Northern Fury 6 Trondheim Express

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Northern Fury 6 Trondheim Express

Post by fitzpatv »

This one is best seen as an alternative version of Bardufoss Blues, rather than a continuation. The timescale overlaps, a number of messages coincide and it is basically about the Soviet attempt on 15th February to mount an amphibious landing at Trondheim while neutralising the NATO air bases in Northern Norway.

The OOBs vary, with NATO getting the multi-national Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), more Norwegian frigates and MTBs and some additional land-based aircraft, including extra US AMRAAM-capable F-16s, British Jaguar strike planes and a few F-111 EW aircraft. The SSNs from the earlier scenario are replaced by USS Phoenix and two extra Norwegian diesel boats, Kobben and Kunna. The Soviet line-up is fairly similar to that in Bardufoss Blues, but they get more bomber aircraft and some SSNs at the expense of the non-involvement of the Finns.

As I’d found the pre-set missions counter-productive thus far, I deleted the lot at the start, though I did create a new ASW patrol mission over the fleet. The Norwegian frigate Bergen (back from the dead once more) was retreating S, damaged and out of weapons, as were three MTBs, so I told the former to slow down to reduce the risk of the Kilo completing a hat-trick of ambushes on her.

STANAVFORLANT looked very exposed in the path of the Soviet naval groups, but they couldn’t realistically get out of the way. I had them keep radars off and go to Creep to hinder submarine attack. It could only be hoped that their SAMs would be able to weather the probable avalanche of missiles from the Soviet fleet. Elsewhere, I had the cutter Andenes try to escape to Bergen, while the frigates Oslo and Trondheim moved to support STANAVFORLANT and the Narvik headed NE at Full. The fresh squadrons of MTBs hugged the coast and awaited opportunities to strike, while the diesel subs broadly screened Trondheim and Phoenix steered for the convoy in a bid to repeat Talent’s heroics (qv).

As before, I altered aircraft doctrine to Winchester instead of Shotgun, turned-off Auto-Evade and limited fighters to one AMRAAM shot per target to conserve ammo.

Soon after the start, a Russian Foxtrot sub ambushed and sank the MTBs Odd and Falk. Forewarned, the other exhausted FAC, the Tross, sought shelter in a fjord, as did the Bergen. At least it cost no points.

A wave of Soviet fighters swept over Bodo and were engaged by US Eagles and Norwegian F-16 MLUs. Given time to get my fighters airborne, this went pretty well and we destroyed 2 Flankers and 10 Fulcrums for an Eagle and Falcon, breaking-up the attack. In general, Soviet planes score 1 VP and NATO aircraft two, but there are bonuses/penalties for high-value types. NATO tactics were to keep planes dispersed, offer just one target at a time and try to aim at as many Russian fighters as possible with each salvo.

A Victor III SSN tried to sneak-up on STANAVFORLANT from the SE, but was spotted and sunk by a Seahawk from the Spruance-class USS Moosbrugger. A handy 75 VP.

Eight carrier-based Yak-38 Forgers then made a run at the two Norwegian frigates. I’d put some CAP from Vaernes, near Trondheim over the fleet and these clobbered most of the attackers, but one got extremely lucky, closed-in and dealt a crippling hit to the frigate Oslo before finally going down. Oslo detached and tried to seek refuge against the rocky shoreline.

A massive Soviet air armada then swarmed over the Bodo area. The escorting MiG-31 Foxhounds were dangerous foes and we lost 4 Eagles and a Falcon MLU for 5 of these birds and the same number of Flankers, which was even in scoreboard terms. By now, my fighters were having to take-off and engage immediately and suicidally, as in Bardufoss Blues.

The diesel sub Kunna then reported a sub-surface contact in the approaches to Trondheim and began to stalk it with the help of an Orion as fighters stood-by. Meanwhile, another sub appeared NW of the fleet.

More dogfights raged over Bodo, with the frigate Bergen’s SAMs doing useful service in support of our fighters. Two Eagles with SAM support accounted for a dozen Soviets before being lost, but it was getting to the stage where any defending fighter was very unlikely to survive a sortie.

The second Victor III rode her luck, avoiding two torpedoes as she bore down on the fleet. The bug which causes choppers to mess around with their dipping sonar instead of attacking was a major hassle, especially as I can see no way to get around it. Choppers with dipping sonar basically attack when they feel like it, but I had several on the case and the enemy SSN was blown apart by a third torpedo before she got into striking range. It was a relief that no Soviet fighters were supporting their subs.

A squadron of Fencers then made a strike against Bodo. It cost them 14 planes, but they took-out the base’s NASAMS battery and some other installations, plus two Sidewinder F-16s which fell to Aphid missiles. Two more Fencers of the EW type were causing concern by loitering near the fleet and threatening to disrupt STANAVFORLANT’s missile defence, so I made it a priority for CAP to dispose of them. They score 8 VP each.

Kunna then caught and sank the Kilo off the approaches to Trondheim, scoring 50 VP.

