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Thread: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

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    Manual Creation Group ATAG_Ezzie's Avatar
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    Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Hi everyone,

    I've been flying the Beaufighter of late and while I only have a small number of hours in it (~ 50 maybe) i thought i would post some observations comparing it with the 110 (in which i have 2500+ hrs in MP). I'm making no comparison with real life - this is just observations / comparisons with the in-game Beaufighter 1C against the in-game 110 C4N /C4B (which i have most time with).

    Speed

    I knew when flying the 110 that the Beaufighter was faster as i could never out run one. And now i know why. Trimmed up carrying 2 x 500 lb bombs i can get 280/290 mph IAS sustained on the deck in the Beaufighter which is at least 30-40 km/hr faster than I could get a similarly configured 110. I've not tried to see what this difference is at 15000 ft (which seems to be the Beaufighter's sweet spot or thereabouts) but i would imagine its similarly faster.

    Lateral stability

    The Beaufighter is a better gun platform in the lateral plan especially when doing diving attacks as the rudder has more precise control over where the nose is pointing. In the 110 the aircraft wobbles a bit more laterally (possibly due to the twin tail configuration perhaps) and above a certain speed the rudder loses its ability to move the nose left or right. This used to happen in the 110 when doing high speed diving attacks - as i neared the tgt the rudder would lose some authority and it was hard to bring the nose to bear on the tgt at high closing speeds. Admittedly i havent done much of this in the Beau but the little i have done suggests that the beau's rudder is better at high speed in the lateral plane.

    Manoeverability

    I didnt do a lot of turn fighting in the 110 and havent done much on the Beau. I suspect that like most twin fighters it would very much struggle against well flown single engined aircraft so havent bothered to try my luck yet. if anything i would say that perhaps the Beau doesnt bleed its speed as quickly as the 110 when turning and then may get it back quicker but this might not be an accurate observation.

    Navigation

    The 110 is a much easier aircraft to fly long distance low altitude sorties requiring use of the compass. Firstly it has an autopilot that allows a 'heading-hold' set up which make it much easier to fly. And realigning the gyro with the mag compass is much easier especially at low level in the 110 as its all in front of the pilot so i can keep one eye out the cockpit and one on the compasses and avoid doing a CFIT. In the Beau you have to look down to the right to readjust the compass and then fiddle with the gyro behind the control column - not much fun to do when flying at 280 mph at 100ft or less altitude.

    Trimming

    The 110 is a better aircraft to trim to fly hands off, although maybe my inexperience with the Beau is the main cause of this observation. The Beau doesnt seem to want to trim as precisely in pitch/roll as does the 110 and i find i have to readjust trim much more in the Beau than the 110.

    Damage modelling

    The 110 could take a lot of .303 hits and still keep flying. But once cannon armed Spits etc turned up it became very vulnerable to damage especially the flight controls which seemed to be the first thing to be damaged / destroyed when the first burst of cannon fire hit the aircraft. I havent been shot up as much in the Beau yet but it also seems to be similarly vulnerable to flight control damage when hit by cannons.

    I can fly the Beau home on one engine and even get a positive rate of climb on one engine, just like i could in the 110.

    Both aircraft will have reduced top speed due to airframe damage caused by bofors hits. In the 110 this could be up to at least 100 km/hr loss in max speed after seemingly only a few bofors hits in the wing / airframe. The Beau doesnt seem to suffer the same loss in top speed but again i havent spent a lot of time in it so maybe i need to be hit more often to properly gauge this speed. This a very subjective observation as i have no real way of quantifying the actual amount of bofors damage done v resulting speed loss.

    Armament

    Both aircraft have more than enough to do most jobs required of it - i even sank a submarine using the Beau's cannons recently. The wing mounted 303 perhaps provide a greater cone of firepower which might be useful in turning fights. The 110 is more flexible in that you can selectively fire the 20mm or MGs whereas the Beau its all or nothing.

