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Flying a Plane
Revised March 19, 2003 (v1.80)

The Value of Air Power

Aircraft formed a valuable aspect of military operations in the Second World War, influencing strategic options, creating new ones, and having a direct impact on individual battles down at the tactical level. Aircraft were getting faster, could carry heavier ordnance loads and deliver them with better accuracy, getting bigger and heavier, and there were a lot more of them. Air superiority became a priority rather than a novelty; without it, armies couldnt move and the civilian populations of nations and their warfighting capacity -- were much more vulnerable. In essence aircraft, up until the point that a B-29 dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, were present to provide support for ground operations and attack the enemys supply infrastructure. Escort aircraft were needed to provide protection for the bombers, or to attack reconnaissance aircraft, and hence evolved on their own. This is how aircraft operate in World War II Online; bombing strategic and tactical targets and attempting to shoot down other rival aircraft. Mac Players Note: The key arrangement is slightly different on typical Macintosh keyboards than on the PC. Heres a quick look at the differences (for aircraft): PC Keypad Del (.) Keypad Ins (0) Backspace MAC Keypad . (decimal) Keypad 0 Delete

Learning to Fly
Flying planes can be very difficult and the learning curve is steep. They require great attention to detail. These challenges are multiplied when you add hostile planes with weapons to the mix. A competent pilot must simultaneously be aware of the speed, altitude and attitude of his plane as well as the world around him. Familiarize yourself with the current cockpit; you can use the view keys on the keypad to glance around and the keypad del (.) key to look at the instrumental panel fully. Check that the control surfaces of the wings are responding to your joystick and put your Main Input Device at idle, its lowest setting. Press Forward Slash (/) to lock the tail wheel. Hold down the right and left wheel brakes (Z and X respectively for left and right wheel breaks). Press the E key and listen for the engine to start up smoothly. Press Forward Slash (/) to unlock the tail wheel and release the brakes. There are two ways to steer the aircraft while on the ground: with the brakes, or with the rudder. Left brake or left rudder will turn the plane left, right brake or right rudder will turn it right. Give the plane a little gas by smoothly increasing the throttle. Sharp increases in the throttle are likely to crash the plane before it gets off the ground, so just 'goose' it. Carefully drive the plane to the desired takeoff spot. To get airborne, lock the tail wheel again then smoothly apply power with the throttle. Be ready to use the rudder and brakes to correct for excessive yaw and balance the torque from the engine, which can be excessive when the engine is at full power. Continue to increase power. When the tail rises up, the plane will be nearly level with the ground. Gently pull back on the stick. If the plane doesn't immediately start to climb, ease off the stick and wait for the plane to gain additional speed. Any roll of the plane at this point can be corrected using small left or right movements with the joystick. Once airborne, ease back on the stick a bit, and raise the landing gear by pressing G. You should see the gear lever change, as well as the gear disappearing on the heads up display (HUD). Climb gently until the speed climbs over Copyright Playnet Inc. All Rights Reserved

100mph or 160kph, after that you can begin to climb at a steeper angle. If youre flying a bomber you should not be trying any radical climbs remember, theyre big planes and dont take radical maneuvering very well.

Air Combat
Air combat is a science to some, which should give some clue about how complex it really can be. Simply said, air combat is the art of shooting down an opposing aircraft without getting shot down yourself. Because youre in a full three-dimensional environment with other forces working with or against you (like gravity), there are many more nuances and subtleties than ground combat. One-seat combat aircraft control both the flight and weapons of that aircraft; all of them have a target reticle (frequently a brightlycolored plus) that helps facilitate aiming at an enemy. F or the Primary Fire Button (Joystick Button 1) will fire the planes main guns, while B or the Secondary Fire Button (Joystick Button 2) will fire the aircrafts secondary weapons (heavy cannon, other machineguns, or bombs) if it has any. You can test out the main weapons on the ground just to make sure theyre working (its not recommended you try dropping a bomb while on the ground). Engagement ranges are further in aircraft than they are as infantry typically, so pilots must be aware that your bullets will drop because of gravity over distance. If an aircraft was flying directly away from you and took almost three-quarters of the target reticle you should aim just slightly above the aircraft. Similarly, attacking aircraft from an angle (a deflection shot) requires you to lead the target, estimating the point where the bullets will meet the enemy aircraft rather than where the aircraft is presently. You can use the keypad ins (0) key to zoom in on the reticle for a better sight picture of the enemy. Players can alter the convergence of a fighter aircrafts wing-mounted weapons with a command typed into the chat buffer: .conv xxx xxx refers to the range in meters where the wing-mounted weapons bullet streams will converge. Minimum convergence is 150 meters, maximum is 800 (the default convergence actually differs for each aircraft). Of course, air combat is not only just about shooting the enemy, but maneuvering to get into position to shoot the enemy. Some aircraft are meant to turn-fight, others fair much better if they didnt (using tactics like boom and zoom or simply vertical energy fighting, etc.). One key is to understand how an aircraft performs at low and high speeds, at low and high altitudes, before you really get into serious air combat. Without this knowledge youll be at a disadvantage, as you have to assume your opponent does know the advantages and disadvantages, not only of his airframe, but yours. Once you learn how the aircraft performs, you can exploit those characteristics to your advantage when youre up in the air. Suffice it to say air combat maneuvering (ACM) is a long and complicated subject, one that can and has filled books (we recommend Robert Shaws Fighter Combat). Note that there is no ammunition counter as aircraft traditionally did not have them; fire it quick, short bursts. One youre out, thats it run home. Some aircraft, even fighters like the Bf 110, have multiple seats; typically the 2 position is for a rear gunner in smaller aircraft, where aiming can be rather simplistic with iron sights (zoom in with the keypad del (.) key to use the sight, and aim at the center of the sight picture), but you do have an ammunition counter on the HUD at least. You can move the gun around at restricted angles with the Main Input Device. For the larger aircraft there can be many positions, most of them corresponding to gunner positions. The other specialty position is the bombardier (typically position 2) which operates the bombsight for the plane and when to drop the bombs. The Heinkel, for instance, has seven positions you can switch to. Note: In air combat "situational awareness" is frequently the key - not only knowing where the enemy is (or, more importantly, where the enemy is going) but where the other enemies, as well as friendlies, are. The player can use the universal view keys (keypad keys) to glance around from within the cockpit and quickly see what is happening around the plane. For instance, the keypad 6 key will produce a glance to the right, while a combination of keypad 5 + keypad 8 will produce a forward-up view (roughly 45 degrees up from straight ahead). Copyright Playnet Inc. All Rights Reserved

Also note that icons are not persistent between views, and will fade back into view over a short period of time. For example an aircraft with a full icon in front will lose its icon if the player quickly glances to the left and snaps back to the front again. The icon will fade back into view but only after a short time.

Bombs Away
Bombing in World War II Online is fairly easy; bombing successfully is a little harder. The Blenheim Mk I and Stuka do not have individual bomb sights, but rely on estimation alone the Stuka can dive-bomb very accurately at extreme (80 degree) angles using the gunsight reticle just make sure to apply the dive breaks (S key) to slow down during the dive. The Blenheim IV and Heinkel He-111, however, are level bombers, meaning the bomb from a level plane at varying altitudes. These aircraft used a variety of bomb sights that, once the elevation and airspeed of the aircraft relative to the target was discerned, could somewhat accurately bomb a specific target. While the two bombers relied on completely different systems, both are represented in the game as functions of altitude and airspeed. In the bombardier position, use the tilde (~) key to display the Bombsight Control Settings View. For the Blenheims bombsight (which looks like a rather complex contraption), the bombsight consists of two sights, ruler bars, and indicator needles. The Foresight allows the bombardier to correct for the speed of the plane when the bomb's are dropped. It is attached to the Air Speed Bar, which extends forward from the bombardier's position. The Foresight is set by using the Home and End keys to enter the plane's True Air Speed ("TAS") at the time of the drop. With the Backsight, which is part of the Height Bar, the bombardier can adjust for the altitude of the plane above the target. The Backsight is set with the Page Up and Page Down keys. Use the Keypad Ins (0) key to get a better view of the ground as it goes by. Each sight has a needle. Lining up the two needles shows you where the bombs should impact for the settings, if speed and altitude are set correctly and the plane is stable and level. If not, you can still hit your intended target, adjusting for how much you are off. For instance, if youre flying too fast, youll need to drop sooner. The bombsight also has a leveling mechanism that the bombardier automatically uses to level the bombsight. This leveling can take several seconds if the bomber has been moving radically. The leveling can be observed by looking down in the bombardier's position. Blenheim IV players can also elect to Jettison (D key) the bombers entire bombload in one drop. The Heinkels bombsight, on the other hand, is quite different and much more simplified, but works in generally the same fashion. The height (of the aircraft) indicator is on the left, while the True Air Speed (TAS) indicator is on the right. As with the Blenheim, you can set the either indicator with the Page Up and Page Down keys (for altitude) and the Home and End keys (for TAS). The cross sight should center on the desired target, if you are at the correct elevation and airspeed prior to dropping. Use the Keypad Ins (0) key to get a zoomed-in view of the ground. Successful level bombing can be pretty hard to do with just one player; you can use trim to straighten the aircraft out enough and switch the bombardier position, but this takes practice and time. Its much easier to multi-crew, where one player is the pilot and the other is the gunner/bombardier, and the two can coordinate their activities and bombing runs in-flight.

Learning to Land
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The easiest way to ruin a landing is by having too much speed. This is called a hot approach. Normally, flying slower makes it much easier to land, especially on something other than a nice concrete runway. It's also vital to have a very low rate of descent. In general, on approach and landing, if the airspeed climbs above 90-95mph on the descent, you'll have to pull up and try again, as these planes are extremely hard to slow down in a descent at these speeds. To make a good approach, slow down and maintain a speed of around 100-120mph (160-180kph). Lower the flaps by pressing Q, and the gear by pressing G. Decrease throttle while maintaining level flight until airspeed approaches 80mph (130kph), then smoothly apply throttle to maintain altitude and speed. This is called slowflight and will greatly facilitate a smooth and impressive landing. Locate your landing spot and start a gentle descent by decreasing throttle while maintaining stick pressure. From this point on, your descent rate should be controlled with gentle changes in the throttle. Using the stick to change descent rate will result in either a stall or a hot approach. You want to land at the slowest speed you can safely land at. As the plane gets close to the ground and the airfield, slowly increase stick pressure to approach the edge of the stall (when the plane loses its lift and you lose control), to slow the plane down. If you find yourself fighting the plane to keep from falling off, you're going too slow - ease off the stick a bit, and apply gentle throttle. If things aren't right, you're too high, too low or two fast, so go around and try again. At a few feet above the airfield, chop throttle to zero and ease back on the stick. If you did it just right, all three wheels will touch the ground at the same time - a three point landing. If you're too high, you will eventually stall, drop a wing, snap-roll and crash. Once down and stable, apply the brakes, one brake at a time, in short bursts. Planes like the Spitfire will nose over very easily with too much braking. Only apply full brakes once the plane is slower than about 50mph (80kph). Once down to under 20mph/30kph, raise the flaps, unlock the tail wheel and find a parking spot. Apply both brakes, shut down the engine and congratulate yourself.

Learning to Ditch
If your engine goes out, you'll need to make a "dead stick" landing. You need every scrap of speed you can get since you wont be getting it back, so you'll need to use higher speeds than indicated above. You also need to avoid making any turns as much as possible because these bleed energy (which translates to potential speed) and energy is everything. Line up your landing area from as far out as possible and be very gentle with the stick. When ditching the plane, or landing it away from a field, keeping the gear up is often preferable because it can get caught on ground objects and flip the plane. A normal landing approach can be used for a belly landing if the engine is working.

March 19, 2003 (v1.80) - .conv command info added. November 7, 2002 (v1.70) Jettison command for Blenheim IV added. November 5, 2002 (v1.70) Mac player info added. June 27, 2002 (v1.65) Versioning corrected. June 6, 2002 (v1.64) New section added.

Copyright Playnet Inc. All Rights Reserved