Saturday, May 30, 2009

F-14D Beta 2



GREEN - Issue identified and solved, or any alternative could make the things worse

YELLOW - Issue identified, but fix is either beyond my knowledge or too difficult/time consuming for me

RED - Issue open

NOTE: This issue list is compiled according to testing feedback, either comments on this post (preferred) or e-mail, but inlcude also things I've found myself and comments seen on the internet. The status indicator is my evaluation on the situation on my current build, which is, of course, newer than the Beta 2.
Visual model:

  • Wing sweep happens at much higher speed than the real plane (CLOSED: custom XML by Paolo Oriani provides flap intelock)
  • Maneuver/auxiliary flap behaviour is incorrect (CLOSED: see 1)
  • Nose probe vane is not in 3D (OPEN - unsure if it possible to fix in a reasonable time)
  • Nose probe animation glitch - nose probe animation trigger mixed with JDAM visibility trigger (CLOSED - fixed in model build 30)
  • Right slat animation glitch (CLOSED - fixed in model build 30)
  • Dihedral angle missing (CLOSED - geometry changed in model build 30)
  • Burner special effect peeks throught the engine nacelle (OPEN - .fx diameter reduced, but still visible depending on video card settings)
  • Abrupt nozzle animation (CLOSED - alternative solution evaluated but caused visual interference with the a/b)
  • Landing gear animation glitch - one part of the gear was not animated properly (CLOSED - Fixed in model build 32)
  • Landing gear animation / contact point issue - main gear sinking into runway (CLOSED - recalculated contact points "by the book" - still not perfect but much better. As side effect, catapult kneeling is less pronounced)
  • Tail "root" was missing heat exchanger detail (CLOSED - added as texture in model build 34)
  • Crew access ladder not correct (CLOSED - added new ladder geometry courtesy of Paolo Oriani).
  • Fuselage strakes too thick and tall - (CLOSED - reduced thickness and height of the strakes in model build 34)
  • Tail root geometry too thin (CLOSED - replaced tails geometry in model build 37, new geometry courtesy of Paolo Oriani)
  • Upper/lower fuselage section do not blend smoothly (CLOSED - reworked fuselage shading in model build 37)

Virtual cockpit:

  • Some MFD buttons are not working (OPEN - Reason unknown - XML code seems correct, same MFD works if compiled alone, this prevents seeing fuel status on one display and set HSI/ILS mode on the other)
  • HUD declutter/preset mode controls missing (CLOSED -Added in model build 18)
  • Several buttons/switches not working or incorrectly mapped (OPEN - for some I did not have time, others are just mistakes - please highlight the most annoying ones)
  • Radar altimeter missing (Closed - 3D Radar altimeter added to cockpit build 19, however it only shows approximate values)
  • Autothrottle not working (OPEN - Reason unknown: XML code seems correct... I can't tell why it is not working)
  • Cannot operate from "cold and dark" condition, nor it is possible to switch off everything (OPEN - Need to write a FSX checklist and make the model comply with it)
  • Pitot heat control missing (OPEN - Will add it)
  • Electrical power switch location (OPEN - Tomcat relies on external power before engine start-up. Unsure on where to place a switch for that - currently mapped on Generator Reset switch)
  • Backup ILS behaviour odd. While backup ILS activates correctly on NAV1 frequency (not linked to HUD mode), glideslope indications are not correct (CLOSED - Animation sequence was incorrect. Fixed on model build 20)
  • Misplaced texture on the HUD support (CLOSED - fixed on model build 20)
  • Gauge incorrect readings / behaviour:
  1. Total fuel quantity
  2. LT/RT aux fuel quantity
  3. VSI (odd behaviour around 0)
  4. LT/RT engine display
  5. LT/RT engine nozzle position
  6. LT/RT engine oil PSI
  7. Pressure altitude
  8. Hydraulic pressure

Flight model:

  • A more accurate approach speed has brought incorrect stall conditions. CLOSING - After evaluating different solutions, I was not able to find the right compromise between power on approach, maximum speed and proper stall speed. At present, I am keeping the correct maximum speed and close-to-correct power-on approach speed. Stall conditions seem still incorrect: very high AoA and very low speeds. While no proper stall occurs at the right speed, the lift decreases significantly...and I've introduced some roll-instability as the Aoa increases (not as strong as it should be in real Tomcat). So, there is definitely room for improvement but I think the flight model may be acceptable for release.
  • Toe brake effect too strong (CLOSED - As reported by Tomcat pilots, toe brake is now strong enough to hold the plane at full MIL power but cannot hold it when a/b is engaged)
  • Overpowered approach (CLOSED -At present a 130kts, flaps out, spoiler out approach requires power to be mantained. I'm not sure I can do better than this without reworking the model).
  • Maximum speed with latest flight model (CLOSED - latest flight model exceeds the allowable maximum speed of Mach 1.8)
  • Load stations / weight balance incomplete/incorrect (CLOSED - Fixed / completed aircraft .cfg)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

F-14D Beta 1




Beta 1 has been closed - situation frozen as shown below.

