You spend time getting a Cliffs of Dover offline mission just right, jump in the cockpit, fly into battle, and then the enemy aircraft start doing stupid barrel rolls, defying gravity or coming at you with bombers that think they are fighters. Groan.
Don't despair! You can actually do something to make the experience a little better, though it has to be said the AI in Cliffs of Dover is well porked, so you will never be able to totally eradicate the sillyness. Here's a guide to make it happen less though.
Load your mission in the Full Mission Builder.
Right click on the aircraft flight you want to work with, and choose PROPERTIES
On the GROUP PROPERTIES menu you will see one for the whole flight which is called SKILL. In the dropdown list for the entire flight/group, set this to VETERAN (not ACE).
Click on the '...' (dot dot dot) button to the right of this dropdown list. This will give you a set of individual fields you can play with. These features aren't documented anywhere, so after much trial and error I will tell you how I set them to get the best results. Image by TheOden
BASIC FLYING: Leave this where it is at veteran setting. I have seen no visible difference in setting it higher.
ADVANCED FLYING: move this back a notch or two to AVERAGE, which seems to help reduce the F16 snap roll behaviour.
AWARENESS: increase this 'situational awareness' slider to max. This gives the AI a chance to realise you are sneaking up behind them, and stops them suddenly flipping into level flight in the middle of a dogfight just because they can't 'see' you anymore.
AERIAL GUNNERY: increase to max. This eliminates the problem that on lower settings the AI pilots are crap at deflection shooting, and also burn all their ammo in long hosepipe bursts. At max setting the AI is not only a better shot, but doesn't waste ammo so badly. Beware though: this setting also affects bomb accuracy ( which is good) and bomber gunner accuracy ( which is bad). So with bombers, it is a good idea to go to the individual plane tabs in the PROPERTIES screen and set only one or two of them to gunnery max, and leave the others as veteran or average. Otherwise as a fighter you risk getting slaughtered by deadeye gunners.
TACTICS: I leave this at veteran. I have not been able to identify what impact this slider has, though other players believe it can also reduce barrel rolls to move this slider to the left.
VISION: increase to max. This increases the 'bubble' around the aircraft which allows the AI pilots to detect other aircraft. If you don't max it out, they can just fly past each other, especially if they are at different altitudes.
BRAVERY: Set to max. This seems to determine the damage level at which enemy aircraft will cut and run, either at the flight level (x out of x aircraft destroyed) or individual level (x% damage). The lower you set it, the more likely they will bug out. Very important for bombers because at lower settings a couple of flak hits to a couple of aircraft will send the whole raid running for home.
DISCIPLINE: This setting affects how likely a unit is to follow its assigned orders or attack its assigned target. For fighters, leave this at standard VETERAN setting or even AVERAGE. If you set it to max for fighters, you will get situations where fighters assigned to attack bombers, will ignore the group of fighters coming straight at them, and get slaughtered, because they have been assigned to attack bombers. Also, at higher settings it seems to affect the likelihood the WINGMAN will just stupidly follow his leader around, rather than getting into the fight. Obviously though in some mission designs, you do want your Hurricanes to go for the bombers and your Spitfires to go for the fighters, so it can be useful. But usually setting it too high, leads to fighters unrealistically ignoring enemy aircraft.
For bombers however, or dive/fighter bombers with specific ground targets, I set this to maximum. This increases the chances the bomber or dive/fighter bomber will go for the assigned ground target. At lower settings they can get 'distracted' by other targets that are near the waypoint and attack these instead.
As I mentioned, these features aren't documented and reflect only my personal experience from designing hundreds of missions. Others may have their own personal preferences, but it is at least valuable to know these options exist, and you can sharpen up some of the dumber AI behaviour!
On a final note, the skill setting is also relevant for SHIPS. If you set it to ace for warships, they are deadeye shots at maximum range, for both their large bore guns, and their AAA and you will get slaughtered flying over a minensuchboot, even in a fighter. Set warships to AVERAGE or lower.