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Summary: A large scale air raid against Tianhoucheng has been launched by Fighter Command of the Imperial Shirerithian Air Force, targeting airfields as well as the communications facilities and dockyards supporting the significant Jingdaoese naval force stationed in harbour. Concurrently an air mobile and naval assault has begun on the island of Diwangdao, but is already experiencing issues concerning coordination and alert enemy defences. Naval assets of the Western Armada and the Western and Southern Sectors of Coastal Command are converging upon the island whilst another Banner Group remains on standby out in the Great Western Sea, poised to confront any Jingdaoese ships leaving the Koningenbai.
Narrative:On the 5th of Kuspoor 1655, the Steward Waldemar Zinkgraven moved his forward headquarters to Tuulersbýur, a backwater Batavian city on the western coast which overlooked the approaches to Koningebai from the Great Western Sea, where the senior Imperial magisters, admirals and air marshals of the Western Benacia Garrison – what was now effectively the Batavian Front – gathered. The assembled commanders of the Imperial Forces assembled at the Jómsborg Palace accompanied by their mistresses, field wives, the so-called officer companions, and a medley of catamites and tea dancers. The champagne flowed freely, along with caviar, methaqualone and various flavours of chai served by the moon-buttocked dancers with glazed expressions, and not even the increasingly grim news from Carama Bay could dampen the mood of the assembled officers.
At 5:45 on the following morning, as the party wound down and a thoroughly spent Steward dismissed his companions to return to their chambers, air raid sirens sounded all over Batavia, Oleslaad and the Froyalanish National Reserve.
Nearly all of No.9 Group's 200 combat aircraft were committed to an air strike against Tianhoucheng ('s Koningenwaarde), targeting primarily the Western Fleet communications headquarters and the airfields of the 7th Air Support Corps, with only the 24 N-1 fighters of 110 Squadron held back to patrol the air space of Shirerithian Batavia. Repeating the tactics employed in Dalmacija, the F-8 Shrikes, operating at the edge of their combat radius, flew in at an altitude of 200 feet, and broke the sound barrier as they approached the heavily fortified Jingdaoese enclave. The majority lofted a mix of JDAM and Paveway IV bombs towards the hardened aircraft hangers, the fuel depots and munitions dumps of the Jingdaoese airfields. 6 of the 24 Shrikes however were equipped with the AGM-88 HARM missile and were instructed to use these to engage any active radar transmitter.
Without the benefit of the preliminary wailing banshee bombardment, the Shrikes were obliged to reduce their bomb-load in order to carry a brace of AIM-120 AMRAAMs each, in addition to the wingtip mounted ASRAAM. With both land based and carrier borne aviation known to be active in the enclave, a lively reception was anticipated.
The job of hitting the First Battle Fleet's command and control and shore based infrastructure fell to the A-6 Pundarikams, the so-called counter-biological strike aircraft whose absence on account of the war was a source of consternation to those who lived under the shadow of the Tee-al. Carrying a pair of AGM-65 Maverick missiles for attack and a couple of AIM-9L Sidewinders for self-defence, the Pundarikam pilots would find the raiding of dockyards to be a welcome change of pace to the perpetual knocking over of oversized hamsters, albeit one with its own set of not inconsiderable perils. Flying at a height of 4,000 metres, the Pundarikams were relying upon the initial foray of the Shrikes to have had the desired effect in disrupting enemy air defences.
In the next wave of the attack came the 120 T2 Saeqeh light attack aircraft, each equipped with 4 50mm rocket pods and a centrelined fuel tank. Their mission was to swarm the skies over Tianhoucheng in the wake of the chaos caused by the intrusion of the Shrikes and to strafe any targets of opportunity that presented themselves, particularly armoured vehicles or artillery, but especially any Raven or Ku-205 aircraft caught on the runways.
The Shrikes, their attack runs complete, would retire to the south-east and gain altitude in order to rendezvous with the lumbering Spiegelflügel-Taubes of 109 Operational Support Squadron for refuelling. Those with missiles to spare would join the N-1 Tactical Fighters in mounting a combat air patrol for as long as their endurance permitted, whilst those who had expended their last missile or suffered at the hands of Ravens would be vectored to return to No. 9 Group's dispersal airfields around Lugdunum.
These antics were not however the main focus of the day's operations.
