CFS3 ETO campaign report - RAF, Battle of Britain
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Thread: CFS3 ETO campaign report - RAF, Battle of Britain

  1. #1

    CFS3 ETO campaign report - RAF, Battle of Britain

    Re-starting with CFS3 to re-fight WW2's most famous air battle!



    Over the last few years, I’ve been in the habit of posting illustrated mission reports from various sims. Mostly, these have been on the CombatAce forums, but more recently, mainly on SimHQ, since that’s where most players seem to hang out for the sims I’ve been playing most, of late - Battle of Britain II and more recently, Wings over the Reich.

    The subject of this series of reports - which will be as long as my pilot survives and my interest lasts - is another Battle of Britain campaign, but this time in CFS3 - the ETO expansion, to be precise. Sim-outhouse being where most CFS3 players hang out and where most content is available - a fact I’ve mentioned when posting CFS3 ETO screenies on SimHQ - this seemed to be the most fitting place to post it.

    You can now skip to the next screenshots, if you don’t want to read the further preliminary ramblings which follow!

    I was spurred into flying CFS3 again after seeing MajorMagee’s SimHQ pics of the superb Spit II package. The first campaign I decided to try out was one I downloaded some time back - IIRC from MRJMAINT’s site. I decided to play it because (a) I already had it installed and (b) it’s for the Battle of Britain, my main current interest. TBH I’m not sure if the spawn selector is working right/as recommended but I’ll see how it flies with the set-up I have now.

    The Battle of Britain probably lends itself quite well to a campaign based on scripted missions, but this one uses the CFS3 campaign engine, which as regular players will know is an ambitious but strange sort of semi-wargame thing. You are allocated to a squadron which has a long list of pilots, but with no logbook and little real sense of either pilot or unit identity. At the start of each mission in the campaign, you click on a front-line sector on the world-class-awful CFS3 map (long overdue a mod?). You are then presented with a choice of missions from a fixed range of types, each with a repetitive and generic briefing. The art of the DIY campaign-maker is likely to ensure you are shown only mission types which fit the scenario – eg flying for Fighter Command in the Battle, interceptions and not against ships or ground targets. This leaves you making a choice as to which frontline sector you fly to. The front line itself is in the middle of the English Channel at the start of the campaign. This is fine for the ‘Convoys’ phase of the Battle, July-August, but I’m not sure how it will work later, when we could and should be intercepting raids almost anywhere near and over Southern England.

    Anyway, my pilot is allocated to a Wing I never heard off and it takes a bit more poking around to establish that we’re with 17 Squadron, flying Hurricanes. I’m glad to see I’ve been given an authentic skin which has the correct ‘squadron code’ ID letters, JX. We’re based at RAF North Weald, to the north-east of London and it’s 10 July 1940, the date later adopted in Britain for the start of the Battle. Having clicked on the nearest frontline map square, quite a long way to the south, I’m told I’m leading the usual CFS3 flight of eight aircraft on an interception mission. We're starting at the unearthly hour of 03:50. I know it's the summer time and the days are long, but this is ridiculous!

    Off we go! Despite being the leader, I’m in the middle of the pack on the grass airfield – maybe something to do with the fact that four of your flight can be aloft and awaiting you, in the usual CFS3 mission, but are starting on the ground ahead of my foursome, this time. Landing lights come on as the Hurricanes ahead of me begin to roll.



    There’s much more swing to the right than other sim Hurricanes I’ve flown lately, and quite a bit of virtual left flying boot is needed on take-off. Which is in a northerly direction, so a 180 degree turn will soon be needed. Anyway I'm quickly airborne and climbing up through a light rain shower in fairly overcast conditions. The sun is just beginning to peek over the eastern horizon.



    Still climbing, I start a gentle turn around onto a southerly heading.



    I tootle along for a while as the others form up, then decide to use CFS3’s ultra-fast-forward version of warp – having turned on the map so as to be able to time my exit. When I do so, well out over the Channel and close to the ‘target’, I find myself at over twenty thousand feet. I remember hating this effect playing CFS3 of old, often flying anti-ship missions and having to lose many thousands of feet on coming out of warp. I often put up with flying in real time, so as to be able to come in at wave-top height and pretend I’m foxing the enemy radars on the way.

    Not a problem today, since height is your friend on an interception mission. But I must try to remember which file to hack to make formations closer. Even fighters look too far apart and that’s for finger four, not the closer RAF fighter formations of 1940. Or day bomber formations throughout the war, for that matter. I recall formations could get very unstable, if you over-tweaked this setting.

