V-3YG7 system, Catch region. On the 14th of January at 17:10 EVE Standard Time, the third major battle of the Winter War was fought in the system.
The battle saw Stain Fraggin (SF) coalition forces clash head on with Stain Wagon (SW) coalition and its ally Goonswarm Federation [CONDI] over a slew of timers, resulting in another bloody and costly fight.
As part of the invasion of the Catch region, SF forces have been pushing hard into the heart of Catch. V-3YG7 serves not only as SW’s staging system, but as an important crossroad for the entire region. Control of the system puts most of the region in the jump range of SF Capital and Supercapital fleets, not to mention the ability to cut off enemy movement coming from the Stain and Querious regions.
Thus its no wonder SF members had focused their attention on claiming the system. SF forces managed to reinforce 2 of the SW staging Fortizar citadels and anchor 2 of their own, not to mention reinforce an Azbel engineering complex. This in turn created 5 timers set to expire on the night of 14th of January merely hours from each other. This meant both sides would have to defend and attack each others’ assets in the system during the night,
With so much on the line, the two sides prepared for another major confrontation.
SF and its myriad of allies managed to assemble a truly terrifying force. The armada which made its way to the V-3YG7 system saw no less than 4 Machariel battleship fleets, a Nightmare battleship fleet, 2 Proteus strategic cruiser fleets and a Jackdaw tactical destroyer fleet. Though not all of the fleets were filled to the maximum, the sheer number of pilots participating in the push was astounding.
Against this, SW formed a Machariel fleet of its own and a Rattlesnake battleship fleet. The coalition also fielded 2 capital squadrons in the defense of their citadels, while its ally Goonswarm Federation brought a Maelstrom battleship fleet and a Svipul tactical destroyer fleet from its staging in the D-W7F0 system.
Both sides fielded considerably large stealth bomber wings.
Once the two sides finished forming up, the great SF armada made its way to the V-37GY system. One by one the fleets filtered in, as SW fleets set up on one of their Fortizar citadels, prepared to face the vast enemy armada. Once in the system and ready, the SF fleets warped to the citadel at varying ranges, most preferring to land at long range of the SW fleet, with only one Machariel fleet choosing to land close to the SW defenders.
As the myriad fleets landed on the grid, exiting their warp tunnels and anchoring up, weapon systems deployed. The turrets locked targets, opening fire and starting the fight.
Thousands of artillery cannons lit up with light as they propelled shells across the void separating the two sides. Swarms of missiles crisscrossed the space, leaving vapor trails as they flew towards their designated targets. Beams of light, like so many strings, connected briefly dozens of Legion strategic cruisers to a single Machariel or Rattlesnake, before vanishing as the ship was vaporized by the focused laser fire. Hundreds of plasma charges, like a bright blizzard, smashed against robust shields and thick armor plating.
The firepower on display was truly amazing. Battleships on both sides could do nothing to resist the coordinated volleys, and soon the grid was dotted with bright explosions illuminating tight fleet formations. The capital wing of SW, mainly high angle weapon (HAW) dreadnoughts specifically designed to counter sub capitals, contributed as much as it could to the firefight in an attempt to even the numbers. However it soon became apparent that SW forces were severely outnumbered and outgunned.
An uneven trade developed as SF fleets were able to destroy several SW mainline ships for each loss they took. The SF fleets had purposefully spread their fire, each fleet possessing enough firepower to volley any ship on the field with ease. This meant that for each 1-2 mainline ship SW forces were able to destroy, they often paid 4-5 ships in return. Even so, SW was able to quickly replenish it losses, fighting over its staging Fortizar. Each ship lost would quickly be replaced by a new Machariel or Rattlesnake launching from the structure.
