The Planes of CFS3, Part. 1

by Jim "Twitch" Tittle

Article Type: Military History
Article Date: Sept 30, 2002

Product Info

Product Name: Combat Flight Simulator 3
Category: WWII Air Combat Simulation
Developer: Microsoft
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Fall 2002
System Req.: TBA
Articles / Links / Files: Click Here

Remembering an ancient simulation like Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, we note that if an aircraft was at its optimum altitude and wide open its top speed was 100 percent accurate to life. Ceilings were equally precise. Subsequent titles have been less than correct.

True to life range is important when we consider all aspects either campaign or single mission related. Many sims have used the waypoint jump feature and planes never seem to run low on fuel very often. Supposedly CFS3 will not use the usual lackluster waypoint system but time compression instead.

Ordnance limitations due to weight restrictions per aircraft type have never been overdone, thankfully. RPG (rounds per gun) have been elusive in accuracy. We’ve seen well-known fighters that carried 400 RPG have 397 on their cockpit counters. Even if bullet counters aren’t shown it’s easy to see in the pertinent program files if accuracy is adhered to. Certainly we want to see proper ballistics and sounds represented by the different weapons aside from relative impact damage precision.

Climb rate has always something that, if 100 percent accurate, would make the flight sim a bit boring. Taking real time to attain 30,000 feet in eighteen minutes would make a sim drag so most flight modelers have increased rate of climb to make the scenario “playable,” and that’s fine. One thing that has been a mystery to model is acceleration. Pilots can give you an idea of it relative to different planes but it’s pretty intangible in flight sims since there isn’t much data on it from the real world.

So here are the stats for the actual aircraft involved in CFS3.


B-25 C/H/J
Supplied to England was the North American B-25 known simply as the “Mitchell” there. It was a rugged and dependable medium bomber and was heavily armed. All had a wingspan of 67.5 feet and were 51.5 feet long.

B-25B & H

The C, known as the Mitchell II, had two, 14-cylinder Wright Cyclone R- 2600-13 radials of 1,700 HP each using single stage, 2-speed superchargers.

All-up weight was 27,000 lbs. And the ship normally carried 2,000 lbs. of bombs with three 1,000-pounders maximum. It had a range of 1,728 miles with a ceiling of 26,500 feet. Maximum speed was 310 MPH at 13,000 feet.

There were five .50 caliber MGs (machine guns) for defense: one on a flexible mount in the greenhouse nose with 300 rounds, two in a dorsal turret with 400 RPG and another ventral turret with 400 RPG.

The H model had a solid nose mounting the 75 mm cannon plus four fifties with 400 RPG and four “package” guns fixed to fire forward in the fuselage with 300 RPG. The dorsal turret was moved forward just aft of the cockpit with its pair of fifties having 600 RPG and a manned tail position added two more also with 600 RPG. Waist locations each had one gun with 200 rounds. H’s could carry a maximum of 3,200 lbs. of bombs though 2,000 lbs. was normal.

CFS3's B-25C

All performance figures were generally the same as the C’s with a top speed a bit less at 300 MPH at 15,000 feet. Weight loaded was 35,000 lbs.

The Js were Mitchell IIIs and had two R-2600-29 engines rated at 1,850 war emergency horsepower using two-speed superchargers. Normal weight was 34,000 lbs. but maximum permissible was 41, 800 lbs. Speed was on the order of 275 MPH at 15,000 feet with a 1,110 FPM climb rate and a ceiling of 25,000 feet.

J’s bomb armament rose from 2,000 lbs to 3,000 lbs. on the 151st production H model and 4,000 lbs. could be carried with range lessened to 1,275 miles. Defensively 7,500 rounds of .50 caliber ammo were carried amongst the weapons in the 18-gun solid nose version. Earlier J’s had the glazed nose of earlier models but field service mods gave the plane eight .50s in the nose and four package guns firing forward. Pairs of .50s remained in the top turret and tail position along with the two waist guns.

