The gold shipments from the Badlands mines in South Dakota usually leave the state by airship transport. It's the safest and least-expensive way to move the precious metal across the country
Sometimes the lure of gold (valued at around $300 per ounce) moves men to desperate measures. Some rob the trucks that transport the gold from the mines to Rapid City, striking from Badlands hideouts. The high security on the highway and the frequent Q-trucks make this a very risky undertaking. Others go even farther, contemplating robbing the great rigid airships that carry gold from Rapid City. This is the riskiest and most expensive venture of all, for airships are virtual battleships of the air, carrying tons of weaponry and armor along with their cargo.
Sometimes the gold airships aren't Federal carriers. Sometimes they're only lesser-armed contractors. And when news leaked out that an Air Express ship carrying a ton of gold was going south to Texas, the Air Raiders of Nebraska decided that the reward of nearly $10 million in gold was worth the risk.
The Microp Jane rules in ADQ 7/1 are necessary to play this scenario. The Airship rules in ADQ 5/1 are helpful but not absolutely necessary.
The center of play revolves around the airship gondola counter, representing the center of the airship. The counter is 6" by 1 1/2" and is used to show airship maneuvering as well as the location of the huge gas envelope.
The Air Raiders have $150,000 to construct their microplanes and/or helicopters. They must build at least one tilt-rotor microplane capable of carrying 5 spaces and 2,000 lbs. of cargo with a Cargo Door in the roof (no top turrets) and one tilt-rotor or helicopter capable of carrying six passengers to board the airship when it's immobilized. These functions may be incorporated into the same tilt-rotor microplane.
The Air Express player(s) has one Standard airship Aero Carrier and $50,000 to construct two microplanes totalling no greater than 13,000 lbs. between the two of them. Due to space limitations, neither microplane may be larger than Large.
The Air Raiders enter from any direction at any altitude at any speed. The Air Express player(s) may have the two microplanes in flight within 15" of the airship. The airship and its escorts start the combat at 55 mph.
The gas envelope restricts movement around the airship. It extends 2 1/4" out beyond each side of the gondola, 11 1/2" beyond each end and 6" above it. Any aircraft coming within these boundaries has collided with the airship! The airship's rigid envelope will sustain 20 DP of ram/collision damage before it is destroyed, no matter how many DP it has already taken.
If the airship loses its helium and crashes (if all envelope DP are destroyed), both sides lose and the gold is buried in topsoil and wreckage.
The gondola is treated like a 40' trailer with ten armor locations and appropriate firing arcs. It is + 3 to hit when it is fired at from any angle. It also shows when and where the airship moves - for simple play and due to the cargo load the AeroCarrier can only make one maneuver per turn (on Phase 3 of the 5-phase speed chart or Phase 5 of the 10phase speed chart) of D3 or less. The airship accelerates at 5 mph per turn, decelerates safely at up to 20 mph per turn and has a top speed of 90 mph. If two props are destroyed the airship loses its acceleration but can still hold its present speed and maneuver. If it loses three of its four props it begins decelerating at 10 mph per turn but can still maneuver. Loss of all four props causes it to decelerate at 15 mph per turn and prohibits maneuvering. The airship is so large that it ignores hazards from weapons damage.
The envelope contains the lighter-than-air gas to keep the airship aloft. The envelope takes 1 point of damage per die of damage of the weapon that hits it (a Gauss Gun would do three points, for instance) or full damage from fIame throwers and burst-effect weapons. It is +8 to hit. If the envelope takes 5 cumulative points of damage the airship begins to lose altitude at 5 mph. At 10 cumulative points of damage the airship loses altitude at 10 mph; at 15 cumulative points of damage the airship falls at 15 mph. When 20 points of damage have been done the airship plummets to the earth. It is recommended that the Air Raiders not fire on the envelope, because if the airship is lost before they can transfer cargo, they lose. And cargo transfer cannot be accomplished if the airship is losing altitude during the transfer.
The envelope does block fire from and at the gondola. The gondola cannot be hit by or fire at targets above the gondolas altiude.
AeroCarrier - Standard airship, medium powerplant, pilot, 6 gunners, 4 HSRGM linked F, 2 Mgs linked F, 2 AP SAMs linked RF, 2 AP SAMs linked LF, 1 ACN w/magazine UF, 2 Mgs linked RB, 2 Mgs linked LB, 2 Mgs linked B, 2 AP SAMs linked B, improved fire extinguisher, passenger space for 10 passengers, radar, radar jammer, 4 winches, 2 microplane harnesses, 2 target computers, 5 SWTC, 21 spaces cargo (5,135 lbs.) Armor: F25, LF, RF, LB, RB, all 20, B25, TF15, TB15, UF25, UB25. Prop DP 10, Envelope DP 20. $213,000.
Microplane Harness - $1,000, 500 lbs., 2 space. Can be installed on the bottom of any aerial vehicle with 30 or more internal spaces, one per 2" of counter length. Primary users are airships and blimps. It is a harness for carrying a microplane underneath the vehicle in flight. To use it, the microplane (outfitted with the propoper hooks, $200, no space or weight) flies 1" underneath the carrier, maching the speed with it. The harness is lowered and the microplane flies into it, laching onto the hook in front of the cockpit (a D5 maneuver). The other hooks latch automatically and microplane is secured in the harness. The plane is then winched up to the belly of the carrier, taking five seconds to do so. Control loss during the latching procedure indicates that the microplane failed to successfully latch onto the hook and must try again - as well as suffering the results the loss of control.
Microplane harnesses require the purchase and installation of two winches as well, for raising and lowering harness and aircraft. These winches can be used for other purposes such as raising or lowering cargo; they are not specifically for the microplane harness, although they are required.
Once in the harness the microplane can be carried along with the larger craft, using its range and speed. The pilot and other fliers may leave the microplane to go inside the carrier craft. Likewise, the microplane may be recharged from the larger craft's power plant and/or resupplied with ammunition and other expendables. Repairs may no be preformed on the microplane while it is in harness except such repairs that can be performed from inside the plane.
Launching a microplane from a harness takes five seconds. During the first second the micropIane-lowering process begins. In the next three seconds the microplane is still being lowered but may be started up and have its engines running. On the fifth second the harness latchers are disengaged and the plane falls free, a D3 maneuver. The plane is moving at the carrier's current speed.
Carriers may mount weapons underneath. To do so requires 2" of counter space not used for microplane harnesses and even then turrets cannot be used until all microplanes are deployed and the harnesses empty and returned to secure position. When mounting harnesses, bottom-mounted weapons must be either UF or UB, not both.