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Schindibee

A little Guide to Anti Aircraft Vehicles

Hello people

 

Recently I've started playing SPAAG's a lot, and noticed a lot of people I encounter playing the same role often are not very successful with it - but only by heeding a few point could do much better and profit much more - and of course help their team winning as well!

 

So here I collected a few of my experiences about how to play an Anti Aircraft Vehicle in WT!

 

Yes I know, most of this is common sense, a lot is very subjective and only reflects my personal preference to play, and some stuff may even be outright wrong (please point those parts out to me so I can improve the text), but still it may be an interesting collection thoughts...

 

Ammo Choice
Never forget: Your main job is Air Defense, so ammo with only HE or a high proportion of HE ammo (or similar) is to be preferred. You can't do much about armored targets anyway, but a mixed type including also some AP rounds may still be interesting if e.g. a lot of light tanks are expected (so maybe bring some in Tier 1 matches - there be T-50's...) as it brings you a bit of both worlds.

 

You may need a bit more ammo to bring a plane down though with the mix instead of the dedicated anti air ammo...

Camouflage
Yes, in AB and HB you can and will be tagged and "lit" up with icon and text, but especially if enemy aircraft are around and you're not yet marked by the enemy, it's valuable to be camouflaged well. So don't announce yourself by applying too bright decals over large areas of your SPAAG, as this makes you easily visible as soon as you get into rendering distance of enemy aircraft. Some pilots do look out their windows after all...

If possible hide under single trees, but never in groups of trees or even forests, as this will of course simply make your job more difficult (only you-know-who places AAA batteries in the middle of forests...) and obstruct your field of view and field of fire.

Spawning Behaviour
If you stay at the spawn point you're predictable and just calling for attention from bombers. That's where they think you'll be, that's where they will look for you and drop some rocks onto your head! So move out immediately and go for cover!

Careful however when maneuvering without looking around right after spawning: your friends in heavier armour will simply start plowing forward, and it's easy to get under their tracks and get overturned and even damaged/killed by unintentional team-ramming...

Terrain and Protection
Obviously you don't want to be in a sink where the only thing you can shoot are trees and rock. But also you don't want to be easily visible and in direct line of fire all over the battlefield. So choose your position carefully. Don't stay too close to obstacles, but always a few dozen meters away, as the closer you are the bigger percentage of your visible area is obstructed.

Also always check where you shoot when attacking low flying targets: I've noticed quite a few AA-gunners emptying ammo clip after ammo clip into the hill 20m away, trying to kill a target which was line-of-sight with their sights, but the barrels are mounted  a few dozen centimeters lower (see Spielberg's movie "1941")...

Remember you have great range with the AA canons and due to the "watering can" effect of your automatic weapons (instead of the pin-point-single-shot way of fighting with a big-bore tank canon) you don't have to be extremely precise with aiming. So as aircraft move quickly all over the battlefield they will automatically turn up within range for you eventually, no matter where you are, so prefer to go farther away from the front than closer to it.

 

Also, closer to a fast moving target you need to rotate your weapon faster, making it harder to aim - distance even helps here...

Some maps have ready- made encampments with earth-walls (e.g. Carpathians), which give you quite some protection without restricting your arc of action, with only the weapon (and crew...) visible above the encampment. Those tend however to be in open, clearly visible areas right smack in the middle of the battlefields - danger-zone, don't go there! (Maybe some future maps will include more and better placed encampments, but also those will have a grave disadvantage as they make you predictable).

 

Low rocks of course help as well protecting your hull...

Alignment
In case of the truck-mounted SPAAGs, the drivers cabin prevents low gun elevation to the front quadrant of the vehicle, making it impossible to target low flying aircraft there. so when you position yourself, always turn your vehicle so that the area where most of your action will take part is directly aft, so you can use the full elevation most of the time. This also gives you a more narrow profile towards the most probable direction of the enemy's attacks.

Also, switch to a low gear so if situation changes and the enemy planes are suddenly more active in front of your truck, you can simply quickly  turn the whole truck a bit to engage the targets there.

Aggreagtions
I've experienced often that if several SPAAG's are in a match, they tend to snuggle up to each other like hybernating rabbits, parking themselves next to each other. This may look nice and give a nice team-work-touchy-feeling, but is actually quite stupid for several reasons and should be avoided at all cost: a) only one bomb can take out all vehicles close together, b) it will happen for sure that in the heat of battle you will shoot your teammate unintentionally while tracking a fast moving plane and shooting (maybe even killing yourself from your own fragmentation bullets and his burning debris) and finally c) restricts both your angles to the same fire room, whereas it would be better for your team and bad for the enemy planes if you had different areas of effectiveness so they can not hide.

Change of Position
Be ready to move out quickly if necessary, and know your route to cover! Could be you get the full attention of enemy tanks, arty or airplanes, so you need to be able to be somewhere else than expected, and quickly so. Also here angling the vehicle away from the battlefield as described above helps (but remember: there may be cliffs...). As soon as you get into line of sight of an enemy tank, shift your position until you're covered again. If he's close and you have to suspect he glimpsed you, go even further away to hide.

If enemy tanks do attack, you mostly have no chance defending yourself. You can tickle them a bit, you will certainly annoy them, but killing them is difficult and rare, so better rely on running for safety instead of standing your ground.

Situational Awareness
In the role of SPAAG you'll be mostly stationary, waiting for prey. This gives you the time to study the battlefield closely. Use this to help your allies: call in Arty strikes whenever you get them, mark enemy tanks for Close Air Support, warn your friends about enemy movement (especially if it could endanger you...) and attempts to reach certain objectives.

Ground Targets
You are quite useless against most tanks except the most basic Light Tanks (and other SPAAG...), but that's not the case with  stationary ground targets: enemy AAA and Artillery encampments can be engaged successfully also at relatively great distances (up to lets say 1400m) with your weapon, and are very easy to knock out with the HE ammo you use against aircraft. So help your team by decimating enemy AAA and Arty (e.g. Kursk as German), but only do so if the situation allows (meaning no or almost no enemy air power and enough ammo still available). Your main job is still to fight aircraft, after all...

First use a shot or two to range your gun, then give a short burst. Wait  bit - it usually takes a few seconds of your burst to kill a target, so don't send another one after the first if this one isn't on the target yet and kills it, as this is just a waste of valuable ammo.

Spotting
Spotting Air Targets is much easier than spotting something on the ground, as the bright background of the sky offers great contrast to the dark planes, even at long distances. Only very close will the aircraft be well visible and "lit up" with icon and player's name however, but you can already prepare very well to engage him if he's just a little black speck. So look around and don't focus on the minimap!

 

If you see a collection of puffy AAA clouds somewhere, look at it closely to see if it's enemy AAA targeting a friendly or our AAA firing at an enemy. If he survives, he's lunch as soon as he comes into your range!

Also look around constantly: yes, most aircraft will pop up visible exactly where you expect them - right on a direct line between their airfield and the battle zone - but some pilots are clever enough to use a different, more tactical approach and sneak around the back before entering the Battle...

Priorities
You help the team most if you kill those targets which can wreak most havoc, so if you have the choice always engage the attackers and bombers first and as quickly as possible, i.e. before they can drop their load. That's usually also where they're most vulnerable as the tend to fly along very predictable path while trying to aim their bombs...

Hitting Air Targets
Killing Air Targets has become very easy even in HB, with the aim prediction indicator for aircraft. Still, some aspects should be considered: Its easiest to hit plans flying directly towards or away from you, as there's little or no relative movement and they basically fly down your throat. Even aircraft attacking you are mostly at a disadvantage as you usually have a range advantage.  But then while you have a great range and can often successfully engage aircraft at 1000m or more, it conserves a lot of ammo if you let them come close first. This takes patience and discipline. And certain body appendages of Steel...

As for the aiming itself, basically two possibilities exist:

 

A) Barrier fire (aiming at one point and firing indiscriminately) is useful for targets heading directly towards or away from you - eventually the aircraft will fly into your bullets. This also applies for deflection shots in SB where you have no Aim prediction.

 

B) Tracking Fire is best for deflection shots (especially with the aim prediction - very easy there...): follow the aircraft with some lead and fire while tracking. Sometimes (especially for small targets and/or if you have no aim prediction), making little spiral motions while tracking can help to, as it distributes the shells over a wider area, giving you a bigger hit probability - but in turn also reducing lethality as probably a smaller number of bullets will be able to hit and "act" on the target...

I only shoot in 3rd person view with the view zoomed in: this doesn't give you a bigger view of the target, but has the advantage that the vehicle doesn't obstruct your view. The telescopic precision fire mode I use exclusively to identify far away aircraft and to see where they're heading, but never to shoot as it's more sensible and jittery to aim through the "telescope".

Also consider sometimes holding your fire until conditions are really really optimal: shooting your gun will tell everybody exactly where you are immediately - which is not always a nice thing...

