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Aircraft Review : Republic P-47N Thunderbolt by Flyingiron Simulations

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Aircraft Review : Republic P-47N Thunderbolt by Flyingiron Simulations

 

It was worth the try... everyone who loves cars has tried it, in shoehorning in an engine that the original vehicle didn't come with? In my case it was an ex Ford Galaxie 390 6.4L V8, and it was inserted or really panel beaten into a Ford Cortina. Now the point is this absurdly done installation didn't take into account that the dynamics of the donor Ford Cortina was certainly not up to the task of the extremely high power output of the 390 V8 2V 265 bhp (197.6 kW). No doubt the Cortina went almost into orbit in a straight line, but the suspension and braking dynamics, sort of let the whole project down, and I certainly used up at least seven of my nine lives driving it, I survived and strangely enough so did the Cortina.

 

So the point of the story, and it is in many ways the same insane thinking behind the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, in bolting on to the front of an airframe the biggest baddest engine ever produced at that time. This was a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp two-row 18-cylinder radial engine producing 2,000 hp (1,500 kW). It makes the frontal area of the P-47 as ugly as sin, but who really cared as the aircraft could fly at an insane 433 mph at 29,000 ft (697 km/h at 8,839 m). This was the sort of aircraft that Howard Hughes would love to try to kill himself with...  it was a monster of a machine.

 

The P-47 Thunderbolt gained a nickname the "Jug" (because it's profile was similar to that of a common milk jug of the time). Two Fighter Groups where already stationed in England and began introducing the Jugs in January 1943: the Spitfire-flying 4th Fighter Group, which was a unit built around a core group of experienced American pilots who had flown in the RAF Eagle Squadrons prior to the US entry in the war. By mid-1943, the Jug was also in service with the 12th Air Force in Italy and against the Japanese in the Pacific, with the 348th Fighter Group flying missions out of Port Moresby, New Guinea. By 1944, the Thunderbolt was in combat with the USAAF in all its operational theaters except for Alaska.

 

But it's main role was with it's stupendous speed and the increases in fuel capacity that the type was refined, and the range of escort missions over Europe steadily increased until the P-47 was able to accompany bombers for fighter escort in raids all the way into Germany. On the way back from the raids, pilots could shoot up ground targets of opportunity, and also used belly shackles to carry bombs on short-range missions, which led to the realization that the P-47 could perform a dual-function on escort missions as a fighter-bomber. Even with its complicated turbosupercharger system, its sturdy airframe and tough radial engine the P-47 could absorb a lot of damage and still return home. Initial response to the P-47 praised its dive speed and high-altitude performance while criticizing its turning performance and rate of climb (particularly at low-to-medium altitudes). The turbosupercharger in the P-47 gave the powerplant its maximum power at 27,000 ft (8,230 m), and in the thin air above 30,000 ft (9,144 m), the Thunderbolt remained comparatively fast, competitive and nimble relative to other aircraft thoughout the Second World War.

 

The version here is the P-47N-1-RE long-range variant which was designed for service in the Pacific Theater with the R-2800-57 engine; larger wings with squared-off tips; increased fuel capacity for a significantly increased flight range; automation of some engine controls and a General Electric Autopilot System.

 

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This X-Plane11 version of the Thunderbolt comes from a new developer called "FlyingIron", of which is no doubt focused on flying heavy metal aircraft. As this is a very first project we will always express a few liberties in the review and expect a few minor ailments with the aircraft, but overall this is a very well accomplished first aircraft. Detail wise externally it is excellent, with nice panel work (good 3d modeling) and correctly placed rivets.

 

That humungous mouth of the engine inlet is really well done with a replicated version of the R-2800 Double Wasp which is inset behind...

 

P-47N Thunderbolt_Main Head 5.jpgP-47N Thunderbolt_Main Head 6.jpg

 

...  the engine is well detailed, but a bit clean rather than the oily, burnt and aged realism you need. Spinner is very nice and well detailed.

 

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The quality of the modelling is shown on the lower fuselage with the engine air extractor, overall the exterior is very well done with authentic aerial posts and cables all in place.

