The following rules cover both Tactical Air Support (TacAir) and helicopter support in Fogo Cruzado, my variant of Crossfire for the Portuguese Colonial War. Only the Portuguese can use aircraft. Air support may be detailed as part of a scenario and/or requested during the course of a game. I admit these rules are a bit rough.
I want air rules that cover all the common air missions, uses existing Crossfire mechanisms (where possible), and are fairly simple.
The existing Crossfire mechanisms I have in mind are: indirect fire, pre-planned bombardment (PPB), reconnaissance by fire (RBF). And my own aircraft house rules
Call in Air Support Action
Only Government stands with radio operators can Call in Air Support. Unless scenario specific rules apply, that means Command Teams.
Call in Air Support is an action and the result depends on Government Activity. Government Activity is a measure of the government’s military activity within the area of operations. It affects how much support from higher level formations you can call upon. It is set by the scenario or campaign and has a default value of 3.
As part of a Call in Air Support action, you must:
- specify the type of support (Ready Support, On-demand Support), and
- choose the air mission (TacAir, Helicopter, etc),
- roll for success of Call in Air Support
Ready Support and On-demand Support
Aircraft are available from Ready Support or On-Demand Support. Ready Support is defined in a scenario (or campaign) and On-Demand Support is not, simple as that.
Ready Support is planned in advance, assumes the necessary communications are in place, and means aircraft are available for the player to call upon from the start of the game. Ready Support is always specified within the scenario (or campaign). Because Ready Support is pre-planned it is available fairly quickly, which means there is no penalty for Roll for Success.
In a campaign Ready Support is a side effect of a high Government Activity.
Ready Support does not cost victory points to call on. In fact not taking advantage of Ready Support gains +2 VP.
On-demand Support is unplanned. You have to use On-demand Support if:
- There is no Ready Support mentioned in the scenario (or from the campaign)
- Any Ready Support mentioned in the scenario has come and gone
Unless the scenario specifies otherwise, you can only call in On-Demand Support if the government force:
- is being engaged by enemy forces of equivalent or greater strength, only counting visible enemy
- and has taken casualties, i.e. at least one friendly stand killed
Because it is ad hoc, and there are many competing demands, On-demand Support suffers a penalty on the Roll for Success.
On-demand Support costs costs Victory Points. Unless the scenario specifies otherwise each request for On-demand Support costs -5 VP.
Choose Air Mission
You have to choose an Air Mission to call in. Each air mission is appropriate for fixed wing and/or helicopters. The aircraft for a particular mission must arrive (or abort) before you can call for the next type.
- Ground Attack / Tactical Air Support (Tacair)
- Helicopter gunship (“Wicked Wolf”)
- Forward Air Controllers (FAC)
- Airborne Forward Command Post
- Reconnaissance Flight
- Parachute drop
- Medical Evacuation (Medevac)
- Air Liaison Officer (ALO)
The Air Missions are all described below.
Roll for Call in Air Support
To see if the Call for Support action was successful roll on the Arrival of Air Support table. A poor result passes initiative (i.e. if you get a result where “No support of this type is available for the remainder of the mission”).
|1d6 + Government Activity||Support Arrival||Initiative|
|3 or less||Whether “Bad atmospheric conditions!” or “Request denied!” no support of this type is available for the remainder of the mission.||Pass initiative|
|4||“We’ll see what we can do.” No assets are available this initiative, but another request attempt may be made on a later initiative.||Pass initiative|
|5-6||“Standby.” Asset will arrive at the start of a friendly initiative on a 5+ on 1d6.||Retain initiative|
|7||“Support diverted to another mission”. No support of this type is available for the remainder of the mission.||Pass initiative|
|8-9||“In-bound.” Support will arrive at the start of the next initiative.||Retain initiative|
|10 or more||“Rolling in hot!” Support is available immediately.||Retain initiative|
+2 if a friendly FAC, LOH or ALO is on table
-1 if Rain (causing difficult radio communication)
-3 if On-demand Support
-4 if Storm
List of Air Missions
Each air mission is appropriate for fixed wing and/or helicopters. The aircraft for a particular mission must arrive (or abort) before you can call for the next type.
