Friday, June 2, 2017

Phantoms Over Havana, Fight #3


So it's 1415 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.  There have been several sorties flown between with no contact, but six hours ago, Blackjack flight engaged four MiG-21s of the Castro regime's air force, knocking three of them from the sky without losing any aircraft.  Two hours prior to that, Boxcar flight tangled with four MiG-21s, with each side losing two aircraft in a fierce dogfight.  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 Bruiser flight, consisting of four F-4 Phantoms, is vectored in to intercept the interceptors.

The map, north is up, with Bruiser flight on the left and the Castro MiGs on the right.  Both sides are coming head on, and both sides have spotted the other.  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

The Cuban Liberation Air Force flight, two pairs of F-4s, from left to right: Bruiser 02 and Bruiser 01, at speed 4 altitude 3, then Bruiser 03 and Bruiser 04, at speed 5 altitude 5.

In the east, the Castro MiG-21s, two pairs of MiG-21s.  From left to right, Red 04 and Red 03, at speed 4 altitude 2, and Red 01 and Red 02, at speed 6 altitude 4.

Bruiser 03 and 04 continue straight and level at 5/5, while Red 01 and 02 climb to 5/5 and Red 03 and 04 perform a positive climb to 5/3.  Bruiser 01 and 02 positive climb to 5/5 as well, so all aircraft are headed straight at each other at the same speed and mostly the same altitude.

And now at Turn 2 the action begins to pick up with some maneuvering: Bruiser 01 and 02 climb and cut power prior to the merge, looking to slow things down a bit and take advantage of altitude (3/6).  Red 03 and 04 climb to 4/4, also slowing things up a bit to see how the situation develops, while their partners, Red 01 and 02, dive and pick up speed, 6/4.  Lastly, Bruiser 03 and 04 hang a right, staying at 5/5.

Tally Ho!!!  Bruiser 02 seizes the initiative and looks to mix it up: he pulls off a complex move, diving to 6/3, going nose to nose with Red 02 and opening up with his 20mm cannon, but the rounds miss as Red 02 goes evasive, dropping to 5/3.

Red 03 wants to pull right, dive, and fire on Bruiser 01, but the thrill of combat is too much for the young Communist and he bungs it, dropping to 3/3.  With tracers shooting past, Red 01 leaves his wingman, climbing and cutting right to fire his 30mm cannons at Bruiser 01, who successfully dodges the incoming rounds by going evasive, 2/6.

Red 04 dives, picking up speed to dodge past Bruiser 03 and 04 (6/2), but Bruiser 04 cuts left into him, maintaining 5/5, while his wingman continues straight and level at 5/5, keeping an eye on Red 03.  Red 02 dives under Bruiser 02, picking up speed (6/2), while Bruiser 01 dives and comes right, 4/4.

Red 04 wants to perform an Immelman (lose two speed, climb two levels, reverse course) to get behind Bruiser 03 and 04, but he can't remember if his flight instructor said he's better at turning left or right, and he bungs it, straight and dropping to 5/1, dangerously low.  Bruiser 03 wants to perform a wingover (bleed speed while reversing course but maintaining altitude) to follow Red 04, but he's laughing so hard at Red 04 screwing up the Immelman that he blows it too, straight and dropping to 4/4!  Finally someone gets their stuff together: Bruiser 02, having missed his gunshot on Red 02, looks to pursue and successfully executes an Immelman (4/5).  Red 01 (for some reason I neglected to put the red trail on him) dives and pulls left, picking up speed (6/4).  Red 03 then performs a wingover, pulling into a terrible deflection shot on Bruiser 04; I just realized I screwed up!  I shouldn't have allowed Red 03 to pull a 'fighter maneuver' and then fire.  Oh well; in any case, despite the terrible shot, Bruiser 04 was still uncomfortable enough with the incoming rounds that he went evasive, and the guns miss (4/5).

Red 02 then busts an Immelman (4/4) to turn straight into Bruiser 02 and 04.  But then Bruiser 01 cuts hard right and dives (6/2), line up a shot and fires a missile at Red 04. 

The MiG tries to evade the incoming missile, but is only partially successful and his aircraft is damaged.  Bruiser 04 dives and cuts hard left, turning onto Red 01's tail.

Bruiser 03 hangs a right and dives, 5/3, while the damaged Red 04 is in distress, with Bruiser 01 still on his tail.  He turns right, looking to pick up some help from his comrades.  Red 03 wants to drop, hang right, and toss a missile Bruiser 03's way, but his teeth are still chattering from the recoil of his 30mm cannons and he bungs it, straight and dropping to 2/3.  Bruiser 04 comes left, maintaining speed and altitude (5/4), and launches a missile at Red 01.  The MiG pilot has his aircraft shimmying and shaking, but the missile flies straight up his tail pipe, destroying his aircraft and killing him!

