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  1. Aircraft Review : Lockheed P-38L Lightning by Flying Iron Simulations Known by it's nickname the "Fork-tailed devil" or in German "der Gabelschwanz-Teufel" , the Lockheed P-38 Lighting is a twin-engined - twin boomed tail World War II era American piston-engined fighter aircraft. The main aircraft's role was as a general fighter, the P-38 was also highly utilized in various other aerial combat roles including as a highly effective fighter-bomber, a night fighter and as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks. The P-38 was also used as a bomber-pathfinder, guiding streams of medium and heavy bombers and even other P-38s equipped with bombs to their targets. But the role the P-38 was most effective in was the aerial reconnaissance role, as the P-38 accounted for 90 percent of the aerial film captured over Europe. Post war it's aerial survey work was well known as it was also it's appearances as popular contenders in the air races from 1946 through to 1949, with brightly colored Lightnings making screaming turns around the pylons at Reno and Cleveland (think of Star Wars, and the air races). Flying Iron Simulations are back doing what they do best in creating WW2 era aircraft. First up it was the beastly Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, then the sublime Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc... then oddly a glider called the Glob? This however is another wartime classic from the Flying Iron crew in the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and everything is alright with the world again. And a magnificent looking aircraft it is... First impressions are excellent, panel detail is simply overwhelming, but the Lightning looks like it was carved from metal, it wasn't of course but the metal reflections and mapping here is really, really good.... that is really good. You think you have seen it all, and nothing could be better... but here it is again at a higher refinement again, another step on the realism ladder, so all you can do is totally admire the detail and skill in doing work like this for us to enjoy. The P-38's exhausts were muffled by the turbo-superchargers, making the P-38's operation relatively a quiet aircraft. The two turbo-superchargers also provided the P-38 with good high-altitude performance, making it one of the earliest Allied fighters capable of performing at such altitudes as with a service ceiling of 44,000 ft (13,000 m)... this is a WW2 aircraft remember. The turbo-supercharger and exhaust system is very well modeled here. Looking at details it is important to note the aircraft's quite complicated aerodynamic history. The P-38 from early test flights revealed problems initially believed to be tail flutter. During high-speed flight approaching Mach 0.68, especially during dives, the aircraft's tail would begin to shake violently and the nose would tuck under (called Mach tuck) and steepening the dive. Once caught in this dive, the fighter would enter a high-speed compressibility stall and the controls would lock up, and the results usually was death. In 1941 flutter was a familiar engineering problem related to mostly a too-flexible tail, but the P-38's empennage was completely skinned in aluminum rather than fabric and was already quite rigid. At no time did the P-38 suffer from true flutter. But a lot of work, trial and error (mostly error) was required in fixes to stop the P-38's compressibility stalls... several ideas are shown on the rear elevators, and one idea was to place mass balances above and below the elevator, of which the weights are well represented here. Another trial was that another way of bypassing compressibility lockup, was riding it out using elevator trim, so a smaller and a quite powerful insert trim was inserted into the rear edge of the main elevator... The P-38's dive problem was finally revealed to be in the center of pressure moving back toward the tail when in high-speed airflow. The solution was to change the geometry of the wing's lower surface when diving in order to keep lift within the bounds of the top of the wing. In February 1943, quick-acting dive flaps were tried and proven by Lockheed test pilots. The dive flaps are installed outboard of the engine nacelles and in action they extended downward 35° in 1.5 seconds. The flaps did not act as a speed brake; they just affected the pressure distribution in a way that retained the wing's lift. They are operated here via the speedbrake lever, but they are as noted dive flaps not speedbrakes. Buffeting was another early aerodynamic problem. It was difficult to distinguish from compressibility as both were reported by test pilots as "tail shake". Buffeting came about from airflow disturbances ahead of the tail; the airplane would shake heavily at high speed.The problem was traced to a 40% increase in air speed at the wing-fuselage junction where the thickness/chord ratio was highest. An airspeed of 500 mph (800 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m) could push airflow at the wing-fuselage junction close to the speed of sound. Filleting solved the buffeting problem for the P-38E on and for later models. So the P-38 was quite a hard aircraft to sort out aerodynamically, but all the additions just made it a more formidable aircraft. Unlike most WW2 aircraft the P-38 is not a taildragger (yeah!), as it has a retractable tri-cycle undercarriage. Gear detail is very good, but these gear assembles