WINGMEN and COMMS   6-12-2023
Edited by MarkEAW




Wingman and Campaign Difficulty Settings | Wingman Management | Wingman and Individual Sections
Determining who is calling out for help in your squadron | Single Missions; Support Flight
Flying Escort Missions Hints

Reliability of Radio Commands | Initiate Radio Communication | Radio Commands Map | Sending Orders
Squadron Orders | Ground Control


This help document is about how to control your own friendly AI for the better. Also other Communications usage. These notes came from various virtual pilots.


This section is meant to expand on the control background of the AI pilots.


Wingman and Campaign Difficulty Settings:
Just remember the difficulty setting in the game manipulates the effectiveness of your Radio Commands to your Wingman and Squad Members. The lower the difficulty, the more likely they will follow all your commands. If you fly a campaign set to "hard" difficulty, that effectively means that your AI wingmen are more independent, this effect is more true the higher the difficulty is set. Your wingmen and other flight mates will get better as the campaign progresses. Bear in mind that you will need to be the squadron CO to give orders to the whole squadron (not a problem in single missions, but something to remember in campaigns!).


Wingman Management:
To get the Wingman to do what you want, you will need to manage the wingmen by constantly giving them orders, many times, you may need to re-issue a command to get them to respond to your new orders. When commanding an Wingmen and other flights in the squad to engage, waiting until you get within about 4k of the enemy before issuing the commands. As you approach an escorted formation of bombers, tell your flights to "Target Fighters" or "Target Bombers".


Wingman and Individual Sections:
You get a better response out of our AI Wingmen by giving each individual flight/section/schwarm the commands. Atleast better results than ordering the whole squadron/staffel to do something. This is true for any version of EAW, whether you have any add-ons/tweaked or not. You can improve results for orders to attack much more if you have a bandit targeted before you give the order. You may also noticed that if there are two or more groups of bandits, you can target an enemy in a group and order a section to attack, and they will attack that specific group of enemies. Then you can target an aircraft in a second group, and order another section to attack. That section will engage the group of bandits in which my current target is flying! Of course, all things are relative: if you're giving orders to attack to a section that is 6 miles away from any bandits, don't expect immediate results!

Remember that an "interdiction" mission is against ground targets, usually convoys of half-tracks/staff cars or else vs. trains. Check your Mission Briefing to see what your designated target is even in other mission types as your AI mates will have the designated target as their main target, so it IS helpful to always double-check this before take-off, just to make sure. If you order your wingmen to simply attack, they will probably go for the designated target (which is likely on the ground!). If you want them to attack fighters in the air, you will probably need to order them to "target fighters". You could also order each individual section to "target fighters". This seems to have even better effects in all missions than giving instructions to the entire squadron as a whole. Once you have designated the proper targets, your squadron mates should end up trying to attack them. In fact, in ANY mission, it seems to help if you tell your AI mates to target specific types of desired aerial targets (all, fighters, or bombers) before ordering them to "engage bandits".


Determining who is calling out for help in your squadron:
When you hear a distress call from a squad member, pause the game and go to the F9 view. Use target identification and range, plus toggle on target information in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and pan around, targeting all friendlies and enemies you can find. Try to identify likely candidates who might have called for assistance, noting their range to you and their altitude, and seeing if you can target/locate any bandits near them.

Some people maintain that distress calls normally come from pilots within 20,000 feet of you or so, although I'm not TOO sure about that myself. Usually there are only one or two who appear to be in immediate danger. Sometimes you can even see tracers around them, which makes the determination even easier!

Also, once you have anything targeted, friendly or enemy, you can use F10 to pan around the target itself. When you pick out a friendly, go to F10, and find a bandit sitting close in behind him, and tracers flashing past the friendly, that's a pretty good indication that your friendly AI mate is in trouble! Once you have figured out who issued the distress call, you can next determine whether or not you should go to help. When they're a LONG way off, it could be very difficult to get there in time, on the other hand, it is pretty easy to sneak up on and get in close to a bandit who is concentrating on one of your fellow pilots (!), in fact you can get a lot of kills that way.

If your playing single missions, you should be less inclined to leave a bandit your trying to shoot down to help somebody else, but in a campaign this is not the case. In campaigns, most players fly with limited supply (so you need all your pilots and planes!), and also the guy in trouble could be one of your more experienced pilots!

