Flying the F-86F Sabre in Enigma's Cold War Server for DCS World
There are only a couple of places in DCS world that have changed the way that I think and play in DCS World, but the most recent one caught me by surprise. It is one that has made me find myself in situations which I never thought possible inside this simulator, some of which have taken root deep in my mind. Let's cut to the chase: Enigma's Cold War server has finally allowed me to use the Sabre competitively in a public PvP scenario for DCS World, which is a sentence I never thought I would write.
I found myself in the sky fighting alongside Mirage F1s, A-10s and F-5s, all of which are much more capable than the Sabre; at least in modern scenarios. Despite this, I was as capable or maybe even more than some of these supersonic fighters due to the nature in which Enigma's server functions and the restrictions that they have put in place. Allow me to explain.
As of the time of my last flight in Enigma, which was somewhere in the past couple of weeks, the server was running one of the final iterations of the 1.0 version of their dynamic mission. In said mission, there's REDFOR and BLUEFOR aircraft which fight for control over the battlefield by directly influencing both air and ground with their actions. In this war, everything is pretty balanced between the belligerents, down to the missiles that are allowed to be equipped.
The best missile that any BLUEFOR fighter could equip, at the time, was the AIM-9B. This missile is so bad it could be spooked just by looking at it. It does not turn, it eats flares and loves getting distracted by the "forbidden heat signature", or the Sun for those that are not into those types of memes. But that does not mean it is useless, far from it; it is one hell of a missile for intercepting bombers or those players that just don't know you are there.
That brings me to my main point. Despite having more advanced supersonic aircraft, we all have access to the exact same missile. That means that even in the humble F-86F, you still have the same amount and same type of missile as those who are flying their fancy 1970s supersonic jets. To make this even better, most engagements in this server tend to develop into close-range dogfights, where maneuverability and pilot skill play a much larger role than avionics or sensors. If you don't believe me, here is an example: I was playing with my buddy Kosmos, we did some sorties in the F-5E and everything was going well for the first couple of engagements. I shot down a couple of MiGs, then proceeded to run out of fuel and land right next to an enemy FARP; typical DCS stuff. That is when I decided to test my luck with the Sabre and, boy, was I in for a surprise.
I took off from Maykop and followed the bearing that the human GCI told me to follow to intercept a MiG-19. I flew at extremely low level (pictured above in a recreation) and proceeded to slowly but steadily close the distance with my target. As I got closer, the GCI told me that the Farmer was high-up at twelve thousand feet. I started climbing and, unbeknownst to me, the fight has already started.
The Farmer had already overflown me and was turning around while a Fishbed was positioning itself to shoot a missile at me. At this point, my eyes were focused on this unknown contact flying at me. This contact turned out to be a Fishbed that had not even realized that I was there: a perfect target for one of my AIM-9Bs. As I merge with him, I turn towards him while he was still flying straight; but I was still unaware that a missile had been shot at me. Turns out that I accidentally had spoofed the missile with my relatively sharp turn! As I turn, I position myself behind the first Fishbed. I turn on my missile seeker and wait for tone. As soon as I get tone, I let the missile fly off the rail. I keep the lock with the second one while this first missile flies towards the target. Thankfully, I didn't have to fire off my second missile as my trusty Sidewinder had found its mark and hit the enemy, downing him. That is the first kill of the sortie. With only a second to react, I look behind me as I turn away from the engagement and spot another Fishbed. The funny part is that it was not even Lemonjuice, who was still trying to get into a firing position behind me, but Choman. I try to position me behind him as he is turning left, then shoot what has to be the worst AIM-9B shot in history. It wasn't only short-ranged but, surprisingly, I forgot that these missiles love following the Sun. That meant that I had just wasted my last missile, forcing me to rely on guns for the rest of the fight. This fishbed was getting pretty slow as to force an overshoot, this forced me to do a couple of high yo-yos to avoid that from happening. Keep in mind that Lemonjuice has been on my six o'clock this entire time, now followed by a MiG-19 and a friendly Sabre!
After a couple of turns, the dogfight gets drawn down to the deck. It is at this moment that I managed to get some solid shots on Choman's Fishbed, leading him to his inevitable fate, as he was destined to meet the ground right after trying to get me off his six.
Having shot me a couple of times while I was dogfighting, Choman and I enter a weird engagement. He shoots an R-3 at me while I was pulling out of my dive. They are very slow, so I just climb away, turn around and get set up very firmly on their tail. This is where the infuriating part begins, as I learn of the lack of power that .50 cal rounds have in DCS World.
As I pepper them with hundreds of rounds, not even smoke comes out of his plane. There wasn't even any visible signs of damage, either; they just keep tanking my rounds, even after a couple of bursts where I hit them right on the wing root and just behind the cockpit. It is at this point that I run out of ammo. I panic and let myself get caught in the chaos of this furball that had been developing right behind me. I see a Sabre chasing a Fishbed that was trying to engage me, as I get buzzed by another Fishbed. In the distance, a Tiger is trying to defend himself from the attacks. I get drawn into a rolling scissor with Lemonjuice and the new Fishbed that had just shown up out of nowhere. This is when I decide to cut my losses.
I search for a chance to get out of that area, one which I found right after that scissors maneuver. I extend from his turn and go as low as physically possible, I was even able to see my shadow reflect off of the blades of grass beneath me. It seems like the Fishbeds had bigger fish to fry and gave up on trying to kill me. As I continue my exit, I take a quick glance at my fuel gauge and, in horror, see that I have less than 700lbs left.
I go cold and ask the GCI to vector me to homeplate. This was nerve wracking because I know that this plane can be pretty fuel inefficient at low altitudes. I take the conscious decision to not glance at the fuel gauge again until I am close to my turn to final approach near Maykop. As I get close, I call out on the radio that I am extremely low on fuel and I need the runway, no matter what.
I land at Maykop with less than 1% fuel, which is equivalent to around 40 pounds left. The gauge already marked empty by the time I was setting up for landing, so I was not surprised by any of this. I shut down my Sabre and got out of that slot. My fight was finally over.
A DOGFIGHTER TO FEAR
It was this sortie that taught me how fearsome a Sabre can be even when facing more advanced opponents in Enigma's Cold War server, all thanks to the very restricting yet interesting rules that govern that server's gameplay. I will be revisiting this concept, but hopefully from the REDFOR perspective, at some point. I'll see you in the skies!
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 2000s, 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 2010s. 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