Author Topic: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR  (Read 13946 times)

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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« on: March 14, 2016, 03:00:15 PM »
Here's the next scenario write-up. My new little rifleman is being cooperative as far as sleeping and eating, so I've been able to get some gaming in. This one was a lot of fun, as usual. Here's the setup:


(I know I mixed up the Shetlands and Faroe Islands, but I'm to lazy to go back and redo the map right now  :))

It's the second night of the war. The Soviets have overrun north Norway, managed to land at Trondheim in central Norway, and something is developing over Iceland (see my previous AARs). Intel suggests we have two Soviet battle groups, one centered on a Kuznetsov and one on a Kiev, headed our way. If the Russians are making a real push for Iceland than that probably means we are off the hook here north of Scotland, but I'm sure there are surprises in store. Regardless, the Russians have torn wide holes in the GIUK gap that are likely to get bigger before they get smaller and are making a strong push against the north Atlantic SLOCs. Our overarching mission is to plug the gap north of Scotland.

On the NATO side, the HMS Invincible with a full compliment of Sea Harriers has put to sea west of Scotland with a strong escort. East of Scotland, a surface action group consisting of four frigates, two German, one Dutch, one Belgian, with the flagship on the Dutch Frigate De Ruyter (hence the name, TG De Ruyter) is also steaming north.

We have operational control of a squadron of Buccaneer attack aircraft and one of Jaguars at RAF Lossiemouth, though their standoff armament is limited, consisting of sixteen Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles and a whole bunch more Martel anti-radiation missiles. The remainder of the anti-surface armament consists of 1000lb dumb bombs and 70mm rockets, not the best loadout for going up against modern warships.

At RAF Leuchars we have a squadron of Tornado interceptors and another of Phantoms, both equipped with Sky Flash missiles which are essentially British copies of the American AIM-7 Sparrow. While these aircraft are inherently better air-to-air platforms than the Harriers on Invincible, the Harriers have the much more deadly AIM-120 AMRAAM, so those will be the ones going up against the best Russian fighters if I can help it. Unfortunately, stocks of these missiles on Invincible are limited.   

The Government has charged us with protecting the evacuation of the Faroe and Shetland Islands, which complicates things. Charter aircraft are shuttling people south and four commercial ferries have departed, two from each archipelago. The MoD is concerned about a Soviet play for these islands, and as such two battalions of the Parachute Regiment, 1 and 3 Para, are going to be dropped on each location to secure them. Jumping will get the troops down faster than trying to land the C-130s at the small airfields, but the paras will only be able to bring light weapons. The Danish Coast Guard Frigate HMDS Hvidbjorgen is in the Faroes to provide some security for the evacuation. We want to hold these island chains, but more importantly we want to forestall any attack on Scotland itself.

And that's it. The Russian juggernaut is heading south. Let's try and stop them again!   

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2016, 03:27:48 PM »
 O0
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

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Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2016, 03:32:21 PM »
AMRAAM armed Harriers...interesting.
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

"you don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking the fire" - Bawb

"Can’t ‘un’ until you ‘pre’, son." - Gus

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2016, 03:36:46 PM »
AMRAAM armed Harriers...interesting.

They're the F(A).2 variant.Radar and AMRAAM capable.

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2016, 03:42:59 PM »
Nice. Those must have just entered service in the timeframe of these scenarios. Isn't suppposed to be the early 90s?
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

"you don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking the fire" - Bawb

"Can’t ‘un’ until you ‘pre’, son." - Gus

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2016, 04:17:13 PM »
Nice. Those must have just entered service in the timeframe of these scenarios. Isn't suppposed to be the early 90s?

Yep, the scenarios are set in February 1994.

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2016, 09:32:26 PM »
I'm all in.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2016, 05:58:35 PM »
HMS Invincible steamed through the night northwest of Scotland, her escort all around her. The task force, of which the small carrier was the flagship, was the strongest that the UK had put to sea since the Falklands War twelve years earlier. The admiral commanding sipped his tea while his staff filled him in on the situation.

A pair of AMRAAM armed Harriers were pulling CAP over the task force, ASW and AEW helicopters were out, and a BARCAP of Tornadoes and Phantoms was taking off from RAF Leuchars to patrol just off the north Scottish coast. There hadn’t been any signs of the Soviets yet, but reports from Norway put two of their task forces headed south past Trondheim.

