Monday, July 15, 2019

TA-4J Skyhawk for Prepar3Dv4.4+

As per my usual procedure, here is the post meant to collect the feedback from the TA-4J Beta Testing. This is (almost) constantly update with the "accepted" bugs and suggestions, color coded to reflect their status. "Accepted" means that I have understood what the testers reported, I could replicate it (or at least be sure this is not a misinterpretation or an error from the tester) and I have "accepted" it as a item to be addressed.

RED means that it the defect has been categorized as a major issue. This is typically a showstopper (operation of the aicraft is impossible or severely inhibited) and must be addressed before the product release.

YELLOW means that it is definitely an issue for the project, that should be addressed before the product release, but not as critical as a "red" issue

GREEN means that either the issue is very minor (and will not be noticed by most users), or the problem is non-existent (feature reported as bug) or that is was an red or Yellow issue that has been solved

BLUE means suggestions or ideas to improve the product

I am not sure if a flight manual will be available before the Beta is released, most probably not, but here are some peculiar things you need to know before operating the aicraft.

Starting the engine

The TA-4 required external air power to start the engine. You can make the "Huffer" appear by selecting it in the configuration menu (SHIFT+4), but it will only appear if the aircraft is not stationary and parking brakes (wheel chocks) are not applied (icon is greyed out otherwise). You can make it appear also by clicking on the external air power connection door.
To start the aircraft you will need also electrical power (see below)

Electrical System

The TA-4 had no internal batteries. This means that the aicraft had its own electrical power only if the engine was running. The TA-4 had also an emergency generator which is not simulated.
To get electrical power while the engine is not running an external electical power cart was needed. You can make it appear and connect it to the aicraft on the ground by selecting it in the aicraft configuration menu (SHIFT+4) if the aircraft is stationary with parking brake applied (wheelchocks appear) or by clicking on the external electrical power door.

Fuel System
The fuel system is simulated in some detail and requires a good understanding of the real world one to be operated.

Weapon System
In order to fire a weapon, you must:
- Select the type of weapon you intend to use
- Power the relevant pylon
- Set the Master Arm Switch to ON
- Press the TRIGGER for forward-firing weapons (guns, rockets and missiles) or the PICKLE button for bombs.

Radio and Navigation System
- Combined Radio/ADF selector: will work as COM1 if set on primary, COM2 if set on both, ADF if set to ADF
- The NAV computer is not operational, but works as a GPS display
- The BDHI pointer 1 will always show the NDB station
- The BDHI pointer 2 will display: the next WP in the flight plan if set to NAV COMPUTER or the TACAN station if set to TACAN
- Note that TACANs are implemented in the legacy FSX version, that is channels are converted in frequencies and used as NAV1 instrument.

Flight Model

As far as we can tell, the flight model is pretty close to the real deal...but I can already see some of the comments about the roll rate. The A-4 family is famous for having an exceptionally high roll rate, and you can read several Pireps or see video interviews of pilot claming that the peak roll rate is 720°/sec. However (apart from the fact that rolls of more than 360° are explicitly forbidden by the flight manual) actual data points you can find on the internet seem to indicate that the real roll rate was lower (highest value measured I could find is 410°/sec). Current flight model is set to for a a peak of about 350°/s, which seems to be a realistic figure.


Flight manual will be available shortly and will be available for download HERE.


The Beta model is NOT intended for repainting. A full paint kit will be available at the release.

Actions that have already been planned but are have not been implemented:

- Make the NAV COMPUTER selector knob functional
- Implement white flood lights
- Implement correct visibilty conditions of the approach light
- Implement pocket checklist (placeholder at shift+5, no function)


If you want to, you can use THIS template as guideline/checklist for the tests


The preferred way to report bugs is to post a comment on this blog (so that everyone can see it). Otherwise, email messages with "TA-4J Bug Report" as subject are fine.
It is better, before posting, if you check if thebug you have spotted is already in the list below or in the comments.
Bugs or change request are evaluated ASAP and, if confirmed and accepted, added to the list below.

