The B-25H in Aces High II
The B-25 Mitchell is one of the newest additions to the aircraft lineup after being voted in by the players. At first glance, the B-25H doesn't look all that impressive next to the other medium or heavy bombers in the stable, however her blend of characteristics and one big gun have earned her a strong following despite her short life in the game.
The B-25H mounts two Wright R-2600-13 Double Cyclone radial engines, which provide 1700hp each. She also equips WEP for a small increase in engine power, however overall engine performance is generally unimpressive, even in comparison to the similar B-26 and A-20. The B-25H peaks at roughly 285mph at about 15,000ft. With WEP, she can make just about 295 at 13,000. The B-25's performance on WEP roughly matches that of the B-26. The A-20, in contrast, reaches her top speed at about 11,000ft, but is significantly faster, at almost 330mph.
Rate of climb is 1750fpm at sea level, and just over 2000fpm with WEP. Surprisingly, with WEP she'll out-climb the faster A-20, though under normal power the A-20 is at the advantage. The B-26 is the poorest climber of the three.
Aces High II Performance Charts
The B-25H carries 8 Browning .50cal M2 machine guns, equal to the P-47 Thunderbolt for the heaviest (in numbers) fixed armament of any aircraft. Although they lack the stopping power of any of the cannon, the Brownings are still hard-hitting, highly accurate, with superb ballistics and rate of fire. They're as near to point-and-click as any gun in the game. Added to this, the B-25 clusters all eight machine guns right in the middle, giving her a devastating cone of fire for anything unlucky enough to get caught in it. Four of the guns are mounted in a horizontal configuration across the nose, with the other four in cheek blisters with two on either side of the cockpit.
However the centerpiece of the 25H is the largest air-mounted gun in the game: a 75mm cannon in the nose. Combined with the eight Brownings this may make her the most potent pure gunship in the game, and a superb strafer. No other aircraft can boast of being able to not only knock down hangars with guns alone but to do it to MULTIPLE hangars. The 75mm's range and splash damage can allow the Mitchell to lob a pumpkin at an ack position before the AAA can return fire, and the 75mm will cut right through M-16s, M-3s, M-8s and PTs. The high-explosive shells are less effective against armor, but with a proper approach angle even Tigers can be taken down.
For her size the B-25H is remarkably well-defended. She carries six additional Brownings in multiple gun positions: two in the tail, two in the top turret aft of the cockpit, and one on each side. While less useful than the guns on bombers capable of rolling formations, this is adequate defensive firepower, especially if carrying a gunner.
Ordinance is less spectacular, limited to a maximum of 3 1000lb bombs, less than even some later fighters, but ordinance for the 25H is a secondary consideration: her main striking power is centered on the cannon.
There's little to tell of maneuverability in the B-25. She can make quite a tight circle, however the turn rate is poor and is unlikely to get around on anyone. Unlike some twin-engine aircraft powering down the inside engine in a turn seems to make no appreciable difference in turning ability. Flaps can help maintain lift, but also do little to improve maneuvering performance. The B-25 does not tolerate high-speed handling well, and too many Gs will snap the wings off. She can use a vertical component in maneuvering, however this is most useful for reversing on strafing runs.
Fighting in the B-25H
The B-25H is a large, relatively slow, lumbering target. She's not very maneuverable, and is generally going to get the worst of any air-to-air engagement. If properly escorted or operating in an area with either little to no enemy air activity or strong friendly air-superiority over the target the B-25 can get down to business and do her job to great effect. Keep her low. Approach altitudes exceeding 5000ft are too high. The B-25 is a glide-bomber and strafer. She can't level-bomb effectively (no sight) and she doesn't make a good dive bomber (her wings will rip off). If you're in contested airspace NOE, or at least using terrain to screen your approach by ducking through canyons, etc, is advisable. Plan your attacks carefully if the target area is hot as the B-25 is a generally easy target, and you're bound to attract a lot of attention, so assume you'll have only one or two passes, so make each one count.
