View Full Version : Some Thoughts on Aerial Gunnery

12-25-2004, 03:20 AM
In this article I am going to attempt to explain the art of gunnery and how to do it effectively. I want to convey the basics of Aerial Gunnery and what to do and what not to do. I hope to enlighten those who need some education on how to perfect their skills. Remember If you can't shoot then might as well put your head between your legs and kiss your *** goodbye.

"I didn't believe it at first, neither did my wing man. This 109 got on our asses and started firing. I took a few hits, my wing man took a few as well, but that 109 must've been flown by some tin horn; he didn't hit us more than a dozen times before he ran outa ammo!"
Francis "Gabby" Gabreski just after a mission over Germany

How to begin

Learning to shoot in IL-2 Forgotton Battles or any other sim is just like learning to shoot in real life. You have to relax, concentrate, and keep a sharp eye on your target. So, before you can shoot up enemy aircraft you must first shoot up some hangars. That's right, hangars. They are large, easy to find, and they can improve your gunnery drastically. Before your first fight, practice your accuracy on the hangars. Fire at one of the corner posts, aim for the center-line of the roof or any other small target.
The purpose of this is to get comfortable firing at small targets. After you've gained a sharp eye firing at hangars, start in on the flak emplacements. 50 caliber and 20mm sites are the hardest to hit with guns, so it's best to start by shooting up the 88 sites. Gradually work your way down to firing at 50 caliber AAA emplacements until you can hit them from a respectable distance. Now you're ready to fire on a moving target.
From here on out it depends on the type of aircraft you plan on flying. If you choose something like a P-47 or a P-51 you'll have a lot of ammo to expend on aircraft. So you can afford to miss on a regular basis, and have an average gunnery rate around 9%. Other aircraft are not this forgiving. If you're going to be flying Japanese or German aircraft you'll have to pick your shots carefully. You don't have the ammo to waste.
By far the most challenging aircraft to fly is the Bf-109. Early war 109s [E models] have a lot of ammo available for their 7.92mm machine guns, but very little ammo available for their 20mm cannons. So you have to be careful and get up close to make a kill. This is not personal opinion, nor is it law, but it is the only way to score multiple kills without running out of ammunition. This is THE rule when it comes to flying and killing in the 109. If you ever want a real challenge fly the 109-K4 and use the cannon as long as you can. You've only got 60 rounds, so pick your shots carefully.
Energy fighters always have a lot of ammo, travel fast, and are fairly accurate shooters. The reason for this is very simple; they weigh more than most aircraft. If you want to build a turning fighter you sacrifice everything to make it turn quick. Energy fighters can weigh as much as you want, because they're not built for maneuverability. P-47s, Fw-190s, P-38s and F4U Corsairs are the best in this field. By flying one you'll have the weight of firepower on your side, you can out-run most other aircraft, but you can't really turn that well. Energy fighters have a lot of ammo so, again, you can burn more of it without really being concerned about running out at a bad time.
Now the hard part, shooting down an enemy plane.

Your first kill

This depends, again, on which aircraft you've chosen to fly. I'm biased towards German aircraft, but I'll give you examples of each major fighter below. It basically boils down to you getting your guns on target, pulling the trigger, and watching the hits on his plane. If you missed try again, if you hit him he's either damaged or dead.

Bf-109 G6: Get in behind your target, and hold your fire. You want to wait until he gets close enough to hit easily. If he starts to maneuver hard pull up and try to pull a high yo-yo on him. As soon as the range indicator reads '3' open fire with your machine guns, when it reads '2' open up with both your machine guns and cannon. He'll die and you'll have plenty of ammo left over for the next kill. Never open fire from long range on any enemy aircraft or you'll loose too much ammo. That is, unless you were trying to kill that tree and not the enemy.

P-47D: Ok, you've spotted a 109 at 1,200 yards and 12 o'clock high. Gently pull up into a shallow climb to meet him. Around 600 yards open fire with just 4 machine guns, not all 8. Once you spot hits on him from your 4 guns, add the rest in to kill him quickly. You've got a lot of ammo available to burn, and if you use a long convergance setting you won't have any troubles playing sniper.

Fw-190 A8: This is almost the same as the 109, only with a twist. Instead of waiting until 300 yards to shoot, you open up around 500 yards. Don't use your cannons until 300 yards or so, or you'll waste too much ammo. Once you've got him dead to rights, kill him. Quad 20mm cannons are just plain EVIL against any aircraft.

