Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan

I've been looking around for a Cold War era air warfare option for a while now but have decided to try something a little different. I didn't fancy the usual suspects - Vietnam, Arab-Israeli, Indo-Pakistan, Falklands et al - so thought I'd look a little further afield. I already have a Alto Cenepa War project on-going, so this time I decided to go to the Far East in search of a similarly unorthodox, if perhaps less obscure conflict.

I have found what I think is a really interesting basis for a Cold War era Target Locked-On project, the People's Republic of China - Republic of China clash over the Straits of Taiwan. This flared up several times with air clashes between the Communist Chinese and Taiwanese being relatively common. I decided to pick the lesser known January 1967 events, over the first and second crisis points in the 1950's, for a number of reasons.

In the 1950's the CAF fought several aerial engagements against the PLAAF using F86 Sabres against MiG15's and MiG17's. This seemed a little bit too similar to the Korean War, which I have already had a crack at with MiG Alley, so I decided to look a little further forward in time. In January 1967, the ROC was equipped with F104 Starfighters and F100 Super Sabres, while the PLAAF deployed MiG17's and MiG19's, together with a handful of MiG21's.

This seemed to be far more interesting, especially as I really like the MiG21 with its iconic Cold War connotations. I could also have some Il-28 Beagles, or H5's as the Chinese version was named, which I think is a classic Cold War aircraft, complete with a tail gunner, underwing jet pods, forward swept wings and glazed cockpit. There's also the potential for some other interesting types like RB-57's and even for the inclusion of some USN or RN (Sea Vixens!) aircraft, if the 'what if?' element is included.

Anyway, the key incident during this particular flashpoint occurred in January 1967, as this extract describes:

On January 12, 1967, one unescorted RF-104G of the CAF 12th Recon Sqn carried out a high level raid over the mainland coastal area. The returning Stargazer was then chased by a pair of Sino-Communist MiG-21s, this was the first time the MiG-21 appeared over the straight. The MiGs withdrew just before the four out of eight CAF F-104Gs sent out for covering fired their Sidewinders from a distance of three miles.

A deadly battle occurred on the next day. At 1240, four F-104Gs of the 3rd Fighter Group took into air to back up a returning RF-104G, s/n 5632, which encountered a pair of MiG-19s while returning from Amoi for surveillance of Communist submarine activity. 

On final approach over Quemoy, Starfighters spotted enemies from 18,000 ft at Mach 1.8. After the leader failed to launch missiles, his wingmen came in immediately and scored two direct hits on the MiG-19s. The first MiG disintegrated in a violent explosion, and the second one was trailing huge sparks and its left wing was falling off. One F-104G crashed into sea while returning.

This sounds like a really good basis for a mini-project and one which could easily be scaled up to a larger 'What if?' scenario. I have all the aircraft I need already including the Starfighters, MiG 21's and MiG 19's, so can get started straight away. I also have some MiG 17's and Il-28's to add to the mix along with some F100 Super Sabres, so there's plenty of potential for some different linked scenarios.

Good stuff!


  1. Interesting background info to a conflict I wasn't aware of. Thanks for posting.



  2. Hi Pete,

    Yes indeed it is a bit different and really rather interesting, especially if you do the 'what if?'



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