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"Operation Chunky Bandit #20 (Air)" Topic

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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2019 7:02 p.m. PST


It's 0815 on 25 July 1990 in the country of South Leon. We are with the Cuban Air Force's 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron, deployed to South Leon several months ago. So far there hasn't been much to do, just some routine Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and close air support missions every now and again for the grunts, but no air-to air engagements to date. The squadron, also known as "The Flying Boxcars," is led by Major "Viper" Culero, a former US Navy fighter pilot that earned himself four kills and the Estrella de Bronce (Bronze Star with 'V') during the Cuban War of Liberation. He normally keeps a two-ship CAP up, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but this morning he had bumped it up to four on account of a bunch of chatter about something major going on up North.

What the good Major then found out is that the Communist Army from Federation Socialiste Nationale de Leon (FSNL), South Leon's malignant neighbor to the north, launched an all out invasion of South Leon, and they are rapidly rolling towards that nations capital. Accompanying them is an all out blitz by FSNL's Air Force, and the Flying Boxcars are now involved in some of the most intense aerial action since WWII.

To kick off their offensive, the FSNL Air Force put 6 x MiG-21s in the air on a classic fighter sweep, looking to clear the skies for follow on strike aircraft, while the Cubans answered with four F-4 Phantoms of their own. The results were indecisive, with the Communists losing three MiGs and the Cubans losing two Phantoms.

The enemy returned to base and launched a strike force with fighter escort a couple hours later. Major Culero sent two flights up to meet them. The Cuban fighter pilots did well, downing three MiG-21s and five Su-22s to only one lost Phantom, but they did allow one enemy bomber through. The Su-22 bombed the SLA HQ in the nation's capital, causing substantial damage (10/30).

A few hours later the bad guys are back in force. The Cubans scrambled two more flights to meet the enemy strike force. It was a helluva fracas: the Communists lost a total of three MiG-21s and five Su-22s, while the Cubans lost four of their six F-4s committed. More importantly, they lost a pilot MIA, and another for about a month due to wounds. But Boxcar 14 was on fire, racking up four kills and being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The one enemy bomber that made it through made a successful bombing run on the SLA HQ, again causing substantial damage (19/30).

Now it's the next day, and the bad guys are keeping up the pressure. The Cubans scrambled two more flights to meet the enemy strike force.


The Squadron Commander, "Viper," is up, but he's only got two Phantoms with him.


Against all that…


The Commie pilots definitely ate their Wheaties this morning.


But the F-4s get some licks in, too.

To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:

This is the first of the next three fights I played. I'm playing and posting more as soon as I can, stay tuned.


The Archer22 Jul 2019 11:27 a.m. PST

very cool sir…

Question- how many aircraft does the opposition have? I mean…. six MIGS and 10 SU-22's is a heck of a large amount of losses for essentially a 3rd World Nation's Air Force.

I mean, The Libyans only had about 30=ish fighters in the 90's… and iirc, they were the Big Money Force of the tin-pot dictatorships in Africa. If anything, that's my only major quibble as no one has an endless horde of aircraft… or pilots. :)

Otherwise, awesome stuff sir and I look forward to more.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2019 1:11 p.m. PST

The Archer,

Now that is an excellent question, Sir, and you're absolutely correct. So I know my answer will not be very satisfying, but you have discovered exactly why I've gone with fictional countries/operations: wargaming freedom. This actually recently came up on another forum, so forgive me, but I'll save time by quoting my response:

"Free Cuba was simply a way to come up with a cool backstory that would allow me to play any kind of post-WWII game I wanted, using whatever minis I wanted, in whatever location I wanted (to include my made up African ‘South Leon' and Balkan ‘Cronistria'). I mean, look at South Leon, where I've played a ton of Vietnam-era gaming (USMC vs VC, US SF vs VC, ARVN vs NVA, with US SF advisers, F-4s vs MiG-21s), then sprinkled in ultramodern (Tears of the Sun, the airborne drop, the paras vs insurgents using Ambush Alley, SF searching for the air defense stuff, soon bringing in F-14s and F-16s) to the story."

So, to make it more pertinent to our specific conversation, I have a set of rules that I really like, that allow me to play relatively large games (solo), with some minis that I like, in a Hollywood-ish way that moves my campaign storyline ahead, creating victors and vanquished, heroes and… not so heroes.

I do what I can to make it (I hope) at least semi-plausible: FSNL was a Soviet/WarPac client state in an important Cold War hotspot, so the Communists shelled out plenty of dough (plus FSNL's illicit gold, diamond, and uranium trade) to keep FSNL outfitted with plenty of gear. And it's not going to last forever: first, the invasion in 24 July represents the Communists' death blow to overrun South Leon, so they're throwing in everything.

So for the first seven fights, the bad guys are filling out their entire roster (4 escorts, six strike aircraft), but soon they will start suffering attrition, just like the Cubans are. But the Cuban ‘Boxcars' will receive new aircraft and replacement pilots soon, and (giving away my future storyline here!) will be augmented by a second Cuban fighter squadron, and there's more. The US has seen what the Cubans are doing, and doesn't want to see South Leon fall, so they've provided F-16s to replace some of the F-4s, which will lead the Soviets to upgrade to MiG-23s, and then I've got some other interesting ideas I'd like to get to.

