Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Mini-review: Grumman S2F-3 Tracker for FSX (freeware)
When I started this blog, apart from sharing updates on my work, I also wanted to share my impressions and findings about flight simulation, flight games and, from time to time, real aviation.
Now, as you probably know if you read my blog, I am always struggling to find the time to make some significant progress with my projects, not to say play FSX apart from flight testing my own creations. This is a shame because there are lots of wonderful freeware and payware add-ons that are truly worth downloading and spend some time with.
Lately, my favourite diversion from Tomcat test flights has been the Grumman S2F-3 Tracker for FSX (freeware). This is a FSX-native conversion from an FS2004 project by Milton Shupe, conversion done by Eagle Rotorcraft which also added FSX specific features like bump and specular mapping.
Let me spend few words to thank all the people involved in this project and specifically thank Milton Shupe for all the excellent aircrafts he delivered during all this years. I've always been impressed by the quality of his work and I still remember being completely blown away from his most excellent Howard 500 several years ago in FS2004.
The S2F-3 was the first purpose-built, single airframe Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft to enter service with the U.S.Navy, serving from 1952 to 1976 (according to wikipedia). It also served in many air forces and navies around the world including my beloved Italian Air Force, and, after retirement, found a second life in the fire-bombing role.
As for this FSX rendition, the first thing to say is that the outer model is really great: excellent graphic quality with great attention to detail and a very good performance in terms of frame rate.
I am not a "rivet counter", nor an expert on this specific aircraft at all, but to my untrained eye it also seems very accurate in any detail I've examined. Well done.
Sound package is convincing, and although I cannot guarantee on its authenticity, it seems to fit very well to this type of aircraft.
A similar comment can be made on the flight model... I have not checked its performance against the real thing, but it seems believable for an aircraft of this kind and size - and it is fun to fly, which afterall is what matters most IMHO.
It is worth to note that carrier operations with the Tracker will present some specific challenges to people like me, which fly almost uniquely fast jets. Approach speeds are much slower, but so is the aircraft response to your inputs, and then the flight model has a slight tendency to float. It took a little to me to get used to it: since its controls are not very reactive, especially on the roll-axis, you will not have many chances to correct mistakes during the approach. It requires special attention and it is lots of fun.
The weak point of the package, if I may say so, is the Virtual Cockpit, which is way above the average for a freeware plane, but not quite on par with some payware addons, but that's being really nitpicky since the VC it does its job quite nicely.
So, long story short, if you love naval aviation in FSX as much as I do, the Tracker is a must download. Great piece of freeware.
And by the way, also the Grumman E-1B Tracer, from the same authors, has been recently converted - I have not downloaded it yet...since I am sure it will slow down the development of my Tomcat significantly!
Homepage for the FSX (con)versions of both aicrafts is here:
EAGLE ROTORCRAFT CO-OP PROJECTS (Grumman Tracker & Tracer)
P.S. Note that, to launch the aircraft from a carrier in Acceleration, you need to manually edit the aicraft.cfg and add this section:
launch_bar_pivot= 14.5, 0, -5.5
launch_bar_lug= 16.0, 0, -7.5