As a youngster I was almost permanently fascinated by the Spitfire, possibly the best known of all the aircraft used by Great Britain in WWII. Graceful, elegant and yet deadly against it’s foes, it will always be one of the most legendary aircraft ever to have graced our skies.
Little wonder then, that I would finally get around to grabbing myself a model to have some fun with in FSX, Although now that I think about it, I’m really not sure what took me so long.
Product Page/Download Links
The Supermarine Spitfire Mk IV (JustFlight.com)
A Bit of History
The Mk IV Spitfire “DP845” was a prototype model of the Spitfire family and was first flown in 1941. The most significant changes in the MkIV over previous models of the airplane were it’s new powerplant; the supercharged 1,735 hp Rolls Royce Griffon IIB, as well as the proposed six-cannon armaments and extendable flaps that could be used for braking when coming into land.
Despite there being initial teething problems with the MkIV, largely in relation to directional issues when changing engine RPM and caused by the increased power of the Griffon, Supermarines Chief Test Pilot Jeffrey Quill, spoke fondly of the aircraft
“…once in the air, the aeroplane had a great feeling of power about it; it seemed to be the airborne equivalent of a very powerful sports car and was great fun to fly.”
I’m going to mirror the above sentiment expressed by Jeffrey Quill: The virtual version of the Mk IV really does have the feel of a large and powerful sports car, the guys at Aeroplane Heaven having done a fabulous job of re-creating the combination of power and flight dynamics to offer something different and very enjoyable
Even just starting up the MkIV brings a smile to my face. The sound of the starter cartridge, supercharger and the deep rumble of those 1700 horses roaring into life offering a small chuckle of appreciation.
On the ground, the MkIV is easy to taxi and responds well to yoke inputs as we maneuver around to the runway, making the relatively mundane task of doing so fairly pleasing. On the runway itself, applying all that power to get airborne for the first time gives an indication of what she’s got available, lifting off herself with no control inputs required once we’re up to speed.
In terms of flight dynamics, Aeroplane Heaven have done a really great job, including recreating some of the small issues that were inherent in the prototype. Changes in engine RPM cause the aircraft to pitch or yaw noticeably, very much in the way that Lieutenant-Commander Quill spoke of. Rather than being a negative though, I found that this truly enhanced the experience.
Otherwise, the MkIV turns, rolls and loops smoothly and with accuracy. Despite being heavier than the aircraft I’m normally performing aerobatics with, the Spitfire still responds keenly and seems eager to be flown aggressively.
In terms of straight and level, point-to-point flying, this lady is a bit of a mix. If you’re looking to go straight and level at 3,500 feet for 100 miles, then I’d suggest perhaps another aircraft might be your first choice. There’s two reasons for this really. First off are the control aspects I’ve mentioned above, making straight and level flight over any distance tricky without constant changes in pitch. Secondly, well.. She’s a Spitfire.. Why would you want to fly her like that when she’s got so much more to offer? It’d be like.. Like.. Well, like using a 1964 Ferari 250 GTO as a taxi cab!
However, if you’re ‘taking the scenic route’, perhaps through the mountains or round a coastline, then she’s worth it every inch of the way.
Visually, the Spitfire is a good looking aeroplane and there’s plenty of attention to detail. The virtual cockpit is accurately modeled and well textured, making it a pleasure to be in. Other small details, like the movement of the pilot as he slides the canopy back, give the aircraft a cheerful and pleasing feel, one that I’ll be certain to come back to again and again (and again).
In conclusion; if you have an appreciation of vintage and historic aircraft or are simply looking for a change of pace from flying airliners, then I would very much recommend this wonderfully designed and modeled aircraft.
And to wrap things up, a small taster of flying the MkIV Spitfire: