Monday, June 5, 2017

Phantoms Over Havana, Fight #4


So it's 1115 on 2 Feb 1990, Day 2 of the War of Liberation, and CLA aircraft have flown several sorties over Cuba this morning without contact.  However, a flight of fighter bombers is inbound to strike military targets near Havana when Castro-regime fighters are spotted.  Boxcar 01 and 04 are flying escort and are diverted to intercept.

Overview, north is up.  Boxcar 01 and 04 are at top left (northwest),while the enemy aircraft (Red 01, 02, and 03) are at bottom left.  The CLA aircraft are heading southeast, while the Castro-regime aircraft are heading east, so despite being outnumbered, the CLA F-4s should have the advantage.  However, it will all come down to spotting.  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.

Boxcar 01 and 04 are at speed 3 and altitude 3.

While the Castro-regime aircraft are at speed 5 and altitude 3.  Everyone is carrying four air-to air missiles.

It threw this photo in to show the 'mandatory move.'  At the beginning of each turn, each aircraft is required to travel their speed, straight and level, and then when they activate they may maneuver.  I think it's kind of a nifty mechanic, throws some stuff in the game, and doesn't let aircraft just 'hang there,' feels like they're actually flying (to me, at least).  I won't show the mandatory move anymore, but know that it occurs as the first action of each new turn.

The action starts with Red 01 activating first; the enemy pilot is cruising straight and level at 5/3, when he notices CLA F-4s at nine o'clock.  Tally Ho!  Boxcar 01 also moves ahead straight and level (3/3), but fails to notice the enemy aircraft (despite very good odds he would).  To make matters worse, Boxcar 04 also fails to spot!  Red 03 dives and cuts hard left (5/1), picking up speed and trying to get lost in the ground clutter (to make it harder to spot him).  Red 02 tries the same thing, but he's too busy daydreaming about seeing his Senorita after he lands and bungs it, heading straight and dropping to 4/2.

But he is quickly able to remedy the situation: Red 02 dives and turns left (3/1).  Red 01 decides to take a chance: with the CLA F-4s continuing straight and level, he correctly ascertains his flight is yet to be spotted, and with his wingmen turning left and diving into the running-pig-dog capitalist cowboys, he wants to draw all eyes to himself by climbing to help the CLA pilots spot him (and him alone; as the Castro flight is now split up, the CLA pilots have to test separately to spot each aircraft).  But he's too busy calculating and bungs the maneuver, heading straight but dropping to 4/2.  Boxcar 01 continues straight and level and ends up spotting Red 01 anyway, and, as planned by the bad guy leader, his attention is focused there and he fails to spot Red 02 and 03.  Red 03 continues straight and level at 5/1, and Boxcar 04 hears his leader call out the tally, so he dives and hangs left, moving onto Red 01's tail.  But as he turns left he spots Red 03 out of his peripheral vision and warns Boxcar 01!

Boxcar 04, concerned about the imminent threat posed by Red 03, performs an Immelman, climbing and reversing course (3/3), only to have Red 03 cut hard right straight into him (5/1), looking to keep up speed and head straight under Boxcar 04 and onto Boxcar 01's tail!  Boxcar 01 holds straight and heads to the deck (6/1), but neither CLA pilot is aware Red 02 is out there.  Red 02 holds straight and picks up speed (4/1), while Red 01 realizes the jig is up and cuts left while climbing (2/3).

Red 02 climbs and heads slight left (2/3), nudging in on Boxcar 04's tail, while Red 03 pulls an Immelman (3/3), also on Boxcar 04's tail, which is perhaps a tactical error in that it leaves Red 01 head on with Boxcar 01, all alone.  Having said that, Red 01 is feeling pretty good about himself; he wants to dive, come left, and go to guns on Boxcar 01...

And he successfully pulls off the maneuver.  Boxcar 01 jukes as 30mm rounds go streaming by...


Boxcar 04 goes down in flames as the pilot ejects. 

Things are looking grim: we started off in great tactical position, but couldn't find the bad guys.  Now one bird is down and the other has TWO MiGs on his tail...

The tactical situation dictates that... Boxcar 04 gets his sorry ass the hell out of dodge!  But he's got more balls than brains, so he tries to pull of a Split-S, to dive and turn back into Red 03 and 02, but here fate smiles on me.  Rather than pull of this incredibly over-aggressive maneuver in order to soar to his fiery death, he can't decide whether to go right at Red 03 or left at Red 02, so he fumbles the controls and bungs the maneuver!!!  What this means is that he continues straight, but loses speed and altitude.

Boxcar 04 is now low and slow, but he's pointed in the right direction.  What he needs to do is pick up speed and exit the arena, live to fight another day, but he's got to be quicker on the stick than the Communist pilots.

Red 03 wants to climb, pull right, and go to guns on Boxcar 4, but he's shaking visibly due to the laughter caused by Boxcar 04's abortive Split-S maneuver, and so he bungs it, heading straight and dropping speed/altitude!  And, even better, he has now masked Red 02's missile shot on Boxcar 04!!!  Red 02 holds on his current heading and throttles back to 2/3, trying to buy time for Red 03 to clear his field of fire, while Red 01 comes left to see if he can stick his nose in the fight.

But before any of that can occur, Boxcar 04 is able to pick up speed and depart the field of battle.  The Castro-regime pilots immediately roll to the CLA Air-Guard channel (which is in the clear, not encrypted or freq-hopping) and begin cat-calling him ;)

Well damn, that didn't go as planned.  But damn are the rules working like a champ!  The game was quick and fun, with much of the drama rolling around the spotting aspect, which immediately put the CLA pilots at a disadvantage they just couldn't overcome, particularly given Cool Hand Raoul's (Red 01) marksmanship.

Thus the first fight of Day 2 goes 0-1 to the bad guys, bringing the total tally to 8-5.  Next up is the second fight of Day 2, so stand by.


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