Thursday, 30 April 2015

Downtown- F-111 during Linebacker II

While refreshing my interest in Downtown I have gone back over the info I had on the F-111 Operations and decided to fill in some holes.  The Day 1 strikes were in support of the B-52 missions which attacked:

· Kinh No Complex        - 3 Raids (36 Ac in total)
· Yen Vien Complex       - 1 Raid (27 Ac)
· Hoa Lac Airfield           - 1 Raid (6 Ac)
· Kep Airfield                  - 1 Raid (9Ac)
· Phuc Yen Airfield         - 1 Raid (6 Ac)
· Gia Lam Railroad yard - 2 Raids (24 Ac)
· Hanoi Radio                  - 1 Raid (21 Ac)

As an intro style game, I could use a variant of D14 to just fly the 8 F-111 attacks ahead of the B-52 missions.  Could be good for a multiplayer game anyway....I ramble on as usual.  D14 covers the first wave of 48 (which I can't reconcile via the ToT report) of B-52 preceded by the F-111 strikes, so It is relatively easy to brealk out the early F-111 missions on 18 December Day 1.  There were 15 (16) F-111 sorties flown against 9 (10) targets (figures in brackets are correct if I account for the loss of SNUG 40).  The first attacks began at 1910 hrs local with a strike against the DRV Airfields.  The timings are taken from the Linebacker II report and the conversion to local is mine using the +7 hrs GMT timezone difference.

1210Z (1910 Local)
· Hoa Lac Airfield
· Yen Bai Airfield
· Kep Airfield
· Phuc Yen Airfield

1225Z (1925 Local)
· Yen Bai Airfield
· Phuc Yen Airfield

1244Z (1925 Local)
· Yen Bai Airfield

1300Z (2000 Local) - 
· Hanoi Radio - This is pure supposition on my part as the loss of SNUG 40 is recorded at 1300Z while being flown against Hanoi Radio but that mission doesn't appear on the sortie list in the Checo Linebacker II documents. The Checo F-111 in SEA report indicates that the ToT was 2053 local and that last radio contact was at 2054 but that could just be my time zone conversion.

1328Z (2028Z local)
· Lang Truoc Radio Transmitter

1337Z (2037 Local)
· Hanoi/Bac Mai Airfield

1430Z (2130 Local)
· Hanoi Port Facility

1607Z (2307 Local)
· Hanoi/Bac Mai Airfield

1820Z (0120 Local 19th December)
· Hanoi Port Facility
1848Z (0148 Local 19th December)
· Hanoi Port Facility

2105Z (0405Z local 19th December)
· Bac Giang TPP

In terms of airframes there is plenty of documentation out there.  What I want to do going forward is find out who was involved on each of the respective days and flew which missions.  From what I have now read the tailcodes should all have been HG once deployed. So the NA codes on the 429th aircraft painted previously might be transitional.

429th TFS

430th TFS    

67-0090 Replacement aircraft

Monday, 27 April 2015

Downtown - D3(B) - USAF AAR Pt 2

I am actually glad I did run some more of this one out. It turned into a right wild west shoot out even with only 3 SAMs in play.

The tow Wild Weasel flights get into a bit of a mess selecting targets. Without an active RADAR to target, the Shrike on Red Flight isn't any good, so the flight aligns onto the active site West of Hanoi. This leaves Green to drop his CBU onto the detected, but currently inactive, site.

The rest of the raid is poised for the next stage in the mission, however the quiet SAM site suddenly comes up on the air and gains a partial acquisition on the Red Iron Hand flight. While the other site acquires Green.

SAM fire is triggered by US movement, the F-105F flight on the bomb run is targeted by a currently undetected SAM. Distracted by the SAM he reports no visible effect from his bomb run and the FAN SONG is still warbling away.  In a fit of exuberance I expanded all the CBU on one pass leaving the Iron Hand to head towards the egress.

So this leaves the SEAD force both getting some unwelcome attention from the two active SAM sites but to no effect

The Strikers are starting to get close when the SAMs start to come up and the DRV are likely to drop acquisition and move onto the bombers next turn.

