AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Apache Longbow

Product Information

Publishers:  AlphaSim

Description: Military Helicopter Add-on.

Download Size:
97 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Arjun Murthy AVSIM Staff Reviewer - April 9, 2009

Introduction

The Apache Longbow is a Helicopter made for military purposes. It has Twin Engines and is designed by McDonnell Douglas. Apache Longbow helicopters are used for Radar Detection and Attack. Many Defence Force establishments from around the world have ordered and use the Apache Longbow.

The word Longbow in the name is different to Apache Attack helicopters. The Longbow refers to the AN/APG-78 Longbow Radome attached to the top of the aircraft. The Radome includes the Millimetre-Wave Fire Control Radar target acquisition system and the Radar Frequency Interferometer. The position of the Radome is used to detect Firing of Missiles from other aircraft even without direct line of sight of the other aircraft. The radome can also be used to further propagate information between numerous Apache Longbows when the target is not in direct line of sight.

Alphasim has done an excellent job in recreating the virtual version of this wonderful aircraft. It flies through the skies like an eagle. The handling, realism of flight dynamics and gauges, exterior views are all overwhelming in this version of the Apache Longbow.

Alphasim provides Longbow liveries for the US Army, Netherlands Air Force and British AAC. Also note that the Longbow Radome isn’t included for the Netherlands Air Force aircraft.

Installation and Documentation

Test System

Intel Core2 Duo E8400 @ 3.0 Ghz
2.00 GB Ram
Nvidia Geoforce 9800GTX/9800 GTX+
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Flying Time:
11 hours

The installation is extremely simple for this product. After purchase, it arrives with a .exe file that you just double click and run. Just remember to specify the correct directory for your FSX folder and you will be well on your way to getting your hands on the Alphasim Apache Longbow AH-64D. If you didn’t change the destination of your FSX files when installing FSX, then the default directory can be used.

Although there is an Alphasim tab on the Start Menu, it doesn’t provide you with the Manual. Therefore, a bit of searching has to be done to find it. It can be found in the Alphasim folder inside the Microsoft Flight Simulator X Folder.

As a small guide, if you installed FSX in a default location (using Windows XP), then the following file path is what should be used to find the AH-64D Manual (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\AlphaSim\AH-64D Apache Longbow). The file name is “Manual_AH-64D_EN”. Once found, you can use this document for references.

The documentation is a 30 page manual that gives simplistic views on the use, specifications and types of Apache Longbow aircraft in your Flight Simulator directory. It includes installation instructions, gauges information, exterior/interior views, model and livery specifications.

Although the documentation is simple, it only requires basic information. A few problems I found with with the document include no mention of the techniques or proedures to fly the aircraft. This means that you will not have a clear indication on how to perform all of the operations on within the aircraft such as engine startup / shut down, fuel cross feed, etc.

INSTALL:

“Make sure the director is the correct director for FSX (if you didn’t change it during FSX installation, leave the default)”

Exterior Model: The beauty of a military helicopter

The exterior model of the Apache looks absolutely fantastic. It gives the feel of a real military helicopter with all the weapons set up. Also, the unique shape of the Apache makes it something extraordinary to take to the skies in.

Alphasim’s Apache Longbow comes with a few variant Models and Textures.

NOTE: The following is direct from the Alphasim Website:"The Alphasim Longbow Textures include, US Army; Royal Netherlands Air Force; and British Army Air Corps."

The load out Variants include:

Clean;
8x Hellfire RF & 2x Hydra Pods;
8x Hellfire RF, 2x Hydra pods & 4 AIM-92 Stinger;
16x Hellfire RF;
16x Hellfire RF & 4x AIM-92 Stinger;
4x Hydra pods;
4x Hydra pods & 4x AIM-92 Stinger;
WAH-64D with 4x CRV7 & 4x Starstreak; and
WAH-64D with 4x CRV7

The animation on the Longbow is also extensive and detailed. Some of these animations include tail wheel, windscreen wipers (was surprised with that one) and the pilot entry window.

The detail with all the weapons, camouflaged liveries and unique shape of the Longbow actually make it feel like flying a real military helicopter. Nobody will dare come near you as you can cause some serious memories for them that they won’t soon forget.