    Given the lack of ground controller interaction, CFS3’s TAC is a useful way of getting basic updates on the enemy, and I turn this on - to find the display is already cluttered. The Huns are here!

    Before I can get ‘eyes on’ in the cloudy conditions, enemy aircraft rush into and then through our formation! The fight is on!




    ...to be continued!

  2. #2
    The Huns in question are a scattered bunch of Me110s, I soon realise, although they are apt to be confused with the twin-fined Dornier 17s. They seem as surprised to run into us as I was, to run into them. even though I had the advantage of radar, alias RDF.

    I select a Hun on the TAC and order an attack, then repeat. I’m struggling to remember if multiple presses of the ‘attack’ command order a general assault. Which would be faster and more suitable in this kind of fighter-v-fighter encounter. Anyway, some of the boys report getting stuck in, so I leave it at that.



    I pick a Hun of my own and turn hard to get onto him. There are clouds everywhere but I’m using the padlock (without zooming) and it seems to have what the comic books called X-Ray vision. I decide not to quibble – I’m very rusty in CFS3 and I don’t want to court disaster on my first campaign mission.

    The 110 which I’m chasing soon does the decent thing and comes out into clear skies.



    I’m quickly on his tail...



    ..and shooting, hitting. Suddenly, a stream of tracers comes in from my right and whacks into the Hun, who bursts into flames. The tail comes off and one of the crew bails out dramatically, like a cork out of a bottle.



    Evidently I was chasing another Hurricane’s target! Fair enough, this is a team effort!



    Time to find someone else to sneak up on!

    ...to be continued!

  3. #3
    I turn on the TAC briefly to padlock a fresh victim, then off again Ė even when using head-tracking, I still often use padlock.

    That one's no good - he's already got a Hurricane for a shadow.




    This looks more promising - several aircraft milling about, and the nearest one is a Hun.



    After a few turns, I find myself behind the Me110 in question. Thereís a wink of bright light from his rear gun but the rounds go well wide.



    Not so, mine!
     


    The burning Messerschmitt struggles on for a few seconds, then tumbles crazily out of the sky. Got him!



    Since I'm supposed to be in charge here, it's well nigh time to find out what else has been going on and regain control.

    ...to be continued!

  4. #4
    During the air fight, the R/T chatter was there, but individual messages didnít really register. I donít think anyone reported being hit, so thatís good. Now, I hear some of the boys announcing they are re-joining. The 110s seem to have disappeared amongst the clouds, and the only aircraft I can see now are hurricanes.
     


    Weíve knocked down two at least, which is a respectable score if as I hope we havenít paid dearly for it. I throttle back, orbit, then turn back north...


     
    ...waiting to see how many ultimately catch up Ė always an anxious time.
     


    It takes a few minutes, but we end up with all eight Hurricanes back in (rather wide) formation.


     
    Time to warp back home! This brings us quickly back to base - where it's raining again - but way above circuit height.
     


    So I order the others to break off, decide against spiralling all the way down for my own landing, and end the mission there.


     
    Iím more than displeased when the debriefing ticks me off for failing to complete the mission. My own kill is credited, but thereís no way (IIRC) to review overall flight results, other than in pass/fail terms. A look at the mission objective on the relevant tab of the debriefing suggests we had to destroy the whole enemy formation!
    Itís a pity some flight sims have to resolve air combat - of all things - in such win/lose terms. CFS2 did this too, IIRC. Instead, your unitís results (not just your own) should be presented for what they are, with any comment from on high as window-dressing, only.

    Anyway the map is still beyond awful, the pick-your-targets campaign engine is still strange and a tad soul-less, and thereís no ground control. I miss my rear view mirror, along with the ability to open the canopy without also dropping the little side door. The 110s seem very flammable and inclined to fly inverted, although if they are still flying at empty weights, they werenít quite as hard to catch as I seem to recall.

    On the plus side, Ankorís DX mod transforms CFS3, with more natural external views available, dynamic shadows from ground objects, clouds and aircraft, optional head bobbing and mouselook. The airfields arenít always in the right place but are most impressive in content and accuracy. Sky- and seascapes can look great, the effects likewise, and if the cockpits arenít all up to current standards they are mostly ok or better, and much improved by the dynamic lighting. Likewise, the aircraft externally can be of a very high standard, both as regards textures and 3-d models (though my Hurri in this mission looks like it has the longer Mk.II nose and the later, longer Rotol prop spinner). And thereís lots of them, all flyable.

