Review: DCS OV-10A Bronco by Dikennek/SPLIT AIR
The first time I saw this project I got excited like a kid in a candy store. Someone was, finally, going to make one of my favorite aircraft for DCS World: the OV-10A Bronco. I have somewhat of a connection with this aircraft due to the fact that, before their retirement, I got to see them quite a few times. Now, we will all get the chance to enjoy this slow yet exciting aircraft, for FREE thanks to the effort of the Dikennek, who we interviewed last week about this project!
In this review we will be taking a look into several different parts of the module and evaluating if this small but tough bird is a fit for you. These points will be divided in several sections:
External and internal 3D models
Visual and sound effects
Ease of use and learning curve
Is this aircraft for you?
EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL 3D MODELS
I was honestly impressed by the external 3D model, it is on-par with several official modules. The is a lot of attention to detail both in terms of the 3D model itself and on its texturing work. The gear is a great example of this attention to detail. It is intricate with many moving parts, but despite that, it has been modeled extremely well. It looks and moves like it should.
The tires have wear and dirt, just like the panel lines and rivets do. It looks exactly how you would think a Bronco should look: Like an aircraft that has seen some stuff in battle. Additionally, the engines, specifically the props, are an era where I was pleasantly surprised! There is a lot of edge wear in the correct leading edge, which is something that you do not see often. You can see that for yourself in the gallery posted above.
The cockpit is equally as good, with a few exceptions. This model seems to have been created with a lot of care, seeing as almost every switch has been modeled. Many of these switches are not functional right now, but everything that is critical for the plane's operation works just as you would expect it to.
Just take a look at how good the glass looks with those smudges of oil and dirt. At night, the cockpit comes to life with this lovely red flood light and backlit panels. Thanks to the original design of this unique-feeling cockpit, I have found myself enjoying my time just sitting in it for minutes on end. My only gripe would be the font used in some of the panels, it looks a bit off but that is a problem that is easy to solve!
VISUAL AND SOUND EFFECTS
There is not much in terms of unique or distinct visual effects. I do enjoy that the developer found a way to use the new prop rendering system that was implemented with DCS 2.7, it makes those moving props come to life! Keep an eye out for the transition between the regular prop and the moving prop on start-up, it is really cool to be able to see it happen.
Despite what I stated earlier, there is a single effect that I found to be one of the most interesting ones in current mods. The internal cockpit lighting is synced with the external cockpit, which means that when you turn on your flood lights everyone will be able to see them from the outside. This effect had only been done before a couple of times, including the UH-60L mod, which did something similar but not to the same extent.
Sound-wise, the Bronco is one of the only flyable turboprops that we have in-game at the moment. This means that there is not much to compare it to aside from a couple of mods such as the A-29B or the C-130J-30. I found that the in-cockpit sounds are excellent, as I can tell in which RPM range my engines are and how far I have pushed my throttles just by listening to the distinct high-pitch tone of these T76 engines. That being said, the external sounds are not perfect. They sound extremely well when on the ground and from the side, but the fly-by effect leaves something to be desired. The audio compresses a bit. Overall, sound design is very solid with the exceptions that I have already mentioned; but, as always I will let you, the reader, be the judge in this regard as this category can be very subjective:
1. Engine in cockpit: ( Listen for the changes in Throttle and Prop RPM):
2. Fly-by at +240 knots, full throttle: (Volume warning)
This is usually the make-or-break point for many mods. In the words of Dikennek (the developer of the Bronco) himself:
"For me the flight model is the backbone of a module. It' s useless to have a beautiful 3D or a lot of complex systems if the plane can't fly like a plane. So I paid particular attention to the flight model."
He seems to be a man of his word as this has got to be one of the best feeling mods in DCS, period. It is on par with the A-4E-C in terms of fidelity, at least on the surface. That means that it feels and flies like you would expect a Bronco to do. It is extremely responsive to roll inputs and responds wonderfully to control inputs even when you fly it at near stall speeds. Also, the feeling of being able to take off in what feels like 1/32th of the runway never gets old. This is a STOL plane in its purest form and I love it.
