AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

SkySim
BAe Hawk T1

Hawk T1 XX254 “Red Arrow”

Product Information

Publisher: SkySim

Description: The RAF Hawk T1 Jet Trainer.

Download Size:
40.5 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX (SP2) / Acceleration
Reviewed by: Laurie Aston AVSIM Staff Reviewer - September 8, 2008

Introduction


The British Aerospace Hawk T Mk1 is a British all-metal, low wing, tandem seat, flight training and weapon training aircraft. Any weapons would only be fitted to the hard points when the aircraft is allotted to that role for training purposes.
It is the T Mk1A aircraft type which can be equipped to an operational standard capable of undertaking a war role; however, it is also suitable for the weapons training role.

Aerodynamically, the aircraft is of a conventional design with a swept wing with wing fences and a dihedral of 2 degrees, and fitted with trailing edge double-slotted flaps. The one-piece, all-moving tail plane is also swept back and has 10 degrees of dihedral. This design makes for a very stable weapons platform and in the training role, a very positively controllable aircraft with all the speed of a jet aircraft when required.

Squadron Badge

The fuselage comprises of three main parts. The front fuselage accommodates two equipment bays and a two seat tandem-configuration pressurized cockpit assembly. The centre fuselage contains a Rolls Royce/Turbomeca Adour Mk151-01 Gas Turbine engine, a Gas Turbine Starting (GTS) system and a Ram Air Turbine (RAT) for emergency electrical power. The rear fuselage houses a jet pipe bay and has an airbrake hinged to its under-surface.

The Red Arrows Royal Air Force Aerobatic team took delivery of the BAe Hawk T1 in the winter of 1979/1980 to replace the Folland Gnat which it had used previously for display purposes. The first display with the Hawk took place in 1980 and the “team” and the distinctive red aircraft have been increasingly visible and popular ever since.

Installation and Documentation

The SkySim Hawk is available as a download from their website, which is how I obtained it. The only drawback being the cumbersome and clumsy security method used to actually purchase the fully functioning product. Of course, I fully understand and applaud the security procedures involved in protecting and preventing piracy of a valuable product, but be warned that you have to read the paperwork more than once to fully understand the function of the security block; and even then, there is a complicated procedure to follow before you finally have a BAe Hawk sitting on your favorite airfield.

The sight of a “Lego block” red blob parked on the tarmac is indeed a rare sight, but this is how I ended up after the first attempt to download the product, and not one I wish to repeat. So be warned once again, that it is essential to read every line on every page in order to be the proud owner of a BAe Hawk T1.

OK, so you have completed the procedure correctly and got the right codes in the boxes, and parked with pride is your shiny red airplane. Now is the time to read the manual that is included or available online, because the aircraft should not be flown straight out of the box.

Thankfully, the manual is clear, precise and very comprehensive. So the end result is a superb Hawk model complete with the newly gleaned information on how to understand its systems and instruments. Be sure to read the bit on weapons and smoke boxes at least three times, because this little gem of detail is easily missed, and yet can have a big impact on the aircraft's operation.

The Exterior Model

Let me point out that if you are expecting to select a BAe Hawk to fly in any other colour than Red, then the agreement with SkySim and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in the UK only licenses the distribution of the famous “Red Arrow” RAF BAe Hawk, and that is what you get from the download or box. But of course there is a “HAWK Pack1” set available from AVSIM that has been released by SkySim’s Rick Piper, developer of the Hawk T1, and in conjunction with CBFSIM, allows for a T1/A Hawk that comes in a variety of schemes, all superbly finished.

Therefore, the Hawk T1A that is seen on the SkySim site in RAF camouflage scheme is the result of an extra download, free of course, but can be confusing when it does not appear in the download per se.

I will demonstrate the exterior model in two forms:
the RAF BAe Hawk Red Arrow T1; and
the RAF BAe Hawk T1/A for weapons training and “WAR” role

The “Red Arrow” Hawk T1.

The aircraft looks excellent; with maintenance steps and chocks, pins and blanks fitted in all the right places all the way around the plane.

SkySim Hawk T1 parked Hawk being prepared Control Tower view

It is finished in the 2007 RAF paint scheme allocated to the team, and from the front or “sharp” end of the plane, right to the back end, it looks exactly right in every detail, and this includes the landing gear, doors, panels, smoke emitters and tail pipe. The interior is also very neat and concise, but more of that later.

Hawk ready to taxi Tower view of departure Hawk T1 with two crew
Smoke on…… Go! A patriotic take-off
Hawk underside display Undercarriage Roll Gentle roll-out
Training exercise Hawk over La Rochelle Hawk over RAF Duxford
Hawk Low Pass Too Low!
Hawk with Smoke on Practice detail

BAe Hawk T1/A

If you look in the right websites (try Avsim.com) for paint schemes based on the SkySim Hawk, you can find and download a plethora of Hawk schemes for both Mark T1 and Mark T1A aircraft. So far they are all excellent in the finish and the squadron depiction, accurate in registration and specialist scheme of the season. What’s more, the weapons can be added to the hard points and even an Aden Gun pack to the centerline underside points, complete with a HUD gun sight reticule where necessary. My compliments to Rick Piper and others who compiled this very nice collection for us all to enjoy.

