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33LIMA

Making it easier to see bandits via flak/Archie

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I'd found it frustrating, flying German especially, staring at a really large area of sky filled with Archie puffs and because the spread was so wide (horizontally and vertically) not being able to make out the enemy planes until they were too close. Are they above me? Below me? Same level? And crossing left to right, or vice-versa, coming or going? Because the burst pattern is so wide and constantly changing, it's hard to determine the 'Mean Point of Impact' and how it's moving.

 

So in Workshop I adjusted ground gun effectiveness to 'Hard', where I'd had it on easy (like others, I'd always hated IL2's rather lethal ground gunnery).

 

This had precisely the desired effect - it produced much tighter groupings of bursts, so you could make out bearing, range and heading of an approaching enemy even before you could see the planes, and then pick out the planes themselves, in good enough time to make sensible tactical decisions. A big plus in WW1 aircombat, especially. No need to use any game aids, so more realistic, too.

 

When being 'Archied' myself, this also produced a much more visceral (if not at times downright scary) experience; the feeling of being under a pretty savage bombardment you could do little about except throw in some evasive action and pray.

 

The only problem is that even if you get used to that, Archie is no longer quite so harmless, and gradually causes casualties which stack up the longer your flight is engaged, more than it should I think.

 

So I extracted just the two Allied and German flak files from Benchley's 1917 campaign mod from the OFF downloads here at CombatAce (I like the whole mod but don't use it at present as I'm too lazy to swap mod versions to suit sectors/eras) and installed just these two files - they reduce the effectiveness of these apparently WW2-era shells to more realistic WW1 level. Now, Archie is still fierce, but less dangerous, just as it should be from the many pilot accounts. And he's a much better pointer to the enemy, without resort to 'radar'/TAC or labels. I have tried the 'Medium' setting too but I find 'Hard' significantly better across the board.

 

Have still to find out if the ground MG fire is too hot at these settings, in which case I may need to do some more tweaking, or just follow the briefings and stay well clear of ground MGs! But for now, I'm very pleased with the results, in terms of the effects I've just mentioned. Worth trying, if you're not already.

Edited by 33LIMA

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.

 

Interesting tidbit there, LIMA. Thanks for sharing the tweak Sir. I will note though that the devs have already dialed back the killing power of AA in OFF from the stock CFS3 weapon. I found this out when I set up my OFF/MAW install. Until I dropped in the proper OFF files the AA in CFS3/MAW would literally blow your WWI kite to bits in about ten seconds.

 

.

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Yes, Archie has been made weaker in OFF from the default settings. When P3 was released, it was still pretty deadly, but one of the early patches made it less so. I've been quite satisfied with the normal settings in late war flying. Earlier in the war, AA fire was even less of a threat to aircraft than in 1917 and 1918, when a lot of progress had been made. Still no radars and proximity fuzes, of course.

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I thought most use OFF'ers might use the 'normal' setting, which is why I fancied this might be worth posting, I didn't test extensively but on an escort mission both my flight and the escorted Rolands (lower, no evasive action) suffered casualties to the AAA during quite a short penetration, so even toned-down by P3, Archie is still dangerous, if set at 'Hard' (to be expected I suppose). So I'm inclined to think Benchley's mod is good for the 'Hard' setting IF like me you want to use it in effect as the 'normal' setting and not for the extra 'challenge'/casualties. IMHO this produces the best results in terms of pointing up targets AND giving Archie a real 'bark worse than its bite' quality. What the 'Hard' setting does to the effectiveness of ground MGs, I think I will try to avoid ever finding out :)

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Thanks LIMA...It was something I had noticed too...never thought of doing what you've suggested! :drinks:

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Very clever idea Lima, excellent. Well done.

 

War diaries are full of pilot's comments (on both sides) using flak to firstly, identify that enemy aeroplanes are in the vicinity and, secondly, to set up and approach and attack. Your idea lets one actually stalk an enemy.

 

Lets hope that the guys incorporate it into P4!

