The Flare Path: Dora Explorer

By Tim Stone on August 8th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

One hundred years ago today, DORA – the Defence of the Realm Act – came into force in the UK. Citizens caught lighting bonfires, flying kites, or feeding crusts to ducks risked prosecution. Shops were obliged to remove binoculars from their shelves. Unpatriotic wargame and simulation correspondents that chose to use their columns to promote rigorous replicas of Teutonic flying machines faced the prospect of sharing prison cells with the kind of troublesome intellectuals that dared to question the sanity of sending the flower of British manhood off to die in France and Belgium.

The wallets of weak-willed DCS World aviators are taking a real beating at the moment. Hot on the heels of an incomparably authentic recreation of the USAF’s finest first-generation jet fighter comes an incomparably authentic recreation of the Luftwaffe’s finest piston-engined fighter.

A shortage of fuel and pilots meant the Dora’s impact on the closing phases of WW2 wasn’t as great as it might have been, but Allied pilots roaming late-war German skies in search of targets of opportunity quickly came to respect Kurt Tank’s elegant interim solution to Fw 190A obsolescence. Essentially a stretched Fw 190A with a beefy Jumo-213 water-methanol-boosted inline engine in place of the old BMW radial, the Fw 190D-9, unlike its predecessor, could hold its own at altitude with the very best Allied fighters.

As you’ll discover once you’ve mastered the newcomer’s numerous prototypical intricacies and tested it against DCS World’s other 1940s warbird, the P-51. ED’s flight model research included spending “a lot of time” with Erich Brunotte, one of the few pilots still around who actually flew Doras in combat (and Bf 109s, Fw 190As, and Ju-52s!). Apparently his feedback was “really priceless” exposing at least one well-hidden bug. Like to Luftwhine? It might be wise to pick a target with a less impressive pedigree, or, at the very least, buy and fly an appropriate yardstick before criticizing.

Anyone that backed DCS: WWII to the tune of $40 or more already owns the Dora, so can save their pennies for future DCS delights like the imminent MiG-21Bis.

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According to some bloke with a penchant for disgracefully flowery review intros, Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm  “hides genius beneath a camo-net of conventionality”. An ingenious, asynchronous turn structure, a refreshing Cold War setting, and surprisingly intimate engagements, help make it one of the best wargames Matrix/Slitherine have published in ages.

If the game had minor flaws they were the rather clumsy victory conditions and the somewhat inflexible order system addressed by Wednesday’s wide-ranging 2.04 patch. Now victory calculations are far more subtle and transparent, and COs have the option to customise movement orders with four end-state stances (Hold, Screen, On Call, Resupply). The update also honed AI, sharpening pathfinding and threat reactions, and implemented a host of helpful GUI improvements. In short, there’s never been a better time to nervously authorise nerve-agent use, or plug the Fulda Gap with shoulder-to-shoulder Chieftains.

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Dovetail’s newfound interest in aeronautics seems to be seeping into their train work. This year’s free Train Simulator 2014 upgrade will bring scudding 3D clouds to the sim formerly known as Train Simulator 2013, Train Simulator 2012, RailWorks, Rail Simulator and Train Simulator 2. Post September 18 we’ll be able to blame SPADs, exceeded speed limits and missed stations on unexpected sun dazzle and Popeye-on-a-moped-shaped sky fluff.

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Remember Pe-2 Dive Bomber, Flare Path’s favourite 2D flight sim? It’s been available on GamersGate for donkeys’ years, but this week it finally squeaked to a halt beneath Steam’s Shard-like control tower.

Priced at just £3.50 until August 13, it’s highly likely you’ll be able to overlook the far-fetched FM, simplistic dogfighting and missing spatial dimension, and focus instead on the nailbiting ground-attack action, cleverly constructed missions, and likeable aircraft upgrade system (But investigate the demo just to be sure). The 48 sortie campaign is crammed with a surprising amount of WW2 history. Imagine my disappointment on learning that Polynetix’s latest release, Burning Cars, wasn’t a homage to the BA-20 flamethrower variant.

