First impressions of the DCS: F-5E

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.

Combat ready

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.

Final thoughts

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.

Screenshots

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Jp says:

    Ive always loved flying the F-5. It really does teach you how to fly properly

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blue 5 says:

    Agree with your review. Only thing lacking is the radar, whcih is not very good and a little tricky to use versus something like the Hornet. Northrop was the design house behind both it and the F-5 (not just involved – they made both) so the overlap is understandable.

    I had some fun online practice fights in it below the hilltops in the Caucasus.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. VK-94 says:

    This plane is truly fantastic and I never had any regrets for buying it. The latest news from the AMA given by Wags to Mudspike is Indeed very interesting and I hope that like the Ka-50 they will offer a free upgrade and a paid upgrade for a hypothetic F-5N.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 79vRAF says:

    I’ve always enjoyed the F-5, and had it been about when I started in DCS I would’ve gone for it over the Mirage 2000 as a starter aircraft. It’s simple and effective.

    I just wish the F-20 had made it into production so we could try that out too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vorenus81 says:

    The only drawback is that there are no story driven, single player campaigns released for this aircraft. AFM and AFM are a bit to boring (and may be off-putting for beginners due to the difficulty level).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That is a downside. I hadn’t gotten to missions or campaigns yet so not something I had checked into.

      The plane itself is great for beginners. A campaign to match that audience would be a good idea!

      Like

  6. Eviscerador says:

    It is quite a fun aircraft to fly. It is a pity there aren’t many campaigns or missions with proper era oponents, but I hope they will add more and more cold war era stuff. Fighting in a modern AAA environment with this plane is almost suicidal.

    Good thing is that with this plane you will learn to truly fly an aircraft instead of letting the computer fly it for you.

    Forget GPS or even inertial navigation and embrace ADF and TACAN.

    Forget doppler radar, forget FBW and forget neverending thrust and embrace corner speed, energy conservation and pure WVR combat.

    Forget easy CCIP A/G modes and embrace the dive angles, depression mils and speed sheets.

    Just fly by guts and have fun!

    Btw the YF-17 which would eventually develop into the F/A-18 we all love was essentially an upgraded F5E, so the F5 is the grand dad of the hornet.

    If you are a star wars fan, think Z-95 headhunter and X-wing 🙂

    Like

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