 

As this is the "N" version it has the later RAF inspired clean bubble canopy...

 

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...  glass is perfect (not easy to do) with excellent reflections. The animated pilot is well done as well, but he can sometimes jerk into his head position when changing viewing angles?

 

Cockpit

With past veteran aircraft, then detail and authenticity is the key to a good simulation. In that area then FlyingIron have done an excellent job, no doubt an enthusiast would find pickings, but would still give praise for the detail and research that has been done in here.

 

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It can be hard to replicate old technology in X-Plane, so a sort of hybrid is usually a creative way around the differences. Here the original AN/ARA 8  Homing Adapter or audio based homing navigation system which has been converted to ADF, and it works fine. The basic X-Plane fuel system has been used to create the more realistic P-47N fuel systems and it's behaviour. The N/APS-13 Tail Warning Radar is also replicated, and as for armament there is the K-14 Gunsight with functional Guns of 8x .50 Cal Browning Machine Guns. This "N" version also has an Autopilot in the General Electric Type G-1 Installation, but we will look at that in a moment.

 

The P-47 was known for it's almost spacious lounge chair flying position, and well done it is with an authentic bucket seat with perfect cloth textures...

 

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...  visibility is excellent, except directly forward, but rearwards is exceptional to keep a lookout for those pesky Focke Wulf 190s.

 

Instrument Panel

The replication of the P-47's instrument panel is excellent...  very mid 40's war period in design.

 

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The instrument layout is quite unique and interesting. Top left is the Airspeed indicator (MPH), then the Directional Gyro (heading) and Artificial Horizon central. Clock left and Carburettor Air Temperature fills out the top of the instrument panel.

 

Six instruments lower center (left to right) cover; Altimeter, Bank and Turn Indicator, Vertical Speed (middle; compass), Manifold Pressure gauge, RPM (x100) and Fuel and Oil Pressure gauges with the Oil Temperature gauge top. Far right are gauges for the Lubrication Oil quantity and Left and Right Internal Fuel tanks.

 

Lower panel instruments (left to right) are; Accelerometer (G-Force), Suction, Water Pressure, Cylinder Head Temperature, Auxiliary and Main Fuel tank gauges. The Hydraulic Pressure gauge hangs low to the right.

 

The complex fuel switching system is on the left lower side...  switching can be for the external or internal tankage in sequence - Left: Ext Tanks, Forward: Main Tank, Right: Aux Tank, Down/Aft: Off. When set to Ext Tanks, the secondary selector is then used to cycle between Off/L Wing Tank/R Wing Tank/Belly Tank. 

 

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Fuel amounts are 270 GAL main, Internal Aux 100 GAL, Wing tanks per tank 90 GAL and external wing 165 GAL and center belly tank 110 GAL for a total of 990 GALs. You can select if you require the external tanks by pressing the "C' button on the right forward console, but you can only have all on or all off, and not a selection of say just the belly tank showing on the aircraft.

 

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Another button "D" on the same console will bring up the X-Plane default G430 GPS panel, COMM 1 and VOR 1 settings are done through this panel.

 

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The AN/ARA 8  Homing Adapter unit is far right... there is no visual screen as it is all done via aural sounds or morse code, in: D ( - ..) is Turn Left

and U (..-) is Turn Right. If you have a Steady Hum then the heading is aligned with destination homing beacon.

 

GE G-1 Autopliot

The General Electric Type G-1 autopilot is very antique compared to the usual setup, and is gyro and not GPS based. To use you have to first align the gyros. This is done via the left side panel that you switch to "Bleed". It takes about 60 sec for the gyros to warm-up and stabilise. Then you level the aircraft and make sure the main indicators (There are three, in one above the Directional Gyro and one each above the Artificial Horizon) are all centered.

 

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Secondary knob is on the panel below the Artificial Horizon, and this now has to set to the Gyros/AP Mode - SYNC. Then back to the original side panel switch to set the AP Power to ON...  then finally the Gyos/AP Mode to AUTO. It is all tricky to do while keeping the aircraft absolutely level, but you finally feel the aircraft is suddenly more solid and rock steady.

