So just getting into it. Question, are the tanker ready times historical or just for the scenario. If the latter, I would suggest making the KC-135s ready initially, as the KC-135s and KC-10 really get mixed up on launch.
It was a really complicated launch, so I didn't even try to get exact ready times for each tanker but in general I have it close. The first wave of tankers started launching about 17:15. What I've found works best is to launch the KC-135s first. When the first wave of F-111s is ready (PUFFY and LUJAC) I begin to launch the 4 KC-10s for that group. Then when that group is assembled, I start to launch the second wave. Probably need to adjust some tanker ready times as well here.
Note: Second wave ready times are wrong, they shouldn't be ready to launch until about an hour in.
The F-111/EF-111 transit and tanking is a scenario all to itself! To be honest I have started it 5 times and have never been able to coordinate the refueling and timing. I-ve tried small groups, large groups wings by type, the different air speeds make it very hard and if I get the aircraft to the Straits of Gibraltar with plenty of fuel I'm hopelessly behind schedule. So this is a refueling issue I've never tried before (so other than this op who has , maybe the IAF??? ). It's a testament to the USAF (and having been a USN "Squid" assigned to Marines, I love to bust on the USAF), Skills that they pulled it off with appropriate TOT!!!!
Now I do tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, but then I hit the Straits about 3 hours in its clear my TOT is busted! I'm a BAD CMO player!
Oh one other thing, and I'm going off my memory here, but didn't they cut the corner a bit over Portugal?
So giving it another try, as I recall the aircraft few about 25,000 ft (if memory serves me right it had something to do with staying below the average height of commercial traffic). Taking the KC-135s up to 36,000 gives them more airspeed. So lets see if I can time it better!
EDIT: So one thing that is messing me up is when the KC-10s start to fuel they drop to Loiter (230 mph), which makes sense. So to keep things from getting strung out need to manually go to each tanker/tanker group and increase the airspeed to 520 mph. Not sure if that slows down refueling (or stops it???). We'll see, but if you let the aircraft drop down to loiter, timing is blown!
Going to answer these two together. The refueling really could be a scenario unto itself. When I originally started making it I had more than one person suggest to me to cut that entire part of the raid out. never entertained it very much, IMO taking it out would cut out a huge part of what made the operation a feat of aviation.
I know I mention the strict TOT, but there is no harm for missing it. The live stream last week was the closest I've come to hitting the TOT. Its a 6.5 hour trip. 3 hours at the Strait of Gibralter sounds about right.
I've never seen the actual flight path taken, just a approximate estimate. To my knowledge they stayed in international airspace the whole time. In order to make up sometime, they did cut some dog legs out of the course in the Med, which brought them "uncomfortably close" (The words of Robert Velkus, deputy CO of the 48th TFW) to non-participants airspace.
Your right, they flew down at about 25-26,000 ft. I normally fly my force down at 36,000 ft due to game mechanics. The actual raid flew down at a speed around 400+ kts, can't do that at lower altitude in the KC-10 in CMO.
You've also hit the head of another game mechanic which makes hitting the TOT exact difficult. The actual raid did high speed refueling at 400_ kts. Velkus mentions multiple times in his book that they had to use afterburner to maintain position and speed as to not drop off the tankers while refueling.
Unfortunately, high speed refueling like that can't be done in CMO right now. The current game mechanics envision the standard tanker orbits & rendezvous. The tanker slowing to loiter helps the AI with pathing.
What I've seen works best is to:
1) The first refueling is the hardest IMO. Refuel the KC-10s and the F-111s from the KC-135s over the Bay of Biscay. The F-111s didn't actually refuel this way but with the tankers slowing to loiter mechanic it works best IMO. It allows the whole strike force to slow down to the tankers loiter speed while the KC-135s can refuel the KC-10s. Otherwise the F-111s will shoot out ahead. 1 KC-135 should be able to top off the tanks of 3-4 KC-10s that early. Should have a few left over to refuel the F-111s at the same time as well.
2) I maintain about 350-400 kts for all my groups. I gets tricky when giving course corrections to multiple types because the F-111s will always want to speed up to 480 kts so you have to watch them. If you select them in the right order they will maintain speed. Can also assign them to a patrol mission and leap frog the reference points.
3) Make sure to refuel all F-111 groups at the same time, from one group of tankers. I do use the mother tanker to some extent by having the same group refuel from the same tanker each time.
4) When the F-111's are refueling, slow my other tanker group(s) to loiter speed manually. Have to pay attention because once the F-111s finish they will speed back up to their manually assigned 400 kts. If they all refuel around the same time they should break away close enough to where there isn't too much separation. When the F-111'sd are finished, I manually set the speed of the tanker groups back to 400 kts.
5) Refuel the F-111 mother tankers after the strike force breaks off to attack. I normally hold their orbit around Sicily. Refueling them enroute just causes headaches.
I'm going to try and make a video this week showing the refueling. Forgot to have OBS record the footage from the livestream a few weeks ago. So I'll have to re-record it. Thankfully I can do that with TC this time .
Appreciate the feedback, keep it coming.