30 August 2012

Harpoon: 1.1+ 900502

"Ambush" - NACV

Let's just call this what it was; an unmitigated disaster. The only enemy units I destroyed were aircraft and a land base.

My mission was to attack a US carrier group heading for Iceland; with land-based "Backfires" and "Bears, along with a large number of submarines dotted along the way; including some SSGNs. I had the then-hypothesised air-to-air "Backfire" available with the AA-9 "Amos"; these would get a liberal use.

Failure to set the notification settings early on meant I lost my two "Okean" spy ships very quickly, although one did down an F/A-18 before it went.

I decided to eliminate Keflavik airbase quickly to prevent P-3 Orions etc. from using that and eliminating shore-based ASW coverage for much of the North Atlantic. I duly flattened it with a two-wave AS-6 attack (many were shot down, but enough reached their target) from my "Backfires", which I initially decided to not send against a carrier group.

My submarines had rather frequent weapon mount breakdowns, but their performance would have been poor anyway...

I launched some "Bears" to locate the carrier group near the Eastern Seaboard and it got an ESM reading on a Sentry. I launched air-to-air "Backfires" in an attempt to destroy it. Before they got there, F-15s introduced the Tu-95 to their missiles and I lost the contact.

An "Akula" and two "Victors" got a CZ contact and headed to attack it from long range; torpedoes then showed up out of the blue. The "Akula" was hit and I surfaced it for purely humanitarian reasons (I would do that with other subs too, but only a few before I stopped caring). The two "Victors" followed.

Shortly after this, nuclear release was authorised. Not that I actually managed to nuke anything...

I identified a submarine group and launched an SS-N-16 at it. I notice that the missile component is actually much slower than it would be in the later High Tide annex. This managed to hit and destroy USS Phoenix, a 688 that I believe appeared in Red Storm Rising. Checking the game status, I noticed that I had destroyed 34 aircraft at this point (Keflavik must have been packed...).

Then things went more than a little Pete Tong.

Taking out a land base for fighters and ASW aircraft doesn't ultimately do a lot of good when you're facing a floating air base with 80 aircraft (including the S-3 Viking ASW aircraft) and enough SAM defences for a small city.

Submarines started to go down in rapid succession as they were prosecuted by carrier-based aircraft with more tenacity than a womp rat. One of my subs launched three SS-N-16s at another sub contact; one missed, two were shot down before they could miss.

I lost my two "Oscars", although one took 7 hits to sink; the class is seriously resilient.

Most of my submarines were now gone.

In desperation, I launched some "Backfires" on high-level patrol, hoping to find an ESM signal. Two were shot down out of the blue and I then directed my entire force at the area.

The first lot were a mixture of "Bears" and "Backfires", a bit of a mistake. Ten Tu-95s went and I turned on my radars; I'd detected fighters and my air-to-air Tu-22Ms hurled AA-9s at the fighters. I managed to down some Tomcats with the long-range missiles.

The "Backfires" were split from the group (I don't remember why, possibly ease of use). They then hit bingo and were sent back to base. AIM-54s then shot up the "Bears" and I eventually lost them all.

Then I found a large surface contact. I launched a large number of AS-4s, an improved Spruance. These were shot down by AIM-54s.

The "Backfires" landed, re-armed and took off again- they were attacked by AIM-7s, with seven losses. I detected F/A-18s and shot down three with my AA-9s. I decided to follow the retreating Hornets back and then located a Belknap CG, as well as the carrier.

At this point, I launched the nuclear AS-4s, then turned for base. It was a thrilling moment watching the countdown clock as the AS-4 and AS-6 missiles sped towards their targets, hoping that some would get through. None ultimately did; with most being shot down by SM-2s and AIM-54s from sources I hadn't detected (I hate you, Cooperative Engagement Capability!).

I ordered the nearby subs to head for the group, which launched torpedoes from extreme range. Unfortunately, the contacts disappeared and the 54-minute Type 65 journey was for nothing. The subs were also lost.

With some of the fighters gone, I sent my Tu-22Ms for another go. I got a good fix on most of the group and launched. However, no missiles made it.

My third attempt saw most of my remaining "Backfires" destroyed. The fourth was only done with three air-to-airs and a bomber, which failed utterly.

With none of my subs able to get to the Iceland area (one had ended up off Gibraltar) and my bombers all gone, I hit fast-wind and ended the game when I saw that the enemy had achieved their minimum victory conditions.

Oh well, you can't win them all and I've learnt some lessons from this. The US investment in their navy in the 1980s really paid dividends; an attack on a CVBG would have been a lot harder in 1989 than in 1980.

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