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Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics

 
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Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 12/16/2019 9:19:38 AM   
honanhal

 

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Hi all,

I've been playing around from time to time over the last couple of years with building a Dance of the Vampires scenario, but I've never really gotten past a basic issue, which is that I can't seem to make refueling for the Tu-22s and Tu-16s work -- making it hard for them to reach their targets on the far side of the British Isles from their base on the Kola peninsula.

A big part of the issue, I think, is that the Tu-16N tankers carry the same amount of fuel as a standard Tu-16 (36,000 kg), which is already much less than the Tu-22s carry (almost 50,000 kg). So even if you had a 1:1 ratio of attackers to tankers, you'd have a problem just on fuel quantity. And Larry Bond set this scenario up with a 3:1 ratio...

That fuel quantity problem is worsened by the issue that planes always want to fully top up their tanks when refueling in CMO/CMANO. I'm guessing that's not how Soviet doctrine would have worked in this situation (meaning wouldn't they want each bomber to take a fraction of the remaining fuel?) so maybe I'm just wasting my time trying to get this setup to work?

Playing around with this has gotten me curious about how an attack like this would be executed in real life. Would the tankers have actually taken off and flown together with the rest of the bombers and refueled them enroute? I realized there's no sense in creating a refueling point for them to rendezvous at if the tankers are solely there to extend the range of the attack group (and no one else) and they're operating from the same base.

Anyway, curious for any insight. I find long-range naval aviation strikes to be easily the most fascinating part of the Soviet naval/air toolkit, so I'm really curious if these seemingly insurmountable logistical challenges are all of my own making/based on game limitations or if they also mirror the ones Soviet planners would have faced.

James
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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 12/16/2019 1:56:55 PM   
guanotwozero

 

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In some ways this has similar issues to the Black Buck missions of 1982 and how we would manage them in CMO (e.g. community->Op Black Buck).

I can't remember much of Dance of the Vampires (time to re-read RSR maybe!) and I'm not familiar with Soviet refuelling doctrine, but any long range mission needs a fuel plan. There's no single best way to do this, but it usually comes down to working out the constraints on the attack aircraft i.e. how much fuel they will need and the optimal way to transfer that. That process will identify refuelling brackets, so then it's a case of arranging enough tankers to be at these points. These tankers may themselves need tanking, so brackets must be worked out for them too.

Essentially, in CMO we have to handle the refuelling manually - there aren't yet the tools to specify refuelling at a certain point and limiting the transfer volume as part of a mission. Sometimes we can facilitate by adding tanker tracks along the mission course, based on the brackets.

There's a related thread here which might be useful: https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4723242&mpage=1&key=Black%2CBuck%2Crefuelling�

(in reply to honanhal)
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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 12/20/2019 7:49:06 PM   
honanhal

 

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Thanks. Yeah, I'm increasingly realizing that it might just not be possible to do a scenario like this as CMO is currently set up. If you've got 48 Backfires and 24 tankers, and any Backfire that refuels is going to drain the tanker, the math is crystal clear. You're going to have 24 Backfires that can make it to the target (and have more fuel than they actually need), and 24 that can't.

It's even more stark if you've still got just 24 tankers and not just 48 Backfires, but also a few dozen Badgers that also need additional fuel to make it to the target...

James

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 12/21/2019 11:37:07 AM   
guanotwozero

 

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In CMANO the 1.11 update introduced much more control over refuelling. This included a queue list for each tanker, and (if I can remember correctly) an ability to "eject" a plane currently being refuelled so as to specify how much fuel it gets. Of course this is micromanagement and it would be good if this could be automated as part of a mission or chained action sequence - I still hope this will feature sometime in the future.

At the moment in CMO the queue list isn't working properly - I expect that'll be fixed in an upcoming build.

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 4:02:28 PM   
honanhal

 

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I recently revisited this scenario to take another crack at solving the refueling issues. As I was again hitting a wall, I looked for and found a couple of community scenarios with a similar setup of Backfires and Badgers attacking NATO naval groups in the Atlantic from Olenogorsk and other northern bases. Specifically I'm talking about "Atlantic Convoy Duty, 1985" and "Northern Fury 9: Hold the Line." When I looked at those scenarios and ran them, what I found is that even with Bison tankers (which I found work a lot better than the Badger tankers as they have nearly 3x the capacity) in both cases the long-range Backfire strike missions didn't really work.

In Hold the Line, even piecemeal Backfire strikes never really materialized, with most bombers turning around less than half the way to the target with bingo fuel and just a couple (out of dozens) getting anywhere near the target.