This list was updated on 23/08/2019 11:00AM CEST
The latest Beta version is 1, released on 21/07/2019
Internal Beta (not released) version 1.10 last built 23/08/2019

Total lines (excluding suggestions) 79
Current red lines 0
Current yellow lines 8 (of which 4 rejected for various reasons)
Current green lines 70
Current blue lines 1
Progress towards release: 88%


TA4P3DEXT01 - Horizontal Stabilizers not sitting at the same angle? STATUS: small asymmetry in elevator postion detected. FIXED
TA4P3DEXT02 - Texture N518TA, Naval Aviation Anniversary decal reversed. FIXED.
TA4P3DEXT03 - Animation of horizontal stabilizer trim is reversed. FIXED

TA4P3DEXT04 - Blue Angels logo is wrong (it is the current BA logo with Hornets). STATUS: CLOSED (reworked logo)
TA4P3DEXT05 - Need to add specific uniforms/suits (at least for BA). STATUS: CLOSED
TA4P3DEXT06 - Request to add separate textures for front and rear pilot. IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DEXT07 - Request to add animated pilots. IMPLEMENTED PILOT ANIMATIONS (arms, legs, heads).
TA4P3DEXT08 - VC-8 Aggressor livery typically had inner flap surfaces painted in red. STATUS: CLOSED (reworked texture).
TA4P3DEXT09 - Request to add chrome finish details to BA livery. STATUS: CLOSED (implemented)
TA4P3DEXT10 - Request to improve PBR materials on non-shiny liveries. STATUS: IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DEXT11 - Request to improve PBR materials for selected details. STATUS: IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DEXT12 - Approach lights should show only when tailhook is down or field bypass is on.
TA4P3DEXT13 - Revised wheelchocks condition. Wheelchocks now appear when park brakes are on. Skyhawks do not have park brakes, so setting them will activate the wheelchocks.
TA4P3DEXT14 - Need to add holdback bar. ADDED


TA4P3DVC01 - Gunsight assembly is slightly too big. STATUS: CLOSED. Added space for LOCK-ON and IN RNG advisory (alternate gunsight as used by later Skyhawks).

TA4P3DVC02 - Typo "attack" mode is misspelled. STATUS: CLOSED - Fixed typo in texture master layer.
TA4P3DVC03 - Gunsight crosshair not masked during High-G maneuvres. STATUS: OPEN - Difficult to fix without creating other issues, leaning towards keeping it as is. Not completely solved but much improved. Also, calibrated gunsight size.
TA4P3DVC04 - Request to minimize the stick visibility area. STATUS CLOSED. Now to make the stick visible again you need to click very close to the jettison handle.
TA4P3DVC05 - Request to reduce size of radios and GPS. STATUS CLOSED
TA4P3DVC06 - Rear cockpit POV lower than the front. STATUS CLOSED - Harmonized POVs but not completely identical (front one has to match the gunsight)
TA4P3DVC07 - Request to make PR bug operational. IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DVC08 - Request to make airspeed bug operational. IMPLEMENTED

TA4P3DVC09 - Request to make RALT bug operational. IMPLEMENTED

TA4P3DVC10 - Request to implement AOA bug. IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DVC11 - Typo fuel dump switch marked as "dump": STATUS: TO BE CHECKED. Note that a pilot-controlled fuel pump exists in the cockpit and serves to transfer fuel to from the wing tank to the fuselage tank - FIXED

TA4P3DVC12 - Check Pitot Anti-Ice Switch functionality. FIXED
TA4P3DVC13 - Check Engine Anti-Ice Switch functionality. FIXED

TA4P3DVC14 - Machmeter is currently a fixed scale (as opposed to rotating). Check if it possible to make it working against altitude. FIXED
TA4P3DVC15 - Request possibility to have more realistic lighting system (external lights). Note: at present the Aircraft implements only the default lighting system. - REJECTED, for code compatibility reasons.
TA4P3DVC16 - Request possibility to have more realistic cockpit lighting system (user controlled lights than can be dimmed) - REJECTED, for code compatibility reasons.
TA4P3DVC17 - Check AFCS ENGAGE button (seems reversed) - CHECKED. Switch was reversed, also note that autopilot in P3D will not activate if avionics are off, so it will not activate if radios are off in the TA-4J!
TA4P3DVC18 - Check ALT HOLD function - IMPLEMENTED, also solved a bug preventing heading hold from working
TA4P3DVC19 - Check AFCS panel functionality - FIXED. Autopilot master, yaw damper, alt hold, hdg hold now functional.

