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Interview: A.F. Scrub


Interview: A.F. Scrub



Recently FlightSim.Com had the chance to talk to A.F. Scrub. A former pilot and active flightsimmer for more than a decade, he got his start with CFS and continues using the latest FS2004 and FSX. Over the years he has created hundreds of planes for these seems, concentrating on warbirds and specializing in planes that no one else is creating.


Question: When did you start developing for flight simulators?


In 2001, I did my first CFS1 "Secret Base" campaign. Then I started doing mods for CFS1 online combat flying and for my squadron, converted FS98 models, converting .af to .bmp files and fiddling with .air files and damage profiles.






Question: Could you tell us a little more about "damage profile (Dp)" and show us what has to be done to damage an aircraft, and score a direct kill?






Question: You've mentioned to me once that the Nieuport 17, and Pfalz XII are your favorite aircraft. Tell us what you like about them, how they fly and about how you created a squadron with them.


The Nieu 17 is a nimble, responsive, fast climbing baby, but a bit low in speed, engine and firepower. With its good maneuverability you can get away in many cases. The Pfalz is faster, heavier and stronger and has better guns. Diving, shooting and get out is the best way of fighting.


When we flew online combat, we made a squad with five friends and called ourselves the "The Apollo Flyers". We first exercised between us and as loners against other fighter boys online. It was a multinational thing and we met flyers from all over the world. Some even became friends and we stayed in contact for a long time afterwards. Then we had a go with our squadron and tried to down as many 'enemy planes' as possible.


We spoke with each other using Teamspeak or drew a few lines on the screen to agree for a strategy or to warn one for "the Hun in the sun". It was real teamwork, and more than once, one of our friends got a "foe" from our tail. You saw the planes trailing smoke and losing parts as they went down. This was caused by our bullets, touching the damage boxes as seen in the drawing. We preferred WW1 combat and our team flew Nieuport 17 and Pfalz XII painted in our own preferred colors. This way we learned how to change textures for our own fun. The model chosen depended on what enemies you saw, Allied or Axis.



Nieuport 17




Pflaz XII




Man, that was fun...our younger flightsimmers are really missing something.



Question: What do you mean, "Man, that was fun...our younger flightsimmers are really missing something"? Is it because of the types of aircraft they fly now or what they can do with them or is the dog fights?


This teamwork and social contact is what I mean by saying that certainly many young simflyers are missing nowadays. With those old crates, you didn't need a super PC to fly decently and when you didn't coordinate your flying, the plane broke up under your seat.






Question: What do you enjoy the most about dog fights with vintage aircraft? What skills are involved?


With those WW1 types, you got time to think and didn't black out very often. Most fighting was done at between 60 and 120 knots, so you had time to think and look around. When you pulled things too much, you lost speed and altitude with the known consequences, risking someone could be on your tail. You must have some discipline when searching for an enemy in the gunsight, means you may not forget there are others in the neighborhood, friend or enemy and a collision is the end for all involved. Don't be overly enthusiastic for that kill.


Question: Tell us as flight simmers, how we can still have fun in CFS and some of the things that CFS aircraft can do that FSX or FS2004 cannot.


In CFS1 and CFS2 combat flying, you can really hit a plane and be hit. In FS2004/FSX it's very nice to look at, but all fake. In combat flying, you hear the bullets come and touching your plane and certainly in CFS2 you're losing parts, trailing smoke and fire and finally crashing, you can even hear the other pilot crying in despair..(should this be censured ?...lol...). But...no panic you can always parachute from your plane in flames (you see yourself jumping out) to fight another day.


















Question: When did you first start developing for flight simulation and how many designs have you done?


From 2003 I adapted FS98/CFS1 models to FS2000/FS2002/CFS2. Then in 2006 I did my first Gmax model, a Spitfire Mk XVI, for CFS2/FS2000/FS2002. Since then I'm always using Gmax, gaining slowly more experience and going on. I've done about 300 aircraft total.






Question: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project and what do you consider the more unique or special aspects of what you create? What are you favorite and most popular developments?


I find virtual cockpits the most difficult part in aircraft model creation. As far as what I try to do special or unique is trying to keep things simple and not demanding on frame rates (but a very detailed panel can sometimes use much memory) and most importantly making planes nobody else has done. Spitfire / Seafire variants are my most popular creations.






Question: Why do you feel the Spitfire/Seafire variants are your most popular work? Is it because of downloads or feedback you got on them?


These are planes everyone knows and there are a lot of marks that hadn't been created as freeware before. Many of them are still flying in real word and have a lot of different colors. For us Europeans the Spit won the war and we still see them at fly-ins, but I understand Americans prefer the Mustang.


