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  1. Scenery Review : KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive by ShortFinal Design "If you're going to San Francisco Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair If you're going to San Francisco You're gonna meet some gentle people there" The name MisterX6 changed the face of X-Plane scenery. Coming in with a freeware version of KSFO San Francisco International Airport and City 2.0 in November 2015, then a second release in June 2016 was of KBOS - Boston Logan, and both were high quality X-Plane payware sceneries and for free. They also set a standard and created a high reputation for anything delivered by "MisterX6". In reality it was crazy that this sort of extreme (for the time) work that was delivered for free, as the attention to detail was second to none. A load freeware sceneries followed with, KPHX, KPDX, KCUB, KSAN, KLAX and PAJN that were all delivered over the next few years, leaving X-Plane users begging for more. The dream run couldn't last and it didn't. With a name change to ShortFinal Design, Justin Kissling (the famed MisterX6) went payware with the "Definitive" series of scenery. So how do you top brilliant? by going extraordinary that is how. The first SFD release was KSLC - Salt Lake City, then my favorite KABQ - Albuquerque. Then Mega airports followed with KLAX - Los Angeles and EDDM - Munich of which was the X-PlaneReviews best scenery of the year winner 2019 🏅 The level of innovation and detail sets these extraordinary sceneries apart from nothing else in X-Plane, they are of a high standard if not the highest, so what comes next... KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive, and here it is. SFO is again a total revisit to the older freeware version, but a total revisit means it was completely rebuilt from nothing, so the two KSFOs really have nothing in common, but are related only to the same airport and location. San Francisco International Airport is an international airport in San Mateo County, 13 miles (21 km) south of Downtown San Francisco, California. It has flights to points throughout North America and is a major gateway to Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australasia. SFO is the largest airport in the San Francisco Bay Area and the second-busiest in California, after Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In 2017, it was the seventh-busiest airport in the United States and the 24th-busiest in the world by passenger count. It is the fifth-largest hub for United Airlines, which operates out of Terminal 3 and the International Terminal. SFO functions as United's primary Trans-Pacific gateway. Additionally, SFO is a major maintenance hub for United Airlines and houses the SFO Museum that was created in 1980, the first museum in an international airport. It also serves as a hub for Alaska Airlines, which operates in Terminal 2 The City and County of San Francisco first leased 150 acres (61 ha) at the present airport site on March 15, 1927, for what was then to be a temporary and experimental airport project. San Francisco held a dedication ceremony at the airfield, officially named the Mills Field Municipal Airport of San Francisco, on May 7, 1927, on the 150-acre cow pasture. San Francisco purchased the property and the surrounding area expanding the site to 1,112 acres (450 ha) beginning in August 1930. The airport's name was officially changed to San Francisco Airport in 1931 upon the purchase of the land. "International" was added at the end of World War II as overseas services rapidly expanded. San Francisco International Airport IATA: SFO - ICAO: KSFO - FAA LID: SFO - WMO: 72494 10L/28R -11,870ft (3,618m) -Asphalt 10R/28L - 11,381ft (3,469m) - Asphalt 01R/19L - 8,650ft (2,637m) - Asphalt 01L/19R - 7,650ft (2,332m) - Asphalt Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive by ShortFinal Design The airport sits directly on the west of San Francisco Bay, and almost directly opposite Oakland International Airport on the eastern side of the same bay. The runway layout is really a cross with the terminal and concourses in the upper right quadrant (looking west). SFO San Francisco Airport is built around a central core, with seven concourses, with one (Terminal 3) being a concourse/rotunda with arms. Inner core there are four Terminals, the large International, then anti-clockwise are Terminal 1, 2 and 3. Central core is a labyrinth and also the main carpark for all the different terminals. Carpark detail is extraordinary and complex as the there are so many different layers, and they are all animated with traffic. Internally looks a bit like the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame in feel, the animated building fans only heighten the effect. International Terminal The face of San Francisco airport is the large International Terminal. The International Terminal is also composed of Boarding Areas A and G. Designed by Craig W. Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the terminal opened in December 2000 to replace the International Departures section of Terminal 2. It is the largest international terminal in North America, and the largest building in the world built on base isolators to protect it against earthquakes. International Terminal detail is phenomenal, realism 101, or 201... brilliant work including the exceptional lattice work that supports the roof. Note the local branded SFO buses, detail, detail and a ShortFinal speciality. But this being ShortFinal, your going to get even more unique ideas and effects for your money... and he certainly does not disappoint here at SFO. The frontage of the International Terminal will change colours with special events! Frontage colours change on certain dates to celebrate events. New Year, President’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, Memorial Day, Pride Week, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriot Day, German Unity Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. The same colours can however be used on different dates, like the six Red, White and Blue. It is again all so exceptionally well done. Concourses A and G Each side of the International Terminal as wings are two concourses for the International Arrivals and Departures. These are Concourses A and G. Concourse A Most international flights operated by SkyTeam, Oneworld, and non-aligned international carriers board and deplane at Boarding Area A's 15 gates (gates A1–A15). As a modern concourse (if 2000 is what you would call modern), Concourse A is all cladding and glass. Capturing the feel of buildings like this can be really hard, and can just come across as modeled. But that is not the case here as Concourse A (and the rest of the infrastructure here), is very realistic and nicely worn. Note the small ramp tower on top and end each A and G concourses. All gates in SFD San Francisco Airport are SAM3 Suite (Plugin required) activated. With up to three bridges on the International concourses which several are Cat Code F. There are defined A380/B748 taxi routes available as well. A speciality of ShortFinal is that their ground clutter is second to none, and your certainly not disappointed here either. Not are only the actual service vehicles (branded of course), but you have realistic ground personnel, AND animated walking staff as well. Glass is again exceptional and clear (or transparent), revea ling the inner fully modeled concourse interiors, again animated walkers are moving around on both fitted out levels. Again the detail is excellent and very, if highly realistic. Concourse G Most international flights operated by Star Alliance carriers, including all United international flights and select United domestic flights, are assigned to Boarding Area G's 14 gates (G1-G14). Concourse G is quite similar to A, but it has an open passenger deck at the end. Again everything associated with Concourse G is superb. Harvey Milk Terminal 1 Formerly known as the "South Terminal", Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is composed of Boarding Area B, which currently has 18 gates (gates B6-B9, B12-B14, B17, B18, and B19-B27). Prior to June 23, 2020, Boarding Area C was also considered part of Terminal 1. In April 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and mayor Mark Farrell approved and signed legislation renaming Terminal 1 after deceased gay rights activist and former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Harvey Milk, and planned to install artwork memorializing him. Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is the world's first airport terminal named after a leader of the LGBTQ community. Arrival entrance is just all glass, making it a bit plain... but there is nothing plain about this very authentically designed terminal and the B Concourse. Lots of nicely defined nooks and crannies here to explore, and the rooftop detailing is excellent. Internal B concourse detail is again really well done... Terminal 2 Formerly known as the "Central Terminal", Terminal 2 is composed of Boarding Area C, which has 10 gates (gates C2-C11), and Boarding Area D, which has 15 gates (D1-D12 and D14-D16). The D gates is where Alaska Airlines has its hub. Terminal 2 opened in 1954 as the main airport terminal. After a drastic rebuilding designed by Gensler, it replaced Rotunda A as SFO's international terminal in 1983, until it was closed for renovation after the current international terminal opened in 2000. Terminal 2 arrivals feels like the older terminal redeveloped, of which it is of course. And again very well done. Side art facades are excellent, and note the animated internal AirTrain system. Part of the original International Terminal design survives as well with the "San Francisco" branding. Concourse C You immediately feel the older styled concourses and terminal style, compared to the cladding and glass newer buildings. Concourse C feels the oldest of the lot, but it is really well done here to get that older SFO feel into the scenery by SFD. Glass roof is see-though, and it feels very open from the internal view. But I love these older infrastructure designs. Going domestic to San Francisco, then parking here would be my choice of gates. Concourse D External Concourse detail is as usual in being very good, again a slight difference and feel here compared to the other concourses (except C). Internal detail is done right through the terminal and into the twin arms. Terminal 3 Formerly known as the "North Terminal", Terminal 3 is composed of Boarding Area E with 13 gates (gates E1-E13) and Boarding Area F with 23 gates (gates F1-F3, F3A, F4-F22). Terminal 3 is used for United Airlines' domestic flights. Mainline United and United Express flights that use both boarding areas. This $82.44 million terminal was originally designed by San Francisco Airport Architects (a joint venture of John Carl Warnecke and Associates, Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture, and minority architects). The groundbreaking ceremony for the North Terminal was held on April 22, 1971, and Boarding Area F opened in 1979 and Boarding Area E opened in 1981. Concourse E The Initial modest renovation