TA4P3DVC20 - Request to move GPS to other positions - Resized, moved to position 6
TA4P3DVC21 - Fuel system lights comes on when PRIMARY fuel control is selected (as oppesed to manual) - FIXED
TA4P3DVC22 - Flood light switch. FIXED. Flood lights were incorrectly tagged.
TA4P3DVC23 - Movement of the backup trim switch is reversed. FIXED.
TA4P3DVC24 - Elevator Trim Indicator Needle has a reversed animation. FIXED.
TA4P3DVC25 - Some switches of the right side light/ecs panel do not work. FIXED, although those switch had no fuction.
TA4P3DVC26 - AoA indexer in instructor cockpit not working. FIXED
TA4P3DVC27 - Recalibrate gunsight with new geometry. FIXED
TA4P3DVC28 - Missing Armament Advisory Light. FIXED

TA4P3DVC29 - Need to redo AoA Indexer visibility conditions. FIXED
TA4P3DVC30 - AoA flag visible even if power is on. FIXED, redone code for all flag animations.


TA4P3DFM01 - Ground steer radii too big? STATUS: to be verified. Modified to 70 degrees - CLOSED.
TA4P3DFM02 - Request to implement proper NWS
TA4P3DFM03 - Excessive fuel burn rate (potentially a bug in the fuel system)? STATUS: WRITTEN OFF (tester error)
TA4P3DFM04 - Speed brakes do not completely rectract (possibly a bug in the speedbrakes blowback feature?) STATUS: TO BE VERIFIED. Checked. Spoilers open/close correctly. Claim of tester was probably due to the fact that the time required for the light to go off is relatively long if the pilot uses digital spoiler control. Changed light condition so that the caution light turns on only if spoiler is deployed more than 25%.
TA4P3DFM05 - Tendency to tipover during arrested landings. - FIXED with better tailhook configuration settings.


TA4P3DMISC01 - Bug in the airplane configuration manager (most likely in the SMS system code): if Tacpack is not loaded, missile rails fail to appear when they should (all stations). STATUS CLOSED. Wrote special case code for when Tacpack is not loaded.

TA4P3DMISC02 - Bug in the airplane configuration manager (most likely in the SMS system code): if Tacpack is not loaded, external fuel tanks are always present (regardless of user selection). Status:CLOSED. Wrote special condition code.
TA4P3DMISC03 - Bug in the airplane configuration manager (most likely in the SMS system code): if Tacpack is not loaded, it is possible to have both the MK83 and BDU33 bombs on the centerline store. STATUS CLOSED. Several other bugs squashed.

TA4P3DMISC04 - Suggestion to make the smoke effect optional - Implemented
TA4P3DMISC05 - Suggestion to make the switches and knobs with multiple positions to work in both directions (currently they are "one way" as I thought it was easier for VR) - Reprogrammed all multiple position switches and knobs so that they now react to mouse wheel.

TA4P3DMISC06 - Suggestion to add cold and dark/ready to taxi option. Added control+shift+R as ready to start. The Aircraft will default to cold and dark.
TA4P3DMISC07 - Tracer bullets in visual effects shoot too high. STATUS:CLOSED. Significantly lowered tracer trajectories.
TA4P3DMISC08 - Sound Cone settings are so that engine noise is very quiet from some angles. STATUS: CLOSED. Mantained sound cone (as they work pretty well in the air) but redone engine samples.

TA4P3DMISC09 - Cannot launch from default and Javier's carriers (works only with SWS)… FIXED: Following entry should work and fix the issue:
launch_bar_pivot = 5.95, 0.0, -1 
launch_bar_lug = 5.95, 0.0, -7.9  

TA4P3DMISC10 - Control+SHIFT+C "Gun ready" shortcut does not seem to work - FIXED. Now orks as intended, also added W shortcut to for weapon selector.
TA4P3DMISC11 - CONTROL+J "Selective Jettison" shortcut does not seem to work - FIXED. Works as intended in conjuction with the EMER SEL allows the release of a given pylon. Also implemented CONTROL+SHIFT+J as "Emergency Jettison" (releases all bombs).
TA4P3DMISC12 - Control+SHIFT+W "Weapons Reload" shortcut does not seem to work. Works as advertised in the program (but you must be in VC).
TA4P3DMISC13 - Suggestion to include the TACAN Frequency conversion table. Added to both pocket cheklist and manual.
TA4P3DMISC14 - Suggestion to allow the user to select either the P3D or FSX TACAN system
TA4P3DMISC15 - Manual: LoP Para 3 line 1 "and" misspelled. Fixed in manual.
TA4P3DMISC16 - Manual: LoP Para 4 line 2 "of" missing. Fixed in manual
TA4P3DMISC17 - Manual: Para 1, missing words "of the aircraft in"
TA4P3DMISC18 - Igniters and other spelling errors present (Note, most of the manual comes from NAVAIR 01-40AVD-1 "NATOPS FLIGHT MANUAL NAVY MODEL TA-4F/TA-4J through an OCR software from a not-so-great source file, so multiple misspelling errors are possible). - FIXED TO THE BEST OF MY POSSIBILITIES.

