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Review: FSAddon’s Lysander Special Ops

FSADDON have done it again, they have produced a very nice model of the WWII Special Operations Westland Lysander III.

It wasn’t called the “The Flying Carrot” for nothing, that’s not only due to its shape, but also due to the fact that its pilots needed enhanced vision to fly this plane by moonlight into enemy occupied France during WWII.  The 6 liveries are excellent giving good interior and exterior detail.

This was a labour of love; it took the publisher, Francois Dumas of FSADDON over 6 years and innumerable frustrations to get this beauty to the market.

But wait there’s more, you also get 5 “secret” night-time missions that take place in war torn Britain and France during WWII.  Are you pilot enough to fly by the seat of your pants and pick up a resistance fighter, with just the moon to illuminate your path?  If not, give up now, but if you have got what it takes — read on, read on!  I found this package to be a lot of fun!

Background: (Courtesy of Wikipedia, Shuttleworth org):

When I was a “squaddy” in another life we used to sing (raucously) in the mess on many occasions, The British Grenadier with the first two lines sounding like this:

“Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules,

Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these,” and that sums up this little aircraft — GREAT!

At the start of WWII the Lysander was used as a spotter plane, but it was a bit slow, it kept getting shot down, so it developed into air/sea rescue and carrying agents and supplies to and from Britain and the Resistance Forces in Occupied France.   Apparently Lysander pilots received the nickname of ‘The Pimpernels of the Air’.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any reference to a “scarlet livery”!  They were primarily flown low and fast at night and continued their secret ops until the liberation of France in 1944.  The Lysander was renowned for its ability to operate at night from small, grass, rudimentary airstrips (it could land in 50 yards), and its STOL features are well modelled in this software.  The plane’s speed and range made it ideal for its clandestine duties.  The Lysander is a high wing monoplane, a ‘tail-dragger’ with a massive Mercury engine and automatic slats and flaps, quite advanced for its day.

MkII and Mk III variants built:

Lysander Mk II – Similar to the Lysander Mk I but powered by a 905 hp (675 kW) Bristol Perseus XII radial engine. Supplied to France (1), Ireland (6) and Turkey (36). About 20 RAF aircraft were later transferred to Free French air force.

Lysander Mk III – Similar to Lysander Mk I but with a Bristol Mercury XX radial engine. Westland built 367 and 150 licence-built in Canada.  (Courtesy http://www.pilotfriend.com/)

Installation:

Installation was painless with a self extracting “exe” file which installs in the correct FSX locations.  It installs in several folders in FSX including FSADDON\Lysander, \Lysander Secret Operations (the uninstall option); \LSO_Uninstall and \Simobjects\Airplanes\FSAddon\Lysander and \Lysander SO.

Settings:

On my system in the Select aircraft menu in FSX under “Publisher” I was presented with the tab for “FSAddon Publishing” and this allows the choice of all 6 liveries.  My flight control settings started at full left — simple and now are full right — as realistic as you can get.  There is a learning curve to get this bird off the ground.

The Manual:

There are two manuals: Westland Lysander Pilot’s Notes – 40 pp and “Lysander Secret Operations Flight Guide” – 38 pp.  The Pilot’s Notes are a “labour of love” being extremely comprehensive covering, Installation, History, Aircraft Operation (with annotated pictures of the instrumentation); Navigation and Missions; The Shuttleworth Collection, acknowledgements, FAQ, and a “Whoopsydaisy” section, recording the things that went wrong with the project.  My only recommendation would be to have produced the Installation, Aircraft Operation and Navigation and Mission sections as a separate stand-alone booklet, that way it would have been more compact and easier to find how to operate the plane.  Note this is just a personal observation and not a criticism of the current manual.  The Instruments are well described and identified in the manual and you can soon pick up what does what.  There are quite a few clickable switches that operate instruments, gauges and lights etc and these can be difficult to see, especially at night in a darkened room as the VC panel is quite dark.  I started to eat carrots to increase my night vision.

The “Secret Operations Flight Guide” covers in detail, including maps, the 5 covert night-time missions included in the package.  There are historical details, the flight briefing and maps that have the “route” drawn on them, together with useful comments, such as “flak”, “fighters”, just to name a few.  In FSX in the FSAddon\Lysander-SO\Manuals, there are annotated maps and flight plans for the 5 missions and it is vital to read these and print them out for reference.  In the missions if you do not want to fly the full mission you can place your plane at any of the way points and start from there.  These “missions” are not included in the FSX “Missions” folder; they are in essence sophisticated flight plans, which if followed will get you to your destination.  The Guide also includes the “Full-Moon” dates from 1940 to 1945.  This is very important for those of us who live in the Southern Hemisphere with a 12-hour time difference so when it’s day in the UK it is night down-under and vice versa.

Figure 2 Renoir Mission Map showing flight route

Figure 3 Renoir Mission Map Showing flight route and annotations

Figure 4 Renoir Mission flight plan — Note Tangmere is found as RN in FSX.

The Visual Aspect

Outside the planes have nice clean lines and are good representations of the original MkIII Lysander.  The models are dark and camouflaged and so it can be difficult to spot all of the detail that went into making the sim-planes, but then, this type of colouration does help you in not being shot-down over enemy-occupied France.

Figure 5 Real Life Westland Lysander III “Old Warden” with Kind Courtesy of James Simpson and Airliners-pictures.net

Figure 6 FSAddon version Lysander MkIII

Well!! What do you think?  Pretty realistic eh?  The details on the SIM model pretty well reflect those seen in the real plane.  You can see why it took over 6 years to get this bird into FSX.  I would imagine that a model in black is probably very hard as reflections are often muted or obscured.

The Interior is well modelled in that the, handles, buttons, gauges, levers, lights and wheels all look realistic and are quite clear.  There is a pilot suitably dressed as the RAF was at that time.  Is this the alter ego of Francois?

Figure 7 Lysander suitably attired pilot — Francois?

I’ll discuss and illustrate the interior a little later in this review.

Liveries

There are 6 liveries all based on real-life WWII MkIII Lysanders: The “Shuttleworth” Collection Lysander (still flying today) MA-B (V9367) 161 Sqn. Old Warden; P9102 Free French Air Force; P9193 – 28 Sqn, India; R1992, based in North Africa; V9287 MKIII(SD) SOE; and V9289 MkIII(SD) – 357 Sqn South East Asia.  Three of the liveries feature the long range gas tank that looks suspiciously like a huge bomb!!

Figure 8 V9367 Shuttleworth Old Warden MkIII 161Sqn

Figure 9 P9102 Free French AF MkIII — Note the wear and tear!

Figure 10 P9193 MkIII 28 Sqn

Figure 11 R1992 North Africa

Figure 12 V9287 MkIII (SD) SOE

Figure 13 V9289 – 357Sqn SE Asia

Pilot Access

The canopy slides as does the side window to allow the pilot to get in and out Shift + E toggles the opening and closing of the canopy, etc.  Note the ‘weathering’ or are they bullet holes on the plane.

Note: Shift + E + 2 opens the rear canopy to allow passenger access.

Figure 14 Canopy Opening including Side Window

Specifications (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Range:                         600 + miles (970 Km) (Internal Fuselage Tank)

Capacity:                     1 Pilot plus 1 passenger
Ceiling:                          21,500’

Max Speed:                 212 mph (185 KIAS)

Stall Speed:                 56mph (<50 KIAS)

Guns:                             Not modelled // 2 Browning and 2 Lewis Machine guns.

Bombs:                          Not modelled  // 4 x 20lb plus up to 2 x 500lb bombs

Fuel:                                106 Imperial gallons (482 litres) in a fuselage tank.

On the Lysander Mk IIISCW an external long-range tank of

150 Imperial gallons (682 litres) could also be carried to extend the range, giving the aircraft an endurance of around 8 hours. (approx 800 miles) (Courtesy http://www.pilotfriend.com/)

FPS

I did not see any significant drop in performance (frame rates) in FSX in this plane.

Instruments in the Interior:

The instruments are plain and simple, easy to see and read.  However, there are some like the fuel gauge is hidden away behind the pilot as Francois explains in the manual.  There are no modern navaids, so Shift + Z becomes your new best friend.  However, pressing Shift + 2 gives you a rudimentary radio and Shift + 3 gives you the FSX GPSMAP 295 and believe me the latter is very useful (load up one of Francois’ hidden flight plans and this loads automatically into the GPS!! Now, if only there was an autopilot!!)

Figure 15 Shift 2 + Shift 3 showing GPS and Radio and Instruments

The instruments that you see in the panel are those that date from the WWII era.  It should be noted that the gauges do not “pop-up” or increase in size when clicked (neither do they in real-life), so a TrackIR is almost a must have — it makes it so easy.  There are no 2D panels.  There appears to be only one cockpit layout for the 6 variants.  The cockpit is illuminated at night via a panel switch which has an inbuilt a dimmer switch so you can reduce light when flying in the pitch black of a night flight.  Even so, I found it quite difficult to locate the various switches including the landing lights etc switches which blend into the background.

Figure 16 Instrument panel and pedals

Figure 17 Instrument Panel RIGHT side

Figure 18 Instrument Panel CENTRE

Figure 19 Instrument Panel Left Side

Figure 20 TRIM, Mixture, Throttle Close Up

Figure 21 Cockpit Right Side Morse Code Key

Figure 22 VC at night on a mission

Figure 23 Rear Panel Lights at NIGHT

Figure 24  Landing Lights at night

The Payload

These are set within the Sim for a pilot, and one passenger.  Note when you add a passenger at the beginning of a mission you cannot totally fill-up the auxiliary tank if you want to avoid overloading the plane.

