Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Overview: DCS C-130J-30 "Hercules" Mod and its place inside DCS: World
Updated: 2 days ago
In a simulator designed for combat and high action flying, one would think that something like a big, slow and "unamusing" aircraft such as the C-130 would not even be able to participate in basic scenarios. After all, this is Digital "Combat" Simulator, right?
Well, it turns out that I have been finding myself flying such an aircraft inside actual combat missions, and in multiplayer too! But before we talk about that, let's talk a bit about the mod itself and how it works.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE IN DCS: WORLD
As a mod, the C-130 is pretty well made with the exception of the cockpit model and textures. It is impressive how much work went into the systems and displays inside the cockpit. Aside from only a couple of mods such as the T-45C, this one has got to have one of the best implementations of digital displays, even the Heads-Up Display (HUD) has its graphics done with .svg files, which increases their definition by quite a bit ("a bit" being infinitely scalable)!
Additionally, she does fly the way you expect her to. She is heavy but not maneuverable, making flying this bird quite a joy. I suppose that is natural when you have a pretty decent external flight model (EFM) and not a simplified flight model (SFM) driving the aircraft. Is the handling a 1:1 replica of the Hercules? No, but that is ok.
When it comes to features, the Hercules has some of the most interesting ones I have seen in quite a while. From deployable paratroopers to droppable pallets with spawnable cargo inside that bring the airlift powerhouse that is the C-130. It also has a functional navigation computer that allows for waypoints to be entered. The computer can also calculate reference speeds for landing and take-off according to your weight and flap configuration, cool huh?
The external model is pretty good, too. It is properly animated and has enough texel density to look good while not taking up hundreds of megabytes of textures. It is not the highest poly model you will ever see but it is just enough to look excellent with the help of the amazing texture work that it has, which was made by other community members! Although it might not be able to directly attack air targets and despite it having some ground attack capability thanks to its mounted cannon option, that does not mean that this bird is completely defenseless. It has the largest amount of chaff and flares dispensers that I've seen in DCS World (840 of each). Something that is beautifully represented by the attention to detail that the devs had in implementing these, seeing as even the dispersion pattern is spot on. Check this angel out, quite the looker:
Now that you know a bit about the mod, let's take a look at how I've been finding myself using this bird in a multiplayer scenario!
THE RIGHT PLANE FOR THE RIGHT JOB
Lately I've been playing a lot with my group of close friends on a private server. In that server we are currently running a sandbox-like mission which utilizes scripts and dynamic triggers to make the battlefield more alive. We also run mods in the server, such as the A-4E, A-29B and of course, the Hercules.
If we are victorious, we are usually left with a capturable airbase! Prior to us setting up the Hercules for the mission, it was usually the AI who randomly chose to capture the airfield whenever it wanted. We kind of got tired of that, which is where the C-130 comes in. After the clean-up is done, one of us (usually me) gets into the C-130, starts it up, and heads straight for the airfield that we just freed. This part is usually fun as the rest of the players will have to escort this slowpoke of an aircraft for hundreds of miles, usually having to defend me from enemy fighters that are trying to intercept me. This has led to some pretty exciting and interesting scenarios, some of which have ended with me dead in the middle of the desert.
Let's say that, after a long flight, I reach the airfield with my Hercules. As long as there are no enemies inside of the zone and I land safely, bringing the aircraft to a halt, the neutral airbase will be captured and allied ground forces will spawn!
This, in turn, has made our experience much more gratifying as we have direct control over what happens and how it happens. This is the kind of scenario in which a cargo aircraft such as this shines bright like a diamond.
After capture, we can now safely spawn and enjoy the protection of our SAM network in the airfield. This gives the mission a much needed sense of progression that only the Hercules could bring. It truly is the right plane for the right job.
A HERCULEAN CONCLUSION
While it might not be the ideal platform to fly in the middle of a contested airspace, this aircraft and many more of its kind have a definite place inside DCS: World. They present the player with a completely new experience and one that no other sim can offer today, with the closest game that has something similar to it being Bohemia's ARMA 3.
Give the Hercules a try, you will not regret it. You can even cold start it, that's always a plus!
About the author: Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034