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Cliffs of Dover - Hurricane campaign

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The gentlemen versus the players versus the Germans!

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Until a few days ago, having no interest in multiplayer, I had steered cleared of Cliffs of Dover. Until recently, I didn't have a system anywhere near the minimum spec of the current version on Steam, the Team Fusion 'Blitz Edition' (although it turns out to run smoothly, so far, at good-looking settings on a 1.5Gb GTX580, a lot less that the minimum 4Gb stated). So, how come this mission report? Well despite reports of poor AI, broken radio commands and limited single player content, I got it cheap enough to mitigate the limited satisfaction which I was resigned to expecting.

First forays with my new toy confirmed the presence of several things I didn't like. Dispersion of effort into planes with little or no role in the Battle of Britain proper, which must be at the expense of something. Hedgerows replaced with 'tree-rows' and rather strong terrain colours (if not as cartoon-y as early versions). Over-weathered Hurricanes looking like ex-Japanese Army Airforce stock. Reasonable levels of radio traffic, but with some howlers like the boss being described as the Commander, instead of the Leader. Radio comms menu present but seemingly, much of it non-functional. Key commands a chore to set up, partly thanks to confusing duplicate labels in the settings table. Aircraft very hard to spot, without labels. RAF squadron codes vary from unit to unit, but are in too round a font. And that was before finding out whether the doubtless delectable but totally silly Spitfire Girl was still lurking in the wings (pun intended).

However...

...if you can get over some quirks, the visuals are pretty good, especially the cockpits, and as I said performance was surprisingly smooth. I tried a few of the included single missions for the RAF, and found them passable fun, again apart from some more quirks mentioned here. So I decided to have a look at the current CloD single-player campaign, despite not having every last key properly set up, and in particular not having worked out how CloD's padlock works (I use mouselook but don't like head tracking systems).

I soon found that the SP campaign is for an RAF fighter pilot, and apparently consists of a set of scripted missions, of unknown number so far. They have imaginatively-written briefings, which remind me of the best to be found in user-made campaigns for IL-2 '46, such as Blinding Sun and Faltspinman's Willi Jedermann series. Except that the briefings, creative though they be, are in some places bit twee - how do you say it in the US, 'cheesy'? 

The back-story is that you are a working class boy, or perhaps lower middle class, recently signed up in the RAF and posted to your Hurricane squadron, which is based at Tangmere, close to the Channel coast, at about the time the Battle of France ends. Your squadron is fictitious, but nicknamed the Fat Cats Squadron, because its pilots are basically rich kids. In this respect it sounds a bit like 501 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which really was like that, being known as 'the millionaire's squadron'. In this CloD equivalent, the first briefing puts you firmly in your place, socially-speaking. But you are taken under the wing of a friendly flight commander with a similar 'limited background' to yourself, also from the Manchester area, a 'northerner' not a proper chap from the jolly old Home Counties. Your first mission with this less than friendly lot involves a scramble against a sudden, low-level raid by three Dornier 215 bombers which catches you on the ground, followed closely by a larger wave of maybe another nine.

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Second time up, you are scrambled to protect a Channel convoy against an attack by a large-ish bunch of Stukas, apparently unescorted. There are some screnies and brief notes on both missions in the post linked to above. Tolerably good, I found both, and the briefings link the missions together quite well.

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This report is from mission number three. The briefing begins with you and your friendly flight commander having a rather sad bitching session about the toffs who won't accept the likes of you and he into their circle, and ends when he breaks off to point out a damaged German bomber he's just spotted, apparently making for the coast on its own, in an effort to get back to France. 'Our planes are ready to go, let's go get him and orders be dammed!' is the gist of what he says next.

So here we are. The mission has loaded and I'm sitting, engine running (no complex engine management mouseclick madness for me), in FC-A, with my new-found friend-for-life the flight commander in FC-M. The Fat Cats probably have personalised number plates on their MGs and Aston Martins, so I suppose it's no wonder they have their own fictional squadron code.

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The grass colours are really a bit dark but the airfield detail, as you can see, is fairly decent. It includes moving vehicles, notably some idiot racing around at about 50 MPH in a fifteen hundredweight truck or the like, fortunately well clear of any aircraft. Probably, it's some bored fat cat whose MG is in for a service.

But where is the Hun? No-where to be seen, is the answer, so, slightly deflated, I wait for something to happen.

...to be continued!

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Up and at 'em!

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After a bit, an interesting conversation developed on the airwaves between my flight leader and the CO, as you can see from the on-screen text. Must see if there's a way to zap this, or at least confine it to a single line, like you can do with a conf.ini edit in IL-2 '46. After a while, thinking that the Heinkel would be well away by the time we got off, I quit waiting for my boss to stop chatting and start flying, and took off on my own. The take-off itself reminds me, in general feel, of the original sim.