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The Flare Path Foxer

Back when God was all hands-on and smitey, he subjected the Egyptians to ten plagues because they dared to worship cats, chariot race on the Sabbath, and treat the Israelites as human forklift trucks. The all-knowing All is Well knew this and, with a helping hand/tentacle from FurryLippedSquid, Artiforg, and Palindrome (GapGen and Mark Judd filled in blanks after the de-foxing) realised that last week’s sand-sprinkled foxer probably referred to the plagues.

a. Corpse from Blood.
b. & c. Firestorm and swarm from The Swarm.
d. Grasshopper tank
e. Blue-tongued skink
f. Railway frog
g. Robert Boyle
h. Blackout poster
i. Folland Gnat

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Say hello to Fenwick, Roman’s new lap-fox. This week my Chief Foxer Setter has been so busy cuddling his new pal and preparing for next Friday’s foxer-filled FP birthday special (A word of warning. To participate this year, you’ll need to install something! Smuggle a laptop into work or school if necessary.) he hasn’t had time to fashion a puzzle. A column without a new cryptic collage was looking likely until the following jpegs appeared in Roman’s inbox.

The lovely Mark Judd, realising that Mr. Foxer never gets to experience the satisfaction of a successful defox, had thoughtfully produced a pair of puzzles just for him. Roman enjoyed them so much he thinks they deserve a wider audience. He’s now wondering whether there are other aspiring foxer fabricators out there. If you’re a dab-hand with virtual scissors and glue, and fancy foxing a community that can identify most WW2 bombers from the oil stains they leave on hangar floors, then get to work. Roman won’t promise to post everything he receives, but comely collages that balance fiendishness with fairness have a good chance of ending up tail-end Charlies on future Flare Paths.

(All foxer answers in one thread, please)

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45 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    All is Well says:

    Lower image: Lower right picture is Teddy Roosevelt and the aircraft is an F-16C Fighting Falcon.

    Edit: The emblem is from the Inniskilling dragoons, from Ireland, known as the “Skins”.
    Edit2+3: The birds appear to be male Satin Bowerbirds, latin name Ptilonorhynchus violaceus. The blue/purple eyes are pretty. Also notable is that they court by building a “bower” (hence the name), which can take different forms but is essentially a decorative structure, made with sticks, leaves, feathers, insect shells etc., in order to woo a partner.

    • JustAPigeon says:

      The locomotive in the top picture is a Collett designed GWR 4900 (Hall) Class 4-6-0.

      • BryanTrysers says:

        For the top picture:
        A cursory nose round suggests the signalling flags would be ‘6 1 1 0′ for Royal Navy in WWI & WWII.
        The top right image is the loverly Barbican Centre in London.

        This information doesn’t help me at all.

        • JustAPigeon says:

          The turret is a Stark Mk 1 for a BL 15 inch Mk I naval gun.

        • Beowulf says:

          Edit: Damn, took to long to write.

          The colourful gun scheme looks like a scheme for Mark I turret for the BL 15 inch Mark I. Which was used on quite a few ships, but also on HMS Hood. If that helps.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Is that a Bailey Bridge across the middle?

            If it is, I suspect that the theme is “Areas of a Castle”

            “Bailey” bridge
            Turret
            “Hall” Class Loco
            “Barbican” Centre
            “Curtain” Wall?
            Black and white photo looks like a hospital ward, and apparently, Castles have Wards too (though I’ve never heard them called that before).

          • Premium User Badge

            All is Well says:

            And the flags spell K-E-E-P as well as 6-1-1-0, so I guess you are correct, sir!

          • Rorschach617 says:

            3 weeks away, feels good to be foxing again :)

          • JustAPigeon says:

            Well done!

          • BryanTrysers says:

            There is a place called Castle Ward in Northern Ireland (though it’s not actually a castle – nice for a visit, though if you’re in the area).

            Edit: Apologies for all that flegs = numbers business, I got over excited.

    • Beowulf says:

      Was wandreing, what 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons have to do with WiIlson basketball? And an Ostrich egg? A bird theme puzzle perhaps?

