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#3654056 - 10/01/12 03:33 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: Tomcat84]  
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I see, thanks for the clarification guys. So it's the number and frequency of adjustments that eats up the extra fuel.

Andy, what do you mean by "light on the star?"

Originally Posted By: Tomcat84
Also, if we want to reference a certain throttle setting to fly and not a speed to maintain we usually either set a specific fuel flow or a specific FTIT (the engine temperature). We dont really ever set an RPM. May be worth experimenting with for yourself.


In reference to the ensuing discussion between Tomcat and GrayGhost... I got lost there. I think you guys are talking about real-life but I have nothing but my virtual squadron's SOP and training for reference so would you guys mind explaining again in more n00b terms and simple English? My vSquadron has an SOP of flying 350 knots until rejoin is complete, then up to 400 or whatever is needed to be on-time, but during my formation flying practice, my IP and I found that holding a specific RPM maintains a certain airspeed. For example, the last flight had me loaded with 4 AIM-120Bs, 2 GBU-10s, 2 wing tanks, a jammer pod, and a TGP. I found that 91% RPM at Angels 18 would have me keep speed at 400 knots. Are we "doing it wrong**" by working off of airspeed? How do real pilots do this?

** Note: I'm not saying someone is wrong or right, but simply trying to find out how it's done "in the real world" vs how we do it in our sims.


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#3654077 - 10/01/12 04:04 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Primarily work with airspeed. I merely meant to say that if we are going to reference something OTHER than speed, we at least dont use RPM, we use either fuel flow or FTIT. I have in my initial training sometimes heard instructors about setting a certain RPM on downwind or something basic like that (but i cannot remember any values so that shows you how much that is used wink ), but I can't recall ever hearing something like "set 80% rpm" on the radio.

Example of using FTIT: in our departure contract the lead accelerates to 350 knots and then sets an FTIT value while maintaining 350 with pitch. This allows the rest of the bunch to catch up using MIL power and angles.


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#3654082 - 10/01/12 04:09 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: - Ice]  
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Originally Posted By: - Ice

Andy, what do you mean by "light on the star?"


It's common when flying in the closer formations, to visually line up features on the other aircraft to define when in the desired position. In this case, the "light" was the F-4 aft wingtip light, and the "star" was the star in the center of the national insignia on the side of the F-4 fuselage. By comparing the position of the light to the star, both laterally and vertically, the pilot could see if he was in position or not. He would then move forward or back or up or down to adjust his position.

To adjust his separation distance, the F-4 pilot matched up the bottoms of the horizontal stabilizers.

#3654093 - 10/01/12 04:25 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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I see... kinda like putting the front of the missile rail on the pilot's helmet biggrin

Tomcat, any reason why RPM isn't used? But you do set airspeed, yes? Just clarifying what "primarily work with airspeed" means.


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#3654103 - 10/01/12 04:34 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: - Ice]  
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If you want a very simple answer relating to your exact scenario, what you are 'doing wrong' is relating speed to RPMs. Forget the RPMs, fly the contracted speed - the RPMs required will change with payload, and as Tomcat84 mentioned, the useable range of RPMs is very small (so, look at the RPM gauge. Your engine will idle at 60-70% RPMs on the ground, so you're left with just 30% of those numbers, 5-10% of which are too little thrust to use anyway, so now you're left with 20% of the gauge to use. Not very accurate). It's your job to match throttle to speed, and it shouldn't be that hard. In /any/ formation you can match your throttle to lead's position visually. If you're sliding back, increase thrust. If you're sliding forward, reduce thrust.*

* This assumes you're pretty much in position to begin with.

Originally Posted By: - Ice
I found that 91% RPM at Angels 18 would have me keep speed at 400 knots. Are we "doing it wrong**" by working off of airspeed? How do real pilots do this?

** Note: I'm not saying someone is wrong or right, but simply trying to find out how it's done "in the real world" vs how we do it in our sims.

Last edited by GrayGhost; 10/01/12 04:36 PM.

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#3654122 - 10/01/12 05:06 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: Tomcat84]  
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Yep, you're right - it's faster and easier than seeking the AoA. I think you're actually on-topic anyway, because as you can see, a lot of people still struggle with the technique of flying said formations, never-mind the combat applications.

