On the 4th of December Aerosoft released a long awaited F14X! Aerosoft sent over a copy so let’s get into the review!
This Top Gun classic was first flown in the December of 1977 and therfore doesn’t have any super high tech features, and really is a challenge to fly. It is certainly something that I haven’t had before in terms of flight characteristics. The United States Navy retired these aircraft after many years of service in 2006. As mentioned these were primarily used for Naval Operations and were perfect for carrier landings.
This aircraft is designed for the role of an Interceptor and therefor you can’t expect this aircraft to be as agile and a fighter. I did what most people probably also did upon purchasing this aircraft. That was to jump and takeoff and try and fly this thing around like a maniac, I was met with an abrupt refusal by the aircraft which followed on to stall and drop out the sky. This aircraft does not fly like a fighter because it isn’t one. Enough about the flight characteristics for the moment, onto the installation of the aircraft.
Once you have purchased this from the Aerosoft store you can then go and download it, It didn’t take long for me because the actual size of the download is only 780MB. This a compressed ZIP file and once extracts the installation file size increases to 2.9GB. The overall installation of this aircraft it relatively simple and doesn’t take very much time and skill to complete. It was a simple matter of selecting the language and then click next and then enter in your customer and registration details. Overall exactly how it should be, simple and quick.
The interior of this aircraft are finished to an excellent level of detail and it looks stunning. I just think that Aerosoft are really good and making the cockpits of aircraft look real. They have certainly maintained that with this aircraft. What I did notice was that you can’t really see very much out of the front of the aircraft because the windows are so small this can a little annoying during takeoff and taxiing because you can’t see much. As you can see the era of the 1970’s shines in this aircraft, as I said there isn’t much modern technology as we know it because this aircraft is old.
The only modern looking thing is the LCD in the centre of the console. This acts as the PFD and display information about the pitch of the aircraft. As for the rest of the cockpit it is made up of lots of Gauges and switches. These are all modeled to a high standard and the switches mostly all work. Apart from the Canopy Jettison handle which would have been nicely if it simulated ejection, that could be something for the future.
The night lighting is this aircraft are really nice, it’s the same as the lighting in some cars it looks really nice and certainly does the job. Everything is clearly visible. The lighting in the cockpit is good overall looks realistic from pictures that I have seen. Flying at night in this aircraft for me, proved even more challenging.
The exterior of the aircraft definitly matched up to the quality of the interior, it is modeled excellently the after burners on the engines just add to the realism, it looks stunning with the shadows being cast off of the vertical stabilizers. There are many different paint variants for this addon and also different versions of the aircraft. There are 3 variants of the A Model and 3 Variants of the B Model.
Flight Dynamics / Handling
This is where this aircraft comes into it’s element. It has been designed to perform exactly like the real aircraft. After flying this thing around for the past couple of weeks I have definitely come to realize that this aircraft doesn’t fly around like a fighter. I think I did what most people do when they get a fighter, that was to fly around like a maniac. Unfortunatly this aircraft doesn’t do it. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve taken off and crashed. This is a swing wing aircraft and Aerosoft have done well on simulating the effects of a swung wing compared to the normal wings.
At slow speeds this aircraft is very unresponsive to control inputs and seems to have a lot of yaw oscillation. However when the wings are swept back the F14 becomes quite a nose heavy aircraft and requires considerable trim adjustments. Aerosoft have created realistic limitations for the aircraft, such as the 200° of role response, with a little experimentation I could get the role rate to increase by inputting full directional rudder in the direction of the turn.
The F14X is definitely a study sim and you need to go and read the manuals before even attempting to fly this aircraft. Once you have left slow flight behind and are heading for the trans-sonic region of the flight envelope, things become a lot more responsive and quicker. It does however become a little harder to stay in trim.
Compressor stall in this aircraft was a common occurrence because of the way I flew it. The reason this can occur is poor management of power settings with the engines. If you try and increase the power to rapidly the compressor blades in the center of the engine. If this happens in the air something called a flat spin can occur. This is notoriously difficult to get out of.
Once I had finished throwing the aircraft around at high altitude, it was time to try and land, this like many other things with this aircraft can be difficult. The speedbreak on this is rubbish, it doesn’t do very much,and the best way to slow down is pull some G’s. I did some sharp S turns upon approach this dropped the speed back to around about 140kts. When your going at a slower speed the role response is slower?
One thing that is key to the landing of this aircraft is that it isn’t designed to flare. It’s designed to landing on a carrier. Therefore the landing process is a check and let it landing. If you don’t do that it will float for ever.
In conclusion this aircraft in terms of quality and realism. If you are wanting a ultra realistic flight dynamics of the F14 then this is the place to go. If you want a agile fighter aircraft then this isn’t for you. For the price of £27 it is a bargain.
For more information and to purchase click here