Saturday, September 10, 2016

AAR19: First Shots of a New War

Since the ground war had died down, there had been numerous encounters in the air, with both sides poking and prodding, but no serious engagements as both sides were trying to minimize losses.  Mugabia had become quite curious about Uwandan movements along the border, and had been kept somewhat up to date by the Soviet intelligence sources.  But Mugabia's president was not content to rely only on his friends for information.

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.

First Shots
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.

Mugabian Mig17s.

Near objective A60, two G91s moved to intercept two Mig17s.  In the next two minutes, the Migs out-maneuvered their Uwandan counterparts, successfully shooting one down and badly damaging the other.  There were no other airborn Uwandan aircraft able to intercept, so two F5s were scrambled from the base at objective A46.  By the time the F5s could close with the Mugabians, the Mig 17s had penetrated near the Uwandan army build-up just west of objective A60.

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
He watched the F5 pilot's parachute collapse into the tree tops, as he gently descended, suspended below his own.

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...


  1. How did you resolve the first fight with the G91s?

    1. I have a more abstract air combat resolution system that I created years ago to deal quickly with modern air combat, particularly with radar guided missiles. Once the battle gets to the dogfight level, it is resolved with a series of die rolls. There is no movement, tactics, etc, just a sequence of die-rolls. It serves a purpose, but isn't really much fun for dogfights. I used that, but decided I wanted to make the air combat more interesting. So decided to try to create a miniature "dogfighting" set of rules.

  2. Cool stuff, Irish, I love me some air combat. The F-5 fights vs MiG-17s seems a pretty interesting match up. I liked the "...warm sensation in his flight suit..." When he looked top side out his canopy and saw the MiG.


    1. I was really surprised at how this turned out. Despite all of the Mustangs and Messerschmitts that I used to play, I really don't have a good idea of how to use the power and speed of modern jets. I've got to learn how to use space better, or the Russian guns will annihilate the Uwandans.

      Also still working on how to present air battles in an interesting way. Thinking that I need some tactical maps to better explain what's happening between the aircraft.

    2. Don't ask me, I don't know either! I just like pushing them around and shooting each other down ;)

      And I'm with you, it's hard doing batreps for air fights. Bi suppose the best way would be to open each photo in a photo editor and actually draw tracks on it to show movement and shooting, but man that's a lot of work, on top of the 'lot of work' it already takes to do a ground fight batrep.


  3. Interesting discussion about the Mig 17 combat performance on Wikipedia:
    Better plane that I thought compared to more modern fighters.

    1. Yes, I've got some books that talk about it in Nam, and it is always surprising to me, how solid an adversary it was.

      Within the game it is holding it own pretty well too.

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  5. I've just read through all your aars. Wow it's a totally awesome campaign you are running n quite inspirational!
    You should consider releasing your rules n strategic stuff as I'm sure there's a market for it..I'd certainly be interested...
    Keep up the good stuff o7

    1. Many thanks, glad you enjoyed them.

      I'm slowly trying to get it all together on the computer, just need more time...