The C-130 Hercules was designed during the Korean war to replace late World War II designs that were not big enough to cope with the demands of modern warfare. The C-130 is a four engine tactical lift aircraft that is the main stay of many air forces around the world. The Hercules has been so successful that there are over 40 different variants and it is in service with over 50 different nations. It is one of only five aircraft that has served 50 years continuous service with the original primary customer the (US Airforce), the other aircraft that are on this list include the English Electric Canberra Bomber, the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, Tupolev TU-95 and the KC-135 StratoTanker.
The C-130 has been designed to operate out of forward airstrips that have very little preparation. C-130 aircraft are designed for troop and cargo transport and as a medical transport, but the airframe is so versatile that it completes gunship, aerial refueling, search and rescue, scientific research, weather reconnaissance and fire fighting roles with ease. It is even used to deliver some of the heaviest bombs ever delivered by an aircraft, the MOAB and Daisy Cutter bombs. Daisy Cutters were used in the Vietnam war to create helicopter landing zones.
Even today there really isnít another aircraft that can fill the roles the Hercules covers with ease, there are aircraft out there that can do one or two roles, but not all the Hercules can do.
Just flight has published the C-130 that has won awards for the developer Captain Sim. Included in the DVD is the following models; AC-130 Spectre Gun ship, C Mk.1, C Mk.3, C-130E, C-130H, C-130H-30, HC-130, KC-130 Model L100-30, C-130J, C-130J-30 and the C-130T. Overall there are 12 models with 28 different liveries. These models are for both FSX and FS2004. Also as a bonus, you get a custom version of RAF Lyneham for FS2004.
You get a 240 page printed manual included and a nice DVD case as well
Installation & Documentation
Inserting the DVD into the drive will bring up the installation options, if you have auto run activated. If you donít open windows explorer and open the DVD drive and double click on the start icon. The Install options that are brought up gives you the option to install the FS2004 version, the FSX version or installation of the FSX service packs. Following the installation process is a matter of following the prompts, the installer will ask where you want to install the software (default location of FSX or FS2004 if you have installed them to the default locations). The installer will also ask you to install a sound file, this is necessary to hear the cockpit sounds. Once you have installed the program, you have options under the start menu, these include the PDF manuals, the ace utility which we will go into later, and an option to install the C-130 into the FSX menu.
Documentation includes a very through and comprehensive printed manual, with is written for FSX, but equally applies to FS2004. The manual includes sections on installation, Aircraft Configuration Editor (ACE), Animations, Cockpits, Aircraft Systems, Checklists and Flight limitations. The manual is clearly written and very easy to follow, it goes into great detail on the cockpit panels, both 2D and Virtual Cockpits, Operating the various aircraft systems and limitations of what you can do with the aircraft. I have to say that I thought I knew a lot about the C-130, but I learnt a whole lot more about the aircraft by reading the manual.
Also included in the manual is an in-flight refueling manual, this covers all aspect of in-flight refueling, which is only available in FS2004, according to the manual. It goes over the correct line up and pattern entry procedures, and how to successfully tanker fuel. It is very in depth without drowning you in technical descriptions. The PDF files cover the FS2004 manuals and the original manual included in the C-130 X-perience that is supplied with the captain sim version.
Aircraft Configuration Editor (ACE)
The Aircraft Configuration Editor, or ACE as it is known, is a simple tool that allows you to add liveries to the package, edit the payload of the aircraft and change the setup options of the model. I will go into further detail on the specific screens in ACE.
The first tab you have to when you open the ACE utility is the Fleet Tab, here you can Add a new livery or change some options on an existing livery. With the existing tab you can edit the description, or delete the version form the computer.
First tab you have is the Pre-Flight tab, from this tab you can change options to do with the aircraft. Under this tab there are three different option tabs, the Aircraft, Cockpit and Payload Tabs.
