New in January 2021, virtual squadrons will now be recognised as a “unit” for contributions over a longer period (each half year). This recognition comes in the form of “unit citations” which all pilots within that squadron will wear on their uniforms, as long as they remain a member of that squadron. New pilots who join a squadron will also be able to share in past glorious by also wearing the unit citation on their pilot page.
The Unit Citation is a yellow ribbon, as shown below:
The award process for unit citations is as follows:
Each year is divided into 12 monthly campaigns.
In any given campaign, a squad is regarded as having made a “significant contribution” if:
Two ore more pilots with their unit tags flew
pilots with unit tags collectively logged 10+ flight hours
Unit citations are awarded every half-year (Jan-Jun and Jul-Dec)
If a squad makes 5+ significant contributions in the given half-year, it gets a unit citation
A unit citation is displayed as an extra ribbon on member pilots’ records
The unit citation belongs to the squad, not the pilots. Thus:
new pilots joining that squad, will receive its past citation ribbon
pilots leaving the squad will lose the unit citation ribbon
These Squadrons/ Groups have been given Unit Citations for the period June to December 2020:
European Air Force (EAF)
78th Fighter Group
The following pilots have received the below awards for their performance in December 2020.
23 Ribbons of each type were awarded for the month (based on the number of players who managed 10+ hours flying on the server). The ribbons will automatically show on your pilot profile on the SoW stats pages as soon as you start accumulating stats for December.
The following pilots have received the below awards for their performance in November 2020.
13 Ribbons of each type were awarded for the month (based on the number of players who managed 10+ hours flying on the server). The ribbons will automatically show on your pilot profile on the SoW stats pages as soon as you start accumulating stats for December.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a retired Royal Air Force officer, fast jet pilot and flying instructor. I grew up just east of Belfast in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles and joined the RAF after leaving university. Even by that time I had quite a few flying hours with the Air Cadets (I’d worked as a Staff Cadet on one of the Air Experience Flights), been awarded a Flying Scholarship with the RAF at age 17 that I extended to gain my Private Pilot’s License, and then flown lots of hours with Queen’s University Air Squadron on the mighty Bulldog T1. I joined the RAF in 1989, passed through Initial Officer Training at RAF College Cranwell and then went up to RAF Linton-on-Ouse for Basic Flying Training on the Jet Provost Mk 3 and 5 (the Tucano was just being introduced into Service). Advanced Flying Training followed on the Hawk T1 at RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales, and then I made a move down to RAF Chivenor in Devon to complete Tactical Weapons Training on the Hawk T1A. This is the first time you use live weapons and start operating a military fast jet rather than just flying it; the course covers low level tactical navigation and formation, A-G bombs and guns on the weapons range and then simulated attacks off range, first as a singleton, then a pair and then with a bounce aircraft, air-to-air gunnery against a towed banner, 1v1 Basic Fighter Maneuvering and 2v1 Air Combat Maneuvering. Back in those days the Fast Jet chop rate was pretty high on all of those stages of training (around 50-60% on each of those courses) so it was a relief to make it through to my Operational Conversion Unit on the Tornado F3 at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire in summer ’92. I flew 2 tours on the F3 at Coningsby, the first on 5 (AC) Sqn and the second on 29 (F) Sqn, absolutely loved the aircraft and front line flying and have some very good memories (and a few sad ones) from those tours. When 29 (F) Sqn folded as part of the UK defence review process I was posted to RAF Valley again, this time to instruct on the Tactical Weapons Unit which was now badged as 74 (F) Sqn (later re-badged as 19 (F) Sqn). While I had really not wanted to go to Valley, I really enjoyed the instructional role spending about ½ the tour in a Staneval role (Standards Evaluation, which also meant teaching new instructors as well as ab-initio pilots). Promotion out of that tour meant a short ground tour in Aviation Safety, followed by a tour as an accident investigator assisting Boards of Inquiry (best, most varied ground tour I did), then a year running the Joint Operations Centre in the HQ in the Falkland Islands (another very varied job). My last flying tour was as the UK Senior National Representative at NATO Flying Training Canada on the Hawk CT155s at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. That was another great tour, teaching a similar syllabus to that at RAF Valley, but with better navigation kit and fewer valleys. By the time I was posted back to the UK to a job in defence research at Farnborough I was already starting to feel the effects of an illness caused by a short time spent in the Gulf in 2003 during the early days of that war. As my illness worsened I had a final tour closer to home working in the project team in Bristol supporting Flight Simulation and Synthetic Training before being discharged in 2013 after a little over 23 years service. Amongst all that I got married and we had 3 kids. We now live in Somerset in the UK.
How long have you been playing flight sims? I can still remember playing Janes AH64-D Longbow, Janes F/A18 and Janes WW2 Fighters back in the mid ‘90s. When I was instructing at RAF Valley a small group of us would lug whole PCs and CRT monitors up and down the road to each other’s houses and set up a LAN to play, and that was an absolute blast (especially the WW2 stuff). Then I stopped for a very long time – I moved to a Mac for my photography when digital SLRs became more widespread and it was only recently (just over 2 yrs ago) that I discovered DCS and got back into it big time. Having the time now to enjoy it really helps too.
