Despite the rating of green for complexity and difficulty, this is quite an involved scenario. You are in charge of five NATO ASW task forces (two British, one US, one Canadian and one Dutch) with land-based air support. World War 3 has broken-out in 1963 and Soviet subs and surface forces are trying to break-out into the Atlantic, covered by Badger bombers from the Kola Peninsula. The subs include Hotel-class ballistic missile carriers, which are a top priority.
In theory, you have the use of SOSUS to help detect submarine contacts. There are two SOSUS stations, covering the Iceland-Greenland and Iceland-Faroes Gaps, with a 1,000 nm range and a control station in Keflavik, Iceland. Everything is apparently operational...but I couldn't get any information whatever from SOSUS all scenario!! Is this a bug?
This left me with a variety of ASW escorts which had point-blank sonar range in the case of the British, Canadians and Dutch (3 nm at best) and rather better in that of the Americans. The American, British main, Canadian and Dutch task groups each have a carrier (of sorts) hosting a wide selection of choppers and ASW planes, but relatively few fighters and surface strike aircraft. Sonar/MAD ranges are again poor and not all aircraft have sonobuoys. There are a number of useful AEW planes (US Skyraiders and British Gannets), but make sure they have their sensors on when they launch!!
Land-based support consists of some Neptunes at Keflavik (which play little part), Shackletons at RAF Kinloss in Scotland and some Norwegian Sabre fighters and Albatross ASW flying boats.
The Soviets have an unknown number of diesel-electric and nuclear subs. Given your sonar limitations, these have worrying chances of getting near enough to get first shot at you. There's some consolation in that the Americans have a pair of nuclear subs with similar advantages, including the modern Scorpion, which boasts excellent passive sonar.
Also about are some Russian surface ships, including a Sverdlov-class cruiser with 6" guns and long-range sensors and a Krupny-class destroyer which mounts 16 Scrubber sea-skimming, ship-killing missiles that outclass anything you have.
Worse still, the Kola is home to several squadrons of long-range Badger bombers equipped with excellent radar and Kennel stand-off missiles with a range of 75 nm. At least they have no fighter cover. All-in-all, it looks a daunting prospect.
As your task forces are too far apart to support each other, they must act independently. I started by slowing-down the US sub Seawolf to stop it cavitating, putting the subs at sensible depths and speeds, launching ASW patrols (with sensors ON) and keeping my radar as 'dark' as I could to minimise detection risks. In general, don't trust anything to be set-up right in this scenario apart from the surface ships' often meagre sonar.
The Russians began by sending out recon flights from the Kola. Intercepting them with the Norwegian Sabres was tricky, but it was well worth re-basing sorties from the S airfield at Bodo to the N one at Andoya to increase range. The problem here is that Andoya can't re-supply the jets with missiles, so you have to create Ferry missions to return them to Bodo and get rid of the incapacitating Reserve loadouts they get saddled-with by using the Ready button (or they won't be allowed to leave Andoya). The Sabres scored a few kills, but learned that closing to engage with guns when out of missiles is a poor option, as the Badgers' tail-guns can fire about 8 shots to a Sabre's one and, in this case, were dead lucky with it. I lost five Sabres in the scenario in this way, some on auto-engagements when my attention was elsewhere, for the same number of recon Badgers, but I was rather unlucky.
Meanwhile, a Soviet surface squadron appeared roughly between the main British squadron and the American one. I sent the Scorpion to intercept.
Presently, the enemy sent a Badger strike against the US fleet. It didn't go well for them. The US carrier Lake Champlain only has a few Skyhawks for CAP and these can't keep-up with the Badgers over 36,000', where they fly. Add the old chestnut of rear-aspect missiles, meaning you have to get behind them and you soon realise that the Skyhawks are of marginal use. However, the US cruiser Albany bristles with Talos SAMs, which outrange the Russian Kennels (100 to 75 nm) and these broke-up the strike before it got near.
