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Posted on Apr 20, 2016 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Wings of Glory, Giants of the Sky. World War I Aircraft Booster Packs – Game Review

Wings of Glory, Giants of the Sky. World War I Aircraft Booster Packs – Game Review

By Rick Martin

Wings of Glory, Giants of the Sky. World War I Aircraft Booster Packs – Game Review.  Publisher: Ares Games Designer: Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio Paglia. Price $59 (Handley Page) $79 (Zeppelin Staaken)

Passed Inspection:  Beautifully painted, amazing detail, new rules

Failed Basic:  Nothing at all!

Wings of Glory is the successor to the extremely successful line of Wings of War World War I and World War II cards and miniatures game which has been available since 2004.  While the game started as a card game where each card represented one airplane, anti-aircraft gun or balloon, it has evolved in to a non-collectable, non-randomly packaged, air war game where players could purchase a starter set and then purchase “booster” packs with individual airplanes or even large models of observation balloon and bombers. (For previous World War I Wings of Glory reviews see  http://www.armchairgeneral.com/wings-of-glory-world-war-i-rules-and-accessories-pack-miniatures-game-review.htm)

Ares Games new Wings of Glory air plane packs integrated with their tactical airplane combat system makes for a wonderful gaming experience.  Their new 1:144 scale World War I giant bombers have hit the sky and soon the rumble of their engines will be heard over your gaming table!

Ares has released two different paint jobs of both the Handley-Page O/400 and Zeppelin Staaken R.VI.  Both of these bombers were the pinnacle of World War I strategic bomber technology and these huge minis (an oxymoron if ever there was one) are works of art to behold.

During World War I aviation was in its infancy.  In 1903, the Wright Brothers of Dayton, Ohio had opened the door to powered heavier than air flight and technology had advanced quickly in the next 14 years or so.  An airplane invented in May of 1917 may be obsolete by August of 1917.  The pendulum of technological innovations swings back and forth between the Entente Powers (U.K., France, Russia, and eventually their Allies the U.S., Italy, Japan, etc.) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Ottoman Turkey and Bulgaria).

One of the innovations in warfare of the First World War was long range, strategic bombing.  The first long range bombing was conducted by German Zeppelins but strong Allied air defenses including fighter interception revealed the weakness of these massive aircrafts.  Eventually both sides turned their technology to massive long range biplane bombers.  The Handley-Page and the Zeppelin Staaken were huge multengined bombers and two of the largest planes ever constructed in the first few decades of the 20th Century.  In fact, the Zeppelin Staaken’s wingspan was about a yard shorter than the World War 2 B29 Super Fortress!

The Handley-Page O/400 was a British design which originally developed out of a need for an aircraft suited for long distance air patrol of the sea lanes around the UK.  The 0/400 version of the aircraft was the first British long range strategic bomber and these planes began performing their missions starting in April of 1918.  These planes were very fast for their time and could average around 97 mph/156 kph making them as fast as the average speed of most single seat scouts of the time.  With a wingspan of around 100 feet and a length of 62 feet, the 0/400 could carry a bomb load of 2000 lbs and were defended by a minimum of 5 machine guns.  They were powered by 2 Rolls Royce Eagle VIII inline piston, 360 hp engines giving them a range of 700 miles with an endurance of around 8 hours.  They had a crew of 4 to 5 depending on the mission.

The Handley-Page O/400 was used for both daytime and nighttime bombing with over 550 constructed.  The British outfitted these planes with an innovative bombsite which could accommodate for drift.  Some of the missions these planes participated in included tactical support of ground troops as well as more traditional strategic bombing missions such as industrial, communications and transportation suppression.  Passenger versions of these planes flew until the 1920s.

The Zeppelin Staaken R.VI was a German strategic bomber and the largest aircraft flown on combat missions during the First World War.  The R. VI’s wing span was around 138 feet and a length of 72 feet, the R.VI could carry a bomb load of 4,409 lbs and were defended by a minimum of 4 machine guns.  They were powered either by 4 Maybach Mb. IVa high compression 6-cyl. water-cooled in-line 245 hp piston engines  or 4 Mercedes engines of similar performance turning 2 14 foot propellers. The R.VI had a range of 497 miles with an endurance of around 10 hours.  They had a crew of 7 including two engineers responsible for the engines as well as doubling as gunners during an attack.  The cockpit of the aircraft was fully enclosed and offered excellent protection from the elements.  The maximum speed of the aircraft was around 84 mph/135 kph.

The R.VI served in night bombing against targets in Britain, France and Russia during 1917 and 1918 and were known for being very reliable aircrafts.  Only 18 of these giants were ever built; 4 were shot down by Allied aircrafts, 8 were lost due to landing accidents and 6 survived the war.  In fact, in 2007, the wreckage of one of these aircrafts was uncovered and identified near Ypres.

The Wings of Glory Handley-Page O/400 is available in two versions: a Royal Navy Air Service version and an RAF bomber while the Zeppelin Staaken R.VI is available in either R.28/16, commanded by Hauptmann Arthur Schoeller or  R.33/16, an Aviatik built R.VI, with four 260 h.p. Mercedes D.lVa engines, flown by Hauptmann Erich Schilling.

These bombers include extremely detailed, fully painted 1:144 scale aircrafts complete with crew members manning the guns!  Each plane has a stand and altitude pegs.  As with all Wings of Glory miniatures, the aircrafts are very sturdy and can take a lot of abuse without breaking.  Each plane includes a full rule and scenario book, maneuver cards, crew and status markers, two operations cards and beautiful, full color double sided maps.  Also included are cards to represent bomb drops and ground targets.  The scenario books even include solitaire scenarios!

Additional rules include moving crews around the bombers to man different positions.  In fact, the R.VI has rules for the engineers who can either attempt to repair the huge engines or man the machine guns.  Alternative rules are included for the dreaded explosion damage card and for handling fires on the huge planes.

As with all of the new Ares’ Wings of Glory sets, these are fully compatible with the older Fantasy Flight Wings of War aircrafts.

For Wings of Glory players or just collectors of detailed World War I aircraft models, these four aircrafts are a must have!  They transcend the term “mini” and are truly works of art.

Armchair General Rating:  100 %

Solitaire Rating: 5 (with enclosed solitaire scenarios)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

3 Comments

  1. I’ve come late to the table on this game and missed getting most of the Series 1-3 miniatures. Most online sites list these as “out-of-stock” or “unavailable”. Has Ares Games announced whether they plan to re-issue any of their earlier planes, or am I and other new players just out of luck?

    • Thanks for the message. Many of the planes released which are out of stock are being reissued. Ares has more plans for re-issues coming up. The paint jobs will probably be different but the planes will be made available again.

    • Many of the earlier aircraft have been rereleased, check out wingsofwar.org for lots of info, a retail link, discussion forum and a buyers/sellers forum.

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