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AIRWAR: 1917

Aeroplane/pilot rosters: these list the ratings

of the aeroplane and pilots in the game and
provide locations to mark off weapons and
ammo as they are used, as well as to record
the aeroplanes speed changes and damage

Air War: 1917 is a stripped down, very basic

edition of the second edition of Air War: 1918
our popular fast play entry level set of rules
for dogfights set in the years 1914 to 1930.The
rules use a quasi 3D manoeuvre system,
whereby the action is fought out in 2D, but with
some representation of 3D air combat

Dice: each player will need at least one 10sided die (d10) and a six-sided die (d6).


Air War: 1917 is intended to give you the

basics of the game and allow you the
opportunity to try out some dogfights using the
Air War: 1918 system between Sopwith
Camels and Fokker DR.1 tri-planes.

Aeroplanes are the primary units in the game.

Each miniature or stand represents a single
aeroplane. Aeroplanes are usually grouped
together into sections or flights of two to four
aeroplanes. New players should generally
control one or two aeroplanes.

Typical game length in Air War: 1918 with

experienced players using eight aeroplanes
and playing 6-8 turns is an hour to an hourand-a-half.

Characteristics and ratings

Aeroplanes have a number of factors to
describe them

Dice notation
The game uses standard notation for dice and
die rolling. For example, roll 2d10 means roll
two ten-sided dice, 3d6 means three six-sided
dice. Scores on 10 sided dice are taken as 110 (so for dice marked 0-10 the 0 is read as

Max: maximum speed in inches. The distance

moved in each of the 2 phases (1 per 10
knots of speed). Aeroplanes are likely to suffer
damage if they exceed this maximum speed.
Min: minimum speed in inches. The minimum
speed the aeroplane can travel (if forced to do
so it stalls and may crash).

Materials needed to play

Manoeuvre: Low, Medium, High, Extreme (L,

M, H, EX), a measure of the aeroplanes ability
to turn and perform manoeuvres.

Materials needed for playing are:

Aeroplanes: two Sopwith Camels and two
Fokker Dr.1 tri-planes (we have supplied some
printable counters at the end if you dont have
the particular models to hand)

Power: the raw power generated by the

aeroplanes engines, affecting the ability to
perform some manoeuvres and to change
DP (Damage Points): the damage value of
the aeroplane. The aeroplane is crippled when
the number of damage points suffered equals
at least half this value, and it is destroyed
when the number of damage points suffered
equals or exceeds this value.
Gun Type: air to air weapons, usually machine
guns, but also including balloon busting
rockets, hunting rifles, darts and grenades.
Bomb: included in Air War: 1918.

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AIRWAR: 1917
Fire Segment
Resolve Light, Medium and Heavy
Archie fire - included in Air War: 1918.
Resolve air to ground attacks - included
in Air War: 1918.
Resolve air to air MG fire.
Speed segment
Attempt stall recovery
Resolve speed changes due
manoeuvre or stall recovery
Resolve excessive speed damage



*Aeroplanes below stall speed or having failed

to recover from a stall cannot move or

Rules for rockets are included in Air War:


Phase 2


Prep Segment
Place manoeuvre cards *
Roll for initiative

Rules for the effects of carrying a load are

included in Air War: 1918.

Move Segment
Move all stalled aeroplanes
Test for and execute all movement or
manoeuvres in order of initiative (or
tailing). *

Heavily loaded
Rules for the effects of heavily loaded are
included in Air War: 1918.

Fire Segment
Resolve Light, Medium and Heavy
Archie fire - included in Air War: 1918.
Resolve air to ground attacks - included
in Air War: 1918.
Resolve air to air MG fire latter.

Pilot Skill Gunnery Skill and Bombing Skill
rules included in Air War: 1918.

Advantages & flaws (optional)

Speed segment
Attempt stall recovery
Resolve speed changes due
manoeuvre or stall recovery
Resolve excessive speed damage

Rules for modifying pilots and aeroplanes are

included in Air War: 1918.

