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Team Bomber Intercepts

 
Teamwork Section written by MeatWater.
  
This article is largely based on European Air War since it is one of the few simulations I know of that actually models large scale bomber intercepts, along with several wingmen.

  bombers.jpg (17703 bytes)
The Americans are having a bad day...

 

Rocket Attacks 

Rockets were used with timed fuses to break up bomber formations. Unfortunately, the fuses on European Air War are set so long that they are next to useless. If you have Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator, check out this page on timed rocket attacks in CFS.

 

Gunnery Skills

If you are in a plane that lacks cannons (Hurricane I) you need to be a good shot. Machine gun rounds just don't do enough damage unless you manage to hit the engines.  Running the game in high resolution helps tremendously.  In European Air War (EAW), the plus key lets you zoom in to aim.   Try lining up with a bomber vertically from far range and use your rudder to spray a stream of bullets back and forth along the width of the plane.  If you have cannons save your machine gun for enemy fighters and conserve your shots.  One shell is enough to take out an engine. Knocking one of two engines on a two engine bomber, or two of four engines on a four engine bomber is enough to make it fall out of formation.  The EAW damage model rewards shooting at engines that are already out, you can cause the bomber's wing to detach.

 

Tactics

Historically, Head-On and belly attacks were favored.  Head on attacks are conducted with the object of landing a shell in the cockpit and taking out the bomber in one pass.  The trick is to pull up before you make a lasting impression 8).  Attacking from below involves diving well ahead of the bombers and using the excess speed to pull up underneath for a quick shot at the belly.  This works best on bombers that do not have a bottom turret.  Different bombers have different "blind spots"  - areas of the sky where their guns do not cover.  The B17 is the hardest to attack.. it bristles with guns.  If you have European Air War, check out the "Flight School" option when you insert the CD.  It will show you the fire zones on all the bombers.

 

Teamwork

I have read many posts where pilots were complaining about wingmen/squadmembers that - as it appeared - could not or would not perform attacks as or when ordered. I too had this phenomenom, but BEFORE the patch. I found out that - just as in reality - it is of great importance to make proper use of the radio system. To give the right orders to the right men at  the right moment is the key to successful coop-fighting, and it sure makes a good leader.

I will explain this by the description of a standard bomber-intercept mission. Involved are 3 flights of fighters, 12 planes in total against some 15 bombers with 9 fighters on the other side. The battle actually starts the moment that view contact with the enemy is established. Shortly before that, the squad leader should make sure that all planes fly close to each other by issuing the "tighten formation" command to his wingman, his own flight and the other two flights. The reason for this is plain simple: the tighter the formation, the harder it will be for the enemy to spot you. You'll also make it hard for the enemy radar to determine the number and type of aircraft, though I doubt that this is being simulated in the game.

At this point it is very important to get the right picture of the enemy. How many bombers? How many fighters? (It will be hard at this time to tell the type of enemy planes unless you use that "know all-see all wussy aiming device - KASAWAD"). Next, you'll have to estimate the time that's left for the attack, as this greatly impacts on the type of attack. Let's say there's enough time and the enemy has a hard time spotting you. My favorite approach is from the side, especially whe flying the 190. As soon as I know the heading/bearing of the enemy I lead my squad on a 15 offset pace. Before the enemy fighters turn in on us, I order flight 3 to target them. Don't order them to engage the fighters before they actually attack! Then, as my squad is about next to the enemy bombers (still some 4,000 meters away) I order flights 1 and 2 to target the bombers. We proceed but change from the offset heading to the actual heading of the bombers. At this point the enemy fighters should have spotted us.

Now everything goes very quickly: When we are a couple of meters ahead of the bombers, distance about 3,000 meters, I order flight three (whom I have already given the order to target the fighters!) to engage the bandits i.e. the fighters. Right after that I order flight 1 and 2 to ENGAGE the bandits, this time meaning the bombers. I then order my wingman to cover me, and we all turn to approach the bombers from the side. What normally happens is that flight 3 manages to keep the enemy fighters away and busy long enough so that flights 1 and 2 have enough time to make two approaches (first w/rockets) and "pick" 3 or 4 bombers from the sky. After the second approach I order flight 1, 2 and my wingman disengage and then to regroup. Then I lead both flights toward the enemy fighters, ordering flight 3 to disengage and to regroup.

Next step is to send flight two to dogfight the enemy fighters by ordering to target them followed by the order to engage. At this point it is important that we don't loose touch with the bombers. Now comes the next important decision: is one flight enough to handle the enemy fighters? If yes, I lead both flights 1 and 3 back to the bombers, otherwise I would just send flight three to engage the bombers, attacking the enemy fighters with two flights, 1 and 2, from then on. It is important to think of the fact that each command consists of one or more sub-commands. If you forget one, you'll have the whole flight confused what normally ends in unpredictable actions. Make sure to stay in radio-contact with all flights throughout the whole battle, and don't let your squad spread all over the sky. When sent out to intercept bombers, that's what you have to do. Any bullet sent out towards a fighter is WASTED. Just keep them away. And don't be too trigger-happy - when you are the leader, your success is measured by the success of the entire squad. Unfortunately, the EAW scoring system does not consider this.

Using the above tactics my squad is getting brilliant results, and on almost every mission the other pilots from my squad have the same or even higher kill rates than me. I salute Microprose for this terrific sim - although I think that many things addressed later with the patch could and should have been provided right out of the box. But that's another story :)


MeatWater
ICQ 25198907

 

 

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