d3nn1us

[wiki:contest] A Beginner's Guide to Manual Engine Control (MEC)

This article deals with Manual Engine Control, or MEC in short, in airplanes of War Thunder. This is primarily a feature of realistic battles - in arcade mode, it is impossible to activate MEC, in simulator mode, it is mostly turned on by default.

 

What is Manual Engine Control?

 

Usually, when flying an aircraft in War Thunder, the player only controls the throttle, in a range from 0-100% - plus WEP, where applicable. The finer aspects of the power setting, like radiator opening, prop pitch and mixture, are calculated by the game without direct control of the player. MEC means that you take control over these parameters, allowing you to tweak your plane's performance according to your current (battle) situation. Note that MEC currently only affects propeller aircraft in War Thunder. There are no manually controllable engine parameters on jet airplanes.

 

Prop pitch, radiator, mixture - what the heck is all that?

 

Let's take a look at how a (piston-driven) engine works: generally, fuel and air are mixed in a combustion chamber and ignited. The expanding gasses drive a piston, which is connected to a shaft that turns the propeller. The combustion process produces heat, which is removed from the engine directly via the air flowing around it, or through a water cooling system that dissipates the heat at a radiator opening. This is, of course, a very, very rough outline of piston-driven propeller engines, but it contains all the systems we can control with MEC.

 

1. Prop pitch: The propeller pitch, or prop pitch, is the angle at which the propeller slices through the air. Each propeller blade is formed like a miniature wing in order to pull the aircraft through the surrounding air. However, depending on the speed with which the aircraft is travelling, a propeller can be more or less effective. At slow speeds with high power requirement, as during take-off or during a go-around procedure, the propeller pitch should be quite steep, so that the angle of attack - the angle between the propeller's profile chord and the plane of rotation - is high. During cruise flight, a flatter angle of attack allows you to reach higher speed (because a higher angle of attack always produces more drag as well), so your propeller pitch should be flatter.

 

MEC in War Thunder allows the player to control the prop pitch. The values are given in percent, with 100% being a very high pitch. You can set a high pitch during climb and take-off, and reduce the pitch in level flight to reach higher speeds and conserve fuel. You can even turn the prop pitch down to 0%, a process called "feathering", which stops the windmilling of a propeller on a destroyed engine and reduces drag - very useful on multi-engine aircraft. Also, if your engine is damaged, but still operating, reducing the prop pitch reduces the strain on the engine, allowing the player to keep the engine running for a longer period of time. Note: There are planes with automatic pitch control. This can be turned off, if the player wishes to do that. Note also: Manually setting the pitch to 100% will require the player to use caution in some aircraft during low-speed maneuvers, as turning on WEP will over-rev the engine, instantly killing it. An easy way to counter this is explained below.

 

2. Mixture: The mixture determines the ratio with which air, or more specifically: oxygen, and fuel are mixed in the engine before combustion. Most aviation fuels require a mixture ratio of somewhere between 1:13 and 1:16 (fuel:oxygen). As we all know, air pressure reduces with increasing altitude, which means that a given volume (e.g., one cubic metre) of air contains less and less molecules. Therefore, the fuel mixture rating changes as well. A perfect mixture of 1:14 at sea level will have turned into a barely combustible 1:10 by the time you reach 10,000ft, or around 3,000 metres (this is an arbitrary example). To maintain optimal performance, pilots have to reduce the fuel flow into the engine with increasing altitude, a process called leaning. In a descent, the opposite is required, as the air gets denser again - this is called enriching the mixture.

 

Players can take control of their plane's mixture in War Thunder with MEC. Again, the mixture value is given as a percentage, ranging from 0 to 100%, with 0% being "idle cut-off" - meaning your engine will go out - and 100% being "full rich". Note: There are planes with automatic mixture control. This can be turned off, if the player wishes to do that. Note also: A mixture that is too lean, i.e. which has too little fuel, will heat up the engine faster, while a richer mixture will keep temperatures lower.

 

3. Radiator flaps: The radiator serves as a heat exchanger between the engine and the outside air. Opening the radiator flaps allows more air to flow throw the cooling system, thus helping to reduce engine temperatures. On the other hand, wide open radiator flaps increase drag, slowing the aircraft down.

 

Players can control the radiator opening with MEC. Nobody will be surprised at this point that the position of the radiator flaps is expressed in a percentage: 0% means the radiator is fully closed, 100% means it is fully open. Note: There are planes with automatic radiator control. This can be turned off, if the player wishes to do that. Note also: The automatic control changes values dynamically for the other two parameters, but keeps the radiator always and steadily at 50%.

