Despite early warning, the Soviet use of nuclear weapons against mainland UK RAF bases came as a rude shock. The Prime Minister, with consultation with his Defence Staff, have agreed to order a retaliatiory strike against the Kola Peninsula.
The use of Polaris SLBMs or Vulcan B.2 bombers for a nuclear strike has been ruled out as their employment could escalate the situation into full-scale nuclear war, and these precious assets need to be withheld as the ultimate bargaining chip.
The majority of RAF bases in Scotland have been wiped out in a second-wave strike conducted by Soviet SSGNs firing nuclear cruise missiles, and RAF's nuclear-capable Buccaneer strikers in the UK midlands do not have the necessary range to conduct a strike, as recent losses have severely limited tanker support.
This means that the Fleet Air Arm must undertake the mission. 809 Sqn Buccaneer S.2Ds based on HMS Ark Royal have been ordered to conduct nuclear strikes on the Kola Peninsula.
The Ark Royal group now enters the Soviet backyard, to deliver the Queen's vengeance.
Orders for Cmdr NATO Forces
809 Sqn Buccaneers on HMS Ark Royal have been brought up to strength with additional aircraft from storage after the recent losses against Northern Fleet units earlier this month.
Soviet Air defences are estimated as heavy, with various SAM and AAA Systems, backed up with PVO Fighters.
Strike targets are the airbase in the Kola Peninsula which launched strikes on the United Kingdom mainland.
Projected strike aircraft losses are over 80 percent. We do not expect everyone to come back from this.
|Recon imagery of Olenegorsk air base|
SAM Systems : SA-2 Guideline, SA-3 Goa, SA-5 Gammon.
Air : Su-15 Flagon, Yak-28 Firebar, Tu-128 Fiddler.
Surface : ASW Patrol Craft.
Subsurface : Possible SSN, SSGN from intel reports.
Carrier Strike Group 2 : HMS Ark Royal CV, HMS Glamorgan DDG, HMS Sheffield DDG, HMS Berwick FFH, HMS Galatea FFH, HMS Danae FFH, RFA Resurgent AE, RFA Tidespring AO.
HMS Ark Royal Air Group:
- 824 Sqn (SeaKing HAS.1)
- 809 Sqn (Buccaneer S.2D)
- 892 Sqn (Phantom FG.1)
- 849 Sqn B Flt (Gannet AEW)
- SAR Flt (Wessex HAS.1)
Conduct tactical nuclear strikes on the Soviet air bases of Olenegorsk and Severomorsk-1.
|Recon imagery of Severomorsk-1 air base|
1. Two 809 Sqn Buccaneers loaded with WE.177 to strike Olenegorsk. (Titan 78)
2. Two 809 Sqn Buccaneers loaded with WE.177 to strike Severomorsk-1. (Dusty 79)
3. Eight 809 Sqn Buccaneers configured in the SEAD-ARM role to clear a path through for the strike package.
4. Two 809 Sqn Buccaneers configured for tanker role.
5. 893 Sqn Phantoms to provide escort for the strike aircraft.
Command and EMCON
Command: HMS Ark Royal
EMCON: ALPHA Limited Emissions
September 26, 1975, 0500Z
The Ark Royal's crew had been hard at work preparing the strike, and the mood was tense.
|A Buccaneer of 809 Sqn on the cat|
|A Phantom of 829 Sqn launching|
|The plan to is fly low and avoid most of the SAM defense|
|Multiple air and surface contacts are detected|
053518Z It looks like the interceptors aren't waiting for me to get too close.
|The first interceptors show up|
|Interceptor count is six|
To prevent them from burning up too much fuel, I slow my interceptors to cruise, and I set my strike package to loiter to give the interceptors time to get a little lead. I also start decreasing their altitude in the hopes of keeping them from being detected a little longer.
And then, the eight Soviet interceptors all turn and start to leave. Is it because they lost contact with me, or are they low on fuel? My F-4s still have their radars on, so it's hard to tell.
|The interceptors leave?|
|More interceptors, for real this time.|
Splash One. The contacts are identified as Tu-128 Fiddlers.
|Missiles fill the sky|
Then one of my Phantoms is shot down by a lucky hit.
Splash Four. I'm killing them, but it's using up a lot of Sparrows to do it.
Splash Five, and then Six.
|Here comes a Flagon...|
|My second Phantom is shot down|
Once most of the Soviet interceptors have turned tail, I constantly have to adjust the speed of my Phantoms down from afterburner to cruise. They have limited fuel, and I cannot afford to have them go Bingo when I need them most.
I splash two more Flagons, then notice that a three-ship is heading towards my strike package.
|Missiles inbound on the strike package!|
|A Buccaneer is shot down|
|More bogies inbound|
The Soviet fighters launch their radar-guided missiles first, which miss, but then they close in. One of the Su-15 Flagons shoots an AA-3 Advanced Anab F missile and succeeds in shooting down one of my strike Buccaneers. And just like that...I've lost one of my four nuclear bombs.
|Buccaneer 809 Sqn #13, seconds before being shot down.|
The bad news is, I detect a bunch more bogies to the south. This could get ugly.
