This continues the AAR of the Command: Modern Air / Naval Operations scenario, Deter, Detect, and Defend. Part One is here.
Tuesday, 21 August 1962, 224215Z
The situation is grim. Four AS-3 Kangaroos nuclear cruise missiles are inbound to the Seattle area. If the Nike Hercules SAMs that ring the area can't stop them, Seattle's fate could be like that of Vancouver, British Columbia... a radioactive firestorm with hundreds of thousands of casualties.
Not only that, but there are nineteen bogeys--most of which are likely Soviet bombers armed with nuclear weapons--on the way to destroy the cities of the Pacific Northwest. Only a handful of interceptors are available to go against them.
224617Z Just before the first AS-3 Kangaroo nuclear cruise missile goes feet dry near Neah Bay, Washington, the first two MIM-14B Nike Hercules nuclear SAMs launch to intercept. Within seconds they climb at 2075kts to 100,000ft.
225005Z Dragon 1 engages a trio of Tu-22B Blinders. More SAMs are launched at the inbounds.
|Dragon 1 engages the Blinders to the west while SAMs go after the inbound cruise missiles|
|MIM-14 Nike Hercules SAM|
|Dragon 1 launches an AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket|
|More SAMs launch to defend Victoria and other cities from the incoming nukes.|
General McAllister is still unsteady on his feet after witnessing the destruction of Vancouver. Losing another Canadian city might push him over the edge. But there is nothing that can be done. We watch the plot fatalistically as the cruise missile closes in.
|Victoria is done for|
"The Kangaroo, it's still 59,000 feet. If it was going for Victoria, it would have begun its terminal dive by now."
I heard McAllister's breath catch in his throat. "Malfunction?"
No one answers. All eyes are fixed on the plot.
225258Z We watch as the AS-3 passes harmlessly over the city, continuing southeast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. McAllister breathes a sigh of relief, but I cannot relax yet.
"What are the other targets along that vector?" I ask.
|The AS-3 Kangaroo passes harmlessly over Victoria|
One of the other AS-3s was shot down while everyone’s attention was focused on Victoria, but there are two within SAM range, and at least three more have recently been launched. In total there are five nuclear cruise missiles inbound for the Seattle area.
225335Z One of the AS-3s is shot down by a SAM, but the other continues inbound, its target still unknown.
225432Z King 7 and 8 shoot down three 3M Bison Bs between them. Good work. With rounds for their guns, they are both vectored north to intercept another trio of targets.
225513Z Over Puget Sound, another pair of SAMs miss the lone AS-3 that had passed over Victoria, which has begun its descent. Seattle is close, but 10 degrees off its vector. In fact, the closest target appears to be a SAM site itself.
|Nike Hercules SAM launch|
225603Z Finally, at 17,000ft over Puget Sound, the AS-3 is destroyed by a MIM-14B Nike Hercules. The final target appears to be near Lynnwood, Washington, which is still within the Seattle metropolitan area. Casualties could have been extreme.
The release of tension in the room is palpable, and the various techs catch their breath. My mind having been focused almost exclusively on the inbound Kangaroo, I make myself look at the big picture.
230027Z SITREP: Three AS-3s are inbound to the Seattle area. A two-ship of Tu-22B Blinders As are inbound Seattle, nearing feet dry, with Dragon 2 on an intercept course. Nine more bogeys, unidentified but suspected to be all 3M Bison Bs are inbound. King 7 and 8 are intercepting one three-ship, while Nighthawk 2 is intercepting another three-ship. Two F-106A Delta Darts are in reserve at McChord, ready to scramble and intercept anyone who gets through, as are two F-102A Delta Daggers at Portland AFB, and two F-101B Voodoos at Kingsley. The situation is dangerous, but may be manageable. Two hours until more fighters will become available. Hopefully there will be no more waves than this.
I order the two F-101Bs at Kingsley to launch immediately, as they have the farthest to travel to engage.
230217Z Just off Neah Bay, Dragon 2 fires a pair of AIM-4F Falcons and a AIR-2 Genie at the pair of Blinders.
|Dragon 2 shoots its missiles at the Tu-22 Blinders|
|Dragon 2 has no gun, and having expended its missiles, it must break off its engagement.|
230613Z The last Blinder enters the Seattle SAM envelope, while the three AS-3 Kangaroos go feet dry to the southwest. Multiple MIM-14B Nike Hercules SAMs are launched against them.
|SAMs are launched against the inbound threats.|
231115Z Nighthawk 2 prepares to engage a trio of bombers off Vancouver Island, which it identifies as Tu-16 Badger As. On its first pass it downs one Badger, but fails to kill any more. Winchester, Nighthawk 2 is forced to RTB. Given my limited assets, the failure of the interceptors to successfully intercept targets is worrisome, but I still have a few in reserve.