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The German Ack field guns were highly accurate and effective into late 1917-1918, especially the big 88mm guns which could range up to over 12,000 up.

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It's worth mentioning that so far (early days yet) AAA is NOT ineffective at 'Hard' setting with Benchley's flak mod files. Last night I saw it bring down a German plane whose Archie 'cloud' my RNAS Stutters were chasing at long range, before we could get close enough to see what it was (made up for it later by massacring a flight of Fokkers, tho I nearly did a 'controlled flight into terrain' as I was not used to the much more hilly operational area around Luxeiul-les-bains - some of OFF's finest terrain, I have to say, really top-class even by OFF's high standards). Later, flying a Jasta 5 late 1917 mission just across the Lines, perhaps because I decided to ignore the AA and took no evasive action, it damaged my DV's engine just as we were turing in to engage a flight of SPADs. Boy, was I miffed, it looked like a great old scrap developing behind me as I dived towards friendly territory, and I'd missed it! Maybe the flak could be toned down even more, or maybe as Ohlam's many hours logged on the type suggests, our Albatroses have something of a 'glass engine'.

 

Anyway if anyone else has a go, maybe post your impressions to see if this is worth sticking with and/or needs a bit more fine tuning. I'm still scared to go near ground MGs before I absolutely must!

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The flak mod does not reduce the chance of being hit - it just reduces the damage effect of a hit (or of a near miss) based on some research that I did on reduced blast effects of WWI HE (as compared to WW II HE, from the CF3 settings still being used for OFF). The accuracy of the guns is not changed by the mod, and neither is the blast radius of the bursting shell. If you want to reduce the chance of being damaged by the shell without reducing the accuracy of the gun you should tinker with (reduce) the blast radius setting of the flak shells. This would be quite legitimate, as the reduced blast of the modded shells should result in a smaller blast radius. I did not do this with the flak mod, as it would have upset the carefully arrived at (and argued over) balance of the accuracy settings, so that "noise" settings for the flak guns would then also require adjusting to achieve the current balance of Easy, Normal and Hard.

 

So, if you use the 'Hard' setting with the flak mod you will still be 'hit' just as often with the flak mod as without it - but you should experience less immediately fatal results, unless it is a direct hit.

 

Bletchley

Edited by Bletchley

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Thanks for the reminder Bletchley (and sorry I got your forum name wrong!) :blink:

 

I just survived being Archied with the above settings in an RE8 mission, but had to glide for my lines when a pair of Halberstatds attacked me from behind and killed my engine while I wan't paying attention and my flight was catching up after a turn. I think the flak crew will dispute the Halberstadter's claim tho, worth a try. So far, your mod's reduced lethality seems to go well with the 'Hard' setting.

Edited by 33LIMA

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33........lovely change of pace. works beautifully......no issues and outcomes feel right......dead and living....thanks again for the tip!!!!

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The flak mod does not reduce the chance of being hit - it just reduces the damage effect of a hit (or of a near miss) based on some research that I did on reduced blast effects of WWI HE (as compared to WW II HE, from the CF3 settings still being used for OFF). The accuracy of the guns is not changed by the mod, and neither is the blast radius of the bursting shell. If you want to reduce the chance of being damaged by the shell without reducing the accuracy of the gun you should tinker with (reduce) the blast radius setting of the flak shells. This would be quite legitimate, as the reduced blast of the modded shells should result in a smaller blast radius. I did not do this with the flak mod, as it would have upset the carefully arrived at (and argued over) balance of the accuracy settings, so that "noise" settings for the flak guns would then also require adjusting to achieve the current balance of Easy, Normal and Hard.

 

So, if you use the 'Hard' setting with the flak mod you will still be 'hit' just as often with the flak mod as without it - but you should experience less immediately fatal results, unless it is a direct hit.

