Air & Land Operations in Northern Norway on D+10
Author’s Note: This entry is being done in timeline form. Apologies in advance. Feeling a bit under the weather today and don’t want to get bogged down on this entry too much since I’m planning to have the North Atlantic D+10 wrapped up by Christmas Eve.
0530- Air operations against Andoya commence. The first phase is a fighter sweep aimed at obtaining and holding air superiority over the airbase, Andoya island, and the entire Vesteralen archipelago. The few MiGs remaining at Andoya are launched, challenge the onrushing F-15s and are quickly blotted from the sky. Air superiority is officially established by 0600.
0600-0900– For the next three hours NATO warplanes conduct airstrikes against the airbase, and dug in Soviet forces across Andoya. The first two wave of attacks, conducted by USAF F-111s, and RAF Tornados, concentrate on the airbase facilities, and air defenses on the perimeter. Marine Force Recon teams, landed covertly on the previous day, assist the effort.
1000– With the US Marine assault set to begin within an hour the focus of air operations shifted to close air support. USMC Harriers, and AH-1 Cobras, operating from FARPs set up at Gryllefjord and Flakkstadvag, flew missions against known and suspected locations of Soviet troops around the island. F-4 Phantoms, A-6 Intruders, and F/A-18 Hornets of the 2nd Marine Air Wing join the close air support effort later, as do USAF A-10 Warthogs.
1104– The US Marine assault on Andoya begins. Heliborne landings of rifle companies from the 2nd Battalion/2nd Marine Regiment are made at Fiskenes, and Bleik. Around the same time, LCACs and LCMs carrying Marines, and their heavy equipment come ashore on the beaches at Skarstein. After brushing aside the reinforced Soviet naval infantry platoon defending the beach, the Marines establish a beachhead, allowing the remainder of 2/2 Marines land. Behind them at Gryllefjord, a second battalion and attachments wait to be shuttled to the beach.
1215– The 1st Battalion/Brigade 14 (Norwegian Home Guard) starts moving onto southeastern Andoya from Dragnes.
1600– Soviet fighter coverage over northern Norway has diminished significantly as more fighters are retasked to air defense of the Kola Peninsula. The bomber corridor is reestablished north of the North Cape.
1645– Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade execute a successful heliborne assault on Banak Air Station. By 1830 the air station is entirely in NATO hands.
1900– Fighting around Andoya intensifies as the afternoon became early evening. US Marines and Norwegian Home Guard troops have secured most of the island, except for the airbase and surrounding area. This is where the remnants of the Soviet naval infantry battalion were dug in, awaiting the inevitable attack to dislodge them from the airbase and push them into the sea. Ammunition, and other supplies are running low. Communications between Andoya and the Kola have been disrupted. Meanwhile, the US Marines are reinforcing and making preparations for the final assault. 2/8 Marines, a fresh battalion is moving to Andoya, while their brothers in 2/2 rest, and get ready for the effort to fully liberate Andoya from Soviet control. This is expected to begin early on D+11.
2100– With communications with Andoya now cut, Northwestern TVD writes off the threatened airbase. There will be no reinforcements. The defending troops are now on their own.