B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th!
by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson
For the serious pilot the game is almost right. Starting from base in full realism mode requires learning the intricacies of inertial starters and superchargers. But don’t bother with cowl flaps; engine management went missing somewhere along the line. Wayward have refused to comment on the issue to date, leaving us guessing as to whether engine management is recoverable or not. At least the Norden bombsight is modeled in detail, and using the navigator’s drift meter requires a bit of finesse.
Resource modeling is accurate. After your first flight you need to meet with the Crew Chief over the hood of your jeep to determine maintenance and repair priorities. A shortage of parts may force you to fly, or scrap, a damaged bird.
Aircraft panels are interactive, with most buttons and switches actually performing their simulated function. There are actually six unique panel views for the pilots, breaking down significant systems into manageable chunks. The following series of six images shows the various views, all of them interactive using your mouse.
Thankfully, the manual doesn’t skimp much when it comes to this material, and training for each of the officer’s positions is detailed. Flying School for pilot and co-pilot begins on page 78 and stretches to page 94.
Many players have noted that another view would help in flying the Fort. The game offers three main orientations for the pilots, at present. The Crew view shows the two pilots from behind their chairs. The Action view shows the windscreen, and allows a pan view to the windows at either side. The Instrument view is just that, showing either a wide view across the panel, or one of the detailed views listed above. It would have been nice to have one more view so that the horizon could be seen when hands are on the flight yoke, a “flying” view when there is no need to adjust controls other than throttle, or the ability to bring key controls onscreen as in WWII Fighters or FLY!.
TIP: Flying the Fort without Pilots
Both your pilots are wounded, or one is killed and the other injured and you don’t want to risk letting a non pilot fly the bird. Do this. Order your co-pilot to give first-aid to the pilot. As soon he responds, your plane with go into free fall. Now, quickly go into outside view (F2) and then back into internal view (F1). Presto!! You get the "Join Formation" message and the auto-pilot takes over. This also works if both your pilot and co-pilot are knocked out at the same time.
The flight models are best viewed as good but not precise.
I checked the ratings for the P51-D Mustang, which states that the service ceiling is 42,000 feet. I was able to take the Mustang at 45,000 feet using WEP, and maintain 130 knots at that altitude. When I dipped a wing, however, I wasn’t able to recover level flight until 32,000 feet. So far so good.
I was able to stall the same aircraft, which gently dropped one wing and then did two rotations before I was able to recover. Stalls are gentle and spins are easily recoverable, much easier than in European Air War, for example.
It is true, however, that the aircraft have too much power, in particular the P51-D, which has a climb rate roughly that of the F86 Sabre. Wayward have noted the issue, and suggest that somewhere in the end stages one of the models was probably messed up. It could be an air density or air pressure model, prop efficiency, prop pitch model, airfoil lift and drag characteristics, or something similar. They are looking into the problem and it will likely be addressed.
The Fortress itself feels ponderous, and you won’t be pulling any tight turns in the big bird. You can, however, do a loop or two when she is loaded lightly at low altitude. Note that in real life it is possible to loop a lightly loaded Fortress, but the Fort in B17 climbs as if it has no load at all, and the rate of climb hardly changes at higher altitude. How many will fly the bird anyway? Given the view issues, probably not many.
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