I donīt know how to start this correctly, but I want to share a few observations and suggestions and discuss them here. Itīs mostly BTR related, but since both are built on the same engine it propably can be transferred:
First things first, I`ve been allways very interested in aerial warfare of WW2, as my Grandfather was a night fighter ace in IV./NJG-1 (Greiner) and told me stories about the combat back then when I was young. Moreover my other Grandfather during his work at Siemens several times met with Galland , so Iīve have had some early and intense touch with the stories about air warfare. Since then I loved good air simulations or games like BOB and BTR, so donīt get my critics or suggestions wrong, I love this game and it really makes one somewhat addicted.
Now to the point:
Iīll start with Night combat:
Imho the standard algorithm gun power (of SM) vs. durability of the bomber shouldnīt be used during nightfighter bounces vs. night bombers. They almost allways completely surprised the Noght-Bombers and had plenty of time positioning below the bomber to aim for the wings and shoot the plane in flames... it was almost certain death for the bomber, as the fuel ignited.
In the game, I assume the standard algorithm is used for comparing the SM facing gunnery with the durability of the bomber, which I donīt regard as satisfactory as about 80-90% of the bombers (previously undamaged, i.e. on their way to the target) get only damaged by the attack. OK, some often eventually perish during the later stages of the resolution phase, but the pilot doesnīt get the experience boost from a succesful kill then, does he? And experience is a very crucial factor for succesful night combat, with a very high (imho slightly too high for the frist two checks, some of my NJGr have their 30 kills just distributed among four or five pilots) emphasize on the experience to succesfully (1.) make contact (visually) and (2.) succesfully intiating an attack... not to mention (3.) the result of the attack.
While historically the pilots could often watch their victims perish, as they were torches in the night sky to more or less slowly go down to earth... so they also often knew when they scored a certain kill and when not. For gameplay purposes I suggest it would be better to change the way SM-gun attacks are calculated (high exp. give considerable bonusses to attack effecitivity of SM attacks, while lower experience gives less boost on these attacks) or increase the effect of the SM mounted weaponry at all (if there a weapon slots available to create different weapons, for SM mounted or forward mounted... Iīll come back to this later). Resulting in less bombers only getting damaged by the attack and later crashing somewhere else.
Allied tactical bombers with forward mounted weaponry:
The later Allied Bombers (B-25J, B26G, a.s.o...) have their historical fixed forward mounted weaponry brought into the game data. While this is nice for database accuracy it has an imho unrealistic downside effect on fighter attacks vs. formations of the bombers. Since bouncing attacks in game terms use the forward facing weaponry of the bombers for their defensive fire vs. the attacking fighters, such planes as they also use these fixed forward firing weaponry, i.e. (the additional 6 0.50 cal MGs or the 4 20mm guns of the A20G) vs the fighters which in, say 95-99% of the cases is pretty unrealistic. The fighters would just have to attacck with a slight deflection from above, below or the side to avoid this fire completely and bombers flying in formation couldnīt just all deliberatly tilt their nose around to aim for any attacking fighters... this would end up with 10 bombers crashing into each other.
There were propably examples were the Bombers actually used their fixed forward firing weaponry vs. fighters while flying in formations, but certainly not many, as the good fighter pilots wouldīt be that stupid to attack these planes continously right from directly ahead without any azimuth or height deflection. Since they donīt serve any real usage in this game either way (their historic usage for ground strafing isnīt implemented in the game) and the only usage they are good for is quite ahistoric and inplausible in my view. In the game you sometimes get horrible results vs these bombers with far higher fighter losses than vs. the heavy bombers. Granted, it strives the bombers of their possibility to use their forward weapory when flying alone or in a small group (2-3 planes), which might be plausible vs. head on attacks. But such small formations wouldnīt be attacked head on either way by the fighters, as there is no need to fight small formations or single bombers that way... the far weaker combined defensive fire doesnīt make it nescessairy... the head on attacks were developed for large allied bomber formations by the Abbeville boys/Schlageter Geschwader.
Just a few turns ago I lost 4 top aces of two Grps of JG-11 (190Ds) (each more than 10 kills) vs. two Baltimore V squadrons in head on attacks. Thatīs almost ridiculuos, but itīs just one episode of the imho: problem.
The effectivitiy of wing mounted vs. centrally mounted weaponry.
WitP AE has gone the right way and differed between wing mounted and nose (or wing root) mounted weaponry, which imho opinion is quite correct. Wing mounted weaponry makes it easier to hit and hence is better for rookies, but sprays far more. The perfect effect is only in the convergence range. Nose mounted weaponry was giving true killing power as all the bullets hit the other plane quite at the same spot and sprayed considerably less, though itīs harder to hit with it. Good pilots could act almost like a surgeon with such a weaponry and a short hit by 1 or 2 30mm bullets combined with 3 or 4 13mm bullets on the wing is certain death for all but the most durable allied fighters (P-47, Tempest), but even they can get in serious throuble after such a hit.
