Monday, November 23, 2009

F-35A Development and testing plans

F-35 AA-1 for FSX flying over NAS Fort Worth

If you have been following this blog in the past few weeks, you are surely aware that the development of the F-35 is lagging behind the schedule. Originally I planned a Beta test in October and an official release in November. Fact is that I've missed those deadlines by far, and that is not much a result of bad planning as much as it is the consequence of the fact that my "real" job has been absorbing much more time and energy than usual in the past few weeks...

Anyway, seeing the real F-35 project making some major steps is bringing back some inspiration to complete its virtual counterpart - albeit I still have to figure out a way to find the time needed :-)

The major oustanding item on my checklist is the cockpit. Some parts are complete, some others are nothing more than a rough sketch... Honestly I don't know when I will find the time to complete it. But, in order to save some time from the development cycle, I am thinking to release an Alpha build (without the VC) soon in order to sort the main issues of the external and flight models asap. I have not decided yet - as I have to fix some minor details first.

In the meantime, I want to clarify some points and answer some FAQ's.

Freeware or Payware - This is the first project I started from scratch as payware (and I thought I've always been clear on this). Final price and distribution methods are yet to be defined, but I think a fair price would be in the $10-15 range. Free copies of the final product will be given to testers and selected supporters. In case I realize that the project will not achieve a resonable quality level for payware and never will, I will release it for free.

Paypal donation - I have received some emails saying "As the F-35 is payware, why should I make a paypal donation?" - Well, the truth is that the paypal donate button has been added on request of several F-14 and T-45 users. I have plans to update both as soon as the F-35 is released, and the "donate" button was kept in this perspective. Still, I understand this may be misleading - so I am thinking to remove the button. As compensation for any misunderstanding, whoever has done a donation so far (i.e.prior to this post) will receive, upon request, the test versions of the F-35 when available.

Beta testing - As explained above, I have no idea when the F-35 will be ready for beta testing and I am considering an alpha-test release. Once I have decided, I will make a post on this blog on how to partecipate to the testing. The number of testers will be limited - and some slots will be reserved to supporters, friends and contibutors. NOTE: I will only consider Beta testing applications received as per the instructions that will be posted.

FSX SP2 or Acceleration - Not decided yet. Current build is based on Acceleration.

Depicted birds - At present, only AA-1 bird is done. This is the first F-35 prototype, conventional take-off and landing. Most likely, AF-1 (first production representative, weight-optimized CTOL plane) will be done too, as well as an "finished" operative F-35A with and without external loads - of course, this one will be based on latest official drawings but will include some guess-work.

VTOL & CV variants - They have not been completely ruled out yet...but it is unlikely I will do them. Yes, they are similar to the F-35A - but some of the differences are pretty big. For example, the F-35B fuselage is unique while the F-35C wing is much larger and has spoilers and folding mechanism...

Flight model - The preliminary flight model is based on all of the official data I could find...and a big amout of guessing. I'll do my best to provide a realistic flight model - but cannot guarantee its fidelity for obvious reasons.

Your comments will be appreciated as always.

Monday, November 16, 2009

F-35A wip update

F-35 AA-1 external model is almost finished

While some aviation enthusiasts do not like its shape very much, I have to confess I like it. It looks modern and functional... but then, I have also to confess I liked also the "Fugly Fighter" X-32...

I'm still not happy with the reflections on some areas of the fuselage... some tweaks are needed - probably there is something I should fix in the fuselage normal map.

Refuel receptacle doors opening test - passed! F-35B and F-35C do not have this receptacle, but they feature a retractable probe nearby the canopy.

Weapon bay doors opening test - passed. As shown in this image, the F-35A can carry two AMRAAMs and two 2000lb JDAMS internally. Also, six removable pylons can be mounted for external loads.

Testing the flight model with a 4g turn. Flight model is still preliminary - while not perferct it is a good start.

Finally I found the time and mood to do some (much needed) progress with the F-35. There are a couple of annoying glitches in the external model which require some ironing, but as you can see in the screenshots above, the external model is done. I have a couple of "spare" animation sequences to be assigned - but I'll be leaving these for the finishing touches. The main priority is the completition of the cockpit, which is far behind the schedule. But, you know, I also have a "real" job and a social life :-)
By the way, I've just seen the first pictures of the real F-35 AF-1 bird (the first "weight optimized" plane)...and I have to say I am slightly disappointed as I expected a flashy painscheme (that I would have added to the package) while the actual plane took off with many areas still in their "native" acid-green primer color - which I'm not sure makes much sense for my FSX model.
Also, I've read that BF-1 (the first VTOL bird) has been transferred to Patuxent River NAS for a series of tests that will culminate in the first vertical landing. Cool stuff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Javier Fernandez releases v2.0 of his oustanding carrier package.

Nimitz V2.0 features underway replenishment visual model (and many other improvements including steam effect for catapults)
I just wanted to share the word that Javier Fernandez has released version 2.0 of his outstanding carrier package for FSX. It is really a must-have for every FSX user, as, within the limits of FSX, it is a practically perfect rendition of a Nimitz class carrier. Includes various deck configurations and dozens of easter eggs: freeware (and most payware) add-ons do not get much better than this. And it is fully Acceleration compatible.
As for my own projects, I have to confess I did not work too much on them recently for two reasons: one is the lack of time and the other is the release of some outstanding videogames on the Xbox 360 (Fifa 2010, Forza Motorsport 3 and Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2) which are absorbing most of the time I spend at home. I will make a post about the status of the F-35 project in a day or two.
EDIT - I forgot to say that the file is available at and the ships are configured as "proper" ships - this means you need AICarriers (or a bgl file that contains routes for them - some are available at sim-outhouse)