TA4P3DMISC19 - Potential errors in the NAV1 to TACAN conversion decoding - STATUS: SOLVED: minor bug found in VHF to TACAN conversion code. NOTE: it may also affect other aicrafts of mine where the TACAN is not set directly, but throgh VHF frequency and then converted.
TA4P3DMISC20 - Request to add support for P3D TACAN system. REJECTED for code compatibility reasons.
TA4P3DMISC21 - Request to add support for TACPACK navaids - IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DMISC22 - Request to add support for SWS navaids - IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DMISC23 - Uncommanded SW release if guns selected - STATUS: SOLVED. Major mistake in the weapons code was energizing STA 1 circuit instead of circuits 14 and 15 (guns). This also explains why hitting targets was so difficult.
TA4P3DMISC24 - Allow airstart even if power is not connected if enough air is blowing through the compressor - FIXED
TA4P3DMISC25 - Request to implement LOCK-ON advisory light
TA4P3DMISC26 - Request to implement IN RNG advisory light
TA4P3DMISC27 - Request to implement CCIP - IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DMISC28 - Add Pocket Checklist - IMPLEMENTED
TA4P3DMISC29 - Add visible feedback when the Aircraft is ready for catapult connection - IMPLEMENTED new configurator menu
TA4P3DMISC30 - Added basic A/A radar.


PRODUCT MANUAL - Missing weapon usage information, needs to be updated for the addition of new features (e.g. navigation system and CEX support) - UPDATED PRODUCT MANUAL COMPLETE!





Sunday, July 14, 2019

TA-4J Skyhawk for P3Dv4.4+ - Beta Test Application

I know that many of you were waiting for this so here we are with the Beta Test application post of the TA-4J for P3Dv4.4 and above - so, if you are willing to help with the testing, in this post you will find the instructions to apply.

A brief introduction to the project: this is the first project I have designed from the ground up to support specifically P3Dv4.4 / P3Dv4.5 features and above - basically with no regards with the limitations of the FSX compiler. At the moment, I plan to try and downgrade the model in future for FSX compatibility as a separate project… but early attempts failed and it is not granted that it will ever come to FSX.

As with any simulation, it is basically impossible to include each and every feature of the real aicraft, but my hope is that this may be the most complete rendition of the TA-4J to date (fingers crossed).
I am sure I left something important, if you are selected for the test, you are encouraged to suggest additions and improvements.

As usual, I am looking for testers with various level of aviation experience and skill, but I am looking in particular for users who know the TA-4J aircraft and a passion for naval aviation.

Hardware requisites (suggested configuration):
- Quad core CPU with at least 2.8GHz clock
- 6GB minimum RAM, 8GB better
- Nvidia 960 video card or better, 2GB dedicated video memory minimum 
- 1 GB minimum free disk space for package installation

Software prerequisites:
- Lockheed Martin P3Dv4.4 or v4.5
- VRS Tacpack required for weapon functionality

As usual… the Beta tester for my projects is not a paid position, by any stretch of the imagination: you do it just for the fun of doing it.
If you are willing to help, send me an email to - the email shall contain:

- a BRIEF description of your system (no need of minor details, I just need CPU type and clock, RAM, video card and video memory)

- a brief description of your real world flight experience (if any) including (if any) your knowledge of the TA-4J Aircraft (note… the Beta is open to everybody: from teenage desk flyers to WWII aces - I just need to know who I am talking with!). No need of long and detailed stories...just a line or two will do.

- your experience with Prepar3D v4

The topic of the email shall be "Prepar3D v4 TA-4J Beta Testing" (note...I thought this was an easy requirement, but apparently it is not...but it is very important: it helps me a lot sorting the messages and it shows that you can comply with instructions).

Note it may take 2-3 weeks to reply and provide a download link… so be patient.