 

4. Supercharger gears: Some of the later prop fighters have supercharged engines. And some of these, in turn, have two supercharger gears - one for low(er) altitude, the other for high altitude operations. Switching between these using MEC can give you a massive performance boost in high altitude fights. By default, War Thunder's automatic engine controls do not switch supercharger gears. Note: The high altitude supercharger also has a very negative effect on your low altitude performance, so be sure to switch in time.

 

How to activate MEC in War Thunder

 

You need to enter the "Controls" option menu in War Thunder. Then look for the tab "Full-real controls", click it, and go into the sub-menu "Engine Control" . Assign a button for "Engine controls mode" - this will allow you to turn MEC on and off during the game. The fields you need to assign are "Mixture", "Propeller Pitch", "Toggle Auto Prop Pitch", "Radiator" and "Toggle Auto Radiator". Choose a parameter, let's take "Mixture", and doubleclick. You can now assign buttons to represent the "Mixture" axis, one for enriching and one for leaning the mixture. Very important: Choose "Yes" for the option "Relative control", otherwise you will be able to change only between 0 and 100%. When you're done, save your control setup and return to your usual control scheme - in most cases, "Mouse aim". You can still use MEC now.

 

So what do I get out of all this?

 

The most noticeable difference you will see is when using radiator and supercharger controls. Closing the radiator when chasing a target can give those extra 20 kph you need to reel in your prey. During a climb, switching supercharger gears at the right moment gives you a boost at a time where players with just one supercharger stage or on automatic controls start to suffer severe performance losses. But MEC can also help you to prevent engine destruction - much like you can quickly turn a slightly "pink" engine into a dead one by keeping the WEP on the entire time, reducing the prop pitch can do the opposite by reducing the strain on the engine.

 

And let's not forget: MEC makes you feel a lot more like a real pilot, who doesn't just have to think about which way to point his aircraft, but also about such things as mixture and prop pitch.

 

Troubleshooting and disadvantages

 

The biggest disadvantage, of course, is that MEC greatly increases the workload of flying an aircraft. However, you can always deactivate MEC, for example once you get into combat. Another problem is that War Thunder currently doesn't give indications on things like mixture: pilots use a fuel flow gauge and the exhaust gas temperature meter in order to determine the optimal mixture setting. These variables are only displayed in the cockpit however, with all the problems the cockpit perspective entails.

Other issues:

- as mentioned above, your engine can over-rev and die instantly when using WEP and 100% prop pitch in low-speed conditions, especially during take-off. If that happens, just turn MEC off again - your engine will work again, as long as you don't turn MEC back on.

- most german planes from late tier II onward have a so called "Kommandogerät", which controls mixture, prop pitch, radiator etc. automatically. It can be overriden, but you need to assign keybinds to "Toggle Auto prop pitch" and "Toggle Auto Radiator".

- Remember to set fine enough values for "Relative control step", especially for prop pitch and mixture.

 

[Edit: typo]

Edited by d3nn1us
  • Like 1
  • Upvote 29

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome article! The only issue I have is that the event we are in concerns writing about specific vehicles and telling new players about how to use it effectively. This article, while extremely and appreciably informative, is outside the scope of this event.

 

This would be a nice addition to the official Wiki though. A page with Simulation mode tactics would be very appreciated.

Keep up the nice work!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the kind feedback, folks. As for Rangertre's worry about the article not concerning a specific vehicle: it says in the description for the competition:

 

The list of possible articles is endless, but the main criteria remains: the article should be helpful for beginners, [..]

 

I though about writing some of my more widely used aircraft (or tanks), but most of them already had pretty good contributions ;)s

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now I wish that automatic engine controls also controlled supercharger stages. Without it those top speed numbers are BS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They also said:

 

"Share experience with other players by writing an article about your favorite vehicle."

 

They meant for you to write an article about a specific vehicle, and to talk about the tactics and locations to use with this vehicle.

And you can still write about a vehicle that someone else has written about (both myself and another have both written about the Yak-1). Just be sure to write a more correct or better looking article than the other person. Otherwise, the Editors will have to pick and choose!

 

You are probably mostly correct though. (loopholes... ;)s)

Edited by Rangertre
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately this Contest is for vehicle pages not strategy pages, please see contest rules.

Your efforts are appreciated and if we ever run a contest for these type of articles i suggest to resubmit.

  • Upvote 1
medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm very sorry, this is great work from your part, but we can't take this, since it is not a vehicle guide. If you take it as a slight compensation, I would be delighted to fly out in WT with you :)s

Anyways, I thank you for participating and for helping the community with this nice guide.

medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there, great guide! I've been wanting to make the most out of manual engine control for ages but to be honest the thought of modifying sim controls spooked me (rb nub 4 lyf), this run-down is epic!

