Q1. What is difference between the TB-16 and the TB-23 towed
array sonar? A1. In all probability, a submarine would not have both
of these installed, but we chose to give the player a choice. The
TB-23 is modeled to have a larger diameter and thus more sensitive
hydrophones than the TB-16. The TB-23 also has more hydrophones a nd
is therefore longer than the TB-16. Because of its increased diameter
and more sensitive hydrophones, it is more sensitive to flow noise
when dragged through the water than the thinner TB-16. This causes the
array to become noise saturated above about 12 knots. The TB-16, on
the other hand, is usable at a higher speed. The increased length of
the TB-23 also means it takes longer to deploy and retrieve than the
TB-16. Most modern submarines leave the towed array deployed when on
patrol, retrieving it only for high speed transits.
Q2. Is there any way to estimate the depth of a submarine
contact? A2. Probably the best you will be able to do is determine if
the submarine is above or below the layer. You can do this my making
note of the width of the noise trace on the passive sonar display for
the submarine contact. Then change depth across the layer and see if
the trace gets brighter and wider indicating a stronger signal, or
dimmer and narrower indicating a weaker signal. When you and submarine
are on the same side of the layer the signal will be the strongest.
This will be easier to do when the cross layer attenuation is a larger
number. When the attenuation is small, there may not be a discernible
difference in signal strength.
Q3. What causes the 'Can't allocate memory for SMACKER code'
error message? A3. It means the machine ran out of memory trying to
get room to load the .smk (smack) file from the CD-ROM. You will need
use the boot disk method, or somehow make more memory available. The
amount of low, or conventional, DOS memory is not important, a s long
as there is some for the sound card buffers. Total memory free is
important, so removing memory managers such as QEMM or EMM386, disk
caches such as SMARTDRV, and RAM disks such as RAMDRIVE can free up
memory. Fast Attack has its own protected mod e interface, so all you
really need is HIMEM.SYS to control the A20 line.
Q4. How do you get the TASM's to work? What's the use of having
them if you have 15 minute old solutions? A4. We probably made a
mistake even loading the anti-ship variant of the Tomahawk in Fast
Attack. In fact, TASM's haven't been carried by submarines for quite
some time because of the difficulty in getting real time targeting.
The submarines grew to hate the TASM because they would have to spend
hours at periscope depth communicating with either aircraft or getting
into a data link with a battle group in order to get targeting data.
This means that they have lost their stealth and might as well be
surfa ce ships or aircraft! So, the submarines don't do it, although
they can. The Harpoon is just as capable a missile at the ranges a
submarine can manage with its onboard sensors and a whole lot cheaper!
You can use the TASM, however, provided that you get 1) either two
satellite position reports; OR, 2) a MASTER number on the AO map. The
later means that you have satellite data AND local sensor contact. The
course and speed from those two observations will be used to generate
an "estimated position" (hope fully, the target didn't change course
or speed) so the TASM has a better, but not good, chance. We have
actually been able to hit bad guys with TASMs, but it is not worth the
work. I think we'll take them out if we do an upgrade on this game.
Q5. Why does the crew talk all over each other? One second the
sonar guy will be telling me of a new contact, then the helmsmen
interrupts him!!! A5. This was done on purpose! The control room of a
submarine has many different communications circuits which are just
like intercoms and are called "announcing systems" and given an "MC"
designation. In general, the lower numbered MC overrides, or has
priority over, a bigger numbered MC circuit. The exception is the 4MC,
or emergency reporting system, which has the highest priority of all.
The 4MC is like the "911" for a submarine crew member. All stations on
a particular MC can hear the other station s on the same MC, but not
those on another. Except the control room, which can hear them all!
For example, the Maneuvering room (7MC) has no way of knowing that the
torpedo room (21 MC) or the sonar supervisor (27MC) is using that
circuit, so he just tal ks. In the control room, the Officer of the
Deck and Captain hear them all! Its the same as trying to listen to
two or three radio channels at the same time. This, in our opinion,
adds to the authenticity and to the "tension" that builds has you get
clos er to the attack.
