by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Article Type: Interview / Feature
Article Date: May 10, 2002
Product Name: Combat Flight Simulator 3
Category: WWII Air Combat Simulation
Release Date: Fall 2002
System Req.: TBA
Articles / Links / Files: Click Here
When I first saw the aircraft list for Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator 3 (CFS3), I was stunned. Here at last was the possibility of a successor to Lucasart's Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (SWOTL).
I spent a few hours researching the details of some of the lesser known aircraft, and my interest only grew more intense. It has been many years since I flew SWOTL, after all, and there were a couple of aircraft in Microsoft's list that I couldn't remember!
That prompted more research, and a short list of questions went off to Tucker Hatfield.
Len Hjalmarson (L.H.) Can you tell us why these six aircraft were chosen? They represent some unusual and, with the exception of the 262, rarely simulated aircraft.
Tucker Hatfiled (T.H.) I think you pretty much answered your own question. The fact that they are cool, unusual, and we all wanted to “fly” them is part of the reason we wanted to do them.
Also, we have a campaign where the rate at which your technology improves could change based on your performance, so we had to have some aircraft that would have become available to you if your side had the technological edge. So we chose two “hot” aircraft per side. We picked them based on five basic questions: Would it be useful in a tactical environment? Was there at least a prototype for it, and could it have actually seen service if things had been different? Was it a reasonable balance to the other side’s aircraft? Was it sexy? We also wanted each side to have at least one jet.
For the German side, the 262 was a reality, so it seemed like a “must have.” Plus, a group of aviation enthusiasts is building 262 replicas near our offices in Redmond, so they serve as a great source of hard-to-find information. The Do 335 was an also easy choice; it actually saw limited service. The Go 229 is both more speculative and sexier, but it fit the role and anyone who ever played SWOTL has a soft spot for it.
For the British, a logical choice would seem to be the Meteor, but it really wasn’t a worthy adversary for even the 262, and we felt they needed something both more competitive and sexier. The Vampire actually missed WWII by a narrow margin, so we felt it was a good choice.
For the Americans, the Airacomet might have been okay, but the first jet you’d want to have flown into combat was the P80, and it was WWII-era, so it was an easy choice. As people have pointed out the P-55 Ascender is probably the most speculative aircraft on the list. As specified, with the engine it was originally designed for, it could have been a formidable aircraft, had some of the technical issues been overcome. But I’ll admit, for many of us it’s a matter of having wanted to “fly” it since we first saw it that made us want to have it in our game. Every once in a while you need to include a feature just out of personal passion.
L.H. While the Do-335A saw limited service (roughly twenty delivered to combat units) its use was probably limited to interceptor and fighter bomber. Are these the roles we'll see in CFS3?
T.H. That’s a lot of why it was so attractive for CFS3. Fighter bomber and interceptor roles are key tactical combat tasks, so it was a great fit for the game.
L.H. The two-seater night-fighter version (335 A-6) would be fun to man with two humans. Will we see this model in CFS3?
T.H. I’ve always wanted to do a night fighter sim, but that would require some technical items, among them radar, that we aren’t going to do for this version.
As the Second World War in Europe drew to a close, a powerful new twin-engined fighter was preparing to enter service with the Luftwaffe. The unique configuration of this aircraft resulted in exceptional performance, beyond all of its contemporaries. More important for the Luftwaffe, it had potential for stemming the tide of Allied bombers that were pounding the Reich.
Unlike many other advanced Allied or Axis designs of the time, this machine was powered by traditional piston-engines.
|Do 335B |
Aircraft designers are constantly seeking to maximize engine power and minimize drag. Generally this means adopting some type of twin-engine layout. The designers of the Do 335 were looking to benefit by twin engines while escaping the increased drag normally associated with such designs.
An alternative arrangement using centerline thrust was conceived, with the two engines mounted fore-and-aft in tandem. With the power from both engines being delivered along the aircraft centerline, the benefits of this layout include reduced frontal area and an aerodynamically clean wing. Furthermore, should one engine fail in flight, there are none of the dangers of asymmetrical thrust.
The Dornier Do 335 was an attempt to embody the centerline thrust concept in a practical airframe. The unique layout featured a conventional nose mounted engine and tractor airscrew, with a second engine in the rear fuselage driving a pusher propeller. Performance figures for the early models was astonishing, and even with one engine out the machine could achieve 550 kph in level flight.
The Do 335 V5 was the armament test prototype, fitted with a 30 mm engine mounted MK103 cannon, and two 15 mm MG151 cannon mounted in the upper nose. The Do 335 V9 (CP UI) was the prototype for the Do 335A-0 pre-production model. Fitted with a strengthened undercarriage, DB603A-2 engines, and full armament, it was delivered in May, 1944 for further official trials.