    The 110 is more flexible than the Beau re bomb dropping as you can set it up to only drop 1 of 2 bombs whereas the beau its all or nothing. Some tgts only need 1 bomb to destroy them so in the 110 i could take out 2 tgt per sortie whereas in the beau i use up both bombs on a single tgt which can be overkill for some tgts.

    Both bombs skip when dropped from low altitude high speed level flight so this needs to be taken into account when aiming.

    I think the Beau is a better low altitude / high speed strafer than the 110. I'm not sure why this is though - perhaps a combination of better rudder and better visibility of out the nose perhaps. In the 110 the tgt will disappear under the nose of the aircraft earlier than in the Beau if doing very low level horizontal strafing, thus preventing really late shots onto the tgt. If you try and push the nose down in the 110 to get these late shots you will hit the dirt if not really careful.

    Rear visibility and the gun/no gun

    One of the reasons i am late the Beaufighter party is its lack of a rear gun. In the 110 i had a defensive strategy when attacked by singe-engined fighters of doing several moves and if these didnt work my last ditch option was to try and put some distance between my attacker and me and then settle into my rear gun and shoot them as they came closer on my 6. This was reasonably effective and good fun and i could usually damage my attacker even if he ended up shooting me down. However once cannon armed aircraft turned up this proved to be a less useful strategy especially as the gunner is very vulnerable to cannon fire and more often than not i would also lose the controls when the first cannon burst hit the aircraft

    In the Beau this last ditch strategy is not available so I'm having to rethink my approach. I can absolutely see why some Beau's were modified in the field to have the 'scare gun' fitted - several times so far i have ended up with a 109 glued to my 6 just out of range and thought (to misquote someone maybe Shakespeare?) 'My kingdom for a rear gun' before they proceeded to shoot me down at their leisure.

    Having said the above the rear view from the Beau is better than the 110 (mainly due to the lack of the twin tail and canopy framing) and like the 110 it is possible to fly the aircraft quite aggressively looking backwards from the rear seat.

    So to conclude both aircraft have some similarities and some differences. The Beau's extra speed is probably its stronger point but this advantage over the 110 may be largely negated as the single engined fighters in DWT are now faster. The lack of a rear gun is still probably its biggest negative from my perspective as this prevents the last ditch option from being in play and removes the fun to be had rear-gunning. I'm still trying to figure out how best to fly / fight the Beau so i may end up coming up with an approach where the lack of a rear gun isnt an issue however.

    Anyway thats about all i have. There are plenty of players with way more time in the Beau than me and they might like to share their observations and / or correct anything i have said above that doesnt accord with their experiences.

    Ezzie

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    Manual Creation Group DerDa's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Thanks for your observations, Ezzie.
    Having flown the Beau quite a bit, but no experience in the 110 at all, I can just comment from one perspective.
    Basically I agree to all your points.
    Aileron trimming gets a nuisance in the Beau especially once you are climbing above 13-15.000 ft.
    I always had the impression that the 110 is a bit better in turnfights than the Beau, but that might be my poor flying skills (and those bl..sted 110s shoot from evry side that you approach ...).

    The big advantage of the Beau pre-5.0 was it's low level speed. You could outrun anything but a 109 E4-N or E4-B. Those two would eventually get you, if you did not manage to drag them over friendly AAA.
    This advantage has gone with the faster fighters.
    Fire power is fantastic and aiming very simple because the cannon are all mounted in the fuselage (who cares about the pea-shooters?)
    Ammo is plenty.

    Biggest disadvantage is certainly the missing rear gun and the very limited view from the pilot's seat. The AI 'observer' is rather useless, because he announces an enemy ac only once (not all the time), and will then concentrate on his tea and biscuits, not telling you whether the boogie is flying away or right on your six about to shoot.
    Dropping only one of the bombs would be a nice option. I gave up on using the 500lbs, because they slow you down and two 250lbs are usually more than enough for any target.

