SWOTL FAQ

Last updated on 5 February 2007
Differences between SWOTL and TFH:BOB Joysticks (and Pedals) in SWOTL
SWOTL won't load with SWOTL.EXE (SW.BAT) Firing the Me163's Rockets
Aircraft and Custom Aircraft for SWOTL How do I use "Custom Aircraft" files?
SWOTL says "Insert Disk 2"... What is Air Combat Classics?
Where can I find a copy of SWOTL What are Mods?
Using Modules with Air Combat Classics SWOTL. What is "Hex Editing" and how can I do it too?
Lucas Arts Technical Reference Guide for SWOTL SWOTL CD-ROM FAQ Page
SWOTL and "Fast" (486/Pentium) Computers SWOTL / TFH:BOB Scoring Page
Running SWOTL under Windows
Hints and Secrets Page

(Background photo, Spitfire over Duxford England, by Richard Muth)

Do you have additional info, or questions, that should be listed here? E-mail me!

SWOTL Home Page Utilities Aircraft Missions Modules View Guest Book



 

SWOTL vs TFH:BOB

A few differences, according to a Lucasfilms programmer.
One of the first things you'll undoubtedly notice about SWOTL, especially as compared with BOB is that it is MORE CHALLENGING TO PLAY! The Artificial Intelligence routines (AI) for the pilots is better so "they know more stuff (it's later in the war after all)"
The scaling of the aircraft graphics is more dynamic. This means that you can still see aircraft about eight miles away, but it isn't until they're realistically close that you can actually get a good shot at them. Additionally, they don't "hang in space" forever on a head-on pass as they tended to in TFH:BOB. The resulting feeling of speed is really great, but also makes the game a wee bit more challenging!
Also, the missions themselves are probably, on the whole, more challenging than most in TFH:BOB. However, you should note that the first two historical missions for each aircraft are always the easiest to complete.
The replay camera was revamped, more resembling the one in Battle Hawks! You have the ability to "fly the camera." Also, they added a few more view combinations that can produce pretty stunning results!
The Mission Builder is more powerful, and allows much more flexibility. For example you can order German planes to intercept B-17s, escort fighters or fighter bombers specifically, or they can be ordered to dive bomb, dive bomb and strafe, strafe and level bomb, fly formation, fly a fighter sweep, or return to base (whew!) The same level of diversity applies to the American side in flight... you can give your wingmen "orders" to attack specific enemies or targets by using the map.
Ground Attack has to be one of the most fun aspects of SWOTL, and one that was not really in TFH:BOB. The use of Rockets, to hit ground or air targets, is another addition by this time in the war. Granted, these rockets didn't have the accuracy of your average modern rocket, but they sure are fun.
 
 

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Troubles with Joysticks in SWOTL

With faster computers people sometimes find that the joystick calibration routine is tough to do since it moves by so quickly. You have to use a bit of care here to move the stick to the right position and carefully press the button ONCE, then move to the next position and repeat the process. If you do this too fast, or "sloppily" you will have an improperly calibrated stick. There are some other things to bear in mind as well though. Are you using the proper joystick port? The ports on Sound Cards are notoriously poor. A dedicated Game Card, particularly one that is Speed Adjustable, is your best bet. (You can find them for about $20-$30.) Then, too, is you computer just too fast for the version of SWOTL you are using? (See the entry on this page about SWOTL and "Fast" CPUs.) You may also need to check to be certain that any other joystick ports are disabled on your system! If you have a Sound Card with one you are not using, be sure to disable it! And finally, if you are running under Windows, is the joystick configured properly with the Windows "joystick control panel," or is it a USB connection (which means it may not operate in a DOS window at all)?

Did you know ...
- Joystick drift is greatly reduced in each successive version of SWOTL.
- You can recalibrates your joystick at any time by pressing [Alt][C].
- In version 2.0, and greater, the [G] key correctly swaps the firing of a fighter's machine guns or cannons from the main "trigger" button.

Multi-Function Joysticks and Rudder Pedals with SWOTL
LA did not include provisions for "multifunction" joysticks or rudder pedals when it was released, partly because Thrustmaster was the about the only one making them. Today, it's almost as hard to find a "two button" joystick as it was to find a multifunction stick then! Many of today's joysticks are able to be "programmed" to work with various games. They should work fine with SWOTL. However, if your stick can't be programmed don't despair. Thanks to a couple of smart programmers, you can take advantage of the numerous buttons and gadgets on many of the other multifunction joysticks. I know of two programs that work with SWOTL (though there may be more, and I'd love to hear about them.)

