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Help Me Fight in the Vertical


Bearfoot
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Basically, in guns BFM, I keep getting into vertical turn fights with other types of aircraft that seem to complete the loop and bring their nose on me faster than I can on them.

 

I want to fix that.

 

First some basic aerobatic questions, even if it doesn't help me or is not the correct approach.

 

(1) How do I maximize my VERTICAL turn rate? Is there such a thing as a "vertical corner speed" I should be entering the loop in?

 

(2) How do I minimize my VERTICAL radius? Beyond just pulling max G, of course. Max throttles on the climb and cut throttles in the dive? Or other way around?

 

(3) Then some questions on tactics. We generally end up scribing vertical loops in the sky, and I find the bandit "translating aft on my canopy" very rapidly in the vertical, i.e. gaining angles. And very soon I start taking hits, sometimes from the front as he has started his climb just as I am starting the down part of the vertical loop, and sometimes from the back. Yep, getting owned.

 

What can I do?

 

Go horizontal?

 

Against aircraft that are more nimble but have less excess power, such as the F/A-18, extrapolating from the horizontal, perhaps I could make the fight "two-circle in the vertical" .... but I don't even know how to translate that concept in that plane let alone how to make the fght go there.

 

Help me out here, folks!

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Basically, in guns BFM, I keep getting into vertical turn fights with other types of aircraft that seem to complete the loop and bring their nose on me faster than I can on them.

 

I want to fix that.

 

First some basic aerobatic questions, even if it doesn't help me or is not the correct approach.

 

(1) How do I maximize my VERTICAL turn rate? Is there such a thing as a "vertical corner speed" I should be entering the loop in?

 

(2) How do I minimize my VERTICAL radius? Beyond just pulling max G, of course. Max throttles on the climb and cut throttles in the dive? Or other way around?

 

(3) Then some questions on tactics. We generally end up scribing vertical loops in the sky, and I find the bandit "translating aft on my canopy" very rapidly in the vertical, i.e. gaining angles. And very soon I start taking hits, sometimes from the front as he has started his climb just as I am starting the down part of the vertical loop, and sometimes from the back. Yep, getting owned.

 

What can I do?

 

Go horizontal?

 

Against aircraft that are more nimble but have less excess power, such as the F/A-18, extrapolating from the horizontal, perhaps I could make the fight "two-circle in the vertical" .... but I don't even know how to translate that concept in that plane let alone how to make the fght go there.

 

Help me out here, folks!

 

what are you fighting?

Modules owned:

 

FC3, M-2000C, Mig-21bis, F-5E, AJS-37 Viggen, F/A-18C, KA-50, Mi-8, F-14A&B, JF-17

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what are you fighting?

 

Basically, much better pilots than me!

 

More seriously: mostly F/A-18's. I sort of held my own against another F-14 a couple of times (nobody got their guns on each other let alone fired a shot until we ran out of gas), but I was doing the same thing so I suspect a more skillful pilot in the other cockpit could have taken me down

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As a general rule of thumb, I only go vertical when I know the boogie can't follow me because he's too low on energy. To quote Robert Shaw, "... Because of his aircraft's greater T/W the energy fighter pilot could pull up immediately at the first merge and out-zoom his adversary, but this generally is not advisable. One reason for this is that the bogey may be faster than assumed. Another is the timing involved in a zooming contest. The first fighter to begin a zoom normally will peak first. Even if the low-T/W fighter cannot quite reach the same altitude, it will be considerably more maneuverable in approaching the top of its climb than the first-zooming energy fighter, which may have already peaked. At this time the energy fighter will be very slow and vulnerable as it begins to accelerate or starts back down." So to answer your questions:

 

1) Not really, by definition of corner speed it doesn't work when going pure vertical. That said, the F-14B can do a full loop starting from 180 KIAS if I recall correctly. That's your minimum vertical maneuvering speed, you should be above this at all times to have the option of going vertical (either to follow the boogie, or when you know he can't follow). The only other way to maximize turn performance in the vertical is, as you said, to cut throttles while diving and learn to manage your speed. The F14 has so much power that staying at full AB in a dive will result in you going up to hundreds of knots in speed, likely above corner speed (and possibly having 12+g available to rip your wings...) which will harm your turning ability.

 

2) See my above reply. Assuming you merge and both go vertical at the start of the fight, you will be in a one circle fight, so fight accordingly (ie, don't give a low wing loading fighter like a Hornet such an easy advantage unless you can outzoom him because he's low on energy). After the first loop you have the option of following with a second loop that he may not be able to follow, but there's also a chance that he'll get guns on you before you get to go vertical again. I haven't fought F18s all that much so I'm not sure (and it will definitely be out of the question against the Viper).

