Bombing with the best: A night of SBU warfare
This op started in late USTZ with an ihub coming out of reinforce in an N3 system in Immensea. What began as a boring structure shoot ends with bombs and bedlam.
Taloses for starters
Originally our head FC sent out a ping asking for maximum dps blaster Taloses. Evidently this was going to be a structure shoot, sigh. Blaster Taloses are probably the best ship for shooting structures when resistance is not expected. They do 1200dps + but have mediocre tanks and relatively short range.
Our FC estimated it was only going to take us 20 minutes to get this Ihub into its next reinforce cycle. That's ideal when you consider you are committing no capitals and only around 3 billion isk in ships. Unfortunately if resistance does appear, you'll need a plan b, especially if you have no logistics support as was the case with our fleet.
We bridged into system with about 30 Taloses and started to shoot the Ihub. Half way through killing it, Pandemic Legion appeared in bombers and we were forced to leave system. Again, Taloses are not the best doctrine if your opponents shows up in just about anything but especially if they appear in bombers.
Obviously the reason bombers are so effective against structure-shooting blaster Taloses is the short range of the Talos. If the Taloses are using maximum DPS ammunition they will all be clumped around the structure at between 5-10km. All a bomber squad needs to do is warp to the structure at around -30-40km and bomb to kill all of you. As I noted earlier, Taloses have mediocre tanks and large signatures so it won't take more than one squad of bombers to kill them.
Regardless we jump out of the system and into a waiting Pandemic Legion Ishtar gang with logistics support. Our FC had not sent a scout into our next system. So we jump in and hold cloak. Initially our FC ordered us to MWD back towards the gate and go back to the system we were in. However he changed his mind when he saw the enemy FCs in a Rattlesnake and Claymore. We primaried both. However neither agressed and after they started taking damage they jumped into the system we had come from.
The engagement then followed a predictable pattern of slow brawler Taloses chasing faster, small-signature kiting ships. We killed a few Ishtars, lost a majority of our Taloses and then burned home. I lost my Talos to the Ishtars.
Shortly after our fight with the Ishtars, other N3 entities appeared in their own Talos fleet to destroy the SBUs in the system. Under the current sovereignty mechanics, killing our SBUs would have the same effect as repairing the Ihub we had just partially damaged in our Taloses.
Another FC in our alliance, an experienced bomber FC, called for bombers. Our bombers were going to do exactly what the Pandemic Legion bombers had just done to us. We would either destroy their Talos fleet or force them to destroy the SBUs in another doctrine less vulnerable to bombs.
We had two squads of bombers, about 7 in each.
We bridged into the system via cov-ops cyno and warped to the SBU they were destroying at 45km. As we had two squads our FC warped us to 2 different perches. The reason for this is that bombs, while traveling, deal damage to other bombs launched in the same wave. If you have more than 7 bombs in one wave they will destroy each other. While the other option is to bomb from the same spot in two staggered waves, this gives your enemy time to react to the second wave. As such, we used two different perches for each bomber squad.
Once we landed both squads started approaching the SBU. After we were about 40km away from the SBU we decloaked and bombed. Given we had 14 bombs we should have killed all of their battlecruisers however this didn't occur. It appeared we killed about 6 battlecruisers. Our FC was pretty annoyed about this, he had thought we would wipe them out.
Our theories for why our bombing didn't work as expected put the blame either on the SBU structure absorbing some of the bomb damage and bugging out its effect on the battlecruisers. Alternatively, maybe our range was off? My money is on the structure theory given my subsequent research on bombing.
Regardless, this was the battlecruiser's que to leave. The strategic situation was therefore some damaged SBUs and a partially damaged Ihub. A stalemate.
We suspected the enemy would return later after we left so I left a set of cov-ops eyes on the SBU and went AFK.
Part two: Bombing continues
Sure enough, an hour or so later I returned to my computer and spotted another battlecruiser fleet attacking the SBU.
I pinged for bombers and we quickly had one squad together ready for round 2. Fortunately our last FC came along and alternated between back-seating me and leading the fleet himself.
What occured after this was somewhat anti-climatical. While we performed multiple bombing runs on their battlecruisers shooting the SBU they also brought a supercarrier group of about 10 Aeons and Nyxs who launched fighter-bombers to grind down the SBU.
As the supercarriers would do around 7000-9000 dps, I assume the enemy was quite happy that we bombed their battlecruiser 'fodder'.
At one point we tried to bomb their fighter-bombers but the supercarriers were alligned and warped off. This meant that their fighter-bombers also warped out with them, instead of MWD-ing back to the supercarriers which would have seen them destroyed by bombs. Obviously we needed an interdictor to bubble the super-carriers first so they couldn't do this and we could destroy fighter-bombers. I suppose we could have lined up multiple bombing runs against their super-carriers but they only launched fighters once they were aligned. As such this would have only delayed the SBU's destruction I think.
Instead we killed some more battlecruisers and went home. I think we lost 2-3 bombers in the second operation for a larger number of battlecruisers. From memory we had 84% ISK efficiency.
Some excellent links
While writing this article I did some research and the best set of introductory articles was Kcolour's 3-part series on theMittani.com. Definitely have a look if you want to give bombing a try!