VPC Mongoos T-50 Review

VPC Mongoos T-50 Review

By @Troll - September 11, 2017

Originally published at: Articles - Mudspike Forums

Mudspike Contributor Jörgen “Troll” Toll shares his impressions of his recently acquired VPC Mongoos T-50 joystick.

A newcomer in the PC flight simulator hardware market, a Belarus based company, Virpil has released its first flight controller, the Mongoos T-50 Flightstick.

Being somewhat of a flight simulator controller aficionado I was intrigued by the design of the controller gimbal, and just had to take a closer look.

Thrustmaster used to be the epitome of high-end flight-controllers. While still good, they have serious competition these days. Older flight simmers may remember the F-16 FLCS, F-22 Pro, TQS, Cougar and Warthog. All masters in their class. We flight simmers owe a great deal to Thrustmaster for blazing the trail so others could follow.

All the Way From Russia

Some have followed this trail all the way from Russia.

A lot of good flight-controllers come from Russia these days. We have VKB and BRD, and now VPC. Gotta love TLA!* They are all thriving on the fact that we flight simmers want good quality flight control hardware. We want realism.

Virpil, from The Republic of Belarus, is the latest name to be added to the list of quality flight simulator hardware contributors. Virpil released a Thrustmaster compatible stick grip in the spring of 2017, to be followed by a joystick base a few months later.

The release of the base was slightly delayed due to manufacturing schedule and design refinements. Quite frankly that was just what to be expected from a new company with a new design. All that behind them, initial production batches are being delivered to their customers as I write this review.

In addition to the initial stick grip, they have added a left hand version and a limited black edition. They are also selling flight controller mounts and flight stick extensions of their own design.

Ordering from Virpil was easy to do. Just register at their website and pay by credit card or bank transfer. The package was sent with tracking. Don’t be surprised if this takes at least two weeks. Visit the Virpil website here: https://virpil.by/en/

A Closer Look at the Mongoos T-50

The stick grip is based on the OKB Avia Avtomatika stick, found in the Sukhoi T-50 and is fully compatible with the Thrustmaster Cougar and Warthog interface. Thrustmaster initially designed their Cougar and Warthog HOTAS controllers with the ability to swap stick grips, unfortunately they haven’t yet followed up on the promise of new grip designs. Virpil is, as far as I know, the first on the market with a commercially available Thrustmaster compatible stick grip.

The Thrustmaster interface on the VPC T-50

The 5 pin mini DIN connector of the VPC T-50 is on the end of a cable, unlike the Thrustmaster design, which is mounted in place. This is to allow for mounting the stick in a rotated angle. The VPC stick base connector is also loose, to allow for mounting a Thrustmaster stick grip in a rotated angle. Yes, the T-50 stick grip can be used on a Thrustmaster Cougar or Warthog base, and the Cougar and Warthog stick grips can be used on the VPC T-50 base. How’s that for compatibility. I guess you can call it a hommage to Thrustmaster, the great-grandfather of flight simulator controllers.

The VPC Mongoos T-50 side by side with a Thrustmaster Warthog stick grip.

The Mongoos T-50 stick grip is made from high quality plastic and has:

  • Three 4-way switches (One as a 8 way POV);
  • One 2-way switch;
  • Five regular push-buttons;
  • One dual stage trigger;
  • One fold down trigger;
  • One proportional brake lever, that also works as a switch.

The switches are of the OMRON brand, which are considered to be of high quality.

In addition to this it has an adjustable palm rest that can be raised or lowered.

We Brake for Nobody!

Proportional Brake Lever

The proportional brake lever is a new addition. Where the Thrustmaster sticks have a paddle switch, the T-50 has a proportional lever. This is really useful for many Soviet/Russian fighters, and even the very British Supermarine Spitfire, that controls the wheel brakes via a motorcycle handlebar style brake lever. If you are used to flying mostly modern western aircraft you have undoubtedly been spoiled by steerable nose wheels, or tail wheels, and toe brakes, controlling differential brakes on either main gear wheel. And if you have, you have probably felt the frustration of taxiing the DCS: L-39C, MiG-21 or Spitfire Mk.IX where the brakes are controlled by a single lever, and brake force distributed differentially by rudder pedal input. Especially the Spitfire, with its brutish Merlin V12 and enormous propeller, can be a handful on the ground without proper control of the wheel brakes. Enter the T-50 and its proportional brake lever.

Assign the brake lever to the ‘wheel brakes’ axis command and you are able to fine tune the brake force application and tame the tracking of any aircraft that does not have toe brakes. Provided you have rudder pedals, of course.

