In the late 70's, early 80's there was a 4 v 4 that was the stuff of legends (page 159). 4 F-15s vs 4 F-5s. The Eagles were loaded with 4 Aim-7 radar guided missiles and 4 Aim-9L heat seeking missiles. The F-5s were loaded with Aim-9Ls also. The fight took place on one of the first Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) ranges. ACMI allowed the entire engagement to be recorded and replayed from any viewpoint, a birdseye view from above, from any of the cockpits from the side. Additionally, it recorded when a weapon was employed and based on the parameters when shot would fly the missile to the target and if in parameters, would display a "coffin" around the target. It was a very handy resource to have in reconstructing a madly swirling many vs many engagement.
Anyhow, back to our 4 v 4. The engagement has been going on for a while, and it's down to 1 Eagle and 1 F-5 still alive. The F-5 is out front of the Eagle, and the Eagle takes a Radar shot. Tail shots with a Radar Missile will have a time of flight of up to a minute, meaning the Eagle has to keep the F-5 within 60 degrees of the nose to keep the radar illuminating the target. The F-5 quickly turns and points at the Eagle and fires an Aim-9 just prior to the Aim-7 impacting him. The heater guides and kills the final F-15.
Numerous Red Flag and Cope Thunder missions confirmed this phenomenon. Many Kills were taken after the "furball" broke up as players were attempting to exit the fight. My general tactic was to avoid the furball completely. Take a shot from outside the fight and then hold the furball off to one side of the nose while the missile timed out. Failing that, my F-4 tactics stood me in pretty good stead. I'd get going as fast as I could, then figure out the point in the circle where the bad guy was going to be and point at that spot. I'd take a high angle gun shot and hopefully blow him out of the sky, but if not, the crossing angle should be such that he'd have to turn 90-135 degrees to be pointed at me, and I'd be a couple of miles away, going the speed of snot. It worked.
Some of the time.
So, that's how you leave a fight in a fighter.
I suspect that leaving a fight is also a problem for the Navy. As a boy, I read a lot of books about flying fighters, but I also read a lot of books about Submarine warfare in the Pacific. The question was very relevant there also. It was comparatively easy to get into a firing position. However, once you'd announced your presence and intent to do battle by firing a torpedo, extracting yourself from the engagement seemed to take cunning, patience, deception and frequently a lot of luck.
I remember being on the Blue Ridge in a teleconferenced briefing between the 7th Fleet Commander and the USCINCPAC Commander during an exercise. At one point, USCINCPAC advised the Admiral to make sure he kept lots of "Sea Room". I didn't understand the term, but kind of understood the concept. I asked my Navy counterpart to explain it. Which he did. I'm sure the Navy readers can do a better job summarizing the concept, but basically it involves how fast ships move versus how fast threat weapons move. One should probably avoid getting into weapons range of the enemy.
I never had the opportunity to get around to pondering this question from the point of view of land forces. I don't remember even discussing the issue at the Army's Command and General Staff College or School for Advanced Military Studies. It's entirely likely it was discussed and I missed it, because I didn't really understand the problem from the Army's perspective. Time to get out of weapons parameters in my world was measured in mere minutes, if not seconds. To a grunt walking on the ground, getting out of weapons parameters could be days if not weeks.
I started thinking about this while visiting Te Papa on our New Zealand trip. The museum had an outstanding exhibit on the ANZAC participation in the invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli during WWI. (Actually, outstanding is a bit of an understatement, mere words do not describe the exhibit. Go and Visit it, you've still got a couple of years. Go!)
The Gallipoli operation was full of errors, setbacks and disasters. Casualties, through combat and disease, were enormous. In the end, it was all for naught. In November 1915, Lord Kitchener, the British War minister, decided to cancel the invasion and ordered a withdrawal. When I saw that order in the exhibit, I thought "Hmmm, probably a good idea. Righty-O lads, off to the boats now."
Later that day, as I was relaxing on the poop deck with an adult beverage in hand, watching a beautiful New Zealand sunset and pondering the exhibit, I was struck with the thought "What happens to the last guy out?"
