AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

AlphaSim Mi-28 Havoc

Product Information

Publisher: AlphaSim

Description: Helicopter Add-on.

Download Size:
25 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 & FSX
Reviewed by: Marc Radford AVSIM Staff Reviewer - January 16, 2008

Helicopter Background

The Mil Mi-28 Havoc is Russia’s 2 seat armoured attack helicopter, with a primary role to accompany both the Mi-24 Hind, and Ka-50 Hokum.

Development of the Mi-28 commenced in 1972 following the completion of the M-24 Hind, with a primary role of attacking tanks and helicopters, the transport capabilities were removed which allowed for greater agility and speed; however there is enough space to fit 3 additional people inside if a rescue mission is required. In 1996 the first official day and night prototype took flight, the Mi-28N code named “Night Havoc”.

The Mi-28N utilizes a pod and boom design with tail rotor, with a powerplant of two Kilmov TV3-117VMA turbo shaft engines rated at 2,100 SHP (shaft horsepower) each. The Mi-28N attack helicopter integrates cutting edge computerized targeting technologies ready at the pilots command, and is capable of unleashing a wide variety of weapons including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, unguided rockets, and podded guns.

The Mi-28N Havoc is ready for the battlefields of today and tomorrow, with notable technologies like main rotor blades made from composite materials able to sustain hits from 30 mm shells, engines using separators and defectors to prevent it from ingesting harmful debris like sand, and the landing gear can withstand a vertical fall of 36ft/sec. The pilots have the ability of bailing out of their wounded bird by jettisoning the wings and cockpit hatches; so this amazing machine is ready for the unexpected. In 2003, the Mi-28N become the standard Russian attack helicopter, with a total of 10 delivered by 2006, and an additional 67 to be delivered by 2015.

Introduction, what do we get in this add-on?

AlphaSim is offering three highly detail texture models in this package, each with their own unique realistic weathering effects shown below in the images.

AlphaSim has done a great job with these models, this is the Russian Army Air force texture. This model is Rostvertol’s 3rd Production of the Mi-28 Night Havoc, this texture was featured at their 60th Anniversary air show in Berlin. This is a fictitious winter camouflage texture, this texture might look nice flying over some harsh winter terrain or mountains.

AlphaSim offers a number of features you would expect from a high quality developer, but there are a few features worth noting like the animated gun turret that moves with the pilots head, animated landing lights, faint smoke trail effect, custom ground dust effect, and the infamous HUD option in the 2D Cockpit.

AlphaSim decided to remove the HUD option from the Virtual Cockpit due the impact on FPS performance; you can however, enable this option by reading the instructions supplied in the readme.txt file.

One last thing to note before we move on, the FSX version also has additional features like bump mapping, self shadowing, and bloom which I was not able to observe as this review is on the FS9 version.

Installation and Documentation

The AlphaSim Mi-28 Havoc is a 25 megabyte zip file downloaded from the developer’s website, which extracts to an aircraft and effects directory. This Mi-28 is my third AlphaSim product review in a row, and in prior reviews I was not happy with the lack of automation requiring you to manually install the files yourself; however this time round knowing what to expect, it didn’t seem to be that big of an ordeal.

Another thing I have grown accustomed to are AlphaSim’s quick thrown together html documentation files, well to my surprise this package did not even have one of those, instead just a single readme.txt showing basically just the key assignments. AlphaSim did not completely leave you without any information, there are 4 jpg images located in the aircraft/panel directory giving you a good orientation of the cockpit gauges and controls.

I started my FS9 career with helicopters over at Hover Control, and one thing that always stuck in my mind was the things to know about realism and control settings for flying helicopters in FS9. After double checking to make sure the documentation was not misplaced, I contacted the developer to find out if the package came with documentation, also inquiring if there were any preferred realism or control settings?

AlphaSim developers havealways responded promptly to my inquiries. I was told the helicopter could be flown with whatever realism settings you like, and since there isn't a checklist, no documentation file is needed.

Now to be fair, AlphaSim designs their add-ons strategically to have more of a streamlined set of procedures, this way you can concentrate on flying and enjoying the plane as opposed to spending hours learning endless procedures.

