AVSIM Aircraft/Panel/Scenery Package Review

TLK-39C
PC Based Pilot Training Device
 

Banner image

Rating Guide

Publisher: Captain Simulations
Description:
A fully functional flight simulator of the most popular military jet trainer in the world - the Aero L-39C "Albatros"
Download Size:
For FS2000 - 15.6 MB; CFS 2 - 6.35 MB; Konotop AFB scenery - 3.8 MB
Format:
Auto install
Simulation Type:
FS2000/CFS2 (with update pending for FS2002)
Reviewed by: David Slavens, AVSIM Staff Reviewer

Possible Commercial Rating Score: 1 to 5 stars with 5 stars being exceptional
Please see details of our review rating policy here

With the advent of the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, one thing has always been a part of it. That is add-ons. From scenery to planes to airports you can find just about everything a person could wish for in the flight sim world. Some of these add-ons are free, some are payware. When it comes to payware, you sometimes don't get what you pay for. So now you are left with something that just doesn't do it for you. Then there is the opposite side of the spectrum; you buy an add-on and you just can't stop using it. Well this is where I am at right now. Enter the TLK-39C Pilot Training device. If there ever was an add-on to have, this is it. I mean the level of detail is amazing. The thought put into this is unprecedented. You literally have an add-on that is a sim in itself. I normally review combat simulation add-ons but since this is a military sim for MSFS then I am flexible. So what I am going to attempt to do is break down all the aspects of this sim (I am not going to call it an add-on from here on out) and tell you what I found.

Reader Survey

This survey is intended for those that have used this product or add-on. If you have used it, please let your fellow simulation enthusiasts know how you rate it by taking this survey. Please, if you have not used this product, do not take this poll (you can view the poll from the "Results" link below).

- Review Poll -
Have you used Captain's TLK-39C?

Excellent
Good
Average
I can live with it
Taking it off my system


Results

What do you get?

Well you get a highly detailed L-39C with full moving parts to include rotating wheels, landing gear, wheel nacelle covers, ailerons, elevator, double slotted flaps, rudder, airbrakes… you get the picture eh? Great engine and cockpit sounds. A 3D interior to include a well-detailed pilot. Internal and external lighting. 2 L-39C's from during and after the cold war with authentic textures and markings of the eras. The 3rd L-39C you get is in a fictitious US Navy "aggressor" scheme. There is also a CFS2 version that has rocket pods and external fuels tanks installed. There is also Konotop AFB on the border between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. That is not all you get. You get an extensive manual in pdf format. An interactive guide to the cockpit and free updates/patches to the sim. You will be getting your bang for your buck.

Now let's see how this all breaks down. For 29 bucks you can get the TLK-39C, the L-39ZA for CFS2, the Konotop AFB scenery and a "Fighter Pilots School" album on Cd. Or of you just want the aircraft they $19 each. The scenery is an additional $9. I for one have both aircraft and the scenery. And at the time I received the sim if you ordered, say the CFS2 or the FS2000 version, you got the other free.

Installation and System requirements

Installation was straightforward in zipped / .exe format. After inputting the user name and the product ID code you received when you purchased it, it self-installed right to your FS2000/FS2002 directory. Just make sure it is pointing to your FS directory before you install. The system requirements are as follows: Minimum PII 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16 MD video card and of course CFS2, FS2K or FS2k2. It however recommends a PIII of 800MHz, 256 MB RAM, a 64 MB video card. My system is fast and it runs smooth as glass. So I have had no problems. But if you have the minimum requirements I can see how it will tax your system. I ran this on CFS2, FS2000 and FS2002. The only issue I had was with FS2002 on the outside views when flying around the scenery. It would disappear for a second then come back. Speaking of issues, if you cannot figure out how to solve it, do not hesitate to email Alex Pogensky, the Project Manager. He provided me with prompt answers to my questions that resolved any issues I had. That is what I call good tech support – hearing from the man up top!

Test System

PIII 1GHz
512 MB of PC133 Mhz SDRAM
Windows XP
16x/40x DVD-ROM
64 MB Geforce 2 MX400 with 22.80 drivers
Creative Audio PCI Sound Card
Microsoft Precision Pro 2
17" Monitor

Flying Time:
40 hours over 4 weeks


Click for full size image
The Russian L-39

Click for full size image
The Ukrainian L-39

Click for full size image
US Navy paint scheme

Click for full size image
Mig-21s in the background

Click for full size image
Pilot Barracks at Konotop

Click for full size image
L-39C cockpit

Click for full size image
Heads down view

Click for full size image
Dynamic scenery

Click for full size image
Helicopters Galore

Click for full size image
Look at al the planes!

Click for full size image
Look at the detail

The Manual

One of the strongest points of this sim is the depth and detail of the manual. It is in amazing detail on how to fly this aircraft. It has a fully interactive cockpit manual for starters. There is picture of the cockpit and by scrolling over a section or and instrument you get information about it. After going through all the gauges and instruments in the manual I felt well informed and had a good idea where everything was. So when it came to working around the cockpit later the manual made my life easy. Also included in the manual is printable English version of current Ukrainian AF TLK-39C Flight Manual in pdf format. I immediately printed this out. Again here is where function follows form. If you follow the manual and say, for instance, you go by the procedures for start up, it is accurately simulated on the sim. It will start the way it is written in the manual. It has all everything you need to take off, land, cruise etc. It is well done and a must read.

