Combat Air Patrol 2: Battle of Hormuz

We take a look at the early access state of Combat Air Patrol 2: Battle of Hormuz as Sim155 keep plugging away on this intriguing simulator that features one of the author’s favorite platforms: the AV-8B Harrier II.

CAP-23

Available now as a Steam Early Access title (what is Steam Early Access? – HERE) for $29.99, early adopters have been exploring CAP2 since early June with admittedly mixed reviews. Since early access opened, the developer has released seven updates that have been fixing bugs, making improvements, and crossing off items on the long list of features that are needed to call CAP2 a complete sim/game. Given the title’s early access status, it isn’t our job to be super critical of things that are not and should not be expected to work at this early point. One does have to gauge the rate of improvement and judge that against the end goal and hopefully this article might give at least a little bit of perspective on that.

CAP-00

What is CAP2?

The easiest way to describe the goal of CAP2 is to simply let you read the Steam description authored by the developers themselves:

Feel the power of flying the AV8B Harrier II. A flight and naval combat simulator with mission planner and fully dynamic open ended campaigns. CAP2 uses a custom built engine that delivers a totally unique, immersive and realistic experience. Your battle-space is over 250,000km2 of beautiful and geographically accurate terrain around the Straits of Hormuz.

After initial flight and tactical training you will be pitched into an immersive scenario against aggressive ground, sea and air based enemies. Use the fully articulated cockpit, your skills as a pilot and your tactical awareness to engage in dogfights, carry out ground attacks and command your fleet to ultimately ensure the safety of your comrades and the final capitulation of the enemy.

Strategic decisions such as commanding your fleet on the tactical map and your performance in the air will affect the final outcome: Go ‘gung ho’ with a full out assault and the outcome will be in the balance or plan ahead and the end result will be your ultimate victory!

Well, that’s certainly a high bar to set! Let’s see where we are in relation to those goals.

Options

After installing and launching, you’d be wise to spend a bit of time within the various setup options menus. The usual suspects are included in the graphics options, although they aren’t quite as varied or multi-tiered as some other simulators. And in reality, things like view distance, types of shadows, or terrain quality aren’t really necessary because CAP2 screams on both my old GTX760 and my new GTX1080. I suspect it is a combination of a nice graphics engine as well as less than taxing textures and models that result in such high performance.

CAP-01

The controller and keyboard setup capabilities are quite good offering a simple and intuitive method to map your controllers to whatever assignments you wish. Many of the commands do not have default settings, so be sure to visit these pages to set frequently used items. A nice feature is that you can remap controls while in a mission, allowing for quick assignments and testing. As a testament to the developer’s response to community requests, the controller settings have been evolving as each new update of the game is pushed out the door. My particular setup includes a TM Warthog, worn out CH Pro Pedals, and TrackIR. I found the best mapping configuration for me was to set the throttle to my inboard thrust lever and the nozzle angle to my outboard lever simply because the inboard lever has most of the HOTAS controls under your thumb. I don’t know if I’ve settled on this as my final configuration though and I continue to tweak the assignments as I get more experience with the sim. TrackIR is supported and works well with the sim.

First impressions

With a notepad in front of me, I first fired up CAP2 a couple of months ago and jotted down my first impressions. First of all, the lighting, shadows, and overall look of the sim is very good. The cockpit textures look good, although you can see some low poly objects, but the overall feel of being in a cockpit is great. I’d certainly be interested to check out CAP2 in Virtual Reality. Framerates are just insane (FRAPS was saying my GTX1080 was averaging 400FPS). Looking around the cockpit, some stuff is clickable (MFDs), and some stuff looks like it is being developed to be clickable (the up-front controller). You can navigate around the cockpit and zoom in on sections of the panel by clicking your mouse – thus, you can zoom in on the MFDs, standby instruments, fuel panel, HUD, and other areas. There does not appear to be any functionality for things like engine start switches, avionics, inverters, autopilot, weapons panels, etc. I’m not sure if that is really the intent of the sim though – much like we find in Strike Fighters. Nozzle angle and water quantity indicators are conveniently located just below the right side of the HUD. Fuel consumption seems to track with throttle settings and (this will sound really odd) I really like the way the fuel counter authentically rolls and snaps to each subsequent number as fuel is burned off. It is a little detail, but one that is really cool.