In the air

The engines can be started manually, or as Francois states Ctrl + E is a much simpler option.  The manual start procedure is adequately described in the manual.  After a few exploratory test flights I set all my controls in FSX to realistic ie to the far right.  Obviously the Lysander is a tail-dragger and with a huge engine but surprisingly the forward vision for taxiing is better than most.  I steered the plane using the twist grip on the X-52 (set as a tiller) and I was able to take a reasonably straight rather than a snake-like route to the take-off point.  The automatic slats/flaps work well and are useful for slow short-field landings.

Figure 25 Trim Tip of rear tailplane should be set to T/O for Take-Off (Note this NOT set correctly for T/O here).

For take-off I followed the manual guidelines, setting the rear tailplane to T/O, the mixture to rich, the propeller pitch to fine, building up speed smoothly, not pushing the stick forward, and lifting off at about 75 – 80 mph and then immediately adjusting the trim down, otherwise I found that I climbed too fast and stalled.  I must admit that I followed a real pilot’s advice and as I gathered speed I adjusted the trim down, meanwhile pulling the stick slightly back to counter the effect, and I did experience quite a few “switchback” take-offs until I became more proficient.  It is vital that the tailplane is set to the right position for take-off, if it happens to be wrong then even with the joystick full-forward an uncontrollable pitch-up can occur.  This is very difficult to correct.  In the real Lysander operations during WWII, ground-crews would not remove the chocks for taxi unless the pilot had set the tailplane to the take-off position.  Again in real life a passenger in the back seat would increase the pitch-up effect on take-off and that need appropriate compensation on the rear tailplane, I couldn’t see this effect in the Sim.

In the FSAddon Lysander, the power swing is slight and readily controllable with the rudder.  After take-off I set the pitch to coarse, throttled back and climbed at around 110 mph (up to 1500’/sec).  Flying in this model is excellent. It has light responsive controls, but you have to keep an eye on the trim/throttle otherwise you are up to 20,000’ and over 200mph in a very short time.  I flew at around 10,000’ (about 8 minutes to get there) at around 180 to 200 mph, ideal for fast low night-flying.

Stalls

The stall was induced in level flight, neutral trim at around 50mph and although the controls became heavy was reasonably easy to correct using the appropriate techniques.

Landing and Approach

Because the missions take place at night taking off and landing in the dark, I practised quite a few landings and take-offs in daylight to get a feel for the plane.  For landing, mixture is rich, pitch is fine and speed is reduced to about 100mph at a height of 1,000’.  This ensures that the automatic flaps are deployed.  Descending, on final, I reduced speed progressively to around 80 – 85mph at around 400’ (this proved quite difficult at night), reducing to around 65 – 70 mph over the threshold applying full-up trim, pushing the stick full forward and reducing the throttle to zero.  Just above the ground I pulled the stick back to attempt to achieve a 3-point landing.  This was not always successful, get it wrong and you bounce everywhere or float about 50’ above the runway with no hope of ever getting down.  Once I thought that I had practiced enough I switched to night flying and the whole learning process started again.  The FSAddon plane stops quickly and in the real world the Lysander would land in well under 300 yards.  Practice, practice and more practice is needed to achieve consistent results and I can confirm that any speed much over 70 mph at the threshold and the Lysander just won’t land it floats forever, and anything but a slow 3-point landing will have you bouncing every which way.  Happy Landings!!

The Missions

As I said earlier there are 5 missions, Jaguar, Prawn, Renoir, Athlete and Diplomat.  They all take place at night, and the manual contains full flight details, maps, history, etc.  In the \FSX\FSAddon\Lysander-SO\Manuals there are ‘pdf’ copies of the flight plans and these are very useful see Figure 4.  As I said above, the missions take place at night and in my opinion there is one big disadvantage in the default FSX scenery the land areas in England and France are lit up like Christmas Trees making it difficult to spot the 3 landing lights.  During WWII these areas would be pitch black due to the blackout (which would have made it more difficult to navigate) but would have made spotting the landing zone easier (and more dangerous).  So, it would be great if there was any UK/France scenery out there for the period — ie WWII.

The following are a series of pictures from the missions which are very dark but give you an idea of what it is like to fly them at night.  For the missions you definitely need your stopwatch and flight calculators unless you cheat and use the GPS.  On my system, possibly due to my autogen settings, I had fun landing at Cluny as someone had put half a forest on the runway.  Wallop! Bang! Crash!

Figure 26 Dusk ready to go! Tally Ho!

Figure 27 Flying by moonlight

Figure 28 Now where is that LZ?

