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.