Disclaimer: No I don't own Area 88 or anything related to the entertainment industry, because I actually work for a living, despite getting some help, but I'm lucky to make ends meat at all, so no stock market for me, which seems like a very good plan then, now, and far into the future.
The Beginning of the End
Advantages and drawbacks (of the T-54/55)
The T-54/55 tanks are mechanically simple and robust. They are very simple to operate compared to Western tanks, and don't require a high level of training or education in their crewmembers. The T-54/55 is a relatively small main battle tank, presenting a smaller target for its opponents to hit. The tanks also have good mobility thanks to their relatively light weight (which permits easy transport by rail or flatbed truck, and allows crossing of lighter bridges), wide tracks (which give lower ground pressure and hence good mobility on soft ground), a good cold-weather start-up system, and a snorkel which allows river crossings. The T-54/55 tanks have together been manufactured in the tens of thousands, and many still remain in reserve, or even in front-line use among lower-technology fighting forces. Abundance and age together make these tanks cheap and easy to purchase. And while the T-54/55 is clearly not a match for a modern main battle tank, armour and ammunition upgrades can dramatically improve the old vehicle's performance to the point that it cannot be dismissed on the battlefield. (Gelbart 1996:75-78)
T-54/55 tanks also have many serious defects. Small size is achieved at the expense of interior space and crew comforts. This causes practical difficulties, as it constrains the physical movements of the crew and slows operation of controls and equipment. Israelis who crewed T-54/55's captured during the 1967 and 1973 wars constantly complained about this, and it remains a problem that cannot be remedied by any upgrades. The low turret profile of the tanks also prevents them from depressing their main guns by more than 5° (the average for Western tanks is 10°), which limits the ability to cover terrain by fire from a hull-down position on a reverse slope. While both tanks have stabilized guns, in practice they can only fire accurately when the vehicles are at rest (this problem may have been solved with more recent upgrades). The 100 mm gun is less effective than newer tank guns of 120 and 125 mm calibre, and only has a chance at being effective against heavily armoured tanks when firing special ammunition (such as missiles). The internal ammunition supply is not shielded, increasing the odds that any enemy penetration of the fighting compartment could cause a catastrophic secondary explosion. And while the T-54/55 tanks can be upgraded, the stunning losses suffered by upgraded Iraqi T-55's against American M1 Abrams tanks during Operation Desert Storm showed the inescapable limitations of the design. The T-54/55 tanks are simply outdated and cannot be expected to have much of a chance against modern opponents.
The T-54 is especially defective: It lacks NBC protection, a revolving turret floor (which complicated the crew's operations), and early models lacked gun stabilization. All of these problems were corrected in the T-55 tank, which is otherwise largely identical to the T-54.
Excerpt from Wikipedia on the T-54/55
Area 88, Somewhere in the Country of Asran, the Middle East
Time, they care not, but mid-afternoon in any event
June 12th, 1984, but again they care not
Clear weather and well over the 110 mark, not that they care again
The blonde haired man with blue eyes and deeply tanned white skin with an Asian heritage looked at the wreck that had been his fighter. The blue and white plane with a crimson and crème colored unicorn emblem upon the vertical tail wing was no more. Its orange trim helped him to pick out what used to be what. He sighed, it was his third plane and he loved the small, but high performing F-5E Tiger II.
"Tough luck Shinn," another blonde blue eyed man said.
Unlike Shinn, this fellow was older and of European descent. Both men are mercenary fighter pilots, him by choice, Shinn by treachery. Still, the older pale blonde looked after his friend and the base's leading ace. It was a sad thing to see the man look like hope was all, but lost.
"Two more missions, maybe one more patrol and I would have been free," Shinn Kazama walked away, back towards the barracks, he would have been out of there early, but he was punished for an attempted desertion, but he did have the option to still get out of there sooner if he did well enough.
