This time my intro is different. This time Lionheart Creations will start with its own introduction:
"The new Third Generation' Super Viking Collection is now out! This new package now includes both FS2004 and FSX installations on the same download file, two files in one! Go to the 'Features' page to see the new improvements. New from the design studio's of Lionheart Creations comes the elaborately modeled Bellanca Super Viking and Turbo Viking, sporting high detail 32 bit textures, a precision model that is created from factory drawings and guided by actual Bellanca Viking owners and inspectors, as well as a precision air file to insure a pure and authentic handling aircraft comparable only to that of the Bellanca Super Viking. If you love realism in your simulation aircraft, if you like the sleek lines of the sexy Bellanca Viking, if you have always wanted to own a 200 MPH private plane, if you like high detail levels in your VC, then this might be a prospective addition to your hanger collection."
This is the famous American 'Corvette' of General Aviation in the USA, the Bellanca Super Viking. Equipped in both regular fuel aspiration, and in turbocharged, this aircraft could cruise at 250 MPH. The wings were of a wood composite construction that could take amazing amounts of forces and featured a very smooth, rivetless, panelless surface that helped the aircraft achieve its high speeds.
These models come in 11 different liveries and feature 4 different instrument panels and a multitude of interior textures and features new soft lighting technologies for night flying. This package also features a custom sound file, optional 'lady' pilot, custom high resolution 3D instrumentation of that era, high detail Gmax modeling, and some good handling, fun airfiles that give you that 'sports car' feel.
The Viking package was already available for FS2004, but is now also adapted for FSX and believe me, it’s really an air corvette.
FSX installation and Documentation
The installation process is more or less self explanitory. Therefore I didn’t add any screenshots. You choose either FS2004 or FSX installation. Yes, you’re right, you get both the FS2004 and the FSX version, so it’s up to you what you want and your PC performances.
With the installation we get a lot of extra things, like more than one cockpit configuration. Lionheart Creations had a lot of help in creating the sim Viking. This help came from a real Viking pilot with lots of worldwide connections. This resulted in different owner's paintings for the Super Viking as well as for the Turbo Viking, all with their own cockpit layout.
That means that depending on the livery you choose, you get a different cockpit. In total, there are four different panels. More about this later when I discuss the 2D cockpit panels.
When the installation process is finished, a HTML file automatically pops up and offers the necessary details. When you’re finished with it and close it, it’s gone. Ok, you closed it yourself but what I mean, there is no shortcut on the desktop or menu item created. Of course, the HTML file is still there, but then you need to look in the root of Flight Simulator X and find the “Lionheart Creations” directory.
Personally, I don’t like the html file and had hoped for an Adobe Acrobat file. Although it has nothing to do with the documentation, there is no uninstall at all. Under Control Panel – Add or Remove Programs, there is an entry “Bellanca Viking Collection MII” but is this for the FS2004 and/or FSX version, since I have both versions installed on my PC .
Hopefully when they offer a Service Pack, this will be changed since it’s not user friendly. After consulting Lionheart Creations, they promised to make a note on the website regarding the manual issue.
One last word about the manual. When you go through the html file, I have to admit, everything you need is there; introduction, history, flying the Viking, panel layout, new preset view system, specifications, flight management or in English, what to keep in mind when flying this aircraft and finally troubleshooting.
When you see the different panels you could think; that’s a simple and straightforward design. Unfortunately, the real cockpit is also very simple, straightforward and not equipped with all those funny things you will see with Beechcraft or modern Cessna models. The panel has got some real implemented components like the air outlet. More important for me and probably for all flight simmers, these flight and engine instruments are not only very realistic, but also unbelievably sharp. When having a look to the IAS indicator, even the smallest details are still readable. Another example, the vertical engine indicators. Awesome, those figures and text are so small but still readable. A very good job.
There’s one panel with aircraft registration G-VIKE, so it's British While the panel itself is made of wood and believe me, when you see it in reality and compare it with the Lionheart one, it looks like the wooden panel is placed into the PC. By the way, the main differences between these four possibilities are mainly the panel itself, so not the instruments and the radio stack. Some are with digital indications while others are with the old fashioned mechanical numbers.
What I personally miss in the 2D configuration, is that I can’t operate the BAT switch, select any light switch, operate the gear handle or flap selector. Not only those things, but it’s also applicable for the throttle and prop pitch selectors. Everything below this panel is not there and I don’t know why.