Which they do and things begin to get interesting for the strikers

The SAMs have more targets than they can deal with and choose to target the SEAD force and are to trying to disrupt the strike.  One missile streaks toward the lead F-105 while the other still attempts to engage the persistent Weasel

A little too close to comfort, Weasel 2 has to jettison his CBUs and turn inside the SAM resulting in a loss of altitude.

Shoot Out Vietnam style. The two remaining SAM sites engaging the Weasels and the Strike force again.  At least the Weasel is drawing off fire that would be otherwise directed at the laden bombers.  The Jammers contributing to the combat when a FIRECAN unit goes on the air and begins RADAR directing AAA fire.

One SAM is at extreme range and the remaining Weasel continues his mission and begins to turn to take a run onto the target to try and close down the FIRECAN with the remaining Shrike.

Another flurry of SAM shots as the Strikers leave the target.  The FIRECAN causes another damaged result

The Strike package is egressing, the support remains in place to support the Recon effort

The RF-101C enters the table at Low Altitude and high speed like any respecting recon pilot should

A game of chicken.  The FIRECAN in the target is itching to shoot at the recon bird preventing the BDA, while the remaining Weasel (just off picture to the top) has declared its lining up for a Shrike shot.

The Shrike hits, leaving the recon bird to only have to deal with the local AAA.  BDA complete and the strike heads home to the O Club.  End result decisive victory to the US with huge smoke plumes rising from the ruined POL site.  Photo evidence confirms the pilots claims that the majority of the bombs landed within the site perimeter.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Downtown - D3(B) - USAF AAR

With earlier planning complete it was time to get Rolling Thunder 51 underway

USAF Mission against Viet Tri

Turn 1
The EB-66B and EB-66C Jammers enter ahead of the main raid, accompanied by their CAP escorts. The CAP are orientated on Phuc Yen and Gia Lam while the Jamming is directed towards the two located SAM sites.

Turn 2
The SEAD and MiGCAP enter while the Jammers tease their way into the SAM envelope. While another MiG is reported over Gia Lam

Turn 3
The SEAD crosses the Red River Green flight is getting ready to swing onto the SAM site while the other flight heads further East looking towards the outskirts of Hanoi

PRF rises as the SEAD flight approaches

Jamming orbit established

And the strikers enter

The SAMs go active, which makes this a SAM day.  The MiG warnings are removed. From now on it is the battle of the 'trons. The detected SAM is active and a new site west of Hanoi has come in the air. It isn't located but it's emissions have been. This will become a "SAM Warning" counter later today when my printer has a new cartridge fitted.

In the meantime the SAM site acquires the closest SEAD and despite having all the jamming directed at it, I still roll 19 so the SAM has full acquisition on the the flight.  

In DT the SAM fires as a result of the US movement, so it is cat and mouse in the early period as the Shrikes range is inside that of the SAM.  The SAM will get a shot off first as the flight moves to within 4 hexes (or about 16km)

The launch plume is clearly visible but the SAM sails harmlessly by.  The Weasel crew don't know it yet but they will be buying beer for the EB-66C crew later

The Weasel prepares to fire the Shrike from a range of 2 hexes and the missile drops away from the rail cleanly.  The operator in the SAM control doesn't know what to do and the missile rips into the control van and the secondary explosions wreck the site.  The Weasels can now deal with the secondary site. One of the F-105F is out of Shrike shots so will have to go in close and put some CBU units onto the SAM if the last Weasel's shot misses.

With the main site down the Jamming mission realign and the strike package crosses over the Red River (Hong)

I might not fly much more of this mission.  I was lucky to roll the target I did and there isn't very much SAM coverage in the Eastern part of the Route Package.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Downtown - D3(B) USAF Planning Pt 2

As I found when playing D1, having my table set up means that I can rehearse on table the plan before actually flying the mission.  Why I here you ask don't I just play the game.  The reason is that I am meant to be replicating a professional mission.  So those things I don't use that often just need to be teased out to make sure I know how to replicate a certain thing.  Like how to put a race track jamming circuit into place along with its attendant escort.

