Have You Played… Dawn Patrol?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Dawn Patrol is the first flight simulator I remember loving. Really, truly, deeply loving. I’d played games that simulated modern fighters, like the F-16 and F-19, but the long-range engagements had never held my attention for long. The Sopwiths and Fokkers of World War I brought a physicality to air combat though, and I still remember them fondly.

When Battlefield 1 was announced, I spent some time thinking about WW I in games and it took a while for Dawn Patrol to come to mind. It’s a fantastic war game though, not just a flight sim, educating about the machines and the men who piloted them thanks to a huge set of missions that explore the history of the 1914-18 air war.

Thinking back to those flight simulators of the mid-nineties, it’s often the manuals that I remember. I’d always pick away at the bulky packaging of games on the way back home and you just knew from the weight of a flight sim that you’d got your (parents’) money’s worth. Dawn Patrol is one of the few that I remember as a game rather than a tome though, and I’d love to find a modern equivalent.

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  1. SooSiaal says:

    Yesss this was my favorite,but any sim made by Rowan software was pretty much brilliant..

    • SooSiaal says:

      And nowadays rise of flight is my go to sim for ww1 sim flying.. so i’d recommend that

  2. Glubber says:

    Wings Over Flanders Fields, if you want a solid WWI sim with the most immersive campaign ever. You need an original copy of combat flight sim 3 as the base engine, but what they’ve done with it is insanely imressive.

    • Doc Revelator says:

      WOFF looks fantastic! Thank you for the heads-up.

    • Kolbex says:

      I have been on the WOFF fence for quite some time. How is the flight model? Do they planes feel different from each other and close to how they were reported to fly? I played Rise of Flight for a while and was very impressed with it, but the lack of SP content made me stop after a while.

      • Zenicetus says:

        As a Rise of Flight owner, I think you’d have to just try WOFF to see if the campaign immersion offsets the differences in flight and damage models.

        Disclaimer: I haven’t played the current version of WOFF but I do have the prior one, and after experiencing RoF, I just couldn’t ignore the differences in flight model and damage modeling. Granted, the default singleplayer campaign in RoF sucks, but I found it easier to force some roleplaying in that sim, than it was to ignore the comparatively primitive flight model, damage model, and sounds in WOFF.

        YMMV, you’ll only know if you try it. The campaign in WOFF is impressive, I’ll say that.

        • Kolbex says:

          Have you tried any of the RoF campaign stuff, like St. Mihiel or Channel Battles?

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            Grizzly says:

            Saint Mihiel and the like are static campaigns: It is a simple set of missions you have to complete in order. ROF does offer a career mode but it’s rather rudimentary compared to the WOFF simulating an entire air war.

      • Glubber says:

        As Zenicetus aludes to, the two biggies right now are ROF and WOFF. ROF generally gets kudos for it’s flight and damage models, and it’s quite beautiful to look at. WOFF is quite decent in those areas, and yes the plane flight models do vary, but if you’re really into ROF you’ll notice a difference quickly. I think if you’ve never played ROF it’s then more a matter of what you get used to. I have no problem in WOFF, but when I occasionally play ROF I can barely fly straight.

        For sheer immersion, there’s a campaign mod for ROF that does it some justice, but really nothing beats WOFF for single player experience. The attention to detail is amazing (in full realism you actually fill out claims and hope someone witnessed your kill).