63 Squadron XX256 208 Squadron XX205 No.4 FTS Valley XX170 100 Squadron XX195
MOD QinetiQ XX341 MOD Boscombe Down XX284 151 Squadron
XX225 No.6 FTS Finningly Skimming the Dales Over the North Sea Double slotted Flaps
XX195 100 Squadron XX195 Cloud Dancing XX195 Crew Handover
Grey Hawk climbing XX195 downwind XX195 over Conningsby
XX195 Weapons training XX284 151 Sqdn.2TWU Hawk Touchdown
XX195 Inverted XX195 on Display XX284 low level
BAe Hawk Office XX162 COAM Hawk XX162 In poor visibility
Hawk taking to the sky Hawk in cruise mode Gear in transit XX218 Climbing

Cockpit/Panels

The exterior looks fantastic; But what about the interior? After all, that is where the work takes place. Having studied the real Red Arrow Hawk interior, I have to say that this simulation is first class, with every dial, switch and button faithfully re-produced. I couldn’t fault it, although it is true that some of the “eye candy” is just that. You can look but don’t touch. It won’t work!

However, all the instruments that are required for flight do just what they are supposed to, and the CWS (Central Warning System) panel reads correctly and tests too. The Radios are functional and there is enough information to keep most people happy most of the time. And this goes for the front cockpit and the rear cockpit too. Even the smoke controls are missing in the rear cockpit, which is spot on.

Hawk left side panel Virtual Cockpit detail Hawk right side panel

Having flown from both cockpit positions, it became clear during testing that “manual” engine starts are possible, but that any control over the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) is not. The APU provides the air necessary to start the engine, and is a feature of the BAe Hawk Red Arrow but sadly is not provided in this model. Magically, the engine starts in any event, but perhaps that is taking realism too far.

Also, the Hawk has a RAT (Ram Air Turbine) which will pop out just in front of the tail-fin in the event of a total electrical failure, to provide emergency electrics for landing, but sadly that doesn’t work either. I did manage to land though, on the belly of the aircraft, as its glide descent rate is exceptional, so some things work.

In other aspects, the instrument system is superb, and Rick Piper has been quoted as saying that the Altimeter alone required 13 different animations to function accurately, and that is real dedication to the task. It does work perfectly though, and so do the other “basic five” of the flying panel. Going through the provided check list is a pleasure, with a test here and a switch there, and one feels part of “the team” as a result.

Pilots Manual Extract HSI Operations detail

hen I sat in a “Red Arrow” Hawk cockpit at their home base, it felt very comfortable and everything was within easy reach. Even the pins which “arm” the ejector seat (when removed) have a storage point on the side wall below the canopy coaming. The SkySim model mimics this perfectly, and is visible too, and with the canopy closed there is that same feeling of comfort and security.

What’s more, everything is perfectly readable too, at altitude or at low level, although there isn’t a lot of head movement required when you are only 1,000 feet above the ground, heading down the runway centre line at 300 kts, upright or even upside down.

Front cockpit view Rear cockpit view Virtual cockpit gun sight

As long as the engine continues to run and the controls function correctly there isn’t a lot of time for looking around the cockpit. At worst one has the ability to “bang out” but that is very much a safety issue, and means a lot of noise and mess and an awful lot of paperwork to fill out afterwards.

Sounds

The Rolls Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk.861 Turbofan has been re-produced very effectively, starts realistically, and idles correctly so it stands to reason that feeding power in is also going to sound great, and it does! With very little effort, the aircraft can be made to roll and setting take-off thrust gives a lively leap forward, which is pleasing because this little engine gives 5,700 pounds of static thrust at sea level, which is way under the 90,000 plus pounds of thrust from a Rolls Royce Trent that I have been used to working with on the Boeing 777. But with the weight of the BAe Hawk and given its performance capability, it is a tribute to the manufacturer, and also to SkySim, that this airplane can do exactly what you expect from it. From removing the chocks and taxiing, to pulling high “G” in a gut wrenching maneuver that in any other circumstance would never even be considered, this engine performs well, and sounds just as it should.

Flight/Air File

Finally, after pouring over the paperwork, flight manual and flight plan, and getting the fuel and payload correctly configured, I climb into the front seat and get the engine turning and burning. After going through the final check list, I wave away the chocks, check for wing clearance and chat to the tower, looking all round as I taxi to the holding point and secure everything tightly for my flight.

