Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey
The Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey MarineVariant (MV) is the real-life equivalent of the X-Plane 11 aircraftbeing reviewed here, and is a tilt rotor military aircraft with theunique ability to take off vertically like a helicopter, andhorizontally like a conventional fixed wing aircraft. The versatilityof this aircraft, its high speed and long range, coupled with asubstantial payload area, make it an ideal operational aircraft formilitary missions. The original real-life aircraft has been aroundsince the late 1980s, with the first reported V-22 flight being in1989, with the MV-22 Marine Variant arriving in the early 2000s. Thegood news is that the Osprey is still very much alive and well today,with reports of around 400 being built to date. Over the years severalvariants servicing different parts of the United States Military havebeen developed. The aircraft on review here is the MV-22 which wasspecifically developed for the United States Marine Corps.
I obtained my copy at the FlightSim.Com Store, which other than thedeveloper's own web site, I believe is the only available outlet at themoment, and is priced at $22.00, which is reasonable in my opinion dueto the fact that you actually get two models for the price of one. Inthe download you will get the new MV22B-PV2 with 'classic' avionics,and it is described as more akin to the real aircraft, and the modernMV22-PV4 variant with Ebit system avionics. It is a moderately largedownload at a little under 300 MB for both aircraft, however they canbe downloaded separately if you only want one or the other. Beprepared for a bit of a wait if your internet speed is a littleslow.
In the product description the developer describes their Ospreysas being inspired by one of their other models, the Leonardo AW609,however they also openly admit that their rendition of the Osprey isnot an exact replica of the real-life aircraft, more the developer'spersonal interpretation. I think it is important to know this so enduser expectations can be set right from the start, so thanks to thePizzagalli.ch team for being open and upfront.
After purchase, installation is simple, just a case of drop anddrag into your Aircraft folder. The documentation provided isinformative, with cockpit and flight manuals provided for eachvariant. There is also a separate manual for VR, which describes whichareas have click spots in the cabin to open doors, move seats, etc. AsI don't use VR, I was not able to test this out, however based on theinformation provided by the developer, I believe it is safe to saythat although some VR capability is provided, at this time this is nota fully equipped VR aircraft.
In each of the flight manuals you will get an overview of theflight systems and avionics, as well as an explanation of theon-screen control panel which can be used to operate several systemswhen in flight. The manual images are quite clear and easy tounderstand, assuming you are fluent in English, however what wouldhave been useful in my opinion is an explanation of which inputcontrols to set up for the primary flight controls, i.e., pitch androll, yaw, throttle and thrust vector for the rotor tilt.
For seasoned simmers I am sure you can work it out, however fornewer members it would perhaps be helpful. In the flight manual, youwill also get a detailed description of the Osprey's dimensions,history, characteristics, schematics and performance information. Inthis manual it also gives checklists on how to start and stop theengines, stow the wings as well as how to execute successful takeoffsand landings. The included screen shots help visualise the requiredrotor positions and this is extremely helpful even before you stepinto the cockpit.
At the present time there are eight liveries provided (the same forboth variants), most being military based, and screen shots areprovided in the manual so you can see what is being provided beforeyou step into the sim. Contact details for the developer are alsoprovided along with a few links to further reading, however one thingthat was a little frustrating was the fact that not all linksworked. It was however incredibly positive that I used the emailaddress provided to ask the developer a question or two, and indeed Igot a speedy and helpful reply which was very much appreciated.
When you first fire up either of the Ospreys, you will find anintriguing aircraft, half helicopter, half fixed wing, and thedeveloper has done a good job in modelling the overall feel of theaircraft in my opinion. By their own admission this is not an exactreplica, however looking at photos of the exterior of the real thing,I would describe it as a good match. For me, the exterior texturing insome places is what I would describe as functional when compared totop end payware aircraft out there. If you are expecting veryhigh-definition surfaces and details, you will not find those here.For example, the riveting on the tail, and around some of the doors isa bit 'rustic' and could be improved in my opinion. However, it doesthe job and hopefully this is an area that the developer will continueto work on as time goes by. I did enjoy the various military liveriesprovided and these are nicely done, with lots of details and decals,remarkably like the real thing from what I could find on theinternet.
There are several animated cabin doors, including the internalcockpit door and the rear ramp, and these can be activated by eitherusing the onscreen panel, assigning a suitable button on one of yourcontrollers or by using your mouse. The other bonus was that the datarefs being used meant that my Saitek panels (switch, radio and multi)all worked as intended. For me this is important, as many developerstoday use their own data refs, which means that without specialistscripts, the panels are often largely redundant. A big thank you tothe developers from me for sticking with the default controlparameters.
On The Ground
One feature I loved about the Osprey was the fact that you can stowthe wings and rotors, and this can easily be executed by using theremovable on-screen panel provided in the lower left of thescreen. There are several functions that can be activated from thepanel, including setting the rotor position, opening and closing thedoors and ramp, adjusting the flaps and landing gear, and there issomething very captivating, and to be honest a little bit freaky aboutwatching the rotors and wings moving into their stowed position. Itreminded me of a crab or a spider tucking away all their legs as theysettle in for the night. Conversely, when the rotors are returned tonormal operations, it is like a flower opening in the morning sun. Igenuinely loved this feature and spent quite a while going back andforth watching and listening to the smooth transitions taking place infront of me. Really nice, transformeresque...!
