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    Lionheart Creations Proton Bullette Review


    Lionheart Creations: Proton Bullette

    For FSX, FSX:SE and Prepar3D v1,2,3

    Available at Many Flight Simulator Stores for $19.95 USD

    Reviewed By: Mike Cameron

     

    Introduction:

       I could not find any historical information on the internet about the Proton Bullette, so everything below is taken from the product manual.  The Bullette B-37 by Proton Werke was first produced in 1937 in the Proton Werke’s Bavaria facility.  A need grew by fighter pilots for a sleek, fast, trainer aircraft.  One that featured a strong landing gear that could withstand grass and dirt field runways, one with a open cockpit and one that could perform aerobatics and fighter maneuvers with ease.  A prototype was built in 1936 that featured these requirements and a order was submitted.  The Bullette went into production in 1937.  The B-37 is a rare aircraft in that it has a very small wingspan of only 4.8 meters/16 feet and is just over 5.2 meters/17 feet long.  The aircraft is fitted with an Argus As-10 engine, a powerful inverted V-8 aircraft engine that is fully air-cooled.  The B-37 had a single radio and featured basic instrumentation.  It was a very simple aircraft to fly with only the basics onboard.  The Bullette also had a roomy little cargo compartment behind the pilot’s seat.  Getting into the aircraft is quite easy.  You raised the canopy structure which also deployed a foot step and stepping pilon that lowered out of the fuselage via linkages tied into the canopy hinge system.  The fuel tank was located behind the engine and had a large 136.2 liter/36-gallon capacity.

       The Bullette B-40 by Proton Werke was first produced in 1940 in the Proton Werke’s Bavaria facility.  By this time, a need was growing where fighter pilots required training in ‘retractable gear’ aircraft so a variant was designed from the B-37 Bullette with retractable landing gear.  The new version required a smaller fuel tank due to the landing gear compartment now located in the forward center of the fuselage cavity.  The new ‘RG’ model had a higher airspeed zone, but higher weight, gaining 100 pounds/45.3 Kg in weight.  Another option for the PB-40 was a full canopy assembly with an advanced design that spanned from front to the rear with a single bubble of plexiglass not requiring breaks in the glass structure.  Only about 30 percent of the production aircraft were fitted with the full canopy assembly.  The Bullette RG model featured retractable landing gear that was spread out wide on the wings due to its height requirement.  The gear legs pointed inwards slightly, like the Focke Wolfe Fw-190.  The PB-40 also featured the powerful Argus As-10 inverted V-8 aircraft engine, fully air-cooled and sporting a powerful 245 horsepower engine for such a small plane.  Having the small 16 foot wingspan and retractable gear that enabled a cleaner aerodynamic shape, the small Bullette was truly a bullet.  This aircraft was more like a small race plane rather than a trainer.

    B-37 Fixed Gear Specifications:

    Wingspan:              4.87 Meters …….16 Feet 0 Inches

    Length:                   5.18 Meters …….17 Feet 0 Inches

    Empty Weight:       408 Kilograms …… 900 Pounds

    Maximum Weight: 635 Kilograms …... 1400 Pounds

    Engine:                   Argus As-10 …… 245 BHP …...V8 Inverted

    Stall Speed:            110 KPH …… 60 Knots

    Cruise Speed:         300 KPH …… 160 Knots

    Maximum Speed:   370 KPH …… 200 Knots

    Fuel:                       136 Liters ……. 36 Gallons

    Range:                    963 Kilometers …… 520 NM …… 75% Power/2250 RPM

     

    B-40 Retractable Gear Specifications:

    Wingspan:               4.87 Meters …… 16 Feet 0 Inches

    Length:                    5.18 Meters …… 17 Feet 0 Inches

    Empty Weight:        453 Kilograms ……. 1000 Pounds

    Maximum Weight:  635 Kilograms …… 1500 Pounds

    Engine: Argus As-10 ……. 245 BHP ……. V8 Inverted

    Stall Speed:             110 KPH ……. 60 Knots

    Cruise Speed:          320 KPH ……. 170 Knots

    Maximum Speed:    390 KPH ……. 210 Knots

    Fuel:                        100 Liters ...…. 27 gallons

    Range:                     815 Kilometers ……. 440 NM ……. 75% Power/2250 RPM

    Product Features:

    Both Bullette Models are Included: B-37 fixed gear and B-40 retractable gear models.  The B-37 has both cantilever and strut versions.  The cantilever design did not come about until 1940.

    Two Canopy Variants: The B-40 has two canopy versions, open cockpit and a full canopy.  The full canopy did not come until much later in production and only 30% of production aircraft were fitted with the full canopies.

    15 Paint Schemes Theme Packages Per Model: These include variations of instrument panel and interior paint themes including spun metal.