 

Adjustments are via the knobs below the indicators. Mostly you only use the right side turn and pitch modes above the Artificial Horizon, and it works very well and with an aircraft with as a long range as this is, then the system is a very welcome addition. A note though in making sure the aircraft's AP is completely turned off before retaking manual control? as there is no over-ride and so the system will fight you for control, and it will win every time.

 

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Engine power management is critical with built in limitations... in you can never exceed a Manifold Pressure of 100”!, Don't not exceed 55” without water injection, and avoid going over 72” even with water injection (and regulator off) and keep a close eye on your Carb Temps at higher Manifold Pressures.

This management adds in to the failures of the Operational Limits (55” Mil Power - 15 minutes, 72” WEP - 5 minutes), Temperature Limits, Water Injection Failures ( Carburettor flooding) like when activated below 30” MPR, Supercharger (Exceeding Max MPR with regulator off), Prop Overspeed and Starter failures including Dilution Failures (Clogged Nozzle/Hung Starter), Priming and Energizing.

 

The Water injection feature will allow you to reach much higher manifold pressures without causing engine detonation. You will be able to reach a maximum Manifold Pressure of around 72”, as opposed to the standard 55” Max power, and although you have approximately 9 minutes of Water Injection available to use (30 gallon supply), the above engine operating limits will still apply.

 

Lighting

The instrument panel lighting is good and adjustable, but doesn't have that aged decades old feel, in it is just bright and clear?

 

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There is a map light right side of the pilot that is adjustable, and the lower armament panel is nicely lit.

 

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Externally the aircraft does have good lighting, but it is not adjusted, so all the lights just look like blobs and the tail light is part set on the rudder?

 

There are selectable four colour recognition lights on the right wing, but they go through the wing and don't look right?

 

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Tail light, lights up the full tail structure, and there is a landing light under the far left wing, and an antenna navigation light is also visible.

 

Sound is dynamic FMOD and overall excellent. Engine startup sequence and shutdown sounds are the highlights. Overall there are 40+ Custom Sounds and full Spatial Audio & Distance Attenuation. Small note is in if you open the canopy in flight in that yes the sound and wind noise does get higher, but not to the noisy buffeting you would expect?

 

Ground Viewpoint

The Thunderbolt has that classic fighter wide spaced aggressive stance when sitting on the ground...

 

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...  it does however look the part, but the thought is that, is this aircraft an aircraft set in war mode or an airshow mode feel? in the closer view it feels more like the latter.

 

The P-47 had a 12' 2"diameter Curtiss Electric C542S-A6 propeller. The Curtiss has two modes here in Fixed or Constant, you can leave it in CONSTANT mode for Normal Flight and use Fixed for Emergencies. In constant mode the Prop & Engine RPM are adjusted via the Prop Control Lever on the Throttle Quadrant or Fixed Pitch which sets the prop solid at the last active pitch. Fixed pitch is used mostly for emergencies, or when insufficient power is available to operate constant mode properly (such as a generator or electrical failure).

 

The propeller detailing is excellent and right down to the correct markings, great detail. Note the small distance from the tip of the prop to the ground.

 

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Undercarriage detail is again excellent, but very airshowy and pristine, there are no chocks or static elements (if so they are are not noted) and the gear animations are also very well done, in that slightly jerky manner that is required with hand pumped gear.

 

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Rear tailwheel retracts into the fuselage, and overall the complete detail is very authentic, note the nice reflections off the cockpit glass.

 

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One note in that the pilot can be placed externally, but I couldn't find how to do it. The manual is very good, but not in the small details like this, so you are asking questions like, are there menus (I guess not) or static elements? The aircraft is set up for VR in Virtual Reality, but it is noted to be a bit fiddly with the VR Manipulators.

 

 

Flying the P-47 Thunderbolt

Usually I try to give a comprehensive review of the aircraft's flying abilities, but I feel I am a bit compromised here?

