The Carrier Air Groups That Never Were

Command’s latest series of updates have brought a new array of hypothetical units to the forefront. The question is what units would be used in a way that would maintain plausibility.

A-6F

This is easy. The A-6F, being an upgraded version of the old A-6 Intruder, would replace older A-6E units.

Naval F-117

(Note: the biggest difference between the A/F-117X and F-117N is that the former has air to air capability and the latter doesn’t).

This is tricky. They can replace A-6s as carrier strike aircraft, or they can serve in small detachments (3-6 planes, numbers closer to a specialty plane like jammer or AEW than a basic attacker) to serve as niche attack aircraft.

A-12 Avenger

If the Terrible Triangle was made to work and became the Awesome Triangle, it would also replace A-6s. In what quantity depends on the degree of success-like the naval F-117, it could be either a full-blown replacement or a costly niche plane.

Super Tomcat

Trickier. Super Tomcats can easily replace their direct predecessors, as well as the A-6 in the long-range heavy attacker role. What’s harder to say is whether or not they’d muscle aside the Hornet family as well-whether the Super Hornet gets cancelled or replaces the original F/A-18 as a light fighter rather than as a do-everything plane depends on politics and funding.

SV-22

Replaces the S-3.

F-24 NATF:

Replaces the F-14 as the pure air-to-air fleet defense fighter.

So, for one of the carrier wings, not in a limited intervention/peacetime profile, but a fully-loaded major war loadout, composed entirely of hypotheticals (at least in the fighter/attack units)

12-15 F-24 (1 squadron, fighter VF)

24-30 F-14E (2 squadrons, fighter VFA)

12 A-6F (1 squadron, attack VA)

18 other (Ea-6, E-2, S-3/SV-22, etc..) (multiple smaller squadrons).

-This assumes a more balanced, offensive-focused deployment. For the threat of a continued Soviet Union or other opponent that posed a greater threat to the fleet, swapping one of the multirole squadrons for another pure fighter one would not be surprising.

-This also does not take legacy aircraft into account. Either unupgraded F-14s or those in the database that have the AAAM but nothing else can replace the F-24s, and Hornets (legacy or, more doubtfully, Super) can replace the Super Tomcats. The A-6F can be replaced by the stealth attackers or super/legacy Tomcats (Legacy Intruders were some of the oldest platforms in the fleet and badly needed retirement). The ratio can range from only one squadron of new aircraft on the carrier to one squadron of old ones left (i.e, the small force of A-7s in the Gulf War).

-Just because all the planes are on the carrier does not mean that they are all ready to fly at a moment’s notice. The F-14 in particular was a high-maintenance plane, and while Super Tomcats may have eliminated some of the clunkier components, its swing-wing design is still inherently time-consuming to service. So for high plausibility, put some planes of all types in “Maintenance-Unavailable” .

The Basics of Ring the Gong

For years this has sat inside my mind, being revealed only in conversation with family and friends. But now-now it can be shown in full.

I give you-the story and rules of Ring the Gong, a fictional sport I have made.

Ring the Gong was invented in 1879 by a British proto-sociologist named N. Amadeus Cobwell. Cobwell saw increased industrialization, increased mechanization, and increased automation (even in his time). To this, he theorized that the gift of manhood, the skills that allowed “humanity to flourish in its prime” would soon be lost, with catastrophic consequences for all of civilization. To counter this, he invented Ring the Gong.

The game has gone through innumerable rule changes, but the basics have not changed since Cobwell’s day. The players go into a huge pit that has padding (ideally) and netting on the sides to enable an easy climb. To score a point, a player must climb up to the top of the pit and ring a gong at the top-hence the name. At the same time, each team must prevent the players on the other team from doing the same. The players carry mallets in various shapes and sizes, and the game is very violent. Cobwell intended for nothing less.

Cobwell died playing his sport. The initial rules included two players on horseback on each team. On April 2, 1882, Cobwell was knocked into the muddy ground by an opposing player, and then trampled upon the head by one of his own team’s horses. The game went on for twenty minutes before the players even noticed his predicament, and he died several hours later.

But the sport did not. In the 1880s and 1890s, the sport continued hesitatingly. But it was not until the 1920s that it both flourished and developed into political gongism. One of the reasons why aficionados of Ring the Gong turned to political talk was because the game itself was becoming a circus. With both teams wearing identical seersucker suits, players banging the gong repeatedly, and lots of smoke and alcohol, it was hard to tell what was going on. Another was that, in the aftermath of World War I, political gongism-with its min-max philosophy, offered a way to solve conflicts.

The idea being that the state would be replaced by local communities centered around Ring the Gong teams, overseen by an international league/federation. The Gong Association was founded to great aplomb in 1919, and reached its height with the first World Season in 1932. Only seven hundred deaths happened during it.

Meanwhile, the game was forming into a genuine sport. A player nicknamed “The Mighty George” wore a distinctive striped suit-soon he founded an entire team, and uniforms developed. A rule was made-and enforced- that stated that players could only ring the gong once per trip up and that play stopped once it was rung. Positions began to develop.

From there, the unified history of Ring the Gong stops. My various concepts range from it being a slightly unconventional sport with the same focus on safety to a bloodbath free-for-all. But in all forms, teams are armies in their own right, with waves of brave-though-unintelligent fans backed by heavily armed better-trained “sweeper” commandos.
The effect of Ring the Gong on geopolitics is also varied, but the basics of the sport itself have not been-everything involves excessive violence and people climbing up pits to ring a gong and hit each other.