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Author Topic: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?  (Read 429 times)

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OneGunnerUnder

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How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« on: September 15, 2020, 07:14:06 AM »

Basically, I want to go deeper with simulating flights in The Golden Age and Dawn of Flight modules in the B.A.T. modpack. I'm still somewhat new to the game and I'm a layperson when it comes to aviation, but I think it could be fun to simulate navigating an early 20th century aircraft using math to figure out my position. If anyone around here knows how I could get started with this, that would be awesome.
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ElCid97

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 10:12:41 AM »

Not sure how much can be done with IL2 in general since it was made as a combat sim and not so much as a flying sim.  Still, there are many things that I'm sure can help you out as far as general info.

Here is a site I use for pictures and/or data regarding older airports and flying maps.  Again, it's going to be different inside IL2 but it at least gives you a trove of information that will keep you busy for hours - especially since there is some information that may date back to the era you're looking for.  Most of it is for the 1950's and 1960's, but there are some things that are for the older stuff as well:

JWH's Vintage Airports

Here's a link I found that can better explain some of the "simple" math that can help out.  Remember that this is for Miles and Nautical Miles.  For Kilometers just remember that it's a "base-10" as opposed to a "base-60" system, but you can easily adapt it to metric by using 60km in your calculations as opposed to 100km:

"Easy" Mental Math for Pilots

I'm not sure there are navigation beacons in IL2, but I'm fairly new so I may be wrong.  I've messed around with the FMB a little and saw some possible objects that are "ILS" or "Loran" in name, but not sure if they have the functionality as well.  It won't matter if you don't have the instrumentation in the cockpit anyway, though.

I still have my 25 year old E6B and CR-2 which are mechanical flight computers that allow you to make various calculations.  Here is a printable one I found online which you can use to make your own.  As far as using one, that would have to be found online.

Print at Home E6B

Your best bet would be to print this on regular paper, then finding some cardstock or even a used "Ritz" box that you can cut up to size.  Just paste the parts you printed to the pieces you cut and you have your own flight computer. ;)

I found that Gleim still has some instructions online, even after all these years!  Guess I'm not as old as I sometimes feel! ;)

Gleim E6B Instructions

If you're more into videos, there are several on youtube that can get you going on how to use the flight computer.  Since it's a home-built, you'd have to figure out the "wind triangle" for wind computations on your own since there's no "wind side" to the thing, but I don't know if IL2 has real intense weather interaction anyway.

I know you can set the weather for missions to include wind, but I'm not sure how that works with any type of DCG or DGen mission.  Then again, I'm not sure of any dynamic stuff for the #DOF or #TGA modules yet or if they're even possible to create for the campaigns.

Rod Machado, a well known aviation legend, did this for a website called "Flight Litteracy" a while back.  It should help you a little:

Flight Letteracy: Dead Reckoning Navigation

And here's one that's a little simpler:

The Wind Triangle

And finally, here's an FS9 (yes, I know it's old, but many of us still use it) navigation website that may help you out.  I'm giving you the relavent page that may help, but if you have another sim (X-Plane, FSX, FS2020, etc) looking around can help quite a bit:

Charles Wood's Flight Sim Navigation: Plotting Your Course

From what I've seen there aren't too many things in IL2 that cannot be done just by using the printed E6B above.  You know your speed and you know how far you are (generally), so all you really need to know from that is how long it's going to take.  If you can read the fuel gauges you can take readings and jot them down somewhere.  You can then see how long it takes to consume "X" amount of fuel from the gauge, convert that to minutes and plug it into the flight computer you printed and you should have an idea whether you'll make it home or to the virtual POW camp.

As far as "math" to figure position, it would be better if you would be able to print the maps from the FMB so that you could have something to write on or plot on.  I know some folks on FS9/FSX/X-Plane that buy or print an old sectional and then laminate it so that they can use dry-erase to plot flight after flight on it.  They also put notes right on the map itself as they fly along.  Like you said, navigation would be an excellent type of challenge - especially for the #TGA era of IL2.  The closest I've had so far is the long range flight on the SCW campaign on the Nationalist side when you try and get troops to the mainland from Africa.

As a furloughed pilot I try to help when I can, as long as I know what the hell I'm talking about.  I just hope I didn't just turn you off from the navigation part of things!

Good Luck!  ]cheers[

Jorge
Miami, FL
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tomoose

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 07:00:40 AM »

Just a suggestion but presents a bit of a challenge.....

