#Coronapocalypse #Wargame – When Siblings Fight: A Flight Leader (Avalon Hill, 1986) Scenario

WHEN IN COMES TO CONFRONTATIONS ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA, the traditional matchup is US versus North Korea. Occasionally one sees a South Korea vs North Korea battle. How about North Korea vs China?

As I was browsing the internet I found Dragon and the Hermit Kingdom in Modern War #45 (Decision Games). This game covers a near-future hypothetical invasion of the Korean peninsula by China. Which got me thinking….

What if China and North Korea had a “friendly” little dust-up today? By today I mean today; as in what wargame on my shelf could I use to make a quick battle to pass the coronapocalypse?

As I eyeballed my shelf of games, my eyes came to rest on Flight Leader (Avalon Hill, 1986). Flight Leader is a game of “Air-to-Air Jet Combat Tactics 1950 to Present.” I recalled a few years back I made a homebrew scenario with South Korean F-16s confronting intruding North Korean MiG-21s. It was based on a then-contemporary news article. When I pulled the box off the shelf and opened it, sure enough, my scenario was still in there.

Flight Leader (Avalon Hill, 1986). Need to rebag those counters, eh?

One problem I had at the time was how to make fit “peacetime” Rules of Engagement (ROE) into the game. I didn’t just want both sides to start fighting, I wanted there to be a “dance” as both sides jockeyed for position or blocked or pushed the other. The answer I came up with at the time was…well, I really didn’t.

I decided to basically play the same scenario, only this time with North Korea versus China. For the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAARF) I brought a 2-ship formation of J-11 fighters at Aircrew Quality C (2x Average pilots). For the game, I just used the stock SU-27 FLANKER. For the North Korean Air Force (NKAF) I used a 4-ship formation of MiG-21 Fishbed bis/L/N with an optional internal cannon. I set the North Korean Aircrew Quality at E (2x Average, 2x Inexperienced pilots). In the scenario this was a 40pt vs 40pt matchup.

J-11b courtesy sinodefense.wordpress.com
MiG-21 courtesy globalaviationresources.com

This time I tried to add a mechanism that would (crudely) simulate the chances of things getting out of control. You know, as in “out of control and lucky to live through it” like The Hunt for Red October….

The crude mechanic I decided upon was a d10 check every turn for each airplane. Based on the Aircrew Quality, there was a chance of a pilot “losing their cool” and opening fire. The crude metric I decided upon was:

  • Aircrew Rating C: Roll 8+. DM +1 per opposing aircraft behind 3-9 Line. DM-1 per opposing aircraft ahead of 3-9 Line. DM +1 if radar Lock-On by any opposing aircraft.
  • Aircrew Rating E: Roll 6+. DM+1 if any opposing aircraft behind 3-9 Line. DM -1 if any opposing aircraft ahead of 3-9 Line. DM +1 if pilot Inexperienced. DM +1 if radar Lock-On by any opposing aircraft.

As I played it out, the early turns were indeed “peaceful” as both sides jockeyed for position and kept the others in their forward hemisphere. However, once the merge happened and both sides started twisting an turning it got much more interesting. Sure enough, it was one of the Inexperienced NKAF pilots who blinked first.

The fight was on, but that gave me another scenario design problem to deal with; what was victory?

I decided that once the fight started, each side would have to meet certain conditions:

  • PLAARF: Force NKAF to withdraw. If aircraft lost must destroy 2x NKAF for every loss.
  • NKAF: Force PLAARF to withdraw. Shoot down at least one J-11/SU-27 if any aircraft lost.

Not the greatest thinking but a start. In this battle the Inexperienced pilot who started the battle took a poor HW (Heat-Seeker, Wide Angle) shot and missed. The J-11s engaged and quickly shot down 2x MiG-21. The last two MiGs took parting shots and scored some damage on a single J-11 before skedaddling. I ruled this a solid Chinese victory.

This battle made me think about the greatest Top Gun parody ever. Makes me wonder which one was Red Maverick….

Feature image courtesy USA Today

Threat Tuesday – NorK Plane P0rn

THE NORK KID continues touring his toy collection military forces. He started out with tanks and now he is on to airplanes.

