The Let's Play Archive

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War

by nine-gear crow

Part 10: Mission 10 - Operation Battle-Axe, May 28th, 1995 - Part 1


Mission 10: Operation Battle-Axe – May 28th, 1995

INTERLUDE: Pilot Interviews, Round 1

EXTRA: Pixy and Gelb 2 Interviews (Soldier and Mercenary versions)

Overview: Osea launches a massive aerial strike against Belka’s B7R Round Table airspace following the summary abrogation of its nonaggression treaty with the Assembly of Nations. Galm and Crow teams are dispatched into the Round Table to support the OADF’s Wizard and Sorcerer squadrons in the fight, and encounter three more Belkan ace squadrons.

VIDEO NOTE: I’m breaking the pattern on this one and showing off the Mercenary mission in full because it’s the one where several continuity characters from later Ace Combat games appear, which is Project Aces’ way of unsubtly suggesting this is the “canon” version of the three runs.

The boss breakdown is as such: Schwarze (Mercenary), Silber (Knight), Schnee (Soldier).

Guest Commentator: If it’s a boss fight, it’s Lunethex.


It’s sort of glossed over with just a line in the briefing, but it’s actually a very important development that Osea has renounced its non-aggression pact with the AN. Prior to this, Osea had been strictly retaking and liberation territory invaded by Belka that belonged to other countries, and striking targets inside Belka and then retreating. Things have changed suddenly. Osea now means to invade Belka, and hold any territory it captures from the Belkans. And they are going to go straight on to Dinsmark if they have to.

After the Belkan Air Force’s defeat in the Battle of B7R, the provinces of the Belkan lowlands south of the Waldreich Mountains unanimously declared an ad hoc cease fire with the Allied forces. They renounced their ties to the government in Dinsmark and peacefully disarmed. Half of Belka’s remaining territory became a political and military no man’s land overnight.

Strap in. This war just got a lot more complex than it was one update ago, and the “Osea Is Not The Good Guys™” band is just getting warmed up.


This mission shares its codename and general setup with a battle from World War II. The British and Indian armies launched a massive assault on German and Italian positions in Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya) to liberate a key sector of Northern Africa from Axis control. However, the real Operation Battle-Axe didn’t go as well as the fictional one for the Allies. The British forces were repulsed by German general Erwin Rommel (of “Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!” fame) after a three-day long failed siege on the Axis fortifications.

Belkan Air Force 13th Night Fighter Air Division, 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Squadron Composition: MiG-31 Foxhound (x8)

An eight plane black ops flight headed by former Yuktobanian Air Force Captain and internationally wanted war criminal Dominic Zubov. Being a Night Fighter squadron, Schwarze Team was designed to operate under any potential weather conditions, and be ready for deployment at a moment’s notice around the clock. Schwarze Squadron was Belka’s go to “wetwork” squadron within its air force, effectively operating as an arm of the Belkan secret police at times. Schwarze flight was feared and reviled even within the Belkan Air Force for their deadly skill, their unrelenting ferocity, and their utter lack of morals or ethics on the battlefield. The fact that their number one and two pilots were both exiled Yuktobonian war criminal mercenaries was also a big sticking point with many of the ardently nationalistic pilots of the BAF at the time.

The primary role of Schwarze Squadron was the hunting down and summary execution of escaping would be defectors from Belka. Zubov led a flight of eight MiG-31 Foxhounds; all black with blood red accents; fast and powerful interceptors, in order to rundown and then overwhelm these targets with a sheer force of numbers. Their pursuit of one such attempted escapee, Wolfgang “Huckebein” Buchner,” into the B7R Round Table led them into an engagement with the Galm Team, resulting in the squadron’s destruction at the hands of Cipher and Pixy, as well as the loss of their target Huckebein in the scrum.

To this day, the Belkan government has officially denied the existence and actions of Schwarze Squadron and its fellow wetwork flights and their pilots and has stonewalled all attempts by the International Criminal Court to locate and prosecute these pilots for war crimes. The surviving members of Schwarze Squadron, including Zubov, have since fled Belka and changed their identities to avoid arrest and prosecution for their actions during the Belkan War.

Schwarze Team continues the colour theme among the Belkan boss squadrons, although PA kinda messed up the spelling on this one. Schwarz, the word they were going for, means “black” in German. “Schwarze,” meanwhile, and its masculine equivalent “Schwarzer,” is actually German (and Yiddish) slang for a black person. Oops.