Q6. Is it possible to load portions of the game onto the HD for
faster access? A6. Yes, See the readme.wri file for details (not the
readme.txt - it doesn't have the same information).
Q7. Why do all tracks start out at 10,000 yards and 10 knots? A7.
The default solution is ALWAYS 10,000 yards, speed 10 knots, with a
course that points directly at you (i.e. reciprocal of the bearing).
This was built into the real-world Fire Control to support the
"snapshot" procedure, a situation where you suddenly gain contact and
want to get a torpedo in the water like NOW! In the "REAL" mode of
Fast Attack we try to emulate all the systems as accurately as
Q8. Are there some tips you can give for getting a solution using
the Fire Control System? A8. Yes, here are some that might help. Let's
start with some basics: If you are playing in EASY mode, the solution
should already be very close - within 5-10% and you should really not
need to tweak it. In STD mode the error increases to about 25%, and is
enough to cause a miss if you don't "polish it" a bit. In REAL mode,
the solution is just the default solution (see Question/Answer #7). It
is not likely to be anywhere close to the real answer. Here are some
1) Unless the contact is very WIDE on the sonar screen, it is not
likely to be 10,000 yards away. It is probably considerably further
away. You will learn that older ships are noisy and can be heard at
quite a distance, newer or better maintained ships are quieter. If the
ship is on the surface, check to see if you are on the same side of
the layer. If not, and you still have him, he might be close. Look at
the cross layer attenuation value. 6.0 db halves the range of
detection. Since you seldom know anything about the contact initially,
move the range out to 20,000 or so. Use the RIGHT mouse button to make
the change faster.
2) The default 10 knots is a good first guess. After you get a
classification, you can make a better guess. Merchants, for example,
don't get paid by the hour, so they will be moving faster. Tankers,
and BIG merchants can do 18-20 knots. Older ones 12-14. Patrol craft
usually "sprint and drift"; speeding up to 30+ knots to reposition for
another sonar search, than slowing to 5-10 knots to listen. While
you're waiting for sonar to classify the contact, use the COURSE knob
(again use the RIGHT mouse button) to get the line as straight as
possible. What we want to do is get as much curvature out as possible,
even if the dots move at an angle from the center.
3) After using CSE to get the line straight, adjust RANGE to get
it vertical. You will have to iterate this process. As soon as you get
it reasonably vertical, press ENTER. I'll explain why in a minute. Now
speed up and turn across the line of sight. (i.e. If the contact was
on your starboard side, turn right to get him on the port side; or
vice versa) Turn at least 60 degrees. As you get close to the end of
the turn, slow down again. You want to speed up during the turn to get
the ship to turn faster. You want to slow back down to be sure the
bearing dots are as accurate as possible. If your original solution
was good, the dots will continue to be vertical. But this is not
likely. The range is probably the bad value now. Adjust to get back
vertical. If the dotted line shows a sharp "break" rather than a
curve, it is likely the contact has "zigged" (i.e. either changed
course or speed). If you suspect that a zig has occurred, press CLR to
erase all the points prior to the zig; those are worthless. If you
make a habit of pressing ENTER frequently, you can easily delete only
the bad points. If you are remiss, you will end up having to delete
several "good" dots in order to get all the dots straight. It is more
important to have the LAST (newest) 10 or so dots straight and
vertical, than the oldest ones.
4) Watch for target zigs. If the target changes course, all old
dots are worthless. The CLEAR button allows you to delete all the dots
collected above the horizontal time line which moves to the last dot
when the ENTER key is pressed. This is why it is important to press
ENTER each time you get a dot stack that is straight. Then if you
leave the screen and return and the dots are streaming to the left or
right, you can press CLEAR and start the whole process again.
5) The key to getting a solution "good enough" to shoot on really
depends on getting the range. You *CAN'T* get the range unless you are
either very lucky or you change course about every ten to twelve
6) Keep Own ship speed under 15 knots except when turning. High
ship speeds cause the bearings to be less accurate. When it comes time
to change course, go to the helm, increase speed to STANDARD, click in
the new course. Go back and resume stacking. When the helmsmen reports
STEADY, go back to the helm and SLOW DOWN to 5-7 knots. (The speed
boost gets the ship turned quickly; you can use FULL for even better
response, but you better get the speed off or you may cavitate and
give away your presence.)