What other related aviation or gaming interests do you have besides WW2 flight simming? I really enjoy photography (all genres) and over the past few years (2020/COVID aside) have started getting back to airshows to enjoy aviation photography. My favorite airfield to visit is Old Warden where the Shuttleworth Collection is housed and displayed, but I’ve also enjoyed attending RIAT for the last few years for the zoomies. If anyone is interested some of my images are at http://www.edburrowsphotography.co.uk though I’m not that good at keeping my site up to date. In 2018 I completed an aviation themed panel to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force and gained my Craftsman with the Guild of Photographers. You can read more about that here https://spark.adobe.com/page/3M7fsguAat9GR/
What’s your all time favorite flight sim and why? DCS, without any hesitation. I’m so often just amazed at how far simulation has come since my first 486SX25 PC. For me, it’s the combination of fidelity in modelling of both aircraft systems and flight models that appeal, and the immersion gained by flying in VR. Sprinkle on top the fun to be gained by adding SRS and a few buddies (or strangers) to coordinate online and it’s an absolute blast. I’m a bit of a DCS module junky and do enjoy flying most of what DCS has to offer, even if I’ve been concentrating on warbirds for the most part recently. I would love them to fix the multi crew issues on the trainers as they are a blast and a great teaching tool.
What got you into DCS and the warbirds in particular? I miss flying. As far as DCS specifically goes I saw a video on YouTube (I think it was one of Ralfidude’s) and then researched it. I built a PC to play it, added VR when the Rift S released and am now midway through a rebuild. It was Phil’s YouTube channel that really introduced me to the warbirds and to Storm of War multiplayer. I suffer from fatigue quite badly so the typically shorter sorties in the warbirds really suit me and there are fewer HOTAS configurations to remember.
What interests you most as a player? I enjoy flying a sortie. So start up with some form of intent in mind like a ground attack on a certain target, or a fighter sweep through a certain area until bingo fuel and then return for an overhead break and landing. Of course, plans always change but I prefer to at least start with an aim when I take off rather than just chasing radar returns. The most satisfaction though comes from coordinating with others on SRS and I’d encourage all the players to not be shy – use the radio. I’m really looking forward to the Mosquito and some longer low level bombing raids with a group of players.
Are you in a virtual squadron? I’m in a group that flies fast jets and helos but I’ve been neglecting them a little of late (sorry chaps). Part of that has been waiting for a VR upgrade (that keeps getting delivery delays) that will make the jets that bit easier in VR (reading MFDs can be a little tricky in some of them at the moment) but mostly it’s because I’ve been enjoying SoW so much. On SoW I fly with JG 53 but will happily team up with anyone on SRS, and am generally happy to help anyone. If you type in the chat window though you’ll rarely get a response from me as it’s tricky to use in VR. I flew mostly Blue when I first started on SoW and the guys on JG 53 were mostly on at a similar time and very welcoming. It was a natural thing to join them, and since then a few more have joined us in the same way. It’s a really great relaxed bunch to fly with and we are just starting to try to get slightly larger numbers flying together, which has been some of the most enjoyable gaming I’ve ever had. I’m fortunate to have found them.
What kind of rig/ hardware setup do you have? PC Specs are Ryzen 7 3800X on an MSI B450 motherboard with 64 Gb of 3600MHz RAM. DCS runs on an NVME drive. I currently have an RTX 2070 card and fly VR in a Rift S headset. I’m really happy with it and love playing DCS on it. Both the graphics card and headset are in the process of being upgraded to an AMD RX6800XT (if I can get hold of one) and a Reverb G2 that I should be receiving the very end of November. Interface wise, I have a Warthog throttle and stick top on a Virpil base (with extension) and a set of Thrustmaster TPR Pedals. I have a set of surround speakers for the main sounds and use the VR headset for radios etc. I bought a used car seat and built supports for the controls around that so it sits separate to my main monitor. It’s great!
Are you unhappy with any aspect of your setup right now that you’d change if you could? Once I have my new VR headset and graphics card I’ll be even happier than I am now. I’m not sure I’ll need to change anything else for some time but I do need to invest in a second communications setup to make using LotATC a little easier. At the moment all my communications go through my VR headset so it’s a little awkward when using my monitor.
What’s the single best piece of Hardware you ever bought to make DCS WW2 (or WW2 simming in general) more enjoyable? Aside from VR, my Thrustmaster TPR rudder pedals. Even though I bought them in a sale they were expensive but worth every penny, especially for the warbirds. Having a good brake axis for each foot really helps with ground handling, and a good rudder setup is needed to get most from each of the aircraft in the air.
What are your top THREE tips for new players?
RTFM and ask questions. I think they go hand in hand – put in a little bit of effort on the easy stuff (how to start the aircraft for example) and ask questions on the harder more nuanced stuff (how to keep straight on the take off roll). The SoW discord is a great place to get help on your WW2 modules, as well as the Clash of Wings server and Discord that Healer set up to help WW2 newbies.
