Review: DCS MB-339A by IndiaFoxtEcho
While it was previously known for being a community-made mod, IndiaFoxtEcho's official entry is the MB-339A, an Italian jet trainer/light attacker. It has been developed, in no small part, by the same developers behind the original mod. To say that I have been excited about this module would be an understatement; I have been waiting for the moment I could get my hands on this trainer for years now. In this review, we will be taking a look at each aspect of this small but powerful aircraft to see if it is a fit for you and your playstyle: External and internal 3D models Visual and sound effects Flight modelling Mission capability Armament Ease of use and learning curve Training and Multicrew Is this aircraft for you? EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL 3D MODELS The external assets are absolutely gorgeous, which is unsurprising knowing the devs that were behind this project. The Macchi has been recreated with painstaking detail. Every divot, rivet and bump is there and looks great. The same can be said about the external textures as more you zoom into them, the more detail you can see. A good example of this are the areas surrounding panels and covers as there are marks from oil dripping from them. The same can be said about the areas near the exhaust and even the "remove before flight" tags and covers. It is absolutely amazing so here, take a look for yourself: As for the cockpit, it is also excellent. All the instruments look properly textured and the gauges look excellent under any light condition. The night lighting is unique-looking and allows for excellent visibility at dead of night. The labels and text in the cockpit are really high resolution, with the exception of some of the auxiliary tables to the sides of the cockpit. But, that being said, this is some excellent work by the team over at IndiaFoxtEcho. VISUAL EFFECTS Exterior wise, it is a very simple module. The night lighting is perfectly serviceable, that includes the anti-collision lights, navigation lights and formation lights. Additionally, when pulling Gs at high speeds, vapor will appear over the wings. There is also the cockpit shake at low speed but high AoA conditions, a good way to tell pilots when they are pushing it. Interior wise, there are two effects that surprised me a lot. These being the canopy misting and icing effects. These are triggered by external temperature factors. When your internal temperature is colder than the outside, it will mist. When the outside temperature is extremely low, it will ice up! You will have to use your canopy de-mister and anti-ice measure to solve each problem, which adds a lot to the immersion. Here is the mist effect: FLIGHT MODELING 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 MB-339 should have under certain scenarios. Now that we can continue, I will be completely honest: it feels great to fly. You can really feel the low thrust that this engine has as you will struggle with a heavy aircraft as well as requiring special procedures on wet take-offs. The lack of any active stabilization system is very noticeable too, as you will need to coordinate your turns more carefully. She is pretty maneuverable too, as long as you have the energy to spend. When you push her to the low-speed regime she behaves well, even in a stall. It is extremely easy to recover from a stall. That being said, there is one issue I did find when flying. When pulling out of a dive, it is extremely easy to over-g the wings and rip them clean off of the plane. There is no warning or anything. No cockpit shake unlike in the high AoA scenarios. Just a clean cut and then you are forced to eject. The only other aircraft with a similar issue at the moment is the F-5E. I hope that some sort of warning is added (cockpit shake, rattle, etc.) or a correction to the flight model is done to asses this problem.
MISSION CAPABILITIES MB-339A This is the trainer/light attack variant of the Macchi, which means it is the one that most people will be flying. It can be equipped with a plethora of weapons to perform its duties. It lacks any kind of countermeasures, both EW and dispensable, so make sure that you will be flying with clear skies and complete air superiority. MB-339A/PAN This is the variant flown by the Frecce Tricolori. It is not a combat-capable aircraft anymore as it has been set up for airshow performances with the addition of several cockpit modifications as well as modifications to the engine to allow for smoke oil to be mixed in with the exhaust. ARMAMENT (AS OF 4/11/2022) GUN PODS While they are draggy, they are the most versatile weapon system at your disposal. You have two varieties to choose from: DEFA 553 30mm cannons M3 50.Cal machine guns ROCKET PODS Classic. Depress the button and have fun seeing your rockets fly towards the target. you will have four types of pods: LAU-10 (Zuni rockets) LAU-3 (Hydra rockets) LR-25 (ARF-8 rockets) MATRA TYPE 155 BOMBS Good ol' irons. No guided bombs here. There are plenty of choices, though! Mk-81 (250lb HE) Mk-82 (500lb HE) Mk-83 (1000lb HE) BL-755 (Cluster bomb) Belougas (Cluster bomb) Practice Bombs (25lbs and 5lbs) ROCKET BOOSTED PENETRATOR BOMBS The best type of bomb for the right job, as long you are targeting something whose name's "runway" or "stationary target". There's three types: BAP-100 Concrete penetrators. BAP-120 HE/FRAG Durandal Concrete penetrators. EASE OF USE AND LEARNING CURVE This is a trainer, so it is only natural that it is a breeze to learn and fly. It is extremely easy to set up your controls and to fly it. There really is nothing else to say other than that this is an excellent training platform that can be use to teach someone the basics of jet flight, navigation and the use of unguided weaponry in any type of weather. TRAINING AND MULTICREW Training is the most important aspect of this module and, while it is certainly well equipped to do it thanks to its multicrew and the blind flying hood, I did find certain aspects of it a bit odd. The synchronization between the trainee and instructor sides of the cockpit can, sometimes, break completely. I noticed this while doing testing with Aaron, as I had to exit the aircraft multiple times due to his throttle overriding my inputs, even when I had already taken control of the aircraft. I suppose most of these issues will be resolved in the next couple of updates. This means that, when resolved, this should be as good of a trainer as any of the other aircraft available for this role in the game currently. The fact that environmental temperature affects the canopy means that the trainee will learn how to deal with these issues at the same time as they learn how to fly jets from their instructor. IS THIS AIRCRAFT FOR YOU? If what you want in a module is: An amazing trainer. An excellent flight model that will help you hone-in your skills. A module that came out as complete as it is humanly possible. A slow flying jet to take into low-threat combat. If you don't mind: Not having any air to air weapons, as this was not designed to do those tasks. The small imperfections of the flight model and the early access bugs Having to adapt to a more analog experience. If all or some of the above is what you want, then IndiaFoxtEcho's MB-339A 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