So, we’re doing a follow-up amphibious operation into the area between Narvik and Bardufoss, where the battered remains of the 69th MRD are hanging on. The biggest formation is probably the 303rd MRR, down near Bjerkvik, although there is two thirds of an independent tank battalion somewhere here too. I’ve got a task force offshore with numerous landing craft, large and small, and three airbases and three flat-top amphibs, with numerous helicopters and attack aircraft. Soviet air and sea interference should be minimal, so land defences are the primary concern. We’ve got 18 hours to land, link up, and drive the Soviets out of the area.
Nothing special. The landing sequence is essentially predefined. My main concerns (other than mines), are air-defences, artillery, and the possibility of an armoured counterstrike to mess things up. So, we’ll start with recce and a dedicated SEAD campaign, using the quick turnaround of my aircraft as often as possible, and then provide cover to the landing as necessary.
The opening moments reveal two SA-10s deep in the interior, but fortunately they turn out to be badly degraded remnant units. One gets its radars shot off by a HARM, and the other gets jumped by low-level Harriers working their way in from behind. Other than that, there’s a swarm of MANPADS down there, plus a few SA-13s to stiffen the defences. The little Pioneer drones are hard-hit by the MANPADS, with two shot down and one damaged in short order. Fortunately, the F-18s with IR Mavericks seem to be able to spot the enemy from above their ceiling, which leads to an extensive campaign of high-altitude anti-MANPADS operations using every Maverick and LGB I can muster.
One by-product of this extensive hunting operation is the detection of a series of fortifications, some small and some quite large, tucked away in the valleys inland. My attack helicopters turn out to be superb at dealing with these, hitting turrets, cupolas, and embrasures with ATGMs, and I soon use up my entire stockpile of TOWs.
As this is happening, the initial landings are underway. They are opposed by little more than occasional infantry platoons, so they go smoothly, and initial artillery and infantry lodgements are soon underway, followed by the mechanized landings at Tennevoll and Sjovegan. So far, the only major enemy formation I’ve spotted (other than some trucks at Brandvoll), is a whole bunch of dismounted infantry in the Bjerkvik/Oyord area. This is presumably the 303 MRR. There is no sign of the tank battalion so far.
With beachheads consolidated, the mechanized troops head inland, with mech inf scouting ahead of tanks. The northern group springs an ambush as they approach Brandvoll, losing two platoons of LAVs and some Abrams before they fight their way out of it. After that I get wiser, and start sending armed HMMWVs well ahead of the mech forces, as an even more advanced scout force. They find another ambush further up in the Moen Valley, and this time I am able to defeat it with minimal losses.
As Hummers and mech troops continue to advance, helicopters bring in more infantry to reinforce and hold captured areas, and to leapfrog artillery deeper into the interior. They generally don’t go directly into the objective areas, preferring to land a few miles away and walk. (Iceland is still a vivid memory.) Mech Inf and arty sweep up the dismounted 303 MRR (still no tanks), and eventually the objective areas are occupied.
The extensive array of MANPADS is nasty! If it hadn’t been for those few F-18s with IR Mavericks, this would have been a much tougher fight. Surprisingly, more advanced thermal imaging capability in F-18 pods and Harrier noses is less effective than the Maverick seekers for detection from altitude. Without them, I’d have been trying to tempt the MANPADS into taking long-ranged shots, dodging the missiles, and spotting the launch site. (To be clear, I did do that too, and you can often pull it off with a high-speed F-18, but the Mavericks did the bulk of the spotting.) Rolling back the MANPADS gave me a chance to work at lower altitudes, and that was how I found most of the fortifications.
There’s a lot of setup just to load landing craft and helicopters at the start, and I wonder if it would be worth pre-loading them, and giving the player a list? That would probably save an hour for the player. They can still change loads if they want to, but if they’re content with the default then they can get playing a lot sooner.
CMO’s great in the air and at sea, but on the ground, we’re hitting its limits. I think the players will be frustrated with limitations of pathfinding, particularly in shallow water and in steep terrain. Ground units in CMO cannot follow roads, and I frequently found myself resorting to the editor’s ‘Move’ function when units couldn’t cross a contour line or follow the edge of a fjord, despite being on wide roads of well-made blacktop. I was also using it to rearrange landed troops, rather than trying to march them into formation, and I used the clone function to break up large landed units (e.g., single unit companies of 16 LAVs) into smaller platoons and sections. Other limitations, such as the inability to carry and use dismounts, or to fire on grid targets with artillery, or to dig in and camouflage, etc., all become apparent. (Nothing you can do about this, of course.)
Events, Triggers, Actions
The various ‘Seized’ triggers are unit enters area triggers, which means they fire every time any unit passes through. Since there are so many small units involved, by the end of the scenario my score was over 10,000 for this reason.
Was there supposed to be an Ambush 3? There’s a trigger and action for it, but no event. (Although too many Lua ambushes can get a bit trying for the player.)
Was there supposed to be an air attack? There’s a Ground Strike mission, a timer for 0738, and Lua actions for Northern Strike and Southern Strike, but there is no event to bring it all together. (Also, is there a ‘delete’ event, since there is no airfield for the planes to return to?)
The SAMBUSH 1 Lua action fails because of the apostrophe in the message. (This is probably why it never happened for me. I had helicopters cross that valley several times and nothing happened.)
The Ambush 2 and Ambush 3 Lua actions also fail for an apostrophe in the message.
The SAMBUSH 2 trigger zone seems to be in an area the player is very unlikely to go, at the end of the Altevatn Lake.
The pilot creation SAR script works for the Pioneer drones.
Currently, the loss of a Pioneer drone has the same point cost as the loss of a manned aircraft.
The air defences are working normally, but all the other ground units need to be on Engage Opportunities = Yes in order to fire. At the moment, they will just sit and wait and do not engage. You might need an additional Lua action to set this for troops arriving by Lua ambush.
Had you intended the tank battalion to make an attempt? I wondered if the intel announcement about the resourceful general presaged some sort of armoured/attack helicopter counterstroke with the battalion, but nothing seemed to come of it.
Are the last few Scuds supposed to have a specific role? Maybe attacking an airfield? They would probably need a strike mission for that. The 20 missiles they currently have is a lot. That’s 18 extra trucks, extra propellant tankers, etc., which doesn’t seem like the broken remnant of the battalion. They’re also in the roadless wilderness of a national park at the moment, maybe not their final location?
Would the Tico have its radar on to guard the amphibs? I switched sides and turned it on for my playthrough, and turned it to engage opportunities = yes.
You can’t land the Pioneers back on the Caron. I ended up sending them to Andoya.
Most of the Ibestad Ferry landing zone is actually underwater, despite what is shown on the map, so it is difficult to land there. A larger zone further inland would work.
The 25 RCT Fwd Line markers keep triggering Exclusion Zone 1, and being declared unfriendly, before flickering back to neutral and doing it again. I’m not sure if Exclusion Zone 1 is needed for this scenario?
The briefing mentions calling arty support from neighbouring formations. Was there a specific way to do this? I only needed to do it once, and switched sides in the editor to do it manually.
Typos & Formatting
Scenario description: ‘Soviet forces are mounting on the easter flank however.’ (eastern)
Side briefing: “The Bde will assault the BANAK area in three waves” (Narvik)
Side briefing: “Secure them before hand and unload when you think your close. “ (you’re)