Tomcat complexity?

I’m not a preorder kinda guy, and I’m happy to support these types of efforts for full retail, so I’ve been getting ready to pull the trigger on the F-14.

In preparation I’ve been checking youtube tutorials, and honestly am starting to get cautious. This jet required two people to operate in real life. Exactly how feasible is it for an armchair enthusiast to operate this thing effectively without getting overwhelmed?

I get the Jester interface, but honestly I don’t like it so much. It would seem preferable to switch between seats and actually operate all the switches and gizmos that are so lovingly detailed.

I realize folks are still in honeymoon phase, but here is my question. Once the newness wears off a bit, do you folks think that you will be flying it regularly in combat in a multi-role fashion? Or is this primarily a multi-player module where single player has a limited use-case due to pilot workload?

I will be supporting Heatblur with this, and am toying with adding it to Time Pilot, but want to set expectations for myself. If it’s too much for one pilot to handle, I’d like to know that going in.


It’s a completely valid concern. Here’s what I have found myself doing in single-player: Takeoff, lights off, Master Arm, go RIO and play back-seat driver to “ICEMAN”. The commands to both “Jester” and “Iceman” are cleverly intuitive. As RIO I can do it all including launching the missiles. Once the fight gets WVR, I go up front and do that “pilot s***!” It is a compromise. And, yes, it is overwhelming. Nobody can be quite as good jumping back and forth as two average humans playing both roles.

In multiplayer, the code prevents switching seats. So there you can phone a friend or depend on Jester. He is actually quite good. I find that I can do a better job (maybe) FINDING targets. But he is better once we are within TWS range of targets which is basically needed for missiles anyway. There are a few bugs. He calls missiles that are 50 miles away (and he usually calls them “stingers”). But overall I do better with him than I do on my own. Dropping smart bombs is something I haven’t done yet. And it is here, especially managing the LANTIRN, where I think it might get tough.


It’s really not that difficult of a plane to operate, just takes some time reading. Once you have a general grasp of what the systems do, it is pretty easy to operate. You can do both seats back and forth if you want, but it will be a chore.

Like smokin said, you can be pretty effective in online servers with jester. He does the house keeping stuff like tuning radios and setting waypoints great. He really only falls down during complex engagements. Air to ground he is great for setting up weapons, and is soon to have lantirn capability.

The analog nature of the plane means there is a labeled switch for pretty much everything you want to do, so spend some time learning the layout and you are good to go. There are no crazy Hotas commands to remember, or pages on MFCDs to go through to set things up. Definitely not as user friendly as the hornet, but don’t let the two seats scare you away from one of the best combat flight sim experiences ever created.

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I’ve been going with the front seat primarily and haven’t delved much into the back seat outside of the cold start tutorial. I’d say if air combat is your thing, Jester does the RIO work well enough; basic air to ground the same. Jumping between the seats does work, but I’ve yet to master it and I feel like I have to watch Iceman like a hawk if I’m back there. Most of the RIO’s workload is in setting up the aircraft and tracking targets, which Jester does very well.

At the end of the day, if the primary mission is air combat and more specifically, blasting bombers, the F-14 more than meets the criteria. If you’re looking to do other stuff, it might feel a bit lacking.

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Y’all forget that the Tomcat’s primary mission is to look incredibly good. And it does.

It’s also hella fun to fly. It rattles and shakes and talks to you. It’s not all that hard to start out in, but has a mile of depth in aerodynamic and systems modelling. I find it fun.

Incidentally I find the MiG-19 fun for the joy of flight and systems as well even though it has far fewer systems.

Both machines are analog as all heck and need constant care and attention. They are not digital fly by wire workstation with the pilot as passenger and sysop. And I love that. Also tomcat (jester) tells you to “come on man, do some of that pilot ■■■■!”


I love it. I have managed to land on a carrier every time I try and I can drop bombs and fire missiles off the rails.
My age also makes the tomcat more appealing than the more modern jets. I imagine I will be flying this bird regularly for a long time especially if I find a friend to take a slot as Rio


I agree that the complexity (especially if you play the pilot) is far lower than I thought.
Compared to the A-10C the workload for the pilot feels lower, at least in the stuff I have done so far.
Jester works mostly fine, quick, and easy.


Compared to the F/A-18C the workload is lower too, but you are busier doing “pilot ■■■■”. That big ol bird needs a whole lot of flyin’.


You have to use rudder in turns and such stuff.

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For some reason, snagging and staying on the basket is harder for me than any other bird, especially the Harrier. I think this is because of the bad visibility around the canopy rails. In VR, I really hug my head to the right. In the real plane this would leave a nice greasy faceprint on the canopy for me and the RIO to enjoy. (Oh wait, I forgot about helmets.). But once you get the basket you get to enjoy more running commentary from Jester which is only helpful when he calls fuel on board every thousand pounds. Total joy, man! Total joy. Buy it!


Yes, tanking in the Tomcat seems difficult. The Hornet is child’s play by comparision, I have refuelled inverted and frequently connect blind (line up some meters behind, give some throttle and close your eyes until you hear “contact”) :slight_smile:


Starting at 3:46 germane :grin:

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Sorry to necro thread this, but this seemed more appropriate than starting a new thread.

In the man cave I have my full CH HOTAS setup, in my recliner where I do about 85% of my flying these days (the wife is a quality time person), I have a twist grip and throttle slider joystick. Can you reasonably fly and fight the F-14 without a HOTAS? I do just fine in the Harrier and Vigen with just my single stick, but the A-10C is above the limit on how many keyboard shortcuts I’m going to try and remember.


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Tomcat does not need many hotas bindings. It needs a good stick, and a good control on the twist/rudder axis as there are places in the envelope where you use that for roll control.

It’s a fine and fun machine and you need like three buttons and a hat or two on the stick to fly without the keyboard.


things i use the hotas for consistently:

Autopilot on/off
Weapon select (Too close for missles…)

Thats pretty much it. Sure having things like DLC, speedbrake, wing sweep, Pilot radar modes, etc are useful, but Jester does most of the heavy lifting. Rudder axis is highly encouraged, but you can get by with Z/X for taxi and then try to avoid high AoA situations.

In a tomcat?! Blasphemy! Burn the heretic!

You sir, need to turn in your man-card right away.

Flying the mighty turkeybird like a school bus, perish the thought!

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