Welcome to -Ice's guide for the new DCS A10 pilot!
While I am a firm believer that “RTFM!” is not always an appropriate response to a query, I must admit that for a simulation such as DCS A10, a bit of reading is required if nothing but to aid the instructor in teaching the student. I also believe that a few hours of tutored learning gives much greater returns in terms of knowledge and retention compared to days of reading the manual. I am also of the opinion that the DCS manual, while full of technical information, isn’t really the best place for a budding pilot to learn the ropes from. There are also different kinds of learners, those that read-then-do, and those like me who like to stumble around first, then read.
I am making this guide for the new DCS A10 pilot with little or no previous flight simulation experience, so I will endeavour to make this as fool-proof, clear, and simple as I can make it. The goal of this guide is to get you, the green and eager Hog pilot, ready to fly and learn from your instructor. To do this, I hope to orient the new pilot with the essential components of the Warthog cockpit as well as the different switches, buttons, and HUD cues needed to learn the ropes as quick and as painless as possible. I will also discuss some basic terms to avoid confusion and aid in learning during tutorial flights. However, with the different guides available on the forums, such as Sim's How to Use Weapons Picture Guide, I will not cover those topics, so at the moment, this will not be an all-in-one guide.
In line with this, I am available to take new pilots up for a tutorial session anytime my schedule allows (PM me for details). While I hope that this guide will allow the new pilot to “find his own way,” I know from experience that sometimes questions pop up and having an instructor around can save minutes of frustration.Pre-flight checks!
Okay, so you’re raring to go and show the Georgian theatre and the online community what a natural hot-shot pilot you are. But before you even leave the ground, here are a few requirements you need to be sure you have covered:1. Latest game version
– If you bought your game through ED, then make sure you are patched to the latest version. I would recommend a clean install of the new version rather than patching an old version; this guarantees a hassle-free install and play experience. If you bought the game through Steam or if you bought the box set, don’t worry! You can download the latest full version through the ED website as well, and just apply your Steam/box set key once asked. Steam users need not even install the game through Steam, you just need your key.2. Keys mapped correctly
– If you’re flying with a TM Warthog HOTAS, chances are the keys are already mapped for you. Just remember to un-map the view keys from the joystick hat switch and map the trim keys (Trim: xxxxx commands) to the hat switch. If you’re flying with a different HOTAS, then either map the important commands or find a pre-made profile for your HOTAS. Sometimes I find it better to create my own profile because then the button placement will make sense to ME. If you want to do this, consult page 38 of the Quick Start guide (found in your /DCS A10C/Doc folder). It will show you which commands (and their keyboard equivalent) are mapped in the TM Warthog. You will want to map most, if not all of those keys. Also note that once you have mapped the keys to your joystick or throttle, you can now un-map it from your keyboard, essentially freeing up some keys for you to use. So if you’ve not managed to map all the HOTAS functions to your joystick/throttle, you may want to put those extra functions on the newly freed-up keys.
I would advise reserving a button on your HOTAS and using it as your Push-to-Talk button for TeamSpeak 3.3. Know your keys
– Having mapped out the keys or downloading a profile for your HOTAS is nothing if you don’t remember which button does what, or which command is mapped to which button! Most downloadable profiles will at least include a graphic that will show you which command is mapped where, or if you mapped the keys yourself, then even a scribbled drawing is better than nothing. I would recommend something that looks like the profile on page 38 of the Quick Start guide, with both name and keyboard command and an arrow pointing to the part of the joystick/throttle it was mapped to. It is important to know the command name as well (TMS up, DMS down, Master Mode button, China hat Forward) since that is how people will be calling those commands.4. No TrackIR??
