• Review: Bristol 170 Freighter

    Review: Bristol 170 Freighter

    By Mike Hart

    Hard to know where to begin on this sim model from FS Addon. Long in the wait it has taken nearly three or more years to finish and is probably the last complete model from that team. This is no finish and dump. This model reflects care and attention to detail in just about every aspect. Technical aspects later on but let's say it is for all current mainline sims FSX and P3D. This review was based on the FSX version.

    This is simply a first class effort. I give it 10/10. The attention to detail is extraordinary. Functionality is effectively 100% and if it has not been modelled then it was probably superfluous. The textures are a work of art and show great attention to detail. The aircraft systems and gauges are accurately modelled and the Sperry A3 Autopilot functions as they did. The model handles well and the numbers across the range are what one should expect of a large twin engine radial powered freighter from the mid nineteen forties.

    FSAddon Bristol 170 Freighter

    So for those who actually would like a challenge in the sim this is it! The Bristol 170 Freighter. This model is not about complicated systems, they have those but properly integrated systems of the age for this model reflects to a significantly accurate degree the aircraft of that era and this aeroplane. For that alone it is a must for the serious simmer, those hooked on classic pistons or simply the obscure or weird perhaps. Anyway for those unfamiliar with this aeroplane, this is what the Bristol Freighter was about, cargo and drive in and drive off loads.

    The history of this remarkable aeroplane is well covered in the manual that came with the aeroplane. This aeroplane earned a number of nicknames, "20,000 rivets in formation", the "Frightener" or just the "Shite Box". The aeroplane seemed to endear a perverse affection but as one New Zealand Air Force pilot who flew it said, after 4500 hours in the Bristol, "I never felt I really got a handle on or mastered this aeroplane". While it is functionally complete, stylish it was not.

    This package includes five variants or marks:

    • MK 1 Military
    • MK 1 Civilian
    • MK21
    • MK31
    • MK31 Super Freighter (Long Nose)

    A flying truck, the Bristol was a remarkably successful WW2 design that kept going after the end of the second world war and was used extensively by several air forces (New Zealand, Pakistan, Argentina, Australia) and found a ready market in post war aviation companies engaged in freight and cargo work. Curiously while a British aeroplane it was never used by the RAF in any major way. But for near on 50 years the Bristol gave reliable service in some difficult operating conditions, cold and hot.

    The aeroplane itself is a curious design with big Bristol Hercules radial engines. It is the engine sizes that distinguish the different marks and the Mark 31 or Super Freighter has an extended nose section. Nothing flash, fixed undercarriage, clam shell cargo doors and loading ramp with rear passenger seating at the back of the cabin. The crew were perched up on a flight deck above the main wing line and above the voluminous box fuselage. Entry was via a ladder near the nose. All are modelled properly, Including the cockpit hatch and retractable sun blind. Windows open and shut as needed. All controlled by mouse click or key commands. Night lighting including the VC is superb and the runway and taxiway lights are nicely balanced and give good illumination.

    Quite a few Bristols also found their way to Canada and provided great service to mining and other exploration companies in the Arctic. The Bristol was the workhorse of the RNZAF's supply and resupply operations between Malaysia and Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It had a long career as pure freighter In Australia on the East Coast and Tasmania routes not to mention a stint for several years in the Kimberly's carting chilled beef, they were called the Beef Buses.

    So that gives you an idea of the sort of flying you can do with this aeroplane in the sim. Short inter city freight or bush work and rough strips, all are its forte. It may not be a STOL aeroplane but about 2500 feet of runway is all that it required. It took off at 100 knots, cruised between 130 and 160 and landed at 80, stalls at 60.

    Technical Stuff: This is for FSX installation; P3D compatible also. Payware, cost about 19 euros. Run on a standard HP Desktop with Win7 64 bit. 4 GHz card with 8.0 GB RAM, 2.0 GB HP video card. Orbx, Global/Vector, REX 5. In short plain vanilla standard older desktop. Download via the internet and standard zip unpack and installer. All as expected and ran first start up. This model is not a frame hog and loads and view switches effortlessly.

    This is a new model from FSAddon and is payware selling for 19 Euros approximately. It has high level of animations in terms of loading and unloading, cargo loaded and ground power to name but a few items because if there was a hatch or door it has been included and works.

    This is not an aeroplane for those who want electronic goodies and modern technology. It is what it is, a 1950s era piston freighter. The systems are basic and properly modelled and that includes the avionics faithfully reproduced, with one radio, one VOR, two ADFs and one RMI with a needle pointer, no ILS and no DME. That's the way the original was and this is faithfully replicated by FSAddon as well. For those challenged by old fashioned navigation techniques, CLOCK-MAP-GROUND, there is no GPS for you to keep track of where you are and what you are doing. This increases the challenge.

