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Battle of Britain - 70th Anniversary
For FSX Published by Just Flight
Reviewed by Joe (“Mutley”) Lawford
August 2010

Jump to: Hawker Hurricane | Messerschmitt Bf-109E | Supermarine Spitfire | Verdict

The Battle of Britain is one of the first and only battles to be fought and won completely from the air.

According to RAF sources, the Battle of Britain was fought between the 10th July and 31st October 1940. German historians dated this between Mid-August 1940 to May 1941, when German forces withdrew their bomber units in preparation for the attack on the USSR.

After conquering France without too much resistance, Hitler turned his attentions to Britain.  Knowing that an invasion by sea was near impossible due to the Royal Navy's fleet of destroyers and Battleships defending the islands, he realised Germany's only hope was to gain air superiority in order to bomb the defences, early warning radar and naval bases that serviced the ships. 

By the beginning of July 1940, the RAF had 640 fighters, but the Luftwaffe had over 2600 fighters and bombers. This huge force enabled Germany to maintain relentless day and night raids on airfields in the south and nearly forced the RAF to retreat north, but they bravely hung on.

On the 20th August 1940, in the House of Commons, Churchill made one of his most poignant speeches where he said:
   "The gratitude of every home… goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

One of the most important days of the battle was the 7th September 1940. After pounding the RAF 11th group's airfields, Germany decided they had suffered enough damage to render them useless in the short term so changed their focus to launch an all out attack on London, the political heart of Britain. 

This change of tactics proved to be its downfall, allowing the RAF to cover and repair their airfields and a week later, on the 15th of September, the Luftwaffe suffered its biggest loss of aircraft claimed to be 185 by the the British propaganda machine but was in fact 60.  It became obvious to the Germans that they could not win the battle in the air.

Attacks carried on for several weeks but they eventually petered out. This historic defeat is celebrated on the 15th of September in Britain as the Battle of Britain Day, Germany’s first military failure of the war.                                                        

The package
What I am reviewing today is the complete DVD Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary pack. The package features 3 of the most famous fighters of the war; the Hurricane, Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf-109E.  The DVD version comes supplied with a superb 100 page manual, product presentation is something that Just Flight do so well. The manual is packed with interesting reading about the BoB as well as its aircraft along with installation and set up notes that will allow you to get the best from each model.

The aircraft modelling and design was developed by Aeroplane Heaven who have a long lineage in producing top quality historical aircraft. These aircraft however are only available exclusively from Just Flight and are part of a recent developing and publishing agreement between the two companies with many more to come.

This 70th Anniversary package is also available as a download for the same price of £39.99 or, if you only want one aircraft, they are available separately for £19.99 each so if you want at least two of the aircraft the anniversary pack gives you the third one free!

Pop the DVD in and go! A quick and painless operation, it will search your registry for the location of FSX but if it cannot find it will allow you to manually set the installation folder.  You can choose which aircraft to install, don't forget that choosing all three will cost you up to 1.1Gb of space.

For downloads, the installation is just as simple. After purchase, you download your file via the direct link on the confirmation screen (also sent to you in an e-mail).  Then, you run the install program and enter, when prompted, your Just Flight e-mail and account password. The product unlocks and away you go!

As mentioned earlier, one thing Just Flight does well is to document their products and this product is no different. In fact they have taken extra care with this one so it looks and feels like a commemorative version. The "Pilots Notes" as they call it, are full of interesting facts about the BoB as well has aircraft specifications and handy hints on getting each aircraft in the air and keeping them there!

Having said this, I found the manual to too focussed on the aircraft and lacking detailed information on the best setup of the flight sim. Individual aircraft setup information was good, with instructions of how to start from cold and dark and key assignments for the guns etc.  What is just as important in my view are the realism settings, how else are we going to re-live these courageous flights as accurately as possible? The flight model should be set to realistic as I have detailed below:

  FSX Aircraft/Realism Settings:

General Realism Slider: MAXIMUM
P-factor Slider: MAXIMUM
Torque Slider: MAXIMUM
Gyro Slider: LOW
Crash Tolerance Slider: MINIMUM

Enable Gyro Drift: TICKED
Display Indicated Airspeed: CHECKED

Ignore Crashes and Damage: CHECKED
Enable Automixture: OFF

Engine Stress Damages Engine: OFF

G effects: ON

Autorudder: OFF – Essential for spinning!

Lets have a look at each of the aircraft in the box.

