387th Bomb Group: Mission 003, Dealing with the Real World.

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2 weeks 3 days ago #17220 by Westcoast
Developer's Note:  If you try it under near real-world conditions (first attempt, single aircraft, single pilot, no autopilot, dead reckoning navigation only, continuous flight, real-world weather, single pass, medium altitude bomb run, no functioning bomb-sight,,etc.) you will find it somewhere between difficult and impossible to land a single bomb within the damage radius of the M117 bomb of the specified target.  And that is even without having to deal with effective enemy AA fire and fighter interceptors.  However, like most things, you have to learn to walk before you can run.  So, I have flown our first mission (003) with many of these constraints lifted to demonstrate what can be done under good conditions.  Once (if) you can learn to do it under these easier conditions, then we can try missions under more realistic conditions.  Accordingly, I have ranked the constraints (rules) into a series of levels, starting with the hardest (Level I) and proceeding to the easiest (Level V):

Level I:  All real-world conditions, except no fighters and no effective flak.

Level II:  Use of the Autopilot, Pause and External View.  I have tried without success to determine if any model of the B-26 had a functioning autopilot (like the analog autopilot on the B-17).  None appears in the cockpit of the model we are using.  However, though you can't see it, it's there in the background and will respond to all of the standard FSX keyboard commands.  Since you are flying solo, with no bombardier or navigator, you cannot possibly con the aircraft at the same time that you navigate, find the target, set-up and control the bomb-run, release the bombs and photograph the bomb damage.  So learn to use the autopilot to control your heading and altitude while you are otherwise occupied.  In the same group of aids is use of the pause (P) button and F11.   A lot happens really quickly.  It often helps to freeze the action, for example to search for the target in the distance or to photograph the action.

Level III:  Real world weather.  England, the channel and France have notoriously bad weather, particularly in the winter.  If you use the real-world weather from the mission date ( in 2021) you are likely to encounter lots of clouds, as well as low ceilings and rain.  These will make it difficult to take off, climb above the weather (when possible) and fly in the general direction of your target, looking for holes in the weather which will allow you to navigate and visually identify your target, much less return to England, find your base and land safely.  There is no point in flying if conditions are bad and you should not salvo your bombs without seeing the target, except over water.  So, if you use real world historical weather (for the appropriate month and day, not year) you will decide not to fly most days.  If you hit a good day, you may be able to pull it off and score at Level II.  Otherwise, pick Fair Weather (Level IIIA), or Clear Weather (level IIIB).

Level IV:  Navigation.  You will receive an (FSX, P3D) flight plan for each assigned mission.  This flight plan will implicitly contains the coordinates of all the waypoints, including the target.  These will allow you to identify these waypoints on a map, but once airborne, that will only allow you to navigate by Dead Reckoning and the associated terrain recognition, as neither radio navigation over enemy territory, nor inertial navigation (not invented yet) will be available to you.  To help you (if there is sufficient interest), I will bury visual clues in the scenery (and your briefing) to help you find your way.  If you can navigate with these alone you will be working at Level III (above).  However, sooner or later you will find that, although you don't see it in the cockpit, the trusty FSX GPS is also there in the background and you can even bring it up on the screen.  If I could turn this off, I would have.  However, if you use it to help find the target, you are working at Level IV.  If you couple it to the autopilot (I'm not sure this is possible), you are working at Level V (below).

Level V.  No holds Barred,  Unlimited use of GPS, multiple bomb runs, etc.  This will be considered a "training only" mission and will not be counted for the number of missions required to rotate back to the states.  

In setting up these levels, I have assumed that Level V is easier than Level IV, that Level IV is easier than Level III, etc.  There may be some debate between the order of Levels III and IV, but I think it is more realistic to fly in good weather, than to assume some radio aid of the nature of GPS and that is why Level III is above (more realistic) than Level IV.

Mike

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