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Avoiding Hollywood AAA Depictions


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*Warning* Image-intense post

It seems to me that in paintings, movies, and previous flight sims, IJN AAA is grossly exaggerated. Especially in modern movies. Hopefully, Combat Pilot will not fall prey to Hollywood’s “reality” and follow their CGI trend of ridiculous Japanese AAA. Because based on conversations I have with younger people (I'm 57) who grew up with CGI, they believe this is how it was.

For example, this clip from the recent Midway movie:


Various scenes throughout that movie, the Yamato movie, etc., show the US pilots flying through a veritable Scheissesturm of Japanese AAA. Of course, there was AAA. I’m not implying there wasn’t, and I’m not implying that at times it could be intense. But photographs show it certainly was nowhere near the volume/intensity depicted in paintings, movies, that clip, and previous flight sims. It is more representative of USN AAA than Japanese, but even then it's still too much.   

Below are some random photos available anywhere online, taken from (1) American planes attacking Japanese ships; (2) from Japanese planes attacking American ships; and (3) from American ships shooting at attacking Japanese planes. Compare the intensity of AAA in the photographs taken by attacking US airmen to those taken by attacking Japanese airmen and defending American sailors. The AAA seen from the Japanese camera and the US ships is tenfold what the American airmen photos reveal when attacking the Japanese.  

Here are photos taken by American airmen while attacking Japanese naval vessels:


















Compare the AAA seen in those shots with the clip from Midway (top of this post) and the following photos below. The first was taken by Japanese plane during a strike on Lexington during Coral Sea. The others were taken from USN vessels engaging attacking Japanese planes. By comparison, the skies over the Japanese ships in the above pictures are practically devoid of any signs of AAA. Certainly as depicted by Hollywood:
















This post isn’t about AAA effectiveness, fire control, or wanting advantages/disadvantages as a flight simmer for one side or the other in CP. It just demonstrates the reality of WW2 Japanese AAA was nothing like the Midway movie, with an exploding AAA shell and hundreds of tracers in every 50 cubic feet of airspace from the surface to ten thousand feet within ten miles of an aircraft carrier.





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incredible post OP, thanks!

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I’ve seen those poor brave guys in that..Jill(?)..before in pictures, maybe even colorized footage.  Yikes.

I’ve also seen the cartwheeling and burning plane before, but just now noticed that somebody got out and had a chute.  Seriously, never seen that part of it until just now.



Edited by Sea Serpent
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A good post... although I would think we mostly all understood that the Hollywood version is fantasy already.

From my PoV the key things to hit are:

  • Ships must evade. Especially Japanese ships, which relied on evasion more than mutual support.
  • Mid-size AA (5", etc)  must be able to put up a barrage at a specific range. This is something that's very visually distinctive and illustrated in the above photos, but that BoX AI doesn't seem able to do. It will also present a unique experience for the player, to be speeding towards a dense concentration of flak bursts knowing that if a hit comes, it will come as they pass through that wall.
  • It mustn't be too easy to "bait" the AI. A real gunner knows that the plane coming towards the ship is a threat, and the plane that has dropped its bombs is not, and should prioritize targets accordingly. They ought to prioritize bombers and planes flying towards the ship, and be willing to switch fire away from targets that don't pose an immediate threat.

I recommend Antiaircraft Action Summary: December 1941 to July 1942; it's a fantastic resource with almost 200 pages of reports about US Navy and Merchant Marine AA tactics and doctrine, and includes a fantastic table with details of specific engagements, ranges, rounds expended, effects, etc.

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ships need to have options like in old IL-2 1946, you can set rate of fire of guns, there should also be option to set amount of guns that you wont to be active, (was posible with mods) like 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% ... 200% and so on... so mission maker have options to set it how he see it fit, also durability of ships should be adjustable in Mission builder.

If they just make all thous fix to what they see as realistic, it will be either to hard for players to attack ships or to easy, especialy in MP.

Edited by CountZero
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  • 1 month later...

I'd rather see guns function as coordinated units, laying up area box screens, no guns specifically targeting any single aircraft.  It could take far less resources, no need for individual guns to track when a single command director is defining where to throw up a box.  One director could coordinate the fire control on multiple ships greatly relieving tracking resources.  Should give much more believable results.  Of note in the images above is how close these aircraft are actually making it to the ships before being hit.  Once a plane gets within a defined range to any single ship guns, than depending on gun class let all hell lose to the independent tracking gunners.

Later in the war when VT shells and radar directed guns become the thing, at least for one side, the box method can switched to a direct focused attack on any aircraft or formation itself.  The fusing effects can be changed also, the shells don't detonate unless proximity is made, or the programmed maximum range is reached where they self detonate for safety well beyond target, usually, that should scare the pants off pilots since they won't even know they're being engaged until hit, as it was.  

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I really don't mind how it's done, so long as AA is realistic. Those pictures posted by JFM at the top of the page are great examples. And of course, with fused artillery, AA has to be so much more dangerous attacking US ships than either British or Japanese.

The weight of shell produced by US ships is mind boggling.

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So is what a computer gotta compute in such a situation 😉

The amount of steel thrown at nothing in the sky is no small joke, it is a challenge to model in itself, even early war. The number of projectiles for which ballistics may or may not have to be calculated is a big affair.

"Fused artillery AA" - as in proximity fuze vs. normal self-destruct or manually set time fuze - is, like Cpt Crunch says, a matter of later war scenario. Still, the mere amount of tubes on the average June 1942 US warship makes it all much more dangerous to face than its Japanese equivalent at any rate. But considering this added lethality is primarily due to the mere volume of fire and overall savvyness of the gun crews for everything that fires below 25mm, I can tell you, that's one of the hardest parts to balance so as to reach a believable level of destruction.

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