– I would strongly advise you to get one, but if you can’t, then you’ll have to map the view keys to your joystick as well. I would recommend the view keys to be on a hat switch and move the Trim commands to the same hat switch but on a shifted mode. You will need to look around the battlefield more than you need to trim the aircraft. Situational awareness helps you avoid danger, a perfectly trimmed aircraft is useless if it’s a burning wreck.5. Game settings
– It would be a good idea to lower the game volumes a bit, to help you hear your instructor over the din of your engines, yes? I would recommend this as a starting point: Volume 80%, GUI, World, and In-Cockpit 90%, Helmet 100%, and Music 0% (the background music gets annoying after a while). This is my Audio settings which gives me a good balance of hearing the engines but still being able to hear my radios or my buddies on TS3 . This guide also assumes you are flying on Simulation settings; I have never touched the arcade side of this game so I cannot offer any help there. I personally prefer having labels off, but I will leave this up to your preference.6. TeamSpeak 3 and/or TARS
– Voice comms is way better compared to having to type everything out, so do yourself and your instructor a favour by downloading at least TeamSpeak 3. I prefer to use the SimHQ TS3 server for flights, and making a password-protected channel if needed. TARS, while it adds to the immersion, is not really needed but may be required if flying with other squadron’s instructors.
Okay then! All sorted? Good.Office Orientation
Welcome to your office! Let’s start off with showing you what’s what.
- HUD - In time, you will get to know your HUD like your best friend. It will show you tons of information and guide you to your target, as well as help you put your goodies square on the bad guy's lap.
- UFC - The UFC (Up Front Controller) is one of the most useful panels in the A10, allowing you to interact with the A10's systems and input preferred settings.
- RWR - Simply detects any radar sites in your immediate area. It may also show a missile warning if a radar-guided missile is fired.
- Left/Right MFD - Multi-function displays show TGP or Mav video, weapon status, TAD, etc.
- AHCP - Armament HUD Control Panel, where some of the most important switches are located.
- NMSP - "Nimsip" allows you to select the navigation mode to be used.
- Fuel system control - Controls fuel pumps and how the fuel feeds into the engines.
- LASTE - Switches for EAC, RDR ALTM, and autopilot modes are here.
- Radios - Can be safely ignored in MP, but useful in TARS or when playing campaigns.
- SAS Panel - Dampens and provides turn coordination in flight, but most useful for keeping the gun steady in PAC-assisted guns attacks.
- Fuel gauge - Although the A10C's turbine engines are fuel-efficient, it's a good idea to keep an eye on fuel state.
- Countermeasures - Controls the countermeasure program used, how many chaff/flares to release, cycle, interval, etc.
- Caution light panel - Alerts the pilot of any systems damage.
- Electrical panel - Main panel for the electrical systems of the A10.
- CDU - What makes A10C a study sim? The CDU. I suspect you can program your VCR, Tivo, and coffeemaker from here.
- AAP - Provides power to the CDU and EGI, and controls which mode the TAD displays waypoints with.
- TACAN and ILS - Nav aids for those flying at night/bad weather or those who just have fun with IFR flying.
- Lighting panel - Controls the Nav, position, and strobe lights and formation lights.
Don't worry if things are confusing for now. With time, everything will make sense and you will eventually find your way around your office with minimal fuss. As this is a "New Pilot Guide," I will not discuss the cold start procedure to save space. Also, some pilots do not have time to do the startup procedure each time they fly and so simply start in a warm cockpit. There are lots of guides available and even Wag's startup producer's notes is still valid with only a few steps needed to be added. Or use the RWin + Home startup cheat. I can take a new pilot through the startup sequence very easily if he knows where each panel is located in the cockpit, so I will skip this topic.What is SOI? What is SPI?
Basically, SOI is Sensor of Interest. SPI is Sensor Point of Interest. What's the difference? "Make TGP your SOI" basically means make TGP your Sensor of Interest, meaning this is the sensor we are working with. If we were to zoom in/out, slew the cursor around, lock a target, it would be done on the TGP. If you "Make TAD your SOI," anything you do (zoom, slew, lock) would be done on the TAD. If you "Make HUD your SOI," you are working with your HUD. SPI is basically a point (or area) in the ground (or in the air!) that you can slave your sensors to. You can set your SPI using whatever sensor you want, TGP/HUD/TAD, and then slave your other sensors or Maverick to the SPI. You can even broadcast your SPI and other members can see that on their TAD and lock on (hook) to it.
Here is a picture of HUD as SOI. Notice the "NOT SOI" message on both R and L MFD. Also notice the "*" on the HUD.
Here is a picture of the Left MFD as SOI. Notice the "NOT SOI" message on the R MFD and the disappearance of the "*" on the HUD. The HUD!
Pilots of various levels of expertise spend most of their time staring down the HUD so it is best to be familiar with this early on.