Mosquito Mk IV/VI/XVIII
The two-seat wooden Mosquito was equally suited as a fighter or bomber. The two-seat Mk IV bomber was able to haul the same weight as the B-25’s 4,000 lbs., though externally. The plane weighed 22,500 lbs. with its 54.1-foot span and 40.5-foot length. Using a pair of Rolls Royce Merlin 23 V-12s with 1,460 HP each the craft was able to attain 380 MPH at 17,000 feet. Ceiling of 28,800 feet could be attained in 22.5 minutes from a 1,700 FPM climb rate. Range was 1,370 miles. The Mk IV had no gun armament.

Mosquito will come in 3 models

The Mk VI fighter ultimately used the hotter Merlin 25s with 1,636 HP though top speed was similar to Mk IV with 380 MPH seen at 13,200 feet. Normal loaded weight was a bit less at 19,500 lbs. but this fighter-bomber could hang 2,000 lbs. of bombs under it or 1,000 lbs. plus eight 60 lb. rockets. Beyond that the plane had four Hispano 20 mm cannon with 150 RPG in the nose and a quartet of .303 machine guns with 500 RPG.

Climb was better at a 1,870 FPM initial rate. Ceiling was increased to 33,000 feet. With drop tanks Mk IV could go as far as 1,650 miles. Without auxiliary tanks and 1,000 lbs. under the wings 1,270 miles range was normal.

CFS3's Mosquito XVIII

The Mosquito Mk XVIII seems to be a “must have” in more complete European combat flight sims. Seen previously in both Aces Over Europe and European Air War the type was converted in small numbers—twenty-seven examples—to mount the Molins 57 mm cannon in place of the four 20 mms with the quad .303s retained. The XVIII could additionally carry eight 60-lb. rockets or two 500 lb. bombs. All dimensions and performance was similar to the Mk VI.

Spitfire Mk IXC/IXE

Spit 9C & E are musts

The Supermarine Mk IX was developed from the VC type. The IX’s wing was known as the “C” wing and was clipped of its pointed tips. It housed four .303s with 350 RPG along with the pair of 20 mms with 120 RPG. The “E” wing mounted two .50 caliber Brownings with 250 RPG in place of the four .303s.

The IXE’s wings spanned 36.9 feet and the slim fuselage was 21.3 feet long. The clipped wing measured just 32.6 feet across. A Merlin 70 V-12 with 1,710 HP was used to give a top speed of 416 MPH at 27,500 feet and 396 MPH at 15,000 feet. Ceiling was a lofty 45,000 feet. Climb to 20,000 feet averaged 3,125 FPM.

CFS3's Stubby Wingtipped Spitfire Mk IXe

The IXE was light at just 7,500 lbs. maximum loaded weight. Range was modest with 434 miles increased to 980 miles with drop tanks. The type could also carry one 500 lb. or two 250-lb. bombs.

Tempest Mk V

Tempest V should haul

The Hawker Tempest Mk V was the Typhoon in some respects of looks but was much improved. A beefy 24-cylinder horizontal-H Napier Sabre IIB engine of 2,200 HP rested in the 33.75-foot fuselage. Its wide wings spanned 41 feet. The motive power made for 435 MPH at 17,000 feet, 392 MPH at sea level and 416 MPH at 4,600 feet where the type was employed for V-I buzz bomb interdicts using its great speed. It was heavier than a Spitfire at 13,500 lbs. but could manage a 36,000-foot ceiling. Initial climb rate was superb with 4,700 FPM seen.

CFS3's Tempest V

In the broad wings were four Hispano 20 mms with 150 RPG. Two 1,000-lb bombs or eight 60-lb. rockets could be toted. Clean range was 820 miles but with drop tanks this could be increased to 1,300 miles.

