Helicopter Review : Bell UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" by Nimbus Simulations
It may be just a simple coincidence that tonight I am going to see another version of Francis Ford Coppola’s "Final Cut" edition of the 1980 seminal film "Apocalypse Now" on the big screen with full dolby surround-sound. A film about the excess of film making, but also about the excesses of the Vietnam War (Ken Burn's "Vietnam War" documentary series is highly recommended viewing). The main star is not the brooding Marlon Brando in semi-darkness, but a machine that signifies the war itself, a helicopter and the Bell UH-1 Iroquois nicknamed the "Huey" and no film shows the magnificence of the Huey in full flight than does Apocalypse Now and certainly in dolby surround sound.
I can still hear and remember the "whop", "whop", "whop" start of the film with The Door's "this is the end" transfixing you to screen and created the feeling of the era... if you were there in the 1980's then that is the moment. Of course many of you have far different memories, and of the war itself... and those sounds and feelings are of course are in a totally different context, but the"Huey" will still count as a seriously significant part, to a few veterans here in our own X-Plane world the recreation of the UH-1 is far more than just another aircraft to fly in our collection, it is their life and soul as well... the point is as a simulator you can't just recreate an aircraft, as the "Huey" is much more than in that all it's many contexts.
The UH-1 is a utility military helicopter powered by a single Lycoming T53-L-11 turboshaft engine, 1,100 shp (820 kW), with two-blade main and tail rotors. It was the first member of the highly prolific Huey family, it was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet a United States Army's 1952 requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter, and first flew in 1956. As a note the three prototypes were built and equipped with the Lycoming XT-53-L-1 engine of 700 shp (520 kW) and the Bell 204 and 205 are Iroquois versions were developed for the civil market.
While earlier "short-body" 204 Hueys were a success, the US Army wanted a larger version that could carry more troops. Bell's solution was to stretch the HU-1B fuselage by 41 in (104 cm) and use the extra space to fit in four seats next to the transmission, facing out. Seating capacity increased to 15, including crew. The enlarged cabin could also accommodate six stretchers and a medic, two more than the earlier models. In place of the earlier model's sliding side doors with a single window, larger doors were fitted which had two windows, plus a small hinged panel with an optional window, providing enhanced access to the cabin. The doors and hinged panels were also quickly removable, allowing the Huey to be flown in a "doors off" configuration.
The Model 205 prototype flew on 16 August 1961, and seven pre-production/prototype aircraft was delivered for testing at Edwards Airforce Base starting in March 1961. The 205 was initially equipped with a 44-foot (13.4 m) main rotor and a Lycoming T53-L-9 engine with 1,100 shp (820 kW). The rotor was lengthened to 48 feet (14.6 m) with a chord of 21 in (53 cm). The tail-boom was also lengthened, in order to accommodate the longer rotor blades. Altogether, the modifications resulted in a gross weight capacity of 9,500 lb (4,309 kg). The Army ordered production of the 205 in 1963, produced with a T53-L-11 engine for its multi-fuel capability. The prototypes were designated as YUH-1D and the production aircraft was designated as the UH-1D.
UH-1H is the most-produced Huey version, and is the representative of all the various types. This aircraft was the improved UH-1D with the uprated Lycoming T53-L-13 engine of 1,400 shp (1,000 kW) and overall 5435 UH1H's were built.
This is not of course the only Bell "Huey" family aircraft in X-Plane as there is also the X-Trident Bell 412 twin-engined version, but this Nimbus version is the first of the original iconic twin-blade aircraft.
Iroquois UH-1 "Huey"
First impressions are of the iconic stubby nose and long tail configuration of the aircraft. In an odd context the original far shorter bodied 204 version looks really quite odd, were as the longer fuselage 205 aircraft looks almost perfect in proportion.
The one thing that keeps coming back to you with this aircraft and most likely it's reason for it's outstanding success is really just the machine's overall simplicity. Many of the ideas built in here into the aircraft are so simple but highly effective in operation... Like with just the basic reinforced roof and floor created a wide open space for an effective aerial platform, the engine is on top and out of the way, with only the complex transmission intruding into the cabin.