As the battle developed, the stealth bomber wings made their presence felt, diving in to deliver devastating bombing runs or just add to the general confusion. Several SF fleets started to close in on the SW forces, including a Jackdaw and Proteus fleets. The Jackdaw fleet however soon came under heavy fire from the citadel’s point defenses. The Fortizar’s defenses tore through the tactical destroyers, decimating the fleet and removing it from the field within minutes.
However, SW then switched its attention to the Proteus fleet attacking its battleship fleets in close range. This led to the Fortizar’s void bombs hitting hostile and friendly targets, a fact that was quickly exploited by SF forces. The void bombs drained the capacitor of ships, causing modules like armor and shield hardeners to turn off, making the ships far more vulnerable to assault. Soon, the losses of SW started to spiral out of control.
As the battle raged on, Goonswarm Federation reinforcements finally arrived in the system. The Maelstrom fleet had been delayed repeatedly by SF interdictors, which had hounded it from its staging in D-W7F0. The interdictors had deployed countless warp disruption probes on gate across the route the fleet was to take, making it late in arriving to the defense of its ally.
Yet, once in the system, the Maelstrom fleet warped into the fray, intending to help it besieged allies. The Maelstrom fleet exited warp, landing at range of the myriad of SF fleets and prepared to engage them. This led SF forces to switch their focus, concentrating their entire firepower on removing the Maelstrom fleet from the field. Stealth bomber squadrons immediately went in to bomb the newly arrived battleships, dropping heavy ordinance on the fleet and hitting many of its ships.
Before the fleet could recover, SF forces opened fire, ripping into the still reeling ranks of the Maelstroms. In rapid succession, mainline ships exploded as the battleships found themselves hammered from every direction. The fleet attempted to return fire, joining its remaining firepower to that of SW, but to no avail. Within moments, the entire fleet had been destroyed, only a few souls escaping the fleet’s utter destruction.
With the allied fleet in ruins and having suffered heavy losses themselves, SW forces called a retreat, ordering their fleets to hold fire as they cleared their aggression timers in order to dock up in the Fortizar. Seeing this, SF forces decided to try and inflict as much damage as they could, lighting a cynosural beacon near the battleships and bringing forth 2 titans. The SF titans materialized near the structure, only a few dozen kilometers separating the behemoths from the hostile battleship fleets. Without delay, the titans activated their Bosonic field generators, targeting cones of energy to envelop the SW fleets.
The titans were able to catch only a few of the battleships in the crossfire, dealing more damage ironically to allied fleets which had closed in on the kill. Regardless, the SW sub capital fleets had conceded the field, leaving their capital squadrons out in the open.
The titans and sub capitals started to tear into the force auxiliaries and carriers on the field. One by one the capitals fell, unable to resist the immense firepower poured down on them. Not content with the rate at which the capital force was dispatched, SF forces dropped an entire capital wing on the field. Squadrons of dreadnoughts hit the field, entered siege cycles and opened fire on the SW capitals. The capital munitions, combined with the relentless fire of the sub capital group, were able to quickly overwhelm the remaining capitals, destroying the entire SW force in mere minutes.
With the field cleared, the combined force of the SF armada opened fire on the Fortizar itself, easily pushing it into its second reinforcement timer with SW unable to respond.
Meanwhile, a Goonswarm Federation Svipul fleet which came in with the Maelstrom fleet was busy hounding a small group of SF dreadnoughts on the second Fortizar. The group had been brought in to make sure the other SW Fortizar would not be able to safely exit its reinforcement timer and repair due to the majority of SF forces being tied down by the battle. The dreadnoughts soon found themselves beset by the tactical destroyers who themselves had suffered serious losses due to SF stealth bomber squadrons.
The Svipul fleet was able to destroy one of the dreadnoughts, the small caliber Howitzer artillery cannons, aided by the Fortizar’s defenses, constantly spitting shells at the giant. Slowly, the dreadnought’s shields were breached, and the shells started impacting the hull itself, ravaging it. Finally the ship caved in to the relentless barrage and exploded.
