Suso's Gunsights for Warbirds III


From this webpage you can download gunsights for the Internet World War II flight simulation game WarBirds III. All the current fighter planes in the game are covered (WarBirds III, version 07/21/2003). The diameter of the gunsight circle will frame approximately the wingspan of a mid-sized fighter (37ft/11.30m wingspan, such as the P-51 or the non-clipped Spitfires) at 200 yards (about 180 m). Keep in mind that, at 200 yards, large fighters such as the F6F or P-38 will be larger than the gunsight circle, while small fighters such as the Yak-3 will be smaller than the gunsight circle. I have tested the gunsights at 1024x768 resolution, but they should work properly at all other resolutions.

Real-life reflector gunsights

The reflector gunsight was invented by the British shortly before the start of World War II. Based on what I have read, it seems that this remarkable device kept the center of the gunsight aiming at the same point even if the pilot moved his head sideways relative to the gunsight. Likewise, the gunsight circle stayed at constant apparent size regardless of forward motion of the pilot's face toward the gunsight or backward motion away from the gunsight. In other words, if the pilot moved the head directly backward, the gunsight itself would look smaller, because the head would be farther away from it, but the reflected gunsight circle would seem to maintain the same size as before, when the pilot's head was nearer to the gunsight. Therefore, with the head in a more backward position, the gunsight circle would seem larger in relation to the size of the gunsight itself.

Modeling of gunsights in Warbirds III

The 3D graphics model of WarBirds III is not designed to handle the complex optics of a reflector gunsight. Instead, WarBirds "paints" a circle on the gunsight glass to represent the bracketing circle that the pilot would have seen through the gunsight. In relation to the size of the gunsight itself, this painted circle has to be drawn larger if the pilot's head was positioned far from the gunsight in that particular plane, and smaller if the pilot's head was positioned nearer to the gunsight in that particular plane. Since the distance between the pilot's head and the gunsight is different for different planes, this creates an ugly complication in WarBirds III: It's not possible anymore to design a single gunsight file that will work with all planes; every gunsight has to be tweaked for each individual plane that you want to use it with. In fact, the addition in Warbirds III of an option for two alternative positions of the pilot's head in each plane (toggle with "\") introduced a further complication: Each head position would require a different gunsight file. I'm sorry, but I only constructed one gunsight file for each plane. I designed the diameters of the gunsight circles to work with the more backward of the two head positions (i.e., the head position that makes the dashboard look smaller --this is the default position). Using the gunsight files provided, the location of the gunsight's central dot (the "pipper") is accurate for both positions of the head. However, the circle's diameter is only valid for the more backward of the two head positions.

A bug in some of the cockpit models in the current version of Warbirds (07/21/2003) puts the centered position of the pipper slightly to the right of where it should be in the BF109E4, C205, Hurri I, Hurri IIc and Me-262. The best way to see this is to use the default gunsight, and then put the plane on autopilot with the slip indicator turned on (.slip 1). In these conditions, the slip indicator should be centered on the sight. However, in the five planes mentioned above, you will notice that the gunsight center is located slightly to the right of the slip indicator. And, if you shoot the guns in these planes in these conditions, using the default gunsight, you will notice that the tracers converge on a point located slightly to the left of the gunsight. To correct this problem, I shifted the center of the gunsight in these five planes, to make the pipper fit with the tracers. (I also constructed normally-centered gunsight files for these five planes. That way, if iEN some day corrects this bug for, say, the Bf109E4, all you would need to do is delete from the skins folder the folder currently called "BF109E", and change the name of folder "BF109E-centered" to "BF109E". But until then, you need to use the folders as they are now.)

How to implement the gunsights in WarBirds III

In WarBirds III the customized gunsights for individual planes live in the WarBirds III "skins" folder. In the "skins" folder you need to have a separate sub-folder for each individual plane. These individual plane folders contain information on each airplane's possible customized paint job ("skin") and customized gunsight. The folders need very specific names in order to work properly. For instance, the folder for the FW-190 A-4 has to be called "FW1904". See the Warbirds III "sounds" folder to figure out the correct filename needed for each plane.

If your "skins" folder is currently empty, or if it only has a single file called "placeholder.txt", you can simply change the name of my folder into "skins", and put it in the Warbirds III folder in place of your current "skins" folder.

If you already have some files in your "skins" folder, you will need to move folders and files from my folder into the appropriate locations in your "skins" folder. NOTE: All the gunsight files have the same name: gunsite.tga. The only way to know which gunsight file is which is to look at the name of the folder in which the gunsite.tga file is located. Be sure that you don't put a gunsite.tga file in the wrong folder. If you do this, your pipper (the center of the gunsight) will still show up in the correct place (except for the five planes with the off-center bug), but the circle around the gunsight center will probably be the wrong size.


click here to download gunsights-bigdot.tar.gz

I like the fat central dot in these gunsights. I find that the large size of the dot makes it easier for me to stay focused on the center of the gunsight during a fight. But if you would like a smaller pipper, I also have gunsights with a smaller dot. Unfortunately, I only have them available for a fraction of the fighters in Warbirds III:

click here to download gunsights-smaldot.tar.gz --not available for all planes)


I started off by making a rough template from a .tga gunsight file designed by Popgirl (Justin Kellis), and transforming it into the basic type of gunsight that I wanted to make. Then I used the excellent howto information provided at "Furball" by Target (Matt Davis) on the construction of .tga gunsight files with PhotoShop. For some of the gunsights, I later used the java WB3 Gunsight Maker devised by Phenix (Troy Errthum). I got very useful information from a flurry of extremely constructive email discussions with Phenix, who also brought to my attention the off-center position of the gunsight in some planes, and made the suggestion to use the slip indicator to measure it more accurately.


Return to:
Suso's WarBirds Page

Last updated: August, 2003