DCS World is hands-down one of the greatest flight simulators out there because of its high-fidelity flight models, multiple-mission framework, and combat-oriented approach. Of the many DCS World modules available, Flaming Cliffs 3 is definitely the one to choose for getting the most bang for your buck. You get to fly a multitude of different aircraft instead of being restricted to just one and there are a number of improvements over the predecessors in the Flaming Cliffs series. The larger selection of aircraft brings with it its own challenges however: these tips are intended to make getting started in Flaming Cliffs 3 a little easier.
DCS World Flaming Cliffs 3 Tips - Some pointers and information to get you up, running, and off the ground
So you've decided to enter into the world of DCS World: congratulations, you've made a substantially wise decision. Not only is DCS World a high-fidelity flight simulator with some seriously impressive attention to detail across a tantalisingly rich array of aircraft, but it's also a combat simulator, meaning its primary purpose is to enter you smack bang in the middle of scenarios that would give even the most hardened of war veterans some pretty terrifying flashbacks to 'nam, the Falklands, or the Gulf.
DCS World Flaming Cliffs 3 is a module available for the base framework of Digital Combat Simulator that differs from other modules in that it contains multiple aircraft for you to experience as opposed to the other modules which simply offer one or two aircraft at most for the price you pay for them. Not only does the Flaming Cliffs 3 module come with substantial improvements for those that own any of the previous Flaming Cliffs games from Lock On , but it also includes over 7 aircraft to get your hands on, from the SU-25 Frogfoot to the A10A Thunderbolt II and more. Getting these aircraft up and running can be difficult however, so here are some tips for Flaming Cliffs 3 to get you started.
Mig-29A and Mig29-S
These similarly-named aircraft share their title because well, they are pretty similar in design to the casual onlooker; you'll also notice how similar these planes are to the Su-27. The Mig-29A is designed to act as a short-range fighter aircraft and possesses an Electro-Optical System (referred to as the EOS) that allows it to track other aircraft without emitting signals that will give away its position or even indicate its very presence. The relatively small size of the 29A also allows it decent manoeuvrability, making it a great aircraft of choice for the Russians.
These aircraft possess several combat modes including multiple Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) states, Close Air Combat (CAC) modes (this is an ideal dogfighting aircraft, after all), and also unguided ground-attack weapons such as rockets, bombs, and cannon fire.
Su-27, Su-33 Flanker
After many design issues, these aircraft eventually became prominent following the Cold War and are designed for Air-to-Air combat as they lack the ability to adequately intercept/target ground-based targets. You can find more information about the Su-33 here.
The Su-27 has been slammed in the past for its complicated cockpit design which in turn increases the work load for the pilot. This translates rather literally in the game as flying the Su-27 with Game Avionics Mode and Game Flight Mode disabled is exceedingly difficult. The planes share common combat modes such as BVR and CAC as well as having the ability to enter Data Link Mode (stealth operation), and launch unguided ground attacks. The Su-33 is also capable of in-flight refuelling and also takeoff/landing on an aircraft carrier.
Probably the most famous and best-regarded aircraft in the entire world, the F-15C is integral to America's air defense capabilities with its over-and-above proficiency in BVR combat. Its manoeuvrability in dogfights is adequate but its weapons aren't best suited for these kinds of combat situations.
You check out our beginners guide for flying the F-15C here.
This is the standard aircraft that comes with the original DCS World free-to-play framework. It isn't the most difficult model to fly but will challenge novices nonetheless. You won't want to use this plane in a dogfight as it is instead best used at low altitudes, serving as a plane that will position itself towards the front of a formation, carrying heavy armour to protect from ground attacks as well as supplies for other aircraft and machinery.
The Frogfoot has Close-Air-Combat (CAC) mode as well as ground-attack ability (guided and unguided).
A-10A Thunderbolt II
This aircraft is armed to the teeth with armour-piercing cannons as well as possessing some serious armour that can defend from surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and other ground-based attacks. This isn't an aircraft that is suited to dogfighting however, so you're best to enter into missions that involve air-to-ground objectives instead.
There are some things to bear in mind when flying in Flaming Cliffs 3 that transcend aircraft-specific considerations. Though the aircraft are varied in their specific hardware, you should count these following tips as relevant regardless of which aircraft you're flying.
HUD is king
Those with advanced flight-sim skills most likely scoff at this sort of comment, but you really do have much of the information you need when generally navigating the aircraft, and it comes in the form of the HUD. The heads-up display varies from aircraft to aircraft but displays vital details about your heading as well as your current situation in the sky.
The horizontal lines (often separated by 5-degree increments) on the HUD are solid if positioned above the horizon and broken/dotted if they fall below the horizon. This is extremely important to remember if you're flying in low-visibility conditions. Note the altitude and air speed (in knots) on the display, as well as the marker that indicates your absolute (nose) position relative to your surroundings.
Though you can rely on your equipment such as the HUD to check your altitude and angle of attack when landing, it can help to have a look at this landing cue visual guide to help you out.
Gentle Movements, Generally
It almost goes without saying that yanking on the stick is going to result in some jarring movements at best, and worst-case scenario you'll enter into a spin and see your aircraft burst into flames at it hits the ground. Manoeuvring through the air is simple regardless of the aircraft. Simply use the stick to change the position of the nose - pull back to climb and forward to dive - and change heading by using the Z or X keys to move the rudders. This gentle treatment of the stick and the rudders also applies during take-off and landing - sudden movements will generally lead to very specific scenarios that involve near-death or simply full-death experiences.
