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Classic Aircraft Review : Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc by FlyingIron "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" The quote is from a wartime speech made by the British prime minister Winston Churchill on 20 August 1940. It is an iconic quote and usually accompanied by the usual iconic image of a Spitfire, the fighter machine that was flown by the few that we owe so much to. In reality it was the numbers of the cheaper Hawker Hurricane that was the backbone of the RAF in 1939/1940 and in the Battle of Britain in that fateful summer. But the Supermarine Spitfire was a class aircraft on it's own, only problem was we couldn't build them fast enough. The Spitfire aircraft also had an achilles heel in that it was a carburettor design on its powerful Rolls Royce Merlin (PV-12) V-12 piston aero-engine of 27-litres (1,650 cu in) capacity. Take the aircraft into the wrong G - force or steep dive and the power spluttered, but it was a miracle in manoeuvrability and could out-turn almost anything, but mostly Bf-109's. Although mostly related to the earlier World War ll battles the Spitfire was actually more effective later in the war with the later Mk IX's over the most built V's (6,487) and it was by then a far more formidable weapon and more so as high-speed photo-reconnaissance aircraft. But it was still that higher victory-to-loss ratio in the Battle of Britain that sealed the aircraft's legendary status. This is the second aircraft from Flying Iron after their after the Republic P-47N Thunderbolt, which in my eyes was the most ugliest aircraft to ever fly. This Spitfire is also the second Spitfire for X-Plane after the RW Design's version but that was a Mark l and released three years ago for X-Plane10. X-Plane design and detail has come a long way in three years. And FlyingIron are a very highly skilled development studio. I have seen enough Spitfires in my time to know when it is detailed correctly (yes I have sat in one as well). And the FlyingIron version is very good. The newer X-Plane PBR effects certainly help, but the NML files are really well done (NML is the effect of raising areas of the modeling or bumps, say here the rivets) and the rivets and ribs are done with precision and so are the construction panels of the aircraft... ... the modeling of the surfaces are also excellent, the wings and tailplane shapes are perfect as is the ribbed rudder construction. Glass is the deal breaker, but glass today is usually now always very good. But still getting it right can be the difference between good and really great... Thankfully here is it is perfect. The undercarriage on the Spitfire is quite basic, Early models (prior to the 175th production aircraft) actually had no hydraulic gear extension system, and were pumped up with a lever, later versions had a pump driven by the engine. So don't expect huge detail here, but it is still good, with the correct in wheel housing wing ribs showing, as is the protruding oil cooler and the supercharger-intercooler radiators (the radiators on both wings note it is a later version). The bubble acrylic canopy that was a new material at the start of WW2 replaced the earlier heavier glass canopies, but acrylic was perfect for a fighter. There are a few scratches on the top of the bubble for realism, but the great detail is the finger/hand marks on the rear left window, that you touch to get into the aircraft is a nice touch of detail. The bubble's convex is perfect upwards and outwards for realism, the new rain effects (librain) work on the glass surfaces also... ... the front hardened glass is well done as well, with the clearer gunsight area laid out in the box centre, which is a nice detail. Open the canopy and drop the little left door to see inside, and this is what I call the "classic airshow view", you can look in to the cockpit but don't touch... ... I have as mentioned sat in a Spit, so the view and detail is very authentic here, it is quite tight and confined when in there. The first thoughts on the detail is the excellent use of the brass and copper piping within the cockpit... a clever detail, because for one it shows you the age of the aircraft, but also gives the cockpit a very authentic feel than the usual painted piping. The detail of the pipe routing is excellent and mostly here for the gear, with the correct clips and holders to place the piping perfectly. The "Emergency" red lever is a powered CO2 cylinder backup for the undercarriage. Wiring is really well done and flexible where required (move the throttle to see