The Aircraft tab allows you to select the aircraft model, the aircraft livery and the flag that is flown out of the cockpit on the aircraft. You can also select the airline call sign, tail number and flight number for the particular aircraft. From this tab you can also select what effects you want to display, you can choose to have the smoke effects for the engines and starting effects for the engines. The last option you have is the paint options, you can choose to have a high, medium or low degree of shine on the aircraft.
Next Tab is the Cockpit tab. From this tab you change the 2D and virtual Cockpit options. Under the 2D panel options you can select what side of the cockpit you want to sit on, the right or left, and what type of engine instruments you want, this allows you to select the classic steam gauges or the more modern glass EICAS gauges. This also changes the gauges displayed in the virtual cockpit.
Under the VC options you get to choose what color interior lighting you want, white (default), green or red. Turn on or turn off the VC which may help performance for some people, and turn on or turn off the cockpit glass reflections on the cockpit windows.
The third tab is the Payload Tab. under this tab you can change the payload options for the aircraft. From this tab you can select what type of cargo is loaded in the aircraft, you can also select what type of units of measure you want to use, either kilograms or pounds. The current weight of the aircraft is displayed below, and if you overload the aircraft it will flash in red to alert you that you need to remove some weight or change the fuel loading. I quick note is that you wonít see the cargo in the hold of the aircraft, as it only changes the aircraft weights.
The last main tab is the tools tab, under this you can select your path for FSX, you use this if the Liveries and Pre-flight tabs are unavailable. The generate system test file button is to be used at the request of the support team. This generates a report from a diagnostic program for trouble shooting.
I will go into detail about the 12 different models included with the package starting with the mighty AC-130 Spectre gun ship.
The AC-130 Spectre is a standard C-130 converted to a close air support aircraft that is armed with 20mm Vulcan cannons, 40mm Bofors Cannon and a 105mm Howitzer. The armament varies between different models, but is an impressive list of fire power that you would not want to be on the end of.
The AC-130 included with the DVD is the AC-130E model, and from what I can see in FSX the model looks spot on, all of the little bumps and protrusions are where they should be, and the guns hanging out of the left side of the aircraft give it an imposing, donít mess with me look. The paint job is excellent, with just the right amount of shine or should that be lack of, to it that portrays a working military aircraft. Also included with this model is a fire control 2D panel. This panel allows you to fire the armament. These are purely visual and unfortunately you cannot blow anything up.
Next model is the British C.Mk.1 and C.Mk.3. Both of these aircraft have refueling probes fitted, the C.Mk.3 is the stretched version of the C.Mk.1. Again these aircraft look just like they should with the correct camouflage and shine to the paint job.
C-130E, which is the extended range version, was built as a long range transport. It also included structural improvements that allowed it a higher gross weight. This also has the most liveries included with the package.
The Model C-130H & the C-130H-30 is next. This is the bread and butter Hercules, the aircraft that most of the armed forces that use them started with, and in some cases still fly them today. The RNZAF are still flying there H models that were purchased new in 1964, some of the oldest Hercules still flying. The C-130H-30 is the stretched version.
The HC-130 is a US Coast Guard specific model. These aircraft are long range search and rescue aircraft, and fill a variety of roles, these include the dropping of survival equipment, illegal drug interdiction, cargo and personnel transport, ice patrols, and environmental observations.
The KC-130 is the US Marine Corps air to air refueling aircraft, that is used for tactical airlifts as well, the air to air refueling is undertaken with under wing pods and a hose and drogue system. These are controlled with a separate panel to extend and retract them.
L100-30 is the civilian Hercules without the under wing fuel tanks or military equipment installed. This aircraft is used by private companies and the UN to do a multitude of different tasks, including oversize cargo movements and humanitarian aid work. The -30 designates that this is the stretched version. The L100 has not been widely used.
The latest Hercules are the C-130J and the C-130J-30 models, these are the latest version and include newer engines with more power, glass cockpits, with modern glass instruments taking over from the old steam gauges. Digital flight controls and six blade advanced propellers. The ďnewĒ Hercules has reduced flight deck crew to two, added heads up displays and increased reliability, without losing the qualities that made the Hercules so successful. Included in the package is the RAF Mk.4 and Mk.5 camouflage scheme and the stretched -30 model that is flying with the USAF and the Danish Air force.
The Last model included is the C-130T, Fat Albert as it is known by. This is the Blue Angels display team aircraft, it has JATO packs that are visually functional, but do not add trust. This aircraft is used by the Blue Angels at flying displays, it has a high gloss shine as you would expect from a show aircraft.
2D Cockpit and Virtual Cockpit
Included with the package is two main types of cockpit. The Analogue or steam gauge version, or the newer digital or glass cockpit. I will focus on both cockpits and the variations depending on what model is in use, I will start with the classic steam gauge version for the C-130H. In the 2D cockpit you have a simicon panel, this allows you to quickly and easily change between panels, and also opens up an animation control panel. Also it allows you to fire the IR flares with the click of a button.
First up letís look at the 2D cockpit. The 2D cockpit is something that I used exclusively in FS2004, as I could not get used to the virtual cockpit, now I use the Virtual Cockpit exclusively, unless there isnít a VC included. The 2D cockpit has 18 different pop up panels, depending on the model, if you are flying the AC-130 or the C-130T, there are two different panels as well, these cover the Armament fire control, and the JATO firing controls. The main panel you have is the pilots left hand side view, this view covers what you would see if you were the pilot, and covers primary flight instruments, engine instruments and basic autopilot controls. The co-pilot or right hand side panel covers the above, except doesnít have the autopilot but has the landing gear control panel on it.
You also have an upper and lower overhead panel, these two panels cover the electrical and fuel control systems, also included on these panels are the Fire Control Panel, Oil Cooler Panels, Ice protection, Air conditioning Panel, Engine starting panel and Exterior Light panel. A Navigator panel has Radar indicator, clocks, communication panels and altimeter instruments on it.
Additional panels cover the Radar Control, Radios, Throttle Quadrants, the Co-pilot aux panel, rear ramp and door control panel, a full autopilot control panel, wing flap control panel, A SSF/IFF control panel and a Control wheel panel. These 2D panels are very functional, crisp and easy to read, but unlike the VC are not as flowing to use, i.e. you have to close one panel or open another panel for certain operational procedures. I wonít go in to much detail about what each panel does and what it controls otherwise we would be here all year, I will say that the manual covers all the functions of the panels well, you really will need to use the manual to fully use the aircraft.
The Virtual cockpit is good to use, everything is presented, and easy to read, mostly, it is let down by some poor graphic textures, the yoke center is one example, as are some of the walls in the cockpit, the cargo area is another example, they do stand out and draw the eye, which is a shame as otherwise it is a really nice office to work in. Some of the text is pixilated and hard to read on high zoom levels. The panels change depending on what type of gauges you have selected with the ACE utility. If you have the classic gauges selected for the model you are flying, you will get the steam gauges in the 2D and virtual cockpit, or vice versa. The gauges on all panels are smooth and fluid, with no stutter or hesitation. All the gauges are easy to read. There are some systems that can only be operated from the VC, these include the nose wheel steering, trim tab control, low speed ground idle, the ATO (assisted take off) panel, windscreen wipers and air deflectors.
Sometimes it is easier to use a pop up 2D panel to control some functions as it can be hard to use from the VC. Night lighting is good but as has been mentioned in previous reviews, there are a couple of issues with the lighting color changing back to the default white. Also the flood lights are on all the time, you cannot turn them off and just leave the panel (gauge) lighting on.
Also included with the aircraft is a full cargo area, basically any area that you could walk to is included. If you are flying the AC-130 you have the cannons and operator stations in the cargo hold. But if you have used the ACE utility to load the aircraft, you will not see the load in the cargo hold. The cargo area is well done, but again like the cockpit, is let down by some poor texturing, which again is a shame as it draws your attention to the bad areas.
