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  #451  
Old 06-26-2018, 09:14 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The F-8 Crusader's service in the Red Dawn timeline:


F-8 Crusader in World War III


The LTV F-8 Crusader had been largely retired from U.S. Navy service, and completely retired from USMC service, at the outbreak of the Third World War. However, RF-8G Photo-reconnaissance versions were still in U.S. Navy Reserve service with Squadrons VFP-206 and VFP-306 when hostilities began, and stored fighter versions were brought out of desert storage and issued to newly established U.S. Navy squadrons for both carrier deployments and for service from land bases. In addition, French Navy F-8E(FN) Crusaders saw service enforcing French neutrality rights at sea, and saw limited combat when NATO reformed in 1988-89 against Soviet forces. The Philippine Air Force's Crusaders had been largely in storage when the war began, and after the Marcos regime secured the continued presence of the USAF's 3rd TFW at Clark AB to defend against Soviet attacks staged via Cam Ranh Bay, the PAF's Crusaders were returned to the U.S. This work will only mention those Crusader variants that saw active service during the war.

F-8H: Rebuilt F-8D version with strengthened airframe and landing gear. In storage at war's outbreak, some returned to service for training with USN Squadron VF-121 det C (for Crusader), most used for parts, including returned Philippine AF aircraft.

F-8J: Improved E version with “wet” wings and BLC (Boundary Layer Control) similar to F-8E(FN), J-57P-20A engine, and improved radar. Carrier service off of U.S.S. Oriskany (CV-34) (VF-191 and -194) and U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) (VF-53 and -162). VF-191 and -194 became F-14D squadrons postwar, while VF-53 and 162 transitioned to the F/A-18.

F-8K:Upgraded F-8C with J-57P-20A and Bullpup AGM capability. Land-based service with USN only.

F-8L: Upgraded B with underwing hardpoints. Used for training only.

F-8E(FN): French Navy version for operations from carriers Foch and Clemenceau. Replaced 1999 by Rafale M.

RF-8G: Upgraded RF-8A photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Used by VFP-206 and VFP-306 from both carriers and land bases. A VFP-306 aircraft had the distinction of being the last USN aircraft shot down over the Brownsville Pocket in 1989. Replaced by RF-18A in USN service postwar.
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  #452  
Old 07-15-2018, 07:47 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Just letting folks know that the next story arc will begin to be posted shortly. Am taking a little bit of a break in posts at the moment due to Mom having passed away on Friday afternoon. Am busy writing, though, as it's therapy.
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  #453  
Old 07-15-2018, 09:04 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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My most sincere condolences on your loss Matt.
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  #454  
Old 07-17-2018, 01:21 PM
swaghauler swaghauler is offline
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I'm so sorry to hear about your loss Matt. I hope you're doing ok man. I'm glad you find comfort in writing, I thoroughly enjoy your story. In fact, I believe Olefin SHOULD include it in the Fanzine.
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  #455  
Old 07-17-2018, 01:47 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss Matt. I hope you're doing ok man. I'm glad you find comfort in writing, I thoroughly enjoy your story. In fact, I believe Olefin SHOULD include it in the Fanzine.
actually was thinking about something like that - possibly a couple of the first chapters if Matt wanted that
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  #456  
Old 07-17-2018, 08:07 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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That would be fine with me: and if additional stories are put in the fanzine, I'm all for it.

Thanks for the best wishes: am staying busy, and am in the process of doing the next story arc: the RAF's first few days in Texas. Will begin posting when it's finished.
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Old 08-04-2018, 07:56 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Olefin: if you want to have a couple of stories in the Fanzine, you have my permission to do so.
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  #458  
Old 08-05-2018, 09:58 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Fellows, the RAF comes to Texas. This first part was written by a friend of mine on the HPCA board. He's the author of The Last War timeline there, if you're familiar with that (Continued Cold War with WW III in 2005).


Coming to Texas: 74 Squadron to the Lone Star State


16 October, 1987. NAS Bermuda, Kindley Field, Bermuda.
Squadron Leader David Gledhill sipped on a cocktail and watched the bikini clad lovelies as he sat on the golden sands of a Bermudan beach. Well actually, no he was sat in the QRA shed drinking tepid, stale instant coffee. The cocktails and bikini clad lovelies were the products of his imagination, although everyone in the rest of the RAF believed that they were part of the normal day for 74 (Tiger) Squadron. He put down his coffee mug and looked around to see if there was anything to read. Gledhill spotted a couple of week old British newspapers, which he had already read a few times and the crosswords in them had been completed. Pre-war there might also have been some ‘adult publications’, however the arrival of female aircrew had seen them disappear to more private locations and in any case with shortages of paper no new ones were being published.

Despairing of anything to read Gledhill picked up a notepad and began to jot down a few thoughts. A couple of years back he had thought that perhaps he might one day write a book about his experiences as a navigator, or perhaps write a novel. When on QRA duty he had often taken the opportunity to record a few stories that he thought that people might want to read one day.

*

Despite preconceptions Bermuda was not a cushy ‘Club Med’ style posting. Until the Liberation of Iceland and the final destruction of the ‘Badger’ force in Cuba, the RAF and latterly USN fighters based at Kindley Field had been kept very busy. Not only had they had to face attack by Soviet bombers, but also the Soviet inspired ‘Bermuda Insurrection’, which had cost 74 Squadron three aircraft and several dead from mortar attacks.
As an island Bermuda had to import most things and in wartime that meant that almost everything was in short supply. There were no cocktails because there was very little alcohol (unless one risked home brew ‘hooch’) and certainly nobody on the beaches – they had been sown with landmines. On top of that hurricane season came around regularly to add to the misery of the servicemen and women cooped up on a relatively small island. That nobody had ‘gone postal’ was something of a minor miracle.

*

Gledhill was just on the point of dozing off when the alert hooter sounded. He was out of his chair and sprinting for his F-4J(UK) before he had time to consciously think about what he was doing. The two Phantoms in the QRA sheds were out and taxiing towards the runway within five minutes; Air Traffic Control held a USN P-3C and ordered an incoming Nimrod to go around.

*

“How did it go, Dave?” Wing Commander Paul Foster, O.C 74 Squadron asked just over an hour later.
“Nothing particularly exciting, Boss.” Gledhill replied. “Just an ancient 707 with wonky nav aids that had caused it to drift out of the Air Bridge Corridor. Think he had a brown trouser moment when we turned up.”
“Well I think I have something that may bring you a bit more excitement.” Foster told him. “As you know we’re going to be going home in the next couple of weeks to re-equip; Group still haven’t told me what with yet, but that’s another conversation. As part of the process we are going to be returning our remaining jets to the Septics.”
“So, I’m guessing I’m going to be leading a ferry flight then?” Gledhill asked.
“Well yes, and no.” Foster said enigmatically. “The ‘Box’ is currently considering sending a couple of squadrons of F-4Es to the Southern Front, a sort of token of solidarity with the Septics. So someone thought it might be a good idea to send a detachment to get some experience first. Some smart cookie spotted that we’d have some aircraft transiting through the area on their way to California and a light-bulb went off.
“You’ll be taking nine Phantoms, a couple of Hercules, a Tristar and a Belfast of all things with you. The ‘Brass Hats’ want our detachment to be as self-sufficient as possible. You’ll be working with either the USAF, or the Marines. I suspect the later because of the commonality between our J models and the Marine S.”

Several questions had been racing through Gledhill’s head and he asked the most important.

“How long is the det for, Boss? Do I get to pick who I take? What’s the weather like in Texas this time of year? Also there are going to be a whole lot of logistics issues to be solved.”
“The initial planning assumes a month to six weeks; the Septic navy is quite keen to get our jets back ASAP, so we don’t want to keep them waiting. Yes, you can choose who you want. I’ve spoken to the Boss of the ‘Red Rippers’, he’s from Lubbock. He tells me it can get pretty cold in November. Since we’re going to be guests of our American cousins we’re going to be bringing our own winter gear; we’ll be drawing on the stocks we have in Halifax. Once your time in Texas is over you’ll take the jets on to San Diego. It hasn’t been decided yet, but some of your det may stay behind and join the E model conversion course. Anybody who isn’t staying will either head back to Blighty, or will probably be posted to Canada.
“A small liaison team is already on its way to join the unit we’ll be flying with. They’ll find out what conditions are like on the ground and give us some last-minute tips.”
“I notice, Boss, you’ve not said where we’ll be flying from other than it’s in Texas.” Gledhill noted.
“Yes, sorry about that, Dave.” Foster said apologetically. “Fact is the Septics have not confirmed exactly where the unit we’ll be joining will be based in November. All we’ve been told is that it is in North Texas.”
“Ah, the Septics and their ‘need to know’.” Gledhill remarked. “And these are the people who give military operations obvious names too.”

The O.C nodded and smiled.

“Yeah, a funny bunch our American cousins.” He said, before turning serious. “However I expect they’ll let you know your final decision when you reach the States; you’ll be going through Dow in Maine, or Otis in Massachusetts. You’ll also meet your Rock Ape team there; Group has arranged for some experienced regiment gunners to be posted in from Canada. There’s a pretty serious Spetsnaz threat in the Southern Front, so make sure your det gets some small arms practice in before you head off.
“We’re being taken off QRA duty as from today, so you’ll have plenty of time to pick who you want to take with you and get the initial planning done. Let me know once you have a plan together; speak to Commander Metcalf if you have any questions about Texas.”
“Will do, Boss, and thanks for picking me for this job. I appreciate it.
“On the small arms issue, I take it we can, ahem, ‘borrow’ additional kit from the garrison?”

Foster nodded.

“Our own Rock Apes will help with brushing up your musketry and I’ve been told you can raid the Bermuda Regiment’s armoury for extra kit. They’re doing b*gger all with it these days.”
“Okay, sounds good.
“I do have one request though, Boss. I really don’t like the radar on the E model and I’ve no desire to start moving mud. Can I put in a request to be posted to either the Wattisham wing, or to the Tonka conversion course when the det is finished?”
“I’ll pass that up to Group, but I suspect you’ll be sent where you’re needed. However if you do a good job with this det I imagine you’ll be able to write your own ticket.”

12 November, 1987. Dow Air Force Base, Bangor, Maine.
“Anything to declare?” The US Customs agent asked. “Any knives, guns, bombs, fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, alcohol, cigarettes, any of that good stuff? “He continued.
“Well I think I may well have the odd gun or two, but I’ve none of the other stuff.” Squadron Leader Gledhill replied, very aware that he had a Sterling SMG in his kit and was wearing a Browning Hi-Power in a shoulder holster.
“Hm, okay.” The Customs agent replied, seemingly disappointed. “I’ll believe you although it’s my ass if you’ve brought in any fruit or vegetables. And I see you’ve completed your visa card; good to see you’re not planning to overthrow the United States Government.”

Gledhill was tempted to make a remark on the lines of ‘well, not on this trip anyway’, but thought better of it. American customs and immigration officials were not known for their sense of humour. Instead he passed through customs and immigration and waited for the commander of the RAF Regiment detachment that was supposed to join Tiger Flight. The experienced group of Gunners was supposed to be flying in from Western Canada.

*

In peacetime Dow Air Force Base had been Bangor International Airport, the only military presence being a wing of Air National Guard KC-135E tankers. Transatlantic airliners often stopped to refuel at Bangor so it had become a common port of entry for those traveling to the United States. Now it was serving in a very similar role for British and Canadian forces transiting to the USA and as in peacetime every non-US citizen had to go through Customs and Immigration, even though they might be servicemen and women.
SAC had also dispersed some of its B-52 force to Dow; several BUFFs were visible dispersed around the base sitting nuclear alert. NORAD assigned fighters from TAC and the RCAF were also frequent visitors.

*

After half an hour Gledhill spotted a group of tough looking individuals in DPM uniforms enter the terminal. They had evidently recently been issued new DPM uniforms by the looks of things, but their dark blue RAF berets and combat boots, none of which were issue Combat Highs, looked like they had seen a lot of service. The ‘Rock Apes’ were also carrying very full looking Bergens and several weapons each in addition to their issue firearm.

“Anything to declare?” The same, rather bored, Customs agent said to Flight Lieutenant John ‘Robin’ Sherwood, the detachment O.C. “Any knives, guns, bombs…”
“I certainly do.” Sherwood said interrupting.

He took out his bayonet and a fighting knife and laid it on the table in front of him. He next unslung what looked like an AR-15 carbine from his right shoulder and put it down.

“This is one of the new Colt Canada C8 carbines.” He said conversationally. “I won it in a card game with a bunch of Canadian Paratroopers; a really nice bit of kit too.”

Sherwood next took out his Browning from its holster and placed it on top of the growing pile. Remembering that he still had his issue Sterling sticking out of his Bergen he took the SMG out.

“Mustn’t forget Old Faithful…and oh yes.” He rummaged around in the pockets and produced a snub-nose Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver. “You’d be surprised what people will include in poker games.
“Now I think that is…no wait a moment, you’ll want to see these…”

Sherwood pulled four hand grenades from his load bearing equipment pouches and put them down on the desk casually as if there were everyday objects.

“Those two are High Explosive and that pair are White Phosphorous; one should never leave home without at least two of each. Don’t you think?”

Gledhill worked hard to stifle a laugh at seeing the pale, white face of the Customs agent. He could not help but notice that the other ‘Rock Apes’ who had reached the other desks were going through the same process of getting out a small arsenal.

“Would you like to see all the ammunition for my guns too?” Sherwood asked innocently.
“Ah…no, that’s fine…ah…err…you’re free to carry on.” The flustered customs man replied.

*

“Flight Lieutenant Sherwood?” Gledhill asked a few minutes later. “I’m Squadron Leader Gledhill, good to meet you.”
“Likewise, Sir.” Sherwood said, taking the navigator’s offered hand.
“Do you always go through Customs like that?”

Sherwood chuckled.

“Well he did ask…you know I think I forgot to mention the banana I brought for my lunch…oh and all the money I won in my last card game. Do you think I should go back, Sir?” He asked with mock concern.
“I…I wouldn’t think that would be a good idea.” Gledhill replied with a chuckle. “Oh, but if you do have a fair amount of cash, Flight Lieutenant I’ll tell you know that anything above a hundred dollars or so will be considered detachment funds.” He added with a wink.

*

An hour later Gledhill had gathered the entirety of Tiger Flight, including its attached RAF Regiment and RAF Police personnel, in a large room that were part of the conference facilities of the former Bangor IAP. Quite who was going to hold a conference at somewhere that was essentially just a staging post was a question that nobody seemed to have bothered to have asked.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.” Gledhill said to his flight. “Welcome to America. You have no doubt been in suspense as to where we are going, well our USAF liaison officer has just let me know that we will be going to Sheppard Air Force Base. Where the hell is that, I hear you ask; well it is in the great state of Texas, near somewhere Wichita Falls; no I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s up in the northern part of Texas, near the border with Oklahoma. The closest place we’ll have heard of is Dallas.”

He paused as he heard someone hum the theme from Dallas.

“No, we won’t have the chance to drop in on the Ewings, who I am told are soon to return to Southfork.
“Now to get back to Sheppard, it was home to a major training wing pre-war but it is now home to Marine Air Group 11, which has two fighter squadrons each of Phantoms, VMFA-134 and VMFA-333, and two of Hornets, VMFA-314 and VMFA-451. There is also a U.S. Navy A-7 attack squadron as well, VA-135 with A-7As. We are to be attached to the sole USAF Phantom squadron on base, the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron. I understand they have been in it since The Day and are regarded as something of a crack unit, so we do have a lot to live up to. Not that I think any of you will let the RAF down. We’ll be staging through Grissom AFB in Indiana, where we’ll be overnighting before carrying on to Sheppard.
“The other side has pretty much every high end Mig and Sukhoi in the Soviet inventory and all their best SAMs. However I’m not going to stand up here and list everything, the briefing pack you have all been given covers all of that in detail. Read it and if you have any questions ask Captain Hagan from the USAF liaison team.
“Now I am going to shut up and let Mr. Watson say a few words. He has been with the advanced party in Sheppard and will fill us in on local conditions.”

Warrant Officer 2 David ‘Doctor’ Watson took to the stage. He had been attached to the advanced party with the eventual intention that he would command the small party of half a dozen RAF Police attached to the RAF Regiment detachment. Watson spoke for a few minutes describing in some details what Sheppard AFB and the surrounding area was like.

“As you will expect the local Texans are some of the most generous and friendly people you will find, but remember to not abuse their hospitality” He continued. “They are like us back in the last war – they’ll give you the shirt off their backs and go hungry to see visitors eat. If you get invited into a local home remember that they’ll be short of food, so don’t eat them out of house and home. It is also polite to ask whether you can bring anything.
“While in general local civilians are friendly remember that this area was occupied and that there are still former collaborators about, however most of them are either dead, fled or in the local slammer shortly to join the first group. However remember no to discuss any operational details with any civilians you might meet when out and about. Also stay away from anywhere that is marked as off-limits, unless you want to be blown to bits by unexploded bombs.
“No Spetsnaz threat has emerged, so far, but it is probably only a matter of time. Everybody at Sheppard takes a gun with them everywhere and I mean everywhere. Which reminds me, the local Resistance have not handed their weapons in, so remember, gentlemen that nice girl who you pick up in a bar will probably have a very angry husband with an AK47.”

Watson paused as a ripple of laughter made its way through the room, especially amongst the women.

“Don’t laugh too hard, girls, any bloke you might chat up will have a wife or girlfriend with a shotgun. So unless you want to get perforated it’s best to politely decline any approaches from civilians. You’ll find out pretty quickly that in general ‘companionship’ down there is fulfilled by fellow military. Nobody expects you to remain celibate for the length of the deployment, but remember to use your head and not some other part of your anatomy.
“Oh, and one last thing, if you’re going to gamble, don’t bet your kit. It doesn’t look good if you lose it that way and it’s a bit rude if you win our hosts’ equipment; that said, the M1911 I now own did once belong to a marine; but do as I say, not as I did.”

16th November 1987. Sheppard AFB, Texas.
If the morning’s weather was anything to go by it was going to be a fine day Major Matt ‘Guru’ Wiser thought as he waited for the latest nine aircraft that would be attached to his squadron to arrive. From what Colonel Brady had told him the detachment would only be with the 335th for a month before it moved on; Wiser’s squadron was to bring the detachment up to speed on all the peculiarities associated with operating on the Southern Front.

“Think I see them, Boss.” Captain Mark Ellis, Wiser’s X.O, said pointing.

Wiser followed his Executive Officer’s outstretched arm and his fighter pilot’s eyes immediately spotted the formation of F-4 Phantoms being trailed by what looked like an L-1011 Tristar. Unlike his F-4Es, which were painted in Vietnam era SEA colours, the new arrivals were painted a two-tone grey colour, similar to the marine fighters, as was the big jet-liner.
As the nine Phantoms broke formation and entered the landing pattern Wiser and Ellis spotted the pale blue and pink roundels on their wings for the first time; as the L-1011 passed overhead the words ROYAL AIR FORCE were clearly visible on the side of the fuselage.

“Wonder how we’ll get on with the Brits, Boss?” Ellis wondered. “Are they as stuffy and uptight as their rep says?”
“I’m sure we’ll get on fine, X.O; from what Colonel Brady has told me the Brits are all experienced aircrew, not an FNG amongst them.
“Will be interesting to see how they deal with Frank though.” Wiser added with a smile.
“Really takes me back, Major, seeing the RAF again.” General Robin Olds remarked. “Had some good times when I was an exchange officer with their No.1 Squadron. Last I heard they are flying Harriers these days; they were operating the Gloster Meteor when I commanded them; nice bird for an early jet.
“Major, I’ll let you and Captain Ellis introduce yourselves first before I say hello. I’m sure our Brit guests might be a bit overwhelmed to meet brass on stepping out of their jets.”

*

“Another nice landing, Snooty.” Squadron Leader David Gledhill, late of 74 (Tiger) Squadron and the RAF detachment commander said to his pilot as their F-4J(UK) came to a halt.
“I aim to please, Boss.” Flight Lieutenant James ‘Snooty’ Bruce replied. “Looks like the Yanks have a welcoming committee for us.
“We’ll have to stop calling them that.” Gledhill said absentmindedly as he put the pins into his ejection seat.

*

Major Wiser had first learned that a detachment of nine RAF fighters would be joining them when Colonel Brady had informed him that a four man British liaison team would be joining him.

“The Brits are returning their Juliet model Phantoms to the navy and since they are also considering sending down a couple of squadrons to work with us they figure it would be a good opportunity for them to gain some experience. The liaison team will bring you up to speed on how the RAF operates; two countries separated by the same language and all of that good stuff; but as I understand from what General Tanner has told me the Brits want to adopt our procedures.
“Anyway I’m sure you will make them very welcome.”

*

Wiser had spent some time studying RAF rank insignia so that he would recognise the British detachment commander, who, he had been told, was a Squadron Leader, which was their idiosyncratic name for a rank equivalent to a major. Why they couldn’t just use proper ranks he did not know, but who was he to argue with the rank structure of the world’s oldest independent air force?
As the first pair of Phantoms parked he could not help but notice the discrete dark grey kill markings under the cockpit. He could just make out the silhouettes of several different types of Soviet aircraft and the number of markings made whoever was flying this aircraft aces.

“Welcome to Texas, Gentlemen.” Wiser said as the senior RAF officer and his pilot approached. “I’m Major Matt Wiser, commander of the 335th.”
“Squadron Leader David Gledhill, Sir; this is my pilot Flight Lieutenant James Bruce.” Gledhill replied taking Wiser’s offered right hand.
“No need to ‘Sir’ me, Dave; it is okay to call you Dave?” Gledhill nodded so Wiser continued. “Boss or Guru are fine.
“This is Captain Mark Ellis my X.O and Master Sergeant Ross, my senior NCO. I’d introduce you to the rest of my senior team but they’re all out on ops.
“I assume you know Flight Lieutenant Lord though?” Wiser said indicating the senior RAF liaison officer.

Gledhill laughed.

“Oh yes, Jack and me are old friends; I hope he has not been telling you any of his lies has he?”
“Well I have been trying to keep that nickname quiet for one thing, Dave.” Flight Lieutenant Steven ‘Jack’ Lord replied with a chuckle.

Wiser turned to Ellis.

“Mark, can you and Master Sergeant Ross get all the new guys bedded down?”
“No problem, Boss; we should have space for them. Someone will need to bunk with Frank though.”
“We don’t want to impose, Guru.” Gledhill interjected. “I’ve got three more aircraft coming in with the rest of our ground-crew and ordnance, and they also have tents in them.”
“Can’t have you sleeping in tents, Dave; it’s just that Major Carson, our ordnance officer is…a bit peculiar, not that’s not the right word…a bit particular about who he bunks with.”
“I’ll share with him, Boss.” Flight Lieutenant Bruce offered. “I can get on with just about…wait did you say his name was Frank Carson?”

Wiser and Ellis exchanged looks; surely Frank’s reputation had not spread that far?

“Uh…yes.” Wiser said cautiously.

“Wait till Karen hears that.” Bruce said to Gledhill with a broad smile. “She does a passable impression of him.”

Who this other Frank Carson was would have to remain a mystery to Wiser, Ellis and Ross for the moment. At least until Flight Lieutenant Karen McKay started repeatedly saying “it’s the way I tell ‘em” in a broad Belfast accent every time Carson’s name was mentioned.

“If he’s particular about who he shares with, Guru, do you think he’ll mind sharing with the youngest son of an Earl?” Gledhill wondered.
“Well, I’m sure it will be an experience for him.” Wiser replied. “Now before we head off General Olds would like a quick word.”
“You mean the General Robin Olds?” Gledhill asked incredulously. “It would be an honour to meet the General, Guru.”

