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#4494732 - 10/26/19 07:14 PM About gunner accuracy and precision  
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mvp7 Offline
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Rear gunners in WOFF are extremely deadly. Gunners in WW1 were indeed very dangerous but I think that their current efficiency is way too high at long ranges and high relative speeds.

For starters here's the difference between Accuracy and Precision:
[Linked Image]
In terms of air combat, estimating a correct lead for shots falls within Accuracy. It comes from the gunner's ability to estimate, observe and correct lead for their shots. This is far more important than precision and in practice, low precision actually compensates for less than perfect accuracy (See the two upper cases in the picture, low-low still hits the bulls-eye once).

Precision comes from the mechanical precision and zeroing of the weapon (both have fairly negligible effect in this case) and the shooter's ability to maintain a steady and consistent aim through a burst, which is the main factor for precision of WW1 gunner.

Currently when WOFF mentions "Accurate" and "Less Acc" in workshop, it seems to be referring to precision rather than accuracy. The actual accuracy of gunners seems to be nonadjustable and extremely high, especially for long ranges and high relative speeds.

I have some experience in these matters, having done my national service as an NCO in an Anti-Air battery of Finnish army. I have used 12.7mm NSV anti-air machine gun (12.7 ITKK 96) and modernized ZU-23-2 anti-air twin-autocannon (23 ITK 95) in training (the latter has an automatic lead calculator and is less relevant to this subject anyway).

PRECISION

First I'm going to get my thoughts on the WOFF gunner precision out of the way. When shooting at aircraft, precision is usually very unimportant factor compared to rate of fire and accuracy, AA weapon can actually suffer from being too precise as it would miss with perfect precision with anything less than perfect accuracy. With less than perfect accuracy (which it is most of the time) less than perfect precision will more likely produce at least some hits which is better than no hits.

Mechanical precision and sight zeroing a weapon would have almost negligible effect here. Even on the simple pintle mount, the effect of recoil would likely be fairly minor. The main challenges for precision would come from the gunner standing in the more or less unstable aircraft while being torn by the air flow. The gunner would constantly have to adjust his position and shoot at weird angles, struggling with the limited pintle angles and heavy gun-ring. In many cases it's unlikely that the gunner could maintain any kind of sight picture, not to mention a steady one, aiming mostly with the tracers instead.

Overall, I think the WOFF gunner precision (even with Less Accurate setting) is very optimistic in anything but the most optimal situation where the gunner gets to shoot at a relatively stationary target at very convenient angle (like an aircraft chasing the two seater on level and from behind for example).

ACCURACY

Accuracy is where I feel the gunners are being way too effective and where player has very limited ability to customize things. Shooting at moving target is generally really hard.

During training in the Army we were shooting the machine gun at a target RC plane: maybe 1.5 meters in length, flying maybe 200 meters away, sideways or towards the weapon on direct course at speed around 60 to 80 km/h I'd say. Even after dozens of passes and hundreds of shots from two machine guns, not one RC plane had been shot down. They actually hadn't even brought more than couple RC planes for a three day exercise because that's how unlikely they were to be destroyed (they weren't the only target though).

The distance, relative speed and angular speed are all factors that increase the difficulty of accurate shooting pretty much exponentially. The fact that the rear gunner is on a moving and maneuvering plane himself would add yet another variable to the equation. These are all things that the WW1 gunners would have to learn on the go while really being shot at by the real enemy.

Shooting at flying target is an endless process of trial and error. You make your initial (usually awful) estimate of the lead, shoot a burst and try to see where it misses. Just seeing where you missed quickly gets hard as the distance increases. In worst cases you don't even know which way you were missing. Based on those observations you correct your lead and shoot another burst. This is repeated until the target is destroyed or (more likely) until the target has left effective range.

What makes that process of trial and error even harder is that the variables are constantly changing: Distance, relative speed, directions and angular speed are all in constant flux and the more they change the less useful the trials become. In practice, outside of some particularly simple circumstances or very short ranges, shooting at quickly moving and/or distant target has very little chance of hitting it.

Observations from WOFF

Shooting at a target flying directly towards or next to you at hundred meters at slow relative speed would be fairly easy: i.e. you are likely to score a few hits and the target is likely to evade because it and hence shoot at you less effectively. In these short range situations the AI is good but not that outrageous. Low skill gunners should probably miss a bit more though.

Shooting at a distant moving target around 200-400 meters away is always tricky. It might not sound like that much but consider how far it would be on a shooting range and how unstable platform the plane would make. Even if the target is moving at low relative and angular speed, it's extremely hard to see and correct your fire. Accuracy starts to depend of very fine adjustments so precision also becomes an issue at this kind of ranges. Hits would be very rare and mostly thanks to bad precision. Landing too consecutive shots on the target would be a very lucky fluke. Shooting linearly moving distant targets like this with radar or laser lead calculator equipped weapon would be very easy but with just the limited capability of our eyes and brains its very ineffective. However the AI is highly accurate when shooting this kinds of targets.