7) You can use the periscope without using the ACTIVE BSY screen
by "guesstimating" the range. Assume the ship is 100 feet tall. Then 1
division in 6x yields a guesstimate of 8000 yds. If the target is a
small escort, he might be only 60 feet, so the same 1 division is .6
(60/100) times the 8000 or 4800 yards. Return to the BSY Passive and
adjust the range to the guesstimate.
8) After a while, you can use the width of the sonar trace to
guess the range. The width of the display is directly proportional to
the SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of the contact.
9) Don't use active sonar. Don't go fast. Or, you'll find
yourself under attack!
10) Time acceleration works against you when you're learning. The
dots show up faster, but you don't have enough time to think about
what to do. Try to picture the target. The dot offset from the center
line is the ERROR between truth and what you think he's doing. So if
the dots are moving left, then your solution must change the motion
across the line of sight.
Q9. Why can we only save the game between missions? A9. The
decision to not allow saving and restoring the game at any instant was
made solely on technical reasons. The shear complexity of saving the
state of all the screens, sub-systems, and engines was daunting and
would have required major design chang es. In retrospect, because of
all the comments received, this might seem to be a poor decision, but
the decision process for all features in this game was always biased
toward realism, accuracy, and authenticity. This means we made it
behave as close to the way it really works rather than the way
Hollywood or fictional novels have depicted it. Making the player
stand by his decision on a mission and play it through to completion
and evaluation seemed like the more accurate way.
Q10. Why can't I clear a contact from a Tracker in Passive Sonar?
A10. This situation only occurs in EASY mode. Targets with a primary
or secondary "sink" objective are automatically assigned to available
ATF trackers. These should be the first targets to be fired upon. As
these targets are sunk and removed from the ga me, ATF trackers become
available and are then automatically refilled with other targets
having a primary or secondary "sink" objective. So as long as there
are more "sink" objectives than trackers, you will not be able to
clear a tracker. This also prov ides a nice hint to the player: Sonar
contacts that are NOT auto-assigned when there is a tracker available
are therefore not an objective, and need not be attacked (and probably
should NOT be attacked).
Q11. How can I change ordered course, speed, or depth faster than
one increment at a time? A11. By using the RIGHT mouse button on the
arrows in the helm screen or WLR9 screen, depth and course can be
changed by 10 feet/degrees, and speed by 5 knots.
Q12. How can I use the information of the WLR9 Acoustic Intercept
Receiver to advantage? A12. Active sonar normally searches on a
selected range scale of typically 4000 yards, 10000 yards, or 20000
yards. This means the sonar will send out another sound pulse after
sufficient time has elapsed for the previous pulse to go out to the
end of th e search range and return. The speed of sound in water is
about 4800 feet/sec (1600 yards/sec). Therefore it takes 2 seconds for
the sound to go out to 1600 yards AND return. So for every second that
elapses between the outgoing pulse and hearing the ret urn echo, the
range is 800 yards. When the sonar operator hears a return echo, he
probably would do two things: shift to the shortest possible range
scale to allow him to get more frequent range information on the
target, and switch his sonar to the "ran ge gate" mode. In the "range
gate" mode, the sonar automatically send out another pulse as soon as
the echo is heard. These characteristics can be useful. If the contact
stays in a long range scale, it is likely that he does not have
contact on you. On t he other hand, if the contact should start to
range gate, you can be 95% sure he has contact and is moving in for an
attack. The WLR9 interval can tell you the range ONLY IF THE CONTACT
IS RANGE GATING. Multiply the displayed interval by 800 to get the r
ange in yards. You can then enter that range into Fire Control to
initiate a preemptive attack.
