Every once in a great while I find an aircraft for MSFS that literally has me on the edge of my seat prior to and after the release of that particular add-on. I have to tell you that the Tiger Moth was one of those product titles that just had me curious. Initially, there was a great debate about the add-on's overall cost per copy and I have to tell you that kind of scared me away, but after I saw more and more screenshots I had to have it!
Installation and Documentation
The product comes one of two ways, you can either buy it and then download it from the Justflight site or you can order the DVD edition. I received my copy via the DVD edition. The installation is painless, simply insert the disc and go. Like all the other Justflight DVD style add-ons, there is no pesky registration code to enter; I really do prefer it this way! The download version and the DVD version are all but identical, with the latter having a printed 21 page manual that comes in three languages. I liked having the manual as it helps when trying to make all the extra eye candy work with the aircraft, its just easy access, there is no having to leave MSFS to look at the PDF file like in the download version.
The Real De Havilland Tiger Moth
The real Tiger Moth was built in the 1930’s and was derived from the de Havilland Gypsy Moth, also known as the DH 60. The Tiger Moth's first flight was on October 26, 1931 and the aircraft was widely received by the RAF as a trainer and first entered service with them in 1932. In total, there were over 4000 Tiger Moths built specifically for the RAF, with a total number of over 7000 by the time World War I was over. This does not include the other countries that used the Tiger Moth, so in all there was a great deal of demand for this particular aircraft.
Powered by a single de Havilland Gipsy Major I with an inverted 4 cylinder 130hp inline engine, the Tiger Moth was considered fast for its time with a maximum speed of 109 mph and a maximum range of 302 miles. The service ceiling of over 13,000 feet made this little plane to be considered one of the best of its time and for those reasons, it was widely received among civilian and military pilots alike and one of the reasons it is still popular today.
The Tiger Moth saw operations in many different countries and the list was more impressive than I actually thought it would be. The Tiger Moth flew with: RAAF, Belgium, Brazil, Burma, RCAF, Denmark, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, RNZAF, Norway, Portugal, Rhodesia, Spain, SAAF, Sweden, US, Uruguay and the United Kingdom. In reality, the Moth saw service all over the world and some of the aircraft are still with us today. The ones used to help develop this add-on are currently part of the De Havilland Moth Club.
The Tiger Moth from Aeroplane Heaven and Justflight
Looking over the history of the Moth and spending some time with the manual, I was ready to get onboard and see what was to be had! Once the installation process is complete, you will find an array of Moths in your hanger. They include the D.H. 82A Trainer (4 Liveries), D.H. 82A Civilian (4 liveries), and the D.H. 82C Canadian (1 Livery). Most impressive is the later model, it does port a more dynamic panel with more modern features and a glass canopy covering both the front and back seats.
Internally and externally this is a very nice plane and resembles that of its real world counterpart. Along with all of the traditional slew of moving parts, you will also notice that many of the control features of this aircraft have been modeled. For example, if you move the flight stick you can watch the control wires move underneath the cockpit. You will also find that that the aircraft features an auto slat system to help prevent the aircraft from stalling at slower speeds. This is ideal when you are performing acrobatic maneuvers or simply taking off.
As you move around the plane, you will find that it has a few other features dependant on what model you have chosen to fly. In all of the models you can open the locker, the engine cowling, and access doors. Tou can utilize the blind flying hood in the RAF version. There are also chocks under the wheels when the plane is parked as well as a nice lighting system for those modern flyers out there.
For my initial flight it was only fitting that I go back into yesteryear. So my simulation of choice was to be Flight Simulator Golden Wings 3 at a small airstrip out in the middle of nowhere with a blimp overhead and some other cool eye candy to take a gander at. The airfield is called Hillcrest Field and perhaps some of you will remember it. If I remember correctly, this was a scenery package released from one of Bill Lyons' wonderful planes. I was able to try out some formation flying with Waco’s touring about over the country side and even more impressive, I was able to practice attack runs an on orbiting blimp. At one point I had fallen in ahead of another plane and I just happened to look backwards and could see him turning in on me. Although it was just an AI plane, I put the plane into a tight turn and tried to maneuver around on top of him.
Flying the aircraft is a relative treat. The plane seems to just want to fly and is very manageable, and putting the plane into a couple maneuvers I was hooked! Though I found that flying with the Auto Slats not turned on can be a recipe for disaster if you are not careful, as the controllability in tight maneuvers just isn’t there. My next step was to check its ability to stall. Diving for the ground, I pulled back on the stick and brought the plane up into a nose high climb and cut the throttle. Applying hard left rudder, the plane flopped over to the left and began its spin towards the ground, though not as good or realistic as the flight model with the Marchetti from Real Air, I was impressed with the effect this maneuver had on the plane. Pushing my throttle forward, I was able to regain control and pull her out of her spin. Whether it’s taking a short cross country hop or practicing maneuvers over your favorite airfield, this plane will definitely impress!
Flying the Moth in FSX is, well, a whole other issue. I found that the aircraft at times doesn’t have a whole lot of power. Trying to fly over Mexico City was near impossible and I crashed into the airport on two occasions because I couldn’t get up enough speed for takeoff or maintain flight. The other problem I found was that when you are flying an aircraft of this type, it is very important to hear what your engine is doing and the sound with FSX seems almost muted at times and doesn’t fluctuate with the power being produced by the engine. This made things a little harder, I was able to watch the RMP gauge and speed, but that's when I noticed the holes in the gauges; more on that later.
