onsdag 14. mars 2012

Out-turning the opposition

When playing the Four-In-A -Day scenario in the last post, we tried out the new movement budget idea I have been thinking about. The goal is to eliminate the D4 from the rules - as part of BtH "Lite," I am looking to eliminate the oddly shaped dice (D10 and D4), and have a ruleset with exclusively D6. Originally, I intended to post this as part of the after action report, though it got completely out of hand, so here it is in a separate post...

Rather than roll D4 for movement budget, we rolled a D6 and interpreted the results as follows:
D6 roll

Add indicated value
Choose 1-4. Easy maneuvers only.
Add indicated value
Choose 1-4
Add UP TO indicated value
Choose 1-4
Choose 1-4
Choose 1-4

This allows the lower experience levels to choose their own speed more often than the standard rules, yet retains a marked difference between them and the higher experience ranks. Sprogs are in trouble if they fall out of formation - no longer being able to watch the formation leader, they are prone to taking less extreme maneuvers. This matches accounts of dogfights I have read well - the classic example is the Battle of Britain Hurri vs. Spit vs. Emil. There are examples of pilots in all these aircraft who claimed to be able to out-turn the other two types, despite the fact that the Hurricane is able to out-turn both the Spit and Emil under controlled conditions. The Spit, however, had its fabulous wing design that gave the pilot more warning when the aircraft was about to stall, and that made the Spit easier to recover. This likely made pilots more willing to push the Spitfire further than they would have done with a Hurri.
As for the Emils - well, the Me109 pilots had earned their wings over Spain, Poland and France... There are accounts of German pilots easily out-turning Spitfires, though this should theoretically not be possible. One theory is that green Spitfire pilots failed to tighten their turns sufficiently, stopping when the first vibrations set in whereas they could have pulled an even tighter turn without actually stalling. The other probable cause comes down to experience – by adjusting the position of the  attacking aircraft (rather than trying to stick on someone’s tail), an experienced pilot can maneuver to get a shot on an aircraft with a lower wing loading.

Point-in-case: Low Yo-Yo . By using the low and high yo-yo, even a P47 Thunderbolt could "out-turn" a Spitfire.

Late in the war, this was formalized in the "Energy Management" approach to dogfighting, which is still being taught to fighter pilots worldwide today - the first four minutes of the video below should be of interest to anyone gaming aerial combat, regardless of historical period of choice:

Early in the war, none of this was formalised and taught, which meant that the experienced pilots could appearantly out-turn less experienced opponents, regardless of the rate of roll and wing loading of the aircraft involved. It truly is the man, not the machine!

 At any rate, I feel this argument justifies giving Sprogs a 1-in-3 chance of performing Easy maneuvers only - once they are out of formation with the (hopefully) more experienced section leader!

Below are two more links to articles that should be of interest if you want to read more about the subject. The first is written for modern (jet) air combat simulators - yet the principles remain true for piston-engined fighters as well. The second article might be more accessible, though I feel the first article is wider in scope.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Interesting post. The argument also supports the notion that experienced pilots move more often than the rest -- the ace bonus -- because they know how to push their planes more when necessary.

  2. That is a conclusion I wholeheartedly agree with - not only does an ace pilot know how to push the envelope with his aircraft, he also knows how to plan and execute his maneuvers in three dimensions so that he can be where he needs to be when he needs to be there.
    Being able to emulate this on the tabletop through allowing extra moves is, in my opinion, a very simple yet elegant solution. The number of simple yet elegant solutions is, I suppose, why I am so partial to Bag the Hun in the first place :)