My experience with DCS is still fairly shallow compared to the hundreds of hours I’ve put into IL-2 but I’m slowly building up my training repertoire and recent videos showing off what the A-10 and Su-25 can do have made me interested in putting some more time into these CAS/attack aircraft.
Flying the A-10 is like starting at the beginning for me
My first flight sim was Dynamix’s 1989 A-10 Tank Killer on a 386DX computer. The graphics by today’s standards were primitive but all of the critical components were there and I, much younger than I am now, dedicated some serious time to learning how this aircraft worked.
A-10 Tank Killer had only a few scripted missions you could play over and over but for the day it was actually a fairly “realistic” flight sim experience with realistic ordinance loads and weapon types.
Missions ranged from close-air-support to attack to runway denial of operations type missions. Not that any of these mission types should be a surprise for dedicated ‘mud-mover’ sim pilots out there.
Fast forward 29 years and I’m taking to the skies of DCS World with the A-10 yet again. This time with Flaming Cliff’s A-10A. Compared to the more fully featured A-10C, this A-10A is a fair bit easier to learn to use like all Flaming Cliffs 3 aircraft. It still has depth to it and it requires some serious flying skills and knowhow to get the most out of this aircraft.
When you do start to get the hang of it, things get seriously fun as you pilot around a very well armed workhorse capable of flying a lot of different missions. And of course it has the famous GAU-8 ‘Avenger’ cannon which can make short work of armored targets (obligatory ‘BRRRRT’).
My first training mission was in the skies over Nevada taking out some really basic targets marked with different coloured smoke. These are non-active targets so its a great training ground to learn weapons and get to know their use better.
So far, I’m pretty good with the different types of Mavericks. I can queue them up, slew a target, lock them, and fire accurately. It takes me a bit of time but I can definitely do this.
What about the CBU cluster munitions? Yeah, I haven’t quite figured that out yet and both of my drops were ineffective.
Flying a more challenging combat mission
After successfully completing the Nevada Test Range mission I thought to myself, “I can do this. Let’s make things interesting with a combat mission.”
Loading up one of the Caucasus missions that comes with Flaming Cliffs 3, I started in the air defending some friendly ground forces from an enemy ground force probably three times the size and with an even greater mismatch in firepower.
I did manage to take out that pesky ZSU-23 “Shilka” with the first attempt but everything after that went badly.
In my two attempts at the mission, a Mi-24 Hind gunner got me during a head-on pass and in another brutal learning experience, I was shot down by the gunner on what I think was a BMP-1.
The thing about flight sims is that you’re always learning. There are new aircraft, new tactics and techniques, new challenges posed by the enemy, and lots of things that will end your mission really quickly.
This is all part of the hobby and why I keep coming back. If it was easy, then I’d have mastered this years ago. Instead, I’m just diving headlong into different aircraft and learning them as I go. It seems to work for me and I’m excited by new challenges as they come and it can all be fun so long as I don’t try and expect to be an expert on day one.
It gets easier!