“Aircraft on the ground” “The tail view”
"Ready for take off" “Airborne Beauty” “Low altitude Flying”
“Close up of Royal Netherlands Air force. Note no Longbow Radome” “Flying along” “Bottom View”

Interior Model: The Inner beauty of all aircraft

The interior model of the Apache Longbow is something out of the ordinary. A gunner's seat up front with the pilot's seat in the rear situated higher, this is obviously something unique. The cockpit is something very similar to what you may imagine to see in real life or what you may have previously seen in a Defence Force Open House/Airshow.

So many buttons, including a few on the side panels, the stick, the collective and the instrument panel. The possibilities are endless. There may be many buttons in the cockpit of the Longbow, but only a few of the major ones actually work. The rest are just button dummies that are printed in the picture but don’t operate. This, therefore, reduces the simulation level by a large amount. The red fuel cutoff lever to the front doesn’t operate. This was one of the deficiencies of the Longbow that I would’ve preferred to have included.

Gauges:

The gauges in the interior of the Longbow have been made by Alphasim’s special 3D ‘Real Gauge’ Technology. This in fact is a special little ‘something’ for you while you aviate this wonder.

The 3D gauges are specialized for the Apache Longbow. AlphaSim seems to have put in a lot of time getting the gauges on the 3D panel to perfection. The Real Gauge Technology is one of a kind.

However, AlphaSim are aware that there are some 2D panel lovers out there so they have included a 2D panel in their aircraft. Only consequences applied to this panel, are the minimal features included. Since the Longbow is made for the 3D panel, the 2D panel has less features.

One example includes the loss of some gauges. You can only see the top portion of the panel, the rest is cut off and it can’t be zoomed in/out. The top gauge doesn’t function on the 2D panel (unless you switch to the 3D Panel and press PWR button or press the FLT/Fuel button to change aircraft performance display. This changes it for the 2D panel but functions cannot be controlled on the 2D panel).

However, you can still enable the Radio Stack and GPS by pressing SHIFT + 2 and SHIFT + 3.

“Pilot Cockpit” “Gauge Displays”
“Gunners Cockpit” “Backup Gauges” “2D Panel”
“Looking at Gunners Cockpit from Pilots Cockpit” “Position of Gunner and Pilot’s positions” “Cockpit Layout”

Sound: Another Human sense to finish the picture

The sounds for Alphasim’s Apache Longbow are powered by Turbine Sound Studios, and they are one of a kind. They sound very realistic compared to a real helicopter (from what I have personally heard). The realistic sound sets from Turbine Sound Studios for the Longbow are very ‘ear soothing’ for the Military Helicopter lovers.

The engine shut down sound is very realistic. I personally really appreciate the sound of a Jet Engine shutting down. Also, the airborne sounds , including the engine, are all very unique and make it a worthwhile aircraft in this regard.

Frame Rates: Smooth flight

Frame Rates are necessary for the enjoyment and precision flying of any aircraft. This appeared to be one major disappointing aspect of this aircraft. If you only get an average of 15 Frames Per Second (FPS) while flying a default FSX Aircraft, you should highly reconsider the purchase of this aircraft.

On my test computer, I average about 22 – 30 FPS (while locked at 30FPS) on default FS aircraft but on the Apache Longbow, I average about 12 - 15 FPS (While locked at 30FPS). This can give you a small idea of the drop of frame rates in this aircraft. With 12 FPS, the aircraft is still very ‘flyable’. However, close to the ground it does get as low as 10 FPS.

An aircraft can still be safely flown with 10FPS but if you are one of those people that like extremely smooth flight (at least 20FPS) you need to be aware of this fact. Although frame rates is normally not a separate topic in any review, I have decided to include it due to the aircraft consuming frames at an alarming rate. Therefore, unless you have a computer that is capable of getting around 20FPS on default aircraft, I would personally reconsider this version of the aircraft.

Dynamics: Experiencing flight

The flight dynamics of this aircraft are quite realistic. Although I have never flown a helicopter in real life before, I can kind of predict it by visually observing the way they move on the ground and in the air. One thing I am not sure of in Flight Simulator in regards to real life flying of a helicopter, is the fact that with an idled collective at 2000 ft at 100 knots, I can pitch up to a certain attitude on the horizon and still keep 2000FT, and then I can fly it like a glider for a few moments before I drop (which normally happens with no collective). This may be an FSX error or an Alphasim error, but it could as well be the realistic way of helicopter flying.