great movement). The famous Spitfire stick is also well done in detail. (Note again the wiring to the trigger button) and here it is not the usual red button, but a realistic push trigger. Stick animation is excellent, and highly realistic... you can see it was created for the confines of the cockpit and to bend around the pilot's legs. Instrument panel Close up the instrument layout is actually quite basic. The Standard six are centre mounted on a separate plate on or above the main panel. These instrument include L to R top row; IAS Gauge (MPH) - Artificial Horizon - Climb (Descent) Rate, Lower row; Barometric Altitude - Magnetic Compass - Turn & Slip Indicator (The slip and turn indicators are really well recreated and is RAF period authentic) Left panel top to bottom is : Nav Light switch, and Flap control (up or down), Oxygen Regulator Control Valve + Oxygen Gauges, Clock, Magnetos, Elevator Trim Gauge, Pneumatic Pressure Gauge (brakes). Magneto switches are far left. Right panel top to bottom is : Voltmeter, Engine RPM, Engine Boost Gauge, Supercharger Control & FS Indicator Light, Oil & Radiator Temperature Gauges, Fuel Quantity Gauge... Main Fuel Tank ON/OFF Control is lower central by the large Primary Compass Left (Port) panel levers and controls cover top (the box) Radio System, Mixture Control Lever (red handle), Throttle, AirScrew Control (Propeller). Rear... Elevator Trim Wheel and Rudder Trim bias, Radflap (Radiator Control), Pitot Heat, Fuel Booster Pump and the Carburettor air filter control (Shut lever to keep out the dust on the ground). Right (Starboard) panel top has the famous Wobble Pump for priming the Engine, Undercarriage Control Lever, Oxygen Flow Control Valve and the already mentioned CO2 cylinder for the gear release. There is also a windscreen De-Icing system. Like most cockpit layouts it looks initially complicated, but by using the instruments and knobs and levers it soon becomes familiar as it is quite a simply layout. Menu Touch the right side mid-panel and you get a pop-up menu panel. Created for VR (Virtual Reality) in mind it is really well intergrated into the feel of the aircraft... it is called the "VR/GUI box", fancy! The main radio set is set out here to dial in the frequencies, the A,B,C,D buttons are the set choices and you can switch to these frequencies via the "Radio" box on the left side of the instrument panel in the same A,B,C,D selection. Volume knob is below. Other menu selections cover (Most are toggle switches): Static Elements (Chocks and Tiedown) and a period Ground Power Unit (GPU). GPS (Garmin 530) can be used set under the panel, the default pop-out can be seen, but I had window within window issues in keeping it on screen? You have the option of having the RAF Reflector Sight attached or not... Beautifully recreated this is the standard Mk IID Gyro reflector gunsight. Gunsight switch and brightness knob is below left under the gunsight... .... fully adjustable, FlyingIron notes the gunsight still needs more development in the cross-hair areas. There is an external fuel tank (90 Gallons) but not set out under the wings but directly under the belly of the aircraft... ... the tank switch is buried on the floor right of the pilot's seat. Other items include Batteries (note the real Spitfire has no battery or electrical controls in the cockpit - as in real life the batteries were connected to the terminal on the ground by the ground-crew). Optional Landing Light for Night-Operations. And a Toggle AP that sets the aircraft straight and wings level... in other words you fly in a straight line and at the same altitude for as long as you would want to... or until the fuel runs out. You can switch between the Merlin 66 & Merlin 70 Engine (essentially converting your Spitfire from a LF - Low altitude fighter to a HF - High altitude fighter version series engine with two-stage, two-speed superchargers and vice versa). And the difference of a two-stage, two-speed supercharger is actively simulated here when selected. One button is still in development with the Radio for the Transponder. The Spitfire comes in four versions... the standard above in both Merlin 66 and 70 versions and the clipped wing versions of Merlin 66 and 70. There are actually five different Spitfire wing types in, Type A, B, C, D and E wings but mostly it was to accommodate the different in wing armament designs, the "clipped" version was created to take on the speed of the Bf-109 as part of the the above LF (low altitude) package, so sometimes they are called "LF's". At 10,000ft the clipped-wing Spitfire proved the faster by a small margin