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F-8J Crusader coming to DCS

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Leatherneck Simulations Spring Update

Dear aviators,

as Winter is now only a memory for the most of us, we would like to share with you some news that should change dynamics of our development and give you a better understanding of our status this Spring. Earlier in March we’ve posted a teaser on Facebook, announcing to the world our next major project. It is time to explain this module in greater depth, as well as, bring some news on our other projects, primarily F4U-1D Corsair and MiG-21bis.

Vought Aeronautics F-8J Crusader

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The F-8 Crusader revered by Naval Aviators as the ‘last of the gunfighters’ due to it’s four 20 mm Colt-Browning Mk 12 cannons, is a legendary fighter now coming to a DCS World. Conceived during the early 1950s, the F-8 Crusader was developed by Vought with a set requirements that have changed an established long ago axiom, that carrier-based aircraft could not outperform shore-based ones. The U.S. Navy wanted a fighter capable of Mach 1.2 at 30,000 ft, Mach 0.9 at sea level and a 25,000ft-per-minute rate of climb coupled with great maneuverability. The result was Vought’s Model V-383, later designated XF8U-1, enjoying all the advantages available at a time such as lightweight materials, newly developed aerodynamics, ram air turbine and a formidable armament. With the first production F8U-1 leaving Dallas plant on September 20, 1955, a new era in naval aviation had begun. The F-8 Crusader was numerically the most populous fighter in the U.S. Navy at the outbreak of Vietnam conflict. The Crusader during its time, enjoyed great success against North Vietnamese MiGs, officially being attributed with 18 enemy aircraft shot down, which represented 53 percent of all Vietnamese fighters claimed by the U.S. Navy squadrons during Rolling Thunder operation.

The F-8J ‘Juliet’ in development, was the last major modification of the Crusader family, which followed ‘Echo’ version. It introduced a number of improvements, of which most noticeable is the Boundary Layer Control, providing additional lift during take-off and landing, which initially was met with mixed success caused by a variety of issues such as ramp strikes. This in turn was addressed by the engine upgrade to a Pratt & Whitney J-57-P-420, which is the engine our Crusader will feature.

Furthermore, the F-8J featured the following:

  • A new AN/APQ-124 radar set
  • 4 x 20 mm Colt-Browning Mk 12 cannons in the lower forward fuselage area
  • ‘Y pylons’ enabling the fuselage stations to carry four air-to-air missiles or Zuni pods
  • Underwing pylons
  • Bullpup missile control systems.

Despite its primary role, the F8 Crusader eventually turned out to be a capable air-to-ground platform, at one time being the only Navy fighter capable of carrying Mk 84 2,000lb bombs, one under each wing.

DCS F-8J will also feature an AN/AWG-4 Fire Control System with BAT/ALE and SEAM Systems, Shoehorn ECM equipment, APX-72 IFF transponder, AN/ARC-51A Command Radio, ARN-52 (V) TACAN and many others.

Having begun development of this module earlier this year, we’ve focused initially on obtaining any available technical and flight documentation as well as high quality pictures for already ongoing 3d model development. We’ve visited not so long ago the Museum of Flight in Seattle with an XF-8A on display and intend to visit more facilities such as the National Museum of Naval Aviation and Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, to obtain a detailed pictorial documentation specific to later F-8 variants.

Chance-Vought F4U-1D Corsair

Since the previous update in January, a lot has changed in the F4U-1D development. External model textures are now almost complete and only a few elements and incorrections need ironing out. Thus, simultaneously, we began work in the cockpit, which unexpectedly needs some remodeling to ensure that a late variant of F4U-1D is represented. All this necessities convinced us not to show the 3d model prior to it’s completion, so that you can see it in its entirety. As soon as it’s ready, we will provide you with the set of footage.

We also received a first preview of our pilot. Model below has only basic texturing applied and has yet to go through multiple phases, before completion.