Unfortunately, due to a limitation of the Thrustmaster Cougar and Warthog bases, the T-50 proportional brake lever works as an on/off switch when used on a Thrustmaster base. It will only be seen as a proportional axis when used in conjunction with the VPC T-50 base. The brakelever also activates a switch when compressing the lever, in addition to moving the Z axis. The fact that the Z axis simultaneously activates a switch, makes that axis impossible to calibrate in Windows Game Controllers, as the calibration finishes as the button is closed, and that happens halfway through the Z axis travel. A dedicated VPC software is under way.

Sticks and Stones…

The T-50 stick grip feels very ergonomic and solid. Now, in a direct comparison with the metal Thrustmaster Cougar and Warthog sticks, it does feel slightly inferior in quality. This is, however, my very subjective and personal opinion. This comes from metal being heavier and more durable than plastic. I still remember feeling the cold metal from the Cougar for the first time. My hand has gotten used to the feeling, I guess.

The T-50 is made from very high quality plastic and feels solid. It’s just that if you are going from the Thrustmaster metal sticks you may feel slightly underwhelmed when clasping a T-50 for the first time. In reality, most real flight-sticks are made from reinforced plastic, so don’t blow this issue out of proportion.

The only issue I can see, with the choice of material, is that the fold down trigger and the brake lever sticks out a bit and may snag something in the heat of a dogfight. Not likely, but I guess it could happen.

Operation of the button panel on the top of the stick requires some dexterity. This stick is full size, and as such not designed for kids or small hands. I wear size 12 gloves (12 being the circumference of your palm, in inches) and I can reach any button comfortably.

As I don’t have any of the Thrustmaster bases any longer, I can not test the T-50 stick grip Thrustmaster compatibility directly. I do however have a BRD-N stick and that is 100% compatible with the Thrustmaster Cougar and Warthog stick grips. The T-50 works perfectly with the BRD-N base, with the same brake lever limitation as i mentioned earlier.

The VPC Mongoos T-50 base

Following the release of the T-50 stick grip, Virpil released the base. The base has several new features, and is actually very compact.

I have already mentioned the Thrustmaster compatibility interface and the proportional brake lever functionality. The base gimbal is very interesting indeed. The design incorporates cam-spring resistance, which is adjustable by changing the springs and/or the cams. But that is not all. The spring resistance can be adjusted by set screws, without disassembling the base!

First Things First

There are several ways of providing centering forces on a joystick, typically creating a resistance around the center position, that must be overcome to move the stick. This can be totally realistic, or it can be equally unrealistic, depending on what type of aircraft you are simulating. What is certain is that controlling simulated aircraft on a PC is not like controlling a real aircraft with real aerodynamic forces acting on its control surfaces. It is more like flying a FBW (another TLA*) controlled aircraft. So it all comes down to what you are simulating and what your preferences are.

And this is what I love about the VPC Mongoos T-50. You can adjust it to fit almost every need!

Springs and cams

A cam is used to change the moment arm of the spring centering force, thus making the centering force lighter or heavier.

The different cams are designed with a hard center, soft center and no center. The spring force will return the stick to its center position irrespective of which cam is being used. The difference between the cams lie in the “break out force” needed to overcome the center position. Some like a firm center, some like it loose. I like a loose center and a hard centering force, so I swapped the springs to the heavy ones, and mounted the no center cams. (The T-50 base comes installed with the medium springs and the soft center cams)

In order to swap springs and cams, you need to disassemble the base. This may seem daunting for some. You need some metric hex socket screw bits and some basic mechanical know-how. It is not hard to do. I’ll even show you…

  1. Remove the stick grip;
  2. Remove the bottom plate by unscrewing the four hex socket screws;
  3. Remove the U-shaped bracket on the front of the base by unscrewing the four hex socket screws;
  4. Unscrew the four hex socket screws holding the base top plate, and unscrew the four screws holding the gimbal assembly to the top plate;
  5. Unscrew the two small hex socket screws on the back of the base, holding the PCB. These are connected to two nuts and a washer. Pay attention to the way the PCB is mounted so you remember how to put it together again. Also, if you drop one of the nuts, it will be eaten by the carpet monster… You have been warned!
  6. Unscrew the spring tensioning screws for pitch and roll. The pitch screw must be unscrewed through the hole in the top plate. The roll screw can be unscrewed by simply turning the top plate 90º out of the way;
  7. The spring tensioning screws can now be removed. Pay attention to the orientation of the white plastic collars as you swap the springs;
  8. If you want to swap cams, now is the time to do so;
  9. Unscrew the two hex screws, holding the cam, and swap cams;
  10. Assemble in reverse order;

Did that seem hard to do? It really isn’t. But then again, I build my own flight controls. I totally get that this isn’t everybodys cup of tea. I for one, just love this level of customization.