Ground dynamics on the Longbow is also interesting. Very little collective has to be used in order to get it to move without flying. Taxiing is also very interesting. With a twist of rudder on the joystick you should be cautioned to not turn it much or else the aircraft will spin out of control and possibly cause the rotors to make contact with the ground.

Very small and precise movements have to be made for successful flight. It is possible. It looks very realistic when you manage to taxi a helicopter and it also gives you a small sensation of an achievement when taxiing a sensitive helicopter.

Aircraft Specifications: (Straight from Manual)

Cruise Speed: 143 Knots
Max Speed: 197 Knots
Service Ceiling: 21,000 ft
Typical empty weight: 11,387 lbs
MTOW: 21,000 lbs
Crew: 2

Aerobatics: Some Extreme Flying

All maneuvers mentioned from here on are my personal experience and may not be realistic. Performing some of these manoeuvres is for the pure fun of virtual flying and may not be possibly in this helicopter in real life.

This helicopter is very entertaining in regards to extreme flying. I managed to do a few tricks with it. This includes a loop. Straight down to gain some speed then up and around. It sometimes gets stuck when it's upside down which may cause you to crash, but if you pull back hard enough and have some speed at the beginning and a bit of throttle while upside down, it is enough to get you all the way back right side up.

Just remember to pull back at a reasonably fast rate for the initial flip (this helicopter back flips quite quickly) and also remember NOT to idle the collective when upside down. If anyone has tried aerobatics in an aeroplane, it is a normal procedure to idle the throttle at the peak of a loop but in a helicopter, it makes you loose a bit of control, so maintain at least half collective while upside down.

The barrel roll is also possible. Helicopters have a high speed of bank when the stick is deflected to one side. It rolls quite fast and you can roll the aircraft all the way around to upside down and then keep the bank going to right side up very quickly. This is less dangerous than a loop and can be done quite easily.

Feel bored flying a helicopter but enjoy flying it? Then you need to land it like an aeroplane. It is possible to land at 105 Knots while touching down, Although it is very hard. It may not be possible in real life due to flight dynamics issues.

You establish yourself in line with the runway on final, go as fast as you can, idle the throttle and control the helicopter purely on pitch. When over the runway flare like in a fixed-wing aeroplane (but not too much as the helicopter lifts up) and keep the flare going and slowly touch down. Remember not to hold it above the ground as you will loose speed and it won’t be a high speed landing.

After you touch down, apply your brakes but remember to pull your stick back at the same time so the helicopter doesn’t topple over the main landing gear and take you straight into the ground. (This manoeuvre also feels good when accomplished properly).

As mentioned before, these maneuvers may not be possible in real life and these were from my own personal experience. It is for the pure fun of virtual flying.

“Upside Down” “Steep Turn” “Upside Down”
“Steep Turn”
“Low level upside down barrel roll” “Pulling back to loose speed”

Closing Remarks: Final Say

The Alphasim Apache Longbow is a wonderful aircraft to fly. Its flight dynamics are excellent. If ever I was looking for a helicopter that I can just pick and almost take off straight away, this Longbow would be my first choice.

Except for a certain it’s lack of realism (easy to shut down but not start up) and the lack of some information in manual (for flying with procedures) it is a bit of a disappointment. But if you feel like flying without doing advanced procedures and checklists, this helicopter works quite well.

Just remember to make sure you get adequate FPS with default aircraft as this is required when flying Alphasim's Apache Longbow otherwise you may experience something that you weren’t quite expecting. Overall, it’s a very entertaining and ‘good feeling’ aircraft to fly.

 

What I Like About The Apache Longbow

  • Realistic Gauges
  • Realistic Sounds
  • Great Flight / Ground Dynamics
  • Can fly to the extreme
  • Can fly fast (197 kts )

 

What I Don't Like About The Apache Longbow

  • No Procedural Information in the Manual
  • Manual can’t be found easily (not on Start Menu)
  • Frame Rate Eater.
  • Not all buttons work
  • 2D Panel isn’t advanced, the aircraft is made for 3D panel

 

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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