The number one focus on any reproduction of a helicopter is in the elements of the rotor designs. How helicopters fly is mostly by small movements at joint positions that you can't really see. So to have that perfect replicated animation of the workings of a rotor design in going to show you more than just a load of pretty good 3d design element work, and so it is just not enough in detail that the basic 3d work matches the aircraft perfectly, it also has to move like the real linkage system as well.
The heart of the system is the lower swashplate that surrounds the mast that holds the main assembly, there are actually two swashplates in a solid one to hold the control levers and the flexible one that moves the control rods connected to the control horn of which is then connected to the blades. On the main rotor it is the pitch and on the tail rotor it is the yaw. It is fascinating to watch the moments control rod movements as you move the controls, the pitch by a lot of movement to the minimum of the roll. Of course there is the secondary movement of the collective that angles the blades to the air (you could call it bite) in more angle then the more bite of the air for lift...
... to see all these elements working so well together on the main and tail rotor defines how well designed, developed and animated are these components by Nimbus.
Modeling is also exceptional, as the Nimbus Huey has been two years in development and the work shows... paneling and rivet work is exceptional and it all comes with very highly crafted normals (NML's are the raised or sunken elements of the modeling, i.e. rivets)...
.... the UH-1 shines were it should, and is semi-matt were it should be, and put the right lighting on the aircraft and it looks simply excellent.
Nice details of vents, lovely steel exhaust outlet and that excellent mesh detail exposing the inner Lycoming T53 turboshaft engine.
One area of detail that does stand out is the exceptional rubber, plastic and other items like cables as we shall see, note the mast joint rubber boots.
Glass is overall very good with excellent reflections and shape and they do a great service in seeing the fuselage framework and internal details, but the only area that I wasn't at all particularly taken with was the green overhead cockpit panels...
... for one I feel they are simply too light and don't look very authentic, secondly is that they are not actually green inside either, but clear? You can't have a shade colour set on one side and it be totally clear on the other, it just does not feel or look right...
There are six menu tabs lower screen left, they consist of: Checklist, Maintenance, Controls Position, CoPilot, Weight & Balance and Doors & Accessories
All pop-up panels are 2d and can be moved around the screen, they cannot however be scaled, and as a few are quite large they can be a bit of a viewing hindrance. The six tabs can't be hidden either, so they will always show up on your screen, which is something I don't like even if they are this small.
Checklist: The checklist is small at around one and a half pages, but effective. Maintenance: You can keep your chopper in flying order by watching and either filling up or repairing areas of the machine that are noted with condition and fluid levels. You can turn off the servicing via checking the "Always Like New" checkbox. CoPilot : The Huey has no autopilot, so Nimbus has provided a fake one by using the flying skills of the CoPilot, we will look closer at this feature when we fly the aircraft. Controls Position: There is a small box bottom right of your screen (arrowed) that shows you your position of the cyclic (joystick), collective and pedals. This is a great learning tool to fly the aircraft and some of the settings are spot on for certain manoeuvres like taking off, hovering and landing, and I personally think a learning tutorial with these settings shown would be invaluable to the vertical flight newcomer.
Doors & Accessories: I will cover the Doors and Accessories before the W&M. There are two choices with the doors, and first you can open them via the menu with the pink "open" tags, or directly with the door handles.
When selecting the actual door or panel and it will disappear, a great and simple system. Wire cutters top and bottom can also be selected...
... and so can dthe oor mounted guns, and the guns are mounted in a way you can fly with the doors shut, which a lot of developers don't do.... the guns work as well!
Weight & Balance: The Weight & Balance sheet is excellent. It covers Pilots & Passenger weights, Fuel weight, Cargo weights in Kilograms (kg) or Pounds (lbs), Total weight and Autonomy (flying time at set full weight). All Pilots and passengers can be selected or hidden and their weight either added in or removed from the aircraft's total weight. All crew can be shown internally or just externally as well...
