Gordini) was the only other finisher and so the final 5th place 2 points went to Lang who had completed the greatest part of the race amongst the non-finishers. He would have to win all the remaining 3 races and claim the lap leader bonus point in every race if he was to stop Hawthorn taking the title.


1st – Mike Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 9 points (8 points for win plus 1 bonus point for 1st lap leader) 

2nd – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Ferrari – 6 points

3rd – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 4 points

4th – Maurice Trintignant (FRA) Gordini – 3 points

5th (DNF) – Hermann Lang (GER) Maserati – 2 points

Championship standings

1st – Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 35 points (4 wins)

2nd = Lang (Ger) Maserati – 18 points (1 win)  

2nd= Fangio (Arg) Maserati – 18 points (0 wins)

4th – Ascari (It) Ferrari – 11 points (0 wins)     

NEXT – Can the Hawthorn make it 5 in a row and seal the title? –  Nurburgring WEST GERMANY 

Britain’s Kenneth McAlpine (Connaught) and Argentina’s Roberto Mieres (Gordini) were debutant drivers replacing the injured Fangio (Maserati) & Behra (Gordini). Both qualified respectively in 10th & 11th. (nb. Monterrey used to represent Rheims)  

LAP 1 – All cars got off the line without incident with Hawthorn (Ferrari) powering away early on. At the first corner “Andretti”, Collins (HWM) crashed out quickly followed by the second HWM of Macklin who was taken to hospital as a precaution. McAlpine’s (Connaught) 1st race also came to an abrupt end with suspension damage running over debris from the earlier collisions with Rosier (Ferrari privateer) following suit soon after. Next to go was Prince B Bira’s privately entered Maserati with a collapsed suspension and then another British marque went when Brown (Cooper) crashed out.  Meanwhile Hawthorn continued to extend his lead picking up the bonus 1st lap leader point with a huge margin over nearest rivals Villoresi (Ferrari) & Lang (Maserati) . More woe beset the remaining British teams as Galvez collected Moss (Cooper) at the Corkscrew leaving just Wharton’s privateer Cooper remaining with only half of the first lap completed. Also to go at the Corkscrew were Marimon (Maserati) & Mieres (Gordini) who came together leaving a corner littered with detritus.

End of lap. 1st – Hawthorn (Ferrari), 2nd – Villoresi (Ferrari), 3rd – Lang (Maserati), 4th – Ascari (Ferrari), 5th – de Graffenried (Maserati privateer)

LAP 2 The second lap began much like the first with all drivers throwing caution to the wind despite the first lap warnings showing how unforgiving the circuit was in the wet. Early on Villoresi appeared to have adapted best and began to pull clear of the chasing pack but still some margin behind Hawthorn. Lang spun at the second corner further helping Villoresi’s quest for his first points of the season. Hawthorn pitted well ahead at the end of the second lap although his car was showing signs of wear. Ascari (Ferrari) & Farina (Ferrari) both began to move through the field and into the points positions. Then disaster struck for Farina. Ascari held the best line going into the corkscrew forcing Farina onto the dirty part of the track. As he rumbled over the debris his cars suspension gave out and he was forced to retire still without any points or even a finish this season. His shambolic defence of the championship title was now surely gone. Trintignant (Gordini) also had to retire when he overshot the preceding corner and destroyed his tyres. De Graffenried (Maserati privateer) was next to go at the corkscrew from 5th place.     


End of lap. 1st – Hawthorn (Ferrari), 2nd – Ascari (Ferrari), 3rd – Villoresi (Ferrari), 4th – Lang (Maserati), 5th – Wharton (Cooper privateer)

LAP3 – 7 runners began the final lap as once more the fragile cars struggled to meet the demands on a tricky circuit. Despite his huge lead Hawthorn had to take the last lap carefully as his cars handling deteriorated and by the halfway point he was forced to run in lower gears. Lang spun at the 3rd corner as did Ascari ahead who was trying to close the gap to Hawthorn. Hawthorn spun at the last corner  when about to lap Schell’s Gordini but with such a huge margin he still took the chequered flag with a commanding margin. The hat-trick of victories now placed him frimly at the top of the championship race. Ascari continued to improve taking 2nd and now looked to be the main rival to Hawthorn while Fangio remained side-lined with injury. Villoresi made it a Ferrari podium lock-out in third. Mention also goes to Ken Wharton’s privately entered Cooper who took his first points of the season so although the Works team continue to struggle there is a glimmer of hope for the British marques.  


