Thursday, June 29, 2017

COMMAND: Northern Inferno Scenario 7: The Mighty "O" Part 4

In Part One of this series, I did the mission planning for the Alpha Strikes against Soviet-held Iceland by the USS Oriskany CVBG along with USAF assets out of Greenland.  In Part Two I began the mission, and immediately had to deal with multiple attacks from Iceland by Soviet Forces. In the meantime my USAF Fighter Sweep was refueling and preparing to attack, with the SEAD units behind it, and the B-52s behind them, tasked to destroy the runways. In Part Three my fighter sweep arrived on station, resulting in a furious air battle west of Keflavik.

And now my strike aircraft are starting to arrive over Iceland. Time to dish out some pain.

September 12, 1975 0416Z Flight Poker 41, a pair of F-105G Thunderchiefs, came into range of the SA-6 Gainful battery at Reykjavik. The flight lead thumbed his trigger, releasing the AGM-45B Shrike. "Poker 41, Magnum! Magnum!"

To the west, near Keflavik, a pair of MiG-23M Flogger Bs launched several missiles, one at the F-105Gs closing on Keflavik, and two more at the F-4Cs of the fighter sweep that were moving to intercept.

The Thunderchiefs of Flight Jimmy 10 dodged the inbound missile, and Knight 41 launched at Sidewinder at the Flogger. "Fox Two!"

One of the Apexes found its mark, destroying Knight 71.

Fighters maneuver all over the sky as to the east, a Shrike closes in on the SA-6
Seconds later, a SA-N-4A Gecko launched from one of the Nanuchkas took out Knight 62.

Knight 62 is shot down by a SAM
Finally the two Floggers were shot down, but the F-4Cs still in the area were by this time critically low on both fuel and missiles, and set a course for the tankers. En route the F-4Cs passed over the pair of Nanuchkas, and were forced to dodge SAM after SAM launched by the Soviet vessels, but none were hit.

Multiple Shrikes impacted the ground near the SA-6 Gainfuls. They were successful in that they shut down the radars, or at least frightened their operators enough so that they would shut them down, but the launchers themselves were still there.

F-105Gs had been dispatched to take out the Long Track Radars at Iceland's perimeter.  The northern pair had destroyed one, and with two Shrikes left, one of the Thunderchiefs diverted south to use them against SA-6s.

The remaining SA-6 radars, Straight Flushes, went silent, leaving the Thunderchiefs with no targets.
USS Oriskany
0427Z A pair of F-8J Crusaders from VF-191 Satan's Kittens launched from Oriskany, the first of many aircraft to begin the strikes against Keflavik.

USS Dale, shortly before hostilities broke out
0430Z "Vampire! Vampire!" called out the CIC talker aboard Dale. "Multiple missiles inbound." The Nanuchkas had gotten close enough to launch their anti-ship missiles at the Oriskany group. USS Dale was in a good firing position, and had thirty-three SAMs remaining. Captain Jones stared intently at the scope, watching the anti-ship missiles close in.

Six minutes later, Dale began firing RIM-67A SM-1ERs.

USS Dale launches SAMs
Fourteen RIM-67As later, and all five SS-N-9 Sirens were shot down. The second wave of Sirens were still closing in. Four minutes later, Dale opened fire once more. Three more Sirens were eliminated, and Dale's magazines were down to twelve SAMs. And then another wave of three Sirens were detected.

Each Nanuchka Corvette was armed with six SS-N-9 Sirens, and Captain Jones estimated that this was likely the last salvo they could deliver. The captain was focused but confident. Dale's twelve remaining SAMs should be sufficient to take them out. But after that?

SS-N-9 Siren launching from a Nanuchka
Dale fired again on the three inbounds, launching a pair of missiles at two of them. The launchers swiveled again to reload. The SAMs succeeded in taking out the two SAMS heading towards Oriskany, but there was one Siren left, apparently heading towards the Dale itself.  Dale was down to six SAMs. The next pair of SAMs missed, and now Dale was down to four.

The Farragut-class destroyer USS Dewey, miles to the southwest of Dale, launched a pair of its own SAMs to assist.

