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Mission building guidance

Prangster is the Resident Expert on Battle of Stalingrad mission designing and building. He will impart his great wisdom within the hallowed halls of this room.

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Tom
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Mission building guidance

Post by Tom »

I'm not part of the mission building team so in this post I'm not directing any mission builder how to do what they do, but it might be helpful for those designing missions to know how each mission will be approached by whoever leads the mission.

From my perspective, when I know what the brief is I'll make my own assessment of how I need to achieve the mission goal. The reality is that for defensive missions I'll pretty much always arrange spread cover. For strike missions I'll mostly have everything in a stream albeit with cover. In all but the rarest of missions I will have top cover because that's what the various air forces did.

Taking last night for example. The LW were trying to knock out some bridges.

By September 1944 the LW had mostly stopped using medium bombers for daylight attacks. They were sometimes used, but not very often. Stukas were also used but again not very often and mostly in small groups. The most likely method of attack would be jabo - either 109s or 190s, but most likely by 190s.

Again by September 1944 a lot of experienced day fighter pilots were dead, and of the remainder quite a few were not expert navigators. Because of this they are not going to go very high (because they are carrying bombs) but neither are they going to be at tree-top height because they cannot navigate by sight from there. If they follow Eastern tactics they'd probably come into the area at around 2,500m to 3,000m, do a shallow dive, drop bombs and then run.

My primary objective is to make sure that we can spot the jabos, then engage before they have a chance to attack. This means patrolling some way out from the target and going above their likely incoming altitude whilst still being able to see aircraft coming in at ground level.

If we stay level or below the likely incoming altitude, by the time we manoeuvre and start to build up energy they are past us and we're then in a long stern chase and cannot stop them dropping bombs. If we are above them we have the chance to convert energy to speed and to catch them in time.

But remember that I always like a pair or section of aircraft who are higher. This is even at the risk of missing something at ground level (for example during the transit flight I only just glimpsed some bombers at ground level - B25s I think - but when I blinked they were gone so I didn't bother shouting at everyone for not seeing them).

Why top cover? First because if we're busy engaging jabos we need someone to keep nasty higher enemies off us. Second, because if we cannot engage jabos they have more potential energy to convert to speed to try to get the jabos. Height + speed = life also translates into more offensive capability. It also mitigates any problems we may have if in fact some medium bombers do come in and dive bomb or if there is extra high cover protecting the jabos.

I am also conscious of the 10km (a lot more with alternate aircraft viewing range) radius viewing "sphere". In practical terms this means that from where you are you can see 10km in every direction. To see objects on the ground you can be 10km above them, but this means that you cannot see anything on the ground that is not directly below you. To be able to cover a decent area this in turn means you need to be at around 3km and even then you're going to struggle to see most things, simply because it is bloody hard to spot camouflaged aircraft against terrain.

Despite the viewing bubble, in my head on the Western front I'll always have 5-15,000ft as low level, 15-25,000ft as medium level and 25-40,000 as high level. On the Eastern Front that all comes down to around 1-2,000m, 2-5,000m and 5,000m+.

What this translates into in-mission is me simply making a judgment call almost instinctively and without consciously analysing everything, and saying "X go there at A height, Y go there at B height, and Z will be here at C height. If anyone gets dragged out of position the others can condense the cover area." Most who lead or have led will do the same sort of thing without thinking.

What does this mean for mission builders...

First, that unless there is an absolute imperative need for an absolutely strict particular flight envelope (low level to avoid radar, close escort for LW during the BoB etc), then whoever is leading the mission will lead as they see fit. If that means a bust mission then so be it - sometimes they are the most rewarding anyway. If it means someone leading their squadron into a trap, then again so be it.

Second, be sneaky. Think how you would direct an attack against something that had umbrella cover. One mass attack, or attacks from all directions, or fighter sweeps to clear the area followed by jabos, or....

Third, please keep quiet. I know how tempting it is to say "Brief said to go to X" or some other comment but it is much better not to give a hint away. I get quite grumpy when these hints are given because it detracts from the mission and it feels like back-seat driving. I know it isn't meant as such because you want the mission to play out as you planned it, but that's how it feels.

Fourth, remember that pretty much all of the missions are excellent. Some are more memorable than others, but that as mission builders you owe it to yourself to relax and go with the flow. It's like cooking - you can make the best meal in the world but somehow it doesn't taste as nice to you as it does to others.

