The ICARUSGOLD (IG) – GRUMMAN DUCK — The Feathered or Leroy Review

Quick Summary:
IcarusGold has released a WWII Fighter ie the ‘GRUMMAN DUCK, designed specifically for FSX, SP1, SP2, Acceleration or Gold.  This is basically a single engined amphibious bi-plane or flying boat that was also capable of landing on conventional airfields with its main retractable gear and tail skid/wheel.  ICARUSGOLD have given us 7 Models, the Grumman JF2-4-5=6, (19 historically accurate re-paints) and these may differ by the type of engine, size of float, weapons configuration, etc.  This is a very good collection of a now defunct war bird, and sadly, there are very few left that still fly.  But wait there’s more!!  You also get an extra 4 WWII (unnamed) airfields which include >50 new FSX objects and they look very nice.

Background: (Courtesy of Wikipedia):

The Duck owes its origins to Loening amphibian planes, eg the Loening OL a two-seat amphibious biplane built by Loening in the early 1920’s which was in service with the US Navy/Coastguard in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Leroy Grumman ‘re-designed’ Loenig OL variant as the Grumman J2F in around 1932 as a replacement for the Loening amphibians in service with the United States Navy at that time.  The Grumman was a single-engine amphibious biplane and technically is described as an equal-span single-bay biplane with a large monocoque central float including a retractable main landing gear. (Phew!!!)  The aircraft had strut-mounted stabilizer floats beneath each lower wing (well modelled by IG) and could carry a crew of two or three (in tandem cockpits), forward – pilot and rear – observer (rear gunner) plus room for a radio operator. It also had a cabin in the fuselage for two passengers or a stretcher.  It was powered by various “Wright” engines with a Hartzell 3-bladed constant speed propeller.

The Duck saw action as a utility airplane being a bomber, target puller, load carrier, ‘air ambulance’ and reconnaissance plane ie a veritable ‘jack of all trades ‘utility workhorse with the US Armed Forces before and during the Second World War.  The ‘Duck’ was no slouch being was reasonably speedy with a top speed of ≈190 mph (≈305 Km/Hr).  The duck variants began life in the US Armed Forces in 1933 with three main variants the JF series being built.  The revised J2F-1 was built in 1936 (apparently modelled by IG) with 29 x J2F-1’s being built up to April 1937.  The IcarusGold Models began their service with the US Armed Forces in ≈1937 – 38 in the form of the J2F-2 model, the J2F-3 followed in 1939, with the J2F-4 and J2F5 following in 1940-41.  The J2F-6 appeared in 1941-42 being built by the Columbia Aircraft Corp.

Basically, the variants are (courtesy Wikipedia):

  • J2F-1:     Initial production version powered by 750 hp R-1820-20 engine+ arrestor hook,
    29 built.
  • J2F-2:     USMC variant with nose and dorsal guns and underwing bomb racks,
    21 built.
  • J2F-3 J2F-2 but powered by a 850 hp R-1802-26 engine (luxury version),
    20 built.
  • J2F-4:     J2F-2 but powered by a 850 hp R-1820-30 engine plus target towing equipment,
    32 built.
  • J2F-5:     J2F-2 but powered by a 1,050 hp R-1820-54 engine >bomb load,
    144 built.
  • J2F-6:     Columbia Aircraft built version of the J2F-5 with a 1,050 hp R-1820-64 engine
    plus underwing bomb racks and target towing gear (optional);
    330 built.

A total of over 600 aircraft were built over its use in service.  They were scattered all over the world, still flying in the 1960’s with the most famous being featured in the 1971 movie “Murphy’s War“.

Armaments Real Life and FSX:
The Duck eventually sported a forward facing .30 calibre Browning firing from between the cylinders of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engine, and some variants (eg J2F-2A) had up to 2 x .30 calibre Browning machine guns in the rear gunners position plus an extra pair of bomb racks.  The ordnance included 650 lb (295 kg) of bombs or depth charges.  Wallop!!

Installation was painless with a self extracting “exe” file which installs in the correct FSX locations after entering a simple registry key.

On my system in the Select aircraft menu in FSX under “Publisher” was a tab for “ICARUSGOLD” and this allows the choice of all 7 models and the 19 historically correct liveries.  There are also 7 “flights” and “sceneries” (“mini-missions” loaded and these can be used as starting flights, etc.

