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AAR: Crisis in the Med [Spoiler Alert]


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A really nice setup. The size of the AO stretches the player to cover many bases with very limited resources. Excellent.

 

I started by moving FFs Torquay and Lynx into positions near Akrotiri to add their limited AAA support to the base in the event of air attack from Syria. The Malta MCM squadron also set sail to rendezvous with the inbound Malta Convoy. They were limited in their combat abilities, but some ASW detection gear is better than none at all. SS Orpheus and SSN Tinosa were ordered to set up positions in order to blockade the Aegean Sea. I wanted to keep whatever surface assets that might be there bottled up tightly.

 

Malta launched her long-range recon assets to try and give me a better aerial picture of the Eastern Mediterranean while the Gannets, Tracers, and Hawkeyes would provide AEW. I positioned one of the Hawkeyes over Cyprus while reserving the Tracers for Fleet defence duties with the Coral Sea CVBG. Skywarriors were launched to help me ascertain the intentions of the numerous vessel detections.

 

During my opening reconnaissance phase of the game, 6 marauding Fresco approached one of the Gannets from Benghazi and were destroyed after they opened fire on the Eagle's CAP. An SAG centred on the CL Zhdanov was found west of Cyprus and quickly tagged for attack. An OSA was also found lurking near Tunis/Sousse in an apparent ambush position for the Maltese convoy. Another SAG centred on CL Kutuzov was sighted surging forth from Benghazi whilst another group lunged from Alexandria.

 

This presented a very nice dilemma. The group closing on Cyprus was probably going to bombard the virtually helpless island. To attack it first from the Coral Sea would mean that the SAG coming out of Egypt might close the distance on the CVBG and get within firing range. The proverbial rock and a hard place. I elected to defend Cyprus first so launched the CVBG's strikers against her assailants. The Eagle also launched her Buccaneers against the SAG leaving Benghazi. Two Canberra bombers were assigned to remove the Osa threat near Tunis.

 

8 Skyhawks dove in on the Zhdanov group and released their bombs. They only managed to sink 2 of the smaller FFGs. The light Mk82 bombs appeared to bounce off the armoured cruiser. I had to call in the Hawkers with their heavy 1000lb bombs from Akrotiri. The Hawkers finished off the group with ease.

 

The Eagle air group released their Martel AShMs against the only SAM-armed ship, DDG Provornyy, in the SAG and followed them in. Once the SAM defences were destroyed, the other Buccaneers bombed the ships with impunity. They concentrated on stripping the CL of her SSM-equipped escorts. They were successful and only the CL continued on her mission to intercept the Eagle.

 

The 2 Canberra bombers out of Malta made short work of the Osa with a minimum of expenditure of ordnance. With their bomb racks still laden with bombs, they were re-directed to attack the CL. They were joined by 2 more Canberra for a total of 30 x 1000lb bombs. Amazingly enough, the CL Kutuzov survived! The Russians sure build their ships strongly. She continued to bore down on the Eagle CVBG. Luckily 4 more Canberra were just finished fueling on Malta. I intended to use them to finally eliminate this persistent pest.

 

Meanwhile, the Canberra recon aircraft found yet another CL SAG bursting forth from the Aegean. This was looking like a Wagon Wheel attack of epic proportions encompassing the entire eastern Mediterranean! The Canberra pressed on into the Aegean to find yet two more SAGs! One was centred on PK Moskva while the other consisted of two Kynda-class cruisers. Although the SS Orpheus was potentially in a position to intercept these groups, the helos were going to present a major barrier. I had to weigh the option of just letting the Soviets KEEP the Aegean Sea.

 

On Cyprus, the Syrians were able to execute an exquisitely timed attack. Their TarCAP surprised the Hawkeye and nearly killed her. Only the last minute scramble of the Javelin interceptors saved her. The Fresco escorts arrived just minutes before the bomb-laden Beagles made their ingress from a different direction. A furious air battle on the approaches to Akrotiri saw all of the strikers killed with no damage to the base. The use of the frigates as AAA platforms proved providential.

 

A similar strike was detected 50nm from Souda. Very nice timing, indeed. The defending Phantoms managed to get in the air just as the Frescoes were on their final run. They were intercepted over the outskirts of the city.

