AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Package Review

WW II Fighters

Product Information
Publisher: Shockwave Productions
Description:  Aircraft Add-on.
Download Size:
NA
Format:
DVD
Simulation Type:
FS 2004
Reviewed by: Gene Davis AVSIM Sr Staff Reviewer - October 3, 2006

Introduction

What can I say about Shockwave Productions? First, we had their excellent Wings Of Power series for MSFS and before that, there was Firepower for the Combat Flight Simulator series. Here we are again looking at the WW2 Fighters add-on for MSFS. I can’t tell you how much I was waiting for this title simply because of its cost and selection of aircraft. This product is probably one of the most reasonable titles out on the market right now that offers highly detailed and complex models for aircraft of this type.

Installation and Documentation

Test System

P4 3.0 800 FSB W/HT
2GB Of Corsair Ram
ATI X1600 PRO 512
CH Flight Yoke & Peddles
Saitek X52 Flight Control System
Track IR 3 W/ Vector EXP
Patchberri Flight Panel

Flying Time:
15 hours

It was with baited breath that I waited for this product to come in the mail. When it finally arrived, I was quick to get it open and install it on my computer. The box is nicely decorated and this disk is stored in a little white CD envelope. Upon opening it I was surprised to find no registration code or complex registration process; this is a nice change of pace. I can’t tell you how tired I get having to enter a registration code on a product that comes in a box, I realize this is due to the wanted need for better protection against software piracy, but I just get tired of registration codes.

Installation is a breeze, simply insert the disk and go. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that there is an option to install to FSX, so that is very promising with FS X on the horizon. I did try installing this product into the demo version of FSX, but no joy. It is probably possible, but I didn’t have a lot of time for that.

You will also find 3 full size color posters with all of the aircraft information printed on them. It also includes cockpit diagrams as well as checklists and in-flight reference charts, plus a brief history of each plane.

WW2 Fighters From Shockwave Productions

Once the product is installed, you will find 5 new aircraft in your hanger for you to choose from. They are the P-51, Zero, P-47. Spitfire and the ME109. Surprisingly the developers only included one livery for each aircraft, I would have really liked to have seen more paints as it would have added a little more variety, but I am sure repaints will start showing up on our favorite websites very soon.

Each aircraft is masterfully created and surprisingly frame rate friendly. The first time I saw the Zero I figured I would have to deal with slow draw times and poor frame rates, but I didn’t. The planes all perform well in MSFS and fly exceptionally well from their virtual cockpits.

It is truly amazing that any one developer would release 5 different aircraft of this caliber in one inexpensive package. I have been all over the net and I can’t tell you how many different WW2 aircraft I have installed from other developers. Most of them costing a fraction cheaper or a bit higher for one single airplane than the $29.99 this package costs . I am not saying these other aircraft aren’t worth the money, but I am saying that WW2 Fighters gives the user the best bang for his or her buck.

Each aircraft has been designed with quality and accuracy in mind, whether it's watching any one of the aircraft from the outside or moving around in an individual cockpit, you can’t help but feel like you are there. Every conceivable moving part has been modeled. Every gauge and almost every switch functions in the cockpit, the only thing missing is workable machines guns and bombs.

The Aircraft:

Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero
This aircraft gained much notoriety during WW2 and proved to be an excellent opponent to that of the American aircraft in the Pacific during the early stages of the war. The WW2 Fighters version of the Zero is ripped right out of the pages of our history books and I have to add that this is probably my most favorite out of the entire package!

 

Supermarine Spitfire Mk1A
Known by British, Canadian and American pilots, the highly maneuverable and agile Spitfire was a favorite amongst most pilots of the day and I have to say that I still choose this aircraft when going up against other WW2 fighters in games like IL Sturmovick. So it is only fitting that WW2 Fighters included this marvelous plane in its selection of aircraft.

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
Flown by American forces in WW2, this aircraft gained much notoriety as being both ugly and a true favorite of pilots because of its ability to sustain massive amounts of damage and remain flying. It is a marvelous piece of work and I can’t wait for some repaints to surface!

North American P-51 Mustang
The Cadillac of the sky; the P-51 was and probably still is, one of the most noted aircraft of WW2. Its sleek outline defined it as a quick and fast fighter aircraft that could out turn just about any aircraft it went up against. This aircraft is known for its distinctive look and one really can’t compare it to anything else as it just sounds incredible.

ME BF109
Probably one of the most famous German aircraft of the war was the ME-109. It was known for being quick and relatively agile, as well as being highly durable in a fight. This aircraft was used in many different types of missions, but is most remembered as being a bomber intercept aircraft.

Takin‘er For a Spin

Flying each of the aircraft is a challenge. I found that each plane has its own little quirks and it takes some getting used to! You can’t just point your plane down the runway and expect to takeoff. You will need to make use of your rudders to compensate for the torque of the powerful engines as most of the planes have a real desire to pull to the left when you are attempting a takeoff roll.