While this was going on, a lone Soviet ship approached the Americans from the direction of Spitzbergen. It was identified as a Krupny. Given that the Lake Champlain has NO viable strike planes and her escorts are completely outranged by the Scrubbers (55 to 25 nm), the only prayer was to interpose the sub Seawolf, which is conveniently placed. I did this just about perfectly and was about to fire when...I realised that the Seawolf didn't have the correct Mk14 torpedoes mounted, being loaded for ASW action. In reality, the sub's C/O would have corrected this, but in this game you can often take nothing for granted. So the destroyer slipped by and I was in dead trouble.
The Krupny closed and opened fire (I could perhaps have run away, but I had a pair of slow auxiliaries to protect). Talos missiles couldn't intercept the sea-skimming Scrubbers, so I was left with the shorter-ranged Tartars on the Albany and the destroyer Tattnall. Even these had just a 7% chance to hit and there were 16 incoming missiles. Disaster ensued, with the destroyers Tattnall and Glennon hit and sunk and the Lake Champlain damaged 28%, with disproportionate loss of parked aircraft. Instead of being sensible, the Krupny pressed its luck when out of missiles and was easily sunk by the Albany, which was some consolation.
Meanwhile, Scorpion closed with the other Soviet surface vessels, which turned-out to be the cruiser Alexander Nevsky with a Skoryy-class destroyer and two Kotlin-class frigates. It was easy for Scorpion to slip past the rudimentary sonar defences and put two rather lucky (40% chance) torpedoes into the cruiser, leaving her badly-damaged. Unfortunately, she only had THREE anti-surface ship torpedoes!!!
Undaunted, the Soviet warships went after the British squadron which, by now, was under attack from another wave of Badgers. These could only have found us thanks to spotting subs and, indeed, during the strike, a Zulu-class diesel was detected and sunk by two choppers. This bizarrely also credited me with two Hotel SSBNs destroyed, even though they didn't appear in Losses and Expenditures.
A couple of Badgers were shot down by Sea Vixen fighters. Others fired four Kennels at the frigate Leander, but these were easily (98% chance) spoofed by defensive Corvus Chaff. Just when I thought I was safe, though, another pair of Kennels came in. One was hit by a lucky 40mm round but, with Leander inexplicably not using Chaff this time (she had plenty left), the other hit her with fatal results.
The British retaliated with a strike by Scimitar bombers which sank the Skoryy-class destroyer. My six Scimitars proved absolutely deadly, despite being armed with old-fashioned bombs and, over the rest of the scenario, proceeded to finish the Nevsky and sink both Kotlins. Why the Soviet ships kept pressing on in this situation is best explained by the designer. Command could really do with some kind of morale rule.
Another Badger strike materialised and, again guided by undetected subs, went after the Dutch. The latter put-up eight Sea Hawk fighters, helped by a pair of Sea Vixens at extreme range from the Brits, but these threw poor virtual dice and only downed one bomber. What followed was weird. Instead of attacking the helpless Dutch with Kennels, the Badgers flew round and round in circles at 36,000' (above the cloud layer, but should this matter given that they have 175 nm surface search radar?) before ebbing away. One lingered long enough for the Dutch Sea Hawks to do a Quick Turnround and destroy it.
While this was going on, two Whiskey-class subs were picked-up by Dutch ASW planes. Given plenty of suitable assets (including a Scottish-based Shackleton), I went after them mob-handed. Suicidally, both subs stayed at periscope depth to use their spotting radar and were easily sunk. As before, I was credited with additional sub kills (a Foxtrot for each Whiskey).
The scenario ended soon afterwards when the second Kotlin succumbed to my Scimitars (well within the two-day limit given). I was awarded a Triumph, with a score of 300 but, if the bogus points for subs I didn't sink had been deducted, it would have been a less-impressive 140.
Final NATO losses were two destroyers, a frigate, 26 planes and 9 choppers, most of the aircraft being hit on the Lake Champlain's deck. The Soviets lost a cruiser, two destroyers, two frigates, three subs and 15 Badgers. A NATO victory on balance, but only a marginal one by my assessment.
Bugs to sort out :
- Non-functioning SOSUS
- Lack of morale rules
- Bogus points awards for subs the player hasn't sunk
- Odd behaviour of Badgers as detailed above.
- Maybe the high rate-of-fire discrepancy between the Norwegian Sabres and the Badgers' tail guns.