    Within its limits, I got many satisfying hours playing CFS3 and its payware add-ons, back when it was the only modern CFS that did Western European ops at all well. The ETO Expansion massively increases and improved the scope and content; more recently, Ankorís mod thoroughly refreshed the visuals; and all the other content available on sim-outhouse adds much icing to the cake. So Iím glad Iíve dipped back in and will certainly continue flying this campaign. Tally ho!

  5. #5
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    Iím more than displeased when the debriefing ticks me off for failing to complete the mission. My own kill is credited, but thereís no way (IIRC) to review overall flight results, other than in pass/fail terms. A look at the mission objective on the relevant tab of the debriefing suggests we had to destroy the whole enemy formation!
    Itís a pity some flight sims have to resolve air combat - of all things - in such win/lose terms. CFS2 did this too, IIRC. Instead, your unitís results (not just your own) should be presented for what they are, with any comment from on high as window-dressing, only.

    Anyway the map is still beyond awful, the pick-your-targets campaign engine is still strange and a tad soul-less, and thereís no ground control. I miss my rear view mirror, along with the ability to open the canopy without also dropping the little side door. The 110s seem very flammable and inclined to fly inverted, although if they are still flying at empty weights, they werenít quite as hard to catch as I seem to recall.

    On the plus side, Ankorís DX mod transforms CFS3, with more natural external views available, dynamic shadows from ground objects, clouds and aircraft, optional head bobbing and mouselook. The airfields arenít always in the right place but are most impressive in content and accuracy. Sky- and seascapes can look great, the effects likewise, and if the cockpits arenít all up to current standards they are mostly ok or better, and much improved by the dynamic lighting. Likewise, the aircraft externally can be of a very high standard, both as regards textures and 3-d models (though my Hurri in this mission looks like it has the longer Mk.II nose and the later, longer Rotol prop spinner). And thereís lots of them, all flyable.

    Within its limits, I got many satisfying hours playing CFS3 and its payware add-ons, back when it was the only modern CFS that did Western European ops at all well. The ETO Expansion massively increases and improved the scope and content; more recently, Ankorís mod thoroughly refreshed the visuals; and all the other content available on sim-outhouse adds much icing to the cake. So Iím glad Iíve dipped back in and will certainly continue flying this campaign. Tally ho!
    Hi 33lima, thanks for the campaign report! I am one of the few regular campaign players, and more reports would be great.

    There are lots of tips and tweaks that will help with your campaign experience. Because CFS3 is eminently editable, you will find that many gripes can be addressed. The first is, of course, the map. There are a few addon maps floating about but even the more detailed ones annoy me, I've been thinking of knocking up another map, but by all means do it yourself and upload the result!

    In terms of meeting the mission goals, no you don't need to destroy all the aircraft. There is a percentage figure in the relevant spawn file which sets the threshold for a successful mission. To have a successful mission, good management of your wingmen is needed. For an intercept mission, selecting a target (the purple aircraft in the TAC are part of the mission goal; the red aircraft are not) and pressing "A" sends two wingmen off. Select another target; two more of your wingmen peel off when you press "A". You have seven wingmen so the fourth time you select a target and press "A", the one remaining wingman toddles off by himself. As soon as one of your wingmen reports a successful kill, assign them to a fresh target and press A again. If only one wingman has reported success, only the one will attack the fresh target. If two wingmen report success, both will attack the fresh target. I try to get them to go singly if I'm in a real furball, to spread my resources around.

    If you press A without selecting a target, two of the wingmen (the rearmost ones) will attack targets IF they can see targets. The targets will not necessarily be the mission goal - for example, they might start attacking ships! Most notably, the wingmen will attack singly, not in pairs. Usually they just reply "target not in sight". I've tweaked pilot attributes so they can see better.

    In terms of the choice of missions, Battle of Britain is well placed to design campaigns. If you use a German campaign and a British campaign, then you can set up different missions for German pilots as opposed to British pilots. I don't recall if Mrjmaint set up separate campaigns but I think he did. I get the Brit fighter pilots to fly a lot of CAP, Recon, Intercept and Sweep flights (NB: the recon campaign spawns need fixing in many installs; I think I've uploaded a fix here at SOH). Also make sure those historically relevant flights get a higher effect on the campaign fortunes, by assigning higher MSP values to the more historically significant missions in the campaign xml.

    For the German fighter pilots, escort missions should be one priority with high MSP values (Morale Supply Power), but perhaps some search_destroy type missions would be historically relevant as well. (and channel anti-shipping, why not?)

    I think you are right, there are one or two small tweaks needed to the bob spawn files to make them work well.

    Thanks again for adding a bit of colour to these pages!

  6. #6
    Thanks for that Daiwilletti, and the insights into mission goal achievement in particular.