Use the radio. The radio is as much an offensive and defensive tool as any guns you have, or any guns jink you fly. Who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you are going to do, what you need, are good things to say on it. It also helps with number 1 above.
Fly with a wingman. This will need you to do number 2, and probably number 1. You’ll find spotting easier (more eyes), and the whole experience so more enjoyable.
As a bonus top tip – the in game chat window has options for talking to all or just allies. Don’t formulate your plans using the wrong one.
What is the single simplest/ lowest effort thing that ED can change about DCS WW2 to have the most positive impact right now? I’ll offer two things here. Firstly, revisit how the WW2 part of DCS is tested in the Closed Beta and get advice/support from those in the community that primarily fly the war birds (in preference to those that fly the jets first and warbirds only on occasion). Different things are important in the WW2 sim to the modern jet BVR arena and it doesn’t feel like that is reflected at the moment. I think that would also improve the ties between the hard core DCS WW2 simmers and ED developers that could only be a good thing. Secondly, run a WW2 free fortnight. Allow players to use Normandy and the WW2 assets pack for a fortnight and over that period allow an axis and allied aircraft to be used free for 3-4 days. Run it separately to any jet/helo promotions to encourage regular jet players to try the warbirds and back it up with a sale on the WW2 modules.
How important is historicity to you when it comes to Warbird simulation? Do you want to full whack (historical airfields, matching plane-sets, historical weapons and paint-jobs) or are you happy with well detailed aircraft in an anachronistic or modern setting? I think any answer to this one needs to be taken in the context of where DCS WW2 currently is, particularly considering the paucity of modules and the long development times needed to change that. Ideally, I’d like to see better, more coherent plane sets married with more correct maps (the Channel map feels like such a lost opportunity), but on the flip side I’m very happy to use what we have to enjoy the game. When MAC was announced, I did wonder if ED might eventually use that template of a ‘lighter sim’ for a WW2 theatre (more like IL2), but I’m not sure which aspect of the current modelling I would want to give up and compromise on for a faster development time and wider plane set. I do think there is always a need to balance historicity and enjoyability as it should after all be fun and we are flying in our comfortable warm studies, using VR or TrackIR, and not flying sleep deprived in cramped cold cockpits with the constant fear of death. I really think the team does a fantastic job on SoW to make it an enjoyable place for everyone given our current limitations. Everything in life is a compromise.
What’s the most frustrating WW2 Flight Sim controversy that comes up over and over again but shouldn’t because it’s really resolved? Perhaps not a controversy but one that gets repeated time and again, “Which is the best WW2 module” and “What should I buy?”. Each of the aircraft has strengths and weaknesses, and each is capable of air to air and air to ground in the context that we fly them in. The aircraft statistics page on SoW bears that out (month after month the Anton comes out top in A-A kills/flying hour…). The beautiful thing about DCS, and why so many of us seem to prefer it to IL2, is the depth of the modelling and individuality of each of the aircraft. To provide that depth ED includes both strengths and weaknesses and that affords us the opportunity and satisfaction of learning how to take advantage of the former and mitigate the latter. Doing some extended flying on all the different warbirds is a great way to appreciate this aspect to our sim but I’m constantly surprised by how many will offer opinion without making the effort to first do that. It takes time in the cockpit to learn about an aircraft, and we all have different likes and dislikes. Pick an aircraft you want to learn, spend some time in it and enjoy it.
As you probably know, the our server hosting ability has been severely restricted over the past 3 or 4 weeks due to ISP/ Connection issues and some hardware constraints.
In order to try and resolve this in a way that incurred minimal cost and disruption, we have moved the hosting two times in the past fortnight to hardware provided by community members (thanks Arglmauf and iFoxRomeo). However, for various reasons, neither solution has proven would be a long term and reliable solution to all the issues we faced.
As a result, in order to keep SoW going, we have decided to move to rented hosting services. We’ve had great help from Sockeye of 362 Sqn and the Clash of Wings server in order to be able to effect this.
The decision to move to a rented service is one that SoW admin have felt was not needed until now. In light of the recent ISP issues and concern to re-establish a reliable service we now realise that this route is the best options available.
As of Saturday November 07 2020, the SoW server will be publicly available on the new service.
The main benefits of the move are as follows:
High quality and high speed connectivity
Easy scaling up and down of hosting hardware
Loads of additional data and monitoring services, some of which might significantly improve our ability to collect and display stats
Better integration of the various pieces of SoW infrastructure
Automated backups and security
The main cost of this move is . . cost. The financial burden of running SoW goes up. We will be increasing our transparency regarding exactly what the costs of SoW are on a monthly basis as well as being transparent about how much we receive in donations in order to meet those costs.
For the present, there is no requirement to throw any money at SoW. If you do plan to contribute, please give us a couple of weeks to confirm that the service we have chosen works for us and to disclose the costs etc to the community.
The Storm of War server requires a warbird. Sure, the TF-51D is free and can be used, but nearly everyone will end up moving on to something “with teeth”. Then, you’ll need the WW2 Assets pack for troops, tanks, trucks and other period components. Then there is the map: Normandy 1944. Our campaign is set during that time and in that location. But often we will get the question… will Storm of War move the The Channel Map?
