Preview: SK60B Mod for DCS World by BAAS Dynamics
It has been quite the year for DCS. Many great modules and mods have been released, some of which have opened new doors and experiences for the player base. However, the year is not over yet and it seems like the guys at BAAS Dynamics want to make sure that we leave 2022 with one hell of a present: Their Sk60B! This mod releases publicly on the 24th of December, 2022. That means we'll all have access to it just in time for the holidays!
The folks over at BAAS were kind enough to give me access to their mod before its official release so that I could give feedback and make some content with it so, let's use this chance to take a look at what you can expect from this mod when you get your hands on it next week!
In this preview we will be taking a look into several different parts of the module and evaluating if this wonderful little jet is for you. These points will be divided in several sections:
External and internal 3D models
Ease of use and learning curve
Is this aircraft for you?
DISCLAIMER: This preview and its content only represent what the WIP build that the team gave me as press. It does not represent the final product.
EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL 3D MODELS
I am extremely happy to report that the external 3D model for this mod is stunning. The texture work stands out and the shape seems to have been recreated very accurately. The engine blades are present, gear compression and animations are awesome. The same goes for even smaller details such as the trim tabs on the control surfaces, which have been modeled to work as they would on the real deal. What caught my attention the most, though, was the gorgeous use of normal maps as this is an area that can be easily overdone. These normals mark the panel lines and even the smallest rivet, so getting them right is a big deal. I can think of at least a couple of official modules with much inferior texture and modeling work than what BAAS has accomplished. Here are a couple of examples of what I thought were noteworthy parts of the model:
Now, the best part of this mod by far has to be the internal cockpit model. Everything here is top notch and I was astonished that this cockpit looked way better than most official modules. From the subtle scratches of the instrument panel to the absolutely sublime night light lighting, this is my favorite cockpit from any fixed wing mod. It is that good.
This cockpit feels alive at night, it is a spectacle on its own. I have spent so much time looking at it and the more I look, the more I realize that this what many other mods and modules could look like this. It reminds me that this game is one gorgeous piece of software.
I will just let the pictures talk for themselves since it is a bit hard for me to explain just how good this model is:
One small thing that caught my eye here was this light in the very small center console section. To me, it looks so natural when you compare it to other floodlights or similar lighting implementations in the game. It shows that, even with current tech, this sim can be gorgeous regardless if we are flying a free module or a paid one. It also means that free mods have caught-up to official ones in terms of visuals!
DISCLAIMER: This is always a tough category, as like with any other aircraft, there is a lot to take into consideration other than just the feel of the flight model. This category is the most subjective one in this article as I do not have any real world experience with this craft. I will only base my opinion on practical experience and knowledge of practical aerodynamics and the theoretical behavior that a SK60B should have under certain scenarios.
With that out of the way, I am pretty happy with how the FM was handled in this mod. Like many modern mods, it was made using an External Flight Model (EFM) which usually means that it will feel a lot more natural and accurate in terms of its behavior, specially on the extreme sides of the flight envelope. What we were told by one of its developers, Fredrik "Breadmaker" is that its modeling was "based on both performance measurements from Flight School and also aerodynamical calculations. It’s AWESOME to fly." I am also happy to report that yes, he was right. It feels awesome to fly. It is an extremely responsive bird that packs quite a lot of power thanks to the dual J85 engines. I have been having a blast throwing it around in every way imaginable and it has taken it like a champ, now I understand why Team60 used it for so long. It stalls very gently and recovers extremely easily, even from unintended spins and many other situations. This feels "right", if you get what I mean by that. I cannot ascertain its fidelity by the book, but it flies and feels as it should.
To not extend this part, I can say that it is a very comprehensive almost-all-weather trainer that is also capable of doing some light attack work on the side. I pretty much appreciate where this aircraft seats in relation to other mods and modules as it fills a niche that has, so far, only been occupied by the T-45C mod by VNAO. It is a free trainer that will allow many, many people to start DCS in a better way than if they had started by using something like the vanilla Su-25T and the TF-51.
You have the ability of carrying two different types of rockets, both of which are extremely big!
13.5cm (135mm) HE rockets in either x6 or x12 configurations.
14.5cm (145mm) HEAT rockets in only a x6 configuration.
AKAN GUN PODS
These are absolutely fun to use. These 30mm pods can be equipped at the cost of rockets. You cannot have both rockets or gun pods equipped at the same time, which means that you will have to choose between them!
EASE OF USE AND LEARNING CURVE
The Sk60 is an extremely easy plane to both learn and fly, as it is only natural of a training platform. Everything from start-up to wheels up and landing is extremely easy to learn and proved to be quite an enjoyable learning experience, at least in the time that I have had with the platform. The only systems that require a bit more knowledge might be the GPS and the radios, but those are also simplified and quite straight forward in terms of the way they work.
This is where the Sk60 gets interesting since it offers several unique features that I have yet to see in any other mod in DCS as of the time of writing. These include a completely functional and standalone version of the Garmin NS430, a GPS navigation system! It is just insane to think that modders have found a way to include a system like this despite not having access to the official NS430 addon. In fact, this implementation does not need that you own the official one for it to work, it is a standalone system and I love it!
The same applies with the "special menu", a head-tracked menu a-lá Heatblur's tomcat. This menu allows you to customize certain aspects of the mod such as gunsight installation, rocket salvo mode and even a pilot wave animation. It is extremely cool and something I thought was completely impossible for modders to implement. Props to the devs for doing this!
IS THIS AIRCRAFT FOR YOU?
If what you want in a module is:
A lovely trainer.
A light attacker that could prove useful in low-threat environments.
A mod that looks and feel like a paid module.
An excellent platform to fly and train with your trains.
If you don't mind:
Not having any air to air weapons.
The small imperfections that come with mods and early access products.
Getting a plane for free with no strings attached.
If all or some of the above is what you want, then BAAS Dyanamics' SK60B is for you!
About the writer:
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 the co-founder and writer ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034