 

Are there any general rules of thumb for fuel mixtures and prop pitches at different altitudes and speeds, or does it vary wildly from airframe to airframe?

Edited by JakCurse
medal medal medal medal medal medal medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just trying out the full control on Warthunder and found something not quite right about the propeller pitch. So I googled the problem and find this page.

 

In fact both Warthunder and your description are not quite correct. It should be the opposite to your description. High propeller pitch, are used for higher speed such as high speed cruising or diving.  Low propeller pitch are used for lower speed such as takeoff and climbing.

Here is a good video that explains it better. https://youtu.be/TR7KZdHLkE4?t=1m18s

 

 

The percentage number of propeller pitch in Warthunder in fact should be called propeller RPM. Like you said: increasing the pitch will increase drag, but the drag is on propeller, not on aircraft. So with the same engine power, higher pitch means higher drag on propeller, thus lower RPM; lower pitch means lower drag, gives you higher RPM.

 

 

By giving a percentage number on propeller pitch is not entirely wrong because it only describes how much input you give to the propeller. It doesn't necessarily indicate the angle relative to the plane of rotation. But still, it is very confusing. So by using propeller RPM would make more sense.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

in WT prop. pitch is implemented as constant speed prop. (not a variable pitch. prop as OP described) in this way, you change prop. pitch (as RPM) and this goes to governor and then to oil pumps to auto-adjust angles of prop. blades.

Edited by *DeaNetwork

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could get the Supercharger to work on the P 51 but when I tried the Mixture I got a pop up saying there werent available. Tried the P51 and a Tier III Me109 The Raditor I could only toggle between 50 % and 100% but I had to hold the key down while using it.

Edited by SgtCold

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could get the Supercharger to work on the P 51 but when I tried the Mixture I got a pop up saying there werent available. Tried the P51 and a Tier III Me109 The Raditor I could only toggle between 50 % and 100% but I had to hold the key down while using it.

IF the mixture is not available, this mean its not implemented.  btw. for models with mixture implementation put "relative control step" to 25%. with this, you can set only those mixture values (and only those values are good) : 0%, 15%, 30%, 45%, 60%, 75%, 90% and 105% ( yes, and 120% but this is the same as 105%, no diff. at all). For Radiator, set "relative controls" to YES. (also, you can set "relative control step" to 50%. with this you have those values: 0%, 25%, 50%,75% and 100%. this is more then enough for radiator.)

Edited by *DeaNetwork
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello. I have problem with adjusting supercharger gears. Is there any rule on what altitude should i change gears for specific nation/aircraft line?  

There is none. Each nation -> engine ->  aircraft  -> variant requires  different settings.

You have to learn them all by either asking or googling for the pilot's manual. Sometimes Wikipedia has the answer too.

  • Upvote 1
medal medal medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just have couple of questions like when to use turbocharger and when to use super charger and what prop pitch should I use on dora at takeoff?
medal medal medal medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By default, War Thunder's automatic engine controls do not switch supercharger gears.

Anybody knows if this is still the case?

Edited by Tornikk
medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anybody knows if this is still the case?

Wrong information by the user.

Of course the automatic controls changed gears (exception were bug infested aircraft), otherwise some wouldn't have been able to rise beyond 4000m. COnfusion stems from the switch to manual control, as all settings are then reverted back.

 

Automatic control will switch depending on altitude and not maximum power though.

E.g. La-5FN, you can WEP beyond 3km, if you remain in the first gear (only possible with MEC)

medal medal medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

 

When I bound the keys to MEC controls, specifically the supercharger controls, and tried to use it, I could only go into gear 1. Since update 1.77 or earlier (I haven't tried MEC before), there has only been a toggle supercharger option to bind, and no way to change the gear. I tried using it in the P-47D-25, and it only went to gear 1, not gear 2. I was wondering if anyone knows a way to manually shift the gears or if it will just change automatically when I get to higher altitudes.

medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jasoncoolguy1 said:

Hello,

 

When I bound the keys to MEC controls, specifically the supercharger controls, and tried to use it, I could only go into gear 1. Since update 1.77 or earlier (I haven't tried MEC before), there has only been a toggle supercharger option to bind, and no way to change the gear. I tried using it in the P-47D-25, and it only went to gear 1, not gear 2. I was wondering if anyone knows a way to manually shift the gears or if it will just change automatically when I get to higher altitudes.

The P47 D25 only has 1 gear.

medal medal medal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.