In general, although there’s always something to find, when I compare this cockpit with real pictures, it looks very real. What I miss is the lower part of the instrument panel as well as a RH seat location. This last item is, of course, available in VC mode, but it was not bad to have this panel option.
Real cockpit configuration
Uniformity with these cockpit panels is difficult to find. Each owner has his own wishes. Not only that, but also being willing to pay for something special like GPS equipment or other stuff. Whatever, as long as it is certified by the local authorities, it’s no problem. This results in different cockpit layouts as can be seen below. Keep in mind, photo IV is - when talking about the lower part of the instrument panel - completely different than all the others.
Virtual Cockpit (VC)
applicable for the 2D cockpit panels – black,
grey, wood and dark green – is, of
course, also applicable for the VC look.
With the making of FSX, unfortunately certain things from the
FS2004 era are lost. For example, the photo graphics side cockpit
replaced by cartoon looking sidewall panels. I don’t
know why the Microsoft team didn’t allow this great FS2004
feature, but with the Super Viking it doesn’t look
very nice but to make it very clear, this is not a shortcoming
of Lionheart Creations. Apart
of this, the VC panels look great. It’s
so sharp, I've never seen instruments
and other numbers/text that sharp.
Those preset VC views are nice but I’m more interested in how the rest looks. I can tell you now and you can judge for yourself with the help of the following screenshots. It’s awesome!
The panel reflects a realistic look with very, very sharp instruments, textures etc. The only thing that looks a little cartoonish are some knobs and selectors on the lower brown (wood) instrument panel. I don’t understand – ok, I’m not a gauge programmer – why those instruments are so realistic while the throttle, prop pitch, and mixture knobs look so unrealistic and the same for the GEAR handle with appropriate lights. Either this is a limitation of FSX or the amount of polygon lines have been reached or FSX doesn’t allow you to make nice looking rounds knobs.
I could continue with the VC for hours and making hundreds of pictures but there’s no need for. The screenshots speak for themselves. A well designed VC, an eye for details and as real as possible except, in my opinion, the lower brown switching panel.
What you don’t see on these screenshots is the shadow of the propeller. Ok, many models show you the propeller rotation but here the shadow changes depending on the RPM, which makes the look and feeling even more realistic.
When looking at the external model, my first impression was not that positive. I didn’t see any rivets or ribs on, for example, the wings. But after contacting Lionheart Creations I was informed that the real Viking looks like that.
One of the reasons for the high performance of this aircraft. The better the aerodynamics of the aircraft, sharp looking wings with no obstruction of rivets which could introduce turbulence, the better and faster it flies. After receiving some real Viking pictures the moment of truth was there. Indeed, you hardly see anything on the fuselage or wings that could create turbulence.
Ok, the pictures below show you a real red Viking model and almost the similar version in FS2004. I had to do this since FSX is rather limited in different viewing angles and doesn’t have the Walk & Follow option, which I used in FS2004.
When looking to those Super Viking pictures, there are two things different. One I already explained – the absence of lots of rivets - but you can see that the paint on the wings, fuselage etc. is not that glossy as on the real one. After consulting Lionheart Creations, I was informed that this was done on purpose. After some period flying in the skies, the high gloss on the whole aircraft slowly disappears and becomes what it is on the FS2004/FSX models. Either you can agree with that, but there’s the thought about the effect of ozone in the sky and thus the impact on the glossy paint. Back to the models.
These are just a few screenshots from hundreds I could make. Generally the details of the airplane is there. Sometimes it looks like the text and numbers on the fuselage are not as sharp as they could be, but overall keeping the real ones in mind, it’s well developed and remember that the model isn’t optimized for FSX.
Flight Dynamics and Sound
Also applicable for this GA aircraft, it’s always difficult to judge about real flight characteristics. Although I’m a FAA PPL holder, that doesn’t mean I know every GA aircraft, including its flight characteristics.
Simulating something on the PC is already difficult because we don’t have any motion like real FFS (Full Flight Simulator) units but I think, in the case of Lionheart Creations, it’s different.
When I consulted them, I was informed that a real pilot joined the team, tested the MSFS model and compared it with his real Super Viking experience. With that in mind, and the size of the aircraft in complexity compared to large commercial aircraft, I think the result is very real.
