Hawk T1A Jet Aircraft Game Review for DCS

DCS Hawk T1A

The T1A has four under-wing pylons cleared to carry Sidewinder AIM-9L air-to-air missiles, rocket pods, practice bombs and bombs, and can carry a 30mm Aden cannon in a pod underneath the fuselage centre-line. The cannon can be fired at the same time as any of the pylon-mounted weapons are selected for release or firing.

Release Date: 28th November 2014

Available on: Windows, PC Download

Critics Rating: 4.0/5

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Hawk T.1A Module for DCS World - A standard flight model which results in an exhilarating flying experience that is anything but

Flight simulators are all well and good for the standard activities of aviation, but DCS World offers all this and more in all of its unique modules. The ""more"" I am referring to is the ability to take control of a variety of combat-ready aircraft and in this instance the privilege of being able to command the cockpit of the Hawk T.1A and take to the skies. As any aviation enthusiast will know, the Hawk T.1A is a legendary aircraft that has been in service since 1976 in many forms - the T1.A is simply a modified version of the Hawk T1, both of which are fine examples of advanced trainer aircraft.

The Hawk T.1A's presence in DCS World is in the form of a standard flight model, but don't let this lure you into any false sense of security: its three-dimensional, interactive cockpit requires a significant level of technical capability in order for you to enjoy the Hawk T.1A experience in full. This is an aircraft that has formed a significant part of the RAF's history; the T1 and the T1A is currently used by the 208 (reserve) squadron of the RAF, though perhaps the most well-known use of the Hawk model is in the Royal Air Force Acrobatic Team, better known as the Red Arrows. You're not flying a Red Arrow in this module however: you're flying a T.1A equipped with AIM-9M Sidewinders, bombs, rocket pods, and a gun pod.

Hawk, Line, and Sinker

Once you've downloaded the base DCS World framework you can then purchase and download the Hawk T.1A module from the very same website. This module was actually produced by an external company, VEAO Simulations, and works in conjunction with the base DCS World framework. You'll already know by now that this isn't an arcade game: stepping into the Hawk T.1A module requires that you first look over the flight manual, and beginners will almost certainly want to make use of the training modules before even attempting to tackle any of the Instant Action or fully-fledged Main Missions that comes with the module.

This Hawk module looks very similar in nature to any other on the surface, possessing Instant Action missions, a mission/campaign editor, a host of difficulty options and preferences, and some handy tutorials to get you up and running. Where the module obviously differs is in the aircraft you're piloting.

This particular Hawk T.1A comes to you in a Standard Flight Model, in contrast to the Advanced Flight Model or Professional Flight Models that some of the other DCS World modules offer. This isn't going to be the only version of the Hawk that is available in the future as superior flight models are being developed and are soon to be available in the coming months. Because of the Standard Flight Model, connoisseurs will notice that the cockpit doesn't have full and complete functionality at the moment, with some features to come in future updates to the module

As mentioned before however, the fact that this Hawk module runs the Standard Flight Module doesn't mean that operating the Hawk T.1A is a simple endeavour. In fact, it is anything but.

Cockpit Craziness

One of the features of the Hawk T.1A module that distinguishes it from the models such as the base-framework Su-25T or the F-15C Module is that this little beauty has an interactive cockpit. This means that instead of relying on keyboard commands you use the mouse to activate/interact directly with all of the components in the cockpit that you see on the screen. The Standard Flight Model permits interaction with a commendable number of cockpit functions, effectively increasing the feeling of realism and boosting the fidelity of the module when comparing it to non-interactive cockpits you'll find in modules like the DCS World F-15C Eagle.

jet games hawk cockpit

Looking at the above screenshot of the cockpit, you can see that (in spite of the fairly plain textures) you have a decent quantity of hardware that you're going to have to interact with in order to get the Hawk up off the ground and soaring harmoniously through the air. Remember that you'll be looking around the cockpit a fair amount (just use the arrows on the Number Pad if you haven't already assigned cockpit viewing movements to any other key or additional input hardware you may be using) in order to use the mouse to flick switches, turn dials, and perform a variety of other tasks that the interactive cockpit allows you to accomplish.

I won't go into a massive amount of detail in regards to the individual steps required for you to get the plane up and running from a cold start, but it's relevant for this review to simply state that there is quite a lot to remember, and the interactive cockpit doesn't exactly make things easier for beginners by any means. After all, the process is around 16 steps long, starting with the ignition and battery switches and going through almost all of the motions that an actual Hawk pilot would have to go through, ending with steps such as checking the HYD gauges and closing the canopy before you go ahead and perform the usual acceleration down the runway before takeoff.

It's pretty easy to conclude that the Hawk T.1A module isn't perfect for flight-sim first-timers by any means because even if do know the general startup sequence, it isn't just a case of remembering a set of key commands - you have to actually have some knowledge about the layout of the cockpit as well as the function of each of the switches, dials, and indicators that are situated all around it. The interactive cockpit may therefore be quite difficult for beginners to pick up, though one man's annoyance is another's dream (the another in this case being the flight-sim fanatic that will simply love and relish the challenge of getting to know the intricacies of the Hawk's hardware).

