FSX:Acceleration carrier functionality and moving parts are 100% working
No bump mapping for now. I'll do it if I'll find the time.
Flight Simulation projects by Dino Cattaneo. Current home to the T-45C Goshawk, F-14D Tomcat, S-3B Viking and F-35 Lightning II projects for Flight Simulator X:Acceleration and Prepar3D v3.0. Also: opinions, reviews and findings about recreational flight simulation and flight games.
Above are the trial renderings of my new FSX project, a Grumman F-14D Tomcat for FSX:Acceleration.
Like the Goshawk, it will be a native FSX:Acceleration model in order to have properly working hook/lanchbar and HUD / MFDs, as well as the all the other FSX features. It will be an F-14D that is the last version of the 'cat (which basically has the same GE engines of the F-14B and completely new avionics, including a modernized cockpit). The external model is 70% done and working, while the cockpit and flight modeling have not been started yet.
The reason why I chose to (re)make the Tomcat is that it is simply one of the most fascinating flying machines ever. The reasons why I chosed the D version is that a lot of features can be reused from the Acceleration hornet, and I can also reuse some of the work I did on the Goshawk.
Following the increasing complexity of Flight Simulator X, developing a new aircraft has become a very time consuming hobby. As I am a full time mechanical engineer, and as I have many different interests and time-wasting activities, it is very hard to find the time to continue developing software for FSX. But the projects I'm working on are also looking so nice that it is also hard to stop designing.It is also hard to provide a release date. I'd like to finish it before Christmas, but I am doubtful I can deliver...
I have put MB-339 project in "stand by" for now. I simply do not have time to do both and the Tomcat is at a much more advanced stage. One thing I can tell you is that the new base mesh provided by Massimo Taccoli looks really good.
Last, a request for help: I am disperately seeking high res pictures of the F-14D pilot cockpit (I'm looking for details of the side consoles and the "display/tailhook panel"): If you can provide them please e-mail me at email@example.com
PC Pilot magazine issue featuring the Goshawk
As a side note, I have to confess it is the first time I got my hands on a "real" (i.e.made of actual paper) flight simulation magazine. Well, PC Pilot is good. Lots of useful information and interesting articles. Ok, the content is not much different from what you can find on several online sites, but it is really well presented - and I still think that paper is much more readable than a web page.
USMC Goshawk repaint by RussIt is a real pleasure for me to see that so many people all around the world enjoy the Goshawk, and it is an even greater pleasure to see that there are people who develop their own additions.
The updated version of the T-45C Goshawk for FSX has been uploaded to both avsim.com and flightsim.com and will soon be available for download. The file name you should look for is T45CFSXB.zip
This is the complete list of changes that made their way to the final package:
-added two liveries: USN without sq.insignia, USN Training Wing 1
-added user-defined identification numbers (numbers can be changed in aircraft selection window)
-added pilot & instruction animations
-fixed instructor HUD shape
-fixed light position (some lights are now hardcoded in the mdl)
-fixed point of view position in spot views
-fixed minor flaw in flaps animation
-added few minor details
-Added MFD functionality: Power/BRT/CNt controls work as well as all keys; as the code is from Accelleration Hornet,incorrectly show 2 engines and working radar.
-Added some HUD functionality (altimeter mode; power/brt; azimut & elevation controls)
-Added functional radios (COM1/COM2/NAV1).Only active frequency selector work. FSX stock radio and GPS can be brought to screen by pressing SHIFT+2 & SHIFT+3.
-Replaced non-working TACAN with NDB (display only - knobs do'nt work)
-Following controls/switches now working: Flood/cabin light; Fire test; Warning test (incorrectly not all lights will light up while tested); Formation light; COM 1 / COM 2 / NAV1 audio selector
-Slightly moved and modified AoA indexed for readability
-Added blane profile to attitude indicator
-Fixed Vertical Velocity indicator bug (zero was not properly set).
