The Flare Path: Frogfeat Free-For-All

Times are tough in FP’s neck-of-the-woods. If the illegal logging conducted by fuel-poor locals continues, pretty soon there’ll just be a larynx-of-the-woods. Thank heavens high-quality, low-altitude entertainment can still be picked up for the same price as a lungful of fresh air and an eyeful of superior sunset. After rolling with the rather wonderful War Thunder last week, this week I thought I’d get my free firmament thrills courtesy of DCS World’s Su-25T Frogfoot and SAM Simulator’s ZSU-23-4V1 Shilka.

Series producer Matt Wagner’s latest video eloquently explains why DCS World warrants attention from anyone of a simmy or scrimpy disposition. Unexpectedly, it also drops some fab FAB 9000-sized hints as to where the series is headed next.

ED and The Fighter Collection, realising that they don’t have the manpower to satisfy every ‘DCS aircraft wishlist’ thread contributor, have grasped the third-party DLC development nettle enthusiastically of late. The list of add-on payware currently in development reads like the exhibit catalogue of an eclectic but engrossing aviation museum.

Laszlo ‘Beczl’ Becz’s MiG-21Bis Fishbed has been mentioned before in FP. Upcoming payware you might not have heard of, includes the F/A-18C Hornet, F-15C Eagle, Su-27SM Flanker, F-86F Sabre, and L-29.

Prefer a collective to a throttle? Wrap your mind around the tantalising prospect of a high-fidelity Hind, Hip, Cobra (old AI version pictured), Kiowa and Huey.

The oldest warfowl on the WIP list is guaranteed to make the hearts and hooves of DCS P-51D owners beat a little faster. At some point, hopefully in the near future, Butcherbirds will be quartering Caucasian skies.

Of course, the lovely thing about DCS World is you can have a fine old time without spending a red rouble. While getting chummy with the A-10C or Ka-50 Black Shark at maximum realism settings might take weeks, befriending the Frogfoot included in the free install is the work of a day or two. With the help of the manual and the 1.5GB of official training vids (linked from the main screen) you should be autocannoning convoys, BetAB-ing bunkers, and Vikhr-ing tanks in no time.

The first flyable to benefit from ED’s advanced flight model, the Su-25T boasts a beast of a damage model too. Clumsy landings burst tyres and collapse landing gear. Flak, SAMs and AAMs kindle conflagrations, strip flight surfaces and fuselage panels, and play merry hell with numerous vital systems and instruments. You can can ruin your Rook via Instant Action or Campaign sorties, highly configurable Quick Missions, or quirky self-built jaunts.

The bundled Arma-style editor is a breeze to use and incredibly powerful. ATG or ATA violence not your thing? Spend the weekend pretending to be a Sukhoi testpilot, Celestial Hussar or fearless Frogfoot thief with a taste for train-worrying.


Inside Satan’s Sewing Machine

Thanks to the Combined Arms beta it’s now possible for DCS users to operate traditional aircraft nemeses like the ZSU-23-4 Shilka. I say ‘operate’, if you want a true taste of what it takes to crew Comrade Astov’s potent plane puncturer, to acquire and track targets with a 1RL-33 RPK-2 ‘Gun Dish’ radar, then tear those targets out of the sky with four gyro stabilized, hydraulically aimed 23mm autocannons, your only virtual option is SAM Simulator.

Since last Saturday, the free Hungarian-made marvel that lets you sling these terrifying telegraph poles…

… has also let you shred aircraft with a Shilka. The newcomer, like its companions, is represented by a series of atmospheric photo-derived panels and authentic sounds. It looks like developer Hpasp has been busy with wirecutters and drugged steaks again.

As usual, the recreated weapon system comes with an instructional pdf breathtaking in its detail and breadth.

I’m still working my way through the documentation, and trying – unsuccessfully so far – to down the Meteor RC drones that buzz over the training ranges. I reckon it’s going to be a few days before I’m ready to brave the historical War of Attrition and Operation El Dorado Canyon scenarios.


Expansion Pachyderm

Alea Jacta Est, Ageod’s first stab at sword-and-sandal strategy, is only a few days away from a standalone expansion.

