Since Alphasim was established back in 2000, the New Zealand based company has been giving us high quality add-on aircraft. The company which is almost completely dedicated to creating marvelous reproductions of vintage, WWI, WWII and contemporary military aircraft, has always captured the attention of simmers due to their dedication and continuous improvement. Today we are going to talk about one of their newest releases, the B-24 Liberator.
Even if I'm not a big fan of WWII aircraft ( I usually enjoy soaring the sky in modern airliners) I have to admit that I’ve been waiting for a high quality B-24 for a long time. There's just something totally captivating about this airplane, let's try to go back in time and see some of this “icon’s" story.
The plane was designed by Consolidated Aircraft. After the US Government granted Consolidated a licence to produce B-17’s, Consolidated came up with a totally new model which was thankfully accepted by the US Air Force who were looking for a new bomber capable of flying longer distances, at a greater ceiling and to carry a heavier payload.
The design concept was quite an advance for its time. With four 14-cylinder Pratt and Whitney supercharged R-1830-65 radial engines with 1000hp each, a tricycle landing gear (it was actually the first bomber to use it) and a twin tail and rudder assembly, the Model 32 became the allied forces warhorse (most of the US Air Force propaganda of the time featured the B-24 Liberator on it)
Most of the production airplanes during the late ‘30’s went to Britain who used them as troop and cargo transport first, before unloading the B-24 bomber capacity (the first mission of the Liberator as a bomber with the RAF took place at the beginning of 1942, while the US Air Force, who also used the Liberator as a troop transport plane, did their first B-24 bombing mission on June 1942).
The B-24A was replaced in early 1943 for a new model, the B-24C (the prototype was called B-24B).
The “C” model featured new Turbocharged engines and three new machine guns, plus with its 27,000 kg MTOW it was considered one of the heaviest airplanes in the world.
During the following years, new versions of the B-24 were produced: the B-24E (which was built by Ford using R-1830-65 engines and was used primarily as a Training airplane), B-24G and G-1 (Both were built by North American Aviation and they featured machine guns in the nose and a Sperry Ball Turret), B-24H (considered by many as “the” B-24 Liberator) , B-24J (which included autopilot improvements), B-24L (a lighter version, which replaced the turret with .50 caliber machine-guns) and the B-24M (an ultra-light version of the B-24 which was the last model produced).
After the war, the B-24 was used as a transport aircraft, flying long-distance cargo flights and eventually used as a passenger transport (W. Churchill used one Liberator II as his personal transport airplane).
The USAF converted the B-24 into a tanker, which was called C-109 but didn't catch any fame due to its low stability and long take off roll requirements.
What you get:
1. B-24J, 'Satan's Gal', 42-78231, 720th BS/450 BG
- includes AlphaSim
VLE (Visual Load Editor), a GUI for adding and removing optional parts
The exterior model looks pretty well done (which is the standard when it comes to Alphasim’s products). Decals on the airplanes are fantastic and the nose art is really well created. More nose art options would be more than welcome.
A good example of the detail are the oil marks above the wings, proof of how much of an oil leaker those engines were. Animations include landing gear, Flaps, pilots (as in other Alphasim models they would move their heads depending on the heading you’re taking), cowl flaps, prop pitch ( a very nice detail here), crew (which can be deselected via the Visual Load Editor), Bombs, national flag and waist gunner can be also selected/deselected via the VLE.
Other very well crafted details of the 3D model include the prop textures and the Start sequence animation (you’ll be amazed by the amount of smoke these baby's produce). Also the engines pistons are clearly visible. Overall the exterior looks very good.
The 2D panel is a piece of art on its own. The color of the panel will give you the feeling that you are in an old piece of metal from WWII. Gauges are smooth and pretty much every single thing you’ll see is clickable. Another great thing about the 2D panel is that there are shortcut icons for: the co-pilot panel, fuel panel, engine panel and com panel.
The only thing I didn't like about the 2D panel is that there are shortcuts for things like the default GPS. I simply believe that it wasn't a necessary thing to put there, considering you can still access the GPS by pressing shift 7.
The 3D panel is also well done. Everything that was clickable on the 2D panel is available for you click on the 3D version of it. Some details, like the yoke logo, will be really appreciated by those fans of the Liberator. The only thing I didn't like about the 3D panel, is the fact that it looks incredibly full of light, at least on my PC.
You’ll see that the green color shown on the 2D panel is nothing like the one that can be found on the 3D instruments. Anyway, I’ve seen that some sort of light effects are reproduced on the 3D panel. You’ll notice how light inside the cockpit will change depending on how the sun's rays come through your cockpit windows.
Flying “The Liberator”
Since I don't know how this baby used to fly, I'm going to start with those things I do know. It was one of the heaviest bombers during WWII ( they made several lighter versions due to its high demand during the take off roll ), it was powered by some of the most incredible engines of the time and some crews gave it the nickname of “ The Flying torch “ (because it used to catch fire easily). So starting from there, what I can say is the airplane does fly like a giant whale with engines. Making this bird soar is probably one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever had as a virtual pilot.
Once in the air, the Liberator is a beauty to fly (a giant-heavy-easy to torch beauty). Even in its full configuration, the Liberator will respond to the control commands instantly and surprisingly it's quite a maneuverable aircraft.
The only thing I found quite annoying was its incredibly low rate of climb (around 1000 fpm’s) but I guess that's a normal thing considering its enormous weight. (before judging me, remember I fly 737NG’s 99% of the time)
Another “fun-fact” about the Liberator’s flying performance was that when compared to the B-17’s, the B-24's cruise ceiling was lower (around 28,000 ft). It is said that this was one of the things B-24 pilots envied about Fortress crews (when you are flying a torch with wings, pretty much everything is enviable.)
This particular add-on is featured with turbocharged engines, though you may love to have some extra power during your take-off, flying a turbocharged airplane will not be an easy task considering external throttle peripherals will not work.
Maybe the most admirable thing about the B-24 is how easy to land this giant is. Its tricycle landing gear and 40° flap config makes landing the Liberator a joy, plus the B-24 didn't have that B-17 bad habit of bouncing after touchdown.
Summary / Closing Remarks
The Alphasim B-24 Liberator is a beautiful add-on. With high quality exteriors, an excellent 2D panel and one of the most amazing default sound sets I’ve ever heard (it was made by the guys at TSS). The Liberator could easily become one of the favourites of those simmers recreating WWII missions or looking for a new meaning in the word “heavy”.
Note: If you are a fan of the B-24 make sure to visit www.B24.net
What I Like About The B-24 Liberator
What I Don't Like About The B-24 Liberator
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