 

Bletchley

 

OK I flew another RE8 mission, this time with a long leg under Archie fire and while I really liked the near-Flyboys intensity of the Archie bursts on the 'Hard' setting, despite a fair bir of weaving I still got my engine clobbered after about 5 minutes (tho losing none of my 3 flight mates). So I'm going to try reducing the blast radius in the lines below (copied from your files, extract below, with the higher values for ImpactOffset and BlasstOffset) from 20 (metres???) to 10; if that's totally ineffective, I'll try 15. I edited the .xdp file and deleted the .bdp file which I understand is regenerated.

 

Can I ask, how do I adjust the 'noise' setting?

 

[Extract from Bletchley's modified German flak .xdp file]

ImpactOffset="650" BlastDice="1" BlastDieSize="1" BlastOffset="4500"

BlastRadius="20" FireDice="1" FireDieSize="1" FireOffset="85"

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33........lovely change of pace. works beautifully......no issues and outcomes feel right......dead and living....thanks again for the tip!!!!

 

Thanks for the feedback, Gaw. Are you finding the Archie is now just a bit too lethal? I think this works fine from the standpoint of producing tighter bursts to ID targets but I think maybe on the 'receiving' end, Archie may be a bit too dangerous at 'Hard', so am gonna experiment along the lines of Bletchley's suggestion (reduced blast radius).

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Sorry the file extract above was from the stock OFF Germanflak_round.xdp, Bletchey's has 500 and 1000 for those values not 650 and 4500.

 

Anyway, dropping the blastradius from 20 to 10, my RE8 still got clobbered, first some engine damage which didn't stop me bombing an alternate target but on the way back another round changed my plane's handling from aerodynamic to ballistic so I will want to do some more toning down before I'm happy with 'Hard' Archie, from the target's perspective. Will post results for anyone who's interested. Strange, that halving the blastradius is still not enough.

 

I do like the visual and psychological effect tighter flak burst grouping from the target's perspective tho, Archie is now definitely rather scary. Just need to make him a bit less dangerous, without diluting that effect.

Edited by 33LIMA

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"Can I ask, how do I adjust the 'noise' setting?"

 

Curiously, this is in the "Scenery" folder: OBD Software - WW 1 Scenery - Difficulty - Easy [or Normal, or Hard] - guns - OFF_Germanflak_gun.xdp. The higher the number for "Noise" the less accurate the guns are. For the Allied guns this is OFF_Alliedflak_gun.xdp.

 

In the same "guns" folder there is an OFF_Maxim_land.xdp file. I think you can change the "Noise" setting of this, in the same way (higher = less accurate) to change the accuracy of the ground mg guns. OFF_Vickers_land.xdp for Allied mg nests.

 

Note: the OFF "Hard" setting has a noise value of '5', which is more accurate than the CFS3 setting for a WWII 88mm (Noise value '8')! Using my Flak mod I have changed my own current campaign OFF flak gun 'Noise' settings from 25 (Easy), 10 (Normal), 5 (Hard) to 20 (Easy), 15 (Normal), 10 (Hard); using Easy for 1915, Normal for 1916 and 1917, Hard for 1918. For 1915-17 I crank up the difficulty level by one notch for the balloon attack missions.

 

Bletchley

Edited by Bletchley

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33..........your workup seems just fine....haven't changed blast radius or anything.....getting whacked by archie seems such a random crap shoot it'd be hard for me to tell "what's right"....but the tighter grouping on hard looks very nice! If you find anything on sound settings for specific files I'd be grateful to glean what you dig up. ....always wanted to attenuate the sounds of the fronts and the air raid sirens properly without editing simply the volume level.......ie: very diminished at height and louder close to the ground/ further from the front and closer......etc.

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Referring to the original post. I have used the flak activity to help my situation awareness like most Offers. One bit that I have done on occasion is to us the radar and select the target being fired upon by the flak. The outside of the aircraft view will show the enemy planes in relation to your flight's position. It shows how they form-up and begin thier attack. Or if indeed they will attack. I have indeed seen enemy AC brought down while doing this. I can say although this is strictly non-DID it is very suspenseful and almost adds a movie quality to the action.

