Thursday, April 27, 2017

Phantoms Over Havana, Fight #2


So it's 0815 on 1 Feb 1990, and CLA aircraft are winging towards Castro's Cuba from secret airfields in *REDACTED*, in support of CLA ground forces which have landed via parachute or amphibious assault.  Two hours ago, Boxcar flight tangled with four MiG-21s of the Castro regime's air force, which saw each side lose two aircraft in fierce dogfighting.  CLA Air Force aircraft continue to execute near continuous sorties against ground targets, zooming in, bombing command and control centers, radar sites, grounded aircraft and their support facilities, moored ships and their port facilities, artillery and tank parks, ammunition and fuel storage, anti-aircraft sites, etc..., then heading back to rearm and refuel, then get back in the fight.  Castro's Air Force has managed to put another four MiG-21s into the air, and so Blackjack flight, consisting of four F-4 Phantoms, is vectored in to intercept the interceptors.

The board, north is up.  I'm using a hexboard from the old game "Flight Leader" (you can actually see the name in the bottom right corner).  CLA Air Force in the southwest (bottom left) corner, Castro Air Force in the northeast (top right).  I'm using the relatively new set, "Lacquered Coffins," modified slightly.  The airplanes are 1/600; the CLA flight consists of F-4 Phantoms from PicoArmor, the Castro flight consists of MiG-21s from Tumbling Dice.

From top to bottom: Blackjack 04 and 03, both at Altitude (alt) 1/Speed (spd) 4, then Blackjack 01 and 02, at alt5/spd6.

The enemy, from top to bottom: Red 04 and 03, at alt6/spd3, and Red 01 and 02, at alt2/spd3.  While I'm using the same callsigns for the bad guys ("Red"), but it's not the same pilots, I'm just too lazy to come up with new callsigns...

Now we fight!

Red 03 and 04 continue straight and level, picking up speed (alt6/spd5), while Red 01 and 02 pull a positive climb, up to alt3/spd4.  Blackjack 03 and 04 positive climb to alt2/spd5, while Blackjack 01 and 02 peel right, alt5/spd6.  On to Turn 2.

Red 01 pushes ahead, picking up speed (alt3/spd6), while his partner, Red 02, drops down and picks up speed (alt2/spd5).  Red 03 and 04 continue straight ahead, dropping down and picking up speed (alt5/spd6).  Blackjack 01 and 02 both hook back to the left, holding at alt5/spd6, while Blackjack 03 positive climbs to alt3/spd6.  Blackjack 04 climbs to alt3 and hangs a left, looking to circle out.

Blackjack 02 wants to drop down, throttle back, kick over left, and launch a missile at Red 01, but he's prior Army and his four-step plan turned out to be four steps too many, so he pushes straight ahead, bleeding altitude and speed (alt4/spd5).  Blackjack 03 holds tight and goes nose to nose with Red 01, guns blazing, but Red 01 jinks, dropping to alt2/spd5, and the tracers zip by harmlessly.

Red 02 banks hard left, climbs, and launches a terrible deflection missile shot at Blackjack 02, but Blackjack 02 jukes and the missile sails by.

In a very impressive show of airmanship (I actually made the pilot take two tests, and he passed both!), Red 03 kicks right, drops down, throttles back, and goes to guns on Blackjack 04, but Blackjack 04 also manages to go evasive and dodge the incoming rounds!  Wow, three guys have manages to get shots off, and three times evasive has worked.

Blackjack 01 banks left, dropping down and going nose to nose with Red 02.  The plane is okay, but a 20mm round punctures the fuselage, wounding the Castro-regime pilot!  He scrambles to recover the aircraft, leveling off at alt1/spd2, barely above the trees!

Red 04 wants to drop down, come left, and toss a missile at Blackjack 03, but all the whining on the radio from Red 02's wounded pilot throws off his concentration and he bungs the maneuver, bleeding altitude and speed (alt4/spd5).  Meanwhile, Blackjack 04, feeling a bit outnumbered and out of the fight, pulls off a daring maneuver: he cuts hard right into Red 03 and 04, then drops down, leveling off to pursue Red 02 (off camera to bottom right).  But Red 01 sees Blackjack 04 thundering in and moves to protect his wingman: he pulls hard right and launches a missile into Blackjack 04's face.  The Free Cuban pilot is able to juke the missile, but finds himself in a bad spot, alt1/spd4.

Blackjack 03 decides enough is enough: he watches Red 02 coast by, the pilot wounded.  Blackjack 03 immediately loops around, locks him up, and launches a missile...

Dead meat, never had a chance.  No parachute noted as the MiG broke up and fell to Earth.

The fight is turning in the Free Cubans' favor!  Blackjack 01 shoots in, making a wide left turn, lining up a missile shot on Red 04.  "Fox One!"

The pilot of Red 03 looks back, not sure who the target of the missile is, and recoils in horror as Red 04 explodes!!!

Red 03 quickly recovers though.  He pulls hard left, reversing course, then lines up a decent shot on Blackjack 04 and launches a missile, but the Free Cuban pilot breaks, dumping chaff and flares, and the missile soars off into the wild blue yonder.

Blackjack 02 hangs a left, trying to get back into the fight (alt3/spd3), while Blackjack 04 positive climbs to alt2/spd5.  Red 01 performs a 'Split S,' reversing course and dropping down onto Blackjack 04's tail!

