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Aircraft Review : P-51D Mustang XP11 by Skunkcrafts

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Aircraft Review : P-51D Mustang XP11 by Skunkcrafts

 

Khamsin Studio's released their version of the P-51D Mustang fighter only over just two years ago. Strangely though it seems this iconic aircraft has to have been around in X-Plane for far longer than that, but no it was only released in April 2016. Now here comes the X-Plane11 version of the aircraft.

 

If you are expecting a straight conversion to X-Plane11 of the S'tang from the original then you will be surprised to hear that, that this is not what has actually happened in this case...  It looks exactly the same, it flies almost the same, but this is also a very different aircraft from the one you flew before. So what happened to it...  well X-Plane11 is what happened.

 

So is this THE Khamsin Studio P-51D Mustang...  no, but with a little bit of a yes. "ohhh...  " so how can this aircraft not be and still have Khamsin's signature design in the same aircraft...

 

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...   well this aircraft is totally built from the ground up by Skunkcrafts to X-Plane11's level of quality and standards, but Khamsin is now part of this larger specialised team and then rather the developer being solo. Point is in today's X-Plane development environment you now have to be, and to bring in your strongest strengths and merge with others that have other development strengths, hence Skunkcrafts. So a lot of Khamsin's work is very much still on show here and this can slightly confuse you because his signature work is very unmistakable, but when you get close to it, it does also not totally feel like a Khamsin aircraft either.

 

The best way to look at this S'tang is in it's X-Plane11 environment as the metal gleams in it's pure PBR reflections and the detail is now into 4K 4096x4096 territory with highlighted rivets and the lovely paneling, the expanded texture format allows far more detail, and even down to the smallest text wording on the aircraft is now highly readable and even in a lower texture resolution setting and it is surprising how much of the smaller details are now present, chrome and steel are certainly far more highly realistic...  so in other words it looks and feels brilliant.

 

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Glass detail is exceptional, but I will note that xEnviro in v1.07 form doesn't do the transparency as good as it should do, but that is not X-plane's or the developers issue, take my word for it the glass is perfect in reflections and the highly detailed realistic perspex cracks and scratches.

 

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Again the metal design is excellent, as these WW2 era aircraft were made of more robust metals and glass than the more modern composites of late.

 

Cockpit

At first glance the Mustang cockpit looks the same as the original Khamsin version, it is to a point, but still heavily redesigned for X-Plane11 quality and features.

 

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Authentic is probably an overused statement in X-PlaneReviews, but that is still the end result of what you are looking for the replication of of a real time aircraft in simulation. The original P-51D cockpit was excellent, but add in the X-Plane11 dynamics and the quality goes into overload.

 

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The differences are more noticeable on the panel. Metal again is beautiful, and the dials have real glass and reflections as per XP11 dynamics, and you can almost touch and feel the realism of it all. One thing stands out though and that is the missing yellow border line that separated the six flying instruments lower left from the rest of the panel, and I miss that though...

 

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...  so this is because the instrument layout is now a little different, as the Standard Six instruments are now set out in different places.

 

Instrument Panel

 

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Centre panel is dominated by a horizontal compass and a large Artificial Horizon. The other main flight instruments are then set anti-clockwise starting at the 9 o'clock  position with the Airspeed Indicator (MPH), Altimeter, Bank-and-Turn Indicator, Rate-of·Climb Indicator and top left is a Directional Gyro (compass pointer), and next to that is a clock.

 

Clockwise from the top middle are the engine and systems dials and gauges. Staring with the Suction Gauge, Manifold Pressure Gauge, Coolant Temperature Gauge, Tachometer (RPM), Carburetor Air Temperature Indicator, Oil Temperature and Fuel and Oil Pressure Gauge and G-meter. There isn't any instrument back lighting but two positioned (red) lights that illuminates the panel.

 

Lower knee panel has Blinker (Oxygen Flow) and the Oxygen Pressure Gauge lower right. Lower left is the Supercharger Control Switch, Fuel Booster Pump Switch, Oil Dilution Switch, Starter Switch and Engine Primer switch.

 

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The centre panel that is mostly hidden by the control stick is still the same with the large Ignition Switch, Gun and Camera Safety Switch, Weapons selector, Cockpit Light Switch with the lower panel Fuel Shut-off Control lever, Fuel Selector Control and Hydraulic Pressure Gauge

 

The stick still gets in the way of the view of the panel and a lot of the switches are tricky to see and use, you do work around it, but in a eyes up and eyes down, and trying to fly the aircraft and flickering around the dials and switches you don't want to get caught here by a bearing down hunter killer aircraft from the 2 o'clock afternoon sun position.