Ground Attack / Tactical Air Support (Tacair)
Tactical Air Support (Tacair) is fixed wing fighter-bombers conducting ground attacks. Once on-table fixed wing ground attack aircraft act in a similar way to off table artillery, but with some key differences. Each bound an aircraft is on-table the player must draw a straight line across the table, representing the flight path. The plane can only attack targets along the flight path, and is only susceptible to Anti-aircraft (AA) fire along this path. A fixed wing aircraft cannot engage the same target in two consecutive friendly initiatives.
As with artillery fire, failure to suppress or kill with an aircraft’s attacks does not end the phasing player’s initiative.
The ground attack process goes like this:
- Player nominates the target and type of attack.
- Aircraft executes a straight line move action (no pivot)
- Enemy player resolves any anti-aircraft reactive fire with potential to drive off or shoot down the aircraft.
- If the aircraft is not driven off or shot down, determine the result of the ground attack itself.
- Go to the next target on the flight path at Step 2
Each plane has a certain number of bombs/rockets, of a certain potency (HE/EFF), plus machineguns/cannon for strafing. A plane’s bomb/rocket load is roughly analogous to the FM of artillery. Bombs/rockets are treated as indirect fire for Protective Cover and strafing with machine guns as direct fire.
An aircraft can do one of the following each initiative it is on table:
- Drop one or more of its remaining bombs
- Fire a pair of Rockets
- Strafe with its machineguns/cannon
Anti-vehicle fire: Rockets fire at vehicles with ACC +1 PEN -1, and always fire at the Flank ARM. Bombs use Hit the Dirt’s Special Rule 7 Indirect Fire on Vehicles.
Helicopter gunship (“Wicked Wolf”)
At least some helicopter gunships in Portuguese service were called “Wicked Wolf”. Each bound a helicopter gunship is on table the player must roughly draw a circle (or oval or ellipse) with a single terrain feature at the centre, the circle representing the flight path. The helicopter flies clockwise around the circle so the right side of the aircraft (where the machineguns/cannon are) is towards the target terrain feature. The helicopter can target any stands in the target feature, and is susceptible to anti-aircraft (AA) fire anywhere along its flight path.
Unlike a fixed wing aircraft, a helicopter can engage the same target in two consecutive friendly initiatives.
Forward Air Controllers (FAC)
The Portuguese army and airforce used different radio systems. Helicopters had radio that could communicate directly with ground troops. Some Portuguese airforce jets used radio systems that were incompatible with those of the ground troops and needed an airborne Forward Air Controller (FAC), or less usually a ground Air Liaison Officer (ALO) or Light Observation Helicopter (LOH), to coordinate with ground troops.
A FAC is a fixed wing aircraft flying in the vicinity and observing the ground action continuously. A Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) is the helicopter equivalent of a FAC. However, these were rare in Portuguese Africa due to the scarcity of helicopters. For simplicity a LOH or ALO is identical to a FAC for game purposes.
If you have a suitable model then put one on table to indicate the FAC, LOH or ALO. This model is simply a marker and may not be targeted by enemy fire. the presence of the marker gives a modifier on the Call in Air Support roll.
Airborne Forward Command Post (posto de comando avançado or PCA
The infantry commander was often in aircraft, an Airborne Forward Command Post (PCA). This let them oversee the battlefield and direct the ground troops more effectively.
If you have a suitable model then put one on table to indicate the PCA. This model is simply a marker and may not be targeted by enemy fire. A PCA can direct a Crossfire by any friendly stands, maximum of five. Friendly stands can group fire under the direction of the PCA even if they would not normally allowed to do, e.g. from a different unit.
Both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters can conduct a Reconnaissance Flight. This is a single straight line flight across the table with the opportunity to spot enemy.
Plot the straight line flight path across the table. During the recon flight the aircraft makes a series of move actions (susceptible to AA fire) and RBF actions on terrain features and Insurgent Sneakers it flies over. A RBF is not possible on the same target twice on the same flight. This means the aircraft must move to take a new RBF. RBF succeeds on 4+ on any Insurgent Sneakers or 5+ on a terrain feature. Failure on a RBF roll does not stop the Recon mission; the aircraft can continue to move and make further RBF attempts.
