Monday, July 15, 2019

TA-4J Skyhawk for Prepar3Dv4.4+

As per my usual procedure, here is the post meant to collect the feedback from the TA-4J Beta Testing. This is (almost) constantly update with the "accepted" bugs and suggestions, color coded to reflect their status. "Accepted" means that I have understood what the testers reported, I could replicate it (or at least be sure this is not a misinterpretation or an error from the tester) and I have "accepted" it as a item to be addressed.

RED means that it the defect has been categorized as a major issue. This is typically a showstopper (operation of the aicraft is impossible or severely inhibited) and must be addressed before the product release.

YELLOW means that it is definitely an issue for the project, that should be addressed before the product release, but not as critical as a "red" issue

GREEN means that either the issue is very minor (and will not be noticed by most users), or the problem is non-existent (feature reported as bug) or that is was an red or Yellow issue that has been solved

BLUE means suggestions or ideas to improve the product

I am not sure if a flight manual will be available before the Beta is released, most probably not, but here are some peculiar things you need to know before operating the aicraft.

Starting the engine

The TA-4 required external air power to start the engine. You can make the "Huffer" appear by selecting it in the configuration menu (SHIFT+4), but it will only appear if the aircraft is not stationary and parking brakes (wheel chocks) are not applied (icon is greyed out otherwise). You can make it appear also by clicking on the external air power connection door.
To start the aircraft you will need also electrical power (see below)

Electrical System

The TA-4 had no internal batteries. This means that the aicraft had its own electrical power only if the engine was running. The TA-4 had also an emergency generator which is not simulated.
To get electrical power while the engine is not running an external electical power cart was needed. You can make it appear and connect it to the aicraft on the ground by selecting it in the aicraft configuration menu (SHIFT+4) if the aircraft is stationary with parking brake applied (wheelchocks appear) or by clicking on the external electrical power door.

Fuel System
The fuel system is simulated in some detail and requires a good understanding of the real world one to be operated.

Weapon System
In order to fire a weapon, you must:
- Select the type of weapon you intend to use
- Power the relevant pylon
- Set the Master Arm Switch to ON
- Press the TRIGGER for forward-firing weapons (guns, rockets and missiles) or the PICKLE button for bombs.

Radar System

Radio and Navigation System

Flight Model

As far as we can tell, the flight model is pretty close to the real deal...but I can already see some of the comments about the roll rate. The A-4 family is famous for having an exceptionally high roll rate, and you can read several Pireps or see video interviews of pilot claming that the peak roll rate is 720°/sec. However (apart from the fact that rolls of more than 360° are explicitly forbidden by the flight manual) actual data points you can find on the internet seem to indicate that the real roll rate was lower (highest value measured I could find is 410°/sec). Current flight model is set to for a a peak of about 350°/s, which seems to be a realistic figure.

This list was updated on 15/07/2019
The latest Beta version is N/A, released on N/A





Sunday, July 14, 2019

TA-4J Skyhawk for P3Dv4.4+ - Beta Test Application

I know that many of you were waiting for this so here we are with the Beta Test application post of the TA-4J for P3Dv4.4 and above - so, if you are willing to help with the testing, in this post you will find the instructions to apply.

A brief introduction to the project: this is the first project I have designed from the ground up to support specifically P3Dv4.4 / P3Dv4.5 features and above - basically with no regards with the limitations of the FSX compiler. At the moment, I plan to try and downgrade the model in future for FSX compatibility as a separate project… but early attempts failed and it is not granted that it will ever come to FSX.

As with any simulation, it is basically impossible to include each and every feature of the real aicraft, but my hope is that this may be the most complete rendition of the TA-4J to date (fingers crossed).
I am sure I left something important, if you are selected for the test, you are encouraged to suggest additions and improvements.

As usual, I am looking for testers with various level of aviation experience and skill, but I am looking in particular for users who know the TA-4J aircraft and a passion for naval aviation.