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I used to like doing that sort of thing in EAW, Ricketycrate and in OFF/FE/RoF I fly a lot of pre- and post-combat stuff in external/spot view for that same 'movie' feel. But my own aim is to use as little as I can a sim's visual aids (while recognising that some, like padlock, help compensate for the limitations inherent in viewing the virtual world via a monitor). In OFF I specifically avoid cycling thru views while padlocked, exactly because it can give me a detailed picture of my target before I could see it clearly from my own position.

 

As for sound levels, Gaw, I think the general consensus is that only the very closest sounds should be audible to the player, like AA fire in the vicinity of the player's flight or MG fire very close by (and perhaps even then, only the supersonic 'crack' of rounds passing very close). Personally I just leave 'Engine' and 'Cockpit' levels(and 'Interface') turned right up in Workshop with the rest ('Effects' IIRC) at 75% at the moment. I may lower the latter, perhaps right down, eve if it reduces or removes the immersive 'movie' if not realistic effect. At the moment, I find the MG sound especially distracting, as it seems to make no distinction between a burst directed at you which demands immediate evasive action, and a distant one directed at somebody else. Personally I would like a setting where I can only hear MG rounds passing very close (or hitting!), which from what I've read is probably more realistic.

 

Thanks fot the advice Bletchley, I'd not have found that in a month of Sundays! A lot of the CFS3 modding material I remember there used to be on the 'net seems to have gone and OFF has its own particular setup. 'Noise' = 'accuracy'; now there's a quirky piece of terminology!

 

I'm happy with the flak accuracy on 'Hard' as the tighter grouping of bursts makes it easier to target enemies without aids, plus the effect on the receiving end is a lot more scary/impressive, whch I really like. It's the lethality rather than the accuracy I think needs a bit more tuning, to make playing on 'Hard' viable; I'll experiment a bit more with 'BlastRadius' reduced from '20' to '10' (assuming that lower=less - if it's like 'Noise', it's the other way around, and I should go for 30 or 40 not 10!) as I think the AA fire on Hard is still a bit too lethal for my personal tastes and my personal view of what's realistic, even with your modded weapons files toning it down a bit.

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I'm very curious as to how tight WW1 flak salvos really were. Anybody got any photos showing it? I don't think I've ever seen one.

 

I don't doubt that WW1 flak fire control hardware could make a battery's shells all burst in practically the same spot in the air. After all, WW1 land and sea fire control could do that. Whether this was on target or not is an entirely different matter--I'm just considering the likelihood of WW1 flak gunners using of tight salvos. So I take it as a given that tight WW1 flak patterns were feasible; my question is, were they desirable? If they weren't desirable, then they wouldn't have been used and flak batteries would have shot looser patterns.

 

In the absence of any hard data, I'm force to speculate on this. I'd appreciate somebody with such data chiming in because this is something I need to know more about. I'm pretty well up on land arty and naval fire control for most of the 20th Century but I my knowledge of flak techniques is quite lacking in comparison.

 

Anyway, WW1 flak gunners were inventing a new science and I'm sure most of the came from a land arty background, a few from naval backgrounds, and all drawing on what they knew of both fields. With that in mind, the WW1 flak situation had elements of both land and sea artillery to consider. From a target vulnerabilty view, it was like land arty shelling infantry advancing across open ground. The target had no armor, cover, or concealment, so you wanted to fill the air around it with shrapnel--forget direct hits. From the naval side, you had a rapidly moving target at long range and unknown actual position. In WW1 naval shooting, getting the shells to splash on the target's bearing (that is, so you could tell whether they were in front of or behind a distant dot on the horizon) was relatively easy. However, airplanes were tiny compared to the broadsides of dreadnoughts (and closer even at high altitude, and moving 3-4x as fast, meaning their bearing rates were right off the naval charts) so this correcting mechanism probably was unavailable to flak gunners.