When handling ordinance use shallow glide-bombing approaches. It's not as accurate, but the B-25 doesn't perform well in a true dive-bombing run. Use the top of your nose as a guide, and right about as your target passes out of view under it pickle off your eggs. If you're low remember you'll need to break to avoid the blast radius, but remember the 25 doesn't respond well to high-G maneuvers so give yourself enough altitude to work with.
The centerpiece of your arsenal is the cannon. It fires a HE round so is most effective against buildings, soft targets, and unarmored vehicles, but utilized properly can give armored vehicles a headache as well. I recommend a gunsight that extends well below center, as with practice you can learn to use these marks for ranging (the gun has a range well in excess of 5000yds!). The cannon out-ranges most AAA fire, including that of ground vehicles and base ack (5" guns have you beat by a wide margin). Once again, with practice you can hover outside the effective range of a base's auto and manned guns, and pick them off one at a time and never once subject yourself to fire. The same can be used against M16s. One well-placed pumpkin will take down any soft/auto gun or M16. The 75 will also put the fear into the PT boat, which may be one of the most heavily armed vehicles in the game, and certainly a handful with a competent gunner. The rate of fire is rather slow, and you may only manage 3-4 shots of the cannon per strafing run if you start firing at range. A good tactic against hangars is to begin firing with the cannon first, then add the nose .50cal once you're in range. Pull out, give yourself some room, then turn around and repeat. 3-4 passes will generally be sufficient to knock down a hangar with guns only, and you'll still have enough left in the clip to drop a second. This same technique is effective against any ground target: fire the cannon from range, and as you close in add the .50cal. This inflicts maximum damage on the strafing run, without wasting ammunition from the Brownings by firing out of range.
Against light vehicles the 75mm is lethal. Any hit should finish off Jeeps, M3s, M-16s, and even an M8 or PT boat. However armored vehicles are a different matter, as there's no option for an armor-piercing round. Nonetheless. Regardless, the cannon can still be effective if you consider your approach angle and firing range carefully. Panzers are perhaps the easiest targets. Your best angle of attack is to come in straight and level behind him, as you want to launch your pumpkin right up his tailpipe. You'll need to get LOW, so be careful of the terrain. I'd recommend against using zoom as you really need to focus on your flying to dodge through ground clutter on your way in. At 200-400yds out (the closer the better) open fire. If your aim is true and you hit him square in the back of the engine housing you can take him down with one shot. With practice, you can get to where you can make this shot every single time. A similar strategy may be used against the T-34, only instead of the engine make your pass broadside to his left armor, aiming for the driver's compartment.
The two Panzer derivatives --the Ostwind and Wirblewind--are a unique challenge all their own. The same target area as the Panzer (square to the engine from the rear) is still valid, however you're now going to face a whithering barrage of AAA fire (37mm from the Ostwind, quad 20mm from the Wirblewind) so if they see you coming at them there's a very good likelihood you won't get within D800 before you're going down in flames, But if their alreay busy then you will probably make it. The best strategy would be teamwork: One friend to draw his fire, while you make your run and hope to god your buddy keeps his gun occupied long enough and that your own aim is on. Alternately, the turret may be the single most vulnerable point on these vehicles: it's an open point right on top of the chassis. Again, it's best if you have a friend to keep him busy, but make your approach from a slightly steeper angle and try to lob your pumpkins right down into his open turret. Even if you don't kill him it only takes one good hit to knock the gun out of commission, after which you can finish him off the regular way at your leisure. However if you have a bomb, drop a 1000lber on him and move on to something with a little less sting.
Tigers may be the most difficult vehicle to take down with the 75mm, as the approach can be insanely challenging. An attack from dead-astern can cripple him, but the Tiger is much tougher than the Panzer, so you may not do much more than damage his engine. Instead, the best target is to fire a shell straight down into the top of his turret. This means disregarding any other advice stated above about the B-25s poor handling in extreme dives, and making a near-vertical drop on him. Give yourself a good couple thousand feet to work with. You want to get as close to directly above him as you can, then roll in. Timing here is critical. You need to fire from close enough for your round to hit with maximum effect, but don't wait until you're so low you can't pull out, or until attempting to do so will tear off your wings. Use rudder to control your airspeed in the dive, but remember that this yawing movement will wreak havoc with your aim. As with the dead-six approach on the Panzer, if you hit him square and right on top of the turret it's possible to take the Tiger down with one shot every time. However if you have a 1000lber on board drop that on his head instead and save yourself the trouble.