F4U-4: Start above your target with lots of airspeed. Once you think you've got him, roll inverted and drop down on top of him. At 600 yards open up with everything you've got, and he'll die from the hail of lead quickly. Just like the P-47, you've got more than enough ammo to deal with anyone, so you can burn a little more than most pilots would like and still be safe.

A6M3: Getting in behind your enemy at 800 yards or so is easy, but closing to within 400 yards to kill him can be hard. You have to wait until around that range before you can shoot with any chance of hitting him. Once there, fire everything you've got and aim for the upper section of his tail; you might get lucky and hit the pilot. If not, aim for his wings. Blowing them off results in an easy kill.

Picking your shots

In IL-2 FB, there was a major change in what happens to a specific aircraft part when it gets hit. This results in more pilot kills, more wings and tail sections blown off and more parts flying through the air than enemy aircraft. You have to choose your shots now, if you don't you'll end up firing into his tail until you run out of ammo. With no results either. Aces High has always been like this, without the Iron Tail problem Warbirds has. I've seen aircraft catch fire, blow up in mid-air, and do some really funny things when they get nailed.
I fire from just about every possible angle, which allows me to see some interesting things when it comes to aircraft damage. I've watched P-51Ds try hammerhead stalls; they just hang there for a few seconds and that's when I fire at their cockpits or belly. If you're playing Warbirds offline you've got an advantage. The radio text bar lights up with a very extensive damage report: no pilot armor, engine damaged, left aileron gone, left fuel tank leak, center fuel tank leak, rudder gone, elevator gone, horizontal stabilizer gone. Aces High doesn't have this, so just figure when you see smoke and flames, he's dead.
Although I fire from every angle I can, there's a few angles which I find perticularly devistating. A 5 or 7 o'clock shot down on the enemy plane, or when they're turning, usually results in a fuel leak, a missing aileron, and missing pilot armor. Every once in a while I'll get their engine or kill the pilot along with a smattering of damage across the entire aircraft. Another favorite angle for me is the top shot. I pull a high yo-yo and dive straight down on an enemy plane, wait until 400 yards, then light the sucker up. More often than not either the pilot or the engine dies, but sometimes I'll get damaged engines or fuel leaks.
A fuel leak is a bit more dangerous then it used to be. If you get a fuel leak now it drains your tank, but in this release you can have 3 tanks leaking at the same time and all within a few seconds of each other. BIG trouble for you and every other pilot. The next most dangerous thing is a stabilizer that gets blown off. You loose all control over the aircraft, and you either bail or die. I prefer to fight another day but some like to auger in; it lets them get into the air just that much quicker.
Dead 6 shots are the only no-no these days, since they rarely net much of a result for the large expenditure of ammo required to do any real harm. This is the Iron Tail problem. If you get lucky you might shoot his elevator off, but that's the extent of it. The up and under attack works just fine, but you have to know it before you can actually pull it off. Later On in this Article I will explain the up and under. Now if you really want to get the enemy plane with minimal effort here's what to do.
Close to just under 600 yards, flying a bit lower as not to be seen. Once you pass 400 yards dive just a bit, then pull up so you can fire at his engine or wing. At the very least you'll get a leaking fuel tank or jammed flaps, at the most you'll not only damage his engine but you'll also rip him up. All that's remaining now is to come around and finish the job, provided you didn't kill the poor guy on the first pass. Again Aces High doesn't require a large number of hits to kill like Warbirds does. In IL2 FB, the gunnery was fudged (purposely changed) for playability reasons. This results in a lot more ammo being expended per kill than Other sims.
I did a test back when I still played CFS2, and the results combined with the Admin's attitude made me quit. An Fw-190 A8 required over 3,000 rounds of .30 caliber ammo to kill. With that much ammo in IL2 FB you could probably kill three or four aircraft with a little left over. 20mm cannons had the same problem; 140 strikes required per kill of a P-38L. With 120 rounds of 20mm ammo in IL2 FB I've killed five aircraft before my guns ran dry. Tells ya something huh.

The Up and Under

A favorite tactic with Luftwaffe pilots. It starts with you on the 6 of an enemy aircraft, and with an altitude advantage of at least 3,000 feet. When you get about 900 yards away from him, start a sharp dive to get down below and behind him using the excess airspeed to close the distance. Once you've gotten close, pull up hard and fire on his belly with everything you've got. If it doesn't kill him it will cause an immense amount of damage; fuel leaks, blown engines, destroyed radiators, perforated elevators, and shot off ailerons are typical results. Just the thing to make your day and ruin his.

