• Looking For A Warhawk

    Looking For A Warhawk

    By Alejandro Hurtado (6 April 2008)

    As a repainter, I'm used to downloading many kinds of planes, not just looking for a beautiful paint job but looking for a model that can be used to repaint it myself. And I know much about the original plane's history, because I need it in order to make a good repaint.

    So I was looking at some airplane reviews, and thinking: there are too many payware reviews, and so few freeware ones... why not a series of articles comparing real and virtual planes? After all, when you come to the flightsim download library, the only way to know if some model is good or not is the download count. But, it means that the model is accurate, or it means that the picture is good, or it means that it is the only model of this particular plane in the flightsim library?

    Why not test some of them and tell to you, the readers, what I have seen? It will be interesting, but, between so many planes, who will be the first?

    Well, I used the Richard Bach method: I went to my book library, opened a planes book and pointed to... a Fairey Swordfish. Unfortunately, there newest Swordfish in the flightsim library was made five years ago, and it lost its prop when loaded with FS2004. Leaving that "little" detail alone, it's a wonderful file to download. Will somebody upgrade this plane, it will be a best-seller. So, let's see for another candidate... a newer one...

    But, before I start, two notes:

    First, I'm talking about MODELS, not pictures. If I were to analize the Boeing 737-300 model created by SGA and used by myself in many repaints, I will be analyzing the model because the paint doesn't care when I'm looking for the top speed or the ailerons movement. It means that I will analyze just one zip file, and I'll assume that the rest of the files with the same model will perform the same. It doesn't mean that I will recommend a badly decorated one, I just will say that the painting will be improved... or even I will release the article with a improved texture made by myself!

    Second, I'm going to analyze the models taking into count the flight simulator version for wich was made. Many FS2000 planes don't show the prop in FS2004, and that includes the jet engine blades. But, the rest of the surfaces will be great, and the modeler will need just a little change to correct the failure. Or I think so. Will somebody, please, three times now, write a series called "How To Be A Modeler?"

    So... where will I start?

    The Swordfish is a WWII model... something ready to fly in FSX, a WWII plane... this file, RAFDC112.ZIP, a P-40B for FSX, repainted in the colors of the RAF 112th Squadron, the "Sharks", prior to the Flying Tigers... it will do.

    The file is a repaint, complete and fully flyable, made by Mark "Fire Ball" Rooks. The original model was made by Robert Hawk, who has passed away. It includes some information about the original plane.

    The model has many details, especially in the pilot/cockpit section. The painting is good but with little "eye candy". Even so, it's accurate to the place, the plane and the time. If you see the pictures, the camouflage is very easy to confuse with the ground. The file textures are big and allow many details, so maybe in the future I'll ask for permission to repaint this one. The ailerons work fine, the elevons, rudder and rear wheel too... when I made my test flights I was surprised by the way the wheels retracts after rotating 90 degrees... not symmetrical, but each one independent of the another. By the way, it was a common way to retract the gear just before the WWII.

    The real plane performance is:

    Maximum speed: 345 or 352 mph, depending of the source. (In the real world, each plane is slighty different, so both speeds will be true.)
    Range 730/1230 miles depending speed
    Service ceiling 32400 or 28871 feet depending of the source.
    Climb rate 2860 feet/minute

    Some data por the P-40N:

    Stall speed, clean: 90 mph IAS
    Stall speed, landing: 84 mph IAS
    Slow flight: vague at high angles of attack; sensitive to power changes.
    Stall: severe wing drop and roll; spin incipient, prompt recovery required.
    Takeoff (no flaps): Unstick speed 110-115 mph IAS
    Roll rate: Approx. 130 deg/sec at 360 mph IAS
    Turning rate, in g: Approx. 5.8 g at 250 mph in a level turn.
    High speed dives: Controls will freeze/reverse at approx. 600 mph IAS

    Handling: The next info was taken from the Wikipedia:

    The P-40 was considered markedly superior to early versions of the older Hurricane, which it replaced as the primary fighter of the Desert Air Force. The P-40 was deadly against Axis bombers in the theater, as well as the Bf 110 and was superior to early Italian fighter types, such as the Fiat G.50 and the Macchi C.200, although the Bf 109 proved a greater challenge, particularly the later F and G variants. The P-40 was generally considered roughly equal or slighly superior to the 109 at low altitude, and inferior at high altitude. Though this varied depending on the specific variants, the P-40 usually had an edge over the Bf 109 in horizontal maneuverability, absolute dive speed, and structural strength; was roughly equal in firepower, slightly inferior in speed and outclassed in rate of climb and operational ceiling. However, most of the air combat in North Africa took place well below 16,000 feet, the altitude at which the performance of P-40s tapered off.

    Starting the test, I climb inside the cockpit. It looks very real. There is a hidden GPS, if you want to cheat. There is no virtual cockpit, nor side or rear views. Of course, you can't see anything ahead; WWII planes used to have zero visibility until reaching enough speed to raise the tail wheel. There were two solutions: first, open the cockpit, take your head out, and make a liftoff looking from outside. Second, take a mechanic, sit him in your wing and follow the instructions. By the way, don't forget to let him dismount before takeoff!

    Once ready, I put full power, look for the speedometer... and found nothing. There is a empty space were it must have been. Of course, it's no real problem with a warbird, but it is always good to know your speed. Testing and inventing, I managed to take the next data:

    Takeoff at 120 mph, more or less
    Climb rate: 1 minute to reach 1200 feet, putting the plane almost vertical, so it must be very near to the real data of 2860 feet/minute, maybe less
    Maximun speed at 16,000 feet: 336 mph
    Stall speed clean 75 mph
    Stall speed landing 85 mph

    Handling: It was a little difficult to level the plane horizontally at 16,000 feet. It tends to float over the ground, so just land as the aces did: an airfield surrounded by flat, leveled desert. If not, make a slow dive, aligned with the runway, and when near the floor try to level using the VSI and compass as a guide. The stall beahavour is gentle, just the nose falling down a bit. It responds to the trottle changes, so steer to the left when taking off. The roll rate is good, the controls freeze over the 450 mph. At normal speeds the handling is very good, sensitive to the inputs but stable when needed.

    After the test, I found this plane easy to fly, easy to land if you can resist to be blind after the touchdown, and very well ambiented. It will be a good acquisition for someone who likes to fly a warbird.

    Alejandro Hurtado
    [email protected]

    Download the Warhawk here


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