The first thing I did (of course) was to try a rolling takeoff with around 50° of nozzle – but I failed to put the flaps in the SVTOL mode and I promptly plunged off the deck into the water. The second attempt was much better. The feeling of nursing a heavy Harrier into the air is very well represented. Indeed, the thrust vectoring and power requirements feel very good based on nothing more than my opinion as a wannabe Harrier pilot. The flight and thrust model feels fairly complex and is a much, much better experience than the Harrier I’ve flown in Strike Fighters 2, which is unforgiving of even the slightest bobble when doing a vertical landing. The CAP2 Harrier requires planning with regards to getting the thrust up and keeping the sink rate within reason or you risk developing a sink rate that you cannot arrest. Water injection is included, and gives a distinct exhaust pattern in both the takeoff and landing modes, but I can’t say I noticed much change in performance when using water injection. It is a cool visual effect though. I tried testing my theory by setting the throttle to just under hover power, then hitting the water injection, and it had no effect that I could tell. The engine instrumentation page of the MFD does not actually function, so I couldn’t check whether the water injection changes the operating temperature of the engine. These things are probably outside of the scope of the product though. Nozzle control is precise and responsive – but you’d better be sure you are at a light enough weight to sustain vertical flight if that is your intention. The aircraft will not hover with maximum fuel and a full weapons load, so you will have to follow the realistic procedure of doing a rolling short-takeoff. Heavy takeoffs are a blast and it is a lot of fun.

Returning to the ship is an exciting affair that has you managing speed, flaps, nozzle position and trying to balance all of that while maneuvering for the deck. In longer missions, fuel will likely be an enemy as well, so getting good at coming aboard will be critical. By my math – 60 seconds of full thrust hovering consumes 300 lbs. of fuel per minute! So if you return to the boat with 1,000 lbs. of fuel onboard, be prepared to get your Harrier on the deck in under three minutes once you transition to the high power setting! Overall, the flight model has a very dynamic feel to it – including high speed, non-vectored flight. Rolling and speed decay under high G seems really good. Accurate to book values? I don’t know. I don’t care. It feels good and feels right.

The extreme edges of the flight envelope such as stalls and spins are a not modeled to much detail. A clean stall will result in some burble and turbulence as you dip below 150 knots or so and there is no break toward a wing, the plane just mushes ahead as the vertical speed sinks rapidly up to 15,000 fpm down. Recovery is as simple as adding full power and pitching a bit. It can take up to ten seconds to fully arrest a full sink rate, so it is easy to smack the ground if you don’t initiate a recovery early enough. Maximum speed in the clean configuration, near sea-level, at full fuel and no weapons comes in at 560 knots (Mach .85), which seems reasonable. At maximum speed, you can roll into an 80-90° bank turn, haul full aft on the stick and you will bleed speed off for around 15 seconds until you sit around 260 knots. With maximum throttle, the Harrier will maintain that speed and won’t decay much beyond that in a level turn with maximum aft elevator. Again, not a big problem, but the rivet counters will object. It would be nice to see the speed decay further and for accelerated stalls to be modeled to penalize overly aggressive maneuvering. Pitch and roll trim can be mapped to your controller and work very well. Autopilot modes work well and include pitch/roll hold, altitude hold, and heading/altitude hold.