 

Fuel gauges are both positioned in the floor (arrowed) and are 92 US Gal per tank, and an auxiliary 85 US Gal tank, self-sealing tank is installed in the fuselage, aft of the cockpit (gauge in in the rear). Two 75 Gal, pressurized drop tanks may be installed on the wing rack, and the stick is beautifully modeled with a working stick lock.

 

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Left Side Panels

On your left is the Rudder Trim Tab, Aileron Trim Tab and Elevator Trim Tab Controls. Other controls include Landing Gear, Throttle, Propeller and lower  Mixture in LEAN and RICH auto settings.

Rear is the Coolant Radiator Air Control Switch (opens the lower fuselage air vent) and the Oil Radiator Air Control Switch. Far rear is the Flap position lever for: UP then 10º increments to 50º.

The lever form the Carburetor Air Control is used to adjust the RAM air amount and in most cases is left open unless you are in icing or desert conditions. I like the Signal Pistol in case of being shot down. 

 

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The throttle, prop and mixture lever assembly is very authentic and well recreated, and I set my Saitek X52 Rhino throttle as one lever for the throttle and one lever for the prop and that worked very well.

 

Right Side Panels

On the right panel is your electrical...  Recognition Light Switches, Right-hand Fluorescent Light Switch, Ammeter, Generator-disconnect Switch, Battery-disconnect Switch, Gun Heater Switch, Pitot Heater Switch, Position Light Switches and Recognition Light Keying Switch and on the forward panel is the Oxygen Regulator. The canopy open/close winder is top

 

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If you are coming over from the Khamsin Mustang then the biggest change is that the menus (tabs) are all gone. They have been replaced by a pop-up panel on the right called the "xVRbox". It is very well done and covers top panel is the the Radio panel with two MIC 1&2, two COM 1&2  two VOR (NAV) 1&2 Frequencies. Middle panel covers an Autopilot! and Transponder with "IDENT". This is the first panel created for VR (Virtual Reality) interaction, and using it to replace a 2D menu style, so it is an interesting feature.

 

Lower panel is really a menu panel that covers the lovely WW2 style GPU (Ground Power Unit) and drop tanks...

 

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...   droptanks come in two sizes of 75 US Gal and 108 US Gal quantities.

 

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And you have the choice between a WW2 style pilot and a modern enthusiast pilot.

 

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The aircraft also comes with Reflections ON/OFF, "Failures" which are literally quite lethal, so use with caution. Lower panel is your sound adjustments for: Master, EXT (External), INT (Internal), COPILOT, RADIOS, ENV (environment) and GUI (Interface).

 

The point of the change from standard 2D menus to this pop-up box style is for VR (Virtual Reality) use, It will be interesting in action, but the idea is very solid.

 

Flying the S'tang

Starting the P-51D is depends on if the aircraft is cold "damn hard" or hot "damn easy", If cold there is a sequence to follow to start the Packard-built Rolls Royce V-1650-7 (Merlin) to warm up the Carburetors and prime the fuel, the starting information is to be followed by the letter in the manual, but you will soon get the handle of it. The supercharger control switch has three positions: LOW, AUTOMATIC and HIGH. This switch should be in AUTOMATIC mode for all normal operations. When it is in this position, supercharger speed change is controlled by an aneroid-type pressure switch, vented to the carburetor intake pressure.

 

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Once running you adjust the mixture to the required position, you can tell the difference via the K-14A or K-14B sight directly in front of you that vibrates realistically to the different engine vibrations of the aircraft. Dittto the excellent engine sounds that are now FMOD and an 180º  experience, yes they are really good, as and as good as you would expect them to be.

Another major change is that this Mustang moves away from the PlaneMaker based version of the earlier Khamsin aircraft. All areas in the throttle, mixture, supercharger and the starter of the P-51 are now completely managed by custom code, so it is a more variable but an even more realistic feel.

 

Taxiing the P-51D is a bit of a handful, but there is a trick, in that if you pull the stick right back and then yaw, then the tailwheel will turn then correctly, this action does make it far easier to turn the aircraft, but the rear elevators do look odd at the full up position.

 

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Taxiing is also hampered by the severe nose up position, nothing is viewable straight forward and looking to the side is the only clear view out, when taxiing on tight taxiways then a lift up and to the side is the only way to see or view forward.