The 109 G-5 and G-6 were considered by the RAF the first One-shot-killer planes (even with just the 20mm cannon, not the 30mm cannon of later versions). Same for the P-38... its centrally mounted firepower has more killing power than 6 0.50 cal MGs spread over the wings, still it is the most woeful among the main US fighters in the game, if just checking aircraft stats.
I suggest, if any weapon slots are free to implement new weapons, to distinguish for (the same) weapons between wing mounted and nose/wing-root mounted weaponry, this ainīt much of a hard work and imho such a differentiation can be expected in a detailed simulation of the air war.
The wing mounted weaponry should remain about the same as now, while the nose/wing-root mounted weapons could have slightly lower accuracy, but increased effect. This should result in more killing power of nose mounted weaponry, IF they manage to hit, but less propability to do so.
4. Cannons vs. MGs
This one is propably controversial, but even with the last critical hit overhaul in the patch I regard cannons to be somewhat underrated vs. MGs (mainly in fighter vs. figher combat, the anti-bomber combat gives quite good results, after being downtuned). A 20mm shell has almost double the kinetic power on impact and for the charge (if compared with 0,50 APHE) double the explosive power. I donīt know which exact alorithm is used in the game, itīs quite strange to see a wing mounted weaponry of the P-51D of 6 0.50 cal MGs has (when just comparing plain numbers) an considerably higher gun value than that of the, say Ta-152H with 20mm cannons and one 30mm cannon centrally mounted. Even when implementing the higher chance of a critical hit by the Ta-152H, this is still too less of a difference. Such a weaponry almost allways scores a critical hit, IF it hits. When a short 0.5 sec burst of such a weaponry hits a Mustang, itīs hit by say about 4-6 20mm shells and 2-3 30mm shells in a rather small portion of the plane. If those hits are on the wings or anywhere on the fuselage at or in front of the cockpit, itīs an almost 99% certain "Bye, bye Mustang". One the other hand if a Mustang with 6 0.5 cal hits with 0.5sec burst Fw-190 it scores about 15 - 25 hits (more variance due to being wing mounted) on the 190. And these hits have a good chance of being more scattered over the aircraft and are not a certain kill, unless they kill the pilot. The plane will be seriously damaged though and is ripe for some vulturing of 15 Mustangs each crashing into each other trying to get their first kill.
Another example is the Me-262, with itīs deadly 4 30mm cannons centrally mounted. Way too often even my elite pilots in the game (99 exp) bounce P-51Ds (e.g. 4 Me-262 bounce 4 P-51D; I allways use only flights of 4 Me-262 for continuously harrassing the bomber stream) and in 70 - 80% of the cases the Mustang gets only damaged??? Since the 4 forward firing guns are very close together there is a high chance that if the Me-262 hits the P-51 it hits it with several shells... and this somewhere deep over the Reich. This should be more like 80 - 90% of the times P-51D Destroyed. Even if its only severly damaged (wings or fuselage) it most likely looses fuel or has an engine damage and the liquid cooled engine of the P-51D will quite quickly seize up, not talking about the problem of flying an airplane without gas. So itīs actually dead meat flying over Germany even if its structural soundness sometimes should allow it not just to fall apart after such a devastating hit. But the imho lack of a more realistic P-51 attrition rate for damaged P-51 is another story. Funny thing is that vs. the Mustang III escorts of the B-17 bomber streams. The Me-262 is considerably more effective in terms of damaged/destroyed than vs. the P-51B... could be a pilot experience issue... could be statisic coincidence ... but its considerably difference! But this short story just underscores the problems stated among 3.) and 4.) centrally mounted weaponry too less deadly and cannons underrated vs MGs imho.
Fighter vs. Fighter combat in general
It often seems pretty ineffective unless the formations break up and the whole bouncing parade starts. But the latter I feel sometimes more of an exploit to bounce scattered US escorts to death. The initial combat often kills just one or two planes on either side and while the bouncing back home potentially allows for killing some 30 (on both sides). This relation seems a bit too biased in one direction, though I know that the latter fighting or to be more precise "butchering" played an important role in the Air War over Europe.