I climbed away coastwards, wondering how the boss had spotted the Hun when I could not, but thinking that was the most likely direction in which he lay. You might just be able to make out the other Hurricane on the grass strip, towards the far end on the right. Incidentally I really like the engine and other sounds in CloD, though the R/T chatter is a bit low-volume with default settings.

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Why there is such a visible strip on a grass airfield, I'm not sure. In fact, come to think of it, there was a concrete runway in one of the two previous missions - here it is, in case you don't believe me...

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Perhaps we had changed bases, and I hadn't paid enough attention.

Anyway, off I went. As you can see, my kite has the bulbous Rotol constant speed airscrew spinner which was designed for the Spitfire, with a backplate slightly too big in diameter for the Hurricane (the later Hurricane Rotol spinner, fitted to later MkIs and the MkII and onward, is the more elongated, bullet-shaped one). DeHaviland two-speed props had smaller, pointy spinners, the Spit version also being a bit big for the Hurri. CloD seems to model Spit Rotol and Hurricane DH props ie you can choose a plane with either.

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I flew out to sea for a bit...

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...but seeing nothing, I decided that something was amiss. So I turned on the in-flight mini-map and noticed my 'flight plan' lay in the opposite direction. I swung around, speeded up and finally, well off to the east-north-east of Tangmere (and well beyond my flight-leader's legitimate range of vision, which must be Superman-class) I finally spotted him getting stuck into the Heinkel. That's him, zooming after an attack from astern. I would have missed them both had I not got aircraft icons turned on, in the mini-map. Calling Control for an enemy vector is one of the few things in the CloD Blitz comms menu that seems to work, but I haven't yet figured out such basics as whether the bearing he gives you is relative to your heading, or absolute, from North.

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So I opened the throttle and had a pop at the Hun. The boss had survived making a stern attack, and so did I.

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Gunnery seems not too hard but there's more smoke than tracer, besides which my rounds seemed to be consistently going high, so perhaps I need to adjust the range setting on my reflector sight, or learn to use it better. Anyhow I got some hits, seeing pieces fly off, which is always a good sign. But on the Hun flew.

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As I wheeled around for another attack, my boss made his next one.

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Then it was my turn again. The enemy air gunners were no snipers, though I think I heard one hit on my machine. But a bit of jinking as I came in - not all of which was deliberate - seemed to keep me from serious harm.

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As I was coming in for my third pass, I saw the boss make one from dead ahead...

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...shortly after which, I clobbered Jerry from behind again. Note the additional bits flying.

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Surely that must be it, I thought. And so it was. When I Iooked back, the Heinkel had gone, down amongst some trees, but with no particular sign of a crash. Strange, like the wreck and any trace of it had 'de-spawned' almost instantly, faster even than they do in Rise of Flight.

Oh well, job done. Now, back to Tangmere, to find out if our upper crust squadron leader would forgive us our youthful indiscretion.

...to be continued!

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I bought the updated Steam version a while back because it was cheap and I understood it was largely fixed compared to the original release. The graphics are nice. I like the plane set. For me, it is the one reason to fly CoD. The Beaufighter and Blenheim aren't flyable in any recent and/or mainstream WW2 combat flight sims. But I will hardly ever fly it. There are simply too many available options that are better, both newer and older.

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Home...and tea!

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This was the last time I saw Picket, my friendly flight leader, shortly after the Heinkel went down. Had I turned on labels, I might have been able to keep track of him, but I didn't, probably because I haven't yet set up or memorised all the important keystrokes. Anyhow I knew roughly were I was in relation to our airfield, so I turned around in a wide sweep which took me away from the coast and then back to the west, slightly further inland than I judged base to be, so I could pick it up visually to port.

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This is what the inflight map looked like, fully zoomed out, during this manoeuvre. I'm not sure Gatwick deserves to be so prominently marked on it, as it was probably an insignificant village with a small commercial airfield in 1940.

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Tangmere being a grass airfield it wasn't the easiest to pick out at the low level at which I was flying, but I eventually spotted it, having slowed down and opened the canopy - which I see is common practice in multiplayer, for better visibility. Tut, tut.

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I usually land (and take off) from the external view - yes I know, tut, tut - but the lack of peripheral vision and the limits of MonitorVision make precise judging of height unpleasantly difficult, unlike the handful of Cessnas I have actually flown, where you could always pop open the flimsy little door, lean over a bit and look down (only kidding but you get my point).

At this juncture, while sticking to the external view, I decided to do something different. Apparently WW2 fighter pilots often landed off a curving approach, so they could keep the landing ground in view the whole time, rather than lose it under the long nose during a conventional approach. So that's what I decided to to. Somebody had come up on the R/T telling me to join the circuit, which sort of thing I normally try to do since taking those flying lessons. But this time, I looked to be in a decent position to go straight in and my speed was already low enough to drop the undercart and commence my approach. So that's what I did.