In the foreseeable future? No. We will not.
Here are the reasons.
Storm of War (SoW) is dedicated to historically-based combat flight sim environments. The aim of SoW is, where possible, to recreate historical air combat. To make as authentic as possible, we’re following a particular campaign, carefully researching the content and providing targets, objectives and dispositions consistent with the Normandy campaign from D-Day to the Normandy Break-out. This makes for a lot of missions.
Philstyle, the Lead Research and Mission builder for SoW, wrote back in July:
“I am building day-by-day Overlord Campaign missions for the SoW server. Am currently 12 missions in, and only up to June 24th. I plan to build missions out to the Falaise Pocket which was late August 1944. That will be around 70 or so missions. At 1 mission per week, it will take a couple of years.”
SoW has a lot of work to do, and that is going to take a long time. Phil and the team are determined on this vision, which means we’ll be sticking to this development plan, and thus to Normandy. But there are some other reasons for not moving to the Channel Map.
Another, less important reason to not use the Channel map is because it doesn’t meet our criteria for historicity. By the time Manston had the concrete runway, and by the time the current plane-set was in action, the Germans had moved back 150km from the French coast. Sure, there are lots of little details that are annoying… European buildings and vehicles on the UK-side of the Channel, and those vehicles are on the wrong side of the road in the UK. There are modern housing estates and industrial areas. And even then historical sites are lacking detail (e.g. no infrastructure buildings and antennas in incorrect layout at the Chain Home radar stations). However, it is possible to overlook these things.
What is more difficult, are the airfields. In the UK, there are only four: Detling, Lympne, Hawkinge and High Halden.
Many smaller fields are completely absent, which is understandable. But critical fields like West Maling, Friston, Deanland, Gravesend, Eastchurch are all missing. Most notably, there is no Biggin Hill… an essential airfield and the key of the entire Biggin Hill sector.
On the continent, the situation is worse. There are only three WWII Airfields: Abbeville, Dunkirk and Saint Omer. None of which remained in service at the time of even the earliest t of the aircraft in the current DCS Luftwaffe planeset (the FW-190 A8) and the only planned addition to the DCS Luftwaffe planeset is the Me-262… also not a match for these airfields.
Note: technically, a fourth airfield is also in France (Merville), but it is the Cold War NATO layout with what was (when built) the longest concrete runway in Europe.
Whilst undoubtedly beautiful, being a newer map, with more detail, the performance hot for players is greater than for the older maps like Normandy. Frame rates plummet significantly over built-up areas. This is a big deal for multiplayer, where lag and stutters are game-breaking. It is perhaps less of an issue, as settings can be turned down, and hardware will one day catch up. But still, it is a deterrent from using the Channel Map where performance is a major issue at the moment.
There are also some bugs, such as the temperature being locked to 0 degrees celsius, regardless of the Mission Editor settings. Basically, the map is still too rough and raw to use.
For the foreseeable future, yes, SoW will be sticking with Normandy. But not necessarily in the distant future. Philstyle writes:
“We might throw in the odd Marianas mission when it is released, but the problem is working out HOW to have them on the server without interrupting our current vision. But this is not a problem we have to deal with yet.”
The Marianas map is in development and is looking nice. When the promised WWII version is released, we’ll assess the map and see if it can be used. And, who knows, by then there might be an F4U Corsair or a P-38 Lightning (both 3rd-party modules) to add to the scenario.
No matter what map we use, Marianas, Caucasus or Normandy there will be concessions. Although all good in different ways, no map will be perfect for us. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Sure we are making concessions, but the Channel Map requires too many concessions, and simply does not fit in with our plans.
Recently, the in-mission RADAR was updated. It is no longer possible to request a RADAR report “on demand” via the F10 menu. Rather, at set intervals (currently testing 5 and 6 minutes) the server will automatically populate a text message out to each player. This message will report the basic location and heading details of the nearest two enemy aircraft which have been identified by the RADAR. The primary reason for making this change, was to dial back on the RADAR as a tool for directing dogfights. Under the on-call system, it was possible to use the RADAR to assist with near-contact acquisition. Furthermore, the on-call RADAR made it very difficult for players to disengage from combat, as their position would be constantly given away by the RADAR reporting. The updated system appears already to have been effective in achieving its intended result. At the same time, player behavior has begun to change slightly, and the following key observations can now be made with some confidence.
Milling about over a ground target is no longer viable. Previously, a ground attacker could, for the most part, loiter for extended periods of time over a ground target making multiple passes, at will, generally safe from a “bounce” due to the constantly available RADAR information. Upon the receipt of a “near” bandit report, the attacker could then decide to depart the target area. This made for the somewhat unrealistic scenario where ground attackers would do just that, loiter over a target for extended periods without real concern for visual airspace observation. Times have changed. Target loitering is now a risky behaviour. The 1-pass or 2-pass attack is now becoming standard as ground attackers look to get in and out of the target area within the few minute window between the automatic RADAR reports. Overall this represents a more similar approach to ground attack that was deployed during the Normandy campaign, at least until the closing of the Falaise Pocket!