Hurricane Mk1

The history of the Hurricane harks back to 1933 when Sydney Camm discussed with the Air Ministry the possibilities of producing a monoplane fighter.  The first prototype Hurricane flew on November 6th 1935. It had been based on the design of the Fury bi-plane built by Hawker and was powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.  On October 12th, 1937, the first flight of a production Hurricane took place. By the end of 1938, 200 Hurricanes had been delivered to the RAF’s Fighter Command. By September 1939, 19 RAF squadrons had been equipped with Hurricanes.

The original Hurricane's airframe was made of braced metal tubing, mostly covered by fabric (including the wings). The engine cowl and the front part of the fuselage had a metal skin. After September 1939, all Hurricanes were delivered with wings of stressed skin, all metal construction, but the fuselage behind the trailing edge of the wings remained fabric covered.

The Hurricane was the first RAF plane to destroy a Luftwaffe plane in October 1939 when Pilot Officer Mould shot down a Dornier Do-17 over France.  But it was in the Battle of Britain that the Hurricane made its mark. The battle is frequently romantically associated with the Spitfire, but the Hurricane played a major role.  By August 1940, the RAF could call on 32 squadrons of Hurricanes and 19 of Spitfires, therefore, the Hurricane was the dominant British plane in the battle.

The Hurricane was the RAF's first 300mph fighter, though slower than the Spitfire, the Hurricane developed a reputation as a plane that could take more than a few hits.  It was at a disadvantage at higher altitudes but with its ease of maintenance and good-natured flying characteristics, the Hurricane remained in use where reliability, easy handling and a stable gun platform were more important than performance, typically in roles like ground attack.

One of the design requirements of the original specification was that the Hurricane, as well as the Spitfire, was also to be used as a night-fighter. The Hurricane proved to be a relatively simple aircraft to fly at night and was to be instrumental in shooting down several German aircraft during the nocturnal hours.

The virtual Hurricane
Models included:

Prototype K5083 - First flown on 6th November, 1935

First production Hurricane 2 Blade (Battle of France era)
JX-H L1842  - RAF's first kill over France
    FT-N L1723 - RAF's first kill over British soil
    JX-G - Squadron code painted over and gas detector on wing
    111 L1584 - Experimental livery
    Royal Yugoslav AF - 1938 model
Standard RAF Hurricane Mk1 3 Blade (Battle of Britain era)
    GZ-L P2921 - Flown by Flt. Lt. Pete Brothers
    UP-W R4118 - Still flies today
    KW-Z L1592 - London Science Museum
    YB-W P3878 - Sky coloured spinner
    LE-D V7467 - Flown by the legendary Sq. Ldr. Douglas Bader

There are 2 different types of interior which loosely equate to the 2 prop and 3 prop MK1s. The 2 prop version has the old ring and bead gun sight and the latter the reflector type that you see featured in the pictures below.

The interior looked suitably worn in most areas like the hand grips and the seat, however, there were some very clean textures too, like the foot straps on the pedals which I would have expected would have seen plenty of action. The overall effect was very good, plenty of cables, pipes and levers which on operation moved very smoothly.

There many click spots, most of them have tool tips even if their operation had no affect on the sim. The manual lists them in good detail, including the non-operational ones.  One of the most interesting features is the modelling of the gear/flaps lever. This is is very similar in looks to an automotive gearbox with one lever moving through a letter H pattern via left and right clicks of the mouse.  This is superbly modelled and quirky in use!

The gauges were very clear and easy to read with the oil and fuel temps and pressures being highlighted using red and orange bezels.  One very notable feature is how smooth and responsive they are in operation. There is a popup 2d panel available for those not so used to the VC, the panel shows the main 6 instruments along with sim icons for the map, kneeboard and ATC window.

The radio popup looked good but there is no instruction on its use you have to figure it out for yourself, admittedly it wasn't that difficult. The illuminated aiming reticle in the 3 blade version was finely detailed right down the the 3 spare lamps ( I guess these used to blow regularly).

Finally, the animation of the canopy was smooth as was the slider for the push out window and the operation of the door.
The external textures are excellent with full self-shadowing and bump-mapping, to the rear of the fuselage you can really get the effect of fabric stretched over steel tube stringers.

The paint was well treated with oil, scuffs, wear and tear and smoke and burn marks from the cannons.  The liveries are true to their real world counterpart right down to the silver white and grey underside of L1584 and the squadron codes being painted over on J-XG, a nice touch or realism there. 

