Desert Tiger '76

This must have been a mistake. Why would the USAF invite me to participate in an operation where only the best fighters were supposed to face off in the Nevada desert?

In my career I learned quickly to not ask questions. Especially when things are developing in my favor. I had no intention to clarify an possible mix ups when this meant I lose my chance to get out of this cold and wet weather to finally see the sun and maybe even get lucky at the black jack tables.

Another benefit was, that I was going to fly with a legend. @MBot himself would be my flight lead. Rumours have it that he was the master mind behind the whole operation.

After a day relaxing at the pool and spending a good amount of my monthly pay in casino I was ready for my first mission.

MBot opened the map and explained the general situation and our first objective.

Basically everything north and west of Vegas is hostile. Expect AAA, Manpads and short range SAMs. Everything is spiced up by an impressive Force of Fishbeds and Fagots.

For the first mission, we were tasked to destroy an early warning radar just north of Creech AFB. MBot took target elevation from the map and calculated our parameters for manual bombing (something I still have lots of room for improvement).

Time to mount our rides. The local crew chief seems to have a strange kind of humor. They gave MBot and me the same tactical number. Our jets were equipped with a bomb rack and five Mk 82 dumb bombs, a pair of AIM-9P Sidewinders a full load of 20mm ammo and as much fuel a the internal tanks would take.

Our flight of four was taxiing to runway 03R. I’m #2.

Lining up we decided to not take any chances and don’t try any airshow stuff.

Rolling with a nice and safe 5 seconds interval we were airborne and all tires are still in good shape. This mission was already a success.

The laden Tiger is kind of a ground hog. It took us some time to get up to speed and the distances are not that big. We were slowly climbing to get out of the worst stuff (e.g. guns and SAMs) around Creech. The plan was simple: Do not overlay the hostile airfield, locate the target on top of the hills north of Creech, drop all bombs in one run, get the heck out of the area before the bad guys arrive.

The trick with manual bombing is, to be at the right dive angle, with the right speed at the right altitude. Retrieving these parameters from the bomb tables is an art in itself which MBot has mastered. I still have trouble nailing all three during my bomb run.

MBot was dropping first. From a mile behind I watched his attack.

“Shack!”. Good hits from lead.

But the EWR was still undamaged. MBot attacked the AAA protecting the radar. I already saw during my ingress that I was attacking other targets than MBot. Not to bad to deny those red troops shooting back at us.

2 was in hot. My view was fixated on the Pipper. I had a bad feeling when I dropped the bombs. Altitude and dive angle weren’t to bad but my speed was way over the mark.

I pulled out of my dive and began to pray. Maybe the spread will make up for my clumsy ingress.

I didn’t look too bad…

Well. Maybe it did…

That’s what I meant with room for improvement. Sheepishly I radioed my miss. I prayed for our second element being more competent.

Watching over my shoulder I could see first group of targets burning, the EWR still ok and some new craters behind the ridge.

But it ain’t over until the fat lady sang.

Number 3 was going in. And he looked determined.

Direct hit. I was glad and depressed at the same time.

We followed our briefed egress procedure. RWR was indicating that Creech woke up and sent some MiG-21s in our direction. We were not keen on fighting them in the target area which was literarily in the middle of the lion’s den. MiGs were going to appear from all directions.

I had lost visual on MBot and climbed unintentionally, a bad habit from my old days. He spotted my contrail and we formed up just north of Vegas. The idea was to hide cowardly…eh…tactically in Nellis Hawk cover.

[to be continued]


Very nice AAR i did this mission aswell :slight_smile: with @Sargoth and @Rafter … with not much luck xD

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Ah nice, this looks fantastic!

[AAR Mission #1 resumed]

During our egress there were no signs of our second element. But we could hear on the radio that they were kind of busy.


Number Three was dancing with two MiGs. His bombing skills seemed to push his self esteem to godlike levels

Meanwhile Four was eating some MiG bullets and made a hasty retreat with a damaged elevator.

Three was shooting a Sidewinder in anger, turning and burning like a mad man.

MBot and I decided to help and turned towards the area where we assumed the dogfight. We never heard of Four again but when we discovered the black stack of smoke in the mountains on our way back I cringed.

I concentrated on the things that lay ahead of us. Radar contact 4 miles out and a 21 spike.