One trick you could try with aircraft that has both machine guns and cannon (like the Spitfire MkIX/XIV, the Me109G/K, or the FW190A/D) is if you can't get there in time, you can fire a burst of machine gun fire (you certainly don't want to waste cannon ammo!) where the bandit can see it, or better yet, fly through it, even though you don't expect to be able to do any significant damage. If the enemy plane is hit by a round of two, it usually scares the pilot into breaking, giving your AI mate a chance to escape. In airplanes like the Thunderbolt, you have a lot of ammo and a better chance of a long range kill, so you may sometimes want to use longer bursts in the same situation, hoping for a long-range kill and figuring you can at least scare the enemy off you don't shoot him down. This is a more difficult decision in something like a Tempest, where your firing time is limited and you have all-cannon armament (with mixed armament, you shouldn't mind wasting machine gun ammo but cannon ammo is a different story).


Single Missions; Support Flight:
In many single missions you may notice that when you have your flight supported by another flight and the supporting flight takes off and goes about on it's own, leaving your flight without help, this can become problematic. It seems to not to happen when playing Campaign missions as a call to "cover me" and you can see two friendlies fall in behind. All you can do is call ground control periodically and request assistance. Sometimes they will send help, sometimes they will all have better things to do. Allied AI suffers from the same affliction as the Axis AI.

Here's some descriptions in example form of these wandering flights:

For example, setting up a single mission with Me262s supported by FW190Ds intercepting B17s escorted by P51Ds, as soon as the mission begins, the support aircraft turn around and fly away, leaving you and your schwarm(s) of primary aircraft to fend for their selves. Changing and play testing many different variables, such as base/target location, cruise altitude, etc., still leaves the problem present.

Another example, When you hit Alt N you find that if you try to fly manually (no autopilot) all other supporting squadron(s) immediately turn in some other direction and go wandering off. Actually it doesn't matter if it's Alt N or if you fly the whole way there.
But if IMMEDIATELY after jumping ahead you should hit Autopilot to keep your squadron to stay on the same course as you! ("IMMEDIATELY" means press the A key as soon as you get your cockpit view again!) (if your flying all the way without Alt N, you have to use autopilot the whole way) If you ever disengage the autopilot before the bandits are engaged, the friendly supporting units go flying off on their own again.
This is a good news/bad news proposition: if I keep the extra units close to me, I can't climb for an altitude advantage due to autopilot; if I try for altitude by flying manually, I don't have any help when we run into the enemy!

Another example, You occasionally find yourself devoid of the supporting squadron even if you didn't need to use the ALT N because distances to targets are never more than fifty kilometers; however, there are still times when the aircraft you have selected for support get called to other hotspots (We assume). There's a war on and things don't always go as planned (my rationalization). 


Flying Escort Missions Hints:
If you're flying as just a low-ranking two-plane section/element leader, you won't be able to get your AI mates to do much if they're not already doing anything constructive. However, If your a squadron commander (and if you're not, you should be!------it helps when you give orders! ) In this case, I've found the following to help immensely:

1) Always give orders to each specific 4-plane section, not the squadron at large. The friendly AI always seems to respond better this way.

2) When the enemy appears, first order your AI pilots to "Target Fighters". Then when you actually want them to begin engaging, give the order to "Engage Bandits". This works for me all the time. It also helps if you do this at the proper range. Telling your pilots to attack when the enemy is still 35,000 feet away is not likely to produce the kind of results you want. The exact range at which to give the engage order is hard to nail down to specifics since a lot of it will depend on the headings and speeds of both your unit and the enemy (head on results in rapid closure, of course, while other angles will require more time and thus shorter ranges).

Also bear in mind that EAW keeps track of the morale and fatigue levels all pilots in your squadron. Low morale and high fatigue levels seem to play some role in the responsiveness and aggressiveness of friendly AI. You can check the morale and fatigue levels of your pilots with Charles Gunst's "EAW Pilot", a Windows-based editor available for download. "EAW Pilot" is already included in Mr. Gunst's "ECA Control Panel" as the "Squadron Editor" function, so if you have ECA CP, then you probably don't need to download EAW Pilot---you already have it!

As far a the question if the "Target Fighters" command was the same as "Engage Bandits". I suppose this is possible; the EAW Manual is rather ambiguous here. All I can say is that in MY experience, when I order my squadron to "Target Fighters", they respond with radio messages like "Roger, we're going after the fighters", or "Targeting the fighters". When I check my six, my squadron is still there, flying formation with me. After I give the order to "Engage Bandits" (to each individual flight), THEN they all start breaking towards the enemy. Perhaps others have had different results?

