DCS confusion!

First of all,no sure if I am on the correct forum topic?. but at my wits end…I am brand new to DCS and confused! I have spent a lot of time in Xplane…but this DCS is a different bird to me!..My first goal is just to takeoff from any carrier, but can not for the life of me figure out how to place myself on a carrier?? Any guides, step by step, how to do this,available from step 1?..Is it possible to do this without buying specific modules etc…? Do I have to buy a module and set up something in Mission Editor?? Which seems difficult to me …at least at this point? just trying to get started without buying a bunch of things I prob will not use…Thanks for any and all advice! Greatly appreciated


Neither of the free-to-play planes (P-51D and Su-25) are carrier capable, so that’s not gonna fly.

There’s a few other options you have, depending on whether you want a study sim experience or are content with the less elaborate survey sim depth.

If you want survey sim depth, you can get a carrier capable survey depth bird (Su-33) or get the entire package of survey planes called Flaming Cliffs.

For study sim depth, your options are either the currently in development F-18C that’s available as early access or the F-14B that’s a bit more matured in its dev cycle.

As for flying, there’s a bunch of premade missions for carrier take off and landing practice that you can use (you can find user made missions in the user files section on digitalcombatsimulator.com) or you can roll your own by placing a carrier on the map, then placing a user controllable plane on the carrier (naturally it has to be a plane you own). DCS study sim planes also come with training missions that include takeoff and landing.

That all being said, if you’ve never used DCS, maybe you should stick with the P-51D or the Su-25 for a few hours and see how you like it. The Su-25 is a survey plane, the P-51D is a study plane (without weapons in the free version).


Good info.
One minor correction though: the Su-27 is not carrier-capable. The Su-33 is the only carrier-capable FC3 plane


I would think that the P-51 can take off with a deck run.

  • In the ME, place a carrier and place a waypoint 20 Nm or so ahead of it/speed 20 kts.
  • Set the wind so that it is blowing towards the carrier’s movement heading at a speed of 10-15 kts
  • Put the P-51 on the deck/engine running
  • Start the mission, set the P-51’s flaps to full, taxi it around to the stern until you have a good deal of deck in front of you, full power and see what happens. :grin:

Another thought: if you know you’re fully into carrier ops, pre-purchase the supercarrier module (at a discount) and you’ll be able to fly the Su-33 right away. Then around the time the supercarrier is released, you may also be ready for the Hornet or the Tomcat.

Personally, my advice if you want the Hornet is to either 1) get the Hornet/Supercarrier bundle, or 2)(better) get the Hornet/Persian Gulf bundle (on sale), then the next day get the Supercarrier for 50% off (pre-purchase price + discount for already owning the hornet).

If you prefer the Tomcat (and IMO it’s a more enjoyable module, but a much different type of learning curve), then it really doesn’t matter what order you do.


Thank you!

1 Like

I think I just go all in…I will buy for Tomcat…I will to do that in ME…if I can figure out how to get started in ME?..:] thanks for everyone’s suggestions!

1 Like

an excellent choice!

If you do buy the F-14, you can go to “training” and then select the " Case 1 - take-off" mission to take-off from a carrier (in good visibility and weather conditions) while having a guy talk you through the steps and procedures. Alternatively, you can place a carrier in the mission editior (make sure it’s the CVN-74 John Stennis, that one is the most updated and is fully functional with all player-flyable naval aircraft, the other one, the CVN-70 Carl Vinson is not and stems from a time naval aviation was an AI-only ordeal). Then place your new F-14B tomcat anywhere near that carrier. in the skill dropdown menu, choose “player”, in the waypoint menu, choose either “Start from ramp”, “start from ramp hot” or “runway start”. The game will automatically look for the nearest appropiate place for that and will place you on the carrier. the first two options will put you in a parking spot on the carrier with the engines and avionics off or on, respectively, while the last option puts you on the cat, ready to go fly!


Read through the Manual that came with DCS - a good start.


Maybe watch a few tutorials on YouTube so you know what you are getting into. Learning your first high fidelity module has a steep learning curve. Expect to spend a lot of time either watching videos or RTFM.


Once you get over the initial hump of controls and such it’s an utterly rewarding experience though.


You can dip your toes in the Community A-4E mod, which is sort of problematic now but does work, though it currently trips the integrity check on the latest beta. However, carrier operations are possible with it and it has a clickable cockpit.

Beware that if you get the F-14, it’s a very, very, very complicated aircraft that can be intimidating at first. It’s very much an example of how deep DCS can get in simulating a single aircraft and requires a significant investment of time and study to fully grasp.


Actually… is it?
If you ignore weapons and the RIO seat I’d say it isn’t a very complex plane at all. Not many steps required to get it into the air and have some fun.

You are right though if you want to do more than that.
Effectively navigate and fight in it sure isn’t trivial.
It shows its age. The Hornet is much easier in that regard.


F-14 front seat is easy to learn but difficult to master. A very rewarding experience.


I like @Franze’s idea of A-4 first, then IMHO the Hornet should be next in one’s NAVOPS journey, since it has single pilot operation, is super carrier compliant, and is a multi-role beast. The Tomcat should be a graduation prize.

If it wasn’t for the Russian pit, the Su-33 would be the easiest to start out with for carrier ops by far. When it comes to takeoffs, landings, that sort of thing. The pit takes some adjustment, though.

Like I said, a much different type of learning curve.

Getting the bird airborne isn’t too hard (those beasty engines do all of the hard work), and it isn’t information overload, but you do depend on a RIO to be combat effective. You need to learn how to use Jester to give you what you want from him, whether it be navigation, tactical employment, or just switching radios. Also, flying the Tomcat isn’t that difficult, but fighting it effectively is also a big part of that learning curve (something you don’t have to sweat as much with fly-by-wire). Finally, the HUD is rudimentary at best, and you need to scan your steam gauges to see airspeed and altitude.

If you find a competent human RIO, tactical employment and enjoyment goes up exponentially!

The Hornet is easy to fly, the buttonology takes a lot of learning, but it is an easier aircraft altogether. Personally, I find the Hornet more frustrating than the Tomcat because many of the systems (notably the A/A radar) aren’t quite there yet, and it seems like you’re fighting your own jet as much as the enemy.


So the RIO is not just a “Nav-Bag with legs”…as some of the single seat guys used to joke about NFOs. :open_mouth:

I know, right. It’s like the Russians have a different word for everything! :wink: :grin:

Yeah, us DAPs (that’s “Double Anchor Pukes,” or NFOs) are more than just 200lb of self-loading baggage! :rofl:


Judging from all that I have read (like Dave Baranek’s books) and my own experience with the simulation I think it is safe to say that in the Tomcat the brain was way more needed in the back seat.

Definitely more than baggage or a passenger.