M4T Newsletter #3 September 2008

Hello welcome to Issue 3 of the M4T Newsletter, sorry we are alittle late this month but as usual we have a selection of goodies for you.

The Fallacy of Full Real

By Beebop

It’s always been one of the hottest topics around. Flying “Full Real”. But how real is Full Real?

Let’s start by seeing what happens when you turn off the difficulty settings:

Separate Engine Start: My car only needs one key so why should I need more than that for this game?

Complex Engine Management: Too complex. What am I? A mechanic?

Engine Overheat: You could fly forever at 110% with this off.

Torque & Gyro Effects: No need to trim much and straighter takeoffs.

Flutter Effect: Never turned it off before. For this article I tried it both on and off and can’t tell what it does.

Wind & Turbulence: Smoother ride for pilots with back problems and those who are severely gunnery impaired.

Stalls & Spins: Energy? Who needs frakin’ energy?

Vulnerability: “God Mode”. Every game needs a God mode.

Blackouts & Redouts: Good for the “Superman” effect when off.

Realistic Gunnery: Ballistics, schmallistics.

Limited Ammo: They never put enough in anyway.

Limited Fuel: Why turn it off? There would be no “energy crisis” if this was a real world model.

Cockpit Always On: Yeah but then I can’t see the ground below me until it smacks me in the face.

No External views: It’s too pretty of a game not to use them.

Headshake: Only used by those who like Heavy Metal music.

No Icons: Who’s on first? (see famous Abbot & Costello comedy routine)

No Padlock: I live in a nice, quiet, safe neighborhood.

Clouds: Makes it fair. The AI can see through them. Why shouldn’t I have the same advantage?

No Instant Success: Just how many times am I expected to start this campaign over?

Takeoff & Landing: Time consuming and unnecessary for dogfighting.

Realistic Landings: One of my biggest problems.

No Map Icons: How am I supposed to know where I am?

No Minimap Path: Don’t follow me, I’m lost.

No Speedbar: I’ll turn it on as soon as you move those gauges (and I learn another foreign language).

Now, let’s get a bit more serious.

There are 7 settings that seem to be the crux of flying Full Real. Cockpit Always On, No External Views, No Icons, No Padlock, No Map Icons, No Minimap Path and No Speedbar. Let’s look at them now.

Cockpit Always On. Turned off you get the infamous “Wonder Woman View” with little arrows that indicate friend/foe and the direction they are from you. The size of the arrow lets you know how close they are. I haven’t used WWV since I was air racing. There it is very helpful as you are not flying formation and one false move can cause you to crash into the person next to you putting you both out of the race. However this is a WWII flight simulator/game and it is much more realistic to have the cockpit in front of you. Besides the “gauges” in WWV are minimal and you can tell a lot more about the state of your plane in cockpit. When I host the HellHound Saturday Night Flights I turn this on. It just seems much more immersive.

No External Views. A big hot button. But at the core of this is mistrust in the nature of human beings. Given the opportunity to see what is not easily observable, most humans will use whatever aid is available, and this is one of them. The HellHounds had a member who once accused one of our guests of using externals to find and shoot him. I don’t know if it was true or not. This guest, (who still fly’s with us fairly regularly) has demonstrated the same ability on the few occasions I run a “full real” server. I leave it on for two reasons. The HH is blessed with guest pilots who adhere to our request that if ‘dead’ or within visual range, not to give warning to another pilot about who may be approaching. The other reason is that when a pilot is shot down it can be rather boring for the next 20-40 minutes just being able to listen and not watch what is happening. I and several other HH’ers have used these times to observe better pilots and learn from their example as well as just looking at the beautiful countryside or observing the action through a static camera or another aircraft. It all comes down to honor. If everyone agrees to not use this setting to their or others advantage I think it should be left on.

