The Flare Path: Scratch One Summer

This splendid image is the work of Roger Murray AGAvA (click for purchasing options)

A flurry of local airshows and BoB commemorative events meant Spitfires and Hurricanes were regular visitors to my corner of Southern England this summer. Seeing six Messerschmitt maulers fly over in formation on September 15 really should have been my aviation highlight of the season, but that accolade actually goes to an encounter a few days earlier when, tramping along a Wiltshire footpath, I was repeatedly buzzed by a P-40 intent on entertaining crowds at a nearby display. The sound of a Merlin in full spate is a wonderful thing, but the whistle-threaded roar of Lulu Belle’s supercharged Allison V-12 left me beaming like a lottery winner.

Sadly, the quality of flight sim audio usually nose-dives once you quit the cockpit so I’ll be pleasantly surprised if the P-40E-1 just added to IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad (assuming you pre-ordered Battle of Moscow) manages to elevate neck hairs during a fly-by. Early forum accounts, though critical of weapon sounds, are largely positive about everything else. 1C Game Studios/777 modellers seem to have captured the Kittyhawk’s strengths and weaknesses well. Manage to get the chunky, relatively well-armoured Lend Lease fighter’s six Browning MGs aligned with a target and that target shouldn’t last long. The preceding stage of the combat process is where you may struggle. As numerous VVS pilots discovered in their final moments, the P-40’s pleasant flying characteristics, high diving speed and good roll and turn rate, were offset by woeful acceleration and climb performance.

On the subject of fly-by sound effects, I’m really not sure I approve of the use of adulterated audio in ‘in-engine’ trailers like the one above, even if the embellishment is mentioned on a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title screen at the start of the film. Coming soonish (December) to DCS World, though Razbam’s Dassault Mirage 2000C definitely won’t deceive the ear as consummately as the preview footage implies, it should please a community still very short of options when it comes to contemporary fighters.

Happiest when slinging Magic II and Super 530D missiles at flying foes, the modelled sub-variant (an ‘RDI’ rather than an ‘RDM’) can, if suitably equipped, also engage ground targets with rockets, dumb bombs and LGBs (third-party designation required). What it won’t be able to do – if I understand the specs correctly – is deliver wave-skimming Exocets. That capability is limited to the RDMs.

Set to compliment the upcoming Strait of Hormuz map rather well (true, one of the export variants currently flown by The United Arab Emirates Airforce would have been an even better fit) the 2000C is likely to sell like hot pains au chocolat in regions of Simulatia where La Marseillaise is sung and beautiful airframes are appreciated.

By the time the DCS map arrives, I expect to know the Strait of Hormuz like the back of my hand thanks to Combat Air Patrol 2. Forging ahead with their Harrier sim despite a disappointing Kickstarter campaign, Ed Scio and chums are now less than a month away from an Early Access Steam release.

The latest dev blog post includes some campaign details that bode well for replayability. In CAP2’s dynamic long games we’ll be the ones directing and organising the friendly battle fleet. Our strategic approach will determine the flavour of the automatically generated missions we fly and customise (Aircraft numbers, loadouts and waypoints are all malleable).

Whether we opt to bee-line for rebel bases or hang back inviting the enemy to brave our CAPs and missile-spewing frigates, nursemaiding neutral merchant vessels looks like it’s going to be a major preoccupation. Only desperate players will choose to close the Strait to shipping (always an option). The off-stage campaign scorers don’t look favourably on trade-disrupting defeatists.

One hour by Harrier from the crucial waterway at the heart of CAP2 is the crucial waterway at the heart of Graviteam’s latest offering. With characteristic quirk, the Kharkivites behind gloriously dynamic armour sim-cum-wargame Steel Armor: Blaze of War, have chosen to base their first bit of SABOW DLC on Iran’s expensive/bold thrust across the Shatt al-Arab river in December 1986.

The grim Iran-Iraq War battle lasted three days and cost the lives of 14,000 men, the vast majority of whom were poorly supported Pāsdārān and Basij infantry.

Involving frogmen, pontoon bridges, UAVs and human-wave tactics on the Iranian side, and well-prepared defensive positions, and US-supplied intel on the Iraqi side, Basra 86 should be tactically fascinating. The modelled area doesn’t look vast – perhaps 30 square miles (the titular city doesn’t feature) but bearing in mind the price, the freshness of the theme, and SA’s knack for springing campaign surprises (no scripted engagements here!) I suspect few buyers will end up complaining about the slightly cramped battleground.

Hmm. If I was a PTO-obsessed wargamer with £26 in my pocket right now, would I buy Slitherine’s likeable-if-unadventurous Panzer Corps spin-off Order of Battle: Pacific or lavish my 2600 pennies on…

Absolutely correct!

You know me so well.

It’s taken a while but the folk behind iRacing finally seem to be treating their result-distorting grip bug as the serious reputation-threatening issue it clearly is. On Wednesday, via a post on the official forum, iRacing President Tony Gardner announced that the sim’s dynamic weather was to be temporarily turned off. A day later came the news that the grip gremlin had been located – “we found a bug on the server side which could prevent track temperatures updates from being sent” – a fix was on the way (ETA: Oct 5) and that the $13,000 prize purse Blancpain GT Series qualification season would be restarted.