So many buttons on the MFD!
- Pitch Ladder - Comes in +/-5 degree increments, helps you determine the pitch angle of your aircraft. The "-- --" line with no number beside it is the 0-degree pitch or the "horizon." The pitch ladder (and the FPM) may be off-set to one side during windy conditions.
- TVV - Total Velocity Vector, otherwise known as the Flight Path Marker or FPM. Basically this is where your aircraft is heading. Point and hold it to a spot on the ground and your aircraft will crash to that spot.
- G - Displays the current G-load on the aircraft.
- Speed - Current indicated airspeed for the aircraft.
- Altitude - Barometric altitude, or altitude above sea level. Note that when you are over high terrain (mountains, for example), you may crash into terrain even though the altemeter says you are several thousand feet above SEA level.
- Heading Tape - Shows the direction of travel or magnetic heading.
- Waypoint/TDC - Shows the location of the currently-selected waypoint.
- Waypoint Info Box - Shows you information regarding the selected waypoint: the radar altitude, the waypoint (or steerpoint) number and ID, distance to steerpoint and target elevation, time to go (TTG, otherwise known as ETA) and time on target [delta], and finally, current time.
The MFD buttons are called "OSB" buttons and are numbered in a clockwise manner, so while it makes sense for 1-5 and 6-7, the bottom buttons actually go right-to-left and the left buttons go bottom-to-top. Pressing the OSB button activates whatever it says next to it. The picture currently shows the TAD page (OSB 15), to go to the DSMS page, simply press OSB 14. Note that in version 18.104.22.168, when you start in a cold aircraft, you will have to turn the MFD on via the Day/Night/Off switch.AHCP - Getting ready for business
The AHCP contains the 4 big switches needed to get the A10C ready to spread some love to the enemy troops.
HOTAS Essentials - or - Why is TMS Up Short and TMS Up Long important?
- Master Arm - Simply arms all your weapons and gets the systems ready to deploy your payload.
- GUN PAC - Switch for Precision Attitude Control for the gun. With PAC on, the SAS will attempt to stabilize the pitch and yaw of the aircraft, meaning that your gun rounds go in a tighter grouping. With PAC off, the SAS will not stabilize the aircraft and the aircraft's nose will pitch up as you fire the gun. You will want a PAC-stabilized gun for taking out tanks or other armor. PAC off guns attacks is good for strafing softer targets.
- Laser - Enables the laser designator on the TGP.
- TGP - Targeting Pod. Never leave home without one. Allows easy target identification up to 25 miles away. Never waste a Maverick on a truck again! Note that the TGP takes two minutes to warm up.
The game is able to distinguish between long
(1-2 seconds button held down) and short
(quick tap on the button) button presses, and add that to the different SOIs and different MFDs pages (TAD, Maverick, TGP, Air-to-Air), things can be confusing really quickly. But all you need to work with during a busy combat environment is in the HOTAS buttons above. How is that possible? Simply because the same buttons do different functions depending on your SOI and depending on which MFD page you are working on. The DMS, TMS, NWS, boat switch, and China hat switches
all function differently based on which SOI/MFD page you are on. For example, the TMS Up switch in TGP toggles from Point to Area track on a TMS Up Short, but the same button becomes Make SPI on a TMS Up Long. In Mav, TMS Up Short makes (or encourages) the Maverick seeker head to track the target under the crosshair, if it hasn't done so already. The DMS Up/Down switch zooms the picture in/out in TGP, zooms the TAD map scale in/out in TAD, and increments/decrements steerpoints in HUD.
See pages 85-93 in the manual for the complete list, but do not worry about being confused with the charts. As with everything, all of this will make sense the more you use it. What is important here is that you understand the importance of the HOTAS commands (they are on the joystick/throttle for a reason!!), understand the difference between a Long
and a Short
command, and understand that the same buttons may work slightly differently based on your SOI/MFD page.
And there you have it! All you need to know basics of the A10C! With this knowledge as your foundation, asking for help in the forums, reading how-to guides, and taking instructions from an experienced pilot will now go smoother and easier leading to an easier learning curve and faster access to the fun stuff in this simulation.
If I've missed something basic, or if there's something else you'd like explained, please let me know.