Having eagerly awaited the new DCS Normandy map it finally arrived yesterday not without some difficulties as the auto download module in the DCS Module Manager could not find the files. We first had to upgrade the DCS World 2.0 to 2.1 and the auto updater kept saying we had the correct version and would not find the update. After some frustrations in refreshing for an hour or two and thanks to some advice found on forums we managed to write new download commands and got the 2.1 update, the Normandy map and WWII assets pack installed.
We set up a quick mission with 2 Spitfires at Ford and another pair at Longues-sur-Mer. First impressions is that the cockpit and surrounding scenery were much brighter than on the Caucasus map, maybe we need to do some fine tuning. With engine start the sound of the Merlin 66 is different as well, more throaty more raucous. First issue was with setting up controls, as the copy of my settings from DCS World 1.5 to 2.1 did not work. This may be due to the fact that I installed DCS World 2 in French, whereas 1.5 was in English !
Having set up the basic flying controls minus the brakes as the pedal would not bind, two of us managed to take-off from Ford and head out south over the Channel towards France. This was going to be a pure sightseeing trip as I had not had time to add any assets. The Spitfire in DCS 2 seems to handle differently than in 1.5. It is far more sensitive in pitch and the slightest change in speed or propeller rpm make much more noticeable changes to both trim axes. We both spent several minutes trying to get our planes to fly straight & level hands off.
As we approached France at 15,000 ft we first saw on our 10-11 o’clock the coastal cliffs to the east of Le Havre. A few minutes later we crossed the coast just near our chosen forward landing field at Longues-sur-Mer and flew over it to get familiarised. We headed west along the coast looking for the more permanent fortifications and bunkers, but to be honest we didn’t see many. One thing we noticed was the number of airfields of which some are very close to each other. This meant that air traffic control had to be good and one wonders how may accidents or near misses occurred with the rudimentary procedures and equipment that existed at the time.
We then flew inland a bit and followed a road to Bayeux and Caen for some sightseeing of the cathedral. We noticed that a lot of effort has gone in to detailing of the map and it is difficult to see repeats of terrain squares, which must surely exist.
We kept a constant eye on fuel as we were concerned about the Spitfires ability to guzzle its rather limited fuel load. During the war Spitfires out of Ford generally took off with 30 or 45 gal overload tanks and we did not have these (I need to see if these and other ordnance exist in the load out menu !). As such we flew at 1,650 rpm and never exceeded 6 lb/sq” boost. As we left Bayeux the bottom tank started to show less than full, so we followed a river to the coast, hopping over bridges and lifting a wing to clear the odd obstacle. We landed at Longues-sur-Mer with about half a tank.
It took me three attempts to take-off from Longues as without brakes and overly sensitive pitch controls I pecked the prop on my first attempt and over-rotated and over compensated on the second. We flew back towards Ford with the aircraft sufficiently trimmed to be able to get some outside aircraft views, which I must say are pretty impressive.
Overall impressions : great, great sounds, great scenery – can’t wait to fine tune my controls and start filling in some friendly and enemy units to play with.