Thursday, 28 May 2015

Downtown - D4 - USAF Planning Pt 2

This is my rough flight plan that might refined over the next 24 hours.  Very simple idea, turn down behind Thud Ridge on the deck at speed 4.  Drop bombs, go to 'burner and run for home.  EB-66 flights will fly an eliptical orbit north of the Ridge protected by two flights of CAP, which can also provide protection to the strike force.  MiGCAP to be established over the ridge screening Hoa Lac, Phuc Yen and Gia Lam.  Nothing is going to come down from Kep as it is the solo rules (not to self that I want to look at a mechanism about how to handle visual IDs on airfields as that affects how aircraft get generated.

As to aircraft, they are all painted up.  Two F-105F WW are getting a paint refresh tonight to lighten an old paint job, but if I don't get around to it they are painted anyway.  Might paint a couple of F-4Cs as I will need them for some future scenarios.  I also want to get some terrain painted as well especially as I will be using the rough terrain to hide in.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Downtown - D4 - "wheel of hurt" USAF Planning Pt 1

With a target map generated already, the USAF have 5 possible targets, however that equates to only 3 unique locations, with Phuc Yen POL storage very popular:

1-2 =   Ha Gia POL storage 1227
3-6 =   Phuc Yen POL Storage 1529
7-8 =   Phuc Yen POL Storage & Phuc Yen rail yard 1529
9-10 = Yen Vien rail yard 1826

The Target roll was a 10, so Yen Vien rail yard it is which makes this a USAF Major Raid

22 Possible SAM sites with 6 located.  This time I spent a little bit of time deciding on the SAM locations and came up with a scheme which placed a located battery in the following concentrations.

Airfields are plotted and probably means that Kep wont get used.  However the remainder can all generate some challenging defensive forces.
Phuc Yen, 1529 (MiG-17, MiG-21)
Kep, 1120 (MiG-21)
Gia Lam, 2027 (MiG-17, MiG-21)
Hoa Lac, 2035 (MiG-17, MiG-21)

Onto the USAF.  The raid forces available are as follows:

Jamming Mission
1x {1} EB-66C, Jamming
1x {1} EB-66B, Jamming
2x {2} F-4C, CAP

Iron Hand Mission
2x {2} F-105F WW, SEAD (Insufficient Weasels SSR)

MiGCAP Mission
1x {4} F-4C, CAP

Strike Mission
3x {4} F-105D, Bombing
1x {4} F-105D, Strike/CAP
(as this is prior to 1967 you delete one flight, but then add one back as this is a major raid taking it back to 3 bombing flights. In addition the SSR change one flight to Strike/CAP)

Recon Mission
1x {2} RF-4C, Recon

Downtown - D3 - USS RANGER - AAR Part 2

This is the view of the raid from the North West. Hanoi is centre right and the target is almost dead in the middle of the picture.  The ring of waiting SAMs is quite clear.

After successfully navigating past Haiphong the raid swings down behind Phantom Ridge.  It would be easy to drop to deck level at this point and use the ridge to break any lock from any SAMs remaining around Haiphong. But the Iron Hand have done a good job albeit at the cost of one aircraft.  The MiGCAP is forward providing cover for the SEAD flight which still has a full bomb load.

I don't seem to be having a lot of luck with my CSAR rolls.  Double 1 and the RIO goes into captivity.  I played it out that as the mission was tasked they wouldn't know until they arrived and had to make pass over the target hex.

Clearing the ridge, the raid is subjected to SAM Fire

The Armed Escorts and the SEAD head out to deal with the closest threats to the bomber package.  The shrike shortage really is a nightmare in these early scenarios.

Winchester calls from the DAKOTA 201/202 and as one aircraft is already damaged it heads for home.  DAKOTA 203 is in the same boat and with no ordnance or a gun to protect DAKOTA 204 Bravo has to head home as well.  GARFISH 403/404 is also heading back to the carrier.

Meanwhile things are hotting up for the strike package.  GARFISH 401/402 is on the deck heading for the SAMs while the Armed Escorts DAKOTA 205/206 and DAKOTA 207/208 attract their attention.  That's the thing about being the bait.GARFISH 409/410/411/412 have to dump their bomb load in order to evade a well aimed missile shot which heads for their formation.  A soft kill effectively as without bombs the four skyhawks in the flight will abort home to the carrier. BUSY BEE 603/604/605/606 don't have any RWR so doesn't know that a SAM site has a good return.

