Hawker Sea Fury
By Robin Ritchie (3 December 2003)
Warbirds in FS are a unique and challenging genre, blending the charm and idiosyncrasies of vintage aircraft with a generous (and potentially deadly) dose of power. Even though you can't "shoot stuff up" in FS, there's something very satisfying about completing a precision aerobatic routine in a prop driven missile. But before you think about that, simply learning how to land one without killing your virtual self will keep you busy for weeks.
One of the last and most powerful piston engined military aircraft was the Hawker Sea Fury. Descended from the wartime Typhoon and Tempest, the Sea Fury debuted in September 1946, too late to participate in WWII. Sea Furies did however fly in the Korean War and on the 9th of August 1952, Sea Fury pilot LT Carmichael of the Fleet Air arm was credited with downing a North Korean MiG 15.
But enough of the history lesson; let's look at the FS version. Faithfully reproduced for Flight Simulator by Messrs David Hanvey and Paul Barry, this 19.5 Mb file is FS2004/FS2002/CFS2 compatible. It's available here. There's also an upgrade patch which addresses a couple of minor visual issues.
Included are two variations (with and sans drop tanks) and four liveries. There's WH588, a Royal Australian Navy FB11 from 124 squadron - which still exists as a warbird, Royal Canadian and Royal Netherlands Navy models and the ill-fated Fleet Air Arm VR930. The former Royal Navy aircraft originally served with 802 Squadron in 1948. VR930 was later restored and toured the air show circuit in the UK, but was written off in a tragic, fatal landing accident during May 2001.
The visual model is a true beauty to behold. It's staggeringly well finished, complete with dynamic shine and moving parts including working tail hook, folding wings and moving gill vents behind that giant Centaurus XV radial. The detail is incredible. Check out the hinges on the folding wings! The downside of the visual model is that it's a bit hard on frame rates. Whilst my mid-range AMD 2.5 handles it well, older systems may work hard to keep up.
Stepping into the "office", the basic 2D panel is acceptable, although it provides almost no forward view at all. A minor complaint is the lack of a master switch. War Emergency Power exists in the air file, but there's nothing to toggle it in FS2004. That said, it's easy enough to add MoparMikes' WEP switch and timer gauge. Better is the beautifully finished virtual cockpit with its simple, frame friendly gauges. Again, the level of detail is excellent. Slide open the canopy in VC view and you'll see the canopy handle spin as it moves.
The only omission from the package is sound. It's aliased to the default FS2002 Corsair, which doesn't exist on FS2004. But there are plenty of good radial sound packages out there. I used a CFS2 sound file from a Kawasaki. There is also now a separate sound package designed specifically for the Sea Fury. Contrail effects come with the package, but they're not up to the standard of the visual model.
Taxiing the Fury is best performed in virtual cockpit view. Ensure the tail wheel is unlocked and keep an eye on the edge of the taxiway. You can adjust the seat position using the backspace/enter and shift/ctrl keys or if you want, adjust it permanently in the aircraft.cfg. For those who find taxiing frustrating, an easy cheat is to use spot view. Don't go too fast or you'll end up ground looping the aircraft.
Line up on your favourite runway, check the compass for alignment and lock the tail wheel. Set one notch of flap, then ease open the throttle. The Centaurus bellows and this intimidating monster begins to sprint. The huge radial and 5 bladed prop generate a heap of torque so you'll need to keep a close eye on the runway edge to maintain a straight track. Do not use full power, as you simply won't be able to hold her on the concrete. 70% is adequate.
The tail unsticks at about 85 mph, revealing just how far off the centerline you are. Rotate gently at 112 mph and ease her off the tarmac. Retract gear and flaps immediately and slowly open the throttles. Increase pitch to maintain 130 mph and you're climbing like a rocket. Let's see a spam can do this! You'll need to be quick on the mixture to keep the radial humming.
In flight, the handling is very well balanced and the Fury seems extremely smooth and agile for such a heavy aircraft. This perception is enhanced by the VC's low impact on FPS. There's no autopilot but it's possible to trim the aircraft for near hands off flight, at least at moderate power. Any time that you engage full throttle, be prepared to counter the torque with aileron.
Landing is trickier than takeoff. It's best to select a high key approach and drop steeply to the runway on a light throttle. Maintain about 120 mph in circuit and 100 mph on final. (Don't get too slow as the ground will rise abruptly to smite thee). Transition to level flight a foot or two off the runway and ease the power off, taking into account the torque change. Gradually pull back to smoothly touch down at approximately 90 mph. On to the brakes and bring it to a stop as quickly as possible. The brakes aren't vicious, so it's unlikely to ground loop - provided you keep it in a straight line.
Whew! That was great!
The flight dynamics are about as good as can be expected, given that the model is designed for three different sims. It's not as sophisticated as, say, RealAir FD's; so you can't slip the aircraft but it will spin, provided that you hold full rudder. Aerobatics are terrific fun in the Fury.
Overall, the Sea Fury is a cracker gift which presents simmers with a very exciting new challenge. I'd give it 8.5 out of 10. That's better than some payware add-ons. David and Paul deserve a hearty thanks.
Go get it!