Group flying is now more effective. More eyes, more guns and a greater chance that the enemy won’t know you are coming have made solo flying more dangerous, and group flying more effective – especially in the air to air scenarios. It’s already apparent that there has been an increase in the willingness and desire for virtual pilots to group up for mutual protection, knowing that they cannot simply rely on the on-demand RADAR to be their extra set of eyes, and their near-space situational awareness.
Loose formations are less effective. At the same time as grouping up has become MORE effective, the failure to deploy a moderately close combat formation has opened the door for confusion. It is no longer possible to quickly consult the in-mission RADAR to find out whether a sneaky interloper has weaved his or her way into the formation, and is about to open up on Smithers back there. Visual scanning is now more necessary, and, furthermore, knowning who is where in the formation has become critical. A loose and fluid formation runs the risk of providing a wily hostile with a golden opportunity to get a quick victory before anyone is any the wiser.
SRS/ Coms more important. The loss of the close-in-high-frequency Situation Awareness provided by the on-call RADAR now has to be compensated for with added pilot to pilot communication. SRS or other voice coms are additionally important now, even more than they have been with the old RADAR.
Altitude is life, still. Flying at an altitude that take more than 6 minutes to climb to is now one of the critical ways to avoid being snuck up on. Any hostile which is looking to hunt you down is going to have to exposure themselves to RADAR. An enemy that hides under the RADAR on the deck, or tries to deploy ground masking, is going to struggle to sneak up on you with the adjusted RADAR. At some point, that enemy is going to have to climb up to you, and in doing so, they’ll expose themselves to RADAR during a reporting window. Furthermore, now that your foe cannot use the RADAR to track you if you successfully dis-engage, being able to separate with a dive from altitude is going to save some bacon, that otherwise might be fried.
The RADAR changes remain in testing and observation, but for now, it looks like it has been a successful update. Thanks from the server admins to Hammer for suggesting we adopt the non-solicited RADAR approach. Let us know in the comments/ reply section if you’ve noticed a change in the way the missions are being played.
An observation that is repeatedly made on the Storm of War (SoW) server, and also the associated discord chat and forum posts, is the perceived Red-v-Blue balance. That is, the number pilots flying on the Red (= Allies) side vs the number of pilots flying on the Blue (=Axis) side at any given moment on the SoW server. Checking the numbers for the last 6 months, we see a consistent 3:2 ratio of Red:Blue flight hours, but it is tipping further in favour of Red as time goes on. Some think that this might be a problem, like having stacked teams. This article takes a look at the phenomenon and tries to find some reasons, and some alternatives, to the current situation.
Before we start
There are a few matters that we need to clear up before we look at the main issue.
Humans vs AI — Often when people look at the balance, they are only looking at the human-count. This is what shows up on multiplayer lobby screen, and what you would see if you called up the score-card in-game. However, SoW has a large contingent of AI aircraft, from lone reconnaissance to large bomber formations. Sometimes the numbers are not quite what they seem.
Timezone — Sometimes there are timezone differences. On SoW, we see the euro-timezones being reasonably balanced, whereas the american ones are rather lopsided.
Point of view — You tend to notice it being unbalanced when you are flying the outnumbered side.
Numbers does not equal balance — differences in aircraft performance (don’t go there!), pilot skill, communications, teamwork, a ground-controller (GCI), Flak/AAA, objectives and the previously-mentioned AI aircraft will all skew the balance.
History — The SoW server is currently set in 1944, post-invasion. The Luftwaffe was outnumbered by 15:1.
Is it a problem? — SoW is not trying to be a balanced dogfight server. Instead, it is aiming for a sense of history and immersion. If a Blue pilot is feeling intimidated and hopeless going up, then we’re getting it right. Likewise, if a Red pilot is feeling the skies are empty, then that was also an historical experience.
However, it might not be “fun”.
Better off Red?
So why do more people fly Red? Well, there are lots of reasons. Here are a few of them.
National-flying — there is a tendency of people to want to fly their own side. And, with the modern populations of (especially) the United States and the British Commonwealth, as well as Russia, France, etc. etc. there are simply going to be more people wanting to fly USAAF or RAF than those from the Germanic countries. And if they, on average, fly their own side you can expect a huge imbalance.
Politics — then there is the inescapable association of the LW with the political dictatorship behind it. Some people refuse on principle to fly with the black cross. Others are disuaded by the name-calling (kraut, fascist, jerry, nazi, bosch, etc.) that is levelled at the Blue side.
Winning side — some will want to fly for the winning side, and we all know the outcome of the War.
Language — Then there is a language issue. I’ve seen people complainging about the German cockpit labels, the names of the equipment, and other such things. English is simply more common, and thus easier, for many.
Measurement units — Related to that are the units of measure. Personally, I find those feet/pounds/inches/gallons a reason not to fly Red, but there are a lot who prefer them. Especially given that the US-dominated aviation industry has made imperial measures standard.
