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How dangerous was it to attack '88 Anti-Aircraft guns historically?


Istari6

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A friend and I have been flying a Liberation 8.1 campaign in the P-47 Thunderbolt (Caen-to-Evereux campaign).  

Twice now in three missions, I've been hit by 88 fire (and killed) while attacking a flak site.  This is surprising to me, since I would think that landing a shot against a fast-moving Thunderbolt would be challenging for the big '88s.  My assumption was that the 88s are designed for barrage fire against slower targets moving in a linear path (A-20s, B-17s) or perhaps a squadron of smaller aircraft transiting the airspace.  E.g. a squadron of P-47s flying overhead and putting a barrage of fire at a known speed and altitude.

Yet the '88s in DCS seem very accurate in shooting me down even on a curving or direct attack path at close range against a flak site.  I suppose this is possible (they could level the guns and fire direct-fire down the sight), but I would have thought that close defense of a heavy '88 AAA site would be up to the Flak 38 20mm guns. 

Does anyone here know how real Thunderbolt pilots felt about attacking AAA sites with 88 guns only?  Was that as dangerous as it seems here in DCS?

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My understanding is that a Flak gun will typically have a 10 man crew, with tasks subdivided down, eg carry the shells, arming them with the correctly timed fuse, loading, aiming etc.

Additionally, the Luftwaffe didn’t have proximity fuses, only times.  
The implications are that you need to plan maybe a min in advance as to where you intend to shoot, such that there’s time to coordinate everyone, aim the gun, set the correct fuse, load the shell and then fire it.

Quite clearly, what we have now in DCS doesn’t reflect that at all.

It is possible to set a min engagement altitude for Flak units, and also have them shoot at specific zones in the sky.  That would be perfect, if not for the fact that when you’re close to a Flak unit, those limitations are overridden by DCS logic which allows them to direct fire at targets.

There’s a number of threads on this already.  I’m just hoping that ED will fix this sometime

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the simple answer is ground AI fire in DCS is aimbot. The game always knows the speed of your aircraft and can calculate an arching shot in milliseconds. The same calculation mechanic is used by ALL units on the ground, be it a soldier on foot with a submachine gun, half-track, light flak, heavy flack, bmp, etc etc.  So we end up with this mind boggling ridiculousness and ED has no interest in fixing it.

The only more or less safe approach to the ground AI units I found to be 'purposing'. I.e. you need to continuously pump your stick aft/forward so your AC is approaching in a 'wave' like formation. It reduces the chance of being hit in the face by .50cal, 20mm, 40mm, and heavy flack by approximately 50-60%.

It's idiotic. But hey, there's nothing else we can do.

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Thanks for the replies.  Great point about the 10 person crew for a Flak 88 and the difficulties with quickly laying on a small fighter bomber, even one boring straight in.  Also agree about the aimbot being common across all kinds of ground fire.  I've been holding off on getting into DCS helicopters until the aimbot is reduced somewhat.  Just heard horror stories from the Apache and Hind pilots about getting cranial sniped at 1500m by a BMP-2.  

Good to know I'm not crazy for thinking my death rate is unrealistic.  

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2 minutes ago, Istari6 said:

Thanks for the replies.  Great point about the 10 person crew for a Flak 88 and the difficulties with quickly laying on a small fighter bomber, even one boring straight in.  Also agree about the aimbot being common across all kinds of ground fire.  I've been holding off on getting into DCS helicopters until the aimbot is reduced somewhat.  Just heard horror stories from the Apache and Hind pilots about getting cranial sniped at 1500m by a BMP-2.  

Good to know I'm not crazy for thinking my death rate is unrealistic.  

also, one thing to take into consideration is in reality, during the ww2, the airfields or any critical object was protected by multiple of tens or even hundreds of heavy/light flack batteries. Imagine you approach an airfield and there's 50 or 60 of these light flack guns opening up on you trying to shoot you down. And in DCS a max of 3 of 4 of them needed to deliver the same efficacy of the AA.

the above is for a single AC survivability only. Obviously, if you have a group of fighters attacking an af the chance of you getting hit is much lower due to the 'distraction' factor. Nevertheless we are talking about the aimbot issue here, not DCS tactics.

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Chances are that most are unaware that we now have settings to avoid “some” of the areas of opportunity.

Encourage the server owner to investigate the use of min altitudes for big Flak units

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On 8/15/2023 at 7:15 AM, Mr_sukebe said:

Encourage the server owner to investigate the use of min altitudes for big Flak units

This is what I do. 100ft min for the 20mm so we don't get sniped through trees, and 5,000ft (sometimes 2,000ft) for the 88s so we don't get sniped by them either.

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On 8/9/2023 at 5:13 PM, peachmonkey said:

the simple answer is ground AI fire in DCS is aimbot. The game always knows the speed of your aircraft and can calculate an arching shot in milliseconds. The same calculation mechanic is used by ALL units on the ground, be it a soldier on foot with a submachine gun, half-track, light flak, heavy flack, bmp, etc etc.  So we end up with this mind boggling ridiculousness and ED has no interest in fixing it.