*

Several hours later

Once the RAF detachment had bedded down and the majority of the day’s operations were over Wiser gathered as many of his squadron as he could together for a briefing by Gledhill on the new arrival’s capabilities.

“Good evening, everybody.” Gledhill said cheerfully. “Can you all hear me at the back?” After several affirmative answers he carried on. “Major Wiser has covered why my detachment is here and for how long, but I’m going to talk a little about our capabilities. I’m also happy to try and answer any questions you might have, except maybe any on quadratic equations, or quantum physics; I don’t know anything about them and no, I don’t know the Queen.”

The USAF officers and Senior NCOs chuckled; Wiser was glad to see that the senior Brit had a sense of humour. None of the RAF detachment he had met so far seemed to fall into the ‘uptight, stuffy’ reputation.

“The F-4J(UK) is for all intents and purposes equivalent to the Sierra models that our marine neighbours fly; the main difference is that our aircraft don’t have the leading edge slats, so we are a bit less agile. However that has not been a major issue for us so far.
“What we can offer you capability wise are better medium ranged missiles; we have brought along our own Skyflash, which is a UK Sparrow upgrade equivalent to the Mike model. We also have Lima model Sidewinders and can carry a gun pod if we need to, which is most of the time. We also have a very capable pulse-Doppler radar, second only really to the F-15 and the Flanker.
“Air to air has been our speciality, but we do have some experience of air to ground, mainly just with dumb bombs and rockets. I don’t want to tell you how to do your jobs but if you want to use us best it will be in air to air taskings, or as escorts on your bombing missions.”

Gledhill paused for a moment to allow questions.

“What level of experience do your aircrew have?” Captain Don ‘Ops’ Van Loan asked.
“Karen is our newest pilot and she has been with our squadron for six months; she has four and a half kills. Karen used to be an air traffic controller, but as she told me ‘any idiot can be an air traffic controller, it takes a special kind of idiot to want to be a fast jet pilot’.
“The rest of us have several tours under our belt; I was in West Germany for a couple of years before we were kicked out. After that I was up in Goose Bay, which is where I was based when all this started. Other than that I’ve been based in the UK and Bermuda before joining you guys.”
“What was Bermuda like?” Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace, the Assistant Ops Officer, wondered.

The British officer smiled before continuing; he was sure that Thrace had the pre-war image of Bermuda as a holiday island in her mind.

“Well it wasn’t all drinking cocktails on the beach I can tell you.” He replied. “When we weren’t protecting convoys and the island itself from ‘Backfires’ we were getting mortared by Communist insurgents and oh, yeah, there was the hurricane season too; so basically fun times.
“We lost three jets during the rebellion along with two good friends of mine, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about losing friends.
“Things got a bit easier when VF-11 joined us, especially since they had Tomcats; I know that only happened after you lost Forrestal, but we appreciated the reinforcements. We made some good friends in the Red Rippers.”
“Are your people all fixed for small arms, Sir?” Captain Ryan Blanchard, OINC, det. 4th Security Police Squadron, wondered.

Gledhill nodded.

“Jack, sorry Flight Lieutenant Lord let us know that we needed to bring along more than just side arms. You’ll find all our aircrew have at least a sub-machine gun as well as a pistol; I’ll need to introduce you to Flight Lieutenant Sherwood and his bunch of Merry Men from the RAF Regiment.”
“Sir, I noticed that you brought two Hercules with you.” First Lieutenant Sandi ‘Flossy’ Jenkins said. “But what was that larger aircraft? I haven’t seen one of those before.”

The Brit smiled before continuing.

“That, Lieutenant, was a Shorts Belfast; an example of one of life’s Great Procurement Mysteries. We bought them in the Sixties, sold them all off, or retired them in the Seventies, hired them back during the Falklands War at a cost that would have apparently kept them in service with the air force for the next ten years, and then requisitioned them when the latest fracas broke out. To cap it all we reformed the same squadron that had operated them; so yes, the Belfast saga is not exactly the RAF’s Finest Hour.”
“One other question, Sir.” Kara Thrace added. “Do any of you play pool?”

The somewhat left-field question threw the British pilot.

“Uh, no, not that I’m aware of…we did have a snooker table at Kindley though.”

The look on Thrace’s face reminded Gledhill of a hawk contemplating a field mouse, which was rather disturbing.

“Better make sure you have plenty of cash, Squadron Leader.” First Lieutenant Lisa ‘Goalie’ Eichhorn said with a laugh, which did nothing to reassure Gledhill. “Kara doesn’t take checks and you really don’t want to owe her anything!”
“Why is that?”
“Simple, Squadron Leader.” Guru said. “Our Kara has a system; if you can't pay what you owe her, she has an alternate payment plan available. Namely, the two of you, the supply tent, a sleeping bag, a radio turned to AFN's all-rock station, a camping lantern for ambience, and well.....”
“I get the idea.” Gladhill said. “She's a....”
“Board-certified nymphomaniac.” Major Wiser replied. “If they gave out such things. So take our advice: don't play pool unless it's a friendly, and unless they want to file for bankruptcy, don't play poker if she's at the table. Sure don't want any of your guys needing to use her, uh, alternative payment plan. Won't do good for Inter-Allied relations.”
“Noted, Guru.” said Gladhill. Then his stomach rumbled. It had been a long day, even with the RON at Grissom AFB in Indiana. “In any case I’m a happily married man.
“Karen plays poker, though, and can handle her drink better than anyone I know. She and Kara might get on well, apart from the nympho bit, of course.”

Guru noted the time on the wall clock: 1715.

“All right, people! Unless there's anything else, we can adjourn to the Club. Give our RAF friends a Texas hello, get them started on some barbeque, and General Olds will be leaving tomorrow afternoon, so he can recount some of his stories for our Allies' benefit.”

As people got up to leave, Guru said.

“Squadron Leader? A moment, please.”

Curious Gladhill came over to the 335th's CO.

“Major?”

Guru waited until everyone else had left.

“Between you and me, for now, you guys may have a role to play in a mission we're planning. Right now, it's very preliminary. In a few days, my GIB and I will probably be going to Nellis to brief Tenth Air Force brass on the mission concept. If it's a go, then we start serious planning. But you will be filling a niche that we've been looking for: either dedicated strike escort, or BARCAP/TARCAP.”
“I see…”
“And once we get the go-ahead, you'll be involved in planning. The people who plan it are also going to fly it.” Major Wiser said. “Just as with Operation BOLO. That means you, your Exec, and your element leads are going to be involved. And speaking of BOLO? You'll hear General Olds talk about that tonight. Among his other stories-including finding out he's an ace in two wars-twenty years after scoring the kill in question.”

Gladhill nodded.

“BOLO? That's new, hearing it first-hand from the chap who came up with it.”
“It was for almost all of us.” Guru said. “Come on: I'll take you over to the Club. You just met everybody, but now? You'll see them as animals in the zoo.”
“Lead on, Major.”
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:59 PM
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minor note the RCAF was called the Canadian Armed Forces, Air Command from 1968 to 2011

What the backstory on the Colt Canada C8 carbine? IRL the C8 was not adopted till 1994. The Canadian Armed Forces used British L2A1 Sterling FN C1 and FN C1A1 (FN FAL) 1955-1985. There is only on one factory in Canada that had the machines and experience to make assault weapons that was Diemaco of Kitchener, Ontario (Now Colt Canada) The C7 was adopted at new service weapon in 1984 and then the C8 in 1994

On a side note, although the C7 is a license-produced version of the Colt Model 715 (M16) assault rifle. Diemaco reviewed the design and made over 150 changes to this weapon before it entered production.

http://www.military-today.com/firearms/c7.htm

http://www.military-today.com/firearms/c8.htm

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/weapons/rifles.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_Canada_C7

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/weapons/smgs/c1smg.htm
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:34 PM
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The RCAF resumed its pre-1968 title in 1986 ITTL.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:10 PM
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Matt was the Genie missile used in your timeline - it was still operational until 1988 with the F-106
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:13 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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No. Genie-armed F-106s did scramble on Invasion Day, but they were not cleared to use the weapons.
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Old 08-07-2018, 08:22 AM
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Frank Carson I remember him well, funny guy. Also Septic I seem to remember is a 'nice' Australian term for an American!
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:15 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Next one: and the RAF guys meet General Olds:


Welcome to Texas



Sheppard AFB, Texas; 1720 Hours Central War Time, 16 November, 1987:



Major Matt Wiser and Squadron Leader Dave Gledhill were walking to the Tent that housed the Officer's Club at Sheppard. The CO of the 335th TFS was filling in his RAF opposite number on how things worked in the Southern Theater, and how a bunch of USAF types had wound up with the Marines. “Couldn't get back to our parent wing after the balloon went up, so they sent us to Williams AFB near Phoenix, and wound up under MAG-11.”

“And you've been with them since,” Gledhill said.

“That we have,” Major Wiser said. “We've moved three times since that summer offensive you probably saw on either CNN or the BBC. Williams to Cannon in New Mexico, then Cannon to Amarillo, and Amarillo to here.”

“How bad was it here?”

“Bad enough,” Major Wiser, call sign Guru, nodded. “The occupation around here was run by Cubans with some MVD types. Lot of mutual hatred because of Sheppard being here, and the Resistance was pretty active. You might be wondering why we're headed for a tent instead of the prewar club.”

Gledhill nodded. “That has occurred to me, Major.”

“Again, call me Guru for the most part,” Guru said. He saw Gledhill nod, then went on. “Somehow, and we don't know how, the Resistance got a bomb on base and into the prewar club building. Blew it-and a bunch of Russians and Cubans-all to hell. The reprisals were pretty severe.”

“How bad was it? We've heard our share of stories thanks to the BBC and CNN.”

“They took two hundred and fifty people at random from Wichita Falls and the nearby communities, and two hundred and fifty more from the local 're-education camp', made them dig a trench, and shot them all,” Guru said. “Just for that. There's a town near here-or there was-called Thornberry. In a field near the town is a mass grave, where they think everyone around here who 'disappeared' is. The Army's got investigators digging, along with the FBI. If you want to know what you're fighting against? Have a look at that.”

The squadron leader's face turned pale. “Might just have to,” Gladehill said. “And you've been with the Resistance. My predeployment briefing mentioned that.”

“Five months,” Guru nodded. “Saw and did a lot. And a few things I'm not that proud of,” the CO said, as memories of his time behind the lines came back-and many of them not very good. “And here we are,” Guru said as they got to the Officer's Club tent.

“Not bad,” Gladehill said. “And this place looks pretty busy.”

“It is, any given night. It'll be busier still tonight, and not just with you guys being here,” Guru said. He noticed Gladehill's curiosity. “Your weather brief may or may not have told you, but we're getting a storm in tonight and tomorrow. Rain, wind, you get the idea. Any kind of VFR flying is out the window. But at Angels Twenty, it's clear and sunny, so we and the Marines will have people on Zulu Alert-”

“What we call QRA,” Gladehill replied.

“So that's how you do it. Anyway, we'll have crews on alert, just in case we get party-crashers tomorrow. As in MiG-25RB or Su-24 kind of company. But both sides welcome the weather coming in. It's a chance to get caught up on maintenance, aircrew rest, and just plain get ready for the next round,” Guru said as they went into the tent and headed for the bar. “Smitty?” He asked the bartender. “Get that Sam Adams?”

“Came in today, Major,” Smitty said. “And you've got a Brit with you.”

“Smitty, meet Squadron Leader Dave Gladehill. Smitty here used to run the best off-base hangout for pilots from Sheppard before the war,” Guru said. “Sam Adams for me, and one for him. I'll pay.”

Gladehill shook the barkeep's hand. “A pleasure.”

“Likewise,” Smitty said. “Comin' right up.”

Smitty produced the two beers, and both Guru and Dave took a seat at the bar. “What's his story?” Gladehill asked.

“Came through the occupation okay,” Smitty said. “They didn't arrest me because my bar was family-owned and operated. Didn't have more than a dozen employees, so they didn't consider me a 'class enemy,'” the barkeep spat. “But those damned Cubans? They made my bar a strongpoint when the Army got close, and during the battle? The 23rd ID had to blast and burn them out. If I was twenty years younger, I'd be going down to the recruiting office-and they do have some here now-where I'd be signing up-again.”

“Vietnam?”

“Marine Corps, two tours,” Smitty said. “One in '66-67, then again in '69-70. Buried all that stuff-and my guns-in the back yard before the bad guys came, so they had no idea I was a vet.”

“And that, Dave,” Guru added. “Could've been trouble, knowing from experience.”

“You've got that right, Major.”

Gladehill nodded, then looked around. He noticed General Olds talking with both 335th and Marines, and even a couple of his own people. Clearly, ACM was the topic of discussion, as there was the usual waving of hands. He also noticed a civilian woman talking with two female crews from the 335th. “Who's the civilian?”

“Jana Wendt, who's an Aussie. She works for both CBS and a network down in Australia,” Guru said. “She's done a story about the squadron, then one on me and my GIB-and I'll formally introduce you to Goalie tonight-and she's also doing one on the Day One vets in this squadron. Of which there are ten, and you're looking at one of them.”

“How bad was it?” Gladehill asked.

“Well, when you're expecting to start your first day at a Red Flag, and wind up going to war instead? It was hairy. Lost two planes and a crew, and also lost the Exec. But we did our job. Namely, head down to the border and kill everything headed north painted green. Interstate 19 became a junkyard, thanks to us, the A-10s from Davis-Monthan, some A-7s from the Arizona Guard, and some Army Reserve Cobra drivers. Then the Mexicans and Cubans got sent back across the border. Got my first kill the next day.”

“Sounds hairy,” Gladehill nodded.

“It was, even with Weasels on most of the runs,” Guru said, pulling on his beer. “Hearing about D.C, Omaha, New York, and Kansas City on the radio was worse. Throw in watching a Cuban airdrop on the Phoenix area go bad-and that was a turkey shoot as the F-15s from Luke got into the transports and had a field day. But watching MiG-21s shoot down an airliner wasn't any fun. Top it off with a Cuban MiG-21 crashing outside the Vegas Hilton, where we were billeted, and having the pilot land right in front of the place.”

Colonel Allen Brady, the MAG-11 CO, came up to the bar. “I see Guru's talking about Day One, Squadron Leader.”

“Indeed he has,” Gladehill said. “He told me how many in the squadron are left from those days.”

“Ten,” Guru said. “You could say those who were flying-anywhere-on Day One and are still at it are this war's 'few,' as Churchill would say.”

The XO, Capt. Mark Ellis, another Day One vet, came up to the bar. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” he said, motioning for another beer. “Day one was no fun at all.”

“And Colonel Brady has some stories of his own,” Guru told Gladehill. “From the late and unlamented conflict in Southeast Asia.”

Brady nodded. “From the cockpit, Squadron Leader, and from Hanoi. Spent five years and two months in such lodgings as the Hanoi Hilton, Zoo, Zoo Annex, Dogpatch, and Plantation. Being at the Zoo Annex when the Dramsei-Atterbury escape went down was the worst,” said the Colonel. He was recalling an escape attempt in 1969 when two USAF officers went over the wall at the Zoo Annex, and the NVA had come down hard-not just on the two escapees, one of whom died under torture, but also on anyone even remotely suspected of involvement.

“One of these days, Colonel,” Gladehill said. “I'd like to hear some of those.”

“You will,” replied Brady. He then saw General Olds waving him over. “General Olds and I still have some talking to do. You two have a good evening.”

“Will do, Colonel,” Guru nodded. After Brady went to the General, Guru turned to Gladehill. “Come on, I'll introduce you to the rest of my flight.

“Lead on, Guru.”

When they got to the table the CO's flight shared, they found Goalie talking to Flight Lt. Susan Napier, call sign “Fat Albert.” “How'd you get that?” Goalie asked.

“I was in the Hercules, then when combat was opened to women, the Hawk squadron I was in gave it to me,” Napier said cheerfully. “Two kills in Hawks, then after coming to 74, got a third. Badger, that one.”

“You'll hear some C-130 stories, because I came out of the Herky-bird into F-4s,” Goalie said. “Try evacuating the Air Force Academy from Colorado Springs, then the Denver Airlift.”

“Denver?” Naipier asked. “Heard some horror stories about that,”

“A lot of 'em are true,” Goalie said. “But we did our job getting supplies in and getting people out. Then combat was opened to women, and I asked for F-4s. Showed up at the 335th in June of '86, and been flying with Guru ever since.”

Kara and Sweaty were talking with Flight Lt. Karen McKay, the other female pilot in 74, and were surprised that she had been, of all things, an air traffic controller before the balloon went up. “Four and a half kills?” Kara asked.

“Quite. Two Badgers, two Backfires, and half of a Bear-D,” McKay replied. “Had to share with one of your Tomcats, but we did our job.”

Kara nodded. “Well, you'll find things a lot different than chasing down bombers. Here, it's all tac air.”

“That it is,” Guru said, then everyone was introduced to the other. “Now, our allies will get a formal brief tomorrow, but here's a sneak preview.” Guru sat down, and the others did the same. “First, the MiG threat starts at -21 and goes up from there. Most common are -21s and -23s, but we have encountered -25s on one occasion, and there's also -29s.”

“And Guru and I splashed a couple, back in May,” Sweaty added. She recounted the squadron's only MiG-29 engagement, where both of them had run into a pair of Fulcrums. “And it ended the way General Olds described BOLO.”

“How's that?” McKay asked.

“Simple:” Guru said. “We tangled, they lost. Sweaty there nails the wingman with a head-on Sparrow shot, leader breaks. I went into the vertical, then pitched down, stomped on the rudder, and came down through the Mach and right behind him. Got Sidewinder lock, took the shot, and he pumped out flares and chaff. Took a second shot, and that smashed into his left tail and horizontal stabilizer. Canopy comes off, seat fires, and poof! Here's the guy in a chute.”

Preacher, Sweaty's backseater, added, “Going to tell them about the Foxbat?”

“What?” Gladehill said. “A MiG-25?”

“Got him on takeoff,” Guru said. “Cannon, before Wichita and PRAIRIE FIRE. We were escorting an RF-4, and buzzed Cannon. The MiG scrambled after the RF-4, and Goalie and I got behind him. Two Sidewinders and he cartwheels into the desert floor.”

“Only ways for a Phantom to get a Foxbat,” Sweaty said. “Either jump him on takeoff or get him on landing. Otherwise, they're just too damn fast.”

“Add to that,” Goalie chimed in. “Kara over there got a MiG-23 on her theater indoctrination ride. Only in the squadron all of an hour, and she gets a kill.”

“How'd that happen?” Karen McKay asked.

“CO was at a conference,” Guru said. “Kara reports in, and I decide to take her on that theater indoctrination ride, even though it was a stand-down day. We went to the Rio Grande in New Mexico-that was the front line then-and had two MiG-23s come to the party.”

“And?”

“Simple,” said Kara as she picked up the story. “We tangled, they died. Got one of 'em, and the CO got the other.”

“First flight in the squadron, and her first kill,” Brainiac, Kara's GIB, said.

“That she did,” Guru said. “As for the ground-attack side? Starts at Su-17 Fitter and goes up from there. The whole Fitter family-from -17 to -20 and -22. Nicaraguans and Libyans fly the -20s, but Ivan and the East Germans fly the others. Then there's Su-24.”

“Speaking of which,” Goalie chimed in, “We broke up an Su-24 raid here a few days ago. Kara there got one.” She then pointed to Cosmo and Revlon, who were talking with one of the RAF pilots. “And our first all-female crew got another. Marines did their share, and so did the guys on the ground.”

“Not bad, Squadron Leader,” Kara added. “Because Guru there ordered us up, ten minutes after landing from a strike. We had half our fuel, but full air-to-air.”

Guru nodded, then went on. “Better chances in the air, instead of on the ground. Anyway, after Fencer comes Frogfoot. And also Forger. Throw in the Hinds and Hips, and that's pretty much it. Other than Flankers, and they're in another category.”

“How bad?” Gladehill wanted to know.

“Simple,” Sweaty replied. “You have no business tangling with them in an F-4.”

“She's right,” Guru said. “Get down low, holler for help from the AWACS, do a Doppler Break, and hope a 'teenage' fighter-like an F-15, F-16, or F/A-18 is around.”

“Something to keep in mind,” Gladehill nodded.

“It is that,” Capt. Darren “Sin” Licon, said as he came by. Guru introduced him to the Squadron Leader.

“Sin's my intel, and he's pretty good at what he does,” the CO said. “What's up?”

“Dinner's about five minutes away-they're bringing that over, and the Eastbound C-141 was late. Got the papers.” Licon said, passing out some newspapers.

“Not much,” Guru said, scanning the L.A. Times. “Must be a slow day.”

“Same here,” Kara replied. She was scanning USA Today.

Goalie was going over the Orange County Register. “Says here they're still digging on Proxmire.”
She explained who the good (or not-so-good) Senator from Wisconsin for the visitors' benefit.

“And you people pretty much don't like him,” Susan Napier said. “I can see why.”

“Some have more reason to hate him more than others,” Hoser said. “Look over there at Cosmo,” he gestured to one member of the two all-female crews. “She was a Grad Student in Astronomy when the balloon went up, and people in that discipline don't like Proxmire.”

“He was anti-NASA,” Kara said. “He cut NASA's budget to the bone because he sat on that particular Senate Committee, killed NASA research into space colonies, and blocked NASA from doing any kind of SETI research.”

“SETI?” Napier asked, and Kara explained. “Anyone say this chap should get membership in the Flat Earth Society?”

“Cosmo told us a couple of her professors said just that,” Brainiac said.

Then the restauranteurs and Marine Mess people came in with dinner. “Folks, got some barbequed beef patties, or barbequed pork,” the ex-restaruanteur turned Marine Warrant Officer said. “Come and get it.”

After people got their food, the CBS Evening News came on AFN. This time, though, there wasn't much happening. “Just as with the newspapers,” Goalie said. “Slow day.”

“They probably had days like this in World War II,” Guru noted as he dug into the beef patties.

“No doubt,” Gladehill replied.

“In West Germany,” Walter Cronkite said on the broadcast. “Demonstrations against the Neutralist Government continue, with crowds estimated in the tens of thousands in Bremen, Hannover, and Cologne, while in Munich, over 100,000 people called for the Greens to step down and call for new elections. Former Chancellor Willy Brandt repeated his call for the Greens to step down, before, 'forces more considerable take matters into their own hands,' end quote. Informed sources in both Philadelphia and London have told CBS News that the chances of a coup are growing, and that the West German military has begun restricting military leaves and has begun an intensive period of 'unspecified training.'”

“They're going to do it,” General Olds said. “When that exercise ends, they won't go back to their barracks, but they put tanks in the streets.”

“You mean a coup, General?” Gladehill asked.

“That's right, Squadron Leader,” Olds said.

“About damned time,” one of the Marine F-4 pilots said.

“Send those Commie-lovers back to Moscow or East Berlin,” someone else said.

Sin Licon shook his head. “Not likely, guys. Anyone know Rule Number One in a coup?”

“The losers pose for rifle fire,” said Colonel Brady.

“Not quite, sir,” Licon replied. “First, they get interrogated. Find out who their contacts were, who recruited them, any links to the KGB or Stasi. Then get their passwords to any Swiss bank accounts. Then they pose for the firing squad.”

“West Germany's the big one,” Colonel Brady reminded everyone. “When they go, the others won't be far behind. Though the Dutch were the first.”

After a segment from a destroyer on a Norfolk to Alexandria convoy run, and a report on the likely Democratic candidates in the 1988 Presidential Election-and one possible candidate, Sen. Sam Nunn from Georgia, taking himself out of the running, came a Charles Kuralt On the Road segment. This one was from Parkersburg, West Virginia, and a look at Coal Country. Many homes had either yellow ribbons, often joined by Blue or Gold Stars. The mines were working three shifts, so that the coal could provide electricity to war plants and the cities, while many younger men who came from mining families were eschewing going down and were either waiting for their draft call, or just plain enlisting when they reached 18. Their sisters were doing the same, and it was men in their '30s and '40s, if not older, who were going into the mines. “We may have drills and hammers instead of rifles, but we're doing our part,” one miner said. “If they didn't need me down here, I'd re-up.”

