Orbx Van's RV-4
For FSX / Prepar3D Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
In the future, the late 20th century could be labelled the era of
the homebuilt aircraft, an era which could stand on its own next to
others in aviation history. The emergence of a raft of affordable
designs during this time and into the 21st century has put flying well
and truly in the easy reach of the average person. From the simple to
the more complex composite construction aircraft with glass cockpits,
homebuilt aircraft have come of age.
Orbx, more renowned for their global, regional, and airport series of
scenery add-ons for flight FSX and Prepar3D, have previously released
an aircraft, the Lancair IV-P. They have now added to this with the
Van's RV-4. A popular aircraft in the homebuilt market, it is a
compact, sleek and sporty aircraft with good cross-country
The Van's RV-4 is a two seat, tandem configuration, single engine,
homebuilt aircraft with a low cantilever wing and a conventional
landing gear. The second most popular in the RV range, the RV-4 was
developed from the Van's RV-3 and is designed for sport aerobatics.
More than just a stretch of the RV-3, the RV-4 has also proven to be
very capable cross-country aircraft.
Availability and Installation
The Orbx Van's RV-4 is currently available direct from The FlightSim
Store as a 'download only' product (a master back-up CD / DVD service
is also offered for a minor additional cost). It is priced at
AUD$35.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The file size of
259.78MB may seem large, however, it is reasonable for an aircraft of
this type and quality and detail it requires 1.14GB of HDD space for
installation. A ‘Registration Key' is issued to be used during
There are two manuals provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf):
● User Manual – this 76 page manual provides a comprehensive
guide to the aircraft, instruments, and systems; and
● Pilot Operating Handbook – this 43 page document details
the operating limitations, weight and balance information,
normal procedures, emergency
procedures, and other aspects of the aircraft.
These documents are extremely comprehensive and are deserving of some
attention at some point in order to get the most out of flying the
There were some very notable variances in the aircraft performance and
specification data provided in the Pilot Operating Handbook with that
on the Van's Aircraft web site. In some instances, e.g. fuel capacity,
this also varied to what is modelled in the aircraft.
The Orbx Van's RV-4 is modelled on a real world aircraft, VH-PTT, and
is equipped with an Advanced Flight Systems EFIS. The developer, Jared
Charalambous, has modelled the aircraft and systems very nicely. As a
sport aerobatics aircraft, the RV-4 can be unforgiving, but once
mastered, it is a joy to fly. This review has involved over 20 hours
of specific flight testing flying hours and it is evident Jared has
delivered an aircraft which accurately reproduces the features and
flight characteristics of the Van's RV-4.
The major model features listed for the Orbx Van's RV-4 include:
● high detail VC with specular occlusion modelled in 3dsMax;
● fully functional systems and faithfully reproduced
instruments, including a complete Advance Flight Systems AF-3500,
multi page EFIS;
● in-simulator engine, electrical, and systems maintenance
interface with integrated cumulative physics engine;
● high definition liveries; and
● support for RealityXP with 3D geometry.
There is a single model provided (one pilot), 11 HD paint schemes and
a paint kit provided for aircraft painting enthusiasts.
General Visual Appearance
Van's RV-4 displays a high level of attention to accuracy and detail.
A comparative review of photographs of VH-PTT, the real world aircraft
on which it is modelled, reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to
be highly accurate and a true representation of the real world
with the exterior, the general appearance of the cockpit and the panel
layout are also modelled to a very high degree of detail. Being a
homebuilt aircraft, and based on a specific real world aircraft, the
avionics layout and fit out of Orbx's Van's RV-4 varies widely from
the layout of other researched real world RV-4s and displays a modern
appearance with the inclusion of the Advanced Flight Systems AF-3500
EFIS. Nonetheless, when compared to real world photographs of VH-PTT
and similar layouts, the cockpit and panel layout are modelled to a
high degree of accuracy.
are 11 individual paint schemes (a selection only shown below)
provided with the Orbx Van's RV-4 and each aircraft has a unique
aircraft registration number. Some of these are absolutely stunning
with highly detailed airbrushed style designs and the surface
textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a beautiful
crisp and realistic appearance.