... if you have the pilot flying in view internally then he can be seen in your vision? But you can hide him and keep the rest of the crew if you want, so it all works very well, but be aware you lose the pilot weight from the total, but you could always balance that with say the cargo weight. Finally there is the all important CofG (Centre of Gravity) limits, which are noted on a scale with flying limits marked, and again it is surprising how many developers don't show this vital tool. Both pilot's heads are animated, but a few crew members do have the odd green arms?
Internal Cabin and Cockpit
As noted the Huey is a basic flying machine, as there is no first class frippery in here. With rubber mats on the floor, metal piping and canvas for seating, this is basic cattle class flying.
The detailing in here would even make Hawkeye Pierce cry. It is a worn, battle scarred and a mission heavy conceptualised scene and it is all surrounded by that so familiar diamond soundproofing padding material. I personally love the realistic worn floor detail.
Into that very familiar Huey cockpit, and yes it all looks glorious...
... but there are a few glitches that are very quickly and highly noticed? There are to blue sky areas on the front door panel that can be seen from some angles, and the collective has space under the base when at full up position?
But just look at those armoured seats! as they are totally brilliant in detail, materials, shape, wear and tear... a real highlight.
Rudder pedals are of course basic, but it is overall very well done in detail, ditto the windscreen wiper motor housing and protecting covers
The instrument panel facias come in two versions, with the steel exposed face or the black...
I would automatically assumed that the black would have been the default version and it does look the better of the two versions. But the original plain facia would probably really be more authentic when you think about it, I know the Marine version used the black, so the debate will be which is the original?
The different facias are set via the different liveries, so if you want to customise your Huey you can change the panel.png file in there.
Like everything else on the UH-1 these Viet War machines are incredibly basic in their instrumentation layout.
We have to look at the right side panel as the main pilot position as it is on all helicopters.... a huge ball Artificial Horizon dominates the panel, with a heading horizontal instrument with built in VOR1 pointer. Far bottom is a CDI (Course Deviation Indicator). left top is the Airspeed Indicator and bottom is the Turn & Slip Indicator. Right top is the Altimeter, Vertical Speed Indicator and bottom a clock. In a nice touch the magnetic compass is tagged on to the right of the main instrument panel.
Left pilot position has only the basic five flying instruments... Airspeed, (small) Artificial Horizon, Altimeter, Vertical Speed Indicator and the same heading horizontal instrument with built in VOR1 pointer.
Centre panel right has the single engine dials (top to bottom) RPM, Torque, GPT (Gas Producer Tach), EGT (Exhaust Gas Temp). Six centre left dials cover Fuel Pressure, Fuel Quantity, Oil Pressure, Oil Temp, Transmission Oil Pressure and Transmission Oil Temp.
Four dials lower left cover the electrics with... Main Gen (Generator), Standby Gen, Volts - DC and Volts AC. Compass can be switched from DG or Mag and you can test the Fuel Gauge to make sure it is working correctly... There are also a row of warning lights top panel with (LtoR): Master Caution, RPM Warning, and Fire Warning.
The pedestal is really just a large box set out on the floor with all the instruments set out on the top surface...
... and pedestal detailing is excellent and highly authentic. You really have to love the click, click switchgear in here, it is excellent. From top left you have a AN/APX-72 Transponder, AN/ARN-72 VHF NAV with the AN/ARC-134 VHF COMM Radios both below. Miscellaneous Control panel right with an excellent Caution Lights panel below... There is the noted Engine Control panel, but it is also the main fuel panel right middle.
Continuing down the left rear pedestal you have a AN/ARC-51BX UHF Radio, C-1611AIC Signal Distribution panel and bottom the Armament panel.
Right rear pedestal is AN/ARC-131 FM Radio and a AN/ARC-83 ADF Radio. Obviously if you want to find your way around these military panels you are going to have to study and use them, they are complicated, but the click setting knobs and dials are very authentic and realism 101.
You can use and test the Caution Lights panel in "Bright" or "Dim" modes, again it looks excellent.
Both the collective and the cyclic stick are well done, but not very interactive, the important "Force Trim" switch does not work and you can't hide the cyclics either?
The simplicity of use is overwhelming on the Overhead Panel (OHP). Those amazing square lighting knobs are excellent to feel and use in the dark...