If, like me, you enjoyed engineering slave revolts and poking Pompey in the eye with a sharp gladius, there’s probably a good chance you’ll also enjoy seeing-off the Samnites and the Senones, humbling Hamilcar, showing Pyrrhus the meaning of ‘Pyrrhic victory’, and teaching uppity North African mercs a lesson they’ll never forget.

A sheaf of five scenarios “telling the story of those first epic wars that led to the unification of Italy and started Rome’s quest for global domination.” doesn’t sound overly generous, but, bearing in mind the scale and replayability of most of AJE’s original challenges, there’s probably weeks if not months of high-calibre entertainment included. Will Slitherine/Ageod offer discounts on the rumoured £17 price to AJE owners? Some might argue its appropriate. Let’s wait and see.


The Flare Path Foxer

Brun and skink74 did the bulk of last week’s underwater archaeology. They returned to the surface clutching relics from the…

a) Exxon Valdez (Prince William Sound, 1989)
b) Royal Oak (Scapa Flow, 1939)
c) Vasa (Stockholm, 1628)
d) Queen Elizabeth (Hong Kong, 1972)
e) Britannic (Kea Island, 1916)
f) Costa Concordia (Giglio Island, 2012)
g) Tirpitz (Tromso, 1944)

Talking of shipwrecks, FP’s desk is made from salvaged timbers from Pride of Penzance, a hagfish trawler that foundered on Lizard Point in 1922. If you put your ear to the desktop when the wind is blowing from the west, you can hear the booming of the breakers and the keening of the gulls. It’s a truly remarkable piece of furniture, but how long is it? Add up the calibres of the ten weapons pictured below, to find out. Answers in millimetres, please. No sly second guesses.


  1. Nim says:

    The Shilka? Argghhh, Operation Flashpoint Terror Flashback!

    • bit.bat says:

      I remembered that I had played a game in the past where the word Shilka was repeated over and over again in a robotic voice but could not remember the specific game!

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      phuzz says:

      OFP has given me a phobia of Hinds.
      It’s probably a good thing there’s none flying in the UK*, if I saw one while driving I’d probably instinctively drive off the road and hide under some trees until it had gone past.

      *I’m told they’re not cleared by the CAA to fly over here.

      • stahlwerk says:

        Oh, Hind, the noblest of air-beasts. If you suffer from Crocophobia, I advise you not to take a train ride through the czech republic, there are some parked right at the tracks. I don’t remember where exactly, somewhere west of prague.

  2. Smion says:

    The second from the top on the left side is an 8.8 cm flak gun, ergo 88mm calibre
    The Boys antitank rifle third from the top in the middle row is loaded with 14.3 mm bullets, at least according to wikipedia.
    For those of you who suck at math (as opposed to me who sucks at math and orthography) that’s 102.3mm so far.
    Edit: Ooh,ooh I know another one: The top right one is a 75mm Pak 40.
    That’s 177.3mm, now!

  3. Palindrome says:

    Not sure, 17 pounder (76.2mm), 88 (guess..), Karl Morser(600mm) , not sure, M1931 howitzer (203mm) , Boys anti tank rifle (14.3mm), 75mm mountain pack howitzer, Pupchen (88mm), Sermovente 90/53 (90mm)

    I am going to guess 1417.5mm, its around that anyway give or take 100mm :)

    • Elmar Bijlsma says:

      The 17pdr weighs in at 76.2mm. You are thinking off it’s 77mm cousin, which as the name suggest weighs in at 76,2mm. Because in the military, that makes sense.

      Upper left looks like the Japanese 7cm.

      • Palindrome says:

        I thiknk that you are right about the 7cm gun (apparently with a 75mm barrel) and I think that the AA gun is a FlaK 38 (105mm).

        That gives a grand total of 1414.8mm

        • Elmar Bijlsma says:

          Nah, even though they look similar it is the 88, not the 105 flak.
          All that is stumping me is that naval gun. No idea. Does not look like a dual purpose gun, that’s all I can say. Possibly British QF 4″?

