Naturally they called me when they heard. A hush-hush new high-performance jet fighter from Thorn EMI was parked on the tarmac, and as the only PCN operative with F15 experience I was ideal for the job.
Not that this was going to help much. For a start the cockpit was oddly shaped - no matter where I looked my knees always seemed to be poking up into the windscreen, and as I moved the joystick I could see my right hand trembling on it. Odd really, especially when you consider I'm left-handed.
The basic mission's easy enough to grasp. You have to take your jet-powered fighter-bomber into the air and perform a small miracle that combines using bombs to destroy all the enemy bases and shooting down the enemy intruders trying to bomb your bases.
In common with most of the other new jet-powered flight simulators the weapons technology is fairly old hat, and you have to mess around with boring old conventional bombs and cannons. We're still waiting for a software house to come up with Sidewinder missiles and napalm, but when it does it's certainly got my vote.
In Delta Wing you start off ready for take off, with an enemy aircraft fairly close to your airfield, so it's important to deal with this one before you go waltzing off on bombing raids. My first try wasn't a great success. While taking off I spotted an alien shape of some sort at the end of the runway, so instead of pulling the stick back and getting airborne I started pumping bullets into it. It was only when I crashed into it that I realised this was in fact some kind of end of runway marker.
Nothing daunted I had another bash at reaching for the skies, this time with a little more success. Normally you get a representation of the control panel, complete with the aforementioned knees and hands. The top of the screen is taken up by a view out of the cockpit, although you can switch to a radar map of the whole playing area.
The combat radar screen in the centre of the console is fairly standard, showing where you are and the nearest base or intruder in relation to you in terms of angle and height. You can switch this between short and long range.
Once you're in the air it's a matter of getting to the same height as the intruder then engaging it. The ensuing dogfight, provided you can stay alive for long enough, is an entertaining affair. Part of its charm is that, unlike the enemy in Fighter Pilot, this one will try to stay with you, so your spells of twisting and turning are liable to be a lot more prolonged.
I'm not sure how accurate the simulation is, but it does a fair impersonation of a full dogfight. Unfortunately you need to hit the beggars seven times before they go down, and either I didn't hit them at all or there's no way to tell how many times you've hit them.
My precision bombing experiment was also a flop. I went in at 200 feet, dropped the bomb right over the airfield and...blew myself up. Apparently you do this if you bomb from lower than 250 feet, even if you're going at twice the speed of sound. Anyone sending me an algorithm provided this is nonsense will be lightly rewarded.
All in all I found Delta Wing curiously unsatisfying. The controls are more leaden than those of Fighter Pilot, and I found the lack of a rudder particularly annoying in dogfights.
It's also possible to fly off the screen, and if you can't remember where you left from you're in big trouble.
Finally, bombing. I find it difficult to believe that in this day and age the cream of Strike Command is being sent into action without a proper bomb sight. Peering over the side may have been OK in 1914, but at 1,400 knots it isn't really an option.
Delta Wing would have been excellent six months ago, but on balance I'd say you'd be better off now with Fighter Pilot.