 

3) To me this pretty much describes a one circle fight in which the boogie has a smaller turning circle than you do.

 

What I would try in this situation is extend a bit after the merge and relax G to gain additional separation and retain more energy - imagine pulling into the vertical but with 3-4 Gs instead of ~7. This should allow you more space (possibly enough to stay out of gun range, but probably not missile range so be careful) to maneuver and out-zoom the opponent before he gets his nose on you. Another useful tip is roll near the top of the zoom so that the boogie is at your 3 or 9 o clock rather than right on the canopy, which gives him a smaller target to hit.

 

Having said all that, what I would do before going vertical is to start the fight in the horizontal, expecting to lose some angles. There should come a point where the boogie has traded enough energy for angles that he can't follow your vertical maneuver, at which point he'll be the one left wondering wtf to do. A bit like flying against the AI UFOs actually ;)

 

I hope that was useful!

 

 

edit: also, remember that going vertical is not a contest of who turns better. It's a contest of who runs out of airspeed last.


Edited by TLTeo
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Try entry speed approximately 300 kts or even less, and then start by pulling constantly 15-17 units of AoA while going up in the vertical (but not less, you will lose more energy than other 4 gen adversaries because of the lower t/w). When you start going nose down you can increse to 20-25 units. If you want to increase more of you're energy fast, try easing on the AoA when nose down. This way I easily come on top even with the AI F-16 when he starts to do those perfect loops.

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Turn rate at low speed is your advantage, vertical fights are difficult to maintain best corner speed. I would start by trying to maximize your turn rate in a flat turn, then try to replicate that turn in the vertical... basically, release stick pressure on your climb to maintain your speed, and pull harder on the descent. Doing that a bunch will help you in a gun fight... literally flying circles and getting a feel for her best AOA given different air speeds and orientations. Consistency in your speed / AOA and not getting too slow on accident are keys to winning gun fights.

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As a general rule of thumb, I only go vertical when I know the boogie can't follow me because he's too low on energy. To quote Robert Shaw, "... Because of his aircraft's greater T/W the energy fighter pilot could pull up immediately at the first merge and out-zoom his adversary, but this generally is not advisable. One reason for this is that the bogey may be faster than assumed. Another is the timing involved in a zooming contest. The first fighter to begin a zoom normally will peak first. Even if the low-T/W fighter cannot quite reach the same altitude, it will be considerably more maneuverable in approaching the top of its climb than the first-zooming energy fighter, which may have already peaked. At this time the energy fighter will be very slow and vulnerable as it begins to accelerate or starts back down." So to answer your questions:

 

1) Not really, by definition of corner speed it doesn't work when going pure vertical. That said, the F-14B can do a full loop starting from 180 KIAS if I recall correctly. That's your minimum vertical maneuvering speed, you should be above this at all times to have the option of going vertical (either to follow the boogie, or when you know he can't follow). The only other way to maximize turn performance in the vertical is, as you said, to cut throttles while diving and learn to manage your speed. The F14 has so much power that staying at full AB in a dive will result in you going up to hundreds of knots in speed, likely above corner speed (and possibly having 12+g available to rip your wings...) which will harm your turning ability.

 

2) See my above reply. Assuming you merge and both go vertical at the start of the fight, you will be in a one circle fight, so fight accordingly (ie, don't give a low wing loading fighter like a Hornet such an easy advantage unless you can outzoom him because he's low on energy). After the first loop you have the option of following with a second loop that he may not be able to follow, but there's also a chance that he'll get guns on you before you get to go vertical again. I haven't fought F18s all that much so I'm not sure (and it will definitely be out of the question against the Viper).

 

3) To me this pretty much describes a one circle fight in which the boogie has a smaller turning circle than you do.

 

What I would try in this situation is extend a bit after the merge and relax G to gain additional separation and retain more energy - imagine pulling into the vertical but with 3-4 Gs instead of ~7. This should allow you more space (possibly enough to stay out of gun range, but probably not missile range so be careful) to maneuver and out-zoom the opponent before he gets his nose on you. Another useful tip is roll near the top of the zoom so that the boogie is at your 3 or 9 o clock rather than right on the canopy, which gives him a smaller target to hit.

 

Having said all that, what I would do before going vertical is to start the fight in the horizontal, expecting to lose some angles. There should come a point where the boogie has traded enough energy for angles that he can't follow your vertical maneuver, at which point he'll be the one left wondering wtf to do. A bit like flying against the AI UFOs actually ;)

 

I hope that was useful!

 

 

edit: also, remember that going vertical is not a contest of who turns better. It's a contest of who runs out of airspeed last.