As the bogies approach, my strike package drops to the deck. The Soviets launch a few missiles, but fortunately none hit. And then, all about the same time, my Phantoms go Bingo and have to head home. My strikes are on their own.
|The Phantoms go RTB.|
|Still have a long way to go.|
My strike package, however, despite flying at 300 feet ASL, is apparently still detected, as some Tu-128 Fiddlers attempt an intercept.
|Fiddlers attempt to intercept.|
|The escorts begin shooting AS.37 Martels to take out the radars|
|The Buccaneers go feet dry over the Russian coast|
The Severomorsk-1 Strike is 40nm away from its target, and the Olenegorsk Strike is 63nm away. The Soviet interceptors still attempt to shadow the Buccaneers, but are unable to attack them.
|The strikes are not yet being fired upon by SAMs|
|A nuclear SAM is inbound|
A second Buccaneer foolishly ascends, and this time the ambushing nuclear SAM does not malfunction.
|The 25kT nuclear SAM detonates|
|The fireball blossoms|
|SAMs launch everywhere|
063520Z Bombs away!
To the south, the Olenegorsk strike package has its hands full with SAMs.
|The Olenegorsk strike is heavily engaged by SAMs|
|The fireball expands|
To the south, the Olenegorsk strike still deals with SAMs. The escorts are out of Martels, and so head for home. It's up to 809 Sqn #14 to go it alone. The Buccaneer dodges unbelievable amounts of SAMs as it bobs and weaves its way towards Olenegorsk Airbase.
And then, a mere 7nm from its target, the Buccaneer's luck runs out. Constantly dodging, it is forced to fly very close to a SAM site and it is hit by a SA-3b Goa.
|Olenegorsk will survive.|
|The survivors return home|
I have to admit that I "cheated" a little on this one. On my first attempt, my Buccaneers got to the Soviet coast and then refused to obey my frantic commands to keep them flying low. They soared into the sky, the SAM radars picked them up and send scads of nuclear SAMs at me...and in no time it was all over. My mistake was that I assumed the AI would keep the Buccaneers low and following the terrain.
So after that debacle, I opened a previous save from just before the Buccaneers went feet dry. This time I micromanaged the hell out of them, updating and plotting courses for each individual aircraft frequently to ensure they would stay as low as I could keep them. I would let the simulation run for maybe 5 seconds, then check each aircraft to make sure it was doing what I told it to, give it new orders if it was misbehaving, and then let the sim run for another few seconds. I had to do this for the entire attack run. Even so, two of my Buccaneers decided to go ballistic for no apparent reason and got shot down for their trouble.
Complaints aside, the mission was exciting, and I think my plan was basically sound. I was not expecting the air battle to occur so far out to sea, but my Phantoms did their job. Once the strike stayed low enough, they managed to get pretty far inland before the sky lit up with SAMs. If I did it again, I would have sent my Olenegorsk strike through the gap in SAM coverage between Severomorsk and Olenegorsk, and then south to attack Olenegorsk from the west. As it was, the eastern approach to Olenegorsk is overloaded with SAM batteries, and I'm surprised my strike Buccaneer made it as far as it did.
On to Scenario 11, which promises to be epic, but begins with some depressing news...
SIDE: Soviet Union
6x Tu-128 Fiddler A
7x Su-15MF Flagon D
3x Yak-28P Firebar
3x Radar (Thin Skin A HF [PRV-9])
1x Radar (Thin Skin B HF [PRV-16])
3x Radar (Spoon Rest C [P-12])
2x Vehicle (Low Blow [SNR-125])
4x SA-3b Goa Quad Rail
6x SA-7a Grail [9K32 Strela-2] MANPADS
2x Vehicle (Flat Face B [P-19])
2x Radar (Bar Lock A [P-37])
3x Building (Square Pair [5N62])
1x Building (Tall King C [P-14])
4x Vehicle (Fan Song F [RSNA-75M])
4x Vehicle (Spoon Rest C [P-12])
6x SA-2f Guideline Mod 1/2 Single Rail
1x Runway (4000m)
1x Single-Unit Airfield (1x 3201-4000m Runway)
8x AA-5 Ash A [R-4R, SARH]
6x AA-3 Anab C [R-98R, SARH]
1x AA-3 Anab D [R-98T, IR]
6x AA-3 Advanced Anab E [R-98MR, SARH]
1x AA-3 Advanced Anab F [R-98MT, IR]
1x AA-8 Aphid [R-60T]
29x SA-5b Gammon [5V28, 25kT Nuclear]
38x SA-3b Goa [5V27, V-601P]
30x SA-2f Guideline Mod 1 [S-75M2 Volkhov, 5YA23 / V-759]
12x 23mm ZU-23-2 Burst [20 rnds]
2x SA-7a Grail [9M32]
4x Phantom II FG.1
6x Buccaneer S.2D
16x AN/SSQ-47 Julie Active Range-Only
46x AIM-7E2 Sparrow III
18x AIM-9D Sidewinder
26x AS.37 Martel [ARM]
1x WE.177 Type B [400kT Nuclear]