Every SAM that had a target gets a shot off this turn,

Having RWR and Deceptive Jamming GARFISH 403/404 get eyes on the launch sites, which is going to make suppressing them easier.

Despite the attention of the incoming US aircraft the SAM sites hold their nerve and sufficiently disrupt the pilots aim.  GARFISH 403/404 bombs go wide and the site remains active.  SAMs continue to chase the bombers.  A FIRE CAN at the POL site is taken out by a division of skyhawks GARFISH 405/406/407/408.  The remaining eight bombers roll in on the target but only report moderate success (BDA is only completed once the Recon flight brings back the photos so at the moment success is based on pilots claims and not hard evidence)

HOOTER 903 is on table and hauling ass.  More Winchester aircraft are heading back to the carrier.

A solitary SAM chases the raid off target.  The package is now spread over several hundred miles of airspace which contrasts with the situation as they went feet dry earlier.

Nothing is ever safe over North Vietnam.  BUSY BEE 601/602/603/604 are acquired by a SAM site and have to keep their wits about them as they turn for the penultimate waypoint.

South of Haiphong DAKOTA 205/206 are heady for the coast but find themselves too close for comfort to a pair of SAM sites which weren't taken out on ingress.

Another pair of missiles chase the flight as it goes feet wet.  At the top, CANASTA 510/511 are over the reported location of the downed RIO from DAKOTA 204 but are met with a hail of small arms fire. With the pilots reporting locals holding up a flight helmet as the flight passes over head the rescue is called off.

Coming in behind the strike package there will always be upset locals. HOOTER 903 is at full speed and on the the deck coming over the POL site.  A couple of minor fires but no major damage.

I called the game here.

Poor bombing accuracy on the target means that the US can only claim:
2 VPs for the BDA and 6 VPs for damaged SAM sites for a total of 8 Points.
The DRV score 2 VPs for the F-4B and 1 VPs for the crewman who didn't eject and 2 VPs for the capture.

Overall this gives +3 to the US which is still a defeat, the POL site will need to be re-struck.  Things went better and having a plan which I read every turn to make sure I didn't get carrier away helped.  Still a very close game, the rescue on the RIO would have only made it +4 so still a defeat. Bombing accuracy rolls weren't great and a flight dumping its bombs to evade a missile didn't help.

Next mission will be early 1967, and both the USN and USAF have a lot more RWR and ECM gear fitted.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Downtown - D3 - USS RANGER AAR

Despite it being mid morning the Soviet trawler shadowing TG77.7 was no where to be seen.  As a result the Alpha strike formed up to hit the Bac Giang POL site had a head start on the defenders. It wouldn't be until the air wing was insight of the coast would the defenders begin to react.  That is my reasoning for the poor DRV early warning roll of a 4 on 2d10 with a -2 modifier for it being a USN raid.

(Summary of turns until the main raid force enters)
Jamming and Iron Hand enter and move to counter the closest threats to the bombers

Jamming support from ROBBIE 705 & 708 is directed towards Haiphong. No FAN SONG or FIRE CAN emissions have been detected, but that can't last.

The Iron Hand flights (GARFISH 401 & 402 with DAKOTA 203 & 204 as one pair, with GARFISH 403 & 404 with DAKOTA 201 & 202 as the other) had just reached the coastline when AAA from Hon Gai caused the first hiccup. AAA brackets DAKOTA 201 causing minor damage. The crew elect to carry on escorting the A-4Es.

(hopefully I will remember to take photos at the correct time for the remainder of the game as the main raid forces enter)

The Skyhawks (remainder of GARFISH and BUSY BEE) enter with their attendant DAKOTA escorts.

MIGCAP provided by TAP ROOM come on station as two MiG flights are reported by RED CROWN lifting from Kien An, according to Intelligence they only type on that airfield are MiG-17Fs.

Finally, the defences come active.  FIRE CAN at Hon Gai and four FAN SONG come up around Haiphong.  The Iron Hand are inside the range of the FIRE CAN as a result of keeping out the way of the SAMs and will have to take their lumps. Jamming support will help though as it will be directed against Hon Gai before the Iron Hand have to move.

