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Review: GAS Boeing Model 75 Stearman

GAS-B75reviewlogoPeter Hayes weekly review today tells us all about this Golden Age Simulations product: ” Golden Age has credibly achieved an accurate representation of this open cockpit “tail-dragger” biplane. The 4 variants all have different handling characteristics and flight dynamics. The top speed is a modest 124 mph (108 knots), so this is plane to be used for sightseeing trips.

The Stearman 75 was used extensively in the USA as a trainer during WWII, 1939-45. The models are very nice to look at and they show FSX effects including dynamic shine, self shadowing and bump mapping, giving a “real-world” look in the SIM. The gauges though simple are clear and easy to use. The Stearman 75 is very reliable and forgiving plane, and many were be used as crop dusters after the end of WWII. Approximately 10,000 of these planes were built in the USA in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Many still survive (around 1,000) today.

The original designer of the plane was Lloyd Stearman, a former President of Lockheed, starting production in 1927. Ever since that I read Stephen Coonts’ novel, “The Cannibal Queen”, I have housed a Stearman in my virtual hangar. I’m glad that I now have an FSX version.”

In the Sim

Settings: In the Select aircraft menu in FSX you will see the tab for “Unknown” and this allows the choice of all 4 models and 4 repaints. I tested all 4 variants as part of this review. To display the Aircraft as Boeing Model 75, you need to edit each aircraft.cfg and add this line below any “uixx” entry in the first section: ui_createdby=”Boeing Model 75 Stearman”. I used “Golden Age simulations to identify mine. I saw no effect on frame rates or smoothness when flying the Stearman in FTX Western Australia.

Figure 1 FSX Settings StearmanFigure 1 FSX settings Stearman

The Guide: Well!! That’s the mystery, I couldn’t find one and I even asked GAS for a copy on a couple of occasions, I really didn’t get an answer other than a hint that the default Windows commands obviously work. I also asked how to get into the front cockpit, but I was given the answer CTRL + Backspace which in fact is the keyboard command for eye point forward. I was really after a command that would put me in the front seat if possible. The lack of a good manual is a minor annoyance, as there are differences (subtle) in the VC between the models. Fortunately, it’s not the end of the world as it is quite easy in the 4 simple layouts to quickly learn what does what to whom and when. However, included in the package there is a “power point” like presentation of the N2S which was prepared by the US Navy and given to budding Stearman 75 trainee pilots. There are 57 slides outlining the basic specs and functions of the N2S.

The Viz: Well to be honest, it looks to me like a real Stearman!! It’s a nice honest simple model of this well loved bi plane. There are no doors for access, you just climb up on the wings and jump in, there’s no canopy so you probably will get virtually wet in when it’s raining! As I said, this is an open cockpit biplane, two models have a double bladed fixed pitch wooden propeller, and two models have a variable pitch propeller (possibly the Lycoming controllable pitch propeller)?? There are cowled and un-cowled versions, in my mind the uncowled versions look the part. I couldn’t decide if the tail wheels where fixed or full swivelling. Both types were available in the real world. The visibility from the cockpit is not as good as say the Cessna C712, but my TrackIR helped immensely. Steering and taxiing are achieved by using the S-technique coupled with good use of the differential brakes and throttle, (as in the real world). There are no flaps. The models all look good with lots of reflections, smooth lines and vibrant colours. I would have liked to see more repaint choices available but no doubt these will appear in due course on the forums.

Figure 2 on the TarmacFigure 2 On the Tarmac
This is the “Stear Miss” A75L 300.

The Other Models:

Figure 3 N2S 3 US NAVYFigure 3 N2S 3 US Navy

Figure 4 PT-17 US ArmyFigure 4 PT17 US ARMY

Figure 5  IB75A The Renegade 5AFigure 5 IB75
A The Renegade At the time of writing I could not find any repaints in my usual haunts.

Instruments in the Interior: The cockpit is pretty basic, the instruments are the usual suspects and there are clickable areas for the GPS and Radio.

Figure 6 VC Instruments showing the Pop GPS 295Figure 6 VC showing the pop up GPS 295

Figure 7 Showing the pop-up radioFigure 7 VC showing the pop up COMS radio

The instruments vary between the models for instance the Renegade has a “smoke button”, that when switched on smoke billows out behind the plane.

Figure 8 The Renegade showing smoke switch (Right) and cockpit lights2Figure 8 VC Showing Smoke Switch (Right) and Instrument Panel Lighting

Figure 9 The Renegade Smoke blowing towards UluruFigure 9 The Renegade blowing smoke toward Uluru

There is no autopilot, but who needs one in this plane that is in its element low ‘n slow!

