WARNING: spoilers ahead, don’t read if you haven’t played "Damn the torpedos" scenario from Northern Inferno.
I’ve recently finished the „Damn the torpedos” scenario and, oh well, it was the most annoying scenario I played so far in CMANO/CMO. I think I easily spent 30-40 hours on it (first CMANO, then in CMO), re-started it a dozen of times and it wasn’t fun to say the least… There are a couple of problems with it: you need to stay undetected as much as possible, but you will inevitably occasionally get detected - it’s crucial to seek any enemy subs that not only shoot torpedos at you, but also give your position away; surely you have an ASW patrol around your task force (with all capable units doing ASW) but whether you detect enemy subs fast enough is very random of course. You will never know for sure if your tankers were detected until attacked by wave(s) of TU-22s some time later - and those TU-22s are very hard to intercept with only a handful of Skyhawks and Sidewinders at your disposal. You can easily spend 3 hours in the scenario thinking things are going exceptionally well, only to face a sudden huge wave of TU-22s approaching your TF while your all six Skyhawks are still grounded and getting re-armed after a previous wave an hour ago (that you successfully intercepted thinking it couldn’t get any worse, haha); then your tankers get decimated by a dozen of TU22 missiles and in a blink of an eye your promising game score plummets down to „Major defeat”. Also, this scenario is very very long (7 days of game time). In my final playthrough, sometime half-way through it I got to the point where I sunk all enemy subs and surface vessels, TU22s gave up and stopped pestering me, I had a clear way east to the Safe Heaven and it became apparent there are no threats anymore, yet it took another 2 hrs in fast-forward mode just to transit there - I literally left CMO running unattended with the highest time acceleration (one step above 5x in CMO, meaning CPU is the only limit) to finish this scenario…
With all that, I thought I’d share some tips and observations about this scenario and what eventually worked for me, perhaps it helps someone else struggling with it. I finished the scenario with score 1050 (minor victory) and 3 days left to go; I think the score could be higher because there were 2 or 3 tankers still in transit, but for some reason CMO decided it’s time to end it. With all the gripes I had with it, I was happy to take any score, as long as it’s a pass!
So, here are my tips:
- As advised by mission briefing, perform aggressive ASW around the task force, as well as in the area of English Channel where the task force is heading.
- Investigate any subsurface and surface contacts and deal with them as quickly as possible. I think they give away the position of your main task force and may result in a few waves of TU22Ms bombers approaching from Iceland. You can stop 2-3 waves of attacks (with your Skyhawks re-armed in-between), but they eventually become impossible to stop with just 6 Skyhawks at hand. The only way of limiting or stopping these attacks is to seek and destroy enemy vessels around your TF as soon as possible whenever spotted.
- Related to that: you only have a few aircraft with missiles valid against surface targets (ships) - make sure you know who they are and use them to investigate any SKUNKs - i.e. do not assign them all to ASW, but keep them for a Sea Patrol mission.
- Have a permanent AEW support mission far north, close to Iceland (south of Reykjavik) to detect any TU-22Ms taking off from Reykjavik.
- Do not waste time of your precious Skyhawks for any air patrols in the hope of detecting TU-22Ms - just rely on the above AEW to detect them early.
- Radars of naval units should be off.
- Create Air Intercept mission for Skyhawks whenever any bogeys taking off from Reykjavik are detected. Plan at least 1 Skyhawk per 1 bogey, but more is recommended.
- TU-22Ms have long bombing range and need to be intercepted as soon as possible, therefore Skyhawks should take off soon after you detect they leave Reykjavik, but not too soon so they don’t reach Bingo fuel before intercepting the enemy. Beware that TU-22Ms are very fast and hard to intercept with Skywinders (and that’s the only weapon you have).
- Modify the route of your task force to move south first, before going straight east to the Safe Heaven. This slightly increases your distance from TU-22s incoming from north, and it’s never a bad thing.
- It’s hard to avoid losses, so expect to loose some of the escorted tankers (2-3 is probably ok to pass the scenario). Don’t give up if that happens. You may have a low score for good chunk of the scenario time, but then it goes up significantly with every tanker that reaches Safe Heaven. Enemy loses and your loses (except for tankers) play marginal role for the overall score, most important are the tankers.
- Frequent and separate saves are recommended if you want to avoid starting from scratch every time things go wrong late in the scenario.