VIFFing (Vectoring In Forward Flight) can be done – but I was largely unimpressed by the speed decay offered by rotating the nozzles at full power. I found it took 45 seconds to decelerate from cruise to 250 knots in level flight using just vectored thrust versus just chopping the throttle and deploying the speedbrakes which took about half as much time (20 seconds). The most effective combination was vectored thrust and speedbrake (which one would expect) resulting in a deceleration from cruise to 250 knots in a mere 12 seconds. That was in level flight, so throw in a high-G turn to further decay speed while deploying the speedbrake and vectored thrust and you can go from cruise to sub-200 knots in just six seconds! Taking it a step further, you can go from cruise speed (560 knots) to a hover (zero speed) by VIFFing (with 100% throttle), speedbrake, pulling G in just 14 seconds after pulling through about 270 degrees of heading. An impressive quick stop by any measure.

The ship objects, terrain, airports, other aircraft, and city objects are good, if not overwhelmingly detailed. They might do the job well enough if compelling enough gameplay comes along, which is still to be implemented. The goal, according to the developer’s own pitch, is to create an immersive, realistic, and accurate experience over the Straits of Hormuz. That is a pretty tall order. The terrains that exist right now are very pretty when combined with the ambient lighting and haze. As a matter of fact – the lighting and haze are some of the best I’ve seen in any sim. The water textures are beautiful and the feeling of speed over the terrain is well translated, probably owing to the extremely high framerates. The city areas are fairly generic at this point, which will need to be changed if we are talking about a dynamic campaign with a wide array of targets. Training is flown over Hawaiian landscape, while the campaign is flown over the Middle East/Straits of Hormuz terrain.

Content

Keeping in mind that this is an early access module, there are some elements that have already been implemented to varying degrees of completion. The three major possibilities are Quick Start, Training, and Campaign. As the name implies, Flight Training comprises the various skills you’ll need to master the Harrier, separated into Flight and Weapons categories. In the Flight category: Takeoff, Basic Maneuvering, Wingman, Landing, and Dogfighting. In the Weapons category: AA Missiles, AA Guns, Harpoon, Rockets, Guns, Maverick, Bomb, and HARM. Each mission has a very short briefing that gives the objective, notes, and completion criteria. Unfortunately, the training briefs only minimally instruct you on how to accomplish the task you’ve chosen. From the briefing, you move on to the Preflight screen where you can change mission parameters including: weapon load, fuel load, H2O load, weather, wind, turbulence, time of day, and difficulty of flight modeling. A map can be selected where you can review your mission path and make changes (more on that later). Once in the mission, your Mission Objectives appear in the upper right corner of the screen as you accomplish the goals of the mission. I was not able to toggle that display on and off at will though to determine what tasks remain. You should be able to call it up at any time to see what you have left to do. The training missions are fairly easy, but some of them do appear to be works in progress. For instance, the ACM one versus your wingman will often end up with him flying into the ground. Most of the missions can be completed and you will be given a Mission Complete dialog box although you can continue to fly if you wish.

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The combat itself is pretty tame for the training scenarios – with targets being relatively passive with the exception of some of the dogfighting with AI. The static ship attacks are still a bit of a work in progress, they tend to explode of their own accord, perhaps victims of their own fire. Smoke and explosions are well done, although the geysers of water might be a bit Hollywoodized in some situations. Targeting is sort of on the Strike Fighters level, with simple keypresses to cycle through targets, again appropriately in-line with the target audience of this sim. The radar page range can be changed from A2A to A2G, but modeling is fairly simple with green and red icons for friendly and enemy targets respectively. HUD symbology is very good from the standpoint of being very crisp and super fluid. The HUD ladder and targeting symbols look great and it is collimated so it disappears realistically if you move your head off-axis. HUD mode, G, AOA, speed, altitude, waypoint distance, vertical speed, and flight path marker all work very good and are fluid as can be. The LCOS type gunsight seems wrong, but I could be wrong. It is somewhat fixed whereas I thought it should drift around as you maneuver to show where your bullets will be. There also does not appear to be range to target on the HUD at this time (which may explain why the gunsight is not calculating anything?) but range and velocity (but not closure or aspect) is displayed on the radar display.