In all, ten Do 335A-0 fighter-bombers were produced. Several were used by Erprobungskommando 335 (EK335), formed in September 1944 for the service evaluation and development of operational tactics for this new type.
In late 1944, the Do 335A-1 superseded the A-0 on the production line. This was the initial production model, similar to the A-0 but with the uprated DB603E-1 (1900 HP) engines and two underwing hard points for additional bombs or drop tanks. Delivery commenced in January 1945 (at least twenty eventually flown by combat units).
Capable of a maximum speed of 474 mph at 21,325 ft with MW 50 boost, or 426 mph without boost, and able to climb to 26,250 ft in only 14.5 minutes, the Do 335A-1 could easily outpace any Allied fighters it encountered. It could also carry a bomb load of 1100 pounds for 900 miles.
Given the nickname “Pfeil” (arrow) by Dornier test pilots, on account of its speed, service pilots quickly dubbed it 'Ameisenbaer' (ant-eater) because of its long nose.
As the war situation continued to deteriorate, development effort switched from the A-series fighter-bomber to the more heavily armed B-series heavy fighter.
The Do 335B-1 featured a V-shaped armored windscreen and DB603E engines. Its weapons bay was replaced by an additional fuel tank, and the two 15 mm MG151 cannon in the nose replaced by 20 mm MG151s. The B-4 prototype supplemented the 20mm cannon with two 30 mm MK103 cannon mounted on the inner wing leading edges.
L.H. The Go 229 has been considered by some a model for modern stealth designs, not much concern in 1945. With four 30mm cannon and two jet engines, it should make a powerful bomber interceptor. What is it like to fly in the sim?
T.H. It is just now reaching the point where the flight model is in place, so the jury is out. Like all period jets, I expect it to be deadly in the hands of someone who understands boom and zoom tactics, but frustrating to anyone who expects to dogfight.
The historians still haven't agreed how to designate this aircraft. Most likely the designation Horten IX or Ho IX is proper for the development project, with the official production version (assigned to the Gotha factory) being Go 229, not Ho 229.
Walter and Reimar Horten were pioneers of the tailless all-wing aircraft, and built a succession of beautifully graceful sailplanes with outstanding performance in 1936-40, followed by examples with two pusher engines. Their practical experience in building flying wing aircraft was at that time unique in the world.
In 1943 Walter Horten became interested in constructing a high-speed aircraft of wooden construction. Reports from Prof. Lippisch's DFS 194 (later Me 163) tests at Peenemunde convinced him that even wooden aircraft could carry jet or rocket engines. In August 1943 he met Hermann Göring, and the project was approved.
The first prototype was built in a glider configuration. It was completed in only six months, and test-flown for the first time in February 1944 in Göppingen.
The second prototype was powered by two turbojets. Of mixed construction, it incorporated some improvisations. BMW 003 engines were used instead of planned Jumo 004.
|Go 229 |
The first flight was made in Oranienburg on February 2nd, 1945. The craft showed very good handling qualities, with only a shade of instability. The second flight was equally successful. Two weeks later the third test flight was disastrous. At 800m one of the engines stopped. The pilot was in control of the situation and pushed the aircraft into a shallow dive to help re-start the engine. Suddenly at 400 meters the undercarriage dropped and the aircraft lost speed and went out of control. Erwin Ziller, the test pilot, was killed and the prototype was completely destroyed.
In March, 1945 work commenced on the third prototype, larger than previous prototypes and the shape modified in various areas. Twenty machines had been ordered and this prototype was powered by two Jumo 004C engines. Armament would consist of two MK108 30mm cannon in the wing roots. U.S. forces overran the Gotha factory on April 14, 1945 and found an almost completed, but not yet flown, third prototype. Four more machines, Go 229 V4, V5, V6 and V7 were in various stages of completion, the V4 and V5 being two-seater prototypes of the projected night-fighter version.
L.H. Two of the jets you will model use the Jumo turbojets (262 and Go 229). Will we see the same finicky performance of the actual engine or will you moderate those characteristics for the sake of gameplay?
T.H. The engines were particularly well known to have problems with fragility. The damage model will reflect the fragile nature of the engine. We’re working right now on modeling the effects of the other quirks, like compressor cavitation if the throttle was advanced too aggressively. We may need to moderate them a bit for gameplay, but the goal is to make the engine as consistent with reality as possible.
L.H. Finally, will we need a good combat record to fly these aircraft? Will only the "experten" make the cut for the Go 229 or 262?
T.H. Pilots have to earn the right to fly hot aircraft. That is true not only for the Go 229 but for whatever is the newest plane off of the assembly line.