As the tactical destroyers prepared to take down another dreadnought, reinforcements arrived for the SF capitals. A force auxiliary warped in, entered its triage mode and started repairing the dreadnought which cycled down its siege mode. With the dreadnought receiving repairs, and with more force auxiliaries en route, the Svipul fleet had no choice but to retreat. SF forces moved more dreadnoughts to the Fortizar as well and managed to push it into its second reinforcement timer with no further problems.
As fighting raged on the Fortizar in V-3YG7, another Goonswarm Federation Maelstrom fleet was making its way from D-W7F0 to join the fight. The second fleet found the route to V-3YG7 mostly clear, proceeding with haste in order to reinforce the besieged SW forces. As it was making its way through the HY-RWO system it did so under the prying eyes of Northern Coalition. [NC].
Northern Coalition. had assembled a Proteus fleet of its own and scouted wormhole routes to the fight. Remaining mostly a third party in the conflict, the alliance had debated which side to go after that night, as it managed to map two routes which allowed its fleet to cut off either side’s reinforcements. In the end, the decision came down to destroying the Goonswarm Federation fleet.
The Proteus fleet moved through the linking wormholes, hiding in the last wormhole system while keeping eyes on what was going on both in HY-RWO and V-3YG7. The Maelstrom fleet had made it to the system, warping to the V-3YG7 gate and jumping out into V-3YG7. However, as the Maelstrom fleet materialized in the system, scattered around its in-gate, it found itself face to face with a Test Alliance Please Ignore [TEST] Hurricane battlecruiser fleet. The fleet was formerly the SF Jackdaw force which had been destroyed. Its pilots had reformed and come back to the fight, bridging on the HY-RWO gate, just in time to catch the incoming Maelstrom fleet.
The Hurricane fleet wasted no time, opening fire on the Maelstrom fleet as it uncloaked. The Maelstrom fleet commander ordered his ships to burn back to the gate as the battlecruisers started laying waste to its support. As the Maelstroms approached the gate, Northern Coalition. sprang into action. Interdictors entered HY-RWO and warped to the V-3YG7 gate. The destroyers started deploying warp disruption probes on either side of the gate as the main fleet entered as well, warping to the V-3YG7 gate and setting up on it, waiting for the Maelstrom fleet to jump back.
The Maelstrom fleet did not disappoint. Not willing to engage the Hurricane fleet, the Goonswarm Federation commander made the call to jump back to HY-RWO. As the battleships hit the gate and materialized again in HY-RWO, they were greeted by the waiting Proteus fleet. As battleships wore out their cloaking timers, revealing themselves around the gate, the strategic cruisers opened fire and began dispatching ships as fast as they could lock them.
In rapid succession, mainline ships blew apart as the Proteus fleet kept tearing into the battleships with ferocity. The Maelstrom fleet tried to clear tackle, but surprisingly, the logistics wing of the Proteus fleet was able to keep the interdictors alive even under the heavy fire exerted by the battleships. Regardless, the Maelstrom fleet stood no chance, and the Northern Coalition. force destroyed the entire fleet with only a few ships escaping the slaughter.
With the fleet destroyed, Northern Coalition. withdrew, not wishing to tangle up with the massive fight which was still going on in V-3YG7 at the time.
The Battle from the Perspective of the Northern Coalition. Proteus Fleet
Battle report for the HY-RWO system can be found here.
After 3 hours of intense fighting, the battlefield grew silent. SW forces were locked into their staging citadel, guarded by several SF fleets who remained in the system, waiting for their new forward bases to finish anchoring and deploy. Taking advantage of the sudden lull, several SF fleets started extracting. Having suffered losses during the battle, not to mention the exhaustion of 3 straight hours of fighting, a few of the fleets needed to stand down, rather than face further fighting. With Goonswarm Federation making no effort to deliver fresh reinforcements and SW stuck in its Fortizar, SF command allowed the fleets to withdraw.