“You're a vet?” Kuralt asked.

“Black Horse Cav in Vietnam, '70-71,” the miner replied. “If they didn't need me down here, I'd probably go and try to re-up. Even if they said no, at least I tried.”

Nearby, there was an apple orchard, and a farm growing corn. That wasn't unusual, but the workers cleaning up after the harvest were: Soviet and other ComBloc POWs. “And so, the war has touched West Virginia, in more ways than one. Charles Kuralt, CBS News, On the Road, in Parkersburg, West Virginia.”

“And that's the way it is,” Cronkite said as he signed off. “For all of us at CBS News, Good Night.”

After that, AFN started to show a rerun of a 1982 Baltimore Colts-New England Patriots football game. Some watched the game, others finished up their dinner. And Squadron Leader Gladehill turned to Guru. “Who's this Frank Carson we keep hearing about?”

Guru winced, but he knew that the RAF people would be working with Frank, like it or not. Might as well give them a short version. “Well, long story short, he's the most hated person on this base.” He pulled on his beer, then went on. “He's from an old Boston family that's filthy rich, but he didn't go to Harvard or Yale, but went to the Air Force Academy. Couple blue blood snobbishness and a big sense of entitlement from having graduated from the Academy partially explains his.....attitude.” Guru nodded at a table where the object of their conversation was talking with two other AF officers-both from the Air Base Group, and with Doc Waters, the 335th's Flight Surgeon. “Notice that Frank's the only one around here in undress blues-everybody else is either in flight suits or utilities. He is not willing to be 'one of the guys' after hours.”

“Add to that a big sense of entitlement,” Sweaty added. “He thinks that Academy class ring on his finger entitles him to whatever he wants in the Air Force.” She, too, pulled on a beer. “Including running this squadron.”

“So,” Gladehill nodded. “How'd you get the squadron?”

“I was Ops Officer for a while, then when the Exec got himself killed, I got the XO slot. Much to Frank's disgust, but Colonel Rivers, rest his soul, didn't trust him-for any number of reasons. Three weeks ago, Colonel Rivers bought that farm in the sky, and I moved up. Frank there felt since he was a Major and I was still a Captain, he should've been put in command.”

“Instead, you were confirmed.”

“I was, and two days later, General Tanner-who runs Tenth Air Force, by the way-came by and pinned on the oak leaves. Both he and General Olds have told Frank to suck it up and get on with it, but he won't listen,” said Guru. “He's too by-the-book, hates any officer who didn't come out of the Academy, ignores NCO advice, and treats enlisted like they're serfs and he's the lord.”

Gladehill winced at that. “He's too formal, in other words.”

“That, and he's too by-the-book,” Guru nodded. “If you talked to him, you'd get an earful about his talents not being recognized-”

“Especially since he didn't get into the F-20 program,” Kara grinned.

“That, too,” Guru said. “And throw in his feeling that a 'peasant' from some small town in California who went to what we call a 'hick' school and didn't even go through ROTC-I went to Officer Training School-got put in command instead of him. Took General Tanner and General Olds to give him a good tongue-lashing about that.”

“So, any advice?” Gladehill asked.

“Just be polite, be professional, and give him the polite minimum at the Club,” Guru said. “That's about it.”

“Good to know. I'll spread the word.”


A few minutes later, Guru and Goalie went to the bar for more beer and an order of nachos, while Kara got another beer, then went to the pool table. Squadron Leader Gladehill looked around, and noticed two pilots-a man and a woman, talking with General Olds and Colonel Brady. “Who's the fellow and girl with the General?”

Sweaty answered. “The guy's Major Dave Golen, IDF. He's officially an 'observer,' but he does more than just 'observe.'”

“He observes by participating,” Guru said as he came back. “Me and Goalie have had MiGs shot off our asses by him twice, and you, once,” the CO nodded at Sweaty.

Sweaty nodded. “That he did. As for the other pilot? That's Flossy.”

“Saw her earlier when she asked about the Belfast,” Gladehill said. “How'd she get that call sign?”

The 335th crewers laughed. “Long story short,” Goalie chuckled. “She has no noticable tan lines, and likes thong underwear.”

“Ah.”

“But Dave Golen's her older brother from another mother, and they've proven to be a good team,” Guru said. “Her regular GIB is grounded due to a sprained ankle, so she's got Jang there-” the CO pointed to 1st Lt. Chloe “Jang” Winters. “For a while. Which means we have two, well, 'unmanned' F-4s in the squadron. Probably in the whole Air Force for all I know.”

“Which explains the reporter,” Gladehill noted.

“It does.”

Kara, meanwhile, was holding court at the Pool Table, and she quickly dispatched two Marines who thought they could take her. Then came General Olds' aide, who had lost to her previously, and wanted his money back. A few minutes later, his wallet was lightened by $50.00. “Next!” Kara called.

“She always like this?” Karen McKay asked.

“You could say that,” Sweaty replied, pulling on a beer. “Now you know why we don't play with her unless there's no money at stake.”

“Uh-oh,” Guru said. “Guess who's headed to the Pool Table?”

Goalie turned and had a look. She replied simply, “General Olds.”

“I was hoping I was wrong.”

As both visitors and regulars watched, General Olds went to the table and laid down his money. Kara did the same, and both combatants went at it. It didn't take long for General Olds' skills to show, and Kara was soon out $50.00. She smiled, shook hands with the General, then went to the bar and got another beer. Then she went back to the table, and defeated a C-130 pilot who was doing an RON, then his female navigator.

Right at 1700, Doc Waters, the 335th's Flight Surgeon, rang the bar bell. “Twelve-Hour for those sitting alert in the morning!”


The 335th and Marine crews affected turned in their drinks, and that included Sweaty, Hoser, Preacher, and KT. “Luck of the draw,” Sweaty said, turning in her beer and getting a glass of club soda.

“How'd you choose who's sitting alert?” Gladehill wondered.

“Element leads drew lots,” Guru replied. “Doc Waters there supervised the drawing. I didn't draw alert, but if I had, I'd be sitting the first shift, along with Goalie, Kara, and Brainiac.”

“That we would,” Goalie said. “Wouldn't be the first time, but we've never had to scramble.”

“Yet.”


A few minutes later, it was time for General Olds' remarks, as it was his last night at Sheppard before going back to Nellis. Colonel Brady stood up and started things off. “People, as it's the last night here for General Olds before he moves on, I'd like him to say a few words, and maybe give our guests from the RAF some stories that the rest of us are familiar with.” He nodded in Olds' direction. “General?”

“Thanks, Colonel,” Olds said as he stood up. “People, for a mixed team, you've done one hell of a job. Most of you are Marines, but both the 335th and VA-135 have done more than their share. Now, with the RAF coming to town, you're proving that people who live, breathe, and speak tactical air can work as a team, and you can only get better. The battle lines are a little too far north for anyone's tastes, but if we're at this a year from now, let's get together at someplace like Laughlin or Laredo-and for the benefit of our British friends, those are bases in South Texas-on the Rio Grande!”

“Hear, hear!” Several people said at once.

“And two years from now? Let's all be where we belong: home, with our families.” Olds paused, letting the words sink in. “After a final stop in Mexico City!”

“Here's to that!” Guru said, and several others echoed him.

“All right!” Others added.

General Olds nodded, then turned to Squadron Leader Gladehill. “For our RAF friends' benefit, gather 'round, and you'll hear some World War II and Vietnam stories.”

Then the General started with his making ace in World War II, in a P-38, while going after a group of 60 Me-109s-with only his wingman for company. “Forgot to switch over to internal fuel, after getting rid of the drop tanks, and the engines cut out. Had a 109 lined up, so I figured 'what the hell', and shot anyway. He went down. And I still claim to be the only fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy in the glide mode.”

“Any one of us would've restarted the engines before shooting,” Karen McKay nodded.

Olds took a sip of club soda, then nodded. “You're probably right. Got the engines going, and hit those 109s like a pair of hawks into a flock of pigeons. Wingman got two, I got another one, then dove on two 109s chasing a P-51-and dove too fast. Couldn't pull up because of compressiblity.”

“What's that?” Flight Lt. Steve “Jack” Lord, who had gone ahead to the 335th as a liaison officer, asked.

“It happens when you approach Mach 1 in an aircraft not designed for it,” Capt. Don Van Loan, the 335th's Ops Officer, said. “The airflow over the controls is disrupted, a shock wave develops, and the controls freeze up.”

“How did you recover?” McKay asked. Nearing Mach 1 in a piston-engined aircraft had to be no fun at all....

“Got to denser air at lower altitude, and barely managed to pull out-and blew out my rear canopy-over a wheat field near Rostock. Headed west, and saw tracers coming by, and there's a 109 behind me, shooting. I want to get home, so I flat-planed, and forced him to overshoot. The 109 goes by, I roll wings level and let him have it. Had two kills prior, so these three...”

“Made you an ace,” Gladehill said. “Jolly well done, sir!”

“Thank you,” Olds said. “I had a total of twelve when my tour was over, all 109s or 190s. Went to jets postwar, and had an exchange tour with your No. 1 Squadron and Meteors. Actually commanded it.”

The RAF people looked at each other. An exchange officer commanding a squadron? “Never heard of that before,” Gladehill's deputy, Squadron Leader Paul Jackson, said. “That has to be a first.”

“Has to be,” Gladehill admitted. “Then came Korea?”

“Nope,” Olds said. “Missed out on Korea, probably because of my wife-who was a movie actress-and she used some Hollywood friends to get the Air Force not to send me over there, though I was itching to go. Eventually wound up commanding the 81st TFW at Bentwaters with F-101s when Vietnam started. In '66, went to Arizona and took the F-4 conversion course.”

Guru then said, “Dave, want to know how long it took him to finish the course? It's a fourteen-part syllabus. He did it in five days.” And the regulars saw the RAF's people having to put their jaws back into place after they dropped.

“That I did, then went to Udorn, Thailand and the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. Gathered all the guys in the briefing room and said, 'I'm the new guy here. But in two weeks, I'll be better than any of you. And I pointed to everyone in that room.”

“He was,” Don Van Loan said. “I have an Uncle who flew in the 8th, and that's a true story, folks.”

“MiGs got frisky over Hanoi, and I had an idea to do something about that. We would mimic F-105s, using the same approach routes, call signs, and radio frequencies, and even the same terminology over the radio. Even had the F-4s wired to carry ECM pods to complete the deception.”

“Did you plan it?” Gladehill asked.

“Nope,” the General replied. “I had some very smart junior officers flesh out the plan. Got Seventh Air Force approval for 1 Jan 67. Had a weather delay, so we went North the next day.”

“And you know the rest,” Colonel Brady said. “Seven MiG-21s for no losses.”

“Could've been more,” Olds nodded. “The GCI controllers told the remaining MiGs to get in the clouds and stay there.”

“So, how many in Vietnam?” Jackson asked.

“Four confirmed back then,” Olds replied. “Two MiG-21s, two MiG-17s-both of those in one day. Plus a probable MiG-17 on 2 June '67. Fast forward to a few days ago, and I found out that probable was upgraded to confirmed. Flew in two wars, and an ace in both.”

“Look at it this way,” Van Loan said. “Not just an ace in two wars, but also having Me-109s and Fw-190s alongside MiG-17s and MiG-21s in the kill sheet.”

“How many dogfights were you in over Vietnam, sir?” Paul Jackson asked.

General Olds took a slug of club soda, then nodded. “Fourteen. Four confirmed kills and a probable when I left Southeast Asia. But fast-forward to a few days ago, and Major Wiser and Captain Van Loan tell me that the probable got upped to confirmed, so...”

“It made you an ace, even if it was twenty years later,” Jackson said, a grin on his face. “Congratulations, sir!”

Olds nodded. “Thanks, and I'll tell everyone this: when I pass on, whoever goes through my personal papers and logs is going to find some interesting things. Because that Edsel Mechanic in the Pentagon wanted me sent home early if I made ace. They wanted me as a publicity asset. Didn't want to leave my men before my tour was up, so....”

“'Edsel Mechanic?'” Napier asked. “What do you mean by that?”

“MacNamara, the SECDEF, was with Ford when they rolled out the Edsel, and we know what kind of clunker that was,” Mark Ellis said. “That handle is what his detractors-and you can say that means every Vietnam Vet or service member since then-means about him.”

“I see...He's the same fellow with the 'Whiz Kids?'”

“The very same,” Olds nodded. “But....two weeks before I went home, got into a fight with MiG-21s. Was lined up on a MiG, ready to shoot-had Sidewinder tone-when an F-105 comes up off his bomb run, and I don't think he even sees me. Gets between me and the MiG, and guns the -21. Sent him down, and the Thud headed on out. Cheated me out of what would have been officially my fifth, and if that weasel MacNamara wanted to send me home then, well....”

Gladehill nodded. “You both get what you want.”

“That's it. But..” General Olds continued. “Whoever goes through my personal papers will find some interesting things, and only then will you hear about them.”

Guru turned to Goalie. “Any thoughts?”

“How about hot pursuit of a MiG into China before killing it?” Goalie asked in reply. “Or splashing a MiG inside the Hanoi Prohibited Area?”

Guru pulled on his beer, and nodded agreement. “I'll go along with either one, and add this: how about a low-level flyby of Hanoi on a no-strike day? Say, right over the Hanoi Hilton.”

Squadron Leader Gladehill overheard their conversation. “You two sure about that?”

Guru nodded again. “Neither one would surprise me,” he said, and Goalie nodded agreement. “You're in a room full of people, even though only two were there, who despise LBJ and MacNamara for the way the air war over North Vietnam was run.”

Don Van Loan came by. “I'd say that's the least offensive term,” he added. “'Loathe' would be more like it. My uncle spent five and a half years in Hanoi, Squadron Leader, going after targets picked in Washington, or tangling with MiGs-and he was shot down by a MiG-17-that should have been taken out on the ground.”

“Ah, because they were afraid that if you chaps did hit the MiG bases, you would've killed Russian advisors, and that makes things very sticky indeed,” replied Gladehill.

Goalie said, “As in Fulda Gap time.” She shook her head.

Then General Olds stood up. “One last thing, people! I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon, and when I get back to Nellis, I'm going to tell General Tanner at Tenth Air Force that you're all doing a hell of a job, and whatever you're doing? Don't change a damned thing!”

“Glad to know, General,” Colonel Brady said, and all of the squadron commanders echoed that.

“And you all have the same attitude I had with the Wolfpack, back in 1966-67. You're all concerned with accomplishing the mission and producing results. And if a few useless bureaucrats get in your way? You just go around, over, on top, underneath, or plain through them to get what's needed done, done. Same drill on regs-if they get in the way of achieving results? You fold, spindle, bend, or mutilate what's in the way to get the job done! And if we get together a year from now? Let's do it on the Rio Grande!”

“Hear, hear!” several voices yelled.

“ARF!”

Several people looked around, and found the 335th mascot, Buddy, there.

General Olds then raised his glass of club soda. “Here's to you. Keep it up, and keep ramming it to the bad guys.” After bottles and glasses were raised, Olds finished. “You all have a good night.”

“YES, SIR!” The room responded.


As things broke up, people went back to their tables, to the bar, or to hit the pool table or poker games. Guru and Goalie went to the bar. “Smitty, two more.”

“Comin' up, Major.”

As Smitty produced the beers, General Olds came to Guru. “Major, you don't need to see me off tomorrow. You've got more important things to worry about.”

“Thank you, sir,” Guru said.

“And don't be surprised if in a few days, you get a call to come to Nellis. Bring your briefing material, your GIB, and your bird.”

“General, can I ask when?” The CO wanted to know.

“Probably in a week. I'll brief General Tanner on your little plan, and he'll want to hear from you personally. You'll get the word as to when.”

Guru and Goalie looked at each other. “Yes, sir,” both of them said.

“You two have a good night,” Olds said, shaking both of their hands. “I'll see you at Nellis.”

“We'll be there, sir,” Guru said.

“All right, and remember what I said about not changing a damned thing, Major.”

Guru nodded. “Yes, sir.”

The General nodded, then said, “Have a good night, you two. I'll see you both at Nellis.”

“Yes, sir.”

After General Olds left, Guru and Goalie noticed Capt. Ryan Blanchard, their Combat Security Police detachment commander, and Capt. Kerry Collins, who was a flight lead, get up and leave together, with Ryan slinging her M-16. And by the expressions on both their faces and other body language, it was clear what they had in mind.

“Well?” Goalie asked, her expression a bit coy. “We need to get caught up.”

“On what?” Guru replied. Though he had a good idea of what she had in mind.

“Bedroom gymnastics. Haven't had any for a while.”

Just then, Don Van Loan and Sweaty Blanchard went by, and they, too, had similar expressions on their faces.

“Then let's go,” Guru said. He paid Smitty for the beers, and both left for the CO's tent.

Gladehill saw them go, as Mark Ellis came up to the bar. “Squadron Leader,” Ellis said.

“Mark, I can call you that?” Gladehill replied. “Since I've got my own Exec.”

“That you do,” Ellis laughed. “What's up?”

“I noticed Guru and his backseater. Plus Ryan Blanchard and one of your pilots-Kerry Collins, I think, and Sweaty Blanchard and your Ops Officer. Isn't that unusual?”

“Prewar, unheard of,” Ellis nodded. “These days? It's 'Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow they may not separate us from the rest of the aircraft.' And AF brass has passed the word that there are more important things to worry about than wartime romances. Though somebody around here hasn't gotten the message.” He nodded discretely in Frank's direction.

“Ah. There always is someone like that,” said Gladehill.

“There is,” Ellis admitted. He took a pull on his beer. “Frank there tried to have Guru and Goalie up on a fraternization thing, and Colonel Rivers tore up his complaint. Gave Frank the biggest dressing-down you ever heard. There's several very good reasons for Guru to despise and loathe Frank, and that is near the top of the list, he told me,” the 335th's Exec said. “And a word of warning: Frank got turned down for a transfer to the F-20 program a couple days ago, and sooner or later, he's going to pop. Just hope none of your guys are in the way when that happens.”

“Thanks for the warning,” Gladehill said. “Your CO told me about Frank being turned down for that, but thanks anyway.”

“Anytime. And welcome to Texas,” Ellis put out his hand, and they shook on it.

After Ellis went to a pool table not dominated by Kara, Jackson, Lord, and McKay, came to their CO. “Well, Skipper?” Jackson asked.

The CO for 74 turned to his own Exec and said, “It's been...interesting, you might say. Jack, you've been with these people a bit. What's your feeling?”

“They're good people, Boss, and dedicated. We'll get along just fine.”

“Good. Karen?”

“Had a talk with Sweaty, Flossy, Cosmo, Revlon, Goalie-even Kara, but not all at once. As for Susan and me? We'll fit in.”

Gladehill nodded. “Right, then. Tell the guys to sleep in tomorrow, and get plenty of rest. Because after this storm passes, it's 'game time', as our hosts like to say.”

“Will do, Boss,” Jackson said, and the others nodded.

And so, the RAF's first day in Texas came to an end when Last Call sounded at Midnight sharp.
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Old 08-18-2018, 09:15 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The RAF detachment has further adventures in Texas....the story dealing with their first three days is almost finished. Will be posted when done.
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Old 09-02-2018, 07:02 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The RAF's first days in Texas: Here's Part I:


Chiefs and Tigers


335th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Sheppard AFB, TX; 18 November, 1987, 0530 Hours Central War Time:



Major Matt Wiser walked from his squadron's Officer Country to the Squadron's Offices. The building had belonged to an Air Training Command unit prewar, when Sheppard had been a training base, and now housed his squadron. He noted the bullet holes scarring the outside, and had thought at first that those had best be patched over. But, since the base would likely revert to ATC after the war, it might be a good idea if some of those holes were kept as a reminder of the war, to impress upon student pilots what had happened here. Kind of like at Hickam AFB in Hawaii, he thought. Several buildings there still had scars from December 7, 1941, and those scars had not been repaired, as a reminder of the price of unpreparedness for war.

The 335th CO went into the office, and found the Night-shift SDO at his desk. “Hacksaw,” Major Wiser nodded.

“Boss,” Hacksaw replied, and sneezed just after that. “Damn cold.”

“Still?” The CO asked. Hacksaw had been grounded for five days with a bad cold.

Hacksaw nodded. “I'm a lot better, Boss, but still.....I see Doc tomorrow and he should clear me.”

Major Wiser knew the feeling. He'd been grounded himself for two weeks back in March with a cold-and the same bug had bitten his GIB. Being out of the cockpit had been frustrating for both of them. “Hate to remind you, but listen to Doc. He outranks us in anything medical, so you'd best pay attention.” Doc Waters was the squadron's flight surgeon.

“I know, Boss.”

“And remember: if you're fretting about missing out? You're not missing a damned thing,” the CO reminded his SDO. “XO in?”

“He's in your office,” Hacksaw said. “Got in about five minutes ago.”

“All right, thanks,” Major Wiser said. “Wolfman Jack up to the usual?” He glanced at the radio on the SDO's desk.

“He is, and just played Don't Bring Me Down.”

“ELO,” the CO nodded. “Haven't heard that in a while. Thanks, and when Digger comes in? Get him up to speed, get some chow, then find your bunk.”

Hacksaw nodded. “Will do, Boss.”

Major Wiser then talked to the night-shift admin people, and they always appreciated hearing from the CO, then he went to his office. There, his Exec was waiting. “Mark.”

Capt. Mark Ellis stood up. “Boss,” he said. “Got a few things for you.” He handed his CO a clipboard and a cup of cocoa.

“Let's see...” Major Wiser said, scanning the clipboard. “Morning report for both Tenth Air Force and MAG-11.” The CO signed the forms. “What's next?”

“Aircraft status report,” Ellis replied as the CO found the paper. “Twenty-one aircraft as of now, and should have twenty-two before 0700.” He noticed his CO's upraised eyebrow. “Dave Golen's bird. He and his GIB-along with Flossy and Jang, ate at Early-Bird, and they're penciled in for a check flight.”

“When?”

“Now,” Ellis said, and the rumble of jet engines punctuated the XO's remark. “Should be back in thirty to forty minutes.”

Major Wiser nodded. “Good. Then his bird's back on the schedule. What's next?”

“Supply requisitions,” the XO replied. “We need to trade with a MASH, though. Someone confused us with a medical unit, and sent us 5,000 specimen cups.”

The CO's jaw dropped. “You are shitting me.”

“I kid thee not, Boss-man,” Ellis said.

Major Wiser sighed. “Okay, there's a MASH around here. Tell Chief Ross to find out what they can give us in exchange.”

“On it,” Ellis said. “Weather update.” He handed his CO the weather information form.

“A few lingering clouds, and morning ground mist, which should burn off,” Major Wiser noted. “Other than that, VFR all around.”

“That's good to know. The RAF guys will like that. Big difference than the Atlantic this time of year.”

“Or anytime,” the CO pointed out. “This is their first day of fighter combat in the tactical arena. Air defense of Bermuda and chasing down Backfires or Bears is one thing. Hassling with MiGs is a whole new ball game.”

“We'll find out, won't we?” Ellis asked. “Think they'll lose people?”

“Wouldn't surprise me at all,” the Major said. There was a knock on the door. “Yeah? Come in and show yourself!”

A blonde female First Lieutenant with wavy hair just long enough for the regs came in, with two cups of steaming liquid in hand. “Morning, Guru, and XO,” First Lieutenant Lisa “Goalie” Eichhorn said. She was Major Wiser's GIB, and “Guru” was his call sign.