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For a while, my first landing off a curved approach seemed to be going tolerably well, although not having done it before, it was hard to be sure.

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What caught me out in the end was pausing to take pictures and not picking up smoothly where I'd left off. So I bounced badly, failed to catch her in time, plonked down heavily and after a few more wobbles, pitched slowly over onto my back. Ooops!

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This seems to be the standard form of a CloD 'debriefing'. It looks like I'm getting the credit for the Heinkel, and that both Hurricanes were written off. How the boss's kite came to grief, I have no idea.

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However, looking at the results screen, it seems the show was rated as a win for the good guys. Even if Terry Tweed, the stuck-up squadron leader, was still clearly not best pleased. And the 'lawn chairs' should really be called 'deck chairs' (although I daresay pilots used whatever they could get hold off).

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Will future missions stay small scale, or will I see something more in line with the scale of the real Battle? If so, will my PC still be able to take the strain? Will duff AI let down the whole thing, especially when we meet the escorts? Will I become exasperated by the gaps in the comms menus? Will the storyline continue to hold my interest? I'm going to play on, so I'll find out in due course. So far, having started with the expectation that I'm not going to get a Battle of Britain experience as comprehensive or as authentic as BoB2, and not having been out a lot of money, I'm quite liking the experience and have found a couple more SP campaigns I may try.

Incidentally, I see there's a pic in the Haynes 'Owner's Workshop Manual' for the Hurricane of a MkIIa, Z2487, coded FC-T, which the caption says is from the Station Flight at RAF Northolt in 1941; while Wikipedia says squadron code FC was carried by the same flight but from Kenley. At any rate, the code is not entirely fictional.

That book and the excellent 'Gun Button to Fire' by 249 Squadron BoB Hurri pilot Tom Neil I have been encouraged to pick up through flying the virtual Hurricane in BoB2 and now concurrently in CloD. Tom, who was credited with no less than 13 victories during the Battle, including six 109s, passed away during 2018 and so this mission report is humbly and respectfully dedicated to him, and to all his comrades in RAF Fighter Command. Per ardua ad astra

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21 hours ago, streakeagle said:

I bought the updated Steam version a while back because it was cheap and I understood it was largely fixed compared to the original release. The graphics are nice. I like the plane set. For me, it is the one reason to fly CoD. The Beaufighter and Blenheim aren't flyable in any recent and/or mainstream WW2 combat flight sims. But I will hardly ever fly it. There are simply too many available options that are better, both newer and older.

I'd tend to agree with much of that, although you definitely can fly the Beau (and I think maybe also the Blenheim) in both Il-2 '46+DBW and in CFS3+ETO expansion.

Il-2:

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CFS3:

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Ok this is a Beaufort but I think there's a flyable Blenheim, too.

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Picked up Cliffs of Dover myself from Steam over the holidays and have probably the same criticisms. Am a couple of missions ahead of you in the campaign, and it looks like it's been pitched to gradually build up the skillset (e.g. scrambled to intercept some bombers that turned out to be Bf-110s, gently introducing us to dogfighting ) so hopefully we'll have some much bigger scale missions, with bombers and escorts, to come.

Enjoying things so far though.

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I never cared for the original IL-2 very much. When Pacific Fighters came out, I enjoyed flying the F4U from carriers. Other than F4U carrier ops and some P40 missions vs Japanese,  I have less than 10 hours of flying time invested in all the IL-2 releases from the first all the way to 1946.

If you count mods, you can also fly just about anything in the SF series. I don't like IL-2 1946 to begin with, so I have zero interest in its mods... Especially trying to make jet fighters with radar and missiles work.

Mods not withstanding, virtually no sims ever had the Blenheim or the Beaufighter as flyables out of the box... and certainly none with the graphics quality and realism of CoD.

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@Strikeagle - as with many other sims, for me it's the mods that make Il-2 '46, and thanks mostly to Mission4Today there's more than enough missions and campaigns to get the most from it, albeit outside of WW2 it's overtaken by other sims. SF would have made a very good basis for a WW2 sim, just like it did for WW1 with FE1 and 2, if it had the same quantity and quality of 3d models and textures, maps and campaigns for WW2 as Il-2 '46; but it's not close, so that's that. IL-2 '46 for me is now by a wide margin the best all round WW2 combat flight sim (mods included, there's no point looking at it any other way). With BoB2 still the best simulation of the Battle by about the same considerable margin.

Confirmed, CFS3 + ETO expansion has several flyable Blenheims, bomber and fighter, in MkI and MkIV versions:

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@alienjb42 - yeah I just flew that mission which had 110s masquerading as bombers. That storyline's slightly shaky credibility was stretched to breaking point when the debrief had the post mission chatter crediting the 110s with having 'totally outmatched' the Hurricane (plus saying the German had the 110s and the Defiants - presumably that second 'they've' should have been 'we've', preferably with apostrophes where they should be!). 

