Alright, first few flights are in! Let’s see what the experience was like.
Finding my way into the options to set up my controls. I pump the graphic preset and kick in some anti-aliasing and things like that. Even despite that the game is not on par with some of the products we are used to. I’m personally not bothered so much by that.
Some Blufor and Opfor aircraft keeps the background active. I found this MiG-21/J7 a bit weird. It looks untextured, and it seems to be carrying an AIM-120B and an AIM-9.I suppose this is all work in progress and placeholders! Setting up the controls was a breeze in my opinion. Click the function or axis you want to set up, move that axis or click the button and voila. A bit weird is that the save function is in the main controls menu, as seen on the screen shot. There is currently no warning if you attempt to exit without saved controls. So I had to set them up one more time.
Time to see if this baby can fly!
It looks like I have hidden acces to the sea harrier…
It turns out that the toebrakes where the issue… There are none. The brakes are on a toggle. So I was trying to take-off while braking. Let’s try that again.
Great succes! At this point I am starting to like the sim, and fast. I have an X-55 and set the left throttle for the actual throttle in the AV-8B. My right portion of the throttle actually controls the angle of the nozzles. This mimicks the real controls layout of the AV-8B harrier II. Since I couldn’t find a full manual or anything, I theorycrafted a bit and decided I would try to hold the brakes and throttle up with zero degrees angle on the nozzle. When the propulsion starts to overpower the brakes, I toggle them off and start my roll. A few seconds before sliding of the other end I set my nozzles to about 60-65 degrees in order to sustain my flight as I keep building up my speed and retract the gear. Then back to 0 degrees for full speed forward flight. I like it, it’s not been done in any modern combat flight sims (Don’t know about the harrier sims of the days of old or how it is handled in the civilian flight sims) I tried moving the nozzle around during forward flight and the effect it has on flight seems very well modeled. I like it. Unfortunatly a crash occured whenever I atempted to change the loadout or the loaded fuel quantity. So I was not capable of testing out proper VTOL or STOVL mechanics. I tried getting the Harrier into a hover. I was somewhat capable of doing this, but the Harrier could not properly sustain flight and eventually rolled over left while losing altitude, I was not able to recover. I expected this behaviour from a fully laden Harrier. So I count this as good.
Note that the cockpit is unfortunatly not fully interactable. Far from it in fact. Most of the cockpit interaction is centered around the MFD’s. You get some sort of popup whenever you mouse over certain cockpit elements like the UFC. But they do not appear to respons to input. Perhaps its not modelled, perhaps it’s still WIP.
I took the aircraft for a few spins. The FM feels good to me. Perhaps not PFM level but sure good enough. I haven’t taken her to extreme flight regimes yet but the aircraft seems to respond believably to turns, AoA changes and stalling one wing before the other. It’s not on rails for sure. I’ll try to test it in more detail tomorrow. Hopefully I do not have to retract my statements. I also took her out for some shooting. The GAU-12 was employed against opposing grassleaves and hilltops. I didn’t see any impacts, I didn’t feel any recoil, the ammo consumption was way to low for a gattling gun. Maybe this is still WIP too?
Ofcourse I tried some carrier landings as well. Sure is different with no hook and instead use the nozzle to get to acceptable short stop speeds while sustaining flight.
This part seems to work great. I don’t know the ideal way to handle the AV-8B in a landing yet. But I managed to land her over 75% of the times. So far having had to do 1 go-around (my very first attempt) and only smacked into the rear of the carrier a handful of times. I only got struck by a bug once where the touchdown catapulted me a few hundred feet into the air.
There are training missions but unfortunatly they’re not that great. There’s some sort of checklist but there is no instruction or interaction. You just check things of the list as you deploy your gear, set up your flaps etcetera. There’s also things for setting up the nozzle angle correctly. However I think this works for people using the keyboard or other buttons to control the nozzle angle. It does not respond to my throttle axis commands even if I put her on 90.0 degrees perfectly. So I cannot complete the checklist. I do get a mission complete when I touch-down and make it into a full stop on the deck though.
I have tried the first combat training mission. However I am ordered to navigate to waypoint Charlie. I could not figure out how to change the waypoint yet. I want to try this again tomorrow.
The current verdict
You should get this now if you are a
- AV8B / Harrier nut
- Intrigued by the idea of a combat flightsim with great thrust vectoring mechanics. Especially if you have a dual throttle that does not get thát much attention in many other sims. This is the place for that piece of hardware to shine.
Keep an eye on this title if
- You are interested in a sim about the AV8B at a complexity level roughly around or lower than that of FC3 with partial cockpit interaction.
You should look out for something else if
- You demand certain graphical qualities of your simulators
- You’re a systems and avionics nut and refuse to fly anything that does not even attempt to compete with something among the likes of the A-10C warthog or Ka-50 Black Shark.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully I can do another one tomorrow.