So I do rehearse, and I did

here we go.  These are the raid aircraft and some of the new defences I am looking at using.  By rehearsing (and re-reading the scenario special rules) I found out that for some reason I had removed the 2 {2} F-4C, CAP from the Jamming.  I think I had planned to do a standoff mission at some point.  Anyway as I am looking at bring them on table they get an escort.

The freshly painted defences will get a run out.  I haven't washed them yet or done any highlighting.

Onto the rehearsal itself.  I wasn't going to bring the bombers on, I just wanted to make sure that I had the sequencing correct.  Jammers, SEAD & MiGCAP.

This is the table we are going to be using 5 x 2 (half the panels).  I put the SAMs out just to see what they look like.  In the game they only appear if their RADAR is on and they are detected.

The Jammers operate at High Level, so they have a larger base than my other aircraft just to ward off any unfortunate topple.  I made up a jamming arc indicator as well which is useful as the EB-66B and EB-66C can change their jamming arc in the game.

The DRV raid warning will probably give at least one MiG set up near and airfield.  They can't use rally points this early.  I do need to get on and finish the painting on the target hexes.

Turn 1 and the Jamming mission enters comprising an EB-66B and an EB-66C together with their escorting CAP.  I might push the CAP out a little bit on the actual game as I don't fancy tying them to close to the EB-66s

Turn 2 and the SEAD enters. I haven't got the placement right for these as the run in will take them over the Phu Tho AAA site.  As they will come on at medium I could actually zoom them underneath the Jammers.  I think just didn't like the crowded airspace so I will look at moving them West a little bit towards Yen Bai and let them come in on a better angle.  I also need to spread them out as they don't both need to take on the first SAM.  As the bombers aren't going to overfly the AAA on the way in, apart from that which is actually in the target hex, I don't need to risk aircraft chasing things.

About Turn 4, I have tried to get a racetrack going for the jammers but its a bit clunky.  I need to check the planned speed and the turn rules to make it work as I was going too fast.  If I drop to speed 2 I can get a 90 degree free turn in, so I can get a 180 turn in.

The other thing I now realise is that I don't need to keep parallel to the target, I can racetrack towards the targets, this then lets me adjust for any new threats that appear like FIRECAN or a new SAM site.

One thing about the DT rules is that normally you don't know your attack effect until you get a BDA back.  SAMs and FIRECANs however can be destroyed in game, so I will know if the Iron Hand flight kills the target. This lets me a little bit more aggressive with the jammers than might otherwise be the case.  The Solo rules as well also mean I know where the SAMs are going to appear, (not exactly but within one hex)

The Recon effort in the game will be a RF-101C, I didn't use it but used the rehearsal to make sure I had enough bases and had the stats all recorded.

Not from the rehearsal but just some eye candy.  I really, really need to go back and refresh the paintwork on the USAF aircraft.  They are the poor cousin to the US Navy

I have left the table set up and hopefully can get this flown on Sunday

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Downtown - D3(B) - USAF Planning

USAF are up next.

The USAF have the following possible targets

1 = Thai Nguyen Truck park
2 = Vu Cha railroad bridge
3 = Viet Tri POL storage
4 =  Bac Giang POL storage
5,6 = Phuc Yen POL storage

The target roll was a 3, so the target is the Viet Tri POL storage.

The located SAMs would be in the following locations:


Onto the raid planning itself.  The standard USAF daylight mission comprises:

Pre Raid
2 x {1} EB-66, Jamming

Wild Weasel
2 x {2} F-105F, SEAD - (insufficient weasels apply - halve the number of shrike shots per flight)

MiGCAP (I rolled for the choice of F-104 or F-4C)
1 x {4} F-4C

Strike Mission
3 x {4} F-105D, Bombing - (Bomb strength 3)

Post Raid Recon (I rolled for the choice of RF-4C or RF-101C)
1 x {2} RF-101C

No where as much flexibility as the USN.  A Single MiGCAP is going to be hard pressed if its a MiG day. However, this is a very easy mission to plan, which means it will go horribly wrong :)

The Weasels will barrel straight in take out the SAM site guarding Viet Tri and then deal with the one close to Hanoi.  The MiGCAP will position itself  East of the target to deal with either Phuc Yen or Giam Lam.  The Bombers have a straightforward loop and can go to burner coming off the target.  The jamming can orbit between the ingress and egress points it has steerable jamming so I can move reasonably easily.  Jamming Turn 1, SEAD Turn 1, MiGCAP Turn 2, Bombers Turn 5, Recon turn 11.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Downtown - D3(A) - USN Planning Oriskany (2)

The Bombing and Recon timings now work with the photo bird entering 9 turns after the bombers. This lets it go to 'burner for the run over the target.