 

Another thing to consider is, because flak is trying to kill with shrapnel, it needs the shells to burst in the position where the shrapnel has the best chance of doing damage. Due to the conservation of momentum, the center of mass of an exploding shell does not change after the explosion, and that center of mass continues moving forward with the velocity the intact shell had originally. This means that for an airburst shell, the shrapnel pattern is an expanding cone from the point of detonation centered on the extension of the shell's previous flight path. In the flak situation, the shell's trajectory is mostly upwards. This means that the most effective flak bursts sufficiently BELOW the target's altitude that the cone is at its optimum lethal extent AT the target's altitude. The optimum shrapnel spread isn't the maximum casualty radius, however, because the shrapnel pattern is somewhat doughnut-shaped, thicker at the edges than in the middle, because there's more metal on the sides than on the nose of the shell. Thus, if the shellbursts are too far below the target, by the time the shrapnel reaches the target's altitude, the pattern will be a bunch of rings with little chance of hitting anything inside the rings.

 

Given all this, I would expect WW1 flak salvos to have all burst at close to the same altitude, more below the target than above, and with the individual shells spread about 1/2 to 2/3 their effective casualty radius against troops in the open. But that's just a guess. I look forward to hearing of more definitive data.

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Given all this, I would expect WW1 flak salvos to have all burst at close to the same altitude, more below the target than above, and with the individual shells spread about 1/2 to 2/3 their effective casualty radius against troops in the open. But that's just a guess. I look forward to hearing of more definitive data.

 

Oops, I only covered 1 of the 3 dimensions in this SWAG. As seen from the target, the bursts should also all be pretty close if not dead on as far as being to port or starboard goes, but should have more variability in terms of being ahead of, behind, or right under the target. From the gunner's POV, the easiest thing to get right would be to the left or right of the target's path, then ahead of or behind the target, and finally at the proper altitude.

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No, with BlastRadius small is small, so you might want to try '5' if '10' is still producing too many hits :)

 

B.

 

Thanks for the continued help with this! I just tried another RE8 mission with the reverse of that, increasing BlastRadius from 20 to 30 and seemed to survive longer! Long enough to attack an Alb DII that had just shot down a flight mate - shot down the Hun with my Vickers, and in an RE8 to boot! At that rate it would have taken me a lot more missions to work out what you've just told me so this is very helpful. I will fly for a while at '5' and see how that goes.

 

BH, air-to-air pics of flak bursts I only recall seeing one of, can't find it now, strangely ground-to-air pics seem rare too. I suspect pilot's accounts are going to be the best source, tho it would obviously need a lot of reading to detect a pattern. Have just started reading Billy Bishop's 'Winged Warfare' having found a 1918 edition cheap locally, and co-incidentally, he mentions his own first experience of Archie as a scout pilot as follows:

 

'They always seem to aim at the leading machine, but to come closer to hitting the one at the end of the procession. [this might indicate that the MPI of a salvo (or successive & recent individual shots) tended to lag behind the 'mean centre' of a formation, or maybe it was just the impression given by the usual 'trail' of bursts]. The first shot I heard fired was a terrific 'bang' [bears out your opinion on sound effects, elsewhere] close to my ears. I felt the tail of my machine suddenly shoot up into the air, and I fell about 800 feet before I managed completely to recover control. That shot, strange to relate, was the closest I have ever had from anit-aircraft fire. [tends to support your suggestion of aiming low, albeit one event is not statistically significant]. The smoke enveloped me. But close as it was, only one small piece of the flying steel fragments hit my machine. Even that did no damage at all [tends to support my belief that I can realistically tone down further the lethality of OFF AAA on 'Hard'].

 

IIRC I've seen WW1 pics of Germans using a stereoscopic rangefinder (free-standing, not mounted on the WW2-style predictors) but apart from that I don't know how they collected target data or transmitted it and/or fusing data to the guns.

 

Might be worth a search on the Aerodrome.com.

Edited by 33LIMA

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yep.....bets are that P4 will handle all this. Holding my breath....meantime....thanks for the change-ups!

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