of about 5 mph. But above 15.000ft the speeds were about the same, however at all level speed runs the clipped-wing Spitfire accelerated faster than the standard Spitfire. Flying the Spitfire First is to note that the Flying Iron Spitfire uses a lot of custom commands, and mostly on your keyboard, so you will have to set them all up and save them as customized for the aircraft. So a lot of your standard X-Plane default commands don't work or will be replaced with the custom versions. I personally don't like this because my keyboard is set up a certain way for continuity, and changing things around to suit the developer can cause confusion of where is set where. I also took me ages (before the manual was updated) to even release the parking brakes, even now they are hard to use but workable. They are set up for the rudder pedal toe pressures. And there is two custom commands in one (the main one) "Wheel Brakes" and the other is the "Parking Brake" in the custom setting and you do not use the default X-Plane braking setting. It works like this... Press the "Parking Brake" key to release the brakes (it is the handle behind the grip on the stick) and then use the "Wheel Brakes" key to brake the aircraft, to reapply the parking brake then use the "Wheel Brakes" keys to get to full brake hold... and then press the "Parking Brake" again to hold it parked (or lock it). Set up correctly on the joystick made it easier to use, than the keyboard. and a lot of the custom commands are like this. Another X-Plane command is essential and that is the "Toggle_Tailwheel Lock", into lock off or the release of the tailwheel. Only the real Pro's can taxi a taildragger like this, for the rest of us we have to sort of cheat. Starting the Spit This is a cantankerous pre-WW2 aircraft, so starting it can be easy if your luck holds or drive you insane. Reading the manual (printing it out helps) in the start sequence. But it goes like this: First turn the Battery/GPU . (power) on, both are on the VR/GUI... Then you move the throttle until the Indicator switch comes on, the red "Fuel Pressure" light right panel and the "DOWN" light also illuminates, then Prop Control full-forward (Below the throttle). Then the mixture lever to full idle (the red topped lever). Then the "Carb Air Filter" lever to closed (Forward, arrowed below left). Fuel Tanks and Fuel Cock to ON lower panel.... as there is no electrical circuits the fuel gauge doesn't actually work, to see your fuel capacity then press the button by the gauge (upper red arrow). Throttle to ½ open position, then press the "Booster Pump" switch under the Trim Wheel (FlyingIron recommend to use a key input for the booster switch)... you can use the "wobble" pump if you want to have your jollies, and either will prime the fuel until the red "Fuel Pressure" light goes out. Primer is hard to find as it is not noted in the manual or looks like the usual pull out knob, but it is a large turn knob right panel (arrowed above) turns required are noted in the manual for the various conditions. Flip up the two Starter Coil/Booster Coil Safety Covers to expose the "Booster Coil and Starter Coil" buttons... Mixture now to full forward (the red top lever by the throttle) and finally turn on the two magneto switches far, far left panel. To start you have to press the two Booster Coil/Starter Coil buttons together, which is impossible with a single mouse input, so your only option is to a set a key input on the booster coil button via the key selections then press both buttons both via the mouse and key at the same time... And whammo! the Merlin should then fire into life!... Note the excellent particle effects coming out of the engine exhausts, they do however get quite flaming bright in flight. If the engine flames out then that effect is simulated. Clean up the aircraft by hiding the GPU (Starter) and controlling the warm up of the engine to finding a good idle without stalling the hard won power. Taxiing Using the brakes is first letting off the parking brake via your set "Parking Brake" custom key, then reapplying brake pressure via your other "Wheel Brakes" custom key or in my case the park trigger button on my joystick... you know the brakes are released by the loss of pressure on the left lower panel pressure gauge. If you have it set right when you press your "Wheel Brakes" key/trigger the brake pressure should go up again, to lock (or park) then as noted you press the "Parking Brake" key again... got it. Taxiing is an art in the Spitfire like all taildraggers, a bit of flipping the (toggling) caster wheel on the tail to stiff (set on my