    The Beau is very good in destroying bombers at any altitude (a task that it never was used for historically, to my knowledge). The easy aiming allows you to shoot from a larger distance, the 20mm will rip apart each bomber quickly, you have enough ammo for multiple attacks and with two radial engines you might even have a chance to do so, despite all the William Tells in the enemy gunner positions.
    If a single escort fighter is with the bombers you are dead meat.
    Since long I tried to convince people that it would be reasonable to attack incoming bombers with a combination of Beaufighters and Spits, the Beaus attacking the bombers and the Spits doing nothing, but to protect the Beaus.
    But usually, as soon as the bombers come into sight, the Spitty pilots shout "I take the one on the left!" immediately followed by "Oh, he got my oil radiator" and me knowing that I'm going to die ...

    Fighter escort for long distance intruder missions would be very nice, but there are no fighters that have the necessary range. So your only chance is to stay below radar and hope that the server does not support TAB 7-1.
    I'd be curious about your approach to this, Ezzie, because I see you are quite successful on TWC. I always got ripped up by flak very soon, but I tried my luck with priority targets, which was a mistake.


    S!


    DerDa

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    Manual Creation Group ATAG_Ezzie's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Thanks DerDa - some good points.

    I agree re the rear observer and calling out enemy only once. In the 110 the chatter of my rear gun being fired by the AI gunner was a good clue that the enemy was closing on my 6 but was still just out of range. But in the Beau i dont get that warning so am trying to work out a way to deal with this. So far i spend more time in the rear position than i did in the 110 just watching for enemies closing in - tricky to fly fast just above the trees doing this but I'm getting the hang of it.

    re success - i'm still feeling my way on TWC. I'm doing low level attacks on airfields at the moment and have several set routes that i fly. I hope to get lucky and see a player landing or taking off at these airfields (this happened yesterday on the TWC Tobruk server and got someone as they landed - he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time...) as i do my high speed single pass over the field strafing stuff. I'll usually drop my bombs on a hangar on one of the airfields i visit (usually ~ 4 - 6 airfields are 'visited' per sortie) - and sometimes there are aircraft inside them. I took out the fuel dump at Desrevs the other day doing a low level attack on this airfield - they burn nicely.

    I was shot down by a F2 today after a reasonably long chase where i made it hard for him to hit me but he got me in the end. I managed to bail out over water and was rescued - phew.

    I'm enjoying doing the low level intruder type sorties and every so often i'll do a medium alt patrol over England looking for bombers using radar for a change. A nice mix of sortie types can be flown and so far so good. I think I'm up to sortie 5 or 6 or thereabouts without being killed thus far.

    Ezzie

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    TF Leadership RAF74_Buzzsaw's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Quote Originally Posted by DerDa View Post
    Thanks for your observations, Ezzie.
    Having flown the Beau quite a bit, but no experience in the 110 at all, I can just comment from one perspective.
    Basically I agree to all your points.
    Aileron trimming gets a nuisance in the Beau especially once you are climbing above 13-15.000 ft.
    I always had the impression that the 110 is a bit better in turnfights than the Beau, but that might be my poor flying skills (and those bl..sted 110s shoot from evry side that you approach ...).

    The big advantage of the Beau pre-5.0 was it's low level speed. You could outrun anything but a 109 E4-N or E4-B. Those two would eventually get you, if you did not manage to drag them over friendly AAA.
    This advantage has gone with the faster fighters.
    Fire power is fantastic and aiming very simple because the cannon are all mounted in the fuselage (who cares about the pea-shooters?)
    Ammo is plenty.

    Biggest disadvantage is certainly the missing rear gun and the very limited view from the pilot's seat. The AI 'observer' is rather useless, because he announces an enemy ac only once (not all the time), and will then concentrate on his tea and biscuits, not telling you whether the boogie is flying away or right on your six about to shoot.
    Dropping only one of the bombs would be a nice option. I gave up on using the 500lbs, because they slow you down and two 250lbs are usually more than enough for any target.