No Icons. Now we get into an interesting situation. In real life the human eye is a wonder. It can discern objects from a very far distance. I remember once flying from New York City and being 40,000 feet above South Dakota on a clear day. I looked down and saw someone come out of a farmhouse and get into a red vehicle and drive off. Now if I was at 40K’ in IL-2 I probably would see any of that. We are locked into a pixilated world and something that far away isn’t even a pixel in size. At Oleg’s recommended settings for the game, (1024 X 768) your computer screen has 786,434 individual pixels. That makes each pixel pretty durn small. I play at 1680 X 1050 (my native 22” screen size) which means there are 1,764,000 pixels displayed. Those are nearly microscopic pixels. And if you are even the least bit vision impaired this can be a real problem. I leave them on. Most who fly with us have a key bound to toggle those settings. If they don’t want them they don’t use them. I have yet to see a huge advantage by using them. Nonetheless I often use a custom script to set limited icons and when used most say they like it better.

No Padlock. There is no more volatile setting than this one. Many think this is a real cheat. I couldn’t disagree more. This is Oleg’s version of Track IR as I see it. When you are flying you have one hand on the stick and one hand on the throttle. If you are HOTAS-less then that other hand is over the keyboard. Until evolution gives us a third hand we cannot move the mouse to track targets at the same time. Now some HOTAS setups allow for a mini-mouse look, (something Mickey Mouse did all the time), and that can work as a virtual TIR for some. But let’s look at how Padlock functions. It follows the target until the target is not in sight for around 3 seconds, then it snaps your view back to front/center. That seems fairly realistic to me. If I lose a target for 3 seconds I’m going to look elsewhere for it or another target. Yes, it tracks below the cockpit out of my line of sight but even if you have TIR you will be doing the same thing. So what’s the difference? As for ground targets, there again many say it’s a cheat but I would refer you to my comments on Icons above. In real life you would see most targets long before you could see them in the game. Sure, they may be camouflaged or hidden in the woods. These are exceptions to using F5 (Padlock Enemy Ground). But like everything else, this is a compromise between the real world and the virtual world. I can understand arguments against padlock to search for enemies outside of a limited icon distance. But until such time as the virtual world more closely approaches the human eye in the real world, we will either play with these aids on or play with them off, somewhat crippling our ability to play Full Real.

No Map Icons. Here I tend to agree that not having them on is better. All I ever want to see is where my plane is on the map. I’ll use notes taken at the briefing or reports from other pilots about the whereabouts of enemy planes and ground targets. It’s just too easy seeing everything on the minimap. It’s like having SuperRadar.

No Minimap Path. Here though is another story. Now a real pilot had to have navigation skills and the necessary math skills to plot vectors and paths. A lot of ground schooling as well as practical learning went into this. When you look at a map and then at the ground, there are many times when it’s hard to tell exactly if the feature on the map and the feature on the ground are the same. A map path is a big help in navigation. Oh sure, you could laminate the game maps, get a grease pencil, a protractor and compass and figure it out yourself. I’ll bet in real life many pilots just made the markings on their maps during the pre-flight briefing which would essentially give you the same thing you see with the minimap path turned on.

No Speedbar. Well this can be toggled but first you have to learn the gauges and….be able to see them. We don’t have 6DOF in this game so even those with TIR can’t see the gauge behind the flightstick. Although it may look ugly off there in the corner it is useful until you learn to read your gauges. The heading only readout is vital if the compass is covered by cockpit hardware.

Now most of this relates to online flying. If you fly offline many of the issues presented here do not affect you. You will often be in the same plane for quite a while and begin to learn the cockpit as well as that planes characteristics. You are flying with and against AI, who, as we all know, are the true Aryan Race in IL-2. They have superhuman flying ability, (they stall much later than you will if they stall at all), more ammo than you can shake a stick at, (they fire bursts so long that in a similar aircraft I get an “Weapon: Out of Ammo” message), and X-Ray vision in any weather, (they can even spot you when you can’t see them in the distance) and the ability to manage their engines well beyond the amount of time you are given before it seizes up. Of course to balance that they are thick as a brick when it comes to attacking or following your orders. But that’s another column.

