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Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984

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Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984 - 9/3/2021 3:14:47 PM   


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Continuing my exploration of the Community Pack scenarios, I had a look at this pair, which assume a war between Italy and Hoxha-era Albania in 1984.

In the first scenario, you command Italian aircraft charged with bombing the Albanian airbases at Berat-Kucove and Gjader. For this task, you have 9 F-104 Starfighter interceptors and 16 of the attack version of the same aircraft, plus 8 G.91Y Gina light bombers and 4 PD.808 EW planes. An air defence radar helps detect hostile planes.

The Albanians have a number of Chinese-supplied MiG-21 (J-7) and MiG-19 (J-6) copies, plus a HQ-2 (Guideline copy) SAM battery and supporting AA guns at each airfield and some decent radar.

It's actually a pretty good scenario, apart from one glaring bug that makes it too easy for the player. With this discounted, it's a decent contest and far from easy, mainly because you have to keep losses to a minimum.

I decided that it was best to concentrate on the Northern airbase at Gjader to avoid dispersing effort and overwhelm the defences. Clearly, it was necessary to secure air superiority before risking the bombers, so I sent the F-104 fighters in first. Endurance is an issue, but the Starfighters have enough legs to make a meaningful sweep and, being on quick turnround, can get airborne again for a second sortie to escort the bombers later.

About a dozen MiGs intercepted the sweep and caused some problems by coming in from different angles. I was faced with the familiar Command problem of having to co-ordinate several simultaneous aerial combats and, as usual, the AI was able to take advantage and inflict some losses, despite the inferior radar and rear-aspect missiles of the Albanian planes. In all, two Starfighters were lost for eight MiGs, which was level pegging under the scoring system (50 VP for an Albanian plane, 200 for an Italian). This is to discount the bug, which scores the player 50 VP for every Albanian MISSILE fired, as if it was a unit destroyed.

Two MiGs broke-off to Berat and two more stooged around at Gjader, cleverly keeping within the SAM umbrella. It wasn't possible to snipe these from a safe distance and the Italians were left with the problem of having to use their Ginas to take-out the SAMs at low altitude, but without being able to provide adequate escort without exposing the F-104s to the same SAMs. The MiGs have the difficulty that their PL-2 missiles are useless below 5,000', but they can still get the bombers with cannon. I had to bite the bullet and send the Ginas in singly when the MiGs were out of position. In this way, I was able to destroy the Gjader SAM battery for 50 VP and then down the MiGs with my escorts for another 100, but lost one bomber to a fighter's cannon for 200.

With this done, it was possible to take-out the three AA batteries with further Gina strikes to get 100 points ahead and then use a bomber's cannon to rub-out the nearby radar for 50 more. I might well have lost a plane to AA fire, though I tried to give the AI as little opportunity as possible to attempt this, but got lucky on this occasion. There are also issues with variable terrain heights making it tricky to judge the altitude your aircraft should be flying at (the 500lb bombs on the Ginas need to be released from at least 800' ASL - just below HQ-2 territory - while the 1,000lb bombs on the F-104s need at least 1,000' of clear air and therefore can't be safely used on the SAMs). Starfighter bombers and the unused Ginas then bombed the airbase installations, but iron bombs are notoriously inaccurate (best to aim at the middle of a group of targets and hope for the best) and tarmac spaces, runway access points, etc are hard to destroy, so I damaged a lot of targets but failed to eliminate any.

The official score was a Triumph (900), but the real result was a Minor Victory with a score of 150.

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RE: Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984 - 9/3/2021 3:31:17 PM   


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In the second scenario, Albania Strikes Again, you change sides and command what's left of the Albanian forces, which have been ordered to engage Italian aircraft and warships approaching the port of Durres.