Typhoon Mk 1B

Typhoon IB

The Hawker Typhoon was known for its weak rear fuselage to tail section that has been accurately modeled in sims failing at less that 500 MPH in dives. Never-the-less the Typhoon Mk 1B was used to good effect at ground attack with its four 20 mm Hispanos with 140 RPG and a pair of 1,000-lb. bombs or eight 60-lb. rockets.

CFS3's Typhoon IB

Size was close to the later Tempest with a span of 41.6 feet and a length of 31.9 feet. The 24-cylinder horizontal-H Napier Sabre IIA engine of 2,180 HP gave 405 MPH at 18,000 feet. Range clean was 610 miles and with maximum external fuel 1,000 miles could be flown. The 1B averaged 2,500 FPM to 15,000 feet and a ceiling of 34,000 feet could be reached. All up weight was 11,400 lbs.

Vampire Mk 1
If the flight models are decent we’ll get an idea of what the De Havilland Vampire I would have done against the Me 262 and other German jets. It never saw service in WWII but the “what if” factor should be fun.

Vampire will take on German jets- a 1st

The twin-boom fuselage measured 30.75 feet with the cabin pod fitted P-38 style between the 40-foot wings. In the nose were four 20 mm Hispanos with 150 RPG. It was light at just 10,400 lbs. loaded. Power from the 3,100 lb. thrust De Havilland Goblin II centrifugal compressor turbojet gave a healthy 531 MPH at 17,500 feet and 505 MPH at 30,000 feet.

CFS3's Vampire I

The fighter had a good climb rate of 4,375 FPM and a range of 730 miles. With drop tanks 1,145 miles could be achieved. Ceiling was tall at 43,000 feet.

British Summary
We generally know what to expect from the Spitfire flight models. Historically in sims they have been highly maneuverable virtual fighters with adequate firepower. The Tempest will probably be a hot ticket and the Typhoon less so with many ground attack sorties. The Mosquito fighters will probably be survivable in duels with Luftwaffe fighters if they can train their firepower on the enemy. There will probably be no sanctity enjoyed by the real “Mossies” in night missions. The bomber version will be fun for those who like to bomb things and not gunfight.

The B-25 is dubious. All the past sims have had bombers (some modders made them flyable) and there have been pure bomber sims. Folks think they long for flying simulated bombers but the reality is in combat sims that most missions have been poorly scripted and anything like level bombers are boring to fly and not very survivable. The perceived romance of flying them has proved short-lived. We must see if Microsoft can finally pull it off.


B-26 C/F

We'll have 2 B-26 models

The Martin B-26A and B Marauders were maligned as crew killers until landing techniques were adopted to cope with the high let down speeds. The narrow 65-foot wing was partly to blame and it was increased to 71 feet. The crew of, usually six or seven, rode in the bullet-shaped 56-foot fuselage. They planes usually took off at 37,000 lbs. weight.

The C and D models were successful against German transports at the end of the Tunisian campaign when used as long-range fighters. The Marauders had 4,400 rounds total for the four .50 caliber package guns in the front fuselage along with a flexible one in the nose, the power dorsal turret housed another pair and two more fired from the tail while waist gunners each had a fifty.

CFS3's B-26G

Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43 14-cylinder radials of 1,920 HP with 2-speed superchargers gave 283 MPH at 5,000 feet and 274 MPH at 15,000 feet. 4,000 lbs. of bombs were standard and a maximum of 1,100 miles was the range of the ship. Performance was geared for low and medium altitudes so the ceiling was just 19,800 feet. Climb rate was 1,000 FPM.

P-38 H/J

P-38H & J will appear

Modeled in almost every sim, the Lockheed Lightning should be familiar to fly. P-38Hs were early models that were delivered in March 1943. They had two supercharged 1,425 HP Allison V-1710-89/91 V-12s. The later J model was identical in power and performance but had improved cooling along with other refinements. P-38s never faired that well in Europe. Weather played havoc with its systems and altitude superiority enjoyed in the Pacific was not a major factor against high-flying Luftwaffe aircraft.