The Pilot's Edge, by Dwight Ennis, was the first program released to allow the Thrustmaster, and other multi function sticks, to be used with LA's flight sims. It also will also allow you to use the TM Rudder Pedals with SWOTL as well! I have been using it for years. Dwight made 3 versions of the program for various games. One version works with virtually all the LA flight sims, including the Star Wars series. There has never been a Shareware version of The Pilot's Edge and -- although Thrustmaster was carrying it for $14.95 -- it was tough to find a copy. Until now!

As of February 2000, Dwight has released TPE to SWOTL fans through this site for free! You can download your copy here, or from the Utilities page. Please note that Dwight is no longer providing support for this venerable old utility, so you're on your own in that regard. If you use a multi function stick, particularly the Thrustmaster, you should try this utility!

Prostick is a program that comes in a shareware version. I haven't seen it around much lately, but I have own a registered copy of version 2.1, which I used for sometime. Prostick had the advantage of allowing you to "program" the "extra" keys in more ways that The Pilot's Edge did. But I found it a bit quirky. Additionally, my version didn't seem to want to run under Win95/98 like TPE does. (Rather than have to "Boot to DOS" each time I want to fly SWOTL, I chose to go back to my "first love" and keep SWOTL running under Win95/98 just fine.) UPDATE: Atlantis Software has written to me and sent the latest Shareware version (2.1) of their product which is what I have posted here. They also said the are thinking of releasing the full version as Freeware, so you might want to drop by their site and check on this! As always, let me know of any new developments.
Prostick is produced by:
Atlantis Software
34740 Blackstone Way
Fremont, Ca. 94555
(510) 796-2180

There is one other way to use a multi-function stick that I know of. If you have the TM Advance Weapons System, or a similar product, you can plug your stick into it and program it anyway you want. A few people I know swear by this system (whereas a few people I know just swear at their joystick...)
 
 

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SWOTL Won't Load With SWOTL.EXE

The SWOTL.EXE file will not start the game.  SWOTL needs to use the SW.BAT file to load the game because this batch file tells the program how you want to have it configured for your machine. (The CD-ROM version does this same thing using the SW.CFG file which looks almost the same.) When you run the INSTALL program, also located in the SWOTL directory (if you installed the program via floppy disks.), it will create the proper SW.BAT file for your needs. For example, my SW.BAT looks like this:
   echo off
   SWOTL V S 5 Y Y Y 64
All it does is run the SWOTL.EXE program with 7 "parameters" to control different settings, as follows:
  1. Graphics Mode: VGA, EGA or Tandy
  2. Sound: None, Internal speaker, Adlib, Sound Blaster, or Tandy
  3. Level of Ground Detail: 1 = Lowest, 5 = Highest
  4. Joystick: Yes or No
  5. Advanced Flight Controls: Yes or No
  6. Replay Disk Cache: Yes or No (Use HD or Memory for Replay Films)
  7. Size of "Replay Disk Cache" in KB, from 16 to 248 max. in units of 16. (This determines length of your "Gun Camera" film)

  8. NOTE: The manual says you can set the cache to a maximum of 2048, but LA later stated that settings above 248 can cause the computer to lock-up when reviewing the film.
You can alter these settings with the INSTALL program, or by editing the SW.BAT file. If you edit it yourself, just be sure you use the correct, and valid, parameter. Invalid parameters can cause SWOTL to crash!!  Note that *.BAT files are "plain text" files that you can write or edit with any plain text word processor, such as NOTEPAD.
BTW, if you used my trick of "patching" the SWOTL CD files to eliminate the need for the CD you will have to write this file yourself. Be careful to choose the proper settings!! (For most of you, my example will work fine, but not everyone can use it as is.)

Another problem folks have when loading SWOTL is not enough memory. The documentation will remind you that you need to have at least 580K of free Conventional Memory and at least 1,024K Expanded Memory (EMS) to run correctly. If you are working under DOS, you can run type "MEM" to display your available memory. Under Win95/98, be sure that you set the MEMORY options in the PROPERTIES of your shortcut to allow for these limits.  You may also want to try using a "DOS Boot Disk" to get enough memory and not be constrained by the Windows OS.

