In this paper, we establish a benchmark data set of a generic high-pressure (HP) turbine vane generated by direct numerical simulation (DNS) to resolve fully the flow. The test conditions for this case are a Reynolds number of 0.57 × 106 and an exit Mach number of 0.9, which is representative of a modern transonic HP turbine vane. In this study, we first compare the simulation results with previously published experimental data. We then investigate how turbulence affects the surface flow physics and heat transfer. An analysis of the development of loss through the vane passage is also performed. The results indicate that freestream turbulence tends to induce streaks within the near-wall flow, which augment the surface heat transfer. Turbulent breakdown is observed over the late suction surface, and this occurs via the growth of two-dimensional Kelvin–Helmholtz spanwise roll-ups, which then develop into lambda vortices creating large local peaks in the surface heat transfer. Turbulent dissipation is found to significantly increase losses within the trailing-edge region of the vane.