The only more or less safe approach to the ground AI units I found to be 'purposing'. I.e. you need to continuously pump your stick aft/forward so your AC is approaching in a 'wave' like formation. It reduces the chance of being hit in the face by .50cal, 20mm, 40mm, and heavy flack by approximately 50-60%.

It's idiotic. But hey, there's nothing else we can do.

If you fly straight towards the gun no matter how fast you fly. For the gunner you are just a non-moving target 1x1 m size. Then ask yourself what is the probability to hit this kind of target.
If you are aiming AAA, the same it is doing. 🙂 

Ніщо так сильно не ранить мозок, як уламки скла від розбитих рожевих окулярів

There is nothing so hurtful for the brain as splinters of broken rose-coloured spectacles.

Ничто так сильно не ранит мозг, как осколки стекла от разбитых розовых очков (С) Me

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1 hour ago, Yo-Yo said:

If you fly straight towards the gun no matter how fast you fly. For the gunner you are just a non-moving target 1x1 m size. Then ask yourself what is the probability to hit this kind of target.
If you are aiming AAA, the same it is doing. 🙂 

Sorry, but that’s not correct.

For lower calibre units, even without wind, there will be the ballistic trajectory of the round.  At say 400m, that might not be a big deal, but if you’re trying to shoot at an aircraft that might be a half a mile or a mile away, it becomes much more important.

The larger calibre weapons are single shot, and without proximity fuses, far less effective

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I understand how flying straight at an 88 gun, within maybe 500-1000m (boresight range where shell drop isn't really happening yet), with a gun crew that's ready and has the barrel aligned with an attacking aircraft, could get a direct hit.  The biggest factor here seems to be getting a big 88 cannon to lay properly and accurately in the time that a P-47 is leveling out and attacking (usually within say 1 -2nm).  

So it's not saying it's impossible for an 88 to hit an attacking Thunderbolt at 300mph, just that in real life it would have to be a direct hit since there's no way proximity fuses could be manually set properly for such a dynamic target.  

Does anyone here know how the real USAAF and RAF dealt with 88 batteries in WWII?  Were they ever attacked directly?  

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The Luftwaffe in WW2 didn't have proximity fuses.  

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Sorry -  I misspoke.  I meant manual fuses couldn't be set properly for such a small moving target closing rapidly.  I know that the first proximity fuse was from the Americans in 1944, used out in the Pacific.  So an 88 could pull off the kind of accurate shellbursts we see now for a rapidly closing target.

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Would I be correct in assuming that you mis-typed that?  You wrote that an 88 "could" pull off an accurate shot.

My understanding is that it would be extremely unlikely.  As the Luftwaffe didn't have proximity fuses, they'd actually need to screw in the appropriate timer for the shell during the preparation of the shot.  Prior to that, you'd have had I assume at least one or two people estimating range, speed and then calculating the optimum timing for the fuse.  Put that all together, followed by moving the shell to the gun, loading it and firing it, my guess is that you'd be looking at something like a 1 minute time difference.  
That's why my belief is that the big Flak guns would have only been used against targets at altitude (min of 2000-3000m) and then not at the moving target itself, rather in the direction of estimated flight path for a group of bombers.  I can't imagine a big Flak battery even bothering with a bunch of fighters or a lone bomber.

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4 hours ago, Mr_sukebe said:

they'd actually need to screw in the appropriate timer for the shell during the preparation of the shot.  Prior to that, you'd have had I assume at least one or two people estimating range, speed and then calculating the optimum timing for the fuse.  Put that all together, followed by moving the shell to the gun, loading it and firing it, my guess is that you'd be looking at something like a 1 minute time difference.  
That's why my belief is that the big Flak guns would have only been used against targets at altitude (min of 2000-3000m) and then not at the moving target itself, rather in the direction of estimated flight path for a group of bombers.  I can't imagine a big Flak battery even bothering with a bunch of fighters or a lone bomber.

More or less. The thing that gets me in DCS is that 88s can keep up with low, fast aircraft despite needing that time lag between lead calculation, setting the timed fuze, and loading the weapon. In DCS, this appears to happen in a microsecond.

According to this training document, 88 timed fuzes can only be set to 3,000ft minimum, yet in DCS you'll find flak bursting next to you at wave-top level. It also mentions flying on the deck is very difficult for the light flak (20mm) to hit due to high angular velocity, but in DCS you'll find hand-cranked pom-poms tracking aircraft going 300mph with no problem.

 


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11 hours ago, Mr_sukebe said:

Would I be correct in assuming that you mis-typed that?  You wrote that an 88 "could" pull off an accurate shot.

