DCS: UH-1H Huey - offense tactics

dcs

#1

Survival and attack in the Huey

I hope you got your things together
I hope you are quite prepared to die
Look’s like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Oh don’t go 'round tonight
It’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise
There’s a bad moon on the rise

I’ve been flying the Huey instant missions lately (no time for much else). At first I could barely complete the easy mission with a damaged helo and always got shot down on the hard mission. Now mission completion is a given and the challenge is to get through without a single scratch, in the minimum time. I know I’m mostly winning because I have a tested game plan so it isn’t ‘realistic’ as such…but the fun I had made me interested in the suitable air-to-ground tactics and moves for the Huey.

I haven’t found too much info online, so I’m doing a bit of testing myself. So - I thought I’d check here and see if anyone has dwelled into the ‘Nam style survival / offensive manoeuvring side of things or is keen to explore this with me.

The general reality

I feel like it has to be said for starters – yes, high threat modern environments are bad. No RWR, no chaff, no ECM, no IR jammer, very little armour plating, no IR signature suppression systems…you name it, we don’t have it. Many units are simply beyond the Huey’s ability to engage. MP missions in particular tend to have too modern threats for the Huey: that black blob could be an MT-LB but it is more likely to be a Tunguska or a Shilka… and you can’t tell until it is too late.Because of this, I’ve done a bit of Huey MP but barely explored its offensive capabilities – I was too busy running or hiding.

So okay, some targets are too hard – but what CAN we kill? And how?

This opening comment will be quite rough-cut, as that’s all I have time for…but over a couple of posts, I’d like to have a conversation about the weapons options usage and tactics. I’ll get started now and will add to it later.

The list of weapons is obviously rather short: pilot / co-pilot -controlled miniguns, rockets and door gunners, either with M60’s or miniguns.

Door gunners - M60

In terms of hard kill ability, the door M60’s don’t do a lot of good except against completely unarmoured targets. The gunners can come in handy for another reason, though:

When set to ‘free fire’, these eager kids will start training their barrels at targets you may not have seen and firing at them as soon as you are within range. For example, if you think you’re in the clear but the left gunner starts firing, a snap dive to the right might just make that AAA’s opening salvo miss and let you get behind some buildings in time.

‘Return fire’ mode will ignore targets until they fire at you, which gives you less general early warning but works as a crude threat prioritising tool when engaging targets – good for picking infantry or AA trucks from between ordinary trucks and other non-threat targets, for example. Also, having them set to ‘return fire’ at all times, you know with 100% certainty that if they suddenly open fire, you are being fired at and can respond accordingly. This has saved my skin a few times when capturing supposedly cleared enemy airfields in MP.

Other areas I’d like to discuss:

-use and tactics of minigun door gunners; oblique approaches to targets
-usefulness of rockets – can sufficient accuracy be reached for effectiveness with current damage model
-importance of force trim and centered ball in targeting (both guns and rockets), visual range cues, max effective range
-use of other crew stations as player
-survival tactics in offense – jinking, speed, energy, targeting, altitude, terrain utilisation
-missile / ATGM avoidance
-what units can be engaged / killed and what must be avoided
-enemy fighter avoidance – lookout routine, terrain following, stopping quickly

Hopefully there’s another rotorhead with a deathwish around to discuss :slight_smile:

huey-gunship


#2

When I read the opening lines of your post I couldn’t stop but think about a special Skin I made in DCS…

EDIT: as for the rest of the post I lack the proper knowledge, but if you show me the path I’ll follow you to hell and back! :smiley:


#3

That’s amazing! How do I get my grubby little hands on that?


#4

LOL! Heh, thanks. Well - it’s still largely incomplete.
The text is badly written and it’s the same just copied around instead of being written each time…
If you want it I can fix the way you want it…


#5

Ooh! Well, of course you are the artist so you have the freedom to decide :slight_smile:

But a wishlist paint job would definitely be a ‘BAD MOON RISING’ Huey in all it’s Vietnam-era glory:

Black nose, engine cowling and tail section, worn-out olive overall and dusty orange on the upper surfaces. Moon logo on the nose and the text on the doors - the more hand-painted and chipped, the better :smiley: What do you think, does “MUDSPIKE MARINES” have a nice sound to it or is Air Cav better?

173

253

I haven’t got a clue how much work something like this entails, so I don’t know what I am asking…could use the ‘olive drab’ or ‘USA 1972’ as base, maybe? Either way, don’t worry if it is too much work - I just got excited and started dreaming :smile:


#6

Yes, I think it can be done…


#7

Hmm. So I knew this…but had to do a bit of testing, of course. Fighting Shilkas is definitely hard - about 1/20 success rate.

Note to self - if tail is not flying in formation with rest of helo, bad time ensues.

Tests against 23mm trucks and a Strela vehicle went better (unsure why there is a long black screen at the end - will sort):

In this test, the vertical jinking seemed to be effective against the AAA bursts, but you do need altitude and airspeed to begin with. Not great if you need to stay low because of enemy aircraft…but I guess that’s life.

The Strela and the AAA both engaged me at 1.5nm range, I was at 2,945 ft AGL doing 115 kts before starting evasion.


#8

I guess I should have known that it won’t be long into this journey when the CA damage model and AI ‘quirks’ will start to play a part. The Huey has limited weapons, so their effectiveness will have a massive impact on what I can engage at all.

Analysing the weapons effectiveness inevitably leads to looking at how the damage is modelled…which is apparently a very simple hitpoints approach. It sounds like there is no penetration as such, just that more heavily armoured targets have more hitpoints.