Edit:

Fifth, of something had to happen in a certain way make it clear in the brief. This goes for height, area, formation or whatever. Just remember that sometimes those in the lead may diverge slightly.

Comments from others welcomed.
In selecting the motto... 'all for one and one for all'... I have done so because it expresses what should be the creed to every Fighter Pilot. Never forget that you are an essential cog in the wheel, and if you break or fail it will let down your brother pilots, and the grimness of war allows for no such weakness.

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Silk »

From my point of view I am trying to direct the Mission Building team to recreate some relatively well documented encounters, which means flying the profile that the aircraft of the time flew on that date as best as possible. I personally spent something like 20 hours fine-tuning that mission last night so that the pilot's POV would be as near as I could get it to the recorded history. If you want something more generic then I'll adjust my briefs to the team accordingly

Right now I feel that I wasted that time and might as well have produced any old generic crap in 5 minutes.

I take pride in what I produce and do the best job that I can, including letting the leaders know in the brief what the flight parameters are. In military terms these briefings are not a guide, but an instruction, we're not that strict.

There were also instructions from 2TAF HQ regarding altitudes that I will need to be at home to access rather than at work.

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Tom »

My knowledge is that patrol heights were generally way above 5,000ft even when covering ground objects. This is why I say that low-level to me means somewhere between 5-15,000ft. I've seen a fair few combat reports for the time indicating patrol heights around the Nijmegen area at between 6 -12,000ft so top cover at 8,000ft was not unrealistic to me. To be informed mid-mission of a maximum height of 5,000ft does not seem realistic.

Let me know where the altitudes instructions are and I'll dig them out if I've got them. If the brief demands a specific height then it can be stated.
In selecting the motto... 'all for one and one for all'... I have done so because it expresses what should be the creed to every Fighter Pilot. Never forget that you are an essential cog in the wheel, and if you break or fail it will let down your brother pilots, and the grimness of war allows for no such weakness.

Air Vice Marshal Saul in the foreword to 13 Group's 'Forget-Me-Nots for Fighters'

"They fly Hurricanes, isn't it?, them's shit planes for remtards on free dinners..."
Armstrong & Miller Show

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Silk »

Will send the info after work

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Silk »

The specifics are taken from the 126 Wing RCAF Osprey book that I have made available to all Squadron Pilots and especially the Mission Builders.
https://1drv.ms/b/s!AumCbU9W2zRehwm1lWl ... o?e=BaAv88

Firstly this section from page 35
Image

Whilst this is specifically about armed recce missions, it does indicate what the 2TAF leadership
of the time considered to be low level


Secondly regarding the mission itself, this section from pages 47 and 48 applies

Image

Just another thing, I did attempt to communicate the altitude range required for the mission profile to both you and BB before the missions and while the mission was actually loading, so to say that it was first mentioned while en route is not entirely fair. I admit that I brought it up again at that point though.

At the end of the day just let me know what you want - historically correct missions (as much as possible) that put us in position that the pilots of the time found themselves in or just generic sandpits. We have tricks and techniques to make just about anything we can imagine happen except the appearance of 30+ enemies in the area all at one time as that would kill the server, especially if I'm trying to fly on the same device. My guidance to the mission building team so far has been around historical accuracy, but if you want more freedom to interpret the briefs then we can do that too. Bear in mind that the historical accuracy route is what has been specified for the next two missions at least and that planning by individual mission builders may by now be relatively far advanced.

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Tom »

Armed recce would be with the object of attacking ground stuff that was camouflaged I can understand being lower. To cover a target at between 3 to 5,000ft only really works when it is ground objects to be defended from otherwise you sacrifice too much tactical flexibility. There are loads of Tempest reports of patrols higher up.

What you summarise at the end is perfect. Historical accuracy but there will be some divergence from it because we’re recreating it imperfectly.
In selecting the motto... 'all for one and one for all'... I have done so because it expresses what should be the creed to every Fighter Pilot. Never forget that you are an essential cog in the wheel, and if you break or fail it will let down your brother pilots, and the grimness of war allows for no such weakness.