MiG-21bis Fishbed

Moving straight from the Corsair to the Fishbed, we would like to give you a small preview of the upcoming cockpit update. In the past few months, you might have seen in our updates, how it has been changing. As development of the cockpit is progressing further, we can now present to you, a result of our work. Keep in mind that this state is still very much a work in progress.

In order to improve the general look of the cockpit, not only have shapes and textures improved, but in some instances we’ve made a decision to entirely reconstruct certain elements, such as the windscreen and ASP-21-PDF gunsight. Derived from CAD designs, the new gunsight represents a higher quality 3D mesh than the previous one, while at the same time does not impact performance as we were actually able to reduce number of polygons in use.

With that last thing in mind, we can also admit, that we’ve put an effort with this update in all possible aspects, to simultaneously improve graphics AND performance. For example, most recently we’ve tested a new set of cockpit lights which produced great visual effects, but had an unfortunate side effect, as it reduced performance, thus ruling it out as an option. As such, we will keep looking for any other opportunities to improve what we already have.

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Christen Eagle II

And last but not least, our little puke machine, which has seen multiple requests, asking to further improve it’s external and internal sounds. To address this request, we’ve decided to employ a sound engineer who recorded high quality samples of an actual Christen Eagle II during aircraft startup and engine operation. After processing and adopting for DCS standards, this sounds will be implemented to satisfy your expectations.

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Based on my experience with the MiG-21, I have zero confidence in Leatherneck. I hope they can produce a respectable F-8, but if it ends up being comparable to the quality of the MiG-21bis, it will end up a hangar queen if I even bother to buy it.

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Streakeagle,  I'm curious about the issues your having with the MiG-21. I may eventually get DCS installed and the MiG-21 would be on the shopping list. Are you finding the MiG-21 "glitchy" or is your issue with the plane more FM related. I've seen a few online complaints regarding the FM.

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On 4/28/2019 at 11:17 AM, baffmeister said:

Streakeagle,  I'm curious about the issues your having with the MiG-21. I may eventually get DCS installed and the MiG-21 would be on the shopping list. Are you finding the MiG-21 "glitchy" or is your issue with the plane more FM related. I've seen a few online complaints regarding the FM.

The MiG-21 has several issues. The most important to me is that after many years since the original release, the gunsight does not have the basic functionality that it should have. It should essentially behave like the P-51D's K-14 with the option to use manual range input or radar range input like the F-86. So the diamond circle should change size with the range input and the wingspan input like every other gunsight from that generation. If you have the range input and wingspan input correct, the diamond circle should match the wingspan of the target. It has none of that functionality and does't seem to compute lead very well either. The P-51D's K-14 probably works too well... I am able to use it to place rounds with near pinpoint accuracy if the target co-operates enough. The F-86 gunsight appears to function correctly, but the lead computation seems to be off compared to the accuracy I get with the K-14. The MiG-21bis' LCOS reticle is effectively useless, you can be more accurate just using the fixed reticle and judge the lead from experience.

The MiG-21 generally looks as good or better than any other module... but it achieves those good looks inefficiently. It takes too much hard drive space and degrades frame rate performance, especially when other MiG-21s are flying nearby.

But the other problem that has bothered me as much or more than the gunsight functionality is the dirty canopy. The globs of sealant around the periscope and the much splattered all over the glass resemble a museum bird that has been left out in the weather without maintenance for 10 to 20 years. The glare from the sun combined with all the dirt on the glass made dogfights very difficult for me.

So, in response to questions/complaints about these problems, the company reps who post on the DCS forums are very hostile and defensive. They ultimately claim they are providing improved canopy visibility options, but also claim they don't have enough information to model the gunsight correctly. I have read the manual it spells out behavior damn near identical to the F-86 gunsight except for a few new features/options. Why is it that nearly every other DCS World aircraft has been able to get the gunsight working correctly, but not the MiG-21?

I am a huge MiG-21 fan and was amazed by how complete it was for the initial release. But over the years, the MiG-21bis got a lot worse before it started getting better. Instead of fixing the MiG-21bis or releasing a contemporary opponent, Leatherneck releases a biplane.

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