“Morning, Goalie,” Guru said. “Ready to get back at the game?”

“Just as long as Ivan strikes out,” she grinned. “And we bat at least .500.”

“At least,” Guru said. “Mark, anything else?”

“Chief Ross is running down Airman Kellogg's family. The Red Cross is involved, and he's running down the brother and sister. No replies yet, though,” reported Ellis. “And nothing yet about his parents.” Ellis paused. “They may very well be in that mass grave.”

Guru nodded. “Okay. Tell him to keep looking.”

“Will do.”

“Goalie?” Guru asked his GIB-and lover. “Any issues with your RAF counterparts?”

“Nope,” she replied. “Though a couple of 'em were surprised to see a First Lieutenant as senior WSO. But they smiled, shook hands, and said 'That's how it is, so let's get with it.' They've got a lot of instrument time, I can tell you that.”

“Given where they were, and being on alert twenty-four hours a day? Not surprised at that,” Guru said. “They'll find things are very different here, on that first mission. He glanced out his office window and noticed the first brightness of dawn starting to show. Then he looked at the clock on his office wall: 0550. “Let's go eat.”


When the trio got to the Officer's Mess Tent, the usual line was already forming, and it was a little strange, not seeing either Major General Robin Olds-who had returned to Nellis the previous afternoon, or Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, who had moved on to Carlsbad in New Mexico and the ROK Air Force contingent for the next stop of his F-20 demonstration tour. But Marine Colonel Allen Brady, the CO of MAG-11, was there, and he was talking with Squadron Leader Dave Gladehill, the OINC of the detachment from 74 Squadron, the RAF contingent that had come to their little corner of the war. “Morning, Colonel,” Guru said. “Squadron Leader.”

“Major,” Brady nodded. “Seems strange, doesn't it? Not having General Yeager or General Olds around.”

“Well, sir, had to get back to normal, or something close to it,” replied Guru. “Dave? You guys ready to get with it?”

“Quite,” Gladehill said. “The first missions will be interesting.”

“Remember what we told you guys in the brief yesterday,” Guru said. “Seventy percent of our losses are people who don't make it to ten missions. You're not combat virgins, but what you've done is a whole different league than what we play in.”

Gladehill nodded. “We'll find out soon enough, and we're as ready as we can be.”

“Fair enough,” replied Guru. He took a look around, and saw Capt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace talking with some of the people from 74, and to the CO, it looked as if she was measuring people up-for potential victims at the pool table later. “I see Kara's up this morning.”

“She was here when I arrived,” Gladehill said. “I did warn her about our RAF Regiment people. They're pretty good at the pool table, and might give her a good run.”

“Just as long as your people know what they're in for, and pray none of them need to use her, well, 'alternative payment schedule.'”

“I did warn them,” replied Gladehill.

“Good. Just as long as they've been warned.”

Then one of the Marine Mess Officers came out, and flipped the sign on the door from CLOSED to OPEN. “Chow's on, folks.”


After breakfast, the strike leads went to the Ops Office to get their mission packets. As CO, Guru was first, and found the Ops Officer, Capt. Don van Loan, waiting. “Have a good breakfast, Don?”

“Sure did, Boss, and ready to go earn my flight pay-of which forty-five cents goes back to the government,” Van Loan replied. He handed his CO a packet. “Here's your first mission.”

Guru took the packet and opened it. He skimmed over the mission summary, then looked at his Ops Officer. “And whose bright idea was this?”

“Don't look at me, Boss,” the Ops Officer replied innocently. “I just put'em together from the ATO.”

“Brownwood Regional Airport. Well, at least we've got Weasels coming, and two of the RAF birds are going with us,” Guru said. “Strike flight is a six-ship.”

“That it is,” Van Loan said. “Dave and Flossy are going with you.” Just then, the subjects of their conversation came in. “Dave,” Van Loan said to IDF Major Dave Golen. Who came in with 1st Lt. Terry McAuliffe, his GIB, and his wing crew, First Lieutenants Sandi “Flossy” Jenkins and Chloe “Jang” Winters.

“Guru,” Golen said. “And Ops. No problems or issues, so the bird's back on the schedule. And maintenance and armorers were waiting when we taxied in.”

Guru showed him the mission summary. “That's because you guys are going with us,” the CO said. “And the Brits. Two of their Js are coming along. Get to the briefing room ASAP.”

“On our way,” Golen said, and his people left the Ops Office.

Squadron Leader Gladehill came in. “Got anything for us?”

“Dave,” Guru said. “Round up your GIB and your wing crew. My flight's briefing room, in ten. We've got a strike coming, and you're in the tasking.”

“Right!” Gladehill replied. “Be right there.”


“He too eager?” Van Loan asked.

“No,” Guru said. “I think they want to show they're good at not just bomber interception or chasing down strays from the Air Bridge. They'll work out fine.” The CO glanced at the summary again, then shook his head. “Been there at least twice before.”

“And back again.”

“And back again,” Guru acknowledged. “Thanks, Don.” He headed for his flight's briefing room, and when he got there, he found not only his flight, plus Dave Golen's element, but Gladehill's element as well. And the squadron's mascot, Buddy. “All right, people, it's the first one of the day, and it's a doozy.”

“Where to?” Kara asked.

“Brownwood Regional Airport,” Guru said. “F-111s or A-6s hit it last night, and we get to do the follow-up.”

“This place swarms, Boss,” Sweaty added. It wasn't a question. She was recalling previous strikes.

“It does, and for the benefit of our British friends, this place has two MiG regiments. One East German with MiG-21, and a Soviet MiG-23 Regiment also. MiG-29s have also used it as a FOL, so they may be there as well.”

Gladehill and his people looked at each other. MiG-29s? First mission in Texas and they throw this at us....”Where are the Fulcrums usually based?” Gladehill asked.

“Usually Gray Army Airfield at Fort Hood, but they've also been reported at Bergstrom AFB by Austin, and the old James Connolly AFB by Waco, though it may be an FOL. Last time we hit this place, there were Fulcrums, and we got some on the ground,” said Guru. “Goodfellow AFB by San Angelo is a possible as well. Ivan's had two years to get the runways operational again, and they are considered as such. There are -21s and -23s also at Connolly, Waco Airport, Temple Airport, and Gray AAF. Flankers are at Bergstrom, and as you all know, they are bad news. And it's confirmed that Mainstays are in theater-we've known before, but this is for our RAF friends' benefit.”

“Bad guys there same as last time?” Hoser asked.

“Yep,” replied the CO. “Not just the Soviet 32nd Army, but in and around Brownwood proper? It's the baddest of the bad from the GSFG days: 3rd Shock Army.” Guru paused, then went on. “Which means not just the defenses at the base, but Army-level air defense assets. SA-4, guns, and MANPADS.”

“Lovely,” KT spat.

“As for base defenses, the SA-3 site is listed as possibly operational, and there's three 57-mm batteries. No dedicated flak suppressors, but we'll be getting Weasels.” Guru turned to Gladehill. “A two-ship of F-4Gs will be joining us at the tankers.:

The RAF officer nodded. “Good to have, that.”

“They are,” Guru said. “Okay, there's also going to be ZU-23s and guys with MANPADS at the base as well, so be careful, people!”

Flossy asked, “What's the ingress route, Boss?”

“We hit tanker track ARCO north of Abilene, and though Dyess is open, it's listed for C-130s and as an A-10 FOL. But it's there in case you need to put down with battle damage. Head south from the tanker track, cross the I-20 and the FLOT. Follow U.S. 283, and again, that's a Main Supply Route, for said 32nd Army, so watch for traffic on the road. Convoys usually have their own AAA, so be careful. Once we hit the Colorado River, turn east. Follow the river to U.S. 377, then go north. The city of Brownwood is the pop-up point. The target's eight miles northeast of the town. Make your runs, then get your asses north for I-20.”

Kara nodded. Nothing new here. “Aimpoints?”

“You and I have the ramp area,” Guru said, tapping the ramp on the photos. “We both get Rockeyes, and kill anyone parked on the ramp.”

“Sounds good. After last night, those bastards ought to be still on the ground.”

“No guarantees,” Guru reminded her. “Sweaty? You and Hoser take the runways. You get same one as last time: Runway 17/35. Hoser? You're on Runway 13/31. Both of you have Mark-82 Snakeyes.”

“Got it,” Sweaty nodded, and so did Hoser. Nothing new here.

Dave Golen then asked, “And us?”

“You and Flossy have the GATOR Mines. Two centerline, two on each inboard wing station. Put them around the runways, and maybe those repair crews will stay away for a day or two,” Guru said.

“Until they're cleared,” Goalie muttered.

“Until they're cleared,” Guru admitted. “As for the grey Rhinos?” Guru nodded at the RAF contingent. “When I call PULL? You guys assume a TARCAP. Kill anyone on CAP, and get rid of any party-crashers.”

“Sounds good,” Flight Lt. Susan Napier, who was Gladehill's wing pilot, nodded.

“Once Flossy there calls off target,” Guru said. “You guys get your asses down low and headed north.”

“Will do,” Flight Lt. Paul Jackson, Gladehill's pilot, replied.

Guru nodded, then went on. “Ordnance loads: Kara? You and I have Rockeyes, as I said before, plus full air-to-air. Sweaty and Hoser have Mark-82s with the same. And Dave and Flossy have the GATOR mines and air-to-air. That means, for our RAF friends' benefit, four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Fs-and be glad we have the Fs now, full 20-mm, two wing tanks, and an ECM pod. That's ALQ-119 for element leads, and ALQ-101 for the wingmen.”

Gladehill then jumped in. “For us, that will be four AIM-9Ls.” He noticed the 335th crews looking at him. AIM-9Ls? Only the F-15s, F-16s, and F/A-18s had those around here. Usually. “Four Sky Flash, two wing tanks, and a SUU-23 pod centerline.”

“Sounds good,” said Guru then he turned to the next subject. “Okay, bailout areas. Anyplace rural and away from the roads. Find a place to hole up and Jolly Greens will come for you, but it'll be at night. Ninety percent of the rescues here take place at night, people. As for the locals? This isn't good Resistance country, but ninety-nine percent plus of the citizenry will help. Even if they don't want to get directly involved, they will pass you on to those who will. This was in the SERE briefing our RAF friends got yesterday, but I do want to repeat it.”

“Got you,” Gladehill said. “And how many today?”

“Chances are, three more,” Guru replied. “Weather is going to be good. Some ground mist, but it should be burn off by the time we're on target. Other than that? Some lingering clouds around 15,000, but nothing at low level.” He looked at those in the room. “As far as mission code goes? We're RAMBLER Flight. Anything else?” Heads shook no. “All right! Let's gear up and get ready to fly. Meet at 512's revetment.”

As people got up to leave, Brainiac, Kara's GIB, noticed something. “Hey, Buddy's fast asleep.” He was referring to the squadron's mascot.

“What does that mean?” Susan Napier asked.

“It means,” Kara replied. “If he sleeps through a brief? We're due for an easy mission. If he wakes up and pays attention? Watch out.”

“So he's an omen? Dave Gladehill said.

“He can be,” Guru replied as he gathered up his briefing materials. An Ops NCO came by to collect them, then headed to the Men's Locker Room to gear up. After getting into his survival vest, G-Suit, and picking up his helmet, he went out, and found Goalie waiting, geared up and ready. “All set?”

“This is going to be interesting,” Goalie said. “We'll see how our friends do in our league.”

“And let's hope they pass,” Guru replied. “Let's go.”


When the two got outside, the sun was just peeking over the eastern horizon. “Good day to fly,” Guru commented.

“It is that,” Goalie said. “Just as long as we all come back. Going skydiving is not in my plan for today.”

“At least we see eye-to-eye on that.”

Pilot and GIB walked to the revetment of their aircraft, 512, and found their flight waiting for them. “Okay, people. Gather 'round.” It was time for Guru to give his final instructions.

“Usual on the radio?” Sweaty asked.

“It is,” Guru said. “For our new friends' benefit, that means mission code to AWACS and other interested parties. Call signs between us.”

“Understood,” Gladehill nodded, and so did the other RAF crewers.

“Okay, if you pick up a SEARCH radar on your EW displays and we've barely crossed the fence? Watch out. That means a Mainstay.”

“Somebody needs to do something about those,” Kara spat.

“Maybe somebody will,” Guru said. “Anything else?” Heads shook no. “All right,” he clapped his hands. “Meet up at ten grand overhead. Time to go get 'em. Let's hit it.”

The crews headed to their aircraft, and Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and their bird, 512. Their Crew Chief, Staff Sergeant Mike Crowley, was waiting, and he snapped a perfect salute. “Major, Lieutenant? Five-twelve's ready to go out and kick some more Commie ass.”

Both Guru and Goalie returned the salute. “Good work, Sarge,” Guru said. They went over the aircraft and did their preflight walk-around. After Guru signed for the aircraft, he and Goalie mounted the aircraft and got strapped into their seats. Then they went through the preflight cockpit checklist.

“Worried?” Goalie asked as they went through the checklist.

“No,” Guru replied. “Just wondering how they'll do,” he said.

“You're not the only one,” Goalie said. “Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom,”said Guru. “They'll do fine, I think.”

“Same here.”

“Arnie and INS?” Guru asked. He meant the ARN-101 DMAS system and the INS.

“Both check out,” replied Goalie. “We're set. Preflight complete and ready for engine start.”

“That we are,” Guru said. He gave a thumbs-up to his Crew Chief, and Sergeant Crowley gave the “Start Engines” signal in reply. First one, then both, J-79 engines were up and running. As they warmed up, Guru called the tower. “Tower, Rambler Flight with eight, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Rambler Lead, Tower,” the controller replied. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three-Lima. Hold prior to the Active, and you are number two in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Rambler Lead rolling.” Guru gave another thumbs-up, and Sergeant Crowley waved to the ground crew. The chocks were pulled away from the wheels, and Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal. Guru taxied out of the revetment, and as he cleared the revetment, Crowley snapped another perfect salute. Guru and Goalie returned it, then 512 taxied to the holding area, with the other seven F-4s in the flight following. A flight of Marine F-4s was ahead of them, and after the Marines taxied for takeoff, Guru taxied into the holding area. There, the armorers removed the weapon safeties. Then Guru called the Tower.

“Tower, Rambler Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Rambler Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are two-six-nine for five.”

“Roger, Tower,” Guru replied. “Rambler Lead taxiing for takeoff.” Guru taxied onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520, tucking in at his Five O'clock. A final cockpit check followed, then Guru and Goalie glanced in 520's direction, where Kara and Brainiac gave the thumbs-up. “Ready?”

“All set back here,” Goalie said.

“Time to go,” said Guru. “Tower, Rambler Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the Tower didn't reply by radio. A flashed green light gave clearance.

“Canopy coming down,” Guru said. He pulled his canopy down and locked it, and Goalie did the same. A quick look had 520 just as squared away. “Let's go.” He firewalled the engines to full power, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with her. Thirty seconds later, it was the turn of Sweaty and Hoser, then came Dave Golen and Flossy. After that, it was Gladehill and Napier. The flight met up at FL 100, then set course south for the tanker track.
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  #467  
Old 09-04-2018, 07:24 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The RAF's first mission, and MiG-29s come to the party:



Over West Central Texas, 0745 Hours Central War Time:


Rambler Flight was headed south, having cleared the I-20, and headed into hostile territory. They were flying parallel to U.S. 283, which was a Main Supply Route for the Soviet 32nd Army in this part of Texas, and everyone knew that supply convoys or units doing a road march had their own Triple-A and SAMs, so the flight was giving the road a decent enough berth, but still close enough to use the road for visual navigation. But the crews weren't just relying on visual, but the GIBs were keeping track of the INS, as well as doing things the old-fashioned way, with a map and stopwatch.

Up front in 512, Guru was concentrating on flying, keeping his head on a swivel. He was checking his instruments, then keeping an eye out for any threats. So far, so good. A quick glance at the EW display still showed clear, then, as if on cue, a strobe appeared, and the SEARCH light came on. “Search radar at One,” he called. “No ID yet.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied from the rear cockpit. It was showing on her display as well. “Looks like a Mainstay.”

Guru took another glance at his EW display. No additional radars were coming up-yet. “Roger that.” Then he called the AWACS. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats?”

“Rambler Lead, Yukon,” the AWACS called back. “Threat bearing One-eight-one for forty. Medium, going away. Second theat bearing One-five-five for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-four-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru replied. “Do you have bogey dope?”

“Stand by, Rambler,” the controller said. After a moment, he came back. “First threats are Fulcrums. Second and third threats are Floggers.”

“Copy,” Guru said. MiG-29s? Okay......those birds had problems with their radars in the look-down/shoot-down mode, so the intel weenies said. They just might slip through the MiGs. Besides, hassling with MiGs was not on the agenda-until after bomb release. “Fulcrums are close.”

“Hope not,” Goalie said. They'd had one encounter with MiG-29s back in New Mexico, and had come out on top. “He's going away.”

“For now.” Guru checked his EW display again. No additional radars, then another strobe came on at their Nine O'Clock, and the SEARCH light came on again. “They're active.” He looked ahead, and the two F-4Gs were still ahead of them, just above. They were at 450 feet AGL, and the Weasels were at 500. “Weasels still quiet.”

Goalie nodded, then checked her map. “Lake Coleman dead ahead.” The lake was a convienent navigation checkpoint, coming or going. “Watch for flak at the dam.”

“Got it,” Guru said as the flight crossed the north shore of the lake. A quick look at their Eleven O'clock revealed the dam, and sure enough, the flak gunners on both sides of the dam came alive. The gunners started shooting, but the 37-mm fire was not well aimed, and the gunners failed to lead their targets.

Once clear of the lake, the town of Coleman was next. “Twenty miles to Coleman. One minute fifteen,” Goalie called.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. He took a look at the EW display. Still just the two strobes signaling search radars, and one of them dropped off-the one off to their right. Good. “Lost one of the radars.”

“Saw that,” said Goalie. “Just the Mainstay. One minute to Coleman.”

The flight maintained course, and the town of Coleman appeared off to the left. The strike flight flew past, and no fire came from the town. “How far to the river?” Guru asked. That meant the Colorado River.

“One minute twenty,” was Goalie's reply.


In Coleman, the Soviet 32nd Army had its headquarters. The Army had not fought at Wichita proper, but had been in Western Kansas when that disaster had happened, and had found an open right flank, and American forces pouring into that flank. The Army had fought in First Central Front's rearguard, all the way from Kansas through Oklahoma, and had nearly been trapped at a place called Vernon, just south of the Red River, before fighting its way south. Now, the Army had two missions. Namely, hold the line south of Interstate 20, and as divisions were pulled off the line, rebuild them for the battles to come.

Major General Pavel Sisov walked down the steps of City Hall in Coleman. The Army had originally been using Brownwood as its headquarters, until that brute Starukhin and his 3rd Shock Army had shown up-by TVD order no less, and he'd been forced to move. Here, the presence of his headquarters had displeased the local garrison, who happened to be a battalion of Cuban reservists-the equivalent of his own Army's Category III, and while the battalion commander seemed a charming enough fellow, more than willing to take orders from Sisov, the other officers were not so....positive. From their point of view, they had a comfortable assignment in the rear, and the presence of the 32nd Army-and not just the headquarters, mind, meant that there would be American attention in the future-namely, air attack and likely activity from the American Resistance. He'd never served in Colorado, Eastern Oklahoma, or the Ozarks in either Missouri or Arkansas, where the terrain was ideal for guerilla warfare, but had heard from those who had. “Afghanistan with trees,” one officer, who was moving up to command a motor-rifle division after service in Colorado, had told him. Here, there wasn't that much activity from the Resistance, or, as the Political Department called them, “Bandits”, but he knew from his own intelligence officer that the underground was laying low, content to snip the occasional phone line, spray some grafitti, set some roadside bombs, and ambush the occasional patrol. For the U.S. Sixth Army had been reinforced, with IV Corps having come down from Colorado, and was helping fill the gap between III Corps and the ROK Expeditionary Force to the west.

Today, he was waiting on a visit from Marshal Kribov, who was coming to the area on an inspection tour. The Marshal was known for wanting to get up as close to the front as possible, and find out from his commanders what was going on, what their needs were, and even talk to some of the men. His Army was still in good shape, though some of the personnel replacements were not to his liking. The 32nd Army was originally from Kazakhstan, and though many of the veterans had served in the 32nd prewar, the replacements were either new draftees with six months' training-if they were lucky. Or if they weren't, only had a months' basic training and a month's orientation at a training center on what to expect in America, before being shipped over. And he'd just gotten two drafts of replacements that fit neither category. One was a group of former Voyska PVO missile operators, either on S-75 or S-125 SAMs, and someone thought they might be useful in SAM units at Army and division level, or in artillery fire-direction teams. Both of which were desperately needed, he knew, but theory was one thing. How it would work in practice, though....Another-and more numerous-draft consisted of several hundred former Strategic Rocket Forces personnel who had served in guard units around missile sites. Now wearing Army uniform, they were going into motor-rifle units as infantry, which appalled several regimental and divisional commanders-and Sisiov shared that view. The Front Commander had listened to his concerns-and those of the other Army commanders, but had told them to get on with it. As for replacement equipment, it was mixed. Oh, the SAMs were being replaced with comparable systems, or more advanced ones-his old division, the 78th Tank Division, had just received the Buk (SA-11 Gadfly) SAM, but as for armor? While the 78th had received new T-72Bs that were equal to the M-60A3, the nearby 155th MRD had been issued replacement T-62s that had been in storage for years, and as for APCs? The 78th had brand-new BMP-2s from the production line in Czechoslovkia, while the 155th had been issued BTR-60Ps with open tops, and the BMP regiment had some of the oldest BMP-1s on inventory sent to them. Shaking his head, General Sisov wanted to make his case to the Marshal that if they were expected to hold their positions against the American offensive that many expected come Spring, he'd need top of the line equipment, not twenty-year old castoffs. And he wasn't the only Army-level commander with those views, Sisov knew.

Now, as he stopped outside City Hall, General Sisov looked for his staff car. He knew Marshal Kribov would fly in later, and going over to the municipal airport to personally oversee preparations for the Marshal's arrival was a good thing. At least it would get him away from the annoying Zampolit he had-one who took the “Political” side of his duties way too seriously, and had become loathed by not just the local population, but also the Cubans in the garrison and the air force personnel running the airport. Maybe an “inspection” trip to the front offered a way to get the man out of his hair, and if the Party hack got himself killed, well and good. His thoughts were interrupted by shouting. General Sisov turned to the west, seeing several soldiers-and locals-pointing in that direction. A group of American aircraft were flying past the town, and he could hear some applause from the civilians. The planes didn't turn to attack the town or the airport, he was relieved to see. Clearly, they were headed for some target to the south, and what they were going after was likely not going to be his problem. Shrugging his shoulders, he called for his ADC, then summoned his staff car.


“That's clear,” Guru said as Coleman disappeared in the flight's wake.

“One minute to the river,” Goalie called. She, too, was also maintaining her visual scanning.

“Got it,” Guru replied. He glanced at his EW display, and that Mainstay radar was still there. But nothing else. Still, someone could be stalking them with radar off. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threat.”

“Rambler, Yukon. Threat bearing One-nine-one for thirty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-six-five for fifty. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-five-five for sixty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” replied Guru. “So far...”

“So good,” Goalie finished. “Forty-five seconds to the river.”

“Copy.

The flight continued south, and it wasn't long until they got close to the U.S. 283 bridge over the Colorado-and where there were bridges, there was flak.

“Time to turn?” Guru asked.

“Turn in five, four, three, two, one, MARK!” Goalie called.

Guru put 512 into a hard left turn, just short of the bridge, and the rest of the flight followed. They didn't notice the gunners at the bridge shooting with their 23-mm and 57-mm guns, for none of the fire came too close. “How far to the next turn?”