      • Premium User Badge

        All is Well says:

        Having looked around for quite a bit to find out about the egg, it’s apparently not an ostrich egg (which I also assumed) but from an emperor penguin. Not that it makes the theme any easier to distinguish :)

        • Beowulf says:

          You sir, are correct. That looks like a emperor’s penguin egg. Complete with a measuring tape of unknown origin.

      • JustAPigeon says:

        Not sure how the JLG E450AJ Electric Articulating Boom Lift fits in.

        • Beowulf says:

          Well, it’s a bit of a stretch (or rather – extremely far-fetched), but one of the JLG locations in Belgium is just a Unloaded AFrican Swallow flight away from Waterloo, when the Dragoons made their charge :)

          • Premium User Badge

            All is Well says:

            Waterloo would fit with Emperor (penguin) as well, but how to make Teddy and the rest fit?

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.
            Inniskillings charged at Waterloo.

            Yeah, this line of though is going nowhere :)

      • BryanTrysers says:

        The ‘JT’ Mugshot is James Taylor.

        • Rorschach617 says:

          Wikipedia says James Taylor was in Antarctica on military service

          • BryanTrysers says:

            Wikipedia also says that a land colony of Emperor Penguins is found at Taylor Glacier.

            Amazon says that James Taylor and Warren Shaw wrote the Penguin Dictionary of the Third Reich. That second one may be a tad tenuous.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Lower Image may not be Waterloo, but Antarctica!

      Captain Oates was formerly of the Inniskillings.
      Emperor Penguins.
      Roosevelt Island in Antarctica.
      James Taylor was in Antarctica on military service.

      • JustAPigeon says:

        Nice one. Edward Adrian Wilson (the basketball) was an explorer of Antarctica too.

      • BryanTrysers says:

        Robert Falcon Scott?

        Edit: And Henry Bowers
        Edit2.1: There was also a Taylor on the Terra Nova.
        Could it be cherry picker for Cherry-Gerrard?

        Edit 3: Edward “Teddy” Evans, also on Terra Nova

        • Rorschach617 says:

          I was just thinking that.

          Apparently, he, Bowers and Wilson went on a side-expedition to collect Emperor Penguin eggs.

      • Premium User Badge

        All is Well says:

        And of course, Robert Falcon Scott! Well done!

        Edit: Bryan got it before me – but the latter part still stands! Nice catch.
        Edit2: I think I’ve found the JLG connection – JLG is short for John L. Grove and there is a group of mountains called the Grove Mountains in Antarctica.

  2. beikul says:

    Anyone that backed DCS: WWII to the tune of $40 or more already owns the Dora, so can save their pennies for future DCS delights like the imminent MiG-21Bis

    I don’t think this is true unfortunately.

    I backed DCS WWII for $40 but the whole project seems to have turned into a train wreck The Kickstarter page has been abandoned and some of the threads in the ED forum are less than helpful. What I pledged for was ‘a digital copy of all flyable aircraft in the game (this will grow with the stretch goals and possibly end up offering a huge value!)’. What I seem to have been given is ‘Two aircraft of choice’. Great.

    I think I’m going to ask Kickstarter for a refund but suspect there is little chance of success.

    • Paradaxos says:

      Go here: http://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/personal/backer/ and select which aircraft you want, as a $40 backer you are entitled to two aircraft, if you select the Fw-190 you will get a key.

      • beikul says:

        Understood and thanks for the link, but my complaint is that I pledged for all aircraft not just 2. I also realise this isn’t ED’s fault and that they are trying to make best of the situation but nevertheless I feel a bit conned by the whole Kickstarter process (my first bad experience so far).

      • Baines says:

        That sounds pretty bad, like yet another Kickstarter scam that should be getting reported instead of a game to be praised.

        The Kickstarter clearly promised in its Rewards section, the bit that they legally agreed to fulfill, that $40 donations would get all the planes, not a choice of two planes.

        • buzzmong says:

          @Baines

          The problem with this particular KS is that the company running it were a company called RRG who ED were partnering with, who due to bad planning and what not, have completed folded.

