FAC - What do you think?

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FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:31 pm

S!

Just wanted to draw your attention to this article in the forums about FAC
http://forums.battlegroundeurope.com/showthread.php?p=4755903#post4755903

Any ideas are appreciated. I know you guys are good at bombing, and therefore, am looking for your input on how best to co-ordinate with pilots, specifically the level of detail needed for CAS. What are you looking for from FACs on
the ground, and are any of you interested in experimenting with this?

shane21
xo sas

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Skip19 on Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:07 pm

From a personal perspective, it helps a great deal to have someone on the ground when bombing/strafing a forward base, just to let me know where any targets have gone, if any Bofors are being wheeled out etc...

Like most things, the 'FAC' probably sounds like a good idea on paper, but the practicality of getting bombs on target means that accurate marks and comms are only so good to help the CAS guys.

As long as you are 'on mission' and the marks are reasonably good, the bomber pilots still need to eyeball the targets to stand even a 50% chance of hitting them - especially moving targets such as tanks. Plus you need to get someone to mark the contacts originally - if that person is killed or incapacitated, you lose the whole point of the exercise.

Also, I think Oyaji is talking about using level bombing techniques (he talks of dialling in bomb settings and fixing headings) very difficult to hit small targets using this technique. Even if marks are perfectly accurate, to ask a wave of bombers to line up on a target that small you would need to be coming in from 10-15km away to get that accurate a fix.

Finally, the actual benefit of having a fighter sweep followed by waves of individual bombers taking out targets I think is minimal - like last night in Veurne, KGW attacked in large numbers from many directions, as a CAS bomber entering that area all you want to do is either ID an indivdial target (such as an Opel or bofors) and "one pass haul ass" (or drop half your payload and come back for another pass if you are feeling brave!) Alternatively, if I see a Depot has fallen or is being talked about on 55, I may drop a string of bombs on or near that target to try and flush out any enemy infantry.

I did two runs on Veurne last night (both from England) and one on the FB, with 2 infantry kills and 2 bofors. Even with FAC's and CAP patrols overhead, it's hardly battle turning numbers for the effort required.

I would say it was a good idea in theory, but it would be extremely difficult to get a good return on it based on the numbers required to carry it out. Very Happy

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Skip19 on Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:18 pm

lol, reading that back it sounds a little defeatist!

I'd be up for trying it though, time allowing!

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:05 am

lol i know what you mean. I think he's talking about bombers for the first tiers until hurri IIc and bell become available.

I doubt it will be effective for quite a few months, it'll be more trial and error. But, FACs on missions that are "hot", such as an enemy attack etc. could be interesting. It does look good on paper, but it's going to be harder in the field lol Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:54 am

I can't view that thread, it says I'm not authorized to view it (I assume it's in an HC forum somewhere), so I'm just commenting off the top of my head. However, the FAC theory (and discussion) has been around for years. it was even implemented for a short while back in 2005, with a small group who actually dedicated their game play to getting in on the ground by a target and trying to direct traffic to it. Airborne FACs were tried but they were less effective than ground based ones, because they have the same limitations the actual CAS aircraft have.

The biggest problem for air-to-ground attacks is locating the target itself. For strafing and dive bombing you often have to motor around for a while at very low altitude to spot the target, then orient and attack. This puts you at grave risk from flak, and enemy fighters above you. Bombing a static target (AB, FB, bridge) is at least ten times safer and easier than trying to provide CAS to mobile/irregular targets. Blind bombing is much safer, but provides very poor results for the investment in time/player base.

