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"WW3 Campaign - forces...?" Topic

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Bozkashi Jones10 Oct 2021 2:34 a.m. PST

Hi all,

I'm planning a small three-game campaign based on the early stages of a major war in Europe, circa 1986, and I need the help of the TMP 'hive mind'.

The campaign mechanics are simple with three interlinked games:

1) SPYSHIP: A 'capture the flag' scenario which has NATO and Soviet naval forces attempting to capture/protect a spyship operating in the Norwegian Sea. The winner will gain intelligence which will give them a small advantage in one of the following two games.

2) FJORD FOCUS: A NATO landing in Southern Norway, based on NATO's 1986 Exercise Northern Wedding in which 4,000 US and 2,000 British troops landed in Larvik

3) MIND THE GAP: ASW operations in the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap with a Soviet SSBN attempting to break out into the Atlantic, covered by a small Soviet Surface Action Group

In short, the mechanic is that Game 1 will give a small advantage to one side or the other, then the victory conditions are:

1) If the Soviets win both games then it's a major victory for them. Basically what follows is Armageddon
2) If NATO successfully land troops in Norway but the SSBN slips into the Atlantic then this is a minor Soviet victory faced with the threat of the SSBN NATO will quietly climb down and make concessions…
3) If NATO fail to land troops but do stop the SSBN from slipping into the Atlantic then it's a minor victory for NATO without the bargaining chip of SSBNs where they want them, the Soviets are left exposed and will cancel any planned occupation of Norway
4) If NATO win both games they get a major victory the humiliating failure of the Soviets increases internal dissatisfaction in the Eastern Bloc and David Hasselhoff will be booking his airline ticket to Berlin

The idea is that even by the third game, the outcome will be in the balance, with either side being able to win the campaign.

So, my question is: what forces should I use for each game?

For Game 1 I'm thinking very small; maybe just one or two FFGs or DDGs each side.

For the Norway landings I don't want to go too much to town; forces still have to be manageable so an upper limit of, say, half a dozen ships would be ideal. The Soviets will have long-range air power of course, but otherwise a SAG of two or three FFGs, DDGs or CGs should do the trick they don't have to take on the NATO fleet to win; they just need to either hit the landing ship(s) or prevent helicopters from being able to operate freely I rather like asymmetric games anyway. In the Soviet Summerex 85 the Northern Fleet deployed Kiev, Kirov, 2 Krestas, 2 Sovremennyys, 2 Udaloys, 1 Kashin and 1 Modified Kashin. I would detach part of this force to act as the SAG off Norway.

For NATO, these are reasonably confined waters, but in the 1978 Exercise Northern Wedding USS Forrestal and HMS Ark Royal formed cover groups. Each would normally need at least 2 area air defence ships, 4 close air defence and maybe 4 ASW ships. To keep things manageable, I was thinking a CV, 2 DDGs for air defence, 1 FFG (e.g. a Type 22) to protect the carrier and a couple of ASW FFGs, plus at least 1 landing ship.

In the GIUK Gap I'm thinking ASW ships, ideally a multinational force with maybe a shore-based maritime patrol aircraft to help track Soviet surface assets. A mid-80s photograph shows ships of the SNFA (Standing Naval Force Atlantic) with a US Spruance class (USS Briscoe), a German Type 101 'Hamburg' class (the Hessen), a British Type 22 (Battleaxe), an unidentified Canadian Iroquois class DDG and one of the Netherlands' Tromp class frigates. I quite like this as a force and it would certainly be a challenge for the NATO player, having to balance ASW with protecting their forces against a Soviet surface threat.

I know there are a number of veterans and others who are well-read on this forum, so any thoughts on ORBATS for these games? There is much to be gleaned from exercises and news reports of the time, but as always detail is often lacking.

Thoughts and discussion most welcome,


Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2021 3:58 a.m. PST

For the first one, how about a Krivak I and a Kashin Mod for the Russians, a Type 22 Batch 2 and a Norwegian Oslo class for NATO and maybe throw in a Norwegian 209 submarine. Some less than usual types of limited capability.

watch out for the player who thinks they are losing blasting the spyship out of the water :)

stephen m10 Oct 2021 4:18 a.m. PST

My question is which rules are you looking at or will use?

Bozkashi Jones10 Oct 2021 5:52 a.m. PST

Cheers David – I knew I could rely on you matey. That's a really nice little setup; I reckon that's what I'll go with – I like the idea of using less usual types from some of the smaller NATO navies and those Oslos are nice looking ships.

And you're right about the losing player blasting the spyship – the fun thing about playing a scenario like that is each player will hold off hoping for the advantage so when they feel they can't win it may be too late to go for the nuclear option (figuratively speaking, of course).

Stephen M – I use my own rules which I'm really happy with. With the size of forces I've been talking about here they play pretty much in real time as each turn is 15 minutes. There's a bit more of an explanation here: TMP link

Cheers guys,


Thresher0110 Oct 2021 11:59 p.m. PST

For a twist you could have the Soviets make a landing, with Norwegian, US, and/or UK vessels opposing them.

Norway had some very nice little missile boats back in the day. A sub or two might be useful too, among other forces, and don't forget those F-16s.

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