Mugabian spies had crossed the border at various times, and other informants within Uwanda materialized as well. Since Uwanda's failed advance to the south, Mugabia had managed to sneak several cells into Uwanda with various objectives in mind, including spying. Additionally and by chance, in the hours prior to Uwanda's H-hour, Mugabian aircraft had become more active in their prodding.
Uwanda's air patrols were constant, but resources limited. The ability to respond to intrusions was often left to ill-suited ground attack aircraft, and there were often holes in patrol coverage due to the limited number of aircraft available. As fate would have it, Mugabia's curiosity would peak only hours prior to the Uwanda's H-hour, and thus started the new war prematurely.
Map of the border between Uwanda (west) and Mugabia (east).
The area inside the black dashed line is occupied by Mugabia and the ULF.
The two UAF (Uwanda Air Force) F5s patrolling near objective A37 dropped down to get visual contact with a Mugabian Mi4 flying along the border. Once they located the Mi4, they were surprisingly denied permission to shoot it down. So they watched it bumble about the border for a bit and then began to climb again. As they made their assent, they were jumped by three Mig17s, which had penetrated Uwanda airspace looking to track Uwanda's ground movements. The Mig17s managed to get a couple of shots off on the surprised F5s, before fleeing back across the border. The F5 pilots would return home with only their pride hurt. Unknowingly, the Mig pilots had fired the first shots of a new war.
The F5s climbed and closed with the Migs, trying to intercept before the Migs could site the troop build-up. In a short time the F5s had an advantage in altitude and speed. In addition to their 20mm cannons, the F5s each carried a pair of AIM9B sidewinders missiles. As they closed, the Migs started to turn away, and then back towards the the F5s, while slowly climbing. The F5s streaked ahead, believing their speed would keep them safe, and planned to wingover into a position for missile shots.
A pair of Uwanda's F5Es.
Misjudging both the advantage of their own speed, and the turn rate of the Mig17s, the lead F5 quickly found himself in a desperate situation. The F5 pilot stared through the top of his canopy, as the Mig17 lined up for a shot. He felt a warm sensation in his flight suite as the massive burst of the Mig 17s guns passed both above and beneath his plane.
The Mig17 pilot couldn't believe his luck when the F5 delivered himself as a choice target, and then couldn't believe his luck again, when he missed the shot. Realizing that he had fired the last of his ammunition, having expended most of it on the G91s earlier, he broke off the fight, and dove away from the F5s and toward the Mugabian border.
The Mig17's wingman did not break off the engagement and seconds later, was able to line up a shot on the lead F5. He did not miss, watching as his tracers blew out the bottom of the F5's cockpit. The F5 pilot dead, the smoking jet quickly dove to its final destination.
The second F5 could have turned away and ended the engagement, but filled with rage over witnessing the death of his wingman, the pilot turned into the second Mig for a face to face encounter. The Mig had no way out and lined up on the F5, pulling his trigger as he saw the enemy's 20mm guns blaze. An instant later, he saw the tail of the F5 disintegrate and the an ejection seat blow clear of the aircraft. He had felt the shudder of the 20mm rounds going through his left wing without considering the cause, but it took only an instant, before he realized that his aircraft was no longer responding to his control.
The Mig17 fires on his second victim of the day, his first victim can be seen
diving to the ground in the background
The second encounter above was my first game with my new air combat rules. For the most part it worked out well, though I still need to work out some details a little better. Managing the four aircraft wasn't as hard as I had expected, and the game ended up far more lethal than I had anticipated.
The Russian aircraft cannons are beasts, putting out a ton of lead. At fairly close range, they were just wickedly lethal. A good die roll offset the odds from the bad deflection shot on the first kill. Plus a half dozen critical hits resulted in two pilot kills in a plane with one pilot. Hopefully, I will learn a little about air combat before Uwanda runs out of F5s.
I am bummed that the F5s didn't get to fire a missile, but I still have that to look forward to in the next game.
The result of the air combat is that Uwanda has lost four aircraft, three permanently, to Mugabia's one. The tricky p[art is that two of the F5s provided top cover to the impending ground attack are now part of the past. The Migs penetrated deep enough into Uwanda to discover the troop buildups near the border, and have confirmed the Russian intelligence. But, it comes so close to H-hour, that Mugabia can do little with the information.
Hopefully I'll have a better table cover next time. I had to use my ocean water sheets as I don't have anything appropriate for the air war. It was so dark that it caused my camera fits with the light colored aircraft.
More to come...