The one drawback to this is, of course, that it requires a lot of commands. There are several ways around this. Some people use Game Commander, which allows them to use actual voice commands. Another possibility is to simply pause the game and make all the necessary keystrokes! Then take the pause off. No matter how you do it, the technique above should help you get the rest of your squadron to engage the enemy.


The Cockpit Radio really adds depth to a simulation and EAW exploits radio comms ability to keep you abreast of the action and in command.

Combat pilots rely heavily on their vision and intuition to see them through battle, but their radio is also an important ally, a vital link to fellow airmen. European Air War’s cockpit radio allows direct communication between you and the other pilots on your side. Call out a warning—Bandits at ten o’clock—ask for help, or listen in as your flight leader issues new orders. Just be quick about it; you’ve still got a plane to fly.

Reliability of Radio Commands:
Commands are best sent before battle. How well commands are followed depends on pilot morale and skill. Dogfights can be quite chaotic, and you can’t reasonably expect a rookie pilot to be able to quickly and efficiently rejoin you in tight formation during a heated battle. All pilots will do their best to follow orders, but don’t always expect immediate compliance. As the British learned early on, it’s difficult to remain in formation (which requires a constant eye to avoid collisions), and watch your enemies (and dodge their guns). It’s normally wise to break apart or at least loosen formation prior to battle.

The friendly AI pilots require constant attention from you. This is especially true if you are in a command position. It usually helps if you:

1) Give orders to each specific flight/schwarm, not the squadron at large.
2) Order each flight/schwarm to engage a specific type of target ("target all", "target fighters", or "target bombers")
3) Maneuver the squadron/staffel into a position to attack and make sure you're at a reasonable range before giving commands. (it does little good to order an attack from 40,000 feet away; likewise waiting until the enemy is right on top of you doesn't help either).
4) Update your orders every now and then............this helps to overcome a short AI "attention span" (in other words, give the attack order to each flight/schwarm periodically.

If you fly a campaign, then the experience level of the AI pilots in your squadron will have a lot to do with their effectiveness. As time goes on, the ability of pilots to stay alive (and if you're the unit CO, your decisions on who flys when and your tactics can have a considerable impact on this) allows them to become more proficient. Newcomers will usually be "dumb" in the air for a while. This is not at all unrealistic!

Of course, in Single Missions you don't have such values assigned to your wingmen (or at least, if you do, you don't know what they are!). There you won't have as much control over these things.


Initiate Radio Communication:
Hitting the TAB key brings up the radio menu. Your rank and position in the squadron will determine which orders you can access and to whom. If you are the lead plane in an element, you can send commands to your wingmen (you might sometimes have two), regardless of relative rank. If you are the flight leader (number one), you can command your entire flight. Only if you are the squadron leader can you send orders to other flights, or to the squadron as a
whole. Note: your Squadron and Ground Control are on the same frequency; if there are other squadrons involved in your mission, they’re on another frequency, and you cannot communicate with them.


Radio Commands Map:
Press the key that corresponds to the intended receiver of your message. When you’re prompted, choose what type of communication you wish to send. If you don’t see the exact command you’re looking for, try the three menus—
Tactical, Formation and Navigation.

Finally, choose the statement you want to pass along. If you have opted to issue a command, you must select not only an action, but also the specific target. Pressing ESC at any time cancels your message.

Note: The radio menu gray-out positions occupied by human teammates.


  1. Wingman...
    1. Engage Bandits  2. Cover Me  3. Attack Ground Target  4. Attack My Target  5. Disengage  6. Regroup
     7. (Tactical Submenu)...
      1. Target All  2. Target Fighters  3. Target Bombers  4. Drop Tanks 
      5. Break Right  6. Break Left  7. Break High  8. Break Low
      0. Back...
     8. (Formation Submenu)...
      1. Tighten Formation  2. Loosen Formation 
      0. Back...
  2. Red Flight...
  3. White Flight...
  4. Blue Flight...
  5. Green Flight...
  6. Squadron...
    1. Engage Bandits  2. Attack Ground Target  3. Cover Me  4. Disengage  5. Regroup 
     6. (Tactical Submenu)... 
      1. Target All  2. Target Fighters  3. Target Bombers  4. Drop Tanks
      0. Back...
     7. (Formation Submenu)... 
      1. Tighten Formation  2. Loosen Formation
      0. Back...
     8. (Navigation Submenu)... 
      1. Next Checkpoint  2. Previous Checkpoint  3. Loiter Here  4. Return to Base
      0. Back...
     0. Back...
  7. Ground Control...
    1. Vector to Nearest Bandits  2. Vector to Nearest Bombers  3. Vector to Ground Target 
    4. Vector to Home Base  5. Request Assistance 
    0. Back...
  8. Anyone, Help Me!