    Male – Female Pilot Options: Clicking on the bottom rear circuit breaker switches changes between the male and female pilot.

    Retracting Steps: The sleek Bullette features a retractable foot pad and step pylon that are linked into the raising canopy assembly.

    Split Flaps: The flap assemblies were made of spruce wood with lattice ribbing for thin construction.  These were very light as well.  The flaps open below the wing, with the top being solid and non-hinged.  Thus the flaps also act as speed brakes, full flaps will slow the Bullette down moderately, even in a steep dive.

    Custom NAV Light Assemblies: These are unique aerodynamic dome shaped color discs mounted under the upward curved wing tips.  These appear as large colored circles and were glass on the original aircraft.

    Argus As-10 Engine: This product features a very smooth engine sound pack that replicates a V-8 engine that has a very low growl through the tuned dual belly mounted wide exhaust pipes. This engine was also fitted in the Fieseler Storch aircraft.

    Autopilot: For those simulator pilots that appreciate having an autopilot, Lionheart Creations has fitted these aircraft with one.  Readouts of the autopilot modes are indicted on the HSI instrument.

    Dual Metric or SAE Readouts on the Vertical Speed (VSI) Indicator and the Altimeter:  The Airspeed Indicator also displays KPH and Knots.  Clicking on the top area of the VSI and the Altimeter switches from Metric to Nautical readout faces.

      

    Installation:

       Installation is very easy.  After purchase you will receive an email with the product download link and a Serial Key.  The Serial Key is not long or complicated, so I did not have any issues entering it. Start the installer and select your desired simulator.   Only FSX versions and Prepar3D V1, V2 and V3 simulators are supported now.  The install program should automatically find your simulator directories but if it does not there is a “Browse” button to locate.  I am going to review The Proton Bullette package in the Prepar3D Version 3 simulator but will use the browse button to locate my P3DV4 directory to install into that simulator.  I will fly the aircraft in this package in P3DV4 to see if they work but will not be reviewing any of the features in that simulator.  After selecting the simulator, the next step is to enter your purchase credentials and I did not have an issue with this process.  If you entered everything correctly, the package will install onto your hard drive.  A nice 42-page manual is included and is also available to download from the Lionheart Creations Proton Bullette product page if you want to read it prior to purchase.  I like when developers include this feature so that potential customers can read the manual before purchase to see if the Proton Bullette is right simulator aircraft for them.

     

    Interior & Instrument Panel Features:

       Because this is a small and not a complicated aircraft I decided to review the interior and instrument panel in the same section.  For some reason this aircraft did not like my Prepar3D Version 3 simulator, the simulator would crash to the desktop when I tried selecting one of the Proton Bullette’s directly.   At first loading a default aircraft and then a Bullette seemed to solve this annoying problem but when I tried to use the aircraft switches, crash to desktop.  I refreshed my Windows install, reinstalled P3DV3 and this package with a fresh simulator and it still would crash my simulator.   I did not have these issues with P3D Version 4 so after the first several screen grabs below, the rest of the pictures of this review will be in the newer simulator even though it is not supported. 

       As mentioned in the introduction there are 15 paint schemes for each model.  The B-37 fixed gear model includes two different versions, a cantilever wing and one with struts.  The two different wing types are easily identifiable on the aircraft selection screen.  The B-40 retractable gear model has the two different variants, open cockpit and the full canopy.  For me these were harder to see in the aircraft selection preview window, but I made do.  The manual has a page with the different paint schemes and it clearly displays which aircraft have the full canopy.  After loading one of the B-37 models, I get my first look at the outstanding quality of the interior textures and features.  Lionheart Creations has done a wonderful job here but they did not stop there.  For each exterior paint, they have included the matching interior theme.  This is a feature that I look for in premium aircraft and is rarely done with aircraft at this price point.  Thank you, Lionheart Creations, for including this wonderful feature.  The first screen grab below is the Blue & White fixed gear model and the second is the Bronze & Grey paint scheme.  The Bullette features a small uncomplicated cockpit so I have adjusted the view to capture the entire cockpit and even from this viewpoint I can see the quality and level of detail that is included with this aircraft package.  The cockpit is the same for all the aircraft except for the B-40 that has the gear control and the full canopy has levers to open and close the canopy.  The canopy levers are located on each side of the cockpit.

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       I open the canopy which exposes some hidden details because the instrument panel assembly is raised along with the canopy. The detail of the canopy assembly and the back of the instrument panel is very impressive.  The instrument panel components when viewed from this position are three dimensional just like they would be in the real aircraft.  It is hard to believe that all of this detail is available on a simulator aircraft that retails for less than $20.00.  While the canopy is still raised I zoom in close to be able to get a close look at the impressive textures on the control stick and the rudder pedals.  I close the canopy and start my inspection of the rest of the cockpit.  I turn around to get a view of the rear area of the cockpit.  The detail is very impressive, but it looks like the pilot would need to be skinny or it could be very uncomfortable. 

