WT – Beginner's Guide Part 4.1, How to Aim

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WT – Beginner's Guide Part 4.1, How to Aim

Greetings War Thunderers. This is Longshot with a guide on how to aim with fighter planes in Arcade In previous videos in this Beginners Guide series, I’ve examined the principles of energy fighting, I’ve shown various defensive and reversal maneuvers and attacking techniques, but all of those will be of limited value if you can’t actually land your shots when it most counts Its actually very common for new players to struggle even to land hits, let alone actually shoot down planes on a regular basis So this video covers all topics to do with aiming. I’ll show you how to position your plane for the shot and the best approach angles on the enemy plane. I’ll discuss weapons, convergence, vertical targeting, allowing for gravity and recoil And lastly I’ll look at the lead indicator, showing how to interpret it and how to use it to improve the accuracy of your aiming So if you have annotations enabled, right now you’ll see a bunch of links that you can click to skip straight to a particular section of the video Ok so, to begin with let me show you two screenshots. Here I’m sitting on the tail of an enemy fighter … and here I’m approaching at high speed from an angle Which, do you think, of these two scenarios is more likely to get me a quick and easy kill at minimal risk to my own plane? Well let’s see what happened in the first example He quickly became aware of me, started dodging and became very hard to hit. From behind, even a large fighter like a P-47 presents a small target, and any armor will be facing to the back to protect vital components from exactly this kind of attack So lets look at the second example. This time I have the full top-down profile of the enemy plane to aim at, there’s no armor protecting him from my shots, and he’s far less likely to be aware of me Its so much easier to land critical hits, and I was able to execute the quick and easy kill with no risk of fixating on a target and developing tunnel vision So the first lesson to take away from this is the angle of the enemy plane matters. Directly on the six of a plane is often the worst place to be if you want a quick kill – I’m not saying its impossible to shoot down planes from there, its just making things unneccessarily difficult for yourself The more of the enemy plane there is exposed to your guns, the larger the target becomes making it harder to miss, the less armor there is to stop your shots and the more chance you have of inflicting terminal damage And its these kind of deflection shots that you want to look for Ok next, there’s the angle of your own plane to consider when you’re getting ready to take a shot at a target Lets consider some basics flight theory. Planes have wings, and those wings generate lift. As a result, planes will be more responsive when you pitch up compared to pitching down This will be more noticeable with some planes than others, but as a general rule you want to roll your plane so that you can pitch up in order to track a target and avoid a situation where you have to pitch down to get a firing solution This is even more important if your plane has a weak rudder, such as P-47s or P-38s A weak rudder makes the plane reluctant to yaw to the side, so you want to roll to get your wing angle matching the heading of your target, as that’ll minimize the amount of rudder needed to get a firing solution In this example I started to roll the plane to track the target, a Ki-45, but when I opened fire I stopped rolling and as a result my wings go out of alignment with his flight direction At this point its actually looking pretty good. There’s the enemy flight path and you can see the angle of my wings should allow me to use elevators in order to pitch up as I track the target But it goes wrong very quickly. I’ve stopped rolling the plane, so the instructor has stepped in and decided to correct my roll angle and to make the cockpit face upwards, and this is the result To follow the target, my plane will now need to yaw to the side, but the rudder on the P-47 just isn’t strong enough for that And as a result, I miss the shot and the target escapes So you have to learn to multitask and concentrate on the roll angle of your plane, even while you’re shooting A guest pilot, flip, will demonstrate that for us in this diving attack on a Hurricane The Hurricane begins a right hand turn which will take it under flip’s angle of approach If he tried to simply follow it with the mouse cursor, that’d make the plane try to pitch down against the natural lift from the wings – chances are that he won’t get guns on target Instead he’s going to roll the plane and turn it upside-down, and as the Hurricane continues to turn flip continues to roll even while lining up the shot And yes that was a difficult kill which he made look easy, but now you can see how important rolling the plane can be when it comes to tracking a target and getting a firing solution Ok, the next thing I want to look at is anticipating your target’s movements, before you get into firing range The idea is to be proactive rather than assume they’ll fly straight, and then find yourself having to react when the target does something unexpected This is my previous example with the P-47. Having missed the Ki-45, I’m now going to continue my diving attack on the BB-1, who is flying in this direction Note how I’m already flying towards where I expect the plane to be, I’m not flying directly at the target This is known as lead pursuit, and it plays a vital role in positioning your plane for an attack I do have to roll my plane a little to the left to match his heading, but that aside lets look at what’s likely to happen here