I have flown a lot of WW2 Sims and I have always been amazed at the lack of reality when it comes to taking off or landing, as Sims of the past seem to have always been geared more towards the gamer, rather than a simulation enthusiast.

It wasn’t until IL Sturmovick, that aircraft seemed to have taken on a life of their own; each flew different and required special skills from the pilot. The same goes for the WW2 Fighters package, you can’t just apply full throttle and expect to go. Your takeoff roll has to be slow and graduated as you apply power to full to achieve a proper takeoff.

It is also important to follow proper in-flight procedures as far as managing your engine's power and watching your instruments carefully, otherwise you might just find yourself in the drink as the engines can overheat or freeze up if you are not careful.

You will also find that weight from your payload and extra fuel tanks play a major role in how the aircraft performs and at times it will almost feel like you want to just fall right out of the sky. Learn your way around the cockpit, as you may need to find that jettison lever fast if you can’t find any altitude.

Flying a WW2 fighter is an experience and it is so wonderful, that we have MSFS and developers like Shockwave Productions to thank for titles like this one. It takes one back to a golden age of flight where computers and GPS equipment were all but nonexistent.

The Office

The WW2 Fighters package is meant to be flown from the virtual cockpit and no other, at least I wouldn’t dare fly it from any other perspective. The level of quality and detail that is incorporated into each of these aircraft is simply amazing. You will find that most all of the switches are functional within the VC’s and there is little or no need for a 2d panel of sorts.

Sitting in the virtual cockpit of any of the 5 aircraft will give you such a feeling of being there, it is unreal. We will look at the cockpit of the Zero; climbing into the Zero is a real treat as the gauges are accurately designed and placed in the cockpit, as well as marked in their native Japanese. The gauges still read out in English, but there are little hidden treasures throughout the cockpit to give you a sense of authenticity from their native land.

Let’s face it. If it was all in Japanese most of us would have a difficult time reading them, I know I would! From inside the cockpit the Zero gives you the best sense of being there, it has a real 3 dimensional feel to it. All of the aircraft's levers and knobs are modeled, though you will find things like the weapon systems and intercom/ radio panels don’t work. After all, it is MSFS.

This goes for all of the aircraft, as each is marvelously designed to give the user a real sense of sitting in a vintage WW2 fighter aircraft, this coupled with a Track IR and you are there, flying a piece of history!

There is a mini panel included for the 2D section of the aircraft and from there you can access your radio and NAV panels. These can also be brought up in the VC using the assigned shift keys. I will tell you what though, I haven’t used the mini 2D panel at all since I started using this add-on, and it really is all about the virtual cockpit.

Sounds

The sounds in this add-on are some of the best I have ever heard for WW2 aircraft and capture each of the aircraft really well. With the engine’s mixture set correctly, the P-51’s whine is simply beautiful and it is something that I search for when I am trying other P-51 titles as I have never seen one capture that sound yet.

The sound packages for each of the aircraft are stunning and sound very realistic. The ME109 has a very distinct sound as well, it's deep and throaty so I was quick to go and test the ME 109 and it didn’t disappoint as this sound package is probably the most believable as far as 109’s go compared to other titles out on the market.

One could draw comparisons all day about the sound, but I will leave you with this; each sound package has been created from the actual sounds of each aircraft, whether it’s lowering the gear, raising and lowering the flaps or firing up the engines. No two aircraft sound the same and that is very nice considering you get so much for so little.

Reviewer's Note - A Ghost From The Past

A year ago spring I was walking along the beach just north of Yachats, Oregon with my dog, Rose. On this particular day the clouds were hanging kind of low over the ocean and the beach and as I neared my turn around point I could make out the unmistakable sound of a P-51. Scanning the horizon and figuring I wasn’t hearing things correctly, I looked for the Coast Guard chopper that usually made its pass every day at this same time, but nothing. As I looked to the north, I watched a lone P-51 drop below the cloud cover and scream southwards all the while hugging the coast line. As he went pass me I could make out the pilot and I almost think he waved at me, as I was the ONLY one on the beach. The sound was impressive as he continued south and then he disappeared into the cloud cover and flew out of sight. I remember thinking why didn’t I bring my camera? I brought it on a regular basis on all of my other walks! This day struck me as a day out of place and out of time, this was something that one usually didn’t see and I have lived here for 3 years now! I guess I was really lucky and it is a day that will stand out in my mind forever, it was a day when everything was perfect!

In The End

This product should be on every one's hard drive. Both "Wings Of Power" and "WW2 Fighters" are an exceptional value and with the promised compatibility with FS-X, I know what product will be the first to install after I get my hands on the new Flight Simulator.

If you have an interest in vintage aircraft or a desire to try something a little less conventional than that of modern aviation, this product has it all and let me tell you; Shockwave Productions has a customer for life!

Now all I have to wait for, are the re-paints to be uploaded to the Library.

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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 to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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