As the SAMs have illuminated it automatically means that the MiGs should disappear. I am going to keep them running otherwise the CAP doesn't have to commit itself it means that they have to behave themselves.

The with the jamming aligned GARFISH 401/402 gets away from the tracking guns. AAA continues To darken the sky over Hon Gai.  GARFISH 403/404 launches one shrike into Haiphong. Both SAMs in range continue to track for targets and luckily while the shrike comes close it doesn't do any damage.

PRF rapidly increases and a number of US aircraft are now illuminated but the value of jamming shows and only one SAM site has a full return.

GARFISH 403/404 hold their nerve as a SAM arcs towards themand puts a shrike down the throat of the launch site. RADAR emissions abruptly cease and a plume of dark smoke indicates a hit.

DAKOTA 203/204 conduct anti radar tactics diving to the deck. One SAM losses acquisition. The other launches a missile and the fuzzy image on their screen which doesn't track and goes ballistic.

ROBBIE is far enough out for the site not to waste a launch, it isn't a bomber or an iron hand flight. In which case I think the Acquisition table needs a drop and re acquire option.

DAKOTA 201/202 reach their IP and release their CBU onto the fire control radar knocking it out.

Launch plumes lead the eyes of the Iron Hand flights onto the SAM Sites

The SAM sites that the solo system generate around Haiphong are now all on the air.  Anything that gets generated from now on will be around the target area.

More launches occur but miss the US flights.  DAKOTA 203/204 come around and line up on the detected sites while GARFISH 403/404 duck under the plume and head back out over the bay and will line up next turn

The sky is pretty crowded at this point.

DAKOTA 203/204 reach their IP and dive onto the located SAM site.  DAKOTA 204 calls an emergency. Unfortunately only one 'chute is seen.  DAKOTA 203 calls that a number of secondary explosions are seen and the site is off the air.

GARFISH 401/402 expend their last shot.  One SAM site is taken down and one other shuts down its RADAR.  The main raid continue to move on.  BUSY BEE 602/602 at the rear of the strike will split off as RESCAP for the pick up.  As this is solo I can make the call whether the USN CSAR is tasked or not.  Here I think it is a valid mission and will send it in.

 Just Off Map, a ring a SAM sites close the target have just come on air.  I don't have any shrikes left (remember I only get 4 due to the missile shortage).

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Downtown - D4 - "the wheel of hurt"

With D3 being planned and about to go onto the wargame table, I have started looking at D4.  Which could be a bit of nightmare as the scenario options range from: USAF raids, a single USN carrier, two USN carriers attacking the same target and finally two USN carriers attacking different targets.  In addition this scenario is staged during the Northeast Monsoon/Clear period so there is a good chance of cloud as well.  No one said this would be easy :)

The full range of 10 targets is available with 5 each for the USAF or the USN.  So a a D10 roll will be used: 1-2 = Target 1, 3-4 = Target 2, etc etc.  I will roll for USMC jamming support when I play each variant.

The USAF are probably the easiest to play out as the only options are for a "major raid" which just adds an extra strike aircraft or the addition of an extra CAP flight.

The USN get the USS Coral Sea, USS Ticonderoga or USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The result of this is that I might need a few more F-4B flights made up as potentially there will be 12 on the table at anyone time.  I have plenty of A-4s in the painting queue so that wont be a problem.  This only becomes an issue if I fly the USN Dual Carrier v same target option.  Recon are all RF-8G as well so I can proxy in if I need to.

So game options will be
B.  USN Single Carrier
C.  USN Dual carrier v Different Targets.

Thinking about it, I won't playout the USN Dual carrier v same target option as I think that will be a roll back of the defenders and doesn't add a great deal from solo play.

It doesn't say it so the SAM Day/MiG Day rules wont be in force. So a good change to the see some MiG-21s.  SAM Defences are a heavier than D3 with 22 possible SAMs (18 + 4 Dummies) vs 18 (15 +3 Dummies) but AA is slightly lessened and the FIRE CANs remain the same.

Note to self, don't just check the dice numbers, check the hexes as well.  There are only 7 unique targets to be attacked.  With the exception of Kep everything else is in the middle of the map which means it is going to be hard to attack.

