• Review: Just Flight - Avro Vulcan B Mk.2

    Avro Vulcan B Mk. 2, K.2 & MRR

    Publisher: Just Flight

    Review Author:
    Andrew Parish

    Suggested Price:
    $49.95

    Buy Here

    I remember clearly where I was when news of the first Vulcan raid on Stanley airfield in the Falkland Islands - Operation Black Buck 1 - broke on 1st May 1982. I was at a ZX Microfair in Central Hall Westminster, and whilst I don't remember exactly what I was doing I'd like to think it was flying one of those early 8-bit simulators!

    As details of the raid emerged, so my fascination with the Vulcan was born. At air shows after that, and right up until the last flight of the Vulcan as a civil aircraft in 2015, I watched and listened in awe as the massive airframe sliced effortlessly and, more often than not, noisily through the sky in front of the gathered crowds many of whom, like me, were standing agape at the majesty of the massive yet evidently manoeuvrable aircraft.

    Since then I've been fortunate enough to be able to visit one of the aircraft at Wellesbourne Airfield in Warwickshire where members of the XM655 Maintenance and Preservation society, some of whom worked on or flew the aircraft when it was operational, spoke passionately about the Vulcan, its history and their personal experiences with it.

    Just Flight - Avro Vulcan
    The real XM655 at Wellesbourne airfield

    Most recently though, at another computer exhibition, the Flight Sim Show at Cosford in 2019, I stumbled across a group of developers on the Just Flight stand, looking at models and discussing details of their Vulcan project. Even then and from the limited information that was available, I knew that this was a software release that I was looking forward to and when the opportunity to take on a review of Just Flight and Thranda Design's imminent Avro Vulcan release for X-Plane was mooted a few weeks ago, I think I was just about able to conceal my excitement...

    Installation

    Just Flight has, as with all their aircraft products I have encountered, adopted a 'keep it simple' approach to the download and installation of the Vulcan. The 2.2 GB download, once complete, is a ZIP file that contains a single folder, 'JF_Avro_Vulcan' which needs to be extracted to somewhere in your X-Plane 'Aircraft' folder. Getting the aircraft into X-Plane really is as simple as that.

    When you fire up X-Plane, the aircraft is classified as a Military aircraft in your aircraft list with an icon depicting the default version of the distinctive delta-winged aircraft. On first load, you will be asked to enter your Activation Key, and then to reload the aircraft. Once you have done that, you are ready to go.

    First Flight

    On first start, the aircraft was sitting cold-and-dark on the tarmac at my airport of choice. Where better than the home of XM655 - Wellesbourne Aerodrome? I repositioned the aircraft manually in the space on the airfield where it is physically located in the real world...

    Just Flight - Avro Vulcan
    On the ground at Wellesbourne

    One thing that immediately struck me, looking around the cockpit trying to work out where to start, was that this is clearly a complex aircraft from a bygone age, and that to fully appreciate the engineering effort that has been invested in the simulation was going to take some time.

    That's not great though when you've a new toy to play with and you're itching to take it for a ride! Like all Just Flight aircraft that I've ever flown though, there's a pop-out menu available on the left hand side of the screen, and a with a quick click on the first button on that menu, the aircraft reloaded with engines running and configured for flight.

    The key controls of the aircraft - brakes, throttles and flight controls respect the default bindings that are set up in your simulator, so a short taxi later I was lined up ready for take-off.

    The Vulcan's distinctive appearance is complemented by a rather distinctive howl from the four engines as they spool up to deliver the 20,000 lb of static thrust each, and as I opened the throttles that characteristic sound could be clearly heard. In no time, the end of the runway was hurtling towards me, and with a light pull on the stick the aircraft lifted almost effortlessly from the ground.

    Just Flight - Avro Vulcan
    Take-off!

    I'm no Vulcan pilot but the anecdotes I've heard are that the real aircraft was responsive and a delight to fly, and if this is the case, the developers have captured this to a tee. If you're used to flying GA, I suspect you'll be at home in this aircraft. It takes a little getting used to the huge amount of thrust that is available from the engines, but once mastered I challenge you not to enjoy flying under visual flight rules at low altitudes.

    Time now to delve into the manual to find out more about the simulation of the aircraft and its systems.


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