If SWOTL keeps crashing, or locking up your computer, even though you have followed all the instructions above, you may have a hardware conflict with your CPU. Take a look at the section below on SWOTL and "Fast" (486/Pentium) Computers for more info. CYRIX users may be out of luck entirely. You'll find info on this in that section as well.
 
 

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Aircraft for SWOTL

Originally, SWOTL came with 13 aircraft. Later, LA (LucasArts) released 4 "add-on" disks, each containing another type of aircraft (these planes were later included in the CD-ROM version and in the Air Combat Classics version.) This table shows the planes LA wrote for the game:
 
Original SWOTL Planes
"Add-on Disk" Planes
Luftwaffe USAAF
Luftwaffe USAAF
Bf109G6  P-47C 
He162  P-38H 
Bf109G10  P-47D 
Do335  P-38J 
Fw190A5  P-51B 

P80 
Fw190A8  P-51D 


Me262A  B-17F 


Me163B  B-17G 


Go229 



Well, a few die hard fanatics <G> (that is, the core members of the old SWOTL Group on Prodigy) couldn't wait for LA to make more planes, so they made their own! Well, sort of... They "Hex Edited" the aircraft files to change the characteristics of the planes LA wrote for the game. They even figured out how to "swap" the external views from the cockpit to make the plane look a bit different from the pilot's view. Eventually, they also discovered they could change the aircraft's color scheme and even use some of the graphic files from TFH:BOB (Their Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain) to make the external view look different as well. Unfortunately, the side effect of the TFH:BOB files is that the planes sometimes appear to fly sideways! This is due to the fact that SWOTL included more angles to view the plane from than TFH:BOB did. We learned to live with these limitations, because now we could fly just about any plane we wanted, and could "tweak out" any existing plane! And so started a wave of hex editing that still continues. At last count, I found over 300 different aircraft variations in my "Hangar" (even more than SManager 200 can deal with!) Some of the "custom planes" are very historical aircraft, some were experimental production models (or "prototypes"), and some are pure fancy!

We eventually developed some "standards" when making and distributing these files. Each of the "hexed" aircraft is named with an extension of *.EXP (from EXPerimental.) All of the planes that came with SWOTL need to be copied to backup files, and we decided to call them *.ORI (for ORIginal.) Most of us keep these files in our "Hangar" subdirectory. Additionally, many of the most fanatical "Hexperts" would include short text files (with a *.TXT extension) with the aircraft to tell you something about it, and maybe even how to use it. For more info on working with these files, see the next section.
 
 

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Working with "Custom Aircraft"

There are a few things to remember when installing and using "hexed" aircraft files:
  • Use of the SWOTL Manager  is STRONGLY recommended for swapping "hexed" plane files! It makes "swapping" planes much easier!!
  • First make COPIES of all *.SPC files located in the \SWOTL\AC directory in either that same directory or in a directory called \SWOTL\HANGAR, (the later location is recommended). These copies should have their extension changed from *.SPC to *.ORI (as in "original").
  • Be sure that all your "custom" aircraft have the same extension in the file name. The convention that we follow is *.EXP (for "experimental"), but you can use something else if you prefer.
  • These *.EXP files should go either in your \SWOTL\HANGAR or \SWOTL\AC directory, depending on how you handle your plane swapping.
  • The *.INT files (if there are any) go into the \SWOTL\CP directory.
  • The *.PAC files (if there are any) go into the \SWOTL\AC directory.
  • To insert "hexed" planes manually (without SWOTL Manager) copy the *.EXP file of the plane you wish to insert into the \SWOTL\AC directory in place of the *.SPC file for the plane you wish to replace.

  • Example: COPY  \SWOTL\HANGAR\SPITFIRE.EXP  \SWOTL\AC\P51D.SPC
       (Do you see why I recommend the SWOTL Manager?)
  • To remove "hexed" planes and return to the original SWOTL plane files copy the *.ORI file of the plane you wish to restore into the \SWOTL\AC directory replacing the *.SPC file for the same plane.