The Wide Open Cockpit
Do you know what keeps me coming back to the old planes of yesteryear? One has got to be the true adventure of what it had to be like and the other, especially on these old Bi-Planes, are the wide open and simplistic cockpits. There has got to be something said about just being there, it’s you and the sky and no one else!
The add-on ships with both a 2D cockpit and a virtual cockpit, but in my opinion there is absolutely no need for a 2D cockpit with this product. It is meant to be flown from the virtual cockpit and I wouldn’t want it any other way! Gauge layout in a Moth is rather simplistic compared to aircraft of this day and age, but Aeroplane Heaven does deliver on an authentic cockpit from that time period and is one of the most convincing I have seen to date, especially the gauge sets.
What you need to understand about the Moth is that it is a VFR aircraft, there is no real instrumentation except for a total of 10 instruments that adorn the cockpit; they are: ASI, Inclinometer, fuel indicator, turn and slip indicator, RPM gauge, oil pressure gauge, compass, Windy airspeed indicator, and an altimeter. It is important to note that the fuel indicator and airspeed gauges are located on the wings of the aircraft, but are visible from the cockpit. Navigation is done from dead reckoning and being able to follow a properly calibrated compass and a map. For me, this put me right at home, though I tend to get lost an awful lot without a trusty GPS! If you are up for a real challenge, you can pull down the blind flying hood, but be warned the pilot trainer won’t keep you from crashing and flying in this mode is near impossible.
Climbing into the cockpit gives the armchair pilot a sense of history and age. The simplistic design and lack of pilot comfort shows as you strap yourself in for a flight. Visible from the cockpit, the pilot has a choice of adding an additional passenger or taking a solo flight from either the front or back seat. Everything from within is clickable and it is possible to start the plane from the virtual cockpit and do an entire flight from there without having to refer to the 2D panel at all.
The Sound, How Sweet It Is!
The sounds in this package are derived from the actual sounds of a DH Tiger Moth. With this model and as with all bi-plane type models, there is no interior sound or external sound. You simply get it all from the open cockpit. There are no complicated gauge sounds or stall warnings, just the wind in your face and the need for maintaining the feel of the aircraft.
When comparing the two different versions in the sound department, I almost have to say that it is better in FS9, and not as good in FSX. The sound effects in FSX seem almost muted and lack the depth they have in FS9. At times I really can’t tell if there is any real change in RPM in the sound on the FSX version, but that is probably due to the crossover from FS9 but some tinkering may fix that.
FS9 or FSX
The sim of choice with this add-on for me was FS9. FS9, for me, offered the best frame rates and the best glitch free flying environment. Whether it’s just FS9 or FS9 with Golden Wings, I can’t think of a better place for this aircraft. With all of my sliders cranked up and my AA turned up, I get well over 35 FPS. The feeling of movement is there as you look out over the wings and watch the world pass by below!
The problem I had with FSX was that parts of the Moth seem almost incomplete. Most noticeable was the compass. The needle is not centered in the gauge and appears cockeyed and gives the overall appearance that the gauge is broken. I also found that I was unable to use some of the click spots in the virtual cockpit in FSX, most noticeable was the compass again. The compass lock does and the bezel does not turn so that it can be properly calibrated. I also found holes in the cockpit, yep holes! Several of the gauges have holes in them and you can see terrain through them. This was most noticeable on the altimeter in the Canadian version of the plane. I found that some of my flight issues were created when using the Auto Slats feature. I'm not sure if this was just a fluke thing or a bug in the FSX version of this add-on.
Performance is an issue if you use this add-on on a slower machine with FS9. Now if you have a good computer and can run FS9, then you should not have a problem. On my E6600, the Moth flew along without any real problems, I was able to fly over areas like Flight Scenery’s PDX and large cities without any problems. This being a slower plane you really do need something to look at, as your flights tends to take a little longer than usual, but that is the fun part!
Performance and FSX, need I even go there! The one thing I have noticed most about FSX, is that it doesn’t really like aircraft that have been ported from FS9, frame rates tend to be an issue with these type of aircraft. Figuring I would have better luck with a slow flying aircraft, I jumped into FSX with quite a bit of anticipation, but I was shot down when I saw the frame rate impact with this aircraft and a busy hub. I decided to try it out in Mexico City and I was amazed at the frame rate hit I ended up taking. With a default plane or the Real Air Marchetti I get frames at this airport at or about 25-32, never dropping below 25. Now with the Moth, I ended up with FPS between 15-24.
In The End.
This product is a true honor to the men who flew these planes and also to the ones who designed them so long ago. It is an era of flight that has slipped away with time. Though it is not forgotten, it is an age that is gone with the advent of modern aviation. It was simpler times and people only could only look to the sky for escape and adventure, but in reality, only a few experienced that adventure and they did it in the cockpit of aircraft like this. It is only fitting that we as armchair pilots hop into our plush chairs and experience something as wonderful as this, the flight of the Tiger Moth!
Do I like this add-on? Yes, it is a masterful piece of work and it is ideal for FS9 and will be really good in FSX if they can patch it to work better. With a price tag of $42.99 you really have to like Bi-Planes, but for me it was a must have part of my collection, I guess I am just funny that way. I don’t really think you will be sorry if you plan on buying this one. I think, had I passed judgment on it based solely on its price, I would have really missed out on something really quite good.
|What I Like About The Tiger Moth|
|What I Don't Like About The Tiger Moth|
Tell A Friend About this Review!
All Rights Reserved