The Pre-raid jamming is the problem child now. The EA-1F has a fixed jamming arc and is slow and I don't know how far I want to run them. I need to be able to cover the bombers when they enter as it is likely that the other Haiphong SAM battery will go active when the SEAD goes Feet Dry.  I then still need to cover the run in and then the egress. So my idea is the Jammers on Turn 1, SEAD on Turn 2, Bombers on Turn 6 and Recon on Turn 15.

As I now wargame my plan :) I will just put a small 4 x 2 table together just to check the ingress timings and the possible SAM activities.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Downtown - D3(A) - USN Planning Oriskany

Oriskany is first up in this scenario.

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 1, so the target is the Vu Cha railroad bridge..

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 Oriskany Air Wing for the mission comprises the following

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

Iron Hand
2 x {2} , A-4E, SEAD
2 x {2} , F-8E, Armed Escort

2 x {2} F-8E, CAP

Strike Mission
4 x {4} A-4E, Bombing
2 x {2} , F-8E, CAP

Post Raid Recon
1 x {2} RF-8G

I also chose to site the USN Rescue Helo

13 Aircraft.  The EA-1F will be kept over the Gulf of Tonkin, The RF-8G has a simple job of following up the strike so just needs to be timed remembering that I need to leave at least five turns from the last bomb to the photo bird arriving.  The CAP need to cover Phuc Yen, Kien An, Kep and Gia Lam
As there are now SAMs in the game I am going to take the strike mission to the East of Haiphong, down behind Phantom ridge and a similar route going back.  This should limit my exposure to SAMs to the target complexes CHARLIE and BRAVO.  The SEAD will need to close off DELTA on the ingress and TANGO during the run in as well as possible FIRECAN units on the target and at Kep Airfield.  I will also place a rally point near 1607.

My inital plan looks like this.

 Now need to rehearse the timings.  In terms of gaming surface I am going to need a larger board than the last game as this will need 5 x 3 tiles so will need to reconfigure the garage to get it set up.  Still need to do some more painting on the boards.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Downtown - D3 - Planning

We move ahead to July 1966

For the US Navy we add in the Shrike missile has been available since April.  RWR and defensive jamming is just being fitted but isn't available for this scenario.
For the USAF, the RF-4C has arrived for BDA tasks, the RF-101C has had defensive jamming since July 1965, and the F-105F can carry the shrike as well.
Both the USAF and USN can use CBU on SEAD flights

I am going to split D3 into two games only to give me some longevity and also try out different force compositions.  (A) will be the USN themed game and (B) a USAF game. I only chose A for the USN because my table is currently set up for USN entry points.  I might make this three games but only because the USN get the option of flying off Oriskany and Ranger so the larger jets only appear if I go for the USS Ranger.....

There are 8 potential targets which are split as USAF only, USN only or an option to choose either USAF or USN.  This helps me split them into the two game options.  As luck would have it there are 6 possible options for each force....:)

The USAF force is a standard mission but with the insufficient weasels.  The F-105D and F bomb strength goes up to 3 as the defensive jamming pods aren't yet available.

The USN force can come from a choice of two carriers.  No USMC jamming support is available.

So I will produce a separate planning post for the USAF and USN.  The rest of this post will concentrate on the DRV defensive set up which to be honest isn't going to be a great deal.

Only downside is that the DRV gain double VPs for all US aircraft and crews shot down by MiGs

The DRV can operate from Phuc Yen, Kien An and Gia Lam with the MiG-17F and Phuc Yen, Kep and Gia Lam with the MiG-21F-13.