    The Beau is very good in destroying bombers at any altitude (a task that it never was used for historically, to my knowledge). The easy aiming allows you to shoot from a larger distance, the 20mm will rip apart each bomber quickly, you have enough ammo for multiple attacks and with two radial engines you might even have a chance to do so, despite all the William Tells in the enemy gunner positions.
    If a single escort fighter is with the bombers you are dead meat.
    Since long I tried to convince people that it would be reasonable to attack incoming bombers with a combination of Beaufighters and Spits, the Beaus attacking the bombers and the Spits doing nothing, but to protect the Beaus.
    But usually, as soon as the bombers come into sight, the Spitty pilots shout "I take the one on the left!" immediately followed by "Oh, he got my oil radiator" and me knowing that I'm going to die ...

    Fighter escort for long distance intruder missions would be very nice, but there are no fighters that have the necessary range. So your only chance is to stay below radar and hope that the server does not support TAB 7-1.
    I'd be curious about your approach to this, Ezzie, because I see you are quite successful on TWC. I always got ripped up by flak very soon, but I tried my luck with priority targets, which was a mistake.


    S!


    DerDa
    The Beaufighter was the standard British Nightfighter, (shooting down German bombers or both German and Italian bombers in the Med) from late '40 to mid '43... after that it was assigned as a night intruder with the mission to shoot down German Nightfighters, (twin engined fighters or twin engined based on bombers) or German night bombers. (bombers)

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    Supporting Member Karaya's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Is it still planned to allow mission makers to set minimum fuel loads? Restricting people from taking off with just a minimum fuel load on aircraft such as the Beaufighter and thus saving literal tons of weight would go a long way to level the playing field among the twin engined fighters.

    Maybe this could be introduced as an airfield setting so mission makers can set up separate airfields for bombers, fighters and twins to account for the different fuel capacities of those aircraft.

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    Manual Creation Group DerDa's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Quote Originally Posted by RAF74_Buzzsaw View Post
    The Beaufighter was the standard British Nightfighter, (shooting down German bombers or both German and Italian bombers in the Med) from late '40 to mid '43... after that it was assigned as a night intruder with the mission to shoot down German Nightfighters, (twin engined fighters or twin engined based on bombers) or German night bombers. (bombers)
    You are right naturally, I should have specified that they were (to my knowledge) not used as day time interceptors.
    As night fighters they were formidable because no single engine fighters were around.

    Roderick Chisholm's 'Cover of Darkness' makes very interesting reading, especially about the initial experimenting phases.
    Night interception with radar would make some great single player missions, but most probably not very popular for multi player.

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    Manual Creation Group ATAG_Marlow's Avatar
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    Re: Some thoughts on the Beaufighter

    Fascinating comments on the Beaufighter, Ezzie! It amazes me that your research into the different types of aircraft is so all encompassing! Me? I just fly...badly!

    Having just finished Roderick Chisholm's 'Cover of Darkness,' (Sapere Books) I have to agree with DerDa that this is a 'must read' for anybody interested in the development of night fighting and the tactics employed. The books describes in some detail how Chisholm, with his fellow pilots in 604 Squadron, guided by rudimentary radar, battled with the problem of making a successful interception on enemy aircraft at night. The author also explains how night-fighting progressed through the course of the war, with the development of radio counter measures and the organisation of fighter support for bombers raiding Germany by night. As we know, the Beaufighter and, of course the Mosquito, were both employed in supporting roles to Bomber Command raids. It's a crackin' read and greatly added to my understanding of night fighting.

    If you want to balance your view by seeing it from the Luftwaffe angle, you could read 'Enemy in the Dark The Story of a Lufwaffe Night-Fighter Pilot' by the famous Lufwaffe night-fighter pilot, Peter Spoden. His name seems to turn up everywhere and looks like an interesting character. I have his book but haven't had the time to read it yet. It's next on 'the list!'

    I have to say, if there was an opportunity to try a night-fighting mission in multi-player, either as a bomber pilot trying to sneak through to the target, or a night-fighter pilot trying to protect his homeland, I personally would find this very interesting. Am I right that the only server that comes close to this is the TWC Server, where it grows quite dark just before the map ends? (I doubt if this would provide enough time to mount a night time mission?) Salute!

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