A certain clause in the Slavegate Treaty of Treaty of Peace and Civility between Shireroth and the bothersomely independent minded inner-Benacian state of Kalgachia, had mandated the creation of a Military Coordination Council for the purposes of deconfliction. It was a call made on the “Benacian Hot Line” established by this Council, at around 4am, which had resulted in the last aid flight dumping its contents rather unceremoniously on the tarmac of the Diwangdao flight line and loading all the aid workers aboard for the flight home. The Jingdaoese, ever perceptive and shrewd, were quickly able to discern that something was amiss.Spoiler!
So it was then that the ZNS Schneckenrad un Schnecke, an Elwynn-class corvette with a Lieutenant Commander Gustav Hoist at the helm, received a nasty shock when, whilst conducting a radar sweep of the southern coast of Diwangdao island, it detected a prominent surface contact on a south-westerly bearing converging with its own position. Thoroughly alarmed, the Lieutenant Commander broke radio silence to alert the fleet of the oncoming contact and loosed all four of his onboard Banshee cruise missiles at the unidentified radar contact before making a sharp 90 degree course correction heading due west at as fast a rate of knots as he could muster.
Commodore Llyn Inurion, the commander of the Seeburg Flotilla aboard the ZNS Stirnrad and a long-time veteran of the coastal waters of Batavia, swore inwardly as he ordered the remaining five ships of his command, organised in a line abreast with a gap of 4km between each corvette to shift their turbines and proceed at all speed converging towards the target. Following the example of their Commodore, the remaining commanders loosed off a Banshee apiece at the contact. The onboard Panopticon Node, with its integrated human Dokhtar-e Ahriman, strained every available circuit and neuron to provide the operations room with a confirmation of the identity of the contact, but in his heart, with mounting dread, Llyn knew that he had blundered into the path of the HLS Gradus. The temptation must have been to loft every last Banshee at the target and turn tail, yet the battleship must have escorts – there would be other contacts to engage before the corvettes could close to torpedo range with the vast Kattei behemoth. In an act that would become familiar, both off Diwangdao and in Carama Bay, Llyn gave the order for his ships to zigzag. The monstrous 46cm guns of the Gradus had an effective range of 25 km but their reach could extend twice as far.
With his crew at battle stations, and in the full and certain knowledge that he was probably proceeding to his doom, Llyn sent one final encrypted signal to the fleet: “Have engaged the enemy at these coordinates.”
The signal gave pause to the commander of the Šlomxala Flotilla, Commodore Augustus Price, whose six Protector-class patrol ships were little more than armed launchpads for light helicopters. Moreover his ships lacked the helicopters. Approaching Diwangdao from the south-east, his only recourse was a 25mm naval gun. He might as well try to engage the enemy with a pea-shooter. Were it not for the reports of increased Tee-al activity in the region he would have given very real consideration to putting into Klymhigh to wait out developments.
Also in receipt of the transmission was the Noor Banner Group of the Western Armada. A long ways away over the horizon, having left MoMA Station Sabatini, it's carrier-borne aviation was out of range for the present moment. The Noor had been timed to arrive after enemy surface combatants and aviation had been eliminate in order to conduct secondary landings on Diwangdao. Now, with surprise lost, its forces were required sooner than they could be expected – immediately in fact. The plan was beginning to unravel.
A third leg of the operation, the airlift by airship and gravimetric pinnace, of special forces troops of S.W.O.R.D. directly into the heart of Diwangdao, was cancelled with the revelation of Jingdaoese naval vessels being at sea. Until the sea lanes were cleared the hybrid airships would be too conspicuous a target. As such, far from isolating Diwangdao's defenders from the rest of the island, the S.W.O.R.D. operatives were left kicking their heels inside the cavernous gravship hangers of MoMA Station Sagittarius, awaiting further orders.
Yet this was a plan that was not about to allow itself to be derailed by a mere detail like the absence of naval or air supremacy. The Steward intended for the Imperial Forces to further deepen the isolation of Tianhoucheng ('s Koningenwaarde) by establishing garrisons on the off-shore islands of so-called Jingdaoese Benacia. In so doing the Jingdaoese fleet in western Benacia would be either destroyed or neutralised, permitting the Steward to focus on his newly discovered ambition – the plundering and conquest of the Brettish Isles and Nova England.
The task of devising a plan had fallen to Constantine Loup, a disgraced Legate who had been consigned to the Auxiliaries ever since he had the misfortune to be the last person to see Tokaray al-Osman alive. It was probably only by someone's caprice or administrative inefficiency that Loup had not been caught up in the purge of Tokaray's old associates. In a dead-end career with nothing to lose he had devised a plan that was foolhardy and reckless – it had earned him the Steward's instant admiration. Like Loup, Zinkgraven had survived Noor's purges of the military and was willing to give a fellow co-conspirator a chance. The only downside of course was that Loup's name would have to be associated with the operation if it was a failure, whilst on the other hand any glory that ensued would belong to the Steward alone. Such was the nature of things in Shireroth.
