Thursday, December 30, 2010

First flight of the new T-45C (and first carrier landing of course!)

Finally I've exported the T-45C model into FSX - and needless to say I took it around the boat for some traps. I'm very happy with the quality of the work so far. Most of the external model is done, the main outstanding area being the cockpit and the canopy.
Soon I'll start working on the virtual cockpit. It is not yet clear to me how long it will take, as I cannot say how many parts can be reused from the previous version (which has several inaccuracies). But the external model is just few hours from being done!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Another rendered image of the new T-45C

Another rendered image of the new T-45C showing some progress. The textures are still preliminary and lack some detail - however it should already look better than the previous one IMHO. The external model is approximately 70% done. Fuselage,wings, stabilzers, rudder and the main landing gear are done. I still have to work on the cockpit and the nose gear, as well as several minor details like lights and antennas...
I'm quite happy with the results, however I have no idea when it will be ready for testing - although I plan to make the first flight in FSX soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

T-45C remake - first look at the 3d model

Just a quick post to show you the status of the T-45C 3D model. The image above is rendered - so the in-game look shall differ. I do not like to post rendered images as they may be misleading, but on the other hand, diffuse and reflection maps are far from being complete so, at the moment the model looks black when in-game.
As you can see the main things are there and working. Some areas still need texturing, but 60% of the work is done. The cockpit area is probably the least detailed for now, while some other areas may need some tweaking. IMHO it is much more accurate than the previous one. The major mistake is the shape of the outer gear doors, which are slightly too "pointy" - unfortunately remaking them requires a lot of work - so I'll probably live with them as they are.
That is it for now. I still have some difficulties in finding the time (and the motivation) to work on FSX these days. Honestly, in these weeks, when I come back home after a whole day designing new products on Pro/Engineer (which is my paying job) the last thing I want to see is the another 3D modeling software...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New simulation platforms: Microsoft Flight and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D

The past few days have been very interesting for flight simulation enthusiasts: from one side Microsoft has released a new video of Microsoft Flight, from the other Lockheed Martin is close to release the Prepar3D simulation platform, which is based on Microsoft ESP technology (that is basically the FSX engine).

Let's start with Flight. The last video released by Microsoft is the first one that shows what appears to be in-game footage (the previous ones were clearly pre-rendered CGI "teasers") and shows a Boeing Stearman taking off. It is very interesting because it seems to use an evolution of the FSX engine, with better shadows and some nice touches like the blending between the runways/taxiways and the sorrounding grass and ground (unless it is a photoreal texture, but I do not think so). Apart from that, it seems very similar to FSX, so it may well be that Flight is an evolution of FSX, with better and more efficient engine and better graphics - and hopefully good chances to have (some) backward compatibility. And, some more missions (with more attentions to beginners) and Live features. That is what I hope, at least.

Microsoft Flight website HERE

Another interesting take is Lockheed Martin's Prepar 3D. This environment is built upon Microsoft ESP simulation technology, which is basically Flight Simulator X. The interesting thing is that Lockheed Martin has added some features, like, apparently, better water modeling -including water depth and the possibility to go underwater e.g. for submarines- sensor modeling and better terrain modeling for continental USA. Priced at $499 it is intended as a semi-professional generic simulation tool, but it is basically an FSX-derivative and the add-ons seem to be cross-compatible.
Prepar 3d website is HERE.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking a break from FSX

I am sorry but I have to take a (small) break from FSX development.
Currently my job is absorbing much of my time - and honestly I do not want to spend the whole day in front of a computer screen.
I simply have no time right now - I hope things will get better in the next weeks.

Here is a the status of the projects I'm working on - and my thoughts:

F-35B - 80% of the external model is done - but the quality is not homogeneous, meaning that some areas look good while some others are barely acceptable. The fact is that it is extremely difficult to convert the model due to the high number of boolean operations I did (i.e. "cut and paste"). Each operation introduces and error - and some errors have been introduced by the mesh optimization algorithms I've applied...
In the end, I am not sure what to do. It is not good enough for release, but it is a little too good to go directly to the trashcan...

F-35C - As I thought, this is even more difficult than the -B. The first attempt in modeling the new wings looked ugly and was scrapped.

T-45C - This is looking very good. The new external model is much better - although it is only 50% done - and very efficient in terms of resouce usage. It is probably the best work I did in terms of compromise between visual quality and fps performance.

F-14D - The external model is almost done, although it still lacks wing animations. It looks great but it is a frame rate killer. As for the cockpit, I have not decided yet which part can be carried over and which ones should be redone. Redoing usually means better quality - but, of course, much longer lead times...

Right now I am thinking to close the F-35 projects (I've been evaluating some minor updates to the A model...but dropped them as nobody would have noticed) and work only on the T-45. But, as I said, I need to take a break for a while. I will keep you updated.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back to work... project update

I finally came back home few days ago from a long (but very interesting) businness trip to the United States and I have to confess that, right now, I am struggling to find the motivations to work on FSX.It is not because of the recent announcement of Microsoft Flight. It is just the fact that add-on development requires inspiration. Even payware requires it, as, at present, my revenue for the F-35 is around 4 Euros per working hour. But again, the F-35 was a fund-rising initiative - this figure is just to give an idea of what are the earnings you can expect.
So, not much inspiration in these days. And Halo Reach and Fifa 11 on the X360.
Still here is an update of the projects I'm working on... In detail:

  • F-35A Lightining II - Finally some Air-to-air configurations images have been released to the public, sporting an impressive load of 12x Amraam + 2x Asraam... And I would really like to add this configuration to the F-35A, along with some other minor fixes. So, most likely a further update is inbound. Also, I've tried to add specular and bump maps to the cockpit model...and quickly overshoot FSX framebuffer limitations. There are workaround for this, like splitting the polys in different framebuffers as I did for external models, but this will impact the frame rates, so I'll probably drop this feature.