On the runway and lined up, clearance to depart is given and I push the throttle forward, feeling the thrust lift the front end on the nose oleo slightly. A gentle rocking up and down momentarily, then it's eyes to the front as I reach rotation speed, and within a couple of knots of the book speed, I am clear of the ground and angling upwards with the gear selected up. Followed by a speed check and position of anything around me, I raise the flaps and push the nose down a little, easing off the power as I do. Cleared by the local control authority to continue on my own navigation, I start to mark out what my plan is going to be.

Another quick look around and I bank left and right swiftly, feeling the snap ability of the airframe to follow my movements on the stick and the “G” meter needle twitching in response. Pulling up swiftly and putting all the power in gives a very positive climb rate and before long, I am at 10,000 feet and leveling off to view my instruments, the world around me, and my position in relation to the nearest airfield.

Before starting a stalling exercise, which is performed without fault, this little airplane is very docile and reluctantly drops its nose as lift is lost and there is an increase in speed as we drop. This allows me to ease out of the stall and we are flying again with not much of an altitude loss. I put a bit of power in and try stalling “dirty”. No problem there either, performance is as expected and recovery is painless.

Wow! I like this airplane! Up to thirty thousand feet and a contrail starts up behind my aircraft. Situation normal, so I try the smoke system. Ooh, pretty colours, and what a trail I can trace in the sky; red, white or blue and can even fly through it if I want.

A high speed spurt and again this aircraft performs well, it's harder to get big movements in any axis but that's to be expected. A deliberate nose dive increases the airspeed nicely and despite being told it can do Mach 1 in a dive, I decide not to go that far but it can move very swiftly. Before making a big hole in the Atlantic Ocean, I pull out of the dive and just cruise, enjoying the view and climbing slowly to a safe height.

This model has it all, and it has been very carefully created to be as near to a real Hawk as I can imagine it. Having been with the Red Arrow team for a day, I talked to the engineering team Manager, read books on the team and also watched several videos. Not withstanding that I have also spent hours on the Hawk production line, the SkySim BAe Hawk is the most realistic and well finished aircraft I have had the pleasure to fly and review. It could be better, but not much, and at what cost? At £22.50, it is less expensiver than a lot of other aircraft and the time put into making it a top quality product shines as well as the paint finish does.

Summary / Closing Remarks

Test System

Asrock K7S41GX Motherboard
AMD Sempron 2600+ CPU
2Gig DDR Memory
Nvidia Gforce6200 256 Graphics
2x80 Gig HD + 1 x 400Gig External USB HD
Windows XP Pro SP3
FSX SP1 SP2/Acceleration
Microsoft Force Feedback Sidewinder + Rudder Control
CH Flightsim Yoke

Flying Time:
30 hours

The aircraft looks very nice, flies perfectly and reacts well to its environment. As this is an aerobatic jet trainer and team performer, I give it full marks for all of that. Extra marks are given for all the extra pleasure that can be gained from the extra “Hawks” that are readily available on the net, having purchased the Basic BAe Hawk T1.

A few marks off for producing a really smart model and then equipping the cockpit to the full extent, only to leave off something like the APU controls. Yes, I know that there is a limit to what can be done, technically and mathematically and I understand all of that, but to have gone that extra mile would be like winning an Olympic Gold, instead of settling for Silver.

This aircraft is the best yet, and should be yours today. Even if you get it today, you won’t be able to fly it until tomorrow, because the security barrier will slow you down or stop you dead. But like a true aviator, you have the “right stuff”, and a “top gun” will overcome the bulky and cumbersome security measures by following the instructions provided, waiting for the “magic” code to be e-mailed, and then flying the wheels of it in true aviation style.

I have reviewed a few aircraft now, have flown a lot more, crashed and burned and flown to victory, but in all my years as a career Engineer and Instructor, I find very few simulated aircraft I fly all the time. The SkySim Hawk has the honor of being my favorite package and may well be for years to come. OK, the other one is the Boeing 777-200, but I spent years teaching its systems, working it and using multi-million pound simulators relentlessly, so give me a break.

This BAe Hawk T1 “RED ARROW” by SkySim is a true winner. Beg, borrow or steal the money to purchase it. It is First Class Material.

 

What I Like About The Hawk

  • The external finish and detail
  • The internal paintwork and finish
  • The attention to detail, from chocks and pins to steps for maintenance and the blanks too.
  • The way it flies, the smoke, the warning tones when things go wrong, and indications to match the problems
  • The instrument panels and side panels.
  • The view from the rear cockpit, as well as the front cockpit.
  • The moving canopy.
  • The crew moving properly, side to side head movements, looking down when required, flight gear and bone domes

 

What I Don't Like About The Hawk

  • No APU to play with, and No RAT to pop out when my generators fail and I have no electrics.
  • No other Red Arrows to fly with, unless I go the multi-player route. An AI model would have been a bonus!

 

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