The Haze

The 100th Fighter Bomber Group



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Dive Bombing and Rocket Attacks
by Vertigo

Successful ground strike operations - including both dive bombing and attacking with rockets - requires a fair amount practice. However, there are a few tips which can shorten your learning curve. Most are specific to WarBirds, but some may be applicable to WWIIOL too:

1.  Consider setting a bomb fusing delay - If you want to bore in close to the target to increase your accuracy, before you leave the ground you may want to set a fusing delay for your bombs so that you are not killed by the resulting explosion.

While in the tower, open the message buffer, type ".dfuse 5", and hit Enter. This will set a 5-second delay on the detonation of your bombs, measured from the time they came off your plane (not from when they hit the ground). You can set this for 5, 10, 15, or 20 seconds, as you wish. If you do not set it at all, the bombs will explode normally, i.e., upon contact with the ground. Note that you have to do this before you hit the runway - after you hit Fly, you cannot change the fusing of your bombs. Dfuse does not affect rockets.

The advantages of using dfuse are that you can get much closer than normal because you don't have to worry about being killed by your own bomb blast. A disadvantage is that if you are trying to kill antiaircraft guns, they won't die when your bomb hits, but only when the dfuse time expires.

2.  Arrive at your target at a safe altitude - You will begin your bomb run from about 10,000 feet, but that doesn't mean that you want to arrive over the target at 10K. You can always lose altitude, but gaining it is a different matter. Climb to target just as you would if you were going to be in a dogfight - because that's exactly where you might be when you get there. Better to be at 20K over an unguarded target and have to spiral down before you drop, than to be at 10K over a target with bandits at 15K.

3.  Descend and arm your bombs  - You don't want to begin your dive from 20,000 feet because you will develop too much speed and you'll either compress and get a 500 mph kiss from Mother Earth, or your wings will rip off. If the target area is clear, spiral down or otherwise descend until you get to about 10K. Arm your bombs by selecting them (backspace).

4.  Get over your target - Because of the way bombs fall, it's best to be almost directly over your target before you begin your dive. Perspective can be tricky in WarBirds - to determine whether you're over the target, roll inverted and look straight up (not forward and up). If you can't see your target in that view, you're not over it yet.

5. Roll inverted, pull, and dive on your target - Once you are almost directly over your target, chop the throttle to zero, roll inverted, and pull until you see the target in your gunsight, then roll upright again. You are now diving on the target at a very steep angle. If you have dive brakes, you can deploy them at this point, or in the F4Us you can drop your gear to slow down.

6. Put the target just below your gunsight - In a steep dive, the bombs will fall a little below where your bullets would strike if you fired your guns.  So, you want to put your target just below the gunsight. Here's what it looks like in a P38L:

Aiming your bombs

The P38L is particularly suited for this, as it has a large visible area under the gunsight that is a good aiming device. Other planes have cockpits and gunsights which are different, and in some of them, things which are below your gunsight are almost out of sight (e.g., P47D). However, the basic rule is that you want to put the target just below your gunsight, so estimate that if necessary.

It can be helpful to think of it as "firing" your bombs rather than "dropping" them. When they come off your plane, they have all of the kinetic energy of your plane, and will follow the same path until gravity and drag begin to make them arc downwards. There isn't time for much arc when you are dive bombing using these parameters, so they fall just short of where your bullets would fall.

7. Stablize your plane in the dive - As you dive, you will be picking up a lot of speed, very quickly. You weren't trimmed for that speed, so your nose will try to rise and pull you off target. Trim your nose down until it's stable. This is probably the most important part of the bomb run, and one that is easy to forget. You have to trim the plane so that you are not pulling positive or negative Gs at the moment of release. If you are having to maintain your position with stick pressure, that will throw off your aim.

6.  Drop your bombs at about 5,000 - 3,000 feet - Drop your bombs at about 5,000 to 3,000 feet. You can go lower if you've put a delay fuse on your bombs, but it's probably not necessary. If you go lower than 3,000 feet, you may want to move the target upwards in your sight because there will be even less arc to the bomb's path.

7.  Rockets - Using rockets is not a lot different from dive bombing, except that it is not as necessary to dive at such a steep angle. Unlike bombs, rockets are self-propelled. This means that they will continue to travel in the direction of the plane after they are fired, even if you are not in a steep dive.

The aiming point for rockets is about the same as in the picture above for bombs - the rockets will arc downwards slightly after they come off the rails, so you need to put the target below your gunsight. The further away you are when you fire, the further down in your gunsight you need to move the target. It's not easy to determine when to fire since there is no distance marker on your target - this is best determined through practice and experience.

I usually fire one rocket early to see how I'm lined up, adjust as necessary, and fire the rest of them in a salvo. As with bombs, you need to avoid pulling positive or negative Gs when you fire, because that will affect the path of the rockets.