With this we can start, so I made several flights in Kissimmee, Florida by testing its behavior under normal flight conditions, but I also made special maneuvers like a longitudinal roll, spin, stall, slow flight and finally an emergency landing. There are so many things you could test but one thing I figured out, this is really a monster of an airplane. It looks so gentle but once in the air, it produces so much thrust and flexibility that before you know, you’ve reached the maximum speed limit.
Ok, jump next to me into the cockpit and follow the ride with the Turbo Viking. While waiting to get TO clearance, I’m just playing around with the throttle. While playing with the throttle, you could look on the outside of the plane, the Viking really moves and acts like the real airplane.
Ok, what I mean is that the nose gear starts being compressed, the main gear are slightly moving and then of course, the whole aircraft. Unfortunately, a screenshot can’t give you the idea of how it really looks like.
During the TO and climb we keep it normal. After retracting the gear and raised the flaps, we just play around a little with the flight controls and see, as well as feel, the effect of a pitch, roll and yaw input. When virtually jumping in a position behind the aircraft's tail, we noticed the behavior of a rudder input and thus the correction with the aileron. When removing the aileron input, the aircraft naturally starts to yaw. Very nice!
When doing this roll manually, we see that the slip indicator starts moving away from the center, indicating that the aircraft has started slipping or skidding. I’m always lost with those two words. Whatever, it works and since I’ve zoomed into the instruments and I’m still impressed with the unbelievable look of those instruments.
OK, back to our flight otherwise we’re lost. We climb out to roughly 4000 feet where we start our special performances. We first start with a longitudinal roll. Making the roll on the PC is not so dangerous as in real life. Here you know when you crash, no problem. In real life we can’t afford that.
Making the roll is easy but keeping the aircraft at the same altitude or within 200 feet, didn’t worked out as I planned but the Viking is performing very well and that was initially the idea. I tried to take the necessary screenshots and think it worked out fine.
Once we’re stabilized again and back at 4000 feet, we start with the second performance, the stall. First we bring the nose UP and hope we reach the stall condition and when the aircraft starts stalling, it falls away to the right and before you know, mother earth is coming very, very quickly towards me. Pull, pull and another pull and we are back in a level flight condition, minus 1000 feet.
When thinking back to the time I did this with my flight instructor in a Cessna 152 Acrobat, although the Cessna 150 is a totally different plane, the Super Viking behavior during this rundown to earth, was very similar.
Somewhere in this state, far away from crocodiles, we’ve found a place to land. We move the throttle to idle, stop the engine via the mixture and there we go. Looking around, planning constantly and monitoring the aircraft. It behaves as expected but keeping the glide speed or aircraft angle correct, is not that easy and then keeping in mind that I also need to take the necessary screenshots.
During this test flight, I noticed that the sound is rather different than used with others. Since I don’t know the real sound, I cannot judge or write down that this is correct or not. It sounds good to me and what I said before, it's different than others. Not only is the engine much more powerful, also the aerodynamics has a different influence on the sound in the cabin/cockpit.
Summary / Closing Remarks
When looking at adding aircraft to our hangar, software is more the question of “what are our expectations of the model”. A quick look at the Super Viking and Turbo Viking, could be lead to a wrong decision. The wing and fuselage have hardly any visible rivets, they are not glossy etc. The cockpit panels look very simple, however, the real cockpit layout is not that much different.
When I take everything into account including the flight dynamics I can only say .. sorry .. write, the Lionheart Creations Super Viking models represent the real aircraft as close as possible.
Of course, there are a few things which could be better or perhaps be modified. I already discussed the absence of any menu entry or shortcut to the manual. In FS2004 it was possible, although in FSX it’s still possible. Look at the Microsoft menu entry itself or the Maddog 2006, FSGlobal 2008 etc.
Further, I miss the lower brown part of the console with all the switches, GEAR handle with lights of the 2D cockpit panel and the absence of a RH seat panel 2D view. Finally, the model is only made compatible with FSX and not re-designed including all the FSX features. On the other hand, it’s clearly stated on the Lionheart Creations website that the FSX model doesn’t have those features and it's something you see by many other aircraft add-on providers, so it’s not really a hot item.
In my opinion, I say this … buy it …. run to the shop … it's a very good price/quality value!
What I Like About The Super/Turbo Viking
What I Don't Like About The Super/Turbo Viking
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