• Review: Ch-47D Chinook X From Virtavia

    Review: Ch-47D Chinook X From Virtavia

    By Nigel Martin
    January 1, 2012

    Overview

    As a self confessed helicopter fan, I am always looking out for new and innovative offerings for the flightsimmer seeking to add some exciting additions to the virtual hangar. As the title of this review suggests I have found another.

    The Boeing Chinook heavy lift helicopter is a real workhorse of the skies, and performs admirably with several air forces around the world. With its distinctive twin contra rotating rotors, look and sound makes this offering a must have for me. I hope the downloaded offering stands up to my expectations... We will see.

                           

    So without further ado, I successfully downloaded and installed the program, experiencing no problems at all. I must say, I downloaded the wonderful Sea King from Virtavia and the download process was equally as seamless. With this download, please seek out the manual that is also downloaded as part of the package, it is 21 pages in length, and presented to a high standard, and a must read, you will get so much more from the experience.

    After selecting FSX, I dived into the aircraft options, after ticking 'show all aircraft' the three options are shown in the list. I make no excuses that the majority of the review shots are of the RAF version, but not to disappoint there are other pictures depicting the other two options, US and RAAF.

    Exterior

    This is a place I always I love to start a review, let's walk from the rear of the fuselage towards the front. One thing that is for sure, the detail quality of the aircraft is truly incredible, the acid test, to zoom in onto various areas, this I did and the detail held.

                           

    The distinctive high rear fin, with the two engine nacelles left and right, is presented in beautiful detail. One of the main features of the Chinook is the large rear opening doors for rapid evacuation of troops and hardware. This opened, and looked very convincing. The rear ramp has three separate animations - the upper 'visor', the main ramp and the three loading ramp extensions. Use shift-e+2, shift-e+3 and shift-e+4 - as explained fully in the manual, such is the importance in reading the manual.

    The windows and reflections are very accurate, especially as you can see very clearly into the main fuselage area, adding to the realism. The aerials and other equipment fitted to the exterior are also clear to see, and seemingly accurate and crisp in detail.

    Having a look at the underside showed some very realistic hooks for underslung loads. The center hook is animated using the tail hook function of FSX. The sling commands can be used to attach a load and carry it around from the central hook area, that's all automatically done by FSX, but you will have to be in a mission to be able to take advantage of this effect, i.e., carry objects. Again please refer to the manual for clear instructions.

    Selecting the RAAF version, it has a menacing looking machine gun positioned on the port side of the fuselage. You can opt to deselect the machine gun and 'close' the window; more later.

                           

    Interior

    The cabin is rendered in very accurate detail, a true facsimile of the real thing, and the cockpit instruments/panels front, upper and lower are excellent. A considerable amount of time has been taken on these and it shows.

    If you hover the mouse over the instruments, the function is shown, some are 'switchable' others are not. But seemly all function, to offer accurate read back of information.

    The joystick and cyclic are again of the same incredible detail levels. Looking on the floor and immediate sides of each pilot's positions, the seats lack the same detail level, but passable.

    There are two pilots shown in position, one is animated, with movements that follow the joystick input, with the co-pilot's head moving in a random way. The effect works well. There is the addition as mentioned, two troops (US version) shown in the cabin, which adds some 'menacing', the troop figures have animated heads, adding to the realism. You can in fact, toggle all crew figures off by using ctrl-W, this also removes the gun and places a windowed hatch in the gun window, particularly useful, when landing at a good will tea party visit! (Note, gun is only on the left side of the US Army and RAAF versions).

                           

    Flight

    This is what it is all about, so engines running, I selected some up cyclic, and the aircraft started to lift (no upward direction of either rotor when lifting). Ensure you keep an eye out for the flexing hydraulic pipes on the undercarriage, best seen on the front gear as you gradually lift off, and the rear gear. You know, this just proves the attention to the detail. It could have quite frankly been ignored, and in the main, nobody would have noticed, but it is there in real life, so it appears in this offering...nice.

    I decided to hover taxi, often the best way to test the flight dynamics, i.e., is it controllable! It was. I added some more cyclic and gained height, nose down to gather forward pace, all very predictable. In flight, added some yaw, and this worked well. Then I had some fun, flying through the hills and dales of Scotland, in snow covered hills...

    Landing back at my selected airport approaching it at 500 feet, I lowered the cyclic, raised the nose to 'bleed-off' the speed. This had an effect, but not to the extent I would have liked to see, indeed it tended to 'float', but landed.

           
           

    I tried another tactic, nose up hard, added cyclic to stop in a hurry, nothing... I must stress, this effect is achievable in real life, and perhaps I am expecting too much. The flight dynamics are created around what is possible in the FSX engine, so perhaps I am being a little harsh. Was it controllable, and did it land? Well, yes to both.

    I also have to remember this type of helo is quite unique to FSX, so I am just pretty glad developers such as Virtavia are pushing the boundaries a tad, to bring us new aircraft for our fleet.

    The sound, very convincing, a high pitched engine whine, and one I remember. But I do have to say, the highly distinctive 'wop' generated by the massive rotor blades and is very obvious in flight, and inside the helo, especially when undertaking some 'aggressive' maneuvers is missing. But I do have to stress, the sound set included is still an excellent one. I also detected a 'click' in the sound loop.

    Pedantic? Possibly, but I really would have loved to hear the sounds of this aircraft that makes it a Chinook. Don't get me wrong, the engine sounds are really superb and accurate, but having flight time inside a Chinook (a passenger) I remember the real life sound set. Perhaps it is a little unfair to expect an exact match, especially at the price of this offering!

                           

    Lighting, again all shown in a believable package, but on the exterior, when in 360 degree mode, the nav lights followed my view point, and did not stay port and starboard locations. Also, when in the cockpit, looking down I noticed a red anti-collision beacon flashing. I have been in touch with the developers, and it seems there is an issue with FSX (in fairness, I have heard of this before) and this is a known issue. Annoying though it is, they are working within the limitations of FSX. I must add a feature to look out for, that is when selecting lighting, note the nose light swing forward, and retract, when de-selecting; nice attention to detail.

    Conclusion

    My passion for helicopters to be 'flown' in FSX is being seriously catered for, especially from the studios of Virtavia. The offerings are excellent, and innovative, the Chinook being a case in point.

    I feel at times a little unfair when pointing out 'faults' but due to the quite superb detail in these packages, we are seeking 100% accuracy at every level. Virtavia offerings come pretty close to that mark, which is commendable.

                           

    I do feel some detail would be relatively easy to improve on, i.e., the cockpit seating flooring, and interior window struts, and the icing on cake for me would be the inclusion of the highly distinctive sound of the Chinook, I mentioned previously in the review, a 'wop' sound. I will bet you have heard one of these babies approaching, and that sound is unmistakable, this is what I refer too.

    I really enjoy this beauty. Is this a must buy? You bet.

    Catch the latest video of this beauty:

    Onwards and upwards...

    System Used:

    Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit i7 Processor 8 meg RAM X2 Nvidia GTX 460 cards (Sli) FSX with Acceleration on SSD digital drive

    Onwards and upwards...

    Nigel C. Martin
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here


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