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Bombing in the F5 is hard...

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Hi there,


just wenting off some frustration - move a long if you don't want share my grief :)


I'm flying the F5 for maybe three weeks now. I'm familiar with most systems (radar not yet) and can do a cold start without thinking about it by now.


Every night I hop onto a multiplayer server, load up my F5 with some ordonace, cold start, taxi out, take off, fence in, evade some AAA and an occasional SAM (well, most times anyways).


And then come the five seconds where I'm usually still in range of AAA and IR SAMs and I try to drop some bombs (Mk.82, 83, 84) on a group of self-propelled artillery. First diving from 7000 ft but I got hit a lot doing that, so now I'm trying 82 snakeeyes droping from very low.


I tried various delivery parameters (dive angle, speed, release altitude) with recommended depression of the piper.


I have yet to hit any target at all...

Not a single hit...


If I'm still alive after those five seconds, I turn home, fence out, check in with my airfield, land, taxi home and shut her down.

It feels a lot like Jake Grafton and Tiger Cole dropping bombs on "suspected truck parks" in the jungle. Not exactly rewarding...


I look at the files in TacView afterwards. Bombs fall too short, too long, all over the place. Sometimes I get one close enough to light up the cell of a target, but never ever have I destroyed one.


I know... it takes practise. And yes, I will create a training mission for me, where I can practise without getting shot at. Yeah.


But, man - this-is-hard !


Is there any particular bombing technique with the F5 that can be considered "easiest"? Kinda fool-proof?

Do you bomb from an F5? How have you mastered this unbelievable skill?





Edited by Emacs
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If you dive steep enough, you can put the pipper on target with 0 depression and the bomb will go where you pointed the pipper at.


If you are fast enough, you can do the same as above.


But obviously, if you do one or the other technique, you need either a really steep angle or a lot of speed. To counter that, you can combine those. So you can basically (example, not necessary how it's ingame) go for a 30-45 degree dive with M0.7-0.8 or something and then you can almost place the pipper almost directly on target.


And the more practise you have, the further away you can drop the bombs.

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Also check-out the Chuck's Guide for F-5E (if you have't yet). It briefly (but clearly) explain the theory behind AG weapon dive drop.


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Also check-out the Chuck's Guide for F-5E (if you have't yet). It briefly (but clearly) explain the theory behind AG weapon dive drop.



As LordOrion says, Chuck's guides are a treasure full of resources...

The F-5E is a Post-Korean War Cold-War Export Aircraft. It's Gun Sight is intentionally left in a "Basic" state (No one will export latest high-tech that can be reverse manufactured). As such, the operator (You) will need to learn how to apply basic balistic math problems associated with the very limited amount of armament available. But don't be alarmed, since we all just want to hop in and auto-start, there is always Youtube: :cry:






Now, if you are a very curious one, may I suggest reading the Flight Manual here:





Happy Bombing...

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Yep, manual dive bombing takes a lot of practice. Assuming no wind, 4 parameters have to come together at a precise point and time in space to get a hit: 1) dive angle; 2) altitude; 3) airspeed, and 4) pipper on target. For a given bomb type, the ballistics tables give us the release altitude, airspeed, and pipper depression for any given dive angle.


Very difficult to get all those things lined up perfectly at the correct moment in time. Pilots need to know how to make adjustments in pipper placement if dive angle, altitude, and airspeed are not converging as planned. Throw in the wind and it becomes even more complex.


During the missions that I flew in the F-100 in Vietnam, we always rolled in from different directions on each pass in order to confuse the enemy gunners. Also, we always flew curvilinear approaches, only rolling out for the weapon release run at the last moment, again to confuse enemy gunners, i.e., don't fly in a straight line for very long or you will be easy to track. That even complicates things more when wind is involved, i.e., you have to remember wind direction on each roll-in.

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Ahhhh...the infamous "snake and nape" attack eh? Vietnam air war, pretty brutal I'd say. Hope you didn't get into any "Sabre dances". Thanks for the input, and for your service.