So in the end, their response is logical in not requiring a documentation file, however for the money invested, some tips on flying and landing the helicopter might have been appreciated.

Now let us move on, everything else about this AlphaSim Mi-28 Helicopter is awesome!

1st Impression before Flight / Exterior Model

In my experience where AlphaSim disappoints me, is with their supplied documentation, but they never fail to impress me with the overall quality of their add-ons.

The AlphaSim airplanes I have reviewed previously were long gone out of service, however the Mi-28 is modern with many resources to gauge the accuracy of their model. After reviewing much footage, I believe AlphaSim’s model is quite an accurate representation of the real deal.

So let us take a look at the Mi-28 Havoc in flight!

Recon Mission at Dusk

Showing Off the Weapons

Back Flip no sweat

An awesome shot of the Havoc during a reconnaissance mission, notice the faint trailing smoke effects from the exhaust.
Another nice surprise is the front landing lights; they are animated giving a great visual effect viewing the runway at night.
Here is a good view of the gun turret and payload, the gun and pilot’s head automatically move with the direction of the rudder.
A couple more features included here are toggle on/off weapons option (T), toggle on/off pilots (SHIFT+W)
Here is a shot of the Havoc showing off performing a back flip, this helicopter is extremely agile and capable of breath taking maneuvers.
Vertical Climb why not? Birds Eye View of Things Look at the Model Detail!
In this shot I raced to maximum air speed, then pulled a 90 degree vertical climb to leave behind a thousand feet or so of altitude. The Havoc looks awesome getting with a birds eye view of the area below, from all angles this model is top notch. Finally a very impressive shot showing the amazing detail of this model, note the detail in the rotor which is the same caliber as on the tail.

2D Cockpit

2D Cockpit 2D Cockpit Left 2D Cockpit Right
The 2D Cockpit looks great, nice detail that meets AlphaSim’s high visual standards with over 25 gauges keeping you busy. Also notice both the HUD which displays your vital flight details, and the center LCD displaying ground details such as airport locations. If you are the kind of simmer who likes to adjust the eye point up or down, for your convenience there is a nice control for that under the LCD. The left view in the 2D Cockpit is quite restrictive, you can get a real feel for the limited space available in the cockpit of the M-28. The right view in the 2D Cockpit is duplicate to the left in terms of your visual perspective, however the textures are rough around the
window.
2D Cockpit Upper Right 2D Cockpit Upper Left 2D Cockpit Panels At Night
The upper right view is great looking, notice the reflections on the glass and huge view offering a nice visual aid when maneuvering. With a limited view from the main 2D cockpit, and left and right views, the upper right and left are the only views which offer a good visual of your surroundings. In this shot you can see the flood lighting, the HUD, as well as the full panel lay out. (AlphaSim also includes the default GPS unit)



HUD Control – The HUD control is conveniently situated directly in front of you, offering a Dim knob, Power Button, and a “Declutter” knob with 3 settings which allows control over the amount of flight details displayed.

LCD Display – This was a nice surprise, the adjustable LCD displays Airport locations, Terrain Detail, and has a zoom range up to around 50 miles; this was a wonderful visual aid when performing procedures like approaching my destination airport.

Left Panel – The Left Panel offers many controls in a small panel. This takes up less precious screen space offering Pilot and Gunner
door switches, Light switches, ADF and Marker Audio Selector, Battery and Avionics, Pitot and De-Ice, and NAV/GPS mode.

Right Panel – This is the radio panel with control knobs for Nav1 and Nav2 settings, DME switch, ADF knob, Marker switch and Transponder settings.