Order of play


*Aeroplanes below stall speed or having failed

to recover from a stall cannot move or

Each Turn consists of two phases:

Phase 1
Prep Segment
Select and apply speed changes using
power (unless stalled)
Place manoeuvre cards *
Roll for initiative
Move Segment
Move all stalled aeroplanes
Test for and execute all movement or
manoeuvres in order of initiative (or
tailing). *

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AIRWAR: 1917

Order of movement

Rules for flying in formation are included in Air

War: 1918.

To determine the order in which aeroplane

move, roll a d6. Subtract 1 if the aeroplane is
travelling at less than 6 per phase, or more
than 12 per phase. The result is the
aeroplanes Initiative Number. Aeroplanes are
moved in order of increasing Initiative Number,
starting from the lowest. In the case of a tie,
work through the following list to determine
which aeroplane moves first:

Aeroplanes move at one inch per 10 knots of
speed in each phase (so an aeroplane at 110
knots moves eleven inches each phase).

Speed changes

Slowest aeroplane moves first

Lowest manoeuvre rating aeroplane
moves first
Most heavily damaged aeroplane
moves first
Resolve by straight d6 die roll no
modifiers, re-roll ties

An aeroplane may change speed as follows at

the beginning of each complete turn
Low power aeroplane
Medium power aeroplane
High power aeroplane


+2/-4 per turn

+4/-4 per turn
+6/-4 per turn

Speed changes using engine power cannot be

used to increase speed above the aeroplanes
maximum. Other speed changes may result
from performing manoeuvres. These are
resolved at the end of each phase and may
result in an aeroplanes speed exceeding its

If, before movement, an aeroplane is in a

position where (a) it is within 12 and has the
target in its front 30 arc and (b) it is in the
targets aft arc (i.e. behind the targets wing
line), it may opt to tail the enemy aeroplane
during movement. This means it executes its
movement immediately after the tailed
aeroplane, regardless of Initiative Number. It
also means that the tailing aeroplane may
attempt to change its selected manoeuvre to
match that of the target. If, when manoeuvres
are revealed, the tailing aeroplane wishes to
try to change manoeuvres, it rolls a d10. On a
roll of 7+ (+/- pilot skill) it may change its
selected manoeuvre to that of the target. Note
it must still then roll to perform the manoeuvre
as normal. Note also that tailing aeroplane are
moved immediately after the aeroplane which
they are tailing, so they may find themselves
aeroplanes moving later.

Movement and turning

A normal move follows the sequence: halfmove, turn, half-move, turn. When performing
a normal move, an aeroplane moves straight
forward half its move in its current direction,
then changes direction (i.e. turns) if desired. It
then moves forward in its new direction for the
other half its movement, and then turns again if
The maximum amount that an aeroplane may
change direction after each half-move is
limited by its manoeuvre rating. There are four
manoeuvre ratings: L = Low, M = Medium, H =
High, E = Extreme. A turn and arc template is
provided as a play aid. To use the turn
template, align the heavy arrow with the
aeroplanes current direction. The aeroplane
may then change direction (rotate in place) up
to the line marked with the letter of the
aeroplanes manoeuvre rating. The aeroplane
can turn up to its full turn amount after each
half move.

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AIRWAR: 1917
Turn and arc template


60 arc



gun arc





(If you wish to use a protractor to measure turns: L

turns up to 15 degrees per direction change, M
turns up to 30 degrees, H up to 45, E up to 60. A
successful break turn adds 30 degrees to the turn
amount for the rating, so an H aircraft doing a
successful break turn turns 75 degrees.)

to or above the Difficulty Rating on a d10 to

perform the manoeuvre. Add the pilots Skill to
the die roll. Failure to make the roll means the
aeroplane suffers some form of penalty (see
manoeuvre descriptions for details).
Manoeuvres are divided into two classes,
Normal and Extreme. Large and fragile
aeroplanes are limited to performing Normal
manoeuvres only. They are denoted by an n
suffix against their manoeuvrability (e.g. Ln or

Low altitude moves

Rules for low altitude moves are included in
Air War: 1918.

