As part of DCS World, fly the F-86F Sabre in a fully realized combat environment with working weapon systems and capable air and ground threats.
The North American F-86F Sabre was the most capable western fighter of the early- to mid-1950s. This swept wing, single engine jet was the most important western aircraft of the Korean War and often tangled with Russian-made MiG-15s over the infamous “MiG Alley”. It was a hard struggle not only for the Korean sky, but also between two excellent aircraft builders of the East and West. In addition to its primary role as an air-to-air fighter, the Sabre could also carry bombs and air-to-ground rockets to attack ground targets.
Release Date: 8th August 2014
Available on: Windows, PC Download
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DCS World F-86F Sabre - A piece of military history brought to life with a professional flight model and the incredible framework of DCS World.
Soaring in a Piece of History
You'll probably find that the majority of DCS World players revel in the modern-day fighter jet selection that is available from Eagle Dynamics, and that's okay, right? It is if you're happy to forget about some of the historical fighter jets that shaped the course of a variety of conflicts from the past, but who'd want to forget something as important as that? Not me, that's for sure, which is why I'm strongly recommending you check out the subject of the review below, which is the F-86F Sabre module for the DCS World flight simulator framework.
Though it's fun to fly an F-15C Eagle and swell to soar in an Su-27, the F-86F requires a more skilful touch due to its single engine, lack of automated aviation/weapons control systems, and altogether more advanced flight model. So take a break from the relative comfort of the HUD-dominated DCS World modules that are the modern jet fighters and read a little more about the F-86F, a plane that requires some serious skill, precision, and attention to detail just to keep the thing in the air for more than a few minutes at any serious altitude.
If you happen to be a newcomer to the DCS World way of doing things, this digital combat simulator is quite easily the best framework for digital combat simulation in the whole of the gaming world. It would be inaccurate to put DCS World in the category of "game" however: Battlefield is a game, and so is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, but I wouldn't dare claim that they offer the same thing as DCS World. The former two titles have instant-action and immediate gratification as their goal, whereas DCS World is a simulation through-and-through; it possesses the difficult learning curve yet comparatively large payoff of a simulation as well.
But DCS World is simply the base framework for a series of modules that work within the confines of some seriously realistic simulated physics - the F-86F Sabre is just one aircraft of the many available for DCS World, so what makes it special enough to warrant a review?
Firstly, the place of the F-86F Sabre in the history of the 20th century is reason enough to justify the praise that this module is going to receive in this review (it's a foregone conclusion, believe me). It has been part the air force of many countries since its introduction to the United States Air Force in 1949, including the forces of Pakistan, Portugal, the Philippines, and the Republic of China Air Force. Most notably however, the Sabre was an highly effective aircraft for the United States Air Force, perfect for dogfights and a much-needed counter-aircraft to challenge the Soviet MiG-15 as well as taking to the skies in the Korean War.
Swept-wing, transonic, and superior to other jet fighters of its time, the F-86F is recreated in DCS World with remarkable detail that simply won't be found in any other simulation.
PFM, The Hottest Kind of Flight Model
Just to clarify for newcomers to DCS World, the F-86F Sabre is a professional flight model-level simulation, meaning that it has more realistic physics and generally requires more skill than any of the DCS World models that are Standard Flight Model or Advanced Flight Model simulations.
I'll save you any of the boring details, but essentially the flight model of the F-86F is described as being "generations beyond the Advanced Flight Model (more information about the differences between flight models can be found at the Eagle Dynamics Forum). Put into practice this basically means increased-accuracy physics based on data from more comprehensive wind-tunnel tests performed with the actual aircraft, higher-fidelity modelling and reproduction of the F-86F's cockpit, its weapon systems and other hardware, as well as a more realistic-feeling experience overall from take-off to landing.