From a gameplay perspective, Schwarze is one of the tougher squadron bosses in the Ace Combat franchise, simply because of their sheer numbers and the fact that they’re flying better planes than anything you can field at the time you face them for the first time. They’re one of only four 8-man flights in the entire series. Gault Squadron, coming up later in Zero flies another 8-plane formation, as do two other boss squadrons, but naming them at this point would be spoilers. Although not to be outdone, Strigon Squadron, coming up in Ace Combat 6 flies a gobsmacking 12-plane formation.


Belkan Air Force 126th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Squadron Composition: F-16C Fighting Falcon (x4), F-4E Phantom II (x1)

Silber Squadron’s operational history stretches back to the Rectan War of the mid-1970s, where Captain Dietrich Kellerman led the original version of the flight to many crushing victories of the Rectan Air Force, and played a critical role in the capture of Recta’s capital city of Cor prior to Recta’s complete surrender and annexation by Belka. Later, in 1985, Silber Team was involved in an encounter referred to in official reports as the “Wellow Incident,” where Kellerman and his fight engaged and downed several unidentified aircraft over Crescents Island off the North Belkan coast. Belkan Intelligence would later claim it was a recon flight originating from the arctic nation of Wellow north of Belka.

Kellerman retired from the BAF in 1990, becoming a civilian flight instructor and turning Silber Team over to his former number two. Upon the outbreak of the Belkan War, however, he was forcibly recalled to active duty by the Belkan government to bolster troop morale. He then reformed Silber Squadron (now in its third incarnation) with students from the BAF’s 9th Special Education Course, dubbed the "Kellerman Institution," and participated in relatively “safe” battles as a form of live-fire training for his students.

Their engagement with the Galm Team in the B7R Round Table would be Silber Team’s last sortie in its storied history.

Once again, the Belkan Ace Squadron=Colour pattern persists, with Silber being German for “silver,” the colour of the squadron’s planes and emblem. I mention this in the video but it bears repeating in text: Silber squadron is one of the few ace squadrons in Ace Combat where the squadron leader has a discernably different plane from their wingmates. This means that shooting him down is left to your discretion as the player, rather than it being a scripted event, like it is for the squadrons who all fly the same planes. Taking out Kellerman first will cause Silber Squadron to break completely and become easy pickings for the rest of the fight. The trade-off, however, is that he’s actually pretty hard to take down first, especially because he sics his squad of students on you in their F-16s, and they will hound you relentlessly while you try to down him.

However, in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, the “Strangereal canon-friendly” remake of Ace Combat 2 for the Nintendo 3DS, boss squadron leader planes are denoted by a star next to their target icon.

As a matter of trivia, the Silber Team was originally meant to be a flight of five straight Phantoms, and was shown off in several screenshots and trailers for Zero as such, but was later changed to one Phantom and four F-16s.

Belkan Air Force 22nd Air Division, 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Squadron Composition: F-14D Super Tomcat (x4), EA-6B Prowler (x1)

A five-plane flight consisting of four F-14Ds and an EA-6B electronic support plane. Schnee Squadron acted as a frontline tactical assault flight, capable of destroying targets from great distances with their long-range missiles while also avoiding damage and losses due to their dedicated jammer plane on the number 5 slot in the squadron.

Schee Team was part of Belka’s initial push into Ustian territory, shooting down several UAF squadrons in engagements over northern Ustio, including two squadrons shot down over Monte Rosa, Ustio on March 30, 1995. As the Belkan front expanded into Ustio and Sapin, Schnee Squadron was held back to secure the boarders of the Belkan homeland, scoring dozens of kills as they helped maintain the Hydrian Line. Despite members of their wing being shot down in engagements before, it was not until their encounter with the Galm Team in the B7R airspace that the entirety of Schnee Squadron was downed in a single sortie.

In terms of the naming convention for enemy squadrons, Schnee is our first pattern breaker. It’s not named after a colour, but rather snow. “Schnee” is German for snow. If we were following the naming convention properly then Schee would actually be Weiss Squadron (as Weiss or weiß means white, the colour of snow). Though I’m pretty sure I know why Project Aces decided to break the pattern for this one. This is yet another semi-hidden reference to Ace Combat 5. In 5, the prominent character Captain Marcus Snow flies an F-14D as his default plane, just like the majority of Schnee Squadron does.

One promo shot for the game shows Schnee Squadron flying over Solis Ortus, from Mission 5. I don’t know if this is meant to be read into more or not. It could just be a promotional mock up done with whatever usable assets they had available at the time, or perhaps it suggests that Schee Team was meant to show up at one point as a boss in Mission 5 but was pushed back to Mission 10 to pace the game better. (Because that means you’d have two ace bosses one after the other with Gelb Team showing up in Mission 6).