 

This was awesome! Really cleared some things up, solidified some vague concepts, and set me on the correct track. The trick now is to put it all into practice! Lots of things to explore here. First getting that "pilot stuff" down: By dropping speed low-but-not-too-low and then pulling a high-G turn. Just to satisfy that itch. Then those tactics your suggest: (1) extend + low-G climb to stay out of guns range if going 1-circle vertical; or (2) take it horizontal till energy of the other guy has dropped enough so he cannot follow me in the vertical.

 

I am anticipating taking on F-16's in a couple of months, though, so I don't know if (2) will work against a capable opponent!

 

I should say that one major problem I have going vertical in the merge with the F-14 is that I cannot keep eyes on the bandit. In the F-18, it's a lot easier. In the F-14 the rear view is blocked enough that I often lose sight especially as I am pure vertical and have to rely on Jester's cues to pick him up as I start to go past 180 and get some of the view back.

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Try entry speed approximately 300 kts or even less, and then start by pulling constantly 15-17 units of AoA while going up in the vertical (but not less, you will lose more energy than other 4 gen adversaries because of the lower t/w). When you start going nose down you can increse to 20-25 units. If you want to increase more of you're energy fast, try easing on the AoA when nose down. This way I easily come on top even with the AI F-16 when he starts to do those perfect loops.

 

Turn rate at low speed is your advantage, vertical fights are difficult to maintain best corner speed. I would start by trying to maximize your turn rate in a flat turn, then try to replicate that turn in the vertical... basically, release stick pressure on your climb to maintain your speed, and pull harder on the descent. Doing that a bunch will help you in a gun fight... literally flying circles and getting a feel for her best AOA given different air speeds and orientations. Consistency in your speed / AOA and not getting too slow on accident are keys to winning gun fights.

 

Summarize:

- Slower I take the loop, the better

- Going up --- pull less, at 15-17 units AoA while going up; no less (lose energy than other 4 gen b/c lower t/w).

- Going down --- pull more, increase to 20-25 units AoA (or less if you want more energy at the bottom of the loop)

 

 

Very useful! Thanks!

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I kind of disagree on the T/W thing. In the -B at least you're not that far off an F-15, likely better than a Hornet, and possibly even a Flanker depending on fuel loads.

 

 

 

I do agree that the Tomcat does very well at low speeds though. Against anything that's not a Hornet (and possibly Flanker/Fulcrum? not sure there), you have a big advantage if you fight around ~300 knots or so.

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I should say that one major problem I have going vertical in the merge with the F-14 is that I cannot keep eyes on the bandit. In the F-18, it's a lot easier. In the F-14 the rear view is blocked enough that I often lose sight especially as I am pure vertical and have to rely on Jester's cues to pick him up as I start to go past 180 and get some of the view back.

One way to work around that is to pull past vertical before you extend to keep him in view. You'll probably need some negative G on the extension but I haven't run into any engine issues so far with that technique.

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I kind of disagree on the T/W thing. In the -B at least you're not that far off an F-15, likely better than a Hornet, and possibly even a Flanker depending on fuel loads.

 

 

 

I do agree that the Tomcat does very well at low speeds though. Against anything that's not a Hornet (and possibly Flanker/Fulcrum? not sure there), you have a big advantage if you fight around ~300 knots or so.

 

and the mirage....it has insane turning capabilities

Modules owned:

 

FC3, M-2000C, Mig-21bis, F-5E, AJS-37 Viggen, F/A-18C, KA-50, Mi-8, F-14A&B, JF-17

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To OP, do note that knowing all of this and putting it to good use are two very different things. When i started going up against human opponents in furballs for the first time, i knew exactly how i should fly against every plane currently available in DCS. Yet, the first 3 session resulted in me getting my 6 handed to me by Hornet drivers regularly. For some reason i could hold my own against Flankers, Eagles, Migs and Mirages, but the Hornets would get me every time. (For me at least) it took some time to develop the "perception" (for the lack of better words) of what a bandit is doing. And online human opponents are much more agrresive then any AI, so there is nothing you can do to practice against such flying offline. Eventually though, things came together, and you realize the Bugs are no harder then any other bandit. It's the pilot behind the stick that makes all the difference.

