AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Bear Studios MIG-15

Product Information
Publisher: Bear Studios
Description:  Aircraft Add-on.
Download Size:
160 MB
Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS2004 and FSX
Reviewed by: Brian Smith AVSIM Staff Reviewer - January 5, 2007

Introduction

The Mig-15, nicknamed the Fagot by NATO, is one of the most successful jet-fighters ever produced. It was one of the earliest swept wing designs, and out-performed anything the western world produced until the introduction of the F-86 during the Korean Conflict.

After World War II, the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau was having trouble improving upon the captured German axial flow engine and needed to look for a new engine. When they began looking for an engine to use in their fighters, they asked the British for a Rolls-Royce engine. “Surely,” they thought, “there was no way the British would turn over the engine,” but to their surprise they did. The engine was reverse-engineered, modified, and then modified again. The Mig-15 was built around that highly modified British engine. The plane was originally designed to intercept and shoot down the Boeing B-29, a job it was exceptional at accomplishing throughout the Korean Conflict.

As a history buff, especially the history of flight, I am a bit of a junkie for this kind of plane, so it is in this context that I received the Bear Studios Mig-15 to review.

Installation and Documentation

Test System

Intel 3.4GHz EE
2 gigabytes RAM
NVidia 6800GT PCIe
Saitek ST290
Windows XP

Flying Time:
30.5 hours

Installation of the product is very straight forward. The file is downloaded in .exe format. You double-click it and it auto-installs with little or no need to make changes, save for the directory if you do not have flight simulator installed in the default directory.

The documentation consists of a few PDF files: The main documentation, an advertisement for the Bear Studios product, and a visual index of the various paints and models. The main documentation is fairly simple. After the credits and a brief history of the MIG-15, the documentation is mostly a series of annotated photographs of the cockpit. This is greatly appreciated because all of the instruments are in Russian (with Cyrillic lettering) and the annotation helps you determine the purposes of each switch.

The bad part about this documentation is that it does not include any clue as to which setting is for off or on. It tells what the switch is for, but that is all. So you will have to figure out which way to throw the switches on your own. I used the light switches to determine off vs on.

After explaining the layout, the manual then gives a series of standard checklists. I felt that the documentation was a little too heavy on the screenshots during the checklists. They are meant to showcase the plane in the various checklist stages, but it makes it harder to use the checklist. Overall the documentation is a bit sparse.

2D Panel and Virtual Cockpit

Clearly, the creator of the Bear Studios Mig-15 intended for it to be flown from the Virtual Cockpit. The Virtual cockpit is very well done, but I had a few issues with the 2D panel. For instance, many of the functions of the plane cannot be accessed except through the Virtual Cockpit. The 2D panel is not bad, but it’s not great either. It falls somewhere in between. The biggest issue is not being able to operate the switches and controls from the 2D panel, and the panel icons to call up the panel windows are not standard and can be a bit confusing.

There is a real problem now in the flight sim world though. Virtual cockpits are getting so good, that some makers are leaving the 2D panel out all together. But those with low to mid-range machines need them. The developers are left to try pleasing everyone without making the project unwieldy. In defense of Bear Studios, the 2D panel is absolutely functional and will not detract from the enjoyment you get from it, but you will need to use the VC if you plan to do a cold and dark by the checklist startup.

2D Panel view 2D Panel with Radios and Nav Equip.

There are mini panel control icons at the top of the panel as you would expect, but the icons chosen for the panel are not the standard icons. The icons open the ATC window, the comm radios, nav radios, the map, and the checklist. To give you an idea what the sub-panels look like, here is a view with the two sub-panels open for the radios and nav equipment.

Excellent V/C

The sub-panels are nicely done, they show wear and tear and they give a consistent feel to the cockpit, but they are not the best panels in a 2D cockpit that I have seen. However, some of the greatest planes produced lately have had little or no 2D panel. I don’t have an issue with this for two reasons. First, the virtual cockpit has evolved to the point in Flight Simulator where it is usable if you have a mid-range to high-end machine. Second, the virtual cockpit in the Mig-15 is done so well that I can say I think it is one of the better VC's I have seen in a military add-on. It really is enjoyable.

The virtual cockpit gives you good visibility, access to all the switches and knobs, and is really well done. Click on that mirror, and your pilot will don his goggles. All of the switches work, none of what you see is a flat bitmap. I actually think that for those with FSX or who want an excellent add-on in Flight Sim 9, should demand this level of quality in your virtual cockpit. Bear Studios has delivered. The Virtual Cockpit is excellent, and without hesitation one of the better military fighter Virtual Cockpits I have seen.

Exterior Model and Textures

Drop Tanks Away!

The package has quite a few models of the Mig-15, reflecting the history of its development. The models are excellent, and there is a lot to look at in terms of eye candy for those who want the immersion. There really are a large number of models for this plane. I checked and it looks like Bear Studios covered just about every major production model, and some that were limited in their runs. For most of the screenshots I used the Mig-15bis or the Mig-15bisSB. I tried them all; however, I believe I spent most of my time in the Mig-15bis and the two seat “UTI” trainer. The models have working drop tanks, a break-away canopy and ejection seat, and guns.

