AVSIM Commercial Aircraft & Scenery Review

F-86F Sabre & RAF Alconbury
Alphasim

VS. The Mig-15
Flight 1

Product Information

Publisher: Alphasim and Flight 1

Description: Aircraft and Scenery add-on's.

Download Size:
19-23 MB (Alphasim)

Format:
Download/CD
Simulation Type:
FS9 & FSX
Reviewed by: Gene Davis AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - March 24, 2008

Introduction

In 1950, a little known war called the Korean War started and it was there that fighter pilots graduated from the famous dogfights of WW2 in prop driven aircraft to that of high speed fighter jet engagements in the new modern era of jet aircraft. Where survival was measured within a second rather than seconds this newly discovered form of flight quickly took the world by storm and for a brief period of time in our history rattled the skies of Korea!

The F-86F from Alphasim

Design of the F-86 started in 1940 and was ultimately the replacement for the P-80 Shooting Star, which was left over from the latter days of WW2. Although the P-80 saw quite a bit of action during the Korean War Conflict, its replacement, the F-86, quickly became the king of the skies. Touted as a modern fighter jet for its time, it was faster and much more maneuverable than that of its predecessor and quickly became the choice of aircraft for fighter pilots of that time. During the Korean conflict, F-86 fighter pilots downed over 790 Mig-15s with a loss of just over 70 Sabres throughout the entire war.

The F-86 was ultimately built in 11 different variants over its operational history. The "F" version, to which this add-on is modeled, came into service in 1953 and operated well into the Vietnamese conflict in 1960 and did see operations by other countries as recently as 1971. This aircraft had an impressive operational run and there aren’t many that can come close to its history, fame and reputation with pilots.

The Alphasim F-86F offers both a working FSX and FS9 model that does include some pretty nice features, but I think you will find the FSX model more to your liking, at least I did. With all of the new features in FSX, this aircraft model takes full advantage of the FSX engine. Features like self shadowing, bump mapping and bloom are fully featured. The featured model of the F-86F is the one that flew for the 39th FIS, the aptly named “Beautios Butch” and was flown by Joseph C. McConnell. You will also have access to checklists and detailed performance information on your kneepad pertaining to that of the real world F-86 to which the Alphasim F-86 is modeled within FSX or FS9.

The real “Beautios Butch” flew during the Korean War and was piloted by Joseph C. McConnell. In total, McConnell flew 3 different F-86’s during the Korean war and were all named the Beautios Butch. McConnell ended up with 16 enemy kills, all of which were Mig-15s during the Korean conflict. After the war, McConnell ultimately lost his life while testing the F-86H, a nuclear weapon carrying Sabre, when the F-86 he was flying crashed after a control failure. I guess you might say that the Beautios Butch from Alphasim is a silent tribute to a man that accomplished so much in his life and gives us the opportunity to virtually experience what he experienced in life when he flew his F-86!

The exterior model of the F-86F is masterfully done. Every conceivable part that can be seen visually from outside the aircraft moves in a realistic manner; items such as landing gear, flaps and the air brakes. Another nice feature is that the pilot will react to the movement of the plane as you maneuver it; this is pretty cool to watch if you are putting the aircraft into a tight turn. Do I need to mention how good the canopy looks, it looks good and I have to say that this feature, though minimal, adds so much to the overall look of the plane that I just can’t express it, I know I am pleased easily! Even the paint stripes on the fuselage have a weathered look to them, as does the entire aircraft. It doesn’t look like it just rolled off the assembly line.

If you haven’t guessed, I like old. I like looking back at what was and I have to tell you that the F-86F from Alphasim is by far one of their best products I have seen to date and is definitely a must have for any jet junky!

Visually, the cockpit of the F-86 from Alphasim is one of the best I have seen from them, but again functionality is somewhat limited in the virtual cockpit mode. Things like lights and gear are clickable, but NAV and COM radios are not and require switching to and from the 2D panel. Now, that doesn’t mean that the 2D panel isn’t worth the trip, as the 2D panel is really quite good.

