The following information is provided to help pilots become familiar with the Wings of Power series of aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. These aircraft are materially different in terms of the flight modeling than what is commonly available. In fact, what is generally accepted as standard performance or aircraft behavior, in many cases will not apply to these aircraft.
The reason? Wings of Power aircraft were made using a new and ambitious process called, “Absolute Realism.”
There are several areas where the Wings of Power aircraft depart drastically from the standard fare. Until now, an aircraft was considered to fly accurately if it reproduced a handful of specific performance figures (top speed, max climb rate, stall speeds, etc.) These figures really only represent how an aircraft is performing at a single point in time. Absolute Realism goes beyond these limited numbers and authentically simulates all flight through an almost unlimited amount of conditions. If you take a minute and read this article through you will begin to understand just what a significant advancement Absolute Realism truly is.
As the pilot in command, you can take a Wings of Power aircraft to any given altitude, choose your own power setting (adjust the throttle and watch the manifold pressure / boost gauge), adjust your prop speed, and witness your aircraft climb and cruise exactly as it did in real life. You will even experience accurate fuel consumption rates. You can plan realistic and even historic flights based on your aircraft weight and calculate cruise speeds, distances traveled, and even authentic figures like “distance-to-altitude” shown in the manuals.
These figures are not just “estimated,”, they are finely tuned and put through a rigorous and exhaustive testing process by pilots. Wings of Power aircraft are the only aircraft we know of that are certified to be flown "by the book" using nothing but the original training manual for that particular aircraft. This is why we call it, “Absolute Realism.”
Almost a hundred of these performance charts like the one shown below were created by hand from in-house test pilots verifying they fly accurately throughout all flight regimes.
We encourage people to go out and buy the actual pilot training manuals for these aircraft and use them. When it comes to unique stall characteristics and other aspects not documented in the manuals, we refer to actual pilot flight-test reports and our own pilot interviews. Lastly, only hands-on pilots were involved in creating the way these Wings of Power aircraft fly.
The bottom line is, for the first time ever, you can experience these thoroughbred aircraft today for everything that they truly were, and still are.
Power and Propeller Settings
The flight simulation industry has commonly accepted that the maximum throttle setting (100 percent throttle) should reflect the published takeoff power of piston-engined aircraft. For example, the published takeoff power setting for the B-24D Liberator is 49" of manifold pressure and 2700 RPM. A standard FS2004 model of the B24 would expect the pilot to simply shove the throttles and propeller controls to the stop and head for the wild blue yonder.
Not with Wings of Power.
While you can throw the throttle forward in a Wings of Power aircraft, and it will takeoff, the difference is the Wings of Power aircraft will deliver the power these engines actually produce if you were to just throw the throttle forward. Let us explain:
These large, 4-engine aircraft in reality are extremely complex and require a great deal of coordinated teamwork to fly, and that includes setting both the power and propeller speeds for takeoff, landing, and cruise. All of the heavy bombers modeled here (except the PB4Y-2 and Lancaster) utilized “turbosuperchargers” and normal “superchargers” to increase boost so that very high altitudes could be reached. These boost systems were quite complex and required a lot of attention as well as very specific settings for all flight regimes.
For example, the normal takeoff setting for a B29A was with the turbo boost knob set to 8, which left plenty of headroom for additional boost. While you can throw the throttle all the way forward in Wings of Power with a turbo boost of 10, in reality a real pilot or copilot (or flight engineer) would never under any circumstances shove the throttles all the way to the stop unless war emergency power was required. On takeoff, a pilot "walks" the throttles carefully but briskly forward until the proper takeoff power setting is reached. This setting is read on the manifold pressure gauges.
Read this excerpt from a report issued from Bomber Command:
So as you can see, Wings of Power aircraft accurately model the available power for these aircraft, and not limit you to the lower published maximums for takeoff. If you decide to do a standard takeoff, just like the real pilot, you would raise the throttle slowly while watching your manifold pressure / boost gauge until a specific power setting is achieved. However, as pilot in command, if you want to experience a takeoff with military power, the choice is now yours to make. You can see by the report above, it clearly specifies that if necessary, war emergency power can be obtained (and was) by using full throttle. In some cases, as with the B-17, the propeller governor can also be set to a higher RPM than normal.