Performance — Not surprisingly the best performing DCS WW2 aircraft (P-51D) is the most popular on SoW.
New — New is interesting and, just at the moment, the P-47D is the new-kid on the blocks.
Not easy to learn — DCS, being more realistic, is also harder to learn. You really need to put time into mastering the aircraft. So you are more likely to do this for an aircraft you love. Whether deserved or not, there are more people who love the Allied aircraft.
Not easy to swap — You can’t flit between different aircraft easily like you can in War Thunder or IL2:Great Battles. Apart from the key-controller-bindings, the handling of each aircraft is really different.
Money — Oh, and you need to purchase each module too. Not everyone has a Blue module (although, technically, everyone has a Red one – TF51D!). But the point is that swapping sides is more of an issue if you need to buy an aircraft first.
But it wasn’t like this in CloD?!
Also, for those of you who remember when SoW ran a IL-2: Cliffs of Dover (CloD) server, they may not remember this level of imbalance.
Well, there sort of was. I do not have many numbers, but the few cases I found were still Red-favoured. Out of 8 cases I found from old screenshots and videos, there was one exception (Brooklands Raid) which was 40 Blue (16 bombers, 24 fighters) against 30 Red fighters.
It is not that flying preferences have changed much, but in SoW-CloD the scenario was different to SoW-DCS.
In 1940, the bombing raids (and thus mission focus) were usually AI, scripted, and ever-present. It did not matter if the Red side was in ascendancy, as there were always raids of bombers coming over and defence was needed. That then helped the Blue pilots. Despite their inferior numbers, a large raid was either a distraction, or a focus for the human pilots. By the time of the 1944 scenario, the tables have turned and the Blue pilot is outnumbered not just by Red fighters, but has to deal with the incoming A-20 and B-17 raids too.
Additionally, in 1940 Blue had an area advantage, being able to attack starting from Oye-Plage to Querqueville. In 1944, even with a-historic comprimises (Lessay, Maupertus and Caen should not be used), the number of LW bases is extremely limited, Allied radar is good, and vectoring Red pilots to victims is easy.
Can’t we do a Blue-offensive map?
With the release of the Channel map, one idea might be to go back to the Battle of Britain scenario, like what worked for CloD? This is simply not feasible.
Firstly, the Channel Map has a lot of major problems. Performance (in terms of frames per second) is sub-par. It is unlikely that this will be fixed any time soon, so we are really waiting for hardware to catch up. Again a long wait.
Then the Channel Map has other major problems. Such as a lack of airfields. For the time period of the map, for example, there is not a single operational LW airfield present. The historicity of the map is poor, with it difficult to contrive any time frame that does not clash in some way.
The Channel Map area is also limited. With so few airfields, clashes will naturally end up focused into a small area. It is difficult to support, for example, 1940 raids on Biggin Hill or the massive air battle over Dieppe in August 1942. Seriously, the total number of airfields on the Channel Map, let alone period-accurate ones, is abyssmal.
As a result, not too many people have the Channel Map… and we are already low on numbers in DCS due to the complexity of the aircraft, lack of WW2 assets, etc.. An SoW-move to the Channel would indeed split our SoW community.
But there are other problems with reversing the scenario. At the moment, there are no LW bombers. Yes, there is a Ju-88, but it is torpedo bomber, not a level bomber. We could try to re-skin the A-20 as a mutant Do-217? Or pretend that KG200 was operating hoards of captured B-17s. But then everyone has to have these paintscheme-mods (we don’t have default German markings for those the way we have British markings for the FW190). And re-skinned Allied aircraft is probably a bridge-too-far for the already-stretched imaginations of our virtual pilots.
And then the WW2 Assets pack does not suit a role reversal either. The Allies have no good low-level anti-aircraft gun (equivalent to the Flak-Vierling). Barrage balloons and other assets are still not working in multiplayer. All of these hinder a Red-defence scenario.
So forget it. There is no easy way to reverse the scenario in DCS with the current aircraft, maps and assets.
Set to get worse?
Things are unlikely to improve. The P-47D is increasing in popularity, and this will likely continue… especially with the recent arrival of the new variants and armaments. And the future release of the DH-98 Mk.VI fighterbomber will again draw more pilots to the Red side. There is an F4U Corsair on the horizon, and plans for a P-38L Lightning too. Yet, there is still no sign of the FW 190 F/G-8, let alone the Bf-109 G-6 or Me-262. And we are aware of the already-anachronistic use of the 190 D-9 and 109 K-4 for Normandy scenarios and would like to remove them. Hmm… not easy.
DCS is a superb simulator in terms of aircraft fidelity. Yet it is also really limited in setting up a scenario to remedy a natural preponderance of players to fly the Red side.
In the meantime, Red pilots need to diversify their portfolio away from purely air-to-air. Fly more ground attack, anti-shipping, bomber escort missions, and so on. Blue pilots have to get organised. Teamwork, communications and GCI.
Otherwise, if any of you have ideas or suggestions, do let us know in the comments below or via discord.
