Gulf Clash

Marcus eschews the beach and goes Top Gun instead.

We recently decided to have a virtual club meeting, and I decided that I might play “Full Thrust” or an aerial war game with my sons. However, they proved ambivalent on the day, preferring the beach…

Now, I do have a beautiful mountain mat from Deep Cut Studios intended for Korea. I think it may also work for Indo-Pakistan and possibly Iran-Iraq along the northern Iranian border, but at 6 x 4 it is just too big for my current table.

Since it is a plush rubber backed version I can’t hang it over the sides either. Until I find a solution, I unrolled my reversible, home-made sea/space mat, which I thought could serve as the Persian Gulf (that’s the sea side above).

I have long been interested in the Iran-Iraq War. Perhaps there is something about history that happens in your own lifetime. Now more than ever, I am far more interested in the Cold War than any other period, although I have only really ever gamed it at sea and in the air. I had painted up some aircraft for Iran-Iraq a year or so ago having read the superb “Iran-Iraq War In The Air” by Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop. I decided this was now the time to bring them to the (3 x 5) table, where the mat could hang over the edge.

As for rules, I have been waiting a while for further editions of the Check Your 6 Jet Age campaign books, which promise Iran-Iraq sometime.

However, I must confess that I haven’t played CY6 yet, despite having a few of the Jet Age books. I have played the Tumbling Dice Wings At War rules however. I have tried Thud Ridge and had tried a home brew Arab-Israeli variant a while back. Given that the F4 is featured in Thud Ridge, along with the F5 and MiG-21, I thought that gave me a rough baseline, although in the end, the F5s didn’t get on and I don’t have any Iraqi MiG-21s.

Wings at War uses a deceptively simple energy/action system. You must use all your generated action points through the turn. The actions you use affects your “energy” subtracting or adding to your turn start action point. The net result gives the action point total for the next turn. The majority of my aircraft are from Tumbling Dice, and all of those used in this game.

The figures in the table were a rough guess after a bit of further research. I think the Mirage is a bit low on countermeasures and I am not sure if the MiG 23 is a bit too well rated. The MiG-25 unfortunately never made it onto the table with an ace pilot.

I should mention that in Wings At War Thud Ridge, there is a column for afterburner and height. All the aircraft has an afterburner and I didn’t think I needed a maximum height. I added some adaptations cribbed from the “Phantoms” system, which is based on the Avalon Hill game “Mustangs” but I think also owes a debt to Avalon Hill’s “Flight Leader”, notably around the missile and gunfire templates. I therefore added a Radar and countermeasures (C/M) column.

I seemed to recall reading that on introducing the Mirage F1EQ, the Iraqis had tried making attacks on the Iranian F14s by making a low approach and climbing from underneath to find a firing position. My hazy recollection lead me to deploy a pair of F14s armed with Sparrow (radar homing – RH) and Sidewinder (heat seeking – HS) missiles against a pair of F1EQs, with one Super 530 (RH) and two Matra Magic (HS) missiles.

I rolled the Iranians coming in from the east at height 3 (one ace and one experienced – the Iranians were much better trained), and the Mirages from the west at height 2 (one experienced and one green). I also had a system for rolling reinforcements. At the end of each turn I rolled a D6 for each side. if the roll exceeded the number of aircraft on the table, I rolled for the type of aircraft to come on.
A word of note on the photos. The green dots on the Mirages indicate the inexperienced pilots. The blue dot on the F14 indicates the ace.

Turn 1
The Iranians came in and went onto a shallow dive to height 2 having detected the Iraqi Mirages. The Mirages also detected the Iranians and the leader launched his Super 530, which the Iranians failed to avoid and which damaged the Tomcat to give the Iraqis an early advantage. The Iraqis rolled for another Mirage flight.

Turn 2
The Iranians again had the first move, detecting the second Mirage and both F14s fired Sparrows. The leaders Sparrow failed to launch, possibly as a result of the earlier damage. The wingman successfully launched, but the target evaded. The Mirage leader dived for the deck, but his wingman went for an optimistic (and unsuccessful) head on shot at the incoming F14 wingman before following his leader down. The second pair of Mirages at height 3 dived to level 1 also.

Turn 3
The first Iraqi element tight turned to the north and west. Iranian reinforcements, a pair of F4s now entered from the east. The F4s detected the second Iraqi element. A sparrow destroyed the Iraqi leader and another damaged his wingman. Both Tomcats pull a tight turn, but it is the damaged leader who lines up for a Sparrow shot. This time he launches successfully, but it misses. His prospective target, the lone Mirage has spotted the F4s and climbed to height 3.

Turn 4
The first Mirage group turns to face the F4s, who attempt another Sparrow launch, but this fails. The Iranian leader tries to launch another Sparrow, but fails again. That damage is playing havoc with his electrics!

Turn 5
The F14s move first and the leader now goes for a heat seeking sidewinder shot, but misses! The Mirage pair turns after the F4s, but can’t get on their tails and pass them as the Mirages head west. The F4s heading north will try to turn after them…

Turn 6
The damaged Iraqi Mirage turns east with the F4s turning after it and the second Mirage group, who have pulled away after the F14 leader, who hasn’t spotted them. The Mirage leader launches a Magic heat seeker at close range and brings down the already damaged F14. However, the F14 wingman closes in behind the Mirage leader and destroys him with a sidewinder.

Turn 7
The Iraqi’s wingman now attempts the same on the F14, but he evades the heat seeking magic, the F14 then turns south and dog-legs for home on afterburner. The F4s try for a sparrow shot and the leader launches successfully. He gets a hit but only damages the retreating Mirage which also turns south on afterburner. His wingman picks up the second Mirage, but his sparrow fails to launch.

Quite an exciting last couple of turns, even playing solo. The Iranians lost one F14 with an ace pilot but the Iraqis lost two Mirages and a third damaged. Overall, the Iranians were more experienced, so the result isn’t too surprising. The rules worked reasonably for a cobbled together variant. There are some issues with playing Wings at War with a hex mat, as it isn’t designed for one, but I managed to get around those (you definitely need to add a sideslip maneuver!). The chrome add-ons worked pretty well, although I would have to codify them a bit for head to head play. I am tempted to read Cooper & Bishop again, and make a mini campaign out of it!

Now, I just need to finish off my Fleet Air Arm Phantoms and Buccaneers and I can do a Cold War gone hot in the North Atlantic 1972 scenario…more variants!

Author: Brigadier Tony

Club Webmaster

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *