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Night sorties in career mode

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Due to current limitations in BoX with AI fighter behavior and aircraft spotting I have taken to flying level bombers exclusively in career mode. I recently completed a 150+ sortie BoM career flying the He 111 with KG 53 which was quite enjoyable. I have continued the career to BoS with KG51 flying the Ju 88 but a troubling trend has emerged. My squad is assigned nothing but night sorties which, counter to what you might believe, are by far the deadliest missions in career mode for a level bomber. Instead of flying in formation with your squad every plane is on their own. This means your AI buddies come over the target single file so each one gets the full attention of the enemy searchlights and AAA. Your AI buddies also act as ground attack aircraft in night sorties. Instead of bombing the actual target (railyard, troop concentration, parked aircraft, etc..) they seek out other targets like AAA, circling the area to line up their run, which increases their time in the kill zone. The results are predictable in that your squad gets slaughtered. Every night sortie results in at least 1 loss, my most recent sorties have resulted in 3 out of 5 Junkers being lost. I will usually get hit in a fuel tank despite my evasive maneuvers and have to crash land somewhere after hundreds of gallons of fuel leak out. This is an immersion killer to say the least where the results of day operations are quite believable and enjoyable. In BoM I had the occasional night sortie with the same results but they were rare enough it didn't bother me but in BoS 9 of 10 sorties are at night. Is there a reason why in Sept '42, at a time when the Luftwaffe had air superiority over Stalingrad, KG 51 is flying so many night sorties? I didn't notice anything in the unit history that mentioned I had joined a night unit. Is there anyway to disable night sorties in one of the config files? Is there another Ju 88 squadron I can transfer to that flies daylight missions? I thoroughly enjoyed my BoM career but I find it more and more difficult to launch the game and spend an hour plus flying from Tatsinskaya to get butchered in the darkness. Any help would be appreciated. 

 

 

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I agree. Night missions are not really fun. Level bombing is not possible (in VR at least) that leaves dive bombing as only option and that is hairy to because the target is hard to see.

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I agree its worse in Kuban. The only G2 unit only flies night fighter missions.

Thats cool and all but its soo damned dark its pointless to me

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I wonder how did ww2 pilots manage night missions irl, like the British on their bombing campaign or the countering night fighters... Without radar or with early radar devices... Time to read up on something "new" for me I guess

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33 minutes ago, E4GLEyE said:

I wonder how did ww2 pilots manage night missions irl, like the British on their bombing campaign or the countering night fighters... Without radar or with early radar devices... Time to read up on something "new" for me I guess

 

The British used bomber streams much as described in the OP.   A pathfinder would find the target and drop flares to mark it.  Bombers, each flying individually, would then bomb the target.  British and German night fighters played cat and mouse while the bombers just tried to make it through.  As German radar improved, on ground and in plane, British losses mounted.  The largest heavy bomber loss in a single mission was incurred on a night mission, not a daylight mission.  That is an indication of how deadly it got.

 

I know that . the Germans got close with radar and then spotted the plane visually, often by the exhaust.  I have no idea how gunners spotted targets.  Engine exhaust?  Blind luck?  Would be very interested to hear more on that.

 

It would also be interesting to know if British radar had the range to assist night fighters or bombers over continental Europe or if everybody was on their own.

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The idea of night sorties in the campaign is fine, the issue is the implementation. They are extremely difficult to survive when they should be among the "safer" mission types, especially for early & mid war campaigns where radar is not common. Obviously no operational sortie, even training missions, is 100% safe but the darkness should provide some degree of protection.

 

If the developer does not want to tweak night sorties to make them more playable there should be an indication to the player they are joining a squad which is operating at night.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, PatrickAWlson said:

I know that the Germans got close with radar and then spotted the plane visually, often by the exhaust.  I have no idea how gunners spotted targets.  Engine exhaust?  Blind luck?  Would be very interested to hear more on that.

 

It would also be interesting to know if British radar had the range to assist night fighters or bombers over continental Europe or if everybody was on their own.

 

Ref gunners spotting night fighters, it's as you surmised. Small flickers of exhaust flames, a dark shadow blanking out lights/flames on the ground, a dark shadow against clouds (think full moon as the best). As a gross generalization night vision suffers when trying to look/stare right at something (because of the locations of cones on the retina), so looking off to the side helps detect objects and motion (because of rods).

 

Ref radar range, generally speaking, is limited by the curvature of the earth. Typically the radar horizon is the same as the line of sight (LOS) for radio communication when using VHF or UHF radios. HF communication can skip over the horizon, but I digress. A handy rule of thumb (at least on a calculator) to calculate an approximate detection range is to take the square root of the height of the target (in feet) and multiply the result by 1.2 with the result being the number of nautical miles for detection. Where did I get this gouge? One of my previous jobs was as the squadron electronic combat pilot. We'd worry about low level detection range, so we'd take the square root of the sum of the radar antenna height (Soviets liked to put EW radars on hilltops) added to our nominal 500 foot ingress altitude, and multiply by 1.2. but that's not required for high altitude detection.

 

Square root of 30,000 feet is 173, multiplied by 1.2 equals 207 NM

Square root of 20,000 feet is 141, multiplied by 1.2 equals 170 NM

Square root of 15,000 feet is 122, multiplied by 1.2 equals 147 NM

 

Those ranges are too short generally speaking to assist RAF's 100 Group night fighters over the continent prior to Overlord.

Edited by busdriver
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55 minutes ago, busdriver said:

Square root of 30,000 feet is 173, multiplied by 1.2 equals 207 NM

Square root of 20,000 feet is 141, multiplied by 1.2 equals 170 NM

Square root of 15,000 feet is 122, multiplied by 1.2 equals 147 NM

Surprisingly exact. Without refraction (optical line of sight adds another 10% range due to refraction) the theoretical detection range of an object at 0 ft  would be 212 NM, 173 NM, 150 NM. Didn't know that rule of the thumb, thnx!

 

Just as an illustration, if you have an antenna up at 1000 ft, it can see an object at  an altitude of 20'000 ft over a distance of  211 NM instead of 170 NM, adding 41 NM. (Thats from Manston to Aachen.) Now, how cool is an AWACS? At 34k ft, you could see your bomber at 20k ft. over a distance of 400 NM, that is from Manston to Stuttgart!

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I think what you are facing is the rubbish ai factor. 

It probably will improve, but not in the timeline you hope for. 

Hope to see you in FNBF soon

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Posted (edited)

@ZachariasX absolutely. 👍 So that's the range aspect of radar detection. Then you consider the radar beam width and pulse width. Dimensions that affect the size of the resolution cell. The resolution cell is another way of stating how far apart two targets would have to be so they don't appear as merged blips.

 

For the casual 1GCCFP, say the radar beam is 1 degree wide (ignore the pulse width for the moment). At 60 NM, 1 degree equals (subtends) approximately 1 NM. These are aviator approximations (think close enough for government work). Meaning at 60 NM two airplanes would have to be 1 NM laterally apart to show up as two separate target blips. At 30 NM they would have to be 3000 feet apart, at 10 NM only 600 feet apart. Going the other way, at 120 NM detection range, targets would need to be 2 NM laterally apart to show up as individual blips. The point of this being, at long range early radar was effective at detecting gaggles, not breaking out individual targets. And if you can't break out individual targets (IFF helps but was frequently unservicable) then all you see is a big blob.

 

Edited by busdriver
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I read "Night Fighters: A Development and Combat History" by Bill Gunston which spends much of it's time on all aspects of night combat in the WWII ETO. It is also not sparing with criticism of various decisions made high up the chain that made life easier for German night fighters and likely significantly increased the RAF bomber crew casualty count. It was a while ago I read it, but I think the biggest complaints were the decision to not include a ventral gunner on RAF bomber designs, and to leave some piece of radar equipment always turned on which left a trackable signature that German night fighters could follow. I feel like there may have also been some discounting of reports on the use of schräge musik, but I'm less sure of that.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Night-Fighters-Development-History-Hunters-ebook/dp/B00BS030IA

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Wel we are going a bit off topic. The nightbomber missions do not contain any enemy fighters what so ever. Thee only enemy you face are AAA and terrain.

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4 hours ago, [Pb]RedeyeStorm said:

Wel we are going a bit off topic. The nightbomber missions do not contain any enemy fighters what so ever. Thee only enemy you face are AAA and terrain.

Yeah but the 110 g2 kuban campaign is a night fighter campaign so its not o/t

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Hey Sublime, is it a nightfighter campaign where you attack enemy bombers/attackers or are they jabo missions?

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Posted (edited)

Slightly off-topic, but the issue I have always had with night missions is the backlight on my LCD screen. Even when I have tried to set it up properly, and turn off the lights in my room, I still find the the screen is both too bright and too dark at the same time. Its weird I know, but even if you turn the brightness and contrast to 0 on a backlit LCD panel, the backlight still lights up the room and destroys your night vision, even though the screen is totally "black" and you cant see anything on it. I have tried playing around with all the settings (including the backlight) but I have never found a way to fly at night in game and be able to see anything, unless I just up the contrast and brightness so that it looks more like a day mission - but that defeats the point of playing at night IMO. Short of buying a new LED screen with no backlight, I have no idea how to fix it. Have any of you guys found a way to configure a LCD screen so that night missions are playable in total darkness? 

Edited by Flashy

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18 hours ago, [Pb]RedeyeStorm said:

Hey Sublime, is it a nightfighter campaign where you attack enemy bombers/attackers or are they jabo missions?

Im pretty sure its night fighting. Lol I never flew much it was insanely dark.  Theyre the only 110 squad in Kuban and N of Anapa.  Theyre ID.D as a nachtgeschwader so theyre night fighters for sure.  Dont know if you'd get jabo missions but the ones I always saw for mission 1 were intercepts.

51 minutes ago, Flashy said:

Slightly off-topic, but the issue I have always had with night missions is the backlight on my LCD screen. Even when I have tried to set it up properly, and turn off the lights in my room, I still find the the screen is both too bright and too dark at the same time. Its weird I know, but even if you turn the brightness and contrast to 0 on a backlit LCD panel, the backlight still lights up the room and destroys your night vision, even though the screen is totally "black" and you cant see anything on it. I have tried playing around with all the settings (including the backlight) but I have never found a way to fly at night in game and be able to see anything, unless I just up the contrast and brightness so that it looks more like a day mission - but that defeats the point of playing at night IMO. Short of buying a new LED screen with no backlight, I have no idea how to fix it. Have any of you guys found a way to configure a LCD screen so that night missions are playable in total darkness? 

I havent.  Sorry to be a tease I just agree and know exavtly what you mean its the problem Im having too. Too dark I turn off the lights the screen seems to f with my night vision and still be too dark.

Im sure some people get the right settings and theres a way Im just setting it wrong

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Personally I liked the night missions in the pe-2 in career mode, I liked how it you a chance to pick your targets rather than just dropping en masse with the other bombers, and the spotlight and flak effects are pretty neat.

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On 5/15/2019 at 3:00 PM, [Pb]RedeyeStorm said:

Hey Sublime, is it a nightfighter campaign where you attack enemy bombers/attackers or are they jabo missions?

you check it out buddy? I didnr fly but i looked its definitely a Nacht geschawader and unless you use PWGC the only way ti play a G2 in career mod - so theyre easy to find

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Hey Sublime. I haven’t but I take your word for it. The only night missions I ever had where with bomber squadrons. Nächtjäger squadrons are not bomber squadrons and you said you got intercept missions. So that is all in accordance with each other. Felt no need to check.

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Ok. I havent actually flown any because too damked dark I used PWGC and just flew them during the day lol

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Posted (edited)
On 5/18/2019 at 4:50 AM, [Pb]RedeyeStorm said:

Hey Sublime. I haven’t but I take your word for it. The only night missions I ever had where with bomber squadrons. Nächtjäger squadrons are not bomber squadrons and you said you got intercept missions. So that is all in accordance with each other. Felt no need to check.

I checked further. Not good. First night is easier high up. However I distinctly remember getting nite sorties in the unit.

They even have a crescent in their unit badge and the

Nachtjager title. HOWEVER starting a new campaign last nite it was all day to 6pm missions.  To be fair I kept getting scrambles which would cause perhaps daytime missions anyways and didnt proceed more than day 2 (made myself squad co and kept unassigning myself)

So i retract - NOT SURE IF THEY REALLY FLY NIGHT FIGHTER SORTIES

Edited by Sublime

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I'm not sure, but I suspect that night fighting fighter to fighter would not be feasible in this sim in its current state.  Unless there is special nighttime AI, the AI will see you like it is day.  Bombing and attack missions will work.  Putting you in the air as a single fighter to intercept bombers would work.  Fighter to fighter would seem to be problematic.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, PatrickAWlson said:

I'm not sure, but I suspect that night fighting fighter to fighter would not be feasible in this sim in its current state.  Unless there is special nighttime AI, the AI will see you like it is day.  Bombing and attack missions will work.  Putting you in the air as a single fighter to intercept bombers would work.  Fighter to fighter would seem to be problematic.

 

 

Do the searchlights have any affect to the AI, whether it's fighters or AA? Are you saying that the current searchlights are just for show?

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12 minutes ago, engrish_major said:

Do the searchlights have any affect to the AI, whether it's fighters or AA? Are you saying that the current searchlights are just for show?

 

To be honest I don't know.  I suspect that they are tied to AAA AI somehow but I can't be sure.  I have no idea if they are tied to fighter or gunner AI but I suspect not. 

 

My supposition is based on the current night mission format.  Missions are only bombers and AAA.  If you don't have nighttime fighter opposition then you don't have to worry about either fighter or gunner nighttime AI.  Tying searchlights to AAA is much easier - if spotlit then AAA can open fire, else it cannot.  

 

But hey, I could certainly be wrong :) 

 

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6 hours ago, engrish_major said:

Do the searchlights have any affect to the AI, whether it's fighters or AA? 

 

Yes, they absolutely do. 

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In coconuts online campaign the night missions had to be ended.  Everyone figured out the spotlights controlled the flak, so you kill the lights with fast movers and no more AA guns, don't even bother shooting them, just move in with the heavies and attack birds and clean clock for free.  Kind of shortens long campaigns real fast for the determined, like a day or two worth of night missions.

 

I'd love to see AA go full down town Baghdad, all guns open up wildly if it's a high value target and spray creating a protective dome above the zone.  That would be a sight to see at night.

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One sim that did that very well was Janes F15 back in the day with the ack ack.

EAW did good WW2 flak

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18 hours ago, LukeFF said:

 

Yes, they absolutely do. 

 

Is that impact limited to AAA or does it impact fighter AI as well?

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3 hours ago, PatrickAWlson said:

Is that impact limited to AAA or does it impact fighter AI as well?

 

It should also affect fighter AI, yes.

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On 5/20/2019 at 5:22 AM, [CPT]Crunch said:

In coconuts online campaign the night missions had to be ended.  Everyone figured out the spotlights controlled the flak, so you kill the lights with fast movers and no more AA guns, don't even bother shooting them, just move in with the heavies and attack birds and clean clock for free.  Kind of shortens long campaigns real fast for the determined, like a day or two worth of night missions.

 

I'd love to see AA go full down town Baghdad, all guns open up wildly if it's a high value target and spray creating a protective dome above the zone.  That would be a sight to see at night.

 

Should be easy enough to "fix" that - just respawn the spotlights say 1 minute after they die, so you could take them out temporarily, but they will be back...

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13 hours ago, LukeFF said:

 

It should also affect fighter AI, yes.

 

Interesting - so fighter AI in the dark can't see you unless you are spotlit?  Or is spotting range just drastically reduced without a spotlight?  Curious because if we know the details it could make for some interesting twists in mission making.

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4 hours ago, PatrickAWlson said:

Interesting - so fighter AI in the dark can't see you unless you are spotlit?

 

I believe it's not just the spotlights but other sources of light, such as muzzle flashes and navigation lights. I think there are some old topics at the Rise of Flight forum that discuss this. 

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17 hours ago, Flashy said:

 

Should be easy enough to "fix" that - just respawn the spotlights say 1 minute after they die, so you could take them out temporarily, but they will be back...

Not the only problem or issue with spotlights, they also act as Nav beacons paving the way anywhere you want to go once you've flown the campaign a short while.  They light up each and every time you enter their bubble, regardless with what or how you travel.  You know precise info on where the airbases and flak are and can easily penetrate to critical targets without getting a scratch, and without a map, thanks to the beacons, stay in the dark low and between them and your guaranteed a safe sortie.  Can't defend everything on a campaign map, the amount of flak objects would bring it to it's knees and it does affect frames, so you find what's valuable and not covered, and collect it in the dark for minimal effort, what wars all about, ain't it? 

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4 hours ago, [CPT]Crunch said:

Not the only problem or issue with spotlights, they also act as Nav beacons paving the way anywhere you want to go once you've flown the campaign a short while.  They light up each and every time you enter their bubble, regardless with what or how you travel.  You know precise info on where the airbases and flak are and can easily penetrate to critical targets without getting a scratch, and without a map, thanks to the beacons, stay in the dark low and between them and your guaranteed a safe sortie.  Can't defend everything on a campaign map, the amount of flak objects would bring it to it's knees and it does affect frames, so you find what's valuable and not covered, and collect it in the dark for minimal effort, what wars all about, ain't it? 

 Yep, well that seems fair. If you have played a mission enough times to learn where things are, and they dont change locations, then there is nothing wrong with figuring out the best route and tactics to avoid the enemy. I'm sure real life pilots during the war also had a good idea of where the enemy flak batteries and spotlights were after they'd flown enough missions, so this doesnt seem problematic to me.  We cant expect people to fly into spotlights and flak voluntarily, that would just be silly! But if it becomes an issue where players are able to "game" the mission too easily, then I think the generator would need to randomise the locations searchlights and flak batteries to counter this, so that players dont necessarily know where they are..

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Do searchlights or AA also track by engine noise?  I recall reading that RAF and even Po-2 crews would often cut their throttles and glide when performing and attack or crossing through heavily defended sectors.

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Definitely U2 crews cut their engines on bombing raids over the Germans.

The air whistling over the canvas sounded to the Germans like a witch riding a broom and the Russians usually put their female pilots on U2s so hence Nachthexen or night witches.

Ive wondered about this in game - if you turn off the U2s engine in flight more than a few seconds it seems hard to turn back on (the little Ive messed with it) and its going so slow (literally at 60mph half of what 1918 fighters would fly at..) That Im reluctant to cut power.. I hdighly doubt the AI goes by noise.  That opens the door to all sorts of craziness - the AI firing barrages over targets to dissuade you from bombing; the enemy firimg a burst when youre closing ona. Wingmate to scare you.  The coding logic must be insane for something like that.

That said Im not a coder and dont know :) leaving your nav or landing lights on in SP DOES seem to help the enemy accuracy and put a gigantic bullseye on you.  Flying a SP scripted campaign (Sea Dragons) on Wasps Nest I forgot to turn off my lights and anecdotal it may be it seemed I got wayyyy more attention than the other times.

(I always want to hit those damned 109s taking off as you approach and I can never swoop in fast enuff)

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4 hours ago, Flashy said:

 We cant expect people to fly into spotlights and flak voluntarily, that would just be silly! 

 

I remember reading that exterior flak concentrations were pretty well known and bomber mission paths would try to avoid them to some extent.  Sometimes things like fuel considerations or other factors did not allow it.  Earlier in the war when escort range was limited you had to choose between flying through the flak concentrations or trying to jink around them and flying through enemy territory longer, thereby exposing the bombers to more fighter attacks. 

 

That was daylight bombing but I imagine the same was true of nighttime.  The German radar was going to pick up the bomber stream.  Do you want to take your chances with more flak or with exposing yourself to fighter opposition for a longer period of time?

 

Once you were over the target, of course, you didn't have much choice.  You were flying through the flak.  The German fighters would generally stop their attacks over the target and resume once the bombers had cleared the flak belt.  I imagine the same was true at night as a AAA battery would just as happily shoot down a Me110 or Ju88 as it would a Lancaster.

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Well, they could add logic where single fighters entering a bubble don't activate until fired upon, or a much closer in visual range bubble is hit.  After all, what threat is a single fighter in the dark 10 K out, that it merits flak barrages and full alert on a front line?  And how could they possibly know friend from foe?  Just giving the goods away.  I'm hoping they revamp the entire works for BP.  Could be a system of priority for targets with different actions.  Pretty sure a target in Berlin and one on the line were treated and defended quite differently.  Sadly lacking is any air intercept network meshed in with it.

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