There are custom views set for the aircraft, they are unique and make for some interesting view from the outside.
I have decided to include a separate animations section as there are a lot to cover. The animation control panel covers the animations and controls the operation of said animations. From this panel you can turn the movable radar on or off, open and close the radome, open and close the pilots windows, open and close the emergency exits, fly the flag selected for the aircraft, open and close the main doors and cargo ramps, operate the landing lights. Wheel chocks and engine plugs. Also you can open and close the maintenance hatches paratroop doors and air deflectors and the APU cowling. There is a separate area that allows you to lower the ramp tracks, show and hide a humvee and move said humvee in and out of the aircraft.
The one thing that impressed me from the FS2004 version I flew before was the sound, and I have to say that they are simply one of the best sound simulations of the Hercules I have heard, you get the trade mark sound of the Rolls Royce Allison turboprops, and there deep rumble of reverse. These really are sounds that you really do need to turn up the bass on your speaker system. You might get some complaints from the family though!! From the cockpit the sounds are muted a little, but from what I understand is that the Hercules is a noisy aircraft by nature, and this is portrayed well in the simulation. Fly bys are a joy, especially if you have full throttle on a low pass, it really does sound like you have just had a real Hercules buzz you five feet above your head. Now of course sound is a purely selective area, what I think sounds great, you may not; also different sound setups will produce different results. Needless to say I am very happy with these sounds.
There are separate sounds included for the AC-130 weapons, and they sound really good, mimicking the Gatling gun and the heavier gun sounds well. One thing that does annoy me is the use of the default GPWS. It is very, very annoying and does not fit well at all. I have not been able to find a way to get rid of it either.
I have since found a way of removing the GPWS it involves a little code editing in the aircraft.cfg file. Look at the captain sim forums to find out how.
Flying the C-130 was a joy, so much so I never once used the autopilot, I prefer to hand fly this as it is such a nice bird to fly. Starting with the AC-130 it felt heavier to fly, and seemed to take a little longer than a standard Hercules to get into the air, now this is my personal opinion, but it seemed to take a little more room to get airborne than the standard C-130, same with the -30 versions, they seemed to take a little longer and a little more room on the runway to get airborne.
Using the ACE utility to change the loading makes a difference, and you do notice the extra weight in the aircraft, it doesnít respond as sharply as an empty aircraft would. Empty or full, the aircraft is easy to fly by hand and is very predictable and stable in the air and on the ground. It leans like a Hercules does when taxing, and if you turn hard you can almost scrap the wing tips. Cross winds are interesting, the rudder seems to have little effect on steering the aircraft, instead you have to use differential thrust to crab the aircraft into the wind, as if you use the rudder all you seem to do is bank into the wind.
The reverse thrust works well, and you can easily reverse park the Hercules on the ramp, it is quite fun to back up to the gate to show off bit!!
There has already been a lot said about the airfile in previous reviews, I will say that they seem to have nailed the Hercules flight characteristics from what friends have told me the bird flies like. I had no really noticeable drop in frame rates, maybe 1-2 FPS from the aircraft, most of my FPS drops are caused by the scenery I am using.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Having flown the C-130 in FS2004 for quite some time, I can honestly say that the aircraft has transferred well to FSX. I can see that I am going to have to find more time to fly this aircraft. The Just Flight release includes the great Captain Sim package and includes some of the additional packs for the C-130, as a bonus you get the scenery and the FS2004 version. It makes for a cheap release for what you get. I donít run vista on my computer as it caused me far too many CTDís at critical moments, and as such I cannot say whether DX10 works or not, the C-130 is advertised as fully DX10 compliant, so I should imagine that it will work fine.
There are some bad points, the texture issues being one of them, but overall it is a very nice package and works well, plus having a printed manual is great.
There has been much written about the C-130 already and I will add by saying that it is recommended, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the cockpit.
What I Like About Just Flight C-130 Hercules
What I Don't Like About Just Flight C-130 Hercules
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