 

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Only the most experienced taildragger could takeoff realistically, for the rest of us it is again a bit of trick...  hold your stick back for tailwheel control and advance the throttle...

 

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...  once you feel the tail lift then put your stick back to neutral, once around 90 mph then lift the aircraft off the ground. But this is easier to say than actually do. Skunkcrafts notes a tail-lock is coming, but with a fair bit of practise and even a few crashes and you will then work it all out...

 

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...   and when airborne you are then quite thankful to actually be in the air as you then get control back via your normal moveable flying surfaces.

 

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The Mustang is a powerful machine for it's age. The numbers are significant with the maximum speed as 440 mph (383 kn, 708 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m), even the cruise speed is fast at 362 mph (315 kn, 583 km/h), the range comes in at 1,650 mi (1,434 nautical miles (2,656 kilometres)) with external tanks and the service ceiling is 41,900 ft (12,800 m). the Rate of climb is also phenomenal at 3,200 ft/min (16.3 m/s), try that in your Cessna.

 

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Trimmed correctly and the S'tang is a baby in your arms, a really easy and lovely aircraft to move around, and twist and dip to your heart's content, and no doubt these aspects are all very valid when doing the serious flying.

 

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The absolute diehards would shake in horror and disgust in using the autopilot...  but the thing is it works exceptionally well. You have to know your heading to insert it onto the console, so it is best to do that initially before you leave the ground. Once set then clicking on the A/P button and then selecting HDG and the aircraft will go to that heading without a fuss. You can select the altitude manually and when selecting + or - it will climb or descend to that height and hold it there and the ALT light will come on...

 

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...  note the VOR 2 pointer (arrowed), VOR 1 is there as well. Handy but not very WW2. Oddly there is also no switch for ADF pointers, which would be more useful than the VOR 1 setting.

 

The Mustang XP11 does not come with the armament sets of the Khamsin version, in fact only the .50 caliber cannons work. The bombs and zero rail-rockets have been not added. This is noted as a Laminar Research cause and rather than the developers as the zero rail-rockets were not added to the XP11 armaments list and the changes around the XP11 weapon layout...  maybe a fix could be added in the future. The selections are however shown on the armaments selection panel.

 

The K-14A or K-14B Gun-Sight apparatus can be set to either the "Fixed" or "Gyro" or both settings (the main power switch however is on the lower panel).

 

You can use both either the vertical or horizontal adjustments to adjust the sight, and turn it either green (Bright) or dim it black...

 

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I didn't see any flame on gun action, but just smoke coming out of the rear...  I do however expect this to be quite different once the v11.30 particle effects are released, so I am not really at this point taking any notice of this feature.

 

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You can also set the fire position to take images for "Aerial reconnaissance" that shows up the image in the cockpit, and it is a shame it doesn't save the same image to the X-Plane "Output" folder?

 

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Now we get to the really, really hard tricky part...  landing.

 

The Mustang is quite stable at 150 mph and 30º flap for you to choose your approach path. I chose to go into Shoreham's EGKA RWY 02 on a slight bank to the right so I could see the runway's aspect, flap down to 50º and your speed can then be lowered down to 110 mph...

 

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...  again the aircraft is a stable platform and you can use the throttle to control your height, but the stall point is 100 mph and you are so close to it.

 

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Over the fence and you are "on the stick" as can't see forward and flying right on the stall point, and it all seems still far too fast...

 

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....  you are gauging your landing by looking right or left and downwards and hoping you are over the hard stuff or between the markers on a grass field.

 

Letting the throttle come off just slightly more and more and until your wheels touch, but it is "oh soooo fast" but you have to hold it....  hold it!

 

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Another trick is the point you feel the tail-wheel touch, is to get that stick back for control of the rear, it works quite well if you get it right, and horrible if you get it it wrong...    then the aircraft just keeps on going on and on, on the hard surface, and you absolutely not dare to touch those brakes unless you want to go nose over tail.

 

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Finally you can let out your held in long time breath as the P-51D starts to slow....

 

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...  open the canopy for fresh air and note that a grass landing would be "slightly" easier, boy this aircraft is challenging in both for taking off or landing.

 

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If you are highly used to tail-draggers or the original Khamsin P-52D you will be more at home, but even then the more heavy dynamics of X-Plane11 will certainly test your skill levels, I adapted to the original P-51D rather quickly, but it took a lot more practise and far more skill to finally feel comfortable with this XP11 version, but then again you like aircraft that confront you and challenge you to be better and give even more respect to the brave souls that fought with these aircraft in combat.