The marking/reporting system was a huge step forward for the game, but has severe limitations for CAS. Unless you share the same mission or target, you can't see the marks placed by spotters. You usually won't be sharing the same mission as a ground spotter (since you are in a plane, and your usual spotter is in a ground unit). About half the time you won't be sharing the same target either, because you are on "Area Defense" of a major city, while the spotter is on "Point Attack" at a FB, etc. To complicate things, marks that are placed have to be approved by the mission leader (which fails on a regular basis because leadership of a mission changes often, and leaders get 'tunnel vision', too). Then you have the accuracy of marks themselves being wildly variable, because players are not good judges of distance across open/brushy terrain. Smoke grenades don't last very long, and are not very visible from the air, and require either an exceptionally accurate grenadier (using rifle grenades) or that the spotter be dangerously close to a target.

So...what can we do to make CAS/FAC work better?

Use a better reference system for reporting the target location (the NUMPAD method comes to mind)
Train at least one person per squad in FAC specific techniques (determining range, ID'ing targets, marking targets in a mission that the CAS can see, etc).
Make sure that someone is designated as the AIR OIC for major battles, and that person coordinates CAS/CAP.
Train pilots to perform the CAS mission, to some standard tactic/loadout - adjust convergence for maximum effect strafing, fire at the effective range/angle, practice bombing point targets with Jabo tactics, etc.
Have air units train with (or develop their own) dedicated FACs/spotters.
Ask CRS to make smoke more visible from the air, or allow a map marker to be placed in a different color to indicate it was placed by a squad mate/FAC/leader type, etc.

There are lots of little things that make CAS extremely tough in this game, no single 'big fix' will reverse that, only a lot of smaller adjustments.
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:49 am

Good points Acroyer. Smile
The thread is in Allied Player Secure forums - do you want me to get you permission to join it?

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:23 am

To gain access to the secure forums, you need to register at
http://alliedhq.wwiionline.com/alliedplaynow/allied_forum_application.php

It is worth the bother lol you get to view and discuss things that axis can't see.

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:40 am

ok, if you pm me when you've applied I can cut through the red tape and get you accepted the same day for the forum.Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Loupvert on Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:11 pm

Hello gents,

you all said interesting things and I'll try to remember them when I'll spot myself or train my squaddies to do so.

One thing however get my attention and I would like to know a bit more about it:

acroyer wrote:
Train pilots to perform the CAS mission, to some standard tactic/loadout - adjust convergence for maximum effect strafing, fire at the effective range/angle, practice bombing point targets with Jabo tactics, etc.

As most the pilots I'm usually working with (my squad have an internal Air branch, the "Groupement aérien d’observation 545", but from what i've been told and seen, we don't have a specific method for staffing and I'm totally unaware of the Jabo things.

So could you please enlighten the shadows of my ignorance?

Cheers

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Skip19 on Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:49 pm

Loupvert wrote:Hello gents,

you all said interesting things and I'll try to remember them when I'll spot myself or train my squaddies to do so.

One thing however get my attention and I would like to know a bit more about it:

acroyer wrote:
Train pilots to perform the CAS mission, to some standard tactic/loadout - adjust convergence for maximum effect strafing, fire at the effective range/angle, practice bombing point targets with Jabo tactics, etc.

As most the pilots I'm usually working with (my squad have an internal Air branch, the "Groupement aérien d’observation 545", but from what i've been told and seen, we don't have a specific method for staffing and I'm totally unaware of the Jabo things.

So could you please enlighten the shadows of my ignorance?

Cheers

CAS depends on your targets (soft, armoured, static defenses) and your particular type and loadout (for example I might use a Havoc, a DB-7, a Spitfire 2b or a Hurricane IIC).

There are different strafing methods depending on these things - if you are in a Hurri IIC, you can set your convergence to be 800m (as you have 20mm cannons, they are effective that far out) - in a spit I'd still have my conv at 250 as the mgs are not as effective that far out. I normally strafe tanks at a good angle and aim for the top (thinnest armour).

you can strafe low and level (good for trucks and infantry positions) or at an angle or even straight down (good for tanks and AA guns).

Same with bombing - you can CAS level bomb, glide bomb or low level bomb (my preferred tactic for FB bombing).

