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Of late, I've been posting comparative reports of campaign missions, flying the same plane in turn, in each of the 'big three' current sims - Over Flanders Fields, Rise of Flight and First Eagles - in another forum. The aim is to highlight the single-player campaign experience offered by each sim, albeit as I see it.

I've already covered the Nieu.28 but with the release of Quack's superb set of Nieuport 28 skins for First Eagles, I thought I'd 'import' that concept to CombatAce, starting with that famous French-US fighter.

Commencing with Over Flanders Fields, I already had a campaign started, flying with the "Kickin' Mules" of the 95th Aero from Toul, in May 1918. So I just kicked off another mission. At the moment I'm flying OFF with only four mods. One is Andy's sound mod, another Lothar's map (which improves the awful, CFS3-style briefing and inflight maps, tho they still bear a limited resemblance to what you see in the 3d world). I also use my own FlakMod (which produces tighter groups of flak bursts without greater lethality, on the 'hard' setting especially, making it somewhat easier to track the position and heading of enemies who are being trailed by AA fire). And finally I'm also using my own ArcMod, which gives gunners back the ability to depress their guns to any degree, cut by stock OFF to prevent firing through tailplanes (a cure worse than the ailment in my experience, as it seriously 'nerfs' a gunner's arc of fire). Both my mods are available here at CA, with many others.

Anyway here we are, ready to go. I'd chosen the 'high-resolution textures' option (which means minor damage doesn't show) and the ability to select my own skin (which means you can't instead select a reduced fuel load, to increase your power-weight ratio). The rest of my flight had the default 95th Aero skin.

 

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Our squadron roster contains several real-life aces, but it has about two dozen pilots overall, which is rather a lot. There's no ability to choose your flight-mates and you are often allocated a rather large flight. In this case I was allocated a reasonable five (including myself) for a mission escorting three French Sopwith Strutters to bomb an enemy target. The original target area was rather far away and in the briefing map, I used the 'optional mission' facility to swap this for a closer objective. You can't change the type of mission or move the waypoints, just try for a different objective with its own set of fixed waypoints.

 

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The OFF Nieu.28 comes with the Hat in the Ring expansion pack. It's a little angular in places and in the external view has the CFS3-style 'wide angle lens' look but it's a nice bird with very nicely-done textures.

 

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...to be continued!

 

 

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After taking off, I orbited the field at least once as OFF recommends. This I think is to ensure either that your flight-mates 'imprint' on you, or that your waypoints 'register' for the 'tactical display' aka radar, or both.

 

By the time I'd done this, and settled down on a course to my next waypoint over the Lines, I could see the three Strutters we had to escort, up ahead of us. I slowed a little so my flight could close up and then closed with the Strutters at full throttle, climbing gently. My flight-mates caught up slowly but steadily, perhaps helped by the fact that in OFF as in CFS3, AI-flown planes fly without the weight of fuel and ammo, giving them an inbuilt advantage. There are mods which reduce this but the AI can't fly many planes at close to full military load without struggling, crashing on takeoff for example.

 

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Here's the view from the cockpit. The Nieu.28 is one of the few OFF planes that has animated arms and hands for your pilot in this view. It's unfortunate that OFF aircrew animation is otherwise very limited. The Nieu.28 has some really nice touches like the maker's markings on the struts.

 

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We gradually overhauled our charges and began to pull above them. Unlike some OFF planes, the OFF Nieuport 28's undercart is visible at a reasonable distance; with others like the Albatros or Pfalz, the wheels and their struts only appear at about 250 yards. Some improvements to LoD (level of detail) models - or the ranges they cut in - would help in such cases, but I believe this is hard-coded into the 3d files and not mod-able.

 

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Here's one of the Strutters we were escorting. The French were bigger users of the Strutter than the British but they arrived by the time they were obsolescent, tho they served from September 1916 on a small scale for some months, picking up in spring 1917 and continuing in large-scale service until phased out between January and April 1918. The Strutter is the only French 2-seater in OFF (I exclude the AI-only user-made Breguet 14 which isn't integrated with campaigns). Only First Eagles (modded) has a decent French 2-seater planeset. RoF's is destined to improve with the Br.14 soon to be joined by...yes the Stutter (assuming the RoF devs do the sensible thing and provide a French version).

 

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Somebody should have told the Strutter crews that a horseshoe marking should have the open end uppermost, otherwise the luck will run out (as U-boat ace Otto Kretschmer was supposedly told by the escort Captain who sank U-99).

 

...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA

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In the shot below I have turned on the OFF 'radar' and labels. I don't tend to use either, except that the 'radar' had to be active before you can padlock a target for the first time. Before takeoff I cycle thru radar target types to 'planes' (only) and reduce its range from the default 8 miles to one. i fly with it off but this prevents it revealing too much when I turn it on to padlock enemies whom I have already identified by the 'Mark 1 eyeball'. I use a subdued-colour 'radar' and labels mod (forgot to mention that one earlier) by Olham which I find much better.

