I’m a huge fan of helicopter sims and have spent a lot of time in DCS World flying all of the available helicopters over the last few years. I primarily play in VR, which significantly increases the feeling of immersion, but also makes it considerably easier to fly these demanding machines. This article is going to provide my thoughts about each of the helicopters that are available for DCS World so you can get a better idea of which module is right for you.
I cover all of the premium DCS World helicopter modules, as well as my favorite free helicopter mod that you can download and play for free. Bear in mind that all of the DCS World helicopter modules are available to download and play for free for 14 days, so this means you can try each module that interests you before committing to making a purchase.
The UH-1H Huey is my favorite helicopter module out of all the options in DCS due to the raw, untamed experience you get when flying this iconic helicopter. Lacking most of the technology and flight-assistance features of modern helicopters, you really feel like you are fighting the laws of physics to stay in control of this awesome aircraft. This makes the slow learning curve and steady progress in your abilities all the more satisfying.
If you’re looking for a raw helicopter flight experience, the UH-1H is a perfect option. However, it’s underpowered, with limited combat capabilities, and is best suited to transport duties, so this may put some people off.
The developer, BelSimTek has done an awesome job in creating this module and chose to focus on the UH-1H variant, the last mass-produced single-engine Huey. The exterior and cockpit of the helicopter are beautifully modeled with terrific attention to detail, and the game’s sound effects are superb, both inside and out. The game’s systems, including the electrical and fuel systems, are also highly realistic, with an interactive training mission to guide players through the start-up procedure.
The UH-1H module offers a high level of realism in its flight and systems modeling, that is often highly praised by real helicopter pilots, although naturally falls short of being a perfect simulation of the real aircraft.
The Huey is an aircraft that is so recognizable in both appearance and sound, with many appearances in movies and TV shows. For those who want to dive deep into the systems and procedures of flying the Huey, it comes with an extensive manual and you can spend endless hours learning about all the aircraft systems. But, if you’re looking for a more casual experience, you can skip all of that, jump right in, and try to beat the air into virtual submission.
The UH-1H Huey DCS module offers a thrilling and realistic flying experience. I’ve spent hundreds of enjoyable hours flying the Huey in DCS World and it remains one of the most enjoyable helicopters I’ve ever flown in any helicopter simulator. Whilst the Huey lacks the versatility of some other helicopters on this list, the pure flying experience is so good that it’s definitely my favorite.
Ka-50 Black Shark 3
DCS: Black Shark 3 is the latest installment of the popular Black Shark series, which is dedicated to the Ka-50 attack helicopter, and has been a staple in the DCS World and Eagle Dynamics’ lineup for over a decade. This latest version introduces a completely new 3D model, expanded air-to-air weapons, a new defense system, and a physical model of the Inertial Navigation System (INS) for the first time in DCS.
The Ka-50 Black Shark is like a flying computer and is unlike any of the other helicopters in DCS due to its dual rotor configuration and flight assistance technology. Although the learning curve is long to master all the systems, it’s a great option for those who are new to flying helicopters as learning the basics of flight control is relatively simple, and much easier than jumping into a UH-1H Huey for example.
The Ka-50 is the world’s only single-seat coaxial combat helicopter and is capable of performing anti-tank missions, providing close air support, and hitting point targets on the battlefield with a wide range of weapons.
With a highly detailed 3D cockpit and a completely new 3D model, it provides a highly immersive experience, and for an amateur helicopter simmer like me, it’s a pleasure to fly. It does a great job of accurately simulating many of the systems including the sighting and navigation system, weapons control system, engines, radio equipment, cockpit instruments, fuel, and electrical and hydraulic systems.
The audio-visual effects are also impressive. The external lights look great, and the sound effects are quite realistic as well, with a muted and muffled sound that is typical of coaxial systems. Inside the cockpit, the sound effects are clear and crisp, and overall the simulation does a good job of immersing players in the experience.