I flew in trail to MBot and after he merged with the MiG it broke to its right, presenting me a great opportunity to saddle up.

MBot was fighting the same MiG but I radioed that I was in a better position so he disengaged. I was closing in to guns range and trying to get in the same plane of motion as the bandit.

Guns! Guns! Guns!

I ripped off his wing! Oh I like those dual 20 mm cannons in the F-5.

He’s ejecting. My first kill for this campaign.

MBot was observing from above and already turned toward another inbound MiG.

This time MBot made a lead turn to the right.

As both of them danced in the sky I sneaked up.

I was able to put some bullets into the MiG, wounding him. I climbed again to get an overview of the situation. RWR was chirping angrily and I knew we were not alone.

This turned out to be a bad idea. MBot was hit by gunfire from a second MiG. I lost visual to him and could not warn him.

Seconds later, the wounded MiG finished MBot off with a heater. I was full of regret and decided to take revenge.

Thanks to the fuel the wounded MiG was leaking I spotted him relatively easy and sent a Sidewinder in his direction. He blew up in a nice ball of fire.

Glancing down in my cockpit, I realized I had a master caution warning.

Looking down even further I was shocked to see merely 200 pounds of go juice left. I must have spent to much time in full burner. I had to disengage immediately. From the ATO I knew that there was a large strike package departing from Nellis after our flight. I could only hope that their escorts were nearby or that by some miracle no bandit would see me.

I don’t know how but I made it. When I approach Vegas city limits, engine number 1 was saying farewell. I knew I shouldn’t have skipped the emergency procedures chapter in the flight manual.
I was too excited to do a manual fuel tank balance and airstart.
Later I learned that you can crossfeed both engines from one tank. This would have been the best option. I also learned that it is better to lose engine 2 since engine 1 produces hydraulic pressure for some vital systems as I soon had to find out.

But for now I head to concentrate on flying the plane. I decided that I hade enough altitude and one engine would be sufficient for a landing. Just to be sure I lowered gear and lined up for a direct approach on runway 03L. Three green. All good, or so I thought…

I should have watched the hydraulic pressure instrument. Of course I didn’t notice at this time and was up for some nasty surprise.

A tad high but I had to account for engine number 2 saying goodbye any second. Another Master Caution but I was commited on this approach. Better make it count.

Flaring at 145 knots. AOA slighly low. Alignment looks good. Enough energy to grease her down.

No hook necessary.

As I rolled out, I used luxury features like wheel brakes and nosewheel steering which are all fed by utility hydraulics. Again a glance to that instrument would have opened my eyes. Instead I only felt something is wrong. Brakes had no effects and as I got slower I could not keep alignment with the runway. I was pushing down on my pedals with absolutely no effect.

But again I was lucky. I drifted off the runway and came to a smooth stop between Nellis’ two main runways.

When I returned to the O’Club I learned that Three was eventually overwhelmed in his dogfight and never made it back to base. MBot on the other hand was picked up by CSAR after his ejection.

That was an exciting first mission. I wondered what we would encounter the next time.


Mission 1 - April 6, 1976 (H+1), 09:25

You have been tasked with striking 102 EWR Site. The target has been hit and sustained 100% damage. 102 EWR Site has been completely destroyed.

102 EWR Site (0%)

  • 102 Radar (destroyed)
  • 102 Command Post (destroyed)

Your package has scored 2 air-air kills while sustaining 3 losses.

Callsign Type Task Kills Air Kills Ground Kills Ship Lost
Colt41 F-5E-3 Strike 0 2 0 1 (Player)
Colt42 F-5E-3 Strike 2 0 0 0
Colt43 F-5E-3 Strike 0 2 0 1
Colt44 F-5E-3 Strike 0 0 0 1

Order of Battle:

Blue Air Units:
Unit Type Base Kills Air Kills Ground Kills Ship Lost Damaged Ready
64 FWS F-5E-3 Nellis AFB 4 (+4) 7 (+7) 0 4 (+4) 0 14 (-4)
65 FWS F-5E-3 Reserves 0 0 0 0 0 30
963 AWCS E-3A Nellis AFB 0 0 0 0 0 2
171 ARW KC-135 Nellis AFB 0 0 0 0 0 4
40 TAS C-130 Nellis AFB 0 0 0 0 0 1
41 TAS C-130 Laughlin 0 0 0 0 0 2

