Squeezing more juice out of the Harrier

I’ve been flying the jump jet a lot lately and really loving it. Some players are commenting that the current iteration is down on power, especially in the hover, but I think that it’s fine in that configuration. Where I wish it had a little more go is on top. In A2A engagements, say against the Skyhaws, it has a hard time winning any drag races. The most that I seem to be able to squeeze out of her is around .81-.83, where reviewing Tacview, the AI seem to wring.88 and .89. I wonder what I’m doing wrong. Should flaps be in cruise and back to auto for maneuvers? I’m aware of the limitations, but I don’t seem to be able to go fast with only gun pods and empty heater rails with the throttle to the stop. Anyone else notice this? Skyhawks AI seem to often reach .85.


You should be in AUTO when you are flying about. IIRC AUTO gives you 0-25 degrees of flap whereas CRUISE gives you 5. So there is no virtue to having the flaps in CRUISE.

Perhaps try the CMBT switch as well.

It’s difficult to say how you should fare in a drag race with an A-4. Which model you are
fighting, if the A-4 has pylons or not, etc are all going to make a difference.

That’s provided that the FM correct in both a/c of course. Since you are basically speaking about one edge of the envelope for both aircraft, that’s where you are most likely to see any cracks in the FM if they exist.

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Thanks Deacon. So you’re saying that Cruise flaps are always going to give you 5 degrees, where Auto might be as little as 0 flaps? Interesting. I should have also mentioned low altitude too. Skyhawk is the community A-4E-C. The Harrier accelerates fine, but it seems like when I extend, there is always a an AI Skyhawk which can run you down if given enough time. I have ways of defeating them, it’s just feels like more work than it should be and wondered what I’m doing wrong. I guess that’s a good thing. If it were easy, it would be boring :smiley:


Bear in mind that much of this is from my 25 odd year old recollection.

Yes. CRUISE flaps are set at a fixed 5 degrees. Actually, I’m not sure why they were called “cruise” flaps. I don’t recall ever setting them to cruise.

AUTO flaps act like the maneuvering flaps on other fighters and actuate from 0-25 degrees.

STOL flaps are for VSTOL ops and work with the nozzles to give you flaps 25-62 degrees.

It’s still difficult to quite say how the Harrier should fare in a drag race on the deck. But a clean A-4 is comparatively clean compared
to an AV-8 whose pylons are more or less permanently installed. The gun of course doesn’t help.

Still, a Harrier on the deck should be capable of reaching its V Max of 585kts without too
much trouble. That looks to equate to Mach 0.87-0.88 or so just looking at the charts on Google.

You can always try it from the other side and fly the A-4 and see what you can get…and what an AI Harrier pilot can squeeze out of her.

EDIT: Out of curiosity I looked up the max speed of the Skyhawk. It is also listed as 585kts though it doesn’t say what variant.


Yes, they are a good match. With @jross’s help, I’ve built a mission trying to as closely as possible match the Falklands conflict. So the Harriers get two AIM-9M (should be Limas) and the odds are a flight of 3 x Harrier CAP vs 12 x A-4E, Ace or Veteran in 3 x 4-ship flights. The Skyhawks are attacking ships in waves and the Harriers are attempting to beat them off. If I let the scenario run all AI, the A-4Es do surprisingly well. But add 1 or 2 fleshy pilots in Harriers and the odds even out a bit.


Not realistic but try turning the water on, it gives a greater rpm iirc. A quick burst might help get a solution

Hehe, it’s funny because it falls under the heading of, “I’m not sure I ever tried that”.

I know you already said that it’s unrealistic, but I’m not certain if that should even work. The way it’s worded says that the water will flow in TO mode until the airspeed exceeds 250kts.

But nowhere does it say that it would flow if you selected it when you were over 250kts in the first place. My recollection is not.

It’s just not what the water system was designed for and the manual author apparently didn’t expect to be asked that question! :joy:

I’m looking forward to trying the mission when my PC is back up and running.

It’s an interesting scenario and matchup. The AV-8B is actually a little slower than the SHAR as I recall. The GR.1 and FRS.1 were both faster than the “B” with the Harrier II trading top end speed for increased range, lift, and payload.

I only flew the TA-4J in the Training Command, so it’s hard to say how well the Skyhawk should fight in its best iteration. The old, busted Js were not it. I did spend some time with the Mike guys in Willow Grove though and they loved that thing.

For my own part, I found the AV-8B to still fight very well. But without overlaying the Maneuvering Charts of one aircraft over the other, I’d be hard pressed to say how the fight should look on paper.