Start with Simplicity and Work Up From There
For many this is stating the obvious but new players will appreciate this advice: start your flying career with the Su-25 Frogfoot aircraft and work on from there. The Su-25 is by far the easiest plane to fly out of all of the aircraft included in the Flaming Cliffs 3 module, making it perfect for beginners to cut their teeth on before they go ahead and become frustrated by starting off flying the more difficult aircraft such as the F-15C. The Su-25 simply has less components that you have to worry about during flight and allows you to get a feel for the physics of DCS World without frustrating you into rage-quitting.
Here are a few pointers specific to the individual planes you'll find in Flaming Cliffs 3 to help you from take-off to landing.
There are a few instructional videos for the A-10A in Flaming Cliffs 3 but they take a long time to get to the point. The most important thing you'll learn initially is the take-off procedure.
Firstly, ensure your wheel brakes are applied by pressing [W] and then increase the throttle to 90% with the Keypad [+] key - you should hear the engines powering up. Once you've reached 90% power and are centred on the runway, release the wheel brakes to begin travelling down the runway, using Z and X to apply corrective steering to the aircraft on the ground. Once you're on a straight course, increase the throttle to 100% until you reach a speed of 140 knots, after which you should pull back gently on the stick, using the ADI (Altitude Direction Indicator) in order determine a pitch of around 10 degrees for a steady climb. Finally, raise the landing gear and flaps by pressing the [G] and [F] keys.
Remember: use the ADI to determine your pitch and roll - the W-shaped indicator represents the wings of your aircraft and the marks on the outside of the dial represent your roll. You should also be using the HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator) to allow you to make turns - it is ideal for identifying the direction you're travelling in as well as having steer point indicators to allow you to navigate.
This small startup instructional should get you in the air in no time at all.
- Ensure throttle is at 0 (it should be this way by default unless you're using a joystick) and start electrical systems by press [Right Shift] + [L]
- Start left and right engines with [Right Alt] + [Home]and [Right Ctrl] + [Home] respectively (watch for the green light indicating the initiation of startup and make sure Engine Temperature and RPM gauges are active).
- Other controls to initiate when you're waiting for your engines to power up are cockpit lights [L], navigation lights( [Right Ctrl] + [L]), taxi lights ([Right Alt] + [L]), and canopy close ([Left Ctrl] + [C]
- You'll know you're ready for take off when the green startup light turns off and your engines are running idle at 70%
To get yourself to the runway you simply need to apply a small amount of throttle and then ease of it once you begin to move - this ensures you don't overshoot the speed and end up off the runway.
Keep your speed sensible, steer with the [Z] and [X] keys, brake with the [W] key, and apply/ease off throttle with the Number Pad [+] and [-] keys.
Taking off is as simple as firstly pressing [F] to lower the take-off flaps, keeping the [W] key held down to keep you stationary whilst you increase throttle to maximum, and then let go of the wheel brakes. Keep an eye on your speed, and when it reaches 300kph (around 160 knots) you should pull back on the stick gently to get your plane in the air. As usual, remember to put up your gears and adjust flaps by pressing [G] and [F] once you're on a steady climb.
Trimming Till You're Winning
Having to pay attention to the trim of your aircraft makes flying much more difficult, but you'll need to pay attention to this whilst you're in the air if you're a fan of maximum difficulty. Trimming is required when you change speed since more speed equals increased lift that will be generated by the wings - trimming negates then need to constantly use the stick to correct this.
There are four directions for trimming: Up ([Right Ctrl + [.]], Down ([Right Ctrl] + [;], Left ([Right Ctrl] + [,], and Right ([Right Ctrl] + [/].
You basically want to trim the aircraft to compensate for either speed or weight changes. Firing a missile from one side will cause the aircraft to dip on its heavier side so you will want to trim in the appropriate direction to compensate.
The startup and take-off procedures here are virtually identical to that of the Su-27 Flanker, with all of the same control assignments. It may be worth remembering that [B] initiates the air brake which you will see moving on the wing if you press the [B] key repeatedly. Also, there is a handy LED indicator in the cockpit for checking the position of your flaps ([F] to engage, [Left Shift] + [F] to lower further) and the status of your landing gear.
Enter navigation mode by pressing ; this will allow your HUD to guide you to various waypoints (you can also use the compass in the cockpit for this as it will indicate your bearing in relation to the various waypoints).
You can switch to Air-to-Ground mode by pressing . Cycle through weapons by pressing [D].
When landing the Su-25 remember to deploy the flaps, airbrake [B], and landing gear before you come in to land. It can also help to drop your weaponry by pressing [Left Ctrl] and [W].
You'll want to be coming in at as shallow an angle as possible when landing, using the appropriate dials on the cockpit to keep an eye on your approach speed (this should be between 200 and 250 knots, depending on the weight of your aircraft at the time of landing).
The trim and take-off procedures for this plane are almost identical to the Su-27, though with a few differences. You start both engines by pressing [Right Shift] and [Home].
You can have the engines idling at 70% at which point your plane is ready for take-off.
If you're on a find-the-target mission, you'll need to climb to around 2 to 5 thousand feet for engagement of hostiles.
The HUD in the F-15C is one of the best you'll find in the entire DCS World series as it contains almost all the information needed for navigation, landing, and target engagement. You'll also need to use the radar and the vertical situation display when engaging targets, however.