  • F-35B VTOL version -I've started making one, and it is not looking that bad. Will post some details in the next few days. Yes, I know IRIS is making one - but I simply could not resist. Then I have no idea when and if it will be finished.

  • F-35C CATOBAR version - I've started this one too...but blending a completely new wing to the existing model is very complex. The first attempt was really ugly. I will try again, but it is harder than I expected, so I am not sure it will ever be good enough for release.

  • T-45C Goshawk - Fuselage and wings 3d models are done and they are MUCH better than the previous one. I'm also trying to keep the polycount low with some success. Also I've redone the main landing gear and it is closer to the real thing (and finally retracts correctly).

  • F-14D Tomcat - Professional 3d data is looking great, although it is a frame-rate killer. I honestly have no idea when I will be able to complete it. Also, I've seen that Aerosoft has started their own F-14A project, which, for Tomcat fans like me, it is great news. I wish all the best to the Aerosoft team - I am sure that they can deliver a spectacular Tomcat. They are good designers and if their F-14 turns out to be as good as the F-16 I will surely purcahes it. As for my rendition...well, I am quite happy with it right now - but again it take a long time before it is ready.

  • Unidentified Aermacchi project - well, not much work so far. Likely to be the first Aermacchi for Flight (just joking!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

F-35 update to version 1.15 available at SimMarket

The updated F-35A installation file is available at SimMarket.
In addition to the changes listed, I've also fixed a minor texturing mistake in the fuselage (close to the refuel doors).
IMPORTANT! To the recipients of complimentary copies: I did a mistake in the email with the download link - the password shall be typed ALL in LOWERCASE. Apologies for the incovenience.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

F-35 Update to version 1.15 - almost ready

A quick update as I've changed my FSX priorities... Since I will leave for few weeks for a businness trip, I've decided to pack the latest improvements I did on the F-35 and release an update before leaving.
Do not expect any major upgrade... they are just few minor enhancements that otherwise would have sat on my hard disk for quite a while.

In detail:
- Emergency tailhook animation and geometry redone (should be closer to the real thing...or at least to my interpretation of the photos circulating on the internet... afaik, no clear images are publicly available at the moment I am writing)
- Vapor and whiskers effects redone - now they are less bulky and look better IMHO
- Afterburner effects redone - longer flame in stage 2 and much longer flame in stage 3...also better color and less bleeding
- Removed the big antenna from the top surfaces for "operational" model (such antenna does not show on the real AF-3, which is the first plane with complete mission systems... probably is replaced with an internal one).

That is it... I told you it was not much. I will probably send the files to SimMarket tonight or tomorrow.

Aside I just wanted to let all my fellow Italian simmers know that I'd love to make an Aermacchi MB-339. I do not consider the project dead yet - simply I do not have time to work on it right now.
In particular, I do not have much time to acquire and study the necessary documentation... it takes a really a lot of time.
But I promise that, once the new F-14 and T-45 are ready, the next in the line will be an Italian plane - most likely one from our beloved aircraft makers in Varese.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Projects update

Unfortunately for my social life and my hobbies, my "real life" job will absorb the vast majority of my time in the upcoming weeks - this means that a lot of ideas I had for my new FSX projects will be delayed or, most probably, cancelled. Businness is businness...

So, for what concerns FSX, I've decided to focus only on updates/remakes of the existing projects. Here is a brief overview of what I am working on:

T-45C Goshawk remake
I am very happy to see that my T-45C project has been appreciated so much by the community. However, it was my first FSX project...and I realize it could have been (much) better. So, as you can see from the image above, I am remaking it (almost) from scratch. I'll keep only the very best bits of the previous build - but at least 75-80% of the modeling will be redone.
The major difference is that now I have the T-45C NATOPS to work with, so the new Goshawk should be more accurate. The planned features are:
  • New, more accurate external model - with several optimizations for good frame rates
  • New, more accurate Virtual Cockpit for both pilot and instuctor seats (if possible)
  • Enhancements to the flight model to bring it closer to the NATOPS spec.

The current status of the project is well portrayed in the picture above... Fuselage and wings are done while I've started remaking the gears (kinematics in the previous version were wrong) and the interior details. All the textures will be remade, and this time most of them will be hand-drawn. I have no idea when it will be ready for its first flight.

F-14D Tomcat remake

Yes, yet another Tomcat version... it's an obsession. This time I've acquired professional 3D data to work with, hence the 3D model will be even more accurate. As I had to face a significant cost for the data, the chance is that there will be two versions: one will be a fully functional, pilot-only, time-unlimited freeware version - and the other could be a payware version which may have also the RIO cockpit and possibly alternate weapon configurations. But, this is just an idea for now. I have not made a list of the planned features of this project - even if, as you can see in the screenshot, a very preliminary build is already flying on my computer. And it is looking good, IMHO.

F-35 update

From what I know of the FSX add-on market, I think the F-35 release has been a good success, especially if you consider that the Lightning II is a very peculiar machine to model. From the feedbcak I've received, it seems that there are no major issues - but are few minor areas that may need some work. I am not sure when I will have the time to release an update - but most likely it will be in early October.

That's it for now - you feedback will be appreciated as always, but I'll be travelling for businness for the rest of the it may take a while for me to reply.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freeware Genova and Liguria scenery for FSX!