When on the ground, a hidden click spot in the cockpit will enable a nicely detailed engine starter battery trolley which connects to the aircraft in a realistic way.

There are quite a few animations with this model, the pilots head constantly scans the instruments and horizon, he even blinks.  Above 8,000 feet, the oxygen mask will be automatically clipped into place.

When the canopy opens a stirrup appears to help the pilot up onto the wing along with an accompanying hand grab. Further presses of the Shift+E key plus 2,3 or 4 will reveal the mighty Merlin engine along with the fuel tank, the final sequence uncovers gun hatches on the wing to expose the browning machine guns and bullets and an inspection panel on starboard side to reveal more cockpit detail.

A section of the canopy glass can be removed to enable pressure equalisation and the canopy can be jettisoned via a lever to the left of the seat.  These features aren't so much animated the textures more disappear from sight, the aircraft has to be reset to get these back.

On starting the engine, changing the prop pitch is animated as well of plumes of black and white smoke from the exhausts, these soon disappear aft the smoke has blown through the pipes.

All control surface are animated as expected, again very smoothly.  Undercarriage animation is excellent with the port wheel generally parking before the starboard, if you look in the wheel bays you will see moving parts hauling the gear in.

Finally in this section, there is animated cannon fire with flame flashes and animations of spent bullets falling away from the aircraft, this is a nice feature and very fitting for this aircraft.

The sound of the Merlin makes your hair bristle! A fine roar on start-up has to be experienced at least once from the outside as you wont get the full impact from the pit. Also make sure you use the fly by camera a couple of times to experience the changing engine note and when flying away from you the sound flutters a bit like it does in real life.

The cannon sound is ok, it sounds like someone banging drums in a hallway, very resonant and bass-y but effective.

Flying the Hurricane
I am no Hurricane pilot so I can only judge the flight model by what I expect it to do!

As mentioned earlier, the only way to enjoy these warbirds is to set the realism high. Than manual takes you through the pre-start and starting procedures so follow them to the letter, auto-starting is not an option! (Ok it is, but are you man or mouse?!)

Before the take off roll the rudder trim wheel should be set to full right. Get used to using this as without it you are going to take a sharp left off the runway before take off! This is the P-Factor kicking in. The torque of the engine is such that you will still need some right rudder and aileron to keep her straight and level.

Also modelled, as I found out to my embarrassment, is the "nose over" as I had forgotten to release the park breaks, just as well this wasn't a real aircraft!

Once rolling, as with all tail-draggers forward pressure on the stick will bring the tail up and after a small input of backpressure she will leave the ground. It's really not difficult to get her airborne, after a few seconds when you are up to around 100ft retract the gear and close the canopy.

Now you can let her gain some decent speed and altitude because you literally want to take her for a spin, don't you?  Remembering that altitude is king make sure you take time to get her above 10,000. At 8,000 the oxygen mask will latch on and you can turn the oxygen on (the switch and gauges are modelled).  Leaning the engine gives a better and stronger performance at this height and the controls should remain responsive.

Rolling, looping and spinning is also explained in the manual along with the stall and maximum speeds. I tried most of these procedures with reasonable success and it was fun to do.  Now, in the real world, some of the stresses the body goes through would limit some of your actions.

You never really get a sense that the Hurricane is going to let you down, she feels solid and reliable so long as you have the height. (Sadly not a luxury Brian Brown had at the tragic airshow crash at Shoreham in 2007) so be wary.

I really cannot fault the flying characteristics of this model, she has become a favourite of mine and never far away from the scramble!


Messerschmitt Bf-109E
The first Bf-109 prototype flew in September 1935, powered by a British, liquid-cooled, Rolls-Royce Kestrel VI twelve-cylinder upright-vee engine. This was the engine choice of other German aircraft manufacturers too producing prototypes, vying in a competition to supply a new fighter to the Luftwaffe.  The first production model, the Bf-109B-1, was delivered in February 1937. The Bf-109 E, the variant which saw action during the Battle of Britain, entered into service early in 1939.

The Bf-109 E (Emil) was fitted with the fuel injected Daimler Benz 601A-1 engine, a three-bladed variable pitch propeller, under-wing radiators, and four MG-17 7.9 millimetre guns, with two in the cowling and one under each wing.  The wing guns were replaced with MG-FF/M 20mm cannons which resulted in the fitting of a blister in the lower wings  An experimental MG-17 machine gun was situated between the engine cylinders and fired through the propeller hub, although no longer fitted, the spinner modification can still be seen.

