“Did you know” is a series of perhaps lesser known features and details about the DCS WW2 aircraft. though not necessarily important to know in order to fly the aircraft, they are still interesting and if known, may prove useful. In this article, we’re discussing some features of the Spitfire.
Morse Code Signal Lamp:
The Spitfire has a built in and fully functional Morse Code key and visual lamp system. A white lamp can be found just rear of the antenna behind the cockpit, a second laps on the fuselage underside between the landing gear.
In the cockpit, upper starboard side wall, just aft of where the front panel meets the starboard side wall, a component with three switches is mounted. Two switches enable/disable the lamps and the middle switch is actually a Morse Code key. Short tap for “di” and long tap for “dah”.
Used as a means of communication when radio discipline was critical, such as coordinating a fighter formation prior to an attack or perhaps as a identifier for friendly contacts in low light or dark conditions when regrouping, the Morse Code lamps could almost easily allow the pilot to clearly and quickly identify themselves to other allies pilots in their airspace. I say ‘almost easily’, because, if you fly the spitfire, you’ll soon find yourself doing a little hand gymnastics in the cockpit as you swap your left hand from the throttle to the stick, to allow you to use your right hand to operate the Morse key. Alternatively you could try using your left hand …. but that’s even more awkward. There’s something ‘very British’ about the placement of some controls in the cockpit after all.
Pilots were required to be proficient in Morse Code to a standard of at least15 words per minute (wpm)
Oil Dilute control:
When operating in cold winter conditions, the Spitfire cockpit has, accessible to the pilot, an engine oil dilution control which as the name suggests, dilutes the engine oil. Used typically during startup, these controls can be found beside the pilots seat, lower port side, under the elevator trim controls. There are three black cap covered buttons, aligned in a vertical orientation, with the top one being the oil dilute control.
The reason for this control is simple. In very cold and wintry conditions, when the aircraft as sat un-used for any reasonable length of the time, the engine oil, vital for the lubrication of and sustained operation of the engine, will have low viscosity, meaning it won’t be flow easily enough to properly lubricate the engine upon start up. Given the oil cannot do it’s job because it too cold and thick, this will prematurely damage the engine. After starting, the engine will eventually warm up, the lubricating oil will become more viscous and begin to do it’s job properly. However, without diluting the oil prior to start up, it’ll be too late and the damage will already be done.
The solution is to dilute this thicker cold less viscous engine oil before turning over the engine to ensure it can do it’s job straight away. This is achieved by mixing the engine oil with fuel from from the fuel tank, controlled by the button on the left of the pilots seat. The result required is an oil pressure of less than 120 psi and thereby, a more easily flowing (more viscous) engine oil. This cost merely a few quarts of engine fuel but can help ensure the engine wear is minimised when being started in very cold conditions. The fuel itself essentially evaporates from the oil soon after and causes not issues. There is a gauge in the front panel in the Spitfire which displays the oil pressure to the pilot. This is the long vertical gauge, marked in orange or yellow and located low center right on the front panel.
Once the engine starts, it is important to let it warm up before being put under load. It is unclear at the time writing, the extent to which Eagle Dynamics intend to implement engine management within it’s forth coming and much anticipated damage model update.
Do you have knowledge of other system in the DCS Spitfire which have been implemented yet mostly sit there quietly, unused or unknown. Do drop a comment below.
Taped Gun and Cannon Ports:
Perhaps you have noticed, perhaps you’ve not. The Spitfire’s gun and cannon ports are taped with red tape as part of the ground crews service and overhaul when you take a new plane. When you jump into a new aircraft, you’ll notice that read tape is applied on the leading edge of the wing and on the cannon muzzles. The reason is simple, it indicated that the guns and cannons have been serviced and are ready to go
However, say you land, taxi off the runway, stay in your aircraft and call your ground crew with an order to immediately reload and refuel. Your crew chief will get his team right on it and then let you know when the action is completed. You may notice that they won’t re-tape the gun and cannon ports.
Eagle Dynamics appear to have modeled this also and it makes sense. In this case, taping the gun and cannon ports wouldn’t make sense as it’s not at all important and would take unnecessary time. Pretty cool minor details I think
About the Author: Joker has been flying WW2 flight sims for a number of years and flies primarily on the allied side, with 54 Virtual Squadron. Joker also has a Youtube channel where he posts aviation and road vehicle simming videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2wB68fOiugO-KUXqU4fNlw