 

Taxiing a taildragger is a deathly experience anyway...  But here you have only two options with an open flexible tailwheel, or a locked one...  there is no option to taxi with the tailwheel locked to the rudder movement. So it can be almost impossible to taxi, and especially if you are a novice.

 

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A trick was to use the X-Plane nosewheel steer toggle to lock the tailwheel in the direction that you want to go, then release it to do a slight turn, lock then repeat...  it sorta works, but it could be far easier with the right setting done?

 

Obviously this same scheme helps when taking off, point and lock, then you get control once the tail lifts and the air gets to the aerodynamic surfaces, but first you have to counter that immense power of the P-47 as it tries to simply throws you off the runway with all that massive asymmetric thrust and huge yaw...  and as noted you also have to watch the prop clearance, one mistake there and you will simply barrel roll forward into the runway?

 

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Rotation is around 140 mph depending on the aircraft's configuration and fuel load, and once in the air the Thunderbolt is a very nice pussy cat, but with that huge bite of a Tigerful big pussycat sheer power.

 

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Note the "N" version is built more for outright speed than manoeuvrability, and this shows in any tight turns... keep the P-47 level it will drop in height in the turn if you don't add in more thrust to counter it, and you soon learn the right balance of the thrust required to the roll of the turn...

 

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But overall it is the speed that is so evident, 350 mph feels like normal and even 400 mph is easy to achieve, and it takes nothing in time and space to get there, and then slowing it all down again can take time as the ground you are covering is going by very fast, so you have to plan ahead...  way ahead...

 

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...   and low level fast flying becomes a bit of an dangerous addiction!

 

Landing however was not the usual precision I usually expected from myself!  as my first try was nasty....

 

Second go with another livery to show you that I was on a different approach idea, was....  again just as bad.

 

Full flap and note the airspeed, as it is just over 150 mph and yes on approach?  Put the speed lower any more than this speed threshold and the aircraft just simply falls out of the air?

 

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Stall speed is noted at 48 kn; 89 km/h (55 mph) and that 150 mph cannot be correct as I can not go lower, so you approach the field at 100 mph too fast...

 

... the results, are not pretty, and I desperately tried again and again with this and different approach plans to try and calm the speed down to around 65 mph and as many as five times?

 

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All came with the same result?  Drop the speed below 150 mph and there is a slight descending, below 100 mph and you simply stall and go straight down flat and failing into the ground?

 

P-47N Thunderbolt_Flying 16.jpg

 

Well I tried.

 

Liveries

There are five liveries, with the metal K 4S yellow as default...  Bare Metal version has a red nose and tail band. "Two Big Too Heavy" and "Tarheel Hal" are both airshow circuit favorites and the last livery is the only warpaint in the "Olive"

 

P-47N Thunderbolt_Livery Bare Metal Yellow.jpgP-47N Thunderbolt_Livery Bare Metal Red.jpg

P-47N Thunderbolt_Livery 2 big too heavy.jpgP-47N Thunderbolt_Livery Tarheel Hal.jpg

P-47N Thunderbolt_Livery Olive.jpg

 

Summary

This is the very first aircraft project from FlyingIron Simulations and to give credit where it is due it is a brilliant debut, with just only a few i's not dotted and t's not crossed, but there is nothing here that is substantially a negative or could not be easily wrapped up with an update or two, as there is always that learning curve for the very first timers.

 

We will note the slight negatives first. Many areas are covered in silver like the guns, undercarriage and engine, that is fine if the aircraft is straight out of the factory or on the airshow flightline, if that is what the developers were aiming for then they hit it spot on, but do we want a more gritty fighting aircraft than a showroom condition example, or at least be given the choice?  These aircraft are complex machines, and a good manual is required in not only noting the various items and features on the aircraft, but the X-Plane noted features as well, as is there a menu, static elements or how do you use the features and at least a start to prop stop flying tutorial, yes the manual covers a lot, but you need far more and better details with aircraft like this. ditto more options like external fuel tank choice. Lighting is odd externally and not correctly set or adjusted, it spoils the flying at night. No tailwheel control is a pain, it may not be authentic, but sometimes you just need control? Although the aircraft was checked and flown by expert P-47 pilot's and no doubt in the air it is very authentic, I question that 150 mph approach speed and the 55 mph stall speed?

