ACES OF THE PACIFIC is a rich simulation, with lots of variety and many
subtleties built into it. This article outlines many of the tactics I've
developed over countless hours spent playing the game. It is by no means
exhaustive, but hopefully the reader will be able to pick up a few tips
that will enhance his or her enjoyment of one of the finest air combat
simulations on the market. My comments apply specifically to the latest
version of the game (patch B), with all the difficulty settings at their
This is the second of a two part series. This part deals with air-to-
ground combat. Part one talked about air-to-air combat.
Any weapon except tail guns can be used for attacking ground targets, but
obviously some are more effective than others. The following is a list of
all available weapon types, in increasing order of effectiveness:
Machine Guns (larger caliber is better)
Cannons (larger caliber is better)
132 lb. Bombs (small bombs)
500+ lb. Bombs (large bombs)
Large bombs - Can destroy anything, though warships may require more
than one hit.
Small bombs - Can destroy anything except the largest warships. Even a
destroyer takes many hits to sink.
Rockets - Can destroy anything but a warship or very large building.
May require two salvoes to destroy a freighter.
Cannons - Can destroy anything but warships, large buildings,
bunkers, and cranes. Large amounts of cannon fire can be
used to finish off an already damaged freighter. Large
buildings include anything larger than a green HQ
Machine Guns - Can destroy anything cannons can except freighters, but
many more hits are required.
Scoring hits with cannons and machine guns is easy. Just put the cross-
hairs on the target and fire. Most targets become visible before they are
within range, however, so you must judge how long to wait before opening
up so you don't waste ammunition.
Rockets are almost as easy to use, but you must be relatively close to the
target and under 1000 feet when you launch them. Hits are much easier if
you have at least a 20 degree dive angle when you fire. Rockets fly in a
straight line, and are uneffected by gravity.
Bomb trajectories are modeled very simply in ACES OF THE PACIFIC.
Basically, they drop diagonally downward at a very high constant speed. If
the bombing plane flies straight and level at a constant speed after
releasing the bombs, the bombs will appear to have to relative motion
forward or backward. I've found two reliable methods for scoring hits
with bombs, dive bombing and low altitude level bombing.
Dive bombing can be performed by any plane. The steeper the dive, the
better, as long as your plane will be able to pull out at the bottom
without crashing into the sea or ground. Just aim your plane a little
beyond the far edge of your target, and release just before pulling out at
the lowest safe altitude you can manage. Larger bombs have a significant
blast radius, so you should not release them below 1000-1500 feet or your
plane will be damaged or destroyed. If your dive angle is shallow, you
will have to point the nose of your plane further past your target, making
a miss more likely. Ships are narrow targets, so you'll definitely want
to dive along the ship's main axis to give you the largest margin for
error when dive bombing.
Level bombing can actually be performed from any altitude, but is much
more accurate from lower altitudes for obvious reasons. Point your plane
directly at the target at around 1500 feet if you're using large bombs, or
around 500-1000 feet if you've only got small bombs. Level out, and
switch to the F6 view (internal, looking straight down). Release just
before the target reaches the middle of the screen. A tiny amount of lead
is required at low altitudes and moderate speeds. If you would like to
try level bombing from higher up, I suggest you do the following first.
Fly level, switch to the F6 view, then drop a bomb, putting some kind of
mark on your monitor screen at the exact place where the bomb fell. This
will be your aiming point. All that's left to mastering high and medium
altitude level bombing is to practice judging the lead necessary at
Level bombing from low altitudes is deadly accurate. You can take
advantage of this when bombing small hangers or AA gun emplacements by
dropping your bombs right between two targets. Even small bombs will
destroy both of them, if aimed precisely.
For rockets and bombs, it is not clear whether hit location plays a role
in determining the amount of damage done, or whether it is completely
random. I always try to hit the center of the target, as this _seems_ to
work better some of the time.
GROUND-BASED AIR DEFENSES
There are two types of ground or ship-based threats you may have to deal
with whenever you fly in the general vicinity of enemy ships or ground
installations. AA gun emplacements will put up a barrage of flak, and
green HQ buildings will fire small caliber machine gun rounds at you at
short range. Ships are even worse since they can fire one or the other,
depending on how close you are.
