Techniques For Weapons Delivery In SFP1 Page 2

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Andy Bush – Weapons Delivery Techniques

In my section, I’m going to do three things. One is to suggest a technique for weapons delivery that is based on flight path control using “HUD” relationships…then I’ll present a simplified analysis of weapons delivery in each of the four fighters offered in the original game. In doing so, I’ll offer observations and suggestions as to how to get a “hit” with each aircraft in these deliveries: low level napalm attack, dive bomb attack, rocket attack, and low angle strafe. Lastly, I’ll present a technique for two types of attack tactics…the overhead and the pop-up attack.

One thing I should mention…there is no such thing as a “free lunch” in weapons delivery. My techniques are just that. Techniques. You may or may not find them to your liking. They may or may not “work” for you. Watch your flight parameters…speed and dive angle are important. If you can, drop more than one weapon per pass. This will increase your chances of a hit.

Flight Path Control In A Dive Delivery

The heart of this discussion is that we are going to use a simplification of real world delivery technique to establish an attack flight path that will allow us to use the gunsight as a release reference.

In the introduction, I discussed the concept of aiming your aircraft past the target at the initiation of the attack. To do this, you will need an aiming reference. This reference is the top of the HUD.

Figure 24 - Top Of The HUD Aiming Reference.

The effectiveness of this technique will vary depending on aircraft type…using this technique in the F-104 and F-4 is easier and produces better results than in the F-100 and A-4.

When you select A2G in the sim, the gunsight reticles in the F-104 and the F-4 move down or “depress”. In doing so, the distance between the reticle and the top of the HUD increases. In the F-100 and A-4 however, the gunsight does not depress…the gunsight remains essentially the same in these two jets for both A2A and A2G deliveries. This failure to depress is a programming error in the sim and has a significant negative effect on A2G deliveries in the sim. For the reason why, refer back to the introduction where we discuss weapon ballistics. Simply put, the gunsight needs to be depressed below the flight path reference (top of the HUD) to permit the pilot to aim past the target and still see the reticle “below” the target as he begins his final approach. This true of all level and dive deliveries. The sight picture in the HUD that the pilot sees at the initiation of his dive is called the “roll out picture”.

Figure 25 - Typical Roll Out Picture.

This “roll out picture” establishes the dive angle and flight path for the remainder of the pass. It is critical that we remain on this dive angle and flight path. We do this by holding the flight path reference (the top of the HUD) on the point on the ground where it began at roll out. This point on the ground is called the “Aim Off Point (AOP)”, because we are aiming past (“off”) the target.

Now comes the question of where to aim the top of the HUD at roll out…and this is where the depressed sight becomes of primary importance. At roll out, the aim off point will be past the target and the reticle will be short of the target…with the target being somewhere in between. This “somewhere in between” is the crux of the issue.

Figure 26 - Roll Out Sight Picture.

Determining The Aim Off Point (AOP)

The correct roll out sight picture is accomplished by aiming the top of the HUD so that you get a specific relationship between these three points…the top of the HUD, the target, and the sight reticle. The proper picture varies slightly between aircraft, but not by much. Your basic objective is to roll out with the target about mid way between the top of the HUD and the sight reticle. Here is what it looks like again:

As you roll out, concentrate on aiming the top of the HUD past the target. Once wings level, change your focus to the HUD and the target. Use backpressure to move your nose up or down slightly to position the target about half way between the top of the HUD and the reticle. In doing this, you are setting up the approximate 50/50 ratio between the top of the HUD, the target, and the reticle. Now, change your focus to the ground area where the top of the HUD is pointing. This is your AOP. Identify a ground feature as the AOP and use it to hold the top of the HUD reference point on in the dive.

As you continue in the dive, work hard to hold your AOP steady. You may need forward pressure on your flight stick to keep the nose from rising. In the dive, you will see the reticle slowly moving “up” towards the target. Maintain a constant AOP reference and release (“pickle”) the weapon off when the reticle pipper touches the target.

