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View Full Version : Real life navigation in ww2?



XyZspineZyX
08-19-2003, 05:10 PM
Hello there,

I was just wondering how "fictitous" is our waypoint system in FB.. I don't think (but I could be wrong) that the ww2 era planes had an arrow in the compass to guide them (no GPS at the time, if anything).

Also, probably VORs weren't practical because of the fluidity of the action (e.g. when you're deep in enemy territory you may not have friendly VORs, and you can't count on the enemy playing "nice guy" and keeping standard frequencies).

So, what were those pilots using for navigation beside their eyes and maps?

XyZspineZyX
08-19-2003, 05:10 PM
Hello there,

I was just wondering how "fictitous" is our waypoint system in FB.. I don't think (but I could be wrong) that the ww2 era planes had an arrow in the compass to guide them (no GPS at the time, if anything).

Also, probably VORs weren't practical because of the fluidity of the action (e.g. when you're deep in enemy territory you may not have friendly VORs, and you can't count on the enemy playing "nice guy" and keeping standard frequencies).

So, what were those pilots using for navigation beside their eyes and maps?

XyZspineZyX
08-19-2003, 05:19 PM
VORs didn't come into service until 1947, so you don't have to worry about the enemy messing with those. /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

They had NDBs and ADFs though (radio compass), and the nice thing about those is that you don't even need a dedicated nav station for it to work, pretty much any AM station (all they had for radio back then) would work.

You can still do that today, and in fact one of the airports I tend to fly out of has a somewhat flaky NDB nearby. Reception is terrible, so no one local uses it. Instead we all unofficially use a local AM radio station instead. Dial in the frequency and follow the arrow and it'll take you right to the airport.

Navigation back then was otherwise basically the same as it is now. It just takes some simple math and a circular slide rule (like an E6-B). If you know what heading you're flying, how fast you're going, and how long you've been going, you can figure out where you are very accurately. As long as you know at least 2 of the 3 things you can easily find the other.

They had waypoints drawn on their maps I'm sure, but aside from an ADF in the cockpit, in general they wouldn't have had an arrow to point them in the right direction. Best you could hope for would be to get a heading from the navigator and then set a "bug" on your DG to remind you which way you should be flying.

XyZspineZyX
08-19-2003, 05:26 PM
Now that makes sense.. So you say probably they were using NDBs for the base(s), of course they also probably knew the frequencies of the various APs.

It was probably more helpful than FB waypoints (if you miss one, the arrow becomes useless because you can't cycle between waypoints).. This goes in my wishlist for the addon. /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

Thanks for the reply, BF!