The enemy plane could keep flying straight, or he could target one of the blue planes to his left, or he could see me and break hard to either side Although I’m over a kilometer away, I’m watching closely and I’m ready to quickly adjust my roll angle and flight direction as needed As it turns out, he only makes a minor turn to the left, I instantly correct my roll and then I’m in position for a great shot as I reach convergence range So yes, don’t expect your enemy will fly straight while you attack them. Ask yourself what they’re likely to do, be ready to adjust while you approach, and you’ll be in a much better position to put guns on target Ok there’s one more thing to cover before I look at aiming itself, and that’s the setup and behaviour of your weapons To begin with, some planes, like the P-47 have guns mounted on the wings, and some are on or close to the fuselage, like this I-185. And when you start a battle, you’ll be able to set the Guns Targeting distance This distance refers to two things. Firstly, your guns are angled inwards to make the bullets converge at whatever distance you specify here, beyond which they start to disperse again. This is what I and others refer to when we speak of convergence So lets take a quick look at what convergence means. I’m using a Corsair in this example as it has wing-mounted guns, and here you can see the convergence set to 800m With this setting you’ll be able to damage planes right out to 1km or more, but landing hits from all 6 of your guns will not be easy, and at close range you might struggle to hit anything at all At 400m you’re doing deadly damage at a more typical engagement range, however long range gunnery is now out of the question And if you set it to a close value like 250m, you’ll shred planes at point blank range but beyond about 400m it’ll be a waste of time trying to shoot anything Whatever you choose, if your guns are wing-mounted then it will be a compromise One thing to take into consideration is the effective damage range of your plane’s weapons Light machineguns are best at close range, .50 cals are losing effectiveness by 500m, cannon also lose their ability to penetrate armor at long range although their high explosive remains just as effective So if the main guns on your plane are mounted on the wings, it makes sense to set the Guns Targeting range at the maximum range at which they’ll still inflict serious damage Lastly here’s a plane with fuselage mounted weapons, which you should always set to a maximum targeting range. If you set it to a short distance you’ll gain nothing as the guns are already close together, all you’re doing is sacrificing your long range accuracy Anyway, the Guns Targeting range is not only for horizontal convergence. If you have Vertical Targeting enabled, which can be selected through the Options menu, that’s controlled by this Guns Targeting value as well So lets look at what Vertical Targeting does In the same way as horizontal convergence angles the guns inward to make all the bullets meet at the targeting range, Vertical targeting angles them upwards to allow for gravity, so that the bullets drop to be level with your plane at that targeting range Now that sounds really useful at first glance. Surely it’d be great not to have to allow for gravity with your aiming, right? Well its not that easy If you’re firing at a longer distance than the targeting range, you’ll still have to aim a bit higher to allow for bullet drop. If you’re engaging at close range, you actually have to aim a bit below the target else your bullets will fly harmlessly above it And if that’s not complex enough, consider what happens if you’re engaging on an angle, whether diving or climbing, or your plane is banked or even upside-down Not to mention the fact that you’ll be changing the Guns Targeting distance for horizontal convergence as you switch between planes, and as a result that will really mess up your feel for vertical aiming Generally speaking I think Vertical Targeting is far more trouble than its worth, and I have it turned off as I prefer to simply allow for gravity myself And how much should you lift your aim to allow for gravity. I’ll use the P-400 as an example given the range of weapons it carries Light machineguns lose velocity quickly, so after around 300m they start to drop American .50 cals are ok out to about 400m, after which you’ll have to start aiming a little higher Hispanos have very high muzzle velocity, so it takes quite a while before gravity has an effect Each weapon in War Thunder is different, so bullet drop is simply something you’re going to have to get used to On planes with mixed guns, like the P-400, you’ll need to either fire the machineguns seperately from the cannon, or simply get in close where the different ballistics properties won’t matter as much Before I move on, there’s one more factor relating to weapons thats actually very important when it comes to aiming in War Thunder, and that’s understanding and adapting to recoil The main thing to consider here is that the bigger the gun and the higher the velocity of its shells, the greater the recoil will tend to be Light machineguns don’t have any recoil worth worrying about, and a plane with a bank of .50 cals will still be quite stable Its when you get into the cannon that things start to get interesting. The first thing to look at is the location of the cannon on your plane If they’re nose mounted, as they are on this Ki-43-III otsu, the recoil will buck the nose upwards when you fire, as you can see by the movement of the crosshairs or aiming reticle Its even clearer zoomed in When the cannon are mounted on the wings, as they are with many British fighters, the recoil will force the nose down as the cannon are located below the plane’s center of gravity