were not overly complicated and quite simple in design. The modeling here though is very good and very authentic... ... you just have to love these cross-treaded Goodyear main gear tyres, as they look so real, but the wheel bay looks too small for the gear? It is not but the thick piping in there does get in the way of the retracting tyres? The Lighting comes with 1× Hispano M2(C) 20 mm cannon with 150 rounds, 4× M2 Browning machine gun 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns with 500 rpg, up to 4000lb of bombs and carries 2 x Drop Tanks. It is a shame the nose panels don't come off as the magazines are quite spectacular in design. Cockpit glass is very well done (nice reflections), but a bit too clear and clean for me on a 80 year old aircraft? The surrounding metal work is however exceptional detailing. Cockpit The cockpit canopy is quite basic in a flip up top, and then you wind down each side window, so there is no rearward moving canopy... .... this means you can't have the canopy open while taxiing, and a lot of pilots hated it because it got very hot inside, they also hated the cockpit being cold as well, because when the P-38 flew up to those extreme high altitudes it got very cold and a heat suit was thus created to keep them warm, in which was the forerunner of the today's G-Suit. Cockpit's detailing is totally overwhelming. You are used now to these exceptionally well created cockpit environments, in fact you demand this sort of authenticity in the extreme detail (certainly at thisprice level), but that you can't take away the skills on delivering the wartime detail in such a comprehensive way, it is all VR (Virtual Reality) ready as well to heighten the experience, realism 101. Side winders will open the top canopy and roll down the side windows. I like the way each window does not go downwards evenly... note the lovely well done canvas seat, and quality seatbelt detail. No stick here but a grabbable chunky yoke that is a side right pylon arrangement (the yoke can be hidden by clicking on it). Instrument Panel The instrument panel layout is a bit of an ergonomic nightmare, it is worse in the air as we will see. Top left and standing out is the Standby Magnetic Compass, and set besides is the Suction Gauge and Clock. There is another compass in the Remote Indicating Compass set just below the whiskey compass. Next to that is the Directional Gyro. Below is a row of five dials, they cover from left to right: Front (Reserve) Fuel Tank Quantity Gauge, Altimeter, Airspeed Indicator, Bank & Turn Indicator and the Rate of Climb Indicator, of which you could say were your primary instruments. Two dials lower left cover: Rear (Main) Fuel Tanks Quantity Gauge and Hydraulic Pressure Gauge... the Landing Gear Warning Panel. Gyro Horizon or Artificial Horizon to you and me can be Caged or Uncaged via the lower knob (arrowed). Right panel has top row: Manifold Pressure (Left & Right Needles), RPM (Left & Right Needles), then far right the Coolant Temperature Gauge. Engine Gauges (Oil Temp & Pressure, Fuel Pressure) are on the second row with the Carburetor Air Temperature Gauge below the Coolant dial. Twin Ammeters and below are the main Generator Switches (in red) Shelf switch panel is quite comprehensive. Far left are three circuit breakers followed by the Oxygen Cylinder Pressure Gauge then the Magnetos Master Switch and Magnetos (Left and Right). Oil Dilution & Engine Primer Switches and Starter/Engage Switches L&R with the lighting array of switches that covers: Wing & Tail Position Light, Landing Light Switch, Gun Heater Switch, Compass Switch and the big knob is the Instrument Light Rheostat, finally far right is the Voltmeter. Set out front lower are the Prop Feathering Lights and Prop Feathering Switches, Oil Cooler Flap Switch (Left) and Oil Cooler Flap Switch (Right), main Battery Switch, Pitot Heat Switch, Coolant Flap Override Switches, Intercooler Flap Switches and the final knob right is the Cockpit Light Rheostat. Left side lever panel is excellent, but slightly complex to use... there are some very good guidelines in the manual on how to get the best out of the operating conditions of the Allison V-1710-113 V-12 liquid-cooled turbo-supercharged piston engine, 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) WEP at 60 inHg (2.032 bar) and 3,000 rpm (the Right-hand rotation is fitted to the starboard engine). The red levers are obviously the twin Throttles, set next to them are the Propeller Governor levers and the Propeller Selector Switches are set centre panel. Top panel left are the twin Mixture levers and an Air Filter Control. There are four modes for mixture: Idle Cut-off, Auto Lean, Auto Rich and Emergency Rich.... The engines each drive a Curtiss Electric, constant speed propeller. The desired prop RPM is selected by the pilot via the Prop Levers, and a governor adjusts the pitch of the propeller blades in order to achieve the desired RPM.... On the side is a very nice Elevator Trim Tab Wheel. Armament panel covers the Bomb-drop Tank Master Switch, Bomb-drop Tank Selector and Arming Switches. Noted to right (arrowed) is the Landing Gear Control Handle. Buried deep down the left side of the seat is the Fuel panel. The P-38L aircraft is equipped with 2 Main tanks, (93 Gal Each) 2 Reserve Tanks (60 Gal Each), 2 Outer Wing Tanks (55 Gal Each) and can carry up to 2 Drop Tanks (165 Gal Each). And all are controlled via these two Fuel Tank Selectors, fuel needs to be pumped and those