The exterior modelling accuracy of the Van's RV-4 is excellent. The
level of this detail includes wheel fairings, individual fuselage
panels and panel rivets, an access panel, aerials and antenna, and
fuel tank caps, and all adding to the overall realistic appearance.
The rendering of the cockpit of the Van's RV-4 is very good and
realistic when compared to real world layouts.
Instrument Panel Layout.
The Advance Flight Systems AF-3500 EFIS sits centrally on the
panel with secondary flight instruments to the left of this unit. To
the right of the EFIS main unit, is a Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit and
Garmin GTX 327 digital transponder unit. The GNS 430 provides for
tuning of the COM and NAV radios. The Advance Flight Systems autopilot
unit is a two axis unit and is located to the right of the transponder
unit. The throttle controls are all located to the pilots left side
and the light switches are located to the pilots right side. The yoke
is a centre stick type and has 'hat' style trim controls located on it
and the fuel tank selector is located on the floor, forward of the
yoke stick. All secondary flight instruments are clear and easy to
read but the Advance Flight Systems EFIS sometimes requires a higher
level of view zoom to see the detail clearly. Various alternative
cockpit camera views are available to provide more detailed views of
the instruments, however, there are no checklists or aircraft
reference data provided on the 'Kneeboard'.
Advance Flight Systems AF-3500 EFIS.
The Advance Flight Systems AF-3500 EFIS is rather complex,
particularly if you are not familiar with this type of system. The
User Manual covers the operations of the unit in high detail and a
thorough read of the manual is warranted. Even after all of the flight
testing for this review, there are aspects of the operation of the
AF-3500 I am still coming to grips with.
Being a homebuilt aircraft, the cockpit layout of Van's RV-4 is best
described as basic. With its tandem seating arrangement, the pilot
sits in the front seat and the passenger in the rear seat. There are
no flights controls or instruments in the rear seat. There is various
piping, cabling, and ducting portrayed and combined with the textures
of the seating and seatbelt webbing, they provide a good and
reasonably realistic appearance.
Overall though, the attention to detail on the interior is, again, of
a high quality.
The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and other
moving elements on the Orbx Van's RV-4 are all modelled faithfully.
● primary control surfaces – ailerons, elevators and rudder;
● secondary control surfaces – flaps; and
● others – elevator trim tabs, rolling wheels, cockpit canopy open /
A credible job on the lighting and lighting effects has been done on
the Van's RV-4 and they provide a good, realistic representation of
the real world aircraft. There is the usual navigation lights, strobe
lights, landing light, and panel lighting. Other than the landing
lights illuminating the ground effectively, the strobe lights also
provide this illuminating effect. The detailed night light effects for
the instrument panel, generally, are good and replicate the night
lighting seen in photographs of real world aircraft.
The Van's RV-4 is equipped with a Lycoming O-320, four cylinder
engine, the sound of which has been represented quite nicely. From
initial start-up, through idle to full power and cruise power, the
sounds exhibit a deep throaty thrum and seem a realistic
representation of the real world sounds. As usual, there is also the
normal array of sounds associated with switches.
General Characteristics and
The general characteristics and performance specifications for the
Van's RV-4 are provided in the table. This is based on data from the
Van's Aircraft web site, data in the aircraft details provided by
Orbx, and general research sources. Some of this data varies between
sources and also may be an approximation due to variances in data and
the specific aircraft modelled by Orbx.
Flight testing was conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load
and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW). Like most aircraft
of this type, adjustments must be made to fuel / pax loading to remain
within the MTOW limitations.