SW was not, however, sitting idle in its citadel either. Watching the number of hostiles decrease, the coalition started to re-form its fleets, assembling a Rattlesnake fleet as well as a large dreadnought force. This force waited a while as more hostile fleets departed, bidding its time.
With SF withdrawing a few fleets from the field, SW made its return. The Rattlesnake fleet left the safety of the Fortizar, alongside a capital force, ready to engage the battered SF fleets still remaining. The reconstituted Rattlesnake fleet concentrated its fire power on the remaining SF Nightmare fleet, firing salvo after salvo of missiles against the nimble battleships who returned fire immediately. Beam lasers cut into the Rattlesnakes, dissecting many of the ships as the missiles made their way to the Nightmares, engulfing ships in an inferno which quickly swallowed them whole.
However, the exchange proved to be a repeat of the previous engagement, with SW able to inflict losses but suffering twice to four times that itself. Regardless the battle raged on, picking up pace once again and threatening to turn into another long slug. In this case though, SF commanders had other plans.
Feeling confident in their position, not to mention wishing to make a show of force, the SF forces gathered a super capital fleet. Titans and super carriers from across the coalition formed a joint fleet, with force auxiliaries joining in to provide logistics support. The immense fleet waited in range of the system, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. SW forces caught wind of the fleet forming and gave the order to hold fire once more, attempting to clear aggression timers before the might of the fleet dropped on them.
SF commanders quickly lit a cynosural beacon on the field, allowing a titan to jump in before the rest of the force. The behemoth materialized on the field, wasting no time in firing up its lance doomsday device. A bright beam of light shot from the titan, stabbing into the SW Rattlesnake fleet. In that instance, the titan was only able to hit a portion of the fleet but more titans soon followed. By then, the sub capital fleets of SF had descended on the Rattlesnakes, tearing them apart with fire and bombs as stealth bomber wings dropped payload after payload on the ships.
Holding its fire, the SW fleet endured the beating, managing to dock up the remainder of its sub capitals. At the same time, SF forces brought the entirety of their super capital fleet to bear. The titans and super carriers joined the fray, making quick work of the SW capital force which remained near the Fortizar. Doomsday devices and fighter bomber squadrons hit the capitals, reducing many of them to chunks of twisted metal.
Finally, the field had been won by SF forces, with the SW fleet standing down. This gave SF forces free reign of the system, allowing them to reinforce the SW engineering complex uncontested as well as get their two new Fortizars up and running in the system, giving SF another foothold in the region and a new forward base to launch attacks on the rest of the region.
The Battle from the Perspective of the Test Alliance Please Ignore Nightmare Fleet
The battle for V-3YG7 shifted the battle lines in the war once again, with SF forces leaping forward and entrenching themselves in the region. SW forces in the meantime have called for a complete evacuation of the region, withdrawing their forces to the LGK-VP system in the Stain region to serve as their new staging. Whats more, SF had shown its ability to draw not only a formidable sub capital force, but a super capital fleet as well. This would seem to be intended as a clear signal to both Goonswarm Federation, which reportedly withdrew its super capital fleet further back, as well as to SW, that SF is confident that it can face their super capital armadas without much fear.
Battle report for the V-3YG7 system can be found here.
All told the battle lasted 4 and a half hours, with Time Dilation remaining a constant 10% throughout most of the affair. The system itself hosted at one point 2,650 pilots.
SW and Goonswarm Federation lost approximately 783 ships in the fight, including 14 force auxiliaries, 7 carriers and 435 battleships for an estimated sum of damage of 248.8 billion ISK.
SF forces lost 518 ships in the fight, including 1 dreadnought, 1 carrier and 141 battleships in total, bringing the total sum of their losses to 90.23 billion ISK damage.
* All images appearing in this article belong to Razorien and used with his explicit permission.
Salivan Harddin is a member of V0LTA, WE FORM V0LTA and covers battles across New Eden