The Flare Path: While My Balalaika Gently Beeps

By Tim Stone on June 8th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

In an effort to weed-out oiks, riff-raff, rotters, fakes, frauds, bounders, curs and cads from Flare Path’s readership, from this week onwards only individuals able to answer ‘yes’ to one of the following questions – Do you rush outside and start scanning the sky on hearing an unusually throaty aero engine? Is your contentment reservoir refilled by the whistling of distant trains? Have you named your children after obscure WW2 Royal Navy minesweepers? Does your ‘If I Ever Won The Lottery’ list begin 1) Quit job. 2) Buy vast rural estate. 3) Purchase Panther tank? – will be able to see the ‘Read the rest of this entry’ link lurking under intros like this one.

 

The Eagle Has Landed

Splendid. Plainly you are ‘one of us’ and being ‘one of us’ will be excited at the prospect of Digital Combat Simulator: Combined Arms. Realising that some potential punters don’t have the patience, time or aptitude to decipher avionic Rosetta Stones like the A-10C and Ka-50 Black Shark but nonetheless crave the company of such rigorously modelled machines, Eagle Dynamics are about to add a dash of low-complexity RTSing and tank simulation to DCS:World.


In the pre-orderable Combined Arms, mudmoving and furballing can be left in the hands of live or AI pilots. While the Paveways plummet and the Sidewinders seek, those with less lofty ambitions can sit on hilltops or in ops tents tasking air assets, calling in artillery strikes, and directing the crucial movement of AFVs and infantry. Better still they can hot-desk their way around their scurrying formations of MBTs, APCs, IFVs, and SPAAGs personally traversing turrets and squeezing triggers.


Sim and wargame working together in seamless symbiosis? It sounds marvellous. Even if tanks aren’t modelled to Steel Beasts Pro PE standards (which they won’t be) and landscapes end-up looking a little barren compared to Arma equivalents (almost inevitable considering the current state of the DCS Georgian scenery) the opportunity to both orchestrate and participate in plausible modern battles comes along so rarely, overlooking such shortcomings should be relatively easy.

 

Sleeping With The Fishes

If all goes according to plan, by the end of the year Combined Arms JTACs should be able to commission commotion from friends in finely fashioned Fishbeds. In a step almost as bold as the strategy injection, Eagle Dynamics have recently announced their first 3rd-party add-on – a MiG-21Bis.

Despite the fact these elegant machines provided the backbone of Warsaw Pact fighter cover for more than a quarter of a century and served with countless Third World airforces, they’ve been largely ignored by the makers of high-fidelity combat flight fare. No-one, until Hungarian Laszlo ‘Beczl’ Becz came along, has ever dared to deep-model their instruments, radars, engines, navigation and weapons systems.

As Cat’s characteristically surgical SimHQ interview reveals, Beczl is no fly-by-night. His passion for and knowledge of all-things-Fishbed is plain to see and should mean those of us that experience a little stomach-flutter on seeing a screenshot of a turquoise, Cyrillic-peppered panel are in for a rare treat.

 

The Manchurian Candidate

Graviteam haven’t quite got around to melding their interests in WW2 tank simulation and WW2 strategy, though on the evidence of the bi-genred Blaze of War, it’s surely only a matter of time. Never ones to kowtow to convention or travel on crowded highways, the Ukrainian studio is currently bolting together an Achtung Panzer: Operation Star sequel with a decidedly exotic setting.

In the summer of 1939, while storm clouds gathered over Western Europe, 5,000 miles to the east a conflict over a remarkably unremarkable stretch of the Mongolia-China border was busy claiming the lives of around 50,000 men. The Battles of Khalkhin Gol were the bloody culmination of an undeclared border barney between Japan and USSR and promise to make Achtung Panzer: Nomonhan a quirky customer.

With no Panzers, Stukas, and – going by photos of the area – precious few trees, APN should feel very different to previous AP outings. Though skirmishes will still be sparked by a peerless operational meta-game, veterans will need to get their heads round the capabilities of a plethora of new unit types. Do I-Gos pose a threat to Betki? What’s the best way to employ Type 94 tankettes? Should I worry about the AT capabilities of IJA infantry… there are numerous tactical questions that only first-hand experience of the series’ famously realistic ballistics, and delightfully unpredictable AI will answer.