In Atlantic Convoy Duty, the Backfires did manage to get to the target (in full groups, no less!) and launch their missiles, but all of them crashed after running out of fuel on their way back.

Refueling in CMO has come a long way, but it's really too bad there doesn't seem to be a way to solve this refueling problem -- especially since it was exactly this "Backfires attack CVBG" scenario that put Harpoon, CMO's spiritual ancestor, on the map.

Maybe something for a future update.

James

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 4:11:28 PM   
thewood1

 

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I played around with this several months ago and I think I ended up using some lua commands to allow refueling of all Backfires to make the mission. It was rough just to show it could be done.

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 4:17:23 PM   
Kushan04


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From the reading I've done on the subject I don't think the soviet plan ever was for the bombers to go roaming around the North Atlantic. Hitting the Atlantic convoys would have been the job for their submarines.

Their bombers didn't have the range and they didn't have the refueling capacity like SAC to do truly long range strikes. The plan as I've been able work out was pretty much to wait until NATO carrier came north of the GIUK gap then pounce on them with combined SNA/LRA bombers and missile submarines. In modern terms it would be called A2AD.

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 6:17:24 PM   
honanhal

 

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Yeah, I think it's clear that hitting a CVBG way out in the Atlantic wasn't something Soviet doctrine really considered (much less hitting convoys, which was completely alien to the way their strategists looked at these bombers). That said, one of the reasons I really wanted to make this scenario work was to test whether a long-range strike like this would have been remotely feasible and what the likely results would be.

I think what's clear from my experiments is that, even if the bombers reach the target with enough fuel to get home, the CVBG's airwings are going to go through them like a hot knife through butter, and most of your missiles are not going to get through, either.

In other words, Soviet planners were smart not to take this kind of out-on-a-limb strike seriously! A2AD works a lot better for what they had to work with.

As an aside, there sadly don't seem to be a lot of scenarios in the community pack that deal with late (i.e. 80s and beyond) WWIII scenarios in a way that handles Soviet war strategy plausibly. There's a lot of power projection and aggressive gambits, and not a lot of proto-A2AD hyper-conservative defense. I get it! It's more dramatic that way. But not only was that not doctrine, it wasn't doctrine precisely because that's not what their equipment could support.

James

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 7:02:36 PM   
Kushan04


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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 7:50:53 PM   
orca

 

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I’ve run into this issue as well and have mostly given up attempting to use tankers unless it’s done manually.

A work around I’ve used is to base the aircraft at a singe unit airfield that is made undetected at the scenario start. This airfield is placed within unrefueled range of the aircraft to the target along the expected flight path- somewhere between the base that the aircraft would otherwise be at and the target. This simulated base can be thought of as the “tanker/refueling marshaling area”.

You can also change the aircraft ready times to the time it would take from to fly from the normal base to the simulated base when the mission is activated to make strike time on target more realistic.

The problems are if there is a chance the simulated base could be detected by the enemy during play, but this is usually not an issue with long range strikes. Another problem is if the simulated base location should be over water. This is because I don’t think single unit airfields work correctly when over water.

I think if the DB had a new ship unit that had runway facilities (similar to the off shore mobile base currently in the game but with longer runway). Also would need this unit to have zero signature so it’s not detectable. Should also have a similar land facility (like single unit airfield) but that is also undetectable.

This would make designing scenarios much easier.


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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 7:55:11 PM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

As an aside, there sadly don't seem to be a lot of scenarios in the community pack that deal with late (i.e. 80s and beyond) WWIII scenarios in a way that handles Soviet war strategy plausibly.


You've got a point there. You may want to check out NF#27 'Out on a Limb', I think I got Soviet doctrine closer to the mark in that one. Also NF#41 which is still in testing (and I need to get an update out) does a similar thing.

I should probably go back and adjust NF#9 to reflect the bombers touching down at Kef to refuel. Lua wasn't really available when that one was built - it was actually the 2nd scenario built in the series. (and I built a similar one in Harpoon way back when)

In the NF series, the background story explains why some doctrines are not slavishly followed but I didn't realize the strike in 'Hold the Line' wasn't working any more. It used to work OK.

B


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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/23/2020 8:31:09 PM   
honanhal

 

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Gunner, thanks for the tip! I'll have to check out Out on a Limb. I generally open up Northern Fury scenarios, take a wide-eyed look around for a couple minutes, then close them in terror...