At this point there are eight inbound bombers. Two F-101B Voodoos, King 9 and 10 are moving to intercept the southernmost trio. There are only four fighters ready, a pair of Deuces (F-102A Delta Daggers) at Portland AFB, and a pair of Sixes (F-106A Delta Darts) at McChord. It is likely that the SAMs defending the Seattle area can take out the five inbound bombers, but to the south, Portland, Oregon is vulnerable, and must be protected by fighters.
233500Z I wrestle with my decision for a moment, then decide to keep the Sixes at McChord in reserve, and let the SAMs engage the bombers. The three Bisons heading towards Portland are the more dangerous threat at this point. Portland has no SAM defenses, so I need all the fighters I can get to defend it.
233526Z King 9 and 10 engage the Bisons inbound to Portland.
|King Flight engage the Bisons.|
It’s up to their guns. A gun shot takes out a second Bison. King 9 and 10 close in, and then King 10 is destroyed, shot down by a tailgun.
"Launch the Deuces at Portland," I order, and within seconds the two F-102As are rolling at Portland AFB.
They have only minutes to intercept.
233726Z Over the Olympic Peninsula to the north, SAMs rise to meet the five incoming bombers.
|SAMs engage Soviet Tu-16 Badgers.|
Two bombers left.
|Two bombers left.|
|One bomber left.|
234424Z To the south, the Deuces from Portland, Tiger 13 and 14, destroy the last inbound Bison, 32nm away from Vancouver, Washington.
That's good news, but I am still loathe to release the Sixes. They are my last asset, and if any more bombers show up, I'll have nothing to stop them.
The last Badger to the north dodges another two SAMs. It has more lives than a cat. Distance from Bremerton is 22nm.
Twenty miles. My decision may have condemned the citizens of Bremerton to a fiery death.
234509Z Another MIM-14B Nike Hercules launches, as the Tu-16 Badger's distance from its target ticks implacably down. Nineteen nautical miles. Eighteen. Seventeen. Then, sixteen nautical miles away from Bremerton, the Badger’s luck runs out, and it disappears.
The scope is clear. I scan it several times to convince myself that it truly clear, and then rub my eyes. As I do the secure teletype machine chatters again.
234516Z Another SITREP from NORAD:
2. UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF NUCLEAR DETONATIONS IN US SOUTHEAST. COMMS WITH MIAMI, JACKSONVILLE AND NEW ORLEANS OUT. REPORTED MISSILE LAUNCHES FROM CUBA. MASSIVE CASUALTIES ASSUMED WITH CIVIL DEFENSE RESPONSES COMMENCING IMMEDIATELY.
3. VICE-PRESIDENT WAS IN MIAMI AND PRESUMED DEAD. SECSTATE CO-LOCATED WITH POTUS AND SWORN IN AS NEW VP.
4. NO HF COMMUNICATIONS WITH EUROPE. CABLE TO UK STILL OPERATING WITH REPORTS OF NUCLEAR DETONATIONS IN SOUTHERN BRITISH ISLES.
5. SAC REPORTS TITAN AND ATLAS LAUNCHES COMPLETED FROM BASES IN LA, AR, GA AND FL PRIOR TO ATTACKS.
|The scope is clear.|
|New inbound bombers are detected.|
But not out of range of RCAF Comox itself.
013435Z "Vampire! Vampire!" calls a tech. "Multiple inbound missiles, count four, Bullseye 319 for 369 miles." The missiles are on a direct course for RCAF Comox, now just within max range for an AS-3 Kangaroo.
"Ignore the bombers," I order. "Send Nighthawk 5 and 7 after the vampires. Nighthawk 3 and 8 will back them up." If these fighters can't take out the missiles, I'll order every single aircraft at RCAF Comox airborne in order to save them.
013741Z "New Contact. Bogeys detected, five-ship, Bullseye 318 for 420 miles." The new contacts are on the same attack vector as the previous one.
More Bears. Crap.
0140000Z Nighthawk 5 and 7 close on the vampires. At their altitude of 40,000 feet, the vampires are 19,000 feet higher, and at 920kts, they are 20kts faster than the CF-101B Voodoos on full afterburner. They will only get one shot.
|The Nighthawks prepare to engage the vampires|
"Vector them after the new set of bogeys," I order. "They still have guns, so they can engage them. Nighthawk 3 and 8 will engage the two vampires. Divert Nighthawk 11 and 12 from Patrol Zone BC to back them up. And get another Nighthawk up."
"Nighthawk 5 and 7, Bigfoot," calls the controller. "Disengage vampires and commit to target five-ship, Bullseye 319 for 398 miles. Vector is 307 for commit."
"Nighthawk 5, committing to new target."
The controller relays the orders to the other two Nighthawk flights for their tasking. Nighthawk 10 starts rolling on the tarmac at RCAF Comox.
014638Z Nighthawk 3 and 8 make their runs against the two Kangaroos, but make a mistake and overshoot. By the time they have turned around in pursuit of the cruise missiles, they are already out of missile range, and are too slow to catch up.
|Nighthawk 5 and 7 turn to find that they are already out of range of the AS-3 Kangaroos|
014936Z Nighthawk 5 identifies the inbound Bogeys as Tu-95KD Bear Bs... as suspected. Nighthawk 5 and 7 gun down two of them before they go Winchester and are forced to break off.