How long have you been playing flight sims? Over ten years now, although DCS is the only combat flight sim I have ever used for any considerable length of time. I have flown FSX and I’m keeping an eye on the new Microsoft flight sim as it looks beautiful and it may tempt me out the combat seat for the odd day.
What other gaming interests do you have besides WW2 flight simming? Ive been gaming since ZX spectrum days. I love turn based strategy games HOI XCom etc. I played a lot of Pavlov (counterstrike VR) I also have a soft spot for KSP (Kerbal space program).
What’s your all time favorite flight sim and why? Shock horror its DCS. Every time a new module is added i like to tinker and learn its quirks and features. I would say master them but I’m 10 years into DCS and still a beginner!
What got you into DCS and the warbrids in particular? The A-10c got me into DCS, I’m ex armed forces and i still remember seeing (and hearing) the Hogs for the first time 18 years ago. I was determined to find the most accurate flight sim with them in. As for warbirds it was the stay at home sale video 3 months ago. At the very end of the video the 109 cruises past and it just sounded amazing so i picked it up, shortly followed by the rest of the warbirds. Looking back i cant believe it taken ten years for me to see that shooting missiles is cool but 150 yard gun kills is where the fun is.
Describe your play style/ what interests you as a player? Complete mixed bag, if there are enemy players on I will hunt them, we will usually always go up to attack bombers and if there’s a quiet spell we will strap bombs on and either hit objectives, ships or airfields.
Are you in a virtual squadron? I’m a member of JG53. We are all relatively new to warbirds and formed by chance after flying together a few times and linking up to take on tasks together. We are mainly 109s but our latest pilot (Burrito) likes his beloved FW-190 A8.
It has been noted from the Storm of War stats pages that you use the 109 for ground attack a lot and not the 190. Any tips for aspiring 109-Jabo pilots? Watch your speed, the 109 controls get stiff if you are to fast and you will become a lawn dart. Delayed fuses can allow you to drop much lower in a shallow dive but this will expose you more to ground units returning fire. Above all practice, practice, practice.
What kind of rig/ hardware setup do you have? i9-9900k 16 Gigs Ram (next upgrade) 2080ti Index VR Thrustmaster Warthog Hotas and rudder pedals Old creaky chair.
Are you unhappy with any aspect of your setup right now that you’d change if you could? I need a new gaming seat and 32GB of ram would be nice. Its always the poor old seat that gets neglected when everything else gets an upgrade!
What’s the single best piece of Hardware you ever bought to make DCS WW2 (or WW2 simming in general) more enjoyable? VR transformed flight sims for me and i love my VR headset but could not imagine flying without a good Hotas. This again ties in to VR as you are essentially blind with the headset on so having everything mapped on a Hotas is essential.
What are your top THREE tips for new players?
Read the briefing and check the map for friendly and enemy airfields. Knowing where the nearest friendly airfield is that you can run to for a repair and get some Flak cover is a lifesaver if you have taken damage or a fight starts to turn bad.
Just like a poker game you have to know when to throw your cards. Not every situation you find yourself in will be favorable, don’t force a bad move. Its far better to disengage reform and re-attack.
I could say SRS and a wing-man but I’m sure that’s been covered, so lastly i would just say have fun. Don’t beat yourself up
What is the single simplest/ lowest effort thing that ED can change about DCS WW2 to have the most positive impact right now? All the Multiplayer issues with trains barrage balloons etc! Its great that the assets pack continues to grow but its a little frustrating that we cant use them in multiplayer. If I could wave a magic wand i would also make the Normandy map and Channel map merge as one uber map.
“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
AAR from our July 2nd flight on Storm of War, featuring Rob, Mother, Bowsewr and Chuck.
17 June, 1944. D-Day is just behind us, but the war in the West is far from over. Allied forces have secured a beachhead in Normandy, but German forces still control Cherbourg and the majority of the Cotentin Peninsula.
We are assigned to the 336th Fighter Group, which is based in Saint-Pierre-du-Mont. A squadron of P-47 Thunderbolts and a squadron of P-51 Mustangs are both stationed there.
Saint-Pierre-du-Mont has great strategic value at this time since M64 and M65 bombs just got shipped from England, which allows us to support ground troops without having to fly all the way back to Ford or Funtington. As I fire up my trusty Thunderbolt, Rob, Mother and Bowsewr finish their engine run-up before taxiing to runway 27. We load up bombs and extra fuel in the auxiliary tank.
As we line up on the runway, we have a grim reminder that fighting is still going in the push towards Cherbourg. From the airfield, smoke columns are visible near Azeville and Sainte-Mère-Église. We perform last minute checks (trim, flaps, tailwheel locked, boost off, propeller at max) as radar operators inform us that no air threats are expected in the vicinity. However, we still have an uneasy feeling that this could change at any minute.
Our mission is to intercept a few German Schnellboots. According to intelligence reports, the flotilla is following the Cotentin Peninsula and heading North. Armed with this knowledge, we plan our flight accordingly and prepare for a long flight.