Hex socket bits 2 – 2.5 – 3 – 4

Some notes regarding this process though…

You will need hex socket bits no. 2, 2.5, 3 & 4.

Be aware that aluminium and brass are soft materials. Be extra careful when mounting the screws. If they feel a bit heavy, when screwing them in again, chances are that they aren’t perfectly aligned with the threads. Unscrew, and try again.

When reassembling the base, mount the U-shaped bracket before tightening the screws that secure the gimbal to the top plate and the top plate to the casing. This is to ensure that the bracket sits firmly against the gimbal body, without a gap.

The hex socket screws holding the cams are countersunk. I advice you to mount the cams and tighten the screws, and then re-tighten them after you have tensioned the springs, and wiggled the stick for a while. This is to make sure the screws are set correctly and that the cams are as snug as possible.

Also, be careful not to damage the PCBs or the sensors.

My Cams Didn’t Fit

I had to use a metal file to open up the gap on my cams, a little bit. In addition, the pitch cam was a little bit too thick to fit the mount, and I had to grind it down slightly.

The cam to the right has been polished.

Also, the cam rolling surface, where the bearing of the spring arm rolls against the cam, needed polishing. This comes from the manufacturing process of the cam. The way they are cut leaves tiny grooves in the surface. These grooves can be felt through the gimbal assembly and it feels like your stick is linked to cog wheels. Virpil are aware of these faults; If this affects you, don’t hesitate to contact [email protected], for replacement parts. Chalk this up as teething problems of a newborn producer.

All that aside, having swapped cams and springs, you can also adjust the spring pre-tension with a flat head screwdriver through holes in the base top plate. A spring has nearly linear force increase, relative to its displacement. Simply put, the force to compress a spring will increase with how much you compress it. If you want a higher centering force, you tighten the pre-tensioning screws.

With the heavy springs, and a loose center cam, the centering force is extremely heavy. I never thought that much spring force could be contained in such a small gimbal. It is a testament to the design of the gimbal and the ingenuity of Virpil. You can use the lightest springs, and get a much lighter centering force, if that’s how you like it.

…are capable of discerning a 0.006º movement around each axis.

I like a strong centering force, but a smooth center transition. This is why I like to use an extension to my controllers. A longer stick means a longer moment arm. This gives me a much more realistic and precise pitch and roll control. Talking about precision, the contactless digital proximity sensors of the VPC T-50 are capable of discerning a 0.006º movement around each axis.

This is what I would describe as “mind control” resolution. With a high centering force and this kind of resolution, you feel connected to your simulated aircraft in a way that can not be described. You adjust the controls by force, more than by displacement. Of course, you are moving the stick. There are no force sensors in the VPC T-50. It just feels like there is.

Speaking of extensions, Virpil make those as well. I got the set of three different extension pipes, 50, 75 & 100 mm and I use all of them, together. This makes the stick tall enough for my purposes.

The extensions are made from aluminium and are of very high quality. They each come with their own cable extension. However, I only need the longest and the shortest cable extension, when I use all three extension pipes. Naturally, these extensions can be used with the Thrustmaster Cougar and Warthog stick grips and bases as well.

The VPC Mongoos T-50 is not designed for desktop use

The VPC Mongoos T-50 is not designed for desktop use. It says so on the Virpil ordering page. And it’s true. You basically need one of the desk mounts from Virpil to use the T-50. If you look at the front of the base, you see a U-shaped bracket with four hex socket screws. The base is designed to be fastened with the U-shaped bracket at the front of the base and not rest on a desktop. Let me tell you why.

If you are using a heavy spring centering force, the aluminium base casing probably wouldn’t be able to withstand the load. The U bracket is mounted directly to the body of the gimbal assembly and stabilizes the gimbal without transferring the load through the casing. Smart, really. I do wish Virpil would make and sell a mount that allows for the base to be attached to the floor of my SimBox though, as I don’t have a desk to attach the mount to.

Closing comments.

How much does it cost?

I paid around $400, plus shipping. That’s because I ordered the T-50 stick grip before the base was available.

If you buy the T-50 stick and base, it will set you back about $350. That’s about $60 more than the Thrustmaster Warthog flight stick which sell at $290. The Warthog may have a metal stick grip, but the gimbal is all plastic. The VPC Mongoos T-50 is the other way around. Plastic stick grip and a metal gimbal. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter. And the VPC T-50 does have the brake handle and swappable cams and springs. Or if you broke your Warthog plastic gimbal, like I did, and need a replacement; Consider the VPC T-50, as you can buy just the base.