Monday, 18 May 2015

USN/USMC Callsigns over Vietnam

As part of my research for games this is my current list of US Navy call-signs

Squadron        Callsign
HS-2            CHINK
RVAH-3          DRAKE
RVAH-7          FLARE
RVAH-9          HOOTER
RVAH-11         GLENROCK
RVAH-12         SPEARTIP
RVAH-14         EAGLE EYE
VA-15           ACTIVE BOY
VA-22           BEEFEATER
VA-23           LAW CASE
VA-25           CANASTA
VA-35           RAY GUN
VA-36           GALE FORCE
VA-52           VICEROY
VA-55           GARFISH
VA-56           CHAMPION
VA-65           CUPCAKE
VA-66           WALDO
VA-72           DECOY
VA-75           FLYING ACE
VA-76           SUN GLASS
VA-81           SUNLINER
VA-83           RAMPAGER
VA-85           BUCKEYE
VA-86           SIDEWINDER
VA-93           RAVEN
VA-94           HOBOKEN
VA-106          BEACH HEAD
VA-112          MONTANA
VA-113          BATTLE CRY
VA-115          ARAB
VA-125          PACKSADDLE
VA-144          WAR PAINT
VA-145          ELECTRON
VA-146          BUSY BEE
VA-152          LOCKET
VA-153          POWER HOUSE
VA-155          SILVER FOX
VA-163          OLD SALT
VA-164          MAGIC STONE
VA-172          HOLLOWAY
VA-176          PAPOOSE
VA-192          JURY
VA-195          CHIPPY
VA-196          MILESTONE
VA-212          FLYING EAGLE
VA-215          BARN OWL
VA-216          DIAMOND BACK
VAH-2           FOLDER
VAH-4           HOLLY GREEN
VF-21           SUNDOWN
VF-31           BANDWAGON
VF-33           ROOTBEER
VF-92           SILVER KITE
VF-96           SHOWTIME
VF-103          CLUB LEAF
VF-111          OLD NICK
VF-114          LINFIELD
VF-142          DAKOTA
VF-143          TAP ROOM
VF-151          SWITCH BOX
VF-161          ROCK RIVER
VF-162          SUPER HEAT
VF-213          BLACK LION
VFP-63 G        CORK TIP
VMFA-333        SHAMROCK

If anyone can add any more drop me a line

Friday, 15 May 2015

Downtown - D3 - USS RANGER

The raid planning is complete and I have now rolled up the crew quality and finalised my flight log sheet.  The F-4B crews don't seem to be overkeen to be going up north.  I have started to record the number of "real" aircraft involved in the mission.  This is to show the gradual increase in the amount of support aircraft needed to get the same amount of bombs onto a target.  Here you can see that I have 36 aircraft assigned to the raid, of which, only 16 are actual bombers, with a total bomb strength available of 40 points so an efficiency of 1.1.  The Oriskany raid had the same numbers of aircraft but could have dropped 48 points for 1.3.  Not a number crunching exercise as it only looks at bomb weight and not accuracy or effect but it is something that I want to track as the air effort changes in later years.  The USAF mission by the way of comparison had 32 aircraft assigned with 16 bombers but only a bomb strength of 32. An efficiency of 1.0

The F-4B are going with CBU units rather than pure bombs as I am still limited on the number of ARMs due to the Shrike shortage.

Format changes to the previous version are minor.  I have now added in the target profile next to the target so I don't have to write it down anywhere else.  In terms of information displayed (as mine is editable) I have put the jamming information on the front sheet.  I have left some redundant information on the log sheet from the Oriskany but shaded it out (left over Gun Info from the F-8E entries for example).

The Shrike information is displayed as the total number of shots available to the flight and not per aircraft.  DT has a different mechanism than that used for bombs for Ordnance such as LGB, EOGB and ARMs.

The EA-1F come from VAW-13 and weren't part of the normal establishment of the Air Wing, which is why they don't appear in the cruise books or many of the websites which deal with Carrier Air Wings.  They were based at Subic Bay and were assigned to each carrier as it arrived at Yankee Station.  Callsign were ROBBIE and the MODEX were in the 700 series.