Normal manoeuvres
Jink (DR4): aeroplane jinks right and left,
avoiding fire. The model is moved 2/3 normal
distance in a straight line. Incoming fire attracts
a negative modifier.
Failure - aeroplane moves in a straight line.
Power Dive (DR 3): the aeroplane moves in a
straight line, and may increase speed by 1-5
over and above normal speed changes and
also may move at greater than its normal
maximum speed (although this may cause
extra damage due to overstressing). Power
dives may not be performed if the aeroplane is
already travelling at more than its maximum
speed. A Power Dive may be made in
conjunction with normal speed changes

At the start of each phase players may place a
manoeuvre card alongside their aeroplane,
displaying an intention to perform some form of
special manoeuvre. Cards are placed face
down and revealed at the same time. The card
may be a dummy, intended to try to trick an
adversary into making a manoeuvre and
shaking them off.

Failure as above, but incoming fire attracts a


Each card has a Difficulty Rating. This is the

number shown after the DR below. Roll equal

Sideslip (DR4): the aeroplane moves 2/3 of its

movement at 60 degrees to the line of flight

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AIRWAR: 1917
(move along the E line of the turn and arc
template). Speed is reduced by 1. No change
in direction.

moved randomly at the start of each phase as

if it were performing a failed Falling Leaf

Failure aeroplane moves in a straight line.

Stall recovery is attempted at the end of the

phase. Roll a d10, adding pilot skill.
On a score 4 or more the aeroplane recovers,
may fly normally next phase its starting speed
being its stall speed). If it scores 3 or less the
aeroplane remains stalled, roll another d10. If
the score is 2 or less the aeroplane loses
control and crashes.

Exceeding maximum speed

If an aeroplane exceeds its listed maximum
speed (either through power dives or having its
maximum speed reduced by damage) there is
a chance that it will take additional damage.
Roll a number of d6 equal to the excess
speed. Apply the pilots skill to each die. One
point of damage is taken for each roll of 3 or
less. If any damage is caused roll on the
Additional Damage table.

Extreme manoeuvres
Barrel Roll (DR 4): the Aeroplane moves half
distance at 60 degrees to flight path. Speed
reduced by 4. No change in direction.
Incoming fire attracts a negative modifier.


Failure aeroplane moves as described

above, but turns 60 degrees away from line of
flight, speed reduced by 6.

Unless stated on the aeroplanes data table,

each aeroplane can fire only one weapon (or
group of weapons all fixed forward firing
machine guns are treated as a single group)
once each phase for each crewman in the

Break Right or Left (DR 5): the aeroplane

moves normally and may turn at two
manoeuvre levels higher than it is rated i.e. a
successful break turn adds 30 degrees to each
of the two turns. For H and E aeroplane, use
the turn rates marked HBT and EBT
respectively. Incoming fire attracts a negative

Guns and rockets

In order to be engaged the target must be
within range and the firing arc of the gun.
The firing arc is a cone extending 30 degrees
from straight ahead from the shooter for fixed
machine guns. Firing arcs for other weapons
are included in Air War: 1918.

Failure aeroplane cannot make additional

turn, speed reduced by 1d6.
Rules for Barrel Roll and Turn, Falling Leaf,
Loop, Immelmann and Wingover manoeuvres
are included in Air War: 1918.

Machine guns are of 8mm calibre or smaller

(including 0.3 and 0.303). Heavy machine
guns are 12mm / 0.5 or larger, but smaller
than 20mm.

If speed changes or a failed manoeuvre
reduces the aeroplane to below its minimum
speed the aeroplane stalls and loses the ability
to fly (hopefully temporarily!). The aeroplane is

Roll the indicated number of Gun Dice. Hits

are caused by rolls of 6 or greater. All rolls use
a d6 except where noted.

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AIRWAR: 1917
Gun Type
Belt Machine Gun
Drum Machine
Gun , Heavy
Machine Gun ,
Hunting Rifle,
20mm cannon,
37mm cannon
and Rocket


* round numbers of dice up

Gun Dice
per Gun

Jammed guns

Included in Air War:


Rules for jammed guns are included in Air

War: 1918.

