Another Vietnam War scenario, not too difficult but more challenging than Lion's Den (qv). Two US cruisers and two destroyers are bombarding shore targets when they are attacked by patrol boats and aircraft. Despite hints to the contrary in the briefing, there is no threat from shore batteries.
The patrol boats are a mix of innocuous Swatows and P-4s, which are torpedo-armed and have half-decent search radar, with a speed of up to 50 knots. Early on, two Swatows appeared close to the coast, but were easily sunk by the destroyers (Lloyd Thomas and Higbee).
Things then began to get interesting. Two P-4s approached from out to sea to the E, a third Swatow came in from the NW and planes took off from Dong Hoi airfield, posing some fire distribution issues. The covering cruiser Sterett had time to sink a P-4 with Terrier missiles (learning from Lion's Den and firing them in pairs to reduce the malfunction risk).
At this point, a missile appeared beyond the Swatow to the NW. Historically, the US force reported being fired on with a Styx missile, but this wasn't confirmed and North Vietnam apparently didn't have any at the time. The scenario actually simulates this uncertainty very well. The missile seems to come from a very imprecisely-located ship, which I was never able to pinpoint and took no further action after firing. The 'Styx' evaded 6 Terriers from Sterett and was only foiled by the cruiser's Chaff decoys. If I played the scenario again, I still wouldn't know whether to take it seriously or not...
Meanwhile, the cruiser Oklahoma City, well out to sea, had been watching a Soviet spy ship while providing distant air cover with her advanced Talos missiles. Suddenly, she started firing at the Soviet, without any orders from me! I don't know what the neighbours thought of my reaction!! It took a lot of frenzied activity to stop her, as it isn't obvious which setting needs to change. Found that the Rules of Engagement on the Doctrine window need amending to WEAPONS TIGHT instead of the appalling default of FREE FIRE. This just about kept the Soviet afloat, avoiding a probably nasty points penalty. I extended WEAPONS TIGHT to the AA weapons, which was just as well. Later, a US EC-121 plane came over the cruiser under AI control and, although Friendly, would probably have been shot down on the default setting. Not a great piece of scenario design, I'm afraid.
While this was going on, a pair of MiG-17s went for Higbee, but one was shot down by a Terrier and the other by the destroyer's AA battery. By now, Lloyd Thomas had killed the third Swatow. Sterett then had an interval in which to take-out the second P-4 to seaward.
The remaining P-4s hung just outside Lloyd Thomas's gun range as only an AI can and were insufficiently well-defined for Sterett to engage them. As they did so, another pair of MiG-17s attacked. These were much cannier than the others, coming in low over the wave tops to present poor targets for the Terriers (and below the minimum height for the Redeye MANPADS on the US ships). They dropped four bombs on Higbee, but thankfully missed (they didn't in real life). On the way out, one fell to a Terrier as it climbed. The other, though out of ammo, bravely flew around, harassing the destroyers and avoided numerous missiles before returning to base.
Under cover of this, the P-4s came in for a torpedo run on Lloyd Thomas, but were both sunk well before they got into range.
It remained to bombard the shore targets and the game ended in a Major Victory (score of 800) when Higbee took-out a fragile radar installation.
Overall, not too hard but not dull either - but do make sure you set Oklahoma City to WEAPONS TIGHT !!!