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Posted on Nov 27, 2012 in Boardgames

Wings of Glory: World War I Fighter and Bomber Packs – Miniatures Review

By Rick Martin

Wings of Glory – World War I Early War Airplane Packs and Bomber Packs. Miniatures review. Publisher: Ares Games SRL Designer: Andrea Angiolino and Pier Giorgio Price $12.99 (Scout Planes) $29.99 (Bombers)

Passed Inspection: Fantastic, highly detailed airplane miniatures with gaming stats.

Failed Basic: Expensive to collect.

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 that debuted 2004. The game started as a card game where each card represented one airplane, anti-aircraft gun or balloon, but it has evolved into a non-collectable, non-randomly packaged, air war miniatures game. Players can purchase a starter set and then add onto it with "booster" packs with individual airplanes or even large models of observation balloon and bombers. (Click here to read a review of the Wings of Glory – World War I Rules and Accessories Pack.)

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Ares Games’ new Wings of Glory airplane packs for 1 : 144 scale World War I airplane miniatures hit the market recently, and the first two series are the early war scout planes and the heavy bombers.

The early war scouts are well represented by Fokker Eindecker EIIIs, Morane-Salnier monoplanes, Airco DH2 pusher biplanes and Halberstadt D.III biplanes. Each plane is modeled in three different paint schemes, representing the planes actually flown by three historical pilots. The planes are not randomly packaged; you can pick the plane you want to purchase. Each comes complete with a clear base, a stand to mount the plane on, and status and movement cards.

The Morane-Saulnier was a monoplane design used by the French, British and Russians in 1915 and 1916. While having a reputation for being difficult to fly, it was the first airplane to have a forward-firing machine gun that fired through the propeller. The propellers of the plane were covered with metal plates called deflector wedges; bullets not deflected to one side or the other would fly straight towards the target. This was an imperfect improvement over other airplanes, which depended on guns mounted over the wings or manned by observers instead of the pilot. This innovation allowed the pilot to aim his plane at a target and then fire the guns. It fact, a French pilot named Roland Garros became the first "ace" of World War I while flying this plane. We shall hear his name again soon.

The plane is difficult to use effectively in combat owing to its low structure points and its lack of speed. It does have a wicked sideslip, which can help it get an edge over the Germans in early war battles. For bragging rights only, I did manage to shoot down a Gotha bomber with a Morane-Saulnier—I got in a lucky shot! The Ares models are interesting to look at and the paint schemes are versions of the "clear doping" tan colors used extensively in the early part of the war.

The Fokker EIIIs was a German monoplane design that helped the Germans dominate the skies in what was known as "The Fokker Scourge." When Roland Garros’ Morane-Saulnier crashed in German territory, Dutch aircraft designer Anthony Fokker examined the wreckage and was very interested in the deflector plates mounted on the monoplane’s propeller. Fokker thought the system was not efficient and designed an interrupter system which allowed a forward-firing machine gun to fire in synch with the propeller blades so as not to "shoot off" the pilot’s prop. He fitted this onto his new plane design—another monoplane, the Fokker Eindecker.

With this plane, German, Austrian and Turkish pilots dominated the skies until the Airco DH2 helped even the odds. The great aces Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann rose to fame in this type of plane. The Ares model is released in three versions, two German and one Turkish. As with the Morane, the plane is done in "clear dope" and is very pleasing to fly. While not as maneuverable as the Morane, it has greater structural integrity, so it’s harder to shoot down. Fokker would go on to design the famous Fokker DR-1 triplane and the amazing Fokker D VII, the best scout plane of World War I.

The Airco DH2 was a pusher-style airplane with its propeller in the rear. This design allowed pilots to have forward-firing machine guns and not have to worry about interrupters or deflectors to keep them from shooting their own propellers off. The DH2 was a biplane as well and had greater maneuverability than early monoplanes. It was this type of plane that helped even the odds against the German Fokker EIIIs and end "The Fokker Scourge." The model is represented in both "clear doping" versions in tan and in the green color that would later dominate Allied camouflage schemes. The plane handles very well in the game and can easily outmaneuver the Fokker EIIIs. It also can take a great deal of damage before falling to bits.

The Halberstadt D.III was a true biplane used by the Germans to great effect. Maneuverable but also able to "take a licking and keep on ticking," the Halberstadt was a match for the DH2 and, overall, was the best of the early war airplanes. This mini is a joy to fly and quite beautiful to behold. One factor not modeled into the game is the horrible placement of the radiator on the wing directly above the pilot. One bullet into the radiator and scalding water poured over the helpless pilot—not fun at all.

The bomber packs offer two different paint schemes of the Italian-designed, three-engine Caproni CA and the German two-engine Gotha G.V. In World War I, bombers were often faster than the scouts tasked with shooting them down.

The Caproni was a three-engine Italian bomber that was used by many of the Allied powers. It is sturdy and fast with a good bomb load, two machine gunners and even a co-pilot. (Take that, you evil "pilot killed" damage card!) The models are beautiful, with one painted in an all-white, Italian-marked scheme and the other in a green camouflaged version.

The Gotha is a two-engine German bomber with three machine gun positions. One gun runs under the fuselage of the plane to give a nice surprise to a scout plane attempting to shoot from the blind spot under the Gotha’s tail. Unfortunately, the Gotha only has two gunners, so only two of the guns can fire each turn. This plane is a joy to fly in the game and while the Caproni has the edge in terms of a co-pilot, the Gotha can take more damage and survive. The model is presented in a gorgeous nighttime camouflage and a very pretty light-blue paint scheme.

The only down side to these models is that it be expensive to develop a whole squadron of planes. Nevertheless, if World War I aviation games are your cup of tea, these new Wings of Glory planes can’t be beat! Upcoming releases include re-issues of all the original Wings of War airplanes including Spads, Camels, Albatrosses and Fokkers, plus observation balloons. New packs will include the much-requested Sopwith Triplane. All the new planes are backwards compatible with the original Wings of War planes, including the two-seaters.

This reviewer can’t wait to build his World War I air forces!

Click here to read a review of the Wings of Glory – World War I Rules and Accessories Pack.

Wings of Glory for World War II aerial combat games is also available. Click here to read a review.

Click here to read an interview with Roberto Di Meglio of Ares Games.

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)!

1 Comment

  1. Fwiw, while it’s a very common belief that the Morane “bullet” was Garros’ famous first MG plane, but if you do some digging, you will find he was flying an MS-L– one of the “parasol” designs.

    There were MS type Ns (the model we have from Ares) fitted with the metal wedges (I’ve seen photos of them) but not many– as there were never many of the N models made in the first place…maybe 49, and most of those went to Russia.

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  1. Wings of Glory: World War I Rules and Accessories Pack – Miniatures Game Review » Armchair General - [...] here to read a review of some of the booster-pack aircraft, including the huge Gotha [...]

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