I have seen the inside of many planes both in real life and pictures and nowhere did I see a “Refly” switch, toggle, button or handle. Real life pilots don’t have that option. So if you REALLY want to play this “FULL REAL” here is the way;

1. Install game

2. Learn to fly

3. Go into combat

4. If during 2 or 3 the screen goes black or the message appears “Player Killed”, uninstall the game and put the CD/DVD’s back in the box, put the box on the shelf to gather dust and figure out what to do next. THAT and only that is “Full Real” in my opinion.

So to sum it up, this is a computer simulation, a game if you will and due to hardware and software limitations, at this time, it cannot duplicate entirely or exactly the real experience of flying in World War II. Certainly it is difficult to fly with all the switches on. But Oleg understood that for some it would be too discouraging to leave it at that so put in switches to make the game fun for just about everyone, from the diehard purist to the weekend warrior. It can even be fun for kids.

That being said, you shouldn't condemn the way another plays the game. What is important is to have fun weather you play Full Real or something less. So before you think about trouncing someone who fly’s with some of the switches off, remember it’s just a game after all. However you choose to fly, make sure you have your settings set to “Full Fun”.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are wholly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Mission 4 today, Airwarfare, its Staff or Management. Comments are welcome.

I can be reached at: hh_beebop@yahoo.com

Little known history: Battle of Khalkin Gol

In August 1939, just weeks before Hitler invaded Poland, the Soviet Union and Japan fought a massive tank battle on the Mongolian border - the largest the world had ever seen.

Under the then unknown Georgy Zhukov, the Soviets won a crushing victory at the batte of Khalkhin-Gol (known in Japan as the Nomonhan Incident). Defeat persuaded the Japanese to expand into the Pacific, where they saw the United States as a weaker opponent than the Soviet Union. If the Japanese had not lost at Khalkhin Gol, they may never have attacked Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese decision to expand southwards also meant that the Soviet Eastern flank was secured for the duration of the war. Instead of having to fight on two fronts, the Soviets could mass their troops - under the newly promoted General Zhukov - against the threat of Nazi Germany in the West.

In terms of its strategic impact, the battle of Khalkhin Gol was one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War, but no-one has ever heard of it. Why?

Rising Tensions
It was perhaps not all that surprising that the Soviet Union and Japan, two expansionist powers who just happened to be close neighbours, butted heads in the Mongolian borderlands.

Tensions between the two had been high for decades, and had erupted into open conflict on a number of occasions. Japan had clearly had an edge over Russia during the early part of the 20th century - it had decisively defeated Tsarist Russia in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 (a conflict most memorable, perhaps, for the Russian Navy’s folly of sailing its entire Baltic fleet around the globe only to be promptly sunk by the Japanese Navy within days of its arrival), and had occupied Vladivostock for several years during the Russian civil war.

But, by the 1930s, the Soviet Union under Stalin was a resurgent power, and had become a major regional rival to the Japanese. The Japanese High Command were particularly concerned about the threat Soviet submarines posed to Japanese shipping, and the ease with which Soviet bombers, operating out of Vladivostok, would be able to reach Tokyo.


By the late 1930s, both Mongolia and bordering Manchuria (Manchukuo) were Soviet and Japanese puppet states.

NomonhanThe border between the two was hotly disputed. Japanese backed Manchuria claimed that the border ran along the Khalkhin-Gol river, whereas the Mongolians argued that the border actually ran just east of Nomonhan village, some 10 miles east of the river.

Although the two countries had previously fought some minor skirmishes (most notably at Changkufeng/Lake Khasan in 1938, a battle which resulted in more than 2,500 casualties on both sides), the battle of Khalkin Gol was sparked when, on 11 May 1938, a small Mongolian cavalry united entered the disputed area in search of grazing for their horses. They were quickly given a bloody nose and expelled by a larger Manchurian unit but, within days, the Mongolians returned with greater support and forced the Manchurian forces to retreat.

The conflict slowly but gradually escalated until Soviet and Japanese forces were drawn into direct conflict. On 28 May Soviet forces surrounded and destroyed a Japanese reconnaisance unit. The Japanese unit, led by Lt Colonel Yaozo Azuma suffered 63% casualties in total, losing 8 officers and 97 men, plus suffering 34 wounded.