This is due to the fact that this is a proper external flight model (EFM) that was developed with the aid of tools such as MATLAB and OpenVSP. That means that the developer went out of his way to study the aerodynamics of this aircraft in order to make it as accurate as it can be with his level of knowledge.
This bird flies low and slow by nature, so flying it at tree top level is intuitive and almost therapeutic. I have no other way of describing it other than this is what I have always wanted out of a mod. It even spins naturally, which is impressive as it is one of the things that only a couple of other communities have gotten right.
The yaw dampener is something that kind of took me by surprise. It does aid in keeping it steady when you yaw, dampening your inputs in a relatively natural way. I cannot praise about this mod's flight model enough, it is that good.
This plane was designed to play a role that is rarely used in DCS: Airborne Forward Air Controller, or A-FAC for short. Thanks to your incredible visibility from the cockpit you will be able to spot any target easily so that you, as a proper observation aircraft, can relay their location for artillery or other fighters to destroy. That does not mean that you do not have fangs. You do have a small arsenal at your disposal that will allow you to destroy targets of opportunity at will. You might not be able to destroy an entire convoy of enemy tanks with your weaponry, but you will be able to weaken that convoy long enough so that your back-up can arrive and take over the task for you. It is an extremely agile plane so you will be able to somewhat defend yourself against other aircraft in a dogfight. Just do not end up like the Traitor OV-10A that got shot down by the Loyalist F-16A during the 1992 Coup in Venezuela.
M60 MACHINE GUN X4
While of lower caliber than a M2, these M60s are extremely good to pepper an area with infantry. You also have tons of ammo too!
Surprisingly, the USMC put sidewinders on the Bronco. We get them too!
We get the Papa version, which means that it is not an all-aspect missile. You will have to maneuver behind your targets to get a lock.
DUMB BOMBS (SLEEK AND HIGH DRAG)
Just your typical iron bombs. We get four types:
Mk.82 / Mk.82 Snakeye, (500lbs)
Mk.83 (1000lbs and centerline only)
This will be your main weapon for ground attack and spotting. You have three different pods:
LAU-68 : 19x HYDRA Rockets
LAU-10: 4x ZUNI Rockets
M260: 7x HYDRA Rockets
More weapons will be coming in the future, including gun pods
EASE OF USE AND LEARNING CURVE
This is an extremely simple aircraft to learn and operate. Start-up can take a single minute and setting up for a mission takes less than two. It is kind of surprising how simple it is to learn this aircraft, to the point that it could become an excellent initial trainer for people interested in ground attack!
This is a plane that anyone could like, no matter if you have not tried flying props or not. The experience of flying it is enough to make it worthy of a try.
Dikennek from SPLIT-AIR is the only person that actively worked in developing this beauty. Yes, this is a one man operation. Hard to believe, huh? This project has got to be one of the most complete and competent that I have seen in a while.
There is something that I do want to tell people since I feel like it is important, since it made me trust him as a developer immediately:
Right after the interview was released, Dikennek sent me a preview version of the Bronco for me to test and also to write this very review! I found a very important and game-breaking bug during my testing and reported it to him. In a matter of a single day he had al ready sent me a corrected version. I was genuinely impressed at how open he is to constructive criticism and suggestions. I personally think that he cares deeply about this project and its future.
If you want to count this as my personal vote of confidence towards him, then that's fine by me. I will be enjoying this mod a lot!
IS THIS AIRCRAFT FOR YOU?
If what you want in a module is:
A zippy turboprop that doesn't disappoint
A very nicely modeled interior and exterior
An excellent EFM.
A solid fixed wing A-FAC aircraft .
If you don't mind:
The quirks that come with a mod.
The lack of any kind of guided weaponry.
The simplicity of its systems.
Not paying for an excellent aircraft.
If all or some of the above is what you want, then Dikennek/SPLIT-AIR OV-10A Bronco is for you.
TO DOWNLOAD THE BRONCO, GO TO THE SPLIT-AIR COMMUNITY DISCORD!
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 one of the main writers. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034