Air Vice Marshal Saul in the foreword to 13 Group's 'Forget-Me-Nots for Fighters'

"They fly Hurricanes, isn't it?, them's shit planes for remtards on free dinners..."
Armstrong & Miller Show

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Jacko »

For me personally as long as I can create the spirit of the mission and balance that with a good challenge what happens will happen. Sometimes someone goes off script and creates a memorable moment. I remember Bunny on one mission had to force land on an airfield. he sat back looking to enjoy the view then noticed several Stukas and a comical commentary as they attacked the base he was stuck on. Priceless.

We have a good record of combat almost on an hourly basis for this period of operations. The previous Russian missions were a struggle with little or no real text to work on. From the feedback on the first mission it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Tension, enemy action, a KIA and fuel shortage. Sounds a dam good job. Lets not overlook that it was a great start to the campaign.
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Silk »

If we need the squadrons to fly at certain altitudes for any reason, put that in the brief and the mission leaders will take it into account. We don't want an 'arms race' between mission design and mission leaders so that either we need to put enemy aircraft stupidly high to achieve bounces or tactical disadvantages or the mission leaders flying higher and higher to avoid that.

I think that recent evidence shows that our pilots are more than capable of destroying whole swathes of enemy aircraft on an even or advantageous footing and that they could cope admirably with being bounced or having to adjust tactics to cope with disadvantageous encounters with the enemy.

The guidance about Armed Recce altitudes remains a matter of record for 2TAF units and will be either adhered to or ignored by mission leaders as they see it on the day (unless we make lots of overcast missions with the cloud base at just the right altitude).

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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Dutch »

Silk wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 11:46 pm
If we need the squadrons to fly at certain altitudes for any reason, put that in the brief and the mission leaders will take it into account. We don't want an 'arms race' between mission design and mission leaders so that either we need to put enemy aircraft stupidly high to achieve bounces or tactical disadvantages or the mission leaders flying higher and higher to avoid that.
When I first started building ops, it took me a while to catch on to the fact that wily old squadron leaders would sometimes add a couple of thousand feet onto patrol heights stated in the brief, so I started taking this into account.

I'm reminded of a mission I made for the Battle of France campaign, flying Hurricanes.

Malc was away that night, so Bunny was leading 145. I'd set the patrol height for Angels 10, but as can happen we'd drifted up to about 14k, which was the 109s altitude. I was silently cursing my failed bounce, when a couple of minutes before it was due, Bunny obligingly announced that "We're a bit high chaps, brief says Angels 10".

Down we went, me not knowing whether to laugh or cry. We were shot to pieces of course - I'm sure you can imagine the comments, Mosie in particular had a field day. :snigger
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Bunny »

It's always me....
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Hatter »

Bunny wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:00 pm
It's always me....
Bloody is!

I haven't mission designed since IL2 1946, but I do remember that historical accuracy is always a compromise with what you can replicate in game. In addition, I am a firm believer that the decisions made by the various TP squadron/section leaders and individual pilots should impact the outcome of the mission, just as would have happened in 1944/45. The difference, say, between Bunny leading and Dutch leading(!).

That is ultimately more realistic, and more fun, than an overly determined mission. (And I'm not saying missions are currently overly determined, I am thinking about a general philosophy of mission building. Shouldn't be a sandbox; shouldn't be scripted)

Perhaps we might be able to agree some general altitude ranges to apply across the campaign?
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Jacko »

I have a cunning plan for altitude. Muhhhuuhuhhhuuu
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Hatter »

Jacko wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:48 pm
I have a cunning plan for altitude. Muhhhuuhuhhhuuu
Is it as cunning as a fox that has just been appointed professor of cunning at Oxford University?
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Moggy »

Or a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.
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Re: Mission building guidance

Post by Tom »

Dutch wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:43 am

When I first started building ops, it took me a while to catch on to the fact that wily old squadron leaders would sometimes add a couple of thousand feet onto patrol heights stated in the brief...
But that was historical - honest! The LW did it (schwarme stacked up line astern), the VVS did it, and the RAF did it - read some Circus operations reports and they also had high sections.

That's my story and it sounds good so I'm sticking with it.

:bunny2
In selecting the motto... 'all for one and one for all'... I have done so because it expresses what should be the creed to every Fighter Pilot. Never forget that you are an essential cog in the wheel, and if you break or fail it will let down your brother pilots, and the grimness of war allows for no such weakness.

Air Vice Marshal Saul in the foreword to 13 Group's 'Forget-Me-Nots for Fighters'

"They fly Hurricanes, isn't it?, them's shit planes for remtards on free dinners..."
Armstrong & Miller Show

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