Shooting at an enemy doing a hard banking turn at you side with the relative speeds, distance and angle speed all being in constant flux is very hard, especially if you consider the limited movement range of the gunner's pintle mount (you are not going to move the actual ring in a hurry). In this kinds of situations the AI can pull off some insane hits. When you are dog-fighting a Strutter or zooming and turning away from formation flying two seaters the AI will consistently land multiple hits on your plane in situations where a competent human gunner wouldn't even think of wasting the bullets.

Conclusions and recommendations

In my opinion the gunner AI in WOFF is maybe slightly too precise even with the 'Less Accurate' setting and definitely too accurate, especially with quickly changing large relative speeds and/or long distance, even when considering the relatively low speeds and distances of WW1 air war,

Having a dynamic gunner accuracy that improves with every burst and worsens when the variables are changing drastically would be great but tricky to code no doubt. To clarify, I don't mean just the inaccuracy that naturally comes from the AI making linear lead calculation against target that is not moving linearly. What I mean is an actual floating degree of accuracy that quickly get's better in static situations and similarly becomes more inaccurate when the situation is changing rabidly.

I suspect simulating "human" error and inaccurate perception like that is beyond what can be reasonably achieved with cfs3 engine though. Having more random errors in accuracy, and at the same time reducing the precision and maximum range of the gunners, would be a great as well. Basically anything that would prevent the AI gunner of a maneuvering plane from landing half of their first burst on another, distant, gently maneuvering plane even with "Less Accurate" gunners setting on.

#4494741 - 10/26/19 07:25 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Boy this is always a tough subject.
Plenty of enemy scouts, and many aces, were shot down by a plucky observer in a two-seater.
Conversely plenty of two-seaters got shot down.
Aerial gunnery is not complicated, per se, but requires high skill to quickly analyze a shot, with an understanding of physics and ballistics, and then to take it and adjust when necessary.
Almost more art the science.

I’m normally quite blabby on any WW1 subject but this one is always tricky. Wish we had more data but I hardly know what form that data would take.

#4494754 - 10/26/19 09:43 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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orbyxP Offline
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The rear gunner xdp file has these settings for adjustment....

Range= in meters
Rate= rounds per second
MuzzleVelocity= meters per second
TimeAlive= in seconds
Noise= bullet spread

In the aircraft xdp file

RateLimit= rate in degrees per second (i.e. moves or panning degrees/sec) and is for the trainable guns (i.e. trainable=y)

#4494755 - 10/26/19 09:46 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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mvp7 Offline
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Yeah, there are definitely a ton of things that are tricky to weigh correctly when it comes to the practical effect and lethality of the gunners.

I think is safe to assume that us players would consider much higher risk less deterring than historical pilots. If the perceived odds of pilot getting killed when attacking two seater were 1 in 30, most of virtual pilots probably wouldn't hesitate much. For a real pilot those odds would seem pretty bad. If they kept taking risks like that they likely wouldn't survive a month. For a typical player it might be fairly OK to receive multiple hits and even wounds from a gunner before giving up on shooting down a two seater. For a real pilot an encounter like that would be pretty insane near death experience.

The way the AI flies the two seaters in WOFF probably makes it easier to attack a two-seater that is aware of you than what it would be in reality. The AI often doesn't maneuver at all, even when it's getting peppered by machine gun fire from an angle that the gunner can't reach. In reality I suspect the pilot would try to offer the gunner some angle at the attacker even if they were in a formation. I also think most pilots would try to do some kind of serious evasive maneuvers before the end rather than keep flying straight and level until death or damage makes that impossible. There wouldn't really be a perfectly safe way to approach and shoot a two seater like there often is in WOFF.

The two seaters that usually get shot down in WOFF are the ones with terrible gunner positions and fields of fire. Some others are extremely tough opponents. Basically I think the current accuracy of the rear gunners is set too high to compensate for the lacking reactivity of the pure recon/bomber AI. With actively maneuvering planes like Strutters and Rolands the rear gunner turns the dangerous plane into an extremely dangerous plane that is very hard to approach at all in any situation. AI scout pilots are pretty much powerless against Strutters and Rolands even when flying Albatroses and Nieuports that should historically do fairly well rather than get one-sidedly slaughtered by the rear gunners (unless the gunner is locked on another target).