A Nimrod MPA was patrolling between the Shetlands and the Faroes, using its radar to search for surface contacts. So far the radar technicians onboard had located a gaggle of five ships spread out along the northeast arc of the compass, all moving southwest. Commercial ships had been fleeing the northern ocean warzones for days now, and these appeared to be some of the last stragglers. The pilot of the Nimrod took his four-engine aircraft down through the clouds to visually identify each of the radar returns. Over the next hour, close passes over the ships confirmed that they were all commercial vessels. One was a medium tanker, two were dry bulk carriers, and two were heavy lift transports, both with bulky cargo embarked under large tarp-like coverings.

Things started to develop in the early hours of the morning. Technicians aboard the Nimrod and also at listening stations on the Faroes began to pick up radar emissions from Soviet patrol bombers, followed  minutes later by the signatures of two Su-33s to the north and two Yak-141s to the northeast. Based on reports from the fighting off of Norway over the past two days, this indicated that the Kiev-group, centered on the Baku, was still to the east, while the Kuznetsov group was advancing out of the west side of the Norwegian sea.  The pattern of the enemy fighters indicated a CAP over each group.

After a few minutes, the technicians began to pick up more signatures, coming south between the two pairs of fighters. The sensor operators began to sort these out into the signatures of eight Tu-22M bombers, based on the emissions of their powerful Downbeat radars.

The admiral aboard Invincible ordered his task group to alter course to the east to stay out of the radar detection range of one of reconnaissance Tu-16s, which was working its way south between Iceland and the Faroes. Then he ordered another pair of Harriers into the sky and directed that these and the rest of the airborne CAP proceed north to meet the incoming threat.

The two Harrier pilots rotated their vectored thrust nozzles down and rolled down Invincible’s short deck, then lurched up the ski ramp at the bow and into the cold night sky. There was no need to bank. The ship was already oriented along their intercept vector.

The pilots of four Harriers, two Tornadoes, and two Phantoms proceeded north towards the Faroes-Shetlands gap, hoping to prevent the Russian bombers from getting into range to launch their missiles at the NATO ships to the east and west of Scotland. These hadn’t been detected by the Russians yet, as far as the NATO EW experts could tell, but with several Soviet recon aircraft working south it was only a matter of time.

As the flights of Harriers approached the Faroes to the northwest, a distress call came in from the ferry evacuating civilians from the western side of the Shetlands. A massive explosion had torn a gaping hole in the ships side moments before, and the large craft was taking on a massive list. There were hundreds of civilians onboard. The culprit could only be a submarine lurking offshore, but why the Russians would stoop to sinking an evacuation ferry was unclear. In horror, the admiral realized that there were no assets anywhere near the stricken ferry that could offer assistance, particularly with two Soviet carrier groups bearing down. The passengers and crew, those that were still alive, would have to survive in their life rafts for a while. The Admiral directed a second Nimrod, outfitted for ASW work, to transit north and search the waters around the sinking ferry for the prospective Soviet submarine.

Just then the voices of the technicians at both the Faroe and Shetlands radar stations came over the net with the dreaded “Vampire! Vampire!” Several small, supersonic objects had separated from the oncoming Soviet Backfires and were heading towards both island chains.

The two flights of Harriers arrived over Vagar in the Faroes as the AS-4 missiles arced into their supersonic  flight paths. The pilots of the flight of Tornadoes flipped on their afterburners to try to reach the airspace over the Shetlands as well, but they were further away and slower than the incoming missiles.

Several of the Soviet weapons were obviously radar seekers, homing in on the radar stations at the northern end of both archipelagos. The technicians at both places switched their sets off to confuse the Russian seekers. These tactics nullified the attacks, causing the Soviet projectiles to miss their marks by hundreds, sometimes thousands of meters.

Behind the ARMs came the anti-surface variants. Over Vagar the Harrier pilots turned into the diving missiles and volleyed off their AMRAAMs in a bid to protect the facilities at the airfield below. Only three of the AS-4s survived the onslaught, but these did damage enough. One dove onto Vagar airfield and exploded on the taxiway, shattering a charter aircraft that had been earmarked to fly evacuees south. The other, an anti-ship variant, acquired another of the evacuation ferries and dove into the defenseless vessel’s hull, exploding and causing the ship to slowly fold in half and sink in minutes. There would be no survivors. The third missile acquired the Danish Coast Guard frigate HMDS Hvidbjornen and dove. At the last second the Danish captain ordered chaff rockets fired. These streaked away and exploded. The radar-guided AS-4 followed a false return straight into the sea beyond the patrol ship, exploding in a dull flash that lit up the night and the underside of the clouds nearby.

