Friday, 12 November 2021

Reaping the Whirlwind Campaign for Target for Tonight

Digital Artwork - Piotr Forkasiewicz
It was back in 2001 that I started playing Target for Tonight by David Wayne Thomas after taking part in a demonstration game run by the author at the annual show run by the Plymouth wargamers and being impressed with the immersive game it produced by breaking a typical night bombing operation into phases and the different risks to aircraft and crew that could happen at any time from take off to landing.

My original 2000 copy of Target for Tonight 

Since then the rules have been reprinted in a glossy new format that seems to be the requirement in this day and age, although the rules remain as they were in their first incarnation and the renewed interest in them following that publication inspired me to get to work on a project that had been long in the gestation period with ideas written down, played with and left and then come back to now and then.

The new look 2018 copy of Target for Tonight

That idea being to use the rules as the basis for a higher level of game recreating the campaigns of Bomber Command between the period 1942-1944 and specifically under the leadership of Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris.

Bomber Command Main Force plus Mosquito intruder night fighters all ready for the Berlin Campaign test

With a basic idea mapped out on various bits of paper and with a collection of thirty 1:600 model planes together with another group of 1:300th models covering all four of Bomber Commands main types (Wellington, Stirling, Halifax and Lancaster) plus all the German and British night fighter types, I finally had something to try out at club in March 2019.

The 1:300th collection of bombers and night fighters

Had it not been for a global pandemic interrupting progress the eight game Berlin campaign play test would have been concluded in April or May of last year, but we were finally able to get the last two games played in August and October this year and I've now completed the final set of campaign rules, suitably entitled 'Reaping the Whirlwind' recalling Bomber Harris' speech on June 3rd 1942, putting the Nazi leadership on notice that the air bombing war was about to be turned on German cities with interest.

If you haven't seen the eight game series recreating the first large scale ops that began the Battle of Berlin in August 1943 you can follow the links below.

So Reaping the Whirlwind will allow players of Target for Tonight to assume the role of Harris and his Group Commanders of Main Force as the raids into German occupied Europe are planned and then executed using the game rules before returning to the campaign framework to establish the results of the bombing in comparison to the aircraft and crews lost which will yield a victory point rate and thus a verdict on the progress or not of Bomber Command's campaign.

You'll need a 'Whimpey' if you plan to take a trip to the Happy Valley in Reaping the Whirlwind.

All the stuff you would want, such as Target Marking, Weather, Bomb load outs, Fuel Consumption  and the inclusion of the Wellington, Halifax and Stirling bomber types to fly alongside the Lancasters is included together with a roster of sixty randomised crews to speed up manning the thirty models representing the five groups of Bomber Command Main Force.

All the main bomber types are included to operate alongside the Lancaster squadrons.

As well as the option to play a month of the Berlin Campaign you can easily opt to play two, three, four or five months of the campaign if you have the stamina, and there is a Rhur Valley Campaign for those ready to brave the flak in the Happy Valley and if that is not enough of a challenge you could even have a go at taking out the V Rocket plant at Peenemunde for good measure.

Operations Room Conference, Bomber Command, October 1943 - Herbert Arnould Olivier
Royal Air Force Museum

I haven't tested the Peenemunde or Rhur campaign games but they will use the same structure as the Berlin module and nothing in the rules are written in stone so if you don't like something, change it, and if it works let me know.

The Cyberboard module I used to run our campaign is also included in the download of Reaping the Whirlwind.

If you're interested in some recommended reading and resource materials that informed Reaping the Whirlwind then the following books might be of interest.

Recommended Bomber Command reading and four books that informed Reaping the Whirlwind 

As well as the rules and the maps (campaign map and five city target maps), counters and blank aircraft record sheets needed to play, I have included the Cyberboard module in the download that I used for running our campaign, for those who would like to make use of it.

As with all the resources here on JJ's, I try to ensure they are done to a good standard and will add to the enjoyment of the hobby and most of the stuff is produced in collaboration with other gamers and friends in the Devon Wargames Group or with other interested gamers such as the Target for Tonight enthusiasts on the Facebook Group and in that spirit is made freely available.

Target for Tonight - Facebook Group

That said Reaping the Whirlwind is released in time for Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, so perhaps you might like to make a donation to the Royal British Legion in honour of the 55,000 aircrew who perished on operations with Bomber Command.

Reaping the Whirlwind - Target for Tonight Campaign Game

I have plans to come back to this project with a play through of the Rhur Valley Campaign module and a chance to run out the Wellington squadrons and the Peenemunde mission should make an interesting one off game.

In addition another fellow member and friend in the DWG has put together a collection to run the 617 Squadron Dam Busters Operation and I look forward to bringing you pictures and updates around all these ideas in months to come.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy Reaping the Whirlwind.

Next up on JJ's: Battlefield walks with Mr Steve, Vassal games of 1805 Sea of Glory and OSG's Leipzig and we're 'All at Sea' with some new small ships added to the collection.


  1. That is an outstanding piece of work. Something to try out soon

    1. Thank you, we had a lot a fun testing this system out and I am looking forward to coming back to it in the new year to look at running the Ruhr Campaign,