Finally a good, FSX native scenery of my hometown...and it is freeware!!!!

Some guys at have created a wonderful scenery of Genova my beloved hometown, as well as a complete 2m/pixel photoreal scenery of the whole Ligurian region (which extends from the French border to Tuscany).

The default FSX rendition is extremely poor and while Utimate Terrain does improve the rendering, the final result is far from being realistic - it is a kind of landscape that it is very hard to render realistically without photoreal textures.

The scenery includes a highly detailed and accurate Genova Sestri Airport (LIMJ), which is where I took my real-life PPL almost 18 years ago, a 1m/pixel photoreal scenery of (most of) the city including autogen and custom models for several landmarks and monuments.
As a further bonus, the whole city of Sestri Levante, including Riva Trigoso and its shipyard, is also rendered with custom buildings.
The scenery is a great addition to FSX. Hopefully the designers will improve it by adding more autogen and possibly making custom sceneries for Albenga and Luni airports,
The scenery can be dowloaded at OZx website.
The authors' forum is here (and in this forum you will also find several other interesting sceneries) and a youtube video is here.
By the way, the Scenery Italy Real X project team has posted a video on youtube about their rendition if Genova some time ago... and it looks even more incredible *BUT* it seems they are having some difficulties, and it is unlikely we will be able to fly it anytime soon. Anyway, here is the link.

Above the Aeroclub parking lot. Note the custom buildings with photoreal texture and the hangars of Piaggio Aero Industries on the background (that is where the Piaggio P-180 is manufactured)

Flying over Genova towards Portofino (note the extensive Autogen coverage).

Flying short final on runway 29 brings back memories of my first solo flight (in truth it was not my best landing...). The area in front of the runway was a major steel mill - nowadays it is almost closed and the area is being converted to other purposes.

The Albenga airport (LIMG) is within the photoreal coverage - it is just the default airport, but it is aligned quite well to the textures. No autogen in this area, however.

The town of Sestri Levante is completely modeled in 3d with custom object (probably the hometown of one the authors) and is a nice bonus. Note the Fincantieri Shipyards of Riva Trigoso in the background (this is one of the major shipyards in Italy - mostly used for military ships)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

F-35A version 1.1 released a SimMarket

The new version of the F-35A is available at SimMarket. It is a full installation - not a patch: new customers will get the latest release, while existing customers should have received a download link to the installer.
It may take a little while for servers to update - if it does not work in few hours please contact SimMarket and/or let me know.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Microsoft Flight

Microsoft has just announced the next iteration of Flight Simulator...which is not "Simulator" anymore:


Needless to say, the fact it is not "Simulator" anymore has caused some panic on some hardcore-simmers... But I am confident that Microsoft just wants to make the game more accessible - and more "game like" - for the ones who like it so (like they did with the introduction of "Missions" in FSX). Most likely, you will be able to set the realism lever to maximum...and have an "serious" simulator (providing you consider Flight Simulator serious)!

My hopes are that this new platform will be built on a more efficient and modern engine, and retains keep backward compatibility... at least at some degree.
My major fear is that Microsoft may want to introduce a Live-only distribution for add-ons (possibly through a certification) which may bring profits to Microsoft...and kill independent developers like me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

F-35A - patch to version 1.1 almost ready

In the past few days I've been working on a patch for the F-35A. It is almost ready and will be deployed to SimMarket as soon as possible. As many files are affected, I am unsure if it is better to release a patch or a full installation. In any case, customers should be able to download the new files by accessing their customer account.
The patch will include (but will not be limited to) the following features/fixes:

- New wing vapor effects (embedded in the mdl, will not affect third party a/b effects or the light system). The effect shows when pulling more than 4.5 Gs. Wing vapor effects were not meant to be included in the initial release. I've been experimenting with them for a while on older build, using Team KBT effects. The placeholder effect was included in the main release for a mistake - and in fact it was a copy of the Team KBT's effect - my most humble apologies to the authors.

- New "whiskers" effects (embedded in the mdl, as the vapor) nearby the air intake (as seen on some real F-35 pictures. This effect shows when the AoA is in excess of 25 degrees.

- New weapon configuration with two external fuel tanks and two Jdams (the "unusual" shape of the tanks should be the actual one - according to the information I have)

- Fixed main wheel texture mismatch

- Minor graphics glitch in the FUEL page

- Minor optimization to the MFD rendering resolution (should help lower-end systems)

- Minor optimization in the visual model visibility conditions (should provide minimal frame rate increase)

- Alternate .cfg with wrong contact points but no micro-oscillations of the cockpit

- Fixes miscellaneous typos in the aircraft.cfg

Monday, August 2, 2010

F-35A Lightning II for FSX:Acceleration - Support post

F-35 Lightning II for FSX:A soaring over Nevada desert
First, I'd like to thank you all for purchasing the F-35 and, most important, for the very positive feedback I've received and the nice comments I've seen circulating on the Internet.
Second, as the project is lacking a support forum so far, I thought it was a good idea to create this post as reference for the known product issues and fixes.
I will release a patch, in future, to address all the issues I can - although I am not sure I can fix them all - but I will not do that immediately, as I think it is better to wait a little in order to collect feedback from a wider user base (by the way the patch will be available though SimMarket - by accessing the customer account page).
By the way, I'd like to thank Orion Lyau for his corrections to the product manual.
Here is the list of the question I've received or issues highlighted by current customers, and their fix if possible:

Wing Vapor Showing when the "L" key is pressed

Reason - this is a mistake from my side during the final build compilation. I've been toying with additional special effects for a while but I've decided to leave them out. Unfortunately I've left the provisional vapor effect file in the final build.