    I'm thinking of a workaround to minimise the effect of these pass/fail mission resolutions, and the consequent requirement for wingman micromanagemen,t for example needing to worry overmuch about which bad guys you shoot down. Rather than tweaking spawn file mission goals I think I would settle for tweaking the message you get, so that if you fail, instead of being told basically to go hang yourself from the nearest tree, you would see something more like:

    'Well, you tried, but if we're going to turn the tide in our favour, we'll need to do a bit more damage, each time we're up. Grab a cup of tea, think over your tactics, and work out what you could do better, next time. Now get some rest; you'll be back in action soon enough!'

    The campaign engine would still count it as a failure and do whatever it does with that, and the player might know that, but this would avoid taking it too far, to the point it's in your face, portraying as black and white something which isn't, in real life. To an extent when hitting a ground target, perhaps, but not in air combat.

    do you know where that message can be found? I assume it's a text string in an .xml file somewhere, hopefully not hard coded!

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    IIRC the file is called brieftxt.xml, in the root of the main install. If you want to tweak campaigns, take a look at the Campaign SDK which should be under the relevant sticky thread. It is a Word document.

    NB just about anything you did would be an improvement over the old stock briefing notes!

  8. #8
    Thanks Diawilletti! Hope it supports drawing from a set of debriefing comments, otherwise even the most carefully-crafted will get old, quickly! Will check it out later, and use the next campaign mission as a try-out, maybe.

  9. #9
    17 Squadron, North Weald, 11 July 1940

    Our next show is another early morning interception, this time to the south-east off Dover. Once again I'm leading eight Hurricanes, flying YB-J.



    We've around sixty miles to go and I'm tempted to fly it in real time, but time is short so I warp - with the map turned on so I can come out a little early, rather than just before the objective. When I do so, I find myself at about twenty thousand feet. Turning on the Tactical Display to get an update from the Controller, I find that the raid we're intercepting is to the left of our track, as indicated by the purple triangle.



    The Huns are in fact just below and left and we get stuck straight into them. I have no difficulty turning inside the one I've chosen and let him have it.



    This has the desired effect!



    So far so good! I use the TAC to tab through some more enemies and order them attacked, then look around for my own next victim.

    ...to be continued!

  10. #10
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    Great screen shots! I have another clue about why you are not meeting campaign mission objectives. If you don't get to the waypoint shown in your screenie of the TAC at some stage, you will get that annoying message when you return to base. I tend to send off my wingmen, then fly to the waypoint before joining the fray myself. It is a bit of a drag that to fully complete the mission objectives, you have to get to the waypoint.

  11. #11
    That is really irritating - although this time we got the credit, so possibly I strayed close enough the objective, inadvertently! I think I will settle for tweaking the debrief text, which I haven't done yet, nor see how tight I can get formations - not something I want to try on campaign without testing in QC.
    Last edited by 33lima; April 26th, 2020 at 01:46.

  12. #12
    Aircraft are milling around and Ack Ack bursts dot the sky. It's all very exciting! Down and left, I see another 110, diving towards the coast at Folkestone. You'll do!



    My firing pass is a bit less successful, this time. I'm closing too fast and can only manage a short burst before I have to break off. This leaves him holed and streaming what looks like a fuel leak, but still flying.



    The Messerschmitts seem well split up, compared to the Hurricanes, and don't want any bunching up.



    I take a break to issue new orders in an effort to make sure everybody has a target...



    ...then pick up another one of my own. Let's see if I can bag a brace of Huns!

    ...to be continued!

  13. #13
    The 110 is running straight for France and as I close in, I see he's leaving a faint grey trail. Looks like the one I peppered earlier! Time to settle his hash.



    Before I can open fire, tracers flash past from behind on my left. The 110 is hit fair and square and bursts into flames. I wasn't the only Hurricane interested in popping him off!



    No matter, he's not the only fish in the sea and I'm soon breathing down another Hun's neck. This one does a pretty good job of staying out of my line of fire.



    I chop the throttle and go for a bit of formation flying, concentrating on keeping with him rather than shooting him down.



    This seems to work better and the range winds down nicely.



    Time to pull up the nose and let him have it, methinks.

    ...to be continued!

  14. #14
    Takatakatakataka! Another Hun won't be going home for lunch.



    Anybody in Dover who's not in the air raid shelters will have a grandstand view. The sight should certainly buck up their morale.



    Sadly for them, the two Huns don't seem able to get out. Well, they shouldn't have come.



    That seems to be the last of the 110s. The boys start forming up as I turn for home.



    Seven of us make it back, and this time we are complimented on a job well done.

