Yeah. Common complaint, at least while flying WWII - era stuff, which is what I enjoy. “Nobody is covering the bombers! Where are our fighters?!” Well, as someone who does sometimes cover them, let me tell you…
Now, I’m not going to talk about bombers diving into the scrum themselves - mind you, I love taking a Havoc or Mitchell down nap-of-the-earth and making runs on targets or bases. It’s fun - but I also tend to do that to survive. (And find all the nooks and crannies on maps to fly through to not be noticed - some of the battlefield limits could really be pushed out a bit to take advantage of those beautiful mountains.) But if you’re diving a B-17, ME-264, etc. down into the dirt? Nobody’s going to be able to cover you from the swarm coming to eat you alive.
But, on the fighter/escort side?
We all have side missions, kill X many of this, get such-and-such place in the team, on top of just RP and SL. And flying escort for me often means being bottom or near of the list, no or few kills, etc. Mind you, I like seeing enemy fighters start coming over and then turning away from the bomber(s) I’m mother-henning because they don’t want to just be shot down at the top of a climb when they have no energy left. I’ve been on the other side and done that equation enough to have decided to find other targets myself. (And the occasional thanks from the bomber crews does make me feel good.)
But Gaijin doesn’t reward this sort of activity at all. Unless someone actually comes close enough to attack and you manage to shoot them down or hit them driving them off, you end up with nothing. And unless a lot of people do and you fight them off, well…
It’s about one step shy of being actively punished for doing bomber escort. Score? Nada. Activity? Nada (never mind I’m actively scanning and watching over these bombers, turning toward possible threats to dissuade them or engage them, etc - I’m decidedly active, just not in a way the game can quantify) and whatever I’m researching is sitting in the tree going “Why’d you do that?” with no progress.
Honestly, from someone who both does bomber escorts and runs bombers on occasion myself, I’d love to see some system in place to reward a fighter keeping an eye on you. Escorting counting time within some radius of a bomber. (I know I try to stay within about 10k feet horizontally, closer to 5-7 if I can help it.) Get some of the credit for ground target/base destruction - you helped get the bombs there, after all. Bonus rewards for whatever you shoot down (or hit/crit while within the escort radius.) Something to make up for choosing to do this and not being in the dogfights 15-20-25000 feet down below.
Doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing escorts when I can, mind you. The whole “personal satisfaction” thing works for me sometimes. But if you’re in a bomber watching a red name come at you and wondering where your fighters are? Just remember, the guy attackiing you at least is getting rewarded for doing so (… maybe not enough after spending a few minutes getting to altitude, but still.) And on your side? Unlike the real world, lives aren’t at stake, so people are choosing to make progress in the game where they get rewards instead of flying around enjoying the scenery at 30,000 feet.
Want that to change? Push Gaijin to change it and give tangible rewards for bomber escort. There aren’t enough of us around who just do it because we want to, after all.