Aeroplane damage
The number of damage points that an
aeroplane can absorb before it is shot down is
given in the data tables.

Use the indicated number of dice for each gun.

Crippled aeroplanes

37mm cannon

If an aeroplane loses at least half of its

damage points it becomes crippled. It suffers
the following effects:

Rules for the 37mm cannon, fitted to some

French types are included in Air War: 1918.

Modifiers are applied by altering the number of
dice thrown (round numbers of dice up a
minimum of 1d6 is always rolled).
Gunnery Skill
Firing from within 4
Shooter is in targets
front arc, i.e. in 180
degree arc ahead of
the targets wing line
(fixed guns only)

See Air War: 1918.
Add 2d10
Halve dice

Target stalled or
failed manoeuvre
where an incoming
fire bonus is
indicated (see
AirWar: 1918)
Target successfully
performs Jink, Barrel
Roll, Barrel Roll and
Turn, Break Right or
Left, Falling Leaf
Firer performs Loop,
Wingover, Barrel
Roll, Barrel Roll and
Turn, Breaks Right or
Left, (whether
successful or not)
Firer is Crippled
Firer performs Falling

Add a d10

Its manoeuvrability rating drops 1 level

The pilot loses all his gunnery bonuses
Maximum speed is reduced by 2.

Additional damage
Each time an aeroplane is hit and it loses
damage points the player should roll a d10 to
see what additional damage has been caused:
Die Roll


Halve dice*


Halve dice*

Halve dice*
See Air War: 1918.


Additional Damage
No extra damage
Fuel lines damaged: the
aeroplane must leave the table
across a friendly table edge within
1d6 turns. If it fails to do so it
decelerates 4 every phase, it may
not accelerate, nor may it perform
any manoeuvres.
Gun KO: gun may no longer be
Bomb release damaged: bombs
may no longer be dropped or
Engines damaged: reduce
maximum speed by 1.
Engines damaged: reduce power
level by 1. Single engined
aeroplanes roll an additional d6
5+ means the engine is lost and
the aeroplane crashes!
Struts damaged: reduce
manoeuvrability by 1 level
Crewman hit: in an aeroplane
which is a single seater the pilot is
automatically hit.

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AIRWAR: 1917

Crewman hit

Observation balloons were a favourite target of

WWI aviators and rules are included in Air
War: 1918 for balloon busting.

Rules for aeroplanes with multiple crews are

included in Air War: 1918.
Crewmen that are wounded twice are killed.


Each aeroplane carries only
ammunition for six turns of gunnery.

Rules for anti-balloon incendiary rockets are

included in Air War: 1918.


Airships and Zeppelins

Ground attack

Rules for airships and Zeppelins are included

in Air War: 1918.

Air War: 1918 is primarily a game of air-to-air

combat. However, players love to drop
explosives on things that are on the ground or
on the sea, and comprehensive rules for
strafing, bombing, firing rockets and dropping
depth charges are included in Air War: 1918.

Takeoff and landing

In some scenarios an aeroplane may begin the
game on the ground and rules for taking off
and landing are included in Air War: 1918.

Archie (AA fire)

Campaign system

Rules for Archie are included in Air War: 1918.

Air War: 1918 includes its own campaign
system to generate missions, random events
and encounters as well as aeroplane and pilot

Flaming onions
Rules for flaming onions are included in Air
War: 1918.

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AIRWAR: 1917
Aeroplane statistics
Fokker Dr.1
Sopwith Camel







Statistics for over 300 other aeroplanes for the period 1914 to 1930 are included in AirWar: 1918.

AirWar: 1917 is based on AirWar: 1918 2nd
edition by David Manley. AirWar: 1918 1st
edition was written by David Manley and
Matthew Hartley.

Whilst AirWar: 1917 is provided to the

wargaming public as a free PDF download, its
contents remain copyright Wessex Games
and should not be copied or disseminated in
an alternative format without the permission of
the publisher.

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