 

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With OFF LoD models being what they are, planes are generally invisible at some point beyond a mile and a half, which I think is not far enough. Even closer, they can be very hard to see without labels, like the Strutters in the screenie below.

 

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By this point, to save time, I used the time-honoured CFS 'warp' function to get to the Lines, which had brought us up to about 10,000 feet and out ahead of the Strutters. So as not to lose them I started slowly zig-zagging, to let them close up without throttling back too far while giving me a good view all round. OFF's formation-keeping isn't great, and my flight-mates tended to skid wide on every turn, so we ended up doing a sort of scissors manoeuvre

 

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At this point, things started to heat up, quite suddenly. Without any warning, a group of lean grey shapes flashed past, between me and my 'scissoring' flight-mates.

 

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...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA

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The new arrivals were this bunch, in silver Pfalzes with red-striped black tails. They shot right past us, as if we weren't there. I whipped around after them in the tightest turn i could manage, giving the 'attack' command repeatedly as I did so. If they were after our charges, it was up to me to stop them in their tracks.

 

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As I got behind them, I turned on the 'radar', padlocked one of the Huns, then turned the radar off again. Too intent on what they were doing, the enemy held their formation until I started shooting. My Hun broke left, with me after him.

 

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I was making good shooting by now and I got at least one good burst into him, sending shards of debris flying from his airframe.

 

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This had the desired effect. The Hun got into an odd tailslide and slipped away below, recovering briefly only to get into another tail-first descent, finally crashing into the ground several thousand feet below.

 

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Looking around I padlocked one of a pair of Huns that were flitting past, left and slightly low. Taking a chance, I went for the first Hun, signalling the call for help and relying on the response from a flight-mate to keep his companion distracted.

 

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After a few bursts, the Hun flipped over and went straight down, to crash amongst some trees.

 

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At that point the skies seemed to have emptied, and as usual after a combat which has tailed off, I climbed cautiously in a spiral at full power, looking around to take stock of the situation.

 

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The Huns seemed to have disappeared, except that Archie now seemed to be taking an interest. I climbed up, giving the recall signal, and led my flight - all but one, who was evidently now missing in action - off after the Strutters, which seemed to have escaped. I was conscious we were now low on ammunition, but they might still need our help.

 

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...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA

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It was not long before we caught up with the Strutters, who seemed bound for a railway yard on a main line I could see below us, heading off the the east. I passed them and came around in a wide circle, determined not to let any more Huns slip past us, unseen. As I completed my orbit, I noticed that where there had been three Strutters, there were now at least four, and as I watched, their formation broke up in all directions. How odd...

 

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It didn't take me too long to realise that these were in fact more Huns. And whereas their compatriots in the silver Pfalzes were not particularly dangerous foes, this bunch of hoodlums were flying black-striped Albatri and seemed to be an altogether nastier lot.

 

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I managed to get a crack at one of these Huns but at that point I got the OFF version of 'the dead man's click' as my ammo ran out. Incidentally, in OFF I fly with gun stoppages turned off. They cannot be cleared in flight, stop both guns simultaneously, and therefore are better left turned off, IMHO.

 

Anyway, at that point I decided honour was satisfied and there was nothing to be gained from giving one of the Huns an easy kill. Casting aside stories of Nieuport 28s shedding wing fabric in a prolonged dive, I put her nose right down to pick up speed and fled for the Lines, gaining some satisfaction on seeing that the Strutters, though surrounded by AA bursts, were unmolested by enemy aircraft and headed resolutely for the target.

 

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For a while, I thought I had made it and concentrated on steering for the closest point on the Lines, without losing too much more height. A look behind me told me I was not alone, however,.

 

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Two of the Huns had decided that I was not to escape so easily. They had evidently set aside stories of V-strutters shedding their lower wings in a dive and were right behind me.

 

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I heaved my plane to one side but it was too late...much too late.

 

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So that was the end of my campaign! It was a fairly interesting mission overall, with plenty to do. I fly OFF set always to lead, as the patrol leader role adds a whole layer of tactical decision-making that you otherwise miss, along with the chore of formation-keeping. I could have re-flown the mission as I play 'pilot never dies' - I find OFF is inclined to kill me off too readily otherwise, for example after a minor crash. Instead the mission debrief panel told me I'd been captured and hospitalised, but escaped, imposing a 17-day time penalty. But my crash would have been fatal, barring a miracle, so I'll call it a day.

 

I checked out the RB3d-style OFF map replay feature but units are referred to with a pretty cryptic notation not used in the briefing or the game so it's hard to tell what went on. I'm fairly sure I got two of the Pfalzes in the first combat, but I'm not sure how the second fight ended up for my flight. I have turned off the OFF claim form feature as its novelty has worn off, so my kills get credited correctly, after a time gap for verification which is a neat touch. Still, as I'm dead, it's pretty irrelevant.

 

Next up will be similar campaign mission reports in Rise of Flight and First Eagles 2. Watch this space!