This is especially obvious with Hispanos as they are high velocity cannon that have a kick like a mule So how do you allow for recoil? Well if your plane is going to recoil upwards, aim a little lower than you otherwise would Conversely if you’re in a Spitfire you’ll want to aim a little higher, or if you’re making a banking deflection shot like this one, aim further ahead of the target as the recoil will bring your aim back towards it Oh and before I forget, if you watched the first video in this series you’ll know that I use the keyboard to fire my guns, not the mouse buttons. And why is that? Let me show you Here I am firing using the mouse button, and you can see the mouse cursor wiggling around – its quite hard for me to keep a steady aim … and now again, firing with the keyboard – and the mouse is nice and stable When I fire with the mouse, my hand tenses up particularly if I have to adjust for recoil, and my mouse accuracy suffers as a result If _you_ have that problem, consider using the keyboard instead – it helped me a lot, maybe it will for you as well Am I ready to look at aiming yet? Almost! But before I do, one very important thing to consider is the sensitivity of your mouse Firstly you can set this in your Control Options, and the best way of doing that is to go into a test flight, see if the mouse movements are too jerky or maybe too sluggish, adjust the settings then try again But before you do that, if you’re on a Windows machine, you might want to look in your Control Panel’s mouse settings. In particular under Pointer Options there’s a checkbox called Enhance pointer precision which is turned on by default What that will do is move your mouse by small increments when you’re making fine adjustments, then accelerate the mouse if you move it a bit faster That sounds like it should be helpful in War Thunder, but in my experience it simply made the mouse jump around and it was very difficult to keep it on target Even though I’d used computers with this feature enabled for many years, it only took me a day or two to get used to it being off, and in War Thunder I saw an immediate benefit And with that its time to look at how to actually aim in War Thunder Arcade Lets take a look at the various elements you’ll see in Arcade using Mouse Aim. Firstly there’s the Aiming Reticle, which basically shows where your plane is pointing There’s the mouse cursor, and except for when you’re using the keyboard to move a tail control, Mouse Aim will continually try to move the Aiming Reticle towards the Mouse Cursor And finally the small circle ahead of the enemy plane, which is called the Lead Indicator This appears at around 780m, its only seen in Arcade, and can be used not only for aiming your guns, but also showing you the heading and speed of the enemy plane relative to your own Now let me say right here that I’ve always thought this feature was and is completely unnecessary in War Thunder Most players are more than capable of figuring out how to lead targets without the aid of a circle showing you where to put your crosshairs And not only that, the lead indicator is actually a bit misleading. From my observations, its accurate only out to a range of 300m So lets look at a few examples. Now these will just be air to air kills but I’ll try to explain what’s happening so that instead of simply seeing footage of planes losing their wings you’ll understand what I’m doing and why, and hopefully that’ll help you practice the same techniques As you can see here, I’m intercepting an SBD, and because he’s traveling at an angle to me I’ll lift up and roll to the left OK now I can follow him by pitching upwards. I’m also in position for a quick snapshot, aiming right at the lead indicator as we’re at close range It looks like he’s leveling off, so I’ll roll to the right then hit him with a steady burst, again aiming at the lead indicator as the range is less than 300m I’ll show you a series of close range examples. In this one I’m dropping on the target from above, aiming at the lead indicator and he flies right into my path of cannon shells This is a typical turnfight situation. I’ve rolled left to match the direction of the target, and as his range is around 300m I’m aiming right at the lead indicator And then I can repeat exactly the same thing with a second target I shoot at this Spitfire from 500m but I’m not leading far enough in front of the indicator. Once I’m within 300m my shells start to land Next, aiming at a dodging Hurricane was not easy, but once inside 300m I started to land hits. It really does pay to get in close, it gets so much easier to score kills And yes around 300m is my preferred engagement range, and you can see why that’s the case, but you can drop targets from further away If you’re beyond 300m range, you need to aim ahead of the lead indicator, which enables me to drop this TBF from around 400m … and now a PBY from around the same distance, both by aiming a little ahead of the lead indicator In the next example I’m attacking a Wellington, leading ahead of the indicator as he approaches And then on the next pass I’ll aim slightly above the indicator to allow for gravity and to the left of it in order to target his engine and wing Next, dropping onto another bomber from above, and aiming ahead of the indicator as I start firing from about 600m