Fix - either remove the F-35 vapor effects or the entry in the lights section of the aircraft.cfg (I will provide more specific indications soon - as I am not writing from my FSX computer). Will be addesssed in the next patch/upgrade.

The plane rotates slightly when it is parked or still on the ground

Reason - this is the same "micro-oscillation" issue described in the FAQ section of the manual. For some reason, there is a contact point instability that causes some "microbouncing" when the plane is not moving - the resultant effect is a (very small) rotation. This was solved in the Betas by modifying the gear points location, but in the final build I've preferred to use the right location for more accurate landing behaviour.

Fix - no proper fix available as the exact root cause has not been clearly identified

Slow frame rates in the virtual cockpit on some systems

Reason - Some systems may not handle too well the complex, high resolution MFD and HUD. The settings I've used in the final build provide the maximum clarity, but it is possible to reduce rendering resolution of the digital instruments in the cockpit by editing the panel.cfg file.

Fix - it is possible to decrease the resolution of the digital displays by editing the panel.cfg file. I will include an alternate panel.cfg in the next patch/upgrade, but a do-it-youself solution is provided in this thread of the Sim-outhouse forum

Q - Is (or will) the F-35A available for purchase on other websites or methods other than SimMarket?

A - No. The F-35 is exclusively available through SimMarket. Besides I would have no time to manage direct sales or other accounts.

Q - Will you make a simplified version that could work on lower end computers?

A - No, I'm sorry. The F-35 project was aimed at high-end systems from the beginning. Redesigning it would be too time consuming, and definitely out of the project scopes. The new T-45C I'm working on, on the other hand, has been designed to have a good performance - as I think this is essential to that project.

Q - Are you making the F-35B and F-35C, too? If so, are they going to be free upgrades or stand-alone products?

A - I have not decided yet. The F-35B and F-35C are very different from the F-35A - most important, it is technically difficult to modify the F-35A model to replicate those planes. I've been working on a "transitional" model for a while, that is a "neutral" F-35 model that could be more easily turned into an F-35B and -C, but I have not decided yet what to do. Besides, the F-35B would require external code (Rob Barendregt's VTOL code+FSUIPC) to perform proper STOVL operations, and I do not have the resources to support that. Aside, the F-35B and -C would need dedicated virtual cockpits. Long story short, I've not ruled them out yet - but I may need to simplify the project. As for their distibution method it is, of course TBD.

Q - What is the next project you will be doing (off topic, but frequently asked)?

A - I will make a post about my current projects soon. I'd like to do a lot of things, including the much requested MB-339, but I do not have time. I have a full time "day" job...and, believe it or not, a full and satisfying social life. This leaves very little time for my hobbies - and, if anything, the F-35 project is showing me that breaking even with FSX payware is a success. In any case, this is what I have on the drawing board.

  • T-45C Goshawk remake - the project goals are a more accurate visual model optimized for better fps; more accurate flight model; actual two-seat student/instuctor cockpits; in general, higher accuracy and fidelity to real NATOPS manual. This will surely be a freeware project.
  • F-14D Tomcat remake - I'm still not happy with the current Tomcat and I've already acquired professional 3d data and textures to work with. In this case, the scope would be maximum detail and accuracy. It is a project that is pushing FSX at its limits. I'd like it to be a freeware project, but there are some issues like data licensing and associated costs that I need to solve - I'll see what I can do.
  • Aermacchi MB.339, Aermacchi M346, McDonnell-Douglas TA-4J "Scooter, North American T-2 "Buckeye", Socata TB.9... all of these planes have been on the drawing board, for some reason or another. Some of these are just sketches, some others went as far as having some textures done and actually flying in FSX. But honestly, it is very unlikely I will ever find the time to complete them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

F-35A Released at SimMarket!

The F-35A is available at SimMarket!

Hope you will like it!

F-35A Warming up the engines (and apologies to Scott Printz)

The recipients of the complimentary copies have highlighted some minor glitches in the package... no major issues, and I think most of the users would have been unable to catch them. But one was a major mistake on my side, that is I misspelled the surname of Scott Printz, who is the creator of the enhanced F/A-18 HUD xml code upon which Jivko Rusev has kindly created the custom VHUD for the F-35.
So, I've decided to stop the ditribution process, fix the glitches and resubmit the files.
Changes are as follows:

- Fixed several typos in the manual, including Scott Printz's surname (once again my most humble apologies)
- Fixed VHUD version (the version included in the previous build was not the latest, due to a mistake)
- Fixed aircraft.cfg (the version included in the previous build was not the latest)
- Minor graphic glitches solved

Good news is that the new build is already on the SimMarket server - now all the required files and informations are there. It will take a little while to create the product page but should not take more than few days I hope.

The product manual has been updated and can be dowloaded HERE.

Updated complimentary copies will be resent tomorrow ( is really too late and I am falling asleep). By the way I know that some testers have not received the dowload link... my apologies, I don't know what went wrong.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

F-35 taxi to SimMarket and hold short :-)

I've just finished uploading the files to SimMarket. Everything seems OK, but it will take some time (hopefully not much) to set up the product page and make it available.

A download link to complimentary copies will be sent to the Beta testers soon - if anyone involved in the testing has not received it within few days please contact me.

In the meantime, here is a download link to the final user manual:


Aside, please note that I've had some problems with rapishare (they have changes several things, including the account rules) so I am switching to Mediafire - so most of the older files are not available anymore. However has a copy of most my freeware releases.