Question: What is it about the virtual cockpit that makes it most difficult? Why do you find it to be the hardest to develop?


There are a lot of different parts and textures needed and nowadays people want the commands to be animated. This asks for a lot of time, creativity, patience and knowhow.






Question: We've talked about your most popular projects, how about your favorite projects?


My favorite projects involve warbirds and I enjoy the process of making older models flyable in FSX and FS2004 and creating new ones. I've found that this interests most flightsimmers.


Question: What do you enjoy about making the older models flyable in FSX and FS2004 and creating new ones? What process do you go through to do that and what problems do you run into? Do you use any special software and what do you have to do?


As you know, CFS1/FS98 and many CFS2 models are not usable in FS2004/FSX. Sometimes they work in FS2004, losing the prop, the wheels and some animations most of the time. In FSX/FSX Acceleration they are a no go. I prefer warbirds and most warbirds were made for CFS1 and CFS2 and something had to be done. Most of these old models can be converted to DXF with MDL2DX4 and AutoMagic4D, programs from the nineties. You can (sometimes) get an acceptable starting point for a new aircraft, but you lose animations and textures.


This DXF source is loaded into Gmax and you can begin all over again adding and renaming parts, mesh, animations and textures. The finished model can be exported to the modern simulators. When upgrading some CFS2 aircraft, you can be very lucky, changing gauges, panels, textures, .air files and aircraft.cfg without having to redesign the plane. However you may lose the transparencies and the prop texture generally has to be changed. You need HexEditor and SCASM to modify the models and upgrade them to FS2004/FSX.


DXF model:










Question: What software packages and tools do you use to develop?


I use Gmax, DXT bitmap manipulator, CFGEdit, AirEditor, PhotoFiltre, HexEditor...all freeware to create my freeware.


Question: You've told me you consider Paul Rebuffat and Corrado La Posta your mentors. How did they inspire you or help you in doing what you do today? What is it you like about their designs and work that you admire or enjoy so much?


Paul Rebuffat helped me through the Gmax designing stage. I'm especially thankful to him for his assistance in that steep learning curve and by the way...he did some very good models at the time.


Corrado taught me how to use SCASM and HexEditor, as this was the only way then, to convert older models to FS2000/FS2002/FS2004 without having to design a completely new airplane and it was a complicated way.



In short:


  • Open the model in HexEditor and search for BGL (hex v.). Take a default CFS2 model and do the same. Copy and paste the old hexes from the CFS1/FS98 BGL point to the new hexes in the CFS2 file from the CFS2 mdl BGL onward.
  • And then...redo all animations (VAR...) and rename them in SCASM to have an animated aircraft working in the later flightsims. But here I'm not going into detail, new designers could go crazy (anyway, this is hardly done anymore...).





Dixit Corrado:






Question: Do you develop payware/Freeware or both and why?


I don't do any payware, just concentrate all my time on the development of freeware.


Question: Do you have a team or just work by yourself?


No team, just looking for help from time to time in forums.


Question: What started your interest in real aviation and developing for flight simulators?


I have always been interested in aviation and airplanes. One of my uncles flew with the RAF in 1945/46...this triggered it all. As a boy I started making plastic models (Airfix, Frog, Revell...). Then freeflight models. At 12, I flew my first u/control model. Later I became a RC modeler and this is still my greatest hobby. In the nineties I started flightsimming, flew CFS1 combat online and making mods for my squad trying to fly better than the enemy (lol...). Finaly I started creating my own models.


Question: Do you have any experience in real aviation and have any memorable real world aviation flights?


Yes, in the seventies I had a private pilot license, and my first solo was in an Ercoupe in 1970 after only two hours instruction. That plane had no foot pedals, just a wheel, brakes and was very easy to fly. I did one engine out emergency landing in an Auster in 1972.










Question: We didn't know you were a pilot! How long did you fly and did you own your own aircraft? Please tell why you solo'd after only two hour of instruction? Did any other people in your family fly? How did you feel when you did that solo, were you scared? How many hours did you have when you got your private pilots license? How did you first get interested in real world aviation? We want to know as much as you can tell us about all this.


During WW2, one of my uncles, a young man then, became involved in the resistance against the German occupation. This all happened before he understood it himself. One day, a B-17 was shot down in his village and he saw the crew descend by parachute. Not thinking of the consequences, he saw a pilot and gave him his civil clothes. The man, an American, could escape from the Germans. My uncle had been seen by some collaborators and had to hide for three years, member of the resistance. After the liberation in 1944, he came home and that pilot met him asking what pleasure he could do. With his support, my uncle began a pilot training in the RAF, but after the war, in 1946 he was demobbed and returned home. His stories got me going.