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  During the mission, the skies were red - with the R/T chatter's text display, which will drive me bonkers if I can't limit or supress it, never mind it's repetitive and refuses to use realistic terms like 'bandit' instead of 'enemy' or 'Leader' instead of 'Commander'.

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The best I could manage was a 110 damaged...

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...at the cost of a windscreen that'll need a bit of attention...

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The 110 kept obligingly pulling up steeply towards my level again, after each time he went down under fire...

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Despite trailing glycol or fuel or both, when I ran out of rounds and let him go after a few more roller-coaster efforts, he flew off, level this time, after his distant mates, west up the middle of the Channel, not directly back to base never mind the shortest route back to terra firma. It's like the AI has a fixation with flying its waypoints regardless of being left completely behind everyone else and 50% damaged, as the post-mission stats informed me.

Realism isn't just about the accuracy or otherwise of flight and 3d models, it's also about having hedgerows not just tree-rows in SE England and something resembling realistic missions, enemy formation sizes and radio voice procedure. In that respect, CloD's a long way behind Battle of Britain 2, but having settled that in my own mind, I'll carry on with the campaign and see if it can continue to hold my interest, despite the blip in the latest mission

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Update as of mission 5 - well, I'm hanging in there, though the campaign is still living off 'unrepresentative' missions. And the mission storylines, in their effort to provide a convincing background, are struggling to be...well, convincing.

Here's the latest one. It's a 'scramble' to provide cover for a withdrawing squadron seen to be threatened by some marauding 109s. Now I've read a few Battle of Britain pilot memoirs, many campaign histories, and Alfred Price's detailed studies of the air operations on 18th August and 15th September; and I just don't find this mission backstory credible. A sweep to try to catch 109s on their withdrawal might have provided a less unrealistic basis for a similar mission, even for Hurricanes rather than the faster Spitfires. But no. And they insist on calling the other squadron 'the 257' rather than just '257'. Whoever was doing the scripting or translation is not a reader of RAF pilot memoirs, evidently. It's all very well getting every last detail of an instrument panel right, but this sort of detail is important, too.

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This, I thought, would be my first real experience of the apparently unloved CloD artificial intelligence, as applied to the important business of air combat. Even though my expectations were not high, the result was a bit inconclusive, if not totally bad. A bit like that curate's egg - you know, the one he said, when asked, was 'good, in parts' out of politeness to his host.

I have by now realised that you can turn off the radio message text display by clicking on and deactivating the invisible box in which the text appears, at the cost of having to recreate it from scratch if you want to see it again. On reflection I may do this, if only to get the first line back again, unless I can find a sound setting which significantly increases the very low volume of the R/T chatter. Which is almost inadudible

There were six of us in the mission and - because the briefing text told us nothing much useful, like in which direction we were to head - I had to follow my leader. Either that, or turn on the map, which I have currently set to show waypoints and aircraft icons, one or both of which I should probably disable. I think you can display the map alongside the text intro, toggling it on where the pic of Heinkels is, in the shot above. Map should be on by default, really, as in 'old' Il-2.

I was flying in the leading vic on my leader's left. Not very tightly at all, as formation-flying is not my strong suit. But accompanied by inaudible and now also invisible R/T messages, when well out over the Channel, the boss started wheeling all over the sky, for no apparent reason, leaving both me and the other, AI pilot in our section struggling to keep up. Even from the external view I could see no reason for this, or what happened to the second 3-plane section.

After a while, a 109 with yellow wing-tips flew underneath me, apparently flying straight and level for home and oblivious to us. But he seemed to have disappeared into thin air by the time I had come around after him. This was about the best view I got of the Hun.

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Having by now lost sight of any other Hurricanes, and indeed of any other planes at all, I flew south on my own for a while, unable to get anything useful from the broken radio command menu (except a bearing back to base). I could have turned on the map but I didn't much feel like cheating, with those aircraft icons still not turned off.

After a while, I spotted a vic of three planes up ahead, also flying south. Must be the second section of Hurris, I thought, so I sped after them. Even with the revs reduced at intervals to keep the temps down, I slowly overhauled them, till I was about in mid-channel and feeling a bit exposed. I felt a whole lot more exposed when I realised they were 109s. The in-game anti-aliasing isn't good and it doesn't seem to work at all if set in the Nvidia drivers - must try Nvidia Inspector - so it's harder than it should be even to see that these three had visible dihedral, which 109s (and Spitfires) do, but Hurricanes don't.

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I didn't especially want to wipe out my CloD persona in a suicidal attack;  I suppose the campaign must have succeeded in creating at least some sense of attachment between us. But then I thought, the reportedly-poor CloD AI probably means these three are rookies, ready meat for a surprise attack. I'll get one on the first pass if they don't spot me (as they usually seem to do in 'original' IL-2) and that would leave me odds of only two to one and a sporting chance of getting away.

