Gunship Academy

by Richard Sheffield

Tips on Using Your Weapons

The chain gun. The 30mm chain gun is a very versatile weapon and can be used on almost any target effectively. It's most successful when used at a range less than 500 meters, or .5 kilometer on the screen. At ranges greater than 500 meters, it's best to use your rockets. They can have the effect of suppressing ground activity even if you do not score a direct killing hit. This lets you get close enough to use the gun.

If you hold your fire until the range is 300 meters or less, you'll almost always get a kill with the first chain gun shot.

The Sidewinder missiles. The AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles provided are also very good weapons. One thing that's not widely understood about using these missiles is that they aren't tied to the TADS system for targeting. This means that if you know that a Hind is coming at you, and you're sure there isn't a hill between the two of you, you can lock onto any target (to arm your weapons for firing) and fire a Sidewinder without locking onto the Hind with the TADS sight.

The Sidewinder, being a true fire-and-forget weapon, will home in on the Hind's IR pattern and attack it if it's close to being directly in front of you. This is important to know because, in the fury of battle with a number of targets in the area, it's sometimes difficult to identify the Hind on the TADS system (even though you know it's close to you by looking at the Threat Display).

The calculations which determine whether a Sidewinder scores a hit are based mainly on the setup (your position and speed in relation to that of the enemy) when you fire the missile. If your first missile misses the target, the worst thing you can do is to immediately fire another using the same setup, because it will miss also; you must improve your position before firing again. Try firing with the Hind closer to the center of your screen.

Another wasteful practice is shooting two Sidewinders at the same time, "just to make sure." Since both missiles would have the same initial setup, they'll both either miss or hit, and, either way, you'll have wasted one valuable missile. You should also know that if you're very concerned about the Soviet helicopters, you can carry more than two Sidewinders. The weapons pods can be fitted with up to six Sidewinders, but if you do that, the only other weapon you'll have is the chain gun.

Hellfire missiles. Next time you fire a Hellfire missile, note that as soon as it hits the target the TADS designator box jumps immediately to the next target without you manually hitting the Next TADS Target key. The reason for this feature is to allow you to "ripple fire" these missiles.

When you ripple fire, you have more than one missile in the air at one time. This cuts down the time it takes to engage and destroy a number of targets. For this to be successful, all of the targets must be close together, and they all must be visible on the screen. The procedure is to fire one missile, wait a couple of seconds, and then fire another. When the first missile hits, the TADS will jump to the next target. If you have allowed enough time for the second missile to change course, it will turn and hit the next target. With proper timing, you can have three missiles in the air at once.

During the flight of the Hellfire, you're vulnerable to attack from other sources because you cannot change TADS targets, dive, or make sharp maneuvers until the missile hits (due to the laser aiming system). Using the ripple-fire method will reduce this dangerous time period.

Sometimes during a furious battle, you might fire a Hellfire missile and then realize that it won't kill that particular target. Rather than just letting it fly on toward a soft target, start hitting the Next TADS Target key. With a little luck, you might find a suitable hard target and avoid wasting a shot. Increasing your altitude during this time will increase the chance of spotting a good target.

If you have made a Hellfire shot and start to take a lot of fire or have a SAM bearing down on you, you can take evasive action at times. If the missile is almost to the target when you lose the TADS lock, it has a good chance of hitting the target anyway without the laser lock-on.

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