Wings Of Glory is a World War I combat flight simulator,
released in 1994. The player plays the role of an American
pilot who joins the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. The most
unique aspect of the game is the central story. The player
goes to various locations in his Aerodrome, and receives
mission briefings, information, and gossip by interacting
with the personalities in his squadron. This is done in the
form of animated sequences with digitally recorded voices.
There are also special sequences for events such as awards
and promotions, comrades' deaths, and general information.
Each mission is introduced by a narrator stating the date
and time, and a newspaper front page, headlining important
events occurring in the war.
The 40 missions of this story, span the 1917-18 timeframe
and form the bulk of the sim. The player starts out with
the RFC in the Sopwith 'Pup', a joy to fly, but noticeably
underpowered when compared with the German Albatroses that
must be contended with. After about 9 missions in the Pup,
the squadron receives SE5a Scouts. The SE5a is not only
much better than the Pup, but for a time, gives the player
an edge over the increasing array of German scouts and
Upon promotion to Captain, the player is granted a request
for a personal Sopwith 'Camel'. Eventually, the whole
squadron is outfitted with Camels. As the story grows, the
player is forced to deal with friends dying, and begins to
realize that much of his friends' suffering has been at the
hands of a single German ace. A personal quest begins to
hunt down this ace.
In the spring of 1918, the player transfers on to the
American Expeditionary Force where he also has access to
the Spad 13. The ruggedness of the Spad and the finesse of
the Camel is sorely needed by this time, when the Germans
are using the deadly Fokker D7, among others. In the final
missions, an interesting development occurs. A wounded
German pilot lands his Fokker Dr.1 at the squadron's
aerodrome. The squadron mechanic is able to patch the
German plane up and the player gets to take it on a rather
Finally, the player is rewarded with a personal request for
a duel from his arch-rival. The resulting battle is
probably the most intense one-on-one combat of the entire
Wings of Glory is not limited to only campaign play. There
is a mission generator which allows the flying of custom
missions. Unfortunately, its capabilities are quite
Air Combat missions are the most configurable. The player
chooses a plane to fly, then the number and type of enemy
planes, observations balloons, or Zepplins. All planes
modeled in the game, both Allied and German may be used as
opponents. The player also assigns a skill level to each
enemy and specifies a starting location for himself -
either his aerodrome or at a configurable altitude
somewhere within visual range of the enemy.
Bomb Run missions are very similar to Air Combat. However,
because there is no enemy (other than antiaircraft guns) to
deal with, the player does not get to specify the enemy
type or skill level.
Random Mission will randomly generate an Air Combat
mission. The player only specifies what plane he will fly.
Altitude and enemy number, type, and skill are all
different each time.
Gauntlet is a kind of "arcade mode" in which the player
flies a plane of his choice and is pitted against wave
after wave of enemy planes. The computer will randomly
generate planes one at a time until four are defeated. Then
it will send 2 planes at a time until 8 are defeated. Then
3 at a time until 12 defeated, etc. Points are awarded
based on the skill and plane type of each enemy defeated.
While I use the term "arcade" for this intense experience,
all advanced flight model and realism effects are still
available, except for ammunition, which the player has a
constant supply of. This is, in fact, excellent Situational
Each mission is recorded to film which can be saved and
reviewed at a later date. The viewer controls include
rewind, play, pause, fast forward (up to 4x normal speed)
and single step. The player can also choose to enter the
mission at any given time and alter the outcome. All views
normally useable during flight are allowed in the film
Cockpits and Views
Each of the five flyable aircraft has a unique cockpit. The
cockpit instrumentation has some very nice touches,
including an altimeter that works counter-clockwise from
the top and a compass that always points north (ie. if the
needle is to the right, north is on your right-hand side
and you are flying west). These cockpits look very
realistic and are very close to pictures I have seen of
actual WWI cockpits.
The interior views available to the pilot are Forward,
Back, Left, Right, and an "over the wing" view, which
varies in angle for each plane. The amount of visibility
afforded by each view depends on the specific plane.