Hardware requisites (suggested configuration):
- Quad core CPU with at least 2.8GHz clock
- 6GB minimum RAM, 8GB better
- Nvidia 960 video card or better, 2GB dedicated video memory minimum 
- 1 GB minimum free disk space for package installation

Software prerequisites:
- Lockheed Martin P3Dv4.4 or v4.5
- VRS Tacpack required for weapon functionality

As usual… the Beta tester for my projects is not a paid position, by any stretch of the imagination: you do it just for the fun of doing it.
If you are willing to help, send me an email to - the email shall contain:

- a BRIEF description of your system (no need of minor details, I just need CPU type and clock, RAM, video card and video memory)

- a brief description of your real world flight experience (if any) including (if any) your knowledge of the TA-4J Aircraft (note… the Beta is open to everybody: from teenage desk flyers to WWII aces - I just need to know who I am talking with!). No need of long and detailed stories...just a line or two will do.

- your experience with Prepar3D v4

The topic of the email shall be "Prepar3D v4 TA-4J Beta Testing" (note...I thought this was an easy requirement, but apparently it is not...but it is very important: it helps me a lot sorting the messages and it shows that you can comply with instructions).

Note it may take 2-3 weeks to reply and provide a download link… so be patient.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

SIAI Marchetti S-211 for X-Plane 11.30 Beta Test

As per my usual procedure, here is a post to collect the feedback from the selected Beta testers for the upcoming SIAI-Marchetti S-211 project for X-Plane 11.30.

Testers are encouraged to provide feeback by either posting comments to this post (preferred, so that other testers can see them too) or by sending an email (subject shall be S-211 Beta testing feedback).
While providing feedback you are encouraged to provide a classification of the severity of the bug according to the following color code:

Red - Major problem which severely affects the functionality or the enjoyability of the aircraft. Ideally, all "red" issues must be solved before release.

Yellow - Important issue that affects the functionality or the enjoyability of the aircraft, but only to a certain point...basically you can still fly and have fun with the aircraft, but it would be better if the issue was cleared.
Green - Minor issue or observation which would be nice to see solved or added to the plane, or a red/yellow problem which has been solved.

Blue - Suggestions, which may or may not be implemented.

Testers can use, at their will, this spreadsheet (in Excel format) to collect their findings.

If you need further information please find the real world flight manuals here:

Last compiled by Dino on 15/07/2019 23:00 CET

External model

S211XPEX01 - Remove before flight ribbon pierces through geometry (tail pipe cover only). Fixed in internal build 24/06.
S211XPEX02 - UVW overlap in horizontal stab area causing "marching ants" visual issue. Fixed in internal build 24/06
S211XPEX03 - UVW overlap in trimtab actuator rods area causing "marching ants" visual issue. Fixed in internal build 24/06.

S211XPEX04 - Texture mismatch neaby the engine servicing panels, left side. Fixed in internal build 24/06.
S211XPEX05 - Canopy opening piston animation glitch. Fixed 14/07S211XPEX06 - "Marching ants" UVW issues on the side of the cockpit. Fixed, duplicate polys 14/07
S211XPEX07 - One of the flap actuators is not working - Fixed in internal build 27/06
S211XPEX08 - Texture on glass of white nav light has wrong coordinates - Fixed in intenal build 27/06
S211XPEX09 - Rudder movement seems limited on one side - Fixed 14/07
S211XPEX10 - Castor wheel animation missing, fixed - Fixed 14/07

Cockpit model
S211XPVC01 - ADI bank indication does not move. Fixed in internal build 24/06.
S211XPVC02 - ATC radio not lit
S211XPVC03 - General comment about mouse wheel operations. Currently uses X-axis drag. Request to change to different interface or control system. Will require further investigation. SOLVED. Actually knob indicators do work with mousewheel. Redone all knob manipulators accordingly.
S211XPVC04 - Radio knob controls are not accurate enough for proper operation with current X-axis drag control. Redone knob controls with knob command and knob axis manipulator. Now working.
S211XPVC05 - Kholsmann setting not working. Redone manipulator with "knob axis". Now working.
S211XPVC06 - Unused Kholsmann setting manipulator handler (leftover from removal of backup altimeter)
S211XPVC07 - Oil pressure needle not working - Fixed in internal build 27/06
S211XPVC08 - Hydraulic pressure needle not working - Fixed in internal build 27/06
S211XPVC09 - Cabin Press Altitude needle not working - Fixed in internal build 15/07
S211XPVC10 - NDB knob difficult to use, change to knob manipulators. - Fixed in internal build 15/07
S211XPVC11 - Taxi/Landing light switch works only for Landing light… this is actually as per design, as it was programmed to have only Landing light working… but still it would be nice if we could have both.
S211XPVC11 - Landing light switch not lit
S211XPVC12 - Gear lever advisory light not lit
S211XPVC13 - Missing digital indication on engine RPM