The pocket

The pocket is an old term, meaning to get in behind an enemy. Pilots usually want to "Drop into the pocket" and kill fast, less they pick up an unfriendly aircraft on their 6. For you, getting in the pocket can be hard or easy. You have to set it up, wait for the right time, then drop in fast. If you're quick on the guns, you can easily kill most any plane and pull off to set up another kill. The key lies in your timing. If you're smart you can find the right time, the right angle, to get in and kill from up close.
Being dumb about it can get you killed; pull in too fast and he's now on your ***. Pull in too late, and you're out of position for a shot. The worst thing that can happen is when you pull in too soon, and too fast, causing the enemy to get an easy shot at you. Like I said, timing is the key. So wait until you can see an enemy plane at the right angle, altitude and speed. Once you've got him wait for him to get a little past you, then haul it around in a hard low yo-yo. Before you know it, he's right there in a perfect position for you to make a low 6-shot.

Shot types
There's all kinds of shooting involved in bringing down an enemy aircraft. During WW2 American bomber gunners were tested on clay pidgeons using shotguns for their ability to hit a moving target. Weird it may seem, but this can actually improve your shooting in real combat. But we aren't talking about actual dogfights with real aircraft; this is shooting on the computer. What type of shots to practice on entirely depends on the aircraft you choose to fly. Early war aircraft usually had .30 caliber machine guns, not to mention a LOAD of ammo to burn. So although the bullet may not be a one-shot killer it gives you plenty of time on tracking shots.
Here's a tid-bit I'll bet you didn't know. Almost everyone will open fire on a target, see their shot isn't hitting, and move the gun as they shoot. Not quite spraying and praying but it's close. Your average Tin Horn learns to shoot this way because it makes the most sense. And if you sit to think about it, you'll find some logic behind it too. Say you're sitting behind a machine gun watching a road. You open up on a truck, but you see the tracers going a little wide, so you naturally swing the gun to compensate for this. Whack! You're hitting the truck now.
Everyone does this in every air combat sim because all the target has to do is hold still for 3 seconds for your shot to connect. One minor problem; it eats your ammo supply up like Uncle Bob does with popcorn. Not much of a problem you say? It can be. For every 20mm cannon round an aircraft can carry, you can load up two .50 caliber rounds. Doesn't seem like much? Ok, try this on for size; for every 20mm cannon round loaded, you can cram five .30 caliber shells in the same space. Now you've got a choice: do you carry more ammo for less powerful guns, or less ammo for more powerful guns?
This, my friend, purely depends on your shooting ability. Most US aircraft, and some British too, have enough ammo to get into trouble and maybe get out with two or three kills. Now with every rule there are exceptions. A single P-47D-30 can carry 3,400 rounds of .50 caliber amunition, but it's about as maneuverable as a brick. A complete opposite is the Yak-9U which carries only three guns; two .50 cals (340 rounds total) and a single 20mm cannon (120 rounds). Now this thing can really get down and boogie if you know what you're doing, it's a speed demon at most altitudes to boot. But again the ammo problem; 340 rounds for two guns!! In a P-47 you can shoot all day and still have enough ammo to raise hell tomorrow. You can barely sneeze at someone while in the Yak, let alone try for a long tracking shot.
As they say, the show must go on. I've noted below some basic types of shots and what they are, along with personal notes and opinions. Read on, you'll learn something.

Tracking shot: Almost exactly what you think it is. You open fire and track your guns over onto the target while firing in order to score hits and down the bugger. Most people use tracking shots without realizing it, since that's how they learned to shoot. ONLY do this in aircraft which have plenty of ammunition; try it in some aircraft, and you'll run out long before the fight ends.

Snap shot: Ever gone skeet shooting? No? Not a problem. A snap shot is when you see a target, he's in range, and you fire off a quick blast. This usually happens when a guy pops up right in front of you as you're doing something else, so you fire off a snap shot at the guy in hopes of downing him. It doesn't use much ammo, which is a big plus, but it requires a lot of practice to get right. You might get lucky and connect, which should cause some damage. Now if you're driving an Fw-190, with quad 20mm cannons, you just might kill the guy.

Top shot: Shooting straight down at the top of an enemy plane. With the angles involved, you usually end up killing the pilot or blowing huge chunks from his plane. A large problem with top shots is putting enough lead into the target to kill him quickly. He's moving at 300+ mph and you're diving straight down on top of him, so he'll only be there for a second at most. Granted this will work against fighters, you'll have a lot more success trying it on bombers. They're larger, move slower, and a good burst into a wing can send one crashing to Earth.

