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F.C.S - Vickers Wellington
For FSX (Reviewed) and FS2004
by Nigel C Martin
(Edited by John Allard)
March 2009

Introduction
If you are into aviation or possess a passing interest in aviation, I am sure you will have heard of the Vickers Wellington – the Wimpy. It is iconic, one of the first of the purpose-designed bombers; a mighty beast, perhaps not in stature or payload, but in the sense of its role. The Wellington played a major part in the opening days of aerial bombing in WWII - it was, in fact, to be seen in the air in the first wave of British bombing raids.

So versatile was this incredible steed it was also used to great effect in the Coastal Command role, where, equipped with radar, it sounded the death knell of many an enemy ship or submarine. Because of its incredible versatility it was also used for clandestine ops. The Wellington sure became one of the aircraft to hold a well-deserved iconic status.

I read a very interesting book about this aircraft and without doubt it was loved by its crews. It may have been a little under-powered, but the handling and above all, the safety aspect of her construction, were held in high esteem.

OK, aerial bombing had been around since the Great War in one guise or another, but this aircraft heralded a quite revolutionary structure - geodetic construction. What did this mean? Well great rigidity, stability and incredible resistance to damage. The construction time was vastly reduced by use of modular, almost flat pack design, (eat your heart out IKEA - I’ll bet there were not any screws or Allen keys left over!)


Many a crew survived, and more importantly returned home, due to the Wellington’s construction. This can be seen to great effect on the exterior and interior detail within the aircraft in FSX and ACOF.

I could wax lyrical about this incredible aircraft, but I will not. There are many dedicated sites that will do a better job than I can of extolling its virtues.

Packaging
The Single CD is held securely in a black Plastic DVD case. The inlay card has a fabulous picture of the Wellington in its maritime role and an insert screenshot of a more conventional camouflage paint scheme.

On the reverse is the usual ‘spattering’ of historical info and of course the tech data. There are 5 in-set photos, further tempting you. I have to say these look pretty impressive, so rip open the cellophane protective covering and open that CD-ROM tray and install!

Worthy of note, on the inside front cover you will find a manual covering some basic information. Ensure you do not lose this as there is a Serial Code number on the lower left front cover. If you have to re-load the program at a later stage for whatever reason, this number is vital to enable the subsequent installation.

What Is Included?
We get four versions of the Wellington in the distinctive liveries of the most notable Squadrons, drawn form Bomber Command and Coastal Command.

To add a little more authenticity, also included is the scenery of RAF Station Driffield in East Yorkshire, UK. Driffield was the home of many Wellington Squadrons and an ideal place to start you sortie. If you are using FSX, you actually have TWO sorties included. I have flown both - they feel authentic and are fun to complete.

If you are eager to fly some more sorties within FSX, more are available free as stated in the accompanying info booklet page 4. They can be found on the First Class Simulations site;- www.firstclasssimulations.com... or are they? This seemed a nice gesture, or so I thought, until I looked on the website, contacted the tech desk and was informed via e-mail that there are not any expansion missions as yet (currently being worked on -anticipated download availability in Feb 09). Odd that, especially when we are told there are some more missions to download from the website.

Installation

I have now had the privilege to review a number of First Class Simulations software packages and the installation procedure is fairly typical. It consists of loading the CD and following the simple instructions. Voila, you have another aircraft in your private hangar.

Worthy of note here, guys, is that you have the option for installation in BOTH FSX and FS2004. I have both installed so I was thankful for this feature. It worked and all the aircraft and scenery were successfully installed.

Walk Around

In the first instance, I have selected FSX to best appreciate the detail offered. So, with RAF Station Driffield selected, you instantly note the new war time scenery, which actually is rather good.

I selected the Wellington from the on-screen aircraft selection and pressed OK. After a second or two, there it is. I acknowledged the settings and was ready for a sortie. But before we take to the skies, let’s have a walk-around.

Standing back, you will notice the excellent effects, including authentic and accurate colour schemes and excellent roundels and lettering on the wing, fuselage and tail. On first glance you may feel the colouring is slightly odd, not the same intensity as if applied to a metal substrate. Do not panic - as mentioned, this aircraft had fabric applied over an aluminum frame, (engine nacelles are an exception) so the colours reflect this, actually to good effect.

I did feel that the exhaust staining of the upper wing surfaces did not take on the lighter grey effect that typically resulted from a high level of lead in the aviation fuel of the time. I do not have an accurate pictorial reference, so I may be misguided, but all other aircraft of this era had the light grey staining evident on the fuselage or upper/lower surfaces of the wings, not rust-coloured staining. This only a personal view and may not be factually correct.

Moving rearwards, the engine nacelle intakes are on show with some lovely front-of-engine detail in evidence. I would have to say the spinners looked a little odd in terms of the colour - more about that later.

On the walk-around, obvious things like oleo legs display excellent detail. The tyres have also had the detail treatment bestowed on them. Correct tread patterns are seen and a good attempt has been made on the colour of the rubber. There are also tyre and wheel ‘check’ marks (a white painted line across the tyre /wheel to check alignment). The same detail can be seen on the tail wheel, minus the white marks.


One of the most important features of an aircraft is the crew. In all of the aircraft types on offer you will see a pilot, a bomb aimer and a tail gunner - all are excellently rendered.

All control surfaces move accurately; the flaps have some lovely frame detail once in the deployed position.

My overriding opinion is that the AC looked accurate. I simply loved the Perspex reflections from the cockpit, nose astrodome and tail (reflection effects were great in FSX).

Take a good peek on the side of the fuselage - look through the side windows. You will see some tables and various equipment on show. Such is the detail on offer.