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       I turn back around, and the left side contains the volt meter and oil temperature gauges which look great and are realistically animated.  Also on this side are the throttle, mixture, parking brake and depending on the model, the gear and canopy controls.  This is where my P3DV3 simulator started to consistently act up so from now on the rest of the screen grabs and review comments will be in Prepar3D Version 4.  To finish my interior tour, the right console contains elevator trim, flaps, circuit breakers, the COM/NAV radio and the non-functional headphone/microphone jacks.  The radio displays are easy to read and dial but could be difficult to operate when hand flying.  Some of the circuit breakers also serve feature selections, the top forward and bottom rear breaker allow to select between the male/female pilot when viewed from exterior views.  The top fourth circuit breaker engages the autopilot and the top rear one disengages the autopilot.  The simulator tool tips work great if you forget these locations.  A quick note about the non-functional headset jacks, I wish more developers would include simulated noise cancelling headsets with aircraft at all price levels, with some aircraft it can get loud in the cockpit and be hard to hear ATC on the radios.  Lastly, cockpit lighting is very nice when it worked.  I do not know if it is because I am using this aircraft in an unsupported simulator but when I tried to turn on the lighting with the current aircraft nothing happened, but it worked when I opened another Proton Bullette.

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    External Features:

       There are fifteen exterior paints for each of the fixed gear and retractable gear variants.   From these some have the enclosed canopy, while others have the open cockpit.  The same applies to the cantilever or strut versions of the wing assemble.  If you like variety then you will love the Lionheart Creations Proton Bullette package for FSX and P3D.  The P3D aircraft preview screen does a good job displaying between the fixed gear and retractable gear models but for me it was hard to distinguish between the open and enclosed cockpits from these previews.  It would be nice if a textural description would also have been included to make selecting easier.  Luckily, the manual clearly shows which one’s have the open cockpit and the enclosed canopy.  Let’s start with the open cockpit aircraft, the exterior textures and features are just as impressive as the interior model.  Everything is three dimensional and exterior wording is clear and easy to read.  The male/female pilot are realistically textured and I personally like that they are not animated because with some aircraft, the animations do not look very realistic.  I wish that Lionheart would have included headset textures for each of the pilots because no pilot in their right mind would fly an open cockpit aircraft without a headset or some other form of head gear.  I do like that the instrument panel can be seen from the exterior views which greatly adds to a realistic look.  Even with the open cockpit, the simulator “Open Main Door” key command “Shift+E”, raises the windshield on the open cockpit or the enclosed canopy and extends the step for easy access into the aircraft.  The animation and textures of the step are very nice.  With the canopy open, I can see the very detailed instrument panel which adds to the experience.  In P3DV4 the sun reflections from the propeller is awesome!   Adding to the detail level of the Lionheart Proton Bullette package is that when the baggage door is open there is realistically textured baggage inside.  The retractable gear aircraft have just as impressive textures though I wonder why wheel chocks are not included with these aircraft when they are parked on the ground with the engine off.  Also, tiedowns should be included to complete realistic ground static object features.  Lastly, I like the canopy glass textures, not totally clear, but clear enough to still be able to see the pilot.  Exterior lighting is also very good and like the interior lighting, sometimes not work unless I opened another aircraft.   This could be because I am using this aircraft in an unsupported simulator.

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    Flight Model:

