The Flare Path’s May Day Parade

…was a bit of a fiasco this year. The Maus replica managed to wedge itself between Specsavers and Cash Converters forcing everyone behind it (85% of the parade) to detour through the Quaker Burial Ground. The counter-IED systems on the Humvees shut down several life support machines in the local hospital. And perhaps most regrettable of all, due to a schedule mix-up, the flypast by the Red Harrows ended-up coinciding with the release of 1000 peace doves. If it hadn’t been for the impressive post-parade firing demonstration put on by SAM Simulator’s SA-8B Geckos, and the thrilling mock battle staged by Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front’s T-34s and StuGs, the event would have been a total disaster.

The skies over the Mediterranean are a pretty perilous place to be at present. If you’re a migrating songbird or raptor, you’ve a fair chance of being plucked from the blue by a pillock with a shotgun. If you’re a target drone or a trespassing warbird, you run a high risk of having your wings blown off by a Gecko-equipped SAM Simmer.

Added to Hpasp’s marvellous free radar-em-up yesterday morning, the short-range SA-8B is a spring chicken compared to the five Soviet SAM systems already impeccably immortalised.

Unlike its Khrushchevian peers, the boat-bellied Gecko can traverse rivers and track and engage hedge-hopping targets with the aid of a built-in camera. Currently, amphibiosity has no advantage in SAM Sim sessions (all of which start with AA assets deployed) but that tiny blue-hued TV screen is, in theory, terrible news for contour-chasing aircraft.

So far I’ve managed to dunk a few ambling Apaches in the Aegean, and slay the odd Cessna over the Asuluk test range, but until the inevitable tutorial vids arrive I don’t think there’d be much point in me taking on the four bundled combat scenarios. Set in Cairo in 1970, this quartet stick you in the back of a sweltering Egyptian SA-8B and ask you to protect the city and yourself against swarms of swift Shrike-equipped IAF Phantoms and Skyhawks.

As usual, the Cyrillic-scattered panels are a pleasure to ogle/fondle, and the accompanying pdf manual makes fascinating reading. Not only will the latter teach you how to operate a weapon still very active on the world’s battlefields, it will also introduce you to Dmitriy Ustinov, plainly The Bravest Man That Ever Lived.


Business As Usual

Spare a thought for Graviteam. They’re doing unprecedented things with wargame TacAI at present, in a city where focusing on the day-job must be bally tricky. Behavioural subtleties on the way in done-when-it’s-done Operation Star sequel Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front will include…

…jiggling tank riders that, once dismounted, automatically use their taxis as moving shields until changing battlefield conditions dictate new tactics.

…tank hunters that hurl smoke grenades sensibly while close assaulting AFVs

…recon units more interested in discretion than valour.

… and advancing formations that send infantry ahead to sow swirling smoke screens.

I’m desperately hoping that new GUI is as ergonomic and logical as it looks, and the AI improvements include slightly warier tanks and smarter tank drivers. Series flaws are relatively minor, and if the Ukrainians finally succeed in banishing them this time out, then Mius Front could well turn out to be the military masterpiece they’ve always threatened to make.



The Flare Path Foxer

Last week’s EDD extraordinaire was Bookmark. No one else noticed that the eight artefacts unearthed by Matchstick, mrpier, foop, phuzz, phlebas, skink74, Jools and Jops and Shiloh all gave off a faint odour of ‘bomb’.

a. Handley Page Hampden (The ‘Flying Suitcase’).
b. Cherry Street Bascule Bridge, Toronto
c. Cape Petrel
d. Brimstone missile
e. Brixia mortar
f. Northover Projector
g. Combat Action Ribbon
h. The Dirty Dozen


In the Democratic Republic of Foxer most children can defox long before they can walk. Collages like the one below, fill cloth books and adorn nursery walls. Exceptional defoxers are lauded… lionised… adored. In the unenlightened West things are, of course, quite different. The individuals that will patiently prise apart this week’s puzzle, are probably self-taught. They may have honed their skills in dingy downtown defoxing dens. They may never have admitted to their nearest and dearest that they can identify most WW2 bombers purely by tail shape.