I'll soon run into another realism issue: Iraq is about to invade Kuwait (in the air timeline, which is a little behind the ground timeline but catching up), and Cuba will deploy troops, to include fighter and strike squadrons to Saudi Arabia as part of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Obviously there was not a tremendous amount of air to air combat during those operations, but I essentially want to keep playing the same type/sized games. What I'm thinking to do is play it that the Cubans were super aggressive and deployed air assets to the region immediately, beginning strikes against Iraqi ground targets before the Coalition really even gets there, and so I can play out a week or so of intense combat like I'm doing here, before ‘real life' sets in. We'll see.

Anyway , I'm sure I answered your question, probably way more than you wanted to know, but there's a little peek into my crazy wargaming world. I'm also doing this for WWII in the Pacific (sort of a competition between US Navy, Army, and Marine Corps fighter squadrons), and relatively soon I'll be doing the Arab-Israeli Wars, and someday I'll get to the Battle of Britain (which the rules were actually designed for). I've got all the aircraft ready, just need time for the games!

I'll post the next dogfight on Tuesday or Wednesday, and thanks for commenting.


Joe Legan22 Jul 2019 2:43 p.m. PST

A shorter answer is "Jack was/is a marine" nuff said. His stories are entertaining so we just go with them.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2019 5:35 p.m. PST

You're killing me, Joe. And Marine is capitalized, wing wiper! Hurry up and post your next batrep.


Uparmored23 Jul 2019 3:46 a.m. PST

Yep, love your narrative style of wargaming Jack, a definite inspiration for what I'm doing now and plan to do in the future.

Joe Legan23 Jul 2019 5:26 a.m. PST

Ran a patrol with the squad over the weekend. A lot happened. Pretty cool
Don't encourage him! His stuff is okay. Mostly the parts he borrows heavily from me.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2019 7:40 a.m. PST

Uparmored – I will counter with, don't listen to Joe, he didn't (and does not) have the testicular fortitude, intellect, wit, charm, and charisma necessary to have become a Marine, and it makes him very irritable ;)

In any case, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate the kind words. The inspiration part is particularly cool, makes me happy to know I'm having some sort of influence, no matter how small. It wasn't that long ago that I was on the verge of moving away from wargaming as I no longer had a regular opponent, but the internet saved me. I found Jeff Butler's "6mm Kingdom of Prussia, Shaun Travers' "Wargaming with Miniatures," Ronan's 10mm Spanish Civil War using Force on Force (looks like his blog is gone!), and, yes, Joe's "Platoon Forward."

Been having a great time ever since!

Joe – Sounds great, now why don't you get off your tired ass and post it?


Joe Legan23 Jul 2019 6:27 p.m. PST

I will spot you the intestinal fortitude as I have worked with Marines. [ Capitalized as you asked] You are correct I failed the intellect, wit, charm and Charisma to be a Marine as I had to much of all the above. Thus the only service I was fit for was the Air Force. Sorry bro!
Glad you found your game mojo though.
Yes will post this week.


Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2019 6:49 p.m. PST


No sweat. It's not actually intestinal fortitude, it's just an inability to think through the consequences ;)

And no problem, my father was in the Air Force! Folks always ask, if my old man was USAF, why did I join the Marines? My answer: one of us had to be a real man…

It's good to be back man; I'm playing a bunch and painting a ton right now. There's no way I can keep up the pace, but I've resolved to keep plugging away nonetheless. And hurry up, I love reading other guys' batreps so I can shamelessly rip them off and play as my own!

And I guess I scared "The Archer" off with my overexplaining Cuba Libre, and witless commentary ;)


The Archer24 Jul 2019 9:43 a.m. PST


Just haven't been able to get back to this thread…

Thank you for answering my query.

I can relate on the modification of ToE for stuff to fit a story… and while I don't exactly agree with gobs of equipment/cash being tossed at FSNL willy-nilly… increased budget des happen.

It is a facet of what makes the story in ya head and it DOES give a "Jesus Christ there is a million of them!!" desperation to our boys' efforts.

That there will be a beefing of gear for the Cubans is cool… and well needed. I'd have figured there would be more F-5's and such as export fighters more than F-16's but then, we have given/sold some good gear to some questionable folks over the years… so it makes sense. :)

I'm enjoying the series as a whole and look forward to each chapter.

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2019 11:08 a.m. PST


No problem, glad you found your way back.

"I can relate on the modification of ToE for stuff to fit a story… and while I don't exactly agree with gobs of equipment/cash being tossed at FSNL willy-nilly… increased budget des happen."
Yeah, it's to move the story along, fit the rules…

"It is a facet of what makes the story in ya head and it DOES give a "Jesus Christ there is a million of them!!" desperation to our boys' efforts."
And make it feel like the Cubans and their SLA allies are really in a hurt locker.


"…we have given/sold some good gear to some questionable folks over the years…"
What the hell is that??? There is nothing questionable about the Free Cubans, they're freedom loving, capitalism embracing, hard fighting, lay it all on the line for democracy bastards! ;)

"I'm enjoying the series as a whole and look forward to each chapter."
I'm glad to hear it, and thanks for jumping in the conversation, I appreciate it. My only regret is calling this phase "Chunky Bandit;" it started off as an inside joke with another knucklehead, and was supposed to be only a few fights long, but here I am more than twenty deep…


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