The experiences of the Year of the Four Kaisers in 1644 had given Loup his inspiration. For many the defeat of Tokaray's Imperialists by Noor's Elwynnese had been just another disgrace to Imperial arms. One overlooked episode had resonated with Loup however. The Imperial Garrison in Mishalan had deployed a massed fighter, gravship and gravimetric vehicle incursion in an attempt to overfly Elwynn and send munitions and equipment directly to the beleaguered Lord Adam in Goldshire. The attempt had dissolved into a chaotic air-land battle over Araxion, but where most people had merely seen a disaster – Loup saw proof that the legions could enjoy freedom of movement in a contested environment. Not without cost – there was always a cost – but still achievable.
The only problem for Loup really had been that, having proposed the plan, he was then expected to implement it. Doing so brought with it the distinct risk of death, whether from the Jing, being trapped inside a temperamental gravimetric vehicle as it plummeted into the depths of the ocean, or else finding himself before a firing squad in the aftermath.
Of all the three possibilities, the second was probably the worst. Gravtanks, such as the Bandersnatch, which relied upon magnetic repulsion to achieve levitation, had a terrible reputation for mechanical reliability. As recently as Operation Bait Harvest in 1652 the Frontier Army had refused to deploy gravimetric vehicles on combat operations. The estimates were that anywhere up to 16% of gravimetric vehicles deployed in the assault on Diwangdao could experience mechanical failure. For a number of legionaries therefore a terrible fate awaited; it would be bad enough being inside an 88-ton Bandersnatch as it crashed to earth from a height of anywhere up to ten metres, but if the repulsors failed over water, the four man crew would have mere seconds in which to scramble free before the weight of the beast took it and them down into the depths forever.
In spite of the interesting effect this had on the morale of personnel, Loup persevered with the plan. The attack would have gone in sooner but a succession of boreal storm fronts lingering stubbornly over Western Benacia had pushed the operation back into the second month of the year. Now, finally, it was time to go. In view of the risks involved, Loup, much to his own disgust, felt obliged to accompany the men attempting to make the crossing. It was going to be an interesting ride.
The 4th Legion (IV Legio Monterosa – originally raised in the Tellian Mandate, and currently garrisoned along a section of the quarantine line facing ) under the command of a legate who rejoiced in the name of Baugulf Seneca Șerban had been chosen to spearhead the attack. Their objective was to secure a landing zone around the mostly ruined coastal settlement formerly known as Staverden. The Legion, comprised of ten infantry cohorts, had been joined by six vexillations, or regiments, of armoured gravimetric vehicles, including the Bandersnatch gravtank, the Jabberwocky self-propelled gun, the Red Queen command vehicle, and the Jackalope utility transport (the designers of these vehicles, the Red Bear LLC, had become somewhat infamous for their naming conventions), each being a testament to the enthusiastic zeal – perhaps even mania – which had gripped the Imperial Forces for gravimetric vehicles since their creation by the Mishalanese.
The first wave of the assault saw two vexillations of “Velites”, specialist legionaries on double pay and exempted from normal duties who operated as the legion's scouts. The force, comprised of twenty two Jackalopes, carried 836 velites (out of the 1,206 scouts assigned), arrived at a little after 7am over the western tip of Diwangdao island. The Jackalopes, each equipped with heavy machine guns mounted at side doors, through portholes, and at rear ramp, swooped towards their destination.
Loup meanwhile, travelling in a command variant Jackalope accompanying a phalanx of nineteen Bandersnatches in the second wave crossing towards Diwangdao was clutching his seat grimly with no thought to the wider picture. His mind was still very much on the memory of the twentieth Bandersnatch in their formation, how it had slowed, wobbled and yawed sideways before lurching unsteadily before inverting and crashing, turret first, into an apartment building as the armoured phalanx skirted around the edge of Kingsrise in Voltrue. Loup, who had been promoted to the brevet rank of Dux so as to exercise control over the forces assigned to Task Force 94, as it was formally known, found once again that his faith in the utility of gravimetric vehicles was pushing up against an equally heartfelt desire never to be caught inside one as he presently was. Now, skimming across the surface of the ocean at a height of 10 metres, he was about to be reminded of what it was like to be at the sharp end.