Panel layout is again quite simple, left top is the rear dome lighting, with Pitot Heating, External Lighting, Wipers, Cabin Heating, and NVG Position lights brightness (I couldn't see these working?). Right OHP are those six Instrument lighting knobs, AC Power panel and DC Power panel. The rest of the OHP is the rows of circuit (non-working) breakers. There is an external Temperature gauge Cº on the top of the windscreen. There is the choice of either or both pilots to use their wipers, but the wipers sadly only work together which is a missed feature, in saying that I still love the selector switch.
Turn up the panel and instrument lighting and you get this lovely green glow from the instruments... again it is more effective on the darker panel.
At night the differences in the panel tone can make a difference to your tastes, again the darker is better.
In the cabin you have a choice between normal or green lighting. The bulbs don't look very bright, but the effect is very good. Externally the interior lighting looks absolutely excellent...
Above you in the cockpit are two movable spot lights, and note the excellent coiled power cable, they are both animated for total shake realism as well....
... but the spot lighting idea is not fully formed. One you can only have both lit, and not individually, and two they are hard to adjust to the place you want the Illumination to show... there is no light effect in the actual light either but just the dark lamps, and like with the cabin lighting when on the actual lamp brightness needs to be better or even there at all.
Navigation lights (position) can be set in STEADY or FLASH, BRIGHT or DIM, there is a nice beacon and a landing light under the nose (a full added on external light would have been nicer) and a white tail navigation light, again the lighting is already very good, but you feel it still needs some refining.
Flying the Huey
First a few notes is that Nimbus recommend you set your "Flight Models per Frame" (Menu/General) to four (4) and the experimental flight model to "off". Another point you have to have control of the aircraft's "Throttle" on the collective. I have a twin throttle system and so the throttle setting just slipped right in for adjustment, if not you will need control of the throttle slider in the joystick or Key settings? X-Trident used just a manipulator adjustment on the Bell 512 and that work very well and I think the same idea should be added into this version, but if you can use the actual throttle lever, then it gives you more control in flight... a mouse scroll wheel can be used as well.
One of the first things that confront you when the Huey is running is that the aircraft shakes like "Bloody Hell", mine was worse because my SimCoder "Headshake" plugin was activated... you can sort of adjust the headshake to match, but for now I would turn it off. It is also debatable if the shake is just too much at idle, yes you only have an unbalanced single twin-blade rotor above you, but it just feels like there is a bit too much movement...
One thing that totally grabs you at idle is the "chhhhe", '''chhhhe", "chopp", "chop" that moves into the familiar whop", "whop", "whop" as you increase the RPM. Sounds are taken from a real UH-1 and they sound excellent and are simply highly realistic. You have to add in Wagners' "Ride of the Valkyries" yourself as it will have to added in from another aural source, LOUD of course, very LOUD....
Notice the RPM goes up as you increase the throttle on the collective, if you are game, you can also increase the "governor" switch on the top section of the collective that is now very realistic in operation.
Laminar now gives developers more control over governors since the v11.30 update, as before it was most done automatically... now you can adjust it yourself, but like I said only with care and try to not to overload the transmission. Particle effects will now swirl up the dust and power out of the exhaust, and it all works extremely well here, and takeoff on any dusty area and it is very and highly realistic...
I am not going to hide the fact that helicopters are hard to fly, because they really are... more so here with the UH-1 as the helio pilot's want them as close to the realistic realm as possible. So that makes them very unforgiving, very touchy in movements and the single twin-blade arrangement makes them also a little more unstable. But practise and master the "Chopper" and the rewards are extremely high... I am pretty good after a lot of right seat flying, but still not a total master of the realm. And so the control position monitor is a great way to check your flying situation, but overwhelmingly chopper flying is totally about feel, and one thing I have learnt is that fine, fine control movements between the cylcic and collective are the secrets to helicopter flying, don't take any notice of the crap you see in the movies or the "wow" dramatic manoeuvres that they show, chopper flying is all about being slow and promoting smooth flying...