 

From E-M POV, what i can tell you from my limited knowledge, is that you can turn every bit as good as a Bug can (if you know how to keep your nose steady - good luck with that in the latest patch), BUT (and this is a big but - no pun intended) the Hornet will bleed much more energy then you for the same g per mach. This means it will tighten its turning radius much faster then you will. When first i went up, i didn't think this will be a problem. I mean....we always have the vertical, right? Well....not so right.... Under most circumstances in a furball (unless you are 1 on 1 in a neutral merge) this ability of a Hornet will give its pilot more then enough time to get inside your turn and get at least 1 or 2 gun shots at you. Going "up" is not really a solution, as that Hornet usually has enough energy to follow you (long enough) to get enough lead on you for a shot. This is where the "perception" thingy comes along. You must be able to not just make him turn and bleed, but also recognize the moment when he has bled enough energy that you can now engage him out of plane. And trust me, when you do, you'll see the Hornet is probably the most helpless plane in DCS right now when in a low energy state. His worse then you in a dive, so can't recover by diving. He has less power then you, so he can't recover by extending. And that slow, his climb rate and Excess power are so low, he can't even begin to think of tackling you in the vertical. In other words, a Hornet without energy is a dead duck unless you try to do scissors with him or something. I mean, in some configurations you have 40+% excess power then him in this regime. Now a good Hornet driver will do all in his/her power not to get that slow unless he can shoot you down in the process, but in most cases....... in most cases you can be the one pulling the strings.

 

As for non furball situations, just remember those wings of yours and that thrust at your command. Couple with all the above, it is you who will decide when, where and if to fight. The Hornet doesn't really have any initiative. His only game plan is an ambush. But that is different topic.

Current modules:

FC3, Mirage 2000C, Harrier AV-8B NA, F-5, AJS-37 Viggen, F-14B, F-14A, Combined Arms, F/A-18C, F-16C, MiG-19P, F-86, FW-190A, Spitfire Mk IX, UH-1 Huey, Su-25, P-51PD, Caucasus map, Nevada map, Persian Gulf map, Marianas map, Syria Map......ah yes, forgot the Super Carrier! Shows you how often i fly these days....

Modules in waiting: MiG-23, A-6, F-4U, F-8, Falklands Map

Wish list: South East Asia map, F-4J/N, F-15A/C, Su-27, Sea Harrier FRS.1, Mirage III, MiG-17.

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To OP, do note that knowing all of this and putting it to good use are two very different things. When i started going up against human opponents in furballs for the first time, i knew exactly how i should fly against every plane currently available in DCS. Yet, the first 3 session resulted in me getting my 6 handed to me by Hornet drivers regularly. For some reason i could hold my own against Flankers, Eagles, Migs and Mirages, but the Hornets would get me every time. (For me at least) it took some time to develop the "perception" (for the lack of better words) of what a bandit is doing. And online human opponents are much more agrresive then any AI, so there is nothing you can do to practice against such flying offline. Eventually though, things came together, and you realize the Bugs are no harder then any other bandit. It's the pilot behind the stick that makes all the difference.

 

From E-M POV, what i can tell you from my limited knowledge, is that you can turn every bit as good as a Bug can (if you know how to keep your nose steady - good luck with that in the latest patch), BUT (and this is a big but - no pun intended) the Hornet will bleed much more energy then you for the same g per mach. This means it will tighten its turning radius much faster then you will. When first i went up, i didn't think this will be a problem. I mean....we always have the vertical, right? Well....not so right.... Under most circumstances in a furball (unless you are 1 on 1 in a neutral merge) this ability of a Hornet will give its pilot more then enough time to get inside your turn and get at least 1 or 2 gun shots at you. Going "up" is not really a solution, as that Hornet usually has enough energy to follow you (long enough) to get enough lead on you for a shot. This is where the "perception" thingy comes along. You must be able to not just make him turn and bleed, but also recognize the moment when he has bled enough energy that you can now engage him out of plane. And trust me, when you do, you'll see the Hornet is probably the most helpless plane in DCS right now when in a low energy state. His worse then you in a dive, so can't recover by diving. He has less power then you, so he can't recover by extending. And that slow, his climb rate and Excess power are so low, he can't even begin to think of tackling you in the vertical. In other words, a Hornet without energy is a dead duck unless you try to do scissors with him or something. I mean, in some configurations you have 40+% excess power then him in this regime. Now a good Hornet driver will do all in his/her power not to get that slow unless he can shoot you down in the process, but in most cases....... in most cases you can be the one pulling the strings.

 

As for non furball situations, just remember those wings of yours and that thrust at your command. Couple with all the above, it is you who will decide when, where and if to fight. The Hornet doesn't really have any initiative. His only game plan is an ambush. But that is different topic.

 

This is gold. Really insight into the practice as well theory. Yes, implementation/execution is definitely not just challenging, but the challenge. The concepts/theory is just the first step, though without getting it right you cannot get success!

 

Ok, summarizing both what you as well as others have said --- the key strategy with the F-14 is get low, get slow, get tight, keeping an energy reserve so that when the other guy gets too slow and/or tries to extend, you pounce.

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