DCS: SSA Mod

Or “Sean’s Strategic Assets Mod” is my pet name for my conversion project… I plan on converting, with original modelers permission, a bunch of ‘Strategic’ aircraft from FS9 AI models. The idea is to build a mod around aircraft which would be based out of the theater of operations, and so would only be seen ‘in flight’. The reason for this is that until I learn the finer details of animation in Blender or 3D Studio, my models will be static, which is fine for the sorts of aircraft I am planning.
The plan is to convert a few ‘samples’, which I can use to send screenshots to the owners of the models, in the hope that they will grant permission for me to distribute their modified models.

CT4 Forward Air Controller?

With my playing around in DCS, and my love of the FAC mission, I decided to try a conversion of my CT4 model as a working FAC aircraft in DCS.

I had the basic aircraft geometry imported and converted, albeit with a few bugs so I tackled the task of adding weapons to it one night, and the results were surprisingly good!

CT4/FAC over Echo Lake Nevada on a test flight

I was certain that somewhere in the past the idea of a FAC conversion of the CT4 had been floated, which added some sort of legitimacy to my project.. A bit of searching on the ‘net came up with this page at Aviadejavu.ru

1976 Photo of a CT4 FAC test.

Finding this image was a great step, giving some credence to the idea of a FAC CT4. I need to model the pylons, and find the right sized pods to hang under the wings, and we will have a usable FAC platform for our multiplayer missions!

The most recent news on the modding front is that I am running a 30 day trial of 3DStudio Max, which will hopefully give me time to finish the CT4 project at least… And plans are in play to secure the use of 3DS Max for longer… watch this space!

DCS Library Development

For many years Military AI Works have produced excellent military scenery, many of which leverage of a series of ‘Object Libraries’ produced by many very talented designers. I have been using these libraries in my projects for a long time, and with my switch to DCS I felt a little lost without the breadth of objects available to “detail” airports with.
So, being the infernal tinkerer that I am, I have cobbled a workflow together which allows me to convert FS9 Object Libraries into DCS ‘mods’. It is a laborious task, with a lot of file editing and hand manipulation of 3d models, but it does work!

MAIW Objects scattered around a P-3 in DCS

While I was converting models I had a small experiment with static aircraft, converted from FS9 models. The P-3 in the picture above is by Jake Burrus, with my retro RNZAF AI paint, and looks quite good in the sim.

These first experiments with bringing my ‘familiar’ FS9 objects into DCS has started me thinking about how I can incorporate some of the design philosophies that have evolved over the years into the DCS world.

The flight line could get ‘interesting’

With a workflow established, and a bit more learning of the lua files which run everything in DCS, I got a little more ambitious and converted HMNZS Canterbury, and have it operating as a working vessel, with a landable helipad..

RNZAF Iroquois landing on HMNZS Canterbury…. a DCS First (I believe)

And now with ‘Vector’ Graphics

Another evening of fiddling around with the Macchi paint, and with the help of some really useful documents I now have correct stencils for the cockpit sides.

With the paint and stencil documents in hand I can now accurately paint all the small details which will make the skin look more real. I am very pleased how it is looking so far!

Tonight, while testing the paint in DCS I played around with target marking using Mk76 practice bombs, which give off a puff of white smoke… the bombs modelled on the Macchi smoke for a long time, which I think will be quite useful for JTAC/AFAC ops online. Once the paint is published I will get some missions together to see if I can make it work. Possibly even look at modding the weapon system script to add some marking rockets to really make the Macchi into a FAC tool.

Joining on a Skyhawk after the successful target marking ‘test’ mission

Another ‘cool’ feature of the Macchi is the ‘back seat’ view. I really enjoy flying from the back, it makes me feel like I achieved my dream of being a strike instructor 😉

Formation join on a 40 Sqn Herk

The ‘useful’ documents I referred to earlier came to me courtesy of an ex RNZAF guy who was my original contact to get me into the SKyhawk cockpit back in 2000…..

Download the Docs here:
RNZAF Macchi Paint Diagram
RNZAF Macchi Stencil Points


RNZAF_AI:DCS

After a bit of fiddling around, I have made strides in converting some of my RNZAF_AI repaints to their DCS counterparts. The latest project is the MB339 Macchi. I am using the excellent MB339A model from the ‘Frecce Tricolori Virtuali’ as my ‘MB339CB’ stand-in.

14 Sqn Macchi soars over Georgia

First pass, which involved morphing the FS9 repaint onto the DCS template, is complete, and looks pretty good.

Coming along well, still need to finalise the tip tanks

Next stage is to tidy the textures up a little and finalise the tip tank and weapon textures, and finally to replace the insignia and stencils with higher resolution details.

Meanwhile, as a fill-in for my own Huey paint I found an old DCS paint, which was not compatible with the current version. I have modified it, as an interim, to work in 2.5.4

‘Temporary’ paint on the Huey
C-130 and 727 ready to depart

40 Squadron is also coming along well, with the 727 complete, and the C-130 just needing a little tidying up..

Next on the agenda is the Sioux. A new addition to the virtual fleet, and just needs a simple paint ‘modification’. Good fun to fly too 😉

Bell 47G, or ‘Sioux’ in military service, in ‘UN’ colours. Needs a lick of paint 😉

Once these are completed my 1991 era RNZAF will be looking pretty healthy:
– A-4K Skyhawk (Pre Kahu)
– MB339CB Macchi
– C-130H Hercules
– Boeing 727
– UH-1H Iroquois
– Bell 47G Sioux

Exciting times in DCS are ahead! Once the paints are done I will be able to put some missions together with a pretty good representation of the RNZAF of the early 90’s.

RNZAF_AI – DCS:World Edition

After an excellent online session on Saturday night, I was thinking about the aircraft types modelled in DCS:World which are representative of RNZAF types.   I have been flying the Macchi MB-339 a bit, and there is a Skyhawk coming.  There is already an AI C-130 in the game, and Lewis found a ‘Civil Aviation Mod’ which includes both the Boeing 727-100, and 757-200.

So, after the flight on Saturday I quickly fitted my RNZAF_AI B727 paint over the DCS template and made something which looked really cool!  Tonight I’ve been working on the C-130, which is ok, though not perfect…

DCS world is fast becoming my go-to sim, which has completely flipped my “sticking with fs9” theory on it’s head.  The new plan is for the Skyhawk to be FS9/P3D but also DCS:World in VR.  Unfortunately there is no likelyhood of a Kahu Skyhawk being released for DCS, but there is a very good A-4e ‘Community Mod’ coming in October (fingers crossed!)

MB339 for DCS

Exciting night.. Lewis found a freeware MB339A Macchi for DCS:World.  So tonight I downloaded and installed it for a wee test.

As you can see, it looks pretty spectacular!   The great news is that it flies as well as it looks.   Now my RNZAF_AI project looks like it might branch out into DCS repaints, starting with the Macchi (obviously)

You can download this module at:  http://www.freccetricolorivirtuali.net/mod%20ftv.htm

I can see some interesting multiplayer opportunities with this, and the upcoming A-4 Skyhawk.