Storm of War

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be adding new anti-shipping related stats onto the stats display website.

It has always been problematic that only the very last person to damage a ship gets the credit for it. Whilst we know this issue also applies to aircraft and other ground units, it is particularly frustrating for shipping given how much effort (usually combined effort between players) and risk is required, especially to sink the larger ships.

Furthermore, the current system does not distinguish between the tiny landing craft which can be destroyed with a couple of canon rounds, and the USS Samuel Chase – which usually requires over 1,500kg of direct hits with bombs to sink it.

We therefore intend to start sharing the Loaded Displacement in metric tonnes of sunk ships between contributing players and AI aircraft. This means, obviously, that there is a far greater displacement tonnage to be claimed from participating in the sinking of the larger ships. The basic outline of HOW we will allocate the score is as follows:

The last player to hit a ship with ANY WEAPON, and any other PLAYERS or AI who ALSO hit that ship with bombs or rockets, will share in the tonnage, equally.

We are also using “loaded displacement”, which means the displacement of the vessel, plus the weight of any stores, cargo, fuel, troops, ammunition, etc. that it might be carrying at the time of its sinking. This is distinct from registered tonnage (which is cargo volume). We feel that this is a better reflection of the value of ships, not just for their logistics capacity, but also for their tactical value. By using loaded displacement it also means that there will be some variation in the tonnes of any given ship. This will be randomised along a normal distribution curve WITHIN what we believe is a realistic range for each vessel. Thus, this displacement range reflects the different chances that any given ship might be lightly, or heavily, loaded on any specific missions.

The ranges we shall be using are:
– Schnellboot 100 to 110 metric tonnes
– Higgins Boat 8 to 15 metric tonnes
– Light cargo ships (both variants) 1950 to 2250 metric tonnes
– Type VIIC U-boat 769 to 878 metric tonnes
– LST Mk2 Landing Ship 1780 to 3880 metric tonnes
– Tanker (i.e. Elnya Type) 3491 to 5045 metric tonnes
– Heavy attack transport (i.e USS Samuel Chase) 9000 to 16725 metric tonnes

In addition to the displacement, we will probably continue to display ship “kills” (which are allocated as they are now) to the last person to hit a ship before it sinks. We may also add a raw count of “assists” to players who hit a ship with a bomb or rocket before another player sinks it.

We know that this system does NOT perfectly allocate the displacement between the contributing players, however we consider this to be a far better system than the one we currently have. We have run through a large number of possibilities on this, all within the confines of the data that DCS makes available to us. We have also extensively tested various allocation concepts against our server log data to check for possible edge cases and exploits.

It cannot be overstated however, that we are limited by the data which comes out of DCS.

In our opinion, this is just about the most fair system we can come up with that recognises risk and effort with the appropriate reward for the individual AND for combined pilot attacks.

Some players have asked if something similar can also be used to allocate shared or assist kills for air-to-air or air-to-ground. Whilst a sharing system like we developed in Storm of War for Cliffs of Dover would be desirable – developing the code and systems for this is not on our current priority list.

Monday 08th March 2021. All was quiet. All was calm.

Suddenly a horde of nearly 20 red-team players arrived on the server. It was the unashamedly red-to-the-core European Air Force (EAF), and, Monday night is their squad flight night. They arrived, intent on raiding and asserting air supremacy.

The poor old blue team were caught with their pants down somewhat. There were few who are brave (or should we say foolish!) enough to attempt tackling this force alone. But the general reaction from the blue team was probably to steer clear!

The SoW discord was quick to see what is going on, but it’s not clear if the reaction was delight or despair!

It was at this point that a response somehow managed to half organise itself on discord. Within 30 minutes or so, some balance had been restored with 15 or so blue team player deciding to jump on and meet the EAF threat.

The word from our informants is that we can expect a repeat of this from EAF on a regular basis on Monday evenings, around 2000 Central European time.

If that is true, then Monday’s are shaping up as the idea time for a couple of Blue team squadrons to organise themselves also.

The result could be some almighty scraps of epic proportions. . . .

A ship slipped through the darkness, strong and proud and free,
Yet her wake was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple sea,
The aircraft dived, the bombs were dropped; flame and spray leapt high!
The droning engines faded, and the sailors were left to die.

Each month, Storm of War awards campaign ribbons to the best results of those pilots who fly the minimum number hours. The results are reckoned per “pilot career”, thus rewarding those who can achieve victory for minimal loss. There are three separate categories: victories against maritime, ground and air targets. The same number of ribbons are awarded for each category. Both the air-victory and ground-victory categories are usually well contested. With the ribbon-earners generally racking-up 5+ successes per pilot-career (so, roughly “ace” status).

However, that is not the case with the ships.

Since starting the statistics, it’s been the the other way around… 1 success per 5 pilot-careers. Some months, it’s been even less demanding. For example, last month there were so few attempts on shipping that there was a ribbon given out for a single success from a pilot who flew 15 pilot-careers!. Yes, that’s right, getting 0.07 maritime victories per pilot carreer would have got you a ribbon in February 2021. Thus the maritime campaign ribbon is currently rewarding its pilots, not just for the skill in sinking these stubborn targets, but for being resourceful in the first place and exploring all that SoW has to offer.

But why are there so few ships sunk?