I did find this modifier map, which may or may not be accurate, showing (somewhat predictably) that rear and top hits will be most effective and straight frontal hits the least effective:

I thought I’d test to see if a T-55 can be killed with the rockets, and it can…but after a few ‘dive-style’ attacks from high above I found that simply getting up close and personal before firing a barrage of rockets to the back seemed to work best. That AA-HMG is a killer, though…it is easy enough to beat the turret traverse of the main gun and the coaxial MG, but the HMG is distrubingly accurate.

Jinking at 1000 ft to get close and sight the hull alignment:

Then swoop in towards the back of the tank:

It worked, but I took hits on the final turn and had the rockets not been on target, I would have struggled to escape, so it is a risky strategy. Still, the older MBT’s can be killed with the rockets.

What happens when your rocketry isn’t up to scratch…not my happy place:


#9

You’re probably better off operating as a two ship or multi ship element when taking on armor like that. Or better yet: deploy some infantry with AT launchers and have them take it out. Much safer.

P.S. Watch the negative Gs. Bad things happen with negative Gs and xH-1 rotors.


#10

I would love to do this as a 2-ship!

Running orbits with 2 Hueys around the target at 1 ~NM would be great, as dodging tracers at that distance is easy-ish. The helo engaged by AA would jink, while the free wingman runs in with rockets.

Even an AI wingman would divide the target’s attention but at this point I’m testing what ground unit does what so it’s better to have the enemy’s undivided attention.

Deploying infantry would obviously be the smart thing to do and depending on the MP server, is possible. Requesting your friendly neighbourhood Hog to visit also works – but where’s the fun in that? :grin:

Ah yes, the negative G…seeing the rotor fly her own way mid-flight is a special kind of bad feeling.

It’s a challenge when planning the rocket runs. Ideally you create as big an angles problem for the AA as possible, which should include vertical. Diving in steeply also gives top-hit opportunities. However, if you push the nose straight down, you’re going to have a bad day.

A spiralling dive around the target to firing position seems to make for the hardest shot for AA (LOS rate) and that’s a positive G maneuver if you have enough bank to dive pulling…but it has to be quite aggressive to stay ahead of the AA. Stabilising and trimming for a properly aimed shot after a move like that isn’t easy.

As I understand it, real-life rocket runs are done from quite a bit further away and the attacker breaks off well before the target to avoid flying over the enemy. Unfortunately with DCS rockets that’s not really an option if you want to get things done…hence the crazy Stuka-schemes.


#11

Thing is, rockets are typically treated as an area weapon, especially for those mounted on the UH-1. That tends to encourage Sturmovik tactics over Stuka ones, using multiple ships to make several passes. AH-1s had a rough time of it, too, and they tended to prefer diving attacks for the few instances they took on tanks with rockets in Vietnam. So if you’re going at it alone, it’s probably ideal to get some air and then go as steep as possible, firing rockets in quantity for a single pass before hauling ass.

To make rockets accurate, you gotta have something like the Apache with the pylon articulation and targeting computers, and even then it only goes so far.


#12

As much as I like ye good ole rocket barrage to the nape of a tank, I still think that any Huey doing that on purpose is just looking for a “lead poisoning”-driven early retirement.
It’s simply punching waaay too much above Hueys weight.

That said, and as proven by @Bearhedge, that technique can be used as an ultima ratio stopgap-measure for saving allies/last stand/Black Hawk Down type of scenario…
If it works it’s Medal of Honour material, I’ll give you that.


#13

It isn’t for the faint hearted for sure…and if you do dive all the way in, you want to be damn sure that tank burns, as the 2 minutes of zig zag to safety feels like an eternity if you fail.

That said, I discovered a couple of interesting things.

For one, if you go slower than 50 kts or so and in range, the tank is firing its main gun at you! Man, those are some keen tanker guys with their 50’s tech. At least it wasn’t close to hitting. Doesn’t happen at 60+ kts.

A more important discovery was that the HMG doesn’t engage if you’re flying at 1800 ft AGL or above.
Handy for the diving turn starting altitude.


#14

I like that!


#15

Interesting finds and discussion!

Maybe not exactly what you are looking for, but there is this Huey virtual squadron, the 229th: http://1stcavdiv.conceptbb.com

@TheAlmightySnark and me are part of it, and I’ve recently been getting some gunship training from Gizzy, the guy who’s in charge of their gunship company. I actually came there for Mi-8 flying but I’m being lured into the Huey too now and then.

The training is mainly about learning to use real-world tactics in DCS. We have an active US Army helicopter pilot, and both Western and Soviet tactics are studied and applied.

If this would interest you, contact me and/or sign up through the forums I linked.

If you are not interested in how it was used as much as in how it could have been used, it may not be your cup of tea.


#16

I’d really really REALLY love to study some proper Huey lessons… the time zone difference scares me, TBH.


#17

Don’t hesitate!
There’s slick companies for all timezones: A Co for America, B Co for Europe and C Co for Australia/Oceania
D Co (gunships) is mostly Europe-based with a few Americans and there is at least one Australian who flies both UH-1H and Mi-8 with us.


#18

ME HAPPY! who-is-awesome


#19

I can concur! Very doable in EU Times! I am just mostly AWOL due to my work schedule insisting on me working on sociability times! :wink:


#20

I’d love that!

I’m Oceania timezone so I guess the C Co slicks would be the best place?

I’m regrettably unpredictable with my timetables, though - that’s always stopped me from looking into virtual squadrons.