There are also some good methods for your actual flight profile - the Cuban 8 is a good bet in this instance...



you would normally throw a slight lateral move in (before turnign back in) to keep any defenders guessing you direction of approach...

Jabo (from the german Jagdbomber) is usually done with Bells or Hurri 2's, the idea is to go in with your bomb, drop them on targets then stay on CAP to deal with any enemy fighters, or if the sky is clear of enemies, to carry on harassing and strafing the enemy (compare this to a Havoc, where the idea is to drop your bombs one pass and haul ass Very Happy )

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:24 pm

(Hmmm...forgive me if I sound like I am lecturing a class, I am not sure how much of this you already know, and it is not my intention to insult anyone.)

Close Air Support (CAS) is generally defined as aircraft attacking ground targets near friendly forces, while being closely coordinated or integrated with the fire and maneuver of those same forces. Battlefield Air Interdiction (BAI) is similar, except in that case you are attacking targets near friendly forces without coordinating your actions with the friendly units below. Example: We are attacking an enemy town, and you are flying a P39 Airacobra overhead. If you simply look for a moving grey tank below and then attack it, you are doing BAI. If however, a ground unit asks you to attack a specific point (the railroad station, for example) so that they can rush the defenders while they are stunned, you are performing CAS. The difference is whether your attacks are coordinated with the ground forces you are supporting, or not. Most pilots will switch between these two things frequently, without thinking about it. Dedicated CAS pilots will always try to expend their ordnance where the ground units request it, rather than on targets of opportunity. It takes discipline and teamwork to resist the urge to attack targets of opportunity, but CAS kills do more to win the battle than random BAI does.

Jabo is a slang term for any fighter-bomber, it comes from the German "Jagdbomber" which referred to a Luftwaffe fighter equipped with cannons and bombs, rockets or both. The Jabo pilot looks for targets to bomb, then having released his ordnance he then continues his mission as a fighter. If he is attacked en route to the target, he jettisons his ordnance and becomes a fighter immediately. Jabo attacks are usually pinpoint bombing attacks on vehicles or flak positions, as opposed to the area attacks of medium and heavy bombers. This was extremely effective, and was quickly copied by the Allies. A typical jabo attack might be passing over a target at 3000 feet, rolling inverted (so that you look 'up' to see the target below you), then completing the Split-S to reverse over the target and release your bombs just after the target disappears under your nose.

Strafing
When you shoot at an aerial target, you want to place it at the point where your stream of bullets converge (your .conv setting in game). You are trying to cause maximum damage in a minimum of time, thru penetration of a vital area, and against a clearly visible target. When strafing ground targets, however, the reverse is true. This is because strafing is only effective against soft targets (infantry, trucks and guns). Unfortunately, these soft targets are almost always hard to see, and they are either moving across your line of flight, or they are well dispersed. Furthermore, you must attack from low altitude or the infantry targets will not render (be visible) and so your bullets will have no effect at all on them (a limitation of the game itself). Low altitude attacks expose you to fire from the enemy (even small arms fire from the infantry you want to attack), as well as hazardous terrain. This makes strafing extremely dangerous, arguably the most dangerous thing you can do in a fighter. To strafe effectively you need lots of bullets, saturating as large an area as you can, and at a range that will put you out of most small arms fire when it strikes. In a ground attack set up, convergence is typically set much farther out, from 400-800m, for example, depending on the aircraft. This is too far for rifle caliber machine guns (RCMG) to reliably kill an enemy aircraft, but they are still quite deadly versus infantry. The strafing pass is made at maximum speed - usually beginning with a dive, then pulling up into very shallow descent over the target area at low altitude. Your bullets should rake across the target area in a wide line, giving you the greatest possible chance to strike infantry. You want to wound or kill as many of them as you can before you enter their effective weapon range, and you want to pass through their area at maximum speed to increase your chance of survival.