Mickey Simmons, formerly of the United States of America Navy and a veteran of the Vietnam War where he flew F-4 Phantom II fighters, and met and taught Patrick Reed who he had to personally shot down some months earlier in a sad aerial repeat a rather noted Disney movie, looked sadly at the back of the man who had come so close three times now. Three times to become free of the hell they lived in. Three times to leave Area 88 once and for all.
"Sorry buddy, but that's the role of the dice," the Grumman made F-14A Tomcat pilot said.
He then kicked a piece of debris out from in front of him, anger written across his face. He knew that the other pilots who had lost planes would be able to get new ones, but for Shinn, it was not so. The base's spare planes had been hit and every last one was issued out to replace those lost in the cruise missile attack.
That in and of itself had caught the entire Royal Asran Military off guard and sound asleep. Soviet made cruise missiles, Soviet made T-80s, and the new Soviet made Mig-29, codenamed by NATO as Fulcrum, and even the AWAC Beriev A-50 Shmel, literally translated as Bumble Bee and code named 'Mainstay' by NATO. These new additions, plus others had turned the war against the Government. The war now included Soviet pilots, codenamed since Korea as Honchos.
"Damn it! And NATO won't lift a finger to help!" Mickey punched the damaged black top.
Three months passed and only a precious few planes arrived, all aging F-4J Phantom II fighters and then a few F-105D/G Thunderchief fighters trickled in. True they were a terror on the battlefield with such pilots as Shinn Kazama handling them, but he didn't have a RIO for the Phantoms and was therefore assigned to base garrison duties. He hated flying CAP for the base as it meant he'd be either trapped for another two years or killed. There was no third choice in this matter.
Shinn quickly jumped at the chance to fly the new fighters and found one that had been personally sought out by McCoy, the base scrounger and Black Market specialist, though he never stole from his clients and charged them fairly despite his conniving ways as that was something he found unforgivable and unprofessional, for Shinn as the old man really liked and treated the Japanese ace as his own blood, he wasn't alone as he had sought out Gustav, the Base Chief Mechanic, to certify the plane for Shinn and the man wanted Shinn to live, because to him, Shinn belonged elsewhere and not as a combat pilot, not from lack of skill, no, because Shinn should have never been at the base in the first place.
The Thunderchief in Shinn's hands proved to be a fatal mistake for any Rebel pilot who hadn't gotten the few Mig-29 fighters yet, though the Mig-23 'Flogger' and Mig-25 'Foxbat' pilots tended to be able to get away from him, if barely do to his superior skill and experience.
This trend continued for another two months and then something happened to change all of that.
New American made M60A3 Patton and British made Chieftain Mark X and a few of the new British Challenger tanks with reactivate armor appeared, but these were surpassed by the appearance of Israeli made Merkava Mark II MBTs. That was the more surprising appearance as Israel was usually an import country of such things, not an exporter like the major powers of North America and Europe. Not that the tank crews were complaining, if anything they were thanking the designers and the leaders of Israel for such a joy to fight and survive in.
Of course with the new tanks and other ground equipment came the new planes, such as the E-2C Hawkeye AWACs, giving the Asran military an advantages, as well as the new F-16C Fighting Falcon and the new Tornado GR3. The result was the inventory held the latest and greatest of armaments for these planes and most was going against the military budget as there were planes that didn't even have pilots such as several new Harriers.
It was also doing this period that Shinn was called up to Colonel Saki Vastarl, commander of the Aslan Foreign Forces, office. With him was 15 year old Kim Aba, the base's only VTOL pilot, Mickey Simmons, and Saki's cousin First Crown Princess Kitrori Palvanoff, the best Mirage F-1 pilot and so far only female pilot on the base.
Saki sat in his office that appeared to belong to a Western military officer, few personal items, only a few pictures of him and Kitori and her family, a bunch of books in a bookshelf, a couple of large rugs to cover the hard floor, and the typical items on his desk and the lone pictures of his mother and of him and his mother. Saki felt that was all he needed and kept it simple. Besides, his command was always borderline mutinous, but none of them would actually do so. It was best not to try to hold on to the fact he had once been a prince, both too egotistical and painful, like the self inflicted scar on his forehead.