Well, there are number of factors. There are fewer of them, compared to other target types. They can sometimes be difficult to find, often difficult to approach and even difficult to hit. Some pilots just can’t handle that challenge. And others probably don’t even realise such targets are there. The top-10 list for both ground and air fill up quickly each month, but the seascape attracts scant attention. So here are some tips to surmount the difficulties, and to put yourself in the running for a coveted SoW campaign ribbon.

Finding targets
Finding ships out on the open sea can be challenging, just based on the sheer distances required to cover them. Altitude helps, but then there is the potential for clouds to obstruct the view. If you do spot ships out on the open water, report them via radio (SRS) so that others on your side, and your GCI controller (Kenway or JaFü), can respond even if you yourself do not.

Especially in the earlier missions which are set shortly after the landings, there can be a plethora of vessels along the landing grounds. Flying along the beaches can quickly spot the larger vessels and quite often there will be small landing craft in the vicinity, making their way to the sandy shore or pulled up on the sand.

Ships will congregate in the harbours too. Cherbourg, Le Havre and Grandcamp are well-known sites and both sides will make use of such havens when they have them. But there are lesser ports too. And sometimes barges and small craft can be found on the rivers and inland waterways (and, yes, inland shipping counts in the maritime category). Be wary though. Ships are generally good at self-defence, but these ports can be absolutely bristling with resistance.

Approaching targets
The large transports, and the LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank), are very well armed. Approaching them can be downright dangerous. And ships in ports will have nearby anti-aircraft emplacements on the docksides and shorelines. Harbours will often have multiple ships, multiplying the firepower even further. This can make a close approach suicidal for a lone, low-and-slow, fighter bomber.

Treat flotillas like bomber formations — hit the stragglers. Look out for those that are separated from the others and attack them orthogonally to the main group, so that the bulk of the guns will have to lead their shots against you. Of course, if you can find a lone ship somewhere, all the better.

The dropped ordnance for DCS WW2 is currently limited. There are no level-bombing sights for high-altitude attacks, nor delayed-fuse bombs for low-level work. And sea-skipping bombs is also not yet functioning. So this means a dive-bombing or shallow-dive attacks are your only options. Dive bombing can be difficult, as you need to get your speed under control to be able to maintain good aim, and then pull out in time. The upcoming F4U Corsair should be good for this. A shallow-dive approach is an effective bombing method, as very high speed (but still controlled) can be obtained, with minimal side-slip to ensure bombing accuracy. You can then continue the dive down to sea level to keep your speed up for the escape.

As with all attacks. There is safety and strength in numbers. Do not go in alone. Use numbers both to increase your firepower, but more importantly to distribute that of the enemy. Successful attacks on ports were done with a lot of aircraft. For example, there were two whole squadrons of FW 190s that attacked Bône Harbour on 1-2 January 1943, and they were additionally backed up with a squadron of Stukas.

Take with you all your squad mates or anyone else you can rustle up on comms. Fly out with an AI wingman to help disperse the return fire (even the wingman’s aircraft is not carrying bombs itself) and distract defending interceptors. Make use of AI raids too. Going in to support a squadron of Ju 88 torpedo bombers will definitely be easier, as they’ll break up the fleet and draw the AAA-fire away from you.

Consider also your approach direction. Are you coming in over land (and other Flak/AAA units), or are their other ships in the area? And what about barrage balloons? Having some good reconnaissance will help and knowing the placement and disposition of the docks and piers, and those berthed at them, will be of benefit in planning.

And don’t forget to use the radar reports and GCI fighter controller to warn you of potential interdiction.

Hitting targets
Landing bombs on ships is harder than it seems. Firstly, you need to manage your sideslip. Fly with the “trim ball” centred. This means that a longer, more deliberate approach can be more accurate, as you can ensure that the aircraft is not slipping. That will make your lateral accuracy very good.

Getting the timing and aim right for the bomb release is much more difficult. So attacking the ship along its length is a good idea. A slight error in release will still result in a hit, as the bomb falls further forward or aft on the target. In some cases, the very front (or aft) guns cannot track back (or forward) across the superstructure. Thus you might even reduce the amount of return fire you receive.

And, when bombing on water, a near miss is still a miss. Ground targets can be caught up in the blast, even if not hit directly, but this is not the case with ships. Well… not unless you hit the quayside.

Smaller warships, Schnellboote, U-Boote, etc., present a different challenge. They still carry a potent arsenal of anti-aircraft weapons, yet they are smaller in size and thus can be more elusive to your falling bombs. On the other hand, once hit they will slip beneath the waves more readily, so are susceptible to concerted rocket and cannon attacks.

The small infantry landing craft (Higgens boats) can be easy pickings for rapidly moving fighters to strafe. But they are tiny and are thus difficult to spot, let alone hit. And the plume of water that will erupt from near-misses can obscure them (and your vision more generally), so prepare for one careful solid burst. Note that you can hit and sink them with cannon fire from a fair way out, so don’t feel you need to close in to point-blank range to hit.

The catch with those Higgens boats is that there are usually LSTs and transports nearby. So come in very fast, obliquely to the larger ships, get one and then get out!

Leaving the area
Planning your egress is just as important as planning your approach. If you attack on the open sea, you don’t have many options, although a setting/rising sun may mask your retreat. However, attacking ports and shorelines will require some more tactical thinking. It may make more sense to attack from the sea, overfly, and then head inland. Thus, you can use terrain and port buildings to mask your departure.