Slashing attack: A wonderful way to blow a bomber down from your piece of sky. Unlike the dead-6 attack (it isn't called dead-6 for nothing) you can really inflict some damage by setting this up right. He's flying straight ahead, and he won't turn, so you fly at him from either 2 or 10 o'clock. Aim for the wing root with everything you've got and hose him off. Best case his wing will fall off and send him plunging down. Worst case you'll blow out both engines on that wing, cause a fuel leak, and maybe start a fire.

Those are the four basic types of shots. Naturally you can nit-pick and probably come up with two dozen more, but this is enough for now. So what kind of shot are you? If you're fairly good you can really be a mid-air murderer in anything with enough amunition. Now if you're new to all this, find an aircraft that has a LOT of ammo. It doesn't matter if that massive load is .30 caliber, you're learning how to shoot at enemy aircraft. The average new guy sprays and prays when anything even gets close to being within guns range. He sprays the air with lead and prays for a few strikes. Not the best thing for learning how to shoot.
Try things out on the drones offline. Shoot from just about any angle you can think of using tracking shots to get the basic method down. A Spitfire Mk V is actually a nice place to start because it has four .30 cal machine guns, and two 20mm cannons. Don't go using the cannons just yet; they take a bit more practice to figure out. Once you have tracking shots down, try for a few snap shots just to get a feel for them. It's really amazing how fast they happen. You can try blowing a drone to bits using .30 cal snap shots, but I doubt you'll kill the computer-driven idiot. For that, you use artillery.

Aerial artillery: cannons

Welcome to the Major League of aircraft-mounted weaponry. Smaller bullets don't necessarily cause little damage; the four .30 caliber Brownings in a Spitfire will chew anything up. Given enough time, of course. Maybe eight .50 cals sounds like the ultimate in destruction. They sure can be, since their collective firing rate nears that of a mini-gun (6,400 rounds/min for the P-47D if you're wondering). Nope, they aren't the biggest bang out there either. What is? I'll give you a hint: it starts with 20mm and gets bigger. **** you guessed! That's right, a cannon. You don't spray cannon shells all over the sky and expect every plane within range to fall. It doesn't happen that way.
If you can see a target, and have some cannons at your disposal, odds are you can kill it. A few .50 cal rounds might cause some damage as they bust up parts, but a grenade-like explosion inside an aircraft is FAR worse. Now you're thinking the biggest gun out there is a 20mm cannon, right? I thought so. Well I hate to burst your bubble, you are wrong. The absolute biggest bang in the sky comes from the NS-37 cannon someone shoved up the nose of the Yak-9T. Right below that are the Terror Twins, the pair of VYa-23 cannons in the Il-2 type 3. Under those? The generic 20mm cannons found on many aircraft you can fly around the sky. There is one other cannon, and I'll get to it in a minute.
A 20mm cannon is a nice compromise between punch and weight. You have some explosive in those shells, and each round hits like a ton of bricks. Which means with a few well-placed shots you can easily cause unreal damage to most any target that has wings. There is a price you pay for loading cannons on any aircraft; ammo load. As I noted above, there isn't much room inside an aircraft for many cannon shells. With machine guns you'll always have a lot more ammunition available, but not necessarily more destruction.
Back during the Joint Fighter Conference a bunch of brass figured out that a single 20mm cannon has the same damage potential as two .50 caliber guns. Unfortunately they also found out all those cannon shells weigh too much to match a .50 cal in ammo load. So you end up with a smaller clip, but more damage if you hit the target. Believe it or not the standard US gun load for a combat fighter when the war started was a single .50 cal and a single .30 cal machine gun. I know, I was floored by that when I first read it too.
Probably the most destructive gun ever placed in a fighter was the Bk-50 cannon experimentally fitted to an Me-262. This was a 50mm cannon! What about the largest production gun? That honor badge is owned by two aircraft. The Yak-9T with a 37mm cannon in he nose, and the P-39 Airacobra. Provided you hit anything with that big, slow bullet you would kill it. Fighters struck by a single 37mm cannon round would just explode into a big beautiful fireball. And if you had the urge, you could nail tanks with it too.

Gun types

Each caliber of gun lets you do different things. A .30 caliber gun might not do much damage, but if you're a poor shot the increased ammo load helps compensate for it. On the flip side a 30mm Mk-108 cannon only has 60 rounds, so you have to be a terrific shot to hit anything. I usually fly either a P-51B or my beloved P-51 D, so I've got some experience using not only different guns but different mounts. Nose guns fire a nice tight cluster of bullets, but you only have three guns so you have to really hit the target to get a kill. Wing guns don't have this limitation, and in comparison they throw bullets all over the place. Which means you've got a choice; tighter bullet groups or more shots fired?
Unfortunately that choice depends on how good of a shot you are, which we'll figure out here in a bit. Below I've listed the choices possible as far as gun calibers and mounts, along with some of their quirks.