Q13. What is the difference between the satellite broadcast and
the satellite recon? Aren't they both from the same satellite? A13. In
the game, a new submarine broadcast begins at 5, 20, 35, and 50
minutes past every hour. On VLF, the broadcast repeats over and over
for the entire 15 minutes. So if your floating wire is exposed for
long enough during a broadcast period, you will be able to receive any
traffic for your sub. The periscope has a built in antenna that can
receive the broadcast via UHF sate llite. This broadcast emanates from
a communications satellite in geo-synchronous orbit about 22,000 miles
in space. This broadcast method is NOT repeated: it is sent only once
EXACTLY at the time specified. If your antenna is not exposed, you
will miss it. The reconnaissance satellite is a "spy" satellite that
will pa ss over your area of operations at the times specified in the
mission orders. This satellite is in a low polar orbit about 150 miles
in space. This satellite will photograph all vessels that it can see.
Cloud cover or smoke may prevent a vessel from bein g seen, and, of
course, submarines and submerged or very small objects will also not
be detected. This imagery will be radioed to an intelligence
processing center as soon as the satellite is within range of the
station. Analysts will interpret the data and prepare a message with
identification and estimates of course and speed. In the game, this
processing takes fifteen minutes to complete before the message is
available for placing on the next submarine broadcast. EXAMPLES:
Satellite photos are taken at 7:05. The processing takes until 7:20,
and since a broadcast starts at 20 after it will just make it onto the
7:20 broadcast. This is the quickest this series of steps could
execute. A picture taken at 7:25 wouldn't finish processing until
7:40, and w ould not be transmitted until the next broadcast at 7:50.
Q14. My game will occasionally "lock up": The mouse will move,
but I can't click on any icons or buttons to perform any action.
What's wrong? A14. In our experience, this is almost always caused by
a sound card not being set up quite right. When running soundset to
configure the sound card for Fast Attack, do not bypass the tests. The
digital device test consists of the diving alarm, which is two "AooGa"
sounds played in succession. If you only hear one, or if either gets
clipped, then your sound card is not set correctly. The auto detection
actually looks at the environment variable BLASTER that most cards set
to be "Soundblaster compatible" , so if this is wrong or not present,
then the detection may not work correctly. Probably the biggest draw
back of autodetection under WIN95 is that the parameters that WIN95 is
using, are not accessible to the soundset program. Another factor that
may h elp alleviate the problem is the amount of time the sound system
gets to play and refill its buffers. The command line switch
/SOSINTRATExxx can be used to adjust this value. The default is 125,
but ProAudioSpectrum boards will operate with this value as low as 50,
while the AWE32 may require a value as large as 250 or more.
Q15. What is the purpose of the blue line that extends outward
from the torpedo on the BSY screen in the Torpedo Mode? A15. There are
two lines drawn from the torpedo's position dot. The blue line
represents the best course for the torpedo based on the c urrent
solution. The yellow line is the steer cursor. If the target zigs
(changes course or speed radically), you may have to update your
solution using either the Plot screen of the BSY Passive Mode. After
updating the solution, return to the Torpedo Mo de and notice the blue
line has probably moved away from the yellow steer cursor. This means
the torpedo's course should be adjusted. Using the center knob, click
either right or left as appropriate to move the yellow steer cursor on
top of the blue idea l course line and then press the SEND button. The
torpedo will turn to the new course.
Q16. After I launch a torpedo, the yellow search cone passes
right by the target without acquiring. What's wrong? A16. The problem
is that your solution was not perfectly accurate. But don't worry; it
doesn't have to be perfect to get a hit. The Mark48 is a fairly smart
weapon with good detection capabilities and will overcome often large
errors in your solution. Ab out the only error it can't overcome is in
the case where your solution is too long in range. In this case, the
torpedo will not enable (start searching) until it is past the target,
and thus miss. It is always better to under estimate the range. You
sho uld also pay attention to the range to the torpedo when it does
acquire the target since this can be used to update your solution in
case you need to shoot another weapon. As long as the wire is good,
the upper left display of the Torpedo Mode display wi ll show the
range from ownship to the torpedo. Note this value when the weapon
acquires and update the range using the Passive Mode to this new
value. Correct the course of the other torpedo if necessary.
Q17. Why do some torpedoes appear to shutdown within 1 minute of
launch? A17. The Mark48 torpedo uses a fuel that contains its own
oxidizer so it can burn underwater. This fuel is hard to ignite and
needs a high heat source to get it started. So, in order for the
torpedo to get up to speed, it has a small solid fuel booster t hat
burns for about 60 seconds which is usually enough to get the liquid
fuel burning. However, sometimes it is not enough, and the solid fuel
runs out without achieving "crossover" and the torpedo will shutdown.
This happens about 5% of the time and is done to add realism. This is
why you should always have a backup weapon ready to go.
Q18. Sometimes I notice that the Mission Log reports a Harpoon or
Tomahawk missile as having shutdown. What happened? A18. Missiles are
not 100% perfect in real life, nor are they in the game. All missiles
are given a 88% chance of overall success. This means they may
shutdown on a fuel system failure, or maybe the homer won't work 12%
of the time. And remember, just because the odds of a heads or tails
is 50%, doesn't mean you can't flip heads 5 times in a row.
Q19. Are there any "cheats" in the game? A19. Yes, there are
three cheats that can be enabled separately with command line
switches. Command line switches can be entered in several ways. You
can edit fast.bat to make them permanent, or, if you are running from
WIN95, you can add them to the COMMAND LINE field of the PIF. Of
course, in DOS you can just add t hem to the "fast" line when you
start the game (i.e. type FAST /Switch). The first cheat allows
you to get a perfect solution on a track in the Plot screen. Here's
how it works: First enable the cheat with /PLOTSOLN command line
switch. Then, when you are in the PLOT screen, select a track and
press ALT-F5. T he exact solution will be displayed. To use it, press
SEND. The second cheat allows you to look at the "big picture" and see
all the ships, aircraft, mines, weapons, etc. and their motion. To
enable this you use the /TEDISPLAY switch. Then, while playing any
scenario, press ALT-~ (Alt key and tilde key) to activate the display.
Use the ICON bar buttons to exit the display. It is not a good idea to
have time accelerated when in this screen, as this will cause some
missiles to miss. The third cheat isn't all that useful, but it allows
you to play a sequence of missions without being penalized for failure
to complete primary objectives. This switch allowed testing the medals
and promotions aspects of the game without having to plod through
every single mi ssion. To use this, simply enter /SWSGOD as the
switch. At the end of a mission, you will still be rebuked for not
accomplishing the primary objectives, but as soon as the next mission
begins, all will be forgiven. It will then proceed as though you had
Q20. Why do missions have time limits? A20. Each mission was
given a time limit as part of the overall scoring plan, and to add
impetus and excitement. This is part of modeling life in the military.
You just aren't allowed to take forever to get that report done, or,
in this case, sink the ba d guys or find the mines. In reality, if you
took too long to find the mines, as an a example, ships could be sunk
because of the delay.
Q21. During Battle Sets, when are the replenishments scheduled?
A21. Replenishment occurs PRIOR to the start of the indicated mission
in the following table:
Campaign --- Missions
Persian Gulf --- 4, 7
Sea of Japan --- 4, 7, 10, 14, 18
Adriatic --- 4
Mediterranean --- 4, 6, 9, 11, 14
GIUK ---- 5, 7, 9
Q22. What has to be done in order to complete a Secondary
objective of "plotting" a target? A22. In order to successfully get
credit for a PLOT objective, the following must be done: 1) Classify
the target on sonar. To do this you must of course have sonar contact
and then press CLASSIFY and wait until the target is classified. How
long this takes is a function of signal strength and time (i.e. strong
signals classify quickly, weak signals take longer); AND 2) Obtain a
solution that is within 20% in range, course, and speed.
Q23. When attempting to launch Tomahawk missiles, I get stuck in
the VLS screen with "1 Away" displaying over and over at the bottom of
the screen. What's going on here? A23. Unfortunately, this is a bug
that got by our QA testing. This only occurs when you have SPEECH set
to OFF in the PREFERENCES screen, so the work around is to be sure
that SPEECH is set to ON when launching Tomahawks.
Q24. Why can't I get more information from Sonar, such as Turn
Count, Blade Rate, and speed or aspect changes on targets? A24. The
modern sonar is designed using advanced signal processing that allows
detection of ships at very long ranges. Detections di splay visually
as a brightening on the CRT display. This allows the display of many
contacts. While there is ONE audio channel available to actually
listen to a contact, turn counts, blade rates and such are usually
measured using a frequency domain disp lay which, because of its
complexity, was not included in the game.
Q25. Why can't we control the settings on the Mark48 Torpedoes to
take advantage of the thermal layers, and such? A25. We decided that
allowing the player to chose settings for his torpedoes did not add
much to the game. For any given situation, there is an optimum choice
for running depth, etc. that the player would have to learn, and once
learned, would be used co nsistently. So what we did, was to
automatically make the optimum selections: the Mark48 always transits
to the enable point on the opposite side of the layer from the
contact, and goes to the best search depth for the type of target.
Q26. Why does the animation show the 688 with fairwater planes,
when the 688I class doesn't have them? A26. Seven 688 class submarines
were built that had the vertical launch system and fairwater planes,
so there is no inaccuracy here. The latest 688 class, however, do have
the planes moved to the bow for better under ice capability.
Q27. Are there helicopters or other aircraft in the scenarios?
What is there capability? A27. Yes, several missions have helicopters
or aircraft. In some cases, these are hostile, while in other
situations, they are friendly. Regardless of their alliance, the
aircraft are usually equipped with active and passive sonobuoys and a
very effectiv e search radar that is optimized to spot a periscope.
The patrol aircraft (BEAR, P-3C, etc.) will carry air dropped
torpedoes, and harpoon missiles, while the helicopters will carry no
more than two torpedoes.
Q28. After I've been sunk, the mission log says that I was hit by
an SS-N-14 SSM. If I'm submerged, how can a surface-to-surface missile
hit me? A28. The SSM (surface-to-surface missile) designation is
generic to any missile launched from a ship at or under the surface at
another ship at or under the surface. An SS-N-14 is a long range
Anti-Submarine Weapon carried by some Destroyers, Cruisers and
Q29. Why is the range to a contact that is displayed in the sonar
screen always so far off? Can't the sonar operators get better
information? A29. The range to a contact, no matter where it is
displayed, is always the current Fire Control solution's range. This
means that depending on the Difficulty Level (see Q/A #7), it is no
better than what you, the player, have entered. If you haven't cha
nged it using either the PLOT or the BSY PASSIVE, then it will just
"generate" from the initial solution. One of the basic principles that
must be learned early in the life of both a submarine officer and
sonarman, is that you cannot get a range with any accuracy by
listening. A guess would be just that: a guess. About the only thing
you can say is that a contact with a high bearing rate is "near", and
the concept of "near" depends on what maximum speed capability you
want to give it. On board the subma rines, a sonarman's guess of range
will only erroneously bias and slowdown the plotting team's effort to
get an analytical solution.
Q30. Why can't I always get an active range from sonar? My
solution looks good and the range is under 20,000 yards, but I can't
get a return on active sonar. A30. There are several possibilities.
First, your solution may not be as accurate as you think. If you
haven't confirmed your solution with radical course changes (see Q/A
#8), this is probably the most likely reason. Second, the contact may
be "cross-la yer" and the combined cross layer loss to the outbound
ping and then to the return echo might be reducing the sound level
below what can be heard. Third, the contact may have a low
reflectivity, either because of its aspect (bow or stern gives less
surfa ce area than broad on the beam), or because of an anachoic
coating which absorbs the sound rather than reflecting it. Of course,
you could have a combination of these reasons.
Q31. Immediately after starting the game, I get a report that the
ship is cavitating and that I'm about to run aground. What's going on?
A31. We can't say for sure, but we were able to duplicate this symptom
on a computer that did not have a math coprocessor. Fast Attack!
requires the math coprocessor that is part of all Intel 486DX and
Pentium chips. Some "486" chips do not have the copr ocessor, such as
the Intel 486SX series, and some from AMD or Cyrix. The MSD utility
that is part of DOS can tell you if you have a Math Coprocessor