If any of the rolls fail during the Reconnaissance Flight the initiative passes once the aircraft leaves the table. If the aircraft is shot down the initiative passes immediately. If all RBF rolls are successful then aircraft leaves the table but the player retains initiative.
All aircraft can undertake Reconnaissance missions however those explicitly marked Role = Recon are relatively good in this role. They get a +1 modifier to the recon rolls.
Transport helicopters are used for air assault, i.e. transport troops to the table top and evacuating them. Use the Mount / Move / Dismount options in CF11.1.2 APC Passenger Capacity. It takes at least three initiatives for a helicopter to land troops and take off again. In the first they move to the landing zone (LZ). They are now considered hovering about the LZ. In the next initiative the helicopter lands and the troops dismount. In the third initiative the chopper takes off and moves away.
This requirement to hover makes the helicopter vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire. It also makes the dismounting troops vulnerable to ground fire. The main thing stopping the enemy from rushing troops to to the location of a helicopter to shoot at the dismounting troops is the fact that the helicopter is likely to be armed and any enemy moving into range are subject to reactive fire. Troop carrying helicopters were often covered by a helicopter gunship.
A common tactic was for helicopters to land at several different LZ to confuse the enemy about where the troops were actually inserted. Rather than actual stands the player can dismount a Sneaker at each LZ. As usual the player must note which troops if any the Sneaker represents, so the Sneaker might be a dummy or real.
Some transport aircraft can carry paratroopers and drop them over the table. For each aircraft draw a flight path across the table, and through a Drop Zone (DZ). A Combat Group of paratroops can drop on each Drop Zone (DZ) each initiative. For each stand (team, command team, crew served weapon) drop a base sized of paper from 2′ above the DZ. The stand’s fate depends on where the paper lands:
|On structure, orchards or woods feature, rock or boulder fields, cliffs|
|Off table or in impassable water (lakes, sea, deep/wide/fast rivers)||N/A||Killed|
Paratroops cannot move in the initiative in which they land. Reactive and Ambush fire is conducted normally with the paratroopers counted as in the open in the turn in which they land.
Initiative does not pass if any are paratroopers are Suppressed or Killed due to the landing itself. Initiative passes as normal for other reasons for example reactive fire, failure to rally, etc.
Transport aircraft and deliver cargo. STOL fixed wing aircraft can do this on improvised and/or short runways, e.g. the main street of a village.
Use the Mount / Move / Dismount options in CF11.1.2 APC Passenger Capacity for unloading. It takes at least three initiatives for a transport plane to land, unload and take off again. Unload Aircraft is an action for the stand doing the unloading. A team that remains next to a landed aircraft for a complete initiative can make an Unload Aircraft action. It requires a 2+ to succeed.
Medical Evacuation (Medevac)
Originally STOL fixed wing aircraft were used for Medevac however helicopters were quickly assigned this role when they became available.
Use the Mount / Move / Dismount options in CF11.1.2 APC Passenger Capacity. It takes at least three initiatives for a helicopter to land, load wounded and take off again. In the first they move to the landing zone (LZ). They are now considered hovering about the LZ. In the next initiative the helicopter lands and the wounded are loaded. In the third initiative the chopper takes off and moves away.
Load Wounded is an action. A team that remains next to a landed aircraft for a complete initiative can make an Load Wounded action. It requires a 2+ to succeed. A helicopter or short takeoff and landing (STOL) fixed wing aircraft can recover four wounded each trip.
Fixed wing STOL aircraft can deliver troops on table. Use the Mount / Move / Dismount options in CF11.1.2 APC Passenger Capacity. It takes at least three initiatives for a STOL aircraft to land troops and take off again. In the first they move to the landing zone (LZ). They are now considered approaching the LZ. In the next initiative the STOL lands and the troops dismount. In the third initiative the STOL takes off and moves away.
Air Liaison Officer (ALO)
A ground Air Liaison Officer (ALO) was sometimes attached to a battalion HQ. They will have a jeep or some such with a radio that can contact aircraft. An ALO cannot be requested during a game; they can only be specified as part of Scenario design.