 

Positives, well a lot. The modelling and overwhelming detail is simply excellent. Externally and internally FlyingIron have done an excellent job, and tried to bring in many authentic era avionics with the usual X-Plane limitations, with the General Electric Type G-1 autopilot and aural AN/ARA 8 Homing Adapter as standouts. Aircraft systems and failures are also well featured and realistic engine start can be thrilling or frustrating depending on how you do the start up procedure, ditto the excellent sounds in these phases and also in the flight modes.

 

Feature list for the aircraft is very good, and could be still better, it is VR - Virtual Reality ready, but with a few slight fiddly manipulators.

 

Overall the P-47N is brilliant, as if you like these supreme warbirds, then you will simply love this one, and it is a very nice partner for the P51D Mustang we reviewed only a few weeks ago. So for the purists out there then, they will absolutely love it, but currently it may be a bit of a handful for the novices, but I loved it, it just needs a few nips and tucks to make it absolutely perfect, but I do highly recommend it.

 

_______________________________

 

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The Republic P-47N Thunderbolt by Flyingiron Simulations is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

P-47N Thunderbolt

 

Priced at US$34.95

 

HD, Professional Quality 3D Modelling & Artwork
  • Detailed 4K PBR Textures
  • Faithful 3D Model, Markings & Decals - down to the last rivet!
  • 4 Included Liveries - USAF Olive Standard, The Historical ‘Dottie Mae’, Tarheel Mal & ‘2 Big 2 Heavy’, along with a Professional Quality Paint Kit for custom liveries
  • Accurate & Detailed Animations of all moving parts inside & outside the cockpit
  • Complete Interior, Exterior & Recognition Lighting
Professional, Accurate FMOD Sound Design
  • 40+ Custom Sounds to bring the P-47 to Life
  • Full FMOD Integration for a dynamic & reactive Audio Soundscape
  • Realistic 3D Spatial Audio & Distance Attenuation
  • Faithful recreation of the P&W R-2800 Double Wasp Radial Engine
Realistic, Complex Engine & FlightModel Simulation
  • Code-based simulation of the Double-Wasp Engine to capture the nuances and behaviour of the real engine
  • Complete Engine Modelling, including realistic Supercharger & Water Injection systems
  • Complete Engine Operational Limits modelling with custom failures & realistic damage behaviour
  • Flight Model Performance tested & tuned using real-life test data for a truly authentic flight
  • Realistic, Code-Driven Engine Start Simulation that is dynamically affected by factors such as Weather & Temperature to capture the quirks & difficulties of starting the massive 2800 HP Radial Engine.
Complete Systems Modelling
  • General Electric Type G-1 Installation Automatic Pilot - custom coded to truly capture the unique quirks of the P-47N Autopilot System
  • AN/ARA 8  Homing Adapter (ADF) - Unique audio based homing navigation system, accurately modelled
  • Realistic Fuel systems & Behaviour - including 3 Optional External Tanks and accurate fuel transfer behaviour
  • VHF Radio - Manual Tuning Capability
  • Functional K-14 Gunsight
  • Functional Guns - 8x .50 Cal Browning Machine Guns (Wing-Mounted)
  • AN/APS-13 Tail Warning Radar
Additional Features
  • 3D External Pilot Model
  • Optional Pop-out Garmin 430 GPS
  • VR Optimized Manipulators



Requirements:
X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended
(Current and review version v1.0)
 

Installation and documents:

Download for the P-47N Thunderbolt is 1.06gb and the unzipped file deposited in the "Fighters" X-Plane folder at 1.11gb.

 

Documentation:
  • MANUAL is provided (pdf), but a more detailed (and pro version) would be better.

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Aircraft review by Stephen Dutton

9th October 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

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 1.0 by Nicolas/NAPS (X-Plane.org) - Free

 

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