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Spotlight: Barrage Balloons in Cruel Seas

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This week, we’re looking at a particularly unorthodox method of air defence for Cruel Seas – enter the humble barrage balloon!

As airpower grew in strength as the war progressed, the world’s navies used any and all devices to keep strike aircraft away from their shipping, whether large or small, naval or merchantmen. The humble barrage
balloon, a gas-filled bag secured by a stout steel cable and floating perhaps a few hundred feet above the craft, was common to most navies and helped deter either low flying torpedo attacks or as often, dive bombers. Simply put, they spooked attacking pilots who feared to lose a wing in a collision with the steel cable hovering over the target ship.

Photos of the Allied fleet at D-Day show hundreds of these bloated gasbags suspended over the fleet as protection against the Luftwaffe. As the Luftwaffe was incapable of serious day attacks, they were
taken down as they, in fact, made a great aiming point for German artillery ranging! They were cheap and relatively effective; discouraging pilots from pressing home an attack.

In Cruel Seas, any force can field a barrage balloon on a vessel that is medium sized or above. Vessels towing a giant balloon are unable to move faster than combat speed; fast speed would be troubling for any crew to cope with.

Barrage Balloons (30pts):
Any boat equipped with a balloon uses the following rule: Any attacking aircraft, if choosing a balloon equipped vessel, must first make a skill roll as usual. If the aircraft fails, it cannot attack and passes over the target with no offensive action. In addition, if failed, the defender rolls a D10. On a score of 10, the aircraft is destroyed and removed from the table immediately.

Barrage balloons slow you down and cost points but may just save your ship!


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Tom Mecredy
Tom spends most of his time buying books and painting miniatures. He enjoys putting animals on the bases of his miniatures and half-finishing side projects. Some say that he lives in a tower on top of some windswept northern hill with his wife and cow-patterned cat, Spaghetti.