AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

AlphaSim - F4D Skyray

Product Information
Publisher: AlphaSim
Description:  Aircraft Add-on
Download Size:
10.2 MB
Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS 2004
Reviewed by: Gene Davis AVSIM Sr Staff Reviewer - 28 May 2006

Circa 1957 & 2006

1957

The United States Marine Corp has received their first delivery of the newly designed Douglas F4D SKYRAY; already in service with the North American Air Defense Command out of NAS North Island in San Diego California, the Navy have already been flying these magnificent aircraft for the last year and now it is time for the Marine Corps to get their feet wet. So take to the skies in your newly built SKYRAY!

2006

Receiving delivery of the F4D SKYRAY from Alphasim to my home computer occurred in a matter of minutes and it was with great anticipation that I took to the air. For those of you that don’t know who Alphasim is, they are a website that specializes in doing military type aircraft for MSFS.

Their products range from just about everything that dates back to WWI and into the present with an aircraft list that ranges from just about everything from Bi-Planes to B-52’s and a few helicopters to boot! ALPHASIM’S products are not typically loaded with complicated systems to learn, i.e. FMC’s etc! They give the users, whether it is a novice or experienced pilot, some nicely rendered planes at a low cost that makes for some pretty nice additions to your MSFS hanger.

Test System

P4 3.0 800 FSB
2GB Of Corsair Ram
ATI 9800 PRO 256
CH Flight Yoke & Peddles
Saitek X52 Flight Control System
Track IR 3 W/ Vector EXP

Flying Time:
9.5 hours

Installation and Documentation

Installation is a breeze, simply buy the product through ALPHASIM and you will be able to download it as soon as the purchase is complete. Once downloaded, just unzip the supplied file and copy the contents into your Flight Simulator root directory.

The documentation is pretty limited, but it does give you decent checklist to follow during your flight. I would have liked to have seen more about the history of this aircraft in some form of a read-me or documentation file, though there is a lot of information out on the net and is easily accessible via Google or your favorite search engine.

More information about actually flying the aircraft would have been extremely helpful and would have added to the overall quality of this package.

The History of the F-4D Skyray

The F4D SKYRAY was built back in the mid-fifties and served mainly as a carrier-based aircraft and was in service for a very short period of time. It gained a great deal of fame as being the first carrier launched aircraft to hold the world's absolute speed record and was the first Navy plane to exceed mach 1 in level flight.

Flying the “Ford” (F4D SKYRAY), pilots found that it had an exceptional rate and angle of climb, as well as being extremely responsive and quite maneuverable for a jet plane of this era. The engines in the SKYRAY were Pratt and Whitney J57’s, this was a massive power plant which drove this aircraft past mach 1 and thus gained a reputation for being a very noisy aircraft.

Flown by the Navy and the Marine Corp, this aircraft's role was intended for high altitude interception missions, but was quickly changed to a multi-role designation as demanded for that time period. On another interesting note, the F4 was re-designated the F-6A due to the changing times and the re-organization of some of the armed forces.

The Skyray saw service until 1964 when it was ultimately retired as it had gained a reputation as an inherently dangerous aircraft. Early models, equipped with the Westinghouse J40 Turbojet engines, were plagued with problems thus making way for the Pratt and Whitney J57 engines. At the end of service, roughly 400 SKYRAY’S had been built and NASA continued using one Skyray for flight testing until 1969 when the aircraft faded into history and gave way for more advanced jet fighters.

ALPHASIM F4D SKYRAY

The ALPHASIM SKYRAY is a journey back in time, it represents an era of jet aviation that was merely a glimpse of things to come and when one looks at this aircraft now, it seems so primitive compared to that of a modern day FA-18 or even a retired F-14 Tomcat!

Once the product is installed, you will find four different liveries in your hanger, each being a Navy or Marine designation and each aircraft comes loaded to the hilt with an array of weapons.

 

The visual model of this aircraft is where this product is worth its weight in gold. Each aircraft is highly detailed and matches that of real world US Squadrons from that time period. This aircraft had a reputation for having a high angle of attack on both takeoff and landings, thus making way for the odd tail configuration aided in preventing wing strikes on takeoff and landings.

