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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1972 (Linebacker II)

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1972 (Linebacker II) - 9/25/2020 4:46:26 PM   


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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1972 (Linebacker II)



In this Vietnam-era scenario from the forum, the player is assigned with supporting a B-52 raid on Haiphong Harbor, as well as helping the B-52s in destroying the various assigned targets. The scenario length is 24 hours, starting I believe at 2000 local the night before the raid (with the B-52s scheduled for takeoff at 0300-0315 local) and ending the next day.
To accomplish this task, the player has access to a select number of strike aircraft spread across six carriers and several airbases in Vietnam and Thailand, as well as a host of support aircraft, including E-2s, EC-121s (AEW and ELINT variants), KC-130 and KC-135 tankers, EB-66s and EA-6A/Bs for OECM and chaff, and a pair of RC-135s. The USS Long Beach (CGN-9) is offshore, with its own arsenal of Talos and Terrier SAMs, and well positioned to contest any MIGs that decide to contest the strikes. Against this force, the North Vietnamese sport the usual arsenal of low level AAA, SA-2s, and Mig 17s/Mig 21s.

First SEAD Strike

I begin with reconnaissance and anti-radar operations. Two RF-4s sent in (one high to test for SAMs and one low to identify AAA). The low one is shot down by an SA-2, in part because I mistakenly assumed it was being shot at by MANPADs and ordered it higher rather than lower below the SA-2s engagement envelope. As the low altitude RF-4 makes its pass over the AO, a terrific explosion takes out multiple NV targets; a check of the losses and expenditures tab revealed that one of the trains at the railyard had exploded, although I was unsure as to why; at the time I guessed spent AAA ordinance (is that even possible in CMO?), but after the scenario a check of the editor revealed that it was a scripted event. A-6s and A-7s armed with Shrikes and AGM-78s take out the NV coastal air defense radars, while the Long Beach uses its Terriers to suppress two Mig-21s that attempt to intercept the RF-4s, downing one Mig in the process. In the middle of this fracas, I have the Long Beach fire off its four ARM Talos’s at the Hanoi area, taking out both Bar Lock radars there. For the rest of the scenario, the North Vietnamese will have no Radar coverage. The Shrikes proved unable to take out the SA-2s FCRs, however, so those still remain a threat.

Second SEAD Strike

The next SEAD strike is designed to go after various AAA batteries (in particular the 130mm AA marked as “Heavy” that I worry might be able to engage the bombers-although seeing how they possessed no radar and the raid was to be at night I’m not sure this was ever really a threat, but I didn’t want to take the risk), as well as the two SA-2 thus-far identified. For the task, I send in A-7s and A-6s from the carriers armed with cluster bombs and Shrikes, three F-111s with 500lb bombs, and two F-105s armed with cluster bombs and ARMs. The F-105s prove to be particularly troublesome; they are armed with short-range loadouts and I did not grasp just how short their range was, even with refueling from KC-135s I had on station (I have much experience in Command with 1960s/70s US carrier aircraft; USAF aircraft, not so much). F-4s from USAF and USN flew MIGCAP, and two EA-6As were tasked to dispense chaff in case the SA-2s decided to light up their radars and go after my fighters (all strike aircraft flew below the SA-2s engagement envelope). Seeing the F-105s alarmingly dwindling low fuel levels I send in the already on station F-105s and USN aircraft before the F-111s arrive to take out the SAMs; this proves to backfire as one of the F-105’s takes a SA-2 when it tries to climb to improve its fuel economy; the other F-105 is hit by AAA fire and develops a fuel leak, forcing its crew to eject over water.* Despite these losses, the strike is mostly a success; several AAA batteries are taken out (including one heavy AAA site) and most of the remaining heavy AAA is heavily damaged. The F-111s cripple two SA-2 batteries, as well as a third that reveals itself during the strike (having taken out the SA-2s FCRs, they are now essentially weak AAA batteries/SA-7 sites, depending on the exact SA-2).