Overall, DCS: Black Shark 3 is an excellent simulation that offers an unparalleled level of realism and immersion. I’ve put many hours into learning to fly the Ka-50 and would highly recommend it as one of the best helicopters in DCS to try first. It’s a unique and versatile aircraft that is a must-have for anyone who wants a taste of what it’s like to fly a combat helicopter.
The AH-64 Apache helicopter is a powerful, tandem-crewed aircraft that has served as the backbone of the U.S. Army’s attack helicopter force since 2003. With a 30mm Chain Gun, Hellfire missiles, and 2.75″ rockets at its disposal, the Apache has proven its capabilities in battles against a wide range of threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its T-700-GE-701C engines and provisions for both external and internal fuel tanks allow for long mission durations.
The aircraft is designed to sustain small to medium-caliber fire and is equipped with an array of survivability features including missile, laser, and radar warning sensors, a radar jammer, and expendable countermeasures.
The AH-64D Apache module has been highly anticipated by the DCS community, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The external model of the Apache is extremely detailed and is one of the prettiest models I’ve seen in the game so far, and is matched by the attention to detail of the cockpit.
The flight modeling of the Apache is stable and agile, with a good simulation of all flight dynamics, including ground effect, and vortex ring state. According to those who know more than I do about Apache flight dynamics, it is impressively well-modeled, though not perfect. Hovering the Apache is easy once you get the trim just right, however, it is the slowest attack helicopter in the game with a maximum speed of 135 knots when fully loaded.
The Apache’s systems are the most advanced of any western helicopter in the game, and rival or surpass those available on the Ka-50. The systems are complex and will take time to learn. The module is in an early access period, so there are still more updates and features to come, and the module will be updated as features are released. The AH-64D Apache is a good option for someone who has some previous experience flying helicopter simulators, although if you have a particular love for the Apache, don’t be put off diving into this excellent module.
The Mi-24P Hind is an impressive machine, and DCS: Mi-24P Hind does it justice in this excellent helicopter module. The game accurately captures the legendary attack helicopter developed in the USSR and first used in 1972, which has seen extensive action and is loved by pilots, still serving in over 50 countries today.
Starting with the visuals, the game is highly detailed and immersive, with great attention to every texture, surface, and 3D-modeled component. The cockpit and exterior of the helicopter are both highly realistic, and the game is visually impressive.
When it comes to flying the Hind, this module offers a great experience. The helicopter has a realistic feeling of weight, and the first takeoff surprised me with how much collective is required. However, the Hind is incredibly responsive and agile once in the air, feeling faster and more maneuverable than the Mi-8, its ancestor. It’s possible to reach fast speeds and perform tight turns with confidence.
The DCS Hind helicopter is a versatile and powerful aircraft, ideal for experienced pilots. You can fly it solo with an AI crew member, or bring a friend to man the other seat and work together as a team. Its agility is reminiscent of the Mi-8, with the ability to perform a wide range of maneuvers. One thing to be mindful of when flying the Hind is to anticipate adding power, as failing to do so can result in bogging down the RPM, leading to a dangerous plummet.
On the other hand, the Hind is capable of reaching high speeds, with a typical level flight speed of 300kph while carrying a weapon load. Additionally, it has an exceptional diving capability, reaching even faster speeds. However, pilots should exercise caution when diving, as the Hind can experience retreating blade stall at around 350kph.
The sound design is also top-notch, with high-quality recordings both inside and outside of the helicopter. Overall, the Mi-24P Hind is an impressive machine, and DCS: Mi-24P Hind does it justice. It’s definitely one for the more experienced pilots out there, particularly due to the Multi-crew setup and significant learning curve. . Second crew member can be another player or “Petrovich” AI
The SA342 Gazelle is a highly versatile and agile light scout and attack helicopter that has served in a variety of military operations across the globe. Developed by Aérospatiale and Westland Aircraft, the Gazelle was first introduced in 1968 and has since been operated by 23 countries. The version featured in DCS World is the anti-tank variant, which is armed with four HOT 3 anti-tank guided missiles, and future upgrades to the module include other versions armed with a machine gun, rocket pods, and anti-aircraft missile.
