Arma 3 – Chickenhawk

In what has to be one of the most anticipated mods in years, the team developing The Unsung Vietnam War mod for Arma 3 is showing that this terrain will appeal to all types of players. As a huge fan of Take on Helicopters and Arma 2 & 3 helicopter flying, I was extremely excited to try out TeTeT’s awesome Chickenhawk mission. For those interested, Chickenhawk by Robert Mason is the definitive narrative of helicopter war in Vietnam, and stands as one of the best military non-fiction books I’ve read. The Unsung 3.0 mod has been under development for some time, building upon the success of their Arma 2 release. You can check out their progress and see updates in this thread: HERE!

TeTeT’s Chickenhawk mission features tasks that are representative of the types of missions that Vietnam War Huey pilots were often assigned. The random mission assignments include troop insertions and extractions, VIP movements, supply drops, cargo runs, and rescue missions among others. To successfully pass the mission, you must accomplish five of the assigned missions without destroying your helicopter or injuring your passengers. The terrain by Razorback features the Đa Krông District, Quảng Trị Province. The terrain is clearly a labor of love and I was surprised to see that it matches up very closely to the actual satellite imagery. I don’t have enough superlatives to describe how awesome this terrain is, but hopefully the screens will somewhat illustrate the incredible work that has gone into this mod. By my admittedly rough calculations, it appears the map is 5km x 5km, giving 25 km² of flying space. Obviously you won’t be doing any extended distance helo flying, but the detail that is packed into the map gives a lot of bang for the buck.

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 * This preview features some screens from an earlier version of the Unsung Mod and Razorback’s terrain as well as some screens from a more recent build.

Some images of your main base: FOB Sarge.

For TeTeT’s mission, we are flying the gorgeous UH-1’s from GrumpyRhino’s HueyPack (some screens show earlier A2 Huey models). They look great and fit the role. At this point (as far as I know) the helos do not feature the advanced physics of the relatively recent Rotorlib, but they are fun and challenging enough to fly. I look forward to the additional challenges that the advanced flight model would provide.

It’s impossible to take an ugly screenshot of the Huey in Razorback’s Da Krong scenery. All of the details of the other units in the Unsung Mod complete the immersive experience.

 The randomized tasking that TeTeT has included in his Chickenhawk mission can be straightforward insertions or extractions, but every mission has the possibility of running into enemy forces. I’ve been shot at (and hit) by unseen enemy embedded deeply in the jungle, and have landed under mortar fire to extract friendly troops in contact. Other missions include the so called “ass & trash” missions that feature shuttling personnel around the area and carrying cargo to and from different locations. The ability to sling load cargo and vehicles adds a lot to the missions.

Of course, if you’ve read Chickenhawk, you know that the enemy was only a part of the challenges facing Huey pilots. Heavy loads and occasional ridiculously small landing zones could often conspire to require the use of precise flying and exceptional skill. Robert Mason describes chopping his way down through the canopy with his rotors  to make enough room to land. Some of the locations you’ll have to squeeze into in Razorback’s version of Da Krong are pretty tight, requiring a delicate touch to negotiate. It would be even more interesting with the advanced flight model as well.

Fortunately, with the recent improvements to Arma 3 that includes firing from vehicles, the soldiers you load in the back of your Huey will help you out with suppressive fire when you run into those contested LZs. As well, Arma 3 is distinctly different from other flight sims in that you are free to leave your helicopter and head out on foot, drive other vehicles, or even engage the enemy if you are so inclined. Several times in my explorations of the map I left the helicopter and walked around villages to take in the stunning scenery. The sound effects of the living jungle are very well done and in some areas the triple-canopy is so dense and dark that you can just imagine how much mission designers are going to have with this terrain.

The Unsung mod will open up a ton of new mission ideas that will appeal to helicopter pilots and infantry types alike. I’d like to extend my thanks to the Unsung team, TeTeT, and Razorback for allowing me to take a peek at their creation. The screens in this article are a work in progress and even as I was capturing these screens, new features, units, and graphics have been added. This mod is going to knock your socks off and remember: Never get out of the boat.

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Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth

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