What I've done in the past for a navigation exercise (and this is by no means 'realistic' but adds a challenge) is to take note of the heading and timings at each waypoint then fly the mission without the flight path being shown on the map.  As follows:

1.  Note all headings and timings for all waypoints (e.g. if possible take a screenshot of the map with the flight plan, you may have to add timing/heading manually as zooming the map out to get the whole flight plan doesn't show the waypoint text).  This simulates you marking your map as you would in real life.
2.  Takeoff and fly along initial heading for the predetermined amount of time (obviously speed will affect the timing)
3.  At noted timing (for next waypoint/turn), use visual and map to determine if you are where you think you're supposed to be
4.  Make your turn and 'reset' your timing for the next leg.

Here's something our coop group has done in the past during bomber campaigns which you might want to consider...
I would join my buddie's bomber (B17) as a gunner in coop which allowed him to be the pilot and I part of his crew.  He would not consult the map at all but fly the plane.  I would be the only one checking the map.  The map would have the flight path (with headings/times etc) and I would tell him when to turn and onto which heading.  Essentially I became the navigator for him with the other coop members flying their bombers and following the lead bomber (us).  It added a touch of realism and immersion.  I originally had our white plane icon showing on the map which was relatively easy as I knew exactly where we were on the map.  Later, I switched that off leaving only the flightpath showing so it was up to me to check the heading, time then use visual clues (i.e. look out the window) vs the map to determine if we were on course etc.  Again, a bit more immersion and challenge if not exactly 100% realistic.

Hope that makes sense and gives you some ideas.
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Flanker27

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2020, 07:38:18 AM »

if i recall the navigation for planes of that era was very visual and seat of your pants, at one time the US had giant concrete arrows all over it and it was to guide the early mail planes to their destinations
 more info here https://sometimes-interesting.com/2013/12/04/concrete-arrows-and-the-u-s-airmail-beacon-system/
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OneGunnerUnder

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2020, 01:38:54 PM »

Not sure how much can be done with IL2 in general since it was made as a combat sim and not so much as a flying sim.  Still, there are many things that I'm sure can help you out as far as general info.

Oddly enough I do use IL2 as a flight sim! I'm still attempting to learn the ins and outs of the game and after 50+ hours, I've barely scratched the surface and haven't even jumped into combat settings except for a few times where I was testing out some of the game's features. I also came at this game wanting to fly missions as a cargo pilot. Since the base game didn't include the C-47 (which is what I was searching for) I eventually came across the B.A.T. modpack and here I am. The only plane in the base game that allows you to drop cargo is the U-2, I believe, and even that wasn't introduced until v. 4.13 (or possibly 4.12).

But as for a base flight sim I find that IL2 is perfect, but I say that because it happens to have the type of planes I want to sim with, and the B.A.T. pack makes that even more true.

From what I've seen there aren't too many things in IL2 that cannot be done just by using the printed E6B above.  You know your speed and you know how far you are (generally), so all you really need to know from that is how long it's going to take.  If you can read the fuel gauges you can take readings and jot them down somewhere.  You can then see how long it takes to consume "X" amount of fuel from the gauge, convert that to minutes and plug it into the flight computer you printed and you should have an idea whether you'll make it home or to the virtual POW camp.

As far as "math" to figure position, it would be better if you would be able to print the maps from the FMB so that you could have something to write on or plot on.  I know some folks on FS9/FSX/X-Plane that buy or print an old sectional and then laminate it so that they can use dry-erase to plot flight after flight on it.  They also put notes right on the map itself as they fly along.  Like you said, navigation would be an excellent type of challenge - especially for the #TGA era of IL2.  The closest I've had so far is the long range flight on the SCW campaign on the Nationalist side when you try and get troops to the mainland from Africa.

As a furloughed pilot I try to help when I can, as long as I know what the hell I'm talking about.  I just hope I didn't just turn you off from the navigation part of things!

Good Luck!  ]cheers[

Jorge
Miami, FL

I really appreciate the info you gave! A lot of it is over my head but I will sort through it anyway and see what I can figure out. Like I said I'm not an aviator, just an aviation hobbyist who enjoys simming. I have a family member who is a commercial pilot and retired C-130 pilot but that's my closest association with actual flying. Other than that, as a gamer and a simmer I love the feeling of controlling an aircraft. And since so much of flying (especially cargo missions as I mentioned before) has a lot of down-time mid flight, I thought practicing some actual navigation would give me more to do during my flights. So thanks!

Just a suggestion but presents a bit of a challenge.....