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Well, they didn't spot me until I opened fire on the fellow on the right, but I didn't knock him down, either. He evaded not too clumsily and I broke away, now seriously fearful for my virtual neck. But all he seemed to want to do was rejoin formation. And all the other two seemed to want to do was let him. I'd heard the CloD AI seems to get fixated on its mission script even to the detriment of self-preservation. So it seems to be.

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These AI people are asking for it, I thought, so I let them have it again. The Hurricane is slower than 109s at all levels but I had no bother catching them up again. This time I shot 'my' 109 out of formation. You can't really see it in the pic below, but by this stage, he'd jettisoned his canopy, prior to hitting the silk.

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At this point the dozy AI 'rediscovered honour'. As I was levelling out, a stream of tracer flashed over my own canopy from somewhere directly behind. Boy, did I break hard. I only just pulled out before hitting the drink, in fact. Quite a scare, I got.

I think the 109 above me in the next pic is the one who nearly did for me.

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That was it, though. I threw in a few more breaks, but never saw the Huns again. If you wanted to be charitable about the AI, you could put this down to being near to home and/or short of fuel, I suppose. So I'm not reaching a verdict on the AI until I have a bit more evidence.

It was a long way home and apart from the odd jink, I flew straight and level, taking some time to admire my kite and the scenery from outside.

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One noticeable feature of the CloD Hurricane is that it replicates the fin being angled a few degrees to port from the centreline, to counteract torque or swing presumably. The next picture, from a free-flight mission, shows this reasonably clearly. Hard to tell if it's a bit overdone, or just right.

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At this point I decided to turn on the mini-map, to check a suspicion that my compass repeater was misreading. Which it seems to be, showing about 310 degrees when I'm heading due north per the map. Magnetic variation, if modelled, can't be that much. Is it a bug, does it affect all planes, is there a fix or do you have to swing or set your own compass? Something I'll have to check. 

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Anyhow, I made it home to Tangmere, managing to make out some of the others on the R/T asking for landing clearance. I asked too, but was ignored, so got in via my new friend, the curved approach. The active runway as in previous missions from this field ran about north-south, so I'm not sure if wind direction is modelled, the UK being noted for prevailing westerlies.

The post-mission stats confirmed my 109, with another one (presumably the first attacked) quite badly damaged, and the one knocked down seemingly double counted, as that, and damaged. However, 111 (the first squadron to get Hurricanes) had taken a bit of a beating. Where they came into this I have no idea. The text debrief made no mention of them, but it didn't miss the opportunity for some more socialist propaganda, with our upper-crust boys barely deigning to talk to the grateful but presumably middle class chaps in 257, whom we had apparently rescued.  

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Battle of Britain 2 - Wings of Victory it ain't. More like the Battle of Britain, Jim, but not as we know it. That said, I'm still here, and I'm still coming back for more, so it can't be all bad. 

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    • By 33LIMA
      I find out how to avoid the Battle of Britain, during the Battle of Britain!

      I remember reading somewhere that you don’t remember pain. That’s maybe why I go back to playing Cliffs of Dover Blitz Edition, every so often. This mission report is from my most recent such foray…or should that be, ‘relapse’?
      Why do I find playing CloD painful? In short, because I’m single-player only. The longer version is that while the planes and sounds are very good indeed, the SP missions and campaigns mostly aren’t; the AI definitely isn’t; the radio traffic is overwhelmed with pointless drivel; the scale of operations is small; the command and comms menu is mostly broken; and other features like anti-aliasing and labels are badly implemented. What hurts most is how good CloD would have been, had less been broken or badly executed. If it’s like this now, after several Team Fusion upgrades, it must have been rather dire upon release.
      I can well understand why CloD may be dear to the hearts of the multi-player crowd. But that’s no consolation to lil’ old single-player me. Anyhow, be all that as it may…
      This sortie is from the RAF Redux campaign. The latter replaces the stock RAF campaign’s creative but unconvincing briefings with new backstory and briefings based on the Battle of Britain career of a real US pilot, CW ‘Red’ McColpin. The missions seem to be tweaked versions of the stock campaign’s – for example the first mission in both is an exciting take off while your airfield is being raided by a bunch of Dorniers, coming in low. The missions are scripted, not dynamic in any sense I can see, and I think play out the same each time.
      It’s 17th August and I’m maybe a third of the way through the campaign. This is the point the player is transferred from 607 Squadron flying Hurricanes and Tangmere - or should that be nearby Westhampnett?  - to a Spitfire outfit, 602, based a lot further east, at Manston. The Redux briefing gives me a much more friendly send-off, with a feel for authentic period/RAF dialogue that’s entirely missing in the original. My old CO is flying as my number 2 on this transit flight, as he wants to speak to my new boss. In person. Bit weird, that, especially at the height of a major air battle. Like the stock mission, the briefing insists I take a longer, indirect route along the coast. This also is a bit weird, but from past plays, it seems certain triggers won’t work, if you pick a sensible cross-country route. Climbing to 20,000 feet as the briefing instructs seems designed to waste even more valuable petrol.
      Anyway off I go, the mission starting as usual lined up for take-off, engine running, but reflector sight needing turned on. My Hurricane has the correct codes for 607 Squadron - AF - not the ‘FC for Fat Cats’ of the stock version. Sadly, my last campaign flight in this type of aircraft uses one of the kites whose rigger has been busy with a sanding block, trying to remove the paint from all metal surfaces, sticking at it just long enough to make a mess. I think I'm Luton 1, and the boss, soon to be my ex-boss, is Luton 2, telling me he's ready to go. The radio voice procedure here seems quite authentic - it's when people start spouting guff like 'I've got your six!' - usually six or so at a time - that CloD's R/T chatter goes down the (toilet) pan.