  • Example: COPY  \SWOTL\HANGAR\P51D.ORI  \SWOTL\AC\P51D.SPC
SWOTL CD-ROM Users Note: You must first do a "Full Install" of all the SWOTL files onto your HD (I'm told this is one of the installation options.) Otherwise, you will not be able to swap the necessary files since SWOTL will only look for them on the CD-ROM. (Better yet, I've discovered that it is possible to use the "update" files located here to "convert" your CD-ROM version so that it no longer needs the CD!! See the SWOTL CD FAQ for more info...)

Other Users Note: Some "hexed" plane files require the user to have one or more of the "official add-on" planes from LucasArts, such as the P-38. If you enjoy SWOTL, it is HIGHLY recommended to invest in the additional disks. Unfortunately, they are now "out of print." However, you can still get the extra aircraft in the Air Combat Classics set which includes all the LA WWII sims and all the add-on disks for about $20 (plus shipping.)

If you do not have the required planes you may be able to trick the computer into thinking you have the extra planes. The following examples will replace the "missing" P-38 files with those of the P-47.

  • Create a "fake" icon file for it in the \SWOTL\FE directory.

  • Example: COPY  P47ICN.PAC  P38ICN.PAC
  • Create false P38J.SPC files (as well as a false P38J.ORI)

  • Example: COPY  \SWOTL\AC\P47C.SPC  \SWOTL\AC\P38J.SPC
    and COPY  \SWOTL\AC\P47C.SPC  \SWOTL\HANGAR\P38J.ORI
Occasionally other files are needed as well and this "fix" will not work.
 
 

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SWOTL says "Insert Disk 2," help!

When you see this message pop up it means SWOTL can't find a file. You will see this most often if you are trying to use a custom aircraft that wasn't installed right. It also occurs when you are using a "Mod" or a Custom Mission that calls for an aircraft you don't have! The question is, what file is missing? If you just keep acknowledging the error message SWOTL will eventually dump you back to DOS. (If you're running from a Win95/98 window make sure that the "close on exit" box in your SWOTL "shortcut properties" is unchecked so that the DOS window stays open!)  When you get back to DOS, you will see a somewhat cryptic message telling you what file couldn't be located.

Use this info to check your SWOTL directories for the file. Sometimes you'll find it is in the wrong directory. Sometimes the name is misspelled. Sometimes it was a file that you needed to get from another source (like TFH:BOB) but didn't. Or, maybe you just don't own that add-on aircraft.

If you're just not sure what is wrong, go back to the instructions for the modification you were trying to use (the aircraft, or mission, or...) and read them very carefully. Sometimes the installation is a bit complicated and you may have missed something the first time through. Some modifications use a *.BAT file to install themselves, and the directory names in those *.BAT files may not match your directory names. A little editing should fix that problem.

Be sure to read all the information on this page about working with Custom Aircraft and with Mods. If your still can't figure it out. Write me an e-mail with all the details, including what SWOTL tells you when you get dumped back to DOS. I'll try to get you flying again.
 
 

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How does the Me 163 shoot it's rockets?

It's all done with shadows!  Really, these "rockets" are actually triggered by a light sensor.  The SG-500 Jagdfaust was actually very effective, and was designed to allow novice pilots to shoot down bombers more easily.  You can take out a bomber in one pass by using both rocket packs.   They will fire as soon as you fly under the bomber, if you do it right.  Try not to be more than 1,000 feet below the bomber; the closer the better.   And remember to arm the rockets first!
 
 

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The Air Combat Classics Set

If you want to try SWOTL for a great price, or want to get some add-on TOD plane disks at a great price, try Air Combat Classics. LucasArts sells this "updated" (for faster CPUs in 1993) set of ALL 3 of their fine WWII combat flight sims on floppy disk for $19.95 (plus shipping). It can be ordered direct from LA by calling 1-888-LEC-GAMES (1-888-532-4263) or by visiting The Company Store at LucasArts' Website. It is item number IBM# 01-015. The set includes:
 *  Battle Hawks 1942
 *  TheirFinest Hour: Battle of Britain
     (plus "Their Finest Missions" add-on mission disk)
 *  Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe
     (plus the 4 add-ons: P-38, P-80, Do335, and He162).

