Everyone knows that flight simulators are no joke. You can't simply pick up X-Plane or Microsoft Flight Simulator and soar into triumphant flight in the way you can with some arcade-level games - the skill needed is just too extensive. Flight simulators are just a different breed of software altogether, and DCS World's Hawk module is no exception to this tendency. The Hawk T.1A module for DCS World may be in a BETA state at the moment, but it has been flyable for quite some time. Though it runs on the Standard Flight Model (the most basic known in the DCS World universe), the T.1A is still a challenging plane to fly, which is why I've composed a small guide in order to get newcomers up and running and off the ground.
DCS World Hawk T.1A - Tips to Help You Get Off the Ground
Getting to Grips
So you've purchased the Hawk T.1A module for DCS World. Congratulations, you now own flight simulation software that's more detailed and realistic than 90% of any other fight sims out there. You also own a module whose titular aircraft is extremely versatile, massively fun to fly, and extremely realistic in its reproduction of the real-life Hawk T.1A. With such a detailed simulator that is about as high-fidelity as it gets however, difficulties are always going to arise in getting to grips with the staggering level of experience required to fly a plane proficiently. Hopefully, this Hawk T.1A guide will help anyone that needs it to get the magnificent Hawk started up and occupying the virtual skies.
The Hawk T.1A Module
I won't go into too much detail here, but in purchasing the Hawk T.1A you now own an aircraft that fits quite nicely into the DCS World framework. The Hawk T.1A is a Standard Flight Model simulation produced by a UK company called VEAO Simulations. This developer is currently working on an External Flight Model for the Hawk T.1A which will be available in coming months. Though this collection of tips is intended for use with the current Hawk T.1A preview module, it will have a significant amount of carry-over for later versions of the module. It's the same aircraft after all!
As has been mentioned in the Hawk T.1A Review on this site, the Hawk T.1A module is rather light on content to say the least. What you get is essentially the plane itself (obviously) with a few quick-start missions and training modules thrown in for good measure. There are no Hawk T.1A-specific missions that come with the module like they do with the F-15C, Thunderbolt II, and other DCS World Modules. Still, in spite of this comparative lack of content, you've still got options available to you.
Check the Training
First and foremost (particularly for beginners) I recommend that you check out the training modules for the Hawk T.1A. These come pre-packaged with the module and can be found in the "Training Section" under the "Hawk" tab. Unfortunately there are only two separate training modules here, but they should more than suffice for getting you familiarised with the aircraft.
"Hawk Familiarization" will take you through the hardware of the cockpit (it's an interactive cockpit, making it much more difficult to operate than the conventional keyboard command-controlled cockpits of some other modules). "Hawk Navigation" is the second training section and will take you through the basics of navigating the aircraft around the airfield. Don't worry though, if you don't want to spend time going through these modules, the tips and details below should lay out the basics of the aircraft and its operation in plain sight.
To prevent you from taking off from the runway of frustration with the Hawk T.1A of despair, you'll first need to assign some custom controls in order to allow you to take advantage of the functions of the aircraft. Some of these depend on whether you have a joystick controller or not, but remember that such hardware is optional and beginners can still enjoy the Hawk with just a keyboard and mouse.
Start/Re-Light Button - This is arguably the most important key to assign because it without having this key assigned to a command that you are aware of, you won't actually be able to start the engine up in the first place. This can be very frustrating if you're a first-time flyer.
Other considerations - You should set the joystick controls as well as the throttle and rudder controls (under the Axis Assign section) to Normal. Setting the MASS Key/Switch will also allow you to use the master arm in order to activate the weapons circuits. Set key assignments for this if you do not wish to utilise the clickable cockpit function.
HOTAS Warthog - If using this piece of hardware, you can set the Idle Detent if you wish. It can also be handy to set the 3-stage flap switch, which allows you control the flaps of the aircraft through the flap switch on the Warthog instead of needing to use keyboard commands.
The Interactive Cockpit
The Hawk T.1A is a module that differs from other modules like the A10A Warthog in that it has an interactive cockpit. This means that instead of using keyboard control assignments to activate various functions, you instead have to interact with the cockpit as a real pilot would. Unfortunately for beginners this also means that you have to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the different pieces of hardware in the cockpit that are required in the startup and take-off procedure.
The startup procedure for the Hawk T.1A is as follows, with each step's number corresponding to the numbers located on the above screenshot next to the hardware relevant for each particular step.
Startup Checks (Pre-Startup)
These are simple visual checks that you should go through before initiating the actual startup procedure and they are as follows.