1st – Mike Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 9 points (8 points for win plus 1 bonus point for 1st lap leader) 

2nd – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 6 points

3rd – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 4 points

4th – Hermann Lang (GER) Maserati – 3 points

5th – Ken Wharton (GB) Cooper (Privateer) – 2 points

Championship standings

1st – Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 26 points (3 wins)

2nd – Fangio (Arg) Maserati – 18 points (0 wins)

3rd – Lang (Ger) Maserati – 16 points (1 win)     

NEXT – Can the Hawthorn seal the title at home before Fangio returns – Silverstone GREAT BRITAIN 

Argentine’s Oscar Galvez and Onofre Marimon both returned putting for the third race of the season at the daunting Belgian circuit of Spa. 

LAP 1 – Despite some slow starts (notably Fangio Maserati) everyone got off and there were no retirements until a series of collisions at Les Fanges threatened to reduce the field to a mere handful for the third consecutive race. Wharton (Cooper privateer) and Salvadori (Connaught) collected each other quickly followed by Claes (Connaught privateer) and then Behra (Gordini) took himself and Galvez (Maserati) out. Macklin (HWM)  then collided with Behra’s stricken car and also crashed out. Behra was taken to hospital with concussion and a broken hand ruling him out of the next few races.  The amount of debris on track now accounted for some of the more fragile cars with Marimon (Maserati) Bira (Maserati privateer), Rosier (Ferrari privateer) & Moss (Cooper) all failing to complete the first lap.

De Graffenried  (Maserati privateer) at the front was the first to pit in the lead followed by Hawthorn’s heavily damaged Ferrari. Villoresi (Ferrari) completed a tidy lap and not needing to pit closed dramatically on the leaders. 

End of lap. 1st – de Graffenreid (Maserati privateer), 2nd – Hawthorn (Ferrari), 3rd – Villoresi (Ferrari), 4th – Bonetto (Maserati), 5th – Lang (Maserati)

LAP 2 – Villoresi seamlessly passed the 2 front runners with the remaining 9 cars all still in contention for at least a points finish. Hawthorn and de Graffenried vied for 2nd and third, both cars probably too damaged to be able to catch Villoresi. The Maserati’s of Bonetto and Fangio battled with the Ferrari’s of Farina and Ascari as the leading chasers. Although driving a car with less damage than Hawthorn, Villoresi drove a conservative lap allowing Hawthorn to pass before the Bus Stop. Both pitted, while a fading de Graffenreid and current world champion Farina (Maserati) chose not to and managed to pass Villoresi arriving on the shoulder of Hawthorn at La Source. Fangio and Ascari both looked to have a lot in reserve but would have to make up a lot of ground on the final lap if they were to get onto the podium.  Current leader Lang (Maserati) came to grief driving over the debris at Les Fanges. He was followed by Trintignant (Gordini) leaving a field of 8 (4 Ferrari’s, 3 Maserati’s and a distant Gordini) to contest the last lap      

End of lap. 1st – Hawthorn (Ferrari), 2nd – de Graffenreid (Maserati privateer), 3rd – Farina (Ferrari), 4th – Villoresi (Ferrari), 5th – Bonetto (Maserati)


Farina powered ahead but drove over oil at Radillon causing him to skid dangerously. He managed to bring the car under control but not before driving over more oil on the Kemmel straight damaging his tyres as well as dropping more oil on the track. Hawthorn also damaged his tyres exiting Radillon too hot but kept Farina in his sights. But for the third time Les Fanges chicane proved to be the undoing again of some of the drivers. First from the lead Farina’s suspension broke driving over the detritus. Then Villoresi (Ferrari) who had been in 4th and lastly Schell (Gordini) all retired with suspension issues. Hawthorn now in the front had a respectable lead although De Graffenreid and moving through the field a resurgent Fangio (Maserati) were still in with a shout. At the Bus Stop, Hawthorn just kept his car on the track and despite the engines complaints he managed to nurse it over to take his second win in what he would describe as his best result to date. More drama was to follow as Fangio desperate to claim second, clipped de Graffenreid just before the finish line. Both cars crashed over the line with Fangio taking 2nd but in doing so he was injured and despite taking a single point lead in the championship, will miss the next 2 races. Ascari (Ferrari) came in a distant 4th, his title challenge fading.


