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Air Power In Flames Of War

Air Power In Flames Of War
with Joe Saunders

The roaring engines of ground support aircraft and screams of dive bombers terrorized both Allied and Axis forces alike in World War II, as airpower sought out troops in the open, supply columns and tank laagers. This of course led to many precautions and after the Allies established aerial supremacy over Normandy, paved the way to ultimate victory. But as a Flames Of War player I frequently see aircraft being neglected.  Often armies will be deployed without planes. 

I would contend that this is a mistake! When using airpower, it is important to think about the broader strategy you are employing. A good strategy goes beyond the nitty gritty of causing damage to enemy forces and seeks to impose the commander’s will upon the opponent. You want to cause the opponent to react to your plans, allowing you control of the direction of the game and aircraft excel at this!  In this article I will explain some of my ideas for use of airpower and make suggestions how your planes can be used to secure victory.

Concentrating Force in the Attack!
Requiring the 4+ roll to arrive and having the ability to fly across the whole table means planes tend to be used to snipe individual tanks or teams in an opportunistic, solitary way.  However, this is missing a major strength for airpower.  Any unit in Flames of War is less effective hunting on its own.  When attempting major pushes on objectives or breakthroughs on the opponent’s lines, most savvy players will maneuver to mass their forces before they strike, and aircraft can help.  You should try to time things so that when your aircraft arrive you push your attack at the same time with a concentrated force.  This is especially useful in scenarios when there is no turn limit, such as Annihilation or Encounter. 

Air Power In Flames Of War

This way you can bide your time positioning forces for an attack, then launch it on the turn your planes arrive.  Since aircraft can usually pick the armour facing they attack (or just attack the top armour with rockets or bombs) you can multiply the destructive potential of your attacks by coming at the enemy from 2 directions at once. 

Air Power In Flames Of War

Artillery Support
Artillery in Flames of War can be a very powerful tool and aircraft can contribute to this. I find when using aircraft with artillery there are 2 options:

Concentrating Artillery: Because most aircraft have bombs and/or rockets they can contribute to concentrated barrages when you want to saturate an area with templates. When your plans absolutely require a bombardment to take a heavy toll on your opponent you can send your planes in too. Because aircraft can go almost anywhere on the battlefield you can effectively increase the size of a bombardment by dropping bombardment templates on parts of units that cannot be fully seen by spotting teams. Just be mindful Danger Close distances.

Aircraft Observation Posts: The second option is straightforward. Certain aircraft like the L4 grasshopper can maximize your options when playing against defensive enemies. If your opponent seeks to hide behind terrain you can still snipe them with your artillery. Planes can go almost anywhere allowing those with the Observer rule to pick out hiding units. Combine this with M7 priests, or other artillery, with the time on target rule and you are likely to teach your opponent that nowhere is safe to hide.

Air Power In Flames Of War

On Limiting Enemy Plans
I have had great luck using airpower to shape my strategy and limit my opponent’s options.  As you reduce the number of your opponent’s tools they have at their disposal their tactical options become more predictable and it becomes easier to control your path to victory.   I have found 2 different approaches to this that are useful:

Breaking Formations:  As a formation gets whittled down to the point where only 2 units remain, often the owning player will withdraw the weaker unit out of sight.  By keeping this unit from being targeted, they are hoping to prevent the formation from breaking. 

However, with planes showing up almost wherever they want, such units can’t hide and can be selected for destruction over the more survivable option. I find the Stuka G, with its canons is best suited to this job, swooping in and placing a couple well aimed high AT shots to finish off small units hiding out of sight.

Air Power In Flames Of War

HQ Hunting: With HQs often pulling triple duty supporting units with motivation and remount rerolls as well as spotting for artillery, killing HQ teams or driving them into cover away from those they need to support can seriously disrupt your opponents plans.  This is especially effective against Soviets and other armies where only the HQs in the force can act as spotters.

Air Power In Flames Of War

The Swiss Army Knife in The Sky
With regular Flames of War games requiring you to build your army list before rolling for the scenario, army composition often favours an even mix of units. Anyone who builds a list that is too aggressive or defensive can often find the scenario working against them with their units mismatched for the job at hand.  Fortunately, many of the types of aircraft in Flames of War have tons of options for projecting force in all situations. Just look at the American P47 or the British Typhoon! Both rockets and guns… (and bombs for the P47). That is a weapon for every occasion.  When you build your next army, try spending your last few points on these versatile aircraft and keep your options open.

Air Power In Flames Of War

Using these tricks, I have found planes to not only be fun in Flames of War but also very effective…but it requires some thought. Don’t fall into the trap of using your aircraft as lone hunters, picking on the first target that appears, try instead to look for ways to influence the game and project your will, while limiting your opponent’s options. Give it a try! When you find the right strategy, you will wonder how you ever fought without support from the air.

Last Updated On Thursday, November 12, 2020 by Luke at Battlefront