USS Dewey opens fire to defend USS Dale
The RIM-67A SM-1ERs streaked in at 1290kts, but the SS-N-9 Siren was much closer to its target.
Captain Jones watched the plot, willing the SAMs to move faster. Time was running out. If the missiles couldn't do it, the 76mm guns would try to shoot it down, and there were the Dale's chaff rockets, but those were defenses he did not want to rely on.

Dale opened fire with its 76mm guns in a last ditch effort to shoot down the missile. It got off two shells.

It's a race to the Dale, and one that the Siren looks to win.
044930Z The crew tensed as the final seconds ticked away, and every man remained at his post as the missile streaked in and hit Dale's port side amidships at Mach One. The 840kg warhead detonated, and the ship exploded in a fireball that lit up the night. The two RIM-67As fired from Dewey soared overhead, a fraction of a second too late to save the sinking cruiser.

USS Dale sinks
The radio chatter died down to silence for a full minute. Any thought of enthusiastic banter was long gone, as each man focused on his job at the moment, pushing away any thoughts of the over four hundred men they had just lost with the Dale.

The SEAD flights of both the Oriskany and those F-105Gs that still had ordnance closed in on Reykjavik and Keflavik, but the Straight Flushes remained silent. The pilots of the inbound strikes hoped they had the sense to stay that way.

050120Z Four A-7s, armed with AGM-62B Walleye IIs, launched from Oriskany as Flight Zombie 24, their target the Ammo Dumps at Keflavik. Soon after, four more A-7s, launched, their targets the hangars and fuel tanks.

B-52s approach Reykjavik
The Shrike-armed aircraft circled the area, prepared to pounce on any radars that lit up. The B-52s of Flight Speed 6, closed to within SA-6 Gainful range of their target, Reykjavik's runways.

Flight Speed 6 approaches to within 4nm of Reykjavik
Bombs away!
The bombs impact the airport
The B-52s approached Reykjavik completely unmolested, dropped their bombs, and flattened the airport.

The second flight of B-52s approach Keflavik, while to the SW the A-7s close in on their own strike missions
At almost the same time, the B-52s dropped their bombs on Keflavik as the A-7s released their Walleyes. The bombs would impact first.
The bombs impact Keflavik, putting a runway out of action
An A-7 flies in low to attack the hangars while Walleyes slowly glide into their targets.  
Barn Owls #3 and 4 go in hot
One of the hangars exploded, destroying the Flogger and the Fencer inside. A ZSU-23-4 Shilka opened fire on the A-7s as they departed the area. One of the A-7s was hit and slammed into the ground, too low for the pilot to eject.
The A-7 passes over the Walleyes' target
The surviving A-7 rocketed over the Ammo dumps at 300 feet AGL at 550 knots as the Walleyes glided in, seconds away from impact.
The Walleyes strike their targets
The second wave of A-7s moved in, and one was shot down by an SA-7b Grail.
An SA-7b Grail takes out one of the A-7s
The second A-7 dropped its cluster bombs and damaged another hangar.  Soon afterwards the second B-52 strike on Reykjavik arrived on target and dropped their bombs.
The second bombing of Reykjavik airport
The bombs destroyed the control tower and two massive fuel tanks. Minutes after that, the second B-52 strike upon Keflavik made their bombing run, devastating the area further. On the follow-up strikes, two more A-7s are shot down over Reykjavik, but the Ammo bunkers were hit again, as were the fuel tanks at Keflavik. There were two Nanuchkas still closing in on the Oriskany group, but as their SSMs were expended, they were not a significant threat. SAR operations for any survivors of the sinking of the USS Dale were begun in earnest. The mission was a success, but the cost was higher than anticipated.

