Saturday, June 1, 2013

Non-Fiction Book Review: Angels and Airspeed

This one's non-fiction. I read this not realizing that it was geared more towards people playing flight simulation games, but apparently flight simulation enthusiasts are pretty hard core about the games they play being as realistic as possible.

This was really everything I wanted it to be. I picked it up because I was writing about WWII level technology air combat, and was having difficulty finding anything in depth on combat tactics. This has everything, starting from the ground up.

The first chapters skim over aerodynamics, and go into taxiing, the anatomy of an aerodrome, etc. Then it goes on to taking off, staying level, dangers of simple standard flight, how to find out what your plane is capable of, etc.

Then it gets into specific tactics, from one on one combat, to tactics for large groups of aeroplanes, with 1v2, 2v1, 2v2, 2v more than 2, etc in between. It even touches a bit on psychological warfare in mentioning how one can frighten and discourage their opponent if they can take out a flight leader early on in the battle, or confuse an opponent by attacking despite being outnumbered if you can surprise them and pick off a few to even the odds while they try and locate your non-existent backup.

It was very thorough, from what I can tell. At the back of the book are several pages of silhouettes of various aeroplanes, organized by country - the sort I imagine would have been used to drill WWII pilots to recognize friend from foe in the sky.

And at the end, the author goes into some recommendations for anyone interested in getting into flight simulation games. Apparently the most life-like, realistic games are the Sturmovik series. It also extolled the importance of having the proper control inputs - a control stick with rudder pedals is apparently essential, and honestly, having played Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, he's right, the PS3 controller doesn't have the subtlety you need to handle an aeroplane effectively. It's like playing WoW with a touchpad mouse.

Anyway, for any of my fellow dieselpunks out there interested in learning about WWII air combat tactics, or in getting into flight simulation games, this is a great resource and you can pick it up off the website here. For myself, I'm not going to be getting into flight simulators - anyone following my personal blog will know I'm taking a slightly different route.

In conclusion, eight cylinders.