DBS Studio and Sim Landmark’s propose the Yakovlev 40 aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator X.
It comes with a new native FSX models and an extended set of the animations based on XML code. The panel presents authentic Russian "Classic Age" aircraft environment, combined with easy to use pilot's operations. Four liveries and two models (regular and salon VIP) are provided. The aircraft is usable both as AI and as an aircraft to fly.
In short: you need to carefully read the dedicated Activation Guide and strictly comply with all the instructions; there are a couple of steps to go through, but it works fine.
The installation starts with running Setup.exe and is easy to complete. FSX is automatically located and the installer. This puts the files where they need to be; all is there but the gauges do not work until they are activated.
The activation takes 2 steps: first generating a request for the key and e-mailing it; second enter the key received in reply by e-mail.
So first you need to launch FSX and start a custom flight selecting the Yak-40, in any one of the 4 liveries. As mentioned, all is there but the gauges are dead. Another field is added to the add-on menu, below the typical FSUIPC
Start with menu: Add-on / DBS activation / Send activation request. This action generates an e-mail, either “online” using your default e-mail software, like Outlook or “offline” at your choice. Send this e-mail. You should get the reply mail with the activation key within 10 hours. I got mine within just 1 hour. In the mean time, you may do whatever you want, even exiting FSX.
Second, when you have received the key, again go to menu: Add-on / DBS activation / Activate product after receiving key and you are prompted for the activation string. The activation key consists of the full e-mail that you received back, including the instruction "Please copy/paste all text from this mail...". So CTRL+A, CTRL+C, then click on activate and afterwards, exit FSX.
Now restart FSX and select any of the Yak-40 aircraft. This this time, the gauges should be alive.
Remark: if you entered a wrong key, the gauges all remain dead after the restart; just load the correct key, this time with the full content, activate and exit and start FSX again.
There are 2 documents provided: the activation guide used above and the user guide. The user guide is 13 pages, so rather light. It contains quick explanations about the panel, the systems and basic procedures and charts.
This documentation says nothing about the aircraft history, so
let me say just a few words focusing on what is useful to know
in order to fly.
Eastern European and 1960s first means Soviet style gauges in the cockpit, with appropriate units of measurement in use on the Eastern side of Europe. Altitude is in meters; where 300m is approximately 1000ft. Vertical speed is in meters/seconds; 1m/s means 60m per minute so 200 ft/min. Airspeeds are in Km/h; 1 Km/h is 0.54 Knot, no easy way to recalculate except by approximately dividing by 2; but anyway what you need is rather a few magic numbers like VR, VS, and Vref so you need to know them in Km/hr.
Second the wing is older technology: non swept back, with no such things as slats or spoilers. When approaching, you typically lower the gear before extending the flaps, and if you are too fast you may use engine #2 in reverse while in the air.
Performance wise, it is rather slow for a jet, short of 300 true Kts in cruise speed. As well, it is a short range aircraft: just 780nm.
Only a 2D panel is provided but it is beautiful, in daylight and at night, dark or illuminated. It features a pure Soviet style gauges, with the exceptions of the additional radio control sub-panel and GPS.
As I mentioned above, the documentation is light, whereas the gauges have some specific features. The best way for me was to use my instinct and practice, flying. The ergonomics is often faithful to the original kit, so not everything is natural at first, if you mostly fly mostly western, modern built prop liners or jetliners. But I got quickly got used to it.
The panel consists in of the main panel and 5 sub-panels:
In addition, an enlarged HSI can be displayed with a click on the regular sized HSI.
These are the main gauges on the main panel, from left to right and top to bottom:
1- Airspeed indicator in Km/h and mach indicator inside with a smaller needle.
2- Attitude indicator in Soviet style: pitch indication with the symbolic aircraft staying at the same height whereas the horizon moves up or down, roll indication with the symbolic aircraft rolling and horizon staying level: it is easy to get used to it.
3- An amazing gauge combining VSI, turn rate and ball. This is quite unusual in a single instrument. But DBS is just faithful to the original.
