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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 19 February 2023

Blood Red Skies

 I wanted to add the air combat dimension to my Turkish WW2 scenarios. My first thought was Wings of Glory, but it is difficult to get hold of a copy and more suited to individual air combat. So, I decided to give Warlord's Blood Red Skies a go. Unfortunately, Warlord is currently only selling Midway as their starter set, but I picked up the earlier Battle of Britain set, nearly new, on eBay.

The starter set has all the rules, tokens and scenery you need to get started, along with a squadron of Me109s and a squadron of Spitfires. Six planes make up a squadron. Unfortunately, the plastic on the aircraft is a bit soft, resulting in some bent wings, a problem they have sorted out with the newer squadron boxes. I also picked up additional squadrons of Fw190 and Yak-1s at Vapnartak.

They are 1/200 scale models and attach to a unique stand with three settings, advantage, neutral and disadvantaged, which are crucial to the rules. They paint well and come with decals, although I needed to buy some for the Turkish Air Force, courtesy of 1-94 Enterprises, sold by Pendraken in the UK. Needless to say, 1/200th decals are not easy to apply.

Turkish Spitfires

German Me109 and Turkish Fw190

German Fw190, including the Hartmann Ace model

This gives me the basics for Operation Gertrud scenarios, the German invasion of Turkey. It was a vital concern of the Turkish Government that entering WW2 would expose Istanbul, with its wooden houses, to German bombers. Belgrade illustrated the risk, so the British offered AA guns and Spitfires. The Germans also sold the Turks 70 Fw-190s. 

In October 1944, the Soviet 17th Air Army arrived in Bulgaria. It was poised to support a Red Army advance across Thrace to seize bases on the Straits. A long-standing Russian objective. This army had several regiments of Yak-1 fighters.

As for the game, well, the rules are pretty simple. I played the first game with four Me109s being intercepted by 5 Turkish Spitfires. The Germans had the more experienced pilots, as the Turks would not have seen combat.

The aim is to manoeuvre your planes into a position of advantage (primarily height) and ideally behind the enemy plane. Not easy to achieve, even with more skilled pilots. The skill level does help to dodge hits and gives a better chance of moving first. A typical move is 7", and the shooting range is 6", so you can play a game on a small mat. I played this game on 3'x3'. 

Victory to the Germans on this occasion, although the Turkish pilot skill level needs more aircraft to balance it up. I'll try with the Fw-190s in the next game. Overall, I enjoyed the game, which will do the job for a relatively modest outlay.


  1. Nice. Small footprint games for a modest outlay definitely gets a thumbs up from me. I’d much rather have, say, 4 pairs of DBA armies than just one (much bigger) army. Plus small set-ups allow you to explore various periods/wars/campaigns rather than risk running out of steam/enthusiasm with a big, big army.

    1. Indeed. Being Warlord, the squadron boxes are not cheap. There are some better value options for the aircraft, and you could use labels and markers on standard plastic stands, although a bit messy.