plans were replaced by a more ambitious project after the popularity of the remodeling of Terminal 2. After the completion of the US$138,000,000 (equivalent to $157,960,000 in 2021) project, Boarding Area E reopened on January 28, 2014, followed by Terminal 3 East on November 18, 2014. The project moved one gate from Boarding Area F to Boarding Area E to provide a total of ten aircraft parking positions at T3E. Following a 2019 renumbering of all gates at SFO, three additional gates moved from Boarding Area F to Boarding Area E, with the latter now containing 13 gates. Built to take in the view. Concourse E has a huge window for the front. Note the United gate information boards set with the current time. Note also the lower to the ground SAM airbridges for regional jet boarding... again concourse cladding and glass design is exceptional. Internal detail is again done, but the views from the concourse are simply realistically unbelievably, really real, "Being there real". There are a few gates E1, E2 and E3 between the two E and F concourses (There are more F1 - F4 gates that continues past the F Concourse entrance), and this area internally is modeled as well, and again the apron and runway views are sensational. Concourse F There are three United Clubs in Terminal 3—one near the rotunda for Boarding Area F, one on the mezzanine across from gate E2, and another at the beginning of Boarding Area E. Terminal 3 also houses the American Express Centurion Lounge, located across from Gate F2. Ramp detail is excellent, every area (per concourse) has a slightly different feel, here notice the excellent height safety bars and lower concourse detail. Airbridges on F are a different static design than the swing bridges, and well done here, and also still SAM active. Internal F Concourses are of course done as well, with a huge space around the rotunda... you can explore as much internally at SFO as externally. Views are again amazing in watching the aircraft, just like in real life. SFO Control Tower Situated in the space between Terminals 1 and 2, a new tower was built to replace the existing control tower and one that has been in operation since 1954 and was then located atop Terminal 2. The project also includes a new three-story Integrated Facility building for the FAA and other personnel, two connector walkways, and improvements to the Terminal 1 Boarding Area C Entrance. Construction of the new control tower and base building began in summer 2012, was turned over to the FAA for equipment installation in July 2015 and the tower became fully operational in October 2016. The swirl style control tower has been faithfully reproduced here by SFD, beautifully done with great design. Attention to roof top aerial detail is also excellent. Rear tower detail is worth inspecting close up. Tower view is inside the tower. Usually this aspect doesn't work, but here it is sensational, with a clear view of all the approaches. Seating only up here and with no computer screens, but still very well done. The same event colour effects are on the rear of the tower, and in the same matching the International Terminal facade event. Entrance to SFO has the "Grand Hyatt At SFO" on the southwest. Again really well done is the Hyatt and authentic to the real hotel, behind are the two western carparks for the International Terminal in G and A. The complex entrance road system is mixed in with the rail networks to San Francisco City. Called the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) it serves the airport at San Francisco International Airport station, and located west of the International Terminal. All BART trains are fully animated here, as is the full AirTrain system, it is all SO good. West Field To the north of the main central terminal hub is "West Field". Positioned here are all the airport's infrastructure facilities including Cargo and Catering. Facilities for Prime Cargo, Delta Cargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo and Asiana Cargo. Further north is Singapore Airlines and China Southern that are all represented, as is the United Airlines GEM (Ground Equipment Maintenance) Facility and Gate Gourmet catering. Ground clutter detail is simply phenomenal. The SFO Fire Station is positioned on the front of West Field on taxiway Z. UAL Base (United Airlines Maintenance) Far north in the scenery is the huge UAL base. It is significant to note on how far away it is here from the central core of SFO that this scenery covers, and in absolute detail, a very hard thing to do, but it is also totally authentic. Note the amazingly detailed SFO bus depot SFO is home to the one of the largest single aircraft maintenance bases in the world with complete MRO base operations (maintenance, repair, overhaul, painting, welding, machine shop, tool and die, parts manufacturing, fabrication, engineering, and retrofitting (Boeing and Airbus certified, among others)). It serves as the principal Global MRO Base for United Airlines and serves over 40 other airlines, military customers, and aircraft lease operators. The main United facility is huge... ... it is also SAM powered. Open SAM and select the "Controls" icon, and you get six options. Three of the selections open the three doors on the United Maintenance hangar. East of the UAL Base is Plot 50, and the SFO major fuel depot. Plot 50 is a (remote) cargo facility for FedEx, KAL and NCA. Brand detail is again simply brilliant. USCG (US Coast Guard) Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco (CGAS) located at the San Francisco International Airport is one of five air stations