Tips and Hints
First of all, let's get this straight. The single most important piece of advise is this: read the game manual. This will help you immensely.
Big tip #2: Don't get too involved in too much custom lib crap before you perfect your flight technique. You won't learn very much if the only weapons you use are nuclear bombs. Furthermore, I strongly suggest that you do not ever use any of the in-flight menu cheats, or any of the provided menu cheats for that matter (except maybe the "Ignore mid-air collisions" and "Easy targeting" cheats). Those kinda cheats are for pussies, and there is no room for pussies in the Air Force! Now, lets get to those other things...
[Combat Tips and Tactics] [Toolkit/Custom Lib Tips]
[Mission Creating Tips] [Multiplayer Tips]
Bombing with Stealth: It's all about maintaining a low RCS. When you go to do any turning, use the rudder (don't bank). Don't use your brakes (slow down well before the target area, or don't slow down at all). Open the bay doors only when you need to drop bombs, and then close them right after.
Avoidance: Approach the target at high altitude (around 30,000 ft); the enemies seem less likely to find you. Don't use the air-air radar (air-ground radar is fine). Never take the most direct route to the target; the enemy is waiting for that. If they do ever find you (or maybe even get a lock on you) while you're bombing, close the bay doors and level out. As long as the enemy wasn't too close to you when he started "painting" you, he will eventually lose his lock on you, and you should be fine. If he was too close to you, however (less than about 10nm), he will probably maintain his lock and start attacking you. If this happens, you're probably going to die, but there is a last ditch method available to you to try and save your ass at this point. The only catch? You need to be carrying a few guided glide bombs for this to work (any GBU weapon will do). First, manuever so that the enemies are directly behind you, at the same altitude. If they shoot any missiles at you, evade them first. When it looks like the fighters are collecting behind you and about ready to gun you down, release a guided bomb (make sure the bomb doesn't have any target locked though). If all works out well, the enemy fighters should fly right into the bomb as they try to follow and kill you. The fighter that hits the bomb (and all his buddies that are in close proximity to him) will die. It's funny as hell when it happens. ;)
Evasion: If you are in a strike aircraft (like the X-32) and have just finished your strike, but bandits are patrolling the sky and you just want to get home without having to fight it out, here's a little tip: go low (under 200 ft) and fly on afterburner all the way home (or as much as your fuel status allows). Weapons fired against you (especially radar-guided ones) lose effectiveness when you fly this low, so the enemies will have to get closer to you than normal in order to attack you. If the enemy looks pissed and is about to attack you, send in your wingman to slow them down (he's so stupid he deserves what he gets). Flying in clouds also reduces the ability of the enemy to attack you. Oh, and don't just sit there hanging around your target area admiring all your handi-work. That's asking for an ass-kicking.
Prevention: Here's a good tip to use during a strike mission; oftentimes, there are computer-controlled fighters on the ground waiting to take off from a base not far from where you will be striking, so here's a good idea: before you attack your ground objectives, destroy the enemy fighters on the ground first. That way, you don't have to deal with them later.
Air to Air Combat: Again, low RCS will give you "First Look, First Shot, First Kill". If you can't keep track of your target in a dogfight, hit the F7 key (the external padlock to target view). Just keep situational awareness about your altitude when you do. When you can track more than one plane in a wing at beyond visual range, make sure you and your wingman don't attack the same plane.
Custom Libs: (What's a custom lib?) It's usually not a good idea to have more than one custom lib running at the same time. Here's why: if you load in two or more custom libs at the same time, the changes that each of the libs make can "blend" unpredictably (and that could cause some really screwed up $hît!).
If you are flying in a multiplayer game, you should never load in any custom libs unless all participants in the game have agreed to use the same lib as well. First of all, loading custom libs in a multiplayer game without telling others usually results in the game crashing. Just as important, even if the game doesn't crash (and it goes undetected by the game's built-in lib detector), if you are flying with a lib loaded, and the other players aren't, then for all intents and purposes, you are flying a different game than they are. This is, in effect, cheating... and cheating is not the way to play - unless you really suck that badly, lol.
If you ever re-installed your game and found that your custom libs do not work properly afterwards, here's why: the stock game's libs are now "newer" (more recently dated) than the custom lib. To fix this problem, go to my utilities page and download the Touch Utility.
One other note: if your custom lib doesn't work correctly even after using the Touch Utility (particulary if you are getting crashes to your desktop), there may be a different reason why your lib doesn't work (especially if you do multiplayer gaming). When you play a multiplayer game under a host, for some reason, the ea.cfg file in your game directory can be affected if the host installed his copy of the game more recently than you did (you can tell when this is the case when your game takes his preferences), and this may cause your game to crash if you reload your lib after playing with that host. If that happens, here is how to fix it: as long as you did not run the game since the last time you booted up your computer (i.e. turned it on), just go into the game directory and delete the ea.cfg file. That alone should fix the problem. (If you did run the game since your last boot up, simply reboot your computer and then delete the ea.cfg file). By the way, what the ea.cfg file stores are all of your preferences (you know, all the settings you tampered with after you installed the game). You will simply have to reset them after you delete the file.