What I've done in the past for a navigation exercise (and this is by no means 'realistic' but adds a challenge) is to take note of the heading and timings at each waypoint then fly the mission without the flight path being shown on the map.  As follows:

1.  Note all headings and timings for all waypoints (e.g. if possible take a screenshot of the map with the flight plan, you may have to add timing/heading manually as zooming the map out to get the whole flight plan doesn't show the waypoint text).  This simulates you marking your map as you would in real life.
2.  Takeoff and fly along initial heading for the predetermined amount of time (obviously speed will affect the timing)
3.  At noted timing (for next waypoint/turn), use visual and map to determine if you are where you think you're supposed to be
4.  Make your turn and 'reset' your timing for the next leg.

Here's something our coop group has done in the past during bomber campaigns which you might want to consider...
I would join my buddie's bomber (B17) as a gunner in coop which allowed him to be the pilot and I part of his crew.  He would not consult the map at all but fly the plane.  I would be the only one checking the map.  The map would have the flight path (with headings/times etc) and I would tell him when to turn and onto which heading.  Essentially I became the navigator for him with the other coop members flying their bombers and following the lead bomber (us).  It added a touch of realism and immersion.  I originally had our white plane icon showing on the map which was relatively easy as I knew exactly where we were on the map.  Later, I switched that off leaving only the flightpath showing so it was up to me to check the heading, time then use visual clues (i.e. look out the window) vs the map to determine if we were on course etc.  Again, a bit more immersion and challenge if not exactly 100% realistic.

Hope that makes sense and gives you some ideas.

That does make sense and this sounds a lot like what I'm trying to do, except I would be playing solo. The only thing I'm not clear on is when I'm setting waypoints in the FMB, I don't see any actual indicator of the heading from each waypoint. Would I have to go a head and print my map out and use a compass to figure out the degree of turn between waypoints? Or is there somewhere in the game that I can access this info?

if i recall the navigation for planes of that era was very visual and seat of your pants, at one time the US had giant concrete arrows all over it and it was to guide the early mail planes to their destinations
 more info here https://sometimes-interesting.com/2013/12/04/concrete-arrows-and-the-u-s-airmail-beacon-system/

Dang that is a  really interesting bit of history! Thx for sharing!
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Stainless

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2020, 01:44:59 PM »

I got started with a book called "Teach yourself air navigation" I got from the library.

Mind you was in 1971, not sur eit will still be in print in the era of satellites ;)

 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teach-Yourself-Air-Navigation-Kaspar/dp/B000YHCXRW

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tomoose

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2020, 03:48:36 PM »

Onegunnerunder:
Once you've done your flight plan (i.e. placed all waypoints in FMB) and completed building the mission then it's just a simple matter of zooming on on the map on the briefing screen.  Each waypoint is marked with a distance, alt and a heading.  You have to zoom in though, as that info isn't displayed if you are zoomed out too far.  In FMB the time is also shown at each waypoint.  So using a combination of the two you could plan out your route in a realistic manner.
See below.

Hope this helps.
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Kopfdorfer

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2020, 07:08:22 AM »

Hi OGU,

Extracting the most out of Il2 will take you literally years.
Adding modded content will stretch this even further. I love using the
full Realistic Navigation features , and there ARE beacons which can
be used for navigation. Get hold of the V4.1 content pdf which is available
at M4T :

https://www.mission4today.com/index.php?name=Downloads&file=details&id=3996
Realistic Navigation enhancement reading begins on page 28.

I also love the drama of cargo delivery/cargo drop/liaison missions. These missions were
the backbone of many key operations in WW2 (and every conflict since) and can be
reflected well.
My favourite is the hapless Fi-156 Storch pilot tasked to leave the Fuehrer-bunker
in April 1945 taking off from the street in front of it , flying to the front to pick up General Wiedling ,
who has been summoned to the bunker to be shot for dereliction of duty. You must find the lines ,
land on the street , rendezvous with Wiedling's vehicle , take off from the street again , and return to the Fuehrer-bunker and land back on the street in Berlin to deliver Wiedling.
A little research will net you many such gems of history to build your missions around , and of course there is no limit to your own imagination to come up with your own scenarios.
Bottom line is that IL2 is well suited to handle sophisticated navigation.

Good luck with it.

Kopfdorfer
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OneGunnerUnder

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Re: How to get started with pen and paper navigation?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2020, 09:31:20 AM »

Thanks Tomoose! My mistake is that I was trying to view the headings from within the FMB.

And yes, Kopfdorfer like you said, so many options for mission creation
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