.30 cal

Loads of ammo, but relatively little damage per bullet hit. Uses the "lead wall" principle to kill.
.50 cal

Nice ammo load, fairly impressive damage but requires sustained strikes to kill.

Aerial artillery with fairly average ammo load. A few quick hits can kill, but they need a bit more skill to hit with.

Dedicated anti-tank gun found on the Il-2. Penetrates one inch of armor plate at close to 500 yards.

Slow bullet speed means it takes a long lead to hit anything. Small ammo load to boot.

Tiny ammo load, but one shot usually kills.

Mount type


Throws a lead cloud in front of the aircraft. Wings also allow for a larger ammo load to be carried for more guns. Fairly easy to hit with.

Tight bullet groups, so you need to hit with everything to kill. Not enough space for many guns or large loads of ammo.
Nose & Wings

Good combo of mounts. Wing mounts allow heavier guns and more ammo, while nose guns give precise shots at a distance.

Naturally I didn't cover individual guns from each country due to space constraints, but I will give you a simple run down on them. A .30 caliber gun shoots fast, but does squat for damage so you need a load of ammo and several guns to make a kill. German 13mm rounds are like a .50 cal (.52 caliber to be exact) but they have a small shell case, and hence a smaller amount of powder. They don't go as fast as a .50 Browning, but they do make a nice bang when they it. Now .50 cals come in two flavors, US and Russian. The US .50 caliber is a nasty gun when used en-masse but by itself doesn't pack a real wallop. The same goes for the Russian variety.
But the Russian .50 cal has a longer case that's a little bit bigger in diameter than the US kind. So obviously this means a tad more room for powder, and a faster bullet as a result. It hits harder and moves faster than the US .50 cal, but most Russian aircraft rarely had more than a pair of them. 20mm cannons vary like car makers. Hispanos fire slow, but shoot a huge bullet at unreal speed. MG 151/20 guns use HE/Mine shells, but they move slower, so you get a Hispano-sized bang provided you do hit. Russian ShVAK rounds are close to Hispano shells in speed, but not quite an even match. What about US 20mm cannons? See the Hispano; the US copied it from the Brits.
Larger guns are more of a trivial matter than anything else. The 23mm guns on the Il-2 were mostly used on that aircraft; it's a dedicated attack plane not a dogfighter. 30mm cannons pack an unreal punch, but move so slow you have to really pull lead on a target to hit it. Plus they've got a horrible payload so you run the guns dry too fast. 50mm cannon? Only ever used on two aircraft: Me-410 and Hs-129. Most of the targets fired on by an Me-410 using that beast were bombers, while the Hs-129 killed tanks with it. Neither aircraft is any good for tackling fighters unless you catch them with their pants down.

