I’m not sure if you folks are sick of it yet but DCS: F-14 by Heatblur has plenty of new material coming out on an nearly daily basis. We’ve got another early access video from MagzTV out now that comes on the heels of the one from Jabbers just a few days ago. The reactions to the way that the F-14 flies are very different between these two videos and I want to talk about that. Plus, we have a great first entry in the F-14 history series from Woona that is spectacular.
Two videos and differing opinions
The F-14 has an incredible reputation as a stellar fleet defense fighter turned multi-role powerhouse in its later years of service. It also has a reputation for having some tricky handling traits that sometimes lead to loss of aircraft – and of life.
In recreating the F-14 Tomcat, Heatblur has repeatedly stated that they wanted to create the most realistic simulation possible and in doing so they appear to have wanted to tackle the F-14s sometimes challenging handling traits. Loss of thrust to an engine can quickly lead to a departure from controlled flight and a flat spin. This is a situation that, if happening beneath 10,000 feet, can be extremely dire for aircraft and crew.
Less dramatic is the F-14s more basic handling traits. Although not designed with a fly-by-wire system, it was designed to handle well and tackle high angle of attack situations and rapid turn rates (even at Mach speeds) that bested many other fighters of the previous generation and even some within its own generation.
Interestingly, we have two YouTubers flying Heatblur’s DCS: F-14 and they are telling us two different stories. Let’s have a look at the videos first.
You’ve already seen me report about Jabber’s in-depth video before, however, lets have a look at it again. Jabbers starts talking about the flight characteristics at 9:06.
The video I haven’t yet reported on is MagzTV’s new video talking about the DCS: F-14. This 26 minute first impression video covers a little of everything just like Jabbers. Magz starts talking about the flight characteristics fairly early on but by minute 6 he’s talking about nosing the aircraft over after stalling at high altitude.
Here’s where it gets interesting
Jabbers and Magz are both experienced sim pilots and both have covered plenty of DCS World modules before. Rafli is another YouTuber who has contributed some comments about the F-14 in recent days.
Magz video goes in-depth about how surprised he was at how easy flying the F-14 was and how few bad habits it really does have. He shows off a couple of stall situations and talks about how straightforward it is to pull out out of tricky situations. Jabbers suggests more difficult control situations. So why the difference between each of these experienced virtual pilots?
A contributor on the DCS World forum has made a very good point about this difference of opinion. Blacklion213 writes,
Magz was approaching handling from a more general perspective and much of what he was comparing to are WWII warbirds in terms of stability. Compared to a platform like that, the F-14 is very stable and will not drop a wing or develop any sudden uncommanded movements as you push to very high AOA.Blacklion213
I think this debate of experience is a fascinating look at what is shaping up to being a very thorough and probably the deepest simulation of a F-14 commercially available anywhere. That depth comes with a variety of experiences and the potential for endless debates on how to fly the F-14.
Being a little more analog, a little more visceral, and a bit more of a beast comes with plenty of charm and lots of opportunities for virtual pilots to become one with their mount. As challenging or as easy as the DCS: F-14 may eventually be in our hands, it sounds like we’ll have plenty of time to debate how easy or hard it is to fly this jet.
Perspective, as they say, is everything and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this jet.
A video on the history of the F-14
Woona’s periodic videos covering the history of the aircraft being simulated in DCS World are excellent pieces of documentary film-making (without some of the film) and this first chapter is no different. If you have 13-minutes, check out his history and learn a bit about the history of the F-14.