If you haven’t heard, DCS World has a new aircraft carrier in the form of the USS Forrestal. This carrier is the first CATOBAR style carrier in DCS World that hasn’t originated from first part developer Eagle Dynamics and was instead developed by third party developer Heatblur as part of the DCS: F-14 development. Let’s have a look at the newest addition to the fleet and what it might offer us!
A bit of history
I love to examine the history and the USS Forrestal is definitely a carrier with some history. CV-59 was the first class of carrier to be called a ‘supercarrier’ and was first commissioned in October of 1955. The Forestall was the first carrier to be constructed with an angled deck, steam catapults and a optical landing system. Carriers before were retrofitted with these design features later.
The Forrestal made several notable mentions in history. In November of 1963, a C-130 transport aircraft was landed on the deck during a test that involved 21-full stop landings. In a more sobering historical account, a malfunctioning Zuni rocket misfired and caused a series of explosions an fires that would burn on the carrier for hours killing 134 and injuring another 161. The Forrestal would have several high profile fires onboard during its history and the carrier earned the dubious nicknames of “USS Zippo” and “USS Forest Fire.”
USS Forestall spent five months during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm maintaining combat readiness. The ship was ultimately deployed not long after the cessation of hostilities.
A smaller supercarrier
As mentioned in the historical section, the USS Forestall is a first generation supercarrier type and while for the time the carrier was amongst the biggest in the world, it’s smaller than the Nimitz-class that we’re used to see in DCS World. That smaller deck size means operations are just a bit more cramped which you may see as a good and exciting challenge or a bit of a problem depending on how multiplayer servers end up using the ship.
What the ship does lack is the DCS: Supercarrier features. Forestall doesn’t have animated deck crew that wave you onto the catapults and offer that extra layer of immersion. Heatblur for their part have said that they would be interested in pursuing that eventually but we’ll have to see how that transpires. For now, Forestall is more like the default USS John C. Stennis.
That disappointment aside, the Forestall is a beautifully rendered ship with extremely high levels of detail with stunning texture work and 3D modeling. Check out these detail shots of the carrier’s various components. It’s impressive work and the kind of thing that we’ve come to expect from Heatblur.
The only thing I was surprised at was just how dark the deck is compared to the other carriers we’ve seen in DCS World. Photos seem to reveal that it was indeed a dark colour so maybe this is just how it was.
Ship operations all seem to work as they should. Pull up to the catapult, press the U key, and you’ll be connected to the catapult and ready for takeoff. Steam comes off of the catapults as they are operated and simple but beautiful animations accompany the arrestor wires as they retract back in place after catching an aircraft.
The type does have Sea Sparrow and CWIS point defense systems active and it does have night lighting.
Also included with the carrier are four support vehicles that can be placed on the carrier deck. As far as I know, they don’t move, but they do look very impressive and immersive next to a deck full of aircraft.
Current and future use
With a long history of use, USS Forrestal is going to be an essential addition to the DCS World carrier fleet. Currently, the carrier can make use of the two popular carrier borne aircraft – Heatblur’s F-14A/B and Eagle Dynamics F/A-18C Hornet. It can also serve as home to the popular A-4 Skyhawk modification and there are several other aircraft coming including the F-8J Crusader, A-7 Corsair II, and Heatblur’s A-6 Intruder which will all find a historically accurate home here.
The carrier is also free to all DCS World owners so that will make it a popular choice perhaps above the default John C. Stennis.
The carrier has 12 parking spots and 4 catapult stations so it should usefully add to any server that wants to include it as part of their carrier fleet.
I don’t think I’ve left too much out here. Heatblur has met expectations by making a beautiful carrier available for everyone to use and done both themselves and some of their contemporaries a favour with the well executed nature of the project. It should be great fun (and challenge) to fly from this carrier using the F-14, F/A-18, A-6 and other future types that will very much look at home here.
Well done Heatblur!