Hornet Leader is a solitaire tabletop game about a squadron of fighters stationed on a US carrier from 1983, the introduction of the eponymous F/A-18 Hornet, to the present, carrying out missions to defend freedom, eliminate the enemies of democracy, and liberate the shit out of the oppressed peoples of the world. This is the story of the USS Calvin Coolidge, flagship of Carrier Strike Group Thirteen, and its famous fighter squadron VA‽-101, aka the Sky Wolves.
The year is 1984 and president Ronald Reagan has decided to launch punitive strikes on Libya because of terrorism or something. Strike Group Thirteen is moving in to execute this series of surgical strikes, aerial engagements, and carpet bombings that shall under no circumstances be called a war because otherwise we’d have to talk to Congress about it and nobody wants that. Our hero goes by the callsign Kermit, fresh from training and assigned to the Sky Wolves as a pilot of an F-14 Tomcat, an older plane, but one capable of extreme long range engagements as compared to the more modern multirole F/A-18s. In this, he is paired with one of the squadron’s best pilots, Waldo, famous for being practically impossible to track on radar, especially when there’s a lot of red-and-white striped things around.
After the Sky Wolves took some casualties in several perfectly legal engagements over Grenada, they lost their AWACS, and the new pilot of their E-2C Hawkeye goes by the callsign Eyes. He’s the Sky Wolves’ eye in the sky, spotting trouble before trouble spots them with his big dorky hypno-plane.
The mainstay of the squadron are the pilots of the F/A-18 Hornets, starting with Hunter and Cowboy, who are cocky mavericks who play by their own rules and are in most other ways boring fighter pilot stereotypes who will fade into the background until a sacrificial lamb is needed. The real stars here are Wedge, the squad leader and legendary veteran of Vietnam War 2: The Re-Vietnaming, and Wolf, who helps him get dates.
Wedge and Wolf aren’t the only legendary pilots in this squadron. Raven is a veteran of the original Vietnam War, and also the sack of Rome. He flies an A-7 Corsair II, which is, technically, a plane.
The EA-6B Prowler is a jammer craft used to cloak other planes, making them harder to target with missiles, and which also has a couple of bombs and stuff I guess. The Sky Wolves rely on the pilot of one of these, Crunch Buttsteak, for both protection in the air and for seasonal calendar fundraisers to help them raise money to get a better plane for Raven.
Much to its chagrin, the Sky Wolves do in fact have another EA-6B. It is flown by Moon Moon.
Goddammit, Moon Moon.