      Despite being billed as Tangmere by CloD, the lack of paved runways and its location suggest this is the satellite airfield at Westhampnett. Except that this CloD version has proper hangars, which my main source ('Airfields of the Battle of Britain' by Philip Birtles) says were just 'blister' hangars in 1940, with tents being replaced by Nissen (corrugated iron) Huts for accommodation as the Battle progressed.
      Taking off to the south, I throttle back and orbit, for the boss is in no hurry to join me. In the pic below you can see the mission messages displayed in Redux campaign missions. How is it that we have a loss already, you may ask?

      Well, instead of the boss joining me, three Hurricanes approach from the coast and get in the way. The Redux mission messages display things like 'British down’, apparently triggered when the incoming Hurricanes crash one after another, for no apparent reason. The first prang presumably accounts for the read-out seen in the pic above.
      Later – though not seen on this play through – you may see several Wellington bombers floating past. Some or all of these too come a cropper. Again, not through enemy action I think, though it’s hard to tell. I have aircraft icons turned off in the 2d map, and it seems to ignore any effort I make to turn them back on, or display routes or anything else that you can supposedly toggle on or off. And you cannot readily turn aircraft labels on or off in the 3d world.  My experience is that CloD’s general level of user-friendliness is at or around ‘cornered rat’.
      The next message, top centre of the pic below, seems to be the boss telling me he's had enough of this already. I'm not surprised, with kamikaze Hurricanes all around. Of maybe the Station Commander has stepped in and cancelled his 'jolly' to Manston; if so, very sensibly in my opinion. Squadron leaders should have better things to do in wartime. 

      I get tired waiting for the boss and climb parallel to the coast but slightly inland, levelling off at about 5-6,000 feet. The more I look at this next pic, the more convinced I am that the airfield I've just left behind is Westhampnett (now Goodwood airfield and motor racing circuit) not Tangmere, the location in relation to the town which looks like Chichester being another clue. Or perhaps it IS Tangmere, minus paved runways, and Westhampnett is the grassy area visible above the roundel on my raised wing.

      Still climbing, I fly over what may or may not be the real Tangmere. Birtles' book says  its paved runways were completed in 1939, although the location and number of hangars visible below doesn't match the book's description.

      After a while I see a pixelated aircraft ahead, slightly right and a bit higher. He’s flying level and away from me on a similar course. Catching up, I see it’s a Hurricane – the boss, it must be, although he’s supposed to be flying as my number 2. Besides which, didn't he tell me not ten minutes ago that he was going home? Seemingly, turning on autopilot is one way to keep things relatively sane in CloD, although while active it turns your flight sim into a movie.
      Before I can get close, the boss announces on the R/T that he’s spotted enemy fighters and whizzes off to the left, across my nose. Following him, I see nothing. Then looking the other way, I see two indistinct aircraft manoeuvring to my right, slightly higher and moving fast. These must be the 109s.

      I turn after the second one. In CloD, unlike BoB2, you have to turn on ‘complex engine management’ to get the negative-G cut-out with the British Merlins and although my Hurricane has a constant speed prop which needs less manual intervention, I’m sure I’m not making the best use of the available settings. The 109 seems to be able to run rings around me, even allowing for him being faster to begin with.

      The dogfight which follows sees me chasing and losing one aircraft after another, including a Hurricane at one point. It’s moderately exciting, especially when twice, a 109 on which I’m trying to get what these days would be called a firing solution turns into me and we go head on. Both times we seem sure to collide; both times I scrape by, the second time taking some hits, cannon shells to a wingtip as I later discover.
      In return, I manage to get hits on a 109, who trails light smoke but refuses to slow down. No matter if I cut across his corners, or his dips and climbs. And CloD’s Messerschmitts jink a lot, when chased; the rate at which they can reverse a roll seems rather high, and they don’t seem to lose much speed. Oh and don't ask why somebody is on the squadron radio net giving headings and heights, in the middle of a dogfight - I have no idea.