Picking the plane

Most people start out flying an aircraft they grew up loving simply because they think that plane kicks ***. Any plane kicks *** in the right hands, but are those hands yours? Instead of flying an aircraft you can't hit anything in just because you like it, try something that's easy to kill with. The higher the ammunition load, the better. If you want to fly Spitfires take the four .303-caliber machine gun loadout so you can learn the gunnery quirks of it. Some people do better in an aircraft with nose guns, while others can only hit things with wing guns. So experiment a bit with a few choice aircraft just to see how easy or hard it is to hit another aircraft. It's a trial period, you're learning to shoot, and there's quite a few options out there. Don't chain yourself to one simply because "it rocks". It might rock, but if you can't get kills in the thing what's the point of flying it?
Last time I changed aircraft was when I went from flying the Yak-9 exclusively, to flying the P-51B and the Yak on a shared basis. I couldn't hit **** with those four .50 cals in the wings; I was too used to nose guns. Nose mounted guns don't sling bullets in huge groups like wing mounted guns do, which means you have a tighter bullet impact zone. Now if you've got great eyes, and some practice, you (like me) will find nose guns rather easy to kill with. A quick squirt from the nose and most of the rounds will strike what you were aiming at. Hence the reason for my obsession with aiming for wings. If one shot hits the wing, at least ten more will too.
Wing mounted guns are farther apart, so they put out a "cloud" of lead instead of a concentrated stream. People who are poor shots find wing guns to be the answer because they just have to get roughly close in order to score a few hits. Now it doesn't matter if they actually damaged anything, just that they saw a few strikes. Remember, the average person shoots and hoses the guns all over a target rather than use a few short bursts. Since most people can't shoot too well, they end up going for aircraft with the biggest ammo load. At least for the first few sorties anyway.
Grab a pad and pen, I've got a short math lesson to run you through. Find out the typical ammo load of your current ride, I'll use a Yak-9 as an example in this. Fly around offline and kill some drones until you run out of ammunition, oh don't forget to write down how many you nailed. Last time I did this I brought down 7 drones with the Yak. Now get the total ammunition load of the aircraft you were flying. Add up the cannon and machine gun shells to get this. With the Yak you end up with 460 rounds. Devide that by the number of kills you got and you come up with the average number of shots you're firing to bring down an enemy aircraft. If you end up with any decimal numbers, remove 'em. They don't count. So based on this I use an average of 65 shots to bring down an enemy aircraft.
I know this calculation won't give you the hit percentage, you can raid a scores page for that info anyway. All this does is tell you how many bullets you're firing to bring down an enemy plane. Based on my 65 shots to make a kill, I'd say my gunnery needs a little work but not much. But a Yak has a 20mm cannon and two .50 cal machine guns, so I suppose my gunnery is just fine. A fancy way of putting this would be that the number of rounds required to kill is inversely proportional to the gun caliber. Layman's terms? The bigger the gun the fewer shots needed to slaughter some schmuck.
So just how DO you pick the aircraft that fits your shooting style? Well, I could do an online test form that asks you questions and gives you my opinion on what you should drive. But (there's always a 'but') that wouldn't do either of us much good. So what do you do? If you're a fair shot and can hit a target who's jerking all over the sky pick whatever aircraft you're comfortable with. People with less than 20/20 sight, or older joysticks, should probably go with an aircraft that has wing mounted guns. They are easier to hit with, but not necessarily easier to kill with. Nose guns are for the aerial surgeon who can hit a wing at 400 yards. Does this mean that because you wear glasses you can't drive a Bf-109? Nope. If you can fly a Bf-109, get kills, and not get shot down all the time then fly it all you want!!
One thing I've known for a long time is that if you want to do something badly enough, it'll happen. When I started flying the Yak-9U I couldn't hit squat, because I was used to the Bf-109. They are similar in tactics and shooting, but both handle differently. In a 109 I'd have to really yarf on the stick to roll it towards my target when doing 400+ mph. In a Yak I don't have to, because the ailerons stay light at that speed. Since I wanted to fly that Yak I got used to every quirk, finally figured out how to hit targets, and now I'm doing pretty well in it. The same goes for you. If you want to fly an aircraft badly enough odds are you'll figure it out.

Convergance: The Slaughter box

Now that you've read both sides to the shooting argument, I'll take you through a few charts so you can see what's going on. To understand most of this, you need to know about something called convergance. Like the image below shows, this is about where your bullets converge on a given spot. It isn't the greatest example of a chart, but it shows what I'm talking about. Each dashed line represents the stream of bullets being fired from a gun in the wing, six guns total. Now the point all these bullets meet at is obviously the convergance point, and it's variable. In the real world, In IL2 FB, you can custom set this to pretty much any distance you want.

Every single aircraft with wing-mounted guns has to worry about convergence. Since the guns are out in the wings, they have to be set to converge on a single spot in order to inflict damage. Nose-mounted guns don't have this problem as they sit right on the center of your fighter, always aiming right down your flight path. Do you see the problem I do? No? There's two gaps in that lead wall, one close to the fighter and one a long ways off. This is the problem with wing-mounted guns; you have to be at a given distance to inflict maximum damage. To partially correct this glitch, the guns can be staggered to hit in a larger area as I show in the above image. By doing this you can expect to get hits in a zone instead of a fixed point. Does this mean you shouldn't fly anything with wing-mounted guns? Of course not. It's just something to be aware of, and can come in handy.
How? Do a little research about your shooting habits by finding the typical range you fire at. For me it sits around 350 yards. For this to make sense, we'll number the guns. The outer-most guns on each wing are Pair 1, the middle two are Pair 2, and the close set are Pair 3. Because I shoot at 350 yards I really want to pound my target. So I'll set Pair 1 around 375 yards, Pair 2 at 350 yards, and Pair 3 at 325 yards. This gives me a 50 yard box where I can expect hits; half of a football field. Now let's say these are my settings for a P-40E Warhawk. Six .50 caliber machine guns, each firing at 800 rounds a minute, makes for 80 rounds a second flying through that 50 yard box. Pretty lethal huh?
Your settings depend on how far out you like to shoot, but always remember the catch with wing-mounted guns. They're dead lethal inside that box, but outside of it you'll always get moderate results as not every gun is hitting your target. One plus side is getting in close to an enemy fighter you will usually hit with one wing's guns only. If you slide up behind him, three guns at 50 yards will chew off a wing in very short order, so you don't need all six. Yeah you waste ammo from the other three, but only if he doesn't fall into them after his wing flutters away. If he does, he's just that much more dead.