- Slightly higher roll rate
- Update checklist to include new functionality
Some (minor) problems are still there. I hope they do not bother you too much....and since many are asking, these are thr projects I'm working on:
Grumman F-14 Tomcat: I've not yet decided which version, probably F-14D Supertomcat. I am rebuilding it from scratch (it will NOT be a port of the FS2004 version). I already did some work last year, and it is not bad, so there is a good chance that the external model will be ready in a month or so. If there will be a market opportunity, this may be my first payware release. I am sorry to ask money for what is basically a hobby, but the development efforts required to make a good FSX plane is huge.
Aermacchi MB-339PAN: I'm sure you know Massimo Taccoli, and his excellent work. Massimo was so kind to give me his 3D mesh of the 339 to work on it. I've already begun placing some textures, and it's looking good.
I've just finished making the changes and improvements driven by the feedback by the beta testers. I think the overall product quality is significantly improved.
Most relevant changes were:
- External model: better overall fuselage, more accurate nose shape and windshield details. New, more accurate flap design. Improved wing shape. Gear doors relax to open position when the engine is off. Animated launch bar.
- Virtual cockpit: added functionality, improved night lighting and warning lights. Fixed miscellaneous details and improved textures.
- Flight model: more accurate approach speeds, roll rate, aerobatic capability.
I'm making the final touches and will post to Flightsim.com and Avsim.com in the next few days. It will be FREEWARE. While I think it is on par with professional add-ons, and while I spent a lot of time and efforts doing this, I wish to keep the hobbies separate from the businness.
Virtual cockpit - visually complete (working to get more functionality)
Yesterday night (well, properly it was today early morning) I've released a (sort of) beta version to volunteer test sim-pilots. Above it is how it looks...the outside model is almost unchanged, while the virtual cockpit is finally (visually) complete.
I think the cockpit is reasonably close to the original. As I could not make a working AoA needle, I 've replaced it with a G-meter. Also, many warning lights are inop and I've also moved some of them...but apart from these details, I think it is Ok. Well, most switches are inop right now...but I am trying to see what I can do to add functionality to the cockpit.
I am also trying to work out a checklist that is both as close as possible to the original but also manageable by the average sim (and the simmer).
The instructor virtual cockpit was dropped. It is doable, but would have made the 3D model even bigger (and it is already very heavy...) and would have been difficult to manage.
The only major thing that is undecided is the big question: payware or freeware? It started as a freeware project. I do not want my hobbies to become work as: 1) I already have a job 2) if you do these kind of things for profit you end up doing what the market ask, rather than what you would like to do.
On the other hand, the work on this project has been very time consuming. And time is money. And I may need some financial reasons to keep doing such big things for FSX. To be or not to be....
T-45C Goshawk approaching to a carrier (DX10)
Another Goshawk carrier landing in FSX:Acceleration!
T-45C Goshawk dynamic virtual cockpit
Flight model is ok, not great. Needs some tweaking. The plane behaviour is generally fine, and handiling is nice (but ailerons are not as effective as they should be). Carrier landing is relatively easy (and easier than the F/A-18 I think) but you need to fly 10-15 Kts faster than the real thing. I'm working on this too.
Ah, I may need the help of Beta test pilots. Not sure if I will do a proper Beta test, but if I do I may be looking for virtual pilots with some experience. Knowledge of carrier operations and ability to install add-ons manually is a must. If you are willing to help, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (and specify T-45 in the subject).
Second, I'd like to answer to the most recurrent question that is:"What about a FSX version?
Above are two renderings of the main project I'm working on in these days. It is a Boeing T-45C Goshawk model for Flight Simulator X Acceleration. The T-45C is a carrier capable version of the British Aerospace Hawk and it is currently employed by the U.S.Navy as jet trainer for strike fighter pilot candidates.
The main features of this project will be:
- FSX-compliant external model, including bloom, self shadowing and bump maps
- Full virtual cockpit, with 3D gauges, MFD and HUD. Due to several constraints the cockpit will only be partially functional. HUD and MFD will be aliased from FSX:Acceleration F/A-18
- Full FSX:Acceleration carrier CATOBAR compatibility
Actual screenshots and a preview of the cockpit will follow soon. I may need beta-test pilots in the near future, so, if you're interested to help, keep visiting this blog.
For those who may be interested, the model has 80.000 polygons. The images above took 40 minutes to render on a Athlon 64X2 6400, 8800GT, 4Gb RAM machine.