The Me 262 in Aces High II
When it comes to aircraft in Aces High, the Me 262 is the king. It is incredibly fast with massive firepower and with a good pilot can be the most dominant aircraft in the game. To regulate use (it would otherwise dominante the entire arena) it is assigned a massive perk cost but that's part of what makes it so special. Rare, powerful, though difficult to master, the Me 262 is possibly the one aircraft that could be considered "untouchable" when flown properly.
Engine performance in the Me 262 is vastly different from other prop driven aircraft. The engines give massive potential for speed at all altitudes and you don't need to worry about one altitude being all that different from another. The engines also give very poor response to throttle movements as they require time to spool up/down making quick adjustments to speed impossible. Usually, most Me 262 pilots simply leave the throttles wide open unless they intend to land. Sea-level speed is enormous, roughly 513mph, but the time to accelerate to that speed is lengthy. Cruise speed at best altitude is around 530mph at 19.5K so you notice that there is little actual improvement with large amounts of climb (something like 1 mph/1,000ft of altitude gain). Above 20K your speed is pretty much maintained although your climb rate has deteriorated to almost nothing by 30K. Climb rate in general is not all that good at only 3,300ft/min at low levels and dropping to 2,300ft/min at only 15K. I find that shallow high speed climbs are more effective than steep slow ones and can give you a little better climb numbers. Acceleration is good at low levels but quite poor at higher altitudes. You don't want to have to be worrying about accelerating though, the Me 262 needs to stay fast all the time. Fuel duration is 29 minutes though it is stored in a number of fuel tanks aboard so it is more difficult to monitor. No option for drop tanks exist. In 29 minutes though at 500+ mph you can go quite a distance.
Four nose mounted 30mm cannons are about the heaviest firepower you can imagine in the game. A single ping against a fighter sized target is most likely enough to kill it. Ammunition load is heavy for that large of a cannon, 80 rounds/gun for one pair and 100 rounds/gun for the other. The effective range for 30mm cannons is relatively short though because of the slow velocity of the rounds and the poor ballistic properties. Most kills are going to come from very short ranges under D250 against a maneuvering target though it is possible to kill larger or unmaneuvering aircraft at slightly longer ranges. I would be sure to test your guns offline and learn their drop rate at various ranges. Snapshots are possible but usually require a pre-judged lead that is slightly more than one normally would use. You should also be aware that each pair of guns has a separate trigger so you can fire only one bank at a time if you desire. Landing lots of hits on anything is not important so firing all 4 guns in unison is not optimal, fire one set until they are dry, then use the other, this will extend your ammunition supply greatly.
Maneuverability is excellent, especially at mid-high speeds, with both roll and elevators have good response. You also have maneuvering flaps available that can be deployed to further improve turn-rate though that comes at the expense of additional drag and loss of speed. A single notch of maneuvering flap can be useful though for short durations where turn-rate is important. The Me 262, by nature of it's insane speed potential, can be quite dangerous though to a pilot. The issue tends to be that it's cruise numbers are so close to extremes that even a short shallow dive can quickly result in a 600+ mph speed. The Me 262 is not capable of supersonic travel and Mach induced buffet and compression can be a serious problem that leads to the loss of a lot of Me 262s in AH. New players enter dives at too high a speed and don't properly control the acceleration only to find that they are out of control. Be very careful when flying at high altitudes and/or high speeds to not crash your Me 262 or structurally disintegrate by excessive G loadings. Low speed maneuvering is ok though that is not what you want to be considering in an Me 262 unless landing. The Me 262 can build up a high sink rate though so be careful about your speed/decent rates while landing.
Fighting in the Me 262
The Me 262 really does require a decent pilot to fly effectively. It's not that it is a difficult aircraft to control as long as you manage your speed properly. The issue is, you need to be good at predicting your enemy and positioning yourself to attack based on that. With closing speeds that often approach 300mph, your window of opportunity to line up and lead the enemy aircraft is incredibly short. Additionally, with the short effective range of the guns you tend to have to get very close where collisions can be difficult to avoid. There is also the whole issue with an icon that reads like a billboard "Drop everything else and come kill me". You have to split your attention very well and maintain high situational awareness, which can be very difficult when you are moving so quickly.
