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.