Adrian K Posted May 4 Share Posted May 4 By Paul Mort Hello, fellow flight sim enthusiasts! Paul Mort here, and I recently had the pleasure of testing the Virtavia Short Stirling, a legendary British heavy bomber from World War II, masterfully recreated for Flight Simulator 2020. As a Brit, I was thrilled to explore this iconic piece of British aviation history. With its rich heritage and impressive attention to detail, the Virtavia Short Stirling offers an immersive experience for aviation aficionados and history buffs alike. So, without further ado, let's see how it fared during my testing! The Short Stirling is available at the flightsim store: https://store.flightsim.com/Virtavia--Short-Stirling-for-MSFS_p_4962.html Features Virtavia's Short Stirling add-on for Flight Simulator 2020 comes in three distinct models, each representing a different variant and period of the aircraft's service: Stirling Mk1: W7451, 7 Squadron, RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire, England, early 1941. Manufactured by Austin Motors, Longbridge, Birmingham. Stirling Mk3: EF411, 149 Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, England, late 1942. Manufactured by Short Bros., Rochester, Kent. Stirling Mk4: LK117, 570 Squadron, RAF Harwell, Oxfordshire, England, 17 September 1944. Manufactured by Short & Harland, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Virtavia has gone above and beyond to include an extensive list of features that enhance the realism and functionality of each model: PBR (Physically-Based Rendering) materials and textures used throughout the aircraft, providing realistic lighting and surface reflections. VR (Virtual Reality) tested, ensuring compatibility with popular VR headsets for an even more immersive experience. Wwise soundscape, featuring Hercules engine sounds and switch/knob clicks, providing an authentic auditory experience. A highly detailed cockpit with numerous animations and mouseable controls, allowing for realistic interaction with the aircraft. A working Lorentz Indicator that uses DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) and NAV1 LOC (Navigation 1 Localizer) functionality. A togglable crew ladder for added realism and interactivity. Togglable crew figures, allowing pilots to choose whether to have visible crew members in theaircraft. Animated cockpit windows, bomb bay doors in both wings and fuselage, and cowl flaps for increased visual fidelity. An authentic flight model that replicates the performance and handling characteristics of the real- world aircraft. A 28-page illustrated User Operating Manual, providing detailed information and guidance for pilots. Documentation & Installation Virtavia includes a comprehensive 28-page User Operating Manual that's filled with illustrations and essential information. The documentation is of good quality, easy to read, and features useful. diagrams for specific aspects of the aircraft and is a fantastic guide for any pilot looking to get acquainted with this legendary British bomber. The installation process was a piece of cake, something I greatly appreciated. It was a simple case of extracting the provided zip file and then copying the main aircraft folder into the Community folder (users might have different locations). With that done, I had the Short Stirling up and running in Flight Simulator 2020 in no time! The instructions were crystal clear, and it was just a matter of following them step by step. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the cockpit, eager to take this magnificent bird for a spin. But first…I had to have my usual “walkabout”. Walkabout As I began my wander around Virtavia’s Short Stirling, I couldn't help but marvel at the intricate details that have been incorporated into this add-on. Starting at the front of the aircraft, the four Bristol Hercules engines are expertly modelled, with realistic propellers and animated cowl flaps. The radial engines are truly a sight to behold, showcasing the attention to detail that Virtavia has put into this project. It's worth mentioning that the model appears to be an FSX port (I may be wrong), but the developers have done a commendable job of updating it for Flight Simulator 2020. Moving along the fuselage, I noticed the panel lines and rivets that have been meticulously recreated, giving the aircraft a true-to-life appearance. The RAF roundels and squadron markings are crisp and accurate, further enhancing the aircraft's authenticity. The various access hatches and maintenance panels are also well-represented, adding to the overall realism. As I made my way to the wings, I was impressed by the faithful recreation of the bomb bay doors. The level of detail here is commendable, and the animation of the doors adds to the immersive experience. The undercarriage is also well-executed, with fully animated landing gear that retracts and extends smoothly. Lastly, I took a moment to appreciate the PBR materials and textures that have been used throughout the aircraft's exterior. These materials give the Short Stirling a realistic appearance, with accurate reflections and surface details that change depending on the lighting conditions. Interior Upon stepping inside the Virtavia Short Stirling, I was immediately struck by the impressive level of detail and accuracy in the cockpit. The developers have taken great care to recreate the various instruments and manipulatable parts, allowing virtual pilots to fully interact with the aircraft controls. One notable feature is the control yokes, which can be toggled off by clicking on the circular watch holder below the landing gear indicator. This allows for a clearer view of the instrument panel and enhances the ease of navigation. The Blind Landing Indicator, also known as the Lorentz Indicator, has been thoughtfully set up as a NAV1/ILS LOC/DME indicator in MSFS. The upper instrument measures distance in nautical miles to the tuned NAV1 or ILS locator, while the lower instrument acts as a locator needle, showing the deviation from the tuned NAV1 or ILS locator. The Compass Repeater is another important instrument in the cockpit, as it functions as a normal compass, but with a single needle that points to the currently tuned NAV1 station or ILS locator. Additionally, the Beam Approach Indicator provides similar information, showing the direction of the NAV1 or ILS locator where the needles cross. The cockpit also features several light switches. The Compass Lamp illuminates the main panel, while the overhead Cabin Lamps provide red illumination in the cabin. However, the lamp over the navigator's desk is sadly not operable in MSFS. An interesting detail included in the model is the landing lights mounted in a compressed air- powered retractable pod in the port wing leading edge. While the landing lights do not presently illuminate the runway, the developers hope to resolve this issue in a future update. Moving on to the trim controls, it is worth noting that the Stirling does not have aileron trim, instead, it uses an aileron spring tab. The trim handles can be moved with the mouse pointer or using a button on the controller. The throttles console is self-explanatory, but it's worth mentioning the small plunger object on the left side, which serves as a safety device for the landing gear lever. Though this part does not actually prevent the lever from moving, it has been included for authenticity, and it’s little touches like this from the developer, that I really appreciate. Lastly, the engine cooling gills are animated, but there is no lever or switch to control them in the cockpit, as in real life, the Flight Engineer would have operated them. However, key presses can be set to move the gills (cowl flaps), accompanied by a short electric motor sound when activated. Taking Off from Duxford With a fondness for Duxford, I couldn't wait to take the Short Stirling for a spin around this historic airfield (also a fantastic museum, and one which is well worth visiting). After completing the necessary engine start and pre-flight checks, I released the parking brake and smoothly applied 100% power. As the old girl accelerated, I could feel her eager spirit as the tail lifted at 70 knots, and at 80 knots, we gracefully took to the skies. Cruise As we levelled off and cruised above the picturesque Duxford scenery, I took a moment to appreciate the Stirling's flight characteristics. It felt like I was piloting a proper piece of history, with the Hercules engine sounds providing a relatively realistic soundtrack to our journey (more on the sounds later). On this particular flight, the weather was calm, so it made for a smooth ride, which left me thinking I could almost lean back and enjoy a cuppa mid-flight. But, of course, a pilot's work is never done! Landing back at Duxford With our short excursion coming to an end, I began the approach to land back at Duxford. I extended the landing gear and flaps, maintaining a steady 100 knots as I lined up with the runway. As we descended, I could feel the Stirling's responsiveness, making it an enjoyable challenge to achieve a gentle touchdown. At 70 knots, we made a lovely 3-point landing, as if the Short Stirling was giving a cheeky wink to the runway. After Landing Having completed our short flight, I couldn't help but feel a sense of accomplishment as I taxied the Stirling back to her parking spot. With a grin on my face, I raised the flaps and opened the cooling gills before shutting down the engines, feeling as if I'd just taken a fantastic trip through time. This little adventure in the Virtavia Short Stirling around Duxford was a real treat for me, as it showcased the aircraft's unique charm and handling characteristics. Sound Quality Having tested the Stirling during various flights, I have to say that I found the included sounds to be a slight let down in some areas, especially when it came to the engine startup. Here they sounded a touch tinny and lacked that lovely character we all crave. I also noticed some annoying looping, which was a tad distracting. However, once I was airborne, things did improve somewhat, but I still feel the engines could do with a bit more 'oomph'; if you know what I mean. On the bright side, the various clicks and interactions within the cockpit were spot on and made fiddling with the controls a rather enjoyable experience. Conclusion The Virtavia Short Stirling is a wonderful addition to Flight Simulator 2020, as it does an excellent job of capturing the essence of this iconic British heavy bomber. The attention to detail, accurate modelling, and rich heritage of the aircraft makes it a joy to fly for both aviation enthusiasts and history buffs alike. While the occasional sound quality issues and the model's FSX port origins may be points of concern for some users, the overall experience is still engaging and immersive. So, if you're looking for an aircraft that offers a unique blend of history, immersion, and enjoyable flight dynamics, I highly recommend giving the Virtavia Short Stirling a try. As a fellow flight sim enthusiast, I can assure you that it's well worth your time and investment. See you next time! Paul Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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