Visually, the Polychop SA342 Gazelle is a stunning and elegant machine, capturing the flowing lines of the Gazelle’s unique profile. One of the most notable features of the Gazelle is the use of the Fenestron tail rotor, also known as a fan-in-fin style tail rotor, which was a pioneering innovation at the time of the helicopter’s development.
The cockpit is also highly detailed, with all knobs, switches, and circuit breakers represented in their proper positions. The instrument panel is also noteworthy for its unique layout, with the dual tachometer positioned in the bottom right-hand corner of the panel, which may take some getting used to for pilots.
The sounds in the simulation are top-notch, and all sound like they were recorded from an actual SA342. The systems in the simulation are not overly complex, but they are well-modeled and include a number of impressive details. The aircraft is also equipped with clickable switches, as well as training missions to help players learn the basics of navigating the system. Additionally, the module comes with a 34-page PDF manual that goes into greater depth on the navigation system.
When it comes to the flight dynamics, the Gazelle is a highly agile and responsive aircraft, designed for use as a scout helicopter. I found the Gazelle’s responsiveness challenging to master, and you should expect to spend quite some time adjusting to the flight characteristics if you are coming from another helicopter. It’s important to practice getting the aircraft into a stable IGE (In Ground Effect) hover without bumping the tail, as the aircraft naturally wants to drift forward.
Overall, the SA342 Gazelle is a welcome addition to the virtual fleet in DCS, and a great representation of the real helicopter. I don’t tend to fly the Gazelle as much as most of the other helicopters in DCS, and this probably reflects my relative lack of ability and experience with it compared to some of the other helicopters on this list.
Mi-8MTV2 Magnificent Eight
DCS: Mi-8MTV2 Magnificent Eight is a highly realistic simulation of the Mi-8MTV2, a versatile and widely-used combat transport, and fire support helicopter, developed by Belsimtek and Eagle Dynamics, the team behind the successful DCS: UH-1H Huey,
The Mi-8MTV2 is an upgraded variant of the Mi-8 helicopter, which has served in over 50 countries over the past 40 years. The simulation features accurate modeling of all primary aircraft systems, avionics, and proper functionality of nearly all cockpit switches and controls. The flight and other dynamics are modeled using real-time physics calculations and are carefully tuned using actual Mi-8MTV2 documentation and input from pilots deeply involved in development and testing.
The Mi-8MTV2 is a big beast of a machine, with tons of horsepower, impressive cargo lifting capabilities, and a lot of firepower if needed. It’s fast once it gets moving, with a top speed of 250kph, but has a long and difficult learning curve to learn to fly it well. It’s a heavy and complicated bird to handle, even more so when you are flying alone. I consider this to be an advanced option, and I would steer you away from it if you have no prior experience using helicopter simulators.
Overall, DCS: Mi-8MTV2 Magnificent Eight is an excellent module, providing a highly realistic experience, but is more complex and intimidating than other helicopters like the UH-1H Huey. If you’re prepared to deal with the steep learning curve, this module is well worth it for the level of realism, immersion, and versatility that it brings.
UH-60L Black Hawk Mod
The UH-60L Black Hawk is available as a free mod for DCS World and I would highly recommend trying it. Primarily developed by Kinkkujuustovoileipa, Cubeboy, Bailey, along with a number of other contributors, it is an impressive simulation of the UH-60 Black Hawk, a medium-lift four-blade, twin-engine utility helicopter made by Sikorsky Aircraft that has been in service since June 1979.
Considering that this is an unofficial DCS mod, I have been hugely impressed by the attention to detail of the design, the functionality of the aircraft systems, and the accuracy of the flight models. Whilst there are still some areas to be improved and refined, I feel that most amateur helicopter simmers will be delighted with this module.
As the module is free, there is no reason not to try it out. You can find out more about the DCS UH-60L Black Hawk mod here, along with links to download the module and the Quick start guide.