It is oddly satisfying to fly in formation with the F-4 target drones – again, the feeling of fluid flight is very, very good in this sim. Damage modeling is fairly limited. If you shoot airplanes, they start to smoke, then eventually go down trailing smoke. As well, collisions with targets are very forgiving – I’ve bumped a few targets on purpose and came away unscathed. Missile constraints and dynamics appear to be somewhat basic, but they look good and do the job. Missile launches and flight, with their corresponding flame, missile trail, seeking, and explosion, are quite good. The iconic growl of the Sidewinder missile lock is missing – a short tone does sound when you change targets and a diamond fills the target box on the HUD, but there aren’t any real constraints displayed for either the Sidewinder or AMRAAM, so it is not really possible to tell if you are at min range, max range, or any range.

Air to ground weapons include bombs, rockets, Mavericks, and Harpoons. CCIP symbology is crisp and fluid. Advanced settings such as ripple quantity and interval are not modeled – it is definitely a “put the thing on the thing” and pull the trigger type of sim (again, in-line with the target audience). It’s hard to know how the ballistics are owing to the lack of a missile/bomb camera. In dropping bombs on the city at random, I was not able to observe structures being destroyed or craters being formed, but ships can definitely be sunk. Designating for Harpoons, Mavericks, and HARMS seems to be similar – just cycle through targets and launch, but there are some FLIR and WPN MFD settings that I haven’t quite gotten a handle on. The selectors on the bezel of the MFD (LSKs if you will) allow for changes such as WHOT/BHOT and SLAVE and MANUAL, but I haven’t really figured out if they do anything related to targeting. I tried mapping one of my HOTAS axes to the TGP, but wasn’t able to control it. There could be a lot of user error here though. In the Steam user forum, the developer has indicated that work continues on implementing laser guided bombs, self-lasing, and buddy lasing.

CAP-101

The developer has been making constant updates, and improvements are readily visible with each successive version. Recently, radio comms where you can control formations and communicate other things to your flight have been added. I haven’t been able to fully explore wingman AI in battle since the campaign still has some work left to do. There is a refueling HUD mode with an accompanying deployment of the probe and a recent update in mid-August by the developer indicated they were working on a new carrier and in-flight refueling – so that should be cool! Recent improvements with regards to ATC and wingman control include:

  • Formation control
  • Target assignment (A-A & A-G)
  • Report State
  • Navigation
  • Mission abort
  • Return to base
  • Recover/land on carrier
  • Emcon (Emissions Control)
  • Lights state

You also have RT to the carrier/fleet such as:

  • Request takeoff
  • Request land
  • Request position check
  • FAC assign fire mission to fleet

Campaign

The campaign is in its early phases of development and is advertised as a dynamic campaign that includes strategic elements such as positioning your fleet and managing the airspace around the 250,000 square km Straits of Hormuz. Operation “Ocean Protector” has you defending the Straits in an attempt to keep the sealanes open from an Iranian extremist group (the ERF). Threats (according to the brief) are ERF controlled Iranian jets, fast attack boats, destroyers, submarines, mines, land based missiles, and artillery. You will attempt to protect the merchant vessels and make decisions on both your fleet position and whether the Straits remain open or closed. The mission planner looks fairly robust, but isn’t really functional at this time, nor is the campaign for that matter. The developer also indicates that multiplayer is planned.

Conclusion

So what we have is a pretty nice looking Early Access sim with a lot of nice features and a good bit of work to complete to truly make it a game. The Harrier flight model feels great and the graphics are good enough for this simmer. The missions and campaigns have a lot of work to go, and then there are all the friendly, enemy, and civilian assets that have to occupy the theater to make a dynamic campaign feel dynamic. The pace of updates and communication that Sim155 has exhibited are encouraging (a VR update was pushed on August 18). My wish list for the sim is long, but doesn’t involve crazy amounts of systems detail or rivet counting. I think we all are hoping for a Strike Fighters type sim, with multiplayer, a good dynamic campaign, and the possibility of expansion with new theaters and platforms. At $29.99 in Early Access, I’d consider CAP2 at this point a speculative investment with what we all hope will be an awesome dividend in the end.

Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth

 

Notable Replies

  1. Excellent writing and an inviting software.
    All the best to the developers.

    I eagerly await some AAR, in time. :slight_smile:

  2. Fridge says:

    Multiplayer may be the entry point for me. Everything else sounds okay and although I would prefer a deeper level of rivet counting, I would be content with the way the game is currently designed.

  3. Yeah - I’m hoping the Razbam Harrier for DCS will meet that need in me…while CAP2 might be the SF2 equivalent for just getting in and blowing stuff up. There is a ways to go though. MP Harrier carrier ops will be scarier and merrier though for sure! :wink:

  4. Nice preview article Chris! I think I'm going to have to get this, especially now that VR is supported.

  5. I'll be the flying part will be pretty cool in VR. But like I said in the article..at $29..it is a speculative investment at this point.

  6. I'm kinda miffed that VR got worked on before all the other missing campaign, mission and system parts.

    For a small dev place, it seemed like a fun thing to do/add, but something that should come later when more of the essentials are working and usable. I think it will work well as a VR title, but the effort dilutes other things that should be sorted out for a $30 title.

  7. Indeed - I worry about feature creep. They are (apparently) working on a new carrier..which is nice and all..but I don't know if it is necessary when compared to the bigger picture. The dynamic campaign and Harrier FM are the two biggest selling points of this sim. They need to get the campaign done before the shininess of the new penny wears off.

  8. Counterpoint: While I'd hazard a significant portion of VR owners are sim aficionados, I doubt we represent a majority. The pool of VR games of any quality or depth is actually pretty surprisingly small if your browse the steam store. I can easily see how attempting to establish one's self as a quality game in that market early would be beneficial, and open up a semi-independent market of customers.

  9. I think it could work for them, but they are going for a 'niche size multiplied by niche size' segmenting, and that can produce even smaller numbers. :slight_smile:

    I think VR is a good fit for it, but it wasn't initially promoted as a VR title in early access but a sim with a campaign and at least some simple systems working. Being able to see things not work in solid 3D is about the same as not working in plain old flatworld, with the difference being it's a month longer of the radios not working. I agree though that if it there best way of getting traction then it might just be crazy enough to work :slight_smile:

  10. I'm not going to complain :wink: .

  11. Remember these guys had a failed Kickstarter not all that long ago, so I would imagine the modest developer effort to get an initial VR build up and running and the likely buzz it could generate probably made sense.

    Great article BTW Beach, and as ever some stunning screenshots.

  12. This belongs here...(I just noticed..at the very end of that video...that is an awfully swishy walk for a Marine eh?)

  13. Not often I grab at a new sim these days. But I'm seeing an up to date version of my all time favourite AV8B Harrier Assault from years back. Got it after reading Beach's article and loving it. Very smooth graphics and clearly lots of potential once the campaign system works Nice job lads

  14. Glad you are enjoying it. Yes..that fluid feeling of flight is very good (very X-Plane / DCS authenticity to the feel..if not the numbers..no idea though). I really hope it moves along and gets fleshed out like the developers want. As soon as they add multiplayer, I think we could have a good time running around the theater. Tanking will be nice too..

  15. So, I took the plunge. As previously mentioned, it's silky smooth. Really nice in VR :slight_smile: . I don't much like the cinematic view changes but other than that it looks like it will be a lot of fun.

  16. I meant to mention that in the article..the lag as the camera goes from that external view to the cockpit should be eliminated. It is a neat effect the first time you see it..but after that..it is just annoying and disruptive.

  17. Sryan says:

    excellent write-up. Pretty much sums up how I feel about the game as well. Not to much has changed since I wrote my own impressions a few months back in June. I understand the dev team is mostly a one or two man show and we can't expect weekly updates but like frog stated I'm not all that happy with all sorts of bells and whistles being added while the core game still needs so much work.

