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Review: FS Addon – Gloster Gladiator X

FSADDON have released another WWII Fighter ie the GLOSTER GLADIATOR, designed specifically for FSX.  This is a biplane (the last built for the RAF) but was quickly superseded by the superior monoplane designs, eg Spitfire and Hurricane.  FSADDON have given us 3 variants, the Mk 1, the Mk II with a more powerful engine and the latter also powered another variant called the SEA Gladiator, which was used on various aircraft carriers in WWII.  This is a nice collection of a now defunct war bird that not only looked good and was also very easy to fly.

The GLOSTER GLADIATOR X — The Colossus or Ridley Scott Review

Background: (Courtesy of Wikipedia  & Rickard, J (21 March 2007), Gloster Gladiator):
The Gladiator saw action as a fighter in many countries during the Second World War, with a diverse number of air forces, including some fighting with Germany.  It was reasonably fast >250 mph (>400 Km/Hr) but was outclassed by the faster and more manoeuvrable monoplane variants on both sides.  It was considered to be a ‘death trap’ when pitted against the faster, nimbler Luftwaffe’s Messerschmidt Bf109s.  Amazingly these planes were not built out of aluminium or steel but had canvas wings, covered with highly inflammable aircraft dope*, and the structure was made entirely of wood.
[*Note: Aircraft dope is a type of plasticised lacquer that is applied to fabric-coated aircraft to provide a smooth taut surface, which was reasonably aerodynamic if “flimsy”.  Typically dope is made from nitrocellulose (gun cotton), cellulose acetate (used for movie film) and cellulose acetate butyrate, all highly flammable and pungent (from the Acetone solvent base). 

Gloster Gladiator variants built and modelled in FSX:

Gladiator I
Version powered by a single 840 hp (627 kW) Bristol Mercury IX (9 cylinder) air-cooled radial piston engine, with ≈378 being built. This Version was equipped with a two-bladed Watts fixed pitch wood propeller.

Gladiator II
Version powered by a single Bristol Mercury VIIIA air-cooled radial piston engine, with ≈270 being built.   This model is fitted with a Mercury engine (Bristol Mercury VIIIA air-cooled radial piston engine — 850HP) driving a Fairey Reed fixed-pitch, three bladed metal propeller.  This carried extra weight compared to Mk I and so was only 4mph faster at 14,500’.

Sea Gladiator
Single-seat fighter biplane for the Royal Navy, ≈98 (Interim and later model) built. Fitted with a strengthened frame, catapult launch points and arrestor hooks plus provision for dinghy stowage (between the landing gear legs (The dinghy stowage was a feature of the full later model.  This variant is modelled as N5519 in FSX by FSAddon).  This was a slower variant due to the extra weight needed for naval operations.

In all, around ≈750 Glosters were built between 1937 and 1940.

Armaments Real Life and FSX:
The planes are equipped with 4 x 7.7 mm (.303”) Browning Machine Guns, two in the fuselage and one each side below the lower wings.  The fuselage guns were each loaded with 600 rounds of ammo and the wing guns were each loaded with 400 rounds.  Earlier variants used a mixed configuration of Lewis and Vickers 7.7 mm sub machine guns.

Figure 2 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator HP8 on the ground  GUNS in view 2

Installation:
Installation was painless with a self extracting “exe” file which installs in the correct FSX locations.

Settings:
On my system in the Select aircraft menu in FSX under “Publisher” I was presented (after inserting “ui_createdby: FS Addon Publishing” in the aircraft.cfg file, with the tab for “FSAddon Publishing” and this allows the choice of all 3 variants and 7 liveries.  My flight control settings are full right — as realistic as you can get.

The Manual:
The manual is excellent being quite comprehensive and not too long at 27 pages.  It details, History, Specifications, Installation, Support, Features and Operating and Flying.  There are good clear illustrations/pictures throughout with good descriptions of what the various instruments, gauges actually do.  There’s even a page devoted on how to fire the guns.  It deserves a tryout against the VRS Superbug!

The Visual Aspect:
Outside the planes lovely sweeping lines and are good representations of the variants modelled.  The variants belong to various air forces, RAF, Swedish AF, PoAF Portuguese AF, Luftwaffe and one for the Royal Navy.  They are quite realistic with an excellent resemblance to the real-life planes.