A month of relative quiet followed this battle. But, instead of using the time to consider a peace deal, both sides redoubled their efforts to build up their forces in the region.

Daring Japanese Air Raid

Japanese Ki-27 planeThe quiet was shattered on 27 June by a daring Japanese air-raid on the Soviet air base at Tamsak-Bulak in Mongolia. The unprepared Soviets lost many planes on the ground although, once they got airborne they gave a good account of themselves. Their skill, however, could not prevent the Japanese pilots returning gloriously home, having destroyed twice as many Soviet planes as they had lost themselves.

However, their glory was short-lived. The Imperial Japanese Army Headquarters, based in Tokyo, had not been told of the attack in advance, and was not amused at the local commander’s initiative. When news of the raid reached Tokyo, furious Generals immediately ordered that no further air strikes would be launched - a decision for which Japanese foot-soldiers later paid a high price.

The Japanese ground attack

Despite their decision to withdraw air cover, Tokyo was happy to authorise a land-based operation to “expell the invaders.”

Lt. Gen. Michitaro Komatsubara, well schooled officer, planned a devastating two-pronged assault that would encircle and destroy the Soviet armies and bring him a glorious victory.

Japanese troops Nomonhan Khalkhin GolHis Northern task force launched its first assalt on 1st July. After easily crossing the Khalkhin Gol river, Japanse soldiers drove the Soviet forces from Baintsagan Hill and quickly began to advance southwards. The following day his Southern task force followed them with another massive assault.

However, Komatsubara soldiers were ill-prepared, and not able to take advantage of their early success. Poor logistical planning meant that their supply line across the river consisted of just one pontoon bridge.

Seizing their opportunity, the Soviets under Zhukov quickly rallied 450 tanks for a daring counter-attack. Despite being entirely without infrantry support, they attacked the Japanese task force on three sides, and very nearly encircled them.

By 5 July, the battered Japanese Northern Taskforce had been forced back across the river.

The second Japanese attack

Following the failure of their first attack, the Japanese withdrew and planned their next move. Defeat was not an option for Komatsubara. After giving his soldiers a fortnight to recover, and restock their supplies, he conceived another assault plan - this one relying on brute force.

On 23 July, backed by a massive artillery bombardment, the Japanese threw two divisions of troops at the Soviet forces that had, by now, crossed the river and were defending the Kawatama bridge. wo days of fierce fighting resulted in some minor Japanse advances, but they were unable to break Soviet lines and reach the bridge. Despite thousands of casualties, the battle was effectively a stalemate.

Unable to progress further, and rapidly running out of artillery supplies, the Japanese decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and disengaged to plan a third assault.

The Soviet Counter-attack

Zhukov Khalkhin Gol NomonhanPlanning for a third Japanse assault went well, but the Soviets under Zhukov beat Lt Gen Komatsubara to the punch.

By August 20th, Zhukov had amassed a force of more than 50,000 men, 498 tanks and 250 planes. Matched against him was a similarly sized, but not well armoured Japanese force, that had no idea the Soviet counter-attack was coming.

A classic combined arms assault followed, as thousands of Soviet infantry attacked the Japanese centre, Soviet armour encircled the Japanese flanks, and the Soviet air-force and artillery pounded the Japanese from long-range.

By August 31st, the encircled Japanese force had been decimated and surrounded. A few Japanese units managed to break out of the encirclement, but those who remained followed Japanse martial tradition and refused to surrender.

Zhukov wiped them out with air and artillery attacks.

The conflict ends

Just one day later, half way across the world Hitler and Stalin invaded and carved up Poland.

Despite technically being an ally of Nazi Germany, it became prudent for Stalin to ensure that he Eastern flank was also secure. Rather than advancing to push home their tactical advantage and escalate the conflict, Zhukov’s armies were ordered not to press home their advantage. Instead, they were ordered to dig in and hold their position at Khalkhin Gol - the border they had previously claimed as theirs.