Self-Sacrifice
Remember you have very limited ammo, and can only resupply at cap points - which is usually quite useless for you as those are very dangerous spots to be for a "softie" like you, and mostly far away (with exceptions...). So how to get more ammo if you run dry? Well, you can always leave your vehicle and get your second spawn out of the parking lot. True, you sacrifice one perfectly fine SPAAG, but at least you're back in the fight!

Team-Kills
Let's face it: SPAAG's are not necessarily very well liked by a big part of the community as many think those silly Rakataka-Gunners would help more if they took a Real Tank to battle than a flimsy truck hunting only aircraft - which who everyone knows get killed by AI AAA or crash on their own anyway...

 

So it's not uncommon to get killed on sight right after spawning by your "friends" - what fun to range your gun to get the preferred round loaded on something that blows up so nicely without fighting back, eh?

Well, ignore those bugggers: you give them a bigger kick if you get annoyed and maybe even fight back. Move aside (if you survived...) and politely inform them that they have accidentally hit you and should be more considerate. Or something. If dead, respawn at the alternate spawn point if possible.

 

 

 

Well, so much from my side!  Please feel free to untrollingly comment, improve, correct what I've written!   = )

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Just a quick note: I've been an AA specialist since CBT and got my Anti Air title before the lead indicators came in, so yeah - I'm one  of the few who really got to know them... and Schindibee has it pretty much right.

 

2 things I noticed he missed: 1) Try to park with your cab facing a rock or hill, so the higher minimum depression won't affect where you can shoot (while removing the possibility of a plane using that dead-zone) and 2) Be VERY careful around friendly aircraft - remember that even a near miss will hurt them, so if the hostile gets too close, hold your fire.

 

I'll back up the target priority here - always aim for the bombers, attack or the P63 or yak-9 (if you're a German) since those cannon-toting fighters are your top enemy, but remember one thing - you can't help your team when you're dead... if you got even a biplane buzzing around, kill it! Chances are, such a useless plane (or, more likely, that Bf109 or Fw190) are coming for you, so keep an eye on them... if they can spot where you are, they'll aim for you and they CAN kill you. As with flying attack aircraft or bombers, you should always give thought to prioritising threats to yourself first (this does include bombers though - so this is something you can only learn through practice).

 

As a general rule, though, your priority list should be (adjust for range): Bombers (Ar-2, He-111), Attack (Il-2, Ju-87), Biplanes (they're slow enough to easily spot your tracer and easier to shoot down), Fighters with large guns (P63, Yak-9) and then, finally, all others (Bf109, Fw190, Yak-1, etc). If you're early in the game (or its a player you didn't spot flying before) and it's a bf109 or fw 190, consider it a fast Attack plane - they can often pack bombs which will net them a single tank if you're not careful.

 

Bombers, though, are easy prey if you know what you're doing... the attack planes are slightly harder, unless you catch one coming nearly head-on, in which case they're very easy.

 

Oh and finally: if you see the lead indicator shorten, it's turning harder, so aim between the plane and the indicator... and if it's lengthening, it's straightening out/accelerating, so aim beyond the circle of the lead indicator... that way your rounds will arrive where they're wanted.

 

And, yes, ignore the team killers on your side - we've all been there - just remember that they get a nice, hefty, bill to pay for killing your tank... usually more than the whole thing's worth... :)

 

Learn Artillery spotting ASAP too - it's a useful "Oh heck - I'm outa here!" skill to have, since it can cover your escape (or, at a last resort, you can call it down on yourself if a tank is beside you and you're shooting him - you might get him). But always keep one eye on the mini-map in the bottom right - it's possible that a red diamond heading for you has spotted you - better to shoot someone attacking than to ignore them.

 

Lastly, I'll 2nd this: the sight - don't use it! Zoom in on 3rd person! The sight removes your peripheral vision, which is essential for an AA gunner... there's a reason why specialist AA sights are usually open iron sights except for the really long-range artillery pieces... which usually still keep the target fairly small so you can see how and where it's flying when you're leading the target.

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On 12/08/2014 at 10:52 AM, Schindibee said:

Spawning Behaviour

 

If you stay at the spawn point you're predictable and just calling for attention from bombers. That's where they think you'll be, that's where they will look for you and drop some rocks onto your head! So move out immediately and go for cover!

 

The spawn points are useful for anti-aircraft guns, as there will be never an artillery attack !

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Gaijin has really dropped the ball on upper tier SPAA. Try using USA SPAA on jets? The quad 50 call is awesome, but slow tracking. German SPAA same thing. Don't use brit or russian SPAA?