When it comes to the historical role of the rear gunner, it think it is fairly analogous to role of Anti-Air weapons:

Anti-Air weapon is not really expected to shoot down aircraft. They are weapons that are meant to make it harder for the aircraft to do their job and ideally discourage aircraft from entering the area in the first place. Actually damaging and bringing down an aircraft is just an icing on the cake that reinforces the threat of AA. An ideal anti-aircraft weapon renders itself pointless by keeping the enemy aircraft completely out of its shooting range.

Consider the U-2 incident of 1960 for example. Soviet AA-missiles didn't need to shoot down every U-2 in US inventory. Just bringing down one made the US realize that the Soviet AA-missiles could shoot down an U-2 which (together with the political side of the mess) made US stop the flights that had been going on for years. Similarly F-117 stealth bombers were considered pretty much untouchable but as soon as one was shot down with an AA-missile, the use and tactics for the aircraft were quickly reconsidered.

I suspect the rear gunner's effect is fairly similar in nature. They wouldn't be expected to reliably damage a maneuvering scout at long range. The gunner really just needs to make the aircraft harder target. If there were no gunner, all the scout pilots would have to do is leisurely fly into good position behind the plane and shoot it down with virtually no risk. With rear gunner there was danger and scouts had to be smart about approaching the aircraft. Even with all the anti-two-seater tactics there was always the risk that a stray bullet would get the scout pilot (as happened to many pilots including aces).

Only when the scout does not give up and the distance is reduce to the typical WW1 shooting distance does the gunner need to really start hitting the target. It's harder for the gunner to hit a target that maneuvers and approaches the two-seater from difficult angle but that's okay as it also makes it harder for the scout to shoot at the two seater.

Historically (as far as I know) it was usually the two seater getting shot down by a scout rather than the other way around, unless the scout gave up and let the two-seater go. Based on my WOFF campaigns, I'm fairly sure that two-seaters are causing too many losses to scouts. It's partly because gunners are so effective at such a long range, and partly because scout AI is way too suicidal when approaching two-seaters.

Reducing the accuracy and precision of gunners would have relatively small, maybe even negligible impact on their effectiveness at short ranges. It would reduce their lethality at medium to (reduced) maximum ranges quite a bit but still maintain the risk and deterrent effect that is presumably their main role.

Last edited by mvp7; 10/26/19 09:48 PM.
#4494905 - 10/28/19 02:19 AM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Washington State
I found an temporary solution which mimics a reasonable outcome against two-seaters. So far, lowering the rate limit to a "6" in the highly maneuverable two seaters like the Roland gave me a chance to shoot it down much easier while sustaining light damage. Also, raising the rate limit to "360" gave the less maneuverable two-seaters like the Aviatik a fighting chance to maneuver just enough to give his observer an opportunity to damage my plane and cause a fuel leak before I shot it down.

You can easily try it out to see the results as well in QC. Go to the aircraft folder in WOFF's main directory (drive:\OBDSoftware\WOFF\OBDWW1 Over Flanders Fields\aircraft\), then open the two-seater's aircraft "QC1" folder. In it, you'll find a file with the extension of "xdp". Open that file using notepad. Then find the word "RateLimit=". Adjust that number inside the quotes to either a 6 or 360 depending on if you want the two-seater to be less lethal (then replace the number with a 6) or more lethal (then replace the number with a 360).

Note that adjusting the rate limit will not affect the rate of fire. It will affect how fast the observer will turn to aim and shoot. It makes sense that the more maneuverable the plane, the slower the observer's turn should be due to excessive force.

Works best when using Normal rear gunner accuracy in the workshop.

Last edited by orbyxP; 10/28/19 03:20 AM.
#4494953 - 10/28/19 12:27 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Not sure what the point is of all that. Observers, neither your own nor on AI aircraft, can fire when under g-forces. They pickup aiming and firing as soon as the forces allow. Also they do have blind spots. They can't see through their fuselage nor can they shoot through anything etc. Two seaters in WW1 were deadly opponents, and mostly also considered by aces as the tougher enemy in memoirs etc. Many lost their lifes vs. twoseaters. Of course there is the bloody april sitting ducks bla, but that was the exception. That's why the successfull aces stalked and sneaked up to them, hiding in their blindside, not risking getting shot at.
When closing in from behind, you are almost standing still in relative speed. Also there are different skill levels for observers in WOFF.

Just listen to one of the interviews in the credits for instance. there you can hear both ways. Good gunnery and bad.

#4494955 - 10/28/19 12:33 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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mvp7 Offline
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Thanks orbyx! Tweaking the gunner turn rates sounds like a nifty way to even out the two seaters a bit. I think I'll try the reduced rates for maneuvering two-seaters and see how it goes.

edit.
@Creaghorn -The gunner accuracy when shooting at relatively stationary and close target is quite fine the way it is. It's at long ranges and/or with hard maneuvering involved when the gunners are hitting too consistently.