The first line of the scar for his father's betrayal of his uncle and country simply to be subservient to another power for power.
The second line of the scar for his own betrayal of his father to stand by his mother's wishes, those of his late grandfather, and that of his country and uncle, King Zak.
He looked through his ever present dark sunglasses, a must since he was wounded and had nearly lost his sight and thus nearly grounding him. It was a near thing, but like his Sky Pirate of an XO, he was not about to stay grounded. That and as popular as Hoover was, the man couldn't run the base as effectively as Saki and Greg and Mickey had no intention of commanding the base any longer than need be and that was too long for them!
He observed the people before him and often thought of those who didn't make it and was glad that Shinn was able to turn Campbell into such a good fighter pilot and person.
Two faces suddenly appeared before his eyes, as always of different pilots and personnel and others he knew, Boris, Angel of Death, and Makoto Shinjou, the Freelancer.
One dead, lost in the desert and to AA fire and the other, Saki hoped the man was being careful.
At the moment, the said second man was running for his life from two gunmen, but rounded a corner and right into a bunch of Parisian Police Officers and two detectives from Interpol, Inspectors Jamal and Zinigata, and thus was saved as the gunmen came around the corner guns blazing, only to get caught in a hailstorm of police sidearm weapon fire from more than a dozen officers and the two from Interpol.
Needless to say, they were quite please when the Freelance Photographer told them the why and showed them the photos.
Saki nodded to Roundell to close the door and the meeting began as the four took up their usual positions, Mickey and Shin leaning against a bare spot on the wall, Kitori lazying in a somewhat comfy chair, and Kim sitting in a backwards chair while Saki sat behind his desk in a standard office chair that he had re-padded as he sometimes sat in the chair for hours and Roundell stood to his right as always.
"Shinn I have good news, you'll getting one of the few and quite new Fighting Falcons," Saki smiled when he saw the small hope from the Japanese ace, though it was Mickey's whistling that brought about a full smile when he explained.
"Shinn's getting a Viper," that confused the group, but Kitori remembered hearing about the F-16 herself.
"Explain," Saki spoke wanting to know the difference in name.
"Easy, it's a nickname, because the bird looks like and is said to be like a viper, hence the name," Mickey said with a twinkle in his eyes leaving out the fact that the plane was often nicknamed that do to its likeness to the starfighter from a hit sci-fi show, but his grin couldn't hide the knowledge that not even the Soviet Honchos would not live long.
"The Fighting Falcon is the current choice of American fighter jet short of the Eagle and Tomcat and is highly popular with all Air Forces," Kitori spoke with her usual accent, "beating out the Tiger Two's successor, the F-Twenty-A Tigershark, with a larger payload, greater thrust, and the new Fly-By-Wire Digital System that redefine the phase 'critical components, critical hits.' There's even a variant being made and will likely be used nearly entirely by the JADF called the F-Sixteen Agile Falcon as well as a prototype test bed in the United States testing a new configuration."
"How much can the Falcon series carry?" the Indian born boy asked.
"Twice its own weight and remain as agile as can be," the 'experts' said in unison spooking everyone for a moment.
"Yes…" Saki decided to get the ball rolling again, "We also managed to acquire prototype upgrades for Mickey's Tomcat, allowing it to perform better and far more like a cat on the prowl."
Mickey was all smiles, though it nagged at him that they were able to acquire such things for the heavily guarded American design.
"Kitori, until further notice, I'm grounding the Mirage fighters until they can be updated," Kitori face fell at that until, "So I want you learning how to handle the Falcon as well."
Kitori was dancing with joy that she would be flying the same fighter as Shinn, she never did get over her crush for him, in fact, it seems to have gotten worse.
