L-39ZA Albatros (Modern Air Combat)
Bond girls have nothing on this svelte little beauty. While the L-39ZA in DCS does not come with the “nuclear torpedoes” from its appearance in Tomorrow Never Dies, it does come with an optional backseat driver, even in the simplified Modern Air Combat version. The L-39ZA is a Czech jet trainer aircraft for prospective MiG pilots — in particular, it features on-the-ground controls and in-air navigation systems that are very similar to what the MiG:s of its era used. Being a trainer, it has a dual cockpit that fits both an instructor and a trainee, with the instructor having access to various funny toys to make the trainee's life miserable: turning systems off to train emergency procedures and reducing visibility to teach proper IFR flying.
As a jet trainer, the L-39ZA deliberately only comes with some bare essentials:
- Multi-crew: fly with a friend(?) as instructor or trainee in the same aircraft.
- An IFR hood to pull down over your trainee friend's(?) head so they can't see outside.
- Dual controls: the instructor can take over when the trainee gets confused because they can't see outside.
- A light assortment of guns, bombs, rockets, and even something pretending to be air-to-air missiles.
Flying the L-39
Getting into the air
Getting the L-39ZA into the air is much the same as all other MAC aircraft:
- Make sure you have loaded the correct weapons.
(This can only be done with the canopy open and engines off, press LAlt' to open the outfitting menu.)
- RShiftL to turn the power on.
- LCtrlC to open or close the canopy, as needed.
- RShiftHome to start the engine.
(RShiftEnd stops the engine.)
- Wait for the engine to spool up and stabilise.
- Num+/Num- controls the throttle; increase it carefully to get going and do not go too fast.
(W controls wheel brakes; be particularly careful when turning since doing it at high speed will make you tip over, scrape your wings, catch fire, explode and — worst of all — become the subject of innumerable screen shots.)
- Use Z and X to control nosewheel steering (and also rudder) to make your way to the runway and line up.
- LShiftF lowers the flaps — they should be in the middle position for takeoff.
- Throttle up to max and try to stay in a straight line as you barrel down the runway.
- Pull back gently to take off.
- Raise landing gears with LCtrlG; raise flaps with LCtrlF.
Without any guidance systems to speak of, shooting something in the MAC edition of the L-39ZA is mainly a matter of spotting a target and putting the sight on it. While you can select missiles (D to cycle while in 3 air-to-air mode), they are not the most accurate things in the world and require some fairly specific launch conditions in terms of high speed and low g-loading to come off the rails.