A contact of mine in the military aviation community recently introduced me to hawg-ops.com. It’s a free tool to quickly make tactical maps designed for CAS pilots to plan missions, training events, and tabletop exercises. Opening the website brings you to a map of the US that allows you to zoom in to any location, initially with imagery imported from google maps.
At first glance, it doesn’t look too impressive. Until, that is, you click on the top left corner and see all the options you have for layers on the map. You can switch to topographic map, different types of imagery, and add or remove symbols and markers.
The best part, however, is the ability to add grid lines in either MGRS, Lat/Long, or GARS. This is critical for land navigation in your area. Most maps designed for land navigation only show topographic data with the grid lines. Imagine having a custom map of your area with satellite imagery and MGRS grid lines overlaid, with another map of the EXACT SAME scale and area showing topographic data and the EXACT SAME grid lines.
The only tricky part is figuring out how to print these maps to a useful scale that common protractors and map tools use such as 1:24,000, 1:25,000, or 1:50,000. I am currently experimenting with this to find a solution, but even in its current form it’s still a great tool when paired with a topo map using the same grid system.
The right side of the window has several additional tools for drawing on the maps to plot routes, bearings, and elevation. The “analysis tool” (top right) is especially useful for pulling magnetic bearings and elevation changes from point to point, making it a great tool for communications planning as well. There’s even a large selection of unit symbols that you can click and drag onto the map for Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).
This has been but a brief overview of the capabilities of this website, as I’m still playing with it myself. Check it out yourself and play around with it. If you find something else you can do with this website, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can include it in Part 2 of how to use this tool.
See my articles on how to make a tactical map board and conduct battle tracking to see how to fully use this tool.