The Let's Play Archive

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

by nine-gear crow

Part 6: Mission 6 - Operation Constantine, May 13th, 1995


Mission 6: Operation Constantine – May 13, 1995

Overview: The Galm Team provides air support for the liberation of Directus, capital of the Republic of Ustio, and is confronted by an elite Belkan squadron flying state-of-the-art fighters.

Guest Commentator: Lunethex returns for yet another Ace Combat Zero boss battle video.

COMMENTARY NOTE: Lune and I misidentify Gelb’s Su-37s as Su-27s, a mistake born from being unable to distinguish their model numbers properly on the low quality commentary video I had running, nor being able to see the 37s distinctive forward-body canards, the major visual element that distinguishes them from the 27s.

As noted in the video, the term “diapason” has several meanings, mostly all of them coming from the musical realm. Of the two most prominent uses of the term, the first relates to the “concert pitch,” the typical swelling of the orchestra moments before the beginning of a song done as a group tuning calibration. The boot up screen of the Sony PlayStation3, for example, features a diapason.

The second most common usage of diapason refers to the official name of the tuning fork. It has a similar function to the orchestral diapason. The fork produces an audible tone when struck in certain places and with certain levels of force. That tone is then used to tune instruments until they match that tone.

A third usage of the term pertains to a tonal grouping on pipe organs.

The naming of this mission “Diapason” is something that will make sense later in the game once we see most of what is coming down the line. But suffice to say that with the liberation of Ustio, you can regard this moment as the orchestra of the war officially warming up, and the true symphony at the heart of Zero is about to begin as we now push into Belkan territory for the first time after this mission.

One of the more obscure “HEY GUYS DO YOU KNOW ABOUT KING ARTHUR?!!!”s in the game, but one none the less.

While it may seem to be referencing the more well-known Constantine, the controversial Roman emperor who oversaw the merging of early Christianity’s various dissonant faiths into a single church after his conversion, this is not the case. I even did a big write up on OG Constantine for this post, but I was just chasing a rabbit down the wrong hole.

The more pertinent Constantine—also known as Constantine III—surfaces in British mythology as an ancillary character to the Arthurian legend, not a part of the original legend itself but either added to or conflated with other characters from the legend by later authors like Sir Thomas Malory or Jorge Ferreira de Vasconcelos. In these later tales, Constatine, one of the Knights of the Roundtable and Arthur’s son-in-law, becomes the King of Britain following Arthur’s death at the hands of his bastard son Sir Mordred. According to these modernized versions of the myth, Constantine oversaw the reformation of the broken Rountable order, and the restoration of Britain to its former glory before Arthur’s decline and fall.

In terms of a relevant connection to what’s happening here in Zero, this battle is the start of the restoration of Ustio to its former glory. So what a better thing to name this mission than after the great restorer of Camelot? In just a few short weeks, Belka has managed to do lasting damage to its former southern state, damage that is going to take years to undo. But the rebuilding begins today.

Once we retake Directus, the brass will direct us. To Belka. And glory. And war.

The river named in the briefing, the one on which Directus itself is built around is called the Crescere river. Crescere is the Latin present active infinitive of cresco, meaning to grow or swell. It is where we get the term “crescendo” from. And what’s another name for a crescendo, as we now know?


Belkan Air Force 5th Air Division, 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
Squadron Composition: Su-37 (x2)

A two-man flight of Su-37 Terminators. The Gelb team was one of a number of two-plane rapid-reaction flights within the Belkan Air Force. They were usually deployed into already active combat zones as either a cleanup crew or a tide turner force. Stationed out of Dionbill AFB behind Belka’s historic Hydrian Line, the Gelb Team saw continuous, incredibly taxing repeat sorties in the middle days of the Belkan War.

Both Jager and Altman, who comprised Gelb flight, were close friends, able to fly with one another in such perfect synch that they were dubbed the “Coupled Cormorants” by their compatriots, after the emblem of their squadron, a long-necked marsh cormorant.

Gelb squadron is one of two fighter groups in Zero that you will face no matter what your Ace Style is. There are no unique Mercenary or Soldier squadrons for this mission.

Gelb team keeps the “Belkan squadrons have colour names” theme going. In this instance, the colour is yellow, coming from the Middle High Germanic word for the colour, “gel” (pronounced “gehl”). This is also where doing these games in chronological order rather than release order once again whips around to bite the neophytes in the ass, because Gelb Team is one big giant inside joke that calls back to Ace Combat 04, which we will get to in two games’ time.

In 04, the antagonist nation of Erusea also uses colours for the names of their recurring squadrons. There’s a Red Squadron, a Blue Squadron, and more to the point, a Yellow Squadron… which also flies a flight of Su-37 Terminators. They’re not exactly going to be the same kind of pushovers that Gelb wound up being, but that’s just something to keep in mind for later…

Real Name: Rainer Altman
Callsign(s): Gelb 2, Cormorant
Age: 32 (42, frame narrative)
Sex: Male
Nationality: Ustio, Belkan expat
Signature Plane: Su-37 Terminator
Voice Actor: Joshua Seth
On-Camera Actor: Uncredited

“The Fallen”. The former second of Belka’s elite Gelb Squadron. Altman and his wingman, Major Orbert Jager were known informally as the “Errand Boys” of the Belkan Air Force, flying as many as five sorties per day from their home base at Dionbill AFB. Their routine deployments meant for severely curtailed maintenance turnaround time on their Su-37s. Often times they would fly consecutive sorties with no mechanical work on their planes at all. And as the Belkan frontlines collapsed in the run up to the retaking of Directus, the already tenuous logistics line that kept the Gelb flight in the air snapped completely.