Real Name: Dominic Zubov
Callsign(s): Vulture, Schwarze 1
Age: 38 (48, frame narrative)
Sex: Male
Nationality: Yuktobania
Signature Plane: MiG-31 Foxhound
Voice Actor: D.C. Douglas
On-Camera Actor: Uncredited

“The Bringer of Death”. Dominic Zubov is an odd find amongst the ranks of the mighty Belkan Air Force: a Yuktobanian mercenary. He began his career as a pilot with the Yuktobanian Air Force’s 9th Air Division 112th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and saw action in both Tyumen Dispute (a border dispute between the Union of Yuktobanian Republics and the Republic of Kaluga in 1986), and the Blood War (another border skirmish between the UYR and the Republic of Romny the following year in 1987). Zubov saw action in the Battle of Zhytomyr, one of Tyumen’s most bloody and costly battles. While his entire YAF air division managed to decisively crush the Kalugan Air Force in the battle, they suffered an 80% casualty rate, and the majority of the Yuktobanian survivors were later diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms as a result of the engagement.

Following the end of the Blood War in 1987, Zubov left the YAF (under heavy suspicion he had committed multiple war crimes during the conflict) and fled across the border to the Republic of Romny, where he would later find work as a mercenary. He also spent time as a mercenary operative for the Kingdom of Valga on Southern Verusa until 1990, when he was headhunted by the Belkan Air Force and offered a position on one of their new black ops squadrons. He left Verusa behind and crossed the Ceres Ocean to Osea, and then on to Belka shortly thereafter.

In the early 90s, he was placed in command of Schwarze Squadron, ostensibly a reconnaissance night fighter all weather team, but as the BAF brass got a feel for Zubov and his particular skillset, they slowly pivoted Schwarze towards what would become its current purpose: escapee killing. However, his nature as a Yuktobanian ex-pat and suspected war criminal, and the true extent of his operations within the BAF prevented the Belkan military leadership for formally acknowledging him as an ace pilot, despite his downing of the requisite number of planes to be worthy of official ace status several times over.

The majority of Zubov’s sorties (both before and after the outbreak of the Belkan War) have been classified by the Belkan government. His only “verified” engagement was during May 28th, 1995’s Allied Forces Operation Battle-Axe, where he pursued a defecting Belkan pilot (later identified as Wolfgang “Huckebein” Buchner) into the massive aerial battle that was currently underway in the B7R Round Table airspace. He lost his target in the chaos of the battle and was subsequently shot down by Galm 1, “Cipher” of the Ustio Air Force. The remainder of Schwarze Squadron was killed during the battle by Cipher and Galm 2, “Solo Wing Pixy”.

Following his apparent “death” in the Round Table, Zubov fled Belka in order to avoid prosecution for war crimes by the post-war interim Belkan government. His current location remains unknown, though rumors circulate that he is currently hiding out in the Osean Federation, continuing his work as an underground mercenary for hire.

After years in hiding from various war crimes charges in Yuktobania, Belka, and Osea, he agreed to meet with OBC’s Brett Thompson for his special Warriors and the Belkan War in late September, 2005, under heavily regulated circumstances (a location of Zubov’s choosing, no additional camera or production crews besides Thompson himself, no mention of his prior or possible future whereabouts or his occupational history for the past 10 years, no attempts to follow him or track him down for follow up interviews, and most importantly, no cops). They met in an abandoned apartment in an undisclosed part of Oured, Osea for one hour, after which Zubov quickly left and disappeared back into the fog of war.

He has not been seen since.

Real Name: Dietrich Kellerman
Callsign(s): Boss, Silver Falcon, Silber 1
Age: 45 (55, frame narrative)
Sex: Male
Nationality: Belka
Signature Plane: F-4E Phantom II
Voice Actor: Jamieson Price
On-Camera Actor: Uncredited

“The Veteran Reborn”. Dietrich Kellerman joined the BAF in 1973, prior to the Belkan federal reformation in the 80s. During the Rectan War later that decade, Kellerman’s Silber Squadron (dubbed the “First Season Silber Squadron” by aviation historians) singlehandedly broke through the Rectan Air Force’s air superiority over Mount Mainz, allowing the Belkan Army to roll over the mountains and into the city of Calle. He earned the title “The Hero of Mainz” for his actions and was officially recognized as the Belkan Air Force’s top ace at the time. Following Recta’s defeat and assimilation into the newly rechristened Belkan Federation, Kellerman was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General for his heroic actions during the war, yet remained with Silber Squadron as its flight lead until his retirement from the air force in 1990. His second was promoted to the number one spot on Silber Team, which continued on without him and was now dubbed the “Second Season Silber Squadron”.