So, what do I think of the VPC Mongoos T-50?

I like it! I really do! And I would like to congratulate Virpil on their entry into the demanding market of flight simulator controllers. Yes, there are some small annoying problems with the cams and they were delayed. I’m prepared to overlook these problems as Virpil seem to be eager to solve them. To compensate for the delay, they bumped everybody up to expedited shipping and included a cover sock for the stick. Over all they seem to be a class act. I wish them well in the future and I am looking forward to see what that future will bring. There is already talk about a throttle…

* Three Letter Acronyms


Great review, and fantastic photography as well.

Quite envious of that extension pipe (would be great for the Huey with that travel), plus those gloves as well :wink:

Thanks for writing this up @Troll


An extremely detailed and thorough article. Well done!


Good, I am seriously looking at this but waiting to see what their throttle comes out as.


Great review Troll!


I find this paid for advertisement review?
because as far as I know, VKB is the first to come out with interchangeable grips.
not Virpil…

Also the MKII Pro Gladiator is the first to come out with a metal gimbal system, interchangeable grips and the 109 style german grip is interchangeable with the thrustmaster as well as the Virpil.

No one got paid for this review. @Troll bought the unit himself and was kind enough to write up his impressions.

If you have corrections (which are fine, and appreciated) then it’s best not start with an accusation of corruption.


Dear Mastiff,

Nobody paid me anything to write this review.
I stated in the review that I bought and paid the hardware. Mudspike.com has not received anything from Virpil to publish the review.

I wrote that Virpil was the first with a TM compatible stick grip.

The VKB joysticks accepts TM Warthog stick grips, with an adapter. You have to remove the TM connector and replace it with the VKB adaptor.

I used to own a VKB Black Mamba with a TM adapter.

As far as I know, you can’t use a VKB stick grip on a TM Warthog or Cougar base.

The Thrustmaster F-22 Pro was the first joystick I owned, that had a metal gimbal, back in 1998. I don’t know if this was the first metal gimbal, but neither VKB nor VPC made the first metal gimbal, and I have never said they did :slight_smile:

Is it this grip you are talking about?

Can this grip be used on a TM Warthog base?
The website says:
“Compatible with VKB Gladiator Pro Mk.II and VKB Gunfighter bases”


In the sense of remove Warthog grip and bolt T50 grip or vice-versa Troll is right. VirPil is the first to offer this option “Bolt and Play”.

VKB option is not “Bolt and Play”, is need disassemble the Warthog grip, install a electronic adapter, replace the nut and connector of Warthog grip for use in BKB bases, and that grip loose their Warthog base compatibility.

Besides this is need update firmware, load buttons profile. All this represent unnecessary difficulties, and some buyers not achieve to do and even damage the Warthog grip internals. Are case of owner trying use VKB Gladiator PRO KG 12-A grip in VKB Gunfighter base and reveal not compatible due changes in electronics code in last versions.

@ Troll

Try use DView or DXTweak2 for calibrate, set deadzones… this softwares work in the same way that joystick makers calibrator work. Windows calibrator is obsolete.


“I wrote that Virpil was the first with a TM compatible stick grip.”
your piece is a good writ, not to take away from that, in depth review is very good, myself I just thought it a little biased.
of course since you writ this piece I would be very proud of it too. as you can see I’m not a writer.
that is all.

I was going to buy that T-50 but the price point and the stamped metal gimbal wasn’t what quality I was looking for, the VKB stick I feel has a better metal gimbal and cam setup.

Virpil is by far I believe the first to make a mass produced commercially left handed joystick.

as far as,The Thrustmaster F-22 Pro; it didn’t even make a mark in the industry. it took 20 years to get a review. lol

ah the pro that’s the other one.
“TM Warthog base” why would you want to put a grip on a plastic gimbal system, the metal gimbal is far more accurate? you have to buy the adapter, it fits, they even have a youtube video on how to.

ah I see I was confused on this point. So the warthog can go on the VKB base got it.

I thought it was the other way around, sorry for the old man rant…


VPC delivered the first stick grip that is compatible with the Thrustmaster Warthog and Cougar bases.

The TM Warthog stick grip can be made to work with a VKB base but I don’t know how you could make a VKB stick grip to work with the TM Warthog base…

For the record I want to say that VKB makes excellent controllers, and they are about to release a TM Compatible stick grip.
I don’t rule out the possibility of me getting one of those as well… :wink:

Oh yes!
I wrote that as a warning, in the review :slight_smile:
Mega_mozg is hard at work on the VPC software.