B-52 Raid

At 0300/0315 local, as planned the B-52s take off and start heading to their targets. With the B-52s approaching, the USN (the remaining F-105s having been grounded and the F-111s now rearming) launches a third SEAD strike to eliminate the remaining heavy AAA sites. This is successfully done with no aircraft lost (although an A-6 is hit by AAA fire but manages to RTB), and the Navy F-4s shoot down four Mig-21s that are in position to oppose the raid. With the Navy F-4s now mostly being rearmed and thus in short supply, USMC and USAF F-4s are brought in to provide MIGCAP for the B-52s. Two Shrike armed A-7s and one A-6 stand by to engage any new SAMs, while 6 EA-6As (two USMC ones from Da Nang and four USN ones from the carriers) move in to flood the sky with chaff, lest any new NV radars activate (with two EB-66s and two EA-6Bs flying nearby jamming tracks to further interfere with radars). As the long-awaited B-52s finally arrive and begin their high-altitude bombing runs, utter chaos erupts over the AO. Two new SA-2 batteries suddenly appear as the B-52s arrive (either I missed them with my earlier recon missions or they just spawned), Phantoms and a new influx of Mig-21s and Mig-17s tangle at low to medium altitudes, and EA-6As desperately try to stay out of everyone else's way as they continue flooding the sky with chaff. Fortunately, the SA-2s don’t seem to try to go after the B-52s (perhaps all the chaff and jamming prevented them from detecting them?), and the F-4s prove exceedingly capable against the Migs (shooting down over a dozen planes with no losses); I suspect the lack of ground-based radar to guide the Migs contributed to their plight. One USMC F-4 is hit by AAA but is able to limp back to Da Nang. The B-52s’ bombing performance, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired, as only a handful of targets are taken out, but I suppose there is only so much you can expect from unguided bombs dropped from high-altitude at night. Nevertheless, I count this phase of the mission as a success, as the B-52s were successfully protected.

3rd Strike

With the B-52s having come and gone, it’s now my turn to finish off the remaining targets. I am somewhat apprehensive about executing a daylight bombing run given the number of AAA batteries in the area, but two RF-4s manage to make a low altitude pass over harbor without suffering any damage and ameliorate (if not eliminate) my concerns. Once again supported by chaff (although only from one EA-6 this time, as the Navy is starting to run out), OECM, and Navy F-4s on MIGCAP, six F-111s (half with 500lb and half with 2000lb bombs), and a handful of A-7s and A-6s make their bombing runs. The F-111s cripple the two new SAM batteries as well as damage and take out a number of targets, as do several A-6s armed with 500lb bombs. The A-7s go after the remaining AAA with cluster bombs, destroying most of the remaining installations (save the remains of the SA-2 batteries and several roaming Shilkas). Unfortunately, one of the A-7s, makes one too many passes over the target area (the downside of doing manual strikes is that the aircraft will not always exactly follow the waypoints, and thus sometimes miss their targets) and is shot down by AAA, the fourth lost aircraft of the day.

After this strike, I resolve to wait until all my aircraft were ready before launching one final strike to take out the remaining targets. Some loadout changes are made as well; I arm most of the A-7s with Walleyes, hoping to minimize the number of aircraft exposed to AAA, the three 500lb bomb armed F-111s change their loadouts to 750lb bombs, and the hitherto unused F-8s are equipped with 1000lb bombs so they can actually contribute instead of just wasting deck-space. Judging the remaining Mig threat to be limited, I have the USM F-4s swap their missiles for 500lb Snake-eye bombs. Although I also have F-105s available (now armed purely with ARMs to increase their range and to spare them from low altitude flying), I am confident that no new SAMs will appear and decide to leave them behind. No USN aircraft are equipped with Shrikes this time around either, nor will EA-6As deploy any chaff…
Now it is just a matter of fire-speeding along until the aircraft are ready. While doing this, two Mig-17s decide to challenge my two USN F-4s on CAP protecting the still airborne EB-66s (thanks KC-135s!) and are shot down before I can even manage to pause the game; two more Migs meet a similar fate a short time later. As this is happening, a surprise second B-52 strike occurs (although only with a handful of B-52s-not sure how that happened). Once again, the mostly miss, although they do take out one or two more targets.

4th (and Final) Strike

As the sky turns to dusk and with only hours left in the scenario, my final strike is launched. Once again, an RF-4 paves the way to do BDA and pin down the location of remaining AAA; it is struck by AAA but manages to RTB. The remaining strike aircraft go in; first two cluster bomb equipped A-7s to silence the remaining AAA, and then the rest of the bombers. The Walleye-armed A-7s prove to be a failure; a cloud layer at 10000-16000 feet makes them unable to find their targets, and they spend most of the raid aimlessly loitering over the target area on auto attack mode in the hope that they manage to find a break in the clouds (is that even possible in CMO or are all cloud layers complete?). The bomb-armed aircraft do their job though, such to the point that I actually run out of targets (even after destroying the leftover SAM battery remnants). With few remaining bombers left and the AAA threat now essentially negligible, I send a F-8 to bomb the Bar Lock radar (which remained offline for the entire scenario) at the Haiphong area airbase; the radar was destroyed, but I was in for a shock, as my attack on the airbase caused two new angry SA-2s to spawn, which promptly lit up their FCRs and opened fire on the various aircraft strewn about the AO within its target envelope. Cursing my decision not to have the F-105s on station, I frantically send various aircraft diving for the deck while vectoring in my few remaining aircraft with bombs to cripple the SA-2s, which a F-111 and several F-8s soon accomplish. Fortunately, all the SA-2s miss, and after a far-more-exciting-than-desired conclusion, the scenario is at last at a close.