EDIT: Download link to complimentary copies to testers and contributors have been sent yesterday evening. If you are a tester or a contibutor and have not received it please let me know. Please note also that early deployement of such copies has not highlighted any major issue with the product, but few glitches were spotted:

- There was a slight misplacement of the head rest textures (reason: not spotted due to monitor setting - it will be invisible to many users)
- There was a slight misplacement of the wheel chocks 3d model (reason:not checked after final landing gear contact points placement - decision was taken to implement the "real" contact points regardless of the micro-oscillation issues)
- Installer could not automatically recognize FSX installation folder (typo in compiling the installer)

I've fixed these issues in the build for the final customer, and re-uploaded the file to SimMarket. As result, the current complimentary copies are slightly different from the retail copies. Apologies for the incovenience.

EDIT/2 I've received some feedback about the manual and I would like to highlight it is not completely correct about the "texture load" statement of the FSX.cfg file. That is, it is true that changing the settings in FSX will overwrite (and revert to the maximum default settings) some of the entries that control the graphics engine (in this case the maximum texture resolution - which is 1024 by default, but can be edited to 4096). This happens regardless of the fact you've changed graphics related settings or not. You cannot make the changes permanent by changing the write access as FSX will not work if the FSX.cfg is "read only".
However, there are some third party applications that will rewrite the fsx.cfg for you either by running a background process or by rewriting the .cfg every time you restart FSX.
The fact is: you can't make the changes permanent - unless you use a specific application:


EDIT/3 RED LIGHT on release. It seems that the final package contains some very minor mistakes and a big one, for me - that is one of the contributors' names is misspelled. Will fix ALL of the defects before proceeding.

Monday, July 26, 2010

F-35 is ready for deployment...but I had another hard disk failure...

Another quick update to let you know that the F-35 (including its manual) is ready for distibution. The only thing that is holding its release is that one of backup hard disks had a failure and, while the project files are safe, I cannot access some of my records, like, for example, the list of the Beta testers - which deserve proper credit in the documentation. I should be able to retrive the files tonight - and finally upload the package to SimMarket sever.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

(Partial) F-35 user manual download link (and complimentary screenshots...)

EDIT JULY 26th 2010
Just a quick update on the project - hopefully the last one before release.
The F-35 is done. It is far from being perfect - and I am sure that many enthusiasts will find several inaccuracies or defects. But I am pretty happy with it.
I am in the process of completing the user manual and then it will be released. I still do not have a release date as my paying job is absorbing much of my time - and, honestly, being so lucky to live where I live, I prefer spending my spare time at the beach rather than in front of another computer screen... let alone the fact that here in Genoa there is an unbearable heat wave in these days.

Anyway, here is a download link to the "main" part of the F-35 manual - so that you can better understand the features and the limitations of this project:


The only things that are missing are the installation/hardware requirements/credits and legal stuff. Speaking of credits, I'd like to thank once again Roberto Leonardo, for the enhancements to the flight model, and Jivko Rusev and Scott Prinz, for the custom HUD.
I'd like to remind you that while the F-35 will be payware, it will be a low cost product (final price yet TBD). Jivko, Scott and Roberto gave me their contributions for free - and this means you will get a better product at no extra cost.
Most important, as I hope you are aware of, is that my plan is to use the F-35 to raise funds to enhance both the F-14 and the T-45, which will be freeware.
So, please be patient... it is almost ready. In the meantime, here are some pictures.

USAF F-35 with full JDAMs load

USAF F-35 nearby Nellis AFB

The initial F-35 prototype AA-1 over Edwards AFB

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Internet connection restored - F-35 on short final

Finally my new home is connected to the Internet at a reasonable speed - it took almost a month, but now everything works as it should.
There are still a couple of minor tweaks that need to be propagated through the different visual models - and the manual needs to be completed / updated (I hope it will be ready today or tomorrow - as soon as the draft is ready I will provide a download link).
EDIT: "Between the tweaks, I've decided to split the folders to have different flight models: one for AA-1 (which was 4000lbs heavier and had a slightly derated engine), one for AF-1 and unarmed versions, and one for the loaded visual models. Initially I was not keen to do this as it generates several duplicated files and larger HD installation... but I think it adds significant value, as the user can appreciate the "weight watcher" effort done by Lockheed Martin engineers to bring the F-35 down to the desired weight" - I've just finished implementing this and...the file and installation size are huge - with lots of duplicate files as I thought. Final decision is to leave this feature out - and it has been cancelled. EDIT/2 - As I've received negative feedback about this decision, I've reworked the file structure so that the separate folders and flight models are back again. Total HD space required is now about 890Mb for six models (AA-1, AF-1, F-35A Dark grey, F-35A USAF, F-35A USAF with CBUs, F-35A USAF with JDAMs). Also, external weapons are visible from the VC (for track IR users).
So... the release date is still pending - as these are pretty busy weeks for my paying job...and honestly when I come back home after so many hours spent in front of a computer screen, well, another computer screen is the last thing I want to see...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

F-35 Alternate visual models

I'm still having problems with the internet connection, I am not sure when I will be able to release it...
In the meantime, a couple of pictures of the alternate "operational" visual models - paint scheme is based on promotional plastic models...
Note that they all share the same flight model.
Also, weapons will be cosmetic only - and will not have any function.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

F-35 Release date...still pending

Unfortunately the Internet connection in my new home is still far from working correctly. Connection comes and goes without any apparent logical reson - and when the modem is connected the speed can be anything from acceptable from incredibly slow. I'm a patient person, but I'm beginning to get upset (as it should have been fixed 10 days ago - and I had no feedback from the phone company)... let alone the fact that I've been unable, so far, to make a phone call from my home.