in the Eleventh Coast Guard District. Currently, Air Station San Francisco operates four MH65 Dolphin helicopters that provides its primary mission search and rescue. CGAS San Francisco also supports a wide range of other Coast Guard operations such as Maritime Law enforcement, port security, Aids to Navigation support and Marine Environmental Protection to approximately 300 miles of coastline from Point Conception to Fort Bragg 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. A lovely old building that screans "San Fran" that is modeled and detailed impeccably here, simply sensational for helicopter operations. The USCG hangar doors are SAM powered as well, so they open to reveal a nicely detailed interior. There is still more action at the USCG facility. On the SAM is another selection to open the gates. Press "Coast Guard Gate", and the barriers come down, lights flash and the gates all open. GA & Signature The east is where the only General Aviation (GA) area is at SFO with a Signature Aviation" facility. This is a British multinational aviation services company for personal jet services. There are both here a reception and private jet terminal and a large maintenance hangar. Again the SAM plugin can be used to open the Signature hangar door, revealing a nice interior. Superbay The eastern side of the airfield is dominated by the Superbay, a 420,550-square-foot (39,070 m2) maintenance hangar capable of holding four 747s. Originally constructed in the 1970s, the facility is shared by United Airlines and American Airlines. Sadly the doors don't open on the Superbay. Notable is that everything here is custom. Even the fencing is custom made and it comes in all various shapes and designs, no string facades here. All blast fences are perfect, and so is road crossing detail. Ground Textures Even from a distance you know the ground textures here at SFO are going to be something special, they are... ... but also a bit of a surprise, because they are not as rough (or knobbly) as I thought they would be, so they feel quite smooth. built in Burnt-in ambient occlusion effects and reflections are there but again not overly done, so to a point they look more realistic. In saying that I think these textures in the rain of X-Plane12 will be absolutely sensational. The different types of surfaces is just plain stupid here, totally everything you could imagine and far more, and again all totally brilliantly done. Grunge and oily dirt is perfect on the ramps, but overall I like the darker cuts in the asphalt and concrete for absolute realism. Notable is that there are four actual texture versions in (mostly to save framerate); No Ortho + Flat, No Ortho + No Flat, Ortho + Flat (default) and Ortho + No Flat Lighting I think by now, that if the lighting was average at SFO, it would be a real let down... NOPE, the lighting is as brilliant as everything else here. Approach lighting ha animated RAIL on 28L and 28R and 19L, and all approach lighting set high on gantries and really well done. The lighting ideas used here is quite unusual from the standard X-Plane practise of bright airside and tan landside. Unusual is the use here of mercury vapor lamps, which create a blue-green tint over remote carparks and the non-working areas. But very effective in the scenery for realism. Hub SFO centre is overwhelmingly good, that comes with the subtle uses of different lighting tones, this creates a realism of well real life. Not withstanding the colour effects. Central carpark hub looks like the core of a nuclear reactor! but brilliant. Ramps are excellent for working on at night, but the crème de la crème here is the Gate number lighting that are all spectacularly backlit... really love that, and so realistic. Backside and building window lighting is excellent, again very realistic, no average plain colour fills here. Internal concourse lighting is bright, but really well done in not being over bright to spoil the external views. Note the great ceiling lighting. Oddly there is not a lot of brand lighting on the buildings, say cargo faclities... the main are done like "UNITED AIR LINES", but not something like FedEx or the Hyatt Hotel? Ground navigation lighting is also very good. All signs are worn but effective, with excellent colour light realistic ground reflections... perfect. San Francisco Scenery Unlike with the freeware version of KSFO San Francisco International Airport and City 2.0, there are no city objects in this package, which for me is surprising. ShortFinal noted to me that he may create a San Francisco city free pack to go along with this package, of which shouldn't be too hard as it is already object created. Here I am using here the (very) good but very old Tom Curtis Golden Gate scenery package, but sadly it's not on sale or available anymore. _______________ Summary MisterX6 changed the face of X-Plane scenery. First with Freeware high quality scenery for the X-Plane Simulator, then he went Payware with his "Definitive" Series and changed his name to ShortFinal Designs. That change took the scenery quality, detail and effects into the stratosphere, but still with a very affordable price. San Francisco was one of the original KSFO San Francisco International Airport and City 2.0 freeware sceneries, and very good it is, but here is the KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive version. Like all the rest of the "Definitive" Series with KSLC - Salt Lake City, then my favorite KABQ - Albuquerque. Then Mega the airports followed with KLAX - Los Angeles and EDDM - Munich, that were all exceptional sceneries, so you expect