    1. cmdl1650's Avatar
      cmdl1650 -
      The nose was extended on the Mk32 (Super Freighter) not the Mk31.
    1. oldcrusty's Avatar
      oldcrusty -
      Noted - thanks my error.
    1. ilong's Avatar
      ilong -
      Very Good Summation. I was lucky enough to fly as a Co Pilot/Radio Operator with Air Express out of Essendon, on VH-SJQ and VH-SJG, their Mk 21s, in the very early 1970s, while studying for my Australian Senior Commercial Pilots Licence,(the for-runner of the A.T.P.L.). I loved the machine, and under the tutelage of Capt. Ivan Bennett, Capt. Bill Ticehurst, and others, gained a wealth of basic big radial-engined experience. I was waiting for the arrival of the FSAddon model and am delighted with it overall. The only request I have is to ask if there will be more textures available at some time. Obviously Air Express, but also some of the great Canadian and European liveries. Thanks to all at FSAddon. Great Effort
    1. Gareth Davies's Avatar
      Gareth Davies -
      Be great to see the SAFE AIR liverie, as the Bristol's here in NZ trolled and lumbered around the skies between Wellington and Blenheim. I grew up seeing them pass above every 10 to 15 minutes back when I was young. I remember the day they did a formation fly pass as they were saying goodbye and no longer, I think it was in 82?
    1. squiremel's Avatar
      squiremel -
      I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand and lived near the airport (NZCH) and consequently saw a lot of SafeAir Bristol Freighters in the air. They used to fly to the Chatham Islands (NZCI) with a insert passenger cabin as well as freight. More modern aircraft were only able to take over the service after a paved runway was built. They also flew between the North and South Islands. They were particularly useful when worker strikes stopped the Cook Straight ferries from operating. I never flew on one but one school holidays was at the airport and my friend and I were invited to look one over, including climbing up to the somewhat cramped flight deck. Security wasn't a major issue in those days. I'm thrilled to have this model. My thanks to the FSAddon team for providing an awesome experience.
    1. marjal's Avatar
      marjal -
      I'm pretty sure I saw these at Rotterdam Airport
    1. sfgarland's Avatar
      sfgarland -
      Wonderful model and, IMHO, worth the price!
    1. harryten's Avatar
      harryten -
      My comment on the military Mk1 representing RNZAF NZ5903 is that there are several errors in presentation. The RNZAF flew 12 Mk31M(NZM) freighters The NZM = New Zealand Modifications. They are in all respects Mk31 shape so the one FSADDONs has portrayed is incorrect in terms of mainplane wing tips, horizontal stabiliser tips and missing the dorsal
      fin upper fuselage. Additionally while the camo scheme is reasonably represented, the aircraft had complete grey undersurfaces to the mainplanes. Also in USAF style of the era, a roundel was only on the upper port mainplane and lower starboard mainplane.
      All that aside it is a fantastic model to fly and I already have several hours on it flying simulated regular
      SATS (Scheduled Air Transport Services) flights from Whenuapai to Wigram and return
      Well done all
    1. newtK's Avatar
      newtK -
      Quote Originally Posted by marjal View Post
      I'm pretty sure I saw these at Rotterdam Airport
      Yes, you did see them flying into Rotterdam, they were converted to fly in an `all passenger configuration`in the early days of package tours, taking passengers to the Bulb field tours and coach tours around the hot spots of the Netherlands!
      What I will always remember was watching the countryside
      through the gap between the camshell front doors from the extra seating in the nose section.
      What memories.
    1. Navman Francois's Avatar
      Navman Francois -
      Didn't know this was posted already....... Here in Italy we're in a bit of a mess what with the Corona virus, so I am not checking internet every day.
      Thanks Mike for the great review, and so glad to see the many positive reactions. Glad you like our tinkering. Will forward your comments to Simon, the developer, who has very limited internet down in South Africa.

      Thanks again everybody and enjoy your flying !

      Francois Dumas,
      FSAddon Publishing
    1. gdnz's Avatar
      gdnz -
      Plenty of RNZAF Freighter shots here for different angles.
      RNZAF livery related shots for painters:
      A few civil Freighters here:

      As Harryten pointed out, all the RNZAF Freighters were Mk.31M (Military) not the Mk.21 as depicted here:

      I'm pretty sure that the Mk.21 did not have chin windows.

      Gary Danvers
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