          ED aren’t actually legally responsible for the rewards as it’s not their KS and RRG were a seperate company. To be honest, I was suprised ED even picked up the pieces and continued development in house. They’re being rather generous even offering two planes for the $40, considering a normal aircraft from ED is that price, let alone the six promised on KS!

          • Baines says:

            It is still a bit of mess.

            And something that is open to shenanigans. Set up a company. Use that company to run a high dollar Kickstarter. If things start to go badly, set up a second company. Have the first company go bankrupt and buy its assets cheap. Or just have the first company sell its assets to the second outright, then fold the first company. Or have the second company buy the first company. Or have the two companies partner, shift the assets to the second company, and then fold the first. Or whatever other legal skirting and/or trickery you want to try.

            People have been abusing corporations that way for decades.

            Mind, people have been abusing Kickstarter without even bothering with such shenanigans, so it might not even be worth the extra effort to give your theft that extra bit of legal defense.

          • Eggman says:

            Yes, those shenanigans would be possible, but to anyone following the flightsim scene, it is evident that there was no scamming going on here.

          • P.Funk says:

            ED let them wear the DCS brand and ED were going to profit directly from the sale. It was in effect no different than if a developer folds under a larger publisher. Of course they had to support the promises. There’s so much cynicism in the ED community about what to expect from the masters. This was just one more boondoggle and the result was too far.

            This is a small niche community. They can claim they dont’ owe people anything but thats not how you keep customers. The project wore the DCS moniker so if they didn’t take on fulfilling the promises to some degree the resulting distress and blame would fall on them because they allowed their name to be associated with it.

            Frankly I’m amazed at how little involvement they made in the operation of the biggest third party product coming under the name of their brand.

  3. Rorschach617 says:

    Can someone please link me Tim Stone’s email address from the link above?

    When I click on it, my PC tries to configure Outlook, and I really don’t want to do that.

    Thanks

    • Premium User Badge

      All is Well says:

      Apparently, I can’t write his email, all my replies disappear, even using different formats. Sorry! But try to mouse over the link, you should see the address in the lower-left corner, if you’re using chrome at least.

      Edit: let’s try it this way: it’s timfstone and then that squiggly letter “A”, followed by google’s email service, followed by a dot and a c-o-m.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I spend most evenings looking at DCS paraphernalia lately. How did I not hear about that MiG? Anyone know when it’s coming? I hope the cockpit will be clickable and russian.

    EDIT: I just looked at the Leatherneck site for the Mig Bis, and it said it “might” come to Steam. Eintschuldigung fur noobliche frage (and lack of umlauts / bad spelling) but why is there this weird disconnect between the standalone and steam versions?

  5. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    That PE-2 Diver Bomber looks very reminiscent of a game that I had on the Amiga. Except that it was based in the Pacific with you doing sorties from an aircraft carrier and nixing Japanese islands and planes. It was quite tough too, but rather compulsive once you got the hang of it. Can’t remember what it was called I’m afraid.

    • JustAPigeon says:

      Wings of Fury!

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      That would be Wings of Fury by Bröderbund I suspect.

      It was really good!

      Edit: bah! Foiled again! I would have made it if not for these meddling kids!

    • Premium User Badge

      Chaz says:

      Ah that’s the one. And yeah it was rather good for a 2D plane sim of sorts. Took me a while to get the hand of the carrier landings.

  6. Premium User Badge

    DrollRemark says:

    From the Defence of the Realm Act wiki description:

    Alcoholic beverages were watered down and pub opening times were restricted to noon–3pm and 6:30pm–9:30pm

    *splutters*

  7. Premium User Badge

    Thurgret says:

    Controversial statement ahead:

    Flashpoint Campaigns just isn’t very enjoyable.

    I grasped what was going on. And I found ordering units around to be downright tedious, and didn’t enjoy at all spending a significant portion of my time just watching counters move around. Am I missing some obvious ‘fun’ setting?

  8. LionsPhil says:

    D’aww, look at the little fennec.

    Also that plane startup video just reminds me of this classic: