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Half the Battle: Aces High

Until now I have been silent about planes. It’s time to remedy this situation! This week I’ll go over the basics of flying, and show you the advantages of dive bombing. I recommend playing this classic Iron Maiden song while reading what follows.

Fighter squadrons can cause tank crews some serious headaches. Their speed and maneuverability allows them to strike almost without warning and escape before the enemy has time to react. The obvious trade-off is limited weapon capacity: two bombs for the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, one single bomb for the Messerschmitt Bf 109, which makes up for this difference by being faster and more agile than the P-38. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, we’ll look at the controls.

The first thing I would recommend to most new pilots is to enable “Invert mouse (airplane)” in the Input Settings menu. This affects how mouse movement controls the pitch — whether the nose of the plane is pointing at the ground or at the sky. Not everybody agrees on this, but many people find it more intuitive when pulling the mouse back means going up, as would pulling back the flight stick of a real-world plane. Other people like Céline Dion. It’s all matter of taste. But either one of these settings will almost inevitably feel more natural to you.

One important concept to understand about flying is that airplanes don’t simply “turn”. They yaw and roll. Both types of movement will make the aircraft go left and right, but rolling will accomplish this much faster than yawing… at the cost of also tilting the horizon. Oh wait — it’s not the horizon, it’s you who’s tilting. If you’re like me, not as experienced with flight simulators as you are with first-person shooters, you’ll catch yourself involuntarily tilting your head to compensate. This can be a problem when aiming for a ground target. Fortunately, holding down the Shift key will take care of aligning your wings with the horizon line again! Try doing this before you drop bombs. Aiming becomes much easier! Auto-leveling is also extremely helpful when landing: first decrease your speed using the S key, then level your plane with Shift. Then simply avoid trees. Et voilà!

Aircraft Controls

Key (Default) Action
W Accelerate
S Decelerate
A Yaw Left
D Yaw Right
Mouse Roll / Pitch
Shift (Hold) Auto-Level
Left Mouse Button Machine Gun
Right Mouse Button (Hold) 3rd-Person Camera
Space Bar Drop Bomb

The good thing about video games is that they (mostly) don’t simulate air sickness, so you can really start dive-bombing on your first day as a pilot. Dive bombing is a tactic closely associated with WWII. Why? Because it was one of the most accurate ways to drop bombs at the time; later, during the Cold War, targeting computers made this technique obsolete. Note that the scale of this diagram is far from realistic: if you tried dropping a bomb this close to the ground you would probably a) be unable to pull up in time, or b) be hit by the blast of your own bomb.

  1. avatarpatton199511-08-2013

    When do we get to see the STUKA and CORSAIR? ;P

    • avatarPvt_Larry11-08-2013

      Corsair was a fighter, not a ground attack plane, and given the game is set only in Europe (currently) and features no naval elements it’s unlikely we’ll see carrier based aircraft soon. COunt on Stuka and P-47 Thunderbolt.

      • avatarAculeus11-09-2013

        If we are historicaly accuracy then why we have P-38 and 109E version? Not G or K. Also, P-47 is much like FW-190 partner (fighter-bomber plane, version A5 A8 etc) Just say :)

      • avatarSC-GreyBeard11-15-2013

        The Corsair wasn’t only a naval unit. There were tons of land based corsair units. (Pappy Boyington’s unit was ground based), They DID fly in the European theatre, and were quite effective as a ground attack aircraft, especially the 4 20mm cannon versions (F4u-D’s).

  2. avatarFontan11-08-2013

    sry, but the p38 is in all aspects just better.

    And i never noticed that the Me109E4 is faster and more agile, once you got a fighter on your tail, you got a fighter on your tail.

    Another big advantage for the p38: it can fly slower and this is basically the only way to get rid of a fighter on your tail.

    • avatarTuupertunut11-08-2013

      Well that exactly. Also the fact that moving slowly is an advantage in bombing and battles with air units are very often bombing rather that dogfighting.

    • avatarSQPDerp11-11-2013

      Also, P38s rarely crash into the ground

      • avatarBlaineUK11-12-2013

        That’s down to the Pilots piloting them…

    • avatarwhitedan11-11-2013

      how could it fly slower than a bf 109 E3 …while being much heavier ?!?!?! Where is the logic ?!?!?

    • avatarSC-GreyBeard11-15-2013

      Actually, both planes fly exactly the same. Both stall at the same points, turn at the same rates, accelerate at the same rates, etc. only difference is the size of the planes, (p38 is over twice the size, and from what I understand, the 109 is a pain to land due to narrow wheel placement), so both have a major minus, but for over flying, they are exactly the same.

  3. avatarTadamichi_Kuribayashi11-10-2013

    Yea I realized that these planes handle very unrealistically and when you got a fighter on your tail, the fight is basically over unless you get a wing man to help you out. Flying slower can help sure but the enemy plane also flies slower. You cant out climb, out turn, or out dive the enemy plane which doesn’t make any sense because the BF109 is a single engine fighter.

  4. avatarPordy11-10-2013

    There is no significant speed difference between planes, If you got a P38 in your tail, you never can flee by the speed! The p38 kill you 3 times before you get enuogh far…
    The P-38 has only nose guns, MG and Cannons are in the nose, the Bf109 have 2 cannons in the wing, and the targeting is far worst than P38.
    You never outturn a P38 whit a Bf, because they have lower max speed, and the P38 can turn better at lower speed, and the BF fly like a cow then.
    If somebody can handle the P38, untouchable for BF’s…

    And whit your wing cannons as long as you kill a P38, you die 2 times from an avarage aimer central cannoned P38 pilot.

    • avatarwhitedan11-11-2013

      source ?

      American bias doesnt help …also we have the BF 109 E3 here, that was a good turnfighter .

      but hey 20 mm is weak like it is now.(remember Minengeschoß)

  5. avatarSQPDerp11-11-2013

    Yay Reto like Iron Maiden so do I

  6. avatarGerhacht11-11-2013

    Since you mentioned planes…

    New flight model?
    New damage model?
    Better guns to shoot down enemy planes in a more realistic way?
    Joy Stick control?
    Air only maps?
    Air war besides pure CAS (better called air Camping) like escort, intercept, strategical or logistical tasks?

    OR still any hopes for a decent air part in HnG?
    Just curious…

    • avatarwhitedan11-11-2013

      would be the best thing if they do sth like that

  7. avatarwhitedan11-11-2013

    …the worst enemy of a pilot and its plane …bugged mountains.

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