Performance wise, the Bf-109E4 (featured in this package) had a ceiling of 34,000ft with a max speed at altitude of 300 KT and only a 355Nm range. The latter proved to be a liability, since it could not stay over the battle area for very long before having to return home.

A notable feature was the landing gear which had a narrow track and was hinged in the fuselage to retract into the wings. The narrow gear not only made the aircraft unstable on the ground but were also weak and prone to collapse. 10% of BF109s were written off in ground accidents, the landing gear problems would be a long-standing difficulty for the aircraft.

The earlier campaign in France had suggested the need to the Luftwaffe for a fighter-bomber. A number of Bf-109s were experimentally fitted with centreline bomb racks. Such racks would be fitted to sub-variants of the aircraft through the rest of its evolution from the 109-E4 onwards. The racks allowed the carriage of a 250 kilogram (550 pound) bomb, four 50 kilogram (110 pound) bombs, or a 300 litre (80 US gallon) drop tank.  These bomber sub variants were not fitted with a bombsight as such, but the standard Revi gun sight could be used in dive attacks with some accuracy and a line was painted on the windscreen to help the pilot with his aiming.

The Luftwaffe lost 610 Bf-109s in the Battle of Britain, more than they had bargained for, post-war the 109 was built in Czechoslovakia, as the Avia S-99 and S-199 and in Spain as the Hispano Aviación Ha 1109 and 1112 still seen at airshows to this day.

Alan Deere, who served with No. 54 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, summed the Bf-109 up:
"Undoubtedly, the 109 in the hands of a good pilot was a tough nut to crack. Initially, it was faster in the dive, but slower in the climb; the Spitfire could out-turn, but it was at a disadvantage in manoeuvres that entailed negative G forces. Overall there was little to choose between the two fighters".

The virtual Me 109E
Models/liveries Included:

Bf-109E Battle of Britain version
   StabII/JG54 - Yellow nose
   II/JG53 "Red band"
   Japanese Tester
   Escadrila 58 - Donald Duck
   3.J/88, Condor Legion - Spanish
   Russian - Green, Red star
   Captured French - 'White' 6
   3.JG52 - "Horrido" emblem
   Stab III/JG54 Light mottle
   Stab 9/JG54 Yellow 13
   Stab/JG2 heavily stippled mottle
   Stab/JG26 - Yellow nose
   Stab/JG2 - As flown by Pilot "ace" Major Helmut Wick
   Stab/JG3 - Based in France, 1940
Bf-109E-4 Tropical Model
1/Jg27 - Tropical camouflage
Staffel9 Gruppe I JG27
Staffel9 Gruppe 2 JG27

The cockpit of the 109 was notorious for its enclosed and cramped layout and you really get a feel for it here. This cockpit looked a little more lived in than the Hurricane which for me is a good point adding to the realism. To the left, chains, levers and push-rods give a good mechanical feel.

As with a lot of modern German design, it has sparse, functional controls, the yellow fuel related items stood out well against the dull interior as did the red "beware" controls. The gauges are more visible than its counterparts and easy to understand and read. There didn't appear to be as many clickable switches but then I don't think there were in the real deal.  Now this is a place where the tool-tips come into their own. For a non German speaker you will be thanking Aeroplane Heaven for all the time taken to include as many as possible.

Behind your head you have some decent armour plating but the down side to this is it obscures your rear view, a point often made by the pilots. The canopy is hinged on the right and has a couple of sliding windows either side which can be operated with your mouse. The canopy itself can be jettisoned but like the Hurricane it just vanishes.
There is a flight sim related panel to the right of the dashboard which controls sim functions such as map, kneeboard, radio, ATC and loadout.  With loadout you can configure the ordnance, whether you have the large bomb, fuel tank or the 4 x 50Kg bombs. I liked the simplicity of this feature and the way the panel blends into its surroundings, as though it is meant to be there!

The radio pop up feature is very similar to the Hurricane being a 2d panel and if I didn't know better I would say the are the same. The real FUG V11 radio panel can be seen on the dash and is clickable but for visual effect only.

The Revi C12/D 3d reflector gun sight is nicely modelled with an offset rear sight to the right for the more dominant eye, You can see in the detail that this could be moved for left eye operation as well. (Although not modelled).  It's all there if you look for it!