A cruise altitude of 8,000 feet was adopted on the Test Flight. During
cruise, a manifold pressure setting of 19.0 inHg, an rpm setting of
2300 rpm and a mixture setting to produce a fuel flow rate of
approximately 5.2 gph were established to produce the published 55%
power setting for maximum endurance performance. This cruise setting
produced an average speed of approximately 129 knots true air speed
(KTAS). However, using the performance settings from the manual, and
even with various minor adjustments, I was unable to match the
endurance consistent with the specified range characteristics of the
aircraft. This variance was between approximately 13%, using a 50%
power setting, and up to 25%, using the published 55% power setting.
I was also unable to match the specified cruise speed for the
aircraft. The Test Flight confirms there are significant inconsistencies in the
modelling of the aircraft for range performance and speed.
The aircraft uses differential braking for steering during taxiing,
and once mastered, is relatively easy to taxi. With 0° flaps, aircraft
rotation occurred at approximately 55 to 60 knots indicated air speed
(KIAS) and the aircraft easily maintained a normal climb speed of
approximately 113 KIAS at a rate of climb of 1,000 ft/min. Even at
MTOW, the Van's RV-4 climbed effortlessly within the specified rate of
climb and speed performance parameters for the aircraft. When climbing
to the service ceiling altitude, with the obviously required
adjustments to the rate of climb, the aircraft was able to climb to
this altitude. Configured for landing, with full flaps and trimmed for
a descent rate of approximately 700 ft/min, the aircraft’s approach
speed was approximately 75 KIAS and it touched down at approximately
60 KIAS, with a landing roll out comparable with the specifications
for the aircraft.
In testing the accuracy of the instruments, based on the measured Test
Flight, the speed indications on the airspeed indicator were
consistent with the averages measured. Additionally, when establishing
a set rate of climb on the vertical speed indicator, the respective
gain in altitude on the altimeter was achieved within the measured
In all, Orbx’s Van's RV-4 was very good in flight, displaying the
typical flight characteristics of this aircraft. The RV-4 is a lot of
aircraft in a small package, sleek and sporty, and this is definitely
noticeable in the way it handles. There were some significant flight
performance variances compared to the published performance
specifications however, but these do not significantly detract from
The Orbx Van's RV-4 also includes an engine, electrical, and system
maintenance interface which can be accessed within the flight
simulator. This enables every system to be fully programed with random
failures and also records cumulative usage wear and tear.
This version of the Orbx Van's RV-4 is for FSX / P3D only. Other
specified technical requirements are as follows:
● Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (32 or 64bit);
● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or Acceleration
Pack) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3d Flight Simulator installed; and
● multi core CPU, 1.8GHz or similar, 3GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, and
1.14GB available HDD space.
The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings
I have in FSX. I have most of my settings set very high and there was
no need to make any adjustments. FSX continued to perform smoothly and
as it would with any default aircraft.
Review Computer Specifications
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted
are as follows:
● Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
● NVidia GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
● 12GB Kingston DDR3 2000MHz;
● Windows 7, (64bit);
● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
● additional major add-ons include: Active Sky Next, REX Essential
Plus Overdrive; Ultimate Traffic 2; Orbx FTX Global BASE;
Global VECTOR; Orbx FTX region series; and Orbx FTX airport series.
The Van's RV-4 is a fantastic homebuilt, sport aerobatics aircraft and
is fun to fly. Jared Charalambous has done a wonderful job of
recreating the RV-4 and the aircraft displays a reasonable balance of
quality and detail for the price. Whilst some detected issues were
significant, they do not impact or significantly detract from the
general flying of the aircraft. If you are a fan of homebuilt, sport
aerobatics, and / or the Van's aircraft range in particular, this is
an aircraft worth consideration.
The Van's RV-4 is a solid aircraft product from Orbx which displays a
high visual quality, typical flight characteristics for the aircraft,
and represents reasonable overall value for money.
High visual quality.
Realistic general flight modelling.
Notable variances and inconsistencies in performance.
Reasonable value for money.
● External Model:
● Internal Model:
● Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers) :
● Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like) :
● Value for Money:
The Orbx Van's RV-4 is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 8.9/10, with an 'Highly Recommended'
and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.