I've been fiddling around with animation tests and setting up particle effects this week. Now that my rigs are done, I have to put them through some quick paces to debug controls/weighting. So far the planes look good. Chester needs some work, but what he needs can only really be solved by remodeling and doing some custom rigging instead of the autorigger, so I'll just have to make do.
Anyways, I spent Sunday learning how to use the UDK's Cascade particle effects editor. It's a nice tool, very powerful and modular, but (obviously) not nearly as crazy as Maya's stuff since it all needs to run realtime. The main downside to Cascade is that comparing it's interface and workflow to Maya's is like comparing command line Linux to Windows. There's a lot you can do, but it's not pretty, it's not easy, and you better know what you're doing.
So I got some basic muzzle flash FX working, and hooked them up to my carrier plane to see how they look...
Pretty sweet. I hope to get the plane textured and add some tracer particles when I have some downtime from animating. I'm loving the pewpewpew.