Unfortunately, this is one of those scenarios where you have to be pretty lucky to win. The Albanians have just eight MiG-19s and four Beagle light bombers, plus a couple of small torpedo boats and three patrol craft which have no effective attack form and are only useful for recon. There are no MiG-21s, SAMs, coastal defences or even AA guns. Against this, the Italians have at least 14 F-104 fighters with Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles, EW planes and a couple of Maestrale-class frigates with Aspide SAMs and 5" guns (to say nothing of Otomat missiles, which their doctrine doesn't allow them to use against your small vessels). Basically, the Albanians haven't a hope, but the victory conditions only score points for Italian losses, so you just have to go for it and hope to take some of the enemy with you.

I tried to bide my time and strike at the ships when the initial squadron of escorting F-104s went Bingo Fuel and turned for home. I hoped to sacrifice some fighters to distract the Aspides on the nearer of the two Maestrales and give the Beagles an opening. Nice idea, but the relief squadron promptly scrambled and tore across the Adriatic at 1,150 knots, being able to sustain this speed for a surprising length of time. As a result, the entire Albanian air group was massacred by Sparrows and Sidewinders before they could get near the ships or get any missiles off in reply.

Having nothing to lose, I sent the two torpedo boats against the same ship, but they were both sunk before they had gotten far inside the maximum reach of the frigate's guns.

The patrol craft made it back to port, but this did them no good as the frigate followed-up and, with remarkable accuracy, sank them all at the dockside, proceeding to wreck the dock and the port's magazine and control room for good measure.

So I failed to score a point and it ended as a Disaster. I'm sure it's possible to inflict losses on the Italians and change this outcome if you try enough times, but there are lots of other scenarios to play.

(in reply to fitzpatv)
Post #: 2
RE: Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984 - 9/3/2021 7:04:28 PM   


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Ah, Albania Airstrike, the very first scenario I designed. Its successor, Albania Strikes Again, is that difficult by design.


(in reply to fitzpatv)
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RE: Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984 - 9/3/2021 8:28:58 PM   


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From: The Great White North!
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I had forgotten these two, been a long time...

Nice reports thanks


Check out our novel, Northern Fury: H-Hour!:
And our blog:
Twitter: @NorthernFury94 or Facebook

(in reply to Coiler12)
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RE: Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984 - 9/4/2021 7:47:19 PM   

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Hi fitzpatv

Great AAR as usual. I´m really enjoying reading them.
This one just made me feel like giving you a few pointers, especially when you start tackling Gunner98´s later more devious scens in the NF series

A SAM site have a minimum range as well as a maximum range. Get within that and your Starfighters are quite safe from the HQ-2, even above 305m.
The HQ-2 SAM is quite old and a Starfighter is very fast. You can easily dart into SAM range, kill the target and get out/out maneuvre the SAM missile.
The SAM shots usually have single digit PoK because of the Starfighters speed.

You have jammers. Use them.
They degrade the SAM range quite a lot.

Hope this made sense, and looking forward to your next installment of Northern Fury.


(in reply to Gunner98)
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RE: Albania Airstrikes Scenarios 1984 - 9/11/2021 10:03:09 AM   


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Thanks as always for the advice, Soren. Glad you're enjoying the AARs.

While I didn't lose any planes to SAMs in Albania Airstrike, I must admit I'm less than confident about taking-on the Soviet air defence systems on Iceland and elsewhere in Northern Fury, especially as they are likely to have several of them providing mutual support, whereas the Albanians just had one old battery here. One possible idea I have is based on the long reload times for Gargoyle batteries. If I can feed missiles in at regular intervals, I might be able to catch one re-arming and destroy it.

I do use jammers but, as I can't see the results from the AI's perspective, it is hard to gauge their effectiveness, which is why they don't get much in the way of 'mentions in dispatches'. I'll certainly need to have some Prowlers close behind the strike planes at Reykjavik.

True, SAMs have a minimum range, but getting and staying within it isn't easy, especially manoeuvring at 1,150 knots. Take your point about the Starfighter's speed, though with 200VP lost for each friendly plane downed, there's always a risk in Albania Airstrike. Still, it makes the scenario a challenge and quite a good place to practice things, which is one of the reasons why I liked it.

(in reply to Schr75)
Post #: 6
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