The total number of casualties suffered by each side is far from clear, particularly as neither Imperial Japan nor the Soviet Union were particularly ‘open’ societies.

Official statistics report just over 17,000 Japanese total casualties, compared with around 9,000 on the Soviet side. Some historians claim that Japan lost more than 45,000 men, while the victorious Soviet armies lost a ‘mere’ 17,000 men.

Most likely, as always, the true figure lies somewhere in the middle.

How Khalkhin-Gol changed the course of history

The battle of Khalkhin-Gol decisively showed the expansionist Japanese military that it was not a match for the Soviets - particularly while Japanese forces were still bogged down throughout China. The Soviets under combined their forces to stunning effect, while Japanese tactics remained stuck in a pre-modern mindset that valued honour and personal bravery more highly on the battlefield than massed forces and armour.

When Hitler finally invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the Japanese, although tempted to join the attack, remembered the lessons of Khalkhin Gol and decided to remain on the sidelines, ensuring that the stretched Soviet military could focus its forces on just one front. This, in turn, meant that Nazi Germany was forced to fight a four year war on two fronts - against the Soviets in the East, and the British and Americans in the West.

Defeat at Khalkhin-Gol can also be seen as a major factor in the Japanese decision to expand into the Pacific. As expansion to the North-West was no longer an option, ill defended and scattered colonial territories made far easier targets. Even the United States was deemed a less formidable adversary than the Soviet Union and, if the Japanse had not lost at Khalkhin-Gol, they would surely have never attacked Pearl Harbour.

However, although the Japanese probably took the sensible strategic course after Khalkhin Gol of targetting a ‘weaker’ opponent, they didn’t learn the combat lessons dealt out by the Soviet army. Honour and bravery remained central to the Japanese military mentality and, once they had recovered from the initial onslaught, the United States and Britain were able to mass their forces and push the Japanese out of the Pacific and back to the Home Islands in one brutal battle after another.

Source: http://www.siberianlight.net/2008/01/21/khalkhin-gol-battle-nomonhan/

The Road To War
September 1938

1 September - Czechoslovakia: Hitler issues a demand for Czechoslovakia to immediately cede the Sudetenland to Germany.

7 September -
Czechoslovakia: France mobilizes a portion of her army in response to Hitler's demands for Czech territory. The Sudetenland seperatists suspend talks with the Czech government.

15 September -
Czechoslovakia: Neville Chamberlain meets Adolf Hitler for the first time to discuss the Czechoslovakia crisis at Hitler's mountain retreat, Berchtesgaden.

18 September -
Czechoslovakia: Members of the British and French cabinets meet in London to discuss a joint plan to appease Hitler in relation to Czechoslovakia.

20 September -
Czechoslovakia: The Czech government accepts the Anglo-French appeasement plan after being informed that if they do not, Czechoslovakia can expect no aid if attacked by Hitler.

22 September -
Spain: The International Brigades, groups of volunteers from around the world, withdraw from the conflict in Spain. Europe: Chamberlain and Hitler meet again at Berchtesgaden.

25 September -
Czechoslovakia: The government of France alters its position on the appeasement of Hitler, declaring that France will aid the Czechs if Germany invades.

27 September -
Europe: Jews are prohibited from practicing law in Germany. Britain mobilizes the Home Fleet in response to the Czech crisis.

29 September -
Czechoslovakia: The Munich Conference begins between Germany, Italy, Britain, and France to develop a solution to the problems over Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia is excluded from the conference.

30 September - Czechoslovakia:
France, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy sign the Munich Pact. The democracies capitulate totally, giving to Hitler Austria and Czechoslovakia in exchange for a promise to not make advances on Germany's neighbors; Neville Chamberlain, the British PM, declares, "I believe it is peace in our time".

Source WWII Timeline

And finally......
Just For Fun by Duggy

Can you send in a caption for this months picture?

Caption please to the Newsletter 3 thread

That's all for this month folks, thanks for reading.

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