Initially my flight control settings are full right — as realistic as you can get.  However using these settings, I found that when I loaded the Duck into the sea the starboard wing disappeared under water.  A quick email to IG resolved the issue in that I had to significantly decrease my “General” setting in the “Realism” section of FSX to the left and this resolved the issue.

The Manual:
The manual is good being reasonably comprehensive and a manageable length of at 32 pages.  It details, Pilot’s notes, quick start guide, settings, quick flying tips, history, specifications, installation, flights, support, cockpit layout, etc.  The illustrations/pictures are clear with descriptive text and as there are few complex instruments and gauges it’s easy to see what they actually do.  There are pages on the included flights together with details on how to fire the guns and drop your bombs. I do not report comprehensively on its warlike capabilities concentrating on the general flying characteristics of this historic bird.

The Visual Aspect:
Nice and well modelled and with a small patch, they have enhanced the metallic look of the skins.  It’s an odd looking plane but the IG model does look like the real deal.  But for me they all look too new – we really needed to see some “well-worn” models with oil and rust streaks!  Ah well, they do look good.  There is no 2D model just a front view with no instruments, pressing the “W” key brings up a mini-panel unique to this plane.

There are 15 liveries from 7 models all based on real-life historical Ducks.  It gets a little complicated with variant naming sometimes Icarus Gold name the variant in the small preview window in FSX and other times they don’t.  They look very similar so it’s very hard to identify some of them with absolute accuracy.  Further in the manual IG state that the variants modelled are F2F 2-4-5-6, but there were 2 x J2F-1’s included in the models.

These are a sample of the liveries offered:

Picture courtesy WikiCommons

The Icarus Gold equivalent:

Pilot Access:
The Duck has a sliding canopy, which is opened and closed using the default FSX “Shift + E” toggle setting.  The pilot and rear gunner are animated with reasonably accurate movements and they face the correct way!!  There is also a lower area which could hold another 2 persons but I couldn’t find a way to view this area or load anyone into it.

Courtesy: Plan view: Warbirds Information Exchange: here

Specifications of the Duck (Courtesy Wikipedia):

FPS – Frame Rates:
I did not see any significant drop in performance (frame rates) in FSX in this plane.

Maintenance and Payload:
There are no maintenance, repair or failure options in this IG model.  Payload is via the default FSX payload and fuel, but you cannot alter the payload per se only the fuel.  When you open the payload tab in FSX, you are informed that the plane is >500 lbs overweight which IG inform me will be fixed by altering a parameter in the “.air” file.  This “overweight” did not seem to impede performance of the duck.

Instruments in the Interior:
The Interior is well modelled and it clearly depicts the various and varied handles, buttons, gauges, levers, lights and wheels of this type of aircraft.  The manual labels one of the gauges as a ‘stear engine’ but it looked more like the fuel/oil temperature gauge to me!!  I particularly liked the wear patches on the pedals, etc.  The instruments are plain and simple, easy to see and read, in fact, they are very well laid out as in the real deal.

Cockpit courtesy:

The usual instruments are included, ie compass, airspeed, amp/voltmeter, altimeter, turn indicator, bank angle, fuel, oil pressure, vsi, etc.  There is only a VC panel, (no 2D) and the instruments that you see displayed are those that date from 70+ years ago.  As I have said on previous 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 are a couple of panels mapped to the shift keys ie main panel;

  • “Shift + 1” gives the main panel;
  • “Shift + 3” gives the default GPS 295;
  • “Shift + 4” gives the default radio panel
  • “Shift + 5” gives a pocket watch or clock.

As I say there is the default GPS 295 in this plane and it looks totally incongruous.  There would not have been a GPS available when the plane was in service, but at least you don’t have to access it if you don’t want to.  There is no autopilot so you rely on trim and throttle to keep the Duck straight and steady.  All the controls and levers that move can be activated from the VC via, the mouse, keyboard or game controller switch or button.   There does not appear to be a panel light switch so I used the “L” key to illuminate the panel and external navigation lights, red for port side and green for starboard side.  I didn’t carry out much night flying as I felt that this was a plane for mainly daylight duties.

You can fire the fore and aft guns and drop bombs (or ‘bumbss’) as they are described in the scenery missions with the default FSX key strokes.

In the air:
The engines