Keep your speed up. Some maritime pilots (and this applies to ground attack too!) will make their attack and then pull up. As they climb out, they are slowing down, and remain well within the range of the guns of their targets. These aircraft become extremely easy to hit. Instead, level out and egress with your speed as high as you can manage until you are well out of range.

Resist the allure of a second pass. It is so tempting, I know. But do not do it! By now the ships are all alerted and all guns are training on you. Your turn back will bleed you of speed and make you even more vulnerable to the naval AAA. And, being low on energy is not a good idea for when those enemy fighters show up. And you can rest assured that they will be homing in on your radar mark, not to mention all the smoke and commotion.

Violent jinking (hard manoeuvring to avoid being hit by bullets) does not help as much as you might think. To the pilot, it seems like you are making huge corrections and are dancing all over the sky. But these are less than a degree in he sights of the AAA gunners who are just concentrating on putting maximum rounds downrange in your direction. Instead, arcing away means you are changing direction, and are forcing the guns to track you, but you are still keeping your speed up and thus are getting out of their reach quicker.

The reward

Landing safely after taking out a floating target, whether a tiny boat or a many-thousand-tonne behemoth, is most gratifying. Very few pilots are brave enough to attempt the challenge and even fewer can pull it off. So those ribbons in shades of purple, silver and gold, do actually make you one of the few. Even better are the sea stories of your exploits.

And those sea stories are actually sea stories.

The Storm of War pilot stats pages provide space for the various campaign ribbons that a player has won to be displayed. This is an explanation of how the ribbons are awarded.

HOW MANY RIBBONS PER MONTH?
The total number of ribbons awarded per month is equal to 15% of the number of players who flew for 10 hours or more. So, if 100 players flew for 10 hours+, then 15 ribbons in each category will be awarded. If 200 players flew for 10 hours+, then 30 ribbons in each category will be awarded.

WHAT ARE THE CATEGORIES?
There are three categories
Air to Air – based on victories against other aircraft versus “careers” flown
Ground attack – based on the number of enemy ground units destroyed versus “careers” flown
Maritime Strike – based on the ships sunk by the player versus “careers” flown
The same number of ribbons are awarded in each category.

WHO GETS A RIBBON?
Players who fly 10+ hours in the month are sorted by their kill:career ratio in each category. Once the sorting is done, the number of ribbons to be awarded (x) in that month are awarded to the (x) top players by K:C ratio. Pilots start each month with 1 career 1 death is counted as a further “career” 5x bailouts are also counted as a further “career” .
So, if 25 ribbons are being awarded, then the top 25 players in each category get a ribbon.

RIBBON DESIGN
The ribbons are intended to look historically neutral in that they do not mimic real world medal ribbons from either Axis or Allied sides. We don’t want to copy real world medals for two reasons:
1. Out of respect for the real thing,
2. Due to potential political debates about the appropriateness of certain awards and imagery.
By designing our own ribbons we can also have the flexibility we need to recognise the types of gameplay that matter for SoW.
Each category of ribbon has a “similar” design, so the colour scheme of the ribbons indicates the category. For example, Maritime Ribbons make heavy use of dark blue and purple colours. The image below provides a visual guide to the ribbon designs.


Furthermore, each month of the year has one campaign ribbon per category, which means a maximum of 36 (12×3) ribbons are available in a year. In subsequent years, if a pilot is awarded the same campaign ribbon again, a “PIP” is added to the ribbon, as shown below. There is room for up to 4 pips (5 awards of the same ribbon).

The following pilots have received the below awards for their performance in November 2020.

13 Ribbons of each type were awarded for the month (based on the number of players who managed 10+ hours flying on the server). The ribbons will automatically show on your pilot profile on the SoW stats pages as soon as you start accumulating stats for December.

=== Anti Shipping ===

  1. VF17-Gabby Gabreski
  2. VF17-StuFly
  3. VF17-Hammer
  4. rolds
  5. MIDWAY
  6. JG 53 Burrito [Milan 13]
  7. VF17- 42 Sqd Raven
  8. JG78_horΛz
  9. VF17-drake
  10. Baby_James
  11. JG 53 Paddy [Milan 19]
  12. <64>NoWheels
  13. SlegawskyxVR

=== Ground Attack ===

  1. Soda
  2. VF17-Gabby Gabreski
  3. MIDWAY
  4. VF17- 42 Sqd Raven
  5. VF17-Hammer
  6. No.54 Philstyle
  7. 78thFG Ratsy
  8. 56th FG – Cypher
  9. No.54 Thurmann
  10. VF17-Ketchup
  11. Baby_James
  12. VF17-drake
  13. 78thFG Wiggy

=== Air to Air ===

  1. Miro
  2. 78thFG Ratsy
  3. Sniper 1-1
  4. No.54 Philstyle
  5. JG 53 Dusty [Milan 14]
  6. VF17-Hammer
  7. -Slayer-
  8. rolds
  9. JG 53 Paddy [Milan 19]
  10. VF17-Gabby Gabreski
  11. JG 53 Burrito [Milan 13]
  12. 303_HOLY
  13. 78thFG Wiggy

This Handy Guide was posted on the SoW Discord recently:

DCS Warbird buying guide:

1. Buy the plane you always loved the most.

2. Get frustrated and buy the opposing plane that seems to shoot you down the most.

3. Buy the plane from the side you were originally on that now seems to be constantly shooting you down.

4. Get shot down by all planes and realize that you really just need to get back in the plane you love and learn to get the most out of it.