      I can’t close the range to the smoking, speeding 109, whatever he does. I try a few rather optimistic, longish-range deflection shots in an effort to slow him down, but lose him somewhere below when he turns underneath me and away. Still smoking. Still speeding.

      Suddenly, I get a shock. A dense stream of tracer flies over the top of my canopy. The next pic is from a different mission - when I was flying the Messerschmitt - but I've included it since it illustrates neatly what happened to me.

       I break hard, of course. Coming out of the turn, I can see the fight has been joined by two twin-engined Messerschmitt 110s.  I turn in after the nearest one and off he goes, round and round, up and down, like a circular roller-coaster, except for the jinks. As he’s bigger and slower than a 109, I manage to stay with him, keeping an eye open for the other Messerschmitts, whom I don’t see again. I get some hits but it’s no surprise when I run out of ammo. By this time, we are a few miles inland, with low rolling hills below.  I break off and dive to ground level, heading east towards Manston, dipping into valleys and over tree-covered hills, changing course every few seconds until I’m fairly sure I’m in the clear. I didn't get any pics of the 110s, but I'm sure you'll take my word for it. The next two pics are me after breaking off, legging it at low level for my new home at Manston.


      The 110 doesn’t come after me; I fact I don’t see him again, either.  Every so often I see R/T messages displayed (which you can barely hear, even at the highest volume setting); these seem to be my boss calling out courses and heights, although he’s supposed to be flying on my wing. One of the Redux mission messages tells me I have been credited with a victory. It looks like that damaged 109 didn’t make it, although he was whizzing all over the place quite merrily, the last time I saw him.

      Feeling more confident, I climb to a few thousand feet and adjust my course the better to reach Manston. It’s about this time I notice the holes in my port wingtip. Everything seems to be working normally and I throttle back to cruising speed or thereabouts.

      From higher up I can see further and orient myself a bit better. Which is just as well as I can’t seem to turn on icons or courses on the mini-map, even before the mission. Manston is practically on the east coast, on a headland at the southern end of the Thames Estuary. So it’s a long and rather dull cross-country flight from here on in. I relieve the boredom using time acceleration, until I reach Canterbury, at which point I drop back into sight-seeing mode - note the town's cathedral. One sight I don’t see is the boss.

      Losing height, I come in south of Manston’s grass east-west landing strip and see an aircraft slipping in from the opposite direction, off to my nose to the left. Looks like the boss, joining the circuit. I request permission to land – one of the few comms menu options which actually works – and am denied. I decide to mis-hear this – the circuit is not exactly busy.

      At about this point, I get a sim text warning that I have a hydraulic failure. This seems a bit steep, as I have no visible damage other than in my left wingtip. I make a curved approach to land from east to west but it's now no surprise that I can’t lower either flaps or undercarriage. I think that there is a key to drop the gear manually, like in BoB2, but I can’t recall (a) what it is and (b) whether I set it in the options menu – you have to set just about everything here, for anything to work. More of that cornered rat user-friendliness.
      Consequently, my arrival at my new base is a bit undignified. Just to rub it in, the boss comes in from the opposite direction and makes a perfect landing, as I sit there, surveying the damage. Happily I have slid off to one side of the grass landing strip and he passes me by without adding to the wreckage.

      Just before he had done so, I had noticed the Ack Ack gun near the end of the runway, firing. That reminded me that I had, shortly before, heard a report of Dorniers. Scanning the skies now from my cockpit, I can see neither aircraft nor Ack Ack bursts, and the shooting from that gun up ahead seems to have stopped. False alarm? Meantime, a game message has told me that I have completed the mission – the sole objective was to reach Manston – so I let it go at that.
      The statistical debriefing - which seems to cover all casualties during the mission - records several Hurricanes and Wellingtons lost, few if any due to enemy action, as far as I could make out. It also confirms my Messerschmitt was shot down. So it wasn’t all bad. But it felt a bit incoherent and aimless on the one hand, and scripted - positively on rails - on the other, with those 109s and 110s serving no other purpose than to entertain me en route. Provided I too stayed on the appointed rails. In real life, at this point in the Battle, the Luftwaffe was using every opportunity to hammer RAF airbases, not sending pairs of fighters over the Channel at low-ish level. Any fighters who were on their way home would not have been flying in pairs if they could possibly have avoided it, and would not likely have stayed to mix it with an RAF fighter they weren't able to hit-and-run.
      The RAF Redux campaign conveys some sense of the real battle via debrief text panels which quote Churchill and/or sum up the day’s operations, though for all I have seen so far, I might as well be reading the newspapers from somewhere well away from the action. There’s a few mission sets available over at the ATAG forums which may do better in creating a better sense of scale; perhaps some RAF Redux missions do so too, we shall see. But not just yet.
      I knew before I bought it that CloD wasn’t rated highly as a sim for Single Player. Now I know why. As a collection of nice WW2 planes with a limited air combat experience and a suitable map thrown in, it was perhaps worth the bargain bin price I paid for it - despite the painful reminder of what it could have been, every time I dip back in. As another player observed, Team Fusion’s plans – adding a Mediterranean theatre and aircraft – seem primarily designed – reasonably enough - to enhance the likely already-very-good Multi-Player experience. It remains to be seen, though, if CloD’s SP will ever get much better.
      For my own part, I’m ready for some pain relief – it’s back to my RAF ‘commander’ campaign in Battle of Britain II - Wings of Victory - the pic below showing my most recent mission, which was also in a 607 Squadron Hurricane, but against a proper raid - and that's just the bombers which you can see...