Edited by 33LIMA

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Next up, it's a similar mission but flown in Rise of Flight. I have less stick time in RoF than in OFF or FE, coming to the former rather later, as I needed to replace my budget graphics card; now, my lowly 512Mb 8800GT plays RoF just fine at medium settings.

 

I have only just started using Pat Wilson's Campaign Generator (PWCG) to fly RoF SP campaign missions, on the recommendation of Barkhorn over at SimHQ and in preference to the stock 'Beta Career' and linear 'mission set' campaigns. I'm glad I did. One big gain for me is the ability to choose my pilot's starting rank such that I get to lead nearly all patrols. I find formation-flying a chore, and want to enjoy the extra tactical element of patrol-leading. PWCG gives me that. Another benefit I only found out about recently is that PWCG AI flights are not spawned (or de-spawned) according to distance from your flight-leader. As this usually isn't you, in the stock SP campaign, this can result in odd happenings, if you stray too far from the boss eg seeing planes de-spawn. No such troubles with PWCG, I understand and from what I've seen.

 

PWCG works by letting you create campaign pilots  and generating for them one mission at a time. It does this using a pretty good interface that lets you re-generate missions till you get one you like, plus you can select flight-mates and vary waypoints. You then pick up the mission from the RoF menu and fly it normally. This is less clunky than it sounds, especially as there's now an official mod that launches PWCG from RoF's main screen. Neat. After a mission, you can submit simple claims using a drop-down menu, get a mission summary, see an RB3d-style map replay, and if you want, write your own narrative combat report, free-form. You can also tinker with many, many campaign settings.

 

The only other RoF mod I'm using is the 'ambient flak eliminator'. RoF, stock, incorporates weird 'environmental' flak bursts. These appear, often singly, and more or less at random. So, far from 'Archie' as in real life providing a warning of other planes in the air, if you go hunting RoF's ambient flak you will be chasing planes that don't exist. I was very glad to find this mod as this nonsense would have been something of a deal-breaker for me, nice-looking planes notwithstanding.

 

Anyway my PWCG 95th Aero campaign based the 'Kickin' Mules' at Malzeville, which looks to be a sort of advanced airfield part-way between the US First Pursuit Group's 'traditional' base at Toul, and the front. I'd selected three other pilots to accompany me and accepted the Line Patrol that PWCG offered us - a dog-leg up to the Lines to the North-East, short but enough to gain height, then more or less South-East, along the Lines just over the Hun reserve trenches.

 

Before going to the flight line I'd selected one of the several 95th Aero skins available in RoF's 'Hangar' loadout screen. On arrival at the flight-line in front of the sheds, I could see that two of my flight-mates were allocated generic, un-numbered 95th Aero skins, the other one getting a numbered machine with a blue and white cowl flight marking, like my own.

 

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I could describe the RoF Nieuport 28 as 'gorgeous' or 'magnificent' but that doesn't begin to do it justice. In RoF, leader's streamers are attached to trailing edges rather than to interplane struts or rudders - to avoid them interfering with the 3d model I believe - but no matter. She's just a beautiful reproduction of one of the war's most elegant machines, with a cockpit to match. They don't come any better.

 

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As we climbed away from Malzeville, I noticed that another flight was also climbing North, like my own. I could just about make out that they were a second flight of Nieuports, perhaps out of Toul, behind us.

 

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Before taking off, I had set the screen not to display any icons or other aids, but so I could call up the 'mini-map' which appears bottom right of the screen, as needed This displays my own plane on a smaller version of RoF's planning map, which is much the best of the current WW1 sims. I fly without 'complex engine management' as I've no interest in fiddling with radiator settings or fuel mixtures. In real life, mechanics often warned up engines pre-flight so the need to warm-up your engine, sitting in your virtual cockpit for X minutes, is one thing I'm glad I can turn off.

 

The RoF Nieu.28, like many RoF planes, is a twitchy beast, compared to the OFF or FE equivalents. Tail-heavy and needing constant attention to keep in straight and level flight.

 

As we approached the front, I could see that my flight-mates were keeping formation nicely. In RoF they can do this erratically at times but on balance AI formation keeping is better than in OFF and about as good as FE, despite some lapses. RoF wingman commands are much better than OFF's CFS3-based set and more extensive than FE's, and include the ability to order different formations. Your well-animated RoF virtual pilot, tho he doesn't scan the skies as well as in FE, gives an appropriate and (or Very light) signal for each command. OFF by comparison has no pilot animation, apart from some planes where the head turns almost un-noticeably, left or right, as you bank.

 

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Of late, my missions in RoF have seemed entirely devoid of Archie. I was beginning to think a bug or conflict was at work. With icons and map aids turned off, and nothing but the Mark 1 eyeball to rely upon, on my last mission, with 56 Squadron in May 1917, this was the result, when we got jumped by some Albatri that had crept up behind us, out of a clear blue sky.

