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Old 05-18-2011, 04:38 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Greetings, all!

Reading and comparing the rules of another system to GURPS, I recalled a campaign-that-didn't-start where one PC was a CAG ('Commander of Air Group', actually a fighter squadron leader). Just to be clear, I'm talking about fighters comparable to SW X-Wings and TIE Fighters, BSG Vipers, and Ur-Quan Autonomous Fighters.

Now, I noticed that the problem is that it's often not worth spending a Multitasking penalty (even if we allow fighters to multitask at -2) to do anything covered by a Command task:
  • Squadron Leadership: a Command task that gives +1 to Tactics. Meh. The one rolling tactics is the CAG in the first place, and taking a Multitasking penalty to get +1 to Tactics is silly.
  • Leadership Task (assuming we house-rule to allow a leader to affect the squadron): +1 to Spacer skill on a MoS of 5+, really?
  • Motivate Crewman (assuming house-rule...): +1 or -1 to skill of ONE subordinate depending on roll?
  • Space Tactics (assuming...): this is probably what people have CAGs for, but the +1 to Dodge (on a success) is of dubious utility if you take -4 (or -2) to Piloting when doing it (no matter whether you succeed or fail). The good thing is it affects the whole group (assuming...), and a free level of Deceptive Attack might be nice (while attacking a single target, that is).
  • Heroic Speech: this is typically performed by by the captain on the carrier, IMO.

Also, it is not clear what a CAG can do to meaningfully increase the usefulness of subordinates. It seems that even for a half-dozen fighters, there's more sense in having pilots with 1 higher level of Piloting and/OR weapon skill than to have a CAG with Tactics/Leadership 15.

Anyone got thoughts on the issue?
Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-18-2011, 04:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Well, both historically and fictionally, wingleaders (a CAG would be the overall head of the fighter group for a larger craft and mostly not fly himself) didn't do much actual commanding during the action. They would have to rely on their pilots to know what they're doing, precisely because it would be nearly impossible to keep an eye on all of them while engage in air or space fights yourself. So I guess the most he could do would be to advise other pilots of threats and give general orders as to formation or target choice.

Ultimately, all the tactical work happens before the mission, planning courses, setting targets and assigning duties to the pilots best suited to them. I would probably allow a competent CAG to grant his men some bonuses during the mission based on his MoS on a preflight tactics roll.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

downer pretty much has it completely covered.

As a GM, I'd rule in an RPG that a CAG type would be responsible for the overall mission planning. The execution would rely on the individual pilots, so the CAG wouldn't add anything.

Now, for a Mass Combats type event, or in a large scale combat game of any type (minis, forex), the CAGs command rating could invoke a positive or negative modifiers to the success of the mission.

Frankly, in a fighter furball, the CAGs ability to command is close to nil, beyond a general decision to withdraw. Maybe not even that.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Greetings, all!

Reading and comparing the rules of another system to GURPS, I recalled a campaign-that-didn't-start where one PC was a CAG ('Commander of Air Group', actually a fighter squadron leader). !
Definitely not in historical use and not currently to my understanding either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier_air_wing

The CAG is one level above squadron command. A USN carrier will contain multiple squadrons, basically one for each aircraft type (or possibly mission) and the CAG oversees all of them. He is the head of the carrier's entire aviation department.

At the dawn of WWII the CAG was expected to personally lead all major strike missions, co-ordinating the carriers three squadrons: fighters, torpedo bombers and dive bombers. Collectively these made up the "Air Group" which was the thing the CAG was "Commander" of.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Definitely not in historical use and not currently to my understanding either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier_air_wing

The CAG is one level above squadron command. A USN carrier will contain multiple squadrons, basically one for each aircraft type (or possibly mission) and the CAG oversees all of them. He is the head of the carrier's entire aviation department.

At the dawn of WWII the CAG was expected to personally lead all major strike missions, co-ordinating the carriers three squadrons: fighters, torpedo bombers and dive bombers. Collectively these made up the "Air Group" which was the thing the CAG was "Commander" of.
Okay, so I misused a term of a higher rank, since that carrier only had a couple dozen fighters total, all of the same type.
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Old 05-18-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Okay, so I misused a term of a higher rank, since that carrier only had a couple dozen fighters total, all of the same type.
Eh, he might actually have rated CAG if he was the head of all ship's small attack craft activity. That WWII CAG only had about 3 dozen planes at his command. On the other hand, the regular navy type he took orders from might have been effectively "CAG" if it wasn't the Captain or XO.

It's just a technical problem if you use a very specific term and it ends up being not used in what someone familair with that term expects.

Not that all these things aren't quite arbitrary. If you try and shift from WWII USAAF to RAF you'll get wings and squadrons, groups, air forces and commands all mixed up.

If you were Falklands era Argentinian Air Force your basic organizational unit of 8-12 planes was a "Grupo" with each Grupo being homogenous in terms of aircraft type and mission. For example, Grupo Ocho flew Mirages and was the only unit trained for air-to-air. They never met the RN Harriers. The Harriersw wouldn't climb to their altitude for high altitude supersonic combat with radar missiles and Grupo Ocho wouldn't go down to the deck to knife-fight with the Harriers.

<shakes head> You probably don't need to know all thsi but feel free to ivent your own internally consistent in-setting nomenclature (and then explain it). Just don't expect to borrow real world terms without confusion.

One note:It probably is the CAG who does the Heroic Speech thing. In times and places where you do have small attack craft pilots they are a different breed than Big Ship officers.
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
  • Heroic Speech: this is typically performed by by the captain on the carrier, IMO.
Assuming the same organization as modern naval, what's the captain doing talking to pilots? He's got a ship to command. The pilots are not even in his chain of command.

Edit: After reading that, it makes me sound more like a jerk than I intended.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

The captain of a ship may not talk to only the pilots, though.

Many historical examples of ship's *crew* being addressed by the captain, which would most likely be heard by the air (space) arm aboard.

Last edited by Whitestreak; 05-18-2011 at 09:16 PM. Reason: forgot part of the last sentence
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

Just out of curiosity: I'm looking (browsing, in a distracted way) through SS4 (Carriers). Is there any rule that makes it a viable option to choose fighters over missiles?
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Old 05-19-2011, 02:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Spaceships] The hard, ungrateful life of a CAG (fighter squadron leader)

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Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
Just out of curiosity: I'm looking (browsing, in a distracted way) through SS4 (Carriers). Is there any rule that makes it a viable option to choose fighters over missiles?
That's a whole other thread, that's been discussed at length a number of times already. Have a search of the forums, or try this thread: http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=49711
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