External model:

  1. Low frame rates. Sorry but I went for the maximum details. The Beta has already undergone a round of optimizations. I will do another round before release, but I do not think I can improve the performance significantly.If this bothers you too much, disable the aircraft self shadows. The F-35 will perform better. STATUS:OPEN; ACTION: FURTHER OPTIMIZATION IF POSSIBLE
  2. Wing sweep happens at much higher speed than the real aricraft. This was done intentionally in order to prevent animation clashes with spoilers/flaps. STATUS:CLOSED, NO ACTION (BETTER KEEP IT AS IS)
  3. Abrupt nozzle animation / afterburner. I tried to make it smooth (linking to the RPM) but coud not synchronize the nozzle with the a/b. STATUS:CLOSED, NO ACTION (BETTER ANIMATION WILL COMPROMISE A/B SYNC)
  4. Landing gear does not kneel before cat launch: afaik there is no way to make the gear "kneel" on pilot's command (i.e. in the real Tomcat the nose strut is compressed 14 inches - the pilot command the compression via the NOSE STRUT switch)... Therefore I made a compromise while setting the gear contact points. No corrective action planned. STATUS:CLOSED, NO ACTION (AFAIK IMPOSSIBLE)
  5. Tailhook does not touch the deck. STATUS:CLOSED (Solved on .mdl build 24)
  6. Nose probe animation glitch (seems to sink into the fuselage too much). I knew this. I had major problems in keeping the fuselage smooth while "cutting" the probe vane, so there is a "visual patch" instead of a proper 3D vane... this is causing the glitch which should be visible only at close inspection. I will not modify it. STATUS:CLOSED, NO ACTION (TOO DIFFICULT).
  7. Nose landing gear does not touch the ground. STATUS:CLOSED (Solved on MDL build 24)
  8. Burner special effect bleeds through the nozzle. This is not much visbile on my system. STATUS:CLOSED; (Mitigated by contolling the .fx diameter - still visible - depends on graphic card settings)
  9. Nose gear wheels/tires slightly too big. STATUS:CLOSED (Nose wheels and tires shrunk in build MDL 24)
  10. Minor nose gear animation glitch (tire peeking through the gear doors). STATUS:Closed (Nose gear animation sequence reworked in build 24)
  11. Minor spoiler gear animation glitch (actuators disappear into the fuselage). STATUS:CLOSED (Issue mitigated by reworking animation sequence in MDL Build 24, not completely solved but almost negligible. Complete solution would require a redesign of the spoilers which would be too time consuming)
  12. Minor canopy geometry glitch (does not match perfectly with the fuselage); STATUS:CLOSED (Canopy assembly geometry reworked on build MDL 24)
  13. Missing fuel dump effect. STATUS:CLOSED (Fuel dump added in model build 25, also FUEL DUMP switch now operative in cockpit build 17)

Interior model:

  1. Low frame rates. Will try to make another round of optimization if I'll have the time. STATUS:OPEN; ACTION:PERFORM OPTIMIZATION IF POSSIBLE
  2. AoA indicator replaced by VV indicator:
    Sorry but I've never managed to make a 3D Aoa indicator that I've replaced it with a VVI. STATUS:CLOSED (Added AoA indicator thanks to XML code courtesy of Paolo Oriani)
  3. Radar altimeter replaced by a gmeter:
    Same as (1) - the 3D radar altimeter was not working. STATUS:CLOSED, NO ACTION (CANNOT MAKE IT WORK)
  4. Fuel quantity and engine panels showing weird values:
    I thought I've correctly reverse-engineered the parameters to do them in 3D but while I was making the Goshawk....but it was not true.
  5. Several switches/knobs not working or mapped incorrectly
    I'm not sure I will have the time to fix them all. Please tell me what are the most annoying malfunctions and I'll see what I can do. Keep in mind that some of the Tomcat functions cannot be properly replicated in FSX without external coding.STATUS:OPEN; ACTION:WAIT FOR TESTERS TO IDENTIFY MAJOR MALFUNCTIONS: Some MFD buttons not working for no apparent reason.
  7. Autothrottle not working...can't tell why. I've double checked the code and it should work....Not sure I can fix it. STATUS:OPEN; ACTION:INVESTINGATING XML, MDL,CFG
  8. MFDs are obiviously mutuated from the Hornet (BLASPHEMY!). I do not have the time and skill to make new, more accurate ones. STATUSColore testo:CLOSED,NO ACTION
  9. Difficult access to CRS/HDG knobs. They are currently positioned in the "right" place, but they are difficult to access with the mouse pointer. Can be moved upwards. STATUS:CLOSED (Knobs moved upward for better accessibility in cockpit build 18)
  10. Cannot start engines manually and in general cannot follow actual F-14D startup procedure ("cold and dark operation"). STATUS:OPEN, ACTION:ADD FUNCTIONALITY, WRITE FSX:A CHECKLIST
  11. Windshield frame too big. STATUS:CLOSED (Geometry modified in cockpit build 16)
  12. No VC Backlight - There is no backlight code in the Beta 1 build. STATUS:CLOSED (Backlight added in cockpit build 17 - green backlight+red diffuse light)