joystick pinky lever) and holding the brakes in a way to control direction with the rudder, you learn to use the throttle with the brakes on to turn in mostly to the left, then another throttle position to swing to the right, again while holding or releasing the brakes... and to hold your position to go straight you toggle the tailwheel stiff straight and hard right or left rudder to keep it fine tune straight.. tricky yes but doable with practise. The hard part is slowing down... hit the wheels or brakes too hard and you go nose over? Flying A well known trick for taking off in the Spitfire is to give the trim a bit of nose down, you have to find out the best setting for this trim to get the balance right as you lose the tailwheel off the ground and then get the airflow over the aerodynamic surfaces as it levels out the aircraft in pitch. Brakes off and power on, but feed in the throttle very slowly to keep a straight line (tailwheel locked) and use the rudder for small corrections... .... once the tail rises you can see forward, but the view sideways does help in keeping the line straighter. Use your rudder to control, and feel the airflow as it strengthens to keep it aligned straight. Spitfires love to bump or bounce on the ground when they reach flying speed, so a slight pull back on the stick when this movement starts with around 100 knts or 60 MPH and your finally flying... a Spitfire! The Spitfire will easily climb out at 2000 fpm while gaining speed, max climb is 2,150 ft/min at 10,000 ft (3,000 m), even so you feel 2000 fpm is no sweat or drag on the aircraft. Bang up the gear lever and hear the pressured air working away in the background. Climbing or building speed is not over using the throttle, just gradually move it forward until the aircraft feels happy, the throttle hard to the wall does not apply here. Supercharger control is all automatic, unless to turn it to manual, which isn't really needed, and move the throttle to see the supercharger working, the power rises... then the POWER rises as it kicks in (note the two-stage, two-speed kick), but don't over do it on the full on power setting unless you want serious engine troubles. Pilot is animated, but only to head turns, but the Tom Hardy looks good if you want to do a Dunkirk. Guns have to be armed (Master Arm Toggle), which is again another key setting, but your joystick standard "Fire" trigger will do the firing. This aircraft must use the drum-fed Hispano HS.404 cannons in each wing, as the installation here has the required large blisters on the wing to cover the 60-round drums. You can carry bombs as well and the Mk 82 series unguided bombs is the required armament specified by FlyingIron. The Spitfire has a top speed of 370 mph (322 kts 595 km/h), and a combat radius of 410 nmi (470 mi (756 km)). With the external tank the ferry range or the photo-reconnaissance version could cover 991 nmi (1,135 mi (1,827 km)). The RR Merlin 66 puts out 1,720 hp (1,283 kW) at 5,790 ft (1,765 m) using +18 psi boost and the RR Merlin 70 was 1,233 hp (920 kW) at 35,000 ft (10,668 m);and fitted with the noted two-speed, two-stage supercharger and a Bendix-Stromberg carburettor. Trim the Spitfire up and it will sit there all day on a pedestal, lovely to fly (It is one of the most renowned aircraft to fly) in balance and feel, turns are majestic, but watch you don't rub off altitude, so any banks need to be focused and controlled, with using the throttle with turns can smooth out the pitches. When aligned in balance then turn on the AP via the VR/GUI box (you can set another key input)... Sounds are all FMOD Sound Design with 50+ custom Sounds and you notice the dynamic multi-sounds that increase immersion and avoid that recognisable repetition chanting. The odd thing about the sounds in the Spit is that they are just so good, as you just feel them in the background than go searching for them, they blend more than stand out... perfect. The Spitfire will then stay perfectly aligned and level as long as you want it to, move the stick left or right and the aircraft will turn and bank cleanly for ease of flying and direction changing... then when ready centre the stick and the aircraft will simply resume its perfect straight course. Remember to re-trim if you disconnect the AP back to manual flying. Lighting The lighting is pretty basic, but this a WW2 fighter, not an airbus flightdeck. Two adjustable side mounted lights light up the panel... and quite nicely too. Externally FlyingIron provide a single landing light to compliment the red, green and single rear light navigation lights. Overall though you could