Originally Posted By: Tomcat84
Yes, configuration differences do make things a bit different, speed is indeed easier then. On the other hand, if configs are the same and cruising somewhere, then nothing is easier for a wingman than "set 4000 pounds fuel flow". It eliminates lead not holding his speed to the knot (I know, lead is perfect, if he said 360 knots and he is flying 369 then THERE IS A REASON haha) and the wingman being off speed (cause obviously wingmen suck).

As far as AoA goes, I dont really use it other than in an SFO/flameout situation (max range / endurance as you said). I've never really tried flying a certain AoA in level cruise flight and it sounds a bit overly complex?

I guess if I'm flying straight and level and I would want to set a higher AoA than i currently have, i cut back throttle, keep adding pitch to maintain level flight until i hit the desired AoA, then add power again to maintain? Seems like more steps than needed?

FF or FTIT is easier in that regard cause in the end it's (roughly) a function of throttle setting only. So is RPM but i guess we dont use it cause the range of useable RPMs is probably a bit more compressed than the range of useable fuel flows / FTITs.

Anyway this topic is supposed to be about tactical formation flying so we should probably get back to that. Sorry for the diversion smile


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#3654373 - 10/01/12 09:36 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: GrayGhost]  
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Originally Posted By: GrayGhost
It's your job to match throttle to speed, and it shouldn't be that hard. In /any/ formation you can match your throttle to lead's position visually. If you're sliding back, increase thrust. If you're sliding forward, reduce thrust.*

* This assumes you're pretty much in position to begin with.


Hmmm... well when I try to rejoin, I obviously want to be faster than lead to catch up, then start slowing down when he starts coming closer, then I note the AIRSPEED when he looks steady and work my way towards that again. I use RPMs as a guide too... for instance, if I note that lead is at 350 knots, I look for 350 knots on throttle setting, note the RPM that gives me 350 knots more or less, then work on that. Say if I initially think 93%... then notice I'm slowly going 352... 354... so I slow down to 91% RPM... 355... 356... still fast but not much... slow down to 89-90% RPM...

The reason I use RPM here is because noting that few % of RPM is easier to note than throttle position at that point. When a finger-nudge gives me a few percent RPM, it's hard to find that exact spot again and I use the RPM gauge to guide me back to that spot. I understand what you say about payload and wind direction will obviously play a factor too, so obviously if I noted earlier that 90% RPM gave me a steady 350 knots, after I drop the bombs and clean up, I now know that I will need less than 90% RPM and that means I'm looking for a lower value to maintain my 350 knots.

BTW, I am not relating RPM to airspeed but rather relating RPM to the ability to maintain, increase, or decrease airspeed. I hope I explained properly by now that I don't think 90% RPM will give me 350 knots all the time regardless of configuration, but rather given a certain configuration, a certain RPM will help me hold a certain airspeed.

Okay, at least that's how I think of things. Please feel free to show me my mistakes. Re-reading my post now... will it be easier to be noting fuel flow instead? I'll try that next time; up to now I never really pay attention to it aside from gawk at how high it gets when I'm in AB.


- Ice
#3654456 - 10/02/12 12:16 AM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Don't rely on your speed take of HUD. What you need to know is the contract, and from there on it's pretty much visual - ie. you look if you're in position or not. No need to do anything with your speed gauges ... you -can- cross-check the HUD, but flying formation by instruments when you can see your lead is probably not the way to go in general.


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#3654533 - 10/02/12 04:19 AM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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I'm curious about the nature of transition between route and tactical situations. How positive is the transition? When going lights/dark when is it done? Did you float out to tactical or do a specific maneuver?

I've noticed in multiplayer simulator flying that the safe/transit stage and the danger/tactical stage vaguely blend together.

#3654596 - 10/02/12 10:22 AM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: - Ice]  
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Originally Posted By: - Ice
[ Re-reading my post now... will it be easier to be noting fuel flow instead? I'll try that next time; up to now I never really pay attention to it aside from gawk at how high it gets when I'm in AB.


exacly, that was my main point. try noting fuel flow instead of rpms and see how that works for you.

