The Seafire Mk II in Aces High II
The Seafire is actually quite competitive in the MA but tends to be overshadowed by the very similar Spit V unless you are launching from an aircraft carrier. It has wonderfully easy handling at almost all speeds, great turn rate, and a pretty powerful punch with two Hispano 20mm cannons. The Seafire is more maneuverable than the Spitfire IX by a small yet significant margin and puts it into the category of one of the best low speed turners in the game. The plane has many great qualities that tend to attract new pilot and veteran alike.
The Seafire is only successful because people tend to get stuck in extended low-speed turnfights at low altitude. The key is that the Seafire is a better turn-fighter than most of the other planes in the game so when it comes to a situation where you need controllability, pointability, and the firepower to finish a kill, then the Seafire is a good performer. Unfortunately in most cases this low speed style of fighting tends to not lead to a lot of survivability against multiple opponents who can continue to force you into defensive low speed actions. Somewhat strangely, the Spit IX is more popular although most newer pilots don't have the proper technique to get the real use out of the extra engine power in the Spit IX and would be better suited to the constant turn-rate advantages of the Seafire.
The Seafire we have only produces 302mph with WEP at sea-level (293mph without WEP), placing it squarely below what is usually acceptable speed range for the MA. At best altitude the Seafire can reach 370mph at 20K, which is much better, although it is unlikely you will see many Seafires that high because the climb rate over 16K quickly drops. Climb rate near sea-level with WEP is pretty good at 3,500ft/minute all the way up to 14K. Typically the engine isn't going to get you out of trouble though in a Seafire and the Spit IX shows the benefits of more engine power. WEP is very important, it only lasts for 5 minutes and improves your performance a lot in a fight. Don't waste your WEP on transit as you will likely need it for the main part of your fight. WEP isn't even really required for takeoff from the CV since the stall speed is so low that it can lift off at full weight and still manage to clear the end of the deck easily. Acceleration is good though at low speeds but accelerating over 250mph is a real problem.
Aces High II Performance Charts
The weapons package on the Seafire is good but not great. It combines four .303s (350 rounds/gun) with two 20mm Hispano cannons (120 rounds/gun). While the .303s are only light hitters, the Hispanos are probably the best weapon in the game and even having only 2 of them makes your firepower above average. One option is to set your Hispano convergence out a little further enabling longer shots (D450 or more) while keeping the .303s set to a single point at about D300. You can attempt almost any reasonable shot with the Hispanos - snap, crossing, or high deflection though be careful not to waste ammunition on impossible shots unless you are pretty desperate for a quick kill. It is likely that you will have an angles advantage on almost any plane you are likely to meet in the MA (see later for more details) so can eventually build a solid tracking shot as long as you have time on your side. That usually depends on how many other bogies are in the area that could threaten you. Head-Ons are not terribly recommended as the Seafire is not a very tough plane and although your Hispanos should be able to deal a lethal blow to the bogie, it is also likely your plane will not survive.
The Seafire is very maneuverable, best of all the Spitfires (well, a tie with the Spit V which is weird), slightly worse than the Zero and a very close match for the Hurricane and N1K. At almost ludicrously slow speeds the Seafire still remains very controllable and has a very tight turning rate and radius. The Seafire only weighs 6,900lbs though, half of what a Hellcat weighs, and that combined with a good wing area makes for a nice light wingloading. Strangly, even though the Seafire and Spit V are usually considered equivalent, they are not when you look at the aircraft dimensions. The Seafire has a smaller wing width and carries 300lbs greater weight, yet still feels almost exactly like the Spit V. This should indicate that a Spit V has lighter wing loading and would turn better, though arguably you can't tell the difference. The extra weight on the Seafire is mostly due to additional carrier operation equipment (like tail hook and stuff). Roll rate is good, energy retention is excellent, and the Spit has a wide range of effective speeds from very low (sub 150mph) right through to 450+mph. Control response is good and the Seafire tends to feel very stable making it a good gun platform. Diving is strong and it is easy to far exceed the speedometer measuring range with no ill effects.
Fighting in the Seafire Mk II
Offensively the best use of the Seafire is a great BnZ fighter, though people rarely use it that way. The Spit IX is superior but the Seafire actually can be very effective. All Spits seem to retain E very well and can sometimes convert this into maneuvers that seem to defy explanation. It's known for Spits to pull 180 degree flat turns and emerge with most of their energy still retained. Come in with a bit of altitude above your target, just enough so he knows that he cannot escape with acceleration and best done near the ground so he can't dive away either. Set up above the target and try to force the enemy into defensive turns or commonly circling. Time your BnZ passes to correspond to the point in time he is point away from you, or is just entering the turn that would reverse him into you. You want to either have a shot at his rear, or catch him when he is showing a full plane view in his corner. Regain your altitude after each pass and make another, until you wear the enemy out or shoot him down. Using this method is the most survivable way of flying the Seafire, while trying to keep yourself on the friendly edge of the fight so that you can escape into friends at the first sign of trouble. Vertical fighting like this is also good, the Spit zooms fairly well and can hang on its prop against an opponent who doesn't cleanly out-zoom you. The Hispanos are very effective like this since the aiming is easy against a stationary target above you, even at D900.