Additionally, there is a virtual cockpit and padlock
The exterior views allowed are chase, external, and
tracking. The external view may be panned around to view
the plane from any angle. An external view can also be
shown for every aircraft in the vicinity. Tracking view
shows an external view in direct line-of-sight to whatever
the player has designated his "target" for camera purposes.
A tracking view is also available from the "target" to the
Only five planes are able to actually be flown in the sim.
Sopwith Scout ('Pup') - steady and slow, and outclassed by
nearly every enemy plane in the game. Very nice for ground
attack missions though.
R.A.F. S.E.5a - stable, fast, and very sturdy. The
wing-mounted Lewis gun is invaluable for attacking enemy
two-seaters and supplements the cowl-mounted Vickers very
Sopwith F.1 'Camel' - quite an unsteady aircraft, but can
out-turn any other aircraft in the game, even the Fokker
Dr.1. Because of it's incredible turn rate, it is much more
prone to stalling with damaged wings than the other
aircraft. Twin front-mounted Vickers make short work of
Spad S13 - Faster than even the SE5a and able to take a
tremendous beating and still fight back hard. Twin
front-mounted Vickers give it a hefty bite. This is
probably the best plane that can be flown in the game.
Fokker Dr.1 - A real delight to fly. Extremely fast turn
and climb rate. It is not very fast or sturdy, and has a
tendency to shed its wings in a dive. Because of its three
wings it is not as affected by wing damage as the other
planes, and is very difficult to stall. Twin Spandau
machine guns give it serious teeth.
The AI in W.O.G. is very good. It may be configured to
"Rookie", "Veteran", or "Ace". This does not change the
skill level of individual pilots, though. Each pilot still
retains a separate skill level within these broad
categories. At the Ace setting, the enemy pilots are
extremely lethal, and it is often all you can do to keep
them off your own tail, much less gain an offensive
position. This requires a real knowledge of your plane's
abilities and performance to gain the advantage. Once the
advantage is gained, however, it is a slightly different
story. The AI is not nearly as good at defense as it is
offense. While it still has a "bag of tricks" on which to
draw, it will often make tactical mistakes, enabling a
persistent pilot to shoot it down. At the same time, it
should be noted that other enemies will make short work of
a pilot who focuses only on a single opponent. Situational
Awareness plays a big role in combat here, and a greedy
pilot is often a dead pilot - j! ust as it should be.
As for friendly AI, it is a mixed bag. In combat against
enemy planes, the friendly AI does very well. In fact, it
is fairly common to have a kill "stolen" from you by a very
capable wingman. Against balloons, Zepplins, and ground
targets, however, the AI seems fairly incompetent. While it
can eventually get the job done, it takes much longer for
the AI to do it than for the player.
This is another point where WOG really shines. The flight
models for the five flyable planes are very nicely done.
Each plane has its own very distinctive handling. In
addition, there are many configurable "realism" settings.
Stalls Gun Jams Mid Air Collisions Sun Glare Yaw/Roll
Couple Wing Shearing Rotary Engine Center of Gravity
In addition to the ability to disable any of these
features, there are also several specific "cheats" for
those who find combat too difficult:
Along with a flight simulator's flight model, is it's "feel
of flight", or how well the sim creates the illusion of
flying. Sadly, in this area, W.O.G. lags behind. Planes
often respond to control inputs in a "jerky" and
unrealistic fashion. This effect is worse in some planes
than in others, but the highly-praised "smoothness" of Red
Baron, is simply not present in this sim. The ground seems
to be divided into sectors, with different sectors moving
at different rates. This also occurs in an abrupt manner,
and diminishes the effect of flying gracefully though the
air. This one particular aspect of the sim, has probably
resulted in many potential players as writing it off
prematurely as "unrealistic".
All sound fx in W.O.G. are digital, making for some very
realistic sounds. Engines grumble, wheels creak, and wind
whistles past. Vickers and Lewis machine guns each have a
separate distinctive sound. When the airframe gets stressed
during hard-G maneuvers, the frame creaks and fabric flaps.
When you manage to shoot down an foe, you are often
rewarded with a blood- curdling scream. As noted above, the
story is told via digitally recorded voice. There is also a
MIDI soundtrack which accompanies the entire game.