The Shooting Range

Below is a simple range chart I whipped up, and below it is an explanation of just what's going on and where. The effectiveness of a bullet drops with range, so knowing what's going on at a given distance can help immensely.

A: 0-100 yards. At this distance you've got the same chance of hitting the enemy using your aircraft and your bullets. It extends from your prop hub out to 100 yards no matter what gun you're using. Since you aren't firing on some tiny dot way the hell out there, you've got a much better chance of hitting the guy. Unfortunately you also run the risk of not only blowing off a load of ammo and hitting squat, you might ram the guy. If you've got any wing-mounted guns you can fire and hit at this range, but due to convergence you won't be hitting with everything.

B: 100-275 yards. Considered short range for heavy machine guns and cannons, but medium range for light machine guns as they pack less punch. You aren't so close as to worry about hitting the guy, but if you're diving in this is where to shoot. Typical firing range for any aircraft with nose-mounted guns as you can expect to cause lethal damage. Wing-mounted guns, again due to convergence, can't really get much out of this unless convergence is set this close. Granted you can still hit and kill at this range, but don't shoot unless you've got plenty of ammo.

C: 275-600 yards. Medium range for every gun regardless of caliber. I'd have to say that 9/10 of all shooting is done between 275 and 600 yards since almost every gun type works well. Light machine guns don't do so hot out past 400 yards and even at 300 they don't really thwack a target. Still, a long blast from even two light MG's can really booger up a radiator or oil cooler. Heavy machine guns and lighter cannons work best at this distance, with the heavy caliber stuff (any gun over 20mm) really showing off damage potential. At 400 yards a VYa-23 cannon will peel open a Panzer like a soup can, any closer and you'll need a mop to clean up the mess. Wing-mounted guns really shine here since this is about the best range to open up with massed firepower, and make a believer out of your target.

D: 600-900 yards Light machine guns are useless, and you won't be able to hit **** using them. Heavy machine guns and 20mm cannons are now starting to fade off in the punch department too. Out this far you'll get fewer hits from any gun. Wing guns are almost totally useless. Because the convergence setting can't take care of the huge amount of lead you have to pull for a hit, firing is a waste of ammo. Nose-mounted guns aren't any better, as ordinary dispersion (bullet hit pattern) is really screwing up accuracy. Kills out this far aren't too common but they can and will happen. I consider it a waste to shoot at anything this far out, unless you're trying to get his attention.

E: 900-1,500 yards Extreme range for everything. Light machine guns wouldn't scratch paint this far out, and even heavy cannons are losing nearly all their punch. The largest of guns, anything bigger than 37mm, can fire out this far and actually kill. How much ammunition is expended to get that kill is something entirely different. If you're shooting at someone this far away and actually expecting hits, congratulations, I now award you with a Dunce cap. Break off, find some undefended tree, and blast it into toothpicks.

Yes I have seen people open fire at 1,500 yards and expect hits. You know what? I've laughed my *** off every single time I saw it happen. Shooting can be an art or a science depending on how you grasp things, with me it's a mix of the two. A little science to get the technical side of things, and some art thrown in for kicks. Sort of like saying "Deflection angle 21.7 degrees, so ease up on the stick a skosh and give 'em a quick hosing off". Now that may sound funny, but it's what I usually end up saying to myself before shooting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. All I do is give it a try and see what happens.
How you shoot is also dictated by what your aircraft has in the way of guns. Some will only fire with the cannons, some only with the machine guns, others with the whole shebang. For me, the easiest way to shoot isn't to use the cannons until I'm close. At medium range I'll stitch the other guy with a few dozen bullets from the MG's. As you might guess, I do this because of the large ammo load a machine gun has. In a few aircraft, though, you can't due to a very limited ammo load. Most notably the Yak-9, since each UBS machine gun only has 160 rounds. For others stick to the MG's for medium range stuff. You'll knock off a few parts, maybe bang up the other guy's radiator, and shorten his fight up. With leaking fuel, a shot up radiator, or a well-perforated oil cooler he can't fight for long. His plane is literally bleeding to death. Once you close the gap you can employ the cannons if you have any.
400 yards is about the starting point for someone to use the machine guns. You can squirt off a few bursts to get an idea of the deflection needed and possibly bang him up good. Weasel your way in under 300 yards before you start spitting cannon shells at the guy, though. On average, you figure a cannon-armed aircraft has around 150 rounds per gun. Some have more, some less, but always find out before you learn to fight in that plane. Machine gun ammo comes in huge crates, but cannon shells take up a lot more space in the ammo box. Which is the primary reason you wait until short range before using them. If you're an expert shot at long range, set your convergence really wide and have at it. The trouble is, most folks can't hit anything that far out. I've seen people land strikes at 600+ yards with a cannon, but don't count on making this happen regularly. All you'll do is spray a lot of shells in the air and pray for a hit. A tactic fairly effective at wasting ammo, and rather dumb if you expect a kill.