Minor Victory
Score: 950

While my basic plan came off without a hitch, I did make some serious mistakes, the primary one being that I allowed the Nanuchkas get within firing range of my Task Unit, and it cost me the USS Dale. How did this happen?  When I created the mission for my task group, I forgot to uncheck the "Investigate contacts out of patrol area" box on the Mission Editor. This meant that as soon as the hostile surface contacts were detected, the Oriskany group charged full speed ahead towards them in the hopes of conducting a surface engagement. This meant they left their patrol area and closed the distance, bringing them within range of the Nanuchkas. It's entirely my own fault because I noticed that they were going the wrong way, but I was so focused on the Air-to-Air engagements and my own strikes that I couldn't be bothered to investigate why the Task Unit was moving somewhere I didn't want them to, and then correct it. I also could have neutralized the Nanuchkas as I had Shrikes to spare at this point, although I was shepherding them to use against radars around my targets. I also assumed that should the Nanuchkas get within firing range, the Dale would deal with the SSMs easily enough. And, truth be told, it should have. It had several SAMs left, but just ceased firing when the Dewey opened fire behind it, despite having what I thought was a better chance of shooting down the missiles. After I lost the Dale, I reran that final missile engagement several times to see if I could better analyze exactly why Dale was hit. But every single time, it survived no problem. The only time it was hit was the first time I had ran it--bad luck, I guess.

This episode illustrates the nature of Command--if you forget a minor thing--if you forget anything, it can have dire consequences. Granted, in the real world, a savvy Executive Officer might have said, "Sir, are you sure you want to leave the patrol area and charge those Nanuchkas?  I mean, we'd do better just to stay put," rather than blindly following my incompetent orders.

But that's the thing about Command being a realistic simulation:  it teaches you lessons.

SIDE: Soviet Union

25x MiG-23M Flogger B
13x Su-24 Fencer B
2x Be-12PL Mail
3x Vehicle (Straight Flush [1S91])
2x SA-6a Gainful [2P25] TEL
4x Radar (Long Track [P-40])
2x 23mm ZSU-23-4 Shilka
1x PL-641 Foxtrot
2x Be-12PS Mail
1x A/C Hangar (2x Medium Aircraft)
1x Building (Control Tower)
2x AvGas (150k Liter Tank)

12x SSC-1 Sepal [P-35V]
14x AS-9 Kyle [Kh-28]
2x AA-8 Aphid [R-60T]
28x AA-7 Apex A [R-23R, SARH]
12x SS-N-9 Siren [P-120 Malakhit]
24x SA-6a Gainful [9M336]
18x SA-N-4a Gecko [9M33]
40x 23mm ZSU-23-4 Shilka Burst [50 rnds]
11x SA-7b Grail [9M32M]
18x SA-9b Gaskin [9M31M]


1x F-8J Crusader
4x F-4C Phantom II
1x CG 16 Leahy
4x A-7B Corsair II

40x AN/SSQ-47 Julie Active Range-Only
74x RIM-67A SM-1ER
1x 20mm Mk12 x 4 [100 rnds]
2x AIM-9G Sidewinder
1x AIM-9H Sidewinder
60x AIM-7E2 Sparrow III
16x AIM-9J Sidewinder
20x AGM-45B Shrike [ARM]
3x Mk46 LWT Mod 2
5x Generic Flare Salvo [3x Cartridges, Single Spectral]
2x 76mm/50 Twin Frag Burst [2 rnds]
2x Generic Chaff Rocket
792x M117 750lb GPB
16x AGM-62B Walleye II ER/DL
36x Mk82 500lb Snakeeye
12x CBU-59/B APAM [717 x BLU-77/B Dual-Purpose Bomblets]

SIDE: Biological



1 comment:

David A. said...

Yup. Having been an XO, (US Army, not Navy), one of your primary responsibilities is to point out any flaws in the CO's plans. A good CO and XO team will work well that way. The CO has to be open to accepting and seriously considering these comments, and the XO must be independent minded enough to offer the constructive criticism.

Of course when the CO says something like "I hear you and I've considered that, however, we're still doing what I planned" then you salute smartly and carry out whatever it is.

I found the position of XO to be one of the most satisfying of my various jobs in the military. Knowing the CO is depending on your for sound advice and being appreciated for it, is very rewarding.

Nice AAR. I'm currently working my way through NI, and am in the middle of this scenario. Probably cheating a little to read up ahead of time :-)