Is this worth it? - I've tried many WWII flight sims, and the one I keep coming back to is SWOTL. And I'm not alone... - TFH:BOB is a bit dated, but it's still fun. Also, it's a good "starter" sim for first time PC Pilots. - SWOTL and TFH:BOB both allow you to make your own missions!! Or, fly a full campaign and decide "how to run the war". It's hard to get bored when you can write your own custom missions, and fly hundreds written by others too. So, "in my humble opinion", at $19.95 how can you go wrong???

If you already have SWOTL, why try this?
- Do you have ALL the add-on planes? One add-on disk, if you can find one, could cost you close to this price.
- Do you use a 486, or faster machine, and find that your "old favorite" flightsim doesn't run properly any more? It will now!
- Do you get tired of the "Code Wheel", there isn't any with the ACC set!
- Do you have SWOTL on CD, but get tired of the problems you may have with that format, or want to try out some of the user developed add-on "mods" for the game?

That's just my opinion about what I think is a pretty good deal. (You can thank me later. <G>)
 
 

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SWOTL "Mods" (Modifications or Modules)

These were created by dedicated SWOTL flyers who edited some of the original game files to make "custom aircraft" and changes targets and other portions of the game. Then they added several custom missions. The end result is a new theaters of operation, a new story or simply a new challenge! Most Mods are well researched for maximum authenticity (well, as much as SWOTL would allow.) The latest editions of modules available (via the Mods Page.) to date include :
 
Archive Name "Topic" and Author
AFRIKA12 North Africa, historically researched, by Greg "Sturmer" Smith 
JSWOTL "What if" involving USAAF Jets by Greg "Sturmer" Smith 
RUSSIA20 Russian Front, historically researched, by Greg "Sturmer" Smith 
SWOTL-LS "Lucky Strikes" is an interactive story by Anthony Shimizu
SWOTN12 Night fighters of the Nachtjagdkorps by Tom Dungan 
SWOTN2 Additional enhancements for SWOTN12 by Greg "Sturmer" Smith
SW1940-2 "The Battle for Britain" with SWOTL by Brett Elliott 
SWUSA-2 Theoretical scenario concentrating on USAAF planes by Marcus Harris
SW1946 "What if" the war dragged on a little longer.... by Ken Braatz
SWOTP An unfinished Mod set in the Pacific by Eric Jimerson 

Each of these modules opens new possibilities for an "old" game, and adds hours of enjoyment. They are well worth the download.  I have 4 copies of SWOTL on my hard drive so I can play SWOTL, Afrika, Russia or Lucky Strikes when ever I like. That's not as crazy as it sounds since it is highly recommended that you install a separate copy of SWOTL for any Mod you wish to use. This ensures that there will be no problem "uninstalling" it when you want to play a different "version" of SWOTL. As for the installation of the Mods, refer to the Instructions that come with each of them. You will also find some rather generic instructions in the MOD-INFO.TXT file.

NOTE: Except for Lucky Strikes, these mods all require you to have version 2.1 of SWOTL. If you have an earlier version you can try the SW-UPG upgrade. (Remember you can check your version of SWOTL by pressing [ALT][V] anytime during a mission. The version info will show in the lower left corner of your screen. This can only be done when you are actually flying a mission.) If you have a later version, see the next section regarding Air Combat Classics. Also, many mods require aircraft PAC files  (graphics) from LucasArts' Battle of Britain. If you do not own this you will need the BOBPAC file.which you can also find in the Mods list. Additionally, many Mods make use of the "add-on aircraft" disks from LucasArts, but you may be able to do a "work around", as described in the Mod's documentation.

SWOTL CD-ROM users Note: You must first do a "Full Install" of all the SWOTL files onto your HD (I'm told this is one of the installation options) to use these modifications. Otherwise, the "Mods" found here will not be able to "swap" the necessary files since SWOTL will only look for them on the CD-ROM. Better yet, I've discovered that it is possible to use the "update" files located here to "convert" your CD-ROM version so that it no longer needs the CD!! See the SWOTL CD FAQ for some additional info...
 
 

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Using Modules with Air Combat Classics SWOTL

The add-on modules for SWOTL, such as AFRIKA, RUSSIA, SWOTN, JSWOTL, SW1940, SW1946, SWUSA, etc., were all written before the release of the Air Combat Classics set (SWOTL v2.2). Since most of these modules contain a modified version of four of the *.OVL files, located in the main SWOTL directory, they will only work with version 2.1 of SWOTL, which was used to create them. (I have also noted that the CD-ROM version also reports that it is version 2.2, with the same date as the ACC set, however the files are NOT identical! If your CD-ROM version won't work with these modules you will need to follow the next solution, or to "upgrade" your copy and use "the best" solution as listed below. You can find info on upgrading the CD to ACC on the  SWOTL CD page.)

