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The Flare Path: Dora Explorer

Simulation & wargame blather

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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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Tim Stone