 

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Would history repeat itself, a year later with the 'Kickin' Mules'? I was about to find out...

 

...to be continued!

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Edited by 33LIMA

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You have put an admirable amount of work into all this, very impressive! As someone who hasn't used OFF since the Phase 1 release eons back, it was quite startling to see that at a quick glance it's not completely left in the dust by the more modern-engined WWI sims. It has its limitations, but given the limitations you need to have in ROF due to your PC's age it's quite competitive.

 

There's a 4th WWI sim as well as ROF, OFF, and FE1/2, if you feel adventurous. :biggrin:

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You have put an admirable amount of work into all this, very impressive! As someone who hasn't used OFF since the Phase 1 release eons back, it was quite startling to see that at a quick glance it's not completely left in the dust by the more modern-engined WWI sims. It has its limitations, but given the limitations you need to have in ROF due to your PC's age it's quite competitive.

 

There's a 4th WWI sim as well as ROF, OFF, and FE1/2, if you feel adventurous. :biggrin:

Thanks for the positive feedback, JM. Re the 4th sim, you got me there...FS-WW1? Or do you mean RB3d...I have an install with the latest WFP UOP with 'FCJ2' and was thinking about doing a comparative mission in that, too, complete with visible bullets, ripping fabric sounds and blood-curdling screams from 'jumpers'.

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Now, where was I? Ah yes...we turned and flew South-East on our first patrol 'leg', down the Lines, my flight maintaining formation neatly despite the turn.

 

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One moment, the skies were peaceful, clear and blue. I looked behind again, and suddenly it was a different picture. The formerly empty blue was now speckled with black puffs of AA fire and the silhouettes of planes, whirling around. The war had arrived.

 

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Having not seen any AA fire since recently starting flying with PWCG, I was pleased to see that Archie had decided to come out to play. The planes above and behind me were some way off and I might not have seen them in a hasty scan, but for the AA fire.

 

Doing something about it was a different matter. Rather than 'extending', gaining height at a safe distance and then turning back in, I turned the flight towards the air fight. I was concerned to avoid enemies diving onto out tails but to be honest I was more interested in not missing the fight, even if that meant luring some enemies down to attack us.

 

I found that I could not gain enough height to get up to their level, so we sort of hung about, waiting for somebody to come down to our level, instead. Preferably without noticing we were there, but if to take the bait and attack us, so be it. Meanwhile, I gave the command for a flight attack, thinking I might as well let my flight-mates see if they could do better, rather than play the role of bait, with me.

 

I didn't have too long to wait, and swung in behind a red and black-tailed Albatros DV that was in a loose descending spiral with another Nieuport.

 

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I had a good crack at this Hun but at about the same time, my fall-back strategy unfortunately also cut in, and one of his friends took the bait - me. First I knew about it was a crashing sound and oil spattered my goggles.

 

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I managed to get out of the line of fire without further obvious damage but from then on my engine didn't seem to be developing full power. I continued to hang around gamely, watching the fight and hoping for another chance. I confess that by this point I had abandoned any remaining pretense of looking out for my fight. I was no longer fully effective and I justified my neglect by telling myself that they were better off without their crippled leader trying to tell them what to do.

 

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Reduced for the present to the role of spectator, I took the opportunity to pause the action and use the excellent RoF view system to cycle through some of the action and admire the Huns. From their identical tail markings, they seemed to be a mixed flight of Albatri and at least one Pfalz, from the same Jasta.

 

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...to be continued!

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Before too long, another one of the Huns presented himself as a target, and I took full advantage. Despite my machine feeling distinctly under-powered, I got off some good bursts but he appeared to be little damaged. So I was quite surprised when he dived for the deck, pulling out just above the tree-tops and giving me another crack at him as he zoomed briefly.

 

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After the zoom, he seemed to fall away. I'd overshot and for a moment I thought he was setting me up for a shot. But I suddenly realised with a start that it looked distinctly like he was not going to recover. And so it came to pass. Looking behind, I saw him smack into the ground!

 

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My elation was short-lived. My trusty motor had just about kept me in the fight, but it could do no more. I felt the last of its power drain quickly away, and saw my prop spin to a stop. Narrowly avoiding some trees, keeping my nose down to avoid a stall and keeping my turns gentle, I headed down for the nearest suitable field. The ground was pretty uneven and I ended up landing across a slope, but despite a short ground loop at the end, my trusty Nieuport stayed the right way up.

 

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Meanwhile, the fight went on.

 

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I didn't mind; I'd got my Hun and come out in one piece. Perfect spot for a picnic, too.

 

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I claimed the crashed Albatros as a kill in my PWCG combat report, and it was confirmed in the debrief! So, a pretty exciting and enjoyable mission. And a good advert for Rise of Flight, Pat Wilson's Campaign Generator, and the star of the show, the Nieuport 28, another worthy addition to to your RoF planeset, if you haven't already got it.

Edited by 33LIMA

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Wow!

 

Thanks 33LIMA, that is a very good visual comparison of the sims. You put in quite a bit of work into that. Impressive!

I only fly OFF, dial-up internet rules out ROF, haven't looked into the others and look forward to seeing your screenshots.

 

Thanks for the OFF mods too, the ArcMod adds much to the sim.

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I'd totally forgotten about RB3D, I haven't touched it in the 21st century and the mods weren't in my consciousness. :grin:

Yeah, FS-WWI is what I meant.

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Thanks for the kind comments, MW. As for the other sims, JM, I'm tempted to try a Nieu 28 campaign mission in RB3d just to see how the old girl compares, and in FS-WW1 if I can find a suitable mission-set (lack of a real campaign in SDOE was a big minus for me).

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Right next along is FE, modded First Eagles 2 to be precise. This series of comparisons was inspired by the release of Quack's new set of 1st Pursuit Group skins for the Nieuport 28. The FE Nieu.28 is from the A Team Skunkworks and I'm flying a Verdun Front mission from the Armchair Aces month-by-month mini-campaign set, in May 1918.

 

The campaign based us at Epiez, which was somewhat south of the 1st Pursuit Group's traditional base area around Toul, nearer the front. Apparently Epiez was used by the Group's 147th Aero prior to beginning ops and ironically, tho I opted to fly with the 95th, FE assigned my flight 147th Aero skins, not 95th! It looks like I need to hand-edit something to get the squadrons using their correct skins. Quack's set provides markings for all four - 27th, 94th, 95th and 147th.

 

The FE Nieuport is a nice model, like the OFF one a little angular in places and with a slight 'inverted gull' shape to the lower wings. Quack's great new skinpacks really bring her to life.

 

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One of the neat features of Quack's skinpack is that not only does it provide the correct squadron emblems - in this case, the 147th's 'Who said rats?' Scottish Terrier - but the correct rudder flashes. The story here I believe is that the French initially assumed the different sequence of colours on the US roundels should extend to the tail flashes (which in typical Nieuport style, were applied to the fixed fin, as well as the rudder). Thus the 94th Aero and 95th Aero, the first to be equipped,  got planes with the tail stripes in white, blue and red, with white leading. But the US Army Air Service (or the Signal Corps Air Service as it first was, I believe) had actually decided on red, white and blue tail flashes (red leading) which had the advantage of keeping the white in the middle like the British and French, but also making the US markings distinctive, with red leading instead of blue. Later deliveries of Nieuports had the correct official red-white-blue tail markings; these went to the 27th and 147th Aero Squadrons, and as you can see Quack's skins reproduce this nicely, complete with factory stencils. As usual, FE allocates individual aircraft numbers.

 

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Our assigned mission was a defensive patrol up to a village just on our side of the Lines, where a large wood in an inverted 'L' shape provided a good nearby landmark. As I usually do in a First Eagles campaign, I had chosen the bottom 4 pilots in the squadron roster, instead of accepting the (random?) selection of flight-mates offered. I will try to get these three companions through the campaign alive, and preferably with some kills, in the best Mick Mannock style. This approach adds a lot to the SP campaign experience, for me. I may get less kills but I would rather see my companions survive and get some of their own, than just rack up my score. Sensibly, though FE mission de-briefs do record mission success or failure this means little and can be totally ignored.

 

To save time, I used the 'next encounter' key to 'warp' to within striking distance of my target area. In FE, if there isn't some action before then, this will usually bring you out of warp at what FE (using the terminology of its parent sim, Strike Fighters) calls your 'initial point'. I usually drag this some way back from my target area while in the pre-mission planning map, so that I have plenty of time to orient myself and see what may be brewing ahead of or around me, when I 'come out of warp'.

 

Formation-keeping in FE is pretty good. Your flight-mates may weave around at times but they stay close and often in a nice steady echelon. In FE2, weather in a single campaign is set at the outset and this time, I had drawn nearly cloudless skies. You can see that the nicely-animated FE pilot is keeping a close eye on the camera, in the screenie below.

 

img00802.JPG

 

Some people prefer one of the user-made terrains available for FE to the stock 'green blanket' but I like the stock terrain. I'm not sure if the field patterns are appropriate for north-eastern France in 1918 but though lacking in granular detail, it actually conveys very well the look of rolling countryside that I can see from my own windows, and I like it just fine.

 

Anyway, while we were still some way off the Lines, I happened to notice some whitish AA bursts, below and to my left.

 

img00803.JPG

 

In FE it is eminently possible to fly and fight with all visual aids turned off, so you will see no target boxes, information panels or waypoint cones on my screen. A good touch is that AA fire is nicely reproduced, with Entente bursts greyish-white and German, black, as was generally the case in real life. Unlike OFF, the groups of AA bursts, tho not massively dangerous, are much less scattered and they therefore make it much easier not only to spot enemies, but to estimate their altitude, distance and heading. Planes themselves can be seen and even recognised at a decent range, too. In OFF I find myself staring into widely-scattered groups of flak bursts, unable to see planes I know are there, and having to get so close to do so, that it's hard to position my flight decently for at attack. In FE, when the flak is on your side, there is more of an opportunity to see what you're dealing with and manoeuvre your flight into a good attacking (or defensive!) position. I find this adds greatly to the immersion and the feeling that I am a patrol leader having to make realistic tactical decisions.

