Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Vietnam Air Combat: Intense Missile & Gun Combat

Flying straight level and fast, I hear over the radio we are in combat with something I cannot see yet. I can see a friendly fighter pair so a vector in on them (see below). I also make my first mistake in the game, "Do you know what it is yet?" No peeking ahead. 

Next turn I am still flying straight and lever but faster, still trying to see the enemy. My thumb is twitching over the after burner button. I cannot resist, I press it and decide to add to the atmosphere with a home made sound effect of an afterburner (or rather a man with a runny nose and cold pretending to be a jet plane at an air show, dignity none, stares quite a few). Meanwhile the first pair of Mig 17's are tangling with the Phantom's. Pity the Phantom's only arm after three hexes and yes no close in guns for the Americans but plenty of cannon fire for the NVAF! (see below): 

A 'lucky hit' and a Phantom starts to burn (see below). I suddenly realise my first mistake, I should have started warming up my missile release battery (it takes two turns) as soon as I knew we were in combat. I will be in combat but my missiles won't be able to fire! You have to be careful as the battery life is only twelve combat turns.

I see the enemy. I am flying straight and very, very fast. I have also climbed a level to be at the American's height. I am not looking forward to the next move as I will have to figure out how to turn and work out what legal move I have made (remember the charts?). My wing man Russian fires at a Phantom and misses and a Phantom returns fire at me. One Phantom is so close I can read his tactical markings. If he survives Vietnam he'll probably make senator one day (see below):     

A USAF Phantom pilot ejects initiating an infamous Search And Rescue (SAR) mission behind enemy lines. Meanwhile I successfully work out how to do a legal turn, even turning on the after burners (with the obligatory sound effect). This lines me up nicely for a missile strike from the future senator (see below). Luckily he's pulled too many G's this go so cannot release his Sparrowhawk this turn . Next turn I am probably dead meat. However 'three' Mig 17's are lined up on his tail (count them, see below): 

The Phantom is mortally wounded. The pilot ejects, initiating a second US SAR mission. With two Phantoms down  and out numbered 3:1 the USAF jets decide to bug-out and live to fight another day (see below).  

Intense, but extremely good fun, though it took three hours to play a short game of five combat turns, but we were all new to the game. This scenario seems weighed heavily against the Americans, but historically they found themselves missile heavy with no short range armament. Worse still, because there were so many friendly US jets in the skies above Vietnam to avoid "blue-on-blue" incidents visual confirmation was required before missiles could be fired. To get a good visual you find yourself within 'gun range' and the NVAF know they have the advantage if they can stay close. A cruel vicious circle which partly explained why the US kill ratio dropped from a massive 16:1 in the Korean War to an almost evens 2:1 in the Vietnam War. Worse still the US investment in each plane and air crew required to fly it was much heavier.


Stryker said...

Not my period but really enjoyed your entertaining write-up !

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Not really mine either, especially in the air, but having completed my first combat mission I would say I'd have another go

John Lambshead said...

That's the trouble with jet games: hours to play a few minutes 'real time'. Ever tried Foxbat and Phantom: shudder.

Great report.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Hello John,

Never had the pleasure of Foxbat and Phantom (sounds like a good pub name to me)

I have some 1/144 jets I someday may take to the skies with, 1/600 are so very, very small, but then we needed lots of small hexes

Exiled FoG

Al said...

Such variety to your gaming Geordie :), great stuff

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Cheers Al, but I must confess to piggy-backing on some excellent games runs by 'others' down at the clubs I go to

UI am also a wargaming butterfly ;)