To the OP...I feel your pain bud. I'm in the same boat. Bombing while trying to avoid AAA, very challenging. I've gotten good at taking a facefull of ZSU-23 rounds. Lol! Practice I guess pal. Good luck.

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Thank you all for your replies!


I have read/studied most of the guides for the F-5. The DCS handbook, Chuck‘s guide, a version of the original Air Force handbook and even the Official non-nuclear weapons delivery manual for the F5.

The mind is willing... but the flesh is weak...


Observing my approaches I have to admit currently I‘m still just overwhelmed with getting all the parameters in line in this short timeframe.

Keeping one eye on the pipper to align it with the - hard to see - target and have another eye on the speed indicator and attitude indicator, gives me some headache.


It is 100% about practice.



Oh, and the part I love most:

Once I get everything nearly right and pickle just in time... and then realize the bombs didn‘t come off...

Jettisoned my tanks on ingress but did not flip the selective jettison switch back down... dang... if I had a doller for every time I did that...


@Bob1943: I can hardly imagine what this must be like when you life depends on it and the ground is not just shooting pixels back at you but live bullets and missles. I would be frozen with fear. Deepest respect!





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Practice the sight picture, no matter your altitude or approach heading, if you manage to get the sight picture right your dive angle will be good.

Then it's a matter of getting the speed and release right.


But really, sight picture is most important. Use tacview to compare the results between each bombing run and go from there.


For me, raising the seat fully and putting the target between the mirror and canopy bow usually gives me close to a 20 degree dive. Leaning left and putting the target on the canopy bow makes 30. Release slightly before your target altitude as the altimeter has a couple hundred feet of lag.


I primarily use the patterns as described in the manual.

20 degree - start 5000 AGL, release 1500 AGL, depression 80

30 degree - start 6000 AGL, release 2000 AGL, depression 79

entry at 350 KIAS, exit 400 KIAS


As with any manual bombing run: More bombs better. It's okay to ripple 4-5 bombs to take out a single tank.

I can drop a pair of Mk-82s on target on a good day without wind, but if there's any other factors involved it becomes a bit of a crapshoot :P

anywhere within 150 feet is a very good release and would take out anything with light or no armour.

Edited by Noctrach


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Seems like lot of the "old" bombing systems center at a 3,000 ft release point at a 30 degree dive. Just need to set the right mils on the sight.
Yes exactly this ^^^^.


Keeping as many variables consistent and repeatable in high pressure/threat environments. The trigonometry of those numbers gives a slant range of 2000 yards, so aircraft with ground ranging radars (eg A-4) had slant range scales so the pilot could pickle at 2000 yards, while diving with the above parameters. For non-radar aircraft, the slant range is still 2000 yards. The reticle depression Mils setting could then be adjusted to the ballistics of different ordinances.





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As long as you understand the setup for bombing, it's actually very easy.

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Another thing that can help is dropping more than one bomb in a pass. Kind of painful to do when you have limited stores, but by doing so it helps you have better chances of at least one of them hitting

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It’s not too bad but don’t expect to be super accurate. Set sight to -80 mils, dive at 30ish degree angle with sight a little below the target and let the sight “walk up” to the target. Release multiple bombs and pull out before 1500 ft or so. Should get in the ballpark.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm new to DCS and the F-5E, but messing around last night I found what seems to be a relatively reliable way to hit things with Mk 82 Snakeyes, or at least a good starting point for more experimentation. Set the gunsight to Manual mode and set a depression of 100 mils. Set the snakes up for ripple, 0.10 seconds timing. Fly at 300 ft and 400 kts, and drop when the pipper is on the target. Remember to hold the pickle until all the bombs are gone.


That gives you enough speed and altitude for the snakes to deploy and not blow yourself up, but low enough that you should be pretty hard to hit with AAA. I haven't tested it very much yet, but with the center rack of 5 bombs I was able to take out single vehicles.