Moreover, this VSI is graduated from plus 100 m/s to minus 150 m/s, which means diving at 30 000 ft/min, around mach .5 in pure vertical axis projection! Not exactly your standard rate of descent.
guess this derives from common instruments with MiG airplanes
or the like. And even in a Mig-29,
are going down
at minus 30 000 ft/mn, there
is probably little you can do but try to eject, although you
would be surely way too fast at this uncommon rate
4- VSI in meters per second, from plus 10 to minus 10 m/s (2000 ft/min), a more common range.
In fact, as 2000 ft/min may be in some cases limited for a jet aircraft, the combination with the above described VSI makes sense as when your needle is horizontal pointing right, this means that you either climb or descent above 2000ft/min; unless you are spatially disoriented, then you have a fair idea of which one you are in.
Then looking left at the previous gauge shows you where you are with precision in a different scale.
5- Altimeter in meters and a barometer setting in mmHg. Dual mode ft and meter is available as a free downloadable upgrade.
6- Gyrocompass and HSI.
7- Dual ADF.
8- Radio altimeter in meters.
9- G meter with memory; rather odd for an airliner.
10- Indicator of elevator trim position.
11- Fuel quantity gauge in Kg; plus a 3 positions switch below to select the view: either the left or the right tank quantities, reading on the inside graduation or the global quantity reading on the outside graduation.
That’s the way it is, though it seems prone to induce reading errors: if ever one of the tanks is empty and you select the to display the quantity of the other tank only, but read on the outside scale, you will think that you have twice the amount of fuel actually on board.
Other gauges include hydraulic pressure (main hydraulic, main left and right braking, and the same for the emergency systems), air system pressure, APU exhaust temperature.
each engine, there are 3 gauges:
No custom mini panel is provided. So the standard Microsoft Cessna 172 mini panel shows, hardly a substitute for at least two reasons: the two aircrafts are completely different and the Yak panel Units are the Soviet ones.
The Cessna 172 mini-gauges look unrealistic for the Yak-40, as the look and feel is so different. As the view of the 2D panel is unsuitable for landing, as the typical high pitch attitude hides the runway under the panel; so you’ll absolutely need the mini panel.
Then at the same time you need to press the typical W key and, you need to mentally switch the airspeeds from Km/h to Knots, from altitude in meters to feet and from vertical speed in meters per second to feet per minute. Not very convenient. The best is to switch the view late, close to the runway and then keep things steady, just reduce power and flare above the runway edge.
The Exterior Model
The base of the model is an enhanced AI. It has been redesigned for FSX, while remaining compatible with the previous FS9 one, thus keeping the same .bmp layout. So all textures fit in a single 1024 x 1024 bmp + light map + specular.
All the files are provided with Mip Maps. Mip Maps are tricky. Their rendering highly depends on your graphic card. My findings, on two of them, one Nvidia and one Radeon, is that they provide degradation of the visual quality. This degradation might be acceptable for an AI (in exchange for better frame rates), but not for a normal aircraft.
And even for AI aircrafts, I never noticed any significant frame rates improvement with these Mip Maps; but again that may be different with other graphic cards.
In my case, getting rid of the Mips Maps significantly improved the visual quality of the aircraft. In fact, bringing them to the same as selecting graphism / global texture / high, without the frame rates toll induced by the rest of the sceneries.
But the single 1024 x 1024 bmp file is a gene that cannot produce a perfect looking airplane. Even without the Mip Maps or with high global texture graphism, several flaws are visible, such as very noticeable pixel effects on the nose or on the rear, near the stairs.
Another AI gene defines that the lateral engines share the same inside and outside area on the .bmp. In most color schemes, that is suitable. But in the Volga Dniepr livery for example, with the company name written on the outside engines cowls, it comes across the wrong way on the right side engine.
But overall the aircraft looks good. Some parts are highly animated and detailed, such as the gear and flaps. Gear compression, whether on front or on main gear, is very well rendered.