S211XPVC14 - Implemented proper controls of the Transponder
S211XPVC15 - Implemented oxygen system

S211XPVC16 - Glideslope needle not working - Fixed

Flight model

S211XPFM01 - Excessive tendency to variate pitch depending on flap position, requiring too much trim action to the pilot. Fixed 14/07


S211XPOT01 - Sound package perceived as low quality (engine noise). Note that the current package is done with real world aircraft recording...but it has been downsampled to 22KHz for use with legacy X-Plane sound system. X-Plane 11 can also implement sounds through FMOD, although indie licence is limited to 1 project per year…

Thursday, June 20, 2019

SIAI Marchetti S-211 for Aerofly FS2 (Freeware) - UPDATE to version 1.05

A recent update to Aerofly FS2 broke the compatibility of the freeware SIAI-Marchetti S-211 model I released for free some time ago.
Here is an updated version that should fix the issue.
To IPACS credit, they are now sending an email to developers to which the provide an "early warning" of possible incompatibilities, and once you get used to read the .log file of the simulator, it is relatively easy to apply the required changes.

 I wish I had more time to convert other planes to AFS2 - it is still far Beyond P3D or XP11 in some areas, but it is a respectable flight simulator on its own and it is still my go-to simulator whenever my friends want to try Virtual Reality at my place - performance is stellar, and even with the most complex Orbx sceneries it is super-smooth and provides a great sense of immersion.

Anyway, change log is as follows:

Version 1.05
- Changed tmd code for compatibility with latest version of Aerofly FS2

And as usual it can either be downloaded by following the link on the side bar, or by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Siai Marchetti S-211 for X-Plane 11.30 - Beta Test Application

My first project for X-Plane 11 is in short final for Beta testing - so, if you are willing to help with the testing, in this post you will find the instructions to apply.

First, this is meant to be a "budget" payware project (15-20 Euros maximum) - the scope of this project is to provide a decent light jet trainer simulation… and much like in reality, this simulation project is meant to be fun to fly.
It will not be a study-level simulation, but all essential systems should work as expected and you should be able to conduct both VFR and IFR operations.

As usual, I am looking for testers with various level of aviation experience and skill, but I am looking in particular for users who know the XP11.30 scene well and can help with an assessment of this project in comparison with other similar products.

Hardware requisites:
- Anything that can run XP11 well
- Given that the plane uses a lot of high res texture, I believe that 2Gb video memory are needed… but that is just my estimation

Software prerequisites:
- X-Plane 11.30 or newer (the plane uses the new jet engine modeling, so will not work with older versions of XP11)

As usual… the Beta tester for my projects is not a paid position, by any stretch of the imagination: you do it just for the fun of doing it.
If you are willing to help, send me an email to - the email shall contain:

- a BRIEF description of your system (no need of minor details, I just need CPU type and clock, RAM, video card and video memory)

- a brief description of your real world flight experience (if any) including (if any) your knowledge of the S-211 Aircraft (note… the Beta is open to everybody: from teenage desk flyers to WWII aces - I just need to know who I am talking with!). No need of long and detailed stories...just a line or two will do.

- your experience with X-Plane 11.

The topic of the email shall be "S-211 Beta Testing" (note...I thought this was an easy requirement, but apparently it is not...but it is very important: it helps me a lot sorting the messages and it shows that you can comply with instructions).

Note it may take 2-3 weeks to reply and provide a download link… so be patient.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Flight Simulator is coming back!

You have heard the big news of these days for us simmers…. FLIGHT SIMULATOR IS COMING BACK!!!!!
There is plenty to be excited about, as the trailer was fantastic… but I see a lot of overly optimistic expectations which, I am afraid, will lead to some disappointment.
As any flightsim enthusiast, I went through the trailer several times to squeeze every bit of information from it… but this new Flight Simulator has been a well kept secret and none of the flight simulator developers I know has been involved or consulted for this project.