At the prompting of his superior, Major General Heinreich Land, he accepted a position at one of the Belkan Air Force’s flight training schools, where his 9th Special Education Course became affectionately known as the “Kellerman Institute” by students and graduates. Many pilots who would go on to become recognized aces themselves came out of the Kellerman Institute, including the four current members of (the so called “Third Season”) Silber Squadron.

Following the outbreak of the Belkan War, Kellerman was pressganged back in to active service by the Belkan government and resumed command of Silber Squadron as its flight lead. His presence on the battlefield bolstered the Belkans’ morale, but his squadron was still relatively untested in battle, and Kellerman’s prime days behind the stick of a plane were long behind him. The untenable situation he found himself in ultimately lead to disaster when Silber Team was dispatched to bolster the flagging Belkan front in the Battle of Area B7R on May 28th, 1995, also known as Allied Forced Operation Battle-Axe.

Kellerman and his student wingmen engaged Galm Team’s Cipher and Pixy in combat, and were shot down entirely. Kellerman watched in mounting horror and grief as the “Demon Lord of the Round Table” shot down each of his students’ planes before finally coming for him last. None of his students survived the battle, and upon his return from the SAR flight in from B7R, he tenured his official resignation from the Belkan Air Force. His days as a pilot were over.

Following the end of the war, he was extradited to Osea on what proved to be falsified war crimes charges. It was actually a covert attempt by the Osean Air Defense Force to headhunt him as a military flight instructor, like he was for the Belkans once. He declined the offer and returned across the border to Belka, where he ultimately bought a patch of farmland in the town of Birenheim with his retirement annuity from the BAF’s Veterans Affairs board and resolved to toil his remaining days away as a humble dairy farmer in order to try and learn to live with the grief from letting his students die.

Following the 10 year anniversary of the war’s end, he was tracked down and interviewed by OBC’s Brett Thompson for the documentary special Warriors and the Belkan War at his farm in Birenheim, Belka.

Real Name: Erich Hillenberand
Callsign(s): Phonix, Schnee 1
Age: 40 (50, frame narrative)
Sex: Male
Nationality: Belka
Signature Plane: F-14D Super Tomcat
Voice Actor: Kirk Thornton
On-Camera Actor: Uncredited

“A Man Who Lived For Battle”. Known as “the Eternal Second Lieutenant,” Erich Hillenberand quickly developed a reputation among his fellow pilots in the Belkan Air Force for repeatedly declining promotion offers that would see him taken out of the cockpit and placed behind a desk or a map table.

He was never a man of great ambition or aspirations for glory like many of his fellow BAF pilots. His lifelong dream had been to simply be a fighter pilot, one he had already achieved, and he wasn’t going to let anything come between him and his goal, not even the prospect of career advancement. It was an attitude that perplexed and infuriated his superiors, but his skills as a pilot and squadron leader were beyond contention. So he was permitted to remain in his self-imposed rut while his wingmates and subordinates were promoted to squadron leads themselves or into command officer positions within the BAF.

Because of this, the composition of his squadron, Schnee Team, was constantly changing around him. He never truly bonded with any of his compatriots beyond a professional level, but his skills as a commander managed to overcome his interpersonal deficits and even managed to otherwise win the trust of those he flew with.

After several successful engagements along the Belkan southern front with Ustio, his team was slowly pulled back to stay with the collapsing frontlines. On May 28th, 1995, Hillenberand and his Schee Squadron were dispatched into the B7R Round Table to bolster the flagging Belkan presence in the battle that had erupted there. Upon their entry into the combat zone, they targeted the two planes who had reportedly done the most damage to the Belkan forces in the area; the F-15C Eagles belonging to Galm Team’s Cipher and Pixy; with their long-raged missiles. Despite having an obvious range advantage, and the support of an in-house electronic jammer plane at his disposal, Hillenberand and his squadron mates were each shot down by the Galm Team.

Hillenberand managed to eject and survive the crash of his F-14D and watched the remainder of the battle from the ground, keenly eyeing Cipher, the man who shot him as he maneuvered through the remainder of the battle before the surviving Belkan planes retreated. He swore to return to the sky and face “The Demon Lord of the Round Table” in combat once again, but he never encountered Cipher in combat again after that day.

He was missed by the Belkan search-and-rescue flight which managed to fish most of his downed surviving comrades out of the B7R war zone, and instead opted to walk back to closest air base. After three days of hiking through the inhospitable wilderness of the desert mountains, he eventually found transportation back to base and returned to active duty shortly after his debriefing.