However, you can work around this with minimal disruption to the module by simply NOT replacing any of the *.OVL files with the modified ones from the add-on. (You may edit the installation *.BAT file(s) to avoid copying over the *.OVL files.) The game will run properly, and the module will work well, but you will miss some of the "flavor" of the module as changes to the text material will be lost.

The best option, however, is to obtain the modified ACC version *.OVL files. I have packaged these "patches" into sets for each mod and titled them accordingly, starting with the letters "ACC". Look for ACC-AFRK, ACC-RUSS, ACC-NITE, ACC-1940, ACC-1946, ACC-JET, ACC-USA and ACC-PACF. You can find these "patches" on the Mods page.

NOTE: None of this applies to the LUCKY STRIKES module, since it uses special programming and files to alter your EXISTING *.OVL files on an as needed basis. (Another reason why it is recommended to install a separate copy of SWOTL for this mod, and really, for each mod.)
 
 

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What is "Hex-editing" and how can I do it?

Hex-Editing simply means that one has edited the hexadecimal code of a binary file.  "The what of a what" you ask? So called "program" files (as opposed to "text" files like this one) appear as a series of numbers (or symbols if they numbers are being interpreted as ASCII characters) when you attempt to view their contents. Since there is no "text" per-say in these files, you have to edit the numbers to change the meaning of the data stored in the file.  Now, computers work on the "Hexadecimal" (base 16) system as opposed to the "Decimal" (base 10) system that we are used to.  This means that the numbers go from "00" to "FF" rather than "0" to "9", and it means you need to think a bit differently...  To change these values, you need a program that can edit these files without changing their structure, which a text editor won't do.

In SWOTL, hex-edited files are usually the aircraft specification files (*.SPC files) which allow us to make planes that are not normally found in the game.  A few other program files can be edited in order to do things like allow a custom mission to do something that the Mission editor won't let you (like get planes to "taxi" as I did on "Suppress"), or to change some of the text and map references as was done in most of the SWOTL Mods.

Since most folks confine their "hexing" to the aircraft files things have gotten even easier.  You can use the SPManager program to make many of the changes for you, without knowing anything at all about hexadecimal code.  Now this program is not at all perfect, but with a little work you can make several basic changes to your aircraft.  However, if you want to be more ambitious and create a totally new plane, you better get a good hex editor, a copy of the "byte listings" for the *.SPC files and spend some time learning the fundamentals of hexing.  There are a few files to help you do all this right in the Utilities section of the SWOTL site.  And there is a pretty darn good tutorial from "Hexmaster" Greg "Sturmer" Smith there as well.  Take a look at it, and then see if you are up to the challenge.  Heck, your a SWOTL Ace, of course you are!
 
 

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LucasArts' Technical Reference Guide for SWOTL

I stumbled across an interesting section buried deep within the LucasArts Entertainment web site, under the Support section. The "Technical Reference Guide" for SWOTL!  A quick scan of some of the information proved there shows a few things that are worth a look.  Rather than copy it over to this site, I'm simply referring back to the original source.  Though I have far more information on some topics, they do list things that I don't cover at all, so it's certainly worth a look. (NOTE: This link is apparently broken as LA may have dropped the file from their system)

Their Table of Contents includes:
Latest Updates
    2.1 Update (also see our entry on versions)
    Poor Performance On Pentium And Like Systems (see our section above)
    CD-ROM Version Of SWOTL (also see our CD-ROM page)
Installation
    Installing Secret Weapons Of The Luftwaffe (also see our CD-ROM page)
Gameplay
    Copy Protection (also see our Hints page)
    Scoring (also see our Scoring page)
    V1 And V2 Rockets 
    Gameplay Tips (also see our Hints page)
    "Too Close To Target" 
Performance / Lock-ups
    General Lock-Up Troubleshooting 
    Poor Performance On Pentium And Like Systems (see our section above)
    "Join Error" (also see our CD-ROM page)
Error Messages
    "Join Error" (also see our CD-ROM page)
    "Overlay Not Found" 
    "Insufficient Memory" 
    "Too Close To Target" 
Compatibility
    Known Incompatibilities 
Controllers
    General Joystick Troubleshooting Tips (also see our section above)
    Mouse Issues 
    Joystick Drift (also see our section above)
   