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Thank you!
I brought up the good and the bad, and as I saw it, there was more good than bad. The review should reflect that.

The gimbal of the VPC T-50 is made from machined aluminium. The cams seems to be stamped or cut steel.

The VKB gimbal is very good! Like I wrote above, I used to own a VKB Black Mamba. I also got the cam gimbal upgrade. It was very good! A little too light for my taste, since I used the extension and the heavy Warthog stick grip on it.

The new nylon “dry clutches” of the VKB Gunfighter looks interesting.

This is the F-22 Pro :slight_smile:

ThrustMaster F-22 Pro Joystick

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I’d just like to chime in and say to any high end peripheral manufacturers that might be reading: While @Troll may be a diligent and scrupulousness reviewer, I am not not not one of those. Specifically if some company wanted to send me a Komodo UH-1 collective…

just sayin’


I finally got the chance to open my T-50. The shipment took almost one month from Belarus to Switzerland. Of course it finally arrived when I was on long vacation…

First impression on the stick is very nice. The extra cams do have an unpolished surface. Since my stick seems to be from the first batch that was sent out, I assume these are still the defective ones and I should request the replacement cams right away? I don’t want to open this thing up and fumble with it if these are the wrong cams anyway. Let’s just hope these do not take another month of shipment.

My major problem, now that I finally have it in my hands, I have not the slightest plan how to mount it on my Obutto. Anyone has any ideas? I don’t have tools, material or skills. Extra difficulty: The seat’s central mounting plate (to install the seat’s central Warthog mount) was welded on at an odd angle, both in pitch and bank. So far it didn’t bother me but now it might become a problem. I figured the best way would be separate the seat and the monitor-stand with some sort of spacer and then to install the T-50 base such that the stick extends between the upper mounting tubes (where seat and monitor-stand would connect).

Regardless of the final mounting solution, it seems I will have to order the extensions. Frankly I am not too happy with how they look like. I think they look like a user mod and not like an integral part of the product. I wish they would do a nice curved extension to facilitate mounting low and close to the lap:

Behold my CAD skills :slight_smile:


Respect, man! :pray:

This is the problem with the Thrustmaster interface.
If you put a S bend extension, you’re going to put rotational loads on the threaded interface, and possibly unscrew it.
That could be overcome by using a locking screw, or similar.

Do you have pictures of the seat, where you want to mount the stick? I had to manufacture a mount from wood, to test the stick. I’m going to make a better one from metal, when I have time…

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I figured this might be the most sensible approach:

This way the stick is terribly far forward though. I can adjust by sliding the seat forward, but the overall seating position will be very steep on the rudder pedals (whose position is fixed by constrains of the monitor stand). Not optimal, but probably the best solution.

Here is my problem with the Obutto’s mounting plate though:

Note how twisted this is welded on. This is actually pretty shoddy quality for a product of this price. But getting the seat was such a huge monster shipment that I chosed to ignore it at that point, avoiding the trouble of sending it back for repairs.

Initially I thought the seat (right structure) and the monitor stand (left structure) could be separated and the box be placed between them, for the stick to extend between the upper horizontal tubes. But the vertical space between the upper and lower tubes is not sufficient to fit the gimbal box.

Another crazy idea would be this:

The box actually fits really nice in this space and the stick isn’t that much forward as with the backwards mounting. But there is probably no sensible way to firmly mount the thing.

Don’t you have an Obutto too? How do you intend to mount the T-50?

No, I have my home made SimBox.

I will make a mount out of sheet metal and some square tubing, that I will screw to the floor of the SimBox. Don’t have time now though…

What about replacing the U-shaped bracket with something like this:

Mount it to the frame screws of the Obutto, and directly to the four holes holding the U bracket to the base…?

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That is looking really neat! It is also so compact that some additional 2-3 cm of closer mounting are gained over the default U-bracket. I think the top holes would need to be lower with the plate widening at a square angle, as otherwise the bottom of the gimbal-box will not fit above the lower tube of the monitor-stand. It is a rather tight fit actually.

How well do you think this would handle the torque in pitch? Especially as in my unique case, I could not fit it flush with the existing mounting plate on the seat structure (because it is tilled and twisted) and would have to somehow fumble in spacers to even it out.

Exactly, I have metal soldered extension on my cougar and I need to fix it in place in a particular way or suffer the nut coming off. I’ve made some CAD designs to fix this but haven’t had the motivation to build it, 3D printing is not THAT cheap unfortunately.

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