Task Force 94 (Main Attack Force, only part of which will be committed to Diwangdao)Task Force 95 (attack cancelled, held in reserve)Spoiler!Spoiler!
Ardy: "Nonsense unloaded"
Summary: Full-scale attack on the Shirerithian positions in the hope to take them by surprise. Around 38,000 men from Tianhoucheng try to crush the Vth Corps in a desperate attempt to reach Davignon. From the south, 30,000 men (but without any armoured assistance) make the same attempt. The battle in the air, at this moment, is undecided but there is little doubt that the Shirerithians will soon rule the skies supreme. Damages at the docks are at this moment considered sever enough (and sufficient dangerous to the supply lines) to actually start the reckless assault on the Shirerithian defences.
The attack on Diwangdao had not really come as a surprise to the military staff in Tianhoucheng. Only a blind mole would not have noticed the troop movements across the border. Until now a relative kind of peace had prevailed: yes, there had been some small skirmishes, but neither side had launched an assault. The City of Tianhoucheng had, by now, changed into a city under siege: most of the civilians in the outskirts had been evacuated. Only the poor and those who hoped to earn a dime on the war had stayed. But still, ten thousands remained, as the Shirerithian Western Armada patrolled the Bay and had made evacuation a dangerous affair. The First Xindao Fleet and First Battle Fleet had mixed successes in protecting the convoy and hadd - till now - avoided any direct contact with the enemy.
Shaojiang Hendrik Muisterd of the 1st Batavian Corps had been entrusted with keeping order in the City. This decision had raised quite some questions among the other officers, who considered it weird to see a Batavian, and not a Jingdaoese, in such a high position.
It had been Jiangjun Todo Miyazuki who had made this decision. This officer had not only been known for his extravagant lifestyle, his love - perhaps too much love - for beautiful women and his unorthodox tactics and ideas.
Since the start of the war, Miyazuki had demanded from his junior officers and general staff to portray the war as a war of national revival for the Batavians. The Leeuwenbrigade, which had acted as a colonial force (consisting of Batavians) in name only for several decades had soon be supplied with modern equipment before the conflict had even reached its boiling point.
The group of Taoreta - Jingdaoese prisoners - had worked actively on the city defences under his personal command. Surprisingly enough, those men had been treated as well as - or even better than - normal soldiers. This had brought some surprise and irritation among the men. Today, however, Miyazuki revealed a part of his (in his opinion) cunning plan: the real Taoreta had drowned, together with a part of the equipment of the troops a few months ago. The men who had been working all this time were revealed to be the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th Banner Brigade. The 20,000 Jingdaoese soldiers immediately were brought in positions, as the moment to attack came near.
Moral was shaken: the humiliation of pretending to be prisoners - worse, traitorous and cowardly soldiers who had left their post - had left a feeling of unease and uncertainty. The Bannermen were considered an elite unit of the purest kind of Jing. Why use those backward tactics? Wasn't the Jingdaoese Army a proud military force, ready to battle each and every enemy head on? At least the Batavians dreamed of liberating their old homeland, but the Jingdaoese men could only hope that the Gods would show mercy on their soul for this backward trick.
Shaojiang Hendrik Muisterd visiting the Leeuwenbrigade at the frontline, right before the assault on Shirerithian lines.
Miyuzaki knew it was a gamble: it was now or never. The assault on Diwangdao would - if successful - make a victory in Benacia impossible and would eventually allow the enemy to strangle Tianhoucheng to death. It was relatively simple: the 21st up to 26th Banner Brigade (30,000 men strong) would launch an attack from Itteria in the hope to take the 2nd Batavian Auxiliary Corps and the remnants of the IVth Corps by surprise. They would push northwards with Davignon as final goal. At the same time, the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th Banner Brigade (20,000 men strong) and 1st Batavian Corps and 2nd Batavian Corps (18,000 men) would start engaging the positions of the Vth Corps and push southwards. The establishment of the new frontline would give some breathing space and possibly lead to the annihilation of the XXth and Steward's Forward Headquarters (West Group).
The day of the air raid had, however, brought quite some confusion. The positions of the Armed Forces had remained relatively unharmed, but news about the colossal destruction of the dockyards was worrisome at best. A repeat of the Dalmacijan disaster would mean, in this case, the loss of air superiority and the total destruction of any potential supply lines.
The Field Marshall immediately gave green light for an all-out attack, hoping to bring disorder to the enemy ranks. In the air, the air planes vigorously attempted to protect Tianhouchengs airspace, but seemingly to no avail.