The gauges are clear and easy to read in the VC.

Figure 10 The Renegade VC Cockpit InstrumentsFigure 10 The Renegade VC Cockpit Instruments

Figure 11 VC Cockpit STEARMISSFigure 11 Stear Miss Instruments VC

There are several clickable switches and levers for the carb heat, lights, instrument lights, parking brake, engine primer, etc etc.

The Payload: The passenger weight, fuel etc can be set in the FSX settings as per normal, being able to set fuel, pilot, passenger and baggage.

In the air: The engine can be started from cold and dark manually or if you are lazy like me, Ctrl + E does the trick. You need to set the throttle at around 700-800 rpm, mixture full rich and prime the engine to achieve a start that doesn’t die on you in the first few seconds. Make sure that parking brake is on before you swing that propeller!! Once started you need to warm up the oil before setting off, the oil pressure should read, around 50 — 80 psi within 30 seconds. The temperature should read 20 – 25⁰C, and that can take up to 15 minutes in cold weather. Because of the limited view you steer this tail dragger in S-mode, and I used the differential brakes and the throttle to steer the plane around the airport. Even with the FSX realism settings full right I did not feel too much of a torque effect, so it was relatively easy to steer down the centre of the runway for take-off. (Not counting the 3 or 4 times I ended up taking off from the grass.) Give the bird full-throttle and the engine responds willingly and you soon reach 45 knots (taking about 7 -8 seconds), at which speed the tail-wheel comes off the ground and forward vision is increased 100%. Phew! I can see clearly again. Using nice even pressure on the stick, the nose comes off the ground at around 52 — 55 knots (and a good climb rate is 300’/minute at around 65 — 70 knots. It happily cruises at 1,000 to 8,000’at 80 knots (1800 rpm) and was very easy to trim for level flight, by adjusting the throttle and elevator trim. Relaxed flying at its best.

You can either use the compass for navigation or like me use the GPS which is the standard FSX GPS295. The radio is simple but useful for getting weather, etc reports as well as ATC instructions at larger airports. You can of course fly by pilotage (real VFR) just using your maps, calculator, roads, rivers and landmarks and that makes for exciting flying if you are using real world weather and it turns nasty and visibility falls before you get to your destination. The real Stearman uses 12 US Gallons per hour giving a maximum range of 3 hours and this is about what you get in the sim.

In the sky the plane handles beautifully, I have to admit I did feel any significant difference between the 4 models, all are easy to fly and extremely forgiving. It took an awful lot of effort to induce a stall, much more than other planes I have “simmed” in but the stalls are dealt with easily enough due the responsiveness of the controls.

Figure 12 Stalling above N69Figure 12 Stalling above N69

Because this is such an easy plane to fly landings are no problems when dropping onto either the black stuff or the green stuff. The “75” lands in a very short distance and if you are too high coming in it’s easy to slip the plane to lose altitude fast (without gaining speed) and drop it down perfectly. I usually approached (on final) the airfield/strip at around 45 – 50 knots and that seemed the best speed for manoeuvrability and being able to pull up in a short distance. I practised quite a few landings without power on and if these are judged properly IMHO they are the best way to land these slow tail-draggers. Mind you if you underestimate your approach you do tend to land quite hard. Thump! Bang! Crash! Flaring in masterly fashion takes lots of practice, but this is the sort of plane that you would use to hone those flaring skills. I do like these planes that glide when you turn the engine off — Try that in a 747!!

Shutdown is normal and the wheels are chocked when you apply the parking brake.

Sounds: These are excellent and sound very real. The different engines used in the 4 models do sound different, so a lot of care has been taken here. There was also a fix increasing the sound levels in the VC cockpit.

Stormville N69 Scenery: I flew a couple of flights from this added scenery and it seems to meld in well with the default FSX surrounding areas. Stormville N69 is in NY and shows 2 grass strips whereas Google Earth shows one and there seem to be some buildings on the main strip. Now, that would make for some interesting take-offs and landings.

Figure 13 N69 Stormville 2 grass stripsFigure 13 Stormville N69 Two grass strips

Summing Up: I think that Golden Age have done quite a good job here. They’ve already issued a patch to fix some minor problems in the initial release. There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated forum, but they do answer you emails almost by return, so support is good. This is not a complex plane, but it is a useful addition to your virtual hangar if you are into all forms of GA flying. My only gripe is the absence of a comprehensive manual, but that is a minor gripe as due to the simplicity of the plane it’s easy to find your way around in no time at all.

