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CastelEtzwane

Patrol Height for 'Ground Forces Support' Missions ?

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I have noticed that when my pilot is assigned a 'Ground Forces Support' mission, the patrol height is almost always 10 000+ ft. Does anybody know why this is ?

My thinking is that a 'Ground Forces Support' mission should consist of flying top cover for the ground forces and thus defend them in case they are targeted for attack from the air or ground.

But How can this be done from 10 000 ft ? One cannot spot aircraft flying below 6000 ft if the defensive patrol one is flying with is at 10 000 ft.

This means that any low-level attacks on ground forces go unnoticed. Only bombing attacks at high altitudes have a chance to be detected. Detecting strafing attacks is out of the question at 10 000 ft and I think that ground forces were in much greater danger of low-level attacks than 'strategic' bombings.

The same problem exissts to a lesser degree for the other 'defense' type missions like balloon- and airfield- defense missions.

So does anyone know why 'Ground Forces Support' mission patrol altitudes are set so high ?

Is there something I'm missing or is this a mistake ?

 

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Aircraft are not as likely to come in low across the lines, too dangerous all round with ground fire.  If you prefer, make yourself flight leader and go in low.  You can be leader either by rank or option in workshop.

 

 

 

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Flying low was not a recommended practice, especially on entering, and leaving the patrol area, not only was the danger of ground fire very nasty, Richthofen is a prime example of how deadly ground fire was, and the archie was even nastier at low level, on top of that the enemy would be around as well, and generally above and in the sun, so being low was not a thing you would do, unless absolutely vital, and it would be in and out as quickly as possible, lay the eggs, give the trenches a few squirts, and get the hell out of Dodge tout suite !! this is why specialist aircraft were developed for this, from 1916 on, as they were given a bit of armour,, and were of less floppy construction, the Dolphin or the Halberstadt CL series, or the Hannover. mud moving is a hazardous occupation, one only has to look at the attrition rate of ground attack missions in WWII a lot of Typhoons were lost due to ground fire, and the figures are actually worryingly high, and those were more modern and faster aircraft than the wood and canvas jobs over the Western front !! 

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OK, thanks for your replies. I agree that flying low over enemy ground forces seems to have been dangerous work.

But if you can get a hold of Bill Lambert's combat memoirs (an American who shot down about 20 ac for the RFC), he relates how his No.24 Squadron (Se5a in 1918), along with several other squadrons (Dolphins, Camels)  was ordered to carry out ground attack missions, beginning at the end of July 1918. This was in conjunction with a big 'push' in August 1918, can't remember what it was called.

It seems as though they came in over the enemy ground forces at 2000-3000 ft, visually picked out targets and then dove down to strafe/bomb. I don't know remember how long they kept up with these attacks but they were so harrowing that poor Lambert became traumatized and had to be hospitalized for nerves and a broken ear drum. He didn't remember what happened after the 1st few ground attack missions, only that he started to 'come to' and got a few flashbacks while convalescing later in a hospital.

So it did happen that RFC squadrons conducted intensive ground attack operations in 1918. But in this case the German ground forces seemed to be on the retreat and not occupying trenches. RFC casualty rate was high but orders were orders.

It seems that these type of missions could be created for WOFF and that corresponding German 'low altitude' ground forces support missions could be created in return.

Sounds like it would be fun and historically correct as well.

Can someone make this happen ?

 

 

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Here's the thing, though: the real WWI pilots knew flying low was a bad idea. And they did it, anyway.

The real WWI pilots knew a lot of things were bad for them. But they still did them.

Look at the what the RFC pilots did, time and time again, in the Battle of Arras, for example. They knew that flying BE2cs and Strutters was basically suicide, that the Albs could chop them to pieces at will. The other scouts knew that ground strafing was the worst kind of mug's game, guaranteed to get their bus filled with holes. But they all did it, anyway.

It's easy, in WOFF2, to just grab alt and stay the hell out of harm's way, especially since it's been a long time since I was a young, dumb, and full of... whatever youngster, and I also have the advantage of 100 years of air combat theory. But the actual pilots didn't do that. They had a rotten job to do, they knew it was rotten, but for the most part, they did it, anyway. WOFF2 won't chop you for LMF. WOFF2 won't punish you for not flying straight-and-level at 2-3K to get useful pictures.

So, anyway, maybe 10k feet up is a bit much for ground support missions. But like the man said, you can always fly lead. The way AI leaders seem to want to grab all the alt over the airfield (rather than the more fuel-efficient grabbing alt on to the way to the first WP) is annoying, anyway.

Edited by scharmers

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Hmmm my understanding is, that yes of course, when there was yet another pointless "push" on, then squadrons did fly support missions, of course they did, as they were following orders, however, if they could avoid it, they wouldn't strafe or mud move, except when possibly returning from a mission and heading home, and it was the "form" to empty the guns into the PBI . However, one must also remember, that the infantry habitually fired at any and all aircraft because they were rather pissed off at them , as a recce aircraft, usually meant a nice stiff dose of daily hate from enemy Arty, so, they shot at all aircraft, and didnt differentiate, what side those aircraft were on, the pilots knew this, and avoided it like the plague, as it can be rather bothersome getting potted at by your own Infantry. in the early years of the war in particular. So, yes it was done, but the attrition rate was so bloody awful, they didnt do it unless ordered to, in general at least. As I said, even in WWII the attrition rate of ground attacks was awful, for all Airforces, even the specialised ground pounders had a stupidly high attrition rate, so, as with balloon busting ( although some pilots were suicidal enough to do it Albert Ball for instance) it wasn't a really common practice whatsoever.

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Also "Winged Victory" by Yeates. Relentless 1918 ground attack missions are described very well. No glamour there. Just extreme danger. You go bonkers and the author did. No-one relished these missions. They did it because orders is orders. If you didn't you'd be accused of cowardice, lack of moral fibre,  spineless etc and maybe forced to do it at the point of a gun. It was just relentless shit. Horrible.

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In Bishop's book, 'Winged Warfare' (1918), he describes them strafing enemy trenches, very low and taking rifle and MG fire while the snow was falling around them during the Vimy assault by the Canadians in April 1917.  It was nasty, dangerous work and that's conveyed. What's not described is the take off, form up and climb to to operational height prior to launching their strafing runs-- I'm assuming the writer decided to exclude such a 'boring' description and get right to the heart of the matter which would be more exciting to the general reader.   I imagine most other accounts of these terrible times written at the time (or just after) are similar.  My bet is that WOFF BHaHII gets this right.  Luckily you can lead the attack yourself and fly however you want!  Sim are great that way.  This one especially.

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