Fuel Pump Selectors are positioned below the tank selectors. There are five pumping options: Drop Tanks (if no drop tanks installed, this will also shutoff fuel flow), Outer Wing Tanks, Main Tanks, Cross Suction (Crossfeed – draws fuel from the opposite side) and Reserve Tanks. On the floor is the; Oxygen Flow Indicator and Oxygen Knob. The yellow indicator is the Rudder Trim Tab Control... .... on the yoke are three items, one is the (red) Dive Flap Control, and set behind on the arm are two switches (arrowed) that cover the Bomb/Rocket Selector Switch and the Gun/Camera Selector Switch. On the right is the Flap Lever Control, Bendix/King KT76 Transponder and ICOM IC-A210E Radio, deep down the right side of the seat is a Aileron Boost Control Lever (non-working). Menus The menus are accessed via pressing the centre of the yoke, this brings up an iPhone style interface and menu selection. it is called the "FlyingIron UI Tablet" There are eleven selections. First one left is AVITAB, the Avitab plugin is built into the aircraft plugins folder so you don't need to download the plugin separately. Second tab is CHECKLISTS, which is pretty basic, next is FLIGHT SETUP which is basically a ‘Weight & Balance’ page. It can be used to set fuel loads, check the aircraft weights & distribution, adjust & reference the CG Position & change various Aircraft configuration settings. External Tanks can be set and toggled ON/OFF here also. Fourth tab top row is the (default) GARMIN530 GPS. This selection will install the GNS530 on the lower part of the main instrument panel, and of course the pop-up panel is also available... The first two selections on the second row are noted as MAPS (but it is the X-plane Map screen as a Popup window) and IOS STATION which again just opens the default Instructor Operation Station (IOS) window. Third tab second row is the GROUND SERVICES which allows for configuring Static elements on/off as well as replacing the X-plane default Ground Services window. (Static Elements... Chocks, Tie-Downs and GPU are not yet available). Fourth tab is the EFIS which features additional digital Flight Instruments for reference in flight, two Forward looking cameras, as well as an Autopilot Control Panel (functional). Some user note that the P-38 didn't have an autopilot, well the last versions for aerial survey work did, but not like here in a S-Tec Fifty Five? (a lot of the functions on the S-Tec don't actually yet work, the heading for instance) There is a COMMS tab, but it doesn't work either (will be a pop-up Radio panel) and an AIRSHOW FX? selection that is also still underdevelopment. There is another separate menu in the SETTINGS PAGE, this is accessed via the gear icon bottom right. Currently it only shows the option to turn engine damage off or on. Flying the P-38L Lighting You sit extremely close to those propellers, and the engines are also set close either side of you.... Engine start-up is different everytime as one or the other the other Allison V-1710-113 V-12 won’t always catch straight away, so you make take multiple attempts to fire them up, again there is a lot of help in the manual. it is noted "custom starter system to more realistically recreate the difficulties of starting up a massive engine like the Alison V-1710. Therefore, please pay careful attention to the checklist and ensure all steps are completed in order, otherwise you may have a difficult time starting the engines." Flying Iron have gone out of their way to capture real FMOD Sounds designed and built from professional recordings of a real P-38 and Allison V-1710 aero engines, they certainly feel (even in their bass movement) very realistic in the cockpit. What I am not crazy about is the sometimes static animation of the propellers in an attempt to create a slight engine hesitation at idle speeds, it doesn't work and looks crappy.... it is not really needed either? A bit of power and your away, you can use the throttle of the left or right engine to help in turns, the P-38L feels very nice on the move... the two main wheels are equipped with differential toe brakes, as well as a free- castoring nosewheel. The nosewheel is easily steered either by using rudder inputs for slight turns, or by using differential braking to pull the nosewheel into a sharper angle and that allows for a sharp turn. .... you sit high, very high and even feel a little exposed (to being shot at) and at the same time it feels very closed in, but without the taildown feel and the level taxi view the P-38L feels more like a modern jet fighter than a WW2 relic... There is a very nice pilot figure in full WW2 flying gear, but he is not animated. Almost immediately you are faced with a dilemma, the Altitude instrument is buried behind the left yoke handle and the Airspeed Indicator is barely visible either? and all the primary instruments are all very badly placed.... your choice is hard, in being authentic or hide the yoke? you really have no choice. You put the twin-throttles up and they don't seem to cut the air... then they catch in with huge thump as you are suddenly propelled forward. To note that the main gear is slightly floating above the ground, were as the nose wheel is correct, giving the aircraft a sort of slight nose down feel on the ground. You simply shoot like a bullet down the runway, the aircraft is amazingly fast, it will stay completely straight as well because there is no single propeller asymmetric blade effect on the P-38L, the counter-rotating blades