Just Flight Tornado
A review by Justin Cogo
Just Flight, the company behind many add-ons like the BAE 146-200, Tristar, Fokker Friendship and many other add-ons over the years has released their latest product for Flight Simulator.
A multi-role combat aircraft produced by Italy, the United Kingdom and West Germany, the Panavia Tornado GR1 can be compared to the U.S.’s F-111 in its capabilities.
The Tornado GR1 serves multiple purposes in a combat role. Entering service in 1979 it was mainly used by the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), and Italian Air Force (IAF).
Its main features include:
- Two jet engines
- Variable Swept Wings
- Super-sonic speeds
- Two-seat cockpit
- Multi-role capabilities
Features as described in package:
The Tornado GR1 has been produced for Flight Simulator X and Prepar3D by Just Flight and includes the following features:
Modeled to accurate aircraft plans, including animations like canopy, accessory equipment, all control surfaces, animated crew as seen from outside, reversers, refueling probe, arrestor hook
High resolution textures and graphics characteristics for truly 3D feel
Wing sweep modeled and integrated like real world aircraft
Customizable payload configurations, bombs, fuel tanks, missiles
- 3D virtual cockpit, detailing all aircraft systems FSX can handles, down to modelling cables and piping.
- Pilot & Navigator positions with respective controls and instruments
- Functions avionics like HUD, Terrain Following Radar, Radar warning receiver & map
- Autopilot with normal modes and terrain following & radar height following
- Built-In Test Equipment (BITE) for testing of all aircraft systems
- Functioning extra aircraft systems like Oxygen system, V/UHF, TACAN, ILS, Canopy, magnetic indicators, warning lights, push to test buttons,
- Navigator TV displays for Navigating, Ordinance, Flight Plan, and other uses.
- 24 authentic color schemes
- Royal Airforce, German Air Force, German Navy, Royal Saudi Air Force, Italian Air Force variants
- Realistic back-up systems, inter-functioning wing sweep/flaps/lift dump and airbrakes systems.
- Fully functioning fuel system, including in-flight refueling, tanker spawning, fuel dumping
- Correctly modelled hydraulic and electrical systems driving certain aircraft systems
- APU, Emergency Power Supply, cross-drive system in event of emergency
- Functioning fire detection & extinguishing system, and warning system (indicators)
- Realistic modelled aircraft performance data based upon real world data
- Flight Analysis Tool, Configuration Tool
- 144-page Operations Manual
- 40-page Operating Data Manual
My first impressions of the Tornado GR1 lead me to think it has many features and is a strong fighter-jet aircraft. Its outside makes it look like a fast, capable aircraft, one you want to just get in and fly. Looking at the inside, it has many bells and whistles and one hopes they all work because, that would add heavily to the value of this package.
The Tornado GR1 comes with a two-seat cockpit. Built for complex roles, ranging from air defense, reconnaissance, electronic counter-measures, and close-range fighting, the two-seat role is necessary so the navigator/weapons systems officer can aid the pilot in these roles. Born in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, the Tornado’s avionics include classical and some complex avionics.
The pilot position serves mainly a flying role in the Tornado GR1. Thus it includes the instruments needed to fly, providing the aircraft’s position, velocity, direction, etc. These instruments include altimeter, vertical speed, attitude, engine, angle of attack, g-force instruments, etc. Also, during this time period more complex avionics came into use. Radars were now installed in the airplane for scanning for other aircraft / objects and for terrain. In Just Flight’s Tornado GR1, these complex instruments are modelled. They include:
- Terrain Radar (with E-Scope for displaying returns)
- Heads-Up Display
- Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) (basically a TCAS)
- Moving GPS map (FSX Default Style)
For flight planning purposes the moving map can display flight plan information entered into FSX’s flight planner. The pilot cockpit includes autopilot systems with some other cool advanced features as well.
The Tornado’s autopilot has normal autopilot features like heading, altitude, speed hold, and also some advanced features I’ve never seen recreated in Flight Simulator before. These advanced features include terrain following hold and radar height hold. These two features allow you to have the aircraft maintain a certain altitude over terrain. The pilot can enter a specific height-over-terrain or water into the autopilot and the autopilot will fly it.
These two features are very cool in fact to try:
Terrain Following Hold, will maintain a pre-selected altitude over terrain as scanned by the aircraft’s radar. Radar Height Hold will maintain a pre-selected altitude over water/terrain features, but is mainly used over water. These two features fully work in Flight Simulator!