“One minute fifteen,” Goalie replied. “Twenty miles.”

“Copy.” The strike flight headed east, and just before the turn at the U.S. 183 bridge which was their next turn point, another radar came up on Guru's EW display. Then another....and the strobes came up as A/A, which meant Air-to-air. “What are those?”

“Fulcrums,” Goalie said. “Want to bet? Turn point in ten.”

“No bets,” Guru replied. “Give me the count.”

“Coming up in five, four, three, two, one, MARK!”

Guru turned north, just short of the bridge, and it, too, had flak gunners. This time, by the time the gunners were ready to fire, the flight was already gone.

“How far to Brownwood?” Guru asked, shooting a glance at the EW display. All three radars were still there, then, one after the other, the Air-to-air radars dropped off the display.

“Twenty miles,” replied Goalie. “One minute fifteen,” she added.

“Got it,” Guru said as he glanced at the display. Still clear apart from the search radar. “Damned Mainstay.”

“If he had us, those MiGs would have been on us,” Goalie reminded him. “Forty seconds.”

“Set 'em up,” he replied. “Everything in one go.” Guru meant the armament controls. He also turned on his ALQ-119 ECM pod.

Goalie worked the switches. “You're set.”

“Flight, Lead. Switches on, Music on, and stand by.” The call meant to arm weapons and turn on their ECM pods.

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied, and the other strike birds followed suit.

“Fifteen seconds,” Goalie said. “Brownwood dead ahead.”

“Confirm visual,” Guru then called up the Weasels. “Coors One-three, Rambler Lead. Time for you guys to go to work.”

“Roger that!” The Weasel leader replied, as two F-4Gs climbed to start their SAM-suppression work, and all sorts of radars came up, followed by “Magnum” calls. HARM and Standard-ARM missiles left the rails, and two of the radars went off the air.

The EW display was still lit up, as Brownwood appeared dead ahead. “Flight, Lead. PULL.” Guru put 512 into a climb, and as he did, the town passed beneath his bird, the SA-3 site came up, only to go back off the air as a HARM smashed into the battery's Low Blow radar. “Got some flak.”

“All set back here,” Goalie said as Guru climbed past 2,000 feet. Then there it was. “Target at Eleven.”

“Got it,” Guru replied. He leveled out, then began to nose down. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight. Rambler One-seven, take care of any party-crashers.”

“One-seven, roger,” Flight Lt. Paul Jackson replied.

“One-eight copies,” Flight Lt. Suan Napier added.

“Going in,” Guru said as he rolled 512 in onto his bomb run.



At Brownwood Regional Airport, there was a bustle of activity. Not only had there been an American air strike the previous night, which had knocked out Runway 13/31, and had also holed Runway 17/35, and thus the repair crews had been hard at work, filling in the bomb craters and making sure the runways were ready for operations. Then there was the usual hustle and bustle of combat operations, for both the Soviet 92nd IAP and the East German Air Force's JFG-1 were based there, and MiG-23s and MiG-21s were going in and out on operations. There was also some transport activity, as An-24s and 26s came in and out, and a VIP Yak-40 had come in.

Lieutenant General Vladimir Starukhin, the Commander of Third Shock Army, awaited his Theater Commander-in-Chief. CINC-AMERIKA was responsible for the war in what was the Continental United States, and Starukhin had fought in that war from the first day. He'd led Third Shock through Texas and Oklahoma, then Kansas and even up towards Lincoln in Nebraska in 1986, before pulling back south to Kansas. Then had come the disaster at Wichita, where his Army had gone up against the Americans' VII Corps at a town called Newton, and had been shredded. Starukhin had led his Army in the painful retreat through Oklahoma and into Texas, and now that the front had finally stabilized, his Army had been pulled off the line for rest and refit. He, like General Sisiov, had wanted his Army refitted properly, with new T-80s fresh off the production lines, new BMPs and artillery, and most important of all, newer SAMs and antiaircraft guns to defend against American air attack. He'd seen several strikes aimed at Brownwood Airport before, and his own Army's SAM Brigade, the 49th Guards Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, along with the Voyska PVO-manned guns and S-125 battery, had trouble fighting them off. The Americans' antiradar missiles were too good, and often, the aircraft were too fast for guns-and, to use last night's strike as an example, if they came in at night, the gunners had trouble picking them up visually.

His divisional commanders were just as loud, screaming for tanks with reactive armor to defeat American anti-tank missiles, improved BMPs and BTRs, and, of course, newer SAMs and artillery. All resented having someone else's castoffs forced upon them, and Starukhin also knew that the Marshal was thinking of forming a Tank Army Group, and having the Tank Armies fully equipped meant that their hammer would be a strong one. Not to mention that the Marshal was also considering prospective commanders for a TAG, and his name, along with Suraykin at 4th Guards Tank Army, was on that list.
Now, Starukhin and his staff waited as the Marshal's Yak-40 transport taxied up to what had been prewar, the airport terminal building. The door opened, and the Marshal, accompanied by his ADC, who Starukhin recognzied, disembarked. The Soviet Air Force Colonel who commanded the operation at the airport greeted the Marshal, then Starukhin and his staff approached. “Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin said, saluting.

Marshal Yevgeni Kribov returned the salute. He had been the theater commander for two years, and had seen the highs-running wild through Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, and the lows-the Denver Siege dragging on, the horrible war in the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the guerilla war waged in Colorado, parts of New Mexico, East Texas, the Ozarks and the Quachata Mountains, and then the failure of the Spring-Summer 1986 Offensive, then Wichita and the retreat that had followed. Kribov's staff had feared for his life, but,as Defense Minister Akhromayev had assured him in a phone call, the only alternatives were either Marshal Orgakov-and he was in disgrace. Having planned the invasion, he had been put to pasture as CINC-WEST when the invasion had failed, and the alternative? Marshal Yazov was CINC-FAR EAST, and it was the conensus of the General Staff that Yazov wasn't fit to command anything higher than a division, and only the staff work in Chita and capable subordinates kept things from getting worse. And CINC-KANADA? Three full Generals had held command successively, and all three had been “retired.” The new commander, General Nikolai Ulanov, was only just settling into the job, and Kribov didn't envy him a bit-inheriting a stalemate and an outpost war for the most part.

Now, the front had stabilized, though this Dallas business-though not quite Stalingrad, was a festering sore. Both sides hadn't wanted to get drawn into a city fight, but they had, and though it was a stalemate here, that wouldn't last come Spring. The front was largely parallel, but a bit south of, Interstate 20 for the most part, then up to Interstate 30 to Texarkana, then ran on a line due east to the Mississippi, while in West Texas, the line ran from the I-10/I-20 junction to Mile Marker 65 on I-10, then to the border. The Americans actually held El Paso and the freeway to the east, and the Mexicans were begging him to please, send one division to Juraez, because now they suddenly feared an American invasion-not that after Juraez, there was nothing from Juraez until Chihuahua City-some 380 kilometers south of the border.....let the Mexicans have their panic, for the real war would resume come spring-and he knew full well that it was likely the Americans who would be the ones resuming the offensive.

Such happy thoughts were in Kribov's mind as he went down the stairs of the aircraft, received the salute of the base commander, then noticed Starukhin and his staff waiting. Accompanied by his aide, Colonel Vassily Sergov, Kribov went to see the General who many considered an unimaginative brute and thug, but no one could deny his aggressiveness as a field commander. “General,” Kribov said, returning the salute.

“Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin said. He noticed Colonel Sergov, but was looking for Kribov's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Pavel Chibisov. The two cordially despised each other, for Chibisov was a Jew, and Starukhin distrusted-no, despised-him for that very reason. It was an open secret among the staff that both wished the other dead, and if the Americans managed to kill one of them, the other would actually send a thank-you card to the Americans. But since Chibisov wasn't here....”How was the flight?”

“Routine,” Kribov said. “You do know Colonel Sergov?”

“The Colonel and I are...acquainted, Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin replied. “May I introduce my staff?”

Both the Marshal and his aide recognized it at once. Starukhin was playing the charming host, for the command of the Tank Army Group was still open, and both he and Suraykin were the two finalists for the job. Assuming, of course, that Moscow-and that meant the Defense Council-approved the proposal. “Of course, General. Then I want to speak with you with only our respective aides present.”

“As you wish, Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin said. He had just started when sirens began to sound. But it was Colonel Sergov who actually said it.

“Air raid, Comrades!” He pointed to aircraft coming in, and missile trails also inbound.

Kribov turned to the base commander. “Where's the nearest shelter?”

“There's only slit trenches, Comrade Marshal. Come with me,” and the SAF Colonel led the whole party to the trenches as the American aircraft came in.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled 512 in on the bomb run. He noticed the flak starting to come up, but that the SA-3 radar that had come-briefly-had gone off the air, and that an SA-4 had also gone quiet. Good for them, and none of the flak seemed to be radar-guided. As Guru came down, he noticed not only the prewar ramp area, but the ramp areas that the Soviets had built-and the bomb craters in one runway as well as the attempts by the Soviets to expand two old World War II era runways and make them operational. Tough luck, Comrades.....he lined up on the East Ramp, and not only saw MiG-23s and An-24 transports, but also a Yak-40 VIP transport. Somebody big was there.....your bad day. “Steady...Steady....And....HACK!” Guru hit the pickle button, and his twelve Mark-20 Rockeye CBUs came off the racks. He pulled wings level and headed north, jinking as he did so, and all the while the Weasels were doing their job. “Lead's off target.”


In the trench, Kribov, Starukhin, and the other officers huddled. Nothing new here, for all had been under air attack before. Kribov glanced upwards, and saw Guru's F-4 pulling up, followed by what seemed like thousands of firecrackers exploding as the CBU bomblets went off. That was followed by several larger explosions, and Kribov's Yak-40 went up in a fireball. That was a surprise, though several MiGs and an An-24 transport had also fireballed. Shaking his head, the Marshal ducked back down as a second aircraft came in.

“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“How good?” Guru asked. He was jinking to avoid flak and missiles,

“Does a couple of transports and a couple of MiGs sound good enough?” She replied.

“Good enough for me.” Guru kept heading north.


Kara was next down the chute. “Two in hot!” She called as 520 went down on the target. Kara saw the CO make his run, and the secondary explosions that followed in his wake. The ramp areas that had been built since the war started were her target, and there were MiG-21s sitting on the ramp. Those were the East Germans, she knew. Not a good morning, Franz.....Ignoring the flak coming up, and at least one SA-7 type missile that flew past her left side, several MiGs grew larger in her pipper as she came down. “And...And....Steady...And....HACK!” Kara hit her pickle button, and her dozen Rockeyes came off the racks. As she pulled wings level to head out, she glanced to the right, and saw at least one MiG-23 starting to taxi. Somebody might get a kill was Kara's thought as she pulled away, jinking to avoid flak. “Two's off target.”


“Sookin sin!” Son of a bitch, was Starukhin's chosen phrase as the second F-4 came in. Kribov looked at him, and nodded. This was shaping up to be a bitch of a day, and only two Americans had come in. He heard, then saw, two MiG-23s taxiing. Gutsy move, he thought. Still, not a good day to be an aviator. Then he noticed a third aircraft coming in, and ducked.

“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted from 520's back seat. “Multiple secondaries!”

Kara grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “How good?”

“MiGs and maybe a fuel truck good.”

“I'll take those,” Kara replied as she headed out.


“Three's in!” Sweaty called as she went on her run. She, too, ignored the flak as she went down the chute, and to her surprise, saw two MiG-23s taxiing onto Runway 17/35, which was her target. “MiGs on the roll!” she added as the MiGs lit their burners and headed down the runway. No more, Sweaty said to herself as she approached her release point. “And...Steady....And...And.....HACK!” She hit her pickle button, sending a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes down onto the runway, though as she pulled up and away, she was wishing for Durandals or the Israelis' “Dibber” bombs. The two MiGs were nowhere to be seen as she cleared the target, jinking as she did so. “Three's off target.”

Marshal Krobov heard both the MiGs' takeoff roll and Sweaty's run. “Damn it!” he muttered as first, the two MiG-23s, then the F-4, rumbled past. Unlike the MiGs, the F-4 left explosions in its wake, as the bombs it had deposited on the runway went off. Kribov stuck his head out of the trench to have a look, and saw his personal transport now a burning wreck. He shook his head as two more MiGs-these East German MiG-21s, began to taxi to another runway, then ducked back into the trench.

“SHACK!” Preacher yelled from the back seat. “We got the runway!”

“How many bombs?” Sweaty asked. She was jinking, and also keeping an eye out for MiGs. Where were those two Floggers?”

“Enough!”

She grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “That'll do,” Sweaty replied. “Where's those two MiGs?”


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he came in. He, too, saw the MiGs do their takeoff roll just as Sweaty made her run, but knew enough not to go after them. That was someone else's job, he knew. Ignoring the 23-mm and 57-mm flak, he came down on Runway 13/31. Two East German MiG-21s were taxiing onto the runway, he saw, and Hoser also noticed the smoke and flames coming up from both ramp areas. Your turn, Franz...he said to himself as he got ready to release. “Steady....And.....HACK!” Hoser hit his pickle button, releasing his dozen Mark-82s. He pulled wings level and headed out, and like the others, was jinking as he did so. Clearing the target, he called, “Four's off safe.”


In their trench, both Marshal Kribov and General Starukhin took a look as Hoser's F-4 came by. They watched the two East German MiG-21s try a takeoff roll just as the F-4 released its bombs. One of the MiGs aborted its takeoff, but the leader kept going-and a bomb went off right ahead of him. Shrapnel from the explosion tore into the MiG's fuel tanks, and the MiG-21 caught fire-then crashed into the bomb crater and exploded. Kribov grimaced, then turned to the hapless SAF Colonel who ran the base. “Does this happen every time?”

“It can, Comrade Marshal,” the Colonel replied. He got up to look around, then noticed another F-4 coming in. “More incoming!” Then he ducked back into the trench, and the others followed his example.


“GOOD HITS!” KT shouted from Hoser's back seat. “And we got a secondary!”

“What kind?” Hoser said as he jinked-and a stream of 23-mm tracers flew past his right side.

“I think a MiG taxied in front of a bomb,” said KT. “He blew up!”

Hoser sighed. Ground kills in this war-unlike in WW II, weren't officially considered a part of one's tally. Still....”His bad day.” Hoser pulled away, trying to pick up his element lead.


“Five's in hot!” Dave Golen called as he came down on his run. He easily picked out Runway 17/35, and lined up the runway in his pipper. Unlike the others, he and Flossy wouldn't know how they did, for they had the GATOR mines-a mix of antitank and antipersonnel mines, and those were the perfect things to harass repair crews, wreck some of their equipment, and generally put the fear of God into them. It would take a day, maybe two, to clear the mines and get the runways back operational, and that was the point of the exercise. Though he wouldn't mind a fight with MiGs-and two MiG-23s had managed to scramble. Dave put those thoughts aside as he lined up on the bomb run. “Steady...And....NOW!” He hit his pickle button, and his eight CBU-89s came off the racks. Golen pulled wings level and headed clear of the target, jinking all the way. “Five off target.”


In the trench, the base commander heard Golen's F-4 come by, and, glancing up, saw the CBUs fall away. But there were no explosions in its wake. Having had previous strikes, the SAF Colonel knew right away what had happened. Mines. Right away, he knew that this field was now closed, and would be for at least a day. He glanced to the south, and saw another F-4 coming in. Another mine drop, he knew.


“SHACK!” Terry McAuliffe, Golen's GIB, said. “Good pattern.”

“What do you think?” Golen asked as he jinked-and an SA-7 type missile flew down his left side. He also armed his Sidewinders, for there were two MiG-23s out there.

“That runway's closed.”

“Hope you're right.” Now, Golen wondered, where were the MiGs?


“Six in hot!” Flossy called as 1569 came in on its run. She, too, spotted the flak, and glanced at her EW display. Other than that Mainstay, it was clear. Good. Those Weasels were doing their job. Flossy ignored the flak coming up, and a couple of SA-7s fired head-on, which didn't guide, and lined up Runway 13/31 in her pipper. She, too, had the GATOR mines, and held steady as she approached the release point. “Steady....Steady.....HACK!” Flossy hit the pickle button, and eight CBU-89s came off the racks. She, too, pulled wings level and pulled away, As she got clear, Flossy called, “Six off safe.”


In the slit trench, Marshal Kribov looked up, and saw Flossy's F-4 make its run. He, too, noticed the CBUs, and at first, wondered if the bomblets had been set for delayed detonation. Then, after the F-4 cleared the airport, he realized what had been dropped. Mines....He shook his head.

“Good hits!” Jang shouted from 1569's back seat. “You got the runway!”

“How good?'” Flossy asked, arming her Sidewinders as she jinked.

Jang grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “Good enough.”


“Rambler One-seven,” Guru called. “Get your asses down and away.”

“Roger, Leader,” Jackson replied. He and Napier in One-eight dropped from their TARCAP and overflew the field. Just as they did, Gledhill in the back seat saw them. MiG-23s. Jackson saw them as well, and called a warning. “Flossy, break right! Floggers Six O'clock, coming down.”

Without thinking, Flossy broke right, hard. As she did, she saw the two MiG-23s, and the two F-4Js coming in behind them. “Thank you, whoever you are.”

“My pleasure.”

Just then, AWACS called. “Rambler Flight, Yukon. Bandits, bandits, bandits. Two bandits inbound. Bearing One-eight-one for twenty-five. Medium, closing fast. Bandits are Fulcrums. Repeat: Bandits are Fulcrums.”


Guru heard that. “Kara, Lead. On me, and tanks.” He meant the wing tanks, which he immediately jettisoned, and Kara did the same.

“With you, Lead,” Kara replied.

“Rambler One-seven, Lead. Take the Fulcrums, we'll handle the Floggers,” Guru called Jackson and Gledhill. Then he and Kara charged back south, fangs out. Sweaty and Hoser overheard the calls and did the same thing.

“Roger, Lead,” Jackson replied. He and Napier broke off from the Floggers, who had just seen the RAF Phantoms behind them and had themselves broken off from Flossy.

Flossy, meanwhile, had done a 180, and picked up the MiG wingman. He had broken right himself when his leader had picked up the F-4s behind them. Nice try, Ivan...Flossy thought as she uncaged a Sidewinder and got a growl. A few moments later, she was in the Flogger's six, and he didn't seem to be aware she was behind him. “Steady....Got a tone!” Flossy squeezed the trigger. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9P4 shot off her left inboard rail, and tracked the MiG. The MiG driver reversed at the last moment, but that didn't help, for Flossy's Sidewinder smashed into his tail and exploded. The MiG pitched up, then down, and then plunged into Lake Brownwood, just north of the field. As it did, the canopy came off, the seat fired, and the hapless MiG driver was in a chute. “SPLASH!”

“Good kill, Flossy!” Golen yelled. He, too, was looking for the MiG leader, and found him. The MiG-23 lead was trying to pick up Flossy, but in doing so, he forgot to check his own six. “Big mistake, Ivan,” Golen muttered as he uncaged a Sidewinder. He quickly got tone, and squeezed the trigger. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9P4 shot off his right inboard rail, and tracked the MiG. This time, the MiG pilot seemed to be unaware of the F-4 behind him, and the Sidewinder flew up the MiG's tailpipe and exploded. The MiG-23ML fireballed, and this time, there was no chute. “SPLASH!”

“Good kill, One-five,” Guru called. “Any sign of the Fulcrums?” He asked Goalie.

“I'm tryin' baby,” Goalie replied. “Wait...two hits at ten.”

“Go boresight.” That would center the radar with the gunsight, and with auto-acquisition, that would give a full lock for their new AIM-7Fs.

“You got it,” Goalie said.

However, Rambler One-seven and One-eight rendered such preparations moot. In One-seven's back seat. Squadron Leader Gledhill had both MiGs on his AWG-10 radar. “Two hits at twelve.”

“Go radar, and lock one up,” Jackson said. He may have been a Flight Lieutenant, but as pilot, he was aircraft commander.

“Steady...and...GOT HIM!”

“Taking the shot,” Jackson said. “Rambler One-seven, FOX ONE!” He squeezed the trigger, sending a Sky Flash missile after the MiG. Then, recalling the briefing the previous day, and the experiences of both the 335th and the Marines, he squeezed it again. “FOX ONE AGAIN!” Another Sky Flash missile shot away.

In the MiG leader's cockpit, the CO of Second Squadron, 515th IAP, was surprised. The Major had been on a CAP with his wingman, a Captain and Pilot 2nd Class, when the A-50 vectored them towards Brownwood. The field was under attack, and that was all the controller knew. His MiG-29A had had an avionics upgrade, but his RWR couldn't tell specific radars-only if a radar was air-to-air or surface-to-air. Still, he and his wingman acknowledged the vector, and closed in, despite what those Voyska PVO trogs said, in Frontal Aviation, once you were told to go after the enemy, the controller was no longer a concern. That was fine for defense against bombers and wayward airliners, but against tactical fighters and strike aircraft? No, the Air Force's way was better.

Now, he had several targets on his NO19 radar, and selected one. He was trying to lock one up for his R-72 radar-guided missiles when his Sirena-3 RWR lit up. He'd been locked up. Then he saw a pair of F-4s ahead of him, and one fired. “BREAK!” The Major called to his wingman, and he broke right at once. As he did, he lost sight of his wingman....


Jackson and Gledhill watched as their two Sky Flashes tracked the trailing MiG. He broke at the last minute, turning left. The first Sky Flash missed, but the left turn solved the problem for the second missile....The Sky Flash buried itself in the MiG's belly, between both engines, and the MiG-29 exploded in a ball of fire. An explosion that big, nobody could have gotten out. “Splash one Fulcrum!”

“Hear that?” Goalie asked. “Jackson and Gledhill got a MiG-29.”

“I heard. Where's the other one?”

“Going left, and Susan Napier's on him,” Goalie said.

“If he breaks our way, I'll take him,” said Guru.

In 520, Kara was jealous. MiG-29? “Lock the other one up,” she told Brainiac.

Her GIB was busy. “He's good. Can't get him.”

“Fuck that! Keep on him.”


Napier was on the MiG leader's tail. “Six clear?” She asked her GIB.

Razor Wilkinson, in the back seat, had a look around, then replied, “Six clear, Susan. He's yours.”

Napier uncaged a Sidewinder and quickly got lock. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9L shot off the left inboard rail, and tracked the MiG. The Sidewinder flew left, then right, then tracked straight for the MiG-29, but fired its warhead harmlessly to the rear. Napier cursed, then, still having tone, she saw the MiG reverse his turn, then she shot another Sidewinder. “FOX TWO AGAIN!”

The MiG leader saw the F-4 behind him, and the Sidewinder. He maintained his turn, knowing Sidewinders couldn't track a target pulling more than a 6-G turn. Then he saw someone's SAM-maybe a Krug (SA-4) come up, and he reversed his turn to avoid the missile. Then he felt a huge jolt to the rear, every warning light came on, then he lost control. Without thinking, he grabbed the handle, and fired his K-36 ejection seat. A few moments later, hanging in his chute, he saw the grey-painted F-4 fly past. To his shock, instead of the MARINES painted on the side, he saw the roundel and tail flash of an enemy encountered up in Canada. British. “What are the English doing here?”

Napier and Razor saw the Sidewinder track the MiG and detonate. The explosion took off the left tail and horizontal stabilizer, and the MiG, trailing fire, plunged downward. Then the canopy came off, the seat fired, and the pilot was hanging in his chute. Napier was tempted to blow him a kiss as she flew by, but held it. “SPLASH ONE!”

“Copy that,” Guru replied. “Ramblers, form up and let's get the hell out of here. Weasels, cover us, then get on out.”