My understanding is that it would be extremely unlikely.  As the Luftwaffe didn't have proximity fuses, they'd actually need to screw in the appropriate timer for the shell during the preparation of the shot.  Prior to that, you'd have had I assume at least one or two people estimating range, speed and then calculating the optimum timing for the fuse.  Put that all together, followed by moving the shell to the gun, loading it and firing it, my guess is that you'd be looking at something like a 1 minute time difference.  
That's why my belief is that the big Flak guns would have only been used against targets at altitude (min of 2000-3000m) and then not at the moving target itself, rather in the direction of estimated flight path for a group of bombers.  I can't imagine a big Flak battery even bothering with a bunch of fighters or a lone bomber.

Please, read the description to the German AAA director, how it works... By the way, it even can predict target TURN, not only straight flight. And there is a very clear American film that explains what to do and what not to do to avoid flak hits.

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Ніщо так сильно не ранить мозок, як уламки скла від розбитих рожевих окулярів

There is nothing so hurtful for the brain as splinters of broken rose-coloured spectacles.

Ничто так сильно не ранит мозг, как осколки стекла от разбитых розовых очков (С) Me

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Do you have a link of the details of the director?

 

I have to ask, even if the director was radar controlled using modern systems, that wouldn’t take away from the delay time between the prediction, through the choosing of the right fuse, loading that fuse into the shell, passing the shell to the gun, loading it and firing it.

7 hours ago, Nealius said:

More or less. The thing that gets me in DCS is that 88s can keep up with low, fast aircraft despite needing that time lag between lead calculation, setting the timed fuze, and loading the weapon. In DCS, this appears to happen in a microsecond.

According to this training document, 88 timed fuzes can only be set to 3,000ft minimum, yet in DCS you'll find flak bursting next to you at wave-top level. It also mentions flying on the deck is very difficult for the light flak (20mm) to hit due to high angular velocity, but in DCS you'll find hand-cranked pom-poms tracking aircraft going 300mph with no problem.

 

 


On a positive note, we can set min engagement altitudes for all AA, to try to manage the situation.

Note that the min alt is above ground level

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On 8/27/2023 at 4:54 AM, Nealius said:

More or less. The thing that gets me in DCS is that 88s can keep up with low, fast aircraft despite needing that time lag between lead calculation, setting the timed fuze, and loading the weapon. In DCS, this appears to happen in a microsecond.

According to this training document, 88 timed fuzes can only be set to 3,000ft minimum, yet in DCS you'll find flak bursting next to you at wave-top level. It also mentions flying on the deck is very difficult for the light flak (20mm) to hit due to high angular velocity, but in DCS you'll find hand-cranked pom-poms tracking aircraft going 300mph with no problem.

 

 

The issue for flak gunners shooting at very low targets is: what happens with the shells that miss?

If you fly a few feet above ground across the airfield, the flak gunners are blasting away at their own structures behind you from their perspective - they’ll probably cause more damage to their own base than you will be able to. Even at slightly higher elevations there is a risk that the shells with too long fuses will hit the ground around the airfield before air-bursting, wrecking havoc in a few km radius.

I don’t know how it played out in reality, but I expect flak gunners were worried about this when shooting at low elevations.

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“Mosquitoes fly, but flies don’t Mosquito” :pilotfly:

- Geoffrey de Havilland.

 

... well, he could have said it!

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That's a good point. If the fuses are purely timed, and 3,000ft is the shortest available fuse, then theoretically low-elevation shooting is possible as long as the shell's ToF is 3,000ft or greater. Possible, but not likely probable since doing so does add greater risk of collateral damage. 

But also, at low altitudes a target's angular velocity is going to be higher. Therefore less time to aim, set fuse, load, and fire. Therefore they probably wouldn't get more than one round off--if that--even if they tried. 

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1 hour ago, Bozon said:

The issue for flak gunners shooting at very low targets is: what happens with the shells that miss?

If you fly a few feet above ground across the airfield, the flak gunners are blasting away at their own structures behind you from their perspective - they’ll probably cause more damage to their own base than you will be able to. Even at slightly higher elevations there is a risk that the shells with too long fuses will hit the ground around the airfield before air-bursting, wrecking havoc in a few km radius.

I don’t know how it played out in reality, but I expect flak gunners were worried about this when shooting at low elevations.

There is evidence of this on the Allies side; IIRC 20mm naval AA guns caused some havoc amongst friendly units and ground forces during amphibious ops in the Italian theatre because they had no self detonating ammunition and rounds that were  fired at enemy aircraft but missed fell to surface and detonated among friendlies; apparently this is why later in the war the 40mm bofors becomes the preferred light AAA weapon as it's self detonating ammunition limits (though, note, cannot entirely eliminate) this problem.

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I've seen friendly fire from enemies in DCS.  I have a mission on the Normandy map and added a cruiser in port to see if I could attack it.

One the way in, I was on the deck. The cruiser laid waste to the Calais docks and buildings nearby trying to shoot my aircraft.

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