Needless to say, I will not be able to release the F-35 until the connection is fixed - my apologies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

F-35A project update and screenshots

At last I've finished moving all my stuff into my new home - which is still a mess but it is getting better every day, so I am beginning to find some time to work on the F-35. It is not yet complete, but it only needs very few hours of work.
Unfortunately I am still having major problems with the internet connection in this new house. Connection comes and goes unpredictably, and when it is there it is very slow. It should have been fixed by now, but I have not seen any improvement so far.

For the moment, the only thing I can offer are my apologies for the delay and the screenshots above...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

F-35 Lightining II - Beta 2

I've just realized that there may be a mistake in the folder structure of
the Beta 2 zip file, so it may not be installed correctly. You should move the F-35 folder in the FSX SimObject/Airplanes manually. If the installation is correct you should find three aircraft variants (AA-1, AF-01 and an unpainted one) - if you see only AA-1 then it is not correct.
My apologies for the inconvenience.

NOTE: Beta 2 has been distributed only to testers - unfortunately, the email has not reached all of the intended recipients for various reasons (including mistakes from my side). No one from the Beta team has been "banned" or intentionally left out. Unfortunately I cannot access my home email right now, nor I can fix this until my new home is connected to the internet. My apologies for any inconvenience.

UPDATE: My home computer is now operational (and with a new monitor and dedicated Raid 0 disks for FSX). Still, no internet connection at home. BTW, with a clean FSX install on Windows 7 64 bit, I experience a huge performance increase in DX10. Will write a post about that - I think my Nvidia GTX295 works much better under Win7/DX10 (compared to XP 32bit). Also, no blurries - but I guess this is more due to the Raid 0. With the same settings, DX9 is much slower (like 10-15 fps) and shows major stutters.

Unfortunatley I could not complete the RC1 version of the F-35 Lightining II project for FSX on time. As I am moving into a new home in these days I will have no time to work on it nor I will have home internet connection for a while.So, instead of the RC1, I've packed a Beta 2 release. It is not yet complete, but what is in there should be good enough for public release.

The main missing features are:
  • HMD 2D superimposed panel
  • Operational F-35 model (i.e without nose probe and with proper EOTS)
  • Model with external loads

As I will not have access to home email for a while please report EXCLUSIVELY through comments to this post.

From now on, Beta testers are authorized to discuss and comment the project publicly and post pictures (or videos) on the internet - provided that a link is given in as comment to this post.

I will resume the project and release it as soon as possible.

UPDATE - After a long struggle to make the SDK work under Win7 64bit, my home computer is operational once again (with a new monitor, a clean install of OS,FSX and SDk on new RAID hard disk). Still, no internet connection until June 3rd...


  1. JDAM pokes through weapon bay door (very small - visible only in full HD). Action: review the visual model. Status:CLOSED. Closer inspection reveals that it was a mistake in the UVW placement. Fixed on model build 59.
  2. White flash on AF-01 tail shows a small blue stripe. Action: review the texture. Status: closed - texture modified.
  3. Afterburner effects look different on DX10 preview. Action: unclear, may be it is difficult to solve without a complete redo of the effect - if so, EDIT/1: I've double checked the code and it is correct. Seems that the DX10 preview has some issues showing some special effects, at least on my machine. I will investigate other solutions, but I would not like too much modifying the existing .fx as they seem to work fine. EDIT/2: after some investigation, it looks like it depends from videocard/FSX settings - setting a limited frame rate seems to fix the issue sometimes. Basically, seems that FSX in DX10, on my system, "cuts" some special effects in order to keep the framerate high. Status:closed - no action.
  4. AF-02 Weapon Test Vehicle texture missing. Action: create the new repaint (should not be too difficult). Status:open
  5. "Mighty Gorillas" texture set and external model missing. Action: model is almost ready; create the new repaint. Status:open
  6. "Thunderbirds" texture set missing. Action: this paint scheme is technically challenging due to the texture placement; final decision pending. Status:open
  7. Jaggy shading in places. This is sue to the poly count optimization algorith I've used. This was not much visible on my previous monitor, but the new one is less forgiving, Action: improve geometry by adding polygons locally. Status: closed. Added polys in several areas.
  8. Color mismatch between side and bottom fuselage textures. Action: improve color match/blending. Status: closed (textures blend modified).
  9. Engine/fuselage interface of AF-1 model shows incorrect shading in DX10. Action: validate mesh. Status: closed (turning model into "editable mesh" fixed the issue)
  10. Remove auxiliary air intake from the upper surfaces of AF-01 and subsequent models. Action: modify the specific 3d model. Status: closed.


  1. HUD shows an halo in DX10. Action:review material propriety/disable bloom if enabled. EDIT: materials seem correct. Halo seems to be an artifact from the DX10 preview bloom algorithm. I am unsure to modify it as it looks good in DX9. Status:open
  2. MFD cover when the plane is parked was planned, and texture were made, but is not modeled yet. Action: evaluate implementation. Status: open
  3. A/T switch inop. Action: the switch is actually an A/T arm. Enable the entry in the aicraft.cfg. Status:open
  4. A/P switch inop. Action: check associated .XML code (seems to work on my machine) Status:open
  5. Request to increase the angle of the fpm on the Virtual HUD. Action: unclear. Only track-ir /freetrack users would benefit from that - for the others, seeing the fpm disappear beyond the MFD may be less desireable. Final decision pending. Status:open
  6. Mouse areas inop/misplaced. Action: awaiting to collect full list. Status:open.
  7. Minor visual interference between some details in the ejection seat area. Action: fixed in VC model 28. Status:closed.
  8. Seat cushion texture misplaced. Action:review UVW placement. Status:open


  • no issues reported so far


  • Product and flight manual missing
  • Checklists missing
  • Prepare documentation for e-commerce distributors.

