Wednesday, July 27, 2022

First Air Battle Over the Leek-Leek

At 0600 hours, reports were coming in that Aquor-Ornur jets were flying over the region of the Leek-Leek National Forest. The commander of Sardeese AFB, which represents the Symbalian western military district, quickly scrambled the only combat-capable squadron still at the base, the 6th Squadron. The 4th and 5th squadrons, consisting of F-16s, were very recently transferred east. It was up to the 6th Squadron to take on the aggressors. Unfortunately, 6th Squadron consisted of the Hawk 200 fighter. These are light, multi-role fighters have yet to be tested in air combat. By 0700 hours, the 6th Squadron was heading to the border to defend Symbalian air space. 

The Match Up
Aquor-Ornur now has two types of fighters: the F5A Tiger II, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen. The Gripen is a more recent acquisition from Northern Chalupistan. The more veteran pilots as well as hired mercenary pilots fly the Gripens. The old Tiger IIs are flow by less experienced pilots. I rolled a D6 with a 50% chance of the Symbalians intercepting either. They rolled the Tiger IIs.  Rules used for this battle: AirWar: C21 with the ranges cut in half to accommodate my kitchen table.

Symbalian Hawk 200 light fighters.

Aquor-Ornur F5E Tiger IIs. These are painted in
Southern Chalupastan colors, but Aquor-Ornur's 
paint scheme is close enough.

The Tiger IIs have the advantage over the Hawk 200s.  They are faster and have a higher power rating than the Hawk 200. The Hawk 200 has a modern radar system and can carry four AA missiles, rather than two on the Tiger II. Both sides carried the AIM-9P3 Sidewinder missile. This is an all-aspect, heat-seeking missile. To compensate for the shortcomings of the Hawk 200, I gave the Symbalian squadron one pilot rated Good (the flight leader), and the two others rated as Average. The Aquor-Ornurians had one Average pilot (flight leader) and two pilots rated Poor. 

The Battle

Turn 1 

Looking from the east. The F5Es can just be seen
at the upper right edge of the table.

I rolled for where the two squadrons would enter from.  Aquor-Ornurians (abbreviated A-O for now on) entered the board from the north. The Symbalians came in from the east and had the advantage of the sun behind them They hoped that would add to their favor. Their better radar picked up on the A-Os first and they increased speed to try to catch them at their beam. The A-Os, still unaware of the Symbalians, maintained their course and cruising speed. 

Turn 2

The A-Os spotted the Symbalians, increased speed to maximum, and changed course to intercept. Both closed in.

Turn 3
Getting near weapons range, both sides started maneuvering to get behind each other. One of the Symbalians successfully performed a Barrel Roll, while another did a simple turn. The flight leader tried to execute a Barrel Roll and Turn that would have lined him up for a kill:

Despite his pilot rating bonus, the Symbalian flight leader failed. Not only did he find himself in a position he didn’t want to be, he greatly lost speed. Meanwhile, two of the A-O jets split off to the left and right to go after the Symbalians, but the one plane in the center flew straight and ended up almost nose to nose with the Symbalian flight leader:

 The two jets simultaneously fired their guns. Neither one could miss at such close range:

Guns a Blaz'n!!

The Symbalian flight leader gained a bonus damage die whereas the A-O pilot had a reduced number of damage dice due to his poor rating. The amount of hit damage to both fighters was enormous and both planes were destroyed. The Symbalian flight leader, though wounded, managed to successfully eject from this aircraft. The A-O jet was obliterated with no chance of the young pilot surviving. 

Turn 4
Both sides successfully passed a morale test due to the losses and the battle continued…but only for a short time. One Symbalian failed a Barrel Roll and Turn maneuver. The other Symbalian attempted a Split-S and failed that one: 

The Symbalians can't catch a break when it comes
to complex maneuvers!

The failed Split-S maneuver cost him two points of damage for excess speed. On the other hand, the two remaining A-O pilots, even though they were both rookies, successfully executed an Immelmann and a Break Right Turn respectively. Because of the failed maneuvers, neither Symbalian jets were in a position to fire missiles or guns. The both A-O jets launched a Sidewinder that found their targets, hit, and shot the Hawk 200s out of the sky:

Fortunately, both pilots successfully ejected. Their rescue transponders indicated they were sill in friendly territory. Helicopters were dispatched to pick them up. The two A-O F5Es turned west to head back to base to celebrate their victory and memorialize their fallen comrade. A-O commanders on the ground were satisfied with the outcome. At least for now, attack aircraft and helicopters will be unimpeded in their support of ground troops invading Symbalia!

Postgame Analysis
Chuck Yeager said about air combat, "It's the man, not the machine." This did not seem to apply to the outcome of this battle. I blame the loss of the three Symbalian fighter jets on poor rolls when trying to pass the special maneuvers difficulty ratings. It led all three into harm’s way. The flight leader’s roll was so low that not even his +1 allowed him to execute it and he ended up virtually face to face with his opponent because of the failure. Unlike other rules, pilots have to pass a difficult rating test to successfully execute what they call a special maneuver. AirWar C21 really has some major penalties for not passing the difficulty rating test. Not only do you not end up where you wanted to be but you often lose a lot more speed. On top of that, failures mean the aircraft does not get its particular defensive bonus for that maneuver. It is frustrating, but it does make for some interesting outcomes. I will give another set of rules for the next air combat game. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Crisis Along the Aquor-Ornur/Symbalia Border!

Background Situation
After years of poor forestry management, Aquor-Ornur has very little in the way of forests left. Despite a shift to industry and other agricultural products, Aquor-Ornurians began crossing the Arnor River to illegally harvest Symbalian lumber. A prime target is the Leek-Leek National Forest Preserve. In the dead of night, poachers cross the river on makeshift barges or bridges, harvest what they can, and then either cross over with the timber or float it down river to be picked up at a secret point. The Anor-Ornurian government has largely turned a blind eye to the situation even when Symbalia formerly protests at the UN.

