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Aircraft Review : Bell 47G-2A1 by FlyInside


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Aircraft Review : Bell 47G-2A1 by FlyInside

 

The Aircraft
The aircraft under review is FlyInside’s Bell 47G-2A1. The version in question is the latest update 1.71, released on the 25th of February 2022.


The B47 is a single-engine multipurpose light helicopter, manufactured by the Bell Helicopter Corporation, and first flew in the mid-1940s. It has a Lycoming VO-435 piston engine, and in real life, several engine variants were available over time, and the model from FlyInside is based on the A1 variant. The aircraft has twin blade main and tail rotors and is designed to typically carry three people. One in the left pilot seat, with space for two passengers seated on the right seat, side by side. Very cosey…

 

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With its iconic bubble canopy, it is still one of the most recognised helicopters even today. It definitely has that 1940/50’s retro look and feel, so if you like a bit of nostalgia this is worth a look, particularly if you were a fan of the TV series M*A*S*H from the 1970s and 80s. Who can forget that opening scene with the two B47s flying in through the hills…


Initial Thoughts
I obtained my copy via the X-Plane.Org Software Store and it is priced at $34.95, and although it can be purchased directly from the developer, the price is the same.


Installation is simple, just a case of downloading the pack from the org store then dragging to your aircraft folder, and you are done. There is a security key required and it is provided with your purchase, and you will need to activate the B47 once installed. This is done via the Heli Manager app which is accessed via the X-Plane menu bar once in the sim. There is also an installer that you can get via the Flyinside website, although I didn’t find the need to use it. 


The documentation provided on the website and in the download is nice & simple, and gives you everything you need to know regarding installation, how to set up the flight controls, the flight model options, the advised cold and dark start-up procedure and a few other bits and pieces, such as how to deal with a few of the common issues that may be encountered.


I found the documentation clear and easy to read and follow, and I highly recommend you read it prior to your first flight, as then I am sure you will have no issues with the initial setup.


On the Ground
The exterior details are very nicely done, in fact when doing my very first external walk around, I was really impressed. The clarity and quality of the texturing, combined with the attention to detail is quite simply excellent. One fabulous example of this is the rotating tail rotor drive shaft and the animation of the tail and main rotor heads. The open nature of the fuselage really gives the user a great opportunity to get up and close to the B47 and allows you to get a good feel for what is going on inside. The detailing of the Lycoming piston engine is really something to behold, the texturing is exquisite. The same can be said for the main rotor assembly and the tail rotor, both are enhanced even further because of the animation on inputs from the main controls. Move the respective cockpit controls and the rotor assemblies move accordingly. It really is worth just taking some time when cold and dark to take in the exterior modelling and textures. They are simply stunning!

 

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The iconic bubble canopy gives a fabulous view of the front of the aircraft, and both pilot and passenger are very nicely modelled, with both being visible from the outside, and the passenger visible inside. There is a click spot on the passenger seat to allow you to remove or add the passenger if you wish. The cockpit doors can also be removed by clicking a hot spot on the pilot’s door, which is great if you want a completely open ‘seat of your pants’ view.

 

The fabric textures of the seat covers and floor coverings, as well as the clothing and even the shoes being worn by the pilot and passenger, are another fabulous example of the developer’s eye for detail. I honestly do not believe I have ever seen flight crew so beautifully modelled in a flight sim. Really impressive, and therefore this model really deserves to be inspected at close quarters.  

 

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The stock model comes with several different coloured liveries (by my count ten including the default), although no paint kit was provided, which was a little disappointing as I do love to do a bit of painting from time to time. A livery modelled on the famous 4077 M*A*S*H TV series is provided, and this variant comes with the added side stretchers, one on each side. The civilian pilot and passenger do look a little odd in that scenario, but I guess you can’t have everything, and it is still a very nice add-on, nevertheless.

 

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As you look around the cockpit, you will find a very well modelled interior. All the switches and levers I tried are animated, and the feel of the cockpit is fantastic. I did notice that at this time the various fuses are modelled but not animated, perhaps something for a future update just to add another level of realism. The cockpit dials I found to be easy and clear to read, and I really liked the red night illumination provided by the cabin spotlight, very nice effect.

 

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Looking up from the cockpit to the rotor head assembly above, is another view I particularly enjoyed, as you really get a sense of movement of the twin rotors and rotor head assembly whirring around just above your head. When this is combined with the rich FMOD engine sounds, I can only imagine what it must be like to sit in the real thing. This I have the feeling comes very close.

 

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The collective friction wheel at the right of the pilot’s seat is animated, although I could not really tell if it was doing anything or not. In real life the B47 has no autopilot, so as I understand it, this is basically how real pilots maintain straight and level flight as best they can.


I use several SAITEK panels (switch, 2 x radio, multi) and I was able to connect these to the sim with no issues. From my SAITEK switch panel, I could easily operate the various switches on the instrument panel in the B47, and from my MaxFlightStick the cyclic, collective and throttle, no issues at all.

 

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From what I have read, the real-life B47 does not come with an engine governor, however as many people do not have dedicated helicopter controls, the developers have provided a governor option to make life a little easier when maintaining the rotor RPM. In my case, I was able to test out both features and they worked extremely well, as I do have a separate throttle twist grip on my collective.


Starting from cold and dark was extremely easy (for a change…) when getting the heli ready for a flight. Instructions are provided in the manual, however with the flick of only a few switches and levers, you can have the engine and rotors up and running in an instant. The sounds as the Lycoming piston engine splutters to life and the rotors spin up, I found to be authentic, as you would expect from a piston engine like this. However, as I have never been beside the real thing, I can only base my observations on internet clips of B47’s I found. Either way, the sounds are believable in my opinion.