A couple of powerful patches silenced many of my Operation Star gripes but I’m still hoping for a few mechanical improvements in the coming instalment. Warier AI tanks and a simple suppressive fire command would top my list of hoped-for enhancements.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

When the Burgundian Sulphur Owls have been fed and watered, and the hazard lamps hoisted to the tops of all sixteen Dew Towers, FP likes nothing better than settling down for a cosy evening of Arma editor tomfoolery. This week he’s been tomfooling around with the Iron Front battle builder. He’s rather proud of his latest batch of ‘attachTo’ abominations, but is struggling to come up with suitable names for them. Maybe you can help. Five ferrous-fronted FP flair points for the five best suggestions.

Last week’s Tintin-focussed foxer foxed for barely an hour. Flair points fashioned from the shells of blue blistering barnacles go to Hydrogene, Thany, Stranglove, Spinoza and BooleanBob who, between them, correctly identified…

a) The de Havilland Tiger Moth calamitously commandeered by Thomson and Thompson in The Black Island.
b) The Savoia-Marchetti S.73 that carried Tintin and his employer from Frankfurt to Prague in King Ottokar’s Sceptre.
c) The Bordurian Bf-109 that met a fiery end in King Ottokar’s Sceptre.
d) One of the de Havilland Mosquitos operated by the Khemedi airforce in The Red Sea Sharks.
e) The jungle-scouring Mil Mi-1 that glimpsed a concussed Captain Haddock in Tintin and the Picaros.
f) The Spitfire that leaflet-bombed Sheik Bab El Ehr’s camp in Land of Black Gold.
g) Probably the toughest of the lot. The V-tailed Beechcraft Bonanza used by the kidnappers in The Calculus Affair.
h) The 707 that appeared in Santaero colours in Tintin and the Picaros.

If you’re a fan of aviation and Tintin, be sure to check out this modeller’s 1/72nd-scale handiwork and peruse the little-known images in this forum thread.

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49 Comments »

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  1. The Tupper says:

    I’ve never viewed an inability to read an online article as a barrier to comment.

  2. tgoat says:

    yes, yes, no, yes

  3. Sartoris says:

    Yes, yes, no, yes. Though in the last question I would replace Panther tank with a Type VIIC U-Boot.

    • CPTblackadder says:

      Well why not just go for both on a massive coastal estate, and hire 100 people just to fill in. Maybe have them dress up 18th century style and do some military matching, the possibilities are endless.

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      Buy the Laboe Naval Memorial. Comes with a nice view.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Fede says:

    At first only the intro was visible, so jokingly I added “yes” at the end of the url, and RPS answered with this: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/03/07/yes-crysis-2-multiplayer-progression-trailers/

    So I logged in to comment and behold, the full article appeared.

  5. TV-PressPass says:

    Over in Canada we actually had a thing called the Chicken Cannon.

  6. frenz0rz says:

    Yes to all!

    Well ok, maybe not question 3 since I dont have kids, but my sister shares her name with a WW2 Royal Navy minsweeper that my grandfather served on. Points for guessing which one!

    • westyfield says:

      I’m gonna guess it was… your maternal grandfather.

      • frenz0rz says:

        I actually meant the ship, but you’re wrong anyway :P

        It was the HMS Catherine by the way, a Catherine (Auk) class minesweeper.

  7. Kamikaze-X says:

    If I Ever Won The Lottery’ list begins 1) Quit job. 2) Buy vast rural estate. 3) Purchase Panther tank

    replace ‘Panther’ with M10 Wolverine and that statement applies to me.

    BIG TIME.

  8. Caleb367 says:

    c) looks like something the Soviets would have built for real, if they had an Ork Big Mek over in an exchange program. Therefore, I name it the Il-66 Krautkilla.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Llewyn says:

    Well, Mr Path, it seems you’ve discovered my dirty secrets. I must insist that you on no account tell Mrs Llewyn about the children.

  10. Nikelspank says:

    A – Shilkampfwagen
    B – StuG III (oh come on)
    C – Wings Over Loaded
    D – A Bridge Too Fiery
    E – Cöckerelstiger

  11. Nick says:

    Stug IX?

  12. Premium User Badge

    JB says:

    A is clearly a Kubelflakken.

    And B is the patented Stack o’ StuGs.

  13. Electricfox says:

    I don’t have kids so N/A but the rest…well…yes. Especially the Panther…mmmm…Panther…Algerine sounds like a nice name for a girl though…

    Interesting choice for an Achtung Panzer, not exactly tank territory, but the proving ground of a certain Zhukov so it’s got potential.

    Looking forward to the Fishbed, and also the recently announced Eurofighter and BAe Hawk :D I still think that a Harrier would make a fine project for the next DCS plug-in though, it’s got VSTOL, multi-role, single seat, ground, air and naval missions (DCS Falklands? That reminds me, whatever happened to Jet Thunder? Hopefully still plodding along) and, the chaps at DCS could gain access to one for research purposes fairly easily, certainly more easily than the Raptor or Eurofighter.

    Now, the Foxer, oh lord, attach-to…reminds me of the Battle-bus:

    A) Flakwaffekubelpanzerabsprung
    B) ScheiBegeschutz
    C) Pestka
    D) …no, I’ve got nothing XD
    E) Kluck-Tiger

    Not my finest…I’ll add more if I think of more…

  14. Skabooga says:

    Tank combat set in the desert steppes of Central Asia? That should be interesting, what with the lack of woody flora to provide screens and wide open expanses making it harder to move unseen.

    Might I humbly suggest that image B be called the “Xzhibit Tank”.

  15. Elmar Bijlsma says:

    A) Kubelkanonenwagen auf selbstfart lafette Skfzwtfomg typ 82 ausführung D
    B) StuG IIIIIIIII Ausf GGG
    C) Petlyakov PewPew (suck on ZiS, Hans-Ulrich!)
    D) M2a6 Anti-Hessler Thrower ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxxmj–xkqY
    One of the worst Hollywood war scenes ever. Was WW2 not exciting enough?!)

  16. formivore says:

    “While My Balalaika Gently Beeps”
    (applauds)

  17. pepper says:

    I answered yes to all the questions, except for that fact that I dont have kids nor plan on having any and thus cannot name them after obscure ships. I suppose that isnt a problem? Oh, and I prefer the T34-85 over the Pzkpfw V Panther(Presuming we are talking about the 1940’s Germanic version).

    I let out a little scream after reading the combined arms bit from DCS, am I alone in this?

    Also:

    A Nefarious KubelFLugzeugAbwerhKanon(KFLAK) of DOOM.
    B Menage Au Trois for Stugs.
    C PE-2 + ZIS-3 = PEZ dispenser
    D light brigade

  18. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    A: A lesser known prototype, the “Schnellvierling” (no official designation), in a somewhat unusual move by eccentric Volkswagen engineer Helmut “Helmut” Helmut, harnessed the propulsive qualities of the Flakvierling 38 to power a stripped down Kübelwagen to astounding velocities (purportedly much in excess of the land speed records of the time). Intended for use as a specialist ultra-fast reconnaissance vehicle, the project came to abrupt end when Helmut and his assistant Dieter misjudged the vehicles turning radius on the banks of the Don.

    E: The famous ‘Henschel’s Hen Rack’ modification for the King Tiger (tanks thus modified were designated Sd.Kfz. 182-H “Huhntiger”). Crack units of five ‘Krieghuhn’ were trained to lay on command from the specialist Hen Commander, located in a new sponson/seed hopper on the left side of the turret (not pictured), providing the tank with an unparalleled level of protection against enemy infantry looking to off-load a cheeky sticky bomb at very close ranges.

  19. Gaytard Fondue says:

    1. Volksflagen
    2. StuG³
    3. PeZiS (very imaginative)
    4. Flaming Willy
    5. Huhnigstiger?

  20. Simas says:

    A: Kubelgrenadier
    B: Panzerladder
    C: Recoil based air brakes
    D: Mobile vodka distilling lab
    E: Chickensights

  21. Jay says:

    I think I did myself a mischief reading that piece on DCS: Combined Arms. If they can follow through on a fraction of that it’s going to be amazing.

  22. Nikelspank says:

    Also, just in case you missed it, the MiG-21Bis isn’t the only 3rd party add-on in the works for DCS. There’s also an F-15E, BAe Hawk T1/T2 and Typhoon F1 (later FGR4+). Gonna be a good 12 months.

  23. Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

    1. Most assuredly “YES!”
    2. No, but my son’s middle name is “Erich” named after Erich Hartmann if that counts?
    3. If money was no object I’d get an ME109G made for myself and my son and we’d learn how to fly it.