Last edited by mvp7; 10/28/19 01:21 PM.
#4495031 - 10/29/19 12:21 AM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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You guys know that there's already a mod for this right?


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Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein.
#4495033 - 10/29/19 12:29 AM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Wasn't it last compatible with WOFF 3? Never used it since then


I got fired as the door man at a sperm bank.
Apparently it's in poor taste to tell leaving customers "Thanks for coming."

Former U.S. Army Medic - SGT.
#4495053 - 10/29/19 09:53 AM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Originally Posted by mvp7
Thanks orbyx! Tweaking the gunner turn rates sounds like a nifty way to even out the two seaters a bit. I think I'll try the reduced rates for maneuvering two-seaters and see how it goes.

edit.
@Creaghorn -The gunner accuracy when shooting at relatively stationary and close target is quite fine the way it is. It's at long ranges and/or with hard maneuvering involved when the gunners are hitting too consistently.


Hard manoeuvring from your point of view but not necessarily the gunners view. If you are a bit further away banking left and right will be a smaller movement from the gunner's view, he can keep spraying 303 at you 1 or 2 out of his hail of bullets is likely to hit.
The numbers for the gunners turn rate was come top over a long time of making WOFF.

Cecil Lewis reported regularly coming back from a mission and counting 30+ bullet holes in his aircraft.

Anyway that's why we added options and everyone has an opinion in this game, so go for it whatever makes it how you want your sim to be..


Regards,

Polovski,
OBD Software, developers of immersive flight sims;
Wings Over Flanders Fields and Wings Over The Reich
http://www.overflandersfields.com
http://www.wingsoverthereich.com
#4495068 - 10/29/19 12:43 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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The gunners are quite dangerous. I've had the best luck with diving down at pretty high speed from the front rather than the back and attacking the pilot's area of the plane on the way down. I dive past at high speed until I am behind and underneath, then pull away and climb up for another pass. It seems to minimize the exposure to the rear gunner and it raises the closure rate because it's head-on. It's tedious to make multiple passes this way but I've always gotten chewed up by the rear gunner if I approach from the tail of the plane.

#4495091 - 10/29/19 03:51 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: AceMedic88]  
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Originally Posted by AceMedic88
Wasn't it last compatible with WOFF 3? Never used it since then


It seems to work for me, not saying that you're wrong but I'm fairly sure that it works. Regardless, these guys who are looking at adjusting the traverse of turrets speed might benefit from looking at the old mod to see how it deals with the problem in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel.


Let's pretend I got the BWOC badge to embed here.

Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein.
#4495098 - 10/29/19 04:58 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Flying behind you are a stationary blob to the gunner, Mannock knew this so came up from underneath (angled his Lewis up). You can't do that but you can usually come from well underneath and pull up to attack (staying below) then dive again and repeat. If you come up too far you will get shot at. We've been over this many times over the years, some people say they are not accurate enough some say too accurate. One thing, there are different skills for gunners as there are for pilots. You may meet an ace gunner, or a novice from time to time.
You can set the rear guns to be less accurate if you wish.


Regards,

Polovski,
OBD Software, developers of immersive flight sims;
Wings Over Flanders Fields and Wings Over The Reich
http://www.overflandersfields.com
http://www.wingsoverthereich.com
#4495117 - 10/29/19 06:53 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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Albert Ball also used that method, and apparently it was common enough that the SE5 incorporated the sliding Lewis gun on the Foster mount as a result. It seems the British particularly were fond of the tactic, and it must have worked at least to a degree. The pusher FE2b claimed Immelman and nearly killed Von Richthofen. They're more dangerous than they seem, especially if you approach from the gunner's side of the plane. It's almost a different skill set than fighting with another scout (the tail is a fine place against a scout usually, not so much a two-seater). I think the best way is to minimize your time in the gunner's range and arc of fire and I think speed is your friend in "get in and get out quickly" fashion.

#4495649 - 11/01/19 11:59 PM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: mvp7]  
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orbyxP Offline
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Originally Posted by mvp7
I think I'll try the reduced rates for maneuvering two-seaters and see how it goes.



mvp7, curious to know if you tried this tweak.

#4495650 - 11/02/19 12:07 AM Re: About gunner accuracy and precision [Re: Ace_Pilto]  
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Originally Posted by Ace_Pilto
Regardless, these guys who are looking at adjusting the traverse of turrets speed might benefit from looking at the old mod to see how it deals with the problem in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel.


Thanks. I took a peek and noticed it doesn't adjust the movement speed of the observer.

Last edited by orbyxP; 11/02/19 12:15 AM.

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