D+23 (1 August, 1987) 1801-2245 Zulu

Northern Norwegian Sea

1815 Zulu (2015 Local)

 The Oscar I class Soviet SSGN Minskiy Komsomolets had broken off its pursuit of Strike Fleet Atlantic thirty minutes earlier. After putting some distance between itself and the outer ring of the enemy formation and ASW patrols the sub rose to periscope depth and extended its communications antenna. In seconds a burst message was received, the antenna was retracted and Minskiy Komsomolets slid back to its cruising depth. The captain expected this message to be an order to move in and attack the American fleet. To his surprise and dismay, the orders for his sub were quite the opposite. Severomorsk instructed him trail the enemy formation at a safe distance of sixty to eighty kilometers. The next comms check time was set for 0045 Zulu. In the last line of the message, Northern Fleet warned Minskiy Komsomolets to expect revised war orders within the next six to eight hours.

Ramstein Air Base, West Germany

1940 Zulu (2140 Local)

The Commander of Allied Air Forces Central Europe was General Bill Kirk, USAF. He had spent much of the day at his Ramstein headquarters monitoring events as they pertained to air operations in Central Europe. Following the chemical weapons use in the morning, this day turned out to be surprisingly quieter than he’d anticipated. As per SACEUR’s directive no offensive air sorties had been launched. Kirk’s airbases from Denmark to Bavaria were buttoned down and operating on MOPP 4. When and where possible aircraft had been dispersed to secondary airfields in order to minimize the amount of damage a chemical attack on his airbases might inflict. He was mentally kicking around the idea of contacting SACEUR and requesting an update on the situation.

As fate would have it, a phone call from General Galvin arrived moments later. SACEUR informed his air commander that Kirk could resume offensive air operations over Warsaw Pact territory as of 0100 hours Zulu.

Jüterbog Air Base, East Germany

2120 Zulu  (2320 Local)

The two aircrews were the cream of the remaining crop. They had survived nearly one full month in the most intense air war the world has ever seen. Flying through some of the densest air defenses the world has ever seen, evading enemy fighters and dodging SAMs, these pilots had reached and struck their targets more often than not. Now they were being ordered to put their hard-earned expertise to the test one more time in what could prove to be be the most dangerous, consequential air mission of the war.

As they went through their final pre-flight briefing, conducted by the 116th Fighter-Bomber Regiment’s special weapons officer and under heavy guard, two Su-24 Fencers were undergoing final preparations inside of a large, unlit hangar on the far end of the flight line. The ground crew and ordnance handlers were not regiment personnel. They’d arrived on a flight from somewhere in the Soviet Union shortly after dusk. As was the case with the building where the aircrew briefing was being held right now, the hangar was under incredibly heavy guard.

Takeoff was set for just after 0100 hours local time.

Kragelund, Denmark

2235 Zulu (0035 Local Time, 2 August, 1987)

The first artillery rounds of NATO’s chemical retaliation were set to be fired at 0100 hours local time. The West German 6th Artillery Regiment’s 61st Field Artillery Battalion would begin the response. The rounds loaded into its M-110 batteries were not West German though. They were from American stocks and the self-propelled artillery systems were crewed by US Army soldiers. An almost-identical scene was playing out in certain artillery batteries of the Danish Jutland Division. Neither nation had their own arsenal of chemical agents to speak of. NATO war plans had long called for either US or British chemical rounds to be used in the event chemical agents became part of a conflict.  Artillery crews from a number of European NATO countries had trained with their American and British counterparts for exactly this kind of situation. Unfortunately, time was at a premium right now. As a result, it would be US troops who’d load the rounds and pull the triggers.

2 Replies to “D+23 (1 August, 1987) 1801-2245 Zulu”

  1. Everything is going to happen at 0100 Zulu.

    For both sides…. Oh jeeze. Considering Nato owns the night. and the skies… the Soviet mission does not have an incredible chance of success- especially with NATO air starting their raids at 0100.

    I expect loddy-doddy-every damn body to be watching the sky. And that Fencer mission will get caught. My opinion- y’all the writer and know if they will or won’t. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were off by an hour 🙂 0100 Local Time is when it all started. Which is 2300 Zulu. Either way, the war is now in its final day, and it started off with a bang 🙂


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