    Do I qualify to read your most excellent column?

    Please?

  24. Alex Bakke says:

    1. Kubelflacken.
    2. Dreibeinigen Hund
    3. Blastoise
    4. Volks-Zirkus
    5.Fowling-Tiger Hidden Cannon

  25. LionsPhil says:

    Does your ‘If I Ever Won The Lottery’ list begin 1) Quit job. 2) Buy vast rural estate. 3) Purchase Panther tank?

    Well, it does now.

    • pepper says:

      I was looking at tank prices yesterday(A T72 for a respectable 42.000) since I do plan on restoring a tank someday with a friend, and we found a panther tank, although it was a replica(a good one) that only really failed to replicate the interior and the roadwheels. They where not interleaved but modernish from a 80′ combat vehicle.

      So yeah, finding a real panther tank that you could drive, or restore to drive is going to be difficult.

  26. Commander_Zeus says:

    I think Mr Stone is being a little cheeky with the Foxer this week – it’s obvious these aren’t computer generated fantasies, but merely colourised photos of WW2-era military display teams!

    A is clearly that popular party piece, ‘how many gun barrels can Wehrmacht pioneere fit inside a Kubelwagen’.
    B I believe is the 21st Panzer Division’s effort for the ’12 days of Christmas 1943′ display (this is 3 Stug III’s stacking).
    C is the Russian Anti-tank Air Team – typically on May Day the plane would fly low over Red Square, with each ATG simultaneously putting an AP round through iron statues of Hitler and Himmler.
    D shows the set up for the Royal Logistic Corps Acrobatic Jeep Display – a third jeep is on a ramp just out of shot on the left, soon to appear over the barrels.
    E, well this is the famous Luftwaffe FallschirmHühner team. A favourite of Göring, they would parachute above the arena, landing in height order along the gun barrel of the latest Panzer (Tiger II in this case), to wild applause and honorary Knight’s Crosses.

    No, I can’t think of any funny names either.

  27. nimzy says:

    1. Lawnmower
    2. High-profile StuG III for those nasty hedgerows and ridges
    3. Air-to-air anti-aircraft artillery
    4. Latrine disposal done quick
    5. The newest German solution to wartime egg production: The King Tiger Chicken Coop. The dual exhaust is where the eggs come out.

  28. Chris D says:

    A:The Rush Hour Special (AKA The Commuter’s Friend)
    B.The Neapolitan
    C.The Barnstormer
    D. Great Barrels of Fire
    E. Gun Battery

  29. Gasmask Hero says:

    Yes, Yes, I heard women get a say in naming children so probably not, Almost but should read 1.) Quit Job, 2.) Buy vast rural estate 3.) Purchase HS121 4.) Live in said HS121 to escape my nagging wife and children called Gossamer and Britomart.

    Because when i’m so rich that I own Hertfordshire and live in an airliner I can afford to name my children after minesweepers and everyone else can go to hell.

  30. Hydrogene says:

    A) should have been build! It looks deadly. (for the driver,obviously)

    Also, thanks for the link with pictures of planes and Tintin in strange uniforms. It brings back lots of good memories, as I had one of the books, and lost it! :(

  31. utzel says:

    A) The Übel-Kübel

  32. Fumarole says:

    A. Kubelvierling
    B. Tristugatops
    C. Whoneedspropellersanyway
    D. Red Ball Express
    E. Cock o’ the Walk

  33. absolofdoom says:

    *Upon reading the title, immediately searches youtube for “balalaika miku”*

  34. Conor says:

    A: The Kubelflaken

  35. Pheasant Plucker says:

    E: Meh. That’s just a Tiger II with the usual 88mm K43 L71 gun (88 minutes means Klucks 43 Lays 71).

  36. Rugged Malone says:

    A) WheelieMaker
    B) Fuel Conservation Tactic ’23.A’
    C) Old CheapSeats a.k.a. “Who said this thing can’t be armed?” a.k.a. “How to make your dorsal gunner feel inadequate”
    D) Flamin’ Willys
    E) Weathervane Camouflage

  37. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Those things just baffle me… Um..

    E) Boomchuckacluck

  38. Letum says:

    In order of German

    A. KubelFlaken
    B. StugStaken
    C. FlugsKannonen
    D. A tiny, tiny, tiny aeroplane
    E. KonigsKluken