WWII History

What is it about World War 2 that captivates us so? Sixty-six years after it ended we still can’t get enough information about the greatest global war of all-time. Maybe it’s because so many of us had relatives who fought in that war. Maybe it’s because WWII seemed to clearly define in our minds good vs. evil. Whatever the reason, online games like Aces High which are based in part on World War II are as popular as ever. Let’s take a look at a brief outline of the war and then discuss the online simulations a bit more.

As any school kid knows, WWII officially began September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. The war officially ended on August 15, 1945 when Japan surrendered. In-between those dates over 100 million military personnel took part in the war which spanned the world and accounted for approximately 70 million fatalities. No other war in the history of mankind even comes close to the destruction that occurred during the Second World War and hopefully we will never again witness anything like it.

The United States entered the war on December 7, 1941, the Day of Infamy, when Japan attacked the U.S. Naval Fleet in Pearl Harbor. Our participation in the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal, the Invasion of Sicily and Normandy, and countless other battles has etched a permanent place in our minds and hearts. Stories of heroism in aerial dogfights and ground and naval attacks have been told to most of us by our grandparents, and a sense of duty and honor flows through our veins as Americans.

Online WWII games do not in any way glorify war but they do give a player some sense of what it must be like during combat. The instantaneous decisions that must be made, the strategy involved in any battle plan, the movement of support troops in an offensive, they are all available and quite realistic in any quality combat simulation. In the wildly popular online simulation game Aces High players coordinate land assault vehicles, ships, and planes in competition against gamers from around the world. The scenarios keep changing, the variables keep changing, and decisions must be made literally and figuratively on the fly during the competitions.

So what is it about World War 2 that captivates us so? Whatever it is, online combat simulations seem to reflect that captivation and fascination as players experience in their own way what combat must be like.

Warfare games, also known as military simulations, are an important part of military training and as such have played a crucial part in the history of warfare. The basic premise behind warfare or combat games is to test and refine theories of warfare without having to partake in actual hostilities.

At the most basic level it could be reasonably argued that chess is a military simulation, and certainly the Prussian game of Kriegspiel, first played around 1811, was used in training Prussian soldiers for combat and strategy. Moving forward in time to today’s modern military, war games are used extensively in training of military personnel. It is hoped that by simulating actual combat situations soldiers will learn how to react and in tandem military leaders will know what to expect and be able to adjust accordingly when games become reality in a real conflict.

Warfare games are used for other purposes too. For example, how long does it take a Corps of Engineers to construct an airfield or a bridge? How long can one reasonably expect it to take two battalions to move twenty kilometers through jungle conditions? Variables are constantly added, scenarios are constantly changed, and results recorded in order to obtain as much useful information as possible.

Critics, and there are always critics of any theoretical situation, will argue that since you are dealing with the unpredictable nature of human beings, it is impossible to predict future responses to stimuli based on past responses. In other words, simply because a soldier reacted one way to one simulation does not mean he/she will respond identically if faced with a similar situation in actual combat. Human emotions must always be considered a wild-card. Also, because actual warfare by its very nature is filled with ever-changing aspects such as weather, terrain, and opposing armies, it really is impossible to simulate that which cannot be simulated.

Warfare games are not only conducted using actual personnel; the militaries of today conduct many combat scenarios using computers, constantly changing scenarios and variables as field leaders respond to an ever-shifting battle arena.

Setting aside the pros and cons of warfare games for a second, it cannot be argued that online warfare games such as Aces High have become wildly popular. From the safety and comfort of home players from around the world can log on and test their battle and tactical skills against hundreds of other players at any time of the day or night. Just as in real combat simulations, online games offer changing variables, new scenarios, and call for split-second decision-making on the part of the gamers.

Next time you are in the mood for a challenge, leave the actual warfare to the professionals and log on to an online warfare simulation and test your mettle against the best gamers out there.


You can be playing a flight simulator game with the most life-like controls and interactive features on the market but if the scenery looks like a cardboard cutout you will lose interest quickly. Flight simulator games need to resemble reality as closely as possible or they just aren’t worth playing. This is especially true in combat simulations because the geography (landscape and topography) was such a huge determining factor during World War II. A pilot had to be constantly aware of the weather and ground features all the while keeping a sharp lookout for enemy planes.

Terms such as landclass, scenery objects, and mesh are used to describe the qualities looked for in simulator scenery, and we could write in-depth about the specifics of each of those terms, but in simplest terms the scenery needs to be as realistic as possible. Drop all the technical talk and it boils down to something even a novice gamer can notice, namely how realistic it is when you look at it. Do the textures of the landscape look authentic from 1,000 feet as well as from 20,000 feet? Do the geographical features look like real rivers, fields, mountains, deserts, and so on? Is the weather constantly changing, providing a constant challenge as you navigate your fighter plane? These are considerations that are so important when choosing which combat flight simulator to play.