So if it's realism you want, the F-86F Sabre is the ideal aircraft for you to try out, and it is a simulation that only serves to be more challenging because of the age of the aircraft. You know the automated weapons systems that allow you to target airborne bogeys with the click of the keyboard and fire off a heat-seeking missile that finds the target almost entirely automatically? You can forget that with the F-86F. This is partially due to the fact that your only air-to-air weapon is your machine gun (or machine guns, should I say - six of them), but also because the hardware in the F-86F is the product of its era, a stark contrast to the relative comfort and luxury of modern flight systems.
So what's it like to fly the F-86F? Well, it's a very different experience from more modern aircraft like the A-10C as you would expect. Whereas you can almost forget that you even need to trim your aircraft in the flight models of the Flaming Cliffs 3 module, you'll meet a swift and grim end if you do so with the F-86F. The most noticeable thing about flying the plane is that the standard orientation of the plane is one of a nose-down nature, forcing you to be quite on the ball when trimming your aircraft in terms of both pitch and roll. Fail to do so, and you'll be constantly fiddling with the stick just to stay at a level heading.
A Stick In Time...
As with most of the modern aircraft you can experience in DCS World I highly recommend that you're gentle yet firm and decisive with your stick movements. The difference between the modern fighters and the F-86F is that the former are much more forgiving of the odd sudden pull back on the stick whereas you'll pay for hastiness in the latter. You might find yourself blacking out extremely quickly if you're too forceful or sudden with your stick control. Bear in mind that unless you've got auto-rudder/game flight mode on, you're going to feel limitations of physics in the F-86F, particularly at high altitudes and when pulling off sharp turns/advanced manoeuvres.
Taxi for One
I encountered a bit of bother when trying to taxi the aircraft, forgetting for a second that this is an older fighter jet and therefore cannot simply be banded around the runway at relatively high speed. My main problem was forgetting about the separate nose wheel that needs to be activated autonomously from the rear wheels, but this shouldn't be a problem for experienced.
Another consideration that should be taken note of is when adjusting the flaps of the F-86F. Remember that you're running a professional flight model of an older plane and therefore can't simply have the flaps adjust themselves nicely by pressing the F key: you have to manually adjust the flaps yourself. This means raising and lowering the flaps into the correct position during takeoff using your own judgement, which in turn requires quite a bit of flight experience in the first place.
It can feel like the F-86F is a little bare when it comes to weaponry, though this is only if you're comparing it to an aircraft like the A-10A Thunderbolt II with its air-to-surface missiles and cannons that fire depleted uranium rounds. The F-86F in comparison sports six Colt-Browning machine guns that fire 12.7mm rounds, 16 unguided rockets, and two AN-M64 bombs. This weaponry allows it to face off against both air and ground targets, though it takes considerably more skill to take down a plane with its machine gun than with the guns of aircraft from the modern day.
You can rest easy knowing that the graphics in DCS World are second to none (even though it's over 6 years old in its original form); the F-86F Sabre modelling is utterly fantastic and really feels as authentic as you're likely to get from a simulation. The squadron markings on the plane give it that authentic feel and with all settings on high you're looking at a seriously nice-looking (yet computer hardware-battering) plane.
The cockpit itself has incredibly fidelity with the real-life plane, with each instrument working independently of the rest and presenting real-time data. This being an interactive cockpit, you can also physically flick the switches and increase/decrease the throttle as well as control pretty much everything with the mouse (using it as an extension of your own hand). This makes it much more entertaining than simply using keyboard commands to activate the various instruments and systems of the aircraft.
A Hefty Conclusion
You can't really put a price on the kind of accuracy that DCS World's F-86F Sabre module offers, but Eagle Dynamics went and did it anyway ($49.99 is the asking price on the Eagle Dynamics Website) and it's worth every cent. The fidelity of the model itself is breathtaking and the professional flight model results in some seriously challenging yet highly rewarding flight time.
The F-86F is a fantastic look back to the past for many and a refreshing change from the modern flight systems for others. The 3D, interactive cockpit is perhaps one of the most impressive things about this simulation, but what tops it off is being able to face the MiG-15s, the Sabre's most prominent rival around the time of its introduction and initial use.
Our Rating: 93/100
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DCS F86F Sabre is developed by Eagle Dynamics.