The secret to success is holding that constant dive angle…and you do that by keeping your AOP from moving. This is the main item in the dive…but there are others…such as airspeed control and ground track alignment.

Airspeed Control

Airspeed in the sim seems to affect where the bomb goes. Being “slow” seems to result in the weapon landing short of the target, and being fast seems to result in a long impact. This means we need to control our speed in the delivery. I suggest a release speed of 350-400KIAS for the A-4, 400-450KIAS for the F-100, and 450-500KIAS for the F-104 and F-4.

Control speed in the dive with the throttle. We want to begin the dive at an approximate speed called “combat cruise” (to be discussed later). Once in the dive, let the aircraft accelerate towards the desired release speed, and then throttle back to hold that speed.

Depending on which aircraft you are flying, retard the throttle to idle when your speed approaches to about 50KIAS below release speed.Do not use the speed brake or the flaps to control speed.

Ground Track Control

Crosswinds are not usually a concern in this sim. If you achieve a roll out with the aim off point at the target’s 12 o’clock and you are wings level, your ground track should not significantly change.

If you need to adjust your heading to correct your ground track, do not use the depressed reticle as a reference. Instead, roll smoothly to a medium bank angle (20 –30 degrees) and then fly the top of the HUD to an adjusted AOP left or right of your initial aiming point. Never fly the reticle…doing so will result in flight path errors! Use small bank angles and avoid large pitch inputs.

Here are the major points for controlling your flight path in a dive delivery:

  1. You aim initially by setting up a ~50/50 ratio sight picture using the top of the gunsight combining glass, the target, and the reticle. This establishes the AOP.
  2. You maintain a constant dive angle by holding the AOP on a fixed point on the ground.
  3. You control airspeed in the dive by throttling back.
  4. You release when the pipper gets to the target.

Flight Path Control In A Level Delivery

In real life, we seldom used level deliveries in most situations. Exceptions to this were napalm and high drag deliveries. Normally, level deliveries were also flown at low altitude…from “on the deck” up to about 500’AGL or so. In the sim, I flew my level passes at 300’ to 500’AGL.

Level deliveries can be much more difficult than a dive delivery. The reason for this is that typical pilot delivery errors are magnified as the dive angle decreases…and are the greatest when in level flight.

Your three items that need attention in a level delivery are the same as for a dive delivery…the only problem is that they are more difficult to control.

Determining The Aim Off Point

Since we are in level flight, the AOP is on the horizon. The difficulty is not one of maintaining a constant AOP on the ground (as it is in a dive)…instead, the hard part is maintaining level flight. Each of the SFP1 aircraft has a different visual reference for level flight…and this reference changes as speed is increased or decreased. If you plan on doing level deliveries, you need to remember this visual reference so that you can fly in a level attitude as you approach the target.

Figure 27 - Level Flight Reticle Placement.

In real life, the sight depression setting is quite large and results in a reticle that is displaced well down the HUD. This is not the case in SFP1 as the depressed sight value is the same for all A2G deliveries. This setting places the reticle well up the HUD.

If you were to use this reference as a release cue, your weapon would fall grossly short. Because of this, the sight reticle is of no use when doing a level release…instead, you will need other references on the HUD to approximate where the depressed sight should be. In general, these references are near the bottom of the HUD…specific values will be discussed later.

Regardless of what HUD reference you use for a level flight release cue, you need to understand the absolute need to maintain level flight as you approach the release point. The problem here is that the release cue on the HUD is very sensitive to pitch changes. If you make a small change in pitch, the point on the ground that the release cue is superimposed over changes dramatically. If you release in other than a level attitude, the result is a relatively large change in the weapons impact point. A climb results in the release cue getting to the target too soon…your bomb hits short. If you are in a slight descent, the release cue is delayed getting to the target…consequently, you get a bomb that lands long…past the target. Avoid these misses by flying a good, level delivery as you approach the release point. Altitude errors are far less significant than pitch errors.