Oil Temperature - Check temp is above -26 degrees C and no more than 150
Brakes - Check they are on and in "Parked" setting
Landing Gear Selector Switch - Down Position
Throttle Control Lever - HP Cock Off position
Ignition Isolation Switch - Set to Normal
Battery Master Switches - Select to On
Landing Gear Indication - Green indicators should be showing
Cabin Air Selector Switch - Set to Normal
CWP Captions - All except FIRE, T6NL, EOHT, FUEL, SKID, JPOHT,ECA and START should be illuminated. Then switch ON/TEST switch to TEST setting, making sure all are illuminated before switching back to ON and making sure the initial lights that were off are now off again.
Engine Instruments - Reading should be Zero
Start Indicator - Ensure
LP Shaft Rotation Indicator - Indicator should be black
Access Ladder - Should be removed
Canopy - Closed and Locked (as per instructions below)
LP Fuel Cock Control Lever - Set to On
Actual Startup Procedure
- 1.Activate External Power: Right Shift + P
- 1a. Click AC1, AC2, AC3 with the mouse
- 2. LP Fuel Cock On (Lever to the behind-left of your seat)
- 3. Fuel Pump Switch On
- 4. Ignition Switch On
- 5. Master Start Switch On
- 5a. Wait 15 seconds
- 6.Idle Stop on Throttle (click it)
- 7. Let engine rise to around 7400 RPM and TGT to 430
- 8. Engine Start Switch to Off position
- 9. Push Hyd2 Reset Button
- 10. Battery Switch 1 and 2 to On
- 10a. Switch to Internal power by pressing Right Shift + P
- 10b. Reset AC1, AC2, AC3 as in step 1.
- 11. Move the stick to the right and switch AHRS Master knob to "SLV"
- 11a. Wait around 3 minutes for everything to alight (cancel red warning lights by clicking on them)
- 12. Turn on Nav and Anti-Collision Lights
After you have followed the above procedure, the Hawk T.1A is ready for take-off.
If operating the aircraft in low-visibility or straight-up night-time conditions, then you'll need to make use of the emergency/cockpit lighting in order to properly operate the aircraft. The emergency and cockpit lighting switch board can be located on the front right-hand panel of the aircraft (it is indicated in the picture above.
Emergency lighting and night-time lighting should be used separately. At night, you should turn on emergency lighting in order to illuminate the panel switch. Flick the panel switch to on, and then use the radial dials for port, starboard, and centre in order to adjust the cockpit lighting to desired levels. Emergency lights should then be switched off.
Get some Closure (of the Canopy)
It's important to close the canopy before you begin take-off procedures. Though this may seem quite an obvious thing to do and not at all difficult, it's extremely important here, and also a little different from the usual procedure due to the interactive nature of the cockpit and surrounding instruments. You close the canopy in three stages:
Canopy Grab Handle: Click on the grab handle with the mouse. It is located on the canopy frame.
Locking Lever: Locate the locking lever and click this in order to set it to the down position
Safety Catch: Located almost underneath the lever, this can be difficult to see in low-light conditions.
Once the canopy is closed and the rest of the start-up procedure has been followed you will be ready to take off!
Takeoff, Manouvres, Landing - General Tips
Once you're aligned on the runway and ready for takeoff, then there's nothing left to do but actually get this bird off the ground! When taking off you'll want to increase the throttle to maximum, ideally reaching a speed of around 140 knots before pulling back on the stick and allowing the Hawk to gently take off.
Never forget to put your flaps up once you've taken off and are climbing positively. Also remember to retract the landing gear as well in order to allow the Hawk to be fully ready for flight.
When flying in the Hawk, remember that as with all DCS World aircraft that you'll want to use relatively gentle movements when manoeuvring the aircraft. This means not being too violent with things like the throttle, but particularly the stick. Violent movements can often lead to complications such as causing the plane to roll, dive, or climb too sharply. Obviously advanced flight-sim fans will already know about things like this, but beginners must remember that this is no mobile arcade game like Dogfight - this is a simulation that will punish you for even small mistakes.
When coming in for landing, you'll have to set your course so that you become aligned with the runway. The problem is that if you're going too quickly then you'll end up overshooting your course and will have to restart your descent again. On the other hand, if you're going too slowly then you can run the risk of the plane simply falling out of the sky during your turns. So when descending, a great starting point is to try and make it so that you're travelling on a descent of around 500ft down per minute.
Always make sure you've adjusted your flaps for landing and have lowered the all-important landing gear - certain disaster awaits if you haven't made sure you've done the latter!
Your speed during your descent towards the runway should be no more than 180 knots to start with, dropping down to around 140 with the help of the flaps, going full flaps-down when you're nice and lined up with the runway. Around 145 knots is a nice speed when making your final approach to the runway. Descent rate of 500ft down per minute should be maintained as you approach the runway, controlled with the nose of course.
Once you reach the threshold of the runway you want to rotate the plane so that the nose comes up slightly, allowing for the back wheels to touch down first, reducing power to the engines, and then allowing the front wheel to touch down naturally as your speed decreases to the appropriate level.