It’s that time again, new DCS module. Ok, so it is not the model that most wanted (according to the original poll on the ED forums quite some time back) but the Gr.7/9 will be with us one day, and all in all…who cares! It’s a Harrier!
The Harrier is the aircraft that I wanted to fly in the RAF; even if I could have passed the eye-test (and everything else!) I was too tall so it was never going to happen. This is the closest I will ever get to the cockpit of a Harrier.
I have to say, from the outset, that this is still early access and is not the completed module. Things may change, for the better or worse, but that this is my impression of the module at the time of writing (December 2017).
First of all the model looks superb, both inside and out. It’s on a par with the best models in DCS, and there are some very good models. At the moment it probably doesn’t look at it’s best as it is still only, publicly, available in the DCS 1.5.8 Open Beta. Once it gets released for 2.1 or – fingers crossed – 2.5 – it will look even better with the much improved lighting.
The majority of the switches in the cockpit are fully functional. I’m not sure that all of the systems are fully functional yet, but there is more than enough to start to get you aquainted with the aircraft. One of the first things that many people will do, upon getting the Harrier, is to see whether they can take off and land vertically. It has to be done. Innevitably most people will crash and burn for the first few goes. If you get one setting wrong, such as forgetting to extend the flaps far enough, or the nozzle angle isn’t right, you’ll end up burning on the floor, or flipped over or both! Having said that, once you know the settings it doesn’t seem that hard. Hovering is harder than in a helcopter, but that’s partly because the thrusters don’t seem as responsive. I’m guessing the Harrier is much heavier than some helicopters and it doesn’t have spinning rotors and torque to help it spin around on the spot.
Take off and landing is different to a conventional aircraft, even if you are not trying do either vertically. The nozzles are key to both procedures. This can take some initial adjustment, but it is something that you can quickly adapt to.
Overall my first impressions are very positive. I am enjoying flying the aircraft and learning the quirks and strengths of the aircraft. It’s not meant for a dedicated air-air combat role, so comparing it to fighters isn’t a fair test. It carries weapons for defence and I’m sure kills can be achieved but it does not have radar, it does not carry long range air-air missiles. It does carry short range anti-radiation missiles, which is a first for a Western DCS Module. These are only likley to help take out short range missiles and AAA installations though.
It’s a new challenge, and it is one of my favourite aircraft. I am really happy that Razbam decided to make the Harrier. It’s certainly drawn me back from IL2 Battle of Stalingrad series.