5. See a sale and buy all remaining WW2 planes.

Thanks to YoungGun for his insights…. for many of us, this rings all too true.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a retired Royal Air Force officer, fast jet pilot and flying instructor. I grew up just east of Belfast in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles and joined the RAF after leaving university. Even by that time I had quite a few flying hours with the Air Cadets (I’d worked as a Staff Cadet on one of the Air Experience Flights), been awarded a Flying Scholarship with the RAF at age 17 that I extended to gain my Private Pilot’s License, and then flown lots of hours with Queen’s University Air Squadron on the mighty Bulldog T1.
I joined the RAF in 1989, passed through Initial Officer Training at RAF College Cranwell and then went up to RAF Linton-on-Ouse for Basic Flying Training on the Jet Provost Mk 3 and 5 (the Tucano was just being introduced into Service). Advanced Flying Training followed on the Hawk T1 at RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales, and then I made a move down to RAF Chivenor in Devon to complete Tactical Weapons Training on the Hawk T1A. This is the first time you use live weapons and start operating a military fast jet rather than just flying it; the course covers low level tactical navigation and formation, A-G bombs and guns on the weapons range and then simulated attacks off range, first as a singleton, then a pair and then with a bounce aircraft, air-to-air gunnery against a towed banner, 1v1 Basic Fighter Maneuvering and 2v1 Air Combat Maneuvering. Back in those days the Fast Jet chop rate was pretty high on all of those stages of training (around 50-60% on each of those courses) so it was a relief to make it through to my Operational Conversion Unit on the Tornado F3 at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire in summer ’92. I flew 2 tours on the F3 at Coningsby, the first on 5 (AC) Sqn and the second on 29 (F) Sqn, absolutely loved the aircraft and front line flying and have some very good memories (and a few sad ones) from those tours. When 29 (F) Sqn folded as part of the UK defence review process I was posted to RAF Valley again, this time to instruct on the Tactical Weapons Unit which was now badged as 74 (F) Sqn (later re-badged as 19 (F) Sqn).
While I had really not wanted to go to Valley, I really enjoyed the instructional role spending about ½ the tour in a Staneval role (Standards Evaluation, which also meant teaching new instructors as well as ab-initio pilots). Promotion out of that tour meant a short ground tour in Aviation Safety, followed by a tour as an accident investigator assisting Boards of Inquiry (best, most varied ground tour I did), then a year running the Joint Operations Centre in the HQ in the Falkland Islands (another very varied job). My last flying tour was as the UK Senior National Representative at NATO Flying Training Canada on the Hawk CT155s at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. That was another great tour, teaching a similar syllabus to that at RAF Valley, but with better navigation kit and fewer valleys.
By the time I was posted back to the UK to a job in defence research at Farnborough I was already starting to feel the effects of an illness caused by a short time spent in the Gulf in 2003 during the early days of that war. As my illness worsened I had a final tour closer to home working in the project team in Bristol supporting Flight Simulation and Synthetic Training before being discharged in 2013 after a little over 23 years service. Amongst all that I got married and we had 3 kids. We now live in Somerset in the UK.

How long have you been playing flight sims?
I can still remember playing Janes AH64-D Longbow, Janes F/A18 and Janes WW2 Fighters back in the mid ‘90s. When I was instructing at RAF Valley a small group of us would lug whole PCs and CRT monitors up and down the road to each other’s houses and set up a LAN to play, and that was an absolute blast (especially the WW2 stuff). Then I stopped for a very long time – I moved to a Mac for my photography when digital SLRs became more widespread and it was only recently (just over 2 yrs ago) that I discovered DCS and got back into it big time. Having the time now to enjoy it really helps too.

What other related aviation or gaming interests do you have besides WW2 flight simming?
I really enjoy photography (all genres) and over the past few years (2020/COVID aside) have started getting back to airshows to enjoy aviation photography. My favorite airfield to visit is Old Warden where the Shuttleworth Collection is housed and displayed, but I’ve also enjoyed attending RIAT for the last few years for the zoomies.
If anyone is interested some of my images are at http://www.edburrowsphotography.co.uk though I’m not that good at keeping my site up to date.
In 2018 I completed an aviation themed panel to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force and gained my Craftsman with the Guild of Photographers. You can read more about that here https://spark.adobe.com/page/3M7fsguAat9GR/

What’s your all time favorite flight sim and why?
DCS, without any hesitation. I’m so often just amazed at how far simulation has come since my first 486SX25 PC. For me, it’s the combination of fidelity in modelling of both aircraft systems and flight models that appeal, and the immersion gained by flying in VR. Sprinkle on top the fun to be gained by adding SRS and a few buddies (or strangers) to coordinate online and it’s an absolute blast. I’m a bit of a DCS module junky and do enjoy flying most of what DCS has to offer, even if I’ve been concentrating on warbirds for the most part recently. I would love them to fix the multi crew issues on the trainers as they are a blast and a great teaching tool.