VC Cockpit

VC Cockpit 1X VC Cockpit looking down 1X VC Cockpit looking up .50X
Great visual quality for this VC Cockpit, again note the HUD option is removed by default but can be enabled with supplied instructions. As a rule of thumb I am a simmer who rarely flies using the VC, however in my opinion it is the best way to fly helicopters in fs2004; the FPS performance is great so you can really enjoy this helicopter in your view of choice. Looking down at normal zoom, the gauges are nice and crisp with animated rudder pedals, Cyclic Control stick, and Collective. The LCD display is fully functional, and quite a few of the buttons are clickable. My view of choice, the VC at zoom .50x which looks great, and offers a great detailed view of your surroundings with reflections on the glass for a realistic visual effect.
VC Cockpit Lower Left .50X VC Cockpit Lower Right .50X VC Cockpit Looking Back .31X
Every view in the VC looks great, unfortunately you cannot start the engines with the controls on the Collective as they are not functional. Often these lower right or left views help you gauge your height and speed when landing, or performing delicate maneuvers in tight
spaces.
If there is any situation where you might set your zoom to .31x, it would be while flying a helicopter for ultimate awareness of your
surroundings.


Videos

Watch the door and gun animation – This is a 17 second animation showing both door, and gun turret animations. Watch the engine start animation – This is a 7 second animation showing the engines starting, note by default the engines are running on start up. Watch VC look around animation – This is a 17 second animation showing Rudder Pedals moving, Cyclic Control Stick, and adjusting LCD display.

2nd Impression After Flight / Flight Dynamics

My start with FS9 was at hovercontrol.com, where I spent a solid year flying helicopters and being immersed in their community. There were many things to learn about flying helicopters in FS9, and also some great resources on how to configure your realism and control settings properly to get the most out of your simulation. After spending sometime in the forums, many real world pilots seemed to agree that there are some FS9 control and realism settings to change to allow your helicopter to behave more realistically.

Thank you to Jordon Moore at hovercontrol.com for allowing the use of this link to his web page. This great resource offers a step by step walk through on how to adjust both realism and control settings enabling your helicopter to act like the real thing; this is a great link for anyone who is currently flying helicopters in FS9.

AlphaSim has done a great job with the Mi-28 Havoc. It is a real pleasure feeling both the speed and agility of this modern military attack helicopter. The Havoc can reach a top speed of 300 km/h (187 mph); participate in missions reaching ranges of 1,100 km (640 mi), all the while cruising at an altitude of 5,800 m (19,000 ft).

The specifications for the Mi-28 are impressive, but nothing can compare to the amazing acrobatic abilities allowing maneuvers like rolls, full back slips, vertical climbs, and changing direction on a dime just to get your mouth watering a little.

So, with a helicopter that can cruise at speeds to rival many planes, and the agility to pull off airplane moves, you might think this helicopter flies like a plane instead of a chopper; surprisingly the Mi-28 provides the best of both worlds providing a solid traditional helicopter feel with the ability to perform breathtaking maneuvers

The popularity of this helicopter made finding flight footage easy, allowing me to gauge AlphaSim’s model to the real thing in terms of some flight characteristics; I found AlphaSim’s rendition quite accurate and satisfying. After flying many helicopters, this model feels right in terms of flight dynamics and where comparable to footage, very believable.

As expected, the Mi-28 loads with everything turned on including the engines already running, this aligns to AlphaSim’s strategic design on keeping procedures streamlined for the simmer to concentrate on the enjoyment of flying their add-ons.

In my experience, AlphaSim products might load with the engines running by default, however if you choose to play with the engines, the controls are both modeled and functional as expected; with the Havoc engine start accomplished by pressing SHIFT+CTRL+F4 as none of the controls are featured on the collective. The lack of collective functionality is not a big deal, in fact, I am sure loyal AlphaSim customers will not even miss the lack of that feature.

So strap in so we can put the AlphaSim Havoc through its paces!

The Take Off / Climb

As anticipated, the Havoc has a lot of horsepower which makes takeoffs a breeze. If one wishes to slam the throttle, expect to be at 1000 feet in about 20 seconds, 3000 feet in around 1 minute, and up to 10,000 feet in approximately 4 minutes; this is accomplished without moving more then 1 KIAS in any direction the whole way up.

To enjoy this helicopter with more of a traditional take off, apply a delicate amount of throttle around +50% generating lift, while predictably having your chopper start to move backwards; at this point applying more throttle while gently pushing the Cyclic forward, and adjusting the rudder pedals to maintain your direction, ease the throttle forward enjoying a nice steady climb into the air.