On May 13th, 1995, while en route back to Dionbill, Altman and Jager received an emergency re-deployment order to Directus to re-enforce the besieged Belkan contingent still in the city. Low on fuel and ammo, and their planes in already terrible condition, the Gelbs rerouted to Directus in a vain effort to help hold the capital. They arrived in Directus airspace moments after the Belkan Army signaled its surrender and the Allied Forces claimed victory. Despite the dire odds, Jager gave the attack order, determined to at the very least to make this a pyrrhic victory for the allies and down the now-legendary Galm Team.

What followed was an expected, but still shockingly one-sided blow out between the two two-man teams. Cipher downed both Altman and Jager in mere moments. Jager died as his Su-37 exploded, while Altman was able to eject and parachute to safety… in now-hostile territory. He was taken in by a local family in the city and hid with them as a refugee for the remainder of the war.

Upon the war’s end, he applied for refugee status with the restored Ustio government, and later Ustian citizenship, both of which he was granted. He remained in Directus, never again returning to either Belka, or the skies. In the decade since the armistice, he has married, raised two sons, and published several novels, the first of which he was in the process of writing over the course of the war and subsequently finished in Directus.

OBC’s Brett Thompson sat down to interview Altman for the documentary Warriors and the Belkan War in Altman’s home study in Directus, where he recounted his memories of his fallen friend, and of the man who forced him from the skies for good.

Aircraft featured in Mission 6: Operation Constantine

Su-37 Terminator
Manufacturer: Sukhoi Company / KnAAPO
Role: High-maneuverability air superiority fighter
Manufactured: 1996
Status: Prototype, development ceased
Primary Operators: Russia
Quick Facts:

Known as the “Terminator,” this variant of the Su-27 was developed as an all-weather multipurpose fighter. Cutting edge electronics, and thrust vectoring nozzles give it unprecedented dogfighting capabilities.

Missiles: 82
XLAA: 16
NPB: 18

A-10 Thunderbolt II
Manufacturer: Fairchild Republic Aircraft
Role: Ground assault / close air support
Manufactured: 1972-84
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States
Quick Facts:

Also called the “Warthog,” this ground attack fighter is equipped with tough armor to withstand enemy fire and a large Gatling gun. It is highly mobile at low speeds and is well equipped for its role in suppressing enemy ground forces.

Missiles: 64
XAGM: 18
FAEB: 10
RCL: 16

CH-47 Chinook
Manufacturer: Boeing
Role: Troop / cargo transport
Manufactured: 1962–Present
Status: In Service
Primary Operators: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Netherlands
Quick Facts:

Repeat Offenders

Medal: Deliverance Bell
Awarded for: Completing Mission 6 “Diapason”
Description: Awarded for liberating the capital of Ustio from Belkan forces.

Rainer Altman
"Gelb 2"
32, Male, Belka
05.13.95 Operation Constantine - Shot Down
Su-37 Terminator
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: N/A

Charged with the duty of preventing the liberation of Directus, he headed in the direction of the capital city, but was intercepted and shot down by Ustio forces. After the war, he married in Directus and is currently pursuing a career there as a writer.

Orbert Jager
"Gelb 1"
34, Male, Belka
05.13.95 Operation Constantine - Killed In Action
Su-37 Terminator
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: N/A

He served as Commander of an intercept squadron on Belka's southern defense position, the Hydrian Line. Adopting the southern front as a base, he utilized his command of combat aerial tactics as a weapon to strike out at enemy forces in all directions.

David Hartmann
29, Male, Belka
05.13.95 Operation Constantine - Shot Down
F-15C Eagle
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Mercenary

Graduating as a physicist from the 7th Service Academy top of his class, he applied for placement in the Experimental Space Navigation Team, but was denied acceptance. After the war, he moved to Erusea where he received his PhD in Physics from the Usean University of Engineering. He was involved with the development and operation of Stonehenge.

Lamar Zimmermann
28, Male, Belka
05.13.95 Operation Constantine - Shot Down
EA-18G Growler
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Soldier

As the captain of the 12th Air Division 29th Tactical Fighter Squadron, he destroyed the impenetrable radar defense system around Wesson in the Osean Federation in under four minutes. After the war, he pursed a career researching communication engineering.

Gerald Wessels
28, Male, Belka
05.13.95 Operation Constantine - Shot Down
F-14D Super Tomcat
Difficulty: Any
Ace Style: Knight

During the war, he was arrested and convicted for the crime of treason against the government of Belka. After the war, an Allied investigation proved the charges were false and exonerated him. He now works for a security company in Ustio.

Darius Hertzsch
27, Male, Belka
05.13.95 Operation Constantine - Killed In Action
Difficulty: Ace
Ace Style: Any

Known as The Guillotine for his tactic of firing at the enemy's cockpit, he was hit over Directus, and was shot and killed after bailing out.

Tracks featured in Mission 6.