Upper tier anti-air, if the game keeps going air dominance, needs a look see. 

Sorry edit: Meant to say both upper suggestions are well written.

Edited by barial
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With anti-aircraft guns of ground vehicles, in Arcade mode

 

1) Where to shoot at airplanes?

I know that there is the "lead indicator" where the airplane heads to, but this is definitely not the point to catch the airplanes...

 

2. What is the right name of the "lead indicator" ?

 

3) What is the maximum distance to have successfull hits?

3.1 Machine guns ( of tanks,..) ? For airplane-to-airplane, you should not shoot before the distance is less than  500m, I experience....

3.2 Cannons 2cm ( e.g German Wirbelwind, German  Flakpanzer1, German Gepard, German Panzer II)

3.3 Cannon  3cm ( e.g German Sd.Kfz 6/2, German Ostwind )

 

For 3.2 and 3.3, anything just anything less than 1000 m has no hit chance, I experience.

Additionally, if the the airplane is not directly heading towards me, so "lead indicator" over airplane, the hit chances are much lower ( same with air-to-air dogfight of airplanes ).

 

I suggest to equip the AA guns for AA setups with explosive projectiles ( " Sprgr. " ) only :-).

 

Do you experience that too :-(?!

 

4.

Often I get the "helper point" if the distance is too far to make a hit.

So is the "lead indicator" misleading me that there is a hit chance?

Do you experience that too :-(?!

 

5.

Btw, I experience that in Arcade mode, if the airplane has black badge  instead of red  badge, I still may make points with hits

Do you experience that too :-)?!

 

6.

Btw, in Arcade mode, if a red airplane goes down without a crash, e.g. on a field, it MIGHT have still a badge on it. Shootting at it with ground vehicles makes points :-)

Do you experience that too :-)?!

 

7.

I got a German AA gun setup, i.e. setup of

Self-propelled anti-aircraft weapons ( SPAAGs )

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-propelled_anti-aircraft_weapon

 

a) WT Gepard, aka  "Flakpanzer_38(t)"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flakpanzer_38(t)

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Pz.Kpfw.38_fur_2_cm_Flak_38

 

b) Sd.Kfz. 6/2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SdKfz_6

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=3.7-cm_Flak_36_auf_Selbstfahrlafette_Sd.Kfz._6/2

 

c) Wirbelwind

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wirbelwind

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Flakpanzer_IV_Wirbelwind

 

d) Ostwind

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostwind

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Flakpanzer_IV_Ostwind

 

e) Kugelblitz

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugelblitz

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Flakpanzer_IV_Kugelblitz

 

Flakpanzer1 ( alternative vehicle in the preset )

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flakpanzer_I

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Flakpanzer_I_Ausf._A

 

-----------------

 

I am not shure if I ever will have access to German AA tank

"Coelian"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flakpanzer_Coelian

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Flakpanzer_V_Coelian

 

or even

Flakpanzer I Gepard - Untested

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flakpanzer_Gepard

http://wiki.warthunder.com/index.php?title=Flakpanzer_I_Gepard

 

both need so much SL points...

 

I am not shure if I will ever want an 8.8cm AA gun, as it is worthless against low-flying planes as is usual in WT Ground Warefare...

"8.8cm Flak 37 (Sf.) auf s. Zgkw. 18t"

http://warthunder.com/en/news/4244-development-8-8cm-flak-37-sf-auf-s-zgkw-18t-a-heavyweight-flak-en/
8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8.8_cm_Flak_18/36/37/41
8,8-cm-FlaK 18/36/37 -> "Die 8,8 auf Sd. Kfz. 9, ZgKw 18 t"
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/8,8-cm-FlaK_18/36/37#Die_8.2C8_auf_Sd._Kfz._9.2C_ZgKw_18_t

 

8.

In general my experience is

a) It is great to have an AA - only setup :-). I don´t want to change from premier tank to AA gun just because I lost my premier tank..

a) You need to go to a safe position ( best next to the Base ), so that under normal coditions, you are never targeted by other ground vehicles ( you never see "red" ).

b) often this means you can´t use artillery in a battle, as you are too far away from the flag points

c) With shooting at airplanes, you can´t make much points. Means you have to earn the SL points to buy AA vehicles by other setups ( e.g. with tanks or tank-killer )

d) As the repair costs of Sd.Kfz 6/2 and Wirbelwind are quite high in comparison to the earned SL points, its important to disable "auto-repair" :-)

e) The WT rule "setup is best if the battle rating BR is close together" doesn´t fit with AA setups. Ok with low BRs, the airplane fighters might be less experienced, e.g. no serious bombing attacs, but overall... the planes available for battles with high BRs  are not much more  threatening than those available with low BRs, if there is a difference at all. Just the firepower of the AA guns counts, i.e. German Ostwind is a serious threat to aircrafts to make a hit...