With the engines running you can see the prop ‘haze’. This looks very good indeed. [In FS2004 I got a strange green haze that looked totally wrong. On investigation from the tech team, it was stated some other customers have identified this issue, and they are working on it. A possible resolution has been offered: ”you have to set the mip map level to maximum in FS2004 to solve the haze effect’’ so, there we have it.]

I have not mentioned the sounds as yet. Why? No real reason. I say they are excellent and add much to the overall effect. In fact, I would say good sound sets are pivotal to the success or failure of any offering. Here, my friends, they work exceedingly well.

Lighting? OK, it does not have incredible strobe lighting, nor-should it. What it does present looks authentic - nav lights, other wing tip white lights and a great port-side, under-wing, downward-facing light which works very well in low light conditions, showing you the approaching ground.

Under-fuselage identification lighting, looking from the outside, is good. The cockpit has a red glow, not disproportionate, and actually the effect works very well.

Interior

Often the disappointment of many a package, I am glad to report the interior is simply lovely. There is great attention to detail showing off the frame structure and instruments on offer. Many are inter-active. One feature that is so important when flying in FSX is the VC mode instrumentation. These have to be presented in an easy to read format. The instruments look authentic and perform well. (in FS2004 the same applies to 2D & VC modes)

One feature I felt looked a tad out of place was a number of large screws running across the top the instrument panel. These looked, well, ‘hurried’. If they are there at the correct scale as presented, attention to getting a seamless round outer edge would not have gone amiss.

I would end this section by saying the overall effect is excellent, and looks and feels like a bomber of that time.

Take To the Skies

Let’s assume I have been to pre-flight briefing, patted the obligatory black Labrador good bye, settled my mess bill, ordered my breakfast to be waiting upon my return from my ‘daring-do-mission’ and have been dropped of at the dispersal point by a manic driver of a jeep, where I have been hanging on for dear-life…. (We have all seen those films!)

With the magic of pressing a button, I am placed in the left seat (just as well not the right, because there is not one!). Both engines are running and warmed up in preparation for taxiing to the active. I select a constant rpm to get moving and start my taxi to the active, noting differential braking is available and works. I line up on the RAF Driffield grass strip, deploy some flaps, hold the brakes and increase the throttle levers gradually to 100%. As the propellers begin to bite, I release the brakes and hold the nose straight with the rudder, as it is a ‘tail-dragger’. As airspeed builds, I add in some nose-down pressure - just a tad to get the tail wheel off the ground, but not so much as to give my poor bomb aimer a heart attack! The speed increases and a gentle back-pressure rewards me with ascent into the air.

Above tree height, the gear comes up - a whine is heard. Airspeed is increasing and in come the flaps - speed increases further as you would expect.

At 6,000’ AGL let’s have a play. I tried all control surfaces - all performed in what I can only assume to be acceptable limits. The responses certainly felt like a ‘heavy’. It did not turn like a Spitfire, or climb like one, which is a good thing! From the cockpit, I took a look out of each window. I loved the sound effects; when tracking from left to right the sound changes - nice detail.

One thing I noticed that stood out was the spinner detail. The effect was not convincing at all. The colour of the rotating spinner just looks odd.

I think the effect is trying to emulate a ‘weathered’ spinner, i.e. paint missing from it. What ever the aim, it has not worked. BUT it is a minor issue, and does not detract from the other 95% of loveliness.

Keeping the airfield in sight I decided to return, loosing the height in circles around the airfield. Gear down, flaps deployed and established on long finals, I must admit, since there is no runway lighting that I lost the airfield once or twice… …or is that three or four times. Oh well…. I am not paying for the fuel!


A quick point here, I am running a fairly quick machine and I decided to view the aircrafts progress from the exterior. As the Driffield scenery came into view I noted a specific slow down in frame rates while still some thirty to forty miles away from the airfield. If this is unique to my machine so be it, but on a slightly slower machine it seems likely that this slowing down could be quite pronounced.

At long last, ESTABLISHED. Gentle reductions of throttle gave me a decent and accurate rate of descent. Gradual increases gave me additional height when I demanded it. Over the threshold, cut the throttle, full flaps – I sank to the ground and made contact. Gradual braking resulted in a controlled full stop. Once off the active the flaps come up and I have a gentle taxi back - lovely.

One of the many external views you can opt for shows off the detail when taxing. I noticed that from time to time the main wheels appeared to be just off the ground. This may be due to the FSX/ACOF and not the aircraft software being reviewed, however, I have to say it was the scenery provided in the package for FSX, RAF Driffield.

Conclusion

I simply adore any aircraft from this period, especially RAF Bombers. I was extremely eager to have a ‘play’ with this beauty, the Wellington.

The scenery included is actually very nice, and does, without doubt, add some 1940’s atmosphere.

As to the issues identified, the green prop haze in FS2004 is not a constant feature, but a periodic annoyance. The fix mentioned above may well resolve the issue. There were no additional missions for FSX when I looked despite being informed there are some available, though these may materialize soon enough.

The scenery slowdown while some way out on the approach was not something I expected on a commercially available product, especially as many freeware offerings are excellent and flawless. This could unique to my machine, but I doubt it.

Personally, I feel the cost is spot-on; if you have FSX and 2004 you will be able to install on both resulting in excellent value.

If you like aircraft from this period, especially the RAF types, this simply has to a part of your collection. OK, in my opinion it is not 100%, because of some minor detail areas, but, I’ll bet you would be hard pressed to find an offering with so much detail and accuracy any where else.

I have a feeling many more sorties await me!

Cost: $ 29.95 20.37

Onwards and Upwards,
Nigel. C. Martin.

Tested for approx 10 hours. (8- FSX 2- 2004)

System used:

AMD Phenom 9950 Quad Core
2.60 GHz
2GB Ram
Windows XP Professional
Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX & FS2009
G-Force 9500GT

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