by Richard Sheffield
Strafing Ground Targets
One weapon you always carry is often overlooked in the ground attack mission: the 20mm cannon. Learning how to successfully strafe a target is very important if you want to increase your scores in Conventional War. Strafing requires practice, but once mastered it can be an invaluable skill. Never again will you be forced to pass by good targets because you're out of bombs and missiles. The real key is to establish a set procedure and follow it every time until it becomes second nature. The following sequences works well for a number of players.
Line the target up early. Once you start to dive on the target, it's too late to make major course changes. So take the time to make sure you're perfectly lined up as you approach the target.
Approach the target at low altitude until the range to the target is 6 km. This way you can avoid detection until the last possible moment.
At 6 km, pull up hard, being careful to maintain a straight course. Level out at 1000 feet or so; the exact altitude isn't important. You just want to make sure you have enough room to dive on the target. As your skill improves, you'll find you require less altitude and can start your attack from 500-800 feet.
Your gun is most effective when the range is less than 3 km. So at 3 km, extend your speed brake and start to dive on the target. Put the aiming circle either directly on the target or just a little in front of it. Fire a short burst and watch where the shells land. Make minor adjustments and continue to fire short bursts.
Pull up as soon as you hit the target or if you get below 150 feet. As you gain experience, you'll be able to judge when to pull up by the size of the target, which will get larger as you approach the ground. DON'T WAIT TOO LONG before you pull up. Most targets you would strafe are only going to give you a few points. Don't get so involved that you fly into the ground while trying to destroy a 30-point target.
Figure 4-1. Strafing