The B-24J in Aces High II
How any new aircraft fits into the game is up for a lot of debate but it seems that the B-24 has found itself a popular addition and is very commonly seen in the game. Bombers in general are an interesting combination of compromises and the B-24 tends to bring the same game to town as the B-17. Being slow, large, tough but carrying a heavy load of ordinance over long distances with lots of defensive firepower is a role for a penetration type bomber where defenses are expected to be fairly heavy and you know you will be in harm's way. The fact that the B-24 appears to have risen in popularity is at the expense of the B-17, because the B-24 has essentially the same performance but carries slightly more bomb-load. All in all though, there are some other subtle differences to take into account, but the B-24 is probably going to remain a popular bomber.
Almost overnight the B-24J replaced the majority of B-17s used in game. The two aircraft are really almost identical in terms of performance so the fact that the B-24J has 2,000 lbs more bombs is likely the reason why. The B-24J also benefits that many people attack the tail area of bombers, trying to either kill the rear gunner or knock off the tail. In the B-24J the tails are duplicated and to the side, distributing them and making any single aim point unlikely to cause catastrophic damage. That said, fire is a real issue in B-24Js, people who shoot up the wings know they burn easily and quickly. Overall though, the B-24J is probably the best bomber in the game right now, combining good offensive load and defensive abilities from all angles without any major weakness.
Bombers in general fall into many categories so the B-24 can best be described as average when compared to its peers. Speed is not all that outstanding, 234mph at sea-level, gaining about 2-3mph/1K of altitude gain. Consider that by the time you get to 10K speed increases to 262mph, by 20K it’s ~290mph, and it tops out at 301mph at 29K. None of those numbers really gives any defensive ability against even the slowest fighters but are about average for this type of aircraft if not slightly better at some altitudes. Climb rate is also average, around 1K/min and gradually decreasing up through 20K. Taking less than full internal ordinance can gain you about 250ft/min for each 2,000lbs of ordinance you leave on the ground but what is really the point of doing that? Fuel duration/range is rarely a problem with 25% fuel giving you around 31 minutes of full power duration and a range of 160 miles or so. If you intend to climb high, or go far, then more fuel may be required though rarely more than 50% though lower power settings can help you stretch out your fuel for longer durations.
Aces High II Performance Charts
Very good, the B-24 has a substantial bomb-load and defensive armament. The internal capacity is up to 8,000lbs with a mixture of options available depending on your target. Bombs in the 100lb (x20), 250lb (x12), 500lb (x12), 1,000lb (x8) or 2,000lb (x4) are available though most people automatically take the last option, not really well thought out for most targets. Still, this is 2,000lbs more than a B-17 and double a B-26, two of the more common alternatives, but still only a little over half as much as the Lancaster. Defensively, the B-24 bristles with guns, mostly twin .50 cal turrets. Ball and Top turrets offer good coverage all around with 1020 and 800 rounds respectively. The tail also has good field of fire and 1200 rounds, enough for extended defense against several attackers. Forward fire from the nose turret is a bit more limited although there is 1000 rounds while each side has a waist gun position with a single .50 at 600 rounds. One of the advantages of the B-24 is the twin tail as it unmasks the top gun to attacks from the rear such that typically you can always have two turrets shooting (either ball if the target is lower or top if it’s higher). This is a defensive advantage against typical tailed aircraft designs.
This is no sports car, the B-24J is large and feels the part. You won’t be making hard maneuvers in this aircraft, it is best suited to large radius turns and upright flight. That said, if you really want to push the limits you can try some loops and rolls but be careful. With the new modeling in AH there are some serious structural limits placed on non-fighter aircraft and the B-24 has some very low tolerances. At around 307mph (IAS) the aircraft will begin to creak and at the 384mph (IAS) mark you will start to get structural failures. They tend to start with the ailerons and rudder but are not followed far by more meaningful components. Even in a shallow dive it’s not all that hard to get to those types of speeds if you are not careful. Of more concern is the G limits. Loaded, the limit is around 2.75G, easily pulled at any speed over 250mph, and leads to the immediate failure of the wing spar. Even unloaded, the G limit stays just under 3G so is easily surpassed with equally fatal results. Any aerobatics in the B-24J need to be very cautiously approached as a result and even some stall recoveries may lead to failures if you get into too much trouble.
Flying the B-24J
What makes people successful in other bombers is also what typically works well in the B-24J. Planning is key, right from the hanger all the way to the target. While it might be enticing to load up on the big 2,000lb bombs and more than 25% fuel, you should really consider the situation before making a selection. The 2,000lb bombs are great for ships as those targets tend to be in multiples of 2, but for average hangers the 1,000lb options are likely more appropriate, especially in formations. Also, while 25% fuel is likely enough for runs out to 2-3 sectors, you need to be careful you don’t run short of gas. 25% fuel gives about 31 minutes duration, 1/3 of which you will spend climbing to 10K, leaving less time for any route choice that may be lengthy to avoid concentrations of defenders. You may consider 50% if you are flying any distance or intend to climb higher than 10K.
Attacks are best run from angles that line up the targets you intend to hit while also avoiding the majority of defenders. The direct attack path is not always the most successful and a 10K altitude should put you slightly above the majority of defenders. You are bound to pick up some defenders who will be angry with you but it’s better to fight them after you’ve released your bombs than before. Your tail and belly turrets are both well stocked with ammunition for anyone who attempts to come in from low or behind.
Fighting against the B-24J
Attacking B-24J’s is simply no fun. There really isn’t an angle in which they are not well defended though the front quart is a bit better than some others. The B-24J is a large target though, so at least if you are making attacks from difficult angles/directions you have a pretty good chance of hitting something. Don’t attack from the belly or tail area, the coverage and number of guns is simply too good, that and it leads to poor target options as the tails/tail-gunner are in distinctly different aim-points. The wings are the best option, or the cockpit area, both tend to give decent results. I’d aim for the wings and try to set the B-24J on fire as that is certain to finish off the kill for you within a short period of time without having to re-attack repeatedly. If you can, get others to help you and spread out the attackers to make the B-24 gunners job more difficult.
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