Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Close Air Support

The Arcomet 887th were a 'remains' unit which had been fighting Orks Spinward of the Dynorwic Cluster.  They provided the majority of the close air support for 17 Korps until after the Cudlip Lines had been breached.  After shouldering the burden for so long, the arrival of other assets saw the remains of the Arcomet formations absorbed into appropriate Airborne and Armoured units.

But whilst they were a part of 17 Korps, they were extremely busy.  As can be seen from the following account of one action, the Cadian 144th LRRR had sent teams out to probe into the Hanogal Heights.  One of the recce teams had been ambushed and called for assistance.  Two twin punisher cannon armed call signs were in the vicinity:

Picture curtosy of Karitas, whose IG were the Arcomet 887th for a while.
So I was flying Hunter Six Alpha with Zeb, that is, Tech Bosun Fifoom as my WEO[1] and Lieutenant Anbert flying Hunter Six Beta with TB Jusea as his shotgun.   It was early days so there wasn’t the tanker on standby like we later had out over the prairie.  But we were based in Freeman’s Square in the middle of the city, so covering the high ground to the north and east really wasn’t a problem.

We had been over flying Jeao Balbosa and it was pushing dusk when we got a call from COC about a recce team[2] in trouble at a farm in the hills to the north of the Hanolag Heights.  When we got there, there was a pair of thunderbolts on station but they had been unable to penetrate the low cloud cover without risking hitting the dirt.

The team had a FAC and the thunderbolts had put us on his frequency and briefed us on their situation.  Some Preatorians had ambushed the team, the medicae was seriously wounded and the sergeant had had his lasrifle explode in this face when the battery was hit, wounding him in several places, but he was still ambulatory. 

The thunderbolts, unable to assist further, departed for their base.  They literally just flew off into the sunset. 

By that time we had found the FAC’s voxnet and could hear his commentary.  They had been forced into one building in the corner of the farm complex and were trapped; the Praetorians[3] were just holding their rifles up to the windows at arms length and spraying into the building on full auto, whilst the team were dropping grenades out of the windows to try and keep them at bay.

Well, we weren’t going to listen to them die and fly home for amsec and grox burgers, so we figured out that the valley ran north to south and if lined up over the farm, we’d have a few kloms to get in and hopefully not hit the dirt at the other end.   We made it down through the cloud; the Voss pattern vulture is VTOL capable, but it burns fuel so fast that we don’t really do it.  Besides which, it makes you a stationary target, which isn’t nice.  There were many layers down to about 3000 feet AGL.   We had no local maps and the ‘spex on the Vulture is not set up to navigate NOE at that speed in the dark.

Under the cloud it was practically dark already, the smoke and haze from the firefight just added to the FOW[4].  It was only just bright enough to see, but not yet dark enough to flip the ‘spex for night work.  There were fires in some of the buildings which added more smoke and cast light and shadow making it difficult to figure out what was going on down there.   Zeb said that we could turn the lights on and they’d shoot at us.  He was joking, but the team on the ground were fast running out of time.  Besides, at least we’d be able to see.

So we turned on the searchlight, the navigation lights, the landing lights, everything we had.  The two entirely expected effects were that we could see and that the Praetorians were now giving away their positions by shooting at us, we more or less instantly started taking small arms fire from the ground.  The heat was off the team in the farm and we had targets.  With H6B, we took it in turns and each made seven gun runs over the next twenty five minutes.

Having knocked out the heavy and special weapons (at least for the time being), the ground team managed to fight off the Praetorians immediately outside the building. So the team took the chance and ran for it. 

It was at this point that we changed to danger close gun runs, we were shooting over their shoulders in the dark as they moved.  When they were in the building it was easier to shoot close to them, but once they were on foot it was a bit hairy, really.  We got a bit too close at times, they were dismounted, running and carrying their wounded.  Every time they moved we could see the surface fire aimed at them, which to us was a self nominating target.

Most of the time we were shooting over their heads as we flew directly over them.   Eventually they got far enough away - 800m in the dark, carrying their wounded to meet up with another team.  The Praetorians got fed up with us shooting them, although they were pretty determined.   They weren’t gonna give up until they were beat.   Of course, there was every chance that the recce team were going to die.  Or we could crash and burn trying to save them.  Neither of those things happened in the end. 

We got a thank you from their Commanding Officer, which is nice.  You'd never get that from a Vostroyan Officer. 

[1] Weapon Engineering Officer.  The gunner in any close orbit command airframe.  In this instance, the Arcomet argot is to use the word ‘shotgun’ for the WEO.
[2] They were a six man team from the Cadian 144th LRRR.  They had been mounted in a locally procured technical, but this had been destroyed in the opening shots of the ambush.
[3] The Praetorian 5th had been the Devos XII garrison, they had thrown in their lot with their adopted world when it attempted to secede from the Imperium.
[4] Fog of War.

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