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AAR: The Beagle Incident [Spoiler Alert]


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As a real fan of mountaineering and Argentina's Mount Aconcagua, I elected to play side.

 

After examining my initial dispositions, I decided that since my troop transports were virtually defenceless and I had no idea where the Chileans had positioned their submarine, I had to see to their protection first. I re-organized my CTF to provide ASW support and to escort them to the disputed zone. All available aerial assets were also launched to attack the Chilean airbase at Punta Arenas. Since there was only one Chilean base in the region, I hoped to squelch her air operations with a lightning strike. My lone, slow Dakota recon asset was sent to look for the Chilean fleet.

 

Instead of taking direct routes to the airbase, I chose 'dog-leg' ingress paths and tried to circle around to attack from behind the defences. I gambled that any offensive counter-air missions coming from the enemy base would likely be coming down a direct vector to my own bases so I positioned my CAP [Combat Air Patrol] in a direct line between my bases and the enemy base. I guessed correctly and was able to destroy the defending CAP defences with relative ease. The doors were wide open to my bombers.

 

The Argentine Fuerza Aérea's reputation as "stick and rudder" men would be well earned. I had them fly circuitous routes at low level and think that I managed to evade detection. They delivered their bombs with precision and thoroughly ravaged the base. No further air operations would be seen from the Chileans without major repairs first to Punta Arenas. Unfortunately, it also took every bomber and strike aircraft in my inventory to complete this mission. The only assets I had to support my fleet would be reconnaissance planes.

 

Once aerial supremacy was assured, I turned my recon assets loose on the Chilean coast. One Dakota found a small force of gunboats running down one of the channels. I assigned 2 destroyers to intercept them and moved the Dakota onward to search for the main fleet.

 

A large group of ships was spotted by radar. This had to be the enemy's main battle fleet. I confirmed this visually and set about to intercept with the General Belgrano and my CTF. Now that my transports were within the landing zone, I re-tasked them to attack the Chileans. After examining the various enemy ships, I realized that their Exocet SSMs far out-ranged my own ASuW [Anti-Surface Warfare] gun capabilities. Those ships had to die if I before I would be able to engage the main gun ships.

 

Unfortunately, I had nothing to kill them with as all my planes were being serviced after their attack on Punta Arenas. I ordered my sub to full speed in hopes of her intercepting those heavy gun ships. This was going to be a tricky operation to coordinate.

 

A few aircraft became ready and I immediately launched them to attack this SAG [surface Action Group]. I decided to try and first kill the SSM-equiped ships first so that my cruiser could close on the group. I was successful in bombing both the FFs without loss.

 

Next, I concentrated on the ASW escorts. By carefully maintaining gunnery range and separation, I manoeuvred my CL so that I could fire on the escorts without receiving counterfire from the Chilean gun line in return. Both the Chileans and my ships carried 152mm main batteries. If I could hit his CLs, he could, in turn, hit mine [and he had 2 cruisers to my lone Belgrano]. My gunners were soon able to kill his escorts. The enemy CLs sailed on alone.

 

Instead of risking an uneven surface gunnery duel, I ordered my CL force to withdraw. I almost had to relieve the officer commanding the CL in order to have him comply as he wanted to close and "Cross the T" on the enemy cruiser line. Instead, I granted the glory of their destruction to my submarine. Since they had no ASW detection equipment, my submarine was able to race in and intercept them with virtual impunity from counter-detection. She waited until she saw "the whites of their eyes" and loosed a full volley of torpedoes; four at each target. The explosions were spectacular and the Chilean Navy was no more.

 

Conversely, my own CTF had 'discovered' the location of the Chilean submarine. The first indication of the enemy submarine was reported as, "Torpedoes in the Water!". Sort of looking for a needle in a haystack by sitting on it! The Veinticinco de Mayo and her escorts immediately launched helos and Trackers to prosecute this subsurface intruder and immediately ran away at flank speed. With her slow speed, the diesel could not clear the datum point fast enough and was easily localized and destroyed. Her torpedoes were only capable of 35 knots and this was exactly the same speed as my destroyers so they were easily evaded.

 

I thought that the battle was over. How wrong I was. I had totally forgotten about the force of gunboats running up the inshore channel until a Dakota chanced upon them as she returned to base to re-fuel. The destroyers assigned to intercept them had totally missed them and now they were about to erupt into the landing zone! Only my 2 troopships were there. Can anyone say, "Shades of Samar"?!? They immediately fled the scene while the destroyers were ordered to sanitize the area. The escorts returned in time to kill the gunboats in a long-ranged gunnery duel. Once they were eliminated, the troopships completed their operations and I was granted victory.

 

Another very fine scenario, Quinton. Thanks very much for sharing it with the community. It is nice to see forces not normally found in the mainstream news. This doesn't make them any less bellicose or capable.

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