I put off learning to fly the DCS: Ka-50 for myself because I was intimidated by helicopters and I was intimidated by the systems in the Ka-50 and how difficult it may be to learn some of them. Turns out, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had made it in my mind and so this story is both one about what I’m doing as well as one encouraging interested pilots to get in there and try it for yourself.
Taking on the Black Shark
There’s no denying it, the Ka-50 is a bit of a complicated aircraft but it’s one that when you compare it to other complex aircraft in DCS World, isn’t really all that different. Sure it has some quirks of its own but after about 4 hours of flying the Ka-50, I’m already prepared to declare this my new favourite helicopter.
Let me take you through some of my process to learn this helicopter.
First, I wanted to watch someone else fly the helicopter in the way that it was meant to be flown. In this case, on a combat operation on the Syria map. What’s it like to fly operationally and how is it employed? I like to get a sense of what it can do before getting into the more academic materials.
Next up, JanesPlanesAndTrains has a recently created tutorial series on the DCS: Ka-50 that covers all of the basics to get you up and flying. I learned quite a bit from watching some of this series.
Getting to grips
Next, it was time to get to grips with the helicopter myself and so I loaded it up into DCS World along with another couple of helicopter pilots and I started to learn the quirks of flying it. Together with friends and with the Chuck’s Guide for DCS: Ka-50 by my side, I was able to get myself up and flying in no time.
For the flying piece, I hopped onto Hoggit’s Training server set on the Georgia map and got started. I was also able to land the Ka-50 very quickly too! That’s huge for me as I’ve struggled to land the Mi-8 and UH-1 previously. I am getting better at both of them but the Ka-50 was a revelation being both more nimble and yet also easier to manage thanks to its stability augmentation system. Some have struggled with it but it seems to work well for me!
After that, I setup my own training mission and started learning how to use the Shkval targeting system as well as the 30mm Shipunov 2A42 cannon and the 9K121 Vikhr anti-tank missiles. And again thanks to the guides above, I was able to setup and operate these systems within about an hour. It’s actually not nearly as complex as I thought with a few switch throws, a few keys bound, and some slewing on to target and away I went firing 30mm cannon rounds with accuracy and planting Vikhr anti-tank missiles with laser accuracy.
It’s been a fun experience so far and I’m really enjoying learning this helicopter, perhaps more-so than any of the others I’ve tackled to date. I love the Ka-50’s sniper like role on the battlefield with its ability to take position and using precision weapons to hit targets at 8-9 kilometer ranges. Very interesting to operate and I will be doing more missions with this and learning more systems.
More to come as I learn this helicopter.