work to eliminate out those usual yaw tendencies, but you still sort of hang on hard and a bit like being a bareback rodeo rider on the back of a bull in trying to control all that power and speed via gripping the yoke with absolute gutso. The Lighting takes or gulps up a lot of runway before gripping the air around 150 MPH, but once it takes hold.... ... you can then use all of that famous available climb rate to it's best advantage. Officially it is a Rate of climb: 4,750 ft/min (24.1 m/s), or nearly 5,000 fpm, and you feel it and love it. For an eighty year old aircraft the performance in the P-38L is simply phenomenal, with a top speed of 414 mph (666 km/h, 360 kn) on Military Power: 1,425 hp (1,063 kW) at 54 inHg (1.829 bar), 3,000 rpm and 25,000 ft (7,620 m) or a cruise 275 mph (443 km/h, 239 kn) it is almost early jet fighter performance... .... but you can't push your luck too far either with an 80 year old aircraft. Keep the power on hard and climb too steeply and the Allison V-1710 engines will revolt with streams of black smoke and a loss of top end power, this was an earlier flight! You can turn off the "Damage/Wear" setting but it is very good here, a note is that you have to comfort the aircraft to get the best performance out of it. There are a lot of details for the best "Engine Management" via the Supercharger, Manifold regulators and the Intercoolers, Temperature & Fluids need a careful eye as well. So there is a lot of depth from Flying Iron in the way you manage these decades old systems. 10,000ft was super easy at a cruisy 200 MPH and 2500 fpm climb rate, at 175 MPH you can climb slightly harder and faster, but you have to look around the yoke to see the Altitude dial all the time or shift your view left and stay there. When climbing however above 10,000ft, the electric fuel booster pumps must be set to ON & to EMERGENCY MODE, otherwise the engines will not receive sufficient fuel pressure. .... trimming and finding that aircraft balance is super easy, the P-38L will sit there with minimum input and just cruise, in reality the autopilot is not required (the heading adjustment doesn't work anyway). So slight adjustments are all that is required to the Elevator Trim to find that sweet spot. The P-38 was well renowned for it's very easy flying capabilities that sort of coaxed pilots into a false sense of security, it may have been those none pressuring counter-rotating propellers, combined with a natural nice balance of the airframe that made this aircraft extremely easy to fly and for long distances of a combat range of 1,300 mi (2,100 km, 1,100 nmi), of which was the P-38s forte (A ferry range with external tanks was an exceptional 3,300 mi (5,300 km, 2,900 nmi). This benign characteristic only obviously compounded the dangers of the compressibility stalls. I like the way the V-1710 engines don't run perfectly performance wise aligned, to do that you have to adjust the throttle levers, keep them together and they feel quite different in their different power outputs. If flying really high then oxygen to the pilot can be switched on the via the red shutoff valve, the valve located on the floor aft of the control column and the movement of the blinker indicates oxygen is flowing to the pilot. Lighting The P-38s lightning is pretty basic overall, just two adjustments covers the instrument background lighting, and a side frame mounted spot light facing the instrument panel, but be warned in taking the spotlight too low in that it is very hard to re-find the knob... ... but it is a nice cockpit to be in at night. External lighting is also basic, Navigation lights, Position (tail) lights and one left wing landing light covers it. KRAL Landing The zone between flying and having a serious stall is quite small on the P-38L, your goal is an approach speed of 150 MPH, but that is easier to say than done, the aircraft just wants to stall at that critical point, total stall is noted at 105 mph (169 km/h, 91 kn), but here it feels far higher than that... ... put the gear down and the drag makes it even worse, so the Lightning is quite a handful in this slow gear down configuration. Set the flaps to full down and the loss of power will suddenly stall you, so your aim is 150 MPH with the flaps down and to do that action beforehand at height as yes the drag here is so significant, and if you are at a low height you could simply stall yourself into to ground. Approach height is also significant, you can't be too high or too low, you sort of have to perfectly angle yourself in at just below that 150 MPH speed limit, your aim is for a slope or glideslope of around 120 MPH to 130 MPH... ... it is extremely hard to get right as all that is screaming loud in your head is "STALL, STALL, STALL"... so you need nerves of steel to hold it right. Your aim is for a final over fence of around 100 MPH, and then a slight flare to settle you down onto the runway... that is the general idea, but translating it into real flying is something quite different... ... so the landing phase requires a lot of practise and notably hitting the speed and altitude marks perfectly, and the P-38L is absolutely totally unforgiving if you get it wrong, in that aspect it is a very hard aircraft to land and requires a lot of practise to get it absolutely perfectly right... the landing aspect in the P-38 is very demanding and requires skill. Liveries There are nine liveries and all are very authentic to the period. There are some famous P-38 aircraft in