Additional functions/features in current build (18):

- HYD HAND PUMP (Mapped to Emergency Landing Gear Lever)

- FUEL DUMP SWITCH now opeartive

- MULTI STATUS INDICATOR shows mock weapon status

Flight model:

  1. Approach speed - It appears to be higher than the real one (reading from the NATOPS). A/c tends to sink below 135/140 kts. STATUS:CLOSED (Modified .air file to lower approach speed - as side effect the stall speed is considerably lower than the real plane...but carrier approaches seem much more accurate)
  2. Overpowered - While I've set the right engine values and a/c weight, I have the impression it is overpowered. STATUS:OPEN; ACTION:TBD After derating the engine and increasing the drag the plane seems still overpowered...
  3. Speed brake effect - I've already boosted its effect...but it still seems weak to me... STATUS: CLOSED (Modified .air file - speedbrake is much more effective now, not sure it makes sense to increase its effect further)
  4. Moving the control surface while on the deck causes the a/c to tilt... STATUS:CLOSED (No changes - I did some trials to fix this but I don't want to change the ground handling is not perfect but I think it is OK)
  5. Asymmetric thrust during takeoff (ashore). Does not seem to be a showstopper often on my system. Keep in mind that AFAIK, the F-14D does not take off with a/b. Not sure if it is a real issue or not. Flight parameters look ok (symmetric values for engine location). EDIT: THIS WAS A TRICKY ONE...IT WAS DUE TO AN ASYMMETRY OF THE AUX FUEL TANK LOCATIONS:so it was dependent on the fuel quantity, STATUS:CLOSED (Solved by removing the fuel tank CoG asymmetry in the .cfg file)
  6. Toe brakes effect weak. STATUS:CLOSED (Solved by boosting the toe brake effect in the .cfg file)
  7. Roll rate slightly high. STATUS:CLOSED (Solved by reducing the roll control surface effectiveness in the .cfg file)
  8. Gear retraction too fast. STATUS:CLOSED (Solved by setting the right retraction time 9.0 sec in the .cfg file)
  9. Add 1 notch flap position. STATUS: CLOSED (Solved by adding one flap position to the aircraft.cfg)

Monday, May 18, 2009

F-14D Tomcat Beta Release (and new project announcement)

F-14D (version Beta 1) flying over Las Vegas

This is how the cockpit is looking in the Beta.
I've just completed the Beta 1 build of the Tomcat. It will be distributed to testers and supporters as soon as I can find the time (probably in a day or so). The visual model is complete. The virtual cockpit il 95% done (basically some switches and buttons are still not working and there are a couple of missing textures). The flight model needs some tweaking, as usual :-), but I think it is acceptable and carrier operations are smooth, except for the approach speed that tends to be a little high.
In short, I think the F-14 is good enough to involve the community. If you wish to contibute to this project, I'd need:
I already have few testers on board,but if you think you have the experience and the time needed to provide a significant feedback to the Beta 1 version, drop me an email at
I plan to release the Tomcat asap, say 2-3 weeks after the Beta, so if you don't have the time to fly it in the next week please do no apply.
I'd love to have custom sounds for the Tomcat. Should anyone be able to provide them please contact me. Needless to say, they need to be FSX-compatible original sounds and, if I think they are OK, will be distibuted as freeware as part of the package (of course proper credit will be given the the author). Again, this should be done in 2-3 weeks.
All of the early repainters have bailed out for several reasons. Should you want to give a try and have enough time and experience, please contact me. Some rules will apply: 1) No fictional repaints (I hate them) 2) No "vintage" repaints (i.e.the ones with white lower/moving surfaces - this limitation is due to the model texturing) 3) I will decide if and which repaints will be included in the base package (with proper credit)
Please forgive me if replies to your emails will be late or very short - but I will not have much time for them.
One last thing: I've finally selected the subject of my next project. It will be the F-35 Lighting II. It is likely to be my first payware project. Please do not hate me for this. I'll keep on doing things in the freeware scene as I love it, but the fact is that a good FSX project simply needs A LOT of time and resources - much more than what I can afford without a financial justification.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quick update

Just a quick update to say thank you to the users that tested the Goshawk version 1.69. Your feedback has been appreciated. The new version is ready and will be uploaded asap (hopefully tomorrow).

By the way, the Tomcat Beta version is almost ready. Flight model is better now, and you can actually launch and recover from a carrier (even if the approach speed is a little too high).