0. Exit

Sending Orders:
When you first enter an engagement your wingman has a standing order to provide you with cover. But if you want him to leave your rear position exposed, and have him go and attack, you can order him to do so by sending ENGAGE BANDITS. Depending on the situation, you can issue some or all of the following orders to your wingman:

Attack My Target
Target (brings up a submenu)
-target all, target fighters, target bombers
Drop Tanks


Engage Bandits
Attack the enemy. If enemies have been sighted, your wingman is free to break off and engage. If there are no enemies in sight, he waits, then breaks off as soon as you make contact.

Cover Me
Stay in formation, but if an enemy targets the lead plane (you), break off and attack until the threat is removed, then return to formation.

Attack Ground Targets
Drop bombs (or launch rockets) at the mission’s ground targets.

Attack My Target
If out of formation, but in the general area, attack whatever is the lead plane’s target at the time the command is issued. If in formation, stay in formation and fire at whatever enemy the lead plane attacks. (As in all combat situations, self-preservation can supersede orders; your wingman might need to break off from time to time to avoid enemy fire.)

Break off the attack on the current target. Lacking other orders, your wingman will probably return to formation, but might take shots at any easy targets on the way.

Give priority to getting back in formation—avoid enemies when possible in order to rejoin the lead. (In general, if you are trying to get planes back into formation, flying straight and slow makes it easier for everyone catch up and get in place.)

Attack enemies. The target commands are on the Tactical submenu. There are three choices: Target All, Target Fighters and Target Bombers. These order your wingman to focus the attack on the type of plane you specify (or all enemies). This overrides the default attack orders for the mission (for example, on a Bomber Intercept, the default is to target bombers).

The Break commands are also on the tactical sub-menu. You can order you wingman to break Right, Left, High, or Low. This tells him to separate form you in the specified direction, generally so that the two of you can attack a target from different directions.

Drop Tanks
Release the external fuel tank.


If you are the flight leader, you can issue nearly all of the same orders to your flight. The exception is that you cannot order the whole flight to Attack My Target. There are a few additional flight commands:

Tighten Formation
Loosen Formation
Loiter Here
Return to Base

Tighten Formation
Close up the formation. This command is on the Formation submenu. Tight formations look better, and when attacking bombers can result in more concentrated firepower, but the disadvantages normally outweigh the advantages.

Loosen Formation
Spread the formation out a bit, normally about double the current space. This command is on the Formation sub-menu.

You use the Next and Previous checkpoint orders to get a loitering flight to continue on course or backtrack. (These commands are on the Navigation sub-menu.) The map includes navigation checkpoints, in case any plane becomes lost or gets hung up engaging the enemy, and these commands tell the flight to move to one of those checkpoints.

Loiter Here
Circle the current position and await further orders. This command is on the Navigation sub-menu.

Return To Base
Ground control normally gives this order, but as leader, you can decide (if you’re massively overwhelmed, for example) to retreat and return home. Your mission will likely be considered a failure, but that’s better than failing the mission and getting everyone shot down. This command is on the Navigation sub-menu.

If you’re the squadron leader, you can give orders to flights other than your own, and to the squadron as a whole. Squadron Commands are the same as the flight commands, except that you can choose to issue them to the whole squadron or to a specific flight.


Squadron Orders:
You can't give orders unless you have rank so, if you start out at the bottom of the ladder, you'll have to wait until you have been promoted, later on in a successful career.

In any case, you'll find that your squad isn't always very good at following orders - you've just got to live with that.

Targeting an enemy plane and then giving the order to "attack my target" can sometimes work quite well though. You can combine forces to finish off a bomber for example, or break off and find a new target while your wingman tries his luck.

Don't forget to tell your squadron to drop tanks before engaging (if you have tanks in the mission). Giving the "open formation" command before going into battle is good to reduce the risk of collisions.


Ground Control:
You can use the radio to call Ground Control and request a vector to the nearest enemy, a vector to your friendly heavy bombers (if you’re on an escort mission), or a vector back to home base. The vectors to the bandits and bombers are intercept vectors—the suggested heading for quickest intercept. However, there is a fog of war factor because Ground Control is based on primitive radar and a network of civilian spotters. Therefore, some of the ground control information might be less than accurate.

You can call ground control to request assistance—additional fighters scrambled to help you out. Depending on how well the battle or war is going, there might or might not be any available.