there as well including the Yippee, Marge, California cutie, Isty Bitsy, The Flying Dutchman, Wishful Thinking and the default is Down Beat. Summary This is Flying Iron's fourth aircraft for the X-Plane simulator after the Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc then a glider called the Glob, in the Lockheed P-38L Lightning. This is the Twin-Engined-Twin Boom tailed aircraft that was one of the most significant aircraft in the Second World War Pacific Theatre, the P-38 it was also highly accountable over Europe as well for it's high altitude long-range escort fighter and aerial reconnaissance roles. Flying Iron focus on these excellent warbirds, and the Classic P-38L is very well recreated here. Modeling and period detail is simply extraordinary, their metal and mapping skills are very, very good, this is certainly a very good Lightning aircraft. There are no areas to fault in the extensive cockpit detailing, as the authenticity is spot on and you feel the P-38L in all it's magnificence, sounds are of the real Allison V-1710 aero engines and sound excellent, most of the aircraft's systems are in depth with great wear and tear features to give the aircraft an aging feel. You also have to manage this warbird well to get the maximum performance and durability out of the airframe, it is also easy to fly and then damn hard to land, the famous compressibility stalls are well replicated here as is the working dive flaps to get you out of trouble. The aircraft is also totally VR - Virtual Reality ready. Overall the aircraft is sensational, but there is a lack of final finish in the final details and bugs. Menu's are not completed (static elements, missing apps), annoying propeller static animations (seriously annoying) and even the manual if even already comprehensive is still missing vital areas, main gear wheels are also not in touch of the ground... again the aircraft is just one of those projects that needed an extra month to wrap up the details and no doubt a few updates will cover the missing or buggy items quickly, but for the price you could expect the P-38L to be more finalised as it is worthy of the price, an update Skunkcrafts application is however included with the package. Flying Iron do turn out exceptional warbirds and this P-38L Lightning is certainly worthy of joining that already established stable of classic aircraft for X-Plane. Brilliant and terrifying to fly in the same breath it is a very demanding but a thoroughly satisfying aircraft to fly, the performance aspects alone are incredible for an aircraft created 80 years ago, and you see the linage back then to the modern fighter aircraft of today, the P-38 was a forerunner of the platform of the many roles that modern fighter/bomber aircraft perform in perspective. Incredibly well done, the P-38L is certainly worthy of your fighter line up, if you also love old these warbirds then it is simply a must have aircraft. ______________________________________________ The Lockheed P-38L Lightning by Flying Iron Studios is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : P-38L Lightning Your Price: $40.00 Key Features High-quality, extensively detailed and accurate 3D Model Ultra-realistic, high-res Texture work (built with the aid of photogrammetry) Immersive FMOD Sound design built from professional recordings of a real P-38 and Allison V-1710 9 included liveries, including Richard Bong’s iconic livery. Professional quality nose art included in many liveries. Detailed & Extensive simulations of the Lightnings core systems, including accurate, code-driven replications of the Lightnings Fuel, Hydraulic, Propeller, Cooling and Electrical Systems. All systems are programmed to function virtually identically to the real-world P-38 Systems. Almost all default X-plane systems have been overridden and/or enhanced significantly. Incredibly realistic Flight Model made possible with carefully data-matched simulations of the NACA 23016 & NACA 4412 Airfoils. Flight performance has been verified against real-world Performance & handling tests to ensure extensive realism. We’ve gone so far as to model the drag from individual coolant flaps! Custom heat & thermodynamics modelling, extensive engine management simulation Realistic Engine Start-up modelling (don’t forget your checklists!) Realistic External Tanks Integration Custom damage modelling & failures, including heat damage & operating limits Fitted with 4 x .50 Cal Nose guns and a 20mm Nose Gun by default, and also compatible with X-planes weapons systems (bombs). 3D Garmin 530 GPS fully integrated into the cockpit (optional) Modern Radio / Transponder Unit AviTab Integration Inclusion of FlyingIrons UI Tablet (optional). The tablet incorporates many useful GUI features and puts them in an easily accessible and realistic in-cockpit Touchscreen Tablet. Included in the tablet is: Settings Page / Config Flight Setup / Weight & Balance Page (Custom – Graphical) AviTab GPS & Radio toggles X-plane Map & IOS apps Ground Services app VR Ready Custom Particle FX Detailed User Manual & Checklists Requirements X-Plane 11- VR Ready Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (August 26th 2020) Download Size: 1.9 Gb : Install Size 2.65Gb Documentation : includes an extensive 43 page manual... P38-User-Manual _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 5th September 2020 Copyright©2020 : 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) 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 SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.41 (Tested in v11.50RC2-fine) Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini/Yamaha Speakers Plugins: : XPRealistic Pro v2 effects US$19.95 (highly recommended with the P38L) Scenery or Aircraft - KRAL - Riverside Municipal by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.99