As far back as 1939, Lockheed engineers had been interested in jet propulsion for aircraft, and had actually engaged in various paper projects. The USAAF was not particularly interested in any of these projects and declined to finance them. However, with reports of German and Italian advances in the area of jet propulsion, the USAAF suddenly began to show more interest in jet-powered combat aircraft.
On June 17, 1943 the USAAF gave its approval. The designation XP-80 was chosen for the project. One of the key requirements imposed on Lockheed was the need to complete the first aircraft within 180 days of the award of the Letter Contract.
In order to meet the requirements, and in particular to meet the tight schedule, Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, assisted by William P. Ralston and Don Palmer, assembled a small team of engineers and went to a ten-hour day / 6-day week schedule. They occupied a temporary building near the wind tunnel at Plant B-1. From these premises they set out to design the L-140 and to build the prototype for the XP-80.
The watchword was "simplify." The looked for any way they could streamline their methods as well as the design. In the end, they not only met the goals, they met them in record time and with complete secrecy.
At least one reason for their success was that they operated almost completely outside the normal company bureaucracy, resulting in a minimum of paperwork and overhead. This was the origin of the famous Skunk Works.
|P80 Shooting Star |
The first flight of the XP-80 took place on January 8, 1944 with test pilot Milo Burcham at the controls. Subsequent test flights reached a top speed of 502 mph at 20,480 feet, the XP-80 becoming the first USAAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight.
The initial production version of the Shooting Star, the P-80A, was ordered on April 4, 1944, when two batches of 500 aircraft was ordered. The P-80A was much the same as the YP-80A which preceded it, differing only in minor details.
- Engine: One General Electric J33-GE-11 or Allison J33-A-9 turbojet, rated at 3850 lb.s.t. Later production blocks powered by 4000 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-17.
- Dimensions: wingspan 38 feet 10 1/2 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 34 feet 6 inches, height 11 feet 4 inches, and wing area 237.6 square feet Weights were 7920 pounds empty, 11,700 pounds gross, and 14,000 pounds maximum takeoff.
- Fuel load: 425 US gallons normal, 885 US gallons maximum.
- Performance: Maximum speed was 558 mph at sea level and 492 mph at 40,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 4580 feet/minute. 20,000 feet could be attained in 5.5 minutes. Service ceiling was 45,000 feet. Normal range was 780 miles, and maximum range was 1440 miles.
- Armament: Six 0.50-inch machine guns.
The Curtiss XP-55 Ascender was one response to Circular Proposal R-40C, which was issued on November 27, 1939. It called for a fighter that would be much more effective than any then in the air, with a top speed, rate of climb, maneuverability, armament, and pilot visibility, superior to those of any existing fighter.
If that weren’t enough, the fighter was required to have a low initial cost and had to be easy and inexpensive to maintain. This requirement sounds like a more recent issue, one which resulted in the F/A-18 replacing the aging and unreliable F-14 Tomcat air fleet.
The Curtiss entry, designated CW-24 by the company, was the most unconventional of the four finalists. The CW-24 was a swept-wing pusher aircraft with canard (tail-first) elevators. The low-mounted sweptback wings were equipped with ailerons and flaps on the trailing edge as well as directional fins and rudders mounted near the wing tips both above and below the airfoil. All of this gave the aircraft an unwieldy, spidery look.
|Curtis P55 Ascender |
Furthermore, the elevators were located near the front of the nose in a horizontal surface! A completely-retractable tricycle undercarriage was to be used, the first time such an undercarriage was to be employed in a Curtiss fighter.
Naturally, propulsion too would be completely new. Curtiss proposed the untried Pratt & Whitney X-1800-A3G (H-2600) liquid-cooled engine, mounted behind the pilot's cockpit and driving a pusher propeller. While “UNCONVENTIONAL” was the hallmark of the project, the maximum speed was forecast at no less than 507 mph!
On June 22, 1940, the Curtiss-Wright company received an Army contract for preliminary engineering data and a powered wind tunnel model. The designation P-55 was reserved for the project.
Wind tunnel testing left the USAAC unsatisfied. As a result, Curtiss-Wright took it upon itself to build a flying full-scale model. Designated CW-24B by the company, the flying testbed was powered by a 275 hp Menasco C68-5 engine. It had a fabric-covered, welded steel tube fuselage and a wooden wing. The undercarriage was fixed.
The CW-24B was shipped out to the Army flight test center at Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards AFB) in California, making its first flight there on December 2, 1941. Although the maximum speed was only 180 mph because of the low engine power, the CW-24B proved the concept.
But early flights indicated a certain amount of directional instability. Corrections were made to the original auxiliary wingtip fins by increasing the area and moving them four feet farther outboard on the wings. The wingtips themselves were stretched outward, and vertical fins were added to both the top and the bottom of the engine cowling. 169 flights with the CW-24B were made between December 1941 and May 1942.