Airspeed control

I used the same release speeds for level deliveries as I did for dive releases. Weapon impact point is not significantly affected by small airspeed errors. Get down to your release altitude and stabilize your speed at or close to the desired release speed. Set the throttle to hold that speed, and then put your full concentration on maintaining level flight.

Ground Track Control

In real life, we used to say, “Fly your butt over the target!”. This advice holds true in the sim as well! Put the target in the middle of the HUD and use small bank changes to keep it there. Remember, the most important parameter is remaining in level flight.

Figure 28 - Level Approach.

OK! Enough of the theory…let’s get into the meat of the subject. The next section discusses specific weapons release techniques by weapon delivery type and aircraft model. One huge disclaimer…these are techniques that work for me and my “style” of flying. I offer them to you as a starting point for your own flying style. Hopefully, these ideas will get you “close”…modify them as needed to make them work perfectly!

Weapons Delivery Techniques

For this section, I flew the A-4E, F-100, F-104, and F-4E in medium angle dive bomb deliveries, low altitude level napalm deliveries, medium angle rocket deliveries, and low angle strafe attacks. My primary focus was on how effective the A2G gunsight was as display for setting up a proper attack flight path and how accurate the reticle was as a release cue. When possible, I looked for techniques that produced consistent hits on the target. Here are my findings.

Figure 29 - A-4E Gunsight.

A-4E

General Remarks. The A-4E gunsight does not depress when A2G is selected. The sight design includes “tick marks” on the vertical reticle axis that can be used for estimating the adjusted pipper location for a particular attack profile.

It seemed to me that the approximate roll axis when at one g is near the top of the gunsight reticle, not the top of the HUD. Therefore, when pointing at the estimated AOP, use the top of the reticle as your aiming reference. Once wings level, then push forward slightly to superimpose the top of the HUD on that AOP.

A-4E Dive Bombing Technique

Figure 30 - A-4E Dive Bomb Adjusted Release Cue.

The gunsight reticle is positioned relatively high up in the HUD. This position makes it difficult to use the standard AOP dive bombing technique using the pipper (the center of the reticle) as the release cue. Instead, I found that I could use the AOP technique if I designated a new point on the gunsight display as the new release cue. That point is the bottom “tick mark” on the lower vertical axis of the gunsight.

To use this adjusted release cue, I began the dive by setting up an approximate 50/50 sight picture (target mid way between AOP and release cue). I then held the top of the HUD on my AOP and waited for the release cue to reach the target. This technique results in fairly low pullouts but gives good results in medium dives and using a release speed of 350-400KIAS. The thing that I like about it is that this is how a real life pass looks!

A-4E Level Bomb Technique

As with all the aircraft in SFP1, the reticle is much too “high” in the HUD for it to be used as a release cue for level deliveries. Instead, you will have to substitute part of the HUD as an adjusted “pipper”. I found that using the top of the horizontal bar in the lower HUD frame made a relatively reliable release cue for a level delivery at low altitudes (~500’AGL) and 350-400KIAS.

Figure 31 - A-4E Level Bomb Release Picture.

A-4E Rocket Technique

I used shallow to medium dive angles for rocket deliveries. Regardless of dive angle, it is critical to understand that a rocket attack is a relatively short-range event. Rockets are also sensitive to airspeed (faster than planned makes the rocket flight path go higher than expected). Therefore, in any rocket attack, plan to fire fairly close in and pay attention to attack speeds so that you do not get going too fast!

Figure 32 - A-4E Rocket Adjusted Release Cue.

I found that when I fired in the 350-400KIAS speed range, the rocket flight path was well below the reticle pipper. In order to get hits, I had to find an adjusted release cue…that cue was the outer reticle ring below the pipper. Using that adjusted aiming reference, my dive technique for rockets differed only slightly from my dive bomb technique.