What got you into DCS and the warbirds in particular?
I miss flying. As far as DCS specifically goes I saw a video on YouTube (I think it was one of Ralfidude’s) and then researched it. I built a PC to play it, added VR when the Rift S released and am now midway through a rebuild. It was Phil’s YouTube channel that really introduced me to the warbirds and to Storm of War multiplayer. I suffer from fatigue quite badly so the typically shorter sorties in the warbirds really suit me and there are fewer HOTAS configurations to remember.

What interests you most as a player?
I enjoy flying a sortie. So start up with some form of intent in mind like a ground attack on a certain target, or a fighter sweep through a certain area until bingo fuel and then return for an overhead break and landing. Of course, plans always change but I prefer to at least start with an aim when I take off rather than just chasing radar returns. The most satisfaction though comes from coordinating with others on SRS and I’d encourage all the players to not be shy – use the radio. I’m really looking forward to the Mosquito and some longer low level bombing raids with a group of players.

Are you in a virtual squadron?
I’m in a group that flies fast jets and helos but I’ve been neglecting them a little of late (sorry chaps). Part of that has been waiting for a VR upgrade (that keeps getting delivery delays) that will make the jets that bit easier in VR (reading MFDs can be a little tricky in some of them at the moment) but mostly it’s because I’ve been enjoying SoW so much. On SoW I fly with JG 53 but will happily team up with anyone on SRS, and am generally happy to help anyone. If you type in the chat window though you’ll rarely get a response from me as it’s tricky to use in VR. I flew mostly Blue when I first started on SoW and the guys on JG 53 were mostly on at a similar time and very welcoming. It was a natural thing to join them, and since then a few more have joined us in the same way. It’s a really great relaxed bunch to fly with and we are just starting to try to get slightly larger numbers flying together, which has been some of the most enjoyable gaming I’ve ever had. I’m fortunate to have found them.

What kind of rig/ hardware setup do you have?
PC Specs are Ryzen 7 3800X on an MSI B450 motherboard with 64 Gb of 3600MHz RAM. DCS runs on an NVME drive. I currently have an RTX 2070 card and fly VR in a Rift S headset. I’m really happy with it and love playing DCS on it. Both the graphics card and headset are in the process of being upgraded to an AMD RX6800XT (if I can get hold of one) and a Reverb G2 that I should be receiving the very end of November. Interface wise, I have a Warthog throttle and stick top on a Virpil base (with extension) and a set of Thrustmaster TPR Pedals. I have a set of surround speakers for the main sounds and use the VR headset for radios etc. I bought a used car seat and built supports for the controls around that so it sits separate to my main monitor. It’s great!

Are you unhappy with any aspect of your setup right now that you’d change if you could?
Once I have my new VR headset and graphics card I’ll be even happier than I am now. I’m not sure I’ll need to change anything else for some time but I do need to invest in a second communications setup to make using LotATC a little easier. At the moment all my communications go through my VR headset so it’s a little awkward when using my monitor.

What’s the single best piece of Hardware you ever bought to make DCS WW2 (or WW2 simming in general) more enjoyable?
Aside from VR, my Thrustmaster TPR rudder pedals. Even though I bought them in a sale they were expensive but worth every penny, especially for the warbirds. Having a good brake axis for each foot really helps with ground handling, and a good rudder setup is needed to get most from each of the aircraft in the air.

What are your top THREE tips for new players?

  1. RTFM and ask questions. I think they go hand in hand – put in a little bit of effort on the easy stuff (how to start the aircraft for example) and ask questions on the harder more nuanced stuff (how to keep straight on the take off roll). The SoW discord is a great place to get help on your WW2 modules, as well as the Clash of Wings server and Discord that Healer set up to help WW2 newbies.
  2. Use the radio. The radio is as much an offensive and defensive tool as any guns you have, or any guns jink you fly. Who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you are going to do, what you need, are good things to say on it. It also helps with number 1 above.
  3. Fly with a wingman. This will need you to do number 2, and probably number 1. You’ll find spotting easier (more eyes), and the whole experience so more enjoyable.
  4. As a bonus top tip – the in game chat window has options for talking to all or just allies. Don’t formulate your plans using the wrong one.

What is the single simplest/ lowest effort thing that ED can change about DCS WW2 to have the most positive impact right now?
I’ll offer two things here.
Firstly, revisit how the WW2 part of DCS is tested in the Closed Beta and get advice/support from those in the community that primarily fly the war birds (in preference to those that fly the jets first and warbirds only on occasion). Different things are important in the WW2 sim to the modern jet BVR arena and it doesn’t feel like that is reflected at the moment. I think that would also improve the ties between the hard core DCS WW2 simmers and ED developers that could only be a good thing.
Secondly, run a WW2 free fortnight. Allow players to use Normandy and the WW2 assets pack for a fortnight and over that period allow an axis and allied aircraft to be used free for 3-4 days. Run it separately to any jet/helo promotions to encourage regular jet players to try the warbirds and back it up with a sale on the WW2 modules.