The higher an aircraft goes, the thinner the air (less atmospheric pressure). As the aircraft climbs into thinner air, a turbocharger compensates by forcing more air into the engine, thus making the engine “think” it is operating at a lower altitude. In reality, the pilot has the ability to control both the throttle and turbocharger separately.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, like previous versions of Flight Simulator, does not model turbochargers independently of the throttle control. All turbocharger functions are combined in a single throttle lever. Thus, when at the full throttle position, Wings of Power aircraft will produce true war emergency power (which simulates having the turbocharger setting at 10 and the throttles wide open). In reality the throttle and the turbo tend to move in step with each other, so this is acceptable.
Normal takeoffs will be at a lower setting than full throttle. This setting is provided in each aircraft's checklist. In the case of the B-17 aircraft, the propeller setting will also be less than the maximum (but can be set higher). A special gauge is provided that indicates the correct propeller pitch for takeoff.
There were two types of control systems for the turbosuperchargers: oil and electronic. The oil-controlled models had levers in the cockpit that would individually set the turbo boost for each engine, and these levers had to be set manually by the aircrew to provide the appropriate level of boost. The electronic control, known as the Pressuretrol system, had a single large knob incremented from 0-10, just like the volume level knob on a common home stereo system or car radio.
The takeoff distances provided in each checklist are precisely what is indicated in the performance tables for that airplane’s respective pilot’s training manual. However, to achieve these figures, the airplane must be flown exactly according to the procedure in the checklist. Using full throttle, incorrect flap positions, incorrect takeoff weights, erroneous trim settings, or improper liftoff technique will materially affect the takeoff distance.
The distances provided are the distance it takes to clear a 50' obstacle, which is a common pilot training procedure. These can be reduced by about 1/3 by using full war emergency power and up to 1/2 flaps on most airplanes. See the checklist for details.
There is far more to climbing than meeting a single rate of climb figure published in a book, or a single time-to-climb figure. The rate of climb for piston aircraft is normally greatest at sea level and falls steadily as the aircraft gains altitude. The weight of the aircraft, the power setting, and the climbing speed are absolutely critical in obtaining proper and accurate climb performance and if any of these parameters change, the time and distance to climb will also change. For most aircraft there are two climb power settings, rated power and desired climbing power. The lower power setting is usually reserved for lower aircraft weights and in some cases is not desirable due to fuel economy or engine cooling reasons. It can easily be seen that a simple figure published in a book cannot begin to accurately indicate an aircraft's actual ability to climb.
The climb is a very critical phase in any flight, and with these complicated aircraft, climbing speed and power settings were very important. Fuel economy, time to climb, range, and engine performance are all affected by the way the aircraft is set up to climb. The Wings of Power aircraft have been designed to climb at exactly the settings in the original aircraft manuals, and match the published climb performance data for each aircraft. The B-29, B-24, and B-17 aircraft were climb-tested to 30,000 feet MSL at the weights, power settings and speeds specified. The Lancaster and Privateer were flown to lower altitudes, reflecting the fact that they do not have turbochargers fitted. For all aircraft, even the time and distance to climb match the manuals.
Turbochargers have a turbine wheel (fan) that spins, forcing more air into the engines. The thinner the air, the less resistance on the turbine, which means it has to spin faster to maintain the same pressure than at a lower altitude. The critical altitude, for turbocharged aircraft, is the altitude at which maximum power can no longer be maintained because the air is so thin, the turbine can’t spin fast enough to maintain the desired pressure. From this “critical altitude,” the higher the aircraft climbs, the less power it can produce (in reality, above these altitudes the turbine would over-speed if excessive boost was applied). Depending on the type of control system -- electronic or oil type -- the critical altitude falls somewhere between 26,000 and 30,000 feet. For supercharged aircraft, the critical altitude is the altitude beyond which the supercharger can no longer produced the maximum rated manifold pressure.
The turbine wheel speed is determined by the difference in pressure between the exhaust system and the atmosphere, which is controlled by the opening of a relief valve called a wastegate.
Rules for climbing
1. Turbocharged (B-17, B-24, and B-29)
Do not advance the throttles once boost pressure starts to fall off above critical altitude.
2. Non-turbocharged (Lancaster and PB4Y-2)
Advance throttles to maintain the proper climb power once you are beyond critical altitude. This is simply a matter of slowly advancing the throttles as power falls off to keep the manifold pressure and power constant during the climb. This procedure must be followed in order for the aircraft to climb according to specifications.