"And as for you Kim, the American and British have been overhauling their Harrier Fleets and your Harrier will be getting the same treatment," Kim simply nodded, just glad his fighter will be getting a much needed overhaul, but…
"This is also entirely free, the cost going against the military's budget," Saki said as if reading the pilot's mind.
"Still, how the hell Saki?" Mickey asked the obvious.
"Roundell," was all that Saki said and the one eyed sky pirate nodded.
"We're phasing out as much as possible and getting overhauls for others," that was a given, "because of recent Soviet resurgence, many of the Western countries are rightly nervous and are footing the bill for much of what we're receiving in complete secrecy."
The group nodded, something big was brewing.
"Skirmishes between Israel and her neighbors are in fact more on the lines of pitched battles," the group was giving him their undivided attention, "the fact the of the matter is, is that the Arab States opposing Israel are getting pressure from the Kremlin which is starting to lose control of its own territory and may try a bigger campaign to date, including armed attacks against NATO."
It was bigger than they thought.
"So if we win the campaigns of by proxy, the Soviets will fold and bringing an end to the Cold War," Mickey put the training he received in OCS (Officer Candidate School) to good use at that moment when Roundell and Saki nodded.
Victory was right around the corner and things will be hotter than the desert they were in. Failure meant World War Three, while success meant the war would be averted and the Cold War which the Soviets started in 1946 would finally come to a close in the near future. The long fought Cold War would also mean a great change throughout the world, but at least the world would still be there and there would still be choice in the matter. It also meant they could all finally put their feet up and retire home, or in Mickey's case find a new one or another battle zone.
"Also, Mickey, the data and information gathered by the United States for its Tomcats is in large part thanks to you and that you have a Presidential Pardon with your name on it waiting for you back in your home country," Saki said and Mickey couldn't believe he was being pardoned, let alone being allowed to return home… and that he had been used to gather test data!
"That means they're sending upgrade parts for me, because it was my flying that got them made in the first place!" he slammed a fist into the wall to his left.
"That meant they had spies on the base and we all know how Saki takes to spies," the long dark haired man with dark sunglasses frowned at the obvious that Shinn pointed out.
"Still, where are we getting all this help?" Kim asked.
"Israel, since we are far from them and have no quarrel, but with Syria pressuring us every so often to send them aid to fight them while they are sending aid to the rebels to fight us," Saki spoke pointedly while all others in the room snorted.
"America has been and will be sending us aid as well, along with several members of NATO including Great Britian, West Germany, Luxemburg, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Canada among others, even Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea as well as India and Pakistan who agrees with their Hindu neighbors because of the mess now going on in Afghanistan about the threat of the Soviets, will be sending as much aid as possible," Roundell spoke to regain composure among the pilots and base commander, though a lot was left unsaid, but it was enough that nobody was about to bring it up as they already knew the answers and it was best to not ask already answered questions, that was just stupid.
"So, what's being said is that this is the end game and if we win, we get to go home," Mickey thought it would be nice to see America again, but he also saw the look on his friend's face.
"Still, don't make your plans now as that is a long way off," Saki said, though he knew it would be difficult for him as well.
"Yes, there's still much more here then simply walking out the door," Roundell spoke with his usual calm and guff tone.
"What's next?" Kim asked only to have Roundell drop a number of books on the boy.
"Manuals for how to handle the improvements and books of tactics involving S/VTOL aircraft," Roundell explained much to the young pilot's dismay.
The other pilots chuckled at his bad luck until Roundell started dropping all kinds of tech manuals and other required reading for their new planes or in Mickey's case, upgrades. There was a lot of reading to be done and then insult to injury for the new Viper pilots.
"Once you have some practical experience, you'll be getting new recruits who have chosen the Fighting Falcon for their planes," Saki said and enjoyed the annoyed look from Shinn and the jaw hanging effect from Kitri.
"Also, before I forget," though it wasn't seen through his glasses, he had a glint in his eye, "All the new recruits are female," he watched as the looks on Shinn and Kitri's faces changed, "about twenty new pilots, with an addition five pilots who have chosen the Harrier," Kim gulped.