  1. Matchstick says:

    Plane in the center is the venerable General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark

    I’m leaning towards it actually being an EF-111 Sparkvark but I’m definitely not going to put any money of that unless I can find the original picture.

  2. Shiloh says:

    That’s a Roundhead’s helmet, that is – aka a pot helmet.

  3. FurryLippedSquid says:

    That thing in the top centre is a paintbrush. And, if I’m not mistaken, there appears to be what might be red paint on it.

    • Matchstick says:

      You’re on top form I see today ! :)

    • Shiloh says:

      Could It be “pillarbox red”?

    • Koozer says:

      If you look carefully in the top left, you can just make out a plane.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Going clockwise from top left in a spirally sort of shape:

      1. The chopper / stirrer from a 1980’s TEFAL food processor

      2. The UI from an early spectrum game, called INSECTOPHOBIA, that let you make flowers and worms (neither of which are insects, 80’s simulation was terrible), and then if that made you feel creepy, you could do your zipper up or distract yourself by folding paper clips into interesting shapes

      3. ‘Paint-on ketchup’, a means of conserving the most important condiment of all during wartime rationing.

      4. Gerald Furtbottom OBE, the inventor of paint-on kethchup.

      5. Mohne Brau, voted 1942 “Beste Augenbraue” in Germany

      6. A novelty single-cigarette case from 1801, later the inspiration for the Duracell battery.

      7. A codpiece, Henry VIII’s most favourite “Little Henry’s Helmet”

      8. An evil cat in a plane

      9. The original paint job for The Ashes Urn, later rejected after Lord Prunesworthy Buttersworth had his batting arm blown off by a poorly deactivated World War I munition he confused with a meat tenderiser.

  4. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Extremely disappointed to note that the Red Harrows to which you refer are the aerobatic display team, not Lancashire’s foremost formation ploughing team which has a prior claim on the name by at least two hundred years.

    • UpsilonCrux says:

      An ironic name, surely?
      Any ploughman worth his salt knows there’s a world of difference between ploughing and harrowing.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Surely you jest. Land ploughed yet unharrowed is barely good for anything. Any competent ploughing display team knows that while ploughing contributes the “main course” of the display, the harrowing is the dessert.

        • UpsilonCrux says:

          Ah, I see, you’ve consolidated your ploughers and your harrowers. A fair decision, if you can get the hands to manage both.
          I’m afraid the fellows I have available for employ leave much to desire when it comes to multi-tasking. Hence, I have decided to limit them to either ploughing or harrowing. The last fellow I had attempt both confused a spring-tooth harrow with a basic chain-harrow.
          When I later found it, it was *he* who received a harrowing, courtesy of Aloysius, my gameskeeper – a burly brute of a man, seven feet tall, with a shock of red hair.

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            Alas, my own team, the Grambly Cultivators, were disqualified and banned from professional display in 1986 after a damaged coulter resulted in the whole thing going off course and ploughing into the crowd.
            Several spectators were tilled outright.

  5. Stugle says:

    Chappie in the right-hand corner is Leonard Cheshire, of Dambusters fame.

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      phuzz says:

      Gah! I knew I recognised his face!

      Just to his left is what I’m assuming to be a mortar round, but I can’t find anything like it yet. I suspect that six pointed star on the nose is important, but I’m drawing a blank.

      When looking for the silhouetted aircraft I did run across this interesting picture of a Gloucester Meteor being used to test turbo prop engines. This is why I like to foxers, I always end up learning something new, even if it was nothing to do with the image.

      • Matchstick says:

        I wasn’t sure if it was a mortar shell or a rifle grenade, though like you I suspect the former.

        I thought the photo just to the left of that was H. P. Lovecraft which would be taking the foxer into very Eldrich territory.