    I would also like some more rivet counting, especially on the avionics part. Some proper radar mechanics with elevation, a TDC and maybe some more advanced stuff like PRF would make it perfect for me, somewhere in the FC3 ballpark. They could split the complexity with an easy/hard option like they did for the flight model, so folks with controllers can still play it. Pressing T to toggle targets doesn't really do it for me.

  18. I get that many of you see VR support as a niche gimmick right now, or at least an unnecessary feature at this time, but in my case it was the main feature that persuaded me to buy into it. The same goes with Aerofly FS2.

    In fact, I don't see myself buying a sim that doesn't support VR going forward.

  19. I don't mind the "T" for targeting thing so much..I mean that is pretty much what you have in Strike Fighters as well. That said, I do wish that there was enough success with the product at some point down the road to add more FC3 level modeling of the avionics with associated difficulty settings options.

    At this point though - I really think the campaign should be the biggest focus. That (to me) seems to be a staggering undertaking. Let's face it..teams of people were used to develop the Falcon and EECH dynamic campaigns..so for such a small developer to tackle it is pretty ambitious.

  20. Sryan says:

    wouldn't say I'm talking about VR per sé. I understand it could attract a lot of simmers with the right equipment.

    It's just that I wonder why things like "parade" formation mode, new carriers, ATC, FAC for fleet strikes, aerial refueling etcetera, while all incredibly cool, make it into the game before more basic needed things make it in.

    I still have good hopes for this sim, though!

  21. Some new features coming up:

    Tanking:

    Updated Carrier:

    More info at the dev's blog here:

  22. Alright..stupid question..but shouldn't the probe deploy as the gear goes up instead of how it is currently modeled? Really nice though...

    New carrier looks good too. Wonder if you can ride the elevator down and taxi into the ship...

  23. ST0RM says:

    I was thinking that very same thing.

    And its in USAF markings. Why not just paint it in a JASDF or AMI scheme?
    The KC-46 is not a repainted KC-767. Very different. We just had to create an entirely new model for our real-world sim.

    -Jeff

  24. Maico says:

    Guys,
    I am really interested in this sim. Without VR I will not consider any sim. My biggest concern is Steam.
    Will Steam slow my machine down? I nearly got back into Lunar Flight but its only on Steam. So I hope you guys encourage me to get back on Steam.

  25. I really like Steam for most things. For my DCS install I don't use it..nor my X-Plane one..but for pretty much everything else I use it. As for CAP2 - it certainly is interesting, but I'd wait to see how it matures...again, $29.99 for where it is right now is a bit optimistic for where we hope it will end up.

  26. @Maico long gone are the days the Steam client did anything- now a Chrome client bogs down more memory than the Steam Client.

    Id' say go for it, and never look back!

  27. Sryan says:

    Steam is absolutely fine. I even use the overlay in DCS for when I want to take a lot of screenshots

  28. I have a Logitech extreme 3D Pro, but i couldn´t kick off the aircraft

  29. Maico says:

    Thank you for the advice, I will get Steamed up this week

  30. So recently CAP2 added air-to-air refueling to the training missions menu and tonight I had some free time and decided to go ahead and put on my Oculus Rift and give it a whirl in VR.

    I have to say - short of perhaps just my first experiences with seeing a VR cockpit for the first time in DCS World - the air-to-air refueling immersion in CAP is just incredibly good and is the showcase for why VR is (and is going to be) so awesome for us as flight simmers.

    So I've been doing refueling missions since way back in the day of F-15 Strike Eagle and all the Jane's sims and Falcon 4..and yeah, it's always hard-ish. The moment I fired up CAP2 and closed on the tanker I realized WHY it has always been so hard..and it is simply because you really don't have any depth perception (other than the cues you practice, learn, and incorporate) when 2D simming. As I approached the tanker with about 2,000 lbs. of fuel, I was thinking - "OK..this is going to be pretty tough, because the probe is actually behind my left shoulder in the Harrier.." But as I sidled up to the starboard hose streaming from the tanker, I was simply awestruck at how I could instantly tell my horizontal, vertical, offset position, distance, and closure. It was as if all these decades a dirty trick was being played on me. With the Rift - tracking the drogue is so easy..and not in a TrackIR way. Again, it is very, very difficult to describe to a TrackIR user how the Rift is different..it just is. (And is way more natural).

