In August of 1968, the Soviets invade Western Europe. Operation Red Hammer becomes a virtual stalemate.
My squadron VA-12, The Flying Ubangis, has been onboard the USS Shangri-La, at high alert for the past 8 months with almost no action to speak of. A few of the Crusader jockeys have chased off a Bear or two, but nobody has so much as fired a shot in the skies over the Atlantic. The Red fleets are staying close to home. US transports have been sunk, and the Soviet submarines responsible have been hunted down like wild dogs, but all of the real action had been over Germany, until this week.
We've been called North. The Soviets, against all odds, have invaded Iceland. We need to take it back, or the vital supply lines to NATO forces will cease.
Right after World War 3 started, vital resources were diverted away from the Vietnam conflict, and the Atlantic fleet recieved some major upgrades. When I heard we were taking our last flights in our A-4C's, I had assumed that we would be transitioning to the E model. But when we arrived at NAS Meridian we were told we would be flying the latest Skyhawk, the A-4F. After my experiences with SAMs during my tour in Vietnam, I'm very pleased that I'll be flying a plane with the latest RWR and ECM hardware available. My wingman, Ens Lloyd however, is concerned about the "hump they've stuck" onto his "beautiful Skyhawk". When I press him to explain, he remarks "the Skyhawk is a gorgeous girl, and the F model is a gorgeous girl with a hideous growth on her neck."
The Shagri-La joins with the USS Independence and the HMS Ark Royal carrier groups to form an air and sea perimeter to screen a USMC invasion force from attacks. And the Flying Ubangis are the first Navy airmen to fight in this new theatre.
Our target is the runway at Soviet controlled Akureyrie Airport. The furthest west runway currently under the Reds' control, it is vital that we neautralize it as soon as possible.Scenic Akureyrie
This will be a deep strike, so fuel conservation must be considered. We take off and climb to 20k feet.
Some other flight around us:
A-6A on SEAD
Our sister squadron on CAS
Going feet-dry over friendly territory will let us stay high for a little longer before dropping to a radar avoiding, fuel-sucking low altitude.
Iceland looks like a bright, sunny Hell on Earth. Towards the North of the Island, we get into some interesting canyon terrain. Makes hiding easy, and flying fun.
We come screaming out of a canyon just South of our target, giving defenders virtually no time to react. I pepper the runway with two 500-ponders and two half-ton bombs.
That'll keep it out of commission for a while. I doubt that the Soviets have alot of heavy equipment available to make a quick repair. I egress at full throttle running thru a maze of canyons. There are enemy fighters in the area, but they won't find us today.
About 60 miles away from target, we climb back to a cruise altitude of about 28k feet for the flight home. Should be uneventful at this point. And it would have been , except that my wingman spotted something about 10k feet below us, heading West. It is a large formation of Badger bombers.
We dive on them, spraying 20mm shells, with no consequential hits. Climbing back up, we turn to pursue. The only problem is, those badgers are as fast as we are. As we give chase, a flight of Phantoms is vectored to intercept. We should leave this to the fighters, but we continue pursuit and nip at their heels like jackals in a lions' hunt.
The Phantoms get chewed up pretty bad by those 23mm turrets, but the bombers must abort their mission. We've done well to fend them off.
We're at bingo fuel, so home we go for a safe landing.