If you are strafing in an aircraft not specifically set up for ground attack, then your convergence will be very short (set up for air-to-air combat), so you must get closer than normal, and work your rudder back and forth slightly to 'spray and pray' across the target area. The often maligned Hurricane Mk 1 is an outstanding aircraft for strafing attacks, with 8 wing mounted machineguns and a very stable platform for firing. Wing mounted weapons are better for strafing area targets than nose mounted ones. Another good aircraft is the Spitfire Mk2b. You have wing mounted machine guns for strafing soft targets, and some cannons for harder targets. Because you cannot set convergence separately for your weapons, you will have to change your aiming point if you attack a ground target with cannons. You will be trying to hit with one cannon (not both) at shorter distances, so you will be aiming slightly to one side of the target.

For cannon attacks against a ground target you want a steeper angle of attack, to penetrate the top armor of hard targets (panzers, armored cars, etc). For machine gun attacks you want a shallower angle of attack, because area coverage is your goal, not penetration of a single point.

One more note - against infantry it is more effective to wound many than kill a few. This is because of the psychological effect of wounds in game. Only the most veteran of infantry players will try to continue his mission while wounded, because they cannot sprint, their vision is reduced, and they may slowly bleed to death in any case. Wounding a crowd of infantry players will cause most of them to despawn almost immediately. This is just one more difference between strafing soft targets and bombing hard ones. An armored vehicle may remain on the battlefield long after you have tracked him, killed his commander, or even killed his gunner (since he can still run over people, or draw fire). Against armored targets it is better to kill one, than wound many.

I hope this helps explain things a little better. I would be happy to demonstrate any of this on the training server if it will make things clearer.
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:25 pm

LOL, ninja'd by the boss again. That will teach me to type long posts, haha!

Well, between the two of us, I'm sure Loupvert has plenty of info now. Laughing
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Skip19 on Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:38 pm

acroyer wrote:LOL, ninja'd by the boss again. That will teach me to type long posts, haha!

Well, between the two of us, I'm sure Loupvert has plenty of info now. Laughing

I think we covered the same ground there. Interesting we both mentioned the Spit 2!

Tanks are definitely vulnerable to 20mm fire in game.

You are right about the MG's, unfortunately I rarely see enemy infantry so haven't had chance to kill any with strafing. I wanted to go and try and kill some sappers who were blowing a factory up, as I was sure they would show up against the long factory walls, but by the time I had got there they were already dead.

Interesting point about the BAI type mission - I tend to (if lonely and bored) look for an enemy AO, then attack the FB with a Havoc dropping 4 bombs on 2 runs. Trouble is, it doesn't really do any good as those units will just respawn, so it's more a matter of getting some kills rather than affecting the battle.

If asked, I'll gladly drop on a friendly AB (if camped), which can break an attack, or an enemy AB (if we are attacking a town) but again effectiveness is limited when attacking.

If I see a truck though, I always try and terminate it with lethal prejudice. It's either towing, carrying inf or setting up a MS.

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:51 pm

dojo wrote:

I think we covered the same ground there. Interesting we both mentioned the Spit 2!

Tanks are definitely vulnerable to 20mm fire in game.

Definitely from the top. Attacking from the side rarely has any effect, so the steeper angle of attack is almost required. I must have 500 strafing sorties in a Hurricane MK1 over the years, it is very good at that. I prefer having at least one cannon, though, for the random hard target, and the Spit 2 is a great choice for that.

dojo wrote:
Interesting point about the BAI type mission - I tend to (if lonely and bored) look for an enemy AO, then attack the FB with a Havoc dropping 4 bombs on 2 runs. Trouble is, it doesn't really do any good as those units will just respawn, so it's more a matter of getting some kills rather than affecting the battle.

If asked, I'll gladly drop on a friendly AB (if camped), which can break an attack, or an enemy AB (if we are attacking a town) but again effectiveness is limited when attacking.