    As my probe started to close on the drogue, I could tell I was holding the drogue a bit too far inside toward my canopy..I could see the "depth" as it were of how far out my probe is from my cockpit, and putting it into the drogue was really intuitive. (Alright..cue sick jokes). Sim155's modeling of the drogue is really quite good and the tolerances make it feel like you are hitting the right spot when it locks on. I feel the staying connected seems a bit generous..but it just looks and feels great.

    It really was another one of those VR experiences that were like - wow..so this is how it always SHOULD have been! Unfortunately my FRAPS didn't record any of the mission screen grabs...not that it'd really help translate the experience though. Congrats to @CAP2 for a great feature!

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIZPPvlk24Y?feature=oembed&w=480&h=270]
  31. I concur 100% Chris. Having the depth perception that allows you to judge instantly your closure and drift from the basket is huge. Being able to naturally glance left to see the position of the basket in relation to the probe, and then glance forward to ensure your position is steady with relation to the tanker makes the whole process seem very fluid and natural.
    The more I fly with the Rift (in any sim) the more I am convinced that this is the future of our hobby. And it is only going to get better as the technology improves.

  32. I concur with both coments concerning the advantage of VR, with the observation that in DCS, it sometimes feels (appears) that you are flying through different air than the other aircraft around you. In other words, each aircraft seem to have some sort of programmed independent verticle up and down movement. I understand that they might move differently due to mass, aerodynamics, and pilot or autopilot input, but it still feels artificial to me. Stating the obvious, but there is also the lack of tactile (seat of the pants) feedback. Anyway, VR is a very big piece of thr experience.

  33. I'll have to take a closer look at the behavior of other aircraft in DCS World. Staying in formation when flying a helicopter can be a challenge as the AI will perform some pretty severe altitude changes to avoid terrain (where as a human pilot would generally be a lot smoother).

    As for the seat of the pants feel, I think your brain fills in a lot of the gaps. Short of a full motion platform (expensive), I would imagine something like a "Buttkicker" would make quite a difference. I can't quite bring myself to buy one though :blush: .

  34. Great review!

    I could be wrong but I was told that the water injection was to cool the jet exhaust so it wouldn't burn the non-skid on a ship's flight deck or the asphalt of a an airfield's runway or ramp…or I guess to prevent brush fires when operating in the field…"Only You (and water injection) Can Prevent Forest Fires" :wink:

    So no impact on thrust level since the injection is into the exhaust after thrust has been generated.

    Way back in the early 1990's I was the Ship's Intel Officer –the SIO–on USS GUAM (LPH-9). Part of our work-ups was to qualify our flight deck for Harrier ops.

    The intel center, where I worked, was directly under the flight deck. In the overhead there was the base of a flight deck light mounted flush with the deck. Of course it was tightly secured and sealed with a special caulk. For an entire 6-month cruise–through the tail of a hurricane and many storms, there had been no leaks…then the Harriers came.

    At first we heard the engine run up…and then it REALY got loud…and then it started raining in the intel center as the jet exhaust forced that water injection through the seal around the flight deck light!

    So no burned non-skid but a slightly damp SIO. :sunglasses:

  35. Toxin1 says:

    If the Buttkicker is not your thing, then perhaps a FFB cushion like the Gamtrix Jetseat will do the trick!! Works great with DCS and VR.:vulcan:

  36. That seems like a purposeful decision by the Navy... :hear_no_evil:

  37. Ditto on a CVN. And I don't know about a Gator, but the VIP staterooms are right under the Jet Blast Deflectors.

  38. …and this coming from someone whose stateroom was likely never above the 2nd deck? :wink:

    Having lived-slept, ate, worked–several years of my life under a Navy flight deck, I can speak with some authority on the subject. On KENNEDY (CV-67) my stateroom was under the 3-wire. On GUAM, port side about amidships. On STENNIS (CVN-74) under a forward JBD (the overhead was lower in my room to accommodate the space cut into the flight deck that the JBD and all its struts, folds into when in the down/flush position).