    • By 33LIMA
      Campaign contrasts - Battle of Britain II and Cliffs of Dover Blitz Edition

      For one reason or another, I've found myself running single player RAF campaigns in parallel in these two Battle of Britain sims. As indeed you may have noticed, from recent mission reports. So I thought it might be moderately amusing to describe where I've got to in each, side by side. And share some more of my thoughts - for whatever they may be worth - on their respective merits, based now on a little more than first impressions. Starting with Battle of Britain II - Wings of Victory.

      It's the morning of 18th July 1940. Watching 'the plot' on the campaign map, I hear the a WAAF announce that a new raid is forming, over northern France. Time acceleration automatically slows from 300x to 20x and I watch the raid's marker nudge its way north, towards the Thames Estuary. As it comes, its size is revised upwards to seventy-plus and I can see at once that its likely target is either of two convoys, one off Felixstowe, the other further north near Great Yarmouth. Both are protected by a single fighter patrol, in squadron strength, put up by the campaign AI. The raid drifts past the Felixstowe convoy and I accept AI recommendations to scramble three squadrons to intercept it. Confirmation comes that Convoy Weasel, up off Great Yarmouth, is the likely target. In the meantime, the intercepting squadrons have been tracking across from the west and Douglas Bader's 242 Squadron is the first to report spotting the bandits. BoB2 asks me if I want to fly this mission and I accept, choosing to fly as Green 3, in one of the rearmost 3-plane vics in 242. The mission loads, and I find myself in Hurricane LE-L, at just over 16,000 feet, now heading nearly due south.
      Up ahead is the enemy - some of them, anyway. There look to be about thirty of them. They're not contrailing, so it's hard to work out their heading. You can just about make them out, right of top centre, in the pic below.

      From up ahead and to my left, Douglas Bader is saying something important on the blower, but I'm more interested in what the rest of the formation is now doing. Wings are waggling nervously and I'm suddenly concerned about keeping in formation. I'm also thinking, this was supposed to be seventy plus, where are the rest of the Germans?
      The answer isn't long in coming.
      Suddenly we are swamped by a shower of Messerschmitt 110s, which fall on us from above. I pull up and around in an effort to avoid being shot down, and maybe even come around onto their tails. In doing so, I realise I'm on my own and have lost the others - in such a situation, it seems to be each man for himself.

      I look up briefly to see if it's clear above me, before coming back down after the 110s.  I get another shock. Waves of aircraft, which could only be Huns, are sailing past up there. The lower ones might be Ju88s; the paler ones above them could be more escorts. Others again, I can only see by their contrails. Crikey!!!

      If only the bloody Controller had told us to put on a bit more height, we would not be in this mess, bounced by 110s with the rest of the raid now having a clear run to the convoy. We can only hope that having stripped away some of the escorts, other squadrons will manage to get the bombers before they get the ships.
      Did anybody buy it in that first pass? No time to worry about that now. I roll over onto my back and go down, after the Messerschmitts.
      ...to be continued!
    • By 92SqnPhilstyle
      Over the past 4 months the Storm of War server and website have undergone a number of important changes. 

      We are now ready to open the server back up to the Cliffs of Dover community. Firstly, please note that we have a new website and forums here; www.stormofwar.org The old website is now going to be re-directed to the new URL. The server itself has undergone a large number of important changes too, including;
      Improved Player Stats, including "pilot career" tracking Improved Bomber Stats Squadron v Squadron stats New realism features and target types within the missions Downloadable / printable mission pdf briefing files for all Missions with target photos and maps Player controlled mission rotation New RADAR and aircraft tracking systems (both in-game and on the website) Friendly aircraft tracking system to assist bomber/fighter escorting Missions that provide safe spawns for Bomber pilots Luftwaffe Directional Beacons AI aircraft with scaling features And more... To explain most of the changes we have made, please watch these two YouTube videos . Video one : http://youtu.be/_56JhIdbG7Q AND video two : http://youtu.be/WjvKC2SaGlw 

      We welcome all Cliffs of Dover players to the server and the new website, particularly those players who are members of online Squadrons. We would also love to welcome back players who have not played Cliffs of Dover for a while, and who might be looking for something new in the multi-player environment. A new campaign is also being planned. More news on this will follow in time. Salute, Storm of War .
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