Saturday, December 25, 2010

Harpoon 3 ANW - Fighting the Wrong Battle with the Wrong Warships - Part 3

This is a continuation from a previous entry and the battle narrative with the most anticlimactic end I ever told ... And not because of my lousy writing or command skills!

This is where we left previously: I detached a total of four warships from TF02 and TF01 and ordered them west to intercept the Argentine carrier Veiniticinco de Mayo and its escorts. The new task force (TF08) is composed of HMS Amazon, HMS Battleaxe, HMS Argyll (all purpose frigates) and HMS Glasgow (area air defense destroyer).

The modest task force (westmost blue concentric circles icon in the middle of the screen) is sailing west to meet the Argentine carrier group (yellow squarish icons in the west). The selected unit ( blue concentric inverted semicircle) is a flight of 3 Harriers investigating and air contact. Their CAP waypoints are the green "X"s. The area inside the orange lines is a "threat to aircraft" I placed to avoid my own aircraft flying too close to the Argentine ships.

Time is 0105 now. TF08 is sailing at flank speed towards the Argentine carrier. It will be at least two hours until TF08 gets withing weapons range. The Sea Harriers CAP mission downed at least 7 Argentine aircrafts. Things are looking good so far.
Task force formation for scared admirals: because of the high threat of Argentine aircraft and warships, TF08 sails in a tight formation where almost every single weapon system from every warship can support each other. The green outer circle represents a range of 10 nm. Warships of TF08 are represented by blue circular icons.

Time is now 0223. TF08 is getting close to the Argentine carrier. On the left panel, TF08's tight formation makes it very difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the Argentine warships. Sensors need to be more widely spread to pinpoint surface contacts effectively, but I am more concerned about mutual support right now. On the right panel, a hiatus in the CAP missions has left TF08 exposed to Argentine aircraft. The inverted yellow half-square in the right panel turned out to be a 2-aircraft flight of A-4s which was shot down at close range.
Time is now 0245. TF08 receives the first timid missile strike from the Argentines. In the bottom right panel, an Argentine anti-ship missile (red M icon) is about to be intercepted by one of ours. In the top right panel, note how I messed up the CAP missions and ended up with single aircrafts flying west. Thankfully, the Argentines have suffered tremendous air losses in the past two hours and the single Sea Harrier was brought back to safety.
After some maneuvering complications TF08 (blue concentric circular icons) fires its first anti-ship missile. Time is 0354. TF08 has issues tracking the Argentine warships, now located at an estimated range of less than 30 nm. Three single anti-surface missiles fail to guide. We need to close even more.

0439, ARA Hercules (Type 42 Destroyer, labeled as contact D044) fires a barrage of missiles. Although it was a  nerve-wrecking experience, TF08 manages to shoot down all of them. The Argentine carrier Veinticinco de Mayo is the northmost surface contact (yellow square). TF08 continues to fire salvos of 2-4 missiles onto the carrier, but no hits are confirmed.

0503. The Argentine escorts (two yellow squares plus the red romboid icons sailing southeast) leave the Veinticinco de Mayo (yellow square icon near the TF08) behind. The Veinticinco de Mayo is evidently damaged and immobile as we approach for the final kill.
0510. The Veinticinco de Mayo (red romboid icon near TF08) is within sight of TF08 and on fire. TF08 engages the carrier  with its good ole Bofors naval guns. 
And then Harpoon 3 crashed to desktop! No warning, not even a "this program has encountered a problem and needs to close" message. Just the sound of my voice calling expletives. Sudden death ...

The most interesting part of the battle was to come. I had my doubts about how much damage TF08 could do to the Argentine Navy, but I underestimated these four warships. I wonder how the rest of the battle would have unfolded. Was it a good idea to detach warships from the main body of the British force?

Lessons learned:
-Save, save and then save some more. It is my first crash in Harpoon 3, but it is better to be safe than sorry
-A close formation is good for mutual support (we defeated a lot of Argentine missile salvos and air attacks), but terrible for tracking enemy warships
-Air cover:  have a solid plan to avoid gaps in the patrols
-Once you know that an enemy warship is no longer combat-capable, move towards other threats. I focused too much on the Veinticinco de Mayo and I should have started to move onto the escorts as soon as I saw the Argentine carrier lagging behind them



Anonymous said...

In the words of the infamous Leisure Suit Larry: "Save early, save often."
A Good read. I just got Harpoon Ultimate but have merely scratched its surface. I have WitP and WitE which also fights for my attention at the moment.


JC said...

Hi Stefan and thanks for your comment. Your plate is quite full, sir. :) I read the WitP and I shudder ... :)