Color key:

  • Green - issue solved, or mitigated to the point is acceptable or not perceived by most users.
  • Yellow -issue open, and could be perceived as product defect by many users. Awaiting action or investigation. Or issue open, mitigated to the best of my knowledge but will still be perceived as defect by users. Or issue open but appears easy to fix.
  • Red - root cause not identified as of today. Or the problem is beyond my knowledge or impossible or difficult to solve.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

F-35 Lightining II - feature complete build ready!

AF-01 model has been refined on the basis of the pictures released by Lockheed Martin recently.

This is the clean dark grey livery for repainting. An early warning to the repainters:due to some minor imperfections in the normals of some surfaces (and the resulting smoothing mistakes), repainting the fuselage in very light colors may highlight these minor defects - which are completely invisible with the default liveries or in similar colors. Should not be an issue for the vast majority of the liveries.

This is the latest build of the MFD. Several functions can be controlled by the touch screen, and you can manage its configuration in a much more flexible way than the previous builds. Still, most of the more advanced functions of the F-35 are not emulated.

Cockpit graphics have been kept as close as possible to the real plane, but some artistic licence has been taken. Also, the source material was not homogeneous (most source photos came from the AA-1 cockpit, while others were from BF-1, mock-ups and simulators). For example, the wires nearby the pedals should be covered by panels, and AFAIK the area below the MFD controls will be different in the actual planes - these discrepancies are due to the fact that the best photos I have were taken during the assembly of the AA-1 cockpit.

Yet another picture of the AF-1 over Fort Worth.

And one last for the AF-1. The real AF-1 has been retired to live-fire "slaughter" for battle damage assessment. Note the scorched surface on the left vertical stabilizer, due to the nearby exhaust of the APU. This exhaust has been moved to the lower side, afaik, with the exception of the F-35C's (due to deck crew safety concerns I think).

A very rainy evening has finally given me the time (and will) I needed to complete the remake of the MFD, which was the major oustanding item in my F-35 to-do list. The cockpit now has all the planned functions - while are fewer than the ones of the real F-35, they should be good enough for most users.
So the package is almost complete, meaning it needs some very minor debugging and the external model need to be checked against the recently released pictures of AF-1 and AF-2.
Then I need to write the checklists and the manuals and then it is ready.
The major delay will probably come from the fact that I am moving to a new home during the next couple of weeks... so I really can't tell when I will be able to release it. But I hope that the pictures above show that the project is in a very good shape and VERY close to completition.
PS - The visit of the Garibaldi STOVL carrier to my hometown - and the fact that I'm seeing it every day driving to my workplace, is revamping my intest in making the F-35B, too. The conversion is not easy as it may seem - but I'll probably give it a try.

Monday, May 3, 2010

La Garibaldi in porto a Genova !

Se vi capita di passare al porto di Genova in questi giorni, c'è la Garibaldi ormeggiata a Ponte dei Mille! Purtroppo non ho avuto occasione di visitarla, ma anche da lontano è uno spettacolo. La nave è ormeggiata a Ponte dei Mille e vi resterà fino al 5 Maggio, quando ospiterà il Presidente della Repubblica per le celebrazioni del centocinquantesimo anniversario dell'impresa dei Mille.
If you happen to step by the harbour of Genoa (not far from my home) in these days, you can see the Garibaldi light carrier docked at Ponte dei Mille. The ship is the smallest of the two Italian STOVL carriers, the other one being the Cavour. The Garibaldi is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, the national hero who 150 years ago led the "Mille" military expedition resulted in the unification of Italy.
Photos taken from the web.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In search for the Ultimate Tomcat...

As I design FSX add-ons for fun, when the projects come to the final polishing stage (which is very boring) I tend to lose the focus on their completion, and usally start working on other things.
Which in this case, as some of you are aware of, would be the T-45C update.

I've been playing with the new Goshawk for some time... but I have to confess that I could not get it right. That is, there are so many things I'd like to change that I grossly underestimated the amount of work. I've also considered buying professional 3D data to speed up thing... but apparently there is no data available. So I am not so sure it is the right thing to do, right now.
On the other hand, while looking for a T-45 3d mesh I found some nice meshes for the Tomcat at a reasonable price... Played with the 3D yesterday night and the results were really good. Long story short I am putting the T-45 on hold and make a new version of the Tomcat first.

So, the status of my projects is as follows:

F-35A Lighting II
I've almost finished remaking the MFDs. Then I have to finish a couple of repaints and the external weapons model. These are the last outstanding items in my to-do list, apart from a final round of tests - just to be sure everything works.
As for the will be release as soon as I've finished moving into my new home - and the new home is connected to the internet.

T-45C Goshawk 2.0
Delayed. Simply put, it is not coming as nicely as I hoped - and requires much more work than I thought. I have to think about that (...and find the time to read the Natops - thanks Phil)

F-14(D?) Tomcat 2.0
Warming up the engines. Initial work with professional 3D mesh is VERY promising. Undecided between B and D versions. It will be freeware, but may be will have payware additions (to cover the cost of the mesh license) - meaning that the base package will be freeware, and "optional" features (like different weapon loads) could be payware. Or a freeware "D" and a payware "B"... I don't know. Still, trust me, the preliminary build is looking very good.

