“Come on, Commander,” Kermit was pleading, “put me on the flight! I can take it! I’m as cool as a cucumber!”
“We’re all full up, kid, take a breather,” Wedge said.
“What about that laboratory mission? Are we just going to leave that lab functioning?” Kermit asked, “they could be making chemical weapons or something!”
“It’s a secondary objective, kid, and way too far inland. You couldn’t carry enough bombs to blow it up,” Wedge said.
“What about Hunter? Load him up with the bombs. It’ll be good for him! Prove that he can bomb things just as well as Cowboy!” Kermit pleaded.
“Hunter is still convinced that the missiles have followed him back to the Coolidge and are hiding in the lower decks waiting to strike,” Wedge said, “just let it die, kid. There’ll be other missions.”
1430, south of Tripoli
“This is gonna be our last mission.”
“Keep it cool, Waldo.”
“There’s not enough missiles in the world for all the planes on that airfield.”
“That’s why we’re blowing it up before they get in the air.”
“Uh, not to interrupt, Raven, but are we gonna do something about Moon Moon?”
“What do you mean, Eyes?”
“Well, he’s leaning out the side of his cockpit with his tongue in the wind.”
“Just let him do his thing, man.”
The Sky Wolves have been assigned to take out a major airfield south of Tripoli. So long as it’s in operation, it will blanket the skies with more bandits all across Libya. They can’t put this one off, even though it’s a Hell of a hard target.
The airfield is blanketed in SAM defenses covering all ranges. This means Cowboy and his terribly expensive pile of guided bombs will be at danger of being hit by the high altitude missiles of the SA-2, Waldo, Wedge, Wolf and Raven carrying the back-up unguided bombs will all be exposed to fire from the SA-5s, SA-8As, and the Zu-33-4, and everyone in range of the airfield, high or low, will be in range of the SA-10 and the SA-11.
The team decides to approach from the north. Cowboy will carry enough guided munitions to take care of most of the airfield, while Waldo, Wedge, and Wolf will carry a single Mk. 83 iron bomb each. Raven’s archaic A-7 Corsair II can only carry two AIM-9 sidewinders (the counters for which are mistakenly flipped over to their AIM-7 sparrow sides in the image), so he loads up all remaining weight with a heavy mk. 84 iron bomb. Everyone’s got an ECM pod in the hopes that it’ll keep them alive long enough to reach the target area despite the massive and constantly increasing number of bandits in the sky.
The entire air-to-air team is going to need a constant stream of missiles to deal with all the bandits. With Waldo, Wedge, Wolf, and Raven all along for the ride, plus Eyes providing support, the air is covered. The problem is, loading all of them down with enough missiles to handle the bandits and having enough bombs to guarantee a run on the target means they can’t carry any munitions to deal with the AA. Fortunately, almost all AA emplacements at this airfield use radar, which means they can be targeted by the AGM-88s equipped to the EA-6B Prowlers flown by Rip Steakface and Moon Moon. The problem with that is that they can only carry four of the missiles each, many of the deadliest SAMs aren’t especially easy to hit, and Moon Moon can’t hit for crap.
We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese.
“High command has just radioed in to confirm that they are going to restock all special weapons expended in this mission in light of our exceptional performance yesterday and the critical importance of today’s mission.”
“Leave the phoenix missiles behind, you said. We need to save them for later, you said.”
“Cut the whining, Waldo, we’re coming up on the airfield now. Eyes, what are we looking at?”
“Seven bandits in the air, Raven, more on the ground. I’m reading some Mig-25s.”
“My favorite. Waldo, fox one!”
Another token that wasn’t flipped are the approaching Sky Wolves, who should all be at low altitude except for Moon Moon and Punch Sideiron, who must be at high altitude to deploy their AGM-88s. The reason for the low approach is to dodge that SA-2, just in case, God forbid, Moon Moon should be unable to destroy it.
Moon Moon was unable to destroy it.
“Goddammit, Moon Moon!”
“Wedge, fox one!”
“Wolf, fox one!”
“Looks like they’re having trouble getting their planes in the air.”
“Cowboy, break, it’s a SAM!”
“Miss, miss, miss!”
“Dammit, I’m hit!”
“No worries, Commander. We’ve got this.”
“Good luck, Cowboy. Raven, you’re in charge, I’m dropping munitions and heading home.”
“Copy that, Wedge.”
“Crunch, bombs away!”
“Gonda get teh thing!”
This mission had me seriously worried, especially after the oil rig assault went my way pretty much purely because of lucky rolls with Cowboy. It turned out to be much easier than anticipated, mainly because I pretty seriously overestimated how dense the skies would be. When assigning bandits, you draw enemy counters at random from the cup, and in the Vassal program I use to play, these are always AA side up. Every red counter has an AA site on one side, and on the opposite side is either a specific Soviet plane of some kind or it will just read No Bandit and you discard it. There are way more of these “No Bandit” counters than I’d originally feared, so in practice enemy planes are way less common than enemy SAMs and AA guns.
“Raven, fox two!”
“Skies are clean, I’m reading no bandits!”
“One coming up off the airfield now.”
“Waldo, fox two!”
“Wedge, fox two!”
“Coming up on the target, Cowboy, you ready?”
“Always. Cowboy, bombs away!”
“Wolf, bombs away!”
“Raven, bombs away!”
“Target is confirmed destroyed!”
“Time to head home, boys.”
“So what we’ve learned today is that Wolf can’t bomb for shit.”
“Yeah, yeah, you wouldn’t even get close without someone clearing the radar for you, Cowboy.”