The damage was far worse at Tingwall airport in the British Shetland Islands. Here the Tornadoes had not arrived in time to intercept the incoming Soviet weapons, and it was doubtful their less capable Sky Flash missiles would have been effective anyway. Eight big Russian missiles dove onto the airfield, wreaking havoc on the five parked charter planes around the small strip and lighting fires all over the complex. The destruction was terrible, made more so by the fact that the field was crowded  with civilian evacuees and the small airport lacked the sort of damage control equipment necessary for this situation. With all of the charter aircraft burning or broken and dozens of casualties at the airport, there would be no more evacuations from Tingwall that night.

On Invincible the admiral was stunned. In the opening minutes of the battle he had completely failed in his directed task to protect the evacuation of the islands. Dozens, maybe hundreds of civilians were dead. He raged at the seeming carelessness of the Russians and the stupidity of his own government that had put them in harm’s way in the first place. Now his airborne Harrier pilots were out of AMRAAMs, and the listening stations on the Faroes were picking up emissions from a large group of Su-33s gathering to the north, and the radar station on the Shetlands reported another group of four Tu-22Ms angling southeast towards TG De Ruyter.

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2016, 04:49:15 PM »
The Russians were presenting the British air defenses with a serious dilemma to deal with. Patrol bombers and Tu-22Ms were heading towards the De Ruyter task group’s four modern frigates, requiring the attention of the Tornado and Phantom interceptors that had failed to intercept the missiles bound for Tingwall airport. At the same time, a major sweep by a squadron of Su-33s from the Russian carrier lurking somewhere to the north was developing towards the Faroes, where charter aircraft that had survived the missile attack were readying to get as many civilians off of the islands as possible.  Both threats would need to be met, but resources were scarce. To complicate matters, pairs of contacts flying in loose military formations were also transiting south between the two island chains towards Scotland.

Controllers on the Invincible vectored the four Harrier pilots who had expended their AMRAAMs defending Vagar from the Soviet missiles eastward to intercept this latest threat, while another pair of jump jets lifted off from the British carrier and accelerated north to intercept the squadron of Soviet naval fighters.  A pair of Phantoms and another of Tornados out of Leuchars would join them, while the Tornados over Tingwall vectored northeast to intercept the Backfires making for TG De Ruyter.

The first NATO pilots to make contact with the Russians were the Harrier pilots sent to block the two flights splitting the distance between the Faroes and Shetlands. In the darkness the two Brits banked until they were behind the lead pair of contacts and closed until they could visually identify the intruders as Tu-22 Blinders in the moonlight. A Sidewinder missile exploded off of the rails of each British fighter and streaked into the tailpipes of the unsuspecting Soviets. Two flashes followed and both Russian medium bombers belched fire is they fell through the clouds below and into the sea. The British pilots were already turning north to identify the next pair of intruders, each Harrier carrying one remaining Sidewinder.

The pilots used the same tactic to identify this second pair of contacts, they approached obliquely from the front as their radars tracked the bogeys, trying to get within range to perform a visual ID. These two contacts were behaving the same as the Tu-22s which had just been downed, but the behavior was a façade. As the Harriers approached, the Soviet pilots of the two Yak-141 fighters turned into their assailants and launched IR seeking missiles of their own at point blank range. The British pilots barely had time to yank their sticks over in an attempt to evade this unexpected attack.

One of the Soviet missiles exploded into the belly of the lead Harrier, shattering the small jet and killing the pilot instantly. The other Brit managed to evade his assailant by a clever combination of flares and thrust creative use of his thrust vectors. This maneuver also brought his nose around towards the Russian fighter which were maneuvering to reengage him, allowing him to snap off his remaining Sidewinder at point blank range.  The missile shredded the cockpit of the lead Yak-141, and the two surviving belligerents engaged in a turning cannon dogfight in which the better-trained Brit quickly gained the edge. A burst of 25mm ADEN cannon fire shredded the Russian’s tail, sending the Yakovlev into an uncontrollable spin. With the local sky clear, the British pilot swooped low to see if he could spot any evidence in the dark water below that his wingman had survived. When he could locate nothing in the darkness, he turned back towards Invincible to rearm.

