The Haze

The 100th Fighter Bomber Group

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The Haze in WarBirds

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Level Bombing Miscellany
by Phenix and Vertigo

This page contains miscellaneous information for level bombers in The Haze.

Staying in formation
It goes without saying that bombers are more effective in numbers, and in order to take advantage of those numbers, you have to stay in formation. Phenix offers these tips for staying in formation:

  • Take 1% less fuel than the lead bomber takes if you have trouble keeping up. This allows you to catch up if needed. Do not take less than that, or you will find it hard to stay in formation.

  • Make fine adjustments to your course from the bombardier position (and announced slow turns). This allows the auto-speed to stay on while you maneuver and uses up less energy in my opinion. Note: on sharp turns this is not an option.

  • When auto-speed is active, throttle settings do not effect horizontal speed. You will not catch someone by increasing throttle in Shift-X autotrim. Your plane is going the same steady 150 IAS as the leader's plane, no matter what your throttle setting. The only thing your throttle setting will control when auto-speed is on is how fast you climb to altitude. Go full if under leader, drop a notch if above. Use throttle to adjust up and down.

  • Use your .speed commands to maneuver forward and back. If the announced climb speed is 150 mph and you are slightly behind the formation, make your climb speed 160. If you are ahead, just drop the throttle a notch (to keep you from rising too fast) and put your climb speed to 140. As you will find out, sometimes you may still drift away from the leader even though you are set the same as they are. Go ahead and set your climb speed as needed - I use 148 and 152 sometimes to stay even with the leader who is at 150. Also, it is safer to be below the group then behind them.

  • Stick with the leader. For gunner coverage, it is best not to be directly behind them, but off to the side a bit. Try not to out climb the leader - sometimes they are sacrificing altitude for the stragglers, and you should too. Remember, same team collisions will not occur in WarBirds, so don't be afraid to tighten up to D0!

  • When navigating, use the bombsight compass rather than the one in the cockpit. When the leader says heading is due north, the compass needle pointing north should be a straight, unbroken line. A heading like northwest will be a perfect 45 degree line. The compass in the cockpit is sometimes off by a few degrees.

  • You can sometimes see the flight leader better from the bombardier's station, especially in planes like the B17. You can also use the Alt-E exterior view option (works only in planes with 3 or more crewmen) to see where you are relative to the formation, and then make the necessary adjustments.

Bomber Formations
Historically, bomber formations were carefully planned to permit the maximum coverage of their defensive guns but still avoid midair collisions with other planes in the formation. In WarBirds, there are no friendly collisions, so most formations end up being a gaggle, with every plane in the formation trying to fly on the single flight leader. There's really no compelling reason to use historical formations . . . except one.   It looks maaavelous. And remember, it is better to look good than to feel good. In case you want to look maaavelous too, here is one of the standard formations used during the war. This shows three squads flying in group formation:

Group formation, top view

Now we see the same group formation, but this time it is viewed from the front so you can see the relative altitudes of the three squads comprising the group:

Group formation, front view

Use of AI Wingmen
In WarBirds, bombers are often permitted to take AI wingmen with them. These are extra bombers flown by AI, and they attempt to follow you and drop a bomb whenever you drop one. Here are some pointers on how to best use AI:

  • To make sure you get the maximum number of AI wingmen permitted, always put a high number in the "# Wingman" box in the WarBirds screen you see right before you hit Fly. Whether AI is permitted, what planes get to use them, and the maximum number you can have are all determined by arena settings, and there's no way for you to tell what the settings are until you try them. Putting a high number in that box assures that you get whatever is available. So far, 3 has been the maximum we've seen in an arena, but one is more typical. Put a 4 in that box and you're dancing.

  • You can talk to your AI wingman by tuning a radio to channel 114. He's a lousy conversationalist - which is why you are in a squad with humans in it rather than robots - but he will try to follow your formation orders, and you can even have him attack targets whether you're attacking them or not.

  • You can order your AI wingman to assume a particular formation. Tune to 114 and type "f lineabreast 150", hit Enter, and your wingman will acknowledge the order and try to move his plane into a lineabreast formation with 150 feet of separation between your plane and his. Other formation orders are "echelon_right", "echelon_left", "trail",  "ladder" and "wedge". Remember to put the "f" in, without a dot (this is not a dot command).

  • Your AI wingman thinks you're a genius and mimics everything you do. If you open your bomb bay doors, he will too. He will drop one bomb every time you drop one. If you salvo your load on a target - or anywhere else - he will too. He will try to hit the same target you are bombing, although he often misses unless he's very close to you. Put him in ladder formation at 80 feet (80 feet is as close as he'll come) and he stands a better chance of hitting the same target. Finally, if you die, he will be too emotionally distraught to continue without you, and will disappear.

  • You can order your AI wingman to attack targets even if you are not dropping on them. Tune to 114 and type "s" and hit Enter. Your wingman will then try to find any enemy targets and if he can see them, he will maneuver to attack them. This is very useful with dive bombers because they will go in and try to take out the AA guns so you don't have to, but even level bombers will try to attack targets if so ordered. Which targets they pick is completely up to them, although they will tell you on 114 which ones they are attacking.

  • You can use your AI wingmen to draw enemy fighters away from you. Put him in trail formation with a distance of 52,800, and he will try to fall back behind you by 10 miles. If you're being chased, this can be useful to give the bandits something to do. The maximum he says he will fall back is 1,000,000 feet (this is slightly more than 189 miles, and I've never tested to see if he really will fall that far back). This tactic is more useful for Ju52s and other fragile planes that depend upon stealth than it is with heavy bombers - they provide better protection being with you than they do being a decoy. Also, clever fighter pilots can tell whether they are chasing AI or a human.

  • There is a limit to the number of AI wingmen that any one side can have in the air at any one time (it used to be 48 but it may have increased lately). If you've done everything right but you still don't have any wingmen or have less than everyone else, the limit may have been reached.

  • AI wingmen don't really have a flight model like you do. They can do things you cannot, and some things you can do, they cannot do well. If you are flying "nap of the earth" (NOE) to avoid radar, some wingmen will get scared and stay higher than you. Others are braver and will try to follow you - they usually crash when they do that.

  • AI wingmen do not show up on radar, friendly or enemy. If you take them on a NOE raid and they stay too high, you don't have to worry that they are showing up on radar.