He remained on active duty until shortly after the end of the war and the signing of the Belkan disarmament treaty. He was honorably discharged from the air force and he left Belka for the more economically and socially stable nation of Osea, once the political climate had cooled from its heated post-war state.

After he settled in Osea, he became a civilian flight instructor at a flight school operating out of Jackson Hill International Airport, in Jackson Hill, North Osea and has remained there to this day.

In early September of 2005, he was interviewed for the OBC documentary Warriors and the Belkan War in his flight office at Jackson Hill International Airport in North Osea by Brett Thompson.

Real Name: Joshua Bristow
Callsign(s): Lucan, Wizard 1
Age: 38 (48, frame narrative)
Sex: Male
Nationality: Osea
Signature Plane: F/A-18C Hornet
Voice Actor: Uncredited
On-Camera Actor: Uncredited

Flight lead of Osea’s prestigious Wizard Squadron, and an associate of Galm 2, Larry “Pixy” Foulke. Bristow was born in Oured, Osea, and enlisted in the Osean Air Defense Force at the age of 24 (I’m assuming after completing a Bachelor’s degree at university, because most of the other characters in the series joined the air force right out of high school, so Joshua’s one of the older pilots even in Zero). He was promoted to the rank of Captain and became Wizard Squadron’s number 1 seven years later in 1990. His uncanny piloting skills and the dark blue livery of Wizard’s plane paint scheme earned him the nickname of the “Blue Magician” among his peers.

He is described by those who know him as an avid reader and lover of literature (which also seems to imply that not only did he get a BA before joining the OADF, he got a BA in English Lit to boot).

More information to come. Watch this space.

Real Name: Jack Bartlett
Callsign(s): Kid, Heartbreak One
Age: 27
Sex: Male
Nationality: Osea
Signature Plane: F-14D Super Tomcat
Voice Actor: None
On-Camera Actor: None

A lieutenant in the OADF. His squadron was among those deployed into the B7R Round Table during May 28th’s Operation Battle-Axe. A young and cocksure pilot, Bartlett was known to his wingmates and flight lead as “Kid,” much to his consternation. Much like PJ, he also had a girlfriend in the military, only Bartlett’s was in the Yuktobanian military; a major in the Yuktobanian Army’s military intelligence division assigned to provided intelligence support to the Allied Forces during the Belkan War. They had met at a frontline base in the early days of the war and fell in love quickly. However, following the abrogation of Osea’s non-aggression treaty with the AN, “The Major” as she was known amongst Bartlett’s squadron, was hastily recalled to Cinigrad and their relationship abruptly ended.

Bartlett then adopted the callsign “Heartbreak One” following the break up.

He was shot down amid the chaos of Operation Battle-Axe by the flight lead of Belka’s Grabacr Squadron, Ashley Bernitz. He bailed out and survived the crash uninjured, however, and returned to active duty shortly thereafter none the worse for wear (broken heart notwithstanding).

Real Name: Wolfgang Buchner
Callsign(s): Huckebein, The Raven
Age: 41
Sex: Male
Nationality: Belka
Signature Plane: MiG-21bis Fishbed
Voice Actor: None
On-Camera Actor: None

The eldest son of a Belkan aristocratic family and former colonel in the BAF. Buchner was a legendary ace in the Belkan Air Force, known throughout the Belkan military as “Huckebein the Raven.” However, on May 28th, 1995, he attempted to defect to the Osean Federation and was chased down by Belka’s “escapee killer” squadron, Schwarze Team. Buchner deliberately flew into the middle of the Allied Forces’ Operation Battle-Axe taking place in the B7R Round Table in an attempt to lose Schwarze Squadron in the massive aerial furball and slip across the border into Ustio.

The specific reason for his defection remains a mystery. However, classified Allied Forces after-action reports claim the remains of a V1 nuclear bomb was found in the wreckage of Buchner’s crashed MiG-21, and intelligence intercept reports suggest he altered course towards Allied territory shortly after receiving orders to deploy his payload on a civilian target within Belkan territory. Schwarze Squadron was scrambled to intercept and execute him within minutes of his reported disabling of his IFF transponder. This data remains unverified, however.

Regardless, shortly after entering the B7R airspace, he was shot down amid the chaos of Operation Battle-Axe. Accounts vary as to who actually downed the Huckebein. Some reports claim he was shot down by Ustio’s Galm 1, “Cipher”, believing Buchner to be a hostile target, while others claim he was brought down by the flight lead of Belka’s Grabacr Squadron, Ashley Bernitz.

Buchner’s remains were never recovered from the B7R Round Table. He is listed as “missing, presumed deceased”.

Due to the large volume of in this post, the Aircraft, Assault Records, and Soundtrack sections will be included in the following post.