The one thing you realise is that the UH-1 acts slightly differently is several areas, so you have to be aware of it's performance and boundaries, it is after all a utility machine, and so it is very basic and quite brutal in areas of it's flight envelope, you find them and have to master them to be aware of the limitations, but get it right and the aircraft is actually very nice to fly.
One nasty one is if you pass or get near the red line speed 125 knts, the whole machine then shakes quite violently and it can easily throw you into the ground...
... so once the shakes start then lower the speed and keep control as quickly as you can (note.. ignore the "Master Caution" warning as the aircraft is in the replay mode).
As we have already noted the Huey has no autopilot, so Nimbus has provided a fake one by using the flying skills of the Co-Pilot called "COPILOT". It is found under the CP tab in the menu.
To use just press the "Hand Over Control" selection and the aircraft will just then fly on the current settings... press the top box selection to make the aircraft follow the current heading direction, if you want to turn then press the left or right spiral and you can set the bank angle below in degrees....
.... the panel heading works as well if you prefer that as I do and if you want manual control back, then just press the "Take Control" selection.
Overall the feature is excellent, but I found the Huey shook violently under the COPILOT control, and after a while it got annoying, going back into your manual control is as bad as you think it will be, but I have mastered that now with other choppers being even worse in the between the auto and manual joystick positions.
The M-60D flexible 7.62 millimeter machine guns are excellent in both the high detail and features... they can also be moved to any firing position and can be set to fire via a key command.
The guns shake with vibrations for realism and the gunners door visual position is excellent.
The most significant part of flying an helicopter is the transition from forward flight to the hover, it is called the "autorotation", and usually it is around 40 ft to 50 ft above the ground. Autorotation can be seriously tricky, but with practise you can get the dynamics pretty smooth. The point here is the Huey is pretty dramatic in two areas in this phase of flight. One is that if you get the transition phase wrong the lift goes away pretty dramatically, in other words you simply stall and fall out of the sky... but again you soon learn where those severe limits are.
Secondly is that those twin-blades as one will cause the aircraft too tilt harder to the left than usual (direction of the rotating blades), so you are sort of fighting the aircraft more to keep it level, and you use far more yaw to correct it...
... this is not the very light or small helicopter effect, but the style and type of machine you are flying, so a bit of skill is needed here, yes the Pro's make it look all so easy, but fine movements and staying in front of the machine (anticipating what the aircraft will do next) will put you in good steed.
The view down is excellent in gauging the distance and movement to the ground, but again keep total absolute control until you are hard on the ground, if not the Huey will quickly snap back at you.
It is all in that fine, fine balance between the collective and stick movements that you find the best control conditions.
There is no doubt the real guys (including our own X-Plane Brett Sumper) will absolutely love the flying capabilities of this Huey, and as they should as they have spent months refining the perfect dynamics of the aircraft to a high level of realism 101... the point is you have to match the pro's feel and their skills. I am not saying that is an impossible task, but you have to be aware of the skill required here. I just past the test and can fly this Huey fine, but I do find it very challenging to refine to the higher skills required here.
So as a pure simulation of flying a Huey, it is certainly one of the very best and the most challenging to date.
There are ten liveries provided and all are good, with a blank white and base green, but overall you would want far more variety than what is really on offer here, as some like the SAR is pretty basic and an Air America, and for myself a "Death From Above" version would have made me smile... but I suppose it will be the painters that will eventually fill in the blanks. Army Green is the default
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" is of course one of the most iconic aircraft we know, and certainly with it's association to the 60's Vietnam War.
So any simulation of such a significant aircraft has to deliver solidly in many areas.
Those important points have certainly been delivered here with exceptional modeling and detailing, it is close but overall it is not yet absolutely totally perfect as we shall see, but it is currently certainly a very solid and highly authentic featured and very aural aircraft. Yes the machine has been recreated with loving care and the "NamViets" will be very if even emotionally thankful. The flying dynamics are also first rate, but they need skill and practise to perfect, so dig deep and the rewards are very high.