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Problems with SWOTL and "Fast" Computers

SWOTL does not get along well at all with today's faster computers. As processor speeds continue to climb, things will only get worse. When it was first written, the 386 was king. In 1993 SWOTL was revamped (as the version in Air Combat Classics) for the then current "hot" 486 CPU. The early Pentiums far surpassed the best 486 of 1993, and today's machines may have sounded the death knell. Just as the close of WWII signaled the end for propeller driven combat aircraft, SWOTL's days also seem to be numbered due to the advent of newer, and faster, technology.  (Note: See the next section on Running SWOTL under Windows for some suggestions about programs which may also help SWOTL's performance on newer computers.)

Though SWOTL may appear to run just fine on your old 486 or Pentium, you will find that strange things happen even on those older machines. Trouble with "bombs exploding in mid air" is the most widely reported "bug" (though there are others) associated with a machine that's just too fast. LucasArts summed it up like this:

Unfortunately, both [TFH:BOB and SWOTL] are older dos 
games which were designed to run on a 386 system. The advent of 
the much faster Pentium chips and other newer processors has 
caused compatibility problems with older software programs. There 
really is no way to adjust the speed of your machine to 
effectively run these older games without complications. You 
might try looking for a shareware program available online (use a 
search engine) called MoSlow which was designed for these 
types of compatibility problems. 
- Eric / LucasArts
However, there are utilities that help your computer run at a speed that is compatible with older games and other programs.  I have had good luck with one called "Mo'Slo."  The most recent evaluation copy is available on the company web site.  An older (v1.31) freeware copy of Mo'Slo was sent to me by the author, and is available on the Utils page. That version is from 1997 and does directly support Pentium processors. An even earlier version (also in the Utilities section of this site) is from 1993 and does not directly support Pentiums, however, I have read reports from users who have had a lot of success running other "old" games on a Pentium with it. There is a full version called Mo'Slow Deluxe, which works with fast Pentiums, allows speed adjustments in 0.1% and runs batch files, but it is a commercial product which can be ordered for $15 plus shipping. An even newer version, "Mo'Slo 4BIZ" costs only $23 and offers more functionality. Get more information from the Mo'Slow Deluxe web site. (Much thanks to David Perrell for this product, and his support for fans of older games such as ourselves.)

I have recently had some reports from SWOTL fans using version 1.2 of Mo'Slo, found here. After much experimentation, SWOTL fan Ignacio McGuire reports that Mo'Slo works well on his Pentium 133 with a setting of 50% while using ACC SWOTL. While the same version on my Pentium II 233 works better with a setting closer to 25%. Other machines, and other versions, may need yet a different setting, but you can use these figures as a starting point for your experimentation. As I get additional information, I will post it here (be sure to let me know what setting is working for you.) BTW, the line I use to run SWOTL under Mo`Slo is:
   ..\moslo\mo'slo /25 SWOTL.EXE V S 5 Y Y Y 64
I simply edited my SWOTL.BAT file to look like the above. You should note that Mo`Slo is located in a directory (folder) called "moslo" in the same subdirectory (folder) as my SWOTL directory (folder), thus the PATH name looks as it does.

The software technique has been reported to work well by some (and not by others), but, there may be another option as well. Numerous Tech Support centers, and users such as Keith Heitmann, suggest you might try adjusting some settings to your computer's BIOS (or CMOS) temporarily. This means you need to access the BIOS (or CMOS) setup routine, most often done by pressing a key during bootup (this differs from machine to machine, see your manual!) Once there, disable the "External Cache" RAM and save the settings. When you are done playing SWOTL, you will want to reverse this process to put things back as they belong! Also, I strongly suggest that you make a printout of your current CMOS settings, using the Print Screen key, and save that someplace (like in the manual) just in case something gets screwed up at some point!! (I do this this with every new computer I set up, right out of the box!)