The twin-boom P-38’s were big, having 52-foot wingspans and measuring 37.9 feet long. They weighed 17,500 lbs. loaded. In the fuselage nose were four .50 calibers with 500 RPG and a 20 mm Hispano cannon with 150 rounds. This was a lot of ammo. The P-38 J could carry two 500-lb, two 1,000-lb. bombs or 1,600 lbs. total assorted. Ten 5-inch rockets could be attached alternately.

CFS3's P-38L

The H/J could climb to 44,000 feet maximum and rate of climb averaged 3,000 FPM. At full throttle the H and J could do 414 MPH at 25,000 feet and go 1,175 miles. With big drop tanks P-38s could range out to 2,260 miles.

P-51 B/D

P-51B & D inset

Almost always modeled well, the North American P-51B Mustang had its Allison engine replaced by the Packard-built Merlin designated the V-1650-3 with 1,620 HP. Many P-51Cs were used and were indistinguishable from the B. This was a fast mover with a top end of 439 MPH at 25,000 feet and 440 MPH at 30,000 feet. Even at 5,000 feet they could do 395 MPH. Range was what set the fighter apart allowing escort of bombers to any location in the Reich. 550 miles range turned to 2,200 miles with drop tanks.

The ceiling was excellent at 42,000 feet and the ship could climb at 2,800 FPM. Four .50 caliber Brownings mounted two to a wing. The inboard pair had 350 RPG and the outer had 280 RPG. Bs could carry two 1,000 bombs. Loaded the Bs weighed 9,200 lbs.

CFS3's P-51D

The D model had the improved bubble canopy and the C model’s V-1650-7 engine of 1,695 HP.
Speed was similar to the B with 437 MPH at 25,000 feet. Range on internal fuel was greater at 950 miles to 1,300 miles depending on speed and altitude. With drop tanks they could go 2,080 miles. Climb to 20,000 feet averaged 2,739 FPM. The ceiling was similar with 41,900 feet reachable. The Ds were heavier at 10,000 lbs. loaded.

Wingspans of the B and D were 37 feet while length was 32.25 feet. D models could deliver pairs of 500-lb. or 1,000-lb. bombs but six 5-inch rockets could be used too. The addition of two more fifties gave the ship more punch. The inboard pair had 400 RPG while the outboard four carried 270 RPG.

P-47 D/D-25

2 kinds of P-47Ds

The Republic Thunderbolt will come in the notch-backed D, which covered all sub-models up to the D-25-RE that had the bubble canopy from then on. This big brute was a huge airplane weighing 13,500-14,000 lbs. loaded with its 40.8-foot span and 36-foot rotund fuselage length.

The later notchback D-22-RE used the 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R2800-21 radial with 2,300 HP and the D-25-RE had the -59 engine of 2,535 HP. The -22 had a top speed of 433 MPH at 30,000 feet and the -25 could do 426 MPH at that height. At 5,000 feet they went 353 MPH and 363 MPH respectively. The -22 could reach 40,000 feet while the -25’s power got it to 42,000 feet. The -22 climbed at 2,750 FPM at 5,000 feet where the -25 could hit 3,120 FPM. At 20,000 they still managed 2,140 /2,650 FPM.

CFS3's P-47D-25

The -22 notchback could carry just one 500-lb. bomb where the -25’s extra hardpoints allowed it to haul three of them or two 1,000-pounders. Ten 5-inch rockets could be fired from the -25’s new under-wing mounts. The legendary firepower of the ”Jug” was deserved with its eight .50s in the wings each with up to 425 rounds. Some pilots armed them with just 267 RPG to improve combat handling. Until the use of large drop tanks the -22 could go 640 miles and the -25 just 590 miles. With external tanks the -22 could manage 925 miles but the -25 got a whopping 1,800-mile range. The difference was due to the hardpoints and number of drop tanks affix-able.