However when I'm in position, I dont look at it or my airspeed much, i just look at my flight member and see if there is relative movement or not (line of sight we call it). If there is no movement, then I'm staying in position and I'm good. If he starts to drift forward I add a bit of power to stop that "drift" and stay in position


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#3654597 - 10/02/12 10:25 AM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: Frederf]  
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Originally Posted By: Frederf
I'm curious about the nature of transition between route and tactical situations. How positive is the transition? When going lights/dark when is it done? Did you float out to tactical or do a specific maneuver?

I've noticed in multiplayer simulator flying that the safe/transit stage and the danger/tactical stage vaguely blend together.


It may be a bit scenario dependent. We usually cruise in tactical (ie line abreast) anyway so it doesnt really make that much difference, except you fence in and like you said light settings may change, master arm may be switched etc. but the formation itself is pretty much in position to start with.

If you have a certain push time and you are holding a few minutes first, that may sometimes be done in a fighting wing type formation and you'll float out once you start pushing hot.

But all in all formation wise I'd say it's usually not a big deal and indeed a bit of a grey area.


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#3654632 - 10/02/12 12:26 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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I always had a problem with this when flying with my WWII Online squadron - back in the day. They were always working on improving the lead/wingman integration, opting to use tactics and avoid the tendancy for anyone in an online air sim to just dive straight in, but they would always head to the target area at max throttle/max rpm (what WWII Online allowed you to tinker with in the pit). Wingmen were never able to keep up and only the good flight leads were able to figure out why and adjusted their inbound airspeed to something closer to a cruise.

When in the target area we then used the shooter/wingman paring - allowing the shooter to work target while the wingman helped with the situational awareness. We would swap roles when either of the pair felt that they were starting to burn through there energy or the positioning was advantageous. It allowed some nice paired online kills and kept our butts safe from getting our heads too deep in the fight.


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#3656960 - 10/05/12 02:10 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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What squadron was that? I played WWIIOL on the FAF side with the 56th Fighter Group. They were good about formation and tactical stuff too, and we usually cruised in economy or continuous rpm so as to give wingies some playroom. Plus it cooled your engine.

Very difficult to keep SA though once engagements started to happen. How to fight effectively with a big formation is a very difficult matter in that. Indeed using pairs like you said was usually a good idea. And the same still applies in real life. A four ship is the usual basic but that too sometimes devolves into two two ships working together. Anything bigger in close range and you cant keep track of it all and it becomes a big furball.


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#3660985 - 10/11/12 03:18 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: T}{OR]  
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Originally Posted By: T}{OR
Interesting discussion and a great question Einstein. smile

Although until few weeks ago I would totally agree that the wingmen burns more fuel than the leader even if barely noticeable, a 'Mythbusters test' with 5 or 7 planes done in a VEE formation (simulating birds) actually showed that everyone flying a wing position saves fuel flying this way due to the upwash created by the lead plane.

Here is the clip in question. It doesn't show the test with actual planes, just the explanation.

So, I am curious now - provided that you fly parade formation, i.e. reasonably close as shown in the show, would there be any fuel saving at all or this just isn't something you have ever encountered with Andy?

If the test in the show is true (applicable to RL situation), I would think, that the fuel burnt through maneuvering (e.g. turning) and level flight fuel saving might result in a more or less equal fuel consumption as the lead plane...




So not for fighters but maybe for cargo planes, look:

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123321609


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#3664131 - 10/16/12 11:21 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: Tomcat84]  
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Originally Posted By: Tomcat84
However when I'm in position, I dont look at it or my airspeed much, i just look at my flight member and see if there is relative movement or not (line of sight we call it). If there is no movement, then I'm staying in position and I'm good. If he starts to drift forward I add a bit of power to stop that "drift" and stay in position


One thing that new guys to tactical formation have a hard time doing is deliberately NOT staring at lead, especially when line abreast. You would think you need to in order to stay in position, but there are several problems:

1. You are not clearing adequately for the formation...visually or sensor management-wise.
2. It actually becomes more difficult to notice relative changes. The adage 'a watched pot never boils' applies here...a rate change in either heading or relative speed or both may be just below the perception level...resulting in not noticing a significant change until later than if you looked away and came back a few seconds later and noticed a position change. This is especially apparent if the background behind lead is empty.
3. You may actually be making inputs. One of the things we teach guys early on is to avoid moving the stick while moving your body. However, unconscious inputs (turning where you are looking) can result in you actually working harder than if you keep a good crosscheck by not staring at lead.
4. Not flying the contract. Because you're not cross checking your own parameters, you could be making large deviations from lead verses keeping an eye on your own inputs..minimizing the differences.

