Thanh Hoa Bridge - Part 2

By Wargamer Staff 03 Nov 2010 0

The struggle continues

Unfortunately, the Vietnamese are not cooperating with my plans. They keep sending small groups of fighters against us. Since the Hawkeyes cannot safely enter the hornets? nest without massive fighter support, which we do not yet have, we cannot safely send in the attack aircraft, because the enemy can see them, but we can?t see the enemy fighters.

1 hour 30 min into the scenario, we have now shot down 20 enemy fighters for no loss. The 2 enemy fighters nearby are retreating; we won?t pursue. We have 10 fighters at the front, but their ordnance status makes them equivalent to only 6 fighters. The first pair of fighters that returned to the Kitty Hawk will be ready in 15 min, so 2 of the 6 reserve fighters are now being sent forward.

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At 1 hour 45 min, the 4 rocket boats are roaring past my fleet, only 5 nm away. Someone should tell them that this is not reasonable behavior in a war zone. A Viking tanker is sent to the front just in case we need it. 


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Status after 2 hours 20 min

  • 32 enemy fighters destroyed for no loss
  • 28 enemy fighters on the ground; 16 detected in the air
  • 5 friendly fighters available at the front; 4 more are on their way
  • 2 Hawkeyes and 2 Vigilantes at the front
  • 10 attack aircraft at the front; just waiting for the coast to clear
  • 1 tanker at the front

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ASW considerations

It has already been stated several times that North Vietnam doesn?t have any subs. This is a good thing, because we have very limited ASW capacity. The fleet is presently formed in line ahead, with the DD in front and the CG behind, and about 4 nm between ships. The CG passive sonar has a range of 6 nm; the DD passive sonar has a range of 5 nm. One Sea King is patrolling each flank, about 7 nm out. This gives decent coverage for the Kitty Hawk, or at least about as much as is possible with the available forces.

One problem is that the Sea Kings can patrol for hours, while their sonobuoys are all deployed in minutes. This means that the automatic ASW patrol routines don?t work very well. The helicopters should return to the Kitty Hawk not when their fuel is low, but when their sonobuoys are about to die of old age. This will need to be implemented manually. However, the Sea Kings do have a decent dipping sonar with a 2.5 nm range, which can be seen in the image below. It looks like the sonobuoy range is about 2.5 nm.


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Status after 4 hours

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  • 56 enemy fighters destroyed for no loss
  • 18 enemy fighters on the ground; 2 detected in the air
  • 8 friendly fighters available at the front; 4 more are on their way
  • 2 Hawkeyes and 2 Vigilantes at the front
  • 10 attack aircraft at the front; just waiting for the coast to clear

Our 4 tankers are not enough to support the forward force aloft indefinitely. It will be necessary to mount an immediate strike against the ground defences and return the entire force to the Kitty Hawk. This will take about one hour. Refueling and return will take another two hours. This will leave 5 hours for Phase 3, which will allow for 2 B-52 strikes. So it looks like we are in pretty good shape. Unless, of course, there are other defences that we have not yet seen!

It is a good day to die.

Phase 2 commences

15 min later, we take the first shot at the southernmost SAM site. It takes 2 Standard missiles to knock out the AS radar. There?s no need to do any more to this unit, because none of our airplanes need to fly within 25 nm of it.


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This Intruder pair later shoots its third Standard missile at the southernmost AS radar, destroying it, and its fourth Standard missile at the southernmost AAA unit, knocking out its AS radar.

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In the meantime, the Phantoms are real busy. One hour after the start of Phase 2, 22 more enemy fighters have been shot down. This is a total of 78 enemy fighters destroyed for no loss.

At this point, the Vietnamese air force can no longer offer any significant resistance in this region. Our attack planes will now press the attack right up to Thanh Hoa Bridge. The only bottleneck will be the shortage of stand-off air-to-ground missiles. We have 4 Standard missiles immediately available to complete Phase 2, part 1. The Intruders will return to the Kitty Hawk for more ordnance and then execute Phase 2, part 2.