Unlike my dive bomb technique, I rolled out in my dive and aimed the gunsight reticle pipper right at the target. Holding the pipper there with slight forward pressure, I then noted the point on the ground where the top of the HUD was…I then concentrated on holding the HUD on that point. As the dive continued, the reticle would appear to move “up” past the target until the adjusted release cue (the bottom of the reticle) reached the target. I then held the release cue on the target, checked my firing range to assure that I was not too far out (target detail should be visible), and then fired. I got good results using the bottom of the reticle as my firing reference at approximately 400KIAS.

 

A-4E Strafe Technique

Figure 33 - A-4E Strafe Firing Picture.

Strafe is similar to rockets…you gotta get close! If you cannot make out target details, then you are too far out. I used a low angle dive when I made my strafing attacks. I rolled out with the top of the reticle on the target and held that picture as I continued in the dive. As I approached firing range, I raised the nose slightly to put the reticle pipper on the target and then I fired. Again, I used 350-400KIAS as my attack speed. At times, it seemed the rounds landed just below the pipper, so you may find that you have to shoot just a tad high when using the pipper. This will vary with range and firing speed.

 

F-100D

General Remarks. I suggest that you apply much of the A-4E weapons delivery rationale to the F-100 since the gunsight in the F-100 does not depress either. In fact, the F-100 gunsight actually moves up very slightly when going to A2G mode.

Figure 34 - F-100 HUD and Gunsight.

The F-100 is very pitch sensitive, so be sure to unload the jet before rolling, otherwise it will be more difficult to determine your actual nose position and resultant flight path. This is particularly true when establishing your AOP as you roll out in dive attacks.

I used the top of the HUD as a roll axis reference when unloaded. Keep your roll rates relatively low and smooth to help ensure you end up pointed where you want to be!

 

F-100 Dive Bombing Technique

I found that if I used the pipper, I tended to drop short of the target. I had better results if I used the bottom of the “reticle” (known as the “circle of diamonds” in real life). In the roll out, I set up my AOP using the top of the HUD and the bottom of the reticle with the target about mid way between the two. I planned to release in a medium angle dive and at a speed of 400-450KIAS. If your speed exceeds 450KIAS, then use the center pipper as a release cue rather than the bottom of the reticle.

Figure 35 - F-100 Dive Release Picture.

F-100 Level Bomb Technique

As in the A-4, the sight is too high in the HUD to be used as a reference for a low altitude level release cue. My parameters were ~500’AGL and about 400KIAS. The most difficult part of this delivery is holding the aircraft in level flight as the jet is very sensitive to small changes in pitch. For a level flight reference, hold the bottom of the reticle just above the horizon line.

Figure 36 - F-100 Level Release Cue.

The situation is further complicated by the design of the HUD and instrument panel. The bottom of the HUD sticks up quite a bit and partially blocks your “over the nose” vision. I was able to get decent results by maintaining a level flight attitude and pickling just as the target disappears into the HUD bottom frame. Altitude is not as important as is a good level attitude. You may improve your “over-the-nose” view angle by changing to a shallow (~5 degrees) descent and still use the same release cue.

 

F-100 Rocket Technique

In the F-100, rockets shoot “low” just as they did in the A-4E. In fact, they shoot very low! Read the section above for the A-4E rocket technique and use an adjusted release cue that is one reticle diameter below the pipper. Here is what it looks like.

Figure 37 - F-100 Rocket Release Picture.

F-100 Strafe Technique

Figure 38 - F-100 Strafe Picture.

Strafing in the F-100 is much like in the A-4E…the gun tends to shoot low. For the typical low to medium angle delivery, the rounds impact mid way between the pipper and the bottom of the reticle. In your attack, let the pipper run through the target slightly before you fire. Be careful! The F-100 tends to “mush” at low altitude and shallow dive angles, so use a minimum of 400KIAS and avoid flattening out as you approach the target! Otherwise, you’ll likely hit the ground!

 

F-104G/ F-4E

General Remarks. Unlike the previous two fighters, the gunsights in the F-104 and the F-4E do depress down and as a result are more easily used in A2G deliveries. I am grouping these two aircraft together because I flew them essentially the same when preparing this article. The roll axes for both are nearly the same…at or very close to the top of the HUD. It is important to remove all backpressure on your flight stick before rolling so that the roll axis reference is valid. As befitting their performance capabilities, I increased release speeds to about 450-500KIAS.