And here’s an example where I didn’t lead ahead of the indicator far enough. As you can see I’m blazing away at 500m range while my reticle is aimed almost exactly at the indicator circle, when it should be a good distance in front of it Every shell I’m firing is falling short as a result, but as I close in to the target, still aiming at the reticle, at around 300m my shells began to connect So beyond 300m you need to aim ahead of the indicator, and the further away you are the greater the amount of lead required Ok so lets take a look at a few longer range shots. In this example a Bf109 is extending away from me and I’m not going to be able to catch up At 500m I open fire, aiming a good distance ahead of the lead indicator Here a P-39 is climbing underneath me, I dive and engage from 600m, although its probably the shots from around 500m that connect and destroy the target To be honest, long range engagements are not my forte so for better examples I’ll show you some footage contributed by flip, who is a true expert at this kind of thing Starting with a series of head-on engagements. He opens fire at 1.3km, aiming above the target then dropping his aim as he closes in, before ducking away just before the lead indicator is visible Then the same thing again This last kill is quite a tricky shot, as the enemy plane will turn toward him from underneath. Flip doesn’t wait for the lead indicator to appear, he just opens fire at where he believes the other plane is likely to go This is another example of long range shooting. The target is at 600m, flying away from him and in a shallow dive, and look where flip is aiming Almost the same distance ahead of the lead indicator circle, as the circle is from the plane And if you think about it that makes sense. If the lead indicator works at 300m range, then at 600m you want to lead by twice that amount. Anyway lets see what happens Its almost magical, and here’s tx141 doing exactly the same thing with a Ki-44. The targets at around 600m range, and look at how much he’s leading ahead of the indicator Now here I’m going to get a bit silly and show you some examples of extremely long range gunnery This is flip once again, and yes he’s firing at a target 1.6km away. And yes he makes it look easy I showed you that just to give you an idea of what was possible, not to encourage you to spray and pray Its much better to practice good gunnery habits and closer range engagements first. Get those mastered and maybe later you can try taking those longer shots Now this is some footage sent to me by JovialWitness. Each time he shoots a plane down, I want you to concentrate on the roll angle of his plane relative to the target, on the target’s range when he opens fire, how much he’s leading the indicator relative to that range, and the allowance he makes for gravity Ok closing in on this G5N at an oblique angle … he aims well ahead of the indicator as he opens fire at 700m, and aims closer to the indicator as he approaches the target Next he’s in a fast low yoyo attack on a P-51 which has tried to climb away from him, note how he’s leading well in front of the target before he gets into range. Its much easier to pull your aim back if you lead too far in front, than increase your lead if you haven’t allowed enough Dropping on a B-25 from above, Jovial rolls as he dives to avoid having to pitch down when he aims Another diving attack, this time on a Spitfire. Jovial doesn’t quite lead far enough when he opens fire at 600m, so his cannon shells miss until he’s closed to 400m And while he attacks a P-63, I just want to comment on the affect ping has on your aiming Do you see any difference in how Jovial, with an 80ms ping, is aiming compared to tx141 with 50, flip with 70, or me with a ping of 270? There is no difference, the exact same amount of lead works regardless of ping And for a server-side game that may seem illogical, but as Gaijin’s CEO himself explained in an interview a few weeks ago, its because they’ve implemented a feature called Host State Rewind on their servers, and I’ll leave that for you to look up if you’re interested The point is, you can practice aiming in a test flight Mission Editor battle, which has zero ping, then use exactly the same techniques on a server with a ping over 400ms Hit Detection certainly won’t be as good, as it gets significantly worse the higher your ping, but aiming remains constant And I definitely recommend Mission Editor battles as a way to improve your aiming. The feature is accessible through test flight, and allows you to shoot down as many AI planes as you want It doesn’t matter if you get shot down, what you will get is a ton of planes to shoot at one after another, and its amazing how quickly that’ll improve your skills So if you have trouble aiming, try to keep in mind the things I’ve shown you here and consciously practice them, starting with closer range engagements rather than long range spray and pray

Oh and one last thing, if you’re thinking of moving to Realistic Battles, don’t get used to the lead indicator. It doesn’t exist in RB, and aiming is a totally different proposition when there’s no crutch, I mean, guide, to assist you I’d like to thank the three expert pilots who are featured in this video – flip, tx141 and JovialWitness. Links to their channels can be found in the description text below, I do suggest checking them out Anyway I look forward to reading your comments. I’ve tried to cover every aspect but if I’ve missed something please feel free to point it out If you’d like to support the creation of these videos there’s a link to my Patreon page in the description, and thankyou to all who’ve supported me thus far, its much appreciated And that’s all for this video. Keep calm, shoot straight, and I’ll see you in the skies