By now, some Fencers and a force of Badger and Blinder heavy bombers were assaulting Orland and Vaernes. This gave the Sidewinder-equipped F-5s something useful to do and they actually scored some kills. Blinders are worth 6 VP each.

Four more Forgers attacked the Norwegian frigates, but were destroyed without loss, exhausting that threat. Respite was brief, as a third Russian SSN appeared NNE of the fleet, while streams of aircraft headed for Orland.

The third SSN proved to be a Sierra and fared no better than the Victors. Some of the Sidewinder-equipped F-16s from Bodo were able to clear away most of the enemy choppers and Mays screening their convoy and an SAG nearer the mainland.

Carrier-based Su-33 Flankers finally began to appear near the fleet and nailed three of my choppers before I could get them out of the way. Concerned at wasting SAMs, I forbade STANAVFORLANT from firing at them, but gave Oslo and Trondheim some licence and these two scored some kills with Sea Sparrows.

The Russian attempts to reduce the Southern bases were proving expensive for them, but one Fencer did manage to get-in a damaging attack, destroying some planes on the ground. Fencers can be elusive aircraft and a couple succeeded in sneaking-up unseen over the course of the game.
A Badger used a Kitchen missile to finish-off the limping Oslo, which happily cost no points.
Eventually, the sheer number of attackers wore-down the CAP at Bodo, with no Eagles or F-16 MLUs left and some unpleasant losses being taken to planes on the ground. The Russians were beginning to succeed in neutralising the forward a price.

STANAVFORLANT got within Harpoon range of the convoy and launched missiles, but the Soviet SAM defence was as capable as I’d feared and I scored just one hit on a destroyer. Given no real alternative and encouraged by the absence of answering fire, I closed to gun range with radars dark, relying on TV for detection. The result was a repeat of what happened in Bardufoss Blues. Inexplicably, the Russians did not fire back and were slowly, painfully worn-down and ultimately annihilated by gunfire and Sea Skuas from HMS Norfolk’s chopper. Three escorts were left crippled when I ran out of ammo and disengaged to the NW, so Phoenix moved-in and finished them off with torpedoes.

This effectively ended the scenario as a contest. With plenty of time to go, I concentrated on the Soviet SAG approaching Trondheim. Much the same thing happened. Narvik hit a Kashin Mod with Penguins, taking no return fire apart from SAMs. Cautiously at first, then with increasing confidence, the Norwegian MTBs closed-in and battered the Russians with Penguins, torpedoes and gunfire. The only real sign of resistance came when I used four Jaguars from Orland and the enemy SAM batteries, which had fallen silent against later Penguin attacks, suddenly woke-up. I lost a plane and had to veer away with the others. This didn’t save the Russians, as the MTBs polished-off the whole task force.

I really don’t know why this happened, as the Russian ships should have put-up a much better fight. Not only did the same thing occur at Bardufoss Blues, but I notice from another AAR that the Vaedderen managed to wreck a Krivak during a playthrough of A Cold and Lonely Place in similar fashion. Either there’s a problem with the Northern Fury scenarios (ships set to Weapons Hold, radars off or suchlike) or there’s a wider issue with CMO, though I’ve not seen this phenomenon anywhere else.

For the rest of the game, I had some fun using F-16s from Vaernes to snipe at Russian fighters between there and Bodo. Closing, loosing at least one missile at maximum range, then immediately heading away on Afterburner and turning radars off was a foolproof method of defeating Flankers armed with Alamo missiles. The latter invariably petered-out before catching me and I was able to turn round, rinse and repeat until out of AMRAAMs, then return to base.

In the middle of this, there was a big Fencer strike on Vaernes which, unescorted, turned into a turkey shoot. A lone Fencer had much more success when my attention was focussed on the Bodo area and destroyed 12 of my planes on the ground. This hurt, even though I caught and killed the culprit and a Flanker which tried to intervene.

As I had nothing to lose, I had Phoenix fire her Harpoons at the carrier Admiral Gorshkov at the very end, but wasn’t surprised when this failed.

So it ended with a score of +1,405. The Soviet amphibious operation had again been crushed and their surface ships and subs given a bloody nose. In the air, the Northern bases and Bodo had been neutralised and the NATO air group around Trondheim badly-worn-down, but at a prohibitive cost to the Red Air Force.

NATO lost a frigate, two MTBs, 57 fighters, a Jaguar, 5 support planes and 4 choppers, plus 26 ground elements. A high proportion of the aircraft losses were incurred on the ground.

The USSR lost 9 amphibious ships, 10 frigates and destroyers, 2 cruisers, 4 subs, 88 fighters, 101 bombers and attack planes, 16 support aircraft and 15 choppers.

Overall, the campaign would have been better for having just one of Bardufoss Blues and Trondheim Express. Having said this, both are decent scenarios and enjoyable, if a bit exhausting to play. The biggest issue is the passive Soviet surface ships problem and I hope this doesn’t go-on to de-value the rest of the campaign.
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