a lot from the "Definitive" SFO. This SFO scenery has been a long time in development. I expected a release around the early months of 2022, but it was still another 6 months before it now comes to release. Having reviewed the scenery here, I can't believe it didn't take far, far longer. This is a MASSIVE scenery, in every aspect. Scale, object count, detail, effects and a realism above what we currently have. Yes there are brilliant sceneries out there, but this San Francisco sets a higher bar in almost every department... It is a colossal achievement. In every area it is brilliant. Modeling, texturing, lighting and not only external but the internal is very good as well. SAM Active, is not only for the various airbidge designs, but also to open and close hangar doors and gate crossings. This is one serious scenery with an object count to be believed. Again in every area it is covered in objects and with the massive clutter detail to burn your eyes out. Ground Textures and lighting are also extreme in detail with a few unique ideas thrown in. But the highlights are the event colours on the International Terminal and Control Tower that change with certain event days like the 4th July, Christmas and New Year and many more... Negatives, none really AT ALL. But you have to know that with an object and detail count like this and used in this scenery, then it will take up a lot of frame rate, so SFO does hurt the framerate, and no doubt ShortFinal has refined everything to the bone already. So you would need a fair bit of power to run it all. My guide would be ShortFinal's LAX, if that SFD scenery runs fine, then so will SFO, but lighter graphic cards will certainly struggle to process it all. I don't like to define the "Best of"... because it is a moving target in Simulation. But certainly this KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive scenery has to be the very best ever scenery created for the X-Plane Simulator, on the scale alone.... a masterpiece, absolutely, if even the best X-Plane Scenery was ever created for the simulator, and that SFO by ShortFinal is a big if massive achievement no matter which way you look at it. "All across the nation such a strange vibration People in motion There's a whole generation with a new explanation People in motion people in motion If you come to San Francisco Summertime will be a love-in there" _______________________________ The KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive by ShortFinal Design is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store KSFO - San Francisco Airport Definitive Priced at US$26.95 High-Definition Airport Accurate airport layout (as of 2022) Brand-new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 Detailed models for all buildings with baked ambient occlusion Terminals with interiors PBR materials on objects and ground Custom dynamic night lighting Custom high resolution ground textures High resolution photo scenery (30cm/px) Taxi routes for AI traffic Compatible with any mesh scenery Free X-Plane 12 update planned Animated Airport Animated AirTrain, BART, and cars Animated highly detailed airport vehicles Animated workers and passengers Custom animated jetways and DGS (requires SAM plugin) Special lighting on international terminal and control tower on certain dates Various user-controlled hangar doors (requires SAM plugin) Requirements X-Plane 11 - X-Plane 12 (when available) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Version 1.0 (August 6th 2022) Installation and documents: SFO is download of 1.6 Gb download that is translated into a single install file SFD_KSFO_San_Francisco 2.1 Gb full install in your Custom Scenery folder. There is an OPTIONS folder for Ortho and Flat versions of ShortFinal SFO No Ortho + Flat No Ortho + No Flat Ortho + Flat (default) Ortho + No Flat You just swap over the supplied Earth nav data folder. There is a mesh patch can be used with MUXP (https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/67230-mesh-updater-x-plane-muxp/). It works with any mesh (including ORBX TrueEarth) and makes coastlines more accurate, which avoids issues like sunken approach lights. As of writing this document, MUXP is still an alpha version, so results may vary. In case you need to revert the changes, it always creates a backup version of your mesh files. NOTE, not sure on how this would work with X-Plane12, so personally I would not use it for now if using SFO Definitive in X-Plane12. SAM3 Plugin - Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 3.0 is required for this scenery, Documents There is a 2 page "Instruction" page for installation and requirements Manual.pdf ___________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 6th August 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) All Right Reserved  Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane v11.55 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick, Throttle & Rudder Pedals : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - None-
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  2. Hi Steven, Thanks for another excellent review for what seems to be a fantastic rendition of KSFO, which I will certainly purchase in the very near future. Regarding the absence of the city buildings, and while awaiting a potential add-on pack from SFD, I read on the dedicated .org forum thread that it's possible to install this pack on top of the freeware one, which includes the city, thereby alllowing the city part of the freeware pack to be seen. Sounds like a good idea, will definitely try it when I get the payware.