Like other passenger vehicles, aircraft have a passenger capacity. Aircraft passenger capacity is in slots where one slot is one military passenger in the real aircraft.
|2||Small Team||MMG Team, Bazooka Team, Mortar Team, Scout or Sentry Team|
|5||Large Team||Rifle Team, Command Team|
Landing Zone (LZ)
In Crossfire we are only interested in the landing zone (LZ) for a helicopter or short takeoff and landing (STOL) fixed wing aircraft. A STOL is an aircraft with short runway requirements for takeoff and landing.
A helicopter LZ which must be an open space that is at least as big as the smallest terrain piece you use in Crossfire. For me this is a 4″ diameter circle.
A STOL LZ is a piece of road that is as long as the largest diameter terrain piece you use in Crossfire. For me this is a 8″ length of road.
Anti-aircraft (AA) fire
The non-phasing player can reactive fire against the plane as it attacks. Only one stand can perform AA fire this stand can be either:
- Dedicated AA guns which are the target or with line of fire to the flight path. Such guns fire with their full effect against the aircraft (assume 4d6, unless otherwise known).
- Other targets shoot with their normal factors (HE factors in the case of guns), less 1d6, e.g. a Rifle Squad shoots in AA with 2d6.
(Other stands cannot reactive fire against aircraft.)
The results of reactive AA fire are:
|2||If a ground attack aircraft is diving, then no effect. Otherwise the current attack is aborted. Two aborted attacks in consecutive initiatives means the plane is driven from the table.|
|Alouette II||Helicopter||MedEvac||–||? passengers||Angola End 1962|
|Alouette III “Cannibal”||Helicopter||Airlift, MedEvac||–||Five passengers||Angola Mid 1963
Mozambique April 1967
|Alouette III “Wicked Wolf”||Helicopter Gunship||Gunship||20mm Cannon||–||Angola ?
Guine Mar 1967
|Puma||all-weather, medium-lift helicopter||Airlift||None or twin 0.30 machineguns||8 passengers||1973|
|Broussard (Bushman)||Light observation aircraft||PCA, Recon, FAC, MedEvac, Airlift||–||Six passengers or two casualties|
|Dornier DO-27||Utility aircraft||TacAir, Recon, Airlift, Cargo, MedEvac||9 pairs of 37mm rockets||–||STOL. Can operate at night. Rockets can be smoke or fragmentation|
|T-6G Harvard||Light attack aircraft||TacAir||9 pairs of 37mm rockets
2 x browning 7.7mm machineguns
|–||3 hour missions. Air ground radio.|
|F-84G Thunderjet||Fighter-bomber||TacAir||2 x 100-pound bombs or 2 x 500-pound bombs or 2 x 750-pound bombs or 2 x 1000-pound bombs or 350-liter incendiary bombs||17 Aug 1961 –||No air-ground radio|
|F-86G Sabre||Fighter-bomber||TacAir||six .50-caliber machinguns, two bombs up to 1,000 pounds, and four 2.75-inch rockets||–||Guine Late 1961 – 20 Oct 1964||No air-ground radio|
Root stations: external fuel tanks or 2 x 200-kilogram bombs or napalm canisters
Outboard stations: eight 2.75-inch rockets or 4 x 50-kilogram bombs
|–||Guine Mid 1966 – ?
|“over-loaded” configuration = 2 x 200-kilogram bombs and four 50-kilogram bombs – all dropped simultaneously|
|PV-2 Harpoon||Patrol bomber||TacAir||6 x 325-pound bombs or 6 x 500-pound bombs or 4 x 650-pound bombs or 4 x 1,000-pound bombs or 1 x 2,000-pound torpedo
4 pairs 5-inch (127 mm) HVAR rockets
five .50-caliber machineguns
|Noratlas||Airlift, Cargo||Angola Nov 1960|
All aircraft can undertaken Reconnaissance missions however those marked Role = Recon are relatively good in this role.
|Machine Guns||4/0 SQ|
|Small bomb (up to 50kg)||4/1 SQ|
|Light bomb (125kg)||4/2 SQ|
|Medium bomb (250kg)||5/3 SQ (2 EFF in structures)|
|Heavy bomb (500kg+)||6/3 SQ (2 EFF in structures)|
|Pair of Rockets||4/2 SQ|