The Take Off

One thing to note, AlphaSim did not supply any kind of checklist with the Mi-28, there is no way of knowing what the exact procedure is; my preference is to take things slowly providing a constant challenge of keeping all your controls in check and feeling the helicopter more.

Most helicopters seem to have their own characteristics during different phases of flight, the Havoc on a slow controlled take off always starts to move backwards requiring some delicate forward pressure on the Cyclic to maintain forward flight.

The Mi-28 Havoc is a modern attack helicopter, asides from the obvious ability for speedy vertical climbs, there are no real surprises in how the helicopter feels or the control adjustments required for a safe takeoff.

Another thing to note in regards to hovering, for a modern attack helicopter I was surprised at how difficult it was to perform the “infamous” taxi to the runway; the relentless gentle control adjustments are no different with this chopper then any other. Although in terms of control ideology, the take off phase is familiar, slow controlled takeoffs offer you the chance to feel the control you command over this helicopter, and in confined spaces, the agility to make precise movements to avoid terrain or obstacles.

The Cruise

If there is an area of flight where comparisons to a plane can be made, it would during the cruise phase with a blistering 300 km/h (187 mph) top speed and abnormal flight distance range. The Mi-28 Havoc, with its impressive speed and distance, can open up a new frontier if you’re the kind of simmer who enjoys online events provided by servers like VATSIM.

Cutting through the air at top speed is a breeze requiring moderate forward Cyclic, however avoiding overspeeds requires quick altitude adjustments to sluff of some speed quickly; although this may sound tedious, it quickly becomes more rhythmic then anything else.

In my opinion, the most impressive thing about the Mi-28 is the agility, with real video footage widely available, it was easy finding footage comparing how AlphaSim’s model aligned to the real one; this appeared to be quite accurate and satisfactory. When the time comes to put this helicopter through some acrobatics, provided you have adequate speed, you will find performing moves like rolls to be quite intuitive with little surprises.

The Cruise

The main differences to be experienced with pulling acrobatics, lies in the architecture of the helicopter itself. Changes in speed happen dramatically faster, requiring a more vigilante check on your airspeed, coupled with the huge difference of weight requiring different control adjustments while performing moves like back flips; this certainly provides a very unique experience you can’t get from any other helicopter at present.

When performing a roll, initially you rotate as expected. However, as you come around you have to pull back on the Cyclic to maintain your pitch as the helicopter is top heavy, coming out of the roll aggressively. After only a few tries it becomes very easy to perform a nice smooth roll.

Performing a back flap will require you to be going at top speed. The initial transition to 90 degrees is painless, from here the speed evaporates until you're on your back at around 0 KIAS, from here it feels like gravity completes the flip as you are now pointing towards the earth in a dive, starting to replenish your speed again; initially the back flip feels disjointed, but like the roll, it doesn’t take long before it becomes polished.

Another great feature of the Mi-28 Havoc is the center LCD display, a great visual aid providing around 50 miles of terrain and airport visuals to help your navigation.

The Decent / Landing

The first nice thing to know about the Mi-28 is the available technology, boasting both DME, NAV, and even Glideslope, this was very unique from any FS9 helicopter I had flown before; this shouldn’t be too surprising given the fact this is a modern attack helicopter.

AlphaSim’s Mi-28 helicopter is a real treat when it comes to approaching your destination. With a nice large LCD display giving you a visual on the distance to the airport, to the 2 DME gauges on your panel and the landing with the aid of both NAV and Glideslope indicators. All of these cutting edge technologies are very refreshing, however for the most part on approach and landing, I stuck to good old fashioned way of judging everything by the Mark I eyeball and feel. However, the adjustable LCD display is an awesome aid to help you gauge your position to the runway.

We know that a throttle of +50% will supply lift, and a throttle of around 35% from your top of decent provides a nice relaxing ride down to your destination altitude; if your cruising at 19,000 feet with 0% throttle you will reach 3000 feet in around 5 minutes.

While on final, a throttle of around 25%-30% will provide a nice controlled transition for your landing, remember to monitor your speed closely to avoid moving too fast once the runway is reached.