I found I had to raise my viewpoint quite a bit to get the best all-round visibility and I had to use the side windows a lot to get my bearings. I can only imagine how awkward this was in the real 109.
Exterior and animations
With such a wide choice of liveries there should be a design you like. They are all good and some of the detailing and wear and tear is truly excellent.

Walking around the aircraft you will notice the wings are slender and fairly square-cut at the tips, it also has leading edge slats which deploy automatically. Mounted in the wings are the cannons and twin radiators and a pitot-static tubes.

Moving to the rear there is an animated opening compartment in the fuselage which uncovers Telefunken radio equipment, again, with good detailing. On to the tail the 109 has a high mounted horizontal stab with struts and unusually, a rudder with no trim which severely  limits a pilot's ability to turn left when diving. I look forward to trying that, not! From the tail to the cockpit runs the aerial and this moves around in flight as though it is being buffeted by the wind, another nice touch.

The canopy pivots around a hinge on the starboard side and is smoothly animated albeit angular in design. This reveals the pilot, which from an outside view, can be seen scanning the skies for the enemy. Other animated features include the engine cowling being removed to expose a huge V12 engine and the machine guns high up and to the rear.  The machine guns and cannons fire in the same manner as the Hurricane with the same sound effects.
Finally, the infamous undercarriage, they have a very narrow track and swing outwards into the wing. When down and locked they splay slightly outwards, this is unavoidable as they wanted it hinged to the fuselage.

I am not sure of the source of the engine sound but it did sound like a powerful V12.  After many fly-bys I did start to detect a certain note to the engine but it definitely isn't as distinctive as the Merlin.

I liked the engine start sound, on the press of the starter she splutters into life with a puff of smoke and runs a bit rough for a few seconds before settling down.

The animation and sound of the guns is the same as the other two aircraft, maybe a better sample could have been used but that's only a minor point, essentially it's only eye candy.

The sound in the cockpit was good, when the engine is silent you can hear the clock in the cockpit ticking and you can clearly hear the feedback from the engine when using increasing the revs.

Flying the Emil
Right from the word go, you know you are flying an aircraft built to a different philosophy than the British aircraft. You can sense innovation, there is no mixture lever, it's automatic, so you must ensure "Enable automixture" is checked in the realism settings otherwise you will not experience the best performance from the aircraft. There are leading edge slats which operate automatically but I couldn't work out the criteria for their operation, they seemed to deploy on landing with the flaps and sometimes in the middle of aerobatic manoeuvres, fascinating to watch though. See below for example.

I thought takeoff was going to be difficult as you have no rudder trim available but actually I found little or no opposite forces where needed, properly trimmed, she just floated into the air after a very short takeoff run.  The gear pretty much retracts in sync with the port wheel always slightly ahead of the other.

I thought she was a bit sluggish in the turn and this is how it should be, one of the benefits of the other two aircraft was the manoeuvrability when turning.  She has a good rate of climb and is in the clouds in a couple of minutes. Diving is an uncomplicated affair and she readily pulled up without fuss.

I found rolling and spinning to be pretty unexciting and slow in the responsive. She drops gracefully into a stall with no wing-over you have to push her hard to get her to twist and turn.  Definitely not an aerobatic aircraft!

With all this said, I really enjoyed flying her, much more than I thought I would. I would say the flight characteristics are pretty accurate to descriptions I've read and she is refreshing and uncomplicated to fly, a little bit like driving an automatic car!


Vickers Supermarine Spitfire

Does this aircraft need an introduction? Possibly not, it's the most famous aircraft of the 20th Century, an iconic fighter loved the world over for her beautiful lines, manoeuvrability and fire power.

At 4.35pm on the 5th March 1936, Vickers Supermarine chief test pilot Capt. J. 'Mutt Summers' raised the specification F.37/34 prototype 300 Spitfire (Serial K5054) into the air at Eastleigh Aerodrome. (Now Southampton International Airport EGHI,)

The first flight lasted just 8 minutes, it took off 35 degrees across wind, this was because experience with the racing seaplanes had revealed a strong tendency to swing to port due to the high torque.

K5054 ready to go
  Summers found that although there was indeed a tendency to swing, it was easily checked by the application of the opposite rudder. The aircraft seemed to drift into the air and the maiden flight, which was made with the undercarriage locked down, was effortless. Upon landing 'Mutt' is famously quoted as saying "I don't want anything touched" In fact the only thing that was touched was the propeller. 