How important is historicity to you when it comes to Warbird simulation? Do you want to full whack (historical airfields, matching plane-sets, historical weapons and paint-jobs) or are you happy with well detailed aircraft in an anachronistic or modern setting?
I think any answer to this one needs to be taken in the context of where DCS WW2 currently is, particularly considering the paucity of modules and the long development times needed to change that. Ideally, I’d like to see better, more coherent plane sets married with more correct maps (the Channel map feels like such a lost opportunity), but on the flip side I’m very happy to use what we have to enjoy the game. When MAC was announced, I did wonder if ED might eventually use that template of a ‘lighter sim’ for a WW2 theatre (more like IL2), but I’m not sure which aspect of the current modelling I would want to give up and compromise on for a faster development time and wider plane set. I do think there is always a need to balance historicity and enjoyability as it should after all be fun and we are flying in our comfortable warm studies, using VR or TrackIR, and not flying sleep deprived in cramped cold cockpits with the constant fear of death. I really think the team does a fantastic job on SoW to make it an enjoyable place for everyone given our current limitations. Everything in life is a compromise.

What’s the most frustrating WW2 Flight Sim controversy that comes up over and over again but shouldn’t because it’s really resolved?
Perhaps not a controversy but one that gets repeated time and again, “Which is the best WW2 module” and “What should I buy?”. Each of the aircraft has strengths and weaknesses, and each is capable of air to air and air to ground in the context that we fly them in. The aircraft statistics page on SoW bears that out (month after month the Anton comes out top in A-A kills/flying hour…). The beautiful thing about DCS, and why so many of us seem to prefer it to IL2, is the depth of the modelling and individuality of each of the aircraft. To provide that depth ED includes both strengths and weaknesses and that affords us the opportunity and satisfaction of learning how to take advantage of the former and mitigate the latter. Doing some extended flying on all the different warbirds is a great way to appreciate this aspect to our sim but I’m constantly surprised by how many will offer opinion without making the effort to first do that. It takes time in the cockpit to learn about an aircraft, and we all have different likes and dislikes. Pick an aircraft you want to learn, spend some time in it and enjoy it.

Dear SoW player community!

As you probably know, the our server hosting ability has been severely restricted over the past 3 or 4 weeks due to ISP/ Connection issues and some hardware constraints.

In order to try and resolve this in a way that incurred minimal cost and disruption, we have moved the hosting two times in the past fortnight to hardware provided by community members (thanks Arglmauf and iFoxRomeo). However, for various reasons, neither solution has proven would be a long term and reliable solution to all the issues we faced.

As a result, in order to keep SoW going, we have decided to move to rented hosting services.
We’ve had great help from Sockeye of 362 Sqn and the Clash of Wings server in order to be able to effect this.

The decision to move to a rented service is one that SoW admin have felt was not needed until now. In light of the recent ISP issues and concern to re-establish a reliable service
we now realise that this route is the best options available.

As of Saturday November 07 2020, the SoW server will be publicly available on the new service.

The main benefits of the move are as follows:

  • High quality and high speed connectivity
  • Easy scaling up and down of hosting hardware
  • Loads of additional data and monitoring services, some of which might significantly improve our ability to collect and display stats
  • Better integration of the various pieces of SoW infrastructure
  • Automated backups and security

The main cost of this move is . . cost. The financial burden of running SoW goes up.
We will be increasing our transparency regarding exactly what the costs of SoW are on a monthly basis as well as being transparent about how much we receive in donations in order to meet those costs.

For the present, there is no requirement to throw any money at SoW.
If you do plan to contribute, please give us a couple of weeks to confirm that the service we have chosen works for us and to disclose the costs etc to the community.

We hope you enjoy the new server setup.

Please let us know if you have any feedback.

Recently, the in-mission RADAR was updated. It is no longer possible to request a RADAR report “on demand” via the F10 menu. Rather, at set intervals (currently testing 5 and 6 minutes) the server will automatically populate a text message out to each player. This message will report the basic location and heading details of the nearest two enemy aircraft which have been identified by the RADAR.
The primary reason for making this change, was to dial back on the RADAR as a tool for directing dogfights. Under the on-call system, it was possible to use the RADAR to assist with near-contact acquisition. Furthermore, the on-call RADAR made it very difficult for players to disengage from combat, as their position would be constantly given away by the RADAR reporting.
The updated system appears already to have been effective in achieving its intended result. At the same time, player behavior has begun to change slightly, and the following key observations can now be made with some confidence.

  1. Milling about over a ground target is no longer viable. Previously, a ground attacker could, for the most part, loiter for extended periods of time over a ground target making multiple passes, at will, generally safe from a “bounce” due to the constantly available RADAR information. Upon the receipt of a “near” bandit report, the attacker could then decide to depart the target area. This made for the somewhat unrealistic scenario where ground attackers would do just that, loiter over a target for extended periods without real concern for visual airspace observation.
    Times have changed. Target loitering is now a risky behaviour. The 1-pass or 2-pass attack is now becoming standard as ground attackers look to get in and out of the target area within the few minute window between the automatic RADAR reports. Overall this represents a more similar approach to ground attack that was deployed during the Normandy campaign, at least until the closing of the Falaise Pocket!
  2. Group flying is now more effective. More eyes, more guns and a greater chance that the enemy won’t know you are coming have made solo flying more dangerous, and group flying more effective – especially in the air to air scenarios. It’s already apparent that there has been an increase in the willingness and desire for virtual pilots to group up for mutual protection, knowing that they cannot simply rely on the on-demand RADAR to be their extra set of eyes, and their near-space situational awareness.
  3. Loose formations are less effective. At the same time as grouping up has become MORE effective, the failure to deploy a moderately close combat formation has opened the door for confusion. It is no longer possible to quickly consult the in-mission RADAR to find out whether a sneaky interloper has weaved his or her way into the formation, and is about to open up on Smithers back there. Visual scanning is now more necessary, and, furthermore, knowning who is where in the formation has become critical. A loose and fluid formation runs the risk of providing a wily hostile with a golden opportunity to get a quick victory before anyone is any the wiser.
  4. SRS/ Coms more important. The loss of the close-in-high-frequency Situation Awareness provided by the on-call RADAR now has to be compensated for with added pilot to pilot communication. SRS or other voice coms are additionally important now, even more than they have been with the old RADAR.
  5. Altitude is life, still. Flying at an altitude that take more than 6 minutes to climb to is now one of the critical ways to avoid being snuck up on. Any hostile which is looking to hunt you down is going to have to exposure themselves to RADAR. An enemy that hides under the RADAR on the deck, or tries to deploy ground masking, is going to struggle to sneak up on you with the adjusted RADAR. At some point, that enemy is going to have to climb up to you, and in doing so, they’ll expose themselves to RADAR during a reporting window. Furthermore, now that your foe cannot use the RADAR to track you if you successfully dis-engage, being able to separate with a dive from altitude is going to save some bacon, that otherwise might be fried.

