Friday, 29 August 2014

Dog Fights, Dye and Death - War Thunder FW190-A1 Simulator Handling

A strange 24 hours have besieged me, first of all, I got to play some WarThunder, I set up Track IR and my flight stick and set off doing touch and go landings in various aircraft under Simulator conditions.  More about that later.

We have had the wife brother visit, all good, except the wife bought a new mat for her room and it was PINK... not Pink, not pink... PINK!... She decided to wash this for the first time, and has promptly dyed a significant number of other articles PINK!... Shesh...

And Death... yes, I was greeted last night with the task of retrieving a dead starling from the flat roof, collecting it up it appeared the poor thing had flown into the window and broke its neck.  But because it has been raining for a couple of days it had been up there at least three days and yesterday was quite sunny... The smell... The Smell of Death... urgh.

Anyway, back to gaming.  I've also been playing Minecraft, lots of Minecraft, my base is coming into some shape, and I've still been doing lots and lots of caving.

But last night my gaming attention was on WarThunder and playing some Simulator battles, not I was not interested in the current furore over bombers flying easy mode in Simulator battles, instead I was out for some fighter action.  Now I'm not an inexperienced online aircraft pilot, having flown lots of IL2 Forgotten Battles, in both personal and squadron time.  My main experience was with the Fw190-D5 and the P51 in IL2.  So I set about flying my American line first.

Whenever I come to Simulator (or Full Real Battle as I still like to call it) I spend a good hours getting myself used to my aircraft, lacking the P51 being unlocked - yet - I took to the P47 my current research focus.  My general practice routine is take-off, three circuits, landing.  Take-off climb to altitude, aerobatics, test nose oscillation (porpoising), test roll, fly inverted, immelman turn, inverted immelman turn, barrel rolls and then rudder turning on hard turns followed by another landing.  And finally a take-off, three circuits, attack the ground target, fly at low-level, usually under a bridge or something else, followed by a landing.

That's pretty much my hours up, of course all this lets me tune my controls, check my seat position with the Track IR and of course get used to the aircraft, its only a pity this difficult flying doesn't get counted on your Pilot log/player card.

Anyway, I did all this practice in the P47, switched to find a battle only to be informed "This Nation is Temporarily Unavailable".

So, I went to my Fw190, unfortunately still only the A1 version but I'm only 5K Xp from the D5... I started off by test flying a take off and I was immediately treated to a wild amount of left hand torque from the prop... A very very strangely high amount of left hand Torque... Now I've read the Bf109 was notorious for this (and experienced that in other simulators), but the Fw190 design was intended to improve on the 109, and they did improve the torque handling... With the wide track undercarriage... I need to recheck my memory against other Sims and perhaps the D5 model.  But the Fw190A1 is very very difficult to control on the ground.

Set on the runway, no problems, Revving up to 25% throttle with the brakes on, and you can move around and taxi effectively.  But the aircraft has a horrible tendency to spin around to the left still.  

If we take a look at the A1's cockpit we can see this indicator

Now, being a game we don't get any Feel for the world, the only feedback is visual and audible, the key visual feedback for the yaw are the two indicators, lets highlight them with a bit of colour

The upper orange line marks where the movement of the impetus we're giving via the rudder, I would love to be an actual pilot and be able to tell you what this control is, but I'm not a pilot so lets call it our "yaw input"... yeah, so our yaw input is telling us how hard against the pedals our legs are working.

The lower purple line marks the current inertial force the aircraft is experiencing in the yaw.  So, if the black dot swings all the way to the left, the aircraft is going to slew its tail left.  To counteract this I need left rudder, to move the upper dot over the lower... Balancing the aircraft whilst on the take-off run is a full time job.

Now, I'm not using pedals, I'm using a finger rudder on the throttle of the Seitek X45 flight stick, reaching this - even with my fairly long typists fingers - Now this makes me immediately scream "Get a pair of rudder pedals", but I can't afford them and I've had precious little WarThunder flight experience.

Here we can see I've put on left rudder, and the aircraft has swung the opposite way...

This series of shots shows us the aircraft swinging around as I test the throttle and rudder together, try this out yourself, taxi around, be patient.  Eventually try some take-off runs.


Here we see us in the air in the Fw190A1 just after take off, we've bringing the gear up, but as you can see the aircraft is effectively flying squewed to the left through the yaw.  I'm pulling opposite rudder and trying to stay airborne.  This gives us a very busy take-off procedure in the A1, and something which feels very alien compared to my experience elsewhere.

Landing with the Fw190A1 was far more of a success for me, coming into line with the runway early is important with that radial engine blocking the view forward, drop the gear and landing flaps at 190mph (yes I fly in MPH not KM) when below 500 feet.  Now the practice runway for the Fw190A1 is not brilliant, there are trees at both ends of the runway.

If this were a real airbase I'd have gone out with a saw and chopped all the approach trees down!  As the number of times I find myself brushing their tops and hearing them was very worrying.  But drop the nose and drop the throttle to near idle and flutter into the landing.

Coming in with power on results in the aircraft wanting to swing and roll left once again, the roll to the left naturally makes me want to push right stick to counter act it and the results are always the same:

The left torque is a killer in the Fw190A1.

That all said, don't always take the Test flight experience as a valid representation of the aircraft, with the Fw190A1 I noted that in Test Flight one can use Aileron trimming, there is no such feature on the combat aircraft.  So the flight models may not be the same... I in fact strongly suspect they are not, because jumping into the A1 in a player combat mission resulted in two very different problems.

The first mission I took off, made it to the cloud base, joined combat on the wing of a 109-F4, who took on a Russian I-16.  As the combat broke I got onto the tail of an I-16 myself and made hits, only to have the Fw190A1 simply refuse to nose over and gain speed, it flew inverted with my pulling back on the stick refusing to nose over and dive.

My idea was to do low yo-yo and come into the I-16 on the upward stroke then roll over and come down again, in a high scissor action.  The actual flight ended up with the I-16 turning flay, my 190 failing to gain speed and then I was hit in the left wing... Looking to my left I saw NO marks, nothing... I'd heard the hit noise and been informed by the game my left wing was hit, but looking there was no mark, the control surfaces were all in place, the control surfaces still moved.  But if I took off any of the right stick I simply rolled left... Crippled I thus flew straight for 5 more seconds as I tried to turn with the rudder and the aircraft just went out of control.

Looking at the replay there was no damage shown on the wing... But clearly the aircraft wanted to handle as if there were no wing on the left side!

A shame, and in the aftermath I simply joined the battle queue again and off I went, this time a desert map - don't ask me to be specific - but the take off run went badly wrong... The 190 left hand torque lifted me far left into the dust, I nosed up too early to miss an AA battery and the aircraft yawed left wildly - despite hard left rudder - and it tore the left wing off on the ground.

This torque seems very wrong, murderous, and combined with my finding the test-flight model to be different has me strongly suspecting a bug or fault in the game.

Tonight I intend to get IL2 Forgotten Battles out and try the Fw190 in there and also the D5 in WarThunder, see if they're the same.  A shame, as I had hoped to buy premium time this weekend and the week after next - a holiday from work for me - and play many simulator hours.

Oh, and the final drama of the day, around half eight a knock at the door found me facing a drunk woman asking for Richard and Porscha... No not here... "This is XXX address"... "yes, but there's no Porscha here"... she was very drunk.

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