We throttle up and depart West towards Utah Beach. We start climbing as fast as we can using the best climb speed (160 mph). Down low, the Jug is a real pig… but up high it is a very potent fighter. We follow the coast towards Barfleur without seeing any sign of enemy aircraft. As we draw closer to Cherbourg, we realize that cloud cover will make ship spotting a bit difficult. Therefore, we decide to head North towards the Channel to try to find these ships.
After a good half-hour of flying, our auxiliary tanks are drained and we have to switch to the main tank. That still gives us a good 250 gal of fuel, which is more than enough for our mission. After roughly 20 minutes of flight across the Channel, we still haven’t seen any ship at all. The clouds make our job quite difficult since we can barely keep everyone in visual while flying between the puffy clouds.
We then dive down below the clouds to try to better spot the fleet, and steer South towards Alderney. Once again, no Schnellboots in sight. Could our intel be wrong? In hindsight, we suspect the flotilla could’ve been sighted much further South towards Granville or Mont Saint-Michel… but instead we elect to turn back towards the coast to strike some ground targets.
Our alternate target is a Telecommunication Station North-West of Valognes. Rob’s eagle eye finds the communications centre, and a few minutes later we all start our bombing run.
Rob and I go first, and the first pass completely smashes the communications center. Angry tracers graze us left and right. Bowsewr and Mother join the party and we end up busting a few bunkers. After a few more passes, the whole camp lies in ruins. We then head back to Saint-Pierre-du-Mont for some well earned R&R. Interestingly, what was originally meant to be an anti-shipping mission turned into a very successful air-to-ground strike mission.
About the Author: Chuck Owl is a keen WW2 flight simmer who has been part of the multiplayer community for a number of years. Chuck is also famous for producing the highly detailed “Chuck’s Guides” to DCS aircraft.
Incorrectly, Mark Twain is often credited with the quote “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damn lies and statistics“. It seems that statistics have an interesting following, particularly where competition exists. “We do so love to hate and hate to even admit we love looking at statistics don’t we?” Twain didn’t say that either. Whether it’s racing (any format), football, hockey, chess or even poker playing, any following of competitive sport will almost never be without a crop of statistics near-by to provide additional detail and insight (or confusion). Usually used to either justify the reasoning behind an expectation, a bet or to satisfy a claim made prior, statistics are either praised as an oracle or dismissed as falsehoods when the final result comes in.
Storm of War has had statistics established since its beginning. Indeed, there has always been a results table in flight simulators and Storm of War server (similarly to all servers) leveraged it. However, it was quite quickly identified that the default flight sim results tables were not up the task for SoW and during the former IL2-CLoD days, much effort and design went into developing and managing statistics.
The vast majority of virtual pilots are, most likely, checking in on their stats regularly. Sure a very few claim no interest but I suspect they were sneaking a peek on the side anyway! It’s not vanity or even curiosity. It’s a natural response of any competition loving person. The latest evolution of Storm of War is on the DCS platform and the SoW statistics are again back and active. Hundreds of pilots are logging results every month. There is a very important observation that came from the previous IL2-CLoD statistics days which is particular to how SoW is setup and that’s the Squadron statistics. As individual pilots, your performance is there to be seen and a good session at the stick can return some quite handsome results to be rightly proud of. However, if you are a member of the Squadron, then there’s a knock on effect from your personal score, of raising your Squadron’s profile and this is what SoW is really all about. To be clear, there is plenty of room for individual pilots to be fully catered for; after all, the base level for the statistics is the ‘Pilot’ level. It’s the fold up of these collectively into the Squadron level that provides the motivation and reason for Squadrons to fly on SoW to most all SoW pilots and virtual squadrons.
But …(like some cringy TV infomercial selling you overpriced ‘amazing’ cotton socks) …there’s more ! The SoW Campaign summary is the summation of every individual pilot’s record during the month of operations combined to provide a ‘quick glance’ state of play.
Every time a pilot chooses to fight with a sense of self preservation and bring the plane back to base instead of risking all, it has a positive impact on the teams overall result.
One other pretty cool thing that SoW does (it’s not exclusive or original to SoW) is the issuance of medals at the end of each month. The statistics reset, with that previous months results archived and available to see. Pilots who have had a good month and achieved notable mentions, may in some cases receive additional medals on their name to reward them for exceptional results. This is all to recognize those pilots who have put in the seat time, flown tactically and in doing so, enhanced the furthered the strategic aims of their side.
The true motivation of the SoW statistics, even though there is individual pilot information available, is aimed at explaining the overall monthly score for each team and through this, to encourage teamwork, cooperation and flying together with purpose. Just as the server missions track the history of the WW2 air war, the statistics are very much a nod to the reality of all sides back then, when blood and treasure was spent in the pursuit of victory.
Besides providing performance data back to players, the presentation of statistics can also be used by the server to encourage certain types of game-play. But highlighting certain types of successes, player behaviour can be adapted to better reflect the intentions and design philosophy of the server (such as team-play, and providing a diverse target environment for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat).
Storm of War, for anyone new to this server takes no side, promotes no political point of view and is focused on the simple idea, yet challenging task of creating a fun environment to fly simulated warbirds.
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