When fully loaded the F-5 should be able to do over 400 kts if you let it accelerate for a while in straight and level flight, so you may have to slow down near the target or pop out your speedbrakes for a bit, or figure out some other mil setting for the sight for higher speed. I have read that Snakeyes have a max drop speed of 450 kts (any faster and the drag fins may not deploy correctly), although I haven't tested that in the game.

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Practice and do a BDA after each drop. If your dive parameters are not up to the book you can always adjust your pipper while you dive towards target. This was a practice often used in F-105's or F-4 during Vietnam when the mills where adjusted in the "chute". But you have to have the values in your head to be able to quickly adjust. Also with practice you will be able to drop under your aiming point or over depending on your dive parameters.


It takes time to do it, but man, there's no better feeling when you put them wherever you want them to go, or when you take a column of vehicles from one end to the other with a nice bomb run. Beats any CCIP run.

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  • 2 months later...

Hey ho,


I just compared the MIL values of the real AF T.O. with the ones in the DCS manual.

(T.O. 1F-5E-34-1-1-1980) I wont post it for obvious reasons.


DCS manual says:

20°, 1500ft, 400KIAS -> 80 MILS

30°, 2000ft, 440KIAS -> 79 MILS


T.O. says:

20°, 1500ft, 400KIAS -> 120 MILS (Section VI, Table 6-10. (Sheet 3), page 6-59)

30°, 2000ft, 440KIAS -> 96 MILS ( as above (Sheet 4), page 6-60)


Maybe I am digging in already reported stuff, please tell me.


Anybody knows why there is such discrepancy?

Which ones are best to use? I want to do it by book.

Thumb rules are welcome, I have read a few, but procedures would be ideal.

Wish list: late DCS: GR.1 (with GR.1B) Tornado, Improved Combined Arms (like OFP/ArmA I/ArmA II), Improved Logistics

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IMHO the F-5 is probably the best plane to learn manual bombing. It has a decent bomb load and the stability augmentation makes it easy to roll out on target and take a good aim. The one thing it's missing is better bombing tables (but that's common to most DCS aircraft, I think only the Mi-8 has decent tables).


I found bombing in the L-39 and MiG-15 to be significantly harder.

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The P-47 would love a configurable bomb sight with a table and wants to remind you that no, the F-5 is not the hardest.


Still, i actually find kentucky windage and a decent steep angle is easier than referncing tables, but that's me!



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  • 3 weeks later...

Manual bombing is all about flying precisely and repeatedly, over and over and over.


You need to approach the target with a set offset to the target itself.

You need to approach at a set altitude.

You need to approach at a set airspeed.

You need to dive at a set angle.

You need to release at a set altitude.

You need to release at a set airspeed.


This isn't easy to get right, not easy to do once, and not easy to do every time.


The only way to get it right is to practice it a hell of a lot, take note of where you were imprecise, make a correction, and try again.

Take note of where the bomb lands, and make sighting corrections to suit.


In real life, most bombs will miss, the wind will blow them off target, the pilot will make an error, it's not easy and most will miss. That is normal, accept that and just focus on reducing the CEP (circle error probable) by being as accurate as you can and the hits will come.

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Another important part is error correction. It's hard to fly precisely enough to be exactly on parameters every time, but it's much easier (read: still hard, but not impossibly so) to make sure errors cancel each other out. IRL, pilots generally didn't fly the exact numbers, especially not in real combat. Rather, they'd try to get close, and correct on the fly. If you're a bit slow, release earlier, for instance. With practice, you'll gain an intuitive understanding on which way each parameter moves the impact point, and by how much.


Fun fact: in Vietnam, they never ran straight in. They used curved approaches, rolling out wings level at the last possible moment, pickling in the brief window that they had, before pulling out along a curve again. All to make the job harder for the guns on the ground. In that moment, they had to get everything close to right, eyeball the corrections, and pickle. Modern fighter jocks have it easy. :)

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