Red Air Units:
Unit Type Base Kills Air Kills Ground Kills Ship Lost Damaged Ready
1./76.IAP MiG-21Bis Tonopah AFB 0 0 0 1 (+1) 0 11 (-1)
2./76.IAP MiG-21Bis Reserves 0 0 0 0 0 24
I./JG-8 MiG-21Bis Creech AFB 0 0 0 2 (+2) 0 10 (-2)
II./JG-8 MiG-21Bis Beatty 0 0 0 0 0 3
III./JG-8 MiG-21Bis Reserves 0 0 0 0 0 9
1./26.PLM MiG-21Bis Groom Lake AFB 2 (+2) 0 0 4 (+4) 0 8 (-4)
2./26.PLM MiG-21Bis Reserves 0 0 0 0 0 12
1./17.SLP MiG-15bis Pahute Airstrip 0 0 0 0 0 5
2./17.SLP MiG-15bis Lincoln 0 0 0 0 0 6
3./17.SLP MiG-15bis Reserves 0 0 0 0 0 6
1.OSAP An-26B Tonopah Airport 0 0 0 0 0 2
2.OSAP An-26B Tonopah AFB 0 0 0 0 0 1
3.OSAP An-26B Groom Lake AFB 0 0 0 0 0 1

Red Ground Assets:
101 EWR Site 100%
102 EWR Site 0% (-100%)
103 EWR Site 100%
104 EWR Site 100%
201 SA-6 Gainful Site A-1 100%
202 SA-6 Gainful Site A-2 100%
203 SA-6 Gainful Site A-3 100%
204 SA-6 Gainful Site B-1 100%
205 SA-6 Gainful Site B-2 100%
206 SA-3 Goa Site C-1 100%
207 SA-3 Goa Site C-2 100%
208 SA-3 Goa Site D-1 100%
209 SA-3 Goa Site D-2 100%
210 SA-3 Goa Site D-3 100%
211 SA-8 Gecko Battery Tonopah AFB 100%
301 Tonopah AFB 100%
302 Groom Lake AFB 100%
303 Creech AFB 62% (-37%)
304 Pahute Airstrip 100%
305 Beatty Airport 100%
306 Lincoln County Airport 100%
307 Altes Lager Ammunition Depot 100%
308 Airfield Target Altes Lager N 100%
309 Airfield Target Altes Lager S 100%
310 Airfield Target 74B 100%
401 8th Army Forward Command Post 100%
402 8th Army Field HQ 100%
403 8th Army Rear Command Post 100%
404 8th Army Field Maintenance Depot 100%
405 8th Army Field POL Depot 100%
406 8th Army Field Supply Depot 100%
407 8th Army ELINT Station 100%
408 8th Army Radio Relay Station 100%
409 8th Army Helicopter FARP 100%
410 8th Army Smerch Btry-1 100%
411 8th Army Smerch Btry-2 100%
412 8th Army Smerch Btry-3 100%
501 5th Artillery Division/1.Btry 100%
502 5th Artillery Division/2.Btry 100%
503 5th Artillery Division/3.Btry 100%
504 5th Artillery Division/4.Btry 100%
601 TF Venera Tank Co-1 100%
602 TF Venera Tank Co-2 100%
603 TF Venera MR Co 100%
604 TF Venera Artillery Battery 100%
605 TF Venera MLRS Battery 100%
701 Bioweapons Research Facility 100%
702 Chemical Weapons Production Complex 100%
703 Industrial POL Depot 100%
801 Caliente Railroad Yard 100%
802 Caliente Railroad Bridge South 100%
803 Lincoln County Concrete Plant 100%
804 Lincoln County Military Police HQ 100%
805 Lincoln County Occupation Gov HQ 100%

Blue Ground Assets:
Hawk Site 100%


Name Missions Kills Air Kills Ground Kills Ship Crashed Ejected Dead
miRage 1 (+1) 2 (+2) 0 0 0 0 0
MBot 1 (+1) 0 2 (+2) 0 1 (+1) 1 (+1) 0


Great write up :f111:

Awesome AAR. miRage still has some work ahead, as we are already 13 missions into the campaign :slight_smile:

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Excellent stuff. I have to confess here I have never done any fixed wing missions at all in Nevada. This must change!!! :grin:

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