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  3. Aircraft Review: Handley Page Hampden by Virtavia Introduction The 1930s was a great period for military aircraft development. At Handley Page one of their best examples during this time was the Heyford bomber, which went into service with the Royal Air Force in 1934. The Heyford was a biplane with an open cockpit and gun positions, had a fixed undercarriage and used a mixed construction of metal and fabric. The Heyford was the last biplane heavy bomber operated by the RAF. When you compare the Heyford to the Hampden, the differences between them were huge, especially when you consider there were only four years between them. History has a great way of recounting how good or bad an aircraft performed during its lifetime, with some even being regarded as a bit of a joke or totally abysmal. Unfortunately, the Handley Page Hampden could fall into that category. A certain Charles G Grey, the founder of the magazine “The Aeroplane”, described the Hampden (without considering some of its ground-breaking assets) as a flying suitcase! Sadly, this is the nickname that stuck with the aircraft during its whole service career. The Hampden was designed and conceived by Gustav Lacmann, Chief Designer at Handley Page in a response to a request from the British Air Ministry for a new twin-engined medium bomber under the Air Ministry specification B9/32. The specification set by the ministry was quite demanding, which specified among many other requirements that it should have higher performance than any preceding bomber aircraft. The first HP2 prototype flew for the first time on 21st June 1936, and shortly thereafter the Air Ministry placed an initial order for 180 Mk.1 Hampdens. The first production aircraft took to the sky on 24th May 1938. The Hampden was quite a modern aircraft for its time as it utilised a stressed metal skin. Fitted with the most advanced wing available at the time, the Hampden had a remarkably low landing speed of just 73 mph, quite impressive for an Aircraft of its size. The Hampden was powered by a pair of 980 hp air-cooled Bristol Pegasus 9-cylinder Radial engines. These engines, along with the aircraft’s slim design, resulted in the Hampden achieving a top speed of 265 mph, as well as an impressive climb rate. Armament on the Hampden was abysmal as it only featured a fixed Vickers K machine gun on the nose, plus two in each of the rear dorsal & ventral positions. The aircraft featured an internal bomb bay capable of carrying 4,000 lbs of bombs, mines, or a single 18-inch torpedo. The crew of four consisted of a pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator/dorsal gunner, ventral gunner. Due to its design, the crew were crammed into a tight fuselage with almost no room to move and were typically cold and extremely uncomfortable during long missions. Aircrews soon referred to the Hampden by various nicknames, such as the flying Panhandle, and Flying Tadpole. The Hampden entered service with RAF No.49 Squadron between September and November 1938. While based at RAF Scampton, they were allocated the hazardous task of low-level minelaying and attacking ships during the outbreak of World War Two. Purchase and installation For this review, I am running the latest version of X-Plane 11, along with a shadow tweak to make the shadow lines in the game appear much sharper. My chosen graphics API is Vulcan, not OpenGL. The Intel I7 4790K CPU is overclocked to 5Ghz complete with liquid cooling. I have 32GB RAM, with my GPU being an Asus Cerberus 1070ti. The sounds are provided through a Creative Titanium HD audiophile card, all of which is sat on an Asus Motherboard. At the time of writing, the Hampden from Virtavia is available from the Org Store for $21.95, and upon completion of your purchase, 44 reward points will be allocated to your store account. The stated system requirements are Windows, Mac or Linux and the model requires a minimum of 4 GB VRAM but recommends 8 GB or greater. The model currently sits at version: 1.0 (December 6th, 2021) and is for use in X Plane 11 only. Virtavia indicates that the model is fully VR-ready, however, I am not able to confirm this as I do not possess a VR headset. Once purchased, you simply download the compressed files to your chosen location on your PC. No automatic installation exe is included with the product, but installation is quite straightforward, as you simply extract the compressed files to your Aircraft folder. Once extracted, the size comes to 64.8MB. Documentation The model includes a comprehensive 19-page PDF full-colour manual which is split into several sections. It contains a procedures list and makes extensive use of screen captures which feature annotations to the relevant controls being demonstrated. Another feature that impressed me was the use of instructional videos as a reference relating to various procedures such as a cold and dark start. By double clicking on the AVI symbol, a copy of the instruction video will be downloaded to your pc where you can view them as and when required. First Impressions The original model of this Handley Page Hampden stems from an FSX/P3D variant. Whilst the aircraft systems and handling in this X-Plane version are significantly better than those found in the earlier FSX version, the Hampden is still not a particularly complex aircraft, which suits casual flight simmers such as myself. The package features two variants, these being the Hampden B. Mk1 and the TB. Mk1. 