If I see a truck though, I always try and terminate it with lethal prejudice. It's either towing, carrying inf or setting up a MS.

Yes, this is a perfect example of what I meant. BAI tends to increase your kill count, but has little overall effect on the war, as it does not help achieve a specific goal (control of an airfield, capping a CP, etc). Bombing FBs is good practice, but is of little strategic value (since we can't destroy them from the air). Killing trucks is an excellent idea, however. They are probably the only BAI target I consider valid for a CAS pilot, given their value in the game and the risk they pose to our side.
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:52 pm

great info guys - keep it up Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:03 am

acroyer wrote:(Hmmm...forgive me if I sound like I am lecturing a class, I am not sure how much of this you already know, and it is not my intention to insult anyone.)

Close Air Support (CAS) is generally defined as aircraft attacking ground targets near friendly forces, while being closely coordinated or integrated with the fire and maneuver of those same forces. Battlefield Air Interdiction (BAI) is similar, except in that case you are attacking targets near friendly forces without coordinating your actions with the friendly units below. Example: We are attacking an enemy town, and you are flying a P39 Airacobra overhead. If you simply look for a moving grey tank below and then attack it, you are doing BAI. If however, a ground unit asks you to attack a specific point (the railroad station, for example) so that they can rush the defenders while they are stunned, you are performing CAS. The difference is whether your attacks are coordinated with the ground forces you are supporting, or not. Most pilots will switch between these two things frequently, without thinking about it. Dedicated CAS pilots will always try to expend their ordnance where the ground units request it, rather than on targets of opportunity. It takes discipline and teamwork to resist the urge to attack targets of opportunity, but CAS kills do more to win the battle than random BAI does.

Jabo is a slang term for any fighter-bomber, it comes from the German "Jagdbomber" which referred to a Luftwaffe fighter equipped with cannons and bombs, rockets or both. The Jabo pilot looks for targets to bomb, then having released his ordnance he then continues his mission as a fighter. If he is attacked en route to the target, he jettisons his ordnance and becomes a fighter immediately. Jabo attacks are usually pinpoint bombing attacks on vehicles or flak positions, as opposed to the area attacks of medium and heavy bombers. This was extremely effective, and was quickly copied by the Allies. A typical jabo attack might be passing over a target at 3000 feet, rolling inverted (so that you look 'up' to see the target below you), then completing the Split-S to reverse over the target and release your bombs just after the target disappears under your nose.

Strafing
When you shoot at an aerial target, you want to place it at the point where your stream of bullets converge (your .conv setting in game). You are trying to cause maximum damage in a minimum of time, thru penetration of a vital area, and against a clearly visible target. When strafing ground targets, however, the reverse is true. This is because strafing is only effective against soft targets (infantry, trucks and guns). Unfortunately, these soft targets are almost always hard to see, and they are either moving across your line of flight, or they are well dispersed. Furthermore, you must attack from low altitude or the infantry targets will not render (be visible) and so your bullets will have no effect at all on them (a limitation of the game itself). Low altitude attacks expose you to fire from the enemy (even small arms fire from the infantry you want to attack), as well as hazardous terrain. This makes strafing extremely dangerous, arguably the most dangerous thing you can do in a fighter. To strafe effectively you need lots of bullets, saturating as large an area as you can, and at a range that will put you out of most small arms fire when it strikes. In a ground attack set up, convergence is typically set much farther out, from 400-800m, for example, depending on the aircraft. This is too far for rifle caliber machine guns (RCMG) to reliably kill an enemy aircraft, but they are still quite deadly versus infantry. The strafing pass is made at maximum speed - usually beginning with a dive, then pulling up into very shallow descent over the target area at low altitude. Your bullets should rake across the target area in a wide line, giving you the greatest possible chance to strike infantry. You want to wound or kill as many of them as you can before you enter their effective weapon range, and you want to pass through their area at maximum speed to increase your chance of survival.