Dive Bomb Delivery Technique

You should find accurate dive bomb deliveries to be relatively easy in these two jets. As I rolled out, I set up a 50/50 relationship between the AOP (top of the HUD), the target, and the pipper. In both aircraft I use the pipper as the release cue.

Figure 39 - Dive Bomb Roll Out Picture.

As my speed accelerated through about 400KIAS, I throttled back to idle. Remember…no speed brake or flaps! I held the AOP constant and let the pipper begin to move “up” towards the target. Do not lead the target…let the pipper run into the target and then pickle. This may result in a low release, so don’t wussy the pull out!

Figure 40 - Dive Bomb Release Picture.

Level Bomb Delivery Technique

You will need to make a concerted effort to maintain level flight in the run in. As with the other aircraft, the pipper is not a valid release indication. The adjusted release cue for both aircraft is the bottom of the HUD glass. Fly your deliveries at 450-500KIAS. A level attitude is more important than exact speed and altitude control.

Figure 41 - Level Bomb Release Picture

F-104 Rocket Delivery Technique

The release cue for the F-104 is the pipper. Roll out with the AOP past the target and double check your flight path alignment. Smoothly raise the nose to bring the top of the reticle up to the target. Now check target size as an estimate of firing range…remember, rockets are a short-range event. Throttle back to hold 450-500KIAS. As you close to firing range, raise the pipper to the target, stabilize the pipper there, and fire. The rocket should fire right through the pipper into the target.

F-4E Rocket Delivery Technique

Figure 42 - F-4E High Speed Rocket Delivery.

In the F-4E, you should find that your release cue is a function of airspeed. Up to 400KIAS, the rockets seem to fire right through the pipper, but above 400KIAS, the rocket flight path shifts upwards. The result is that above 450KIAS, I suggest you use the top of the reticle as a firing cue. Otherwise, fly the delivery in the same manner as the F-104.

 

Low Angle Strafe Technique

Piece of cake! Both jets fire right through the pipper. Remember to cage the sight by going to A2A missile mode first. Do not strafe with A2G selected because of the depressed sight.

OK…so much for release techniques. Use these as a beginning point…your individual flying methods may result in you modifying these techniques. Use these techniques to get “into the ballpark”…then fine-tune them to get the bomb on the money!

Let’s move on to the final section where I’ll offer two techniques for dive releases…the overhead “wheel” attack and the pop-up attack. The wheel is so named for the circling manner that a flight of fighters would use as they orbited over a target. The pop-up attack is used as a way of reducing the threat of SAMs by approaching the target at minimum altitude and then climbing (popping up) as the target is closed upon.

You may use any of the dive techniques that have already been discussed in either of these two techniques. I’ll suggest approximate airspeed and altitude parameters, but these are not mandatory…these values should give you ample time to complete your attack. As your proficiency increases, you may choose to change the parameters.

The Overhead Attack Technique

This is a relatively high altitude technique and is typical of the tactics that are used in low threat areas. It is not a good technique to use in target areas defended by SAMs. If there is an air threat, be ready to abandon the overhead if attacked.

Figure 43 - Approaching The Target.

Approaching The Target

Our initial position is called the “base” leg. This is the flight path you fly as you approach the target. Fly your base leg depending on your choice of dive angle. Use 10,000’ for a medium dive and 5,000’ for a shallow dive.

Climb to your base leg altitude and accelerate to combat cruise speed…350-400KIAS for the A-4 and F-100, 400-450KIAS for the F-104 and F-4. These parameters will provide ample tracking time in your dive and will permit you to easily accelerate to your release speed. As proficiency increases, you can lower this altitude…the result will be less time in the dive.

Figure 44 - Approaching The Target.

