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C-130 Hercules Review (FSX FS9)
Published by Just Flight
Review by Martin Wilby
January 2009

Introduction

This review focuses on Just Flights C-130 Hercules, designed for both Flight Simulator X and Flight simulator 2004, originally developed by Captain Sim and now available from Just Flight in the form of a professionally packaged DVD.

Included with the DVD is an extensive 240 page printed flight manual and in addition, 245 pages available in PDF file format once installed.  The manual includes everything the flight simulation enthusiast requires in order to operate this iconic military transport in accordance with real world procedures, within the limits of Flight Simulator X and 2004. The package offers 12 Hercules variants in 28 authentic liveries, in short, the complete C-130 experience.

This is a relatively mature product with several service packs already released for the Captain Sim download version. The Just Flight version benefits from those service packs and in addition, further updates and fixes are available on the publisher’s web site.

The C-130 Hercules

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four engine turboprop military transport aircraft and the main tactical airlifter for many military forces. There are in excess of 40 models and variants serving with more than 50 nations worldwide.

This remarkably versatile aircraft was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft and is perfectly capable of operating from an unprepared runway. In addition, the versatile airframe has also been utilised in a variety of other roles, for example, as a flying gunship, a search and rescue aircraft, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling and the aerial fire fighting role.

The C-130 Hercules and its variants have had the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history, and during more than 50 years of service has participated in countless military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations.

External Model and Features.

I am not the kind of virtual pilot that spends an inordinate amount of time admiring the aircrafts exterior, I much prefer to spend my time, as a real world pilot would, within the confines of the cockpit.  However, despite my 2D panel predilection, I was absolutely blown away by the add-ons exterior detail and animated features and found myself gaping in awe at the quality of the developers work.

Numerous features are available for the flight simulation enthusiast’s appreciation; the radar dome swings wide, exposing the oscillating dish and the escape hatches open, ready for a rapid evacuation.  From the undulating weld lines on the engine nacelles to the wear and contamination on the extended flaps, the exterior does not disappoint and with 28 authentic liveries to choose from the C-130 enthusiast’s satisfaction with the exterior is incontestable.

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Cockpit Availability and Features

It is evident as soon as the 2D panel is selected, that the quality of the exterior carries over into the cockpit. I must admit, I am usually less than enthusiastic in regard to worn panels, favouring the brand new unadulterated look of the modern glass cockpit, however, such a thing would be wholly inappropriate in a classic aircraft such as the C-130 and the developer has done a remarkable job of retaining a quality panel while still capturing the worn out look of a mature cockpit.  Unfortunately, the classic, worn cockpit is all the developer provides even for the ‘J’ and ‘H’ variants that in reality are now outfitted with up to date glass cockpits.  There are plenty of requests on the developer’s forum for a glass cockpit upgrade, so hopefully Captain Sim will consider this option, it would certainly add the necessary realism to the latest variants.

The 2D panels are accessed either by use of the keyboard shortcuts, shift 1-9, or from the panel switcher provided and with a plethora of 2D panels available this is a welcome addition.  All of the 2D panels have excellent clarity even on a CRT monitor set to a relatively low resolution. Although, as the panels are by necessity highly populated with instruments, the readability is at times compromised to a degree. However, this is only a minor criticism and does not detract from the enjoyment of the product.

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