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FS 5.1 on modern systems


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FS 5.0 and 5.1 (both cdrom and floppy versions) are for DOS. FS 5.0 is sensitive to the speed of the CPU, so that a Pentium 2 would likely run the simulation at too fast a speed. This effect also occurs in emulation of DOS, such as provided by dosbox and PCem.


However, FS 5.1 does not appear to be sensitive to CPU speed. FS 5.0 was released in 1993 while FS 5.1 in 1995, so I would guess that there were changes to the simulation other than visual features. FS 5.1 also provides a soundblaster 16 driver in addition to that for the generic soundblaster. If using emulation, then avoid use of XMS memory for the audio output - option within FS 5.1.


The cdrom version of FS 5.1 has several scenery add-ons and possibly other visual enhancements (there was mention of updated coastlines, but I haven't confirmed this). I compiled much of this information from other sources.


The issue is that FS 5.1 is ideal to run in emulation because of the enhanced simulation engine, but its photorealistic ground textures show shimmering and flickering, and do not adapt well to a modern LCD monitor in the case of running it at native resolution (such as 640x400) or stretching to full screen. A workaround is to replace nearly all the ground textures of FS 5.1 with those of FS 5.0. FS 5.0 has a lower resolution non-photorealistic texture set which show much less visual artifacts and noise, particularly nearer the horizon.


FS 5.1 also has seasonal ground textures, although not very different between the seasons. FS 5.0 does not have seasonal textures. So, to replace the FS 5.1 ground textures with the non-photorealistic set: a texture such as BROAD.R8 from FS 5.0 would replace BROAD.R8 in the TEXTURE directory of FS 5.1, but this same file would also replace the seasonal variants of BROADF.R8, BROADS.R8, and BROADW.R8, each appended with a letter for the other three seasons. There are several of these sets that are similar, except for LAKE where there is a just a regular and a winter season texture. Many of the textures do not have seasons, such as HIRISE.R8, MEDCITY.R8, SIDE*.R8, and RUNWAY0*.R8 (the asterik substitutes for any number or letter). These should be replaced, too. There are some *.R8 files which are in FS 5.1 but not in FS 5.0 - these should be retained. The opposite is also true, such as for MUNICH.R8, which is in FS 5.0 but not in FS 5.1, this would not be copied to the TEXTURE directory of FS 5.1. An exception is PARIS.R8 which is not equivalent between versions, so perhaps replace FS 5.1 PARIS.R8 with the FS 5.0 version of MEDRISE.R8. Lastly, the COAST*.0 and COAST*.1 of FS 5.0 could also replace those in FS 5.1 for lower resolution coastlines (coastlines not fully verified yet). The *.PAL (palette files) are not replaced in FS 5.1, nor are FS5WORLD.* (which appear to be global maps of where to place ground textures). The MEIGS* files are higher resolution in FS 5.1, but retain these so the water around that airfield appears blue so that it matches the optional water textures, although it is possible to not use water textures as in FS 5.0 (in that case use the FS 5.0 MEIGS* files); also, it is best to replace the noisier water texture of FS 5.1 with another, such as here: https://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/fslib.php?do=copyright&fid=2423. I don't think the cloud nor aircraft panel textures require replacement, and the clouds appear unchanged anyways. These textures are generally viewable, including the FS 5.1 coastlines, in software such as archived in convr8.zip.


If seasonal textures were of interest, then the above versions could be edited in a texture editor and Fall seasonal colors added to the appropriate versions. Also, there is a DOS based flight planner (BGLNAV) available: https://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/fsview.php?do=list&fid=7606. It will ask for the location of *.BGL scenery files so that it finds the relevant flight data and airports. These files are in the scenery directory of FS 5.x.


If running FS 5.1 under emulation, the visual appearance seems best where an option is present to preserve the aspect ratio of the FS 5.1 screen. This display configuration will stretch reasonably well, given the use of textures with simple pixel art instead of the photorealistic textures. To complement this, the FS 5.1 scenery display preferences should include the texturing and wispy cloud effects, and test with the display preferences for high image quality along with option for some flicker. Avoid any smoothing or transitional effects in the scenery preferences.


I haven't seen BAO's Flight Shop, but it enhances FS 5.1 with many options, such as adventures and use of most of the third party aircraft. However, the flight planner should provide an ability to generate custom scenarios, even if without the benefits of features from Flight Shop. Supposedly TRACON II ATC program will connect with FS 4.0, but I don't know whether FS 5.x has a corresponding setup (perhaps BAO's Tower would connect to FS 5.1 from within Windows 3.1).

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FS 5.1 has a two player mode supported by dosbox and this may be tested on a single computer system. First, edit the dosbox configuration file (typically dosbox.conf) so that serial1=modem.


Start the first instance of dosbox and type at the dosbox console:

serial1=modem listenport:12345


Run FS 5.1 and choose Options->Entertainment->Dual-player->Communication_preferences and choose 'COM 1' and check 'Wait for ring'

Test with baud rate 9600

In dual-player dialog box, choose button 'Wait for ring'


Start the second instance of dosbox and run FS 5.1

Choose Options->Entertainment->Dual-player->Communication_preferences, choose 'COM 1', ensure that 'Wait for ring' is unchecked, and change telephone number to '' (single quotes are for clarity, not part of entry in text box). Then press 'Dial and connect' button in dual-player dialog box.


The two instances should connect and display 'V5.10 user connected' in the main window which displays the world.


This example may be expanded for connection across a tcp/ip network by replacing with a different ip address that is 'waiting for a ring'.


In the simulation, press '0' to send a message to the other player. In the dual-player dialog box there are the coordinates of the other player and other options, such as 'Autopilot lock to other plane' and 'ADF/DME track other plane'. One player may choose 'Autopilot lock' to follow the other player once both are in flight.


Tracon 2 for DOS will connect with FS 5.1 given the port is no longer than two digits, such as '99' (, but this 1990 program in dosbox (core=normal) does not seem compatible with the newer FS 5.1 simulator.

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  • 1 year later...

I just got my copy of FS5.1 working under Windows Vista using Defend Reloaded. I also have FS4.0b and Red Baron too. I'm still trying to figure out the difference between FS4.0A And FS4.0B! I didn't realize FS5.1 was DOS until reading the Wikipedia!!



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