Points to be made are to be also taken in context of being very marginal fine tuning than issues. The green overhead plastic panels need work? they are too lightly coloured, but also only green on one side and clear transparent on the other, a rethink is certainly required here. Lighting need still more refinement in showing better light sources and separated spot lights in the cockpit, ditto the windscreen wipers, and librain rain effects would be a great addition. And there are a few blue sky gaps in the bodywork and space gaps on the collective. The CoPilot and control position monitor are both good, but more in one less heavily shaking and the other in a more detailed flying tutorial in how to get the best out of this feature.
In features there is a lot going for the aircraft here, menus are excellent, but you can't hide them or scale the pop-ups... but I love you have a lot of control over the choices of pilots and crew, weights and the basic aircraft setup. Overall it is what is missing that gets you wanting a little more. A medical version would be very nice and an under the nose light would be lovely as well. More armaments in rockets and cannons would help with the jollies, and a sling load would be fun as well... I personally think all these features will certainly come.
A last word on the shaking, in that I found it got better (more realistic shakes) the more I used the aircraft and the effects at the 125 knt limit could mask the heavy shaking issue of the autopilot as well, but I think again a little more refinement on the movements could not help. In stating that the movement effects and the excellent aural sounds are extremely brilliant when working together and when flying the machine.
So this Nimbus Simulations UH-1 "Huey" is certainly now the definitive classic machine we have craved for in the X-Plane simulator, yes there is a few refining areas, but overall it is a masterpiece of such an iconic aircraft. And in the film "Apocalypse Now" you see this incredible aircraft in all it's glory... yes the film like this aircraft live up both to their historic legends, for the record seeing the film again (on the big screen) is still an overwhelming event, flying battle forward in those Hueys was still as thrilling as was all those 40 years ago, the flying is supremely majestic, and now you can fly here the same extraordinary machine.... "this the end... my beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend... the end, of our elaborate plans, the end.... "whop", "whop", "whop"
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" by Nimbus Simulations is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store
Priced at US$37.95
High quality 3D model
High quality 4K textures
Black and also white panel and interior
Usable side mounted guns
Nothing beats the sound of a helicopter sound in real live so we are using High quality professionally recorded sounds to give you a realistic experience, every switch and knob, doors, guns, blade slap, engine and rotor sound is there.
Vibrations play a big role on helicopters, the Nimbus UH-1 is full of animations and vibrations.
Accurate systems simulation, fuel, electric and hydraulic systems are simulated, all the logic of switches, warnings and annunciators is present.
Accurate handling and flight characteristics
Accurate performance based on performance charts.
Realistic night lightning with custom lights and textures.
9 liveries including a military green and a white one for repaints.
Windows for managing maintenance, weight and balance, doors and accessories, joystick position, copilot and checklists.
if you want a more realistic experience you can choose if you want the helicopter to require maintenance with time and usage, depending on how you fly and engine exceedance the mechanical components will degrade and performance will be affected.
We created a "copilot" module that will allow you to hand over control and forget about flying so you can move to the back, enjoy the view, the sound or even use the side mounted guns.
Weight and balance:
A graphic interface gives you the chance to modify the cargo, passengers, fuel and CG, handling of the helicopter will change depending on the CG lateral and longitudinal position.
Doors and accessories:
Guns, no guns, doors opened or closed, wire cutter or not.....customize it as you want.
Checklist are easily accessible through the menu on the left, This window will also allow you to see some performance charts.
Joystick position indicator:
A small window on the right bottom corner will show the position of your controls, it seems simple but is a very good way to refine your flight technique.
Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimim - 8GB VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 830MB
Current version and Review Version 1.0 (Sep 2nd 2019)
Installation and documents:
Download for the Bell UH-1 Huey is 1.57 Gb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "Helicopter" X-Plane folder at 1.67 Gb.
Different instrument panel colours can be created in the liveries to suit your preference in either the metal or black.
One manual that is pretty basic for an aircraft like this, the aircraft requires a tutorial as well...
Nimbus UH-1 manual
Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton
8th September 2019
Copyright©2019 : 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 1Tb gb SSD
Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.35 (v11.30 is required for this aircraft)
Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini
Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.9
Scenery or Aircraft
- KNPA - Naval Air Station Pensacola - X-Plane Global Airport - Free