The RADAR changes remain in testing and observation, but for now, it looks like it has been a successful update. Thanks from the server admins to Hammer for suggesting we adopt the non-solicited RADAR approach.
Let us know in the comments/ reply section if you’ve noticed a change in the way the missions are being played.

AAR from our July 2nd flight on Storm of War, featuring Rob, Mother, Bowsewr and Chuck.

17 June, 1944. D-Day is just behind us, but the war in the West is far from over. Allied forces have secured a beachhead in Normandy, but German forces still control Cherbourg and the majority of the Cotentin Peninsula.

We are assigned to the 336th Fighter Group, which is based in Saint-Pierre-du-Mont. A squadron of P-47 Thunderbolts and a squadron of P-51 Mustangs are both stationed there.

Saint-Pierre-du-Mont has great strategic value at this time since M64 and M65 bombs just got shipped from England, which allows us to support ground troops without having to fly all the way back to Ford or Funtington. As I fire up my trusty Thunderbolt, Rob, Mother and Bowsewr finish their engine run-up before taxiing to runway 27. We load up bombs and extra fuel in the auxiliary tank.

As we line up on the runway, we have a grim reminder that fighting is still going in the push towards Cherbourg. From the airfield, smoke columns are visible near Azeville and Sainte-Mère-Église. We perform last minute checks (trim, flaps, tailwheel locked, boost off, propeller at max) as radar operators inform us that no air threats are expected in the vicinity. However, we still have an uneasy feeling that this could change at any minute.

Our mission is to intercept a few German Schnellboots. According to intelligence reports, the flotilla is following the Cotentin Peninsula and heading North. Armed with this knowledge, we plan our flight accordingly and prepare for a long flight.

We throttle up and depart West towards Utah Beach. We start climbing as fast as we can using the best climb speed (160 mph). Down low, the Jug is a real pig… but up high it is a very potent fighter. We follow the coast towards Barfleur without seeing any sign of enemy aircraft. As we draw closer to Cherbourg, we realize that cloud cover will make ship spotting a bit difficult. Therefore, we decide to head North towards the Channel to try to find these ships.

After a good half-hour of flying, our auxiliary tanks are drained and we have to switch to the main tank. That still gives us a good 250 gal of fuel, which is more than enough for our mission. After roughly 20 minutes of flight across the Channel, we still haven’t seen any ship at all. The clouds make our job quite difficult since we can barely keep everyone in visual while flying between the puffy clouds.

We then dive down below the clouds to try to better spot the fleet, and steer South towards Alderney. Once again, no Schnellboots in sight. Could our intel be wrong? In hindsight, we suspect the flotilla could’ve been sighted much further South towards Granville or Mont Saint-Michel… but instead we elect to turn back towards the coast to strike some ground targets.

Our alternate target is a Telecommunication Station North-West of Valognes. Rob’s eagle eye finds the communications centre, and a few minutes later we all start our bombing run.

Rob and I go first, and the first pass completely smashes the communications center. Angry tracers graze us left and right. Bowsewr and Mother join the party and we end up busting a few bunkers. After a few more passes, the whole camp lies in ruins. We then head back to Saint-Pierre-du-Mont for some well earned R&R. Interestingly, what was originally meant to be an anti-shipping mission turned into a very successful air-to-ground strike mission.

About the Author: Chuck Owl is a keen WW2 flight simmer who has been part of the multiplayer community for a number of years. Chuck is also famous for producing the highly detailed “Chuck’s Guides” to DCS aircraft.

Incorrectly, Mark Twain is often credited with the quote “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damn lies and statistics“. It seems that statistics have an interesting following, particularly where competition exists. “We do so love to hate and hate to even admit we love looking at statistics don’t we?” Twain didn’t say that either.
Whether it’s racing (any format), football, hockey, chess or even poker playing, any following of competitive sport will almost never be without a crop of statistics near-by to provide additional detail and insight (or confusion). Usually used to either justify the reasoning behind an expectation, a bet or to satisfy a claim made prior, statistics are either praised as an oracle or dismissed as falsehoods when the final result comes in.