Graphics and Sound

There's no denying that DCS World looks pretty fantastic, no matter what module you're playing. Though the game is over 5 years old at this stage, the graphics still look pretty impressive with the detail of the surrounding environment never failing to amaze me. Flying at sunset, for example, offers up some amazing views, particularly if you're making use of the external camera angles.

jet games hawk external view

The only downside to the Hawk T.1A look is the plane itself - it's just not a very attractive-looking plane. It has a dark body and a fairly unexciting shape if I'm being quite honest. But this isn't what DCS World is about - it's about the fidelity of the flying, and I'll say right now that the Hawk T.1A is extremely high in its fidelity.

Part of the problem with the textures of this Hawk T.1A module (including its cockpit textures as well as different textures for the external sections of the plane) are not the final versions. Though one can experience the Hawk right now in some of its glory, the current model isn't the final one: it's only the Standard Flight Model in its functionality, and its relatively plain look and textures reflect this early stage of the module's development.

In Flight

Right, so everything looks pretty great in the cockpit, and the external view also yields an equally pleasing feeling as your Hawk travels at great speed down the runway before lifting off into the air, but what's it like to fly? Well, firstly you'll notice that this is a very agile aircraft that is pleasantly responsive to your controlling input. This makes it much a much better aircraft during manoeuvres than some of the heavier planes that DCS World has to offer. No sluggishness or need to shy away from combat here - you've got a plane that's quick to turn, dive, climb, and pretty much any other manoeuvres you can think of.

While I find it difficult to criticise the aircraft's flight model for being essentially as good as a Standard Flight Model will ever be, it's not as troubling for me to make light of the fact that you will encounter a fair few things during your flight that will highlight the unfinished nature of the Hawk module as it currently stands.

jet games hawk sidewinder use

Things like the lack of the telltale sound when you're attempting to use the Sidewinder Missiles, or the fact that landing the plane feels far too easy when compared to land say, the F-86F Sabre, all speak of a module that isn't quite polished around the edges just yet. Also, if you attempt to find yourself a stable trim/throttle position and you'll be disappointed as in spite of it being a generally great flight model, you'll struggle to find stability.

More annoying is the fact that beginners will have to scour the internet quite extensively in order to find anything that resembles a manual for the aircraft. There's no actual manual out there but there are various Youtube videos detailing the take-off procedure and demonstrating things like the Sidewinder missiles as well as landing the plane. Of course you've also got the training modules including with the Hawk T.1A software, but these are fairly rudimentary and really don't give you that much of a head start when it comes to actually flying the Hawk around in anything that resembles a challenging mission.

Content

There's a decent amount of content that comes with the Hawk T.1A module, considering that it is still technically a module that's still in its BETA phase (and will continue to be for quite some time). You've got Instant Action missions that range from Dogfight and Aerobatics to Cold Start, Ground Attack, or simply Free Flight if you fancy making your own way through the skies doing what you want to do.

Take a look at the Training section for the Hawk and you'll find a whole two sections (strong sarcasm detected in this particular sentence) to help you along your way towards familiarising yourself with the aircraft. The Familiarising task guides you through a cold start with the Hawk whilst the Navigation task takes you through the basic procedures involved in guiding the Hawk through the air. I find that the training missions are often a letdown in DCS World, and this Hawk module isn't the exception to this trend.

If you're after any sort of real missions with the Hawk, then this the moment you're going to have some extra disappointment piped onto an otherwise decent cake. There are no actual missions to take part in with the Hawk, so you're restricted to having to create your own, further cementing the beginner-unfriendly nature of this Hawk module into my brain.

Final Thoughts

The Hawk T.1A is a great module for experienced flight sim fans. After all, DCS world is a high-fidelity flight simulator and the Hawk module has a Standard Flight Model that's fantastic considering it's still in its BETA phase. The model is as accurate as you can hope for, you've got a 3D cockpit to increase the realism ten-fold, and you've got a plane that's fun to fly, agile, and armed with a nice array of weapons

jet games hawk model view

However, there is a significant lack of content available for the Hawk module, and even the flight model itself is lacking in some respects. Problems with trimming the aircraft into stable flight as well as an overly-simple landing procedure show that the Hawk module is still very rough around the edges

In terms of accessibility, this isn't amateur hour here: the Hawk basically requires a significant quantity of prior flight sim knowledge/experience in order to be enjoyed to any substantial degree. It's vastly enjoyable, but beginners will have to scour the internet in order to assimilate a decent understanding of how to operate the plane properly - the training modules just aren't comprehensive enough to get a beginner up and running. Aside from these pitfalls however, the Hawk T.1A is thoroughly enjoyable to fly and I look forward to the External Flight Model being released in the coming months.

If your curious and want to learn more about how to fly the T1A Hawk in DCS World check out our guide here.

Screenshots

DCS Hawk T1A: View 2 DCS Hawk T1A: View 3 DCS Hawk T1A: View 4 DCS Hawk T1A: View 5

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DCS Hawk T1A is developed by Eagle Dynamics.

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