Of special note: Be VERY sure of what direction the tank's gun is facing when you make your strafing run. You're a big, slow, and probably VERY low and stable target, making the B-25 one of the few aircraft that can actually be targeted by a tank's main gun with relative accuracy.
An alternative approach that works for all armored vehicles is to use the B-25's twin-engine controls to make very clean hammerheads right above the target. The procedure is easy to learn (5-10 min), and very efficient (one shot, one kill) once you can repeat it well enough. Hammerheads in the B-25 are best done counter-clockwise (to the left from the cockpit POV) and from an initial zoom speed of slightly over 300 mph, from just above ground (look out that you don't fly down the tanks' turret sight). A demonstration of this is at the bottom of this page.
The B-25 seems like it would work very well in combination with ground vehicles, taking out what your buddies on the ground can't, and they will also provide some protection against Ostwinds and wirblewinds. I've seen them flown to great effect as close air support platforms.
Fighting against the B-25H
Fighters should have almost no problems against the B-25H. She's slow and not particularly maneuverable. Unless you're coming in at incredibly high speed you should have no trouble turning with her. That said, she IS slow so be very, VERY careful of overshoots as you can quickly get shredded by that forward guns package.
The defensive firepower of the B-25 is adequate, but not remarkable. Her top turret is rater far forward, so if you can position yourself slightly below the tail you can eliminate as much as a third of her defensive firepower, and may only end up facing the two .50cal in the tail. Be careful in choosing your attack angles, as the B-25H is likely to be at very low altitudes so a vertical drop on him may actually be more hazardous for you, as the ground comes up to smack you before you can pull out. This will also prevent you from getting under him, and force you to stay in a position that exposes you to return fire from more guns.
The B-25 is quite rugged, and can soak up a good bit of punishment and remain flyable. That said the engines do tend to catch on fire rather easily, and the gun positions are vulnerable. The cockpit area also seems rather vulnerable to ground fire.
If you're in any sort of fighter you generally don't need to worry about the pumpkin chucker. The rounds pack a punch, but the rate of fire and muzzle velocity are low, and ill-suited to tracking a moving target. However HOing a 25H is highly inadvisable, as the wall of lead that can be thrown up by eight centerline-mounted .50cal can shred anything unlucky enough to cross them. Be VERY careful of overshoots for this same reason. However if you can stay above or behind him, you can generally pick him apart at your leisure. Just be advised it may take a bit of picking.
Ground vehicles have fewer options. M16s, M3s, M8s, Jeeps and PTs are at the mercy of his aim with the 75mm, although the PT may be able to fend him off with his AA, as the 40mm, 37mm, 20mm, and 4x .50cal MG's throw up a lot of lead. It can take you down in one shot from well outside range to return fire. A good stick will come in low, lob a pumpkin at you, and pull off before you can get a shot and to set up a second pass. Keep moving, and drive in an irratic and irregular course to throw off his aim and force him to make his shots from closer to guarantee a hit. Even if he DOES enter your effective range, the sheer weight of fire of his guns all but guarantees you'll be dead before your return fire can make a dent in him, barring a lucky hit. It's best to have a buddy with you, so while one of you plays bait, the other lights him up.
Armored vehicles are somewhat better off, as his .50cal won't do much damage, and the 75mm carries high-explosive rounds only. Ostwinds and Wirblewinds are the most potent AAA against the B-25H, as their armor will allow them to survive most hits except for a well-placed pumpkin, and their return fire is lethal. However a good B-25 stick will have someone to distract you while he makes his own pass. A tank's pintle gun can have some effect if you manage to hit him in the cockpit, but otherwise your best defense is your armor. However if pressed you can also use your main gun against him.
The B-25 will be slow, and coming in at very low altitude on a very straight course, and will be getting VERY close for his pumpkins to be able to do any damage. If you aim right, you can pop him with your main gun before he can fire and break off. In rare conditions, you may see a B-25 used as a tank. In this case you can get him with your main gun.
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