 

Lighting

As expected the lighting is pretty basic...  the instrument back-lighting in minimal but fine, and you can adjust the two side lights to light up the panel.

 

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External is just the wing navigation lights and single bright white tail light. One landing light is all you get under the left wing, but it's reflection on the engine cowling looks wonderful. The canopy reflections are quite strong at night, either they will give you a more authentic feel or annoy you... they can be turned off either way.

 

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Liveries

There is one metal or blank, and four painted liveries with: Big Beautiful Doll, Geraldine, Blondie and a new livery in Glamorous Glen lll

 

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Summary

Is this P-51D aircraft an upgrade to X-Plane11 or even a replacement for the Khamsin version, and it is yes to both questions, so this is the P-51D that Khamsin developed...  well sort of...   confused, well no not really.

 

There is certainly a lot of feel and common areas that the aircraft is the upgrade machine you think it is, but this Mustang is basically new from the ground up...  or wheels up. Almost every area has been completely recreated and with the dynamics and features of X-Plane11 in mind. Khamsin is part of the Skunkcrafts team, and his feel and look is very evident, but when you get closer to the aircraft you do also realise it is also a little different. Yes those who loved the original will also be very much at home in this XP11 version as well, but will note the more highly developed dynamics, and as if the original P-51D wasn't hard enough to fly.

 

Detailing is simply superb, top rate in every area, with beautiful metals, excellent authentic scratched glass and a perfectly replicated cockpit for the enthusiast. Sounds are all FMOD and are again all top rate and right through their range from cold engine start to the full power of that powerful Packard V-1650-7 liquid-cooled V-12. Internal small sounds like canopy catches and switchgear is all audible for realism.

 

Those switching over from the original Khamsin aircraft will note a few differences... no menus, of which there was a very good Weight, Balance and Fuel sheet and armament loading sheet... and all replaced by a pop-up panel for VR use. Armament are currently limited as well to just the K-14A cannons, but pretty well everything else is still in there.

 

The original Khamsin P-51D Mustang was a big favorite for lovers of WW2 and post-war aircraft, probably if one of the best in X-Plane. So this new XP11 version is the same but modified and the same on steroids and with all the X-Plane11 features and dynamics thrown in as well. So if you see it as an X-Plane11 upgrade of the original then you are right, but remember it has also been completely totally rebuilt to new better and higher standards as well....  highly recommended.

 

_______________________________

 

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The North American P-51D Mustang XP11 by Skunkcrafts is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

P-51D Mustang XP11

 

Priced at US$34.95

 

Superb Modeling and texturing
  • New and fully optimized 3D model by Khamsin
  • New and improved UV layout with additional textures
  • New set of 4K PBR textures optimized for XP11
  • New Normal and specular maps (for reflections)
  • Fully detailed and animated 3D cockpit with 3D gauges
  • Full VR-ready manipulators technology
  • Bare Metal 4K livery for painters
  • Extra 4K liveries: Blondie, Big Beautiful Doll, Geraldine, Glamorous Glenn III
Professionally tuned Flight and Engine models
  • Flight model by X-Aerodynamics (Cameron Garner)
  • Code-driven engine model
  • Dual speed supercharger simulated
  • Accurate flight behavior and performance
Superior sound system
  • FMOD sound pack by Daniela Rodriguez Careri
  • Roars and whistles like the real thing
  • All buttons, switches, gyros, levers, etc, have their own sounds 
Extra features
  • Functional guns
  • Functional K14 gunsight with HUD
  • Gun camera can take pictures
  • Functional AN/APS13 'Monica' rear threat radar
  • Optional 75 and 108 gallons external tanks
  • Choice between WW2 and modern pilot
  • Vintage trolley accumulator (GPU)
xVRbox
  • VR-friendly interface for options
  • Change aircraft configuration
  • Manage modern radios
  • Controls a basic Autopilot



Requirements:
X-Plane 11 (latest stable version)
Windows, Mac or Linux
4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended

Installation and documents:

Download for the P51D Mustang is 183.80meg and the unzipped file deposited in the "Fighters" X-Plane folder at 189.10mb.

 

Documentation:
  • North American P-51D Mustang MANUAL

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Aircraft review by Stephen Dutton

29th August 2018

Copyright©2018 : X-Plane Reviews

 

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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)

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.25r2

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- EGKA - Shoreham - Brighton City Airport by NKdesign (X-Plane.orgStore) US$15.00
 

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