The most common offensive tactic in a Seafire though is to angles fight, pure and simple. Get slightly above an enemy that is already low, in order to keep him from running away. The pounce and simply out-turn him, sustained, with little regard for fancy maneuvers. Eventually if the enemy doesn't manage to break away from you then you should be able to pull onto his rear and fire away until you get him. The problem is that this tends to leave you slow and vulnerable to just about any other bogie around and you can be pretty sure that the enemy is screaming for help the whole time because he knows he is in deep trouble. One additional note, don't fall for overshoots in scissors if the enemy tries that. It is easy to pull angle for lead against a scissoring enemy and then overshoot only to find yourself the defender and not the attacker anymore. Try and follow the path of the scissoring opponent and only pull enough lead to ensure you close distance if you think he is managing to out-accelerate you (i.e., cut the corner a smidge to gain ground). It is unlikely he is really out-accelerating you is you started at low speeds as the Spit is not a bad plane for acceleration from 100mph to 250mph. Just remember to keep your head on a swivel though, slow and low Spits are favorite targets for many people. You also usually want to fight nose high. This means, since the strongest point about the Spit is turn, especially at low speed, the idea is to get both turning and low speed working for you. A good way to do this is to fight in a vertical spiral, climbing early in your turns to lower speed, and then using the altitude you gained to finish off your opponent or escape. The enemy has few choices, either follow you vertically and slow down, or stay lower and give up vertical position to you.
Defensively, the Seafire is unlikely to hold any speed advantage except against the slowest of opponents. The usual defense involves a lot of sustained turning, often looking more like a train of people trying to catch someone on a merry-go-round. Unless they have better turn rates than you do then someone following you in such a turn is unlikely to catch you, though it automatically sets you up in a predictable path for someone looking to bounce you from above. Don't reverse you turn as you will likely give a snapshot to someone at low speed and that could be very dangerous. Avoid BnZrs with slight rudder movement to cause side-slipping or by changing wing angle a bit. Unless you can maintain your turn long enough to sweep your own tail by gaining angles slowly turn after turn, or you have help you can come in and clear you, you may find this a rather desperate and eventually fatal tactic. This is also where if you've burned your WEP too soon you may find yourself wallowing low on power with a pack of hungry wolves seeing you as their next prey.
Fighting against the Seafire Mk II
The Seafire is slow, and every attempt should be made to exploit this. There is very little else to exploit to tell you the truth since the Seafire has good firepower, excellent turn-rate at all speeds, and is very simple for even inexperienced pilots to fly. Be very careful of the Spitfire's guns - the Hispanos have a long reach, are very accurate, and it won't take many hits from one to cause damage. You need to avoid anything that could represent a good shot and thus you may need to react a little sooner to attacks like when facing something with numerous .50cals.
To beat a Seafire, you are best off to force the fight early and put the Seafire defensive quickly, isolate it if you can to give yourself more time to work or use a setup man to keep the Seafire defensive while you can set up for prime shots. You are just looking to land some hits, not even instantly fatal ones are necessary. The Seafire has a number of very vulnerable components (radiators, fuel tank) that all seem easy to damage and will quickly lead to engine stoppage. Once the Seafire is without power he has almost no options. Don't fall into a sustained turn-fight with one unless you have extra energy, can High-Yo or lag turn (or both), and can sustain that advantage long enough to get your shot or still escape cleanly. Turn-fighting a Seafire is only the job of a couple of planes, like the Zero. Once you get the Seafire turning he will be committed to a slow turning defense. Make sure you maintain a reasonable vertical separation as the Seafire can quickly turn vertical under you and while hanging on the prop take a shot at your from below. The Hispano cannons mean that even this type of desperate shot can sometimes cause you fatal damage at long range.
Defensively, there are two typical positions you can find yourself in when against a Seafire. The first is when you are low and have a Seafire equal or slightly above you. The key here is to try and extend at every opportunity if you have identified the Spitfire you are against as a Seafire. The Seafire doesn't have a good pursuit ability and if you can build a little advantage in speed on him then you are likely to be able to break free before he can complete enough angles gain to lock onto your tail. You need to be very decisive though and quick with this reaction as the second he starts to turn-fight you the clock is ticking. If he is slashing attack you, try and foil his attack with slight jinks or rudder slides and then immediately reverse and extend. It may take you a couple of successful defensive passes before the Seafire has exhausted his energy advantage so don't count on spending all your energy in one break. You don't want to fight one when slow unless you are acting as bait for a number of other friendlies who you know can shoot the Seafire down. If you have altitude, try a defensive spiral to increase your energy level and build up to a speed where you think you can break free. The Seafires are pretty good divers though, so don't attempt a pure dive unless you have enough room to avoid his guns while you accelerate.
A final couple of tips. The Seafire is one of only a few planes that can cause you to misjudge lead. If you try and lead turn one to meet it half way through the turn (and thus when it would give you a full plane shot) you can sometimes overlead this spot and end up popping out infront of the Seafire or in a Head-On situation. The Zero is classic for this but the Seafire can do it also. Secondly, the Seafire can fly ludicrously slow and still maintain control. Be careful not to run into it during the fight, or stall yourself out of control in the process. The Seafires almost never use flaps, and never need to, since they can fly so well at such low speeds. Lastly, watch the vertical zoom potential of the Seafires. The Seafire is so light that it can hang on the prop and still remain controllable to speeds under 80mph... he may be able to climb that last little bit and shoot you down at long range while you are flopping over the top of a vertical maneuver if you don't get proper separation.
Soda's Aircraft Evaluations