 

Just minutes after this attack was repulsed, the air raid sirens wailed once more over Akrotiri. Another flight on inbound bogeys had been detected. As many of the fighters had just been recovered, only 4 aircraft were ready to launch. I thanked my lucky stars that I had remembered to keep some planes in reserve. There were only 3 more Beagles and each was destroyed.

 

I mis-judged the SAG surging forth from the Aegean. It was based upon the CL Dzerzhinsky. I thought that it was seeking to break out into the Mediterranean proper. Imagine my surprise when I saw it charging into Souda Bay! Yikes. All of my strike assets had already been committed. The next ones to come available would be the flight of 4 Canberra bombers from Malta and they were a long ways away. They had been slated to destroy the damaged Kutuzov and a newly discovered Osa stalking the Eagle. I decided to try and save the Souda base and ordered them to full speed in hopes that they might arrive before the entire base was levelled.

 

The CL group arrived first and set about demolishing the base. Most of the base had been damaged when the bombers arrived. They immediately pressed their attack and survived the SAM barrage to deliver their bombs. They managed to kill the escorts for a loss of 2 bombers but the CL was merrily bombarding the entire base into rubble. The SSN Tinosa had been ordered to Souda Bay post haste. She would arrive either to save or avenge the base.

 

The Souda struggle for survival was interrupted by a missile attack on the Eagle group. Four inbound missiles were suddenly seen coming out of nowhere. (Must be one of those pesky submarines.) Luckily, the CAP was in position to intercept. The CL and Osa were about to catch the Eagle in a pincer action. So, some precious Sea Slug missiles were used to finally kill the Kutuzov. The Osa managed to fire her Styx. Lucky for me, they came in two separate volleys and thus were more easily defeated.

 

SSN Tinosa arrived at Souda Bay only to find the base flattened. She exacted her revenge by sinking the cruiser before heading towards the Aegean to join SS Orpheus. Unfortunately, Orpheus had already been detected and sunk by a Fras-1B.

 

Multiple inbound bogies were detected from Malta. All the fighters had been re-fueled and were ready to intercept. A score of Fitters and Fishbeds were brought down without any losses. While the fighters re-armed, another attack was sighted. Paratroops! Luckily, the base was defended by Bloodhound SAMs. The entire battery was expended and was just enough to shoot down the airborne attack.

 

I thought that I had the situation well in hand when some type of supersonic [890kt] bombers materialized almost out of thin air from Libya. I was really sweating bricks as my Sea Vixen launched from the Eagle hoping to intercept them. Since my interceptors were only capable of 690kts, I was very worried whether I could even catch them. I did catch and destroy them but it was a very closely run race.

 

As the convoys continued enroute to their destinations, I sent the SSN Tinosa into the Aegean Sea to avenge the Orpheus. She approached on a vector given by the patrolling Canberra and soon killed the 2 cruisers. She then turned her sights to the PK Moskva group and destroyed the entire group save one FF. As she was out of torpedoes, she attempt to evade and escape but was caught and destroyed by a helo on patrol.

 

Except for an occasional patrol or sortie from Libyan, Egyptian, or Syrian bases, the picket line of CAP from the CVBGs did well to screen the bases and convoy from southern attack. However, as the Souda bound convoy neared its destination, it was more and more difficult to provide air cover for her as she pulled away from the Eagle group. My luck finally ran out as Fresco fighters sortied from Benghazi and were not detected until they were already in attack position. They strafed and destroyed one merchant while heavily damaging a second merchant. This second vessel would soon succumb to flooding.

 

To make matters worse, marauding Badger bombers were detected overflying Greece. They released their ASMs well beyond the range of my CAP and retired. Luckily, they concentrated their fire on the Radar picket group of DD Cavalier and FF Salisbury. Both were quickly destroyed. A second Badger attack focused on my escort group. Although two more warships were destroyed, the more vital merchant ships were unmolested.

 

All was quiet with no further attacks as my ships made port. The time limit expired and it was game over. Thanks for a truly exceptional experience. The timing and near-constant wave of attacks was enjoyable and challenging.

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