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The above map shows how the remaining targets will be dealt with. It will take 3 more hours to complete Phase 2, which will leave 4 hours for Phase 3.

In order to increase the effective time available to Phase 3, the heavy bombers will head out one hour before the end of Phase 2. This will put them in position to attack immediately after the air defences are silenced.

Problems develop in Phase 2

It takes two Standard missiles to knock out the AS radar of mobile SAM 2. The remaining 2 Standard missiles only knock out the SS radar of mobile SAM 3, which isn?t good enough. The 8 available Shrike missiles are used to destroy radar units 2 and 3, as well as to continue working over the southernmost AAA unit.

The 4 A-6Bs head back to the Kitty Hawk at top speed for more stand-off missiles. We can?t do much until these planes return with more stand-off weapons, because I am NOT going to send the other bombers in to die.

In the meantime, the Vigilantes are pushed forward. Within 10 minutes, we start to acquire new targets by infrared. These units appear to be clustered around the larger air defence units. The first contacts are obtained at somewhat less than 15 nm.



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Loitering the Vigilantes at that distance to increase the scan time does not help. They need to approach to about 10 nm before any detailed information is available about these new enemy units. They are non-radiating, so our stand-off anti-radiation missiles are useless. Fortunately, they all have short-range weapons.

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The new units:

  • KS-12 (85 mm) ? 3.5 nm range
  • Grail missile ? 2.3 nm range
  • ZU-23 guns ? 1.4 nm range

All of these units can be safely picked off by the rocket-armed Corsairs. However, all of these units can shoot down our other bombers. There may be an altitude restriction (i.e. we will be safe if we bomb from high altitude), but I don?t know whether that is the case. High altitude goes from 2 nm to 11 nm. Horizontal bombing range is 1 nm. Lacking any other information, my standing orders, as suggested in the ?Objective? section, are to attack these units only with the rocket-armed Corsairs.

These short-range air defence units appear to be clustered around all the major air defence units. Therefore, while we can?t see them yet, we should expect to find a heavy concentration of these units close to Thanh Hoa Bridge. They will keep our bombers away from the bridge, which is exactly what they are intended to do.

Status after 5 h 40 min


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One pair of rocket-armed Corsairs was committed against Vietnamese air defence group ZR. 2 Grail units were destroyed, and some other units were damaged. No further attacks will happen against this group.

One pair of rocket-armed Corsairs (C) is standing by to attack Vietnamese air defence group ZT. This attack is aborted. There is no reason to risk these planes in attacking targets that have no effect on the main mission.

Vietnamese air defence group ZS will also be ignored.

All 3 independent air search radar units have been destroyed.

Two of the SA-2s have been mission killed (air search radar destroyed). Two are still active.

Two KS-19 batteries are waiting near Thanh Hoa Bridge. We are expecting many smaller air defence units to be there as well.

When the A-6Bs are available again, their Standard missiles will be used against the SA-2s and other radars. Their Shrikes will then be used against other radars, primarily the KS-19 radars.

After that, the Walleye-armed Intruders will attack the KS-19s.

After that, the rocket-armed Corsairs will attack targets in order to open up a clear corridor to the bridge for the bombers.

The KS-19, KS-12, and ZU-23 units all have 100 damage points. The Grail units all have 30 damage points.

One rocket-armed Corsair does about 12 x .4 x 8 = 38.4 damage. We have 12 of them. 3 of them together should do enough damage to take out a KS-19, KS-12, or ZU-23 in one shot. When attacking the KS-19 units, the Corsairs will operate in groups of 4 to minimize the number of shots the KS-19s will get. Reorganization of the Corsair groups as rockets are expended will be done depending on the tactical situation.

One Walleye-armed Intruder does about 2 x .6 x 63 = 75.6 damage. We have 2 of them, and they can safely attack the KS-19 units after the SA-2s are disabled.

Our anti-radar missiles do only small amounts of damage. Their only advantage is that they can destroy enemy radars at stand-off ranges.

Continue reading After Action Review: Thanh Hoa Bridge - Part 2 on the next page!



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