f) you get easily out of ammunition. I was told by experts here, that if you visit a capture point, your weapons may be reloaded. Just there, not at the own base! If there is a capture point near to the own base, expected to be kept for longtime, you may easily visit it.

g) Btw, if there is a capture point near to the own base, where you know that you capture-the-flag easily at start of battle, feel free to make the SL points, and then to look for a safe position for your AA role... while on the other hand, my airplane is often shot down by standard non-AA ground vehicles...

 

9.

Is there already a similar stong stetup for AA, with other WT nations? Starting with Ostwind, German WT AA gets really strong...

 

10.

Serving in a battle as AA force, is mostly "waiting" :-), just like a goalkeeper in Non-US Football / Soccer :-).

Do you feel so too :-)?!

... or is anybody particpating in ground battles with AA ground vehicles ( besides taking "easy points" if there is an easy-to-catch capture point ( A,B,C) next to the own base ) :-)?!

 

Sincerely

Rolf

Edited by hemmerling
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Here is a useful background video about AA gunning

 

YouTube "Flak - Evading Air Defenses - WW2 Pilot training film"

 

, while our SPAAs are just the "small-caliber automatic weapons", not "heavy guns".

 

 

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Another good point I found is, we mostly know where "air" appears en-route to target, try and set up some where in that line. Makes it a little easier leading targets. I also try to park (urban maps) with buildings close at hand to back or drive behind giving one less angle to watch. Covering yourself in a 360 degree sweep is almost impossible. Outside town, it is a crap shoot as pilots see you long before they see the tree you are under. Guess that's to make air kills easier, after all, this is an air game right? 

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As pilot, I prefer to attack ground vehicles outside urban areas, walls and forests :-),

but such places are those where the SPAAs may operate properly...

Edited by hemmerling
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On 12/08/2014 at 10:52 AM, Schindibee said:

Ammo Choice

 

Never forget: Your main job is Air Defense, so ammo with only HE or a high proportion of HE ammo (or similar) is to be preferred. You can't do much about armored targets anyway


Ok, I'll try not to troll but, are you serious ? The forum is FILLED with complain about AA being able to penetrate every tank in the game with no problem....you can't just say "it doesn't work" when there is a thread about the AA being able to pen everything being created everyday..... that's not right.

Beside that, thanks for the guide :)

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13 minutes ago, Alex_Tow said:


Ok, I'll try not to troll but, are you serious ? The forum is FILLED with complain about AA being able to penetrate every tank in the game with no problem....you can't just say "it doesn't work" when there is a thread about the AA being able to pen everything being created everyday..... that's not right.

Beside that, thanks for the guide :)

Most of them are whiners who allowed an AA to put shots into their side armor or are driving around in a tank with paper armor and get ambushed by one. Here's the deal, If you're driving a lightly armored vehicle your main goal besides killing tanks is to not get shot... at all... by anything. This includes tanks, AA, and strafing planes. I once killed a hellcat in my soviet M4A2 by ripping apart his side with my M2 .50cal. In those vehicles taking the first shot is critical, so if you see an AA put it down quick and clean. In most tanks the most easy way to avoid getting killed by AA is point your front armor at them then watch them bounce harmlessly off. If you have thin armor make sure you shoot them before they shoot you just like you would against any other tank. I rarely get killed by AA and when I do it was completely my fault.

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4 hours ago, *Comrad-Kruschev said:

Most of them are whiners who allowed an AA to put shots into their side armor or are driving around in a tank with paper armor and get ambushed by one. Here's the deal, If you're driving a lightly armored vehicle your main goal besides killing tanks is to not get shot... at all... by anything. This includes tanks, AA, and strafing planes. I once killed a hellcat in my soviet M4A2 by ripping apart his side with my M2 .50cal. In those vehicles taking the first shot is critical, so if you see an AA put it down quick and clean. In most tanks the most easy way to avoid getting killed by AA is point your front armor at them then watch them bounce harmlessly off. If you have thin armor make sure you shoot them before they shoot you just like you would against any other tank. I rarely get killed by AA and when I do it was completely my fault.


Ok so let's rename these AA gun to "Tank Destroyer" because apparently, it's their main goal for you.

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