Symbalia has been actively countering the timber poachers and for the most part have been successful. A combination of forest ranger units, ground surveillance radar, and arial reconnaissance using drones and aircraft have made a big dent in the illegal lumber trade.  Nonetheless, the lure of rare, expensive types of wood sees Aquor-Ornurians still attempting to cross the river and harvest timber.

Buildup and Crisis
In the past six months, the lumber poachers have become more aggressive in their logging. Loggers have been arming themselves. There have been minor skirmishes between the armed poachers and park rangers. No casualties have occurred and the poachers fled or were captured. Several drones were shot at along the river and one was shot down. Symbalia changed tactics by more aggressive interdiction of poachers before they crossed the river. This was accomplished by armed patrol aircraft buzzing (but not shooting at) the poachers barges and bridges. This had the desired effect of the poachers abandoning their barges or bridge. Bridges were then demolished by rangers on the bank of the river. 

On the early morning of May 6th, a drone observed vehicles on a makeshift bridge hauling lumber across the river into Aquor-Ornur. Poorly hidden on the bank of the river appeared to be an anti-aircraft gun emplacement. Poachers on both sides of the river and the bridge began taking potshots at the drone. The regional head of the Symbalian forest rangers requested air support from the air force. It was granted and at 8:00 am, an EMB-314 Super Tucano armed with two 250 lbs bombs in addition to its machine guns took off. The Super Turcano approached from the south:

EMB-314: This is Slow Rooster to base, Slow Rooster to base. We are approaching from the south along the river at altitude of 800 m and have sighted the bridge 1.5 Km away. Permission to reduce altitude to preform a flyby.

HQ: Permission granted Slow Rooster. Warning, possible AA emplacement on west bank of river.

EMB-314: Roger that, adjusting altitude and reducing speed for run.

EMB-314: Executing flyby...(moments later) HQ! HQ! We are taking fire from the bridge and bank! Permission to engage hostiles!

HQ (after a minute pause): permission granted!

A twin 20mm AA gun fired at the airplane along with a number of armed poachers. The aircraft took minor damage, but none that affected performance. The Super Tucano passed over the bridge, turned 180 degrees, and fired its machine guns at the bridge hitting a truck and three poachers on the bridge. Drivers and other poachers on the bridge scurried off the bridge or dived into the water. The AA gunners abandoned their position, but some poachers on the river bank continued to fire at the plane, again putting some more holes into it. The Super Tucano climbed to a higher altitude and made a second run, this time releasing one of the bombs as it passed over the bridge. The bomb missed the bridge but exploded close enough to destroy it carrying three trucks loaded with lumber down into the river with it. The Super Tucano flew back to base and the loitering drone showed poachers swimming across the river or being picked up by rangers on the Symbalia side. About eight poachers died and 10 were taken into custody by Symbalian rangers. 

Symbalia ordered an investigation into the affair and found that the flight crew were justified in the actions they took, though they were cited for not asking permission to bomb the bridge. They included both cockpit and drone video, as well as photos of the damage taken to the airplane to back up their assessment. They did offer compensation to the victims, but delivered a stern warning that future engagements with armed poachers would be met with deadly force. 

This crisis was just what the military government of Aquor-Ornur needed to distract the populace from their promise of free elections and the return of civilian rule. Condemnation by Aquor-Ornur was swift and vocal. They were outraged by the death of its citizens and played up the fact that these were impoverished men forced into illegal logging. The delegate from Aquor-Ornur heatedly accused Symbalia of war crimes at the UN General Assembly. 

As stated in a previous post, Aquor-Ornur has been building up and modernizing its armed forces. Tension remain high between the two nations, however, Symbalia currently has most of its forces along the border with Bovatopia. On the eve of conflict between Bovatopia and an alliance of Lavonia, Symbalia, and the island nation of Kopitapai, the ambassador of Bovatopia has a meeting with the members of the top generals of Aquor-Ornur who rule the nation...

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Wooden Hexes

I ordered these about a month ago and am now just picking them up. 25mm hexes look a lot tiny-er than I envisioned, but they will do for my air combat games or ship battles with 1/6000 models. I will carefully glue them together and then mount them on some sort of board.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Fantasy Painting Challenge IV: Deep Ones

Well, I wasn't going to do another painting challenge for awhile, but my challenger really wanted to, so I acquiesced. This theme is Deep Ones. I am not up on my latest D&D monsters, but they are included on the Monster Manual. Gee, I wonder where they got them from?

All from Reaper Miniatures.

Deep Ones High Priest

Deep Ones Warriors. They don't look all that fearsome.

Originally, I just ordered the high priest, but I was back in the Motherland (Chicago) and my favorite local brick&mortar store (actually it is the only local store), Games Plus, has a huge selection of Reaper Minis. I mean there is a wall that is about 2/3rds the length of the store devoted to them! So, I picked up two of their plastic ones. They were pretty inexpensive. 

According to canon, they are supposed to be green in color. I am sort of burned out on green from the lizardman, so I am going for purple with maybe a pale green belly. My friend OK'd the color. 

My friend wants to have a scenic included. I told him I'll think about it. Between working on a manuscript for publication, getting ready for the fall semester, and more critically, getting everything lined up for my daughter's big move to college, I have not had too much time for the hobby. I know I spent far more time building the scenery piece than I did painting up the lizardman for the last challenge. At most, I will make some sort of simple stele.

Apologies for the crapy photos. My iPhone has this "sharpen" feature, but it seems to make the pictures more pixelly, or blurry than in focus. The priest photo seems really bad. I don't know why I keep using it.