Liveries:
There are 7 liveries form 3 models all based on real-life GG’s.  There are still Glosters flying today and there is one in The “Shuttleworth” Collection in deepest England.  Apparently the publisher, was allowed to climb into the cockpit of the real thing!!

Figure 3 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator 467 Portugal Mk2

Figure 4 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator K7985 Mk 1 RAF

Figure 5 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator I9 Sweden Mk 1

Figure 6 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator N2308 RAF Mk 2

Figure 7 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator N5519 RN w Tail Hook Mk 2

Figure 8 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Finnish Air Force Mk 1

Figure 9 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator K7974 Mk 1 RAF

The Interior is also well modelled to a pretty high standard and it clearly depicts the various and varied handles, buttons, gauges, levers, lights and wheels.  I’ll discuss and illustrate the interior a little later in this review.

Pilot Access:
The GG has doors on either side of the cockpit plus a sliding canopy, due to the placement of the canopy in relation to the doors you need to open the canopy before you open the doors so that you can get in and out.  The canopy and doors are opened and closed using the default FSX “Shift + E” toggle setting.  For example: Shift + E opens the canopy.  There are also a canopy and door levers in the cockpit which do the same thing.  The pilot is animated and can be made to leave the cockpit, by using the “defunct” fuel tank switch.

Figure 10 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Pilot Access Canopy and both doors open

Specifications of the GG (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Parameter

Specification

Maximum speed:

253 mph (220 knots, 407 km/h)
at 14,500 ft (4,400 m)

Cruise speed:

210 mph

Stall speed:

53 mph (46 knots, 85 km/h)

Endurance:

2 hours

Service ceiling:

32,800 ft (10,000 m)

Rate of climb:

2,300 ft/min (11.7 m/s)

Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m):

4.75 min

Guns:

4 Browning Machine guns.

Fuel:

85 Imperial gallons (387 litres)

Capacity:

1 Pilot



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. in fact, they are very well laid out as in the real deal.  There is only a VC panel, (no 2D) and the instruments that you see displayed are those that date from circa 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 again a TrackIR will come into its own especially when coming into land..  There is only one panel mapped to the shift keys ie main panel; “Shift + 1”.  There is no GPS in this plane so navigation is VFR or dead reckoning.  Obviously there is no autopilot so you rely on trim and throttle to keep her straight and steady.  All the controls and levers that move (and that is most of them), can be activated from the VC via, the mouse, keyboard or game controller switch or button.  Some of the levers switches, etc have been reassigned, eg as discussed above, ie the “fuel tank switch” is assigned to pilot in and out and the ‘throttle friction” switch to the fuselage hatches.  There does not appear to be a panel light switch so I used the “L” key to illuminate the panel or on ‘black ops’ you could fly this bird with no lights and use a torch with a red filter for illumination, holding it between your teeth.  There are also external navigation lights, red for port side and green for starboard side. You even get a gun sight in which you can toggle “crosshairs” and a switch to dim it slightly, but that’s a bit sterile as although you can fire the darn thing, ie it doesn’t shoot anything down!  To me the layout and clarity is excellent and I had no trouble in reading any of them, day or night.

Figure 11 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator VC overall

Figure 12 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator VC Port Side

Figure 13 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Radio Starboard Side

Figure 14 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator VC Instruments starboard side

Figure 15 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator VC Joystick

Figure 16 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator VC Directional Compass Close Up the GPS of its day

Figure 17 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator VC at Night

Figure 18 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Navigation lights

Figure 19 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Gun Sight with Crosshairs

Figure 20 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Bullets for the Brownings.

The Payload and Maintenance Hatches
These are set within the Sim for a single pilot and fuel load.  There was no maintenance menu for servicing the plane as you get with some add-ons, but that’s a minor detail.  There are however lots of animations showing the ground crew in action and as I stated above, you show the fuselage maintenance hatches open by clicking on the throttle friction rotary knob.

