The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

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The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Raid » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:49 pm

So I've been getting back into DCS, Digital Combat Simulator; the super-detailed flight sim by the guys who did Lock On: Modern Air Combat back in the day. I was inspired largely by the fact that it has good VR support and I might one day, if the planets align and the Oculus fairy grants my wish, be given the opportunity of giving them money for a Rift.

DCS is actually a system, and you buy individual aircraft modules to fly in it. The majority of the aircraft available are ridiculously detailed, with cockpits where just about every single switch works in the way it should. I own the A-10C Warthog and the P-51D Mustang, as well, and DCS comes with the Su-25 Frogfoot and TF-51 (the unarmed P-51 trainer) for free. The TF-51 is particularly cool because it's a full flight sim complete with the fully clickable cockpit, and it's absolutely free.

Anyway, babbling aside, time for some war stories!

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This is the A-10C Warthog, a US ground attack and Close Air Support aircraft. It carries many exciting weapons including bombs, rockets and maverick anti-armour missiles, but is best known for the GAU-8 Avenger cannon. This is not so much a plane with a gun as a gun with a plane. You'll notice that one of the bombs seems to have come loose, oh noes!

My target here is a small group of trucks and infantry. Some of the infantry have decided they don't want to be hit by a 30mm depleted-uranium shell travelling at 1000m/s. RUN SERGEI.
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Sergei needs new underwear.

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This is the TGP (Targeting Pod) screen. That's Sergei. Say hi Sergei! Sadly Sergei died very shortly after this photo was taken in mysterious circumstances.

My next task is to destroy a bridge that I assume is extremely important to whomever I'm fighting in this made-up conflict. The bridge is guarded by a ZSU-23-4 Shilka, a nasty quad-barreled anti-aircraft gun that can tear me to pieces if I get within range. So it's time to use a Maverick! I can fire those from outside the Shilka's range. He can point his guns at me, but it won't do him any good. Say hi to my Maverick's thermal camera Shilka!
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My next target is a group of tanks. The tanks are guarded by this guy. That's a rack of missiles on the top. He is pointing those at me and my wingman. This guy is a dick. I don't have time to lock a maverick before I get a missile launch warning.

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This is actually my wingman. You can tell because that missile just misses him. Sadly you can see a second missile being launched.

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Yeah, the second one hit him. Here he is opening his parachute!

The dick had 4 missiles. Me:
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Tomorrow, I crash the P-51D!
Last edited by Raid on Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The DCS thread

Postby Jez » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:26 pm

This thread has a lot of win in it.

Will follow.

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Re: The DCS thread

Postby Raid » Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:51 pm

As promised, the mighty P-51 Mustang, Cadillac of the Skies, an American fighter-bomber first flown in 1940. This is the D variant, which introduced a bubble canopy for excellent all-round visibility, and an extra pair of M2 Browning machine guns for a total of 6. It could carry 230kg of bombs, or up to 10 HVAR rockets for ground attacks. Hurray for Wikipedia's specs page! Onto the action!

Two gladiators meet in the skies above Normandy.
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Why it's my nemesis, Oberstleutnant Klaus von Hermann Gunther! I'll never forgive him for the death of my mentor, Bertie Krautdunimin!
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We exchange pleasantries.
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Sorry von Hermann Gunther, but this is one sunset you're not going to ride off into.
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A hit! He's not hurt too badly, but the first point goes to Major Raid!
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Another good hit and I take a chunk of his wing off. Your end nears, Klaus!
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The empty .50cal casings tumble outwards, as I strike another blow for freedom and liberty for all.
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von Hermann Gunther attempts a steep dive to evade me.
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But it isn't enough; I've got the upper hand, the angle, the energy... and the six machine guns! A good hit!
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Flames erupt from the Fw 190. He's done for, the battle is won.
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Bullet holes litter von Hermann Gunther's cockpit glass. The infamous Butcher of Adlertag is no more.
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As a salute to a worthy foe, I follow him towards the ground. He doesn't bail out.
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The Focke-Wulf breaks up as it nears the ground.
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I return to base for tea and cakes.










...err, ok, maybe not. I did promise you a crash.
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As I attempted to pull out of the dive having followed the wreckage down, my, umm, well my wings fell off.
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Some P-51s are built so that the wings don't fall off at all. I imagine a breeze hit it. A breeze hit the plane. In the air? Chance in a million.

I actually hit the ground before my kill did.
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Re: The DCS thread

Postby Jez » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:32 pm

Haha nice one. Real war of attrition there by the creme de la creme of air tomfoolery

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Re: The DCS thread

Postby STuG » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:49 pm

That damage model looks fantastic. One well peppered Hun.

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Re: The DCS thread

Postby Raid » Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:20 pm

Yeah, the damage model looks excellent, although I think that's merely a texture rather than exact placement of bullet damage. The damage simulation is localised, but the model doesn't display exactly the right impact points. I definitely hit Klaus' wing in the spot where there's a chunk missing though.

The desk mounts for my HOTAS arrived after I took those shots, and I took them for a bit of a test drive in a P-51 vs. P-51 dogfight. I think it lasted for more than half an hour - it was epic. I'll go through the replay and take some pretty pictures tonight or tomorrow.

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Re: The DCS thread

Postby Raid » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:07 pm

No proper screenshots yet, but I stuck that flight into a program called Tacview, which records your game and then lets you analyse it in 3D.

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It looks like the work of a deranged rollercoaster tycoon player.

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Raid » Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:28 pm

From last night's epic dogfight:

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It's me in a P-51D versus an AI in a P-51D! I'm in the orange-nosed, Normandy-striped one. The AI appears to be flying one in Soviet Union markings, though I wasn't aware of the USSR flying American hardware.