The Jingdaoese and Batavian troops start the charge on the enemy.
The 37 Dolstier I's are thrown into battle to encircle the Vth Corps.
Honoured Servant of the Heavenly Light of Jingdao
The signs of an upcoming attack and invasion had been everywhere. Orders for the local garrison had therefore been quick and - honestly - almost desperate. Just like in Dalmacija, orders were given to remove any road sign (of little use on such an island, compared to the Dalmacijan provinces on the mainland), create road blocks and arm the locals.
Food reserves and other reserves were hastily evacuated further inland, to the hills and mountains. After an argument with the last remaining Kalgachian representatives, the reserves had also been moved (under threat of violence) 'for safekeeping' to the center of the island. Defences were prepared in a way that the garrison could retreat into several of the many caves.
At the same time, bridges, dockyards, airfields and oil reserves had to be blown up almost simultaneously. Promises were made to civilians and Batavian refugees that anyone who would fight, would be certain of getting a portion of the food.
In the meantime, an attempt was made to strengthen the old coastal defences. But there was little doubt that those would eventually fall in hands of the enemy.
Honoured Servant of the Heavenly Light of Jingdao
(OOC: My apologies for my tardiness but I've been more than a little tired lately so if you chaps will indulge me I'll try and knock together a reply later on today (Thursday) as there are several distinct engagements ongoing to be responded to)
Ardy: "Nonsense unloaded"
WIP - IN DRAFT
Summary: The initial assault on Diwangdao is disrupted by the presence of Jingdaoese warships combined with the counter-offensives launched on the mainland. The disruption obliges the gravimetric vehicles of Task Force 94 to confine their activities to securing the landing zone on the western tip of the island, in order to conserve the dwindling lifespan of their onboard fuel cells. A gamble predicated upon resupply, the arrival of naval support and the deployment of Task Force 95.
Infantry Cohorts and non-gravimetric vehicles were meanwhile redeployed from their staging areas to assist auxiliary units holding the quarantine line against the localised Jing breakout attempt.
(OOC: A lot of this is going to be predicated upon the assumption that the Type 94 37 mm anti-tank gun and Type 92 battalion gun are utterly ineffective against modern armoured vehicles and that most Shirerithian casualties are incurred whilst securing the perimeter of their initial landing zone.)Narrative:
(Covering the initial landing phase: 48 hours commencing 6th of Kuspor 1655 (03 Dec 2017))
1. Diwangdao – at sea
Following the barrage of missiles lofted upon establishing contact, the Seeburg Flotilla closed on the position of the Gradus and its frigate escorts. In the light of the early morning they came within sight of the island of Diwangdao itself, travelling at a steady rate of 27 knots. The five corvettes reorganised into a line of bearing with the ZNS Stirnrad at the centre. A storm front moving off the Benacian mainland brought vast banks of cumulus clouds rolling over the island and the naval battle being conducted off its leeward shore, the looming darkness being shot through with flickers of light.
The face of the water was increasingly lashed by heavy showers, forcing the corvettes to rely upon their panopticon yoked sensors and switched the onboard 40mm autocannon main armament to its tachymetric gunnery radar. The ZNS Zahnstange detected multiple contacts, possibly the battleship's escorting frigates at 64 kilometres distance.
The corvettes, in range of the powerful main armament of the battleship were obliged to manoeuvre furiously to incoming shells, a direct hit from which could prove instantly fatal and even being bracketed by a salvo of near misses might be enough to swamp the lesser vessels as they ploughed through churning seas.
The race was on to get inside the range of the main armament and to close to a range from which torpedoes could be launched.2. Diwangdao - In the Air
3. Diwangdao - Ashore
Last edited by Thorgils Tarjeisson on Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ardy: "Nonsense unloaded"
DRAFT - WIP
(OOC: I'm trying to piece this together incrementally as I'd just gotten massively bogged down.)Summary: Breakout of forces from Tianhoucheng is successful, breaching the quarantine line and causing the native auxiliary forces to collapse in disarray. The objective of encircling the V Legion however proved elusive as superiority in armoured fighting vehicles allowed it to fight its way clear albeit with severe losses amongst the legionaries and the loss of the legion's castra (fortified forward operations base).
The attack into the southern quarantine line, as the IV Legion committed its mobile assets to the assault on Diwangdao caused considerable confusion, but without armoured support the Jingdaoese must be considered to have fared more poorly, setting the stage for a grinding attritional battle.
Ardy: "Nonsense unloaded"