Blood Red Skies, Focus, Profiles

Pilot Profile: RAF ACE Adolph “Sailor” Malan

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In this Pilot Profile series, we’ll be looking at each of the ACEs released for Blood Red Skies, their exploits and their abilities in your games, continuing with Royal Air Force ACE Adolph Gysbert “Sailor” Malan, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar

As commander of No. 74 Squadron RAF during the Battle of Britain, Sailor Malan was one of the highest scoring pilots to have served wholly with Fighter Command with 27 destroyed, 7 shared destroyed, 2 unconfirmed, 3 probable and 16 damaged. Although he only flew missions till 1941 he was, at the time, the RAF’s leading ace.

74 Squadron Codes:
JH (Feb 1939 – Sep 1939)
ZP (Sep 1939 – Apr 1942)

Aircraft flown in operations:
Feb 1939 – Spitfire I & Ia
Jun 1940 to Dec 1941 – Spitfire IIa & IIb
May 1941 to Mar 1942 – Spitfire Vb

The nickname of “Sailor” was given to him by his fellow pilots as he started out at the age of 14 (in 1924) as a South African naval cadet, going on to become an officer cadet in 1928. He then served as a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve from 1932.

He joined the RAF in 1935 and flew for the first time on 6 January 1936. Assigned to 74 Squadron on 20 December 1936 he was appointed to acting flight commander of “A” Flight, flying Spitfires at the outbreak of the war.

The squadron distinguished itself during the battles over Dunkirk protecting the evacuation. Malan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross having achieved five ‘kills’ at this time and would go on to earn the Bar when he later lead a nighttime sortie and shot down 2 bombers, a unique feat for the time.
Soon after this period of action, Malan and his senior pilots decided to abandon the “vic” formation used by the RAF, developing a looser formation (known as the “finger-four”) similar to the four aircraft Schwarm the Luftwaffe was using.

On 8 August, the height of the Battle of Britain, Malan was promoted to acting squadron leader and given command of 74 Squadron. He continued to lead aggressively, and as an exceptional shot continued to build his tally to 32 victories. He proved to be a superb tactician, developing tactics during 1940 that would eventually filter through to the entire RAF fighter command and on to successive generations of RAF fighter pilots.

Did you know?
In the 1969 cinema film Battle of Britain, the character of Squadron Leader Skipper played by Robert Shaw was based on Malan.


By March 1941 he was appointed as one of the first wing leaders for the offensive operations that spring and summer, leading the Biggin Hill Wing. He then went on an operational tour of the United States before becoming a Wing Commander and becoming station commander of Biggin Hill where standing orders for station commanders not to risk getting shot down.

The Rules of Engagement

Malan’s rules for fighter-pilots, which could be found tacked to the wall of most airfield’s Orderly Rooms, were:

  • Wait until you see the whites of his eyes.
  • Fire short bursts of one to two seconds only when your sights are definitely “ON”.
  • Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body: have both hands on the stick: concentrate on your ring sight.
  • Always keep a sharp lookout. “Keep your finger out”.
  • Height gives you the initiative.
  • Always turn and face the attack.
  • Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.
  • Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.
  • When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as a top guard.
  • INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAMWORK are words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.
  • Go in quickly – Punch hard – Get out!

RAF ACE Sailor Malan in Blood Red Skies

Sailor Malan brings an almost unrivalled aggression and leadership to Blood Red Skies. Mounted in the famous Supermarine Spitfire he’ll use tactics such as Killer Instinct, Set Them Up, and Tight Turn to potentially devastating effect!

Spitfire painted by Darek Wyrozebski

In the attack, Malan brings his special ability into play when he’s within 3″ of his target, a hit scored at this range always count as a critical hit. Use Tight Turn to position easily for the kill by making a 45 degree turn at any point in his 7-inch movement.
In support, Malan encourages his fellow pilots, setting them up for a +1 to their pilot skill when they resolve a shooting attack whilst within 6″ of his plane, so pairing with other pilots of skill 4 or 5 could be the best combination.

By adding Sailor Malan to your RAF Squadron you’ll instantly have a further edge over your enemies fighters, one that they may not appreciate until too late!

RAF ACE Sailor Malan comes in an ACE pack with:

  • 1x Brown injection moulded plastic Spitfire MkI/II
  • 1x Advantage Flying Base
  • 1x Aircraft card
  • 1x Sailor Malan Ace card
  • 2x Ace Skill cards
  • 1x Trait card
  • 1x National emblem sticker sheet.
  • 1x double-sided Pilot Skill discs & Zoom chit

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The British Home Defence force

Start your aerial campaign with the Blood Red Skies British Home Defence force. This offer gives you the RAF ACE Sailor Malan, 1 squadron of 6 Spitfire MkI/II (with all the counters, advantage flying bases, models and cards needed to field these advanced, agile fighting machines) plus 10 dice!

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