RCS editing: Wanna edit the RCS of aircraft? The toolkit does not have a built-in RCS edit function, so it must be accessed by "other" means (i.e. text editor). Each aircraft has a *.PT file which is the definition of the aircraft's capabilities. Open the PT file for the aircraft you wish to edit. The first section of the file is the "General" section. Lines 25 and 26 of this section are the two numbers you are interested in. Line 25 is the aircraft's infrared cross section. A large IRCS will create an aircraft that is easier to track and attack with IR missiles. Line 26 is the radar cross section. A large RCS will create an aircraft that is easier to track and attack with radar missiles. Conversely, smaller numbers will make it more difficult to track and attack the aircraft with a particular missile type. (In the original USNF and ATF [DOS based], the IRCS and RCS numbers are on lines 24 and 25, respectively.)
By the way, the two lines above the IRCS and RCS numbers (lines 23 and 24) are the visual and laser "cross sections" (although it's not usually referred to that way). I'm not sure which is which, but in real life, a low visual cross section usually means a low laser cross section as well, so if you change one, you mind as well change the other. These numbers work just like the IRCS and RCS numbers.
And one more note: three lines above the visual and laser cross section (line 20) is the availability date of the object in the game. You can choose a year anywhere from 1956 through 2010. Please note that this function is not available in the original USNF or ATF.
5K sound files:To create a "5K" sound file in Windows, follow these steps: Create your sound and speed it up by 2x (i.e. use the "increase speed (100%)" menu item). Save it as an 11K file. Import it into the toolkit as an 11K. Open the project directory and change the file extension to 5K. Open the TK.TRN file (in some toolkits it is the ITEM.DAT file) and change the appropriate line. The file is saved at 11K at twice the speed. But when you change the extension, it is played at half speed, giving you an end result of the correct speed. This does, however, lower the audio quality somewhat (which can actually be an advantage if it's a radio message).
Custom campaign missions: Did you ever wanna put your own mission into one of the campaigns? (To do so, it helps to get the DuoSoft Toolkit for your game first.) Use it to find the filename of the mission in the campaign you want to replace. Write down (or memorize) the filename of that mission. Exit the toolkit and make your mission in the mission creator of your particular Jane's Air Combat Sim, and save it. Exit the game and rename the filename of your mission to the filename of the mission you want to replace in the campaign. That's it! (This also makes for a quick way to cheat: make the enemy a bunch of cargo planes and shoot them down for easy medals and promotions. You probably don't want to do THAT though, unless you really love to cheat, LOL....)
Naming Mission Items: Have you ever wanted to have your own airport in a mission with a name other than "Airport 7"? Or have you ever wanted to land on the "Roosevelt" instead of the "Eisenhower"? Sick of seeing 5 Ticonderogas, all with the same name? Then this little tidbit is for you. To name an object other than an aircraft (you can name an aircraft using this method, but why? You can name aircraft in the mission creator), you'll need to edit the mission in a text editor (like DOS Edit, or Windows Notepad). Open your mission file in the text editor. Find the player's aircraft object. In the name field, you will see a special character (in some editors it will appear as a block, in others it will look like a smiley face). Select that charater and copy it to the clipboard. Next, find the object you wish to name. Add a blank line after the "alias" indicator in the object's description. On this blank line, type "name" and then the name you wish to give the object. Then paste the special character on either side of the name like quotes (i.e. one before and one after). That's all there is to it.
Mission Specific Weapon Loads (ATF Gold, USNF '97, and FA only): Now we all know how to change the weapon load of your own plane in the game; via the weapon selection screen, of course! (duh) But how about the computer-controlled planes, besides your wingmen? Well, there is a way. First you create you mission as you normally would. Then, save the mission and exit the game. Open the mission file in a text editor. Find the data entry of the plane you want to change the weapon load of. It will look something like this:
pos 286741 10000 1383982
angle -135 0 0
react $2000 $8000 $0
...then, change it to look something like this:
pos 286741 10000 1383982
angle -135 0 0
react $2000 $8000 $0
hardpoint 3 1 AGM84A.JT
hardpoint 4 1 AGM84A.JT
hardpoint 5 1 AGM84A.JT
hardpoint 6 1 AGM84A.JT
Notice the extra hardpoint data? That's how to do it. The first number after the word "hardpoint" is the hardpoint ID#. The second is the quantity of weapons. The hardpoint ID#s vary from plane to plane, so it's helpful to have a DuoSoft Tookit to find out which hardpoint holds what. It also helps to know the .JT filename of the weapons you want to specify; the toolkits can be used to find them as well.
If you don't want to download a toolkit, or you're just too lazy to look, here is a helpful little rule to remember: the first hardpoint (hardpoint 0) is the visual seeker. The second hardpoint (hardpoint 1) is the radar. The third and fourth hardpoints carry the ECM device and IR seeker (respectively). So for an aircraft with all the above systems, the first weapon hardpoint is the fifth one (hardpoint 4). If the aircraft lacks any of the above systems, shift the all the following hardpoints up, one hardpoint for every system missing. Just keep in mind that there are occasional exceptions to this rule; sometimes there's a plane that just doesn't want to cooperate (trial and error is pretty much the only answer to this). And finally, for those of you who like to cheat: yes, you can specify any and as many weapons as you like, regardless of the normal limits.
Important: once you put hardpoint data into a mission, you can no longer edit the mission with the pro mission creator. For some reason, the mission creator doesn't like the hardpoint data, and will really screw up your mission if you try to save any changes to it. You will have to remove the hardpoint data before you attempt to modify the mission via the mission creator again.
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