Pay special attention to the small tail wheel that is extended when the gear is out, this little wheel was a valuable asset as it aided in preventing those wing strikes to the high angle of attack. It is also important to mention that the Skyray was equipped with additional pitch trimmers that were located inboard near the jet exhaust, and that is modeled well on the Alphasim Skyray!

 

Flying the F4D Skyray

Jumping into the cockpit and taking this plane up for a quick spin is a lot of fun as it is highly maneuverable and fast, and the lack of a complex interior makes for some pretty hairy white knuckle flying when at low altitudes. Kicking in the afterburner at 300-500 feet above the ground really gives you a sensation of speed and movement from the virtual cockpit, especially with Track IR working!

 

For my testing I chose to fly the Skyray over the Islands Of The West Indies from Flight 1. I figured it would be an easy way to get from Aruba to Saint Maarten in a hurry while doing some sightseeing. During my flight, I put the aircraft through its paces and tried really hard to overstress the plane, I don’t think I broke anything but I think I woke up a lot of islanders by buzzing the small island communities at over Mach 1!

 

Surprisingly, the plane is extremely easy to land even with a large amount of fuel on board. I doubt very much that this represents the real world aircraft and is merely the limitations of the flight model, as I would think weight would be a serious factor when landing on an aircraft carrier.

In the end, I found the flight model is nicely done. Although I have nothing to compare it to, it was extremely forgiving and at times a little unbelievable as I really couldn’t overstress the airframe. On the other hand, that is what made this plane fun, I couldn’t help but think how cool it would be to do some high speed formation flying via the internet with some friends in this jet!

The Office

The panel, though pretty basic, does make a nice representation of what the actual cockpit of the Skyray looked like. Although I would have like to have seen a little more detail on the 2D panel. All of the necessary gauges are included and there are several different click spots that allow the pilot to access to the GPS, NAV & COM radios, and the autopilot.

 

The virtual cockpit offers the user a relatively functional cockpit. While not all of the systems that are on the 2D panel are available in the virtual cockpit, it is still easy to conduct a flight from the VC but some switching between the two is necessary.

 

The virtual cockpit is rendered nicely and does match that of its real world counterpart and performs extremely well as it is not highly detailed. I really liked that the exterior of the aircraft is visible from the virtual cockpit, this makes for a realistic feel when performing high speed maneuvers, or simply gives you the illusion of movement from within the aircraft.

Sounds

This was the most disappointing aspect of this add-on for me, as it does not come with a custom sound set and is defaulted to the MSFS Lear sounds. So, essentially the hunt was on for a good sound package that could do this aircraft justice.

My first stop was a favorite Flight Sim forum and I posted a question about who is using what for this plane. Within a matter of a few hours I received an answer and two possible options. One being a DC-8 package from Mike Maarse, that is available here at AVSIM and the other being the BAC 111 sounds from the Classic British Files website.

Aafter trying both packages, I decided on the BAC 111 as it seemed to match that of the Skyray and a fighter jet. The other option you have is to simply choose a sound configuration from an already existing aircraft in your hanger and port it into this jet. A LOUD sound package is definitely recommended otherwise you will just miss out on the power of this jet!

Conclusion

In the end, I found that I enjoyed flying the F4D as it was something different and a real blast from the past. Will this aircraft appeal to you? Well, that is a hard question to answer simply because you have to have a general interest in this era of military aircraft to really know what this aircraft is all about. You have to take into account that there is no complicated panel, or aircraft systems to learn; this package is simply jump in and go. That's what makes it fun!

Review Editor's Footnote: There is now an update available for the F4D Skyray ! The small patch allows the aircraft to be flown with no weapons or pylons. For details, visit the AlphaSim website.

 

What I Like About The F4D Skyray
  • Light on system resources
  • Fun to fly!
  • Relatively easy to fly!
  • Low cost

 
What I Don't Like About The F4D Skyray
  • Lack of a sound package
  • Airframe is almost too forgiving

Printing

If you wish to print this review or read it offline at your leisure,  right click on the link below, and select "save as"

F4D Skyray

(adobe acrobat required)


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

Tell A Friend About this Review!

2006 - AVSIM Online
All Rights Reserved