By now, most of you have played Kuril Sunrise.
It's a pretty neat, small, but interesting scenario. I'd call it "manageable" and fun. I'm going to present this in generic unit terms as I do not really want to spoil anything for anyone else. Please note that I have played this scenario about ten times with many different outcomes. That's what makes it fun.
Below are my specific comments about my game from the Japanese perspective:
As I began the scenario I had reviewed each of my platforms and the weapons available.
A 3-ship group is located to the west of the islands (needing to travel east) and they are armed with Harpoons which should be enough to kill the convoy. Their only problem seems to be the fact that they have to be within 75 miles of the convoy to fire. Obviously, they need to move east.
At one of the Japanese air bases there are 8 F-4 planes armed with ASM that can also be used to attack ships. There only problem is that they are limited to a 450-mile radius with no tankers.
There are about ten Japanese subs positioned along the suspected route of the convoy. These might be able to get in front of the convoy, and they might be able to get off a shot. If nothing else, they could provide some update as to where the convoy is.
There are about 25 F-15s to be used for air-to-air combat. They are limited by the designer to have an extended long recovery period which really limits them.
There are about 10 P-3s that are designed for sub warfare. I ended up using them as search platforms more than anything.
The Russians have a convoy of about 10 cargo ships escorted by some old Soviet Frigates that need to travel in a southwesterly direction toward the Kurils.
The Russians have a few subs out in front of the convoy to "sweep" the area.
The Russians also have three bases in the area from which planes (Flankers and Foxhounds) can be launched from.
The Russians also have many SSM launchers positioned along the island chain to keep any of the Japanese ships from getting too close.
Having played (or started) the scenario a few times before, I know that the scenario was designed to pit lots of Japanese planes and Russian planes in a huge air battle at the start. I elected to try a different strategy because I was constantly running out of planes and not having any air cover. I first restricted the area of my patrol, and only sent up a few planes at a time. Many air battles were avoided, but at the same time there was so much Russian plane activity that I needed to send up some fighters to scare off the Russians from my P-3s. Each time I did so, I avoided destruction, but I also wasted my fighters. So, while my fighters weren't getting killed, they were still down for 10 hours. Eventually, as before, I ran out of fighters.
The P-3s started off looking for subs, but kept getting chased away. When the fighters were all grounded, the P-3s had to abandon their sub searching efforts and then search for the convoy from afar. The P-3s stayed south and east of the Kurils and would turn on their radars on only when close to where they though that the ships could be. Often then were met by patrolling Foxhounds and were shot down. My P-3 inventory began to shrink.
My subs were able to locate a few Russian subs. Occasionally they would get a shot off, and then be pounced on by a bunch of torpedoes a few minutes later. I later learned from my P-3s that the area was also covered by Russian ASW aircraft which were dropping a ton of sonobouys and torpedoes on any of my subs that they find. They seemed content to trade one of their subs for one of mine.
One of my P-3s was able to spot and track the convoy. I figured that they would continue at the same path and speed, so I marked the expected path with Reference Points which I named to coincide with various hours in the game. Usually, I would end up losing the P-3 in the process.
At this point in the game I didn't think that things were going very well. My airplane strategy had sort of failed because they were grounded, but not destroyed. Still, they were unavailable, so they were no good to me right now. That meant that I would likely need to destroy the convoy using my ship's SSM and the 8 F-4s armed with ASMs. But, neither of these things would happen for a long time due to their limited range.
I continued to see a bunch of Russian satellites going overhead, but I never saw that anything really ever came of it.
I had a chance to attack an Russian Oscar sub with one of my subs, but it came at the same time that a Russian ship also appeared. I could see what the ship was, but I only knew that the sub was a missile boat. I was not expecting a ship. The Russian ship, I could see, was armed with SSMs, and I started thinking that the ship could potentially destroy my three ship group. So I sent torpedoes at the ship and the sub at the same time. The ship was destroyed, the sub managed to escape, and the unseen planes overhead destroyed my sub. At the time I was satisfied that I had made a wise choice to kill a ship that could actually hurt my ships. I later discovered that it was a mistake.
The convoy continued to move toward its destination. The Russians had control of the skies. My 3-ship group was moving toward the convoy, and I had to wait until my F-15s were refueled. I was also down to just 4 P3-s. I also miscalculated the ship speed to intercept the convoy, so I had to speed them up. That meant that they could be walking into a sub trap. So, I created a new P-3 patrol mission in front of my ships to ward of any subs.