Blackjack 02, our former Army doggie, wants to climb, come left, and launch a missile at Red 01, now that he's finally got himself pointed back in the right direction.  But he can't figure left from right without pretending to eat, so he takes his hands off the stick and throttle for a moment, which causes him to lose the opportunity for the shot, as he drops to alt2/spd2...

Blackjack 03 climbs and hangs right (alt3/spd5), while Blackjack 04 climbs and comes left (alt3/spd4).  Nothing too aggressive, just looking to force the outnumbered Communists to make an error, actually getting a bit of a Lufberry going...

Red 01 wants to come high left to line up a missile on Blackjack 02, but he's still sobbing from the loss of his comrades in Red 02 and 04 and bungs the maneuver, bleeding height and power (alt1/spd3).

Blackjack 01, feeling his oats from a kill already, kicks hard left and drops down before loosing a missile at Red 03.  Red 03's pilot has the bird shimmying and shaking, and while the missile doesn't strike his aircraft, it does detonate close enough overhead that fragments wound the Communist pilot!

The pilot of Red 03 wipes blood from his visor and re-orient himself: he clears all thoughts from his mind save one: I must get home.  He drops down and picks up speed, coaxing his aircraft on a heading to split the Yanqui-running dog-capitalist pig fighters and make his escape (alt1/spd6)!

Red 01's pilot finally manages to halt the flow of tears and pop his snot bubble, which allows him to making a climbing left turn, lining up a missile shot on Blackjack 04.  The Free Cuban pilot hears the missile warning growling in his ears and begins evasive maneuvers...

But the enemy missile strikes his F-4 Phantom, damaging it and wounding him!  The evasive maneuvers have left him low and with little power (alt2/spd2).  Though going evasive didn't completely work, it probably saved his life, and certainly saved his aircraft from destruction.

Blackjack 03 swings right, looking to get back into the fight, as our wayward son, Blackjack 02 positive climbs to pick up altitude and speed (alt3/spd3) to try and make himself useful.  Red 03's pilot, getting weak from loss of blood, keeps his throttle firewalled as he pushes for home.

But Blackjack 01 has that 'it' factor you hear about with some fighter pilots.  So far in this fight he has:
1) gone nose to nose with Red 02, and put a cannon round into the fuselage which wounded the enemy pilot and made it easy for Blackjack 03 to come along and finish him off.
2) Got onto Red 04's tail and put a missile into it, killing the enemy pilot.
3) Got onto Red 03's tail and put a missile into it, damaging the aircraft and wounding the pilot.

Now Blackjack 01 comes around on Red 01, still smirking to himself about hitting Blackjack 03 with a missile that damaged the Phantom and wounded the pilot.  He doesn't even see Blackjack 01 roll in on his tail.  It isn't until his missile launch alarm (I hope that's a thing?)  goes off that he realizes...

Well, let's just say he didn't really get a chance to realize anything as the third Castro-regime aircraft is destroyed, taking its pilot with it!  Blackjack 03 soars over the wreckage, noting the pilot was again unable to eject: "Poor devils."

The Free Cuban pilot of Blackjack 04, wounded, turns his damaged ship towards home.

Blackjack 03 swings right and Blackjack 04 continues pushing for home.  Blackjack 01 can't seem to satisfy his bloodlust; the fight is clearly over, with but a single Castro-regime MiG still in the air, and limping home with a wounded pilot at that.  Chivalry is indeed dead as Blackjack 01 lines up a shot and looses his last missile at Red 03...

The enemy pilot is too hurt to be able to make any evasive maneuvers, so he simply clenches his anus in anticipation of his impending fiery death.  But fate smiles on him!  The missile detonates nearby, merely damaging his aircraft again!  He thanks his lucky stars and makes one last push for home!  The Free Cuban aircraft are bingo fuel and head for home!  As I'm typing this I realize I actually made a mistake: Blackjack 01 should have gotten his third kill of the morning, as the MiG-21 was already damaged, so rolling a second damaged result should have removed the MiG from the sky.  Oh well, it'll be alright.  I'm already bumping Blackjack 01 up a pilot class for knocking out two enemy aircraft in a single engagement.

Well, that was a whole helluva lot of fun, particularly as I gave the enemy a royal ass-whoopin'!  I can't wait to get to the next fight!  The rules worked out great, I'm having lots of fun.  The only thing I want to figure out is how I'm going to do activation for better pilots.  The only thing I'm coming up with is: Rookies and Average get one card in the deck, Veterans get two, and Aces get three.  Vets and Aces don't get to move every time their card comes out, but they get to pick when they activate.  So, you could get your first card and make the choice whether to activate now, or wait until your second (or third, for Aces) card comes out.  You're most often going to want to activate as soon as possible, so at least Vets and Aces have a better chance of activating early due to having more cards in the deck.  I guess?  If you've got better ideas for card activation showing a differentiation in activation between different classes of pilots, please let me know.

Here's the score to far:
CLA Air Force: 2 F-4s down, 2 F-4s damaged, one pilot KIA, one pilot WIA
Castro Air Force: 5 MiG-21s down, 2 MiG-21s damaged, four pilots KIA, two pilots WIA

In any case, another fun fight, more coming up ASAP.


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