 

So, having seen our Archies at work, I now knew there were Huns down there. But who were they, and what were they doing? The answers to these questions would determine my next move.

 

...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA

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As I watched the AA fire bursting around the as-yet-invisible Huns, I saw that the fire was tracking towards me, and would soon cross just ahead of me, on its present course. So I quickly made my plan. I would keep my height and course, let the Huns cross below me and see what I was dealing with. Finally, if I still liked what I saw, I would lead my flight down upon them from above and behind. And that is exactly what I did.

 

img00805.JPG

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img00807.JPG

 

...to be continued ...I hope! Just got a message that I'd exceeded my allotted disk space for attachments, so It looks like I'll have to do a bit of a clear-out somewhere, before I can post any more pics here at CA.

 

 

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Right back in business I think. Where was I? Ah yes, those Huns...

 

As I began my dive, I noticed that there were two of them, and then that their wingspan was significantly greater than their bodies. Two-seaters, by the look of it! It turned out, it was a pair of old Rumplers, pretty low down and going flat out for the Lines, where lay safety.

 

img00808.JPG

img00814.JPG

img00816.JPG

 

After a good look around us to make sure the skies were otherwise clear of enemies, down I went, with my flight hot on my heels.

 

img00813.JPG

img00810.JPG

img00812.JPG

 

I gave the command for my flight to attack, and while they swooped onto the Huns from above, I went lower, coming up behind and below the left-hand Rumpler. With the speed I had picked up in my short dive, I closed rapidly on my chosen target.

 

img00818.JPG

img00819.JPG

 

...to be continued!

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My Hun lost height, bringing my machine into the observer's field of fire. I was committed: it was to late to do anything, but press home my attack. I hit the triggers, held them down as he seemed to fall backwards out of the sky towards me, and saw my tracers seemingly go right into his fuselage.

 

img00820.JPG

 

I knew I'd hit him hard, but as I overshot I winced as his observer's return fire smacked into my machine at close range. Looking behind, I was gratified to see the Hun spiral steeply into the ground, but mortified to see the damage he'd wrought to my own machine.

 

img00821.JPG

img00822.JPG

 

Meanwhile, two of my flight-mates were having a crack at the second Rumpler, which soon fell to the guns of one of them - Berkley, as I found out later.

 

img00824.JPG

img00826.JPG

 

Around us, it was now quiet. There was a battle going on, way across the lines, a sharp little scrap between some French SPADs and Huns in Pfalzes.

 

img00831.JPG

 

My attention was quickly drawn elsewhere. A short trail of friendly AA bursts was tracking across the sky to our right, heading from the Lines into our territory. A Hun incursion! I swung towards this, impatiently calling my flight to rejoin me. Before too long I could see what was happening: a pair of Hun scouts, at the apex of the group of AA bursts, was in hot pursuit of a couple of our own two-seaters, Salmsons by the look of it. One of the Huns - Albatrosses, they looked to be - was well ahead of the other, and was closing rapidly on the Salmsons. I moved to slide in behind the Hun leader, but his number two spotted me and swerved suddenly to cut me off.

 

img00833.JPG

img00834.JPG

 

The Hun swung in behind me but he didn't last long. One of my flight - Wood, as it turned out - chased him off me, then got behind him, and after a short pursuit, sent him into the ground.

 

img00835.JPG

img00836.JPG

img00838.JPG

img00840.JPG

 

...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA

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The Hun leader didn't last much longer. A pair of Salmsons, each defended by twin Lewis Guns, is not to be attacked lightly by a single scout and the foolhardly Albatros was soon falling earthwards, trailing a plume of dark smoke.

 

img00841.JPG

 

The skies around us were clear once more and as I usually do after a combat, I spiral-climbed, then slightly throttled back, calling my flight together. Despite the damage to my machine's fabric, it still handled normally and the engine was pulling well. I had plenty of ammunition left. So I led us back to the Lines and turned to fly along them, looking for trouble.

 

img00842.JPG

img00845.JPG

img00846.JPG

 

The Hun Archie began to annoy us, but of enemy aeroplanes, there seemed to be no sign. The sky was not entirely devoid of targets, however, and irritated by the enemy anti-aircraft fire, I decided to have a crack at the Hun observation balloon which I could see hanging insolently in the sky, to my right front, not too far into Hunland.

 

img00848.JPG

img00852.JPG

 

Ignoring the AA fire, as I came up to him I rolled over and dived right onto him, firing as I came.

 

img00854.JPG

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img00856.JPG

 

I pulled out at the last moment but it was clear he would need a second pass, for he seemed quite un-moved by my first one.

 

img00857.JPG

img00858.JPG

 

...to be continued!

Edited by 33LIMA

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I pulled up sharply, swung around, and dipped my nose again at the Hun balloon.

 

img00859.JPG

img00860.JPG

 

I held down the triggers, and waited for the Hun sausage to explode under my fire. Nothing. A stoppage - neither gun firing! I struggled to clear the jams, but by the time I had done so, I had swept well past my target.

 

img00861.JPG

img00862.JPG

 

My third pass finally did the trick. The gasbag exploded in a bright orange fireball, right at the last minute, and I flew right through it. It burned away quickly, though, and I emerged unscathed, while my flight-mates watched from above.

 

img00863.JPG

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Thinking that honour was by now satisfied, I set course for the Lines and home, recalling my flight as I gained height. Reaching the Lines, I flew down them a short way, till we were at a point closest to our airfield, then, after a last look down at the trenches, set a course for home, feeling rather pleased with myself - and my flight.

 

img00884.JPG

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Back at base, I was credited with a Rumpler and the balloon; Berkley, with the second Rumpler; and Wood, with the Albatros.

 

It wasn't the busiest or most intense of missions, by First Eagles standards, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying recreation of flying, fighting and patrol-leading in the skies of World War One, giving me the same sort of feeling I get reading the accounts of those who did it for real. Decent DMs and FMs, plus many little touches like the audible and visible buffet effect, which helps you know when you're on the edge of a stall, along with better-than-most AI (which behaves in a variable and human way, and can't see through clouds) and a great range of freeware addons and mods, all adds up to quite a package. Each to their own and I like 'em all, but for the SP campaign experience, I rate First Eagles top of the heap.

Edited by 33LIMA

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Took me numerous "refreshes" of this thread to get all the new screen shots to load and some waiting in between, but it was worth the wait...!

 

Hadn't really thought much about First Eagles 2 until I viewed your screenies. I see why you like it. The terrain looks fairly easy to navigate without aids,

 

Not being nitpicky.....but.... I didn't see a screen shot of the RoF cockpit from the same angles as the other two sims. It looked like it had a center mounted circular site from side angle screen shots, but I didn't see the pilot's view. Maybe it was a dreaded "red X" that didn't show up and I missed it. Sucks being on dial-up, but I make do.

 

Speaking of dial-up. Somehow I was fooled into believing that RoF would work in offline mode for me. I bought an Iron Cross Edition DVD back in early February after starting a PC build. It installed ok, but couldn't communicate with the mother ship quicly enough to update itself. Tried several times, gave up and uninstalled it. Never even got to take a test flight. Oh well, there went $20, but I learned a lesson and did manage to find OFF. I might check out this First Eagles 2.

 

Would FE2 work for a man with dial-up? I can have a friend download large files for me if need be. That won't work for RoF....and I don't want to make that mistake again.

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Other than the initial install file, FE2 requires no further internet connection. I think it's under 300MB?

Of course, if you go with a bunch of mods, that's extra. For example, the N28 doesn't come with FE2, that's a plane mod you have to DL and install separately.

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Hi Mudwasp and thanks for the positive feedback!

 

As you may have seen, First Eagles 2 is available 'download only' from the ThirdWire store but it has absolutely no DRM or online requirement, just burn the D/L to CD/DVD as a backup and you're good. The only issue is the need to D/L a lot of stuff from CombatAce and the A Team Skunkworks to get the user-made planes and other stuff needed to make the extra campaigns work (and to get the campaigns themselves of course). Given the need to observe D/L limits - at A Team especially, it may be easy to go over, inadvertently, and maybe get locked out - this can be slow but it's very well worthwhile, even if you have to move in with your broadband-equipped buddy for a week! 

 

Personally I got quite a bit of mileage out of playing the stock FE campaigns which are battle-based (Cambrai 1917, Op Michael 1918, St Mihiel 1918 and Meuse-Argonne 1918).  But I favour the 1917 period so the add-ons were a must, for me. Ojcar's 'Armchair Aces' campaign set is the ultimate campaign but if getting started with fewer D/L's is desired, I'd also recommend Bloody April, covering the classic mid-1917 air war. And it's not difficult to add user-made planes to stock campaigns eg in the Cambrai campaign I replaced Jasta 10's Albatros DV with the A Team Pfalz DII, just by editing a campaign data file in wordpad.

 

Most people recommend FE2 over the original, tho the latter is also available from Third Wire as First Eagles Gold (=FE1 + expansion pack) and which, despite the warning on the TW website, is Vista-compatible when patched. I have seen CD versions of FE on eBay but these were the original release and while it can be patched, this doesn't include some of the extra planes that came with the expansion pack (which are included in FE Gold and in FE2).

 

As for navigation, the FE planning map is much better than the OFF version tho not as good as the RoF map. When in flight in FE, you get a different map, which is actually a zoomed-out version of the 3d world. While this lacks the planning map's labels and roads or villages (FE lacks railways) don't stand out as well as they would if drawn on a 'proper' map, it is thus exactly what you see, when flying.