1. The Hampden B. Mk1 ships with four liveries and are as follows: 185 Sqn. at RAF Cottesmore from 1939 and 144 Sqn. stationed at North Luffenham during 1942. Whilst the other two liveries feature aircraft from No. 1404 (Meteorological) Flight RAF at St. Eval during 1942 and the Torpedo Development Unit of 1939 The Hampden TB. Mk1. ships with three liveries and are as follows: 415 Sqn. Royal Canadian Air Force during 1943, 489 Sqn. of the Royal NZ Air Force of 1944 and finally, the TB. Mk.1. of the Swedish Air Force. Exterior The exterior detailing faithfully captures the quirky lines synonymous with the Hampden’s airframe. From the narrow deep-seated fuselage to the thin tapering rear leading to the twin tail, Virtavia have faithfully captured these features. With the extensive use of PBR textures throughout both the exterior and the cockpit, the whole model shines (in all the right places) thanks to X-Plane’s superior global lighting. The surface of the model also features nicely rendered panel lines and subtle weathering. The flying controls and surfaces are fully animated and work very smoothly, including the forward wing slats which are automatically operated. The cooling grills (cowl flaps) can be opened and closed by clicking the relevant control in the cockpit. The model also features a reasonably detailed undercarriage as well as two different exhaust types that were fitted to the different variants of the aircraft. Overall, the exterior model is almost worth the price by itself. However, despite all the gloss of PBR and the improvements across the model, I did feel there was something still slightly lacking with the exterior model. In short, the Handley Page Hampden was amongst the first mono-winged aircraft to feature a flush-rivetted stressed metal skin, reinforced with a mixture of bent and extruded sections in an all-metal design. Whilst the panel lines are faithfully represented in this model, the detail relating to the flush riveting and stressed skin effects are missing. It doesn’t affect the functionality of the model in the slightest, but if you know your aircraft history, you’ll notice it. A feature I particularly liked was the ability to have the crew visible or not. The crew can be toggled on or off by pressing Shift-F5 as seen below. You can select to have the upper rear gunners’ canopy open or closed, and this is achieved by pressing Shift-F2. Both gunners’ positions (dorsal and ventral) included representations of the 303 Vickers K machine gun which are adequately detailed but are not operable. The crew access hatch can be toggled open or closed by pressing Shift-F3. Another nice feature of the model is the bomb bay which features operable bay doors which can be toggled open or closed by pressing shift-F4. Alternatively, there is a switch for this on the right side of the cockpit. The internal detail of the bomb bay is rather weak but acceptable, however, there is no ordinance within the bay and no loadout options are provided with the model. It would have been a nice touch if the developer had included such an option. Perhaps in a later update? Interior Moving onto the interior and it’s clear to see that this is where Virtavia pulled out all the stops. When sitting in the cockpit, you are presented with a rich and diverse environment. It’s a complete click fest of the highest order, all laced with lush PBR textures and clear annotations to both instruments and dials. Aside from the normal functioning controls, there are numerous features available to you in the cockpit, so many in fact that it would take too long to describe in this short article. However, all I can say is that if you do decide to go out and purchase the Hampden, you won’t be disappointed with how the cockpit looks, it’s simply exquisite. Handling Like many of you reading this, I am just a desktop pilot and a casual simmer at heart, so I am not particularly well qualified to say if the flight model is accurate or not. The task becomes even harder when you consider there are no airworthy Hampdens left anywhere in the world. However, that said, in X-Plane, the Handley Page Hampden being a tail dragger, has all the usual traits associated with this type of aircraft, and as such can be quite a handful on the ground. In other words, don’t open the throttles too quickly as the aircraft will run away with you, and your flight (what there was of it), will end in tears! Once in the air and all trimmed out, the aircraft is quite responsive and is in no way sluggish. The developers appear to have replicated the response rate of the engines quite well, in that there is no instant change in tone when you reduce or increase the throttle, instead it slowly changes tone which is far more realistic. The Handley Page Hampden was one (if not the first) medium bomber