“Roger that, Rambler,” Coors One-three called. “MAGNUM!” He shot his last HARM at a SA-4 radar, and his wingman fired his last Standard-ARM at a AAA radar that had come up. “Coors coming out.”

Rambler Flight got back down low, and headed north. Twenty-five miles to the I-20, as they got down to 450 Feet AGL. “Whoo!” Guru said in 512. “That was an E-Ticket ride.”

“You're not alone,” Goalie replied. “One minute thirty to the fence.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Two, where are you?”

“Right with you, Boss,” Kara replied.

Guru took a quick look to his right, and Kara was right with him in Combat Spread. “Got you, Two. Sweaty?”

“On your six, Lead, and Hoser's with me,” Sweaty called back.

“Roger that,”

Before Guru could call him, Dave Golen came up. “Five and six are behind Sweaty.”

“One-seven and One-eight with you,” Jackson added.

“Roger, One-seven,” said Guru.

“One minute to the fence,” Goalie called.


Back at Brownwood Airport, the base commander was already shouting orders. He'd told the Control Tower to call airborne aircraft and advise them that the field was now closed, and that alternatives should be sought. Then he'd kicked his engineers into action, and the slow process of getting the field back operational began. First, though, those insidious GATOR mines-which his people were already too familiar with, had to be cleared before any work on the runways could begin. He turned to General Starukhin. “Comrade General, may we use some of your engineers to get the runways clear of mines?”

Normally, Starukhin would have refused the request. But with the Marshal here, and Starukhin noticed Kribov's eyes on him....”Of course, Colonel.” He motioned to his Chief of Staff, who then relayed the order to the Army's 323rd Independent Engineer Brigade, as well as the nearby 10th Guards Tank Division's own engineeers.

“Thank you, Comrade General,” the SAF Colonel replied.

Then two downed pilots were brought to the Colonel. He recognized one, the deputy commander from the 92nd IAP's Second Squadron, and the other, though, was a newcomer to him. “Comrades,” he said. “What happened?”

“Sidewinder, Comrade Colonel,” the Captain said. “No radar warning, and as soon as I lost control, I ejected. Saw a Southeast-Asia painted F-4 fly past.”

The Colonel nodded. Two wings and an independent squadron flew F-4s so painted in this sector, so the intelligence reports told him. “And you, Major?” He nodded at the MiG-29 pilot.

“Grey F-4, Comrade Colonel,” the Major said. “But...it was painted differently from the U.S. Navy or Marines, and the insignia...”

“What about it?”

“The tail flash and roundel, Comrade Colonel. They were British!”

Kribov and Starukhin overheard that. “You are certain, Major?” Kribov asked.

Seeing the Marshal, the Major stiffened to attention. “Yes, Comrade Marshal. I would swear in court!”

Kribov had a frown at that. If the British could spare a fighter squadron or two, then they could easily spare a brigade-or a division-to fight down here, especially with the Northern Theater in stalemate. “General,” he turned to Starukhin. “You do have secure communications means?” With his Yak-40 now a blazing wreck, he was out of touch with his HQ at Fort Sam Houston.

“Certainly, Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin replied.

“Good. Colonel Sergov?” Kribov's aide came up. 'Get in touch with the Air Force intelligence people at Headquarters. Inform them of this development, and request any information on any additional American Allied forces in-theater. If the British can spare a squadron, they might be able to spare a division.”

“Immediately, Comrade Marshal,” Sergov replied.

Kribov nodded. “Starukhin, let's go to your headquarters. We have many things to discuss, and this morning's events are one of them.”


In 512, Guru asked, “How far to the fence?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied.

“Roger that,” the CO said. He took a look at the EW display. That damned Mainstay still had them. Though at 450 Feet, did they have a good enough track? That, was the $64,000 question. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats?”

“Rambler, Yukon. Threat bearing One-six-five for fifty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-four-zero for sixty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru replied.

“Coming up on the Fence,” Goalie called.

Guru saw the twin ribbons of I-20 appear, and just as they did, the Mainstay radar dropped off. The EW display was now clear. “Roger that. Crossing the fence....now. Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” He turned on his IFF, for the Army HAWK people were often quick on the trigger, operating on the “Shoot them down and let God sort them out” principle.

Once clear of the I-20, the flight climbed to altitude, and headed for the tanker track. After the post-strike refueling, the Weasels headed for Reese AFB and home, while Rambler headed for Sheppard. When the flight got there, they were third in the incoming pattern, behind a Marine Hornet flight and the Westbound C-141. When it was their turn, the flight made a flyby, and the four victorious aircraft did victory rolls, much to the delight of those on the ground. Then the flight formed up and landed.

As they taxied in, the crews who had scored kills popped their canopies, then held up fingers to signal kills, and the RAF people-those waiting to go out, and those who had come back, were properly ecstatic. The news crew was filming, and Ms. Wendt asked Kodak Griffith and Patti Brown-who had just come back herself from a strike, if they could send a story.

“Haven't heard anything different,” Griffith said. “But we'd best check anyway.”

“No guidance from the Tenth Air Force?” Wendt asked. She had fumed at the delay in getting out the story about General Yeager and his Yak-28 kill, but the AF had lifted the ban, and her story had gone right to CBS first, then Sydney.

“We'll make a couple of phone calls,” Brown said. “See what the deal is.”


The flight taxied into their dispersal areas-with the RAF using the revetments that Yeager's F-20s had used, while the 335th Phantoms went to theirs. Guru taxied 512 into its revetment. After getting the “Shut down” signal from his Crew Chief, Guru and Goalie went over the post-flight checklist. “That was a wild one,” Guru said. “Haven't had one of those in a while.”

“Can't all be milk runs,” Goalie reminded him. “But yeah, that strike had a high adrenalin content.”

The ground crew put the chocks around the wheels, and brought the crew ladder. After the checklist, Guru and Goalie climbed down from the aircraft and did a post-flight walk-around. Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, was waiting with bottles of water for both. “How'd it go, Major?”

“Made some grounded MiGs go away,” Guru said. He took a swig of water, then added. “And a VIP transport. Somebody's going to have to go back to wherever in coach.”

“And Major Golen and Flossy each got MiGs,” Goalie added. She, too, took a swig of water. “And the Brits got a couple of Fulcrums off our asses.”

“Shit hot, Ma'am!” Crowley said. “Uh, sir...”

Guru laughed. “You can cuss all you want on the ramp, Sarge,” he said. The CO turned serious. “Five-twelve's truckin' like a champ. Don't change whatever you're doing, Sarge, and get her ready for the next one.”

Crowley beamed at that. “You got it, Major!” he said. “All right, you guys! You heard the Major. Get this bird ready for the next one.”

Guru and Goalie put on their bush hats, then went to the entrance to the revetment. Kara and Brainiac were already there. “Well?” Guru asked.

“Tore up the MiG-21 ramp,” Kara said. “And saw your VIP transport go up.”

“Who was in that?” Goalie asked.

“I'll tell Sin Licon, and he can put a query in with Tenth AF Intelligence,” said Guru. “Intel may tell us tomorrow, or they may never tell us.”

Kara spat. “Or something in between.”

Guru nodded. “Or that,” he said. “Sweaty, Hoser? How'd it go with you guys?” The CO asked as his second element came up.

“Tore up the runway, and Hoser there got a MiG on the runway,” Sweaty replied.

Hoser said, “Don't know if he ate a bomb or went into a crater. Too bad ground kills don't count.”

“Too easy,” Dave Golen said as he and Flossy, with their GIBs, came over.

“They are,” Guru nodded agreement. “Good work on those Floggers, both of you. That's what? Seven for both you two?”

Golen and Flossy nodded, then she added, “Seven for me, but Jang's first.”

Jang was smiling. “Flossy told me to expect MiGs when I took Digger's place,” she said. “She was right.”

“He'll be back next week,” Guru said. “But...we're getting two new pilots to replace the guys Yeager poached for the F-20, and you'll get teamed with one of them.”

“Sounds good to me, Boss,” Jang grinned.

Then the RAF crews came over. “Dave,” Guru said to Gledhill. “First mission in theater, and you get MiG-29s.”

Gledhill nodded. “They cared to send some of their best,” he said. “That's seven for me now, but Paul's fourth. Normally, I'd be with James, but our flight surgeon-and yours-decided he had a cold yesterday.”

Heads nodded all around. Normally, Flight Lt. James Bruce was Gledhill's pilot, but he had started a sneezing fit the previous afternoon, and both the RAF flight surgeon, along with Doc Waters, the 335th's, had examined him. The joint diagnosis was a cold, and Bruce had been immediately grounded for five days. “They do outrank us in anything medical,”

“Unfortunately,” Kara spat.

“Down, girl,” Guru said.

Sweaty turned to Susan Napier. “You've now got four, so be careful. Need to tell you what Guru there told us when Kara and I got to number four.”

Napier was curious. “What's that?”

“Simple,” Kara grinned. “Don't go looking for number five. You might run into somebody who's out for his fifth.”

“I'll keep that in mind.”

Just then, a pair of Dodge Crew-cab pickups pulled up, and Sin Licon got out of one. “Sin,” the CO nodded.

“Major,” Licon said. “We need to debrief. My RAF counterpart is waiting.”

“Let's get the MiG engagement out here,” Guru said.

Licon nodded, and he listened to the MiG-killers go through the engagement, with the usual waving of hands. “Okay, looks like Major Golen and Flossy each have their seventh,” he said.

Goalie chimed in. “And the first for Jang.”

“That it is,” Sin agreed. “Squadron Leader? Your crew and Napier's each have a MiG-29.”

Hearing that, both crews were pleased. “Thanks, Captain,” Gledhill said.

“You're welcome, sir,” Licon said. “Major, we need to get the debrief done.”

Guru nodded. “That we do. Let's get that done, then we all need to check our desks-even our RAF friends probably have squadron paperwork they need to take care of,” he said, seeing Gledhill nod. “Then we get ready to do this again.”

“We all going back out together?” Susan Napier asked.

“Depends on the ATO,” Guru replied.

“It is that,” Dave Golen added. “I've flown strikes with Guru's flight, then the next mission? I'm going with Flossy on a two-ship.”

Flossy nodded agreement. “He's right.”

“That he is,” said Guru. “Okay, let's debrief inside, then we'll find out what the ATO has for us.”
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:12 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The RAF's first mission with the 335th: Anyone recognize a certain Soviet Colonel from RS/LS, and a General from Red Army?



Over West Central Texas, 0745 Hours Central War Time:


Rambler Flight was headed south, having cleared the I-20, and headed into hostile territory. They were flying parallel to U.S. 283, which was a Main Supply Route for the Soviet 32nd Army in this part of Texas, and everyone knew that supply convoys or units doing a road march had their own Triple-A and SAMs, so the flight was giving the road a decent enough berth, but still close enough to use the road for visual navigation. But the crews weren't just relying on visual, but the GIBs were keeping track of the INS, as well as doing things the old-fashioned way, with a map and stopwatch.

Up front in 512, Guru was concentrating on flying, keeping his head on a swivel. He was checking his instruments, then keeping an eye out for any threats. So far, so good. A quick glance at the EW display still showed clear, then, as if on cue, a strobe appeared, and the SEARCH light came on. “Search radar at One,” he called. “No ID yet.”

“Got it,” Goalie replied from the rear cockpit. It was showing on her display as well. “Looks like a Mainstay.”

Guru took another glance at his EW display. No additional radars were coming up-yet. “Roger that.” Then he called the AWACS. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats?”

“Rambler Lead, Yukon,” the AWACS called back. “Threat bearing One-eight-one for forty. Medium, going away. Second theat bearing One-five-five for sixty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-four-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru replied. “Do you have bogey dope?”

“Stand by, Rambler,” the controller said. After a moment, he came back. “First threats are Fulcrums. Second and third threats are Floggers.”

“Copy,” Guru said. MiG-29s? Okay......those birds had problems with their radars in the look-down/shoot-down mode, so the intel weenies said. They just might slip through the MiGs. Besides, hassling with MiGs was not on the agenda-until after bomb release. “Fulcrums are close.”

“Hope not,” Goalie said. They'd had one encounter with MiG-29s back in New Mexico, and had come out on top. “He's going away.”

“For now.” Guru checked his EW display again. No additional radars, then another strobe came on at their Nine O'Clock, and the SEARCH light came on again. “They're active.” He looked ahead, and the two F-4Gs were still ahead of them, just above. They were at 450 feet AGL, and the Weasels were at 500. “Weasels still quiet.”

Goalie nodded, then checked her map. “Lake Coleman dead ahead.” The lake was a convienent navigation checkpoint, coming or going. “Watch for flak at the dam.”

“Got it,” Guru said as the flight crossed the north shore of the lake. A quick look at their Eleven O'clock revealed the dam, and sure enough, the flak gunners on both sides of the dam came alive. The gunners started shooting, but the 37-mm fire was not well aimed, and the gunners failed to lead their targets.

Once clear of the lake, the town of Coleman was next. “Twenty miles to Coleman. One minute fifteen,” Goalie called.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. He took a look at the EW display. Still just the two strobes signaling search radars, and one of them dropped off-the one off to their right. Good. “Lost one of the radars.”

“Saw that,” said Goalie. “Just the Mainstay. One minute to Coleman.”

The flight maintained course, and the town of Coleman appeared off to the left. The strike flight flew past, and no fire came from the town. “How far to the river?” Guru asked. That meant the Colorado River.

“One minute twenty,” was Goalie's reply.


In Coleman, the Soviet 32nd Army had its headquarters. The Army had not fought at Wichita proper, but had been in Western Kansas when that disaster had happened, and had found an open right flank, and American forces pouring into that flank. The Army had fought in First Central Front's rearguard, all the way from Kansas through Oklahoma, and had nearly been trapped at a place called Vernon, just south of the Red River, before fighting its way south. Now, the Army had two missions. Namely, hold the line south of Interstate 20, and as divisions were pulled off the line, rebuild them for the battles to come.

Major General Pavel Sisov walked down the steps of City Hall in Coleman. The Army had originally been using Brownwood as its headquarters, until that brute Starukhin and his 3rd Shock Army had shown up-by TVD order no less, and he'd been forced to move. Here, the presence of his headquarters had displeased the local garrison, who happened to be a battalion of Cuban reservists-the equivalent of his own Army's Category III, and while the battalion commander seemed a charming enough fellow, more than willing to take orders from Sisov, the other officers were not so....positive. From their point of view, they had a comfortable assignment in the rear, and the presence of the 32nd Army-and not just the headquarters, mind, meant that there would be American attention in the future-namely, air attack and likely activity from the American Resistance. He'd never served in Colorado, Eastern Oklahoma, or the Ozarks in either Missouri or Arkansas, where the terrain was ideal for guerilla warfare, but had heard from those who had. “Afghanistan with trees,” one officer, who was moving up to command a motor-rifle division after service in Colorado, had told him. Here, there wasn't that much activity from the Resistance, or, as the Political Department called them, “Bandits”, but he knew from his own intelligence officer that the underground was laying low, content to snip the occasional phone line, spray some grafitti, set some roadside bombs, and ambush the occasional patrol. For the U.S. Sixth Army had been reinforced, with IV Corps having come down from Colorado, and was helping fill the gap between III Corps and the ROK Expeditionary Force to the west.

Today, he was waiting on a visit from Marshal Kribov, who was coming to the area on an inspection tour. The Marshal was known for wanting to get up as close to the front as possible, and find out from his commanders what was going on, what their needs were, and even talk to some of the men. His Army was still in good shape, though some of the personnel replacements were not to his liking. The 32nd Army was originally from Kazakhstan, and though many of the veterans had served in the 32nd prewar, the replacements were either new draftees with six months' training-if they were lucky. Or if they weren't, only had a months' basic training and a month's orientation at a training center on what to expect in America, before being shipped over. And he'd just gotten two drafts of replacements that fit neither category. One was a group of former Voyska PVO missile operators, either on S-75 or S-125 SAMs, and someone thought they might be useful in SAM units at Army and division level, or in artillery fire-direction teams. Both of which were desperately needed, he knew, but theory was one thing. How it would work in practice, though....Another-and more numerous-draft consisted of several hundred former Strategic Rocket Forces personnel who had served in guard units around missile sites. Now wearing Army uniform, they were going into motor-rifle units as infantry, which appalled several regimental and divisional commanders-and Sisiov shared that view. The Front Commander had listened to his concerns-and those of the other Army commanders, but had told them to get on with it. As for replacement equipment, it was mixed. Oh, the SAMs were being replaced with comparable systems, or more advanced ones-his old division, the 78th Tank Division, had just received the Buk (SA-11 Gadfly) SAM, but as for armor? While the 78th had received new T-72Bs that were equal to the M-60A3, the nearby 155th MRD had been issued replacement T-62s that had been in storage for years, and as for APCs? The 78th had brand-new BMP-2s from the production line in Czechoslovkia, while the 155th had been issued BTR-60Ps with open tops, and the BMP regiment had some of the oldest BMP-1s on inventory sent to them. Shaking his head, General Sisov wanted to make his case to the Marshal that if they were expected to hold their positions against the American offensive that many expected come Spring, he'd need top of the line equipment, not twenty-year old castoffs. And he wasn't the only Army-level commander with those views, Sisov knew.

Now, as he stopped outside City Hall, General Sisov looked for his staff car. He knew Marshal Kribov would fly in later, and going over to the municipal airport to personally oversee preparations for the Marshal's arrival was a good thing. At least it would get him away from the annoying Zampolit he had-one who took the “Political” side of his duties way too seriously, and had become loathed by not just the local population, but also the Cubans in the garrison and the air force personnel running the airport. Maybe an “inspection” trip to the front offered a way to get the man out of his hair, and if the Party hack got himself killed, well and good. His thoughts were interrupted by shouting. General Sisov turned to the west, seeing several soldiers-and locals-pointing in that direction. A group of American aircraft were flying past the town, and he could hear some applause from the civilians. The planes didn't turn to attack the town or the airport, he was relieved to see. Clearly, they were headed for some target to the south, and what they were going after was likely not going to be his problem. Shrugging his shoulders, he called for his ADC, then summoned his staff car.


“That's clear,” Guru said as Coleman disappeared in the flight's wake.

“One minute to the river,” Goalie called. She, too, was also maintaining her visual scanning.

“Got it,” Guru replied. He glanced at his EW display, and that Mainstay radar was still there. But nothing else. Still, someone could be stalking them with radar off. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threat.”

“Rambler, Yukon. Threat bearing One-nine-one for thirty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-six-five for fifty. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-five-five for sixty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” replied Guru. “So far...”

“So good,” Goalie finished. “Forty-five seconds to the river.”

“Copy.

The flight continued south, and it wasn't long until they got close to the U.S. 283 bridge over the Colorado-and where there were bridges, there was flak.

“Time to turn?” Guru asked.

“Turn in five, four, three, two, one, MARK!” Goalie called.

Guru put 512 into a hard left turn, just short of the bridge, and the rest of the flight followed. They didn't notice the gunners at the bridge shooting with their 23-mm and 57-mm guns, for none of the fire came too close. “How far to the next turn?”

“One minute fifteen,” Goalie replied. “Twenty miles.”

“Copy.” The strike flight headed east, and just before the turn at the U.S. 183 bridge which was their next turn point, another radar came up on Guru's EW display. Then another....and the strobes came up as A/A, which meant Air-to-air. “What are those?”

“Fulcrums,” Goalie said. “Want to bet? Turn point in ten.”

“No bets,” Guru replied. “Give me the count.”

“Coming up in five, four, three, two, one, MARK!”

Guru turned north, just short of the bridge, and it, too, had flak gunners. This time, by the time the gunners were ready to fire, the flight was already gone.

“How far to Brownwood?” Guru asked, shooting a glance at the EW display. All three radars were still there, then, one after the other, the Air-to-air radars dropped off the display.

“Twenty miles,” replied Goalie. “One minute fifteen,” she added.

“Got it,” Guru said as he glanced at the display. Still clear apart from the search radar. “Damned Mainstay.”

“If he had us, those MiGs would have been on us,” Goalie reminded him. “Forty seconds.”

“Set 'em up,” he replied. “Everything in one go.” Guru meant the armament controls. He also turned on his ALQ-119 ECM pod.

Goalie worked the switches. “You're set.”

“Flight, Lead. Switches on, Music on, and stand by.” The call meant to arm weapons and turn on their ECM pods.

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied, and the other strike birds followed suit.

“Fifteen seconds,” Goalie said. “Brownwood dead ahead.”

“Confirm visual,” Guru then called up the Weasels. “Coors One-three, Rambler Lead. Time for you guys to go to work.”

“Roger that!” The Weasel leader replied, as two F-4Gs climbed to start their SAM-suppression work, and all sorts of radars came up, followed by “Magnum” calls. HARM and Standard-ARM missiles left the rails, and two of the radars went off the air.

The EW display was still lit up, as Brownwood appeared dead ahead. “Flight, Lead. PULL.” Guru put 512 into a climb, and as he did, the town passed beneath his bird, the SA-3 site came up, only to go back off the air as a HARM smashed into the battery's Low Blow radar. “Got some flak.”

“All set back here,” Goalie said as Guru climbed past 2,000 feet. Then there it was. “Target at Eleven.”

“Got it,” Guru replied. He leveled out, then began to nose down. “Flight, Lead. Target in sight. Rambler One-seven, take care of any party-crashers.”

“One-seven, roger,” Flight Lt. Paul Jackson replied.

“One-eight copies,” Flight Lt. Suan Napier added.

“Going in,” Guru said as he rolled 512 in onto his bomb run.



At Brownwood Regional Airport, there was a bustle of activity. Not only had there been an American air strike the previous night, which had knocked out Runway 13/31, and had also holed Runway 17/35, and thus the repair crews had been hard at work, filling in the bomb craters and making sure the runways were ready for operations. Then there was the usual hustle and bustle of combat operations, for both the Soviet 92nd IAP and the East German Air Force's JFG-1 were based there, and MiG-23s and MiG-21s were going in and out on operations. There was also some transport activity, as An-24s and 26s came in and out, and a VIP Yak-40 had come in.

Lieutenant General Vladimir Starukhin, the Commander of Third Shock Army, awaited his Theater Commander-in-Chief. CINC-AMERIKA was responsible for the war in what was the Continental United States, and Starukhin had fought in that war from the first day. He'd led Third Shock through Texas and Oklahoma, then Kansas and even up towards Lincoln in Nebraska in 1986, before pulling back south to Kansas. Then had come the disaster at Wichita, where his Army had gone up against the Americans' VII Corps at a town called Newton, and had been shredded. Starukhin had led his Army in the painful retreat through Oklahoma and into Texas, and now that the front had finally stabilized, his Army had been pulled off the line for rest and refit. He, like General Sisiov, had wanted his Army refitted properly, with new T-80s fresh off the production lines, new BMPs and artillery, and most important of all, newer SAMs and antiaircraft guns to defend against American air attack. He'd seen several strikes aimed at Brownwood Airport before, and his own Army's SAM Brigade, the 49th Guards Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, along with the Voyska PVO-manned guns and S-125 battery, had trouble fighting them off. The Americans' antiradar missiles were too good, and often, the aircraft were too fast for guns-and, to use last night's strike as an example, if they came in at night, the gunners had trouble picking them up visually.

His divisional commanders were just as loud, screaming for tanks with reactive armor to defeat American anti-tank missiles, improved BMPs and BTRs, and, of course, newer SAMs and artillery. All resented having someone else's castoffs forced upon them, and Starukhin also knew that the Marshal was thinking of forming a Tank Army Group, and having the Tank Armies fully equipped meant that their hammer would be a strong one. Not to mention that the Marshal was also considering prospective commanders for a TAG, and his name, along with Suraykin at 4th Guards Tank Army, was on that list.
Now, Starukhin and his staff waited as the Marshal's Yak-40 transport taxied up to what had been prewar, the airport terminal building. The door opened, and the Marshal, accompanied by his ADC, who Starukhin recognzied, disembarked. The Soviet Air Force Colonel who commanded the operation at the airport greeted the Marshal, then Starukhin and his staff approached. “Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin said, saluting.

