Aerofly Scenery Design

I said there would be more Aerofly screenshots…. Well, here we go ๐Ÿ™‚
Over the weekend I did some further experiments with some of the development tools for Aerofly. I have not yet gone so far as to look at the 3DStudio part of the SDK, I’m sticking to established end-user tools for now.

Once I get a little more familiar with the tools, and get consistent results I will publish a list of tools, tutorials and links for those of you playing along at home ๐Ÿ˜‰

Aerofly FS2

I have experienced Aerofly FS2 before and was impressed especially as a VR experience, what I wasn’t prepared for was the open architecture and the ease of adding scenery. The tools available for AFS2 are outstanding, allowing for easy development of vast, detailed photo sceneries and even airport design from your web browser. AFS2 is pretty exciting, and has really re-ignited my passion for GA flying….

Expect many *many* more posts on AFS2…. In the meantime, enjoy a screenshot from a flight over Banks Peninsular.

It wasn’t to be

Tonight was going to be my ‘Back in the Saddle’ flight in DCS:World, after a lengthy absence.
The launch, in a Harrier went well, dropping 2 Mk82 low-drag bombs accurately onto an enemy frigate, delivering the coup de grรขce after my fellow aviators had damaged it earlier in the day.
And that is where it all turned to rubbish….

The gimbal on my Thrustmaster Cougar has given up, and after some research it appears to be a not ‘uncommon’ problem. I’ve looked into options to repair or replace the broken part, and will probably end up machining a new part. A lot will depend on what I end up doing with my plans for the Skyhawk sim. One of the options I am thinking about is retro-fitting the Cougar to the Skyhawk, with a modified gimbal mechanism. The sim is potentially going to have a multi-purpose VR makeover….

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.

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)

Another Sim Software Shuffle?

After recently deciding on the software for each of my sims, and the shift of VR into the Skyhawk, I have had a bit of a re-think!
This has mostly come about by my breaking out my old Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS, and setting it up in DCS and FSX.

‘Cougar’ in place on the desk. Perhaps a custom keyboard shelf will be next?

Another part of the reason for the shift has been a re-discovery of the joys of VR in other simulations. I spent a very relaxing evening driving from Oxnard, CA to Yuma, AZ in American Truck Simulator, which reminded me how much fun VR can be, beyond the ‘cockpit’ of the Skyhawk.

The new plan (until I change it again of course) is to run both DCS and FS9 on the Skyhawk, but skip the VR part, at least for now. I hope to put together a version of the A-4, with a modified version of the F-15C avionics, and simplified weapons, which will let me fly a ‘pseudo Kahu’ in the ‘pit, and join in multiplayer missions, while retaining VR capability on the current desk-based rig. This shift will mean FS9 will remain as the primary sim for the Skyhawk, with DCS being a development as time goes on.

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bell 47G, or ‘Sioux’ in military service, in ‘UN’ colours. Needs a lick of paint ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.