Courtesy Yonhap News

In this footage from North Korea’s state television on Jan. 21, 2012, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tours the nation’s air force unit 354. On Friday, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the new leader paid an inspection visit to air force unit 354 and army unit 3870, which were both honored with the title of “O Jung Hup-led Seventh Regiment.” The report marked the third time this year the state media has reported on its leader’s military visits as the young leader consolidates his power in the military-backed regime. (Yonhap)

Sure looks like an old Mig-19.  Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say:

On 20 April 1951, OKB-155 was given the order to develop the MiG-17 into a new fighter called “I-340“, which was to be powered by two Mikulin AM-5 non-afterburning jet engines (a scaled-down version of the Mikulin AM-3) with 19.6 kN (4,410 lbf) of thrust. The I-340 was supposed to attain 1,160 km/h (725 mph, Mach 0.97) at 2,000 m (6,562 ft), 1,080 km/h (675 mph, Mach 1.0) at 10,000 m (32,808 ft), climb to 10,000 m (32,808 ft) in 2.9 minutes, and have a service ceiling of no less than 17,500 m (57,415 ft). The new fighter, internally designated “SM-1“, was designed around the “SI-02” airframe (a MiG-17 prototype) modified to accept two engines in a side-by-side arrangement and was completed in March 1952.

Little long in the tooth, but not totally toothless:

During their service with Soviet Anti-Air Defense and in East Germany, MiG-19s were involved in multiple intercepts of Western reconnaissance aircraft. The first documented encounter with a Lockheed U-2 took place in the autumn of 1957. The MiG-19 pilot reported seeing the aircraft, but could not make up the 2,234 m (7,000 ft) difference in altitude. When Francis Gary Powers’s U-2 was shot down in the 1960 incident, one pursuing MiG-19P was also hit by the salvo of S-75 Dvina (NATO: SA-2 “Guideline”) missiles, killing the pilot Sergei Safronov. In a highly controversial incident, on 1 July 1960, a MiG-19 shot down an RB-47H (S/N 53-4281) reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Arctic Circle with four of the crew killed and two captured by the Soviets (they were released in 1961). In another incident, on 28 January 1964, a MiG-19 shot down a T-39 Sabreliner which had strayed into East German airspace while on a training mission; all three crewmembers were killed.

The MiG-19 was also a mainstay of the North Vietnamese Air Force during that war:

In early 1969, Hanoi made the decision to strengthen its air defenses by creating a third jet fighter unit; the 925th Fighter Regiment. This unit would consist of late model MiG-17s and the newly acquired MiG-19s (nearly all of which were J-6s from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)). The regiment was established at Yen Bai, and by April 1969, nine combat-rated MiG-19 pilots were posted for combat duty. While some of North Vietnam’s MiG-17s and nearly all of their MiG-21s were supplied by the Soviet Union, the bulk of their MiG-19s (J-6 models) were supplied by the PRC, which seldom exceeded 54 MiG-19s in number.

The first use and loss of a U.S. fighter to a MiG-19 (J-6) was in 1965 when a USAF Lockheed F-104 Starfighter piloted by LTC Philip E. Smith was “bounced” by a People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft near Hainan Island. His Starfighter took cannon fire which damaged a portion of his wing and missile mount. Smith gave chase and did receive missile tone on the MiG, and within a millisecond of pressing his missile firing button, his Starfighter lost all power. He had to eject and was captured. Smith was held prisoner until released in 1972, coincidentally during U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.According to another source, Smith was released in 1973.

North Vietnam’s Air Force used the MiG-19 much later in the air war than the MiG-17 and the MiG-21. MiG-19s, despite their limited numbers, were involved in extensive combat during Operations Linebacker 1 and Linebacker 2 (aka the Christmas Bombing). The NVAF claimed only seven victories over US aircraft, using the MiG-19, all of which were F-4 Phantom IIs. Primarily because of the aircraft’s twin engines, which created a maintenance nightmare, the MiG-19 was not favored by North Vietnamese pilots. While the MiG-17 had maneuverability and the MiG-21 had speed, the MiG-19 had a combination of both, but not to the same degree as the others.North Vietnam used the MiG-19 from 1969 until the 1980s when it was replaced by newer aircraft.

Compared to the F-4 Phantom II however, although lacking mounts for air-to-air missiles, it had the one advantage that the early model Phantoms did not have: it was armed with a cannon. Confirmed aerial victories by MiG-19s while assigned to the 925th FR, which match US records occurred on: 10 May 1972 in which two F-4 Phantoms were shot down by MiG-19s flown by Pham Hung Son and Nguyen Manh Tung. Both NVAF victories over the F-4s were accomplished by cannon fire.Combat results of the 925th FR using MiG-19s, according to the North Vietnamese Air Force were: two F-4s on 8 May 1972; two F-4s on 10 May 1972; one F-4 on 18 May 1972; and two F-4s shot down on 23 May 1972;these losses were in exchange for 10 MiG-19s lost in aerial combat with US jets. The MiG-19 did make history in one manner however; on 2 June 1972 over the skies of North Vietnam, the MiG-19 has the inauspicious honor of being the first recorded jet fighter to be shot down in aerial combat by cannon fire at supersonic speeds, by a USAF F-4 Phantom.

The question is how does it compare to the ROKAF? KF-16s and F-15Ks should eat this one for lunch!