        • Shiloh says:

          That would be a Miskatonic for the troops, and no mistake guv’nor.

          • Matchstick says:

            I’m currently reading the Delta Green RPG sourcebooks that I picked up in the recent Bundle of Holding sale so I’m on the lookout for an Cthulhu Mythos based Foxer :)

      • Rorschach617 says:

        I learned something new too, if Wikipedia can be believed.

        I was sure the photo on the right was a pilot of some kind and was scanning through this page,
        link to

        when I saw the (alleged) call-sign for Ewan McGregor’s brother.

  6. Matchstick says:

    I’ve been trying to work out what the game is top left.

    I’m pretty sure that’s a Spectrum font and the icon below the selected one looks a lot like a propellor so I did wonder if it was the Spectrum version of Carrier Command, but no such luck.

    • Shiloh says:

      The icon to the other side of the highlighted icon looks like a depth charge. Or a piston.

      • phlebas says:

        The Hunt for Red October. Turned sideways.

        • Matchstick says:

          AHA that’s it, just showing the UK at the bottom (or left if you prefer it it right way up) of the picture :)

          • Stugle says:

            Was wondering if it was Hunt for Red October. In that case the selected icon (in red) would be the caterpillar drive… Fits with the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ suggestion…

  7. Matchstick says:

    A collegue of mine has just identified the plane top left as a Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin)

  8. JustAPigeon says:

    The locomotive is an LMS Coronation Class, without streamlining or smoke deflectors. Perhaps the Duchess of Montrose 46232.

  9. TheWhippetLord says:

    The device in the middle is a Hedgehog ASW round.

  10. Stugle says:

    Theme could be Alice in Wonderland – Cheshire Cat, Duchess (of Montrose), HE-177 Greiff – Griffin/Gryphon)…

    • Shiloh says:

      Just beat me to it! Aardvark Books publish Alice, there was a book called Alice Through The Pillarbox, “round heads” roll from shoulders in Alice in Wonderland…

      • Shiloh says:

        Though of course the paint could just be generic “red” as in The Red Queen…

      • phlebas says:

        Not sure about the Aardvark connection there – the only Aardvark Books I can find is a shop that happens to sell it second-hand.

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      If it’s the EF-111 Raven, there’s a raven in one of the riddles I think.
      Hedgehogs are used as balls for the croquet.
      Those are both pushing it a bit though. :)
      EDIT: Or there’s a FB-111 called “Madam Queen” in the Castle Air Museum in the US. Red paintbrush over it = Red Queen?

      • Stugle says:

        Your explanation of the ‘Red Queen’ is satisfactorily far-fetched and neat at the same time. Like ‘Fiddler on a Rufe’ a while back, for the musical-themed Foxer. I like it. :)

  11. Rorschach617 says:

    That’s Leonard Chesh…. oh.

    Ah, but that’s a Hedgehog ro…… oh, I see.

    • Stugle says:

      So THAT’s what that mortar bomb was – thanks, was scratching my head over it.

      • Rorschach617 says:

        Whippetlord beat me to it by 5 minutes, as speedy as his name implies

  12. Matchstick says:

    Same colleague who’s identified the Heinkel He 177 suggests Pig as the connection

    The Australian F-111C variant is known as the Pig
    The Hedgehog is sometimes called the Hedgepig
    There’s the Pot-bellied Pig
    And there was also the War of Griffins Pig (I kid you not) in 1846
    link to

  13. INinja132 says:

    The man in the top right is historian/ World War One soldier Basil Liddell Hart.

  14. Rorschach617 says:

    If the link is Alice in Wonderland (which I happen to believe it is), photo top-right might be FFE Yeo-Thomas, SOE agent code-named “The White Rabbit”, but I cannot find a photo online of him in post-war life, and his war-time photos show him as bulkier than in the photo here. But time in a concentration camp would change some features.

  15. Rorschach617 says:


  16. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    That’s a lot of medals for one man’s chest.