Against the Nighthawk 11 and 12 unleash their AIM-4Gs...and splash one AS-3 Kangaroo.
|Splash one Kangaroo|
|Nighthawk 10 shots at the last vampire.|
Soon after, the secure teletype machine chatters one more time.
2. TARGETS IN THE SOVIET UNION HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ATTACKED BY SAC AND USN ASSETS.
3. WIDESPREAD DESTRUCTION IN EUROPE DUE TO EXTENSIVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE BY NATO AND WARSAW PACT.
4. EXPECT THAT SOVIET AIR ATTACKS WILL TAPER OFF AS MOST STRATEGIC BOMBER ASSETS HAVE BEEN LOST. MAINTAIN ALERT STATUS AND WEAPONS FREE ENGAGEMENT RULES.
5. NCA IN PLACE AT NORAD HQ, CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN PENDING DETERMINATION OF CONDITIONS IN WASHINGTON DC. CANADIAN NATIONAL COMMAND LOCATED AT RCAF STATION CARP AND IS IN LAND-LINE COMMUNICATIONS WITH NORAD IN CO AND NORTH BAY ON.
6. SAC ESTIMATES FOLLOW ON AIR STRIKES TO COMMENCE WITHIN 12-HOURS WITH BASE CAPABILITY AT 70%. BOMBER FORCES HAVE SUFFERED 45-55% LOSSES SO FAR.
I read the message numbly, my brain not yet registering the enormity of what has occurred over the past several house. We remain on alert, but the rest of the day is quiet. All that is left is to count the cost, and try to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
Score, Losses, and Expenditures
Disaster: Your final score is -100
2x CF-101B Voodoo
2x F-101B Voodoo
164x 20mm M39 x 2 Burst [80 rnds]
34x AIM-4G Falcon [IR]
33x AIM-4F Falcon [SARH]
3x AIM-4D Falcon
10x AIR-2A Genie [Nuclear]
54x MIM-14B Nike Hercules
4x AIM-4C Falcon
SIDE: Soviet Union
12x 3M Bison B
15x Tu-22B Blinder A
7x Tu-95KD Bear B
6x Tu-16 Badger A
24x Generic Flare Salvo [4x Cartridges, Single Spectral]
19x 23mm AM-23 x 2 Burst [50 rnds]
14x AS-3 Kangaroo [Kh-20M, ASM, 800kT Nuclear]
12x Generic Chaff Salvo [4x Cartridges]
54x 23mm AM-23 x 2 Burst [50 rnds]
1x Marker (City)
2x Marker (Town)
1x Marker (Target)
SIDE: Pinetree Line
SIDE: US Navy
1x Single-Unit Airfield (1x 2001-2600m Runway)
Losing Vancouver was a hard pill to swallow. It was my own fault in that I simply thought 1962 was too early for the Soviets to have nuclear cruise missiles in service, and I found out the hard way that they did. Had I known that they did, I would have targetted the Tu-95s more aggressively, and further out from my bases. Then again, if I had done so, I probably would have run out of available fighter assets earlier and been unable to defend another city, for example, Portland. Of course, this kind of thing is a learning experience, which is what Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations is all about.
The first wave was very tense, and I was lucky to come out of it with just a bloody nose. (Although calling the loss of Vancouver a 'bloody nose' will not endear me to my neighbors to the north).
Some other notes:
- The F-106As (and the F-102As, for that matter) need guns! The F-106s were the newest interceptors in my arsenal, and it was frustrating for them to run out of missiles so quickly and then have to disengage. The F-101Bs at least had guns to fall back on should the missiles fail--and they frequently managed to take out a bomber on the head-on pass too! I'll advise the Kennedy administration to get on this immediately.
- During some quiet times in the scenario, I switched from my usual playing speed of 1-sec (no pulse) to 5-sec (no pulse), and I was unprepared for how fast that would be! Speed is not a problem in Command, at least on my machine (which is only about a year old).
- One wish I have for the game is to make the "explosion" icon when a contact is destroyed last a little bit longer than it does. It flashes in and out of existence awfully quickly, making capturing a screenshot difficult. If it faded out over a few more frames it would make screenshot captures a lot easier!
- I did notice a bug: after some of my aircraft missions became obsolete (either due to the fighters going Winchester or RTB), I would try to delete some of them to clean up the Edit Mission dialog box, and I found that if I tried to delete missions other than the top mission on the list, it would cause a CTD. I'll see if I can send the devs a bug report on that if I can reliably reproduce it.
In conclusion, the scenario was fantastic, and I found myself having to make many difficult decisions. Kudos to the scenario author Chris Comars aka Randomizer and to the Command development team for making this possible! It was all a blast! (no pun intended)