Fight In The Skies, also known as Dawn Patrol, is a board wargame written by Mike Carr which models World War I style air combat. Carr began working on the game after watching the movie The Blue Max.
It is the only game to be on the event schedule every year of the Gen Con convention since Gen Con I. The game attracted a devoted following and it became an early Gen Con tradition to play the game on Saturday morning.
Carr produced the first three editions of the game himself and distributed them among fellow members of the International Federation of Wargamers. Guidon Games published the fourth edition in 1972 and TSR, Inc. published subsequent editions, starting with the 5th edition in 1975. When TSR produced the 7th edition in 1982, they renamed the game Dawn Patrol. This edition had a print run of 20,000 copies, the largest in the history of the game.
Players use a grid and cardboard counters to represent the locations of their planes. Since air combat is three dimensional, each player uses a log to keep track of the altitude of his plane. At the end of each turn, a player may fire on any enemy planes within his sights. A six-sided die is rolled to determine if a hit is made, and if necessary a second die is rolled to determine the amount of damage.
If a player comes up behind an enemy plane, he may elect to tail the enemy. The tailed player tries to break the pursuit: each turn he secretly selects one of 16 possible maneuvers. He may for example climb, dive, turn, bank, loop, stall, barrel roll, go into a tail spin, or perform a falling leaf. The tailing player, meanwhile, is allowed to select some of the possible maneuvers for himself, the exact number depending upon his distance from the enemy. The tailed player then performs his maneuver, and if the tailing player has the maneuver in his selected list, he can duplicate the maneuver and stay on the enemy's tail.
The game was frequently commended for its realism. In addition to detailed combat mechanics, Carr provides performance statistics for the 28 Allied and 30 German/Austrian aircraft in use during 1917 and 1918. The game includes historical notes and an extensive bibliography.
Skip Williams comments: "Board games featuring World War I air combat have been popular among game designers, if not game fans, for decades. Entries in the field include Blue Max from Game Designers' Workshop, Richthofen's War from Avalon Hill, Wings from Yaquinto, and, most recently, Wings of War from Fantasy Flight. The granddaddy of them all, however, is Dawn Patrol."