To the east the four Tu-22Ms were on a vector southeast towards the four European frigates, which were arranged in a diamond formation with the Danish Frigate Niels Juel leading and the two Dutch frigates and the German Lutjens-class Brandenburg. Altogether they represented a formidable collection of firepower including dozens of Standard and Sea Sparrow SAMs, as well as two dozen Harpoon anti-ship missiles. They would need the firepower.

Long before the Tornadoes approaching from Scotland could get in range to engage the bombers with their Sky Flash TEMP Mods three of the Soviet bombers released two supersonic AS-4s each and turned north for home. The six missiles accelerated to their full speed and arced southeast towards the small surface group.

Warned of the incoming weapons by the AWACS orbiting over northern Scotland, the crews of the ships in TG De Ruyter lit off their radars and prepared to defend themselves. As the Russian weapons came in range and began to dive, SM-1 missiles exploded into the night in fiery arcs away from their launching ship. The first Russian missile exploded in a cloud of shrapnel, then two more. Then the shorter ranged Sea Sparrows joined into the attack and knocked down the remaining three missiles.  The sailors aboard the NATO ships breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, as the two NATO Tornado pilots came within range of the remaining Tu-22Ms, approaching from broadside, they loosed two Sky Flashes just as the Russian bomber loosed its own two anti-ship missiles. The Russian turned and evaded the two Sky Flash’s then two more, before a fifth missile fired by the Tornado pilots broke one of the bomber’s swing wings, sending it tumbling down. Bu the damage was already done.

The two anti-ship missiles approached TG De Ruyter, and more Standards exploded northwestward. One of the AS-4s was knocked down, but the other evaded the two SM-1s intended for it, and the Sea Sparrows launched to compensate turned too sharply to engage and lost the return from the launching ship’s radar. The big weapon slammed into Niels Juel’s superstructure, penetrated deep amidships, and exploded. The Danish frigate shuddered briefly, then began to fold inward, here keel broken. The bow and stern tilted upwards, and in minutes the two halves of the warship slipped between the waves.

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2016, 09:22:34 AM »
Love this AAR. Because back in the 80's, I wasn't even 30 yet.  ;D
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2016, 09:31:51 AM »
So much awesome!
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

"you don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking the fire" - Bawb

"Can’t ‘un’ until you ‘pre’, son." - Gus

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2016, 01:35:04 PM »
The major Soviet threat now was the sixteen Su-33s sweeping down on the Faroes from the north. To oppose them two Tornados and two Phantoms were approaching from the southeast, while a pair of heavily-AMRAAM-laden Harriers were on an intercept vector from Invincible to the south. The Sky Flash TEMP Mods carried by the Tornadoes out-ranged any missiles the Sukois could carry, but they required the launching aircraft's radar to remain pointed at the target through the missile's entire flight. The Phantoms carried a much shorter ranged legacy version of the Sky Flash. The AMRAAMs couldn't match the range of the TEMP Sky Flash missiles or those carried by the Russians, but they had the advantage of being fire-and-forget, meaning the Harrier pilots could launch them and then turn to flee from the inevitable counterattack.

The plan of attack worked out by the controllers on the E-3D AWACS over Scotland was for the Phantoms to attack under the cover of missiles launched by the Tornados. As the Russian interceptors responded to this threat, the Harriers would dash in and unload all eight of their AMRAAMs against into the flank of the Russian formation. If all went well, this would blunt the Russian attack long enough for more NATO fighters to join the battle and tip the scales in the Brits' favor.

The attack started off well enough. The pilots of the two Tornados each selected a contact on their radars and launched two Sky Flash missiles apiece. The Russian pilots responded immediately and as expected, turning into the attack and going to afterburner. The Soviets' situational awareness was hampered by the fact that they were operating beyond any friendly air, sea, or land based radar or control and they failed to notice the two Phantoms approaching at an off angle from the first attack. 

When the Russians were in range, the British pilots of the two Phantoms lit off their own radars, acquired a target apiece, and engaged the Soviet naval fighters with two of the older Sky Flash missiles each. As the bright trails of the British missiles lit up the night, the Phantoms could see the first flashes in the distance of the Soviet counterattack. The Brits began to sweat as their RWRs growled that the enemy radars had locked onto them, a sure sign that Soviet air-to-air missiles were inbound.