The Panel

The panel is an accurate representation of a L-39C. It was built using photo real textures that in my opinion add to the immersion factor. However though I found the gauges hard to read. I am however speaking as a person who has 20/200 vision and wears glasses. Anyway though the cockpit is fully clickable, there are indicator lights that work and the night lighting in especially good. It is not too dark, yet not too light to the point where it becomes distracting. The gauges themselves are little works of art. For example the chronometer keeps track for current time, flight time, total hours right down to the second. You almost need a class on how it works.

The cockpit views are another matter. Unless I installed it wrong there is no virtual cockpit at all. With as good as a cockpit that came in the 2D, it is shame that a virtual cockpit was not modeled. I know people who do all their flying from the virtual cockpit so that might be a turn off to them. But from where it lacks it makes up in other places, Normally by pushing down on the POV hat of your stick you get a rear view. With this you get what I call a "heads down" views of the cockpit. In this view you can see the gauges and other controls better. I also thought of another function it could be used for, IFR training. It kind of reminds me of when I saw films of airmen learning how to fly in a simulator that was covered in a hood so you could not see out windows. Well when you look down into the cockpit here you cannot see outside. But that is just the impression it gave me when I was using that view. With that said this is one of the better cockpits I have seen for MSFS.

The Sound

The engine sounds and start up are excellent. Now I have never seen or heard a real L-39C but I get this feeling that this is what it really sounds like. Yes I know that the product advertises authentic AI-25TL turbofan sounds. But in the past I have gotten sounds for an aircraft only to have on of my pilot friends say "Hey that is not what that sounds like. I know I have flown them many times." Or get to finally see the plane myself and say the same thing. Ok what am I trying to say here is that it sounds great, period—from inside the cockpit to outside the plane you get a fantastic sound package.

Flight Dynamics – How does she fly?

She flies like a bird. The L-39C is maneuverable, very stable and easy to fly. I recall reading one person's review of this product who actually flies L-39Cs saying that the flight dynamics are right on. He also said that she "feels" right when you fly it. You get the feeling of what her limitations are and what she can do. It goes where you tell her. I got the impression that it becomes a part of you. Like you put it on instead of you getting in to it. As I was flying it I can see what he was saying. I know you can't feel it in the seat of your pants when flying a sim but it gave me a warm fuzzy on how well she flew. Though I am not a pilot, I have been flying virtually for about 15 years and I am also an aircraft fanatic. Books, videos, talking to pilots and getting rides in planes, I think that gives me a fair knowledge of flying characteristics. I could be wrong here, but fly it for yourself and you will see what I mean. I did however put her through her paces. I stalled it, turned it tight, looped it, rolled it, took out for burgers and fries at the nearest air base and brought her home. After all that torture I put it through I find that she is hard to get to depart from what I expected. But when and if you do she is pretty easy to recover. All I did was let go of the stick and it settled right down in a nose down attitude. Build up some speed and add throttle gradually and bingo you are flying like a good plane again. So if this is how a real one flies then I see why it is said that this is an easy bird to fly.

The CFS2 version flew just as well. Since I had rockets, cannons and bombs to play with, I set up a range using the Mission Editor provided with CFS2 and went to town. Here is where the stability of the aircraft paid off. Using the weapons, I had no problems getting them where I wanted. It didn't take much to adjust the aircraft's position to line up on a target. Being a combat simmer this was of course my favorite part right down to the dropable fuel tanks.

The Scenery - Konotop AFB

Here is another of this sim's strongest points. The scenery is breathtaking for lack of a better word. There are hangers and buildings everywhere and in their proper places. Helicopters are everywhere. Konotop is also a repair depot for the MI-6 and MI-8 helo's. So there is a ton of them in parked positions around the base. But the thing that makes it so great is the dynamic scenery. There are fuel trucks topping off aircraft, planes taxing and taking off. Planes like the MIG-21 flying around the base. Other L-39s doing flight training in the area. An-26 transports on supply missions. It is one busy air base.

Also there are flight charts that come with this. You get maps of the air base and the surrounding countryside, and you even get approach plates. There is a Navaids chart, radio chart, a practice area chart; terminal, Aerodromes charts and a departure chart, all based on original USSR issue—that alone is a nice touch. Combined with the great scenery you have everything you need to navigate and fly the L-39C around Konotop AFB.

Final Thoughts

Again I refuse to call this an add-on because it just doesn't do it justice. This is a sim within a sim. From the flight manual, maps, planes and scenery you get a complete package. Well worth your money.

See the Captain Simulations web site for various the various purchase options and certain available free downloads/updates. A free update for MS FS2002 will be included.

 


What I Like About Captain's TLK-39C
  • Flight manual and maps
  • Engine sounds
  • Aircraft handling
  • Dynamic scenery

 
What I Don't Like About Captain's TLK-39C
  • No virtual cockpit
  • Disappearing scenery in FS2002 (in the current FS2000 release)
  • Gauges are hard to read


 

Tell A Friend About this Review!

 

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

© 2001 - AVSIM Online
All Rights Reserved