Whatever approach you use, I think you should also try running the "fastest version" of SWOTL, from Air Combat Classics. If you don't own it, try using the "upgrade" patch from the Modules page here (CD-ROM users can do this too! See the SWOTL CD FAQ for the details) and see if that helps. With Pentium CPUs you will still have some trouble. I am trying to find a better solution to this, and would love to hear from anyone who has solved it! As I find more answers, or better software, I will post it here. Right now, Mo`Slo seems to be the way to go.  However, the unfortunate truth is that the days of SWOTL as we know it are quite limited while processor speeds continue to increase and slower machines are turned to scrap.

I should say one more thing. When trying to figure out if your computer is running SWOTL too fast, the easiest thing to do is to load up some bombs for a training mission, turn on your "gun camera" before dropping a few and then watch the replay. You will need to either "Track" the bombs, or "Chase" them when you replay the film. Note the altitude the bombs are at when they explode. If it is more than 0 feet, things are too fast! You should also note that heavier bombs will drop farther before exploding, and you really should be at no less than 10,000 feet (20,000 may be best) to test this properly. (So far I've been trying 1,000 pounders from about 12,000 feet...)

A final note to users of CYRIX 166+ type processors. I have had a few people write to me saying that their CYRIX based machine locks up when playing SWOTL. This seems to be a hardware conflict problem. From what I have been able to find with internet searches, it seems that the CYRIX chips are not 100% "Intel compatible" and can cause such conflicts with some programs. Despite the various patch files for the CYRIX chips, the reports I have gotten from SWOTL fans have not yet found ANYTHING that works short of REPLACING the chip with an INTEL processor. This truly seems to be a hardware problem. Of course, I'd appreciate any additional info in this problem, and its solution!

I just received the following update on the Cyrix problem from SWOTL Fan Mike Lock:

Those of you who run with Cyrix CPU's of 150+ and 
above will I am sure have encountered locking while trying to 
play SWOTL, usually at the very start. The problem can be 
overcome by the following method. Run the game in dos. Not in a 
dos window or shutdown to, just old fashioned dos. Although the 
game does not need a lot of conventional memory to run, if you 
have a Cyrix CPU of 150 or above then to run the game without 
locking the conventional memory must be 630k at least. Memmaker 
will not achieve such a high figure, however if you have Qemm97 
and run the optimiser then 630k is easily possible. SWOTL will 
then run with no locking, the infamous CD version is also OK. I 
have no explanation of the why the above should work: if you have 
Qemm then give it a try.
- Mike Lock Bath UK



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Running SWOTL under Windows

Many DOS based programs don't run properly under Windows (I'm talking about Windows 95 and later, by the way) mostly due to issues with memory usage, changes in the underlying DOS components, drivers, and peripheral devices such as sound cards and joysticks. USB connected devices may not work at all.  But, with a little effort, you may be able to use SWOTL and you other favorite "legacy" programs.  Here are some tips:

In Windows XP, try this when setting up your game (I didn't write this, so don't ask me to elaborate...):
Open Windows Explorer to the folder holding the program's setup.exe file.
Right-click the file, choose Properties, and then click the Compatibility tab.
Check "Run this program in compatibility mode for" and select one of the Windows versions (95, 98/Me, NT, or 2000) in the drop-down list.
Now install the program as usual.
If you run into a problem, follow the same steps for the file that opens and runs the program.

In Windows 95/98 I have had little trouble getting SWOTL to run.  The primary trick is to set the memory options.  Try this:
Make a "Shortcut" to the BAT file that starts SWOTL (Windows may do this for you the first time you click on SW.BAT).
Right click on the Shortcut and choose "Properties."
Select the "Program" tab and then click on the "Advanced" button.
I checked both "Prevent MS-DOS-based programs from detecting Windows" and "Suggest MS-DOS mode as necessary."
Click on the Memory tab and be sure they are all set to "Auto."  I also have "Initial environment" set to 1024 and checked "Uses HMA" as well.
That should do it, but you can play around with other settings and other tabs if you think you need to.

Finally, there are a few programs out there that help deal with legacy programs and devices to help them run better on modern computers and under Windows.  You might want to try any or all of these:  DOSBox, Abandon Loader, and/or VDMsound
Note that I have had good reports about them, but I haven't used any. I only have experience with Mo'Slo, which is discussed in the previous section of this FAQ. It helps on Pentium I and II class machines, but may not do enough for newer ones.

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