The headline is a mouthful but I think it only makes sense to do a mini-review of both of these aircraft for DCS World because it should be relatively obvious that these two aircraft are designed from the get-go to compliment each other. So let’s talk about the famous F-86 Sabre, the MiG-15bis and why I think it’d be great if DCS World goes all-in on a future Korean War scenario.
Streaking into the skies with the F-86 Sabre
Just like the Mustang before it, the Sabre is a jet with a mystique and a reputation behind it and while it doesn’t quite occupy the same kind of general public imagination, ask anyone who is an aviation fan and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.
The F-86 is the jet that carried the USAF and many allied nations truly into the jet age and it’s combat performance over Korea was regarded as exemplary. With an impressive combat record and a good reputation, I was pretty eager to hop into the cockpit of this jet and try it out. Although the free trial only afforded 48-hours and although I was strapped to get more than a couple of hours out of it at the most, what I did see caused me to fall in love with this jet and this module in DCS World.
The clincher was somewhere between the testing the aircraft out in rocket attacks in a practice mission and flying a short multiplayer mission with one of the people I fly regularly with.
The F-86 is a joy to fly with acceleration of a jet fitting its era and handling that is very very interesting. At speeds below Mach 0.8 the Sabre is predictable and handles extremely well with an easy to manage turn and very good roll rate. I’d even call the Sabre relatively agile when not fitted with tanks or rockets. Even when fitted it still feels good. Flying along in the jet just feels great with a slight hint of lateral instability.
Get closer to Mach 0.9 and things start to get a little wonky. Suddenly the ailerons don’t want to behave giving very little or a lot of roll all at once and the aircraft starts to shudder. From a pilot perspective, I’m sure that’s a bit disconcerting but from a sim perspective it makes this aircraft feel alive!
At the end of the day, flying the F-86 in DCS World feels like that halfway point between the later jets and the WWII warbirds which is so befitting of an aircraft of its era.
Enter the MiG-15bis
Although there was quite a bit more going on during the Korean War than just the F-86 Sabre and the MiG-15 fighting it out, the imagination definitely springs to these two old foes first and so it’s kind of a treat in DCS World to be able to fly both of these aircraft.
The MiG-15bis is an improved and refined version of the earlier MiG-15 and an aircraft and airframe that has its own legendary status. Developed from the straight winged MiG-9, the MiG-15 was a proven design that served as the basis for the follow on MiG-17 with the basic configuration continuing on through the MiG-19 as well as a whole host of Chinese derived licensed and unlicensed aircraft later on.
Although superficially similar looking, I found the MiG-15bis to be very much its own aircraft versus the F-86. My familiarity with the MiG-19 made flying the MiG-15 fairly easy to do with many of the same concepts in place in this jet as well. The MiG-15 is also very interesting because unlike the F-86, it tends to behave itself much more readily at near Mach 1.0 airspeeds although it certainly stiffens up on the controls.
While the F-86 was fairly easy to handle in pitched dogfights, the MiG-15 required a heavy reliance on precise rudder control to prevent the aircraft from stalling and flicking out of some of the tightest of turns. Getting maximum turn performance out of this jet is substantially harder than in the Sabre. Fast high speed passes are more this aircraft’s bread and butter.
A Korean Air war simulation is overdue
The Korean war has never captured the attention of simulation or gamers or even the public at large but when it comes to flight simulation – I think there is a legitimately missed opportunity here and that really came clear to me in my brief time with these two aircraft.
With documentation surely available for a wide variety of Korean war era aircraft and with a scale and scope of a battle that could be at least partially condensed into a DCS World map, I feel like these two aircraft are the springboard for something that could be so much greater.
While WWII in DCS World is really coming together now after many years of development, I almost feel like DCS World’s strengths in jet combat are best served with the Korean conflict. A proper 1950-53 Korean map, and a small collection of flyable and AI aircraft including the Tu-2, B-29, IL-10, La-9 or La-11, F-80, Meteor, and others could all contribute to a very interesting campaign and capture the attention of people who have been long asking to see this air battle done.
With aircraft like the P-51D turned F-51D for Korea already available and a F4U-1D shoehorned into the Korean conflict, there is lots to draw on already.
Eagle Dynamics and DCS World has always been less about creating thematic collections and instead opening the door to a wide variety of air combat possibilities so this expansion of content for this scenario is unlikely to happen but I feel that’s a bit of a shame. These two modules for DCS World may be a few years old and not quite as detailed as some of the latest types but they are both still brilliant aircraft simulations that deserve a chance to shine more than they do.