To quickly identify aircraft it’s useful to have some form of markings – or, as I’m calling it, heraldry. Whilst the real aircraft have such markings they don’t quite match up to what I need for the tabletop so I’ve adapted markings I’ve found in the literature whilst doing my research to try and have something that looks as realistic as possible whilst also being practical. [In reality aircraft would not conform to an idealised pattern like this, combat losses and serviceability would make it unfeasible.]
FW 190 Staffel
The Staffel (squadron) consists of 12 aircraft, a full compliment. This is organised into three Schwarme (flights) which are comprised of two Rotten (pairs).
For the formation rules of Bag The Hun it’s important to be able to identify the leader of each of these sub-groups. I’ve chosen to use white cowl rings for anyone who can potentially lead a formation, black engine farings for Schwarmführers and the Staffelführer has the black ‘eagle’ on the side of the nose covering the exhaust exits. [Jagdgeschwader 4 are mentioned as using black and white on the engines and cowls and the ‘eagle’ marking is fairly common on FW 190s but doesn’t seem to convey any meaning.]
For individual identification each aircraft will be numbered, I’ve chosen yellow numbers for contrast which would mark this out as 3 Staffel (or 6, 9 or12). [Whilst yellow was the colour for the third Staffeln this wasn’t strictly adhered to and I’ve not read anything about the aircraft being sequentially numbered in the way I’ve chosen. Given that it’s not unusual to see aircraft numbered above 12 it’s improbable that aircraft were sequentially numbered.]
B-17 squadrons and aircraft were identified by code letters on the fuselage which I have covered separately but I wanted something that shows up more clearly on the table so I’ve invented a completely custom scheme.; [Some of these markings were used on B-17s but not to convey this particular information.]
The combat box formation used by the USAF changed throughout the war but I’m going with four flights of three aircraft in a mid (centre), high (port), low (starboard) and low-low (centre) arrangement which, as far as I’ve read, is appropriate for late 1944.
From what I’ve found in my research, in September 1944 the 100th Bomb Group’s aircraft would have been bare metal with a white letter ‘D’ in a black box on the wing and tail – no other markings seem to be used. I’ve taken that black and used it as the basis for the flight markings:
- Mid Flight: no markings
- High Flight: wing tips
- Low Flight: chord-wise bars on each wing
- Low-low Flight: diagonal bar on the starboard wing
Within each flight the aircraft are designated by markings on the engines:
- Lead Aircraft: no markings
- Second (port) Aircraft: yellow cowl on number three engine
- Third (starboard) Aircraft: yellow cowl on number two engine
BF 109 Staffel
Whilst I’m not including BF 109s in the initial game I’ve got plans for an expansion (which will probably never happen) to include the fighter escort battle between the BF 109s and the P-51s. As I’ve got Luftwaffe markings in my mind I’ve outlined the heraldry for the BF 109 Staffel.
Following the same principle as the FW 190 Staffel I’ve marked the formation leaders with black spinners and the wingmen with white spinners. [JG 4 used a black and white spiral spinner which – even with the large spinner on the BF 109G – isn’t going to work at 1:300 scale so I’ve compromised and alternated black and white spinners throughout the Staffel.]
The Schwarmführers have white rudders. [A different colour rudder is something that’s seen on BF 109s – and I don’t know what it signified – but mostly before 1944 so, whilst not accurate it’s appropriate.]
Finally the Staffelführer has a fully yellow nose. [This was archetypical of the BF 109E during the Battle of Britain but doesn’t seem to appear much after 1942. However, I like it and – having cut my aero modelling teeth on Battle of Britain aircraft – I’m using it.]