    USS GUAM was the worst. Why? Be cause it was a helo carrier…helos don't taxi around a flight deck; they are towed, with big long hard steel tow-bars. Tow-bars that have to be maneuvered into position by hand by the green shirts or yellow shirts. Then, evidently, it is a requirement to drop the other end of the tow-bar onto the flight deck, from a hight of no less than 3 feet. The resulting sharp BANG is rather alarming. The dragging and dropping of tie down chains is also an annoyance. Of note, those of us who lived on that level were pretty sure that all the flight deck markings had nothing to do with helo ops, but were a special code for the flight deck crew, telling them where al the officer's staterooms were.

    KENNEDY was next worse. Living under the wires was much worse that living under the JBD on STENNIS. On KENNEDY, in the middle of a nice quiet night in the JO-Junkroom stateroom…you would have just fallen asleep when, without warning BANG! Wirrrrrrrrrrr! as the first plane landing in that cycle landed. This continues every minute until all the planes are on board…and your nerves are thoroughly jangled. Then, if there is still another cycle airborne, you have 90 minutes to try to get some sleep before the whole thing starts over again. Fortunately, most nights the last cycle recovered by 2 AM…so a whole 3 hours before I needed to get up…thank God I was young.

    By comparison, under the JBDs is bliss. You awake little by little as the jet noise and creaking deck announces the first plane's taxi onto the cat. There is a not unpleasant hydraulic whine as the JBD is raised. As the plane takes tension and goes to power, the noises are felt than heard–you are gently vibrated in your rack. The power builds…the vibrations increase… Then the cat shot…more of a release tan anything–you hear the steam whoosh and the jet nose rapidly fades until you hear/feel the soft thump of the pistons hitting the water-brake at the end of the cat stroke…and everything is restful again. It is almost like…well…um…lets just say a coital bliss-like experience. :blush:

    That last was probably TMI…sorry. :sunglasses:

  39. Thanks! - I always thought the explanation given me was not the whole story. :slight_smile:

    So three purposes: Prevent engine damage; prevent flight-deck damage; soak the young LCDR in the intel center. :wink:

  40. Reactor male berthing was on the second deck, aft of the departmental office block...and right above the aft emergency diesel generators. The exhaust duct for #3 actually ran right above my 6-pack, which meant we might wake up and think, "ooh, it got warm, the diesel is running... oh wait... CRAP THAT MEANS THE PLANTS ARE DOWN I NEED TO GET UP."

    Though for a while our youngest nubs were getting stashed in a berthing on the O-3 level with the AO's. And our females really had it bad- their berthing was on the third deck, below the aft mess decks, and they had to share with the ladies from Deck Department. I heard some stories...

  41. Much, much, MUCH more disgusting and horrifying.

    Though now that i remember, one of the best BM's (the one from my Bermuda Triangle story) had more than a passing resemblance to Alyson Hannigan. Except taller and hotter. And more muscled.

  42. Any Cobie Smulders döpplegangers?

  43. Two. One was a photographer, and we played soccer together, the other a lithographer and was one of my best friends on the ship.

  44. Actually, that's a great analogy. It was pretty much the same way based on what we saw down in the plants, with regards to power level, feed tank level, steam demand, etc.

  45. At least you didn't witness the stories first hand…although as a LT/LCDR, if we saw something untoward happening we would always stop to watch…if you are a witness you cannot be the investigating officer…just say'n.

  46. It was more an overarching theme of an appalling lack of hygiene. Or knowing the word hygiene. I'll leave it at that. I only witnessed the smells when I had to go down to that berthing to wake the watch reliefs if I was the roving electrical watch.

  47. According to the US Navy Correspondence Guide, you are not supposed to use the words Hygiene and Deck Department Bertiing in the same sentence.

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