Other avionics included in the pilot cockpit are communications equipment and aircraft systems equipment. A V/UHF radio in the cockpit can tune radio frequencies for communicating but an included tool, the Agency Names Tool, allows you to save names for up to 17 saved frequencies in the radio. Controls for working features like refueling probe and canopy are located in the pilot cockpit as well!
The Tornado GR1 has working aircraft systems like Hydraulics, Electrical and advanced fuel systems. Buttons, dials and levers for these systems are almost all working.
Additionalcockpit details included are day/night variations in lighting and emergency gear lowering and braking systems. As you can see in the screenshots below, aside from all the dynamic features the cockpit of the Tornado has to offer, there is plenty of eye candy like small details of the seat’s ejection-system and internal aircraft parts like air hoses and detailed wiring lining the cockpit.
Of course every airplane in flight simulator has moving levers for throttle and spoilers, etc., but the Tornado has a detailed lift dump (wing spoiler) and reverser system controllable via the throttles, not only working but intricately detailed in the cockpit.
The throttle sticks on the left-hand side of the cockpit control not only throttle but the lift dump and reverser systems as well. The throttles can be moved forward and back for thrust control, but also rocked side-to-side for arming the landing systems. Rocking one throttle to the side arms the lift dump (spoilers) and rocking the other throttle arms the reverser. Once armed the systems engage upon touchdown. An added feature to this is once the reverse thrust is activated it can be controlled using the throttles, moving them rearward for least reverser and forward for max reverser.
Controls for heating, cooling, ventilation, pressurization, deicing and demisting are in the pilot cockpit as well. Extra small features that are nice are the trim button on the control stick, which rocks forward and backward when trimming up or down and the brake pedals which, when using the brakes, tilt forward and backwards to simulate pressing of the pedals for braking.
Navigator/Weapons Officer Cockpit
The Tornado is a two-seat aircraft, this because it serves more complex purposes in combat like reconnaissance and special fighting roles. The rear seat is for the Navigator / Weapons Officer. This person has displays for flight planning, aircraft ordinance management, fuel management, as well as other systems management. Most of these systems are modeled in this cockpit. One of the most interesting is the refueling management. Here the user can pick which tanker he wants to use to refuel as well as set the difficulty in refueling. The refueling feature is discussed later in this review.
Some of the other instruments included in this back-seat cockpit are gauges like altimeter, angle of attack, speed and map displays.
External Aircraft Details
The outside of the Tornado is modeled and textured very nicely, consisting of moving parts, accessories, and different Tornado schemes.
The outside of the aircraft features moving parts like flight controls, landing gear, moving engine nacelles, arrestor hook system and canopy.
An arrester hook and dynamic canopy are included with the Tornado.
The canopy can even be jettisoned, but don’t worry, the Flight Simulator pilots in the cockpit probably won’t be able to tell.
The refueling probe on the Tornado visibly extends form the right side of the aircraft and of course in-flight refueling actually works in Flight Simulator!
Additional accessories bringing the Tornado GR1 closer to its real-world counterpart are ground equipment, engine intake covers, wheel chocks, external avionics port covers, crew ladder, ordinance, and external fuel tanks.
Tornado GR1 Schemes
The Tornado GR1package by Just Flight comes with 24 variants, ranging across different European Air Forces and Navy’s paints that have used the Tornado since its production.
Lighting &Night Appearance
At night the Tornado is lit by external and internal lights controlled internally from the pilot cockpit.
Lights includeinternal flood and gauge, external navigation, obstruction, formation, anti-collision, landing and taxi lights. A ganging bar sitting alongside all the light switches in the pilot cockpit allows simultaneous control of all lights.
Every aircraft has a checklist, and the Tornado’s checklist comes in the form of a pop-up screen, sized so you still have a good view outside the cockpit of the aircraft. Pages of the checklist can be turned and multiple checklists are available. Each checklist item can be clicked and highlighted to show completion. There is even an Air-to-Air Refueling checklist so you can perform your aerial refueling.
Flying the Tornado has been very interesting and fun. These fighter aircraft are fast and docile so having accurate and smooth controls are a necessity. The Tornado handles well during all stages of flight. It has good stability in slow flight and can require intricate controlling during some maneuvers like in-flight refueling or combat. In-flight refueling can take some practice as you’re trying to place a small probe into a drogue at 17,000 feet while flying at speeds of 200+ mph.
Sounds in the Tornado are realistic enough for the intended effect. There are some extra sounds like reverser bucket sounds and engine afterburner sounds that add to the realism. The sounds for the Tornado were created by the popular sound team Turbine Sound Studios (TSS). I was impressed with these sounds.