see yourself flying home late at night from a Photo-Recon mission with your head down in the cockpit with the lighting. These wartime fighter aircraft are extremely hard to land like the Mustang and the Thunderbolt, and I expected the Spitfire to be another sweaty, tense, focused, grip the joystick death like sort of approach and landing. In fact the Spit was quite good, even nice to control and land. FlyingIron recommend to pitch up to lose speed and not to drop off the speed by keeping the throttle in a power band place. I agree with that, but it is easy to balance the Spitfire around the 100 MPH - 120 MPH band. FlyingIron recommend to drop the flap (Only full flap - barn door effect) on the final approach, but I found I could slow the Spitfire to just under 100 MPH and the slow to 80 MPH with ease, and the aircraft was very stable and easy to fly, with just the throttle inputs to keep the aircraft under control. A nice detail was when the flaps are down you get a small flap open on the top of the wing with the flap arms showing to note visually they are in the extended position.... Nice and authentic So the approach even with a gusty cross-wind was quite nice and easy.. so I loosened my grip a little and relaxed... The wind was creating a little full rudder sometimes (a known Spitfire quirk as it had a weak rudder), but the Spit was falling down to the runway with ease... slightly slower... ... slightly off the throttle and I was down. I'm not saying it was easy, easy as it all still required skills to control the aircraft keep it aligned, but it certainly was not that heart in your mouth and fear effect that usually comes with these fighters on landing. Stall is 74 MPH (65 kts) with the flaps extended and 87 MPH with the flaps up Certainly don't touch the brakes until the speed is quite slow unless you want to roll nose over nose and destroy the propeller and engine, certainly a grass landing would be better for running off the excess speed than the hard runway. Like any aircraft of this era and being a taildragger, the more you practice and the more you sort of set up the aircraft around you, then the experience will rise and the enjoyment escalates. There is a certain amount of dedication and skill required to fly these aircraft as they are not a jump in fly cessna or piper GA. Liveries There are ten liveries from the World War era and many are for forces internationally. You expected more than two to represent the RAF (DU-N and Dorothy) as there was some very famous squadrons, RAF Memorial Flight and Burma campaign squadron, but otherwise they are all well done. Summary The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most iconic, most instantly recognisable aircraft in the history of aviation. Historic and beloved by everyone the aircraft is always a worthy addition to any simulator... I mean who does not want to fly a Spitfire, to know what it was like to be one of the few and see and feel the aircraft from the inside out. So does the FlyingIron Spitfire version live up to the aircraft's distinguished career and iconic status. Well yes it does and does it very well. It is beautifully modeled and designed aircraft and it is full of lovely touches that bring the aircraft above the normal in what you would expect in authenticity of the era and the aircraft. I really liked the brass and copper piping and the glass and all fine detailing is excellent. Mod-cons include a GPS and basic Autopilot, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to. four variants include both 66 and 70 RR Merlin engines and standard and clipped wing versions, sounds are also first rate and very immersive. The Spitfire flies nicely as well, and it feels like the experience that you would expect from a WW ll aircraft, without the extremes of handling and the sheer terror that sometimes you get with these old fighters, that is not to say it is fighter-lite to fly, in fact it is the opposite as skill is certainly required to understand and fly the aircraft and taxiing is a still an art to do correctly, remember the Spitfire was a great aircraft to fly in reality. The aircraft is created around VR (Virtual Reality) and so is the nicely done VR menu box, so the VR experience would be excellent. Most niggles here are not actually related to the aircraft. There are a few areas still not completed like with the transponder and a few other areas were not covered on release (Skunkcraft updater is included), the manual was not completed on release and this review was held back weeks after the release to find (wait) for the details required, there are still large blanks in