Fuldapocalypse Week In Review 2/17-2/23

Under the experimental “three books a week” schedule, this past week I reviewed three books on Fuldapocalypse, my other blog.

Carrier: Enemies – A book with horrible fundamentals (as in, the plot involving the main antagonist is ultimately left unfinished), but which attracted my attention via an enemy bizarre even by 90s technothriller standards (Greece)

Strikemasters – A Mack Maloney treat. Maloney is not afraid to go “Prepare book for ludicrous speed”, and he can do genuine drama as well in this tale of super C-17s.

Death Watch – The final book in Jerry Ahern’s decade-plus epic soap opera that had long ceased to be post-apocalyptic in the slightest. In my opinion, primarily interesting for seeing “what does the twenty-seventh book in a prolonged series truly look like?”

Good Fiction Spotlight: Raven One

So, I’ve torn into enough bad military fiction to go, “What about good military fiction?” And so I’ll answer it by pointing to a guilty-pleasure cheap thriller favorite ebook of mine: Kevin Miller’s Raven One.

Written by a naval aviator, it covers the adventures of a few aircraft carrier pilots as they fight in the Middle East. Now I’ve mentioned it before, but thought I should go into some more detail as to why I like it so much.

It’s not perfect, it still has some perspective-jumping, still has a lot of technical overdetail, still isn’t exactly the deepest in its plot or characterization. But it’s got a recognizable main character. Some of the perspective shifts make sense, as it shows the team of fighters in an individual battles. It feels overall like part of a whole. The enemy is given a handicap to make them stronger, not weaker, while at the same time not being monstrously overhyped. And for the jargon, there’s a sense of immediacy, of being there in the fighter with the heroes.

Having seen the pitfalls of what the genre can fall into, I can say that Raven One avoids a lot of them. And for that reason alone, it’s well worth a read.

Command Semi-Fiction: Pearl Harbor

Today is a Command Fiction day, but it’s also the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. So, what should I do?

Link back to the old Final Countdown reenactment in Command, of course. And ponder something about the date the movie was made. If it had been made a few years later and/ or been a potboiler book with no need to worry about budgets, would it have been, like the scenario was, a triumphalist tale of 1980 airpower crushing the 1941 IJN with the carrier strike going through? (Given the infamous Japan Inc fears of the time, it might be included just for that purpose.)

Interesting how pop culture can change quickly.

Command Fiction: Le Phenix

This vignette is based on my scenario Phoenix of Indochina. When I saw the carrier Hosho in the database, my love of oddball units made me think I had to use it. So I did. Here’s a fictional essay talking about pop-history “worst of ____” lists, and defending it.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Most of the sailors who served aboard the Le Phénix hated the ship. There was a legitimate fear that it wouldn’t be able to reach Indochina. That fear proved unfounded. There were concerns its jury-rigged deck couldn’t handle air ops at all. Those fears proved unfounded as well. Thus, the ship cannot be considered a truly “poor” warship.

The ship was intended to plug the carrier gap. This it did, and its oddball surplus arsenal was no different from the other forces in the region-not in the least the Japanese surplus planes used by the fledgling PLAAF. Dozens of sorties were launched, and a tail-gunner from the group even scored the Aéronavale‘s first air to air kill.

The deterrent effect its fighters had on the detachment of PLAAF Oscars was vital. Without them, it’s entirely possible that the Chinese “advisors” may have attempted an airstrike against French Navy warships. Thus, simply by existing, hundreds of lives may have been saved by the “ugly firebird”.

 

 

An exercise in excessive force

So, when repeatedly flipping through the Command scenario generator, I discovered the “South American Tuna Wars”. Reading more about it, my interest was raised.

(Long story short-Peru and Ecuador were seizing American tuna boats for unauthorized fishing in what was to become their Exclusive Economic Zones. In real life, the issue never progressed beyond small, often lifted sanctions before the US accepted the EEZ concept in the 1980s ).

It wasn’t making a scenario based on it (which would probably be either a nonviolent enforcement exercise in all plausibility) that held the most appeal to me. No, it was thinking of the concept for a deployment based on the notion that the two nations were preparing to sucker punch the Yanqui ships at any minute, and thus they needed a massive guardian force to counter that.

For basic screening, a few light warships, with endurance and then speed being the chief factors, would have done the trick. However, given their opposition in the early 1960s time frame, the following assesment was done by me.

  • Peru possessed a pair of cruisers. Therefore, a similar, if not bigger ship was necessary to counter them on the American side. For one editor experiment, I used a hypothetical surviving Alaska class, and for another, a conventional 8-inch CA.
  • Peru also possesses submarines, requiring ASW forces to have a surer counter. In an extreme case, American submarines themselves could be deployed.
  • Both countries have air forces, and therefore some defense beyond just increasingly ineffective AAA is necessary. A SAM warship, still fledgling even at this point, is a possibility.
  • Of course, there’s one ship that can do both ASW and air screening. Yep, they’re going to send in a carrier. Along with its immediate escorts, since what if they launched an attack on it?
  • And of course, the logistics vessels to support this armada.

And all for some tuna fish. This is a goofy exercise, but this take no chances and do nothing by halves attitude is a real one in real crises, and illustrates the reason for lopsided expenditures and deployments.

 

The exact moment I saw the problem

I’ve talked about about how my “Rollback” plan ended up semi-stalling, but there was one exact “ok-looks like this isn’t working” thought that hit me. So I’ll explain it.

The exact moment when I realized my “Rollback” scenario project was when I was planning Super Tomcats, naval F-117s, and maybe even NATFs launching as part of a large carrier mission-and then realizing that I’d be putting them against the same force that was hopelessly bulldozed by units vastly inferior to that.

I’m sure other scenario authors have had a problem like that.