Anti-aircraft machine gun fire does the same damage as a similar aircraft-
mounted gun would do, but it is often very accurate, and difficult to
avoid without moving completely out of range. It probably won't destroy
your aircraft unless its already very damaged or you hang around it for
much too long, but it will do cumulative damage to your engines, making
you vulnerable to flak or enemy fighters. Lucky hits are also possible,
so this is not a threat that can be safely ignored.
A flak burst is essentially a cloud of shrapnel produced when a shell
fired from an AA gun or ship that explodes at a preset altitude. It is
extremely dangerous. A direct hit will destroy your plane, but
fortunately these rarely occur. More likely your plane will fly through a
shrapnel cloud and take some amount of damage. The closer you fly to the
burst, and the sooner after the explosion you fly through it, the more
damage you will take.
Since the damaging effects of flak only occur over a limited area, it is
possible dodge the most of the bursts. Maneuverability is an asset here.
Jinking around trying to throw off the aim of the flak gunners does not
appear to be effective, nor does flying at extremely high speeds. Flying
at higher altitudes is much safer than low altitudes, however, since the
guns are less accurate, so the flak tends to explode further away from
you. Even if you have excellent reflexes and a maneuverable plane, you
will not be immune from flak since it may occasionally explode very near
you, causing immediate damage, or so close in front of you that you can't
turn away in time to avoid flying through it.
The two best ways to deal with flak are to stay out of range or destroy
its source by taking out the ships or AA gun emplacements that are firing
at you. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. One rather cowardly
technique is to let your wingmen go in first, since flak usually targets
the closest or more threatening target. The latter point is important,
because if you start your bombing run after your wingmen have already
finished theirs, the flak guns will probably begin targeting you. You can
turn this around and use it to your advantage by timing your run to be
just _before_ your wingmen's, so that you dodge flak on the way in, but
have some time to get out of range after you pull out.
Usually, the best you can do is try to minimize your risk, while still
accomplishing your mission objectives. You can either dive in at maximum
speed to minimize your exposure time, or go in slower, so you have more
time to dodge the flak bursts. The best choice depends on how
maneuverable your plane is, especially at high speeds.
When attacking ground installations with anti-aircraft capabilities, the
first thing I usually go for is the green HQ building. I do this because
it is easy to take it out on the initial approach, since I can throw out a
burst of fire that will destroy the building before it can begin firing at
me. If you attack from close range, even if you destroy it, you will
still be hit by a stream of bullets that were already fired in your
direction before the building blew up. My next priority is to take out
all of the AA gun emplacements. I do this regardless of if I'm being
chased by enemy planes. It's very risky to dogfight amid a barrage of
flak. Machine guns can destroy AA gun emplacements, but it takes quite a
few shots, even for a P-47, which has more machine guns than any other
plane. A better alternative, if available, is to use cannon(s). Two
short bursts will take out an AA gun. Strangely enough, if you just hold
down the fire button for one long burst, it will take more ammunition. It
is best to fire a minimal length burst, watch the tracer hit, then fire
another. Cannon ammunition is always precious, and you do not want to use
any more than you absolutely have to. Two cannon shots will also destroy
an HQ building. Of course, rockets and bombs will work on AA guns, but
they are often needed for more important targets, like hangars and supply
Attacking ships is much more difficult. The volume of flak is generally
higher, and all ships can fire machine guns at you. Unless you drop bombs
from higher altitudes and avoid the flak, you will certainly take at least
some damage from machine gun fire. If the ships are all very small, then
the best approach is to blow them all up with your guns and rockets. Make
sure you take out at least a couple on the way in, so they can't fire
back. If you're attacking a large, spread out formation such as a carrier
group, then you will get a brief respite from the intense flak barrage if
you destroy the carrier. Once you begin your egress, however, you will
fly within range of the ex-carrier's escorts, so be prepared. For other
sea targets with medium sized ships close together, if you're committed to
a low-level attack then about all you can do is try to get in and out as
fast as possible to minimize your exposure time. Take out as many ships
as possible quickly to reduce the number of firing platforms the enemy has
This article is Copyright (C) 1993 by Robin G. Kim. All rights reserved.