    All in a day's work for 17 Squadron!

    Last edited by 33lima; April 26th, 2020 at 06:56.

  15. #15
    Haven't you been hit by the 110's rear gunners? I've always found that rear gunners in CFS3 are top aces.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Led Zeppelin View Post
    Haven't you been hit by the 110's rear gunners? I've always found that rear gunners in CFS3 are top aces.


    Maybe he has used the anti sniper settings by changing the rate?

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  17. #17
    I have seen what I was sure was the muzzle flash from 110 return fire, maybe not tracers. I don't have any relevant mods enabled; nor do I recall tweaking anything, although I do really hate sniper rear gunners.

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    Sniper Effect

    Just to refresh on an old subject. The simplest way to reduce the sniper effect is to go to the gunstations in the xdp of the Me110. Find the rear gun entry, and reduce the Ratelimit. The ratelimit is the speed at which the gun pans. I think a value of 15 is a panning rate of 15 degrees per second. Anyway, I often set up AI versions of pesky sniping aircraft. I set their defensive armament to a rate limit of no more than 15. I think in ETO a lot of this is already done for you, with the AI having their defensive ratelimits reduced. The non-AI have allowspawn="n", which still allows them to be used in campaigns or missions where specifically called. Otherwise, the AI version is spawned.

    In the weapons folder, the relevant MG rounds can have their "timealive" value reduced. I do this for some cannon shells after I've been pinged by some hotshot at 1000 yards!

  19. #19
    17 Squadron, North Weald, 12 July 1940

    Our eight Hurricanes get another early morning scramble, this time to intercept a raid to the east, out over the North Sea.



    We're soon leaving the airfield behind...



    ...and climbing up towards the rising sun.



    A short warp later and we're well offshore. Time to call up the TAC/ask the Controller for a vector.



    The Big Purple Traingle confirms that the Huns are here somewhere, but looking around, all I can see at the moment are Hurricanes.



    Where are the crafty beggars?

    ...to be continued!

  20. #20
    The wily Huns appear to have slipped past us. Time for a rapid about turn, which takes me out ahead of the others.



    In fact, the raid is coming in low. There they are! I start ordering the others to attack, chopping my throttle so I don't go in all on my own. The Huns are staying in formation, so it looks like they're bombers, the wing shape suggesting they're Heinkels.



    As I come in to pick my own target, several Hurricanes drop out of the sky, like hawks stooping onto rabbits. The first Hun is soon burning.



    Heinkels they are, indeed. Throttle open again, I'm soon racing in behind the bomber on the left of the small formation.



    Take that! Eight Brownings chatter into life, tracers fly and the bomber's starboard engine is quickly hit.



    That's the way to do it!

    ...to be continued!

  21. #21
    Even as I press home my own attack, the first Heinkel to be hit is already going down.



    But I've got my own business to take care of...



    ...which seems to be going tolerably well, whichever way you look at it.



    Suddenly, all that changes. Rounds whack into my kite. As I break up and away, I see with a shock that my left wing tank is an inferno of blazing fuel!



    The Heinkel is likely doomed, but clearly, so is my own aircraft!



    Time to get out of it!

    ...to be continued!

  22. #22
    I waste no time in bailing out.



    It's long way down...



    ...and as I tumble through space. I have what seems like plenty of time to wonder if my 'chute is going to open.



    Which it thankfully does...giving me a grandstand view of the pursuing 109, which is what really shot me down! Talk about being caught napping! I should have kept my height and watched out for the escort, while others tackled the bombers. Lesson learned!



    Fortunately I seem to have been picked up and on return, I'm congratulated on a successful mission!

  23. #23
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    Thanks for the report! Great screenshots I was especially taken by the bailout figure trying to do a turn and pike

  24. #24
    Hehehehe, If you are gonna bail out you may as well have some fun during the process.

  25. #25
    17 Squadron, North Weald, 13 July 1940

    Not so much 'North Weald' as 'North Weird', this mission, but be that as it may...

    ...it starts as a conventional scramble down to the south-east, off Dover.



    There's a layer of thin cloud at a couple of thousand feet. Anyway I've replaced the map with the mod for WotR, and although the colours for land and sea are somehow reversed, it's still a big improvement over the stock CFS3 map, drawn as it was by an [insert insult of choice].



    The boys catch up quite quickly...



    ...and I level off once well above the layer cloud, at which point it's time to cut to the chase and hit the 'warp' key.



    I come out pretty well at the target area, a lot higher, and turning on the TAC, soon get a pointer to the Huns...



    ...who are now in for a surprise. Me too, as it happens...

    ...to be continued!

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