Marshal Yevgeni Kribov returned the salute. He had been the theater commander for two years, and had seen the highs-running wild through Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, and the lows-the Denver Siege dragging on, the horrible war in the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the guerilla war waged in Colorado, parts of New Mexico, East Texas, the Ozarks and the Quachata Mountains, and then the failure of the Spring-Summer 1986 Offensive, then Wichita and the retreat that had followed. Kribov's staff had feared for his life, but,as Defense Minister Akhromayev had assured him in a phone call, the only alternatives were either Marshal Orgakov-and he was in disgrace. Having planned the invasion, he had been put to pasture as CINC-WEST when the invasion had failed, and the alternative? Marshal Yazov was CINC-FAR EAST, and it was the conensus of the General Staff that Yazov wasn't fit to command anything higher than a division, and only the staff work in Chita and capable subordinates kept things from getting worse. And CINC-KANADA? Three full Generals had held command successively, and all three had been “retired.” The new commander, General Nikolai Ulanov, was only just settling into the job, and Kribov didn't envy him a bit-inheriting a stalemate and an outpost war for the most part.

Now, the front had stabilized, though this Dallas business-though not quite Stalingrad, was a festering sore. Both sides hadn't wanted to get drawn into a city fight, but they had, and though it was a stalemate here, that wouldn't last come Spring. The front was largely parallel, but a bit south of, Interstate 20 for the most part, then up to Interstate 30 to Texarkana, then ran on a line due east to the Mississippi, while in West Texas, the line ran from the I-10/I-20 junction to Mile Marker 65 on I-10, then to the border. The Americans actually held El Paso and the freeway to the east, and the Mexicans were begging him to please, send one division to Juraez, because now they suddenly feared an American invasion-not that after Juraez, there was nothing from Juraez until Chihuahua City-some 380 kilometers south of the border.....let the Mexicans have their panic, for the real war would resume come spring-and he knew full well that it was likely the Americans who would be the ones resuming the offensive.

Such happy thoughts were in Kribov's mind as he went down the stairs of the aircraft, received the salute of the base commander, then noticed Starukhin and his staff waiting. Accompanied by his aide, Colonel Vassily Sergov, Kribov went to see the General who many considered an unimaginative brute and thug, but no one could deny his aggressiveness as a field commander. “General,” Kribov said, returning the salute.

“Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin said. He noticed Colonel Sergov, but was looking for Kribov's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Pavel Chibisov. The two cordially despised each other, for Chibisov was a Jew, and Starukhin distrusted-no, despised-him for that very reason. It was an open secret among the staff that both wished the other dead, and if the Americans managed to kill one of them, the other would actually send a thank-you card to the Americans. But since Chibisov wasn't here....”How was the flight?”

“Routine,” Kribov said. “You do know Colonel Sergov?”

“The Colonel and I are...acquainted, Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin replied. “May I introduce my staff?”

Both the Marshal and his aide recognized it at once. Starukhin was playing the charming host, for the command of the Tank Army Group was still open, and both he and Suraykin were the two finalists for the job. Assuming, of course, that Moscow-and that meant the Defense Council-approved the proposal. “Of course, General. Then I want to speak with you with only our respective aides present.”

“As you wish, Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin said. He had just started when sirens began to sound. But it was Colonel Sergov who actually said it.

“Air raid, Comrades!” He pointed to aircraft coming in, and missile trails also inbound.

Kribov turned to the base commander. “Where's the nearest shelter?”

“There's only slit trenches, Comrade Marshal. Come with me,” and the SAF Colonel led the whole party to the trenches as the American aircraft came in.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he rolled 512 in on the bomb run. He noticed the flak starting to come up, but that the SA-3 radar that had come-briefly-had gone off the air, and that an SA-4 had also gone quiet. Good for them, and none of the flak seemed to be radar-guided. As Guru came down, he noticed not only the prewar ramp area, but the ramp areas that the Soviets had built-and the bomb craters in one runway as well as the attempts by the Soviets to expand two old World War II era runways and make them operational. Tough luck, Comrades.....he lined up on the East Ramp, and not only saw MiG-23s and An-24 transports, but also a Yak-40 VIP transport. Somebody big was there.....your bad day. “Steady...Steady....And....HACK!” Guru hit the pickle button, and his twelve Mark-20 Rockeye CBUs came off the racks. He pulled wings level and headed north, jinking as he did so, and all the while the Weasels were doing their job. “Lead's off target.”


In the trench, Kribov, Starukhin, and the other officers huddled. Nothing new here, for all had been under air attack before. Kribov glanced upwards, and saw Guru's F-4 pulling up, followed by what seemed like thousands of firecrackers exploding as the CBU bomblets went off. That was followed by several larger explosions, and Kribov's Yak-40 went up in a fireball. That was a surprise, though several MiGs and an An-24 transport had also fireballed. Shaking his head, the Marshal ducked back down as a second aircraft came in.

“SHACK!” Goalie called from 512's back seat. “We got secondaries!”

“How good?” Guru asked. He was jinking to avoid flak and missiles,

“Does a couple of transports and a couple of MiGs sound good enough?” She replied.

“Good enough for me.” Guru kept heading north.


Kara was next down the chute. “Two in hot!” She called as 520 went down on the target. Kara saw the CO make his run, and the secondary explosions that followed in his wake. The ramp areas that had been built since the war started were her target, and there were MiG-21s sitting on the ramp. Those were the East Germans, she knew. Not a good morning, Franz.....Ignoring the flak coming up, and at least one SA-7 type missile that flew past her left side, several MiGs grew larger in her pipper as she came down. “And...And....Steady...And....HACK!” Kara hit her pickle button, and her dozen Rockeyes came off the racks. As she pulled wings level to head out, she glanced to the right, and saw at least one MiG-23 starting to taxi. Somebody might get a kill was Kara's thought as she pulled away, jinking to avoid flak. “Two's off target.”


“Sookin sin!” Son of a bitch, was Starukhin's chosen phrase as the second F-4 came in. Kribov looked at him, and nodded. This was shaping up to be a bitch of a day, and only two Americans had come in. He heard, then saw, two MiG-23s taxiing. Gutsy move, he thought. Still, not a good day to be an aviator. Then he noticed a third aircraft coming in, and ducked.

“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted from 520's back seat. “Multiple secondaries!”

Kara grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “How good?”

“MiGs and maybe a fuel truck good.”

“I'll take those,” Kara replied as she headed out.


“Three's in!” Sweaty called as she went on her run. She, too, ignored the flak as she went down the chute, and to her surprise, saw two MiG-23s taxiing onto Runway 17/35, which was her target. “MiGs on the roll!” she added as the MiGs lit their burners and headed down the runway. No more, Sweaty said to herself as she approached her release point. “And...Steady....And...And.....HACK!” She hit her pickle button, sending a dozen Mark-82 Snakeyes down onto the runway, though as she pulled up and away, she was wishing for Durandals or the Israelis' “Dibber” bombs. The two MiGs were nowhere to be seen as she cleared the target, jinking as she did so. “Three's off target.”

Marshal Krobov heard both the MiGs' takeoff roll and Sweaty's run. “Damn it!” he muttered as first, the two MiG-23s, then the F-4, rumbled past. Unlike the MiGs, the F-4 left explosions in its wake, as the bombs it had deposited on the runway went off. Kribov stuck his head out of the trench to have a look, and saw his personal transport now a burning wreck. He shook his head as two more MiGs-these East German MiG-21s, began to taxi to another runway, then ducked back into the trench.

“SHACK!” Preacher yelled from the back seat. “We got the runway!”

“How many bombs?” Sweaty asked. She was jinking, and also keeping an eye out for MiGs. Where were those two Floggers?”

“Enough!”

She grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “That'll do,” Sweaty replied. “Where's those two MiGs?”


“Four's in hot!” Hoser called as he came in. He, too, saw the MiGs do their takeoff roll just as Sweaty made her run, but knew enough not to go after them. That was someone else's job, he knew. Ignoring the 23-mm and 57-mm flak, he came down on Runway 13/31. Two East German MiG-21s were taxiing onto the runway, he saw, and Hoser also noticed the smoke and flames coming up from both ramp areas. Your turn, Franz...he said to himself as he got ready to release. “Steady....And.....HACK!” Hoser hit his pickle button, releasing his dozen Mark-82s. He pulled wings level and headed out, and like the others, was jinking as he did so. Clearing the target, he called, “Four's off safe.”


In their trench, both Marshal Kribov and General Starukhin took a look as Hoser's F-4 came by. They watched the two East German MiG-21s try a takeoff roll just as the F-4 released its bombs. One of the MiGs aborted its takeoff, but the leader kept going-and a bomb went off right ahead of him. Shrapnel from the explosion tore into the MiG's fuel tanks, and the MiG-21 caught fire-then crashed into the bomb crater and exploded. Kribov grimaced, then turned to the hapless SAF Colonel who ran the base. “Does this happen every time?”

“It can, Comrade Marshal,” the Colonel replied. He got up to look around, then noticed another F-4 coming in. “More incoming!” Then he ducked back into the trench, and the others followed his example.


“GOOD HITS!” KT shouted from Hoser's back seat. “And we got a secondary!”

“What kind?” Hoser said as he jinked-and a stream of 23-mm tracers flew past his right side.

“I think a MiG taxied in front of a bomb,” said KT. “He blew up!”

Hoser sighed. Ground kills in this war-unlike in WW II, weren't officially considered a part of one's tally. Still....”His bad day.” Hoser pulled away, trying to pick up his element lead.


“Five's in hot!” Dave Golen called as he came down on his run. He easily picked out Runway 17/35, and lined up the runway in his pipper. Unlike the others, he and Flossy wouldn't know how they did, for they had the GATOR mines-a mix of antitank and antipersonnel mines, and those were the perfect things to harass repair crews, wreck some of their equipment, and generally put the fear of God into them. It would take a day, maybe two, to clear the mines and get the runways back operational, and that was the point of the exercise. Though he wouldn't mind a fight with MiGs-and two MiG-23s had managed to scramble. Dave put those thoughts aside as he lined up on the bomb run. “Steady...And....NOW!” He hit his pickle button, and his eight CBU-89s came off the racks. Golen pulled wings level and headed clear of the target, jinking all the way. “Five off target.”


In the trench, the base commander heard Golen's F-4 come by, and, glancing up, saw the CBUs fall away. But there were no explosions in its wake. Having had previous strikes, the SAF Colonel knew right away what had happened. Mines. Right away, he knew that this field was now closed, and would be for at least a day. He glanced to the south, and saw another F-4 coming in. Another mine drop, he knew.


“SHACK!” Terry McAuliffe, Golen's GIB, said. “Good pattern.”

“What do you think?” Golen asked as he jinked-and an SA-7 type missile flew down his left side. He also armed his Sidewinders, for there were two MiG-23s out there.

“That runway's closed.”

“Hope you're right.” Now, Golen wondered, where were the MiGs?


“Six in hot!” Flossy called as 1569 came in on its run. She, too, spotted the flak, and glanced at her EW display. Other than that Mainstay, it was clear. Good. Those Weasels were doing their job. Flossy ignored the flak coming up, and a couple of SA-7s fired head-on, which didn't guide, and lined up Runway 13/31 in her pipper. She, too, had the GATOR mines, and held steady as she approached the release point. “Steady....Steady.....HACK!” Flossy hit the pickle button, and eight CBU-89s came off the racks. She, too, pulled wings level and pulled away, As she got clear, Flossy called, “Six off safe.”


In the slit trench, Marshal Kribov looked up, and saw Flossy's F-4 make its run. He, too, noticed the CBUs, and at first, wondered if the bomblets had been set for delayed detonation. Then, after the F-4 cleared the airport, he realized what had been dropped. Mines....He shook his head.

“Good hits!” Jang shouted from 1569's back seat. “You got the runway!”

“How good?'” Flossy asked, arming her Sidewinders as she jinked.

Jang grinned beneath her oxygen mask. “Good enough.”


“Rambler One-seven,” Guru called. “Get your asses down and away.”

“Roger, Leader,” Jackson replied. He and Napier in One-eight dropped from their TARCAP and overflew the field. Just as they did, Gledhill in the back seat saw them. MiG-23s. Jackson saw them as well, and called a warning. “Flossy, break right! Floggers Six O'clock, coming down.”

Without thinking, Flossy broke right, hard. As she did, she saw the two MiG-23s, and the two F-4Js coming in behind them. “Thank you, whoever you are.”

“My pleasure.”

Just then, AWACS called. “Rambler Flight, Yukon. Bandits, bandits, bandits. Two bandits inbound. Bearing One-eight-one for twenty-five. Medium, closing fast. Bandits are Fulcrums. Repeat: Bandits are Fulcrums.”


Guru heard that. “Kara, Lead. On me, and tanks.” He meant the wing tanks, which he immediately jettisoned, and Kara did the same.

“With you, Lead,” Kara replied.

“Rambler One-seven, Lead. Take the Fulcrums, we'll handle the Floggers,” Guru called Jackson and Gledhill. Then he and Kara charged back south, fangs out. Sweaty and Hoser overheard the calls and did the same thing.

“Roger, Lead,” Jackson replied. He and Napier broke off from the Floggers, who had just seen the RAF Phantoms behind them and had themselves broken off from Flossy.

Flossy, meanwhile, had done a 180, and picked up the MiG wingman. He had broken right himself when his leader had picked up the F-4s behind them. Nice try, Ivan...Flossy thought as she uncaged a Sidewinder and got a growl. A few moments later, she was in the Flogger's six, and he didn't seem to be aware she was behind him. “Steady....Got a tone!” Flossy squeezed the trigger. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9P4 shot off her left inboard rail, and tracked the MiG. The MiG driver reversed at the last moment, but that didn't help, for Flossy's Sidewinder smashed into his tail and exploded. The MiG pitched up, then down, and then plunged into Lake Brownwood, just north of the field. As it did, the canopy came off, the seat fired, and the hapless MiG driver was in a chute. “SPLASH!”

“Good kill, Flossy!” Golen yelled. He, too, was looking for the MiG leader, and found him. The MiG-23 lead was trying to pick up Flossy, but in doing so, he forgot to check his own six. “Big mistake, Ivan,” Golen muttered as he uncaged a Sidewinder. He quickly got tone, and squeezed the trigger. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9P4 shot off his right inboard rail, and tracked the MiG. This time, the MiG pilot seemed to be unaware of the F-4 behind him, and the Sidewinder flew up the MiG's tailpipe and exploded. The MiG-23ML fireballed, and this time, there was no chute. “SPLASH!”

“Good kill, One-five,” Guru called. “Any sign of the Fulcrums?” He asked Goalie.

“I'm tryin' baby,” Goalie replied. “Wait...two hits at ten.”

“Go boresight.” That would center the radar with the gunsight, and with auto-acquisition, that would give a full lock for their new AIM-7Fs.

“You got it,” Goalie said.

However, Rambler One-seven and One-eight rendered such preparations moot. In One-seven's back seat. Squadron Leader Gledhill had both MiGs on his AWG-10 radar. “Two hits at twelve.”

“Go radar, and lock one up,” Jackson said. He may have been a Flight Lieutenant, but as pilot, he was aircraft commander.

“Steady...and...GOT HIM!”

“Taking the shot,” Jackson said. “Rambler One-seven, FOX ONE!” He squeezed the trigger, sending a Sky Flash missile after the MiG. Then, recalling the briefing the previous day, and the experiences of both the 335th and the Marines, he squeezed it again. “FOX ONE AGAIN!” Another Sky Flash missile shot away.

In the MiG leader's cockpit, the CO of Second Squadron, 515th IAP, was surprised. The Major had been on a CAP with his wingman, a Captain and Pilot 2nd Class, when the A-50 vectored them towards Brownwood. The field was under attack, and that was all the controller knew. His MiG-29A had had an avionics upgrade, but his RWR couldn't tell specific radars-only if a radar was air-to-air or surface-to-air. Still, he and his wingman acknowledged the vector, and closed in, despite what those Voyska PVO trogs said, in Frontal Aviation, once you were told to go after the enemy, the controller was no longer a concern. That was fine for defense against bombers and wayward airliners, but against tactical fighters and strike aircraft? No, the Air Force's way was better.

Now, he had several targets on his NO19 radar, and selected one. He was trying to lock one up for his R-72 radar-guided missiles when his Sirena-3 RWR lit up. He'd been locked up. Then he saw a pair of F-4s ahead of him, and one fired. “BREAK!” The Major called to his wingman, and he broke right at once. As he did, he lost sight of his wingman....


Jackson and Gledhill watched as their two Sky Flashes tracked the trailing MiG. He broke at the last minute, turning left. The first Sky Flash missed, but the left turn solved the problem for the second missile....The Sky Flash buried itself in the MiG's belly, between both engines, and the MiG-29 exploded in a ball of fire. An explosion that big, nobody could have gotten out. “Splash one Fulcrum!”

“Hear that?” Goalie asked. “Jackson and Gledhill got a MiG-29.”

“I heard. Where's the other one?”

“Going left, and Susan Napier's on him,” Goalie said.

“If he breaks our way, I'll take him,” said Guru.

In 520, Kara was jealous. MiG-29? “Lock the other one up,” she told Brainiac.

Her GIB was busy. “He's good. Can't get him.”

“Fuck that! Keep on him.”


Napier was on the MiG leader's tail. “Six clear?” She asked her GIB.

Razor Wilkinson, in the back seat, had a look around, then replied, “Six clear, Susan. He's yours.”

Napier uncaged a Sidewinder and quickly got lock. “FOX TWO!” An AIM-9L shot off the left inboard rail, and tracked the MiG. The Sidewinder flew left, then right, then tracked straight for the MiG-29, but fired its warhead harmlessly to the rear. Napier cursed, then, still having tone, she saw the MiG reverse his turn, then she shot another Sidewinder. “FOX TWO AGAIN!”

The MiG leader saw the F-4 behind him, and the Sidewinder. He maintained his turn, knowing Sidewinders couldn't track a target pulling more than a 6-G turn. Then he saw someone's SAM-maybe a Krug (SA-4) come up, and he reversed his turn to avoid the missile. Then he felt a huge jolt to the rear, every warning light came on, then he lost control. Without thinking, he grabbed the handle, and fired his K-36 ejection seat. A few moments later, hanging in his chute, he saw the grey-painted F-4 fly past. To his shock, instead of the MARINES painted on the side, he saw the roundel and tail flash of an enemy encountered up in Canada. British. “What are the English doing here?”

Napier and Razor saw the Sidewinder track the MiG and detonate. The explosion took off the left tail and horizontal stabilizer, and the MiG, trailing fire, plunged downward. Then the canopy came off, the seat fired, and the pilot was hanging in his chute. Napier was tempted to blow him a kiss as she flew by, but held it. “SPLASH ONE!”

“Copy that,” Guru replied. “Ramblers, form up and let's get the hell out of here. Weasels, cover us, then get on out.”

“Roger that, Rambler,” Coors One-three called. “MAGNUM!” He shot his last HARM at a SA-4 radar, and his wingman fired his last Standard-ARM at a AAA radar that had come up. “Coors coming out.”

Rambler Flight got back down low, and headed north. Twenty-five miles to the I-20, as they got down to 450 Feet AGL. “Whoo!” Guru said in 512. “That was an E-Ticket ride.”

“You're not alone,” Goalie replied. “One minute thirty to the fence.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Two, where are you?”

“Right with you, Boss,” Kara replied.

Guru took a quick look to his right, and Kara was right with him in Combat Spread. “Got you, Two. Sweaty?”

“On your six, Lead, and Hoser's with me,” Sweaty called back.

“Roger that,”

Before Guru could call him, Dave Golen came up. “Five and six are behind Sweaty.”

“One-seven and One-eight with you,” Jackson added.

“Roger, One-seven,” said Guru.

“One minute to the fence,” Goalie called.


Back at Brownwood Airport, the base commander was already shouting orders. He'd told the Control Tower to call airborne aircraft and advise them that the field was now closed, and that alternatives should be sought. Then he'd kicked his engineers into action, and the slow process of getting the field back operational began. First, though, those insidious GATOR mines-which his people were already too familiar with, had to be cleared before any work on the runways could begin. He turned to General Starukhin. “Comrade General, may we use some of your engineers to get the runways clear of mines?”

Normally, Starukhin would have refused the request. But with the Marshal here, and Starukhin noticed Kribov's eyes on him....”Of course, Colonel.” He motioned to his Chief of Staff, who then relayed the order to the Army's 323rd Independent Engineer Brigade, as well as the nearby 10th Guards Tank Division's own engineeers.

“Thank you, Comrade General,” the SAF Colonel replied.

Then two downed pilots were brought to the Colonel. He recognized one, the deputy commander from the 92nd IAP's Second Squadron, and the other, though, was a newcomer to him. “Comrades,” he said. “What happened?”

“Sidewinder, Comrade Colonel,” the Captain said. “No radar warning, and as soon as I lost control, I ejected. Saw a Southeast-Asia painted F-4 fly past.”

The Colonel nodded. Two wings and an independent squadron flew F-4s so painted in this sector, so the intelligence reports told him. “And you, Major?” He nodded at the MiG-29 pilot.

“Grey F-4, Comrade Colonel,” the Major said. “But...it was painted differently from the U.S. Navy or Marines, and the insignia...”

“What about it?”

“The tail flash and roundel, Comrade Colonel. They were British!”

Kribov and Starukhin overheard that. “You are certain, Major?” Kribov asked.

Seeing the Marshal, the Major stiffened to attention. “Yes, Comrade Marshal. I would swear in court!”

Kribov had a frown at that. If the British could spare a fighter squadron or two, then they could easily spare a brigade-or a division-to fight down here, especially with the Northern Theater in stalemate. “General,” he turned to Starukhin. “You do have secure communications means?” With his Yak-40 now a blazing wreck, he was out of touch with his HQ at Fort Sam Houston.

“Certainly, Comrade Marshal,” Starukhin replied.

“Good. Colonel Sergov?” Kribov's aide came up. 'Get in touch with the Air Force intelligence people at Headquarters. Inform them of this development, and request any information on any additional American Allied forces in-theater. If the British can spare a squadron, they might be able to spare a division.”

“Immediately, Comrade Marshal,” Sergov replied.

Kribov nodded. “Starukhin, let's go to your headquarters. We have many things to discuss, and this morning's events are one of them.”


In 512, Guru asked, “How far to the fence?”

“Thirty seconds,” Goalie replied.

“Roger that,” the CO said. He took a look at the EW display. That damned Mainstay still had them. Though at 450 Feet, did they have a good enough track? That, was the $64,000 question. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats?”

“Rambler, Yukon. Threat bearing One-six-five for fifty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-four-zero for sixty-five. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru replied.

“Coming up on the Fence,” Goalie called.

Guru saw the twin ribbons of I-20 appear, and just as they did, the Mainstay radar dropped off. The EW display was now clear. “Roger that. Crossing the fence....now. Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.” He turned on his IFF, for the Army HAWK people were often quick on the trigger, operating on the “Shoot them down and let God sort them out” principle.

Once clear of the I-20, the flight climbed to altitude, and headed for the tanker track. After the post-strike refueling, the Weasels headed for Reese AFB and home, while Rambler headed for Sheppard. When the flight got there, they were third in the incoming pattern, behind a Marine Hornet flight and the Westbound C-141. When it was their turn, the flight made a flyby, and the four victorious aircraft did victory rolls, much to the delight of those on the ground. Then the flight formed up and landed.