For the maiden flight K5054 had been fitted with a fine pitch propeller to give the pilot more rpm therefore more power on take off. This prop was replaced by a normal-pitch one for the second and subsequent flights.

Over the next three days a further three flights took place, all piloted by Mutt; lasting 23 minutes, 31 minutes and 50 minutes during which time he flight tested the aircraft with a variety of stalls and steep turns to fully explore the flight characteristics of this unique aircraft.

The next few months saw further trials carried out with no major problems and K5054 was delivered to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath for official trials on 26 May 1936.

The Air Ministry were so impressed with this new fighter aircraft that prior to the full test programme being completed they issued a contract for 310 Spitfires on 3 June 1936 to the value of £1.25million.

The prototype Spitfire achieved a maximum speed of 349mph (increased to 364mph in the first production    Mk I's), had excellent manoeuvrability, rate of climb and turning circle. Pilots were to describe the ease of its control in the air as almost flying itself.

On 15th May 1938 Jeffrey Quill, the then chief test pilot, flew the first production Spitfire, K9787, from Eastleigh and then, on 4th August 1938, he delivered the first RAF Spitfire, K9789, to No.19 Fighter Squadron at Duxford.

By 1945 the aircraft had significantly increased its fire power, nearly doubled its rate of climb and achieved a speed of 450mph, almost exactly 100mph faster than the K5054 prototype. These achievements are testament to RJ Mitchell, and his team's brilliant original design.

She drifts into the air

Summers exits the aircraft

From 1938 until manufacture ceased in 1947, over 22000 Spitfires were built. Unfortunately, due to his untimely death on 11th June 1937, R. J. Mitchell never saw his greatest design legacy into production.

The Spitfire was developed into 24 different marks and in addition to being an RAF fighter, it fulfilled roles as a folding-wing aircraft carrier plane and photographic reconnaissance aircraft.

As a footnote, on 4th September 1939, the day after war broke out, the original prototype crash landed due to a misjudgement on the part of the
pilot, Flt Lt 'Spinner' White. Sadly he was killed and K5054 never flew again.

The Virtual Supermarine Spitfire
Models included:

K5054 - First flown on first flew on March 5, 1936/
   K5054 - As seen at Hendon Air Pageant, Wheel spats

Mk1 Early 2 blade

    K9795 - First production Spitfire to be delivered to the RAF for operational use
    K9854 - QV-W flown by Flt.Lt. Wilfred Clouston
    K9906 - FZ-L flown by Flt. Lt. Robert 'Bob' Stanford Tuck
                ZP-A Flown by Flt.Lt. Adolf "Sailor" Malan
Mk1 A
    P9546 - QV-H  flown by George 'Grumpy' Unwin.
    P9386 - QV-K flown by Squadron Leader Brian Lane
    P9398 - KL-B flown by Squadron Leader Al Deere
    P9323  - ZD-F flown from Hornchurch July/August 1940
    L1043 - DW-O flown from Biggin Hill July 1940
    R6775 - YT-J  flown from Hornchurch July 1940.

When climbing into the cockpit of the prototype Spitfire the first thing you come across is a message from Mutt Summers himself with a hand scribbled not "Touch NOTHING!" on the seat. A real cute touch, the cockpit is fully functional but we will be concentrating on the Mk1 cockpit for this review.

The Spitfire, initially, had a better protected cockpit than the 109 with bulletproof windscreen and an armoured plate behind the pilot's seat. The Spitfire had an advantage with better rear view and you can see that clearly here, the cockpit feels bright and airy.  The canopy slides open by a click on the pull strap and also has a jettison handle just below the rear view mirror.

In look and feel you will see similar gauges as used in the Hurricane but that was probably how it was in real life so saved a bit of extra work in the production of the real aircraft aircraft and this model. The main gauges are bright and clear and smooth in operation, many of them have War Dept stamps and serial numbers quite clearly modelled. There are plenty of controls, knobs and switches to discover, fuel and oil pressure gauges have the familiar red and yellow bezels and to the right are temperature and boost gauges.


One of my pet hates is unlabelled switches where the cursor turns to a hand when you hover over them. I found a couple here, you will find descriptions in the manual so that is acceptable but should have been picked up in beta testing.

There are some super animations in the cockpit such as the map box and radio panel.  The later cockpits have noticeably different gun sites with the early models having ring and bead as opposed to reflector types.

