Flight Journal: Learning more about helicopters in the DCS: Ka-50

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.

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Ken-Dagfinn Rian says:

    I feel you on the intimidation factor of helicopters in flight sim. I’m a 9000hr helicopter pilot in real life, having flown commercially for 20 years. I’m still intimidated by sim helicopters and find them very difficult to fly. I’m sorely tempted by the Hind tho…

    Ken

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Urgent Siesta says:

      That’s incredibly interesting (and a relief!): I was always wondering if they were as difficult to fly IRL as they are in-sim! I think the DCS Warbirds may be somewhat similar in that regard…

      In all, though, they’re a satisfying challenge 🙂

      The SAS & co-ax rotor on BS makes it quite easy to control (relatively!). Give it a try – almost guaranteed to please!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. harryvoyager says:

      Are you flying conventionally or in VR? I’ve heard VR is a big difference in helos. But it is pricy and complicated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ken-Dagfinn Rian says:

        I haven’t tried helicopters for years, other than a Hind in Warthunder. I find that I miss the peripheral vision, and seat of the pants feeling, that comes with the real thing. I end up all over the place. It might actually be easier without the negative transfer from real-world flying…at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        That’s really interesting and thanks for sharing that. I do often wonder about how much more difficult sim piloting is because we are missing some of the unique properties that are hard to simulate (the sense of motion, the peripheral view, etc.).

        Like

  2. CanadaOne says:

    Beauty! I’m so enamoured with the Ka-50 FM I’m still on the fence regarding the Hind. Just not sure I can go back to a convectional FM after learning the auto-pilot for the Ka. Did you notice it comes with a Canadian skin? I thought that was a nice touch and it was the final little push required to get me to buy it.

    My favourite loadout is 4x the big rocket pods, BL3s I think. Gives you 20 rounds of artillery, fast and heavy. And of the Kh-25s are also good fun. Really looking forward to the BS3.

    Like

  3. BlueHeron says:

    If you’ve already learned to operate the Warthog or Hornet then the Ka-50 is a cake walk by comparison. My biggest difficulty was learning to adapt to the “sniper” role you mentioned. Coming from WWII fighter planes, you need a complete shift in attitude from head-on guns blazing to a quiet dagger in the shadows. I can’t wait to revisit this module in Pandemic after more than a decade!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Osskozzot says:

    Same here on the intimidation effect, I started playing DCS with the Huey. Was not really a rocket fan… The “sniper” role of the KA-50 with the Vikhr pushed me to learn that wonderful machine. I’m leaning toward the Apache more than the HIND as the Apache is similar (i think) to the KA-50 as a sniper role and the Hind more of a run and gun rocket dispensing machine! But all these modules (hind & apache) goes out the window when the Black Shark 3 comes out though!!

    Like

    1. Urgent Siesta says:

      Hind is really a rotary wing APC 😉

      Whereas Black Shark was developed in direct response to Apache, so you’re right that they have similar tactics/roles.

      Sadly, the BS 3 upgrade isn’t going to be all that substantive other than the significant advantage of adding Fox 2’s, so I foresee a huge drop in it’s post-Apache popularity. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Osskozzot says:

        The big selling factor for the Black Shark over the Apache and Hind is that its a single seat, I don’t need to rely on another pilot (AI or Player) I mostly play solo has none of my friends are into flight sims… I do not own airplane module like the F-14 (beside the A-10 and having a hard learning all the systems) to see how’s the AI. Black Shark 3 cant come soon enough for me, Fox 2, a RWR and an updated airframe is enough to please me.
        Don’t get me wrong though, I pre-ordered the Hind and will do so when the Apache be available, its just that the BS will be my go to.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        The single seat is a big draw for sure. That’ll help to create some differentiation between it and the AH-64.

        Like

  5. Urgent Siesta says:

    Congrats – you will probably kick yourself for waiting so long (just as I did!).

    Great helo, definitely my 2nd favorite module of all, after Hornet. And that includes other sims, as well 😉

    The Abris+Pvi is absolutely one of the best FMS’ in the game (actually, i’ll go ahead and say, “The Best”). Properly programmed, the aircraft will fly the mission for you and all you have to do is take off, man the weps, and land. Try THAT in your fancy pants A-10C!

    I know everyone’s lusting after the Apache D, but if you compare our BS to it’s contemporary Apache A, you’ll see how evenly matched they were for their time.

    The one major limiting factor of our BS is the utter lack of night/thermal targeting, which the Apache A did have. Other than that, it’s absolutely fabulous as-is 🙂

    Funny thing is that I’m sure that even after DCS Apache launches I will still come back to Black Shark regularly – much as I do with Tomcat & Hornet.
    (not to mention we’re gonna have Fox 2’s on Black Shark!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Oh I am kicking myself for sure. I’m pretty excited about the Black Shark 3 update.

      Like

  6. Mike says:

    Learning thr huey and ots not exactly like I expected. Figured the thing could manage lift with engine rpm or some such thing and gently bleed it off and gradually land, but in practice its half forward momentum and half engine/collective managment. At a certain point if you have no forward momentum and you lower power too much you don’t gently descend you just sort of fall out of the sky…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That VRS is a killer. It’s particular bad in the Mi-8.

      Like

      1. BlueHeron says:

        Like getting sucked down a drain!

        Like

  7. CanadaOne says:

    Sorry to go OT, but have you seen the youtube place holder video for Matt Wagner for 9am Friday 06/13.

    “Free to play program”, what is that? Another free trial?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I just posted on that. Its likely just some marketing but we’ll see.

      Like

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