the manual (Primer pump knob?) and manuals are essential for these era aircraft and novice flyers. What is there however is very good (another release before ready syndrome). There are a lot of custom settings that will ruin any set defined keyboard arrangement, and then try to remember where you set them all in the moving simulation? I lost track... I understand why the braking system was done the way it is, but it is tricky to set up... I now have to put my normal keyboard commands all back to right again and reset everything. The last of the "Few" died only a few months ago, so they are all now gone into history with their bravery. I personally think if any of them had flown this FlyingIron version of their machine, I think they would have been quite overjoyed at the recreation of their past, even highly related to the aircraft and I don't think any accolade could be higher than that... it is a worthy simulation of a very distinguished part of our history. Highly Recommended. _______________________________ The Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc by FlyingIron is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Spitfire Mk IX Priced at US$34.95 Features : Spitfire Mk IX comes with 4 variants: Spitfire LF Mk IX (Merlin 66) Spitfire LF Mk IX with clipped wings (Merlin 66) Spitfire HF Mk IX (Merlin 70) Spitfire HF Mk IX with clipped wings (Merlin 70) Art & Sound Ultra-realistic 3D Cockpit Model that is used for SimPit recreations of the Spitfire (provided by Heritage Flight Simulations) Incredibly detailed modelling & texturing, both in and out of the cockpit FMOD Sound Design with 50+ Custom Sounds Dynamic multi-sounds to increase immersion & avoid repetition 10 Liveries included Animated 3D Pilot Flight Model Highly detailed & realistic simulation of the Spitfire Mk IX, performance matched to be within a few % of real-world data in all aspects of flight Custom simulation of the differential braking system & ground handling Tested by a team of real-world pilots to ensure accuracy & realism Simulation of unique Spitfire quirks, such as the need for nose-down trim on take-off and many, many more. Realistic spin & stall behavior for aerobatic flying Complex Engine Simulation Code-enhanced simulation of both the Merlin 66 & Merlin 70 engines, with the ability to switch between the two in-cockpit Complete custom simulation of the 2-stage supercharger of the Merlin engines Realistic operating limits, enforced by dynamic failures Systems Modelling Complete fuel systems simulation Realistic navigation systems simulation Emergency systems modeled Simulation of the original preset-radio system, as well as an optional cockpit-integrated modern radio system Complete oxygen systems modelling External Tank systems realistically modeled Particle FX Engine exhaust flash/flame FX Engine over-prime flameout FX Heat-Blur FX Dynamic Smoke FX Ultra-realistic canopy rain FX (powered by Skiselkov’s Rain Library) VR/GUI Box GUI Panel is VR-ready & integrated into the cockpit for maximum immersion (optional – can be hidden) Ability to switch between engine types, toggle ground elements and optional cockpit elements. Autopilot feature for long-distance flights Extra Features Static Elements modeled (Chocks, Tie-downs & GPU) Functional & adjustable RAF Reflector Gunsight (optional) Optional cockpit-integrated 3D GPS (Garmin 530) Functional weapons & controls (Guns & Bombs) Optional landing light Requirements X-Plane 11.30+ Windows, Mac or Linux 4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended Current version and review version : 1.3 (1st February 2019) Download Size: 1.3 Gb Installation and documents: Download for the Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXc is 1.24 Gb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "Fighters" X-Plane folder at 1.28 Gb. Documentation:Manual is accessed currently on line : FlyingIron Spitfire LF Mk IX Pilot Handbook (Google Docs) Documentation is still in WIP progress at the time of the review... but it is getting there and will be good when or if finished ______________________________________________________________________ Aircraft review by Stephen Dutton 23rd February 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 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.31 (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$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : Librain (Rain) - Free Scenery or Aircraft - EGKK - London Gatwick Airport v2 by Pilot+Plus (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$21.00 - EGKB - Biggin Hill (XP10) 1.3 by Chars (X-Plane.Org) - Free