The extent of the roll-back hasn’t satisfied everyone in the community. With persuasive circumstantial evidence suggesting that other important iRacing series have been contaminated, some feel the remedial action should have been more extensive.

…and extremely frequently.

Sorry, no Heroes of Normandie thoughts in today’s column. Released yesterday, Slitherine’s zesty boardgame conversion has fallen foul of one of my golden play-test rules “#9. Don’t move on to the campaigns until you’ve completed the tutorials”. I’ve nothing to add to last week’s impressions except the following message.

“To the author of Tutorial 6 – ‘Sneaky sneaky…’

You’ve won. I surrender. Admit that dynamiting the bridge is technically impossible and “difficulty 3/5″ is a cruel joke, and I won’t hunt you down and club you to death with a sock filled with conkers.”

******************************

The Flare Path Foxer

Thanks to AFKAMC, phlebas, Artiforg, Rorschach617, phuzz, Gothnak, and Stugle last week’s word ladder is now rung-complete. If you happen to need a lightweight portable staircase for, say, clambering onto the back of a sleeping Diplodocus, or scrubbing graffiti off the side of a small blimp, just ask.

20. panda (Ursine Operation Chastise veteran)

19. janna (Sorcerous LoL champion)

18. janet (This American airline doesn’t advertise)

17. danes ([A] Served in SS Division Wiking)

16. sedan (Battle and car configuration)

15. sidam ([A] Italian SPAAG)

14. midas (The KC-135’s Russian cousin)

13. milan ([2] Wire-guided tank trasher)

12. talon (Hydra upgrade)

11. taler (Silver coin)

10. galeb ([A] Balkan jet)

9. bagel (60% UDMH, 40% DETA)

8. camel (Pup pup)

7. caret (HUD element)

6. civet (British autogyro engine)

5. niven (Played Bond, Blakeney, and Bonnie Prince Charlie)

4. raven (Dev behind controversial military FPS)

3. rover (Antipodean armoured vehicle)

2. rotor (Cold War radar network)

1. voter

*****************

Roman sends the strangest postcards. Usually the written message consists of a single word (recent examples: “RAIN”, “PURGATORY”, “RATTENKRIEG”, “LIZARDY”, “OUZO”) and the photo caption is carefully inked out. With the help of the stamps and postmarks, working out where he’s been isn’t that hard. Without such aids, the challenge is positively foxeresque.

All answers in one thread, please.

49 Comments

  1. hariseldon says:

    It is of course impossible to keep everyone in the community happy when there are so many different agendas. That said, iRacing have put themselves in their current position by refusing to communicate for so long.

    We’re now a quarter of the way through the season, where at least the first 2 of 12 weeks were compromised by a litany of bugs, sure we have drop weeks but the results for this season will still not be entirely accurate, in ALL series. IRacing knew what the situation was for a long time and did nothing to fix it.

    The two big problems as I see it are:
    1. iRacing didn’t communicate with the members. They were absolutely silent for a considerable length of time.
    2. iRacing didn’t think it worth collecting key performance-differentiating data from the sim for each client, even when advised to do that after a very similar problem last season.

    When iRacing don’t communicate and don’t learn lessons people get a bit pissed off.

    • hariseldon says:

      Btw we still have an issue where people are seeing 30% framerate drop this build (when iRacing reckon the new stuff should see a 5-8% drop) and even guys running GTX 980 cards are having to turn detail down so low it looks like RFactor 1 just to get a decent framerate. It’s not universal of course, but it took 3 weeks for iRacing to acknowledge there might possibly be an issue that needs looking at and to start working with members to find out what the bug is.

      Customer service and communication are not their strong point, and when one considers that the cost to get fully set up on the road side can be $500 (plus decent equipment of course) it’s not unreasonable to expect better.

  2. Stugle says:

    FOXER: Picture A sports a Belgian flag and what appears to be a tank on the roadside. There, now I feel I have contributed, however weakly.

    • Stugle says:

      The picture of the crane is at the St Nazaire docks.

    • Shiloh says:

      Tough Foxer this week… (b) looks French, (f) looks Eastern European/Scandinavian or Falklands, err…

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Tentative for (A)

      Fort Eben Emael in Belgium

      • Shiloh says:

        Excellent spot, it is indeed:

        link to google.co.uk

        Hope that link works…

      • Stugle says:

        One potential problem I see with that is that there are no Google Streetview locations near the fort. Couple of photo spheres, but neither one shows anything like the picture. :(

        • Stugle says:

          Never mind. Oh, the ignomy…

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Don’t worry, it was the tank you spotted that broke this one. I went looking for M41 Walker Bulldogs until that one popped into view.

    • gnuif says:

      (g) looks like Corregidor

    • mrpier says:

      i) is Vemork power station in Rjukan Norway I think.

      • iainl says:

        Cool – I thought it looked like Vemork, but couldn’t find anything to confirm it on That Google.