          • Palindrome says:

            I mean that there is a FlaK 36 and a FlaK 38. The ‘naval’ gun looks like a heavy AA gun to me although the base/mounting/carriage doesn’t look right. If it is a naval gun though I haven’t a hope of identifying it :)

            I now think that it is a QF 3.7″ AA gun so 94mm which gives my new and final result of 1403.8 mm (it cant be far off that at least :) )

          • Elmar Bijlsma says:

            If that’s an 3.7 inch (and google seems to confirm it is indeed a static mounted version) then I arrive at a grand total of 1398.7

      • pepper says:

        For the people wondering what this chap is on about, at one point the brittons had a lovely tank called the Sherman VC, which meant V for 5, and C for the gun type. In this case, the 76.2mm gun, or 17pdr. This tank was also know as the Sherman Firefly(unofficial). Then, they decided that this gun needed to be mounted on a faster chassis. This chassis was the Cromwell, which previously had the 75mm gun. Alas, it didnt quite fit, so they made a ever so slightly different gun which carries ever so slightly different ammo, and thus the 76/77mm gun distinction was born(again, 76, is 76.2).

        Lets hear some hip hip hoorahs for the military!

        Please correct me if im wrong, im doing this from memory.

  4. Spengbab says:

    What, no alt-text of airplane mating rituals?

  5. Dana says:

    I’m so looking forward to “Combined Arms”. Finally one can get a modern tank simulation without shelling out 200$ for Steel Beasts.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Indeed! If they get a worthy competitor, I hope they’ll come to their senses and adjust their monopolistic price policy.

      • Jekhar says:

        I don’t want to rain on your parade, but the notion i got from the video is that ground vehicles are nothing more than an afterthought. A fun diversion, nothing more. I don’t think they will ever come close to the grade of realism of their planes. Or Steel Beasts, for that matter. If you wan’t a cheap tank sim you could hop in ArmA 2 and have a similar experience like was shown in the video. Although with far better graphics, as they are built for infantry scale, not for planes.

        • Dana says:

          Yes, quite. I meant “simulation” more in terms of armor combat, not sitting in tank and looking through scopes.

          Although my impression was that the simulation aspect (of an actual vehicle) was quite accurate, lacking only in terms of UI/HUD.

    • Kevin says:

      Unfortunately, now beta testing CA I have to break it to you that the armoured combat modeling in that game is very, very, very low-fi (no stabilisers, laser range-finders, advanced fire-control systems, data-links, and thermal imaging, things we take for granted in modern MBTs). That said, there’s been whispers on the Eagle Dynamics forums that ED is looking at an M1 Abrams module that’s at least Lock On/Flaming Cliffs level of fidelity, but with how much they have on their plate (while their next module is some form of American fast-mover, they haven’t 100% decided on which one), it’s a long ways off.

  6. Soulstrider says:

    Looking forward for the new Alea Jacta Est. I played the base game till death and really loved it, probably my favorite Roman Times game barring Caeser 3 and RTW+RSII mod.

  7. SamC says:

    Mr. Stone, I just wanted to say thank you for the recommendation of War Thunder last week. It’s exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for, and I’m afraid I’m now addicted. I only wish I could figure out how to unlock the Po-2 so I can reenact some Night Witches exploits.

  8. sgt. grumbles says:

    I’m enjoying War Thunder as well. We should perhaps plan an RPS War Thunder party night, eh?

  9. P.Funk says:

    DCS: A-10C is by far the best Sim I’ve played in god knows how long, at least in terms of simulating an aircraft to a degree that makes Oleg Maddox blush.

    Unfortunately DCS may have a LOT of new aircraft in the pipeline, but there isn’t much content, and the engine seems to struggle to support even average numbers of players online, and thats before you add in an even marginally acceptable, nevermind realistic, number of enemy and friendly ground and air units.

    Basically as it stands massive COOP or PvP servers tend to crash a lot, and you can’t have a massive theatre of units fighting, because that crashes too. Anybody who remembers the dynamic campaigns from Falcon BMS… well nothing even remotely close to that exists in DCS. Sad, but true. The engine may down the road show some real limitations to an otherwise excellent simulator series.