Air Combat in the First World War
by Alan Butler and Andrew Finch
These rules are intended for a simpler game; for a more detailed set of rules follow this link to
These rules are intended to allow two or more Players to have a fast and simple game representing tactical air combat during the Great War in the period from 1915 to 1918; at this time air combat was in its infancy. Model aircraft of any scale from 1/600th to 1/72nd, can be used. If necessary, you could also use card counters. Minimal bookkeeping is required because Markers or Tokens are used to indicate the status of aircraft during the game. Furthermore, you do not need to use a hex mat.
The capabilities of aircraft within the game have been calculated, taking a common aircraft type of average performance as the base line, in this case the Albatros D.III. All other aircraft capabilities relate to how they compare with this aircraft. It is possible that the performance of this or that aircraft might not match your expectations based on anecdotal evidence. We make no apology for this as we are not trying to create a simulation. The resulting data has been kept to a simple format, which enables a Player to control several aircraft during a game, and the overall gaming experience will be improved if multiple Players attempt to “co-operate” on each side.
The abilities of pilots and crew are represented by having Skill Factors. These determine how well they fly their aircraft, their chances of hitting the target when shooting, and avoiding serious damage if their own aircraft is hit. Pilot skill is vitally important in air combat, and Players will need to learn where to position their best pilots, as well as to protect their novice aviators. In the case of aircraft with several crew members, Skill is determined for the crew as a whole. You do not need to keep track of individual crew.
To carry out any action other than level flight requires the expenditure of one or more Orders, which may also require a successful Skill Test. Orders are generated each turn and better leaders generally mean more Orders. While air combat is probably what most players will want play, there are also rules for Ground Attack, Bombing, Photo Reconnaissance and Balloon Busting.
Altitude represented during the game assumes that the main combat is taking place in roughly the same area of the sky, and it is possible to climb or dive to gain an advantage or try to escape.
Players alternate the activation of their aircraft. Optional Tactical Cards can be used during the game to provide additional detail.
Data is provided for most aircraft that were in action during the First World War.
When accessing the files laid out below, the following rules apply:
If you Left-click on a link it will open in a new Tab.
If you Right-click you will see more options about what to do with this file. If you want to download the file to save onto your computer use the menu option 'save link as...' (on a Windows PC) or the equivalent on a Mac.
Quick Reference Sheets
A set of Tactical Cards and Templates for use with these rules are available in the following PDF:
The following file has a clarification about when you need to use Orders.
The following Errata Sheet is only required if using Edition 1.0; it concerns the use of Anti Aircraft Guns. The corrections have been incorporated in Edition 1.1.
There are no updates at the moment.
There is no new data at the moment.