On the ground you have a real dilemma, do I taxi like aconventional fixed wing aircraft, or do I hover taxi, or go straightup like a helicopter? This is what I enjoyed most about the Osprey,the fact you have so many choices. I have a set of helicopter controlsthat I used to fly the Osprey, using the collective for throttle,throttle for rotor tilt and the cyclic for direction. This workedwell, and after a little practice, I was able to taxi along the groundand takeoff vertically without too many issues. It did take a while toget the hang of all the moving parts and particularly to get them inthe right order, as at times it felt a bit like rubbing your head andpatting your stomach all at the same time. It does take some practice,however once you get the hang of it, it feels extremelyrewarding. Slow and steady worked best...
Walking around the Osprey you get a real sense of the size andpower of this thing, and it really does look impressive when sittingon the apron. I also like the animated crew, both the pilot andco-pilot, and the fact that their heads move in sync with thedirectional controls was a nice touch.
In The Air
The Osprey flies nicely when in cruise, however that was probablyhelped by the fact I have a set of helicopter controls. I have afeeling it may be a little harder to control if you do not have a goodset of peripherals. Transitioning from vertical to horizontal flighttakes a bit of practice, however again with some patience andperseverance, it is extremely rewarding when you hit your sweet spot.
In the cockpit many of the switches and controls are functional,and to be honest I preferred the 'classic' set up offered with theMV-22B over the Ebit glass panel option. I just really liked the feelof the various gauges and panels and found them clear and generallyeasy to read. The inclusion of an external camera is a genuinely nicetouch, and this along with the other information panels can beaccessed via the center CDU panel. From here you can accessinformation on fuel, power, lights, miscellaneous flight data and ofcourse the camera.
In both variants, you can extend the refuelling probe, which is inthe nose of the aircraft, which was kind of cool in my opinion, andalthough I did try a couple of refuelling special starts, I couldnever find the tanker, so I never got the chance to really try out myclose quarter flying skills. Extending the fuel probe is nicelyanimated, although finding the button on the 'classic' variant toactivate it took me a little while.... (top tip...check to the left ofthe co-pilot's seat).
As far as texturing goes, and very much like the exterior, if youare looking for super high definition and exact realism, you will notfind it here, however, that sort of realism typically comes at a cost,and in those cases, you are having to pay at least twice as much asyou do for the Osprey. In my opinion, the texturing provided in bothvariants is arguably a 7 out of 10, however it is perfectly adequateand fit for purpose.
The engine sounds are rich and in keeping with the large rotors,and the overall flight experience was extremely enjoyable. There werea few small hiccups as I found instability with the autopilot attimes, and I could not hold my altitude. I did enquire with thedeveloper who was immensely helpful in providing some advice, howeverI never really managed to get this to work as I would have liked. Ishould however state that there is a decent chance that operator errorwas part of the issue, as other features such as heading and verticalspeed worked fine. In the 'classic' variant it is worth noting thatyou can swap the HSI and EFIS MAP around by clicking on a button onone of the pilot panels. This is a nice feature if you would like adifferent view from the pilot's seat from time to time. As mentioned,not everything is animated or simulated, however I had enough on myhands just mastering the flight transitions to really worry aboutthat, and oh yeah, did I mention landing?
Well... that is a real challenge, and after a few hours flighttime, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the hardest thing tomaster! This needs your full focus and the ability to do multiplethings all at once. I can imagine that anyone who plays the drumswould be good at this... feet and hands all doing different things inperfect sync!! If you are really looking for something to test yourlevels of coordination, try landing the Osprey. I did eventuallymanage to get the aircraft on the ground in one piece after severalattempts, which was more a sense of relief than anything. Like allthings with aviation, practice, practice, practice and practice againis the only way to go, and the Osprey is an aircraft that needs flighttime to be able to master it to the required level. The good newshowever, is that as armchair pilots we have the magical reset button,and I can only imagine what real life pilots must have to go throughto be able to have full control of the Osprey.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time in the Osprey, so much so, that Iwant to keep persevering to improve my skills. I can feel an aircraftcarrier landing coming on next to keep pushing my skillsenvelope. Yeah, perhaps there is some room for improvement when itcomes to a few of the textures, however the overall experience isextremely rewarding if you put the time in. For the asking price of$22.00, and the fact you get two variants for the price of one, makes itgood value for money in my opinion. Hopefully, the developers willcontinue to work on their creation and improve it over time, as it haslots of potential for further upgrades, both in terms of looks andfunctionality.
Meantime, if you are looking for something just that little bitdifferent and you are up for a challenge, the Bell Boeing MV-22 Ospreyby Pizzagalli.ch may be just the aircraft for you!/images/reviews/pizzmv22/title3.jpg
Purchase pizzagalli.ch - MV-22 Osprey For X-Plane
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