WOW Factor: 7/10

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher:

Golden Age Simulations

Supplier:

Simmarket by direct download.

Download
File Size:

55MB (zip file)

Installation
File Size:

Golden Age Simulations Folder 5.5Mb;

Simulator Requirement:

FSX with SP2 (or Acceleration); Boeing Stearman 4 Folders: 264Mb

OS Requirements:

Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7;

Variants:

4 Models, PT-17; A75L 300; IB75A; N2S-3

Paint Schemes

N/A

Cockpit

3D (VC) only

Supplementary:

Stormville Airport, N69circa 1960, by FSRealscenes.co.

Testing System:

Intel E8600, 4GB DDR 800 RAM, Vista 64 SP2, nVidia 9800 GT, 182.50 Driver;
FSX SP1 + SP2; 750GB SATA II Seagate 7200 HDD. 
No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.

Scenery:

FSX standard, GEXn, UTX, FSGenesis LC/Mesh; X-Graphics; FTX Busselton, WA; Stormville N69, NY (FS Real Scenes)

Installation:

Installation is simplicity itself being automatic via a self extracting exe file.  Should be installed with Admin rights — VISTA right click “Run as administrator”.

Manuals / Documentation

None that I could see but each model/variant has a check list.  On checking with the authors the standard Windows/FSX commands apply.

Support:

Email: support@goldenagesimulations.com

Forum:

N/A

Updates

Latest Version patch ver. 2.0.0.29

Peter Hayes, Australia 
October/November 2009.

Trivia

Variants

The US Army Air Forces Kaydet had three different designations based on its power plant:

  • PT-13, with a Lycoming R-680 engine. 2,141 total all models.[2]
    • PT-13 Initial production. R-680-B4B engine. 26 built. Boeing Model 75.
    • PT-13A R-680-7 engine. 92 delivered 1937-38. Model A-75.
    • PT-13B R-680-11 engine. 255 delivered 1939-40.
    • PT-13C Six PT-13Bs modified for instrument flying.
    • PT-13D PT-13As equipped with the R-680-17 engine. 353 delivered.
  • PT-17 with a Continental R-670-5 engine. 3,519 delivered
    • PT-17A 18 PT-17s were equipped with blind-flying instrumentation.
    • PT-17B Three PT-17s were equipped with agricultural spraying equipment for pest-control.
  • PT-18 PT-13 with a Jacobs R-755 engine, 150 built.
    • PT-18A Six PT-18s fitted with blind-flying instrumentation.
  • PT-27 Canadian PT-17. This designation was given to 300 aircraft supplied under Lend-Lease to the RCAF.

The US Navy had several versions including:

  • NS-1 Up to 61 delivered. Powered by surplus 220 hp (164 kW) Wright J-5 Whirlwind. Model 73.[3]
  • N2S Known colloquially as the “Yellow Peril” from its overall-yellow paint scheme.
  • N2S-1 R-670-14 engine. 250 delivered to the US Navy.
  • N2S-2 R-680-8 engine. 125 delivered to the US Navy.
  • N2S-3 R-670-4 engine. 1,875 delivered to the US Navy.
  • N2S-4 99 US Army aircraft were diverted to the US Navy, plus 577 new aircraft were delivered to the US Navy.
  • N2S-5 R-680-17 engine. 1,450 delivered to the US Navy.

Source: Wikipedia

Screenshots Gallery

 

Figure 42 Close-Up

Figure 41 Smokin'

Figure 40 Top View

Figure 39 The Renegade 2

Figure 38 The Renegade

Figure 37 Stear Miss side view

Figure 36 Stear Miss Over Town

Figure 35 STEAR MISS Take-Off

Figure 34 STEAR MISS

Figure 33 Tail Wheel hasnt landed

Figure 32 Nearly there

Figure 31 Tail View 2

Figure 29 Nice shine on the wings

Figure 30 US Navy Airborne

Figure 28 US Navy Close Up

Figure 27 2 feet above the Runway

Figure 26 No canopy

Figure 24 Over Busselton WA

Figure 23 Tail ViewFigure 22 Side View AirborneFigure 21 Red LightFigure 20 VC ViewFigure 19 PastoralFigure 18 AirborneFigure 17 Side View Tarmac
Figure 16 US ARMY Close Up NO CowlFigure 15 US ARMY PARKEDFigure 14 The Renegade in Flight

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