 

Re updating RoF, it might be worthwhile keeping an eye out for PC Pilot mag; they may do RoF updates on the mag's free CD, as or when they are released. If so I expect they may work with your ICE version.

 

You didn't miss the RoF cockpit shot; I thought I'd taken one but only realised not after the flight - will rectify that now CA is back up!

 

Edit - added a couple of pics of the RoF Nieu.28 cockpit to the first post on the RoF mission, on page 1 of this thread.

Edited by 33LIMA

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Prompted by JediMaster, I thought I might post some comparisons of Nieuport 28 missions in other sims, beyond the current commercial 'Big Three' of FE, RoF and OFF.

 

Thought I might start with one I've only just tried out - Dark Blue World 1916. (aka DBW-1916). This is a WW1 mod of IL2, which needs the original (WW2) DBW plus the most recent DBW-1916 updates, available here:

 

http://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php/topic,21514.msg239532.html#msg239532
http://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php/topic,26088.0.html

 

DBW 1916 seems to have started small, with planes like re-painted soviet Po-2 biplanes and some 'look-alike' models. It still has some of these, but they've now been joined by an increasing range of more realistic replicas.

 

These include the Nieuport 28. As I don't think a proper DBW campaign/mission set has yet been released for this machine, I just flew a mission I'd thrown together in the IL2 'Quick Mission Builder', pitting my flight of four, plus another flight of two, against two sets of German two-seaters (AEG JI, and Rumpler CIII, the latter being one of the look-alikes, to me looking like a Po-2 with the radial engine swapped for an inline one).

 

I started the mission in the air, over one of the several WW1 Western front maps included (there are maps for other theatres, including Palestine). I'm not sure I made the best choice as the mission (especially the landing!) was hampered by what I think was bouts of stuttering as lots of ground objects were loaded.

 

Anyway, here we are, headed for the Front. The DBW '16 Nieu.28 is a good-looking replica. It doesn't have dynamic shadows or bump-mapped textures and if it has any pilot animation, i didn't notice it.

 

02.07.2013 20-06-59.jpg

02.07.2013 20-08-07.jpg

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As we approached the front lines, looking for Huns, there were several bouts of stuttering, co-inciding I think with hard drive activity. Not fatal, but not good either. Anyhow as we flew on, the Lines became visible. These are rendered in a distinctive way, with patches of relatively untouched ground mingling with shelled areas or splotches of muddy trenchwork. There was a little shelling going on, and some fires were burning below. Not having flown over the front in WW1 myself, and colour aerial photography being what it was in those days, I think each sim has something to be said for the way it represents the Lines.

 

02.07.2013 20-24-06.jpg

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As we got a bit closer I could make out several distant groups of specks, in the sky ahead of us. As I watched, a pair of them dived to attack a group of three flying together, and a dogfight developed. I could not make out the types or nationalities of the aircraft involved, but having created the mission I knew it was the second flight of two Nieuports, attacking a trio of German two-seaters, either the AEGs or the Rumpler look-alikes.

 

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Ignoring this scrap, I made a bee-line for the second group of three specks, knowing these would be the other Germans. Another fight would soon begin!

 

02.07.2013 20-12-25.jpg

 

...to be continued!

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Our four sleek Nieuports crept after the Huns. I say 'crept', more in the sense of it being a slow process to close the range, rather than any hint of stealth being involved. The AEG JI - for that is what they were - being a slow, part-armoured ground strafer, I'd have expected us to do better. Anyhow after a bit I gave the order to attack. My flight-mates responded promptly, pushing out to the side and then closing in on the hindmost Hun. they seemed to be flying machines with better motors than mine as they closed the range fairly smartly. DBW-1916 preserves the IL2 wingman command set which is rather too sophisticated for a pre-radio era, leaving the player to decide whether to ignore anything he reckons is not appropriate. By the way, don't forget to mute the radio transmissions volume before you fly, or to map the key to mute them, in flight! Otherwise you will hear the full gamut of IL2 radio chatter, over your non-existent wireless set (the SE5 was fitted with a wireless locker - you can see the hatch behind the cockpit - but it was never carried and nothing beyond experiments were ever made in WW1, apart from Art Obs machines which carried a morse transmitter, with no receiver).

 

02.07.2013 20-12-50.jpg

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At this point, Archie decided to join in the fun, and a vicious barrage erupted, seemingly targetted at the Huns, tho it was not too far in front of us. It was noisy and spectacular, with by far the best visual and sound effects of any WW1 flak in any sim I've played. Better even than First Eagles, except that if this was indeed friendly AA fire, the bursts would have been better rendered with whitish or greyish smoke, rather than black, as the latter generally and by common convention signified German AA fire.

 

02.07.2013 20-16-02.jpg

02.07.2013 20-18-17.jpg

 

...to be continued!

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I didn't even know there was a WWI addon for the DBW mod! Not bad looking at all.

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