1st – Mike Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 8 points 

2nd – Juan Manuel Fangio (Arg) Maserati – 6 points

3rd – Emmanuel de Graffenried (Swi) Maserati (privateer) – 5 points (4 points for third plus 1 for the 1st lap leader)

4th – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 3 points

5th – Felice Bonetto (IT) Maserati – 2 points

Championship standings

1st – Fangio (Arg) Maserati – 18 points (0 wins)

2nd – Hawthorn (GB) Ferrari – 17 points (2 wins)

3rd – Lang (Ger) Maserati – 13 points (1 win)     

NEXT – Who will the Champagne flow for at Rheims? – FRANCE 

With the overall situation delicately poised, as the RAF just managed to keep the Lufwaffe at bay, after the Sqns success on the 25th Aug, it was inevitable that sooner or later their luck would change.

On 27th the war was brought once more painfully back to the carefee minds of the pilots, mercifully it was not as bad as it could have been. The Sqn was vectored towards RAF Kenley and ordered to link up with 43 Hurricane Sqn and the newly formed 616 Spitfire Sqn. The enemy strength was estimated to be 175+ but the composition was not known thanks to the persistent cloud. Just as the Sqn approached Kenley Fg Off John Pattison called over the RT in a braad Antipodean accent “This is Yellow Leader, BANDITS! swarms of the sods!” A mixed force of Heinkel He111 and Junkers Ju87b Stuka dive bombers were approaching from the South. Undetected were the 100 or so Messerschmitt bf109 fighter escorts a few thousand feet above hidden in the cloud. As Yellow Section led the Sqn toward the bomber formation the 109’s broke cover and set on the unsuspecting Spitfires.

Harry Prowse - 266 Sqn's 2nd combat death (BoB Monument)

Harry Prowse – The second pilot from 266 Sqn killed in action (BoB Monument)

A bitter dogfight ensued as the pilots of 266 Sqn attempted to react. Pattison’s Spitfire was soon shot up and losing power after the glycol tank ruptured. Now a sitting duck he chose to bale for the second time in his life landing safely in a field amongst the freshly harvested hay bales. Wilkinson led Red Section to assist but not before the Sqns second most experienced pilot, Yellow 2 Plt Off Colin Logan was also shot down (also for the second time). His aircraft on fire he managed to crash land and jump out before the Spit burned out. South African Plt Off Michael Rowland Hill addressed the balance slightly shooting down one of the enemy but 2 more Spitfires were shot down before the Sqn broke off leaving the bombers to attack Kenley with impunity. Sgt Ronald Barraclough parachuted safely but Red 3 Plt Off Harry Arthur Robin Prowse was not so lucky. Possibly wounded by enemy fire he went down with his Spitfire crashing a short distance from the airfield. He was the Sqns 2nd casualty.

30th Aug – 2 Days later the Sqn had the opportunity to even the score when they intercepted a group of 25 Bf110’s about to strafe the Spitfire factory at Southampton. The Sqn was made up as follows:-

Sqn Ldr Wilkinson (2 kills) Red 1, Plt Off E Wells (1 kill) Red 2, Plt Off R Roach (rookie) Red 3

Flt Lt S Bazley (2 kills) Blue 1, Plt Off M Hill (4 kills) Blue 2, Sgt D Kingaby (4 kills) Blue 3

Sub Lt H Greenshields Yellow 1, Plt Off C Logan (2 kills) Yellow 2, Sgt A Eade (1 kill) Yellow 3

Fg Off N Burnett (4 kills) Green 1, Plt Off J Soden (4 kills) Green 2, Sgt R Barraclough (1 kill) Green 3

B4HP5M RAF Pilots scramble during th Battle of Britain Conflict World War Two Pilots Running Aircraft Fighter Supermarine Spitfire Airf

Plt Off Hill (obscured) and other pilots scramble

With no fighter escort, the Bf110’s had to break off their attack and form a defensive circle for mutual support. Wilkinson led Red section into the attack. Catching one of the bf110’s in his sights as it circled away he scored multiple hits. Instructing his rookie wingman to follow, Wilkinson displayed a masterclass of how to keep on your quarry’s tail eventually finishing off the 110 over the sea. All the other sections also registered successes as another Sqn #19 Spitfire also joined in. The toasts for the day back at the Jackdaw Inn however went to Plt Off Michael Roland Hill, a native of South Africa who on his 2nd successive combat sortie shot down another enemy aircraft. With his score now confirmed on 5 he was the first official ace of 266 (Rhodesia) Sqn.




With 2 more Sqns destroyed the day before, the strain on the remaining pilots and Sqn’s was beginning to tell. 266 Sqn were required to step into the breach with increasing regularity.

On 25th Aug, 266 Sqn and 3 other Sqns were vectored toward a 150+ enemy force approaching their home airfield of RAF Tangmere. Joining them were 43 Hurricane and 601 Hurricane from the same sector and 152 Spitfire Sqn from Middle Wallop.