In short, position management is simply another parameter to monitor in a good crosscheck...higher priority when close, scaling down as the distance and/or situation calls for it.

FC

#3666856 - 10/21/12 01:11 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: Tomcat84]  
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Originally Posted By: Tomcat84
What squadron was that? I played WWIIOL on the FAF side with the 56th Fighter Group. They were good about formation and tactical stuff too, and we usually cruised in economy or continuous rpm so as to give wingies some playroom. Plus it cooled your engine.

Very difficult to keep SA though once engagements started to happen. How to fight effectively with a big formation is a very difficult matter in that. Indeed using pairs like you said was usually a good idea. And the same still applies in real life. A four ship is the usual basic but that too sometimes devolves into two two ships working together. Anything bigger in close range and you cant keep track of it all and it becomes a big furball.


Sorry for the late reply. It was JG-52. Great group of guys to fly with. I think we've tangled with you guys a time or two :-)


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#3666880 - 10/21/12 02:12 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: Tomcat84]  
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Originally Posted By: Tomcat84
Very difficult to keep SA though once engagements started to happen. How to fight effectively with a big formation is a very difficult matter in that. Indeed using pairs like you said was usually a good idea. And the same still applies in real life. A four ship is the usual basic but that too sometimes devolves into two two ships working together. Anything bigger in close range and you cant keep track of it all and it becomes a big furball.


Absolutely the truth...and can't be said often enough.

In my real life career, I began A2A training using WW2/Korean War tactics...Finger Four/Fighting Wing...and by the end was using variations of Double Attack. In either case, the outcome was usually the same for the wingman. He either maintained position off his lead at the expense of everything else (it's very difficult to check six when lead is maneuvering hard)...or he ended up as a singleton in his own 1v1 or more.

When learning and then later teaching Double Attack-type concepts, I was always confounded by the fact that reality seldom ended up looking like the nifty engagement flows that we would diagram on the blackboard with our different colored chalk. What may have begun in some semblance of order rapidly dissolved into disorder at the merge. Tactics that had been diagrammed using one bandit seemed to go out the window with the realization that there was more than one...and that other bandit wasn't cooperating with our neat little game plan.

One other aspect of multi-bogey engagements proved true in my experience...like in WW1 and later conflicts, it was amazing how fast the sky emptied out once the fight was on. Too often I found myself wondering where everyone went. The idea that I was alone and the focus of all the bad guys was a bit discomfiting. In these moments, it was time to be a dot.

#3667382 - 10/22/12 12:51 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Out of interest how do modern bombers fly to target now? In formation ala mass formations like WW2? Or individual?

#3667755 - 10/22/12 11:25 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Depends on the kind of target and kind of bomber.

Stealth strikes may be just one B-2A to take out a high value asset.

Bones in the desert also tend to fly as singletons at high altitude...waiting for a call to provide CAS to the grunts where and when they need it.

I don't want to say the days of massed bomber formations are over...I keep thinking of fleet attack options with cruise missiles.

In the USAF world, at cruise we tended to fly in 1 mile trail, 500 foot stack down..switching to stack up if you were doing a high altitude stick drop.

Tankering tended to be in echelon, switching from one side to the other as you were fueled. If there were multiple tankers, it could get quite complex trying to get everyone refueled quickly while keeping deconfliction to a minimum.

When we were doing low level multi ship flying, we tended to fly in 1 mile, 45-60 wedge to allow for flexible formation maneuvering...then doing a spilt up near target for a multi axis simultaneous attack. However, that was in the old days with bays full of dumb bombs. With modern weapons, one bomber can take out multiple targets once the long range SAM threat has been neutralized.

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#3669556 - 10/25/12 11:16 PM Re: Tactical Formation Flying [Re: EinsteinEP]  
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Has datalink technology made it somewhat easier to keep track of everyone (I would imagine so?)..and have tactics and formations altered in response to that new technology?



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