Storm of War has had statistics established since its beginning. Indeed, there has always been a results table in flight simulators and Storm of War server (similarly to all servers) leveraged it. However, it was quite quickly identified that the default flight sim results tables were not up the task for SoW and during the former IL2-CLoD days, much effort and design went into developing and managing statistics.

The vast majority of virtual pilots are, most likely, checking in on their stats regularly. Sure a very few claim no interest but I suspect they were sneaking a peek on the side anyway! It’s not vanity or even curiosity. It’s a natural response of any competition loving person. The latest evolution of Storm of War is on the DCS platform and the SoW statistics are again back and active. Hundreds of pilots are logging results every month.
There is a very important observation that came from the previous IL2-CLoD statistics days which is particular to how SoW is setup and that’s the Squadron statistics. As individual pilots, your performance is there to be seen and a good session at the stick can return some quite handsome results to be rightly proud of. However, if you are a member of the Squadron, then there’s a knock on effect from your personal score, of raising your Squadron’s profile and this is what SoW is really all about. To be clear, there is plenty of room for individual pilots to be fully catered for; after all, the base level for the statistics is the ‘Pilot’ level. It’s the fold up of these collectively into the Squadron level that provides the motivation and reason for Squadrons to fly on SoW to most all SoW pilots and virtual squadrons.

But …(like some cringy TV infomercial selling you overpriced ‘amazing’ cotton socks) …there’s more !
The SoW Campaign summary is the summation of every individual pilot’s record during the month of operations combined to provide a ‘quick glance’ state of play.

Every time a pilot chooses to fight with a sense of self preservation and bring the plane back to base instead of risking all, it has a positive impact on the teams overall result.

One other pretty cool thing that SoW does (it’s not exclusive or original to SoW) is the issuance of medals at the end of each month. The statistics reset, with that previous months results archived and available to see. Pilots who have had a good month and achieved notable mentions, may in some cases receive additional medals on their name to reward them for exceptional results. This is all to recognize those pilots who have put in the seat time, flown tactically and in doing so, enhanced the furthered the strategic aims of their side.

The true motivation of the SoW statistics, even though there is individual pilot information available, is aimed at explaining the overall monthly score for each team and through this, to encourage teamwork, cooperation and flying together with purpose. Just as the server missions track the history of the WW2 air war, the statistics are very much a nod to the reality of all sides back then, when blood and treasure was spent in the pursuit of victory.

Besides providing performance data back to players, the presentation of statistics can also be used by the server to encourage certain types of game-play. But highlighting certain types of successes, player behaviour can be adapted to better reflect the intentions and design philosophy of the server (such as team-play, and providing a diverse target environment for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat).

Storm of War, for anyone new to this server takes no side, promotes no political point of view and is focused on the simple idea, yet challenging task of creating a fun environment to fly simulated warbirds.

About the Author: Joker has been flying WW2 flight sims for a number of years and flies primarily on the allied side, with 54 Virtual Squadron. Joker also has a Youtube channel where he posts aviation and road vehicle simming videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2wB68fOiugO-KUXqU4fNlw

Eagle Dynamics offered, during the early Covid-19 pandemic, free access to their aircraft modules for a limited time. This attracted significant numbers of new players to DCS, many of whom are joining the online flying community for the first time. This article is a personal description of how I found my way into the SoW community in particular.

For years, I flew alone in single player and I had good fun too. However, looking back and comparing my single player experiences with my current multiplayer experiences, I am glad I jumped in and started to chat and say hi. I soon found folks to fly with, which significantly improved combat flight simming for me. Thanks to the development of some really nice Voice-Over-IP tools like SRS multiplayer communication is at a level now where all sorts of play styles can be enhanced with online radio coms. Despite this obvious enhancement, for some players, using voice coms can still be a little intimidating.

When I first joined a multiplayer server, it was actually not a lot different to playing single player. I was going about my usual solo routine. But then, as I taxied out to the threshold, I received a message that a pilot was coming in to land at the same runway I was taxiing towards. I halted my aircraft to wait for his landing to be completed. Just after he set down right in front of me the radio came alive, “ Spitfire at threshold, thanks for waiting, runway clear, have a good one”.
Whaat?!! That was a message to me! Wow! Somewhere I mustered the decision to press the Transmit button and radio, “Spitfire, runway 16, taking off, departure to the west” and then I rolled and made sure I performed a good takeoff, maybe someone was watching.

After a few sessions, I began to recognize a few names and soon enough, I would meet them in the air and perhaps co-ordinating our efforts in a dogfight. Not long after, we got talking.This is how I ended flying with a group of folks and ultimately becoming good friends.

By regularly flying with others, the benefits have been huge. My skills have greatly improved and it is way more fun. However, the biggest benefit is that you can protect your flying buddy or wing-man and they can protect you also. This means you’ll be more tactically aware and successful more often. Simply flying with one other pilot on your wing can make a huge difference.

I really encourage everyone to get onto SRS on SoW and if you are flying alone, look out for opportunities to join up in the sky. You wont regret it.

About the Author: Joker has been flying WW2 flight sims for a number of years and flies primarily on the allied side, with 54 Virtual Squadron. Joker also has a Youtube channel where he posts aviation and road vehicle simming videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2wB68fOiugO-KUXqU4fNlw

SRS is available here: http://dcssimpleradio.com/

Look out for “Radio Check”, my next article specially about SRS on Storm of War server.