• Interview With Manfred Jahn

    The Beginnings

    When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    My first simulator was Microsoft FS2002, and I began repainting aircraft as soon as I learned that you could add your own paints and scenery. A bit later I bought FSDS and started on scenery, focusing on RAF Gatow, where I used to go plane-spotting when I was young. With the advent of FS2004 and its inclusion of Gmax, I began my first aircraft project, the Hunting Percival Pembroke, a mid-size, twin-engine communications plane, and a regular visitor to Gatow during the cold war.

    Going public with just the basic exterior model brought me in touch with members of the community who immediately contributed a genuine panel (we weren't up to VCs yet) and accurate flight dynamics. I was also contacted by pilots who had flown these planes in real life, a most welcome side-effect that was to be repeated with all subsequent releases.

    After the Pembroke came the York, the Lancastrian, and a whole gaggle of Connies. Here is a screen shot of a C-121A Connie that I am particularly fond of.

    I believe I did some twenty or thirty variants of the Connie all told, more or less in reverse order, starting out with the experimental Turbo Connie and the model 1649 Starliner. Lufthansa had just bought three of the last remaining Starliner hulks and begun the arduous process of getting one of them back to flying condition. At one point Lufthansa actually asked permission to use the FS2004 model for technical crew training. I believe the reconstituted Starliner is scheduled to have its first flight sometime this year. If all goes well it will be the star of air shows all over the world. People will come just for the sight and sound of this iconic plane, as they do for the Breitling Connie. Incidentally, the sound pack for the Connies was based on original Breitling recordings.

    After a good deal of hesitation - I was reluctant to abandon FS2004 for what seemed a flaky successor - I finally did the step and migrated over to the dark side of FSX. First I did a C-47, the military variant of the DC-3, learning what I could from the source code of the DC-3 that Microsoft's ACES team had made available. This was followed by the Basler and Braddick DC-3 turboprop variants, and more recently the C-117 Super DC-3, and the C-47 V2. At present, I am on to something completely different, even though in a sense it is just more of the same (see below).

    Designing aircraft for a flight simulator was a major change from making plastic models, which I often failed to finish. Designing and painting with keyboard and mouse is a much cleaner exercise than working on a workbench cluttered with bits of wood and plastic. It's also healthier, as you don't get to inhale any dust and paint fumes. Then again, CAD comes with health hazards of its own - it is very addictive and not really good for your eyes.

           

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    That has to be the C-47 V2, for which we bagged a freeware of the year award, but in terms of download stats the Connies were the most popular, easily going into the ten thousands range. The thread at Sim Outhouse that advertised the coming of the C-47 V2 soon had 50K clicks, and much added interest has been created by Jan Visser's announcement of an entirely new "VVC" (virtual vintage cockpit) for it. Have a look at the work-in-progress pictures in the current sticky at Sim Outhouse. Jan is a genius (you should interview him!), you haven't seen the likes of such a VC before.

    What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?

    Creating a 3D model from photos and scale plans (often incorrect) is a lot of work but also plain fun most of the time. Releasing and troubleshooting generally is a hassle.

    Tags: manfred jahn

    18 Comments
    1. leeholdridge's Avatar
      leeholdridge -
      Manfred Jahn is one of the best aircraft designers payware and freeware included. Thanks for interviewing him. Loved the article. The V2 of the C-47 is sensational. My sincere hope is that he and his team will re-create his superb connies as FSX and P3D native planes just like he did the Douglas.

      Lee
    1. HillBillyJim's Avatar
      HillBillyJim -
      jahn is on my list of the best freeware designers hands down. His C-47 blows the default DC-3 out of the water.
    1. wjnoordhuizen's Avatar
      wjnoordhuizen -
      Just wanted to say thanks for those countless hours just having fun with those freeware planes, trying them out and installing and admiring new repaints.
    1. torkermax's Avatar
      torkermax -
      Excellent model designer. fantastic VC's. Thank you Manfred
    1. davjones's Avatar
      davjones -
      You're truly a pillar of this community, Manfred. I seldom take the time to read these interviews, but clicked right on it the instant I saw your name. Thanks for your many wonderful contributions, certainly including helping me when I ran into some trouble with repaints for the 1049 Connie, which came out fine in the end.

      Thank you once more for all you've done.

      ...Dave Jones
    1. gordonperry's Avatar
      gordonperry -
      I wish he had done the C-117 for FS2004 all his aircraft for FS2004 are brilliant
    1. Lieuallen's Avatar
      Lieuallen -
      A great interview of one of the giants of FSX aircraft design. Very much appreciated!
    1. jamminjames's Avatar
      jamminjames -
      Thanks for all of your hard work so we can enjoy our favorite hobby. The C-47 is better than most payware!
    1. Qantas9999's Avatar
      Qantas9999 -
      I love flying his Connie it's one of his best works!
    1. SSI01's Avatar
      SSI01 -
      Thank you Manfred for some of the most enjoyable FS9 aircraft in existence. Many hours of enjoyment have been made possible by your creations. Thank you!
    1. addman's Avatar
      addman -
      As someone else said, a true pillar to the community. Thank you so much for the C-47 v2 Manfred!
    1. degeus's Avatar
      degeus -
      Very nice aircraft!
      I moved both his C-47 (1 and 2) and the Connies to P3D, they perform quite well.
      Piet de Geus
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great interview Manfred. Your aircraft make FSX come alive!

      Thank you for all your hard work. You're a real credit to the flight simming community.
    1. jtiberius's Avatar
      jtiberius -
      The L-749 Connie is my Favorite. I flew at least 5 Times around the Earth. Second ist the Military L-1049 especially the Paisano Dos livery. The Virtual Cockpit and the behaviour of this excellent addons are awesome. Tanks for this great add-on.

      Christoph
    1. bushp04's Avatar
      bushp04 -
      A true star! What a great legacy!!

      bushp04
    1. philco6's Avatar
      philco6 -
      Manfred, you have a great skill your aircraft are just wonderful, I am a retired aircraft engineer in my 70's I also flew as flight engineer on some of the old kites ( birds to some of you ) I still use FS2004 I think it is a great platform.

      Thanks Manfred,
      PJ.
    1. dbadin's Avatar
      dbadin -
      Manfred, you have designed a beautiful aircraft: The Connie ( particularly the L1649 ) .
      However, this model, (Release downloaded at Cal Classic) has many updates and it's very difficult to find our way between all of them!
      The last download I have found has a problem with his front wheel which is not in the axe of the plane.
      Would you please explain me where I can found - and in what order - the last release of this plane?
      Thank you!
      Regards
      D BADIN
    1. daniel_h_12345's Avatar
      daniel_h_12345 -
      I love your planes. Especially the C-47 V2. Best plane ever! Keep up the good work!