Thursday, September 7, 2017

Phantoms Over Havana, Fight #12


So it's 1640 on 4 Feb 1990, and the Cuban Liberation Air Force (CLAF) is once again on the prowl.  But the focus of this report, Gentle Reader, is you.  Because I am angry with you, because, for you, I tinkered with the scenario setup and, for you, I tried to make it more interesting and, ultimately, for you, I got the ever-loving @#$% kicked out of me!  So I've got a bone to pick with you, Gentle Reader; but first take a gander at the disaster you inflicted on me.  Or I inflicted upon myself for your benefit...  If it weren't for you, for the "oh, you cheated/used Magic Dice" comments I was sure I'd receive, I'd have probably been a lot happier with the last dogfight of the War of Liberation.

This is a simple two-ship vs two-ship fight, with two of the last MiG-21s left in Castro's Air Force up and about to run into Boxcar 01 and 02, both Regular pilots.

Overview, north is up.  The CLAF F-4s are at top right, heading west (left), while the MiGs are at far right, heading west (far left), i.e., our antagonists are on parallel courses.  But that's not what I rolled up: I actually rolled up the same locations (CLAF in NE, Commies in E), but the real roll-up had both sets of fighters travelling southwest (towards the bottom left corner), placing the CLAF F-4s directly on the tail of the MiGs, just about already in missile range.

So, for you, I changed it.  What a mistake!!!

The aircraft are all 1/600 minis from PicoArmor, and the rules are "Lacquered Coffins," modified a bit to for modern (Hollywood) dogfighting.

The CLAF jets are kinda loitering, low power at mid-altitude (speed 2/alt 3).

While the MiGs are a little lower but a little faster.  This should help the CLAF as they'll lag behind the Commies, making it easier to spot them and harder to be spotted.  Theoretically...

The fight begins with the CLAF F-4s cruising ahead, straight and level, not seeing anything.  Red 01 also pulls up straight and level, but he notices movement at 3 o'clock and checks: it's rebel fighters!  Red 02 turns into the CLAF jets.

The two CLAF F-4s are still cruising along, discussing their favorite New Kids on the Block album (remember, this is 1990 and those are former USAF pilots), happily unaware of the Communist threat, as Red 01 hooks hard right and Red 02 coasts straight in and launches a missile...

The first inkling the CLAF pilots have that there is a problem is when Boxcar 01's missile warning light goes off; it's too late to try evasive action, so he reaches for the chaff and flares, but the missile was fired from such close range it's there before he can even discharge the countermeasures.  Boxcar 01's pilot winces as the missile slams into his aircraft, though he's pleasantly surprised when he realizes he's not dead, just damaged.  But a long way from home...

Finally realizing they might have a problem, the CLAF pilots react.  But they've got more problems: they've ceded position and the initiative (poor card draws sees both CLAF cards come out before the Commies' cards) to the enemy, and they're low and slow.  They both punch the throttles forward.

As Red 02 continues straight in and launches another missile.  The CLAF pilots are actually arguing about which aircraft the missile is targeting...

When Boxcar 02 is struck and begins coming apart.  The rebel pilot ejects and starts humming...  whatever a connoisseur of New Kids on the Block music might hum...

Red 01 pushes the throttle forward, licking his chops at the wounded Boxcar 01, figuring it will be more of a fight to beat out Red 02 than to actually beat Boxcar 01...

And he's right: Red 02 rolls in hot and begins pumping 30mm rounds into the stricken Phantom...

Boxcar 01's pilot is seen mimicking choreographed boy-band dance moves as he drifts down to earth in his parachute.  Well, if you're not good at flying or fightin', ya might as well be good at something...

Well, talk about anti-climactic, and depressing due to the size and scope of my ass-whooping.  I wish I'd have changed the relative starting positions of the two forces, not just their headings.  Because of bad initiative draws and bad spotting rolls it wasn't even a fair fight, and I'm not complaining about the game mechanisms, I'm just saying that was a perfect storm of bad luck that saw me get the @#$% beat outta me.

In any case, enough pissin' and moanin', the War of Liberation is over, we won!  The whole thing was a tremendous amount of fun, and the air campaign portion was a blast.  I think the rules have been sufficiently tested (12 total fights) and they worked like a champ, delivering a lot of tense, fun, dogfights.  I won't claim they're the most realistic or anything, but they do exactly what I want them to do, and I'll be playing them in other eras as well.

So, as always, lets get to some stats.  The Cuban Liberation Air Force started and ended the war with a single fighter squadron: they began with 12 pilots.  Though the war lasted only five days, the squadron quickly lost three pilots killed in action, then robbed some of the ground attack squadrons to replace them, then losing another two pilots killed in action (including one of the replacements).  But they scored well: the Free Cubans ended the war with two Aces and a Veteran pilot.  The CLAF scored a total of twenty victories versus Castro's Air Force, against thirteen losses, with sixteen of those victories coming from the two Aces and one Veteran.

So, with the War of Liberation thus concluded, the single Expeditionary Force's fighter squadron is being expanded to a total of four flights of four (vice the three it had for Liberation), and reorganized in preparation for worldwide deployment.



  1. :-)

    Us gentle readers are such a controlling lot.

    An inglorious end to the air battles.

    You should have cheated and just not written about it!

    1. Shaun,

      Yes, you are a bit demanding, and I martyr myself for you! ;)

      Yeah, a pretty suck-ass end to War of Liberation, but not an end to the air battles. I'm about to have a flight deploy to Cronistria, a flight to South Leon, and then two flights to Saudi Arabia (for Desert Shield/Desert Storm).

      I thought about playing a 'do-over,' but I've just got so much going on I need to keep things moving.

      Hope all is well!