On the back:

I have shaded out the AAA Points that get generated from rolling on the solo table so I am only left with the actual value remaining.  This means that a lot of the boxes won't ever be used.  
The MiG information is the same as for the Oriskany scenario and I have put the ADC info on for the aircraft involved.

I don't have a USS RANGER air wing so I have had to proxy in some other aircraft.

SAM layout around Haiphong which for this game I am hopefully going to be able to avoid

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Downtown - D3 - USS Ranger Planning

The USN have the following possible targets

1 = Vu Cha Railroad bridge
2 = Bac Giang POL storage
3 = Doung Nham POL storage
4,5 = Haiphong POL storage
6 = Co Trai Railroad bridge

The target roll was a 2, so the target is the Bac Giang POL site, which is close to Kep Airfield.

I had previously decided which complexes the located SAMs would be in and I rolled for the actual placement hex which gives the following:


Onto the raid planning itself.  The USS Ranger Air Wing is a lot (in this time frame) different from that on the Oriskany that flew earlier.  It is a big deck carrier operating the F-4B and the RA-5C in place of the Crusaders.  Its two skyhawk equipped attack squadrons have different models of aircraft with A-4C and A-4E being available.  For this mission I selected the following

Pre-Raid Jamming
2 x {1} EA-1F, Jamming

Iron Hand
2 x {2} , A-4E, SEAD
2 x {2} , F-4B, Armed Escort

2 x {2} F-4B, CAP

Strike Mission
2 x {4} A-4C, Bombing
2 x {4} A-4E, Bombing
2 x {2} , F-4B, Armed Escort

Post Raid Recon
1 x {2} RA-5C

I also chose to site the USN Rescue Helo and because I can I have changed the composition to include
2 x {2} A-1, Rescue Support

The scenario notes only let the SEAD and the Jammers to have RWR  There are no deceptive jammers available and the Shrike shortage is still in force so the A-4Es carry half loads of ARM.

This still means that only SEAD aircraft can conduct Anti-RADAR tactics so the remainder are still exposed to the SAM threat.  With the change in target and lessons from the Oriskany raid I hope to be able to do a lot better than the last raid.

In terms of defences pretty much the same set up faces me and I am not going to put myself over the area of Haiphong in a rush.  That said Entry Point 7 actually puts me in range of more SAMs and with a high BSAN it is going to get ugly early.  The Airfields at Kien An and Gia Lam are likely to be where the MiGs come rather than Kien An/Kep in the last game.  I am also likely to generate more FIRE CAN as I will be over land a lot quicker.  My benefit in the this game is that I have F-4B Armed Escort flights which can at least deal with the SAM threat easier than the Crusaders.  CBU might be in order.

The defensive layout doesn't help at all.  Bac Giang is ringed with SAMs from Hanoi and the Medium AAA from Kep and Vu Chua don't help either.  That tempting open piece in the South East is just a SAM trap waiting to happen so I might have to bite the bullet and come at this in the same way that I did for the Oriskany. This time keeping a bit further East of Haiphong, then let the Iron Hand drop down Westwards roughly in line with Thud Ridge.  I might also lead in with the SEAD as well and use the RWR to help.  This means they might be the bait for a while to let the F-4B Armed Escorts in.  I only have four Shrike shots to protect the whole force and at least 10 SAMs to deal with.  Egress needs to come back up behind Phantom Ridge and then back out to the Gulf.

So I have decided to go East of Haiphong (again)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Downtown - D3 - Oriskany Air Wing

D3 - "You keep me hangin' on" with the CVW-16 Air Wing from the Oriskany

With the planning completed it was time to fly the raid against Vu Chua RR Bridge.  This run demonstrates how different the games can be even though you are flying the same" scenario as the one which generated the USAF mission.  There is a lot of replayability in nearly all the scenarios.  Why different.  Because this is a US Navy mission and as such has to ingress in the area around Haiphong which is normally a hot bed of defensive activity.  No simple way past all those possible SAM sites.

So, there are a lot more SAMs for the US to worry about this far East, but for some reason it was the MiGs which got my attentionin the first couple of turns.  With some raid warning they had a flight over Kien An at the start of the game.  This was joined on consecutive turns by two more flights so by the end of turn 3 I had 3 flights of MiGs that could ruin my day and the Bomber force hadn't even entered.