The gauges in the 2D panel was designed as an all XML panel and is 100% authentic to that of the real world F-86. The gauges have a glazed over look that make them stand out more and frankly make them look more realistic and 3 dimensional. If you have used or just looked at Alphasim products of late, you will know what I am talking about. There is another cool animation and it is accessible through the virtual cockpit and that is the eject lever and I found out the hard way as I was poking around in the virtual cockpit. I decided to see if the eject lever works, well it does! So, if you have invested in a long flight stay away from that eject lever. You will also find that the drop tanks are droppable and do release visually from the aircraft.

Flying the F-86 is just fun and the Alphasim flight model doesn’t disappoint as the aircraft will react adversely if you try and overfly it. Learning how to get the feeling of the aircraft is the best way to take this one on. On one of my test flights over Oregon, I locked on visually to a Dash 8 flying towards Portland at a rather low altitude, being several thousand feet above it I moved in for a quick check, I was amazed how well the F-86 responded to the air brakes and my bleeding off power to get in behind the other plane without overshooting, as I most often do. This alone says a lot about this particular flight model and really exemplifies its overall quality.

RAF Alconbury from Alphasim

First off, I chose this scenery as my original base of operation for the F-86, but decided after using it that it had too much of a frame rate impact on my flights in FSX with the F86.

RAF Alconbury was located near Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom and it has a very colorful past, it has seen a World War and has seen military operations up until 1995. The evident closure of that airfield closed the door on a big part of modern military history as every WW2 book or documentary about WW2 aviation makes some mention of RAF Alconbury and it is only prevalent that we have this field available to us in Flight Simulator with some form of military operation to remember it with.

The base itself has a nice layout and all of the objects are custom designed to match that of their real world counterparts, I especially like the guard stations and signage placed throughout the base; the signs actually bare the name of the base at the different checkpoints. The whole product just has a very authentic feel to it, now you just need the soldiers and airmen that walking the base grounds or just standing next to the hangers.

Included in this package is a nice set of flying AI aircraft, the C130E, F-4C Phantom, and the U2-R are the ones you will see flying in and out of the base as well as parked at the many different hangers. There are also several static aircraft, the C-5 Galaxy and the F-5E Tiger as well as many static vehicles parked throughout the scenery for your viewing pleasure.

This product will work with either FS9 or FSX, and I have to say that my sim of choice for this add-on was that of FS9 as the frame rate impact in FSX was just too much on my system to really enjoy it. The good news here though, is this is a great base to have if you are flying any of the older military jets in FS9. Frame rates remain good in FS9 and really let you experience the base from the cockpit of an aircraft like the F-86F, or better the F-4 Phantom!

Personally, I think that RAF Alconbury blends in better with the surrounding scenery in FS9, as the FSX versions looks out of place. This is not the product's fault as it is more of FSX’s fault with the texture colors surrounding the airports.

MIG-15 By Flight 1 Newly Released on CD

The Mig-15 from Flight 1 and Bear Studios has been around for some time and for some reason or another I never really gave it a good looking over. Well, what I wanted to do with this review was take some screenshots of the F-86F chasing the Mig-15 or vice versa, this didn’t happen so what I decided to do was include this product along with this review so that if you wanted to see the F-86 from a different perspective then you might want to do so in the Mig-15.

Initially when I installed this product and went to run it on FSX, the MIG canopy was wrong. I was seeing a wash effect much like that of the propeller problems of FS9 aircraft in FSX, so I didn’t think I had much of a chance at using this product in FSX.

Going to the Bear forums at Flight 1, I posted a message asking about a patch for the SP2 version of FSX for the MIG on CD. My post went unanswered in the Bear Studio forums, so I ultimately placed a message on the Product section of the forums and I was quick to get a reply and questioned about the product even needing a patch. Perplexed, I went back to the Mig-15 in FSX and lo and behold, this problem was gone.

Now it could have been something as simple as a problem with one of the 53 models that are included in this package or it was a fluke problem with my PC, I just do not know. I quickly shot back a reply to the Flight 1 forums thanking them for their help, though I am still perplexed at the lack of support on the Bear forum from whom this product was created as it has been well over a month and a half and there is still no reply. I do think there is some question about its full compatibility with FSX and Acceleration (SP2), but what problems it does create are minor ones and the plane is flyable in FSX.

The biggest problem I had with the Mig-15 and FSX was the fact that the landing gear and the flaps would not retract or extend after takeoff. Figuring this was a mechanical issue, I went over to FS9 and tried the same procedures and I did not have any such problems. So I ended up back in FSX but this time I started FSX with the default Cessna and then loaded the Mig-15 and it worked! Though I ended up overstressing the gear, I was able to deploy flaps and lower and raise the gear at will during flight afterwards. I think I seriously underestimated the technical side of the Mig-15. I didn’t realize that the aircraft was modeled so well and flying it by the numbers is required.

I spent quite a bit of time with the MIG in FS9 and FSX and found that the aircraft performed best in the world it was created for, FS9. This didn’t come as much of a surprise, but the main reason for wanting this aircraft was for FSX, as it advertised full support with FSX. I have read that if you have the download version, it has been completely updated but I think we are missing an update for FSX and SP2 for the CD version.

Climbing into any one of the 53 different MIG's you can’t help but think how crazy some of these guys must have been; you're essentially riding a rocket with guns attached to it. Frankly, I think this one would have scared me to death, but when you compare it to jet aircraft of that time it was a pretty remarkable plane.

The Mig-15 saw much of its action during the Korean War, much like that of the F86. The Mig-15 was remarkably maneuverable and could outfly just about anything in the US arsenal at that time. However, that fame didn’t last long as the F-86 was ultimately introduced into service and 790 Mig-15’s were shot down by the end of the Korean War by US fighters.

The Flight 1 Mig-15 is a magnificent aircraft; it features an array of moving parts and extra eye candy. Most impressive is the ability to take the aircraft apart and view the jet engine. This is where you can’t help but think of a witch riding atop a broomstick except that broomstick is a rocket! The cockpit is 100% authentic and is fully functional, either from the 2D panel or the virtual cockpit. I was amazed that the aircraft was completely flyable from the virtual cockpit as everything is accessible, and if you turn on the cockpit tags within MSFS you won’t have to learn how to translate Russian.

The sound is a whole other monster. This sound package is optimized for FS9 and it works and plays well in FS9, but FSX is a different animal as you hear a lot of background noise and you can definitely tell where the sound loops stop, especially from outside the aircraft. This isn’t the product's fault as it is an import from FS9, but I think it does deserve some attention to clean it up.

The manuals that are included with the MIG are exceptional. Any information you need is available and there is even a printed manual that comes with the disc to help you with understanding where everything is in the cockpit.

Test System

Computer 1:
Intel Core Duo E6600
3GB Dual Channel Ram
ATI Radeon X1950 512
Saitek Flight Yoke
Saitek Throttles
CH Rudder Pedals
Saitek X52 Flight Controllers
Track IR 4
Patchberri Flight Panel

Computer 2:
P4 3.0 800 FSB W/HT
2GB Of Corsair Ram
ATI X1600 PRO 512
Saitek Cyborg 3d Joystick

Sims I use:
FS9, FSGW3, FSX
Trainz, Rail Simulator

In The End

I have got to tell you, the F-86F is one of the best add-ons I have seen yet from Alphasim and if you don’t have it, get it. The price tag isn’t scary and it will buy you both versions of the aircraft, FS9 and FSX. The F86 from Alphasim sells at a very reasonable $28.34 and it is definitely worth every penny.

RAF Alconbury is good and it represents an airfield that is rich in history and you have to take into account that this add-on was built from the ground up. But with its frame rate issues in FSX on slower computers and a price tag of $29.92, I would have to think long and hard about that one. If you are buying it for FS9, then having it for FSX is just an added bonus and I think you will enjoy it much more there.

The Mig-15 is really an oldie, but it is truly a goody! Made for FS9, this wonderful aircraft will definitely challenge even the most accomplished sim pilot. With accurate system modeling and flight management from within the cockpit you can’t go wrong; with the extensive documentation and realistic flair you will quickly become hooked. At a price tag of just $29.95, the Mig-15 can be yours!

 

What I Like About These 3 Titles

  • F-86F - Everything
  • Mig-15 - Era of flight
  • Mig-15 - Complexity
  • RAF Alconbury - Its history!
  • RAF Alconbury - Looks and works well in FS9.

 

What I Don't Like About These 3 Titles

  • Mig-15 - Problems with the FSX SP2(Acceleration)
  • RAF Alconbury - Frame rate issues in FSX!

 

Printing

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F-86 "Sabre", RAF Alconbury, MiG-15 "Fagot"

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