The new P-3 mission attracted some Flankers to the area. I only had 8 SAMs in my 3-ship group, and I wanted to preserve them, so I withheld fire, allowing the Flankers to get close. The Flankers downed another P-3. I was now down to just three.
Shortly thereafter, I started to get some Shipwreck missiles fired my way. The Shipwrecks can come from Oscar-class missile subs, and that is likely what I failed to kill earlier. So, by going after the ship armed with two SSMs, I allowed an Oscar with 24 missiles to escape. It was a bad decision. The shipswrecks, however, were coming one at a time, and were spaced out about every 20 minutes or so. I don't know whether the planes that flew overhead located me, or whether it was one of the satellites. I believe it to be the latter. Each time the missile came I would speed up and try to move away from the area. Each time it would cost me at least two more of my SAMs. Each time, however, I was successful.
I knew that the SAMs would only last so long. I also knew that if it was an Oscar, that they had 24 missiles to start out with, so eventually they would come in unopposed.
At this point the battle seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. My last airborne P-3 again located the convoy, and I was able to again plot its course. Nothing much had changed from the last one. Again, the P-3 was shot down. This would mean that I had only one left, and that I would essentially be blind for about 8 more hours after that was was gone. It was looking bleak.
I had one chance. I had a sub that was basically in the intended path of the convoy. Whether the convoy would actually come (as expected) was another story. I continued along toward the path. Then, a Russian sub appeared. Figuring that I needed to survive, I withheld fire, hoping that the convoy would be along soon and that I wouldn't be detected. I managed to avoid the sub.
Then, when things looked really bad, a Russian ship appeared 14 miles away. Then another, then another, and another. I continued to move to try to get in front of them. I was about 3 miles away from several of them. I had no idea if this was the left or the right (or the middle) of the convoy. I did know that the convoy was supposed to be escorted by some old Grishas, and that they carried SAMs. I din't know if it was better to go for the Grishas with the hope that if I knock them out that the SSMs from my 3-ship group could destroy the convoy, OR maybe I should just go after the convoy ships now. I then remembered that my 3-ship group would eventually run out of SAMs, so it might not even be around to shoot at the convoy, so I better go after the convoy now.
Just as I was about to make my attack, the Oscar and a Kilo suddenly appeared. They altered their course and were heading my way. No time to waste. All six tubes fired torpedoes at the first six targets (one of which was a Grisha). I then reloaded two of the tubes with Harpoons, and the other four with more torpedoes, and fired at the next group, which had now revealed themselves by running to escape my torpedoes in the water. The Harpoons struck another Grisha. Those were reloaded with my remaining two harpoons and fired at another Grisha. Those, however, were shot down.
The torpedoes, meanwhile, were great. Each hit their target, and each ship was sunk. I then turned my attention toward the approaching Oscar. But, before I could get there, and before the last of the convoy ships was struck, I suddenly had torpedoes coming from two different directions. One was in the direction of another suspected sub, so I fired s bearing-only torpedo in that direction.
Meanwhile, another Shipwreck missile was launched and was heading toward my 3-ship group. I was now down to just four SAMs left.
I avoided the first and the second attempt of the torpedoes attacking my sub, and was then advised that the last of the convoy ships had been destroyed. I was then advised that I had won the game with a TRIUMPH. But, I wanted to see how the scenario played out. Within a minute of sinking the last Russian convoy ship,the Japanese sub was destroyed by a torpedo fired from another MPA above. The crew of the Japanese sub obviously all died as heroes.
While I won the game, if my sub hadn't been positioned jut right, then it was likely that I wouldn't have been able to kill all (which was necessary for victory) of my convoy ships. Additionally, I could have easily been sunk earlier by that other sub that I avoided.
I would have run out of SAMs on my 3-ship group in just two more missiles, so the parade of Shipwrecks would have sent that group to their deaths. That would mean that only my 8 F-4s (armed with ASMs) and four remaining subs (which were spread out) would have been the only way that I could have achieved victory.
So, while this was a victory, it could have easily resulted in a loss. My strategy to withhold the fighters was neither here nor there. It was probably the correct thing to do, but it didn't really do anything to win the battle. Either way, the Russians still had Air Superiority.
Overall, it was a good scenario.
I may try to play it from the Russian perspective, or I may try to escort the Japanese P-3s with F-15s in another scenario attempt from the Japanese side.