There are 18 possible SAMs in the game, 5 of which set up located at the game start
There are 9 AAA, and 8 FIRECAN points which will appear in the game.  Rolling for the AAA points I get a 2 which is 1 Heavy, 2 Medium, 1 Light.  2 of these concentrations need to set up on the table at the start.

0628 - Medium
0918 - Empty
1337 - Light
1421 - Light
2013 - Empty
1529 - Medium
2411 - Heavy
2927 - Light

Which is pretty easy then, one concentration in 0918 and one in 2013.  Roll on the day 1 - 5 medium, 6 - 7 Heavy, 8 - 0 Light

SAM placement.  Five are on table located.  I can either use the solo tables or come up with my own layout.

Within 1 hex of
1139, 1221, 1228, 1625, 1832, 2022, 2110, 2314, 2320, 0427, 1729, 2309, 2428, 2727, 2732, 2811, 3119, 3325, 3519, 3623.  I need to place a SAM within 6 hexes of target starting with the ones closest to Hanoi and Haiphong first and then working out.  If all targets are defended then start back adding a second SAM.  Sounds simple.....
So first step is the SAM planning map

Overlay it with the Targets and "defended" radius

Means I can defend all 8 targets with 5 SAMs and leave the remaining units all to be activated in play. So I picked the, DELTA, TANGO, PAPA, OSCAR, KILO.  I will keep the actual hex allocation to a random roll between the possible hexes when I actually start the US planning (which lets me make minor adjustments to each of the options.

So onto the US planning

Downtown - D2 - AAR

I managed to blag just over an hour at lunch time to playout D2.  The time spent yesterday paid dividends in making sure I had everything I needed.  It isn't massively different from D1 but you are going get an A2A engagement in this scenario.  Without SAMs to deal with its straightforward

The F-4B CAP enters as two flights (each flight is two aircraft)

Closely followed by the bombers and escorting F-8 Crusaders. Using multiple entry points means that I can get all the bombers on and then use the next turn in shaking them out.  With the move sequence I have had occasional problems with gaps appearing in the formation as aircraft move.

As per my plan the F-4B cap split to make sure that they can cover the probably MiG approaches and the bomber stream begins to form up.

MiGs are skirting around the formation but at least with an F-4B I get 3 detection chances per DRV aircraft even with them at Deck level.

The F-8 Escorts maneuver to meet the possible threats

The F-4B try and get a fix on the DRV

 By the time they get close there are possibly two flights to deal with
 Bomber on route to the next way point husbanded by the crusaders

Which might be needed because the CAP hasn't detected the MiG-17s down on the deck

The CAP are off chasing the elusive MiG.  The scenario means that the MiGs are likely to be four ship flights so the 2 F-4B are going to have their work cut out

Combination of DISCO/RED CROWN/F-4 Radar and the Mk I eyeball result in a flight of 4 MiGs being detected.  Going to burner the F-4B pair have the element of surprise.  The DRV don't engage while the USN do (engage in the game means being in the right place to have an engagement in the 2.5nm of airspace rather than the combat rolls).  The US have surprise from the rear arc so the DRV choose to disengage.  2D10 rolled 20 comes up with modifiers the US roll 28.  4 opportunities with Sidewinder and sparrows present themselves.  Result in 2 confirmed MiG Kills and and the other two aircraft diving for the deck, one trailing a lot of smoke (in the rolls, I had Damaged, Shoot down, Damaged, Shoot down.  The damage allocation chart ended up putting both damage results on the Number 3 aircraft.)

Not Dan Macintyre, but a kill for the Coral Sea

Things look a little tense closer to home but luckily the MiG turns out to be a false alarm.  The F-8 moving to the second MiG gets into a position to get an eyeball on them next turn while the bomber start to roll in.

Kep gets three flights of A-4Cs and the Bridge at Vu Cha gets two.  Medium AAA can be nasty and a couple of close rolls but no damage and both targets are hit

Wheeling off target and no MiGs in the air I called it a day.  The egress route from here was West up Phantom Ridge and then south to the Gulf.