Sqn Ldr Wilkinson elected to bring along a number of novice pilots and the 3 surviving pilots who had been shot down during the Sqns first encounter hoping that the large number of RAF fighters intercepting the raid would allow his pilots to gain some experience in a safer environment. However as they approached the enemy formation it became evident that the enemy fighter cover was strong.

266 Sqn pilots participating:-

Sqn Ldr R L Wilkinson – Red 1 (2 kills), Plt Off R H Thomas – Red 2, Plt Off W A Middleton – Red 3

Flt Lt S Bazley – Blue 1 (1 kill), Plt Off B E Tucker – Blue 2, Sgt A M MacGregor – Blue 3

Sub Lt H L Greenshields, – Yellow 1, Plt Off C Logan – Yellow 2 (1 kill), Sgt F B Hawley – Yellow 3

Fg Off J G Pattison – Green 1, Plt Off E W Cale – Green 2, Sgt R G V Barraclough – Green 3

266 and 152 Sqns attacked one fighter gruppe together providing mutual protection. They also had the advantage of height and surprise spotting the enemy aircraft before they were seen. The RT crackled into life then over the intercom came the familiar words from Wilkinson “Red Leader to Red Section, Bandits at Angels One Five, Tally Ho, Tally Ho”


Wiggy Middleton “chuffed to bits” after his 2 confirmed kills (BoB Monument)

Red 3, Plt Off William “Wiggy” Middleton, a New Zealander from Auckland struck first. Giving the Bf109 a burst from above and behind he saw it spin down and crash in the fields below. Blue 3 Sgt MacGregor and Yellow 3 Sgt Hawley also notched up a 109 each. Breaking through the fighter screen it was onto the bombers. 266 Sqn went after a Gruppe of 25 Ju88’s. Middleton was again on the mark firing a number of bursts into one of the bombers and following it through the cloud before finishing it off with the last of his ammunition.

Frederick Bernard Hawley, from grocers assistant to Sqn marksman (BoB monument)

Frederick Bernard Hawley, from grocers assistant to Sqn marksman (BoB monument)

Yellow 3 Sgt Frederick Bernard Hawley a Coventry Grocers assistant by trade also got his second kill when he fired a deflection burst into a Ju88. It half rolled and dived steeply thorough 10000ft with Hawley in hot pursuit. As it began to pull up, Hawley fired again forcing it to dive for safety once more. Following it down to 500ft he fired intermittently until the bomber impacted on the surface. None of the crew managed to bale out.

All told the Sqn claimed 10 of the enemy, 3 Bf109’s and 7 Ju88’s. A total of 23 were shot down by all sqns without loss. A shot in the arm for the entire Nation after the disaster of the 22nd Aug when late in the day 2 Sqns were destroyed as the Luftwaffe began to tighten the noose. The overall situation may have looked serious but for now the pilots of 266 Sqn were having a ball.

As the battle continued the RAF were managing to hold their own but news that 2 Sqns had been destroyed defending Southend threatened to allow the Luftwaffe to regain the initiative.

266 Sqn were scrambled late in the day just one day after their previous heroics and over the English Channel they spotted a small force of 15 unescorted Heinkel He111 bombers heading towards Beachy Head. The pilots who participated in this attack were:-

Sqn Ldr R Wilkinson – Red 1, Plt Off R Trousdale – Red 2, Plt Off E Cale – Red 3

Flt Lt S Bazley – Blue 1, Plt Off M Hill – Blue 2, Sgt A MacGregor – Blue 3

Fg Off D Ashton – Yellow 1, Plt Off C Logan – Yellow 2, Sgt R Boswell – Yellow 3

Fg Off N Burnett – Green 1, Plt Off J. Soden – Green 2, Sgt A Eade – Green 3

Wilkinson detailed Yellow section to provide top cover in case enemy bandits appeared on the scene while he led the attack with Red section. Selecting a target he approached a Heinkel below from astern and when less than 150 yards gave the bomber a quick burst raking the fuselage and port wing. Large pieces broke off the engine which spluttered and then stopped, the bomber losing height banked for home but Wilkinson was directly behind and let rip with another burst of witheringly accurate, this time enough to send the bomber diving headlong into the sea and taking his “score” to 2. Blue Section had the greatest success of the day claiming 4 shot down 3 of which were at the expert hands of South African Plt Off Michael Rowland Hill.