Meantime work on the CW-24 fighter project continued. On July 10, 1942, a USAAF contract was issued for three prototypes under the designation XP-55. Since the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine was experiencing serious program delays, Curtiss decided to switch to the Allison V-1710 (F16) liquid-cooled inline engine. Armament was to be two 20-mm cannon and two 0.50-inch machine guns, but during the mockup phase the 20-mm cannon were replaced by 0.50-inch machine guns.
The first XP-55 was completed on July 13, 1943. It made its first test flight on July 19, 1943 from the Army's Scott Field near the Curtiss-Wright St Louis plant. The pilot was J. Harvey Gray. The takeoff run was excessively long, and so the nose elevator was increased in area.
On November 15, 1943, Gray was flying the first XP-55 through a series of stall tests when the aircraft suddenly flipped over on its back and fell into an uncontrolled, inverted descent. The plane fell out of control for 16,000 feet before Gray was able to parachute to safety.
The second XP-55 was well along in construction, and so was essentially the same as the first one. It flew for the first time on January 9, 1944, but all flight tests were restricted so that the stall zone was carefully avoided.
The third XP-55 flew for the first time on April 25, 1944. It was fitted with the designed complement of four machine guns. Stall characteristics were improved by adding four-foot wingtip extensions of greater area and by increasing the limits of nose elevator travel. Stall warning was still insufficient, and stall recovery still involved a great loss of altitude. Engine cooling was also a problem.
The performance of the XP-55 was not very impressive and by 1944, jet-powered fighter aircraft were clearly the wave of the future. Consequently, no production was undertaken, and further development was abandoned.
Specs of the XP-55:
- One 1275 hp Allison V-1710-95 (F23R) twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled Vee engine.
- Four 0.50-inch Colt-Browning M2 machine guns with 200 rpg.
- Maximum speed 390 mph at 19,300 feet, 377.5 mph at 16,900 feet.
- Normal range was 635 miles at 296 mph. Maximum range was 1440 miles.
- An altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 7.1 minutes. Service ceiling was 34,600 feet.
- Weights were 6354 pounds empty, 7330 pounds normal loaded, and 7939 pounds maximum.
- Dimensions were wingspan 44 feet 0 1/2 inches, length 29 feet 7 inches, height 10 feet 0 3/4 inches, wing area 235 square feet.
While much energy was expended on the first British jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, a second and smaller type was being built by de Havilland as the DH.100 to specification E.6/41. Originally and unofficially named Spidercrab, the new fighter was eventually produced as the Vampire. The first prototype, LZ548/G, flew on 20 September 1943, some six months later than the Meteor. It was designed around a single engine, power was limited and a lightweight twin-boom configuration was employed. Armament was to be four 20mm cannon.
The Mark I first flew (TG274) on 20 April 1945 with a square cut tail fin after modifications to the prototype to establish the best fin and rudder configuration. The first aircraft went to 247 Squadron in March, 1946 and as production progressed improvements were introduced on the line. From the 40th aircraft the new engine (Goblin 2) of 3,100lb thrust was introduced together with auxiliary underwing fuel tanks and from the 51st machine the type had a pressurized cockpit and bubble canopy.
|Vampire F Mk1 |
The plane underwent rapid development and equipped many RAF squadrons at home and abroad primarily in the fighter-bomber role. It was highly capable, being small, agile, relatively fast and yet able to carry bombs or rocket projectiles as well as 20 mm cannons. Many foreign air forces were equipped with the Vampire fighter, including Canada, France, Italy and Switzerland.
Specs of the Vampire F.Mk 1 with the Goblin 2 engine
- Maximum speed was 548 mph (882km/h)
- Ceiling of 44,800 ft with a fully pressurized cabin
- Range was 1217 mi (1960 km)
- Carried four 20 mm cannons in the nose and was capable of carrying 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or eight 60 lb rockets on the wings
Next: Part 2 - Me262A-2A Sturmovogel
- Ray Wagner
American Combat Planes (3rd Edition)
- Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers
The American Fighter
- William Green
War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, Vol. Four
- Peter M. Bowers
Curtiss Aircraft, 1907-1947
Naval Institute Press, 1979
- Bill Gunston
Fighting Aircraft of WWII
London: Salamander Books, 1968
- Adolf Galland
The First and the Last
New York: Ballantine Books, 1960
Combat Flight Simulator 3:
Combat Flight Simulator 2: WWII Pacific Theater
There are hundreds of add-on files for CFS and CFS2. Too many to list here. Check the above sites as many have dedicated add-on directories.
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