    • Missing Cat says:

      Yes! I have played Dawn Patrol and what a wonderful little sim it still is! A very nicely done, timeless interactive history book. There is one essential feature it actually shares with the sublime Rise of Flight that’s sorely lacking in WOFF though: a film room / flight recorder. All the best flight sims *must* have a basic flight recorder for debriefing. Subsequently, since WOFF doesn’t have any means of recording our missions other than what we see on the screen in front of us, WOFF is simply too overpriced. All those beautiful camera views are effectively useless since we are forced to use them in “real time”. The janky, decades old Microsoft CFS3 engine is ugly enough, but without a flight recorder to archive and document epic missions throughout our careers it feels a bit too fleeting, empty and shallow. Sadly, the idiot backers and pensioners who continue selling WOFF at extortionate prices will probably never lower the cost to a proper reasonable level to reflect it’s true value. They stubbornly and steadfastly blindly doom a hugely competent and very well made (albeit lacking) sim to obscurity. Thankfully, Rise of Flight is truly worth every penny. The movie recorder mode is one of the best flight recorders ever made; arguably THE most powerful and accurate tool in any simulator to date. After spending more hours in the movie mode reviewing flights than actually flying campaigns, WOFF feels dreadfully basic, empty and not too fun in comparison.

      • Glubber says:

        If a flight recorder is that important to anyone, than ROF us clearly the way to go. Personally, I much prefer flying campaigns than watching them, but then I’m just an “idiot backer.” Yeesh.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        It’s kind of weird that in-game video recording is a make-or-break feature for you. I mean, yeah, it’s *nice,* but third-party screen records are easy to come by.

        • Glubber says:

          True, but I think he’s referring to the ability to rewatch missions already flown. Even with 3rd party screen recorders you can only record what’s happening in the moment, whereas he would like to be able to watch what’s happened from different angles without having to pause a current mission in-flight.

          It would be a nice addition, but again it’s a personal thing. It’s a feature that I never use in ROF, as I just want to fly in the cockpit when I have time to sim.

  3. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Dawn Patrol looked astonishing in SVGA.

  4. popej says:


    Dawn Patrol was great. I spent most of a summer playing it when we bought our first PC

    • popej says:

      Ahh just googled it. Never knew that game existed, unlike the aircraft which may or may not have existed!

  5. Infinitron says:

    Worth it for the the main menu music alone – Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien Op. 45.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Agreed. I only had it on the Amiga, which was less pretty and fast by then, but the music that bit better. Interestingly, it was just as low-key on the Amiga, when the obvous thing would have been to use the better sound chip to dramatise it. I mean, it is Tchaikovsky after all. But instead, both versions went with a simple, oddly quiet, and almost sombre rendition. That version always stuck with me. A great use of classical music, which is often used pretty lazily in games.

  6. Eclipse says:

    Dawn Patrol <3 loved this game so much. I even aced a WWI-related test at school and my history teacher was quite impressed by my deep knowledge of all the airplane names and battles.
    This one and Laura Bow: Colonel's Bequest (nothing better than a parser based adventure game with lengthy dialogues to lean english) were the best "edutainment" I ever had.

  7. Bowak says:

    This was the first ‘proper’ PC game I ever owned. December 1994 went so slowly knowing that Dawn Patrol was wrapped upstairs waiting for our brand spanking new 486 DX2 66 MHz with 8, count them 8 Megs of RAM. I’ve even kept the box sleeve as it’s a proper work of art (for a PC game).

    Needless to say, Christmas Day itself was mainly spent unravelling the mysteries of config.sys and autoexec.bat.

  8. jj2112 says:

    It’s great, beautiful and hard as hell (and I’m a pilot)

  9. larpsidekick says:

    I preferred Red Baron – the campaign was brilliant, the customisation options fabulous, and I really felt the ebb and flow of the war – it became harder and easier as historically one side or the other gained an advantage.

  10. Bull0 says:

    Loved this game! First proper flight sim I tried. After that came Tie Fighter, and then Wing Commander IV. Good times

  11. unacom says:

    I played it and liked it. My First Love in flight simulators, however I met in 1993.
    Have you played it?

  12. CartonofMilk says:

    Your Dawn Patrol is my Red Baron. The first one. Absolute classic. Still som eof my finest memories in gaming.

  13. wodin says:

    For single player WOFF version 3 and expansions is aMUST own. One if no THE best single player flight sim made

  14. Shigawire says:

    Yep. I still got the original box somewhere :)