On Hold the Line, I didn't run the scenario multiple times, so it's possible it was a one-off, but it definitely looked like the Backfire attacks weren't working quite as intended. That was the point at which I realized that if YOU couldn't make it work right, what hope was there for me?

James

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/24/2020 1:06:28 AM   
Rob322

 

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I don't quite remember Clancy documenting this in Red Storm Rising, but the whole tanker/bomber issue would've obviously been easier had the Soviets seized Iceland. Still, I agree with Honanhal's comment about doctrine, it seems like the Soviet doctrine was a bit more conservative than ours and sometimes Westerners were good at assuming they'd try the same power projection moves we were planning and had designed our forces around. I remember one book that had a comparison battle between a Kiev Class and the Nimitz as if they were the same type of ship with the same role. Granted it was written for and by civilians so that no doubt factors in.

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/24/2020 2:33:44 AM   
stww2

 

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One of the key errors people often make in analysis is assuming that their adversary thinks the same way they do, so it certainly wouldn't surprise me if we have assumed the Soviets would have been more aggressive naval-wise than they actually would have been. Although I would be curious to what extent these assumptions are simply a product of western fiction writers (understandably) trying to make their stories more interesting versus a result of errors also made by professional intelligence analysts during the Cold War-anyone have any insight on that?

Returning to CMO, I've found that quite a few of the Northern Fury scenarios that I've dealt with so far suffer from these refueling issues. Interestingly enough, Hold the Line has probably been the only scenario so far in which the Backfires have actually materialized at all for me; fortunately what few attacks they actually did conduct were piecemeal (only 1-2 bombers at a time) and were thus defeated, although if I remember correctly they did nevertheless manage to take an OHP (so nothing of value was lost). I never had any bombers attack in Eisenhower Moves North (although that may have been because the Soviets never positively identified the CVN), but the Soviet subs exacted a heavy and sobering toll. I'm playing through Changing of the Guard now and no bombers have appeared, but when viewing the losses and expenditures tab I can see that many have crashed (along with many other aircraft).

I suspect these issues are of course mainly a result of the limitations in the games refueling mechanics that are the subject of the thread, but I suppose a semi-convincing story explanation could also be that the Soviet bomber threat not materializing in my play-through is a consequence of the Soviet doctrine in Northern Fury being so dramatically revised in such a short time-period; I would imagine that such a massive transformation of doctrine in the span of just a few years would be extremely disruptive and inevitably lead to some confusion.

< Message edited by stww2 -- 7/24/2020 2:35:00 AM >

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/24/2020 2:40:41 AM   
Fido81

 

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This article is really more about Reagan's naval strategy, but it discusses Soviet maritime strategy in some detail.
https://ndisc.nd.edu/assets/330880/jss_cwas_naval_intel_roots_of_reagan_maritime_strategy.pdf

Regarding the whole AV-MF taking on a CVBG concept, I found these essays super interesting:
https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1247&context=nwc-review
http://cimsec.org/deception-and-the-backfire-bomber-part-one/21349

My (relatively uninformed, decidedly unprofessional) opinion is that the Soviets probably would have put this sort of attack together only if the US sent carriers significantly north of the GIUK gap, but that Soviet attrition would have likely been...high...so it wouldn't have happened more than twice before either going nuclear or getting called off to preserve long-range bomber forces in the event of escalation to nuclear war. The intriguing thing is that Reagan's ideas about power projection and using CVBGs to strike the USSR late in a conventional conflict would have played right into the Soviet operational concept.

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/24/2020 12:24:33 PM   
Gunner98

 

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Thanks for the links. Some good weekend reading.

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/24/2020 2:27:23 PM   
stilesw


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quote:

This article is really more about Reagan's naval strategy, but it discusses Soviet maritime strategy in some detail. https://ndisc.nd.edu/assets/330880/jss_cwas_naval_intel_roots_of_reagan_maritime_strategy.pdf


Fido81,

Thanks for this reference. I've added it to the CMANO/CMO unofficial Dropbox reference library.

Unofficial - i.e. not sponsored by WarefareSims, MatrixGames, Slitherine, their employees, relatives, pets or ancestors.


As always, any forum member can have access to this Dropbox resource. Just PM me with your email address.

-WS

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RE: Dance of the Vampires refueling logistics - 7/24/2020 2:31:48 PM   
honanhal

 

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Great links, Fido81, thanks for those. I'd seen the Tokarev piece but the piece on Reagan's naval strategy was new to me. Fascinating!

James

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