Figure 21 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Maintenance Time

Figure 22 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Maintenance Time 2

Figure 23 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator Port Fuselage Hatch open

Figure 24 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator the Pilot has left the cockpit

In the air
The engines can be started manually, and a full description on how to do that is given in the manual.  Well for me, I found that Ctrl + E is a much simpler option.  This is a very easy plane to fly even with all of my controls in FSX to realistic ie to the far right and there was very little engine torque when taking off.  Obviously the GG is a tail-dragger and with a large engine it makes the forward vision for taxiing a little difficult, but using the S-technique taxiing is reasonably easy.  I steered the plane using the G940 rudder pedals without issue.  One caveat you need to keep the taxiing speed fairly low (15 KIAS) as the plane will tip if you go too fast into a corner and if you stamp on the brakes rather a gentle pumping you will certainly nose dive into the tarmac.

Once in the air the plane handles beautifully without vices, with the controls being light and responsive, and once you reach your cruising height, it’s easy to keep to that using the throttle and trim.  It climbs at a rapid rate of over 2,000 fpm and I reached 10’000’ in a little over 5 minutes which is very good.

Figure 25 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator 467 Handling beautifully

Figure 26 FSAddon Gloster Gladiator I9 with skis but no snow

Stalls
The stall was induced in level flight at around 10,000, neutral trim at around 50mph and although the controls became heavy with some shaking on the stick when using FSForce, it was reasonably easy to correct using the appropriate techniques.  There is no stall warning (nor was there one in the real plane), but the stall is easy to detect as the controls feel dull or heaving and some stick shaking occurs.

Side Slipping:
Side slipping (ie basically losing height without gaining speed) was also easy to achieve (using opposite rudder and aileron) and on my set up this was best achieved with full flaps.  This probably worked for me as the GG does not have any high-drag flaps.  To me, it just felt more “comfortable” with full flaps.

Landing and Approach:
I landed using, no flaps and full flaps, but I honestly couldn’t feel the difference in using either except with no flaps the rolling distance was longer. My settings for landing, were a rich mixture and speed is reduced to about 70 — 90 KIAS at a height of ≈1,000’.  Descending, on final, I reduced speed progressively to around 70 — 80 KIAS at around 500’, reducing to around 60 – 70 KIAS over the threshold, flaring to land by easing the stick back in order to attempt the perfect 3-point landing.  This was not always successful, get it wrong and you dig a hole in the runway!  Night flying was a bit hairy on approach as you have no landing lights, so I only landed at airfields that were well lit!

Sounds:
The sounds are good and well balanced giving a sense of realism inside and out, but there is no mention as to whether they are on a real Gladiator.  Apparently these are customised sounds created by Simon.

Repaints:
There is a nice repaint over on http://forums.fsaddon.eu/, but I haven’t seen any others at the time of writing the review.

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

Summing Up
:
Yet another winner from FSAddon, the quality is excellent.  Simon Smeiman seems to get better and better after each plane that he designs.  The GG (no, Australians, this is not the Governor General) is easy to fly and is reasonably fast it is extremely stable and forgiving.  It’s a great looking, inside and out plane with lots of fine detail and animations.  The manual is comprehensive, concise and clear, as one would expect from FSAddon.  If you are into WWII era war birds then this will fit nicely into your war chest or even your virtual hangar.  Let us hope that FSAddon will bring out some missions were we can fly the Gladiator and the Lysander as appropriate.

WOW Factor: 9/10
Peter Hayes, Australia, July 2010.

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher:

FSADDON-A  Publishing

Supplier:

Simmarket by direct download:
http://secure.simmarket.com/fsaddon-gloster-
gladiator-x-%28fr_4557%29.phtml

Download
File Size:

103 MB (exe file)

Installation
File Size:

Approx 381 MB

Simulator Requirement:

FSX supports SP2 (or Acceleration/Gold)

OS Requirements:

Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7;

Variants:

3 Models

Paint Schemes

7 Different paint schemes plus removable pilot
plus other animations

Cockpit

3D (VC) only

Supplementary:

N/A

Testing System:

Intel i7860, 4GB DDR 1600 RAM, Windows 7 64,
GeForce GTX 460, 258.56 Driver;  
FSX SP1 + SP2; 120GB  OCZ Colossus SSD SATA II. 
Logitech G940 controller;
No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.

Scenery:

FSX standard,

Installation:

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

Manuals / Documentation

One comprehensive manual, 27pp

Support:

http://forums.fsaddon.eu/viewforum.php?f=35

Homepage

http://www.fsaddon.com

Forum/FAQ:

http://forums.fsaddon.eu

Uninstallation:

No details

Updates

N/A

The Gloster Gladiator is available from simMarket: CLICK

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