There are no flex wings, but given the relatively small size of the aircraft, a realistic flex would anyway have been hardly noticeable anyway.
There are two models provided; regular and salon, the VIP version.
They are not very different from each other.
No internal cockpit or cabin model is provided.
At startup, the aircraft is some 1800 lbs above gross weight, so you first need to adjust the load or the fuel. Chock and covers for the engines and pitot tubes are in place when the parking brakes are on and all electrical systems are off.
Stairs can be deployed as the main exit opens and closes. (Shift+E).
Starting cold and dark
I just followed the procedure described in the documentation. I struggled a bit at times to figure out whether some buttons, like the engine starters, were on or off, but I managed to start.
The APU is used for engine 1 start and then shut down prior to starting the other engines.
Taxi is easy; be advised the aircraft pitches sharply down upon brake action. Simply a consequence of the lack of a practical way to brake slowly in FSX (like FS9 or previous versions too): unless you use the auto brake, FSX simulates only slamming the brakes! So this Yak-40 simulates well with what happens when you slam on the brakes.
For take off, 2 notches of flaps, 20°, have to be selected. Applying full power, the old turbines are slow to reach their full thrust.
The aircraft accelerates slower than similar capacity modern twin jets, but as well it lifts off at a slower speed. Vr at full weight is 188 Km/h (101 Kts), going down to 164 Km/h (88 Kts) when at 13T weight, about 1/3 of load.
The aircraft is easy to fly and well responsive. In all phases of flight, the aircraft requires to be flown in a relatively high nose high attitude.
The autopilot is very simple; and easy to learn. It allows:
- On the longitudinal axis to keep wings level, or 15° or 30° bank either left or right.
Since there is a G-meter, I tried and to stressed this rugged aircraft that can (–virtually)- take about 5 G's.
Approach and landing
On approach, the aircraft is relatively easy to slow down. Normally you lower the gear first, then extend the flaps. But you cannot lower the gear above 161 Km or 298 Km/h. Nonetheless, you can if you want lower the flaps above this speed if you want.
Landing is made with proper usage of the mini panel as I mentioned above. Again, the aircraft is rugged: the main gear is set to fail only above 3500 ft/mn of vertical speed contact with the runway, more than twice the typical airliner’s value.
The effects are nice: Upper and lower beacons, smoke at startup and in flight.
The Yak-40 is very well known for poor fuel efficiency and leaving heavy black smoke trails.
This is well captured in the effects and in-flight, the jet fuel burns at a high rate too. In the aircraft.cfg, the fuel flow scalar is 1.7, making the turbines quite fuel inefficient, as they are per modern day’s standards.
The sounds (both standard for the flyable aircraft and AI) are aliased to the default Microsoft Learjet 45 ones.
Straight from the loudspeakers, it sounds realistic for this aircraft. Nonetheless, the sound of the Soviet mid- 60s built Ivchenko AI-25 turbofans can only be approximated with the sound of the AlliedSignal TFE73120, US built in the mid 90s that are far more modern.
In addition, the Yak is a three engine aircrafts whereas the Lear is a twin.
Summary / Closing Remarks
AI or not AI? Both. The DBS Yak-40 makes a good AI, and a decent flyable aircraft, but with some imperfections on the exterior.
The nicest part is the 2D panel; beautiful and, faithful to the Soviet 1960s style and nonetheless easy to operate and fly without reading tons of documentation or learning dozens of Cyrillic letters acronyms.
This is yours for 15 EURO or $20 $, positioning it at the affordable range of the payware scale. The stand alone panel is also available for around half this cost.
A free upgrade has been available for a couple of weeks on the
DBS - SIM Landmarks website http://www.dbsim.com/ . It adds
a couple of features:
In addition, a few freeware liveries can be downloaded from several flight simulation web sites as avsim.com, in the FS9 or FSX repaints categories.
AlfaFly Ostafyevo scenery for most of the pictures on the ground.
What I Like About The Yak-40
What I Don't Like About The Yak-40
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