I destroyed all assigned targets at the loss of four aircraft for a score of 2950. While the losses were unfortunate and in retrospect probably avoidable, I consider the mission to have been a considerable success. This scenario was extremely enjoyable to play, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Vietnam-era air warfare scenarios. It makes an excellent companion to Down Town and Yankee Team.

*by which I mean I didn’t manage the F-105s fuel properly and it crashed due to fuel exhaustion

Losses and Expenditures:

SIDE: North Vietnam

4x MiG-17PF Fresco D
20x MiG-21PFM Fishbed F
4x Ammo Shelter
3x Building (Food Storage)
1x Building (Railway Station)
1x Container Storage Park
21x Diesel (75k Liter Tank)
3x Radar (Bar Lock A [P-37])
3x Radar (Cross Slot)
6x Structure (Dry Dock)
16x Structure (Pipeline - Overhead)
12x Structure (Port Crane)
10x 100mm KS-19 [Cargo]
8x 130mm KS-30 [Cargo]
16x 37mm/63 M1939 [Cargo]
16x 57mm S60 [Cargo]
8x 57mm ZSU-57-2 [Cargo]
32x 85mm M1939 [Cargo]
7x Binoculars (Visual) [Cargo]
30x SA-2d Guideline Mod 1 Single Rail [Cargo]
12x SA-2f Guideline Mod 1 Single Rail [Cargo]
6x SA-7a Grail [9K32 Strela-2] MANPADS [Cargo]
4x Vehicle (Fan Song C [SNR-75M]) [Cargo]
2x Vehicle (Fan Song F [RSNA-75M]) [Cargo]
3x Vehicle (Fire Can [SON-9]) [Cargo]
2x Vehicle (Fire Wheel [SON-30]) [Cargo]
4x Vehicle (Spoon Rest A [P-12]) [Cargo]
2x Vehicle (Spoon Rest C [P-12]) [Cargo]
59x Vehicle (Train Car, Unarmed) [Cargo]
1x Vehicle (Train Engine, Unarmed) [Cargo]
8x Vehicle (Truck, Unarmed) [Cargo]

19x SA-2f Guideline Mod 1 [S-75M2 Volkhov, 5YA23 / V-759]
9x SA-7a Grail [9M32]
20x 37mm/63 M1939 [5 rnds]
17x SA-2d Guideline Mod 1 [S-75M Volkhov, 20D / V-755]
136x 130mm KS-30 Frag
108x 100mm KS-19 Frag
40x 57mm ZSU-57 HE
332x 57mm S60 HE

SIDE: USN/USAF Supporting Forces

1x A-7E Corsair II
2x F-105G Thunderchief
1x RF-4C Phantom II

7x AGM-78A Standard [ARM]
6x AGM-45A Shrike [ARM]
16x RIM-2F Terrier
4x RGM-8H Talos
10x AN/ALE-32 Chaff Dispenser
134x Generic Chaff Salvo [8x Cartridges]
8x CBU-29/B CB [670 x BLU-36/B Bomblets]
52x CBU-59/B APAM [717 x BLU-77/B Dual-Purpose Bomblets]
6x AGM-45B Shrike [ARM]
17x Generic Chaff Salvo [5x Cartridges]
396x Mk82 500lb LDGP
5x Generic Flare Salvo [3x Cartridges, Single Spectral]
74x AIM-7E2 Sparrow III
14x AIM-9G Sidewinder
3x Generic Flare Salvo [4x Cartridges, Single Spectral]
24x Mk84 2000lb LDGP
60x Mk82 500lb Snakeeye
72x M117 750lb GPB
24x Mk83 1000lb LDGP



1560x Mk82 500lb LDGP
240x M117 750lb GPB

< Message edited by stww2 -- 9/25/2020 10:39:56 PM >
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