Once your target is visually identified, turn slightly to place the target just outside of the HUD frame (approximately your 11:00/1:00 o’clock). This will give you a slight offset to the target and will provide the turning room needed for your roll in.

Keep the target in sight using the forward view, padlock view, or snap view, depending on your personal preference.

 

The Roll In Point

This is the most critical part of your delivery set up. Your altitude and lateral spacing from the target determine your dive flight path angle. The typical tendency is to roll in too far from the target, so we want to consciously “crowd” the target…meaning that we will work hard to keep our position where it should be.

And where is that, you ask? We begin with our altitude. This is the easy part. I suggest two dive angles…medium, about 20-30 degrees…and shallow, about 10-15 degrees. Use 10,000’ for the medium angle dive and 5,000’ for the shallow angle dive attack.

We are going to use two visual references for setting up our roll in. As we approach the target in our offset flight path, we want to maneuver so that the target is positioned at a particular point relative to our canopy bow and rail reference. The bow is the vertical curved part and the rail is that horizontal part that runs along the side of the canopy area.

Figure 45 - Canopy references.

We will use a combination of clock code and canopy bow references to define the roll in point. In our initial approach, we offset the target to one side of the nose. Maintain that heading…the target will move back as you close on the target. Our roll in picture is defined by two things…one, the lateral position of the target as a clock reference off our nose…and two, the vertical position of the target as measured up from the canopy rail.

Target Lateral Position

Our roll in point will be anytime the target passes our 10:30/1:30 position…about 45 degrees off our nose. Use your 9:00/3:00 (your wingline) as the maximum roll in point.

Figure 46 - Lateral Roll In Reference.

Target Vertical Position

The position of the target relative to the canopy rail is the most important parameter of the roll in. It determines our dive angle. A target position that is close to the canopy rail will result in a steeper dive…a target position that is higher up will end up as a shallow dive.

We control target roll in position by changing our heading only. Do not change altitude…maintain a constant altitude and approach speed. Bank into or away from the target to make shallow turns to control the vertical position of the target on your canopy. Turns into the target will steepen your eventual dive…turns away tend to shallow you out. Here are the two positions that we want to work with:

Figure 47 - Vertical Roll In Reference, Shallow Dive.

For a shallow angle delivery (10-15 degrees), the roll in point looks like this…approximately 5000’AGL, at combat cruise speed. Position the target about half way between the canopy rail and the horizon. If in doubt, keep the target closer to the rail than the horizon.

For the medium dive, position the target much closer to your canopy rail. Bank in and out to hold the target just above the rail. The roll in point then looks like this…about 10,000’AGL and at combat cruise.

Figure 48 - Vertical Roll In Reference, Medium Dive.

The Roll In

As long as you have “wired” your roll in point, this part is easy. Roll unloaded to put your lift vector on the target…this will result in a bank angle of about 100 (low angle dive) to 135 degrees (medium angle dive). Then smoothly pull your nose to the target. You may have to add power depending on how aggressive your roll in is…as a rule, add power if you are turning more than 45 degrees to the attack heading (target position close to your wingline at the roll in). Look past the target. Fly the top of the HUD to that area.

Figure 49 - Roll Out Picture.

In this screenshot, the green line is your planned attack ground track once you have rolled wings level. In the picture, you are in a steep bank (see the roll tabs), and you have pulled your aiming reference (top of the HUD) to the AOP 12 o’clock to the target. Do not use the reticle in this roll in. Only use the top of the HUD to aim your nose at the AOP. Once you roll wings level, the reticle will swing around to end up below the target.

To roll out, unload and roll smoothly wings level. Now check the AOP/target/reticle ratio and adjust as needed. Check your airspeed and throttle back as required…idle usually for the steeper angles. Concentrate on holding your AOP steady. From this point on, use the techniques that have already been discussed.

The Pop-Up Attack Technique

What is the advantage in this type of attack? The idea is that you run in at low altitude to avoid detection and attack by SAMs. But…at some point, you must climb up to gain the proper attack flight path…that is what this technique is all about.