to feature forward wing slats. These reduced the aircraft’s landing speed to just 73mph. The forward wing slats are operated automatically, and I found landing the aircraft in my X-Plane world, a considerably more relaxed experience than taking off. Sounds When X-Plane allowed for the introduction of FMOD sound packages for aircraft models, the sound environment changed for the better. The included FMOD sound samples in this package are simply outstanding, and in my opinion, faithfully capture the dynamic sounds of a pair of 980 hp air-cooled Bristol Pegasus 9-cylinder radial engines. This starts with the slow, rattling, popping, spitting and stuttering of the engines during a cold and dark start-up. As you slowly increase power, the engine note changes, and you can really feel the deep rumbling gentle growl as the engines come to life. When you open and close the cockpit canopy (again sampled), the sounds of the engine are subtly subdued, but still audible through the canopy. In all, the included soundset of this model is simply music to your ears! Conclusion As you can no doubt tell from this review, flying this aircraft has been a great deal of fun for me, with some of its highlights being: The massive 3D modelling improvements and increased functionality in the cockpit over its earlier FSX/P3D variant. The cockpit environment is enriched by the extensive application of PBR textures, which really makes it shine, especially when you factor in the price point. The introduction of an impressive FMOD sound pack. The inclusion of a comprehensive PDF manual, which employs links to a series of downloadable instructional videos. Looking at areas for possible improvement, it would have been nice if Virtavia had included the flush riveting and stressed panel details on the exterior model. I would also have liked to have seen various loadout options for the bomb bay, but as I mentioned, maybe these can be added in future updates. I was just a little disappointed that some of the other notable characteristics were not given the same attention to detail as they lavished in the cockpit environment. In summing up, I have to say the Handley Page Hampden by Virtavia is a quirky, yet remarkable aircraft, and in my view will deliver a lot of nostalgic fun for not much money. So, why not be like me, and pack yourself into a flying suitcase and relive a bit of history! ___________________ The Handley-Page Hampden package by Virtavia is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Virtavia Handley-Page Hampden Price at time of writing US$21.95 Requirements: X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (December 6th 2021) Review System Specifications: Windows 10 64 Bit Intel I7 4790K 32GB RAM NVIDIA GTX 1070Ti Aircraft Review by Nick Garlick 4th August 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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  4. I have recently, thanks to Org store sales bought several new GA aircraft and have been flying around the summer skies of the UK and California, or at least the Orbx representations of them. And it has been very pleasant indeed. It might be my imagination but some of the recent Nvidia drivers also seem pretty good. Which led me to the thought that XP11 is really not bad at all, and (unlike many video games and simulations) I still have a lot more to do, to learn and improve - although my landings seem a lot more consistent these days. Then when I come online I read all of the calls for more news and a release date for XP12 and I wonder why. Perhaps XP12 out of the box will be better, but then like many releases it might take a few iterations. Now in XP11 unlike in MSFS I cannot really see my house, nor fly around a more accurate version of say London. But then XP11 does many other things better to compensate. And then there’s all my investment in XP11, not just the money but the time and the tweaking and learning it to a decent depth - although there is always more to learn. So yes, XP12 would be nice, if only to get developers some much needed new sales. But in the interim I’ll just virtually fly, rather than seeking snippets from forums and videos. How does Guernsey to Swansea sound for this afternoon for example? Pleasant enough weather, but a little wet in the arrival perhaps?
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  5. Might be more interesting this time around... FlightFactor have costed their Boeing 767-400 currently at US$69, but will be US79 for X-Plane12, notable the upgrade fee might be US$10. Not the same price in X-Plane11 to 12.
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  6. it's a bit of a stretch to say the -400 is just a 3D and panel update? There is a lot more in there than that, more so in that it is a very nice aircraft thank you very much...
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  7. Avitab can do all that and more... https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44825-avitab-vr-compatible-tablet-with-pdf-viewer-moving-maps-and-more/
    1 point
  8. August first and not a shred of evidence they still exist.
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