I hope this has been as informative as it was hell writing, LOL.


PS you can also View the entire Write up on www.il2flying.com (http://www.il2flying.com)

12-25-2004, 08:32 AM
american gunsite rings are accurate to roughly 300 yards. a bomber will fill the ring roughly at 600 yards, a fighter about half that. unless the bogey is fillin at least half of the ring, consider it to be out of effective range. effective range is where the bandit dies 9x's out of 10. at max range, all u'll do is advise the gomer to take evasives.

hell/wildcat/corsair sights: alot more accurate. putting the angled line along the inside fusalage will wind up takin a wing off the bandit.

range is denoted in kilometers..or fractions thereof. at a range of .3 icon, u are 300 meters from target. doesnt sound much in metric, but inperial, it's a long way off: ur 328 yards from the gomer. in feet, its a tad over 984. u cant expect to do much damage without having the convergance set to that range. if ur gonna shoot at that distance, put convergance at at least 305 meters.

u wont hit anything unless u lead the target. u have to lead at least 1-3 shiplengths in front (depending on bogey speed and range) for the shells to get there at the same time. if not, shells will consistantly shoot behind and all u get is goin winchester at a bad time. the hardest plane to shoot in is the 38. corsair and cats 1 of the easiest. timing is everything. if u have the proper lead, the 20mm on the 38 will score hits at 800 meters. u'll need roughly 4-5 shiplengths lead off just to hit about 3' in front of the rudder at that range.

u'll learn how to hit alot better with the ring sight if u pay attention to whats here: http://ww2airfronts.org/Flight%20School/transition/weaponsschool/n3_9basics.html

setting up the stick is also important. if u cant draw a bead on a bandit within 2 seconds, ur stick is sloppy and u'll be ineffective to a wingman. go in qmb and look at the cockpit stick. now just move the stick with fingertips only. if the cockpit stick moves in any way, this will hurt gunnery. the nose will be bouncin all over the place instead of layin lead on target. go back to controls, and reduce slider 1 untill the stick doesnt move. this includes the roll, not just the pitch.
now go back to the air and target something small; a bridge support, tree, or small gas can. see if u can get the gunsite on this target and have a fire solution within 2 seconds or less. in the air u have no more than this. u have to make it count, and having the nose bouncin will increase the time it takes to draw a bead. the longer it takes, the more chances the bogey has to evade. u also have to factor in bullet drop.
fire at the top corner of a large hanger at differnt ranges. u'll soon see how much hold-over is required for xxx distance.

12-25-2004, 02:12 PM
humm... good post http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
and I think alot of friends will find more good read same like this in "delta6" here:


12-25-2004, 02:52 PM
Delta 6 added to the Essentials list.. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

12-25-2004, 03:00 PM
Great read Viper and Sandman. I can see that I have to change my ways. I usually always open up from .50 and from directly behind. No wonder my kill rate is so bad. After reading your stuff, I can see why.

Thanks again.

12-25-2004, 04:55 PM

Thanks for the point out there, I forgot to post credits to Delta 6 for his great article.

I Used to play warbirds and he is well known over there for his insight on a lot of items.

I changed some information related to IL2FB. For the most part this is my article but I forgot to credit and quote some of the wording over there.

Its A great article IMO


12-25-2004, 10:18 PM
Well... Viper
you have a good try to show a good read to our friends in this community.
that is a very good read for our new/old friends.

Hope to see you in p-51 around HL next year and
Merry Xmas to you and your members. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif


12-26-2004, 03:40 AM
''In IL2 FB, the gunnery was fudged (purposely changed) for playability reasons. This results in a lot more ammo being expended per kill than Other sims''

Really? Is that true?