Approaching The Target

If desired, begin your navigation to the target at medium altitude. Once inside of 25nm of the target, then drop down to minimum altitude for the run-in…250’-500’AGL is good. Maintain combat cruise speeds as described in the previous section.

Figure 50 - The Pop-up Attack Profile.

Here’s the basic idea of a pop-up…you are going to run in at a low altitude…at a specific distance from the target, you are going to begin a max performance climb. At a predetermined altitude, you will roll inverted and pull down to attack that target. Doing this, you should end up on a flight path that is on or close to the parameters that you chose in your mission planning. Here is the basic pop-up concept:

 

Fly towards the target with it displaced to one side of the forward view. I suggest that you initially place the target about 30 degrees off the nose…or about halfway between the edge of the HUD frame and the side of the screen.

Figure 51 - Target Offset.

Hold your heading steady as you near the target. The target will “drift” a little towards the side of your screen. Do not correct this…hold your initial heading and concentrate on altitude and airspeed control as you monitor target range.

The point where you begin the climb is called the “pull up point” (PUP). The PUP has to be far enough from the target to allow the attacker to climb high enough to be able to then dive at the desired dive angle. Steeper dive angles require a PUP that is further from the target. I suggest a PUP of about 5nm in the sim for your medium dive attacks and a PUP of about 3-4nm for the low angle attacks. The range-to-target is given in the target data box.

Figure 52 - PUP Range-To-Target.  Figure 53 - Adjusted Forward View.

One last tip for the run-in…you are going to need an attitude reference for the pull up, so in the forward view, use your mouse to move the view down slightly to allow you to see the attitude indicator.

The Pull Up

At the desired PUP range, add full power and begin a wings level pull up using 3-4g’s. Now use your attitude indicator to set your climb angle. Use approximately 30 degrees for a medium dive attack and about 15-20 degrees for a shallow attack.

Figure 54 - Climbing On The Attitude Indicator.

In real life, the climb angle is computed and then flown exactly like this…the pilot sets his climb angle on the gauge, not on outside references. Hold your wings level and concentrate on maintaining a proper climb angle.

The next step in the pop-up is the reversal of your climb. This position is known as the “pull down” point.

The Pull Down

The pull down point is a predetermined altitude. I suggest you use 8000’AGL for the medium dive and 4000’AGL for the shallow dive reversals. These reversal altitudes should allow you to top out at an altitude that will give you ample time to set your AOP aiming picture.

Hold your climb angle steady on the attitude indicator and crosscheck your altimeter in the climb. As you hit your reversal altitude, unload to one g and roll your lift vector smoothly but aggressively towards the target. There are several techniques to help you do this roll. You may choose to remain in the forward view, or you can switch to the target padlock. A third option is to use the snap views to orient your lift vector.

Figure 55 - Pull Down References.

In the forward view, you can use the attitude indicator to initially set your bank angle…do this by rolling to an inverted bank angle of about 135 degrees for a medium dive attack or about 110 degrees for a shallow dive attack.

You may also use the reticle roll tabs in the F-104 and F-4 to set your inverted attitude. The roll tabs are the three indices on the outside of the reticle. These rotate around the reticle to show your bank angle. Roll to point the roll tab “sky pointer” to about the 7:30/4:30 position on the reticle (for example, the 4:30 position shows a left bank of 135 degrees).

Lastly, in “normal” difficulty mode, you may use the red “cone” that points to the target. Roll until the cone is at the top of your screen (your lift vector) and then pull.

Regardless of technique, make a firm pull down…a good 4g’s should be sufficient.

Figure 56 - Shack, One!!

Continue the pull down until the target area begins to near the HUD area. Fly the top of the HUD to your AOP and then roll out. Double check your AOP/target/reticle ratio and make any adjustments as necessary. From this point on, the pass will be flown as previously described.

In closing, let me remind everyone that these are just techniques. You may find that you have to modify them a little to fit your own style of flying. No problem…whatever it takes to get a hit is what counts.


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