At around 1000 feet, you want to be descending with a throttle around 25% and as you reach 50 feet start feathering the throttle, coupled with pulling back on the Cyclic to time your speed with touchdown; helicopter landings are all about syncing your speed with your actual touchdown.

The Landing

After landing many helicopters in FS9, I found AlphaSim’s Havoc quite challenging to land without tipping over to the right or left; however, the engine power made the actual approach to landing both easier and very intuitive.

If you're descending and reach an airspeed of 0 KIAS before your wheels touch the runway, expect the Havoc to start to move backwards, and/or right, or left requiring a high level of focus to not loose control; the moment your airspeed reaches 0 in a helicopter be ready to take immediate action on your rudder pedals as in most helicopters of today.

If you’re the kind of simmer who likes to fly helicopters in 2D Cockpit, you will find your view of the ground very restrictive, so there are many gauges to help you judge your height and position; as mentioned earlier, with great FPS performance you're best to try the VC with this chopper.

There were many miles put on this Mi-28, with landings on a variety of terrains and runways. Even using the VC, you often find your view restricted requiring a great deal of concentration, especially when landing on a helipad perched off an oil platform or roof top. There was one roof top helipad that took me 12 attempts to land without disaster, for curiosity sake I loaded another helicopter and landed first time no problem.

The fact I landed the other helicopter is not a negative towards the Havoc, the Mi-28 felt more realistic but it just requires you to use your gauges to overcome your restricted view; most serious helicopter pilots surely do this instinctively anyway's.

In the end, I would not consider landing the Havoc a cake walk, but like many of the other unique things you will find with the Mi-28, they quickly become routine.

Performance

Test System

Pentium4 - 3Ghz HT
1 GiG of Ram
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128
SATA 160 GB hardrive

Flying Time:
25 hours

In my experience, AlphaSim always delivers high quality visuals, and somehow they always run great with next to no FPS impact at all; this also includes the normally FPS hungry VC.

The Mi-28 Havoc is no exception. This helicopter runs great no matter what view your using or the amount of geometry on the ground; this surprised me, anticipating a need to lower some settings to use the VC. Keep in mind there are other features of this helicopter not normally seen, both the large LCD display, and the HUD do not affect the FPS at all.

There was also an option to enable the HUD in the VC with the supplied documentation. This was not tested in this review, but I am sure it was a huge impact for them to remove it by default.

Summary / Closing Remarks

AlphaSim’s Mi-28 Havoc is a great helicopter. Adhering to their high quality standards and with so many nice things in this package, it's hard not to recommend it. I enjoyed my flying time and the surprises with this product, like its top speed and over the top agility, any simmer enjoying helicopters should check this out.

The Mi-28 boasts so much technology and agility, it makes flying this attack helicopter, for the most part, quite easy and intuitive; however I still find the landings offer a nice rewarding challenge.

If you’re interested in AlphaSim’s Mi-28 it will cost you $40.00NZD ($32.00USD), giving you 3 visual models but no missions or documentation. At the very least, some basic tips or recommended settings would have been something. Regardless of my own personal opinion, all one needs to do is check out AlphaSim’s forums to see both customer satisfaction, and the anticipation to upcoming releases. Who am I to say their products are too much?

I highly recommend Jordon Moore’s link showing how to adjust both the realism and control settings to have your FS9 helicopter behave like the real thing.

Watch the Mi-28 Havoc in flight!

Watch 3 minutes of AlphaSim Havoc action, take off, climb, acrobatics, landings, and much more!

Thank you to Michael Richards for allowing me to use his helipad add-on scenery for Hood River. This brought back both old memories and a nice challenge!

 

What I Like About The Mi-28 "Havoc"

  • Very fast agile helicopter making long distance flights easier then normal helicopters
  • Agility allows for maneuvers like rolls and back flips
  • Landings offer a nice challenge
  • Visuals interior and exterior look great
  • Great performance with next to no FSP impact

 

What I Don't Like About The Mi-28 "Havoc"

  • I find the price tag a little high, but if you really like helicopters this may be worth the investment
  • No extra supplied missions or scenery

 

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Mi-28 "Havoc"

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