A 2d panel is available with the main six and sits nicely at the bottom of the screen, I didn't use this panel but it looked functional.

The interior detail is certainly a credit to the developers and really adds kudos to this product.

Exterior and animations
Like the previous two aircraft, The quality of the external textures is superb, there are 12 different liveries over the 3 models. On close inspection you will see some bump mapping and shine. The markings, roundels and paint wear all add to the authenticity.

From the outside, the cockpit drop-down door and canopy slide (Shift+E+3 & E) are very smooth and reveal a very detailed animated pilot. Shift+E+2 will hide the pilot and open a flap on the rear port side, then the radio set slides out for inspection. The final exit command Shift+E+4 reveals the Merlin engine and opens the engine starting electrical socket door.


The ground cart can be called from a hotspot in the cockpit, this dutifully appears and plugs into the aircraft. When starting, the sound of the  cranking Merlin is great. When she fires into life a puff of oily smoke is emitted.

All these animations worked perfectly and as realistically as I would have expected and certainly pass the quality test with flying colours.

The Spitfire uses the same sound set as the Hurricane to the distinctive Merlin sound can be enjoyed in much the same way. My advice is turn up the volume as much as you dare and just enjoy that wonderful sound!

Flying the Spitfire
Ok, we need to make sure the automixture has been turned off after flying the 109 and the realism set to max.

The Manual gives some good tips on and flying the Spitfire. If like me you plan to fly a realistic flight model then be sure to follow the procedures in the manual.

After starting make sure you give her time to warm up, this will give you the opportunity to read up on the pre-flight checks you will need to make.  Get the trim set correctly, particularly full right rudder trim, no elevator trim should be required.

On the takeoff roll make sure to are ready to give plenty of right rudder on demand, also if she swerves left the right wing may rise so some right aileron may be required too.  As the tail lifts she will usually just drift upwards, if you were to push the nose forward to raise the tail you can gain a bit more speed but is a riskier operation!

Raise the gear as soon as you can and note the mechanical gear up indicators disappear into the top of the wing. As you climb to a safe altitude you can set the prop revs back and take a touch off the mixture. Now get her straight and level and trim her out.

Once you start to test her out you will notice how responsive the controls are.  Her climb rate is excellent and you can take her over a loop without fuss. Once at high altitude lean the engine more to get better performance, this can definitely be experienced in this model.  

Pulling tight turns are fun especially when you know the 109 could never match this.  I found I could really toss this aircraft around in the sky and she would be very forgiving.  If you really want to let off steam give the cannons a go and watch the muzzle flash and spent bullets trail away from the plane. Excellent.

I could imagine a lot of users would want to use mulitplay in this aircraft forming squadrons and performing dog-fight type manoeuvres!

As all three aircraft are modelled in a very similar fashion, it is safe to say that if you get the display settings for one set up correctly, they will all run well.  Although there are quite a few systems modelled, I didn’t feel my machine was under stress, even in sharp turns where you are most likely to get issues.  This is a notable point as I dare you not to fly the Spitfire without wanting to loop or spin!

When reviewing sim performance, it is only fair to run with default scenery (Except for screenshots).  I am fortunate that my review machine is of a fairly high specification (See below) therefore, unchecked, I was enjoying FPS in the high 60’s.  However, this in itself can cause stuttering issues, so I use a 3rd party program called FPS limiter and check the frames at 25 FPS, this ensures those smooth transitions.

Individually, each aircraft appeared to be true in looks and accurate in performance to its real world counterpart. They all have their individual flying characteristics, some good, some bad and this is a great way to find out for yourself. There are plenty of models and variants to keep you busy for a long time.

The DVD presentation pack at £39.99 is excellent value for money with its superb souvenir type pilots notes handbook, a must have collectors item for anyone interested in warbirds and the Battle of Britain as a whole. I thought these were truly stunning models, now these legends live on...
My score? for each aircraft a 9.5/10.  For the package 10/10 and the coveted Mutley's Hangar award for Excellence! Well done to Alex Ford and the team for an excellent and very well presented product.

/Joe Lawford
Review machine Spec:
Core i7 Extreme 965 @ 3.6 Ghz | 12Gb Tri-Channel Corsair DDR3 Ram |GX260 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit Pro

      System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • 2.5GHz PC or any Dual Core
  • 512Mb RAM
  • 128Mb graphics card
  • 1158 Mb Download size / DVD Rom Drive
  • 1.7Gb hard drive space for full installation