Offensively, use your speed and try to catch people who think they are fast enough to avoid any attack from the rear. Don't fight in a furball as everyone will have heightened situational awareness. With your speed you can instead pick off guys who are separated from the main fight or who are still trying to transit to/from the main combat. Come in low behind them and sneak up, this helps control your closure rate (since you are both headed the same direction) and your large speed potential should allow you to close up any distance to guns range very quickly. You can typically afford to be lower than typical against an opponent in this fashion because your zoom potential at 500+mph is unbelievable and you can easily pop up to attack. High altitudes are not really required, anything medium or lower should do as long as you have your speed built up already. Many Me 262's will fly under 5,000ft, which sounds dangerous, but reality is that it's almost impossible to intercept something that is sustaining better than 500mph at low altitudes. Some aircraft can attempt to dive on you but the actual timing required for them to match your speed and position for a shot is very difficult. Slashing attacks are also commonplace because of the short warning your high speed will give the enemy. It doesn't take long to cover D6.0 and an unattentive enemy may not even notice you before you are in guns range and firing. The knock against this tends to be that slashing attacks are more likely to Head-On situations by accident (if not intentional), something you don't want. Always be sure you don't slow down though as speed is your best weapon. Always assume that every enemy within a sector knows you are in the area as usually there is an instant call of the presence of an Me 262 as soon as one enemy sees one.
Defensively, good situational awareness and speed are your keys to survival. If you are travelling less than 400mph at any time when within dot range of an enemy then you should feel uncomfortable, you should be at top speed if they are in icon range. Your acceleration work needs to be done beforehand though you can typically add speed quickly in a shallow dive. You are very unlikely to be caught from behind as long as your speed is sufficient to out-distance an opponent (which is usually easy). Even aircraft that are good divers and start with a massive dive are unlikely to catch you. The timing required to be successful in such a tactic is very difficult to achieve, but you should always be aware of it. The best tactic is to force the enemy to attempt such a dive, then turn slightly to throw off the angles. Once the enemy has attacked once in this fashion it is highly unlikely he could regain enough energy to have a valid second attempt at you. Very low flying is quite popular as it decreases the icon range at which you are visible and makes determination of closure/angles even more difficult for aircraft who attempt to dive on you.
A couple of final notes. The Me 262 is most vulnerable when slow and historically it was attacked often while landing. The same is true in AH, this is usually the point at which you are most vulnerable. Commonly the Me 262 will pick up quite a pack of enemy aircraft who will be attempting to follow you around and may be waiting for you to start to land. I would always plan to leave enough fuel to ensure you could land at a field that is one layer back from the front. This extra distance will tend to open up a gap where the pursuers will break off or where you can ready some friendly forces to be already up and waiting to help.
I'd also be prepared to spend some time in other arenas flying the Me 262 for a while. It is very different and it takes time to adapt to the speed at which you need to make decisions in it. Even just attacking the predictable offline drones can be difficult to master so your time in the MA can be even worse when people are actually trying to avoid you.
Fighting against the Me 262
You need to stay alert and watch for things that appear to be moving very quickly at dot range. The warning you may have of an Me 262 attack can be very short, only a matter of seconds. If at any time you see, or hear of, an Me 262 anywhere in the area then you should remain vigilant even when you are transiting back to base. Me 262's love to catch you when you least expect it and will wait until you let your guard down. Turning into an Me 262 is typically ok as they will attempt to avoid any Head-On opportunities as unfavorable. Break turns, or quick unexpected maneuvers can completely throw an Me 262 off aim. Try to ensure you have enough maneuvering speed to initiate something that could be described as at least "crisp". Crossing shots, hard angles, or large vertical components tend to be very difficult with the Me 262 guns so exploit that. Shallow/Steep dives are not recommended, nor are zoom climbs, as the Me 262 has very high speed potential and can easily catch you in those maneuvers. To be honest though, as long as you are alert and have some maneuvering speed then the danger posed by a Me 262 is probably less than by most other aircraft in the game.
Attacking a Me 262 can be described as difficult, at best. Typically they will not slow down to fight and your potential to catch one is pretty low. The opportunity to shoot down an Me 262 usually presents itself more by chance and luck. You can improve your chances though by attempting to stalk one or predict what his actions may be and lay in wait. The Me 262 is not likely to present a Head-On situation but it can happen if you manage to get your nose points around fast enough, though likely he will simply avoid. The most common method of catching a good Me 262 pilot though is to anticipate his actions and use a high speed dive to match his speed and heading. If you don't match both, at at a reasonable guns range, then you aren't likely going to have any chance to shoot him down. Luckily, a fast Me 262 will generally travel in pretty straight paths so you can anticipate where he will be before he gets there and start your dive early. If you are in a poor diver, or a plane with poor handling over 550mph, then don't even bother attempting to attack as you are even less likely to have sufficient control of your own aircraft in order to aim your guns. When presented with an opportunity though, don't be afraid to shoot and just attempt to land hits. A damaged Me 262 is unlikely to remain in the area and will usually just run for home. The best place to attack an Me 262 is when he is slow though, either on climb-out or landing.
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