So, here is what we know for sure:

  • This new simulator is called simply "Flight Simulator"

  • It will be available for both XBox and PC (most probably through Microsoft's digital download platform, possibly enabling you to use it both on the Xbox and PC with a single licence)

  • It will be included in Microsoft "Game Pass" service

  • It will feature a number of different planes from small seaplanes to airliners

  • It will allow you to fly anywhere in the world

What we do not know:

  • If it will run on XBox "Scarlet" (my guess: yes, sooner or later)

  • If it will have an SDK and allow content from third parties (my guess: not on Xbox - the console version will at least have some form of moderation from Microsoft)

  • Be backward compatible with FSX addons (my guess: no, and it is a good thing)

  • How powerful your hardware needs to be to run the sim at a reasonable speed

What I hope:

  • Microsoft hopefully learned the lessons from Flight and Flight Simulator World

  • Microsoft will allow us developers to continue producing and selling add-ons as we did in the past

  • Microsoft will provide some sort of backward compatibility for the code and flight models (note that, unknown to many, this was planned in quite a smart way in FSW by providing a compiler for XML gauges)

  • Microsoft hopefully got some hint from the latest versions of P3D (which introduce a number of great features) and X-Plane 

And now… a quick look at some screenshots with my comments (and my guesses...for what matters): 

Very nice sky rendering (possibly implementing the "True Sky" technology, which was used by both FSW and Ace Combat)! But look closely on the lower right corner, and you see that a scenery discontinuity slipped through the trailer. The tile seems unrelated to the scenery, and looks a lot when I max out P3D and runs out of video memory. Aside, in this shot it is difficult to tell if the image is generated by a very smart landclass system or it is photoreal...but if it is photoreal, the resolution is pretty low. May be there is a "lower res" photoreal Earth model? I don't know.

Definitely a photoreal shot. Buildings are unique and fit perfectly to the scenery… and look a lot as the ones in Google Earth 3D. It is totally unrealistic to think that the simulator will look as good and detailed everywhere in the world… this would require several Terabytes of data. However, is not unthinkable that the sim comes with a number of high detail areas and *MAYBE* streams sceneries from a server, much like Google Earth 3D. This may or may not require a subscription…BUT THIS IS JUST A WILD GUESS. 

Wether it True Sky or not it looks great… the sea in this shot is less impressive, and so is the fog. But still an awesome shot.

Yeah!!!! Hangar enviroment with ground crew! And real time raytracing!
...all cool and dandy, but: we have no clue if all hangars will look like this (most probably not - for all we know this may be just an aicraft selection menu) and while the rendering engine looks cool, similar results can be achieved with a PBR engine. So neither the hangar nor raytracing are confirmed IMHO.

Another impressive shot of the sky. Looks awesome! The scenery however is not hugely better than the best addons we have.

I've seen people commenting that this new Flight Simulator has the best plane models ever… and I agree they are really good. Better than the best add-ons around? I do not believe so - the difference is in the rendering engine, which frankly seems the best around in terms of quality.

Very good light contrast. Both X-Plane and (to a lesser extent) P3D fail, IMHO, in rendering the HDR contrast between the external world and the cockpit. DCS and AFS2 do a better job in that respect… but it seems that this new Flight Simulator will be the best in class in this respect.  

Ground vehicles and crew! It will have awesome airports and detailed ground services!
...well, we'll see. Sure this one looks good, and the assets look great. But we'll see how interactive the airport will be and how good the average airport will look. My guess is that only major airports around the world will look this good.  

This shot is interesting for two reasons: it shows what the engine is capable of doing for sky and cloud rendering (very menacing not fly there!) but most importantly it shows what I believe will be a "regular" airport. Does not look bad at all. 

Giraffes, elephants and flamingos! This reminds me of the "living world" thing when FSX launched… may be there will be animals in the wild as we were promised ten years ago, maybe they will be "mission objects" like they were in FSX. However they look pretty good. Will we get autogen grass?

This seems another photoreal area…medium-high res. Looks good, but not much beyond what we already have. What I do not understand is how such big chunks of photoreal scenery will fit into the installation. Surely the sim will not have the whole world at this resolution upon install...may be you can pick some specific areas and download a higher res version of them, or maybe it will stream the scenery from a server. Or maybe they only showed us the good bits. 

Impressive rain effect on the cockpit and excellent weather rendering.