We start with a number of close passes as we size one another up. This becomes a bit of a theme.
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This shot was taken with me pointing almost straight upwards to get him under my gun pipper. This also becomes a running theme.
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The P-51 had fairly high performance for its time, but that didn't mean it was capable of accelerating straight upwards (I believe the F-15 was the first fighter capable of that). We both stall and enter freefall; I don't have enough airspeed to be able to make course corrections here, so I can't get my guns on him. Had I noticed earlier, I could perhaps have pushed my nose up and used the inertia to put him in my crosshair, but I'm really not that good a pilot yet.
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It's remarkable how frequently we got within spitting distance of one another.
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I'm not as good a pilot as the AI seems to be*, so it takes me longer to recover from a stall, meaning I frequently ended up worryingly close to the ground, leaving him with the odd opportunity to get some hits on me, but he wasn't being overly generous with his ammunition.
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I however was firing off a burst almost every time I got him in my sights.
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I finally get some good hits, and his plane starts leaving a smoke trail of some sort.
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I line up for another pass as he makes another vaguely suicidal run for the upper atmosphere and.... err, why aren't my guns firing? It's at this point that I realise the P-51 seems to have no way of tracking its ammo usage. Yup, I'm all out. I pull up close enough for him to see my fillings, and bug out.
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I figure it'd be nice to actually land this thing properly for a change, so I radio the nearest airfield and ask for a bearing. The P-51's navigational equipment is something I've not covered yet, but there's clearly a compass of sorts, so I use that and fly for about 12 miles as directed by the air traffic controller.
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It takes me a while of circling around, but I do eventually find the runway. I plan on circling for a short while to kill some of my airspeed.
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Oh, right.
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I take some hits as my landing gear is dropping into position. I actually lose the panel that covers the landing gear while it's stowed away.
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I'm still flying way too fast at this point. My flaps are down as far as they'll go, and I'm flaring to try and make sure my front wheels touch the deck first, which should also bleed off some airspeed.
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My first touchdown is as gentle as I could possibly make it, but I still end up bouncing off the runway. I try again, a little harder this time, but still no luck. A third attempt ends the same way, though I doubt I would have had enough runway to come to a stop anyway. I decide to go around and try again, wary that I'm still being targetted by my opponent. I think at this point I did actually try to retract the landing gear, but it didn't work. It was possibly damaged from that earlier attack. I don't increase my throttle too far, as I'm already travelling quickly enough, but I don't want to drop out of the sky.
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This is an... unconventional angle to be approaching a runway from.
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I touch down... just to the side of the actual concrete. Oops.
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I bounce again. Damnit. I try once more and rather overdo my descent. My landing gear collapses and I skid over to the other side of the runway.
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This is fine.
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I hit the fuel shut-off switch and the fire stops (probably unrelated, but I felt I ought to try and do *something* about the fact that I was about to burn to death).
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WHAT THE?!
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Oh, right.
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That.. umm.. that doesn't look safe.
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Yeah. I'm sure that'll buff out.
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So, err, yeah, the AI isn't quite as intelligent as I first thought. This happened in my first dogfight too, and I was once again awarded an air medal for this "kill". It's at this point that I go and read up on DCS' AI, and come away slightly disappointed. See, the AI was programmed for modern aircraft that shoot missiles at each other. They're perfectly capable of aiming a gun at you, but most air to air engagements end with the plane disintegrating after a single missile hit. That means that they don't strictly need to know how to fly when damaged, so they actually don't; their performance doesn't drop despite taking hits, which is why that guy managed to keep fighting despite something in his plane leaking or burning.

It's a bit of a shame, but it didn't really detract from what was a truly exhilarating game. I was pushing my plane beyond its limits, largely because I didn't know where said limits lay. I pulled out of a couple of spins, I saw the whites of my opponent's eyes several times, and it all ended in a spectacular fireball. I know complex simulators like this one aren't everyone's cup of tea, but this was absolutely fecking glorious, and I'd urge anyone with a decent joystick (the likes of which seem to be catching on again due to the resurrection of the space sim genre) to give it a try.

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Jez » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:01 pm

=D> Just woke the missus with my stupid giggling....


"I'm sure that'll buff out" :lol:

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Eny » Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:24 pm

Brilliant!
Everything on the internet is 100% true.

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Raid » Sat Apr 30, 2016 3:04 pm

Just in case anyone fancies tuning in, there's a virtual air show happening this weekend.

https://www.twitch.tv/virtualairshows

Yes, that is a thing. I would be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for a horrific crash caused by one of the pilots lagging.

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Raid » Sun May 01, 2016 11:38 am

The Major isn't going to be happy.

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Raid » Sun May 01, 2016 5:08 pm

Coming soon...*

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*When I work out how to helicopter.

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Jez » Sun May 01, 2016 10:58 pm

No doubt the major helped you buff that right out over tea, stickies and a promotion .

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Re: The DCS thread; Raid's War Stories (image heavy)

Postby Raid » Mon May 02, 2016 9:12 am

It turns out that helicopters are basically impossible to fly without a yaw controller. I think the Ka-50 may have to wait until I've got myself a set of rudder pedals, which is more difficult than it sounds. You basically can't buy them new in the UK, as they're such a niche item that nowhere stocks them. Thrustmaster are set to announce some new products this month, and we know at least one of them is a set of rudder pedals, so hopefully that'll mean I can buy them with money! Money that I don't have! Seriously, when my Oculus Rift order goes through, I'll have spent nearly £1500 on PC stuff this year.

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