24 Fw-190A bounce 24 Spitfire Vs, 1 Spitfire damaged... this happens simply to often and they need a lot of time and fuel to get that bounce. Same for the Allied. Big formation bouncing should be somewhat more effective. But often enough the aircraft just tag along and no combat starts at all. If the bouncing attempt is unsuccesful than the aircraft should at least do anything, but very often (especially vs. aircraft with fast cruise speeds) nothing at all happens and the fighters return... the US escorts also being rather passive till then. And then most of the times Allied bouncing starts. While I donīt have a problem with this in general the quick fuel usage of the German planes is the problem then. When finally the combat starts the formations breaks and the axis planes flock home, even if their whole mission just lasted for 15 minutes till then (Iīm almost exclusevly using close interceptions) and the only combat which happened so far resulted in one or two planes damaged after 36 planes engage 36 planes.
Itīs simply too unbloody unless the planes of both sides somewhat get entangled on their home trips. Imho this has to do with to less anti-fighter firepower, see above, the too quick fuel burn-up by (axis?) planes and the game engine (allways liked the fighter vs. fighter combat already in BOB more than that of the BTR engine, as they often actually engaged somehow(!)). Seems the BTR engine too much takes speed difference into consideration for checking whether combat is initiated at all... see below for some interesting observations with the Me-262
One could argue that the described things happened and that there are certain incentives sometimes for the air units to behave that way, but imho it is really too often and also related to the fact that the defensive AI is to aggressive in sending out fighters and hence the combat had to be tuned down to create realistic end-of-the-day results. But for a human player who carefully sends out 2 or 3 JGrp to engage a 100 US fighters on a fighter-sweep or ground attack mission and then seeing at the end of the combat 3 US planes downed and a propably equal number of German planes this is somewhat of a weak effort by both sides fighters, for often they just tag along or sit on each other on the map (i.e. dogfighting?). Especially since it takes 2 days before you again can send out a full Gruppe, due to maintenance and the lack of reserve aircraft in the Jagdgruppen.
Propably it would be good to have two possible calculation algorithms (fuel usage,fighter vs. fighter combat initiation): One for a play against an AI defensive side player and one for a human defensive side player.
6. An example, which makes things quite obvious:
One last thing I noticed in Fighter vs Fighter or combat initiation at all, which is worth mentioning here: Some of issues become especially appearant when using the Me-262. Since they turn back home very quickly after taking off (they behave more like a longer legged Me-163 and the aircraft immediately turns home after one combat result... too extreme imho). Some 20 Me-262 all manned with elite pilots (Doctrine direct!) and in the air for 5-10 minutes engage the a bomber/fighter package and all they manage in 8 out of 10 times is the damaging 1 or 2 planes and downing 1 or 2 in one or at best, two engangement checks vs the bomber/fighter package. Thatīs all then they return to base. ... and of course then suddenly the P-51 escorts get active and bounce the Me-262, right at the moment their box gets blue (killing one or two of them)... happens very often, Iīve even seen it twice with the escorts being below the Me-262 before the bounce happens. Their whole mission from take of till landing lasts just 20 minutes. (Please make the Me-262 endurance slightly higher. Jet engines donīt burn four times the fuel when they engage in combat. The nature of the jet combat is much more on high speed slashing attacks and staying on high speeds. They hence donīt need any acceleration boost and constantly remain between 70 an 90% of the the engine throttle.)
I found out to use a different attack tactic with her which requires micro-managing, but makes some problems quite obvious. To produce more realisitc results two things have to be done! Use only formations of 4 planes (even in bundles, but only bundles of small groups) and use them via patrol, e.g. start a number of 4 jet flights on 30000 feet and vector their patrol target right into the bomber screen (doctrine direct, not important whether fighter or bomber). They will engage far more instantly than by setting them on intercept. The latter sometimes just makes them do the usual formation flying along with the allied planes... and with their short fuel reserve they canīt afford that waste. This tactic also works quite well for faster piston engined planes to score a good chance for a real combat vs. escorts on the catch-up route.
The latter observation makes two things quite obvious: (1!) 9 * 4 fighters initiate far more combat combined than 36 do, especially if they have the intiative to do so, i.e. higher speed. They combined produce a lot more combat, 4 aicract attack... 4 aircraft bounce.... 4 aircraft bounce .... and score combined in the end more realisic kills and losses after the engagements than when you use 36 aircraft as a group (unless the backflowing axis aircraft get entagled with allied aircraft. (2!) More important and less historically plausible: the intercept mode, i.e. the box gets black, makes aircraft sometimes more passive, than when you set them to "patrol" into the enemy aircrafts (doctrine must be direct though, and patrol alt correct!)... the latter producing results close to that of the original BOB combat fighter vs. fighter combat with direct attacks and bounces.
So if someone managed to actually read through the whole novel I just wrote here: Congratulations and Sorry ! Propably itīs an incentive for discussion or even some changes within the game.
< Message edited by Reddon45 -- 6/30/2010 5:49:22 AM >
Bis dat qui cito dat!