  2. First Impression Review : Grob G109B/Vigilant T1 by FlyingIron FlyingIron? this isn't a wartime warbird like the Spitfire Mk IXc and the hunking Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, or even the announced F117 NightHawk that was broadcast back in May, and a Grob... and what hell is a Grob? Second impression was the Grobby download size... it's 2gb, yes 2GB for a glider! and installed it swells out to 3.09GB, it better be good for that size of file. But this is FlyingIron Simulations and they are a very good developer, and so you will take it all on the nose, and see what they have done before making any more forward assumptions. The Grob G109 is a light aircraft (motorised glider) developed by Grob Aircraft AG of Mindelheim Mattsies in Germany. It first flew (G109 prototype and then in production G109A form) in 1980 and the G109B followed in 1984. It is a two-seat self-launching motor glider in which the pilot and passenger or student sit side by side, with good visibility that is provided by the large canopy windows. The Vigilant T1 version was first brought into UK service in 1991 where it was used to train the Combined Cadet Force & the Air Training Corps in the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons. Length is 8.1 m (26 ft 7 in) with that 17.4 m (57 ft 1 in) wingspan with a wing area of 19 m2 (200 sq ft). (edited Wikipieda) This being Flying Iron, then a quality aircraft is a given, and my first impression is that is exactly what you get with the G109B... .... quality is sensational and the aircraft is highly detailed, eyes go to excellent curved glass that is perfect here in shape and reflections, but the full lines of the composite design from glass-reinforced plastic are all very well done. The two perspex doors which open upwards individually, which is a modification from the original one-piece G109A canopy are also extremely well done, but they can be tricky to relock from the inside, and in using the wrong position it then will only open them again, and again..... and again. But the animation is excellent, with a lifting of the doors and with the way of the release of the catch/latch, then the reverse when closing, it is all very realistic. The detail is pretty seemless, but it is also well done. A replicated Grob 2500 E1 horizontally opposed, four-cylinder, air-cooled petrol engine that develops approximately 95 bhp (71 kW) at 2,950 rpm can be seen through the lower air vents, wheels are clean and basic, and the aircraft is a tail-dragger. Simplicity is the order of the day, but it is all very well done here. Instrument panel detail is excellent with that amazing stitched leather surround and authentic dust. Mini-iPad dominates the panel and can be freely adjusted to your liking... .... lovely seats are worn and stained, and the stick between your legs is short and fine (I mean the aircraft's!) , but note highly-realistic seatbelts and the exceptional headphones that are usable by clicking them. The Vigilant version is quite different inside, the seating is a RAF red, but it is all just as nicely detailed. Instrument panel is a basic layout, as it should be on a trainer aircraft. Flying instruments are on the left and engine readouts are on the right... ... with switchgear below, avionics are a basic radio and transponder. Vigilant version panel is quite a different layout and more comprehensive. There is eight flying instruments including a clock on the left with a full artificial horizon and g-meter, two large dials for RPM, Co-Pilot Airspeed and Slip indicator are on the right with the Engine gauges above, and the switchgear is moved to centre lower panel... other changes are the military Radio and XPDR Transponder. .... other movements are the whiskey compass from the top of the instrument panel to the roof on the Vigilant, the fuel tank switch is in a different place as well. Military grey is the instrument panel surround material in here and it all very much looks the part. Menu, Features and Options The mini-iPad has a lot of tools, but a few are simply X-Plane default items... Avitab intergration is top of the list with Navigraph (subscription required) charts available. There is GNS (Garmin) 530 GPS that will pop-up and another selection that will bring up a EFIS style flight-display. It has all the tools to use with the GNS 350 as well as an autopilot function... Together they are a nice set of tools, and no I am not going to fly a glider to the south of France from the UK by the route loaded... .... other tools are default: MAPS - X-plane Map screen, IOS - Instructor Operating Station, for advanced training routines and GND Services - Ground Services menu, for a glider? very odd... there is a Checklist tool but it is not yet operational. I also had a few freezes and desktop crashes from using the iPad menu and GNS530, so be careful currently using it? There isn't any static elements, except for wing tie-downs. And to hide them you have to use the aircraft internal view to toggle the tie-down (a key save is a good idea)... there is a hand manipulator that shows on the propeller (and internally), but I can't see what it does? Aircraft