Figure 29 LZ dead ahead spot the 3 lights

Figure 30 LZ below Hooray!

Figure 31 Coming in to land – easy isn’t it?

Figure 32 LZ and welcoming c’tee DAYLIGHT

Figure 33 LZ and welcoming c’tee NIGHT

The Airfields

Tangmere (in FSX code RN) (near Westhampnett, now Goodwood EGHR) is excellent, modelled by Jaap van Hees and looking like it probably did in the 1940’s.  There are lots of AI vehicles, etc plus some animated bystanders.  The other airfield used is EGMJ Little Gransden — Tempsford, again well modelled for the period.

Figure 34 RAF Tangmere Control Tower, former Battle of Britain airfield closed in 1970
[Picture used with kind courtesy of Shaun Ferguson (licensed by http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ and published at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1177618]

Figure 35 FSAddon Version RAF Tangmere Control Tower

Sounds

The sounds are excellent giving a sense of realism inside and out.  They appear to be based on a real Lysander.

Repaints

None that I could find, possibly too new

Support: A dedicated forum.  I used the forum on a number of occasions and the replies were fast and excellent.

Summing Up:

Another winner from FSAddon, the quality and the quantity are there.  This is a complete package, something more than just an add-on plane, you get missions and scenery too, plus the promise of more to come.  The Lysander is excellent, and IMHO it handles similarly to descriptions of the real deal (within the limits of the Sim).  The missions are a bonus and are well thought out with good documentation.  I enjoyed flying them in daylight (much more dangerous in terms of being shot down) as I did flying them in the dead of the night.  The Lysander, once you get proficient, is great to fly, but you need lots of practice to land it without damage on a grass strip at night.  I still could not get it to land in around 50 yards as some real pilots could.  This package is not for everybody, but if you want to fly some unique missions based on what actually happened, then the Lysander SOE is for you.  The manuals are very good as one would expect from FSAddon.  For improvements, I would like to see an improved installer that uses less folders and installs the flight plans into the correct FSX directory, otherwise its, well, fantastic.  I look forward to more missions in the future.  Great fun!

WOW Factor: 9/10

Peter Hayes, Australia, January 2010.

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher:

FSADDON Publishing

www.fsaddon.com

Supplier:

Simmarket by direct download: http://secure.simmarket.com/fsaddon-lysander-special-operations.phtml

Download
File Size:

142 MB (exe file)

Installation
File Size:

Approx 1.6GB in 4 Folders

Simulator Requirement:

FSX supports SP2 (or Acceleration/Gold) and DX10;

OS Requirements:

Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7;

Variants:

N/A

Paint Schemes

6 Different paint schemes: Free French; BF-D; Desert; Shuttleworth MA-B; SD; SEAC (3 with long-range tanks)

Cockpit

3D (VC) only

Supplementary:

N/A

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.  Saitek X-52 Joystick, Saitek Pro Pedals, CH Eclipse Yoke, CH TQ Quadrant.
No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.

Scenery:

FSX standard, GEXn, UTX, FSGenesis LC/Mesh; X-Graphics;

Installation:

Installation is simplicity itself being automatic via a self extracting exe file.  .

Manuals / Documentation

Two comprehensive manuals, one called, ‘Westland Lysander Pilot’s Notes’ and ‘Lysander Secret Operations Flight Guide’.

Support:

http://forums.fsaddon.eu/viewforum.php?f=42

Forum:

http://forums.fsaddon.eu/viewforum.php?f=42

Updates

None at present, more missions to follow

About Miguel Blaufuks

3 comments to Review: FSAddon’s Lysander Special Ops

  • Hi Peter, thanks for the review!

    Just for the record, Tangmere wasn’t developed by me (I just offered advice every now and then… not all of it correct, unfortunately), it was entirely thanks to Jaap van Hees. My airfields that are suitable to be used with the Lizzie (RAF Tempsford and RAF Winkleigh) are restricted due to licensing requirements of the library objects I use, so are only available from my website, if anyone wants them.

    Jan Kees Blom has released a couple of repaints for the aircraft and a paint kit, which are available certainly at Sim-Outhouse and possibly other locations that I am not aware of.

    Also, the internal lighting issue is not specific to Windows 7, it’s due to an unfortunate file location glitch in the installer. If you move or copy the contents of the “Effects” folder from inside the Lizzie folder into FSX’s own “Effects” folder, the effect is most illuminating!

    Cheers!

  • Peter Hayes

    Hi Ian
    Thanks for the heads up. I will contact Miguel and ask that it be credited to Jaap van Hees. I must have misread the manual. I have posted my findings on the illumination effect on the forum, and forgot to change it in the updates – will amend. Thanks for your interest in the review. I missed the re-paints on Sim-Outhouse – good find. My apologies to Jaap.
    PeterH

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