Flt Lt Sidney Bazley. Opened his account with a He111 on 20th Aug

Flt Lt Sidney Bazley. Opened his account with a He111 on 20th Aug (BoB monument)

Blue Leader, Lancastrian sports car enthusiast Flt Lt Sidney Howarth Bazley claimed the other from a head on attack. At the end of the action 10 Heinkels had been shot down without loss. That night Wilkinson took the entire Sqn down to the local Jackdaw Inn for a celebratory evening of high jinks and carousing with the local ladies.


Bazley “rocking up” at the Jackdaw ready to party hard.

2 days later, on the 22nd the Sqn was once more in action intercepting a Gruppe of Messerschmitt bf110’s who were reconnoitring the Isle Of Wight RDF station at Ventnor. Luckily for the Germans, the cloudy weather allowed them to break off and hide in the cloud after being set upon by Wilkinson and the boys. 3 of their number were not so fortunate and were added to the Sqns list of kills which now stood at 25.

John Flewelling Soden notched his 3rd(He111) and 4th (B110) kills on these 2 days

John Flewelling Soden notched his 3rd (He111) and 4th (Bf110) kills on these 2 days. (BoB monument)

Plt Off John Flewelling Soden was among the RAF pilots with another kill to his name. He had shot down enemy aircraft in every one of his previous actions and now had 4 kills to his name, just 1 shy of ace status.

266 sqnAfter what seemed an interminable wait, 266 Sqn finally got off the mark on the 18th Aug but not before receiving a sharp lesson 3 days before.

On the 15th Aug, the Sqn was on patrol over the Sussex coast when they were vectored towards Beachy Head. At about 1000 hrs the crack Luftwaffe bf110 unit Erprobungsgruppe 210 led by Hptm Walter Rubensdörffer dived out of the sun onto the tails of the unsuspecting pilots of 266 Sqn. In a few seconds, 2 Spitfires were plummeting towards the sea. Fg Off John Pattison leading Green section in the rear (the most senior of the 5 New Zealanders in the unit) managed to bail out but landed before his parachute had had time to fully deploy. He was taken to nearby Eastbourne hospital for treatment. Plt Off Colin Logan also bailed out too low for his parachute to open but fortunately he landed in the sea and had a short swim back to the coast. Meanwhile Blue Section led by Flt Lt Nigel Bowen became separated from the rest of the Sqn and were overwhelmed. Bowen appeared to lose control of his Spitfire which smashed into the shingle at the bottom of the cliffs. He was killed instantly. His wingman Blue 3 Sgt MacGregor was also shot down but ditched in the sea and swam safely to shore. Then just as suddenly the enemy were gone leaving the remaining pilots to gaze in disbelief at the wreckage below them of their comrades aircraft. It was a salutary lesson for Sqn Ldr Wilkinson leading his Sqn into action for the first time and one that would drive him and the rest of the Sqn to seek swift revenge.

3 days later it was to come when on the 18th they joined 43 (Hurricane) Sqn, 64 (Spitfire) Sqn and 264 (Defiant) Sqn heading towards an enemy nearing RAF Kenley. The 60 German bombers (Do17’s and Ju88’s) had a small fighter escort of just 25 bf109’s thanks to the huge 1350+ number of enemy raiders that had attacked the previous day. The RAF fighters (less the Defiants) engaged the 109’s with a rare numerical superiority and attempted to draw them away from the bomber force.

Sqn Ldr Wilkinson - claimed his first kill today, abf109

Sqn Ldr Wilkinson – claimed his and his Sqn’s first kill today, a bf109

Sqn Ldr Rodney Wilkinson led Red section into engaging the 109’s while the rest of the Sqn made for the bombers. Wilkinson was clearly a man with a score to settle and before long he had gotten onto the tail of a 109. At 200 yards he let his quarry have it with a 10 second burst almost expending all his ammunition. The 109 suddenly lost power as the engine caught fire. Then in an instant the airplane exploded and was no more. 266 Sqn had its first kill. The 109’s were now being overwhelmed and after 4 more were shot down they broke off and made for home. The bombers meanwhile were being massacred. 23 of the original force were destroyed with 266 Sqn claiming 10.

Fg Off Norman Burnett - claimed a brace of Do17's today

Fg Off Norman Burnett – claimed a brace of Do17’s today

Notably Fg Off Norman Burnett and Plt Off John Soden both got a brace while Sgt Don Kingaby also shot one down bringing his tally for the war to 4. 266 Sqn was up and running.

Tonight, Wilkinson and his boys were the toast of the Rotherfield pubs. The Kings Arms, The Catts Inn, The George, The Harvest Moon and the Bicycle Arms all ran dry as copious pints of Harvey’s Best were guzzled down by the locals.