TA-4J Scooter
Project evaluation. Well, the fact is I want to do a top-notch naval jet trainer - and I'm considering the TA-4J as replacement of T-45 - you know, in virtual reality you have the time to run backward :-)
It is just an idea, for now, but I'll probably make some preliminary work on it - if it will look good, I may decide to do this instead of the Goshawk...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unhappy with the F-14...

I think that product quality and developer satisfaction do not come together... I know the T-45C and the F-14D are not bad for being freeware... But I am not happy about them. That is, the more you work and the more your skills improve, and the more you learn about your modeling subject.
And then... I am also never happy with what I do, and that is the main reason for the F-35 delay - for example I just started the third version of the MFD.... which is kind of stupid, given that the previous one was working almost perfectly...
Yesterday, during some F-35 flight tests, I took the old Turkey for a spin... and was unhappy. There are several small things that could be improved, let alone the fact that rebooting the F-14 with my current skills, and possibly starting from professional 3D data like I did for the F-35, could bring a much better model.
So, long story short I am considering an update/reboot of the F-14, too. I am undecided between a quick update to the existing model, or a major rework.
Some things I do not like ad that could be fixed in a quick update (say maximum 10 hours or work) are:
- Decent afterburner effects. I think the F-35 ones are much better, and I could do similar effects for the Tomcat.
- Collimated and perfectly translucent HUD.
- Minor glitches to the external model
On the other hand, investing like 200 Euros in professional 3d data and at least 200 hours in modeling / integration with the existing Tomcat model (i.e. reusing the good stuff) could bring a much better model...
What are your opinions? What should change and what should stay the same?

Monday, April 19, 2010

F-35 project update...and other things.

It is quite a busy period for me ( always!) but I'm doing my best to complete the F-35 soon. The most time-consuming thing, for me, is that I'll be moving into a new house in the next few weeks... which, for you, means another potential delay in the F-35 release (due to the fact that it may take few weeks to activate the internet connection in my new home)... Still, rest assured that the F-35 will be released as soon as possible.

This blog

As you may have noticed, the AdSense banners are gone (their decision, not mine). While the reason for the suspension for the ads was unclear, I think it was due to the fact that I was suggesting to click the banners - which is against the AdSense rules. My fault - I had not read the AdSense policy carefully. It was not my intention to cheat or anything. Also, as I had not read my home e-mail for a while, I've missed the 72 hours time limit that AdSense gives you to fix your site. I've filed an appeal but as it was my fault it is likely that the ads are not coming back.

Not a big deal for me, although I appreciated the fact that the advertising paid for full access to, for example... Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that those empty boxes you see are, in fact, empty. Will rearrange the layout of the blog asap.

F-35 Lightning II

It is almost done, meaning that it is already at least as good as my previous project... but as I was not satisfied with the MFD "interface", I am extensively reworking it. It will be closer to the actual F-35 in both graphics and functionality, although still not as customizable to the real one and given some artistic licence for FSX limitations and playability.

I've made some minor changes to the flight model (with thanks to Roberto Leonardo for providing major improvements to the Alpha and Beta1 versions) and the external models are done - with exception of the launchers and the external loads (with should not take more than a couple of hours to make).

So, the big unanswered question is the release date.... and I have no clear answer, yet. The Beta 2 / (potential) RC1 is just few work-hours away, but the actual release date will also depend on when I will have the internet connection in my new home.

T-45C Goshawk 2.0

I had very good feedback on the "T-45 Goshawk 2.0" project. I've received the .pdf files for both the T-45A and T-45C Natops (thanks Phil) and placed them in my documentation folder - together with almost every Goshawk file available on the internet.

The only thing I'm missing right now are good, hi-res pictures of the cockpit - I have some (the ones I've used in the current release), but are not as good or as complete as I'd like.

Also, I've received some appreciation e-mails from former and current T-45C pilots, so the new version will include "first hand" feedback. By the way I was happy to hear that they found my FSX rendition to be realistic - although I've learned that in most cases, real pilots are more forgiving than other users, in terms of simulation realism... I think it is due to the fact that they realize that FSX is, afterall, just a game :-)

F-14D Tomcat

There is some chance I will make a small update to the Tomcat before reworking the T-45C. While I am not satisfied with the F-14, and while I know it can be vastly improved, there are a couple of issues with the latest release that can be easily fixed. Also, I'd like to apply some of the "tricks" I've learned making the F-35... We'll see...

By the way, seems that the download links from rapidshare are broken. Will fix that too, although you can find the Tomcat at


Unfortunately I had no time to reply to many of the emails I've received in the past few weeks -my apologies. I tried to reply to the most urgent ones - and I will reply to the others asap

That is all for now. In the next post I will provide some hi-res pictures of the latest F-35 build.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Real AF-1 ready to fly at Edwards (and F-35 drop tests)

F-35 AF-1 with final painting/finishing. Will fly to Edwards soon.

In the past few weeks, the real F-35 project achieved several major milestones, including first vertical landing for the F-35B, first flight of a fully mission-equipped plane and drop tests of the F-35C. Now the AF-1 is back from the calibration lab and received its final livery (which looks close to the one I did based on drawings - the major difference is that the real characters are smaller).

By the way seeing the F-35C drop test videos (link below, also on youtube - and good source to estimate F-35 carrier landing parameters) reminded me of drop tests we did when I was working for major mobile phones company... but on a much bigger scale!


AF-1 Completes Final Finishes, Scheduled to Return to Flight

First Lockheed Martin Mission Systems F-35 Enters Flight Test

Lockheed Martin's F-35C Lightning II Carrier Variant Undergoes Drop Testing