Let’s take a look at the eye candy in these models. I really enjoy this sort of thing in my planes, so I will do my best to show you here. As you can see in the photo above, when you get into combat, you need to drop some weight, so drop those fuel tanks and get into the fight!

These additions really upped the immersion factor of flying this historic warplane. The guns produce tracers out of each gun and a muzzle flash for each barrel. There is also a great smoke trail as the guns fire; and you can see the shells spewing from the plane as the MIG-15 spits lead across the sky.
The gun effect has an accompanying sound effect that stops after a few seconds, though the gun continues to fire. Additionally, I found that if I turned on the lights using the ‘L’ key, that it produced the gun sound effect (but not the guns) while I was parked on the ground.

The guns produce tracers and smoke Smoke and shells fly from the guns

Another of the models is the Czech Mig-15bisSB, carrying a payload of iron bombs. More eye candy here: Bear Studios has made the bombs drop as well. So get ready to fight some of those cold-war battles that never happened.

Bombs Away!

Not enough for you yet? Ok, well, I mentioned the working ejection system, so I thought I would show it to you as well. Again, I think it would be fair to say that Bear Studios has to work within the limitations of MS Flight Simulator. Pull the handle and the canopy breaks away while you spiral to your death, or you can pull the other handle and watch the plane spiral out of control sans pilot.

Ejection sequence

When the plane is parked, the cockpits can open and the pilots disappear when you use the ‘Tailhook’ and attach the ladder to the side of the cockpit.

After the cockpit is cleared, you can disassemble the MIG-15. The MIG was made so the engines could be completely removed and overhauled on a frequent basis. If you ‘Fold Wings’ when you are parked, you can see the body of the Mig-15 separate. The tail is removed, and you can see a detailed rendering of the engine in the Mig-15. There are some extremely minor details that are different from the original aircraft, but those are due to limitations of Flight Simulator and not the designers. The exterior models are excellent. All of the working parts appear and are crafted nicely.

On the ground Ready for maintenance

Bear Studios really took the time to create a beautifully crafted model of the pilot. I really wish I could just find a way to pull him out of the cockpit and show him to you, because the screenshots do not do justice to this little pilot. From the helmet and goggles to the straps, leather boots and flight suit, it is a really well done model. This is a place where Bear Studios could have skimped but instead chose to add another level of detail. In other planes, the pilot usually consists of a sort of wooden puppet with poor textures, or really good textures on a poor model. Bear Studios got it right. They modeled the pilot extremely well and then placed a really nice texture on him.

The Pilot

That quality extends to all the textures. They are not only well done, but there are quite a few of them. You can select skins from the Soviet Union, China, Finland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland, North Vietnam, and the United States Air Force. There are multiple paint schemes for most of the countries, and for the different models. All of the textures displayed crisply and clearly, and I experienced no fuzziness at all. I keep a couple of reference books on hand, including a series of Janes Aircraft, and based on the drawings and photos I could not find any issues with the textures. They all appear to be historically accurate.

I can say that the number of models and textures really surprised me. It is a rarity these days to see a developer spend so much time on the plane, especially on a military model. Usually the practice seems to be to let the model/repaint community create all of the textures and then use the number of textures available online as a selling point. The sheer number and quality of the models and textures in the Mig-15 was stunning.

Sounds

There are some innovations in the sounds. The engines sounds are well done, of course, but they have included sound effects as well. The sound effects I noticed were the guns, obviously. But there is also the sound at start up of the pilot testing his oxygen mask, and in High-G turns, you don’t hear the pilot making the “hic, hic, hic” noise, but you hear the grunting as the force pushes against the pilot.

Airfile

Let’s face it, there are just some things that are difficult, if not impossible, to model in Flight Sims. The creators did a good job with the Mig-15 flight dynamics. Of course, I have not flown a Mig-15, but I do know that the Russians believed that if the Mig-15 entered a spin, it was usually difficult to recover. The rule was to try standard recovery three times, and if it didn’t work, punch out. The Bear Studios Mig-15 doesn’t quite capture that sense of desperation, but they do a good job with it. The plane shudders and shakes if put into high-G turns, and the sounds really add to that feeling of what it must have been like for those early fighter-jet jockeys.

Closing Remarks

Overall I have enjoyed flying this package. I really enjoy flying the former Soviet and Soviet Bloc aircraft. The quality of the virtual cockpit, the models, and the textures, and frankly, just the sheer number of variations, make the package a good one. There are a few issues but they don’t detract from the overall experience. If you enjoy early fighter aircraft, flying Soviet aircraft, are a history buff, or if you would just like to try something new that has a deeper sense of immersion than most add-on aircraft, this is probably a good match for you.

 

What I Like About The MiG 15
  • The quality and quantity of the exterior models
  • The quality and quantity of the textures
  • The virtual cockpit
  • The immersion factor
  • The attention to detail

 
What I Don't Like About The MiG 15
  • The lack of depth in the documentation
  • The 2D cockpit panel

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