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With so many different aircraft in Strike Fighters it is often the case of selecting an aircraft and fudging it around the skies with only vague recollection of how the radar works and how it is supposed to handle because you didn’t have the time to refresh. The Last of the Lightnings is a mod that unusually for SF2 centers mainly on getting familiar with a certain type of aircraft and its systems. You might even term it DCS lite however I can’t imagine seeing any of the aircraft in this mod featuring in that sim in my lifetime.

 

So, what is it about?
The Last of the Lightnings (by comrpnt) is a set of scripted single missions (like YAP) that take the player through an RAF Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) training program and is based on the writings of ex Lightning and F-4 pilot Ian Black. This takes place in 1976 and you are flying the English Electric Lightning F.mk6.


The what you say? or as FastCargo once stated before being put under court martial by the USAF for blasphemy [or not].

The Lightning was the last fully designed British supersonic fighter to enter service and its only requirement seems to have been performance above everything else [especially fuel].  Strike Fighters 2 comes with all seven of the single seat variants:

  • Lightning F.mk1
  • Lightning F.mk1A
  • Lightning F.mk2
  • Lightning F.mk2A
  • Lightning F.mk3
  • Lightning F.mk6
  • Lightning F.mk53

Okay if you are wondering where your Lightnings are then you didn’t buy SF2 Expansion Pack 2 did you, in which case you are one of the reasons TK is now doing crappy phone games only………[hey his words] not to make you feel too guilty!

Shame really because it comes with some of the best 3D pits Thirdwire ever did, and probably unique as far as combat sims go with the Lightning:

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The centrepiece of the mod is a pdf guide that must have taken some time to do and is quite detailed in places.


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So the point of this is that you will be learning to fly the Lightning or at least be better at it. On Hard flight model (~SFM in DCS) it can be tricky to handle so you will be dragged through formation landings, flying, A-A refueling and even learn how to use the radar to properly intercept targets and actually read the radar symbology. Some of this should be useful for other aircraft at least.


Install
So yes you need SF2E and SF2 Exp 2 to run this minimum. I was running this from a full merged install, of which I created a separate install by copying the game exe file and running that to create a new Mod folder called LastOfTheLightnings for it.
Full instructions are on the PDF and is mostly drag and drop with some ini file editing. For the training rounds I created new folders in the weapons folder and not the old-fashioned way recommended.

 

Mods
So once up and running I added mods and changed them as I went through the course. Because of the changes that come with the mod I only changed the terrain tiles, runway, and sky using Better Widesky (Cellisky/Orsin). I have also put in mods to give more head movement and darker nights.

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Up and running
Firstly, you go to single mission only and choose the missions using the date code e.g. [760522] then ignore the text the game puts in because it is wrong [only go by the date code to get the correct mission per the guide].
 

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Check your loadout - obviously the training rounds should be there otherwise don’t touch or change anything just look at the map and then launch.

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So you start either on the runway or the taxi way on these missions.

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At the beginning the tricky parts are landing on formation with your Qualified Flying instructor (QFI) and playing chase the QFI. Especially at night you need to be on your feet to keep track of the guy initially!
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You are then given instruction on how A-A refueling should be done, e.g. fly in formation on the port side before refueling then fly formation on the starboard wing. You then have to try it at night and in clouds.

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Yes the amazing Ravenclaw Bucc is in this pack.

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The Intercept phase is interesting and you will be going after low and high targets before flying in formation with them, so you will need to learn what those dots and lines mean
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After basic intercepts you get to do ACM against the pesky aggressor F-4Ms, although don’t pay too much attention to the instruction for this because they will spam those AIM-7s at you, luckily they are only training rounds [if you installed them properly] and wont kill you.

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Next live weapons are used to intercept remote controlled unmanned drones (Hunters). The early ones fly straight but the later ones give you problems by turning a lot.

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After basic strafing there is a pretty cool finale for your graduation, firstly you fly an F-4M as a photo chase plane:

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Then you get to fly position 9 in a graduation formation fly over of RAF Jever.

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Final salute to comrpnt for a fine job six years later.

 

 

 

 

 

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Great review. Unfortunately, I don't have time for 10 hours of training, so I will skip all that. My favorite machines are the F-100D, F-4D, F-16C. These planes do what I expect them to do, unlike the Mirage III (which I have to come to grips with). I have flown the Lightning on several missions, and although it is likely very good, I just don't have the time to put in learning it. Your review makes me want to though...what's my next day off??

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The Lightning was released with a more difficult/realistic flight model than any other SF aircraft I can recall. I complained to TK, why does the Lightning get a flight model with such wild stability and stalling problems when the core aircraft, the F-4, gets a more dumbed down easy flight model? My desired response would be to see consistency: preferably to have all the aircraft modeled to the same level as the Lightning. TK chose to level the playing field a bit by going the other way, making the Lighting a little easier to fly. Given that his goal was to make the game fun and had made even the most difficult aircraft somewhat safer and easier to fly and that it was easier to fix one aircraft than upgrade all of the other ones, this was the right response. But the Lightning, especially the earliest variants is still one of the wildest rides in SF2. This makes it more fun and a better simulation. But I still feel cheated that the Century fighters and F-4 don't have nearly as much realism/difficulty baked into their flight models. I don't know if he intentionally made the Lighting this way or just didn't have the time to polish the flight model as much as he did on earlier planes. When you fly AI planes like the MiG-21, their primitive flight models are somewhat comparable to the Lightning. The AI flight models were roughed in to be just good enough for AI to operate rather than be polished for player "feel".

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