P-55 will be flyable

The Curtiss Ascender in real life never got the proper engine to really make it “fly.” The rear-mounted 1,275 HP Allison V-1710-95 V-12 pusher was without the proper turbo-supercharger unit in its tests. The prototype’s performance didn’t warrant production though the canard layout may have scared off the Air Corps too.

The XP-55 had a 44-foot wingspan and was 29.6 feet long weighing 7,330 loaded. Top speed was 390 MPH at 19,300 and had a ceiling of just 34,600 feet due to lack of “breathing accessories” on the power plant. Range was good at 1,440 miles maximum though with the P-38’s 1,425 HP turbo-supercharged Allison it would have been less with a greater top speed though. Originally the fighter was planned with the experimental Pratt & Whitney XP-1800-AG3, which may have had substantially more power yet.

CFS3's P-55A

Two 20 mms and two .50s were the planned armament but mock ups showed a better use of space in the slim nose with four .50s at 200 RPG.


P-80A vs German jets

While the P-59 was a nice test bed for jet engines it yielded no improvement over piston power of the time. The XP-80 had a de Havilland H-1B Goblin with 2,460 lbs. thrust and hit 502 MPH with a climb rate of 3,000 FPM. Licensed production delays at Allis Chalmers made the General Electric J-33-GE-9 or –11 with 3,850 lbs. thrust the only choice but required heavy re-design.

The finished layout had a fuselage 34.5 feet long with a span of 38.9 feet. The fighter weighed 11,700 lbs. normally loaded. This marriage made a hot combo with a 558 MPH top speed at sea level, 548 at 10,000, 533 MPH at 20,000 feet and 492 MPH at 40,000 feet. The jet could go up to 45,000 feet and climbed initially at 4,166 FPM averaging 3,636 FPM to 20,000 feet.

CFS3's P-80A

Range was somewhat short like all early jets with a maximum of 780 miles going 410 MPH at 35,000 feet. Wing tip drop tanks boosted this to a respectable 1,320 miles. No heavy cannon here though. Six .50 caliber machine guns fired from the nose each with 300 rounds. Two 500-lb. or 1,000-lb. bombs could be attached and with the 100th plane onward provisions for ten 5-inch rockets were made.

American Summary
We imagine the same “remains to be seen” aspect of the B-26 bomber being fun to pilot like the B-25 mentioned above. There shouldn’t be any surprises in the P-38 duo since they’ve been done often. If they balance as well as European Air War’s P-38s against Luftwaffe planes they will be fine.

There can hardly be a badly modeled P-51 with all that has been done and the wealth of data and narratives in existence. The P-47D and D-25 RE should be noticeably unique to one another in performance though the notchback should not be a “dog.” Good model choices here. The XP-55 is another story. Will it have the designed for power modeling? (We’re told it will) What type of missions will be scripted for it? Any unique aircraft is welcome since the “normal” ones have been done many times.

The P-80A should lend the “what if” aspect nicely against the Luftwaffe planes. It should come off well in an extended war scenario. It will be a good addition where most previous sims ended with the standard fighters going up against German jets.

In Part 2 we’ll check out the German aircraft slated to fly in CFS3.


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    North American B-25
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  • Air Age Technical Staff
    Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
    Air Age, Inc. NY 1958

  • Bekker, Cajus
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  • Caidin, Martin
    Me 109
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  • Green, Wm.
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    Hanover House, NY 1959-60

  • Green, Wm.
    The Complete Book of Fighters
    Smithmark Publishers, NY 1994

  • Green, William
    Fighters Vols. 1,2 & 4
    Doubleday & Co., NY 1960-61 & 60

  • Green, William
    Jet Aircraft of the World
    Macdonald, London 1955

  • Green, William
    Bombers & Reconnaissance Aircraft Vol. 10
    Doubleday & Co. NY 1968

  • Myhra, David
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    Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA 1998

  • Nowarra, Heinz J.
    The Focke Wulf 190
    Harleyford Publications GB 1965

  • Nowarra, Heinz J.
    The Messerschmitt 109
    Harleyford Publications GB 1964



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