Deflection shooting: Can't fight without it?
Hard skill to learn for many, but many aces perfected it in conflicts like WWII, and often had the advantage because of that no doubt. Hans-Joachim Marseille had his deflection shooting down to a fine point, nearly perfect, with his shots landing starting at the engine, right through the cockpit, and past the tail.
If you couldn't do it, how much worse off would you be in a fight?
Now sims ain't real combat or anything like that, and I have played some, and I see that deflection shooting is not one of my strong points. Especially in a game like il Sturmovik with difficult settings on. I can still fight, but I think I could do better if I could shoot a plane down without being right on his tail or in front of him.
Last edited by Soundbreaker Welch?; 07-12-2008 at 03:23 AM.
>Hard skill to learn for many, but many aces perfected it in conflicts like WWII, and often had the advantage because of that no doubt.
I'd like to add that for deflection shooting, there is a difference between tracking shots and so-called snapshots that are fired from a position that is not part of a pursuit curve.
The former give longer-lasting shooting opportunities with accordingly greater chances to do damage. On the other hand, they require that the pilot flies in a way to match the opponent's every move, which is a difficulty in itself - especially if the aircraft of the opponent is more manoeuvrable. Matching the opponent's moves usually requires "saddling up" and bringing the aircraft to a similar energy state as his, too.
The latter gives only short opportunities, but these opportunities are easier to achieve, even against more manoeuvrable opponents. It is more difficult to hit however, as it's necessary to visualize the lead correctly before opening fire, and there is not enough time in a run to correct the fire by observing the tracers. On the other hand, there is no need to establish a tracking position in a pursuit curve, a simple collision curve is enough. It is possible to retain much more energy than the defender, and the high angle-off that usually results means that the target presents a relatively large vulnerable area (as protection is best against attacks from the front and rear). Due to the use of a collision course, it's often possible to fire from very short range, making the lead estimation easier though the high angle-off of course makes it more difficult. That it is not necessary to get into a near-co-energy pusuit curve situation is a great advantage for a less manoeuvrable or lower-performance attacker as he can maintain an energy advantage while attacking (if he had one to begin with, that is
Snapshots benefit greatly from high firepower weapon (due to the short shooting opportunities), and also from centreline armament (since they have no lateral deviation from the aimpoint regardless of the firing distance, which rapidly changes in snapshots). If the firepower of an aircraft is low, snapshots are not very attractive, and tracking shots might be virtually enforced by the necessity to fire at the target for prolonged periods for effect.
Historically, tracking shots were recognized as difficult, as the enthusiasm for the load-computing optical gunsight showed which made it possible for the average shooter to accurately see the required amount of lead in a stabilized tracking situation. However, experienced pilots often were not as heappy with the sight as it was no help outside a stabilized tracking situations. In snapshot situations the old fixed reticle actually was superior, and I think that was the reason of the discontent of some experienced fighter pilots with the LCOS sight.
Try shooting International skeet, say station 2 high house. You are only allowed to bring your shotgun to bear with a vertical move - no tracking.
Then shoot the shot 'normally' moving the shotgun along the track of the bird as you bring the shotgun to you face and take the shot over the stake. True, the clay target is moving in a straight line.
Take the same analogy to a fighter taking a snap shot at another making a 90 degree crossing path. The fighter pilot has a brief moment to make an adjustment to 'intersect' the path in front - and shoot - with no opportunity to track along the other fighter's path. His firing solution is extremely short in volume and time - with no opportunity to further adjust or correct.
On the other hand, in a manuevering fight, despite the gyrations a good pilot can make to force a more difficult shot, your nose is aligned to a larger variation of flight path and tracking along that line is both easier and with more firing solutions over the time of the engagement.
I know the approach I would rather have available to me - and there were far more deflection shots made in manuevering combat (if a random sampling of hundreds of combat films are meaningful) than the 90 degree crossing snap shot.
To illustrate the difference between snap and manuever in high deflection, I have some of my father's combat film as well as Henry Brown's from Sept 11, 1944 in which high degree deflection shots were made with the K-14 - in both cases there was a tracking opportunity to judge the line and pull the Mustang out in front of the line for the shot. Apparently the K-14 worked extremely well.
I have approximately 100 examples LW fighters destroyed in combat film, three are examples of excellent 90 degree deflection snap shots - but 25 are deflection shots of less than 45 degrees and greater than 15..the rest are 5-7O'clock hits.
In many of the above cases of high deflection, the initial hits were made in a concentration sufficient to slow the fighter down and enable the kill from zero deflection.
I personally have never heard a complaint regarding the K-14, favoring the fixed reticle sight... but that doesn't mean good fighter pilots always favored the computing gunsight. I have heard some former F-86 pilots who expressed a preference for the K-14 over the Speery, particularly in the early days over Korea when the Speery proved flaky in high G turns - but both were computing sights.
If a bulb burned out or it lost the Gyro then you were reduced to spray and pray.
The Germans had available a gyro gunsight more accurate than the Allied ones, but chose only to employ it with the Me-262 and a few Fw-190's. seeing it as unnecessary for use in other fighters. In the Me-262 it proved extremely useful in fighter vs fighter engagements where the high speed of the Me-262 meant very high G forces were usually pulled when acquiring a deflection shot and the closure rate was so fast that there was no time for guess work or intuition. (And guessing the right deflection with a weapon like the Mk108 was hard!)
I imagine it was. It wasn't until the Sperry Radar Ranging gunsight in the F86 that the USAF had a reliable ballistic computing gunsight to accompany the deflection compute
Originally Posted by Soren