       The manual says it all, “The Bullette is a very basic aircraft to operate but with its 245 horsepower V8 engine, it can be challenging as well”.  This aircraft is very easy to start: parking brake on, throttle zero, mixture full rich and then push the starter button.  The Proton Bullette engine starts right up without issue and the sound effects of this action is very nice but I think it could be louder. I turn the simulator engine sound slider to 100 percent to experience the full effect.  I think the engine starts a little too easy, but I keep telling myself that this is a $20.00 flight simulator aircraft.  I now turn on all of the exterior lights and the avionics.  If this is your first tail-wheeled aircraft, taxiing this aircraft can be challenging because it is hard to see in front of you due to the raised cowling.   The realistic procedure is to perform a series of small s-turns to see the ramp on each side of your aircraft or hang your head out of the window.  Lionheart Creations made this easy for the user by including two interior views that simulate hanging your head out the left and right side of the aircraft.  The views can be cycled by the default simulator “A” and “Shift-A” but I recommend assigning a couple of joystick buttons to make this procedure easy.   The Bullette is relatively easy to taxi but per the manual, with full fuel and if you turn too hard, the wingtip could tap the ground causing damage, thankfully I have not experienced this.  Line up with the active runway and gradually apply power, this small powerful aircraft accelerates quickly, as you accelerate push the control stick down slightly raise the tail and to help see over the cowling.  When the airspeed reaches the green arc (90 knots, 170 KMH), pull back to lift off.  I had a slight left turning tendency but if I remembered to gradually apply power, this was easy to recover from.  The Proton Bullette does require quite a bit of runway before it will lift off.  Taking off from Darrington Municipal in Washington state, I did not have an issue taking off but if operating at a short field airstrip, use one or two notches of flap. Gear retraction is nicely animated and looks very realistic.    This is a very fun aircraft to hand fly and responds well to my control movements.  It does have an autopilot which is very easy to use and holds altitude and heading without issue, but I probably will probably only use it to be able to take my hands off the controls to dial the radios or for longer flights.  I was also able to trim for all phases of flight without issue and this is a very fast aircraft that will get you to your destination quickly.  After passing through the nearby hills I want to see how the Lionheart Creations Proton Bullette handles slow speed flight.  This handles well at low airspeeds, but you need to keep some power if you want to remain level or descend gradually.  I tried operating at full flaps with no power and the Bullette wanted to keep descending at about 600 FPM.   I tried raising the nose to level flight, but the aircraft would stall but stalls were gradual and very easy to recover from.  I like the slow flight handling characteristics of the Proton Bullette.  Flight simulator pilots of all skill levels should not have any issues operating this aircraft at all performance levels.  The manual recommends a traffic pattern airspeed of 120 Knots and 80 Knots for approach.  I can confirm these speeds and do not reduce power further until crossing the runway threshold.  If you are new to tail-wheeled aircraft, landing can also be challenging.  It is recommended to try to land on all three wheels for best results and do not apply brakes until you slowed or flipping over on your nose.  On this trip I was able to land without issue, not on the centerline but at least not on the grass.  Lastly, this aircraft is capable of aerobatics, but I did not try aerobatics with this review.

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    Conclusion

    Accessibility

    The Lionheart Creations proton Bullette is very accessible because it is available from most major flight simulator retailers.

    Affordability

    For 19.95 this is already a very affordable package, but Lionheart Creations aircraft do go on sale throughout the year for even a better value.   As I write this many vendors are having December sales and Lionheart aircraft are 50 percent off so this aircraft is only 9.98, such a deal!

    Ease of Installation

    This is a very easy aircraft to install and activate in the simulator.  The serial number is not complicated, and I did not have any issues entering my purchase credentials to activate.  Technically, Prepar3D Version 4 is not supported but the installer has a browse button to point to this simulator location and this aircraft installed without issue into that simulator.  This is a good thing because of the issues that I had with this aircraft in P3DV3.  A very nice manual is also included which is great.

    Features & System Performance

    Lionheart Creations have included a lot of nice features for an aircraft at this price point.  There are several variants and exterior paints to choose from.  Sound effects, animations and textures are outstanding, and I really like that there is some variety to the interior textures instead of one interior theme for all aircraft.  My only wish is that they would have included some more ground static objects for when the aircraft is parked with the engine off.

    Final Thoughts

    I do not have a problem recommending the Lionheart Creations Proton Bullette for flight simulator users of all skill levels.  It is very inexpensive, with features that are sometimes not included with inexpensive simulator aircraft.  It is a wonderful aircraft to fly and can be challenging at times, but most pilots should not have issues operating this aircraft.  I did have stability issues in Prepar3D V3, but I have not read about other users having this problem, so it must be something with my system.  Thankfully, this aircraft works just fine in Version 4 except for some lighting issues that I noted in the review.   I want to thank Lionheart Creations for supplying the review copy of this aircraft and for more information, please visit the product page here: http://www.lionheartcreations.com/Bullette.html .

     

     

     

    Test System

    Hardware:

    Computer Specs:

    Intel Desktop Computer

    Intel i5 4670K 3.4Ghz Non-OC Processor

    8GB DDR3 1833 Memory

    2TB SATA HD (7200 RPM)

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX970 Video Card with 4GB GDDR5 Memory

    Saitek Cessna Pro Flight Yoke, Rudder Pedals & Trim Wheel

    Saitek Pro-Flight Switch Panel and Multi Panel

    Software:

    Prepar3D Version 3 and 4

    Windows 7 – 64 Bit

    REX 4 Texture Direct with Soft Clouds

    Orbx HD Trees, Global, Vector, Europe & NA Landclass & Multiple Regions

    FS Global 2010 FTX Compatible

    FSX Fair Weather Theme

    Flight Test Time:

    25 hours

     

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    User Feedback


    Agree with review, I have it and it is a great aircraft. Haven't tried it in P3D4 yet, but I see Lionheart now includes it in installer.

    Edited by rooitou

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