So, there was a DCS Sale for the last week or so and I was persuaded to part with my cash for a couple of modules. The one that I have ended up focusing on the most though has been the SA342M Gazelle from Polychop Simulations.
The Gazelle is a twin seat light attack helicopter with a roof mounted, stabilised, sight that allows the crew to fire up to four HOT anti-tank missiles. It’s light, fast and manouverable. To add to that though, it is very twitchy and, at first, it is a handful.
I’m glad that I had been brushing up my helicopter flying skills in the Huey before I took this on, because it requires some preparation and adjustment to helicopter flying rather than coming straight to it from a fast jet!
Start up is relatively straight forward, as usual with DCS modules it seems quite daunting. One of the most noticable things when you first get in is the visibility, it’s easy to see everything and it makes landing so much easier that in the Huey…that is until you come to land it. Yet again the twitchyness comes back in as you try to slow down. The Gazelle needs bootfuls of right rudder to keep it straight as you play with the collective to gradually let down. It does seem to just lose all of the cushion of air beneath it at times and drop like a stone, but thankfully it has plenty of power (and not much weight) to allow you to catch this. The more practice you get with the Gazelle the easier it becomes to pre-empt this and get control.
The weapons system is straight forward, you use wire guided missiles so once you have fired you must keep the sight on the target – this guides the missile straight and true. Because you have the roof mounted sight there is a chance of using the terrain and buildings for cover – allowing you to pick out the target and then popping up to fire. This will be a whole lot easier once the multi-crew aspect is enabled and a second pilot can be carried. At the moment it is necessary for the pilot to engage auto-hover and switch seats to control the weapons, but with a second pilot it will be possible to engage targets while on the move and using terrain as cover, but it will need good communications. It is worth keeping in mind that is it not a mast mounted sight, so it is not perfect for hiding the helicopter, but it is better than in the Ka-50, which has all of the systems in the nose. The HOT missiles seems capable of knocking out all of the armoured opposition that I have encountered so far – the heaviest being the T-55MBT at the moment, but I am sure we’ll run into some T-72s soon!
It is good to finally have a Western attack helicopter in DCS, it would be good if it had more combat persistence, but it is only a light attack helicopter. If you do go ahead and purchase then be prepared for some practicing and a lot of fun. Combine it with Oculus Rift and you’re in for quite a ride…some of it a bit sick inducing if you lose control of the rudder!!!
I’ve also added the first impressions video from Bunyap simulations from YouTube. I tend to watch a lot of his videos to get my head around how things work in DCS!
I’d make my own videos, but so far I have not been able to with DCS World.