As discussed previously, this Tornado GR1 package includes an in-flight refueling feature with a spawnable fuel tanker and working fuel transfer. The process of performing in-flight refueling is to extend the refuel probe, turn on the various refueling modes and connect to the tanker, then of course when refueling is done you can do that in reverse. In-flight refueling requires accurate placement of the aircraft’s refueling probe to the tankers refueling drogue, thus included in the package is the ability to adjust the difficulty in making a refueling connection. In the backseat cockpit (navigator/weapons systems officer), the TV screens display refueling options so you can adjust this difficulty. To be sure you correctly prepare the aircraft you probably want to go through the AAR checklist as described above.
Additional Aircraft Systems
SPILS(Spin Prevention and Incidence Limiting System)
All aircraft are of course prone to spins which are very dangerous. A spin is the result of a stall, dangerous as well. The SPILS system monitors angle of attack and flight control signals and automatically reducesAngle-Of-Attack (AOA) and reduces control authority in the flight controls. This can be a life saver, because since these fighter aircraft may be in more situations where they are flying slow and at high angles of attack the aircraft is more prone to stalls/spins than, let’s say, a Cessna 182 or a Boeing 737.
BITE (Built-In Test Equipment)
Almost all systems in the Tornado include a testing function. BITE (Built-In Test Equipment) is the equipment that tests these different systems and gives indications of successes or errors. This system can test a variety of aircraft systems.
Failures of different aircraft systems are built into the aircraft. For instance a failure will be produced in the airplane that can either be fixed via proper procedures or backup systems will cover the failed system or the system may simply fail and be unrecoverable. Notifications of these errors are produced in the cockpit and backup systems are available in case of an error.
As described above there are extra tools included with the Tornado. Some additional tools included are:
- Panel Selector
- Flight Analysis Tool
- Configuration Tool
The Panel Selector allows the pilot to open various panels for the Tornado as well as display the aircraft’s external accessories.
The Flight Analysis Tool takes a record of the aircraft’s position and velocity in-flight and displays this on a readout in the tool for analysis. You can see these information on a map and chart for analyzing you flight’s details.
The Configuration Tool has settings to adjust aircraft’s textures, modeling, and features which significantly affect aircraft performance. This can be good if you want to gain better performance in Flight Simulator.
My Computer Specifications
AMD A-10-5800K Quad-Core, 3.8 GHz
8 GB RAM
NVidia GT 545 4 GB
Windows 8.1 64 bit
FSX (Acceleration Required), FSX: Steam or Prepar3D
Intel i5 3.2 GHz or similar
4 GB RAM
1GB graphics card
Windows 8 / 7 / Vista / XP (32-bit or 64-bit)
3.5 GB hard drive
The Tornado performs well for an aircraft of its detail. The details and features can be adjusted for better performance or higher detail so its performance is slightly subjective.
It’sPerformance in High Detail, for instance if flying at less detailed sceneries is good, averaging 20 fps. If flying in highly detailed sceneries flight simulator may run slowly at around 10 fps or so. Even though my computer is a Quad-Core system, you really need a high-end video card too for better performance, so this is why I think my fps dropped during high detail.Also this is typical when especially when running simultaneous detailed add-ons (airplanes, sceneries, etc.). The Tornado’s Performance in low detail pretty much results in great performance even at highly detailed sceneries, resulting in 20+ fps. In low detail you may have less detailed textures and only a single-seat cockpit but all other Tornado features remain the same. If you have a low performing system it may be beneficial to turn down the detail on the Tornado as it does have a significant effect, but in low detail only the backseat cockpit is not modeled and everything else is fully functioning so you’ll still have a good experience.
The Tornado GR1 has been an outstanding aircraft to fly in Flight Simulator. With my experience with fighters it maneuvers like a real one and isn’t too difficult to control, of course if trying to recreate actual combat situations you may need practice. Visually and features wise the Tornado is full of fun and I just want to keep flying it after I’m done with this review.
The Tornado has so many features it really is a must you use the manual to learn about the different aircraft systems. There is also a tutorial flight you can open up in flight simulator, as well as a tutorial section in the manual and is recommended you go through it because of the complex systems.
Check out the Just Flight YouTube channel for some tutorial videos and samples of the Tornado in action too!
Thanks to Just Flight for providing me a copy of the Tornado GR1 for review purposes.
Thanks to the Just Flight development team for helping me so much in figuring out any issues with the Tornado promptly.
Thank you to AVSIM for allowing me to provide this review.