Flying Circus (1972) was quite a novelty at the time of release. So novel that the rules included an introductory scenario to ease the anticpated learning curve difficulty. But the standard game presents no special difficulties to wargamers today.

Dunnigan built on the Flying Circus flight mechanics in Spitfire and Foxbat & Phantom (both 1973). Avalon Hill's Richthofen's War (1975) expanded on the mechanics of Flying Circus and came with full color board, but still used sequential movement.

Flying Circus has scenarios for dogfighting (AKA air superiority), photo reconnaissance, and ground strafing of trenches and artillery.

10 seconds per turn
60 meters per hex
1000 feet per altitude level (304.8 m)
20 kph speed increments

Download the Flying Circus vmod file.

The module uses scans of the original map and counters. The map shows only the hex-grid area and a few minor tweaks to the map symbols.

Aircraft Markers

The game has six aircraft markers:

  • 3 Allied: A1, A2, A3
  • 3 German: G1, G2, G3

CTRL-T places a Target Acquired marker on a firing aircraft, which is then moved adjacent to the target aircraft to mark the line of fire.

ALT-T places a Trial Run marker on a moving aircraft, which may then be used to plot movement.

CTRL-Right arrow and CTRL-Left arrow = Turn CCW and CW

Stat Cards

There are twenty aircraft stat cards that replace the printed game's aircraft charts. The stat cards use dynamic properties to keep track of altitude, speed, climb progress, and ammo.

CTRL-F = select the map marker that represents this aircraft. Each scenario can have as many as three aircraft on one side.

Ammo Status at any given moment is shown as one of five symbols:

# (number from 1 to 10)  = Ready to Fire: the number is the ammo remaining.
X = May not Fire: gun has just been used (per Combat rule C)
R = May not Fire: gun is performing reload phase 1
r = May not Fire, gun is performing reload phase 2
0 = out of Ammo

F5 / F6 = Ammo status progression for primary (F5) and secondary (F6) guns.
ALT-5 / ALT-6 = Primary/secondary ammo status regression (in the event of mistaken usage).

Example ammo progressions for guns with six starting ammo:

Belt fed:
6, X, 5, X, 4, X, 3, X, 2, X, 1, 0

Single drum gun:
6, R, r, 5, R, r, 4, R, r, 3, R, r, 2, R, r, 1, 0

Double drum gun:
6, 5, R, r, 4, 3, R, r, 2, 1, 0

Consequently, in any combat phase where you have aircraft showing X, R, or r Ammo status, be sure to progress to the next step.

Altitude, Climb Progress, and Speed have VASSAL Action Buttons to change their values. This cuts down on the list of commands in the right-click menu.

Speed factors are presented in the form "(8/4/3)" corresponding to Horizontal Max, Dive Max, and Stall. As Damage is registered on the stat card the speed values automatically adjust down until the plane stalls.

The Combat Results Tables is a game-piece that can cycle through the four tables and be moved around the map. Player sides have not been defined. Each player moves only his own pieces as in the board game.

Some key rules

Climbing: Must be at least 1 below Horizontal Max Speed to climb. Also note that Climb Progress is counted as Movement Phases, not Movement Points. You go up one point on the Climb track for each movement phase of climb.

Turning: May turn only by first entering a new hex. So there is no turning to start a move. Also, no turns while in a dive.

Damage: Each damage point reduces Horizontal Max Speed and Dive Max Speed by one. Except that Dive Max is never reduced to Stall Speed. Aircraft is shot down when Horizontal Max Speed is reduced to Stall Speed.

Contact me if you need the complete rules.

Rates of Climb

The time scale of the game is 10 seconds per turn. Each altitude level is 1000 feet. The formula to calculate Climb Progess (CP) values as feet per minute:

CP x 10 seconds per turn / 60 seconds per minute = number of minutes to climb one level (1000 ft)

(1000) / (CP/6) can be reduced to 6000 / CP to get feet per minute.

CP = ft/min
17 = 352
16 = 375
15 = 400
14 = 429
13 = 461
12 = 500
11 = 545
10 = 600
9  = 667
8  = 740
7  = 857
6  = 1000
5  = 1200
4  = 1500
3  = 2000

Rates of climb in the published game have been modified in the VASSAL module to reflect data that is available now that was likely guesswork on the part of the designer. These are somwhat subjective, but can be evaluated based on time to ceiling.

The best rate of climb of the aircraft in the game is just under 1200 ft/min (Nieuport 29). The worst is just under 400 ft/min (Fokker E.III). So Climb Progress ratings should range from 5 to 14.

Some aircraft had performance drops at higher altitudes due to the effect of thinner air on the engines and wing surfaces. These have not been incorporated in the game.