The DCS World Autumn Sale is on and I was intent on picking up a new aircraft for my DCS World hangar. This time I decided it was time to get the DCS: F-5E Tiger II and after a very quick process I was now the owner of a 50% off F-5! I’ve had some time to train with it and that means it’s time for some first impressions!
Simple fun flying
Looking back at my purchase history and after having spent some time experiencing the F-5 over the last two days, I have to say that if I were to go back and buy modules again I would probably start my DCS World full fidelity module buying with the F-5E.
This aircraft is a teacher having excellent handling in most regimes of flight but without any fly-by-wire aids that might make you develop bad habits. Taking off and landing the F-5E are relatively straight forward affairs and flying the jet is easy so long as you keep it trimmed out properly. Flying the approach speed and getting the angle right in the F-5E is very rewarding, however, let that sink rate creep up too much and it will punish you.
In the air, the F-5E is actually a decent performer with a top speed of Mach 1.63 at 36,000 feet. The F-5 is a nimble performer with a good roll rate is is able to change directions fairly quickly thanks to it. However, a high alpha turn fighter it is not and it will bleed speed quickly in tight turns so those are best avoided or you’ll hear the stall warning go off in no time.
The two engines are capable of 7,000lbs of thrust dry and 10,000lbs of thrust in afterburner – compared to the F/A-18C with 22,000lbs dry and 35,500lbs in afterburner, it’s not much. Then again, the F-5E is a lightweight fighter that weighs around 1/3rd gross weight as the Hornet.
Overall I like flying the F-5… it’s quite a lot of fun!
Easy to train on too
Getting up and flying with the F-5 is relatively simple and the systems, controls and dials are all logically laid out and it shares a lot with aircraft like the Hornet (no surprise seeing as Northrup was involved with the YF-17 design). But it also doesn’t feel too alien coming from the F-16, AV-8B or A-10 either. There’s a certain style of design that US aircraft tend to follow and the F-5E is just a simpler less complex version of those other fighters.
Not only is the F-5 easy to fly but it’s also easy to train on as well. I’ve run through the included training missions quickly in this jet and watched a few tutorials on YouTube and read parts of Chuck’s Guide to get started.
The F-5 does have the ability to carry the Paveway laser guided bomb and I haven’t done that training yet but when it comes to flying it, landing, basic operations, guns, rockets, AIM-9’s and bombs the F-5 is relatively easy.
At the same time the F-5 offers a deep simulation experience. Every bit as deep as any other module that we’ve seen come from Belsimtek/Eagle Dynamics, the F-5 accurately models systems, has a clickable cockpit, and it trains you on concepts that apply to other aircraft too.
The thing that the F-5 has over a module that is used explicitly as a trainer is that it is also an aircraft with combat capability. The F-5 is a favourite of many Cold War oriented servers with the jet facing off frequently against the MiG-21bis using its combination of speed, roll rate, and short turns to secure a kill against opponents. The F-5 also has a relatively modern RWR giving it a vast advantage against the MiG-21’s system.
The F-5 has a decent amount of combat punch with default 20mm cannons, AIM-9 and GAR-8 (early variant of the Siderwinder) missiles available plus the aforementioned Paveway LGB’s, unguided rockets and bombs.
The F-5E is not a new module for DCS World. In fact, the release trailer for the DCS: F-5E came out in November of 2016 showing off a pre-DCS World 2.5 version of Nevada. The DCS World sim has come a long way in 3-years but has the F-5 kept up? Well… sort of.
From what I can tell, Belsimtek (now reabsorbed into Eagle Dynamics) has ensured that the F-5 would work just fine in DCS World even on the latest version. In my training I didn’t run into any issues with operating the jet, clicking the buttons, or operating the systems. The cockpit actually looks pretty good and all of the flood lights, backlit gauges, needles and dials all work the way they are supposed to. That hasn’t been the case on some other modules.
On the exterior, the 3D model of the F-5E looks good and it has plenty of details of the animated, textured, and modeled varieties. To that point, flaps, vents, landing gear and other elements are modeled with excellent detail and the pop-up gas deflectors for the 20mm cannon are also a really cool touch for this plane.
While model details are really good, the textures are a step behind other aircraft that we see in the series. The cockpit looks better than the exterior and, as I mentioned earlier, has all of the lights, dials, and systems working just fine under the most recent version of 2.5. Other elements of the aircraft, particularly on the exterior, are roughly equivalent to what I see on the Su-25A and T, and the F-5E seems to lack an extra few layers of texturing to give it that real world appearance that we see from more recent aircraft in DCS World.
Fortunately, the F-5 has just recently been mentioned in the AMA that Mudspike ran with Matt Wagner as a plane that they’d like to revisit. I hope that they do because an upgrade here would absolutely be worth it.
My first impressions of the F-5 in DCS World are of a module that shows a few signs of age but that has kept up reasonably well. It’s a great aircraft to get to know, to train in, and to have fun with and I’m looking forward to putting in some more time with this jet.