I started off with the pre-raid forces already on map and turn 1 was the entry of the Iron Hand mission with 4 flights of aircraft, 2 each of Armed Escort F-8E Crusaders and SEAD A-4E Skyhawks

The aim remains as per the plan to get a one SEAD division around Thud Ridge and clear the target area while another section clears the area around Haiphong.  Could be interesting as I only have one Shrike Shot per A-4E due to a Shrike shortage.

Strike mission on table.  Airspace is pretty crowded and one division of bombers is still waiting to come on (skyhawk fully laden speed 3 :(  ).

This is going to be a SAM day.  As soon as the bombers enter and a BSAN of 13 this was going to be hard.  Haiphong is a heavily defended target and two SAMs come on the air for a quick acquisition in the Acquisition phase (strange that).

And another THREE turn their RADAR on in the Admin phase. Luckily these last 3 won't be able to shoot next turn just attempt to gain an acquisition.  So my two SEAD flights are now faced with at least 3 SAMs which can interfere with the strikers

This is what it should look like now I have put the correct markers on.  The models only appear when the site is detected, which hasn't happened yet :)

Something else that I am trying it is the Possible SAM markers just to remind me of where the SAM locations are

The DRV have a partial acquisition on the closest SEAD A-4E and the Northern most EA-1F so will get to shoot next turn. I can get close with a Armed Escort flight by going to 'burner but not close enough.

I finished off playing this at Pete's last night. I forgot to take the SAM launch markers down  and I must admit the game looks quite bare without them. Iron Hand is almost swamped by the number of threats. The Iron Hand F-8E is making a attack run with rockets while the rest of the defence suppression effort head for the cluster of SAM sites North of Haiphong.  The SEAD A-4E reacts to a well guided SAM by having to do a SAM avoidance roll but at the expense of dumping his Bomb ordnance. I need to go and re-read the SAM shooting rules though (solo) as I couldn't get it take a shot at the Jammer.  We decided to drop acquisition and try a different target. The rest of the strike package continues towards the next way point.

The crusaders lead the way in the south the first section comes off its run and watches the secondary explosions from his run as the first SAM site is taken out.  Frustration sets in as another site comes up to take its place.  In the North the other Iron Hand group haven't got visual on the sites but continue in on their runs. The F-8E is acquired by two SAM sites.

The SEAD team get eyes on the SAMs and a shrike from the A-4 causes one RADAR to be switched off. Two others ignore the launch and fire salvos at the F-8E which results in a hit on one aircraft.

One benefit of the Salvo shooting on the last turn is that this turn after they fire again they are out of missiles.

While a good chute is seen the rest of the force continue on.

With no MiGs to contend with it would be too easy to elect to abort the fighters. In reality they don't know there aren't any more MiGs out there so establish a barrier to let the strike through.

Back over the Gulf, US Navy aircraft head back to the carrier in dries and drabs as they expend all their ordnance.

The last SEAD flight is head for the target area, he has already fired off his shrikes and has bombs remaining to either suppress the target hex or the new SAM threat.

Another SAM avoidance roll and the SEAD is Winchester and heads home. The strike mission has no protection going onto the target.

Mid 1966 and with no RWR another A-4E is hit by a SAM. The rest of the strikers are off target and reform for home.

When a FIRE CAN comes on air at Vu Chua and a second one at Kep Airfield. With no defence suppression left it means the photo recon is going to be met with a hail of RADAR guided AAA as it comes in.

It is a bad day for VFP-63. The DRV AAA fire over the Target hit and shoot down both aircraft in the Photo recon flight. FIRE CAN units were responsible for both shoot downs. 

We played out the CSAR. And, again had the frustration of watching the DRV capture a downed pilot while Chink-69 was in the same hex.  Only one of the four pilots was rescued.

With no BDA report, the target will have to be struck again. In VP terms the US get a pasting scoring 2 for damaged SAM sites. The DRV score 14 points -12 Significant Defeat. Even if I hadn't lost the recon aircraft I would have scored 7 v 5 so +2 and even that is a defeat.

A couple of lessons to be learned, mainly on SEAD tactics and route planning around Haiphong.  The loss of both Recon birds was a fluke Don't underestimate FIRE CAN as it caused a number of problems and lastly get the RWR and Densive Jamming units fitted to the entire carrier air wing.