I never had my own airplane, but from a kid I sometimes went to the airport and when I had enough pocket money I did a short flight with some pilot who had to do hours and was glad to have someone helping a bit to pay for his flying. As a student I have been member of an aviation club for years and the military organized flights for us each year. I always wanted to be a military pilot and was lucky to earn a purse worth five hours of flying instruction at a civil airport. There I met the Ercoupe and did my first solo with it after only two hours.


That plane was a very easy flyer and of course I had some stickholding experience from my earlier flights as a passenger (copilot...lol). I probably satisfied my instructor enough to allow me that solo flight. At first, I really thought he wanted to make a joke, but no, he stood at the tower and I did three touch and goes. I didn't feel scared and everything passed like in a dream. Then it was up to the Auster and, I was lucky again to earn a purse worth 40 hours from the national aeroclub.


That Auster was another kind of an aeroplane to handle. It had only 75 horses, a big flat wing and a very narrow UC track, taildragger, no forward view on the runway and very little comfort for the pilots. This one took me exactly 9 hours 39 minutes to go before my solo flight. One day, we were doing touch and goes and prepared for landing. Engine idling quietly and slowly preparing for approach. Almost ready to land when all at once that engine got crazy... RPM going up to maximum power. Overshoot, climbing away and back to the circuit. My instructor found the problem was caused by the throttle cable. He fiddled at the panel and got things working again.


New approach, idling normally, when damn, that stubborn engine going to full power again. Overshoot, climbing away, same story. In that Auster cockpit there wasn't much room and fortunately my instructor was a small man, we called him "Toto" for that. He opened his seat belt and had a look UNDER the panel, head down and legs up beside me on the seat. The throttle cable was broken. No problem, he said, I'm gone hold that wire and serve the throttle for you, go on for landing. Everything fine, but suddenly,..full throttle again. That Auster had a fixed pitch prop and not much could be done. My instructor yelled from under the panel...the cable slipped out of my hands...altitude...? about 100 feet, I said. Cut magnetos and set this thing on the ground!! That landing was a bit rude of course and one of the suspension wires broke from the plane (the gear was fixed to the fuselage by rubber bands, giving some measure of suspension). The right wing came down a bit, but fortunately we kept rolling straight and stopped at the end of the runway. We both got out, taking the girl by her tail and walking a mile to the hangars, trailing the little beast behind us.


Then I went up to a Jodel Petit Prince, a nice four seater with nose wheel and 125 horses. After 25 hours total time I got my first check with someone from the FAA and earned my elementary flying licence. I could fly everywhere, but...no passengers.


I kept on training and when I reached about 41 hours, ready for the final test, I had to do my military service. That changed all.


I did a medical and practical examination for instruction to military pilot, but we were 200 and only 3 were chosen. I did my military service in the air force in the Welfare, happened to know someone and yes. My ambition disappeared in two blue eyes. A family and children had to be paid for and to feed those hungry mouths I became lost in education. I became a teacher in a technical school. I did some more flying from time to time, but did not renew my pilot license.


Question: Have you ever considered doing flight simulator development full-time?


No, that is not something I've considered doing.


Question: How do you choose your next new design or project?


I have a look at what is NOT available to the flightsimmer and sometimes create a plane for someone asking for it, or restarting a project that I had on the drawing board for years and didn't like to do at that time.


Question: So you have a lot of aircraft on your drawing board you have not completed yet and plan to go back too? What type of aircraft do you plan to come out with in the future?


Ough...I'll have to go on for a very, very long time to finish it all. For the moment I'm doing the final touches to some FW190 Longnoses and a few Japanese planes.










Question: What simulators do you design for now and what ones do you plan to develop for in the future?


I prefer FS2004/FSX and sometimes convert one to CFS2 for the fighter boys.


Questions: In what ways do you see development changing in the future?


I hope nothing is going to change fundamentally in models development so I can go on creating models without having to learn all over again.






Question: What can sites like FlightSim.Com do to support you and the hobby better?


Your site gives a lot of assistance to those who develop files in order to get them to everyone to enjoy.


Question: How do you feel about the future of flight simulation in general?


It's like the flu, it is not going to disappear.


Question: What are some of the most important things a site or community can do to help the developers?


You are doing that now keep up the good work.


Question: What would you like people to know about you or your team and work?


I do it with pleasure, hoping that everyone will have a lot of fun.










A.F. Scrub
View A.F. Scrub add-ons in the FlightSim.Com file library

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