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Down Town 1968 - 7/14/2019 8:43:30 AM   
fitzpatv

 

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I'm working through the standalone scenarios in date order, which brought me to Down Town, a strike by the US carrier Ranger against North Vietnamese defences around Hanoi in 1968.

You have a wide selection of aircraft with which to take out a couple of bridges. Against this is ranged a force of about 30 MiG-21, MiG-17 and J-6 jets, numerous Guideline SAM sites in a ring around the target and close-range portable missiles an AA guns. There are also three enemy patrol boats, but these are a distraction only.

There is an allied USAF strike which goes in first under AI control. It will probably take out some fighters and might do some damage on the ground, but it will be massacred by the defences. Nothing you can do about this, but it doesn't cost you points.

The briefing orders you to use all your aircraft at once. NOT a good idea, as it creates confusion and exposes planes to attack and the risk of running out of fuel too quickly. I went in with my 16 Phantom fighters in pairs, 6 Corsair attack planes with anti-radar Shrike missiles, plus two SEAD jammers and a Hawkeye AEW plane, leaving the rest on the carrier until later. It is VITAL to manually switch on your sensors, which are off by default!!!

By staying out of range of the SAMs and luring the Vietnamese fighters onto me piecemeal, I was able to shoot down 23 enemy for the loss of a Phantom to a plane which got lucky and evaded three missiles beforehand. Unfortunately, you get no credit for enemy planes destroyed, so the net result was MINUS 50 victory points!!

With the Vietnamese air force out of the way, I sent the Corsairs into a suitable central position, SW of the targets, to take out the SAM sites. These can't be attacked while their radars are switched-off but, fortunately, some are always on. I fired a total of 6 Shrikes. Two did significant damage, killing a radar token and seriously degrading a SAM site. The other four chronically malfunctioned. Worse, other SAM sites returned fire and scored two hits with three shots on roughly 20% chances (I was trying to operate near the limit of the missiles' ranges and running away when I could). Net result, the loss of another 100 victory points.

With little chance of completing the mission with my remaining three Corsairs, I gave up.

Essentially, what is basically a good, challenging scenario is ruined by over-harsh victory conditions. Destroying an enemy ground facility (damage doesn't count) scores 50 points, the same as losing an aircraft. This doesn't balance and, while there might be a massive award for taking out the bridges, I didn't get close to finding out. I could, of course, go back to earlier saves or replay the scenario in the hope of getting better luck, but it seems rather pointless and potentially frustrating.

Anyone have any better luck?
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RE: Down Town 1968 - 7/14/2019 10:49:35 AM   
Gunner98

 

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I haven't played this one in years so no idea how to tackle it.

On your point about
quote:

It is VITAL to manually switch on your sensors,


You can do this for multiple units at once, either 'Shift-select' or by dragging the mouse and selecting. Or you can do it for the entire side in the Doctrine window.

B

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RE: Down Town 1968 - 7/19/2019 9:40:26 PM   
fitzpatv

 

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Thanks - good to know.

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RE: Down Town 1968 - 5/8/2021 12:36:18 PM   
fitzpatv

 

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Needing a break before resuming Northern Fury, I returned to this scenario to see if I could do any better with more experience of the game.

First of all, it has changed since the arrival of CMO. The duration has been cut from a day to 4 hours, which means one sortie only per plane. The victory conditions have been improved, with Vietnamese planes now scoring 25VP and patrol boats 50, but USN (not USAF) losses now cost a sobering 200. Enemy planes shot-down by the allied USAF forces score for you as normal. The USAF strike is now much better-run by the AI and is no longer the total disaster it was under CMANO. Finally, the cruiser Long Beach has been replaced by the less-powerful Providence.

Having played some big scenarios since last time, I was surprised at how relatively simple Down Town now seemed. I took the trouble to adjust doctrine for all of my squadrons, making emissions Active, switching-off Auto Evade and putting all fighters on Winchester weapon state instead of Shotgun.

The USAF strike went-in first as before and managed to hit a couple of SAM sites and the North Vietnamese sector air defence control bunker (though how much difference the latter made in practice I'm not sure). A Phantom and Thunderchief were lost, but this cost no points. Five MiG-21s and a MiG-17 were destroyed by the Air Force boys. With 500VP needed just to avoid a Disaster, the 150 scored only went so far.

Perhaps the trickiest phase of the battle was neutralising the enemy fighters. Losses cost too much, so you have to be very careful. I mostly stuck to using my SARH Sparrows and didn't risk close-in duels with rear-aspect Sidewinders unless there was no choice. At one stage, I missed 14 times in succession with Sparrows, but eventually prevailed and downed 14 MiGs and J-6 Farmers without loss, clearing the skies. I have to give the AI some credit for skillful handling of the J-6s. The last one was incredibly persistent and, with my two attacking F-4s down to Sidewinders, kept turning at the last moment to prevent them getting rear-aspect shots, while threatening to get-in close and use its cannon. It didn't buy being lured into SAM range over the fleet and it took a good 20 minutes' play and much evasion before I finally managed to nail it.

The Vietnamese torpedo boats made their suicidal run at the fleet and were duly destroyed by Providence's guns for a 150-point gift. They are distraction value only.

With the way clear, I mounted the strike, reassured that I did not have to get planes back to the carrier in the time limit - just bomb the targets. With a pair of Phantoms still covering, the Corsairs with Shrikes led the way, but had no targets as the Guideline sites stayed 'dark'. The Skyhawks and Intruders then went-in at low altitude to keep under the SA-2s' minimum ceiling. The plan was to go-in at Afterburner to exceed any Grail MANPADs' maximum engagement speed, but Skyhawk fuel considerations made this impossible (even with a tanker station in support off the coast). As a result, I lost two Skyhawks to a Grail and a 37mm AA battery, but this was amply offset by the total destruction of both bridges (by a flight of 4 Skyhawks each)and the railway yard (by 4 Intruders, with a follow-up not needed).

All aircraft then disengaged without further incident and it ended in a Triumph with a score of +3,275.

Refreshed...and so back to Northern Fury.



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RE: Down Town 1968 - 5/12/2021 3:02:59 AM   
robphx387

 

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I'll have to check this mission out someday, seems interesting. In a mission I played recently, i had some issues with trying to take out SAM sites too. If they are not radiating radar wise, what is the best way to detect them? Is it really as "simple" as getting some jammers and trying to blast through them, hoping they fire and give themselves away?

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RE: Down Town 1968 - 5/12/2021 10:45:32 AM   
Gunner98

 

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From: The Great White North!
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quote:

Is it really as "simple" as getting some jammers and trying to blast through them, hoping they fire and give themselves away?


Sometimes. But it's probably better to use a safer method.

-find a way around, perhaps using your jammers to reduce the effectiveness to allow that
-Use an unmanned stimulus to get them to lite up - MALDs, TALDs or other decoys work as do Cruise Missiles etc
-Use terrain to mask you movement

Remember that you mission is usually (but certainly not always) to kill the thing that the SAM is protecting, not the SAM itself.

_____________________________

Check out our novel, Northern Fury: H-Hour!: http://northernfury.us/
And our blog: http://northernfury.us/blog/post2/
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