He hoped they were former pilots of the Harrier.
"Two males, both veterans of the Falklands Conflict, one of the Royal Navy and a Argentinean who left the country over protest to how things went," Roundell saw the relieved look on the young Indian boy's face, "but the other three are unfortunately female with no prior battle experience outside of the bathroom."
"Our work will be hard," Kim sighed after that declaration and he did so again after hearing they were rather rich French girls, barely older than him.
"As for other pilot slots, it is a mixture of eight men and eleven women ranging from ages sixteen to forty-four, including a pair of Russians who fled after they crossed the KGB for some reason, if any," Roundell said and everyone knew it didn't take much to get in trouble in Soviet territory, practically breathing could get you tortured, if you were lucky, or sent to a Gulag Camp if you weren't lucky.
"I think we should've warred with them back in the Forties," Mickey said with eyes closed and arms crossed with a nod and many would agree, then, now, and even in the future (arguably so anyways).
"'We stand for organized terror' what a load of hogwash!" Mickey had used a bad Russian accent that made him sound more like a German with a nasal cold.
"I think that was German with a nasal cold," Kitori spoke with a grin as she knew Russian better and Mickey growled at her for saying that, though was thankful that Hoover and the other German pilots weren't around.
The gathered peopled chuckled at the two's byplay, it never stopped and it was always going, like Kim trying to avoid Kitori on especially slow days and specific duties. Those times always had a betting pool and it was normally the ever reserved Roundell that took the pot. This was especially amusing to Saki even when he himself lost. It also kept morale high and the pilots eager for missions, be they big or small.
"Either way, we must wrap this up," Saki spoke and indicated the rather tall piles of paperwork, they flinched at the sight.
"Indeed," Roundell spoke as in his office there were less, but no smaller piles of paperwork, and so handed out the needed information about the soon to be incoming new recruits.
"Read, study, and absolutely no complaining as you all remember them," Saki said and made an immediate dismissal gesture which was promptly taken and the group left.
The four pilots agreed to meet up later and try to come up with some new teaching methods as the only one of them with any real teaching skills was Mickey since he had been a squadron commander.
So with a time and place set, they left to study hard, little knowing that two people were arriving at the base, one was unwelcomed by most, the other would be a surprised and unwelcomed by the two new Viper pilots.
Okay, I've given this a bit of an overhaul and I've corrected the national origin of one of the new Harrier pilots. I've added some, but not much and the two Interpol Inspectors are cameos, one most notable as the famous Inspector from Lupin the 3rd, but the other is from the Chipmunks Movie, the animated one back from the late 80's, early 90's. So, with this I'll being getting back to work, for now I'm doing research and I'm trying to get things matched up to the middle of the 80's, but I'm walking on eggshells in the den of lions here, since many Soviet aircraft were considered too valuable and sensitive to be used outside of the former Soviet Union itself.
Talk about a drag.
There will be appearances of additional Tomcats and the F-15 Eagle.
I also know that the Merkeva was never exported and Israel tends to only export firearms, not aircraft and vehicles. Also, since the Merkeva is such a fine tank, it has been kept by the Israelis, avoiding, if barely being discontinued do to its abilities and proper deployments.
The second chapter is in the works and those hoping for my Gundam, Robotech, and Naruto fics must be patient. I've lost a bit of my touch and I need to relearn it. I also need to work on creation of locations and how things look. I got by before hand, but now I need to improve upon this and since I lack such foresight, I need to gain it as well.
A real drag.
I'm also currently engaged in another affair, this one concerning Naruto, but for now I am keeping quiet on it.
It is my first joint story with another author so this will take time, but for those hoping for a Gundam and a Robotech, I'm currently finishing overhauling Ghosts of Endymion and I'm nearing completion of a couple of other chapters to various stories and I've started my next chapter of Battlestar Macross.
Please be patient, as I'm going to ask for some assistance to get my stories back up and going.