Night lighting looks excellent - it looks superior to XP11, which is quite a feat as I consider XP11 night lighting to be excellent.

The flamingos! Again, not sure if you will be able to see wildlife around the world.. for all we know, these may be mission object - and by the way, if they will pack some good missions with the sim I'll be very pleased: I loved FSX missions!
Aside, water looks pretty cool in this shot - and flamingos have their own shadow.

Great rendition of the pyramids: good job! Hopefully there will be several places around the world with this level of detail.

The lighting on the plane looks great (but again...nothing that cannot be achieved with a good PBR implementation)… but the ground texture? Does not look great.

San Francisco looks wonderful...and looks like the Icon A5 is back from Flight ;-) !

The presence of the TBM-900 is pretty great...may be a sign of much needed diversity in aircraft models.

Some final random thoughts:

Graphically looks great. The engine is good and the 3D assets look top-quality. There seems to be a tremendous amount of content that only a big corporate with high-end videogame technology as Microsoft could deliver (no offense to Lockheed Martin or Laminar Research).

I've seen people afraid that, since it will be also on XBox, it will be dumbed down (for those "stupid gamers")… like if recreational flight simming is a serious thing ;-) ! But no, I do not think it will be the case. Much like you could play most of the FSX missions with an XBox controller, here you will be able to fly around and play mission with one. So, it will be like FSX.

The big question is… will it support third parties and smaller developers like me? Maybe. Or maybe not. From what I have seen so far, Microsoft has learned a lot from the Flight fiasco...but never underestimate the capability of a large corporate to make stupid decision when they see a potential for a business model they like. And the current ruling business model in entertainment is "subscription" (rather than DLC).
In any case, I am pretty sure that, even if third parties will be allowed to sell their stuff, the content on the Microsoft Platform will be moderated - for a number of legal reasons.
This may kill smaller developers like me... but we'll see.

Flight Simulator may kill P3D "home" market (which is not supposed to exist but it does) and may push P3D in its own niche of education/serious simulation - I would not be surprised if LM starts to enforce some strict controls on the licences in future. We'll see what P3Dv5 will have to offer, but I believe this announcement weakens P3D position a little.

On the other hand, if Microsoft screws up for the simmers, Flight Simulator may actually mean a larger audience for disappointed simmers may jump to that platform.

Time will tell… for the moment, let's enjoy the simulators we have: it will take some time before we get our hands on this new Flight Simulator.

Friday, May 24, 2019

SIAI Marchetti S-211 / Aermacchi M-311 / M-345 PBR Update (and other news on this project)


While the S-211/M-345 has been my test bed for PBR technologies, I've never found the time to properly package the resulting files into a coherent update...but I decided to dedicate some time to release this update for a number of reasons.
For one, the S-211 has been also developed for other platforms including X-Plane 11... it is basically done, but needs improvement on the flight model and then some further testing will be needed. XP11 has a very neat PBR implementation which looks cool… you can see some photos on my facebook page.
Speaking of other platforms, I have just received a notice that AFS2 is being updated and the update can break the compatibility of the S-211... Right now it is still working, but if is breaks I will fix it when I'll have some time.
Anyway, here is the change log for the Prepar3D version. NOTE THAT THIS UPDATE IS COMPATIBLE ONLY WITH P3Dv4.4 AND ABOVE. If you install it on previous versions of Prepa3D or Flight Simulator, you will not be able to load the plane in the sim anymore...and you'll have to reinstall the base package.

Version 1.20 - 23/05/2019
- Redone all external models and added textures to support PBR technology

The update can be downloaded by clicking HERE or from the side bar.

Also, few months ago Leonardo made the first flight of the first M-345 from serial production. The aircraft is a little different from the demonstrator and the prototypes that I have depicted. There are a number of changes which you can see in the photo below, and which I'd like to implement some time in the future. The major changes are:
- New nose shape (shorter than the prototype, closer to the S-211 nose)
- New wing tips
- Addition of formation lights
- New Landing gear
- New auxiliary air intakes and exhausts
- New LED landing lights
- New panelization of the fuselage
- Adoption of MK-16 ejection seats
- Different positions of antennas and sensors

…these are not big changes, but some of are quite annoying to make. But I'll do them when I will have some more time.

On the left (in primer), the first production aircraft, on the right (grey livery) the prototype.