So, with my walk-around done, everyone on board, and engines and rotors running, it was time to take the B47 for a spin.

 

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In the Air
The package comes with FlyInside’s Heli Manager, an app that allows you to control a few features including the flight model. It is accessed from the X-Plane menu bar, from where you can adjust the flight dynamics to suit your current skills level. There are three options, Easy, Medium, and Realistic, and in each, the settings for Cyclic Sensitivity, Helicopter Stability, and Tail Stability can be adjusted. The differences are quite marked, and based on my experience, I estimate it will take quite some time and effort to master the Medium and Realistic settings, as the B47 is sensitive to control inputs, a trait in real life I believe. For my test flights, I just left the settings on Easy and notched the sensitivity down a little bit, primarily so I could really enjoy the B47 without having to fight with it too much. Having the in-model option to adjust these features I believe is important because this will allow everyone from absolute beginners right up to pros to be able to enjoy the B47. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than buying an aircraft that is just so unstable that you give up before you get started. The Heli Manager allows you to ramp up your proficiency over time as your confidence and piloting skills develop.

 

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During my numerous flights, I found the B47 very responsive to the input controllers without being too sensitive, and I was able to control my rate of climb & descent, airspeed, and direction. Once in my cruise, the feel of the B47 was excellent. I should also add that I also use TrackIR as my headtracking device, and this I believe makes a big difference in the user experience and immersion. The B47 was built for head tracking in my opinion, as the bubble canopy gives essentially unobstructed views of the surroundings and is, therefore, an ideal aircraft if you just want to do some low-level VFR flying and simply look out the window.

 

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This probably is a good time to point out that my assessment was using Windows 10 and X-Plane 11, and I had no issues at all, with smooth flying all the way. Typically, I was getting FPS rates in the low to high 30s with my i9 and RTX 2080Ti and high graphics settings. From the information provided, I understand that the B47 will also run on Linux and Mac, although not having either of these I was unable to test this.

 

Although I have never flown in a real B47, I have flown many helicopters across several flight sim platforms over the years, and I can safely say this is one of the most enjoyable flying experiences I have had in a rotary wing aircraft. Everything provided sets you up for success, and I just loved the simplicity and beauty of the B47.

 

If there was one small criticism to make, and I am being a little pedantic, the view as the pilot is a little awkward to get just right in my experience. This is largely due to the fact that the instrument panel is long and thin, and therefore it is not that easy to get a view that allows you to see the instruments, and what I like is to see straight ahead. Having TrackIR definitely helped with this, and as I said I am being a little pedantic.

 

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Final Thoughts
I have been a flight sim helicopter fan for almost ten years now, mainly because I love the freedom and challenge that helicopters provide the pilot. You can really get into all the nooks and crannies of a location that you just can’t with fixed wing aircraft, and having an aircraft with such a panoramic view, really is as good as it gets for a VFR addict like myself. This is particularly the case if you use easy mode and just want to explore. For more seasoned pilots you can easily up the ante to test your skills, and this feature I really liked because the developers are clearly catering for all levels. Helicopters are a real challenge to fly, particularly if you don’t have cyclic and collective controls. However, the way the B47 is presented, I believe gives even absolute beginners a chance to enjoy the unique nature of helicopter flight.

 

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All I can honestly say is that I was not disappointed by what I have experienced, and the overall package on offer from the FlyInside team is well thought out and executed. From the design, the textures, the features, through to the flight dynamic options and the general feel of the aircraft, everything is done incredibly well. Even if you are a seasoned helicopter fan or someone thinking about sticking their toe into this market for the first time, the B47G-2A1 from Flyinside is well worth considering in my opinion. As I said, the freedom you can experience in a helicopter will take you to places that I am sure you will never see if you stick to fixed-wing aircraft, especially the larger ones.


X-Plane 11 for me, is still very much the place to go if you wish to fly helicopters, and having the iconic B47 now in my hangar, really adds yet another layer to my enjoyment. So, should you buy it? Well, as always that is something of a personal choice, however, I certainly am glad I have had the opportunity to spend some time in the bubble canopy, and I can easily see the B47 being a firm favourite of mine for some time to come. 

 

Stuart McGregor

__________________________________

 

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Bell 47G-2A1 by FlyInside is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:

 

Bell 47G-2A1

Price at time of writing US$34.95

 

Features:

  • Revolutionary and realistic flight model, developed and tested by an experienced Bell 47 pilot
  • Support for full helicopter flight physics including effective translational lift, ground effect, transverse flow, flap-back, auto-rotation, and more
  • Support for failures and dangerous regions of the flight envelope including vortex ring state, engine failure, and retreating blade stall
  • Extremely detailed 3D model with high quality PBR textures and animated drive and control systems
  • Realistically modeled engine parameters, including full start-up and shutdown procedures
  • Highly customizable realism settings allow for a smooth, easier flight model for those who are less experienced, and a hardcore, realistic flight model for the veterans experienced with the complex and challenging flight dynamics of helicopters
  • Interior Features:
  • Detailed 3D cockpit model
  • 100% operational switches, levers, and gauges
  • Removeable doors
  • Realistic night-lighting
  • High-quality sound design
  • Exterior Features:
  • Beautiful exterior model
  • Fully modeled engine
  • Animated mechanics including swashplate, rotor-head linkages, tail torque shaft, and more
  • Functional lights and beacons
  • Ten distinct liveries

 

Requirements:

4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 1 GB
Current Version: 1.71 (February 25th 2022)

 

Review System Specifications:

Windows 10 64 Bit
CPU Intel i9
64GB RAM
NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti

 

Helicopter Review by Stuart McGregor
1st June 2022
Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed
without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) 

 

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