is VR (Virtual Reality) ready and has the Librain (Wet/Rain) effects featured. Skunkworks auto-updater is also included. Lighting This is really a daytime aircraft, so the lighting is not really a major focus or aspect here..... just instrument panel lighting via a switch is noted and it has no adjustment, but it is not a directly lit or behind the instrument lighting setup, but really just an overhead light, that reflects badly on the instruments... .... a single blobby landing light is effective, as is the navigation and white tail light, strobes are nice as well. Sounds: Yes you get real G109B Sounds that have been recorded & mixed by a professional sound engineer & fully integrated via FMOD and plus the fully-functional & optional pilot headphones realism... yes it all works and the sounds are highly impressive and supreamly realistic, the Grob motor feel and chuck-chuck audio is excellent... Liveries Six liveries include two Air Cadet (Vigilant) liveries, mostly all are UK reg, and the Air Display is excellent. Flight Model and Flying Impressions: Starting the Grob 2500 E1 always needs some Carb Heat, even in warm weather, otherwise the perky little 95 bhp (71 kW) petrol engine bursts into life. You have hydraulic brakes on the left & right main wheels and they can be operated via the toe-brakes on the rudder pedals. But the normal X-Plane key commands don't work in here, the park brake or regular braking is missing if you have them set on on your keyboard, or like me on my joystick? so in effect you have no brakes? The only option is to pull the ineffective parking brake knob on the console. The very first impression is that the Grob does not feel at all like a glider, but more of a very small general aviation or ultralight aircraft... the aircraft taxi's like one as well.... but watch those loooong wide wings, I do also really like those lower windows, and they are a great help while taxiing. Notes on the tail-wheel... To Unlatch you steer the tailwheel past its maximum 35 degree range by using asymmetrical braking to force the aircraft into a hard turn. A soft ‘clunk’ sound will be heard when the wheel unlatches from the steering mechanism. To Latch again you centre the aircraft and the rudder pedals and then wiggle the pedals until you get the "clunk" sound of a lock, otherwise you just use the tailwheel with the rudder angle. Takeoff distance is 316m (1037ft), and I am still completely not aware I am flying a glider? The Grob taxi's, takesoff and flies just like any very small light tail-dragger? obviously those wings are going to give you huge lift, but there is nothing really abnormal in here, you just fly the aircraft like... well a normal aircraft. top cruise speed is 110knts View out is excellent for a small light aircraft, but probably slightly restricted as a glider.... ..... I absolutely love the trim lever, easy to use and effective in small adjustments... perfect. The iPad EFIS style flight-display is extremely small on the right of the Vigilant, and not much better on the standard panel. So you have to get in really, really close to use it (or even see the numbers), a key view is certainly required for use... otherwise it is pretty good if simple tool. You have be careful climbing, the Grob doesn't take to climbing quickly and runs off speed faster than hitting a 50knt wind, so you will very quickly find yourself in a bad stall... it's nasty stuff in this position. So the max climb with at least 100knts is required to be not over 550fpm, 630fpm is your absolute max climb angle... or! So it can take time to climb up to say 10,000ft or 12,000ft with a max ceiling of 6,000 m (20,000 ft). Different propeller modes in Climb (11º) - Cruise (16º) - Any (feathered-87º) need to be strictly adhered to with the Prop Control Lever, and It absolutely hates crosswinds as well and with 20knt as the max blusters, those wings are not easily held in high winds either. Carb-icing is also a constant threat, so you have to be very aware in the Grob. To go into glider mode you have to pull a large handle in the centre of the panel to feather and disconnect the drive to the propeller... Turn off the engine and it all goes weirdly quiet, with just the very realistic wind noises to keep you company... aircraft control (trimmed) is excellent, but you don't get that pure feel that is in a tight glider, this is a heavier aircraft than the plastic bubble you usually recline in. Maximum glide ratio is 28 at 115 km/h (71 mph; 62 kn) and the best glide ratio is 1:28 at 62knts with noted G limits of +5.3 -2.65. A windmilling engine restart may be performed in-air or during gliding, and can be used to restart the engine without the need of the starter motor. This can be used to save power, as well as in the event of an emergency, starter failure or a weak/drained battery. I had a few heart stopping moments when the engine refused to restart? I tried a few times but I think I flooded the carb, and after a slight dive and using the prop (windmilling) it finally caught...and yes the sound was music to my ears, but I found the event very authentic as well. One area that is difficult is that you have no tools for positioning, no VOR pointers, or ADF, only a small map or the Navigraph on the EFIS, so you can easily get lost up here and have no tools to find your way back to the airport, and I miss those and the adjustable course pointer to get your lineup to the runway angle. With no flaps you will need to use the highly effective