If you are strafing in an aircraft not specifically set up for ground attack, then your convergence will be very short (set up for air-to-air combat), so you must get closer than normal, and work your rudder back and forth slightly to 'spray and pray' across the target area. The often maligned Hurricane Mk 1 is an outstanding aircraft for strafing attacks, with 8 wing mounted machineguns and a very stable platform for firing. Wing mounted weapons are better for strafing area targets than nose mounted ones. Another good aircraft is the Spitfire Mk2b. You have wing mounted machine guns for strafing soft targets, and some cannons for harder targets. Because you cannot set convergence separately for your weapons, you will have to change your aiming point if you attack a ground target with cannons. You will be trying to hit with one cannon (not both) at shorter distances, so you will be aiming slightly to one side of the target.

For cannon attacks against a ground target you want a steeper angle of attack, to penetrate the top armor of hard targets (panzers, armored cars, etc). For machine gun attacks you want a shallower angle of attack, because area coverage is your goal, not penetration of a single point.

One more note - against infantry it is more effective to wound many than kill a few. This is because of the psychological effect of wounds in game. Only the most veteran of infantry players will try to continue his mission while wounded, because they cannot sprint, their vision is reduced, and they may slowly bleed to death in any case. Wounding a crowd of infantry players will cause most of them to despawn almost immediately. This is just one more difference between strafing soft targets and bombing hard ones. An armored vehicle may remain on the battlefield long after you have tracked him, killed his commander, or even killed his gunner (since he can still run over people, or draw fire). Against armored targets it is better to kill one, than wound many.

I hope this helps explain things a little better. I would be happy to demonstrate any of this on the training server if it will make things clearer.

Would you mind if I post this on the forums?

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:17 am

I don't mind, but I would accredit it to "From the 19 Squadron forums" rather than to me, and I would edit it slightly (add "The Hurricane Mk2 is an even better choice for strafing, with 12 machine guns and pilot armor." after the sentence about how nice the Hurri Mk1 is for strafing.) Since it was posted in the general forums, you could always just link to it, too.
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:53 am

done Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:10 am

LOL you still left my name on it and gave credit to me (shakes head) Laughing
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:21 am

acroyer wrote:LOL you still left my name on it and gave credit to me (shakes head) Laughing
and 19 squadron lol - you did the work - you get the credit Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:35 am

Well, I had a reason for saying 'accredit it to 19th Squadron instead of me'. Smile

No worries though, and no harm done.
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:37 am

ok - I will Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:41 am

ok done - but I reckon you deserve some recognition Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  Acroyer on Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:57 am

(grins) I've gotten all the credit I want, over the years, never fear. The one thing I want to be known for (and I want to earn it) is for my squadron to say "Acroyer is a damn good fighter pilot". That's going to take some time, though, because I'm many times better as an attack pilot than a fighter jock. In fact, I'm quite possibly the worst fighter pilot in the history of WW2OL. I could tell you stories about how bad I am, that would make you weep for the whole profession, actually. (grin)

As for the rest...

My old game name is Wonky. Among other things, I wrote the OCS manual that the Allies still use (though they have edited it, and removed my name from it for political reasons). I was the CO of Allied Training Command for a good while. I left because of bitter politics and favoritism in the AHC at the time, and have avoided the HC like the plague since I came back. I don't wish to renew any old hostility (if any of the crew that I fought with are still in game), and I don't want to have them paint my squad mates with the same brush if they do. This is why I came back under one of my old training accounts, rather than my main one. I'm keeping a low profile, just in case.

But as I said, no worries, and no harm done. Smile
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Re: FAC - What do you think?

Post  shane21 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:06 am

I wrote the OCS manual that the Allies still use

So your the one I wanna kill lol only joking - gj

and have avoided the HC like the plague since I came back.

Sorry for what has happened to you before - I am here for you - I hope you don't paint all AHC with the same brush - we're not all the same Smile

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Re: FAC - What do you think?

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