One advantage the gamer has is the ability to download games for free from the better sites. If there is no free download or trial period then one would have to ask why bother playing that game? The established online games like Aces High offer a free two-week download to give players an opportunity to find out just how good the game is before committing to buy and that’s as it should be.

After all, people play combat flight simulation games to experience what it was really like to fly combat missions. What did it feel like to fly the Zero over the Battle of Midway, smoke billowing to the sky, flak all around you as you check your horizon, your angle of descent, your rate of speed AND the position of the enemy? What kind of adrenaline must course through your body when you are evading an attacker at six o’clock, trying to keep him from locking on and destroying your plane? What does it feel like to have your support planes on your right wing shot down leaving you defenseless against a two-pronged attack?

Gamers play online combat simulation games for the thrill, the rush, the chance to at least somewhat understand what it must have been like during WWII where one mistake was one too many in the highest stakes game imaginable.

So what does one look for in a flight simulator? That is indeed the question someone must ask and answer when shopping around for an online flight simulation game. Without an accurate representation of what actual flying is like, all you are left with is a video game of very low standards. You can have the greatest graphics known to mankind but if the player doesn’t feel the thrill of actual flying then what’s the point?

In 1937 the RAF (Royal Air Force) standardized the panel in cockpits that would be used for at least the next twenty years. They chose six essential instruments necessary for any navigation of aircraft. Those six were:

  • Airspeed indicator
  • Artificial horizon
  • Vertical speed indicator (rate of climb)
  • Altimeter
  • Directional gyro (compass)
  • Turn and bank indicator (aircraft altitude)

Several of these and their functions are obvious. Some need an explanation. The artificial horizon indicator shows the aircrafts position with relation to the horizon, thus helping the pilot tell whether the wings are level and the nose of the airplane is pointed up or down. The magnetic compass, or directional gyro, was a little bit misleading at times since it always pointed towards the magnetic north, a point of reference that is constantly changing due to the shifting of the Earth’s magnetic field. To correct this problem, a heading indicator was oftentimes used to indicate true north, the Earth’s axis point.

Checking these instruments was crucial, especially during combat as quick turns made it nearly impossible to discern direction. The pilot simply had enough to worry about trying to remain alive during an aerial combat. Thus the position of these instruments was extremely important to give the pilot an easy read. Generally the instruments were positioned in the classic T arrangement and were standardized in most aircraft so that pilots could acclimate themselves quickly no matter which type of plane they were flying.

In online WWII combat games like Aces High the players strap themselves into a realistic 3-D cockpit, become familiar with the standard instrument panel, and actually feel the thrill of flying a WWII combat plane during dogfights. Remember when choosing an online game, if it doesn’t feel life-like there is no reason wasting your time and money on it. There are too many games out there like Aces High that do deliver an accurate depiction of flying so why settle for second-best?

In the words of Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron of WWI fame), “The great thing in air fighting is that the decisive factor does not lie in trick flying but solely in the personal ability and energy of the aviator.” Thus we have the basic concept of dogfighting, or aerial combat first seen during WWI but very prevalent with WW2 fighter planes.

Early theories of dogfighting consisted of approaching an enemy plane from the direction of the sun thus blinding the opposing pilot, or to always try to fly at a higher altitude than the opponent. Later pilots advised to get behind the enemy aircraft, in the six o’clock position, to achieve optimum firing position. As dogfighting progressed over the years actual theories of physics came into play as angles, plane speed, enemy speed, and firing rate had to be calculated. But still, at its very basic level, aerial combat came down to the human element and the ability and energy of the pilot.

As fighter planes improved and technology came more into play, dogfighting tactics had to change by necessity. The most important of these was to always keep the enemy within sight. In pursuing an enemy plane, three choices are available. Lag pursuit involves keeping the nose of the attacking plane pointed behind an enemy’s tail. Lead pursuit involves keeping the nose pointed ahead of the enemy, and pure pursuit is the classic six o’clock position where the nose of the attacking plane is pointed directly at the tail of the enemy. All positions have to do with airspeed, turn radius, angle of flight path and firing speed. During WWII fighter pilots had to essentially learn on the fly as they re-wrote the basic manuals of dogfighting techniques during actual combat. Put another way, despite the physics inherent in the situation, it still came down to the reactions of the pilot based on learned and conditioned response.

About the closest we can hope to come to that kind of experience today is by playing combat flight simulator games like Aces High. Using advanced online technology we can climb into the cockpit of our WWII fighter plane and use the lessons learned by former combat pilots as we take on the best gamers the world has to offer over simulated World War II arenas. If you have never tried one of these online flight simulators, go to the Aces High website and try the free two-week download. Fire up your plane and then try to remember the words of the Red Baron as you test your ability and energy against other gamers.