airbrakes to rub off the speed, Stall is around 40knts, but those long wings give you plenty of balance on finals... But no brakes (fine if you have rudder pedals) means you roll along forever trying to lose the speed, turning will help and so would a grass strip landing, but overall it feels unsafe, and worse is you can't park (stop) the Grob where you want to? Negatives: It feels still a bit not finished off, nothing major but (even noted) a few bugs and points requiring attention but not in the modeling and internal detailing as it is absolutely first rate, the brakes are obviously an issue for me without any rudder pedals, but even with them you need braking action. A few more elements would be nice, and the manual although highly detailed is noted and looks like a rush job. Needs a bit of practice and gliding skills to get the very best out of the aircraft. Very heavy 2gb and 3gb download and install, so you have to watch your graphic texture limit. First Impressions Overall excellent, beautifully modeled and designed that is two versions with the standard Grob and the RAF Air-Cadet Vigilant with different panel layouts. Avionics are very basic and overall it feels and flies like a General Aviation aircraft that you can turn the engine off and glide around. I would say that this aircraft is not a pure glider per se, but brilliant for learners and the experts. FlyingIron are excellent developers so you can expect a quality aircraft in all areas, and that is what you get here, but still with the usual fine tuning and last bugs. Nice to fly and balance (CofG needs to be set) with great trim response gives you great in the air feedback, but the climb rate is low and the Grob has a deathly stall zone. No brakes needs to be refined as you need basic controls or a switch from rudder pedal control back to normal X-Plane brake control. Sounds are exceptional. Yes loved it completely, but I feel I would need a bit more practice and the right weather (thermal) conditions to find out what the Grob really can do... Highly Recommended. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! Grob G109B/Vigilant T1 by FlyingIron is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Grob G109B/Vigilant T1 Price is US$34.95 Features Professional Flight Model; tested & approved by a team of real-world G109B Pilots, including ex-RAF instructors Incredibly Detailed 3D Artwork & Texturing; recreation of a real G109b flown by one of our test pilots as well as a Vigilant T1 Real G109B Sounds - The true sounds of a real G109b, recorded & mixed by a professional sound engineer & fully integrated via FMOD (plus fully-functional & optional pilot headphones) Detailed, Custom Airfoil Simulation of the Eppler E580 Wing Airfoil Realistic & Detailed Simulation of the Hoffman HO-V62R/L 160T Propeller & it’s 3-Stage, mechanically actuated blade pitch system. Aircraft Ownership & Persistent State-saving Hi-Fidelity Custom Avionics Simulation; powered by SASL & Xlua Hi-Fidelity, Code-driven simulation of all aircraft systems & features for an incredibly realistic experience (tested & approved by our G109b Pilot Team). This includes Ground-Handling, Braking & Hydraulics, Flight Systems & Mechanics, Electrical & Fuel Systems , Avionics, Engine Management & more Tablet GUI Simulation - Access key features & settings via a fully functional, simulated Tablet. Adjustable & fully interactive Includes 2 Complete Aircraft Simulations - The Grob G109b & the RAF edition, the Vigilant T1. Each has a unique cockpit design & features and can be toggled in-sim 5 Included Liveries + A Paintkit (Paintkit to be released in Update 1.1) LibRain Canopy Rain FX Integration VR Ready External Static Elements Custom “Light-show” livery & Fireworks FX ______________________________________________________________________ Requirements : X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2 Gb Current and Review version : 1.0 (November 16th 2019) ______________________________________________________________________ First Impression Review by Stephen Dutton 19th November 2019 Copyright©2019: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 1Tb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 11.40 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini : Headshake by SimCoders Plugins: Environment Engine v1.12 by xEnviro US$69.90 : - EGGD - Bristol International Definitive by Pilot+Plus (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$25.95
  3. News! - In Development : F117 NightHawk by Flying Iron Flying Iron Studios have moved on from their WW2 antiques to something more modern, well Gulf War current any way... The F117 NightHawk. The stealthy, stealthy "Wobblin' Goblin" is coming to your local simulator... WIP cockpit images from Flying Iron are already being posted. The F117 got it's infamous moniker "Wobblin' Goblin" because in reality the aircraft is not a balanced or even flyable machine. It uses computers to create the flying elements to make the aircraft fly, and low speeds are well... interesting. But let us not forget those images of the the NightHawks flying over Bagdad... no release date is yet noted or price, but it will be a very interesting aircraft from this very up and coming developer studio. Images are courtesy of Flying Iron Flying Iron Development site ________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 1st May 2019 Copyright©2019: 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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