At this point the NATO plan began to fall apart. The British flyers had eight missiles in the air targeted on four Russian aircraft. The flashed into the Soviet formation and exploded, but only managed to down two of the nimble Soviet Su-33s. That left fourteen of the Russians to contend with. The Tornado and Phantom drivers were already banking their aircraft into a tight turn and punching their afterburners when the Soviet riposte arrived. Some of the Russian missiles had gone wild when their launching aircraft had been destroyed, but several remained, but not enough. 

The first NATO casualty was one of the Phantoms, blown to pieces when a Russian missile detonated feet away from its underbelly. Then one of the tornadoes took a cloud of shrapnel into its engines, turning the interceptor into a glider from which the fighter bailed out over the dark ocean. The two surviving pilots were now clawing from every knot of speed that they could get from their airframes as the more modern Soviet fighters closed in. Just as it looked as if they would lose the race, eight AMRAAMs exploded into the Soviet formation from the south in a concentrated volley.

The two Harriers approaching from Invincible had kept their radars off, vectoring off of guidance provided by the network of NATO ground and airborne radars still active. As they closed with range of the southeast bound Russian fighter sweep, both pilots had flipped on their radars and as rapidly as possible volleyed off their entire load of eight missiles targeted at four of the bigger Soviet jets before turning back towards HMS Invincible. 

The Soviet pilots attempted to evade this new threat, evading a few of the active radar-homing missiles but not all. In the end all four targeted Soviet fighters were downed. The surviving Russian pilots broke off their pursuit of the fleeing Phantom and Tornado. Unfortunately for the Harrier pilots, the ten surviving Su-33 drivers now concentrated their attention on the two Harriers, which lacked afterburners and were far outmatched by the Russians in a footrace.

A deadly drama developed northeast of the Faroe Islands as the Harrier pilots attempted to flee into the protective SAM envelope of the Invincible task group while the Russian tried to overtake them and shoot them down first. The Russian naval aviators quickly overtook the slower jump jets, and missiles lept off the rails of the lead Soviet fighters. 

RWR warning buzzers filled the Brits' helmets as the Soviet weapons closed, the pilots tipped their noses downward to try to gain speed as the they twisted in their seats to try to locating the incoming. The two Harriers dropped through the clouds as the Russian missiles closed. One of the AA-10s exploded directly behind the lead Harrier, causing the small jet to tumble and disintegrate midair. The trailing Brit, seeing his leader die, flipped his stick over just in time to evade the missiles meant for him.

The surviving British pilot, after his evasive maneuver, leveled his aircraft out meters above the choppy Norwegian Sea, still heading southwest towards the Faroes. The Russian pilots, struggling to pick the small British jet out of the sea clutter, descended as well and continued to close. The British pilot's helmet again filled with noise as more Soviet missiles streaked towards him from behind. Without altitude, he had no room to maneuver anymore. With just seconds remaining until impact, a dark shape loomed in the darkness ahead. The pilot tilted his nose up and rocketed over the rugged coast of Suduroy, the southernmost of the Faroe Islands.   

The Russian missiles followed him up, but just in time the Brit tipped his nose downward and was past the southwest coast of the island. Now the rugged land mass was between him and his pursuers. The Soviet missiles, lacking a radar return to home in on, flew off into the night. The British pilot, staying low, banked left and settled into a new course due south. Two minutes more and he was within the protective range of the Sea Dart missiles carried by the Type 42 destroyers of Invincible's escort. The Russians broke off their pursuit and climbed back to altitude, returning to a patrol station north of the Faroes. The British had traded three of their jets for six Russian fighters, but the Russian now held sway in the skies over the northern island chain.

Offline mirth

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2016, 01:50:29 PM »
Damn! That's one lucky Harrier pilot!
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

"you don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking the fire" - Bawb

"Can’t ‘un’ until you ‘pre’, son." - Gus

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2016, 02:21:03 PM »
Damned good thing somebody put that island there for him.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

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Re: Northern Fury 7: Plug the Gap - a CMANO AAR
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2016, 07:34:46 PM »
Damned good thing somebody put that island there for him.

I know, I honestly hadn't planned to try to evade this way, just wanted to get the Harriers back to Invincible. Turned out to be one of those little dramas that develops as you play this game that make it so exciting!