The forces on both sides were fairly evenly matched. Certainly, moving the first forces out could be comparatively easy, but as more and more combatants left the beaches, the ratio of good guys to bad guys moves in the bad guys favor. Do you just plan on sacrificing the last "x" percentage of troops? If that's your plan, how do you stop a mutiny?
Since it was obvious from the exhibit that given all the mistakes made during the operation, the evacuation wasn't one of them. I told myself to look into how it was pulled off.
Turns out there were several good sources of information. This one (www.firstworldwar.com) had some interesting background info on the subject. This site (www.gallipoli.gov.au) provided some operational level insights into the Deception operations which contributed to the successful evacuation. Finally, this site (www.aucklandmuseum.com) provided insights from the individual soldiers from letters home and the like.
So, I'd asked myself " did they just plan on sacrificing "X" percentage of troops?" Turns out that Sir Ian Hamilton thought that the evacuation was a terrible idea and would result in 50% casualties. Evidently that negative thinking resulted in his replacement by Sir Charles Monro.
|Sir Charles Monro|
Given that the official casualty count for the evacuation was 3, (that's right three, as in 1,2,3) Sir Charles must have done a pretty good job. Churchill did say of Sir Charles' efforts "he came, he saw, he capitulated", but there were probably a very large number of Australian and New Zealand troops who thought differently. Sir Charles was successful, but how did he pull this off?
Part of the factor was the nature of the war. The battle, as was the case in almost every theater in the war, was fought in trenches. Actually seeing the enemy was infrequent and usually by accident and typically resulted in the death or injury of said enemy. So, great effort was made to avoid being seeen. Another factor was the weather (no, not in the climate change sense). It was winter time and the weather that particular year up to this point had been cold, miserable and with frequent poor visibility.
“I believe our Boys are having a frightful time in Gallipoli just now owing to the intense cold & snow. The rain too fills the trenches with mud & water & these poor chaps have to remain there. Scores of them die from pneumonia before they have a chance of any attention whatever.” Captain Harry D. Dansey, M.C., NZ Pioneer Battalion, in a letter to Miss Winifred P. Barter, 22 November 1915.That weather was taken into account by the Australian officer in charge of planning the evacuation, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Brudenell White. His plan involved leading the Turks to believe that the Allies weren't leaving, merely hunkering down for the winter. While never completely ceasing, weapons fire by the ANZAC forces would have periods of time where no Artillery or Sniper fire would come from their lines. This would reinforce the idea that the Allies were just preparing to wait out the winter. These battlefield preparation operations took place before the order to actually evacuate was given.
Once the execution began, the plan was to be executed in three phases. While waiting for the British Cabinet to approve Lord Kitchener's order (AHH, Bureaucracy....even in war!), men and equipment would be moved off the front lines as they would be if preparing for a winter garrison operation. Phase 2, the "Intermediate" phase, troops would be evacuated at night, to reduce the forces on the lines from 41,000 to about 26,000. That number was thought to be enough to hold off a Turkish attack for about a week. Once that phase was complete, the final troops (20,277) would be evacuated over the course of two nights, the nights of the 18th-19th and the 19th-20th December 1915.
|Final Evacuation Order|
The final element of deception was the use of "DripGuns", rifles wedged into place with a small tin applied to a lever. A water source was placed over the tin and slowly dripped water into it. At some point, the weight was sufficient to trip the lever, firing the rifle. The water was dumped out and the process began again. This allowed the operation to look like just another one of the Allies' firing pauses.
"We had left rifles with the sights knocked off, wedged in position with slowly filling water or sand tins tied onto the triggers and heard these going off as we filed down the trench. It was a long walk down to the North Beach below Walker's Ridge, but by 4:30 a.m. we were aboard and heading for Lemnos. All were busy with their thoughts. It was hard to leave Anzac where so many friends were sleeping their last sleep. 'C' party landed at Lemnos during the afternoon, marching to camp through thousands of wildly cheering troops, Tommies and Anzacs - a reception we will never forget."
Colonel J.B. Davis,
That answers my question. How do you leave a fight? It takes a well thought out plan, precise execution and quite a bit of luck.
|Te Papa Museum's Gallipoli site is very well done and worth a visit.|