Landing and Approach
Most aircraft commonly available for Microsoft Flight Simulator have drastically exaggerated flap and landing gear drag values, including the stock aircraft. Therefore most virtual pilots habitually fly the landing approach far too high and have a much greater rate of descent than is actually specified for a particular aircraft. These very high flap drag values allow pilots to get away with unrealistically steep, high approaches.
This is not the case with Wings of Power aircraft.
This can easily be demonstrated by setting the aircraft up on a simulated final approach at a specified landing weight. For example, according to the manual, the B-17G final approach is to be flown at 120 mph with full flaps, a power setting of 20" of manifold pressure, propellers at high rpm, and a rate of descent of 500 feet per minute. Take your Wings of Power B-17G, at a nominal landing weight of 45,000 pounds, to 5,000 feet and set up an autopilot-controlled descent with full flaps and gear down at the above power settings. You will find that it descends at the specified speed, give or take 1-2 mph. This confirms that the thrust, drag, and weight are in the proper equilibrium as specified. The same is true for all Wings of Power aircraft, which can be tested in the same way.
The bottom line is that flaps are not airbrakes; these aircraft need to flown at the proper speeds and power settings, or landings are going to be very challenging!
Mixture Control and Fuel Management
All of the piston aircraft are, by default, set to auto-mixture. This is because the real aircraft also used an automatic mixture control. There was no "manual" leaning of the mixture as one would carry out in a light private plane such as a Cessna 172 or Piper Cub.
In the real aircraft, there are four positions for the mixture control levers (except the Lancaster, which did not even have mixture controls): Idle Cutoff, Auto Lean, Auto Rich, and Full Rich. Idle cutoff is self-explanatory; Auto Lean is for lower cruising power settings and Auto Rich is for higher cruise power settings; and Full Rich is for climbing. In the Auto Rich or Full Rich positions the engine uses substantially more fuel than necessary for the purpose of keeping the cylinders cool. The simulator's auto-mixture setting duplicates a mixture that is slightly richer than the Auto Lean position.
The fuel consumption, power settings, airspeeds, and fuel economy shown in the tables for cruise performance for each aircraft are identical to those in the actual aircraft manual. Thus, these flight parameters have been modeled with extreme accuracy. To attempt to manually set the mixture would be fruitless, inaccurate, and in reality – dangerous. You will also notice that the mixture control levers move in the opposite direction from modern civil piston aircraft. This is accurate; idle cutoff was fully forward and full rich was fully back on these aircraft.
The one area that cannot be accurately modeled is the higher fuel consumption rates during Full Rich and Auto Rich. As a result, fuel consumed during the climb phase or at high power settings is less than the actual aircraft; this is a limitation in the FS2004 engine that does not model Full Rich and Auto Rich settings. However, in all other phases it will be exactly as the manual specifies.
Information on these aircraft is limited at best. However, a few things should be kept in mind. The engines spool up very slowly, and landings need plenty of room and lots of finesse on the part of the pilot. Captain Eric Brown commented in his dissertation on the He 162 that the aircraft would need more than just a "good" pilot to operate from a small airfield. This, of course, is also true for the Ta 183, with a more powerful engine and greater weight. The Ar 234, by comparison, is a wonderfully stable and responsive aircraft, but like the other jets, needs a lot of space to maneuver and a lot of runway to take off and land.
It’s not widely known that the Focke-Wulf Ta-183 is the first jet of its kind, and was the design that the latest US and Russian Korean fighters were based upon. You can expect this Focke-Wulf to have very similar characteristics to the Russian Mig 15 the US F-86 Sabre.
Each bomber has been set up with a 5-pound payload in the bomb bay location. This payload can be increased as desired to simulate bomb loads. As weight is added, the CG will shift aft just as in the real aircraft. The only plane that differs from this is the Lancaster Grand Slam version, which has a 22,000-pound payload fitted by default.
To obtain ultimate realism, fly the Wings of Power aircraft by the numbers using the information given in each aircraft's checklist. Even better, go out and buy a copy of the aircraft's actual flight manual and use that to fly the plane. That’s what we did. Now that's Absolute Realism.
Now go fly.