        • iainl says:

          (Site of the heavy water plant from The Heroes Of Telemark, for those that aren’t aware)

    • Stugle says:

      Nothing specific, but D) looks like it’s Dutch (although not the site of the Venlo Incident) and E) looks like what I would expect of the Moselle river valley, or a similar river in western/central Germany.

      • Shiloh says:

        (B) is giving me a very “Normandy” vibe but I’ve cross Ste Mere Eglise off the list so far…

        • Stugle says:

          So far, Carentan, Avranches, and Caen also don’t look too promising, either… On the plus side, I’m looking at a lot of picturesque street views in Normandy. :)

          • Shiloh says:

            I’ve been following my Meuse (sorry) hunch, but to no great effect as yet… there’s a black building by the river and what looks like a yellow dump truck heading towards it but I’m drawing a big fat zero so far.

        • Stugle says:

          You were right about Normandy: it’s Villers Bocage. :) Such a relief to scratch at least one off the list.

          • Stugle says:

            Approximately 26 Rue Pasteur.

          • Zogg says:

            The usual agony of a Friday afternoon – Working out a clue only to find someone 20 minutes ahead of you.

      • Shiloh says:

        (E) may be the Moselle or possibly even the Meuse, there are cliffs along its banks as well.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Could be Arnhem? And then the theme maybe paratroop actions?

        • Stugle says:

          I was starting to wonder about paratroop actions as a theme, but it doesn’t fit with Villers-Bocage (and I don’t know about Corregidor). In that part of the Netherlands, there is nothing like a cliff near a river – at best a gentle, small hill, so I doubt it’s Arnhem.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Arnhem is actually quite hilly for Holland, but I haven’t been able to find anything close to that image…

    • Rorschach617 says:

      I have a feeling that they might all be WW2 related from the ones we have defoxed so far.

      H is NOT the Primosole Bridge. Can anyone think of any bridges fought over in that kind of terrain? (looks like Mediterranean to me)

      • Stugle says:

        Gah! The bridge in the distance looks a lot like an Italian railroad bridge, but despite spotting several similar-looking examples in Sicily, I’ve yet to find the exact match, despite poring all over the map of the island. Perhaps I’ll try mainland Italy tomorrow…

    • Zogg says:

      e is Remagen Bridge (or where the bridge was).

      link to google.com

      • Stugle says:

        Well done! And to think I kept ignoring Remagen when I was Googling “Bridge battles WWII”…

    • gnuif says:

      Could (e) be Kåfjord where the Tirpitz was damaged during Operation Source? I get the idea there is a bit of a raid theme.

    • LordBilisknir says:

      (f) Looks to be Campo Imperatore – site of the Gran Sasso Raid link to en.wikipedia.org
      link to google.co.uk

      • Stugle says:

        Seems right – nice! I was trying desperately to cram the square-shaped peg of the Red October Tractor Factory in Stalingrad into the round hole of the picture, if that makes sense.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      In the Rorschach617 household, these foxers are called by a special name.

      “Ultravox Foxers”

      Because I go from picture to picture until someone provides an answer.

      “This means nothing to me
      This means nothing to me
      This means nothing to me
      Oh, it’s Vienna”

      • Stugle says:

        Bravo! You brought cheer to a dreary, rain-sodden afternoon.

      • Premium User Badge

        Syt says:

        That was very good – I tip my imaginary internet hat at you. :)

  3. Shiloh says:

    God, “Rattenkrieg” – outside of the illustrious Company of Defoxers, I reckon I could count on the fingers of one hand the people I’d know who would recognise the word or be able to place it in its historical context.

    Knowing that someone else knows what the Rattenkrieg was, is why I come back to the Flare Path week after week.

    And for the Foxer, of course.

  4. GWOP says:

    Les Chevaliers du Ciel is gorgeously shot. They actually put traditional film cameras in a modified fuel tank, attached it to a Mirage 2000 chase plane and shot almost all the flying sequences from there.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Apart from the lovely video, I’ve been wondering about translating the title. Knights of the sky? Horsemen of the Heavens?

      • Hydrogene says:

        Chevaliers du ciel would definitely be knight of the sky. The movie is sort of crap but the A2A shots really are amazing!

  5. DrollRemark says:

    I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the P-40 after many a wasted hour playing Ace of the Pacific on my Dad’s machine as a youngster.

    Stay high, dive on your target from above, and get the hell out of there afterwards. Those were the rules. Don’t ever, ever dogfight.

  6. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Interestingly after last weeks coverage of the Next Gen Flight Simulator project, the director made a sort-of defence of his company and progress over on the flightsim reddit. He claimed excellent links with Unigene, invited everyone to come and join the discussion on his website forum, and promised that as soon as they have something to show, they will.

    Sort of felt like maybe it would have been better to wait until they DID have something to show, and then people would have been too busy going “cor” to turn round and go “but that’s someone else’s work”, but who can understand the minds of others? Not I.

  7. buzzmong says:

    No mention of the fact DCS has lauched v1.5 into the Open Beta? Thought that would have cropped up.