Graphics are 320x200 texture mapped 265-color VGA. While
not the SVGA quality that has become popular recently, they
are very nice nonetheless. Pilots' scarves flap in the
wind, various shades of smoke pour from damaged engines and
smoldering structures, and flames spout from burning
aircraft. A nice touch is that all interior views with
sight of a control surface can see the surface move in
response to controls. Unfortunately, there is no darkness
at night. All missions taking place in the predawn hours
are seen in full light.
The 64-page manual that comes with the game is suprisingly
thorough for its size. It does not go very in-depth on
flight or maneuvering, but does cover the basics and adds
some depth to the game's storyline with diary entries from
some of the characters. Noticeably lacking is any sort of
The 32-page playguide covers all aspects of gameplay and
use of the interface.
It is unfortunate that there is only one campaign present,
and there are no add-ons. Although the player gets the
opportunity to fly for both the Royal Flying Corps and the
American Expeditionary Force, there is no option to fly for
Germany, France, or any other of the many participants of
the Great War. Also, the script is very linear and the
player either completes or loses each mission. One thing I
found particularly annoying was that on ground attack
missions, you are unable to use the 'autopilot' feature to
go to the next waypoint, even if there is no enemy
opposition. In other words, if you are out of bombs and low
on ammunition, you can't abort a mission and go home.
There is no darkness or other light conditions supported.
This would add a whole new aspect to the sim, as night
flying at the dawn of aviation, was an incredibly
challenging experience. This would affect Zeppelin-hunting
missions more than anything, and would make simply finding
and staying with the airship the hardest part. It would
also be fun to do dawn patrols when a real sunrise graced
the screen, or to struggle to maintain your bearings in
The player has no control over his flight's formation,
other than the ability to signal, "Attack" and "Form back
up". There is no ability to send two members of the flight
to a different altitudes, or signal your wingman only, to
stay with you.
On planes with twin Vickers or Spandau machine guns, both
guns jam at the same time. Also, the act of unjamming a gun
is automatically taken care of by the sim. The player is
free to devote all his attention to piloting, while this
"autopilot" unjams his gun for him. It would be much more
realistic if the player had to fumble with obscure key
sequences to simulate the desperate attempts to free a
Wings of Glory's central story and animated sequences add a
real "you are there" feel to it. Admittedly, the script is
a bit poor in spots, but the effect of being briefed on a
mission first-hand, by your squadron commander, then having
to report back to him with the results, adds a real
personal aspect to it. All voice sequences are
closed-captioned for the accent impaired, if the player so
This is a very immersive sim. The sound fx are very
convincing and the detailed graphics aid tremendously in
the identification of enemies and targets. Also, the
previously mentioned "jerkiness" of flight is often
completely forgotten in combat when you are focusing on
your opponents. It is very easy to be drawn completely into
this world of primitive skin-and-bones air combat. When
your guns jam just as you are about to finish off a foe,
you find yourself desperately wishing for even a rock to
lob at the pilot mere yards in front of you!
The flight model is very good, and more realism features
are allowed than any other WWI sim so far. Lift and
gravity, in particular, seem well-balanced. Heavier planes
gather speed in a dive much better than lighter ones, and
gaining altitude can become very difficult in a plane with
damaged engine or wings.
W.O.G. is also the first WWI sim to allow the player to use
a wing-mounted gun - something which was actually fairly
common on these planes. This gun is a tremendous benefit
and adds a whole new dimension to air combat. You don't
have to have your nose pointed toward an opponent to fire
The Bottom Line
While not perfect, Wings of Glory is probably the best WWI
flight simulator to date, and highly recommended for anyone
who enjoys air combat. It successfully builds multimedia
features and a fairly interesting story around a detailed
fight model, yeilding a very rich experience.
A fully playable demo of Wings of Glory can be obtained
or as a link at
the "Flight Sim Shareware and Demos" section.
After downloading the demo, unzip it to a separate
directory and create a subdirectory called "tapes". Then
copy or create a file called "temptape.dat" in the tapes
subdirectory. Note: temptape.dat may be any size and type
of file. There is a bug in the demo that requires a file of
that name to be there.