Then I missed a picture (my apologies)...  Red 02 slows up and goes nose to nose with Bruiser 02, firing his guns.  Bruiser 02 tries evasive but fails, too scared of a mid-air collision!  But apparently the Communist pilot was scared too, as his rounds went wide of the mark.

And the wounded Red 01's time has come to a close.  With no friends coming to his aid, Bruiser 01 nudges in behind him...

And guns him down.  Another Communist pilot goes down with the ship.

With Red 02 having slowed down and shooting at him, Bruiser 02 wants to perform a wingover, cutting speed and reversing course in order to force the MiG past and end up on his tail.  But he's apparently still cleaning up his flightsuit from the near miss and isn't paying enough attention to the flight controls, and he bungs it, straight and dropping to 2/3.

Bruiser 01 pulls right, but then Bruiser 02's nightmare scenario comes to fruition as Red 02 successfully pulls a wingover, putting him right on the freedom-loving capitalist-democrat pilot's tail.   The MiG's guns begin chattering...

Bruiser 02 does everything he can to juke the enemy pilot, but 30mm rounds begin slamming into his aircraft, and at such low altitude, he rides it right into the deck...

And here I thought I was going to get off scot-free...  Of course, once again I committed treason, aiding the enemy by allowing them to perform a fighter maneuver and then fire in the same turn...

Bruiser 03 is an idiot, not totally in control of his aircraft, and his momentum and indecision carries him right off the map (don't worry, I can roll to see if he comes back), while Bruiser 04 comes around to the left.  Red 03 pulls off a Split-S maneuver, dropping and reversing course (4/1).  He's better find some altitude.

And he does: Red 03 power climbs and comes right on Bruiser 01, 5/2 (if he'd have failed that maneuver I would have rolled to see if he crashed).    With Red 03 focusing on Bruiser 01, Bruiser 04 cuts left and dives, looking to line him up, though he's a bit fast (6/3).  Bruiser 03 re-enters the aerial battlefield, and Bruiser 01 climbs and cuts right (3/3).  I'm not sure what he was thinking, to be honest: Red 02's eyes get big as saucers as the looming F-4 Phantom grows larger in his windscreen!  Red 02 continues straight and level, flicks the toggle, and launches a missile at Bruiser 01.  Seeing the missile too late, Bruiser 01 commences evasive maneuvers...

But it's too late!  The missile strikes the nose cone of the F-4 and it explodes in mid-air, killing the pilot!

All of a sudden the good guys find themselves 2 vs 2, with one of the two (Bruiser 03) out screwing off in the hinterland...

But the Cuban Liberation Air Force (the good guys) quickly strike back.  While Red 02 cuts hard right and dives to pick up speed (4/3), Bruiser 04 hops onto Red 03's tail and launches a missile...

And another aircraft explodes in mid-air, with the pilot heading to Boot Hill.

Man, these guys have not had much luck with ejection rolls...

Red 02 continues his right turn, scanning the sky to re-acquire the CLAF F-4s, while Bruiser 03 and 04 both turn into him.  However, at that moment the F-4 pilots realized they'd burned up most of their fuel.  Bruiser 03 called out "Bingo Fuel" and the two F-4s turned and headed to the barn.

Alright, another fun and exciting fight!  I'm very comfortable with the rules at this point (despite the two cases of allowing fighter maneuvers and then firing in the same turn), and I've got my system down in terms of playing, note-taking, and picture taking (despite missing one), so I'm ready to rock.  So this is the last fight of Day 1 of the War of Liberation, and, as such, is the last of the 'even up' fights, where it's four F-4s vs four MiG-21s, coming straight on at each other from opposite sides.  From here on out it will all be randomized: number of aircraft in the engagement, speeds, altitude, and entry location.  Also, I am adding in some spotting rules, so that will factor into the fight as well.  You may think that's odd, and sure, I suppose it is in terms of modern-era aircraft with radar, particularly operating at dogfighting range, but give me a break, I'm looking to play a fun game!  So, all those factors will be randomized, and then they'll have to deal with spotting too.

With regards to the game, wow!  A total of five aircraft were shot down, and every single pilot was lost.  I'm not sure how many days we'll be able to keep this up!  The stats at the end of Day 1 are:

CLAF Kills: 8
Castro Regime Kills: 4

So not too bad, we'll see if we can keep this going.  Next fight coming right up.


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