As they taxied in, the crews who had scored kills popped their canopies, then held up fingers to signal kills, and the RAF people-those waiting to go out, and those who had come back, were properly ecstatic. The news crew was filming, and Ms. Wendt asked Kodak Griffith and Patti Brown-who had just come back herself from a strike, if they could send a story.

“Haven't heard anything different,” Griffith said. “But we'd best check anyway.”

“No guidance from the Tenth Air Force?” Wendt asked. She had fumed at the delay in getting out the story about General Yeager and his Yak-28 kill, but the AF had lifted the ban, and her story had gone right to CBS first, then Sydney.

“We'll make a couple of phone calls,” Brown said. “See what the deal is.”


The flight taxied into their dispersal areas-with the RAF using the revetments that Yeager's F-20s had used, while the 335th Phantoms went to theirs. Guru taxied 512 into its revetment. After getting the “Shut down” signal from his Crew Chief, Guru and Goalie went over the post-flight checklist. “That was a wild one,” Guru said. “Haven't had one of those in a while.”

“Can't all be milk runs,” Goalie reminded him. “But yeah, that strike had a high adrenalin content.”

The ground crew put the chocks around the wheels, and brought the crew ladder. After the checklist, Guru and Goalie climbed down from the aircraft and did a post-flight walk-around. Sergeant Crowley, the Crew Chief, was waiting with bottles of water for both. “How'd it go, Major?”

“Made some grounded MiGs go away,” Guru said. He took a swig of water, then added. “And a VIP transport. Somebody's going to have to go back to wherever in coach.”

“And Major Golen and Flossy each got MiGs,” Goalie added. She, too, took a swig of water. “And the Brits got a couple of Fulcrums off our asses.”

“Shit hot, Ma'am!” Crowley said. “Uh, sir...”

Guru laughed. “You can cuss all you want on the ramp, Sarge,” he said. The CO turned serious. “Five-twelve's truckin' like a champ. Don't change whatever you're doing, Sarge, and get her ready for the next one.”

Crowley beamed at that. “You got it, Major!” he said. “All right, you guys! You heard the Major. Get this bird ready for the next one.”

Guru and Goalie put on their bush hats, then went to the entrance to the revetment. Kara and Brainiac were already there. “Well?” Guru asked.

“Tore up the MiG-21 ramp,” Kara said. “And saw your VIP transport go up.”

“Who was in that?” Goalie asked.

“I'll tell Sin Licon, and he can put a query in with Tenth AF Intelligence,” said Guru. “Intel may tell us tomorrow, or they may never tell us.”

Kara spat. “Or something in between.”

Guru nodded. “Or that,” he said. “Sweaty, Hoser? How'd it go with you guys?” The CO asked as his second element came up.

“Tore up the runway, and Hoser there got a MiG on the runway,” Sweaty replied.

Hoser said, “Don't know if he ate a bomb or went into a crater. Too bad ground kills don't count.”

“Too easy,” Dave Golen said as he and Flossy, with their GIBs, came over.

“They are,” Guru nodded agreement. “Good work on those Floggers, both of you. That's what? Seven for both you two?”

Golen and Flossy nodded, then she added, “Seven for me, but Jang's first.”

Jang was smiling. “Flossy told me to expect MiGs when I took Digger's place,” she said. “She was right.”

“He'll be back next week,” Guru said. “But...we're getting two new pilots to replace the guys Yeager poached for the F-20, and you'll get teamed with one of them.”

“Sounds good to me, Boss,” Jang grinned.

Then the RAF crews came over. “Dave,” Guru said to Gledhill. “First mission in theater, and you get MiG-29s.”

Gledhill nodded. “They cared to send some of their best,” he said. “That's seven for me now, but Paul's fourth. Normally, I'd be with James, but our flight surgeon-and yours-decided he had a cold yesterday.”

Heads nodded all around. Normally, Flight Lt. James Bruce was Gledhill's pilot, but he had started a sneezing fit the previous afternoon, and both the RAF flight surgeon, along with Doc Waters, the 335th's, had examined him. The joint diagnosis was a cold, and Bruce had been immediately grounded for five days. “They do outrank us in anything medical,”

“Unfortunately,” Kara spat.

“Down, girl,” Guru said.

Sweaty turned to Susan Napier. “You've now got four, so be careful. Need to tell you what Guru there told us when Kara and I got to number four.”

Napier was curious. “What's that?”

“Simple,” Kara grinned. “Don't go looking for number five. You might run into somebody who's out for his fifth.”

“I'll keep that in mind.”

Just then, a pair of Dodge Crew-cab pickups pulled up, and Sin Licon got out of one. “Sin,” the CO nodded.

“Major,” Licon said. “We need to debrief. My RAF counterpart is waiting.”

“Let's get the MiG engagement out here,” Guru said.

Licon nodded, and he listened to the MiG-killers go through the engagement, with the usual waving of hands. “Okay, looks like Major Golen and Flossy each have their seventh,” he said.

Goalie chimed in. “And the first for Jang.”

“That it is,” Sin agreed. “Squadron Leader? Your crew and Napier's each have a MiG-29.”

Hearing that, both crews were pleased. “Thanks, Captain,” Gledhill said.

“You're welcome, sir,” Licon said. “Major, we need to get the debrief done.”

Guru nodded. “That we do. Let's get that done, then we all need to check our desks-even our RAF friends probably have squadron paperwork they need to take care of,” he said, seeing Gledhill nod. “Then we get ready to do this again.”

“We all going back out together?” Susan Napier asked.

“Depends on the ATO,” Guru replied.

“It is that,” Dave Golen added. “I've flown strikes with Guru's flight, then the next mission? I'm going with Flossy on a two-ship.”

Flossy nodded agreement. “He's right.”

“That he is,” said Guru. “Okay, let's debrief inside, then we'll find out what the ATO has for us.”
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  #469  
Old 09-22-2018, 10:43 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The RAF's first day of combat in Texas continues:



335th TFS, Sheppard AFB, TX; 0915 Hours Central War Time:


In his office, Major Wiser was sitting behind his desk, going over some paperwork that had come in while he was flying. One thing about having a good Exec, and Mark was a damned good one, he felt, was that the XO filtered out the wheat from the chaff, so that the CO could take care of what was really important. He took care of what was pending, then, his OUT box now full, sat back and turned up Shadoe Stevens' AM show on AFN. Steve Nicks' Stand Back had just finished when a knock at the door came. “Show yourself and come on in!”

His Exec, Capt. Mark Ellis, came in. “Boss,” he said. “Got a couple of things for you, then I have a mission brief in ten.”

No rest for the weary or the wicked, the CO thought. “Okay, Mark, what's up?”

“First, Kerry Collins needs a signature. He's already signed it 'For the Ordnance Officer,' and that means Frank. But he needs yours as well.”

“What's he after?” Guru said as Ellis handed him the form. Then he looked at the XO. “AGM-65Ds?”

“I know, we've got three dozen already, but he thinks we can use some more. Especially for Scud hunts or for going after armor.”

“He wants three dozen more, I see,” the CO noted. “And we can sure use 'em.”

“They're mainly going to A-10s and A-7s,” Ellis pointed out.

“So?” Guru said. “We use 'em from time to time. And who around here gets tasked with said Scud hunts?”

Ellis chuckled. “We do, Boss. Just reminding you, though.”

“And that's a good Exec,” Guru told him. “I did that for Colonel Rivers enough times. What's the other thing?”

The XO handed Guru a sheet of paper. “For your information and not action. Two new pilots coming day after tomorrow.”

Major Wiser looked at the paper. “New guy fresh from Kingsley Field,” he said. “OTS via the University of Oregon,” With the war on, ROTC programs had become branches of the respective services' Officer Candidate Schools, just as in World War II. “And the second....” The CO paused, then smiled. “Well, Goalie's going to be happy.”

“Her friend Cassidy?” Ellis asked. Capt. Corinne Cassidy had ferried one of their two newest birds from Japan, and had shared her Day One story at the Club, and even General Olds had been impressed, blowing through a flock of Hip troop-carrier helicopters like a hawk onto a flock of pigeons. She had even knocked one down with jet wash.

“You got it. She and the new Lieutenant get here day after tomorrow, then Firefly and Rabbit can get a week's R&R in Vegas before reporting to Edwards.” The CO was referring to two pilots who had been chosen for the F-20 program by General Yeager during his team's visit. Now, those two could hand things over to their replacements, hop a C-141 for Nellis, and get a week to blow off steam. Then the real work of learning a new airplane began.

“Our loss is Yeager's gain,” Elils noted. “And that's it for now.”

“Where you going?” Guru asked.

“Down to the Libyans,” Ellis said. “Get to give those bastards a lesson about how they should've stayed home.”

“They never learn,” the CO observed. “And they put so much flak in the air as if the practice is going to be banned five minutes from then.”

“That they do, and I know, keep Firefly alive. Yeager'd probably come back and kick my ass himself for getting an F-20 recruit killed.”

Guru let out a grin. “He would. Just be careful, you hear? It's not that I'm worried about Don Van Loan taking over as Exec, it's me and Don having to break in Kara as Ops.” Then the CO let out a laugh.

“And we all know her attitude towards paperwork,” Ellis laughed back. “Not a problem. Hey, I heard you had MiG company this morning.”

Guru nodded. “Dave Golen and Flossy got MiG-23s, and Gledhill's element each got a MiG-29. First time they've run into Fulcrums, or so I understand. So be on guard, Mark. If we ran into 'em, you might have the same problem.”

“Gotcha, Boss,” Ellis said. He glanced at the wall clock. “Time for my brief.”

“Good luck, Mark, and be careful out there,” the CO cautioned. “Remember: Do it to them before they can do it to you.”

“Always.”


After the Exec left, Major Wiser got up and stood by his office window. He listened to the rumble of jets, the whop-whop of choppers, and watched, arms folded in front of his chest. Then his reverie was interrupted by a knock on the office door. “Yeah? Come on in and show yourself.”

It was Kara, his wingmate. “Boss, we've got a mission.” She handed her CO and Flight Lead a briefing packet.

“Goalie?”

“She's gone off to round up the others,” Kara reported. “And we get two of the Brits again on this one-but not the same crew we had this morning.”

Guru opened the packet. “Okay, Karen McKay and Ian Black-hey, didn't they tell us yesterday he got a MiG-29 kill in a Lightning?”

Kara nodded. “They did, and I'd like to know a little more about that myself. Shouldn't he be dead?”

“You're not the only one wondering about that,” the CO said. He took a breath, then nodded. “No rest for the weary or the wicked. Time to get back in the game.” Both left the office, headed for the fight's briefing room.

“What were you thinking?” Kara asked.

“It's been two weeks since we've lost somebody. Razor, remember?”

“Yeah, and you're thinking we're due to take a hit or two,” Kara said. She, too, had been wondering about that. So far, since Guru had taken over the squadron, their losses had been light, with two birds down and only one crewman KIA and the other three rescued. But there had been a couple of close calls the past few days.....

“I'd say we're overdue for somebody to take the big hit, and then I have a letter or two to write,” the CO said. “That's the lousiest thing you have to do in the military, so Colonel Rivers told me when I got the XO job.”

“Which they don't teach in OTS, I bet. And certainly not in ROTC.”

“And Goalie would say not at the Academy, either,” said Guru. “School of hard knocks again.”

Kara nodded agreement. “Ain't that the truth.”

Guru agreed. “Sure is.” They got to the briefing room, and Kara opened the door for her CO. Guru entered, followed by Kara, and found everyone there. His people were causal, but the four RAF crewers came to attention. “As you were, people. For the benefit of our British friends, this is a base at war. We're in a active war zone, and there's a time and place for the jumping up and down foolishness. This ain't it.”

Flight Lt. Karen McKay nodded. “Sorry, sir. I know you told us yesterday, but...”

“Habits die hard. Good one to have in the rear area, but not here. So gather 'round, people.”

“Where we headed this time?” Sweaty Blanchard asked.

“Coleman,” Guru replied. “I know, we flew past it this morning on the way to Brownwood, but this time, we're paying them a visit. The town isn't the target-but the municipal airport is.” He passed around copies of the FAA field diagram, and the RF-4C imagery. “We get to put that place out of action for a while.”

“Who's there?” Kara asked. Though she had a good idea already-she had helped put the packet together in her job as Assistant Ops Officer.

“Suspected HQ for an as-yet unidentified Army-level formation,” Guru replied. “Which means Army-level helo regiments, short-haul transports like An-24s or L-410s, and a possible Su-25 FOL.”

“Frogfoots?” Asked Hoser. “Haven't run into those in a while.”

“Then we can renew our acquaintance,” said Guru. “Okay, ingress. Tanker Track CHEVRON is west of Mineral Wells. We top up, then get down low. Lake Comfort south of the I-20 is our first visual checkpoint, then we go due south to Proctor Lake, which is our second. Cross U.S. 67-377, then State Route 36. Once we hit that road, turn right to a heading of two-four-zero. Next checkpoint is a town called Zephyr, on U.S. 84/183. We keep going until we hit the town of Winchell, on U.S. 377. Then we turn right on a two-zeven-zero heading until the town of Rockwood, on U.S. 283. Then we go north, parallel to the road to the town of Santa Anna. Not the Santa Ana who ordered no prisoners taken at the Alamo and ordered the Goliad Massacre back in 1836, mind.”

“You'd have to be crazy in Texas to name a town after him,” Goalie chuckled.

“Or have a death wish,” said Guru. “Five miles north of the town, at the F.M. 568/F.M. 126 intersection, there's a good-sized ranch pond. That's our pop-up point. The target will be to the northwest. Make your run, then get your asses north. And stay away from Abilene if you can help it. The Army's got Patriot and I-HAWK there for Dyess and Abilene Municipal Airport, and we'd be coming in out of the safe-transit lane.”

Karen McKay and her people looked at each other. Bermuda had no SAMs, so....”And what do these people operate under?” She asked.

“Simple,” Kara replied. “'Shoot them down and sort the wrecks out later.'”

“Ouch!” Flight Lt. Ian Black said. “Ever lose anyone to those clods?”

“Not yet,” said Guru. “But I'm dreading it.” He went on. “So, make your runs, do the usual post-strike jinking, and make sure your last jink takes you in a northeasterly direction.”

Heads nodded at that. “So, Boss, who gets what?” Sweaty asked.

Guru pulled out a photo from an SR-71 along with a prewar photo of the field. “Kara? You and I are on the same target area, pretty much. I'm taking the prewar ramp area and hangars to the north. You get the southern area Ivan's built.”

“I'll take 'em out,” Kara replied. “What's the ordnance load?”

“The same for everyone,” said the CO. “That's six Mark-82 Snakeyes on the inboard wing stations, and six M-117Rs on centerline. With the usual air-to-air load of four AIM-9Ps, two AIM-7Fs, full gun, two wing tanks, and ALQ-119s for leads, and ALQ-101s for the wingmen.”

“Sounds good,” Sweaty said. “What about us?” She meant her element.

“You get the runway,” Guru told her. “Put it out of action for a few hours, at least.”

Sweaty and Preacher nodded. “Done,” she said.

“Hoser?” Guru turned to Sweaty's wingman. He tapped the photos again. “There's a small pond east of the runway. South of the pond is the fuel dump. You and KT make it go away.”

“It will,” Hoser replied. “Only it'll go up.”

“Do it,” said Guru. “Karen? How are you guys fixed?”

Karen McKay nodded. “Four L-model Sidewinders, four Sky Flash, both wing tanks, and a SUU-23 gun pod.”

“Good,” Guru replied. “Because I want you on a TARCAP. Orbit just south of the target area, kill anyone airborne, and do nasty things to any party-crashers. The MiG threat is unchanged from this morning, by the way. So pay attention to the southwest. That's Goodfellow AFB near San Angelo, and the MiG-29s your boss tangled with this morning likely came from there.”

“Will do,” McKay replied.

“Defenses, Boss?” Brainiac asked.

“Coming to that,” the CO said. “This is a suspected Army-level formation, so expect SA-4s in and around the area, along with the usual guns and MANPADS. No 57-mm in the area, but the airport proper has 37-mm and ZU-23s, along with MANPADS. One the way out is a divison-sized unit, also unidentified, but they do have SA-8. Make a few 'Magnum' calls if you can, and that will frighten the SAMs off the air.”

McKay's GIB, Flight Lt. Chris Fryer, asked, “What's that call?”

Guru had a grin on his face. “It means someone just shot an antiradar missile,” he said. “The Weasels or Navy IRON HAND guys call that out when a HARM or Shrike's in the air. The SAM guys have to shut down their radars or eat Mr. HARM.”

“A little deception, then?”

“Something like that,” Goalie said.

“There is one radar nobody's been able to take care of yet,” Guru reminded them. “The Mainstays are active, and one of them had us this morning,” he told the RAF people. “If you pick up a SEARCH radar to the south, and it doesn't go away no matter what? It's one of those.”

McKay and her people looked at each other. “Anyone doing something about those?” She asked.

“Somebody better,” KT spat. She had been shot down once herself, and had no desire to repeat the experience.

“You're not the only one wanting that,” Guru said. “Okay, weather's unchanged, and so are bailout areas.” He looked at the RAF people. “You guys were told about those this morning?”

“We were, Guru,” McKay said.

“Good. Anything else?”

Flight Lt. Michael Barker, Black's GIB, asked, “How many more, Major?”

“After this one?” Guru said, and he saw not just Barker, but all the RAF crewers, nod. “We rest, get something to eat, then two more in the afternoon. Unless someone starts screaming for CAS, then we're at it until sunset.”

“Be glad you weren't here in the summer,” Kara added. “PRAIRIE FIRE in May, we had three straight days of seven missions those first three days,” she said. “And that was the start.”

“That it was,” Goalie said. “We had several times like that.”

“That we had,” said Guru. “Okay, that it?” Heads shook no. “All right: gear up and meet at 512's revetment.”

Guru gathered up his briefing materials and as he left the briefing room, handed them to an Ops NCO who was waiting outside. Then he went to the Men's Locker Room to gear up. When he came out, with his G-Suit and survival vest, and with his flight helmet and oxygen mask, he found Goalie waiting, as usual. “You ready?”

“If we get more MiGs?” She asked. “I'm more than ready.”

“So am I,” Guru replied. He had eight kills, and Goalie had five of those with him. But Kara had nine at the moment, and he wanted to even things up with his wingmate. They went outside, and found Dave Golen and Flossy, with their respective GIBs, Terry McAuliffe and Jang, talking things over. And Golen came over. “Dave.”

“Guru,” Golen said. “Too bad we're not coming with you.”

“Where are you headed?”

“Some town called Sidney, northwest of Comanche. Divisional fuel dump.”

“Which explains the two-ship,” Guru nodded. “Okay, you hit MiG trouble, holler. I'm still Rambler.”

“Cobra for us. You have more MiGs than you can handle?” Golen said. “Call us and we'll be there.”

Guru put out his hand, and Golen shook it. “Done,” the CO said. “Flossy? You take care of him, and remember: he's your older brother from another mother.”

Flossy nodded. “Will do, Boss,” she said.

“Those MiGs were frisky on that first one,” Guru reminded them. “Not likely to change.”

“No,” Golen said.

“Just remember that, all of you,” said the CO. “Terry, Jang?” He said to the GIBs. “Keep your eyes open.”

“Gotcha, Boss,” Jang said. “First real fight for me today.”

“Won't be the last,” Goalie said.

“No,” Guru said firmly. “You all be careful, and have a good one.”

Golen nodded. “You too,”


Guru and Goalie then walked down the dispersal to 512's revetment, where they found the rest of the flight waiting. “All right, gather 'round.” It was time for his final instructions.

“Usual on the radio?” Hoser asked.

“It is,” Guru said. “And for our RAF friends?” He nodded at Karen McKay and her people. “Mission code to AWACS and other parties. Call signs between us.”

“Got you,” McKay replied.

“One last thing: if you see basketball-sized tracers? That's ZSU-30 and those are bad news all around. Two 30-mm guns and eight SA-19 SAMs. None of our EW gear has been tweaked yet to pick up their radars, so if you see those tracers? Abort.”

“Got you,” McKay said, and heads nodded all around. Those things were really bad news.

“Anything else?” The CO asked. Heads shook no. “All right. Get this one done, then we can get some chow, they turn the birds around, and we get ready for another one.”

Kara nodded. “As usual.”

“Unless someone hollers for CAS,” Hoser spat. He and KT had been shot down doing a CAS, and he, like the others, preferred to leave that to the A-10s and A-7s.

“There is that,” Guru said. “All right, if that's it, let's go.” He clapped his hands. “Meet up at ten grand overhead. Time to hit it.”

The crews headed for their aircraft, as Guru and Goalie went into the revetment and 512. Sergeant Crowley was waiting, as usual, with the ground crew. “Major, Lieutenant,” he said, snapping a salute. “Five-twelve's ready to rock.”

Pilot and GIB returned it, and Guru said, “Thanks, Sarge.” He and Goalie did their walk-around, and finding nothing wrong, he signed for the aircraft. Then they mounted 512 and got strapped in, followed by the preflight cockpit check.

As they went through the checklist, Goalie asked. “You going to ask Black about killing a Fulcrum with a Lightning?”

“When we get back,” Guru said. “And FYI, Kara wants to know as well. He should be dead, because that's like going up against Fulcrums in an F-106. Arnie?” He meant the ARN-101 DMAS system.

Goalie shuddered when she heard that. “Not sure I want to know. Arnie's all set, and so is the INS. Ejection seats?”

“Armed top and bottom. Check yours.”

“Armed as well. Preflight check complete and ready for engine start.”

Guru then gave a thumbs-up to his Crew Chief, who gave him the “Start Engines” signal. First one, then both, J-79 engines were running and warming up. Then Guru called the Tower. “Tower, Rambler Flight with six, requesting taxi and takeoff instructions.”

“Rambler Lead, Tower,” the tower controller replied at once. “Clear to taxi to Runway Three-three-Charlie. Hold prior to the Active, and you are number three in line.”

“Roger, Tower. Rambler Flight rolling.” Guru said. He gave another thumbs-up to Crowley, who waved to the ground crew. The chocks were pulled away from the wheels, and Crowley gave the “Taxi” signal.

Guru taxied 512 out of the revetment, and after clearing it, Crowley snapped the CO's bird a perfect salute. Pilot and GIB returned it, then taxied towards the runway in question, as the other aircraft in the flight followed. When they got to the holding area, there was another 335th flight-and Guru recognized the XO's tail number ahead of them, and number one was a four-ship of Marine F/A-18s.

The Marines went, then Mark Ellis' flight taxied onto the runway. Rambler Flight taxied into the holding area, and the armorers removed the weapon safeties. After the XO's flight took off, it was Rambler's turn. “Tower, Rambler Lead requesting taxi for takeoff.”

“Rambler Lead, Tower. Clear to taxi for takeoff. Winds are calm,” the controller called back.

Guru taxied 512 onto the runway, and Kara followed in 520. A final cockpit check found everything ready, and both Guru and Goalie took a look at 520 in their Five O'clock. Kara and Brainiac gave them a thumbs-up, and they returned it. Then it was time.

“Ready?” Guru asked his GIB.

“All squared away back here,” Goalie replied. “Time to go make some Russians burn, bleed, and blow up.”

“It is that,” Guru agreed. “Tower, Rambler Lead requesting clear for takeoff.”

As usual, the tower didn't reply by radio, but flashed a green light. Clear for takeoff.

“Canopy coming down,” said Guru. He pulled his canopy down and locked it, and Goalie did the same. A quick glance at 520 showed Kara and Brainiac had done the same. “And time to go.” He firewalled the throttles, released the brakes, and 512 rumbled down the runway and into the air, with 520 right with him. Thirty seconds later, it was Sweaty and Hoser's turn, followed by the two RAF F-4Js. The flight met up at FL 100, then headed south for their tankers.
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Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

Old USMC Adage
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