• Fighter Leader X

    Review: Fighter Leader X For FSX By Warbirdsim

    By Bill Stack (21 May 2010)


    Screen shots by Warbirdsim



    The P51 Mustang is a single-seat, long-range, fighter/bomber used in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II and the Korean War. Designed and built in less than three months, the P51 Mustang is fast, durable, economical to produce, and well made. Its maximum speed was 437 miles per hour (703 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet (7,600 meters). Its range was 1,650 miles (2,755 kilometers) with external fuel tanks. Its ceiling was 41,900 feet (12,800 meters). Since the P51's actions in World War II and Korea, many models have been used in civilian air racing.

    The Fighter Leader X is a package of North American P51 Mustangs offered by Warbirdsim, which builds "highly accurate" Warbirds for FSX and FS2004.

    "We have gone to great lengths to produce what we feel is the most accurate P-51 for Flight Simulator," the developer explains. "Several flights in the real aeroplane were made to capture the sounds and hundreds of drawing and photographs were poured over in order to achieve this stunning model. Each new aircraft in the pipeline receive the same level of authenticity."

    Warbirdsim selected the P51 Mustang for development because "We love the Mustang! It is one of the finest looking, performing, sounding and all round fighters ever produced."

    The developer promises the following in its Fighter Leader X package:

    • Ten aircraft and three variants are depicted in one package.
    • A selection of different colors worn by the actual Mustangs is included.
    • Bump textures add authenticity to an already wonderful model.
    • Reflective textures make bare metal shine.
    • A gun camera saves footage to the movies folder.
    • The package includes the P-51B, P-51C and the Mustang III.
    • A selection of different colors worn by the actual Mustangs.
    • Authentic manuals and checklists.




    EXAMPLES OF PAINT SCHEMES


    Ina the Macon Belle


    Princess Elizabeth


    Shangri La


    Sleepy Time


    P51B

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    YES

    Installation program

    YES

    License key required

    NO

    Copyright acknowledgment required

    NO

    Uninstall program included

    NO

    Installation instructions included

    YES

    Operational manual included

    YES




    Visual Features

    Warbirdsim's Fighter Leader X seems very accurate. The basic shapes and dimensions are realistic enough. Warbirdsim says all its paint schemes are "colors worn by actual Mustangs." I was unable to verify such because there are too many variations in the world today, but the claim is believable nonetheless.

    Details such as reflective metals, rivets, and bump texturing add to the realistic appearance of all the models without diminishing frame rates.

    The 3D virtual cockpits in all models are very detailed and accurate compared with real-world photos I found, and true to the historic period. None of the models has a 2D instrument panel.



    COCKPIT & PANELS

    Main Instrument Panel


    Fuel Gauge (left) and Radio Stack

    Lower Left Controls
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Flight Modeling

    For some of my flight tests, I used the sea-level airport at Marshfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (3B2) and standard atmosphere. Other flight tests were done at Sevierville, Tennessee, U.S.A. (KGKT), which is 1,014 feet (310 meters) MSL.

    In standard atmosphere at sea level, and with power and flaps set as specified in the checklist, the aircraft took off as follows: They accelerated from zero to 100 kts in less than 10 seconds. The tails lifted at about 110 kts. The entire aircraft lifted off the runway at about 120 kts. The checklist specifies "throttle 61 inches," which means 61 inches of manifold pressure, which happens to be the red line on the gauge. The checklist says nothing about take-off speeds, however.

    From sea level in standard atmosphere, all models climb out as follows: They climb easily at 150 knots and 2,000 feet (610 meters) per minute with gear down and flaps deflected. When pitch is raised to lower airspeed, they climb out at 125 kts and 3,000 FPM (915 MPM). With gear and flaps up, they climb easily at 200 kts and 1,000 FPM (305 MPM). When leveled off, they quickly accelerate to more more than 400 kts.

    All models are very nimble. They climb, bank, roll, and recover from these maneuvers quickly and easily. As expected, however, recovery from high-speed dives requires more effort, time, and patience. Landing is as easy as in a light general-aviation aircraft such as a Cessna 172, but the P51 seems to require higher approach and landing speeds.


    P51 MUSTANGS IN FLIGHT

    Princes Elizabeth


    Princes Elizabeth


    Shangri La


    Shangri La


    Shangri La


    Dody

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Technical Features

    The package is available for instant downloading from the Pilot Shop. Downloading required several minutes because of the size of the archive file.

    A four-page installation guide in Adobe Acrobat format explains in clear, step-by-step language how to install the P51 Mustang in FSX for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP, replete with screen shots.

    The installation program installs all needed files into two subfolders of the Aircraft folder in Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

    The archive file contains two similar executable files: "Warbirdsim_FSX_P51BCIII_Part_1.exe" (87.8 megabytes) and "Warbirdsim_FSX_P51BCIII_Part_2.exe" (59.3 MB). The installation instructions say nothing about Parts 1 or 2, or what these files do, or which of them should be installed. In response to my question, the developer explained that the product was split into two executable files because of the large size of a single file containing all the aircraft, checklists, and manual, and to reduce installation time. Both files must be executed (one at a time of course) for all the aircraft, checklists, and manuals to be available. The instructions don't explicitly say this, however.

    A copyright notice is displayed during installation, but users are not required to electronically sign it.

    Technical support is available from the Warbirdsim website. Fourteen topics include "Opening Cockpit," "Drop Tank Release," and "Clam Shell Door Opening." Some of the topics appear to be answers to frequently asked questions.


    NIGHT EFFECTS

    P51B Ina the Macon Belle


    P51B Sleepytime Gal


    P51B Cockpit

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    The Manuals

    A four-page instruction manual in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format describes how to install this product. When the simple instructions are followed, installation is brief and easy. Both Parts I and II must be executed (separately of course) for the full package to be installed.

    No checklists or reference sheets appeared in the kneeboards of my P51B Mustangs, but the developer insisted they appeared in his models, and he sent me a screen shot of such.

    The "authentic manual" promised in the product description is available upon completion of the installation and stored in an FSX folder called "Warbirdsim" for further reference. In 28 pages, it explains how to use the instrument panels and fly the aircraft, replete with annotated screen shots.

    Screen shots of the cockpits and instrument panels with annotations identifying significant gauges, switches, and controls are available on the Warbirdsim website.


    MANUAL PAGES

    Manual Cover

    Page 7

    Page 11

    Page 23

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    Nice Features

    The canopies open and close with two hinged panels. Dropping bombs is a nice activity for those simmers in attack mode. The gun camera that saves footage to the movies folder is unique compared to the other aircraft I have reviewed.

    The 28-page manual is made on parchment background and set in courier "typewriter" font, which gives it an aged and authentic appearance.



    Canopy Opened
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    More Information

    Information about the P51 Mustang can be found at these websites, among others:




    Summary

    Warbirdsim's P51 Mustang models are good representations of the real-world fighter/bomber.The detailed renderings inside and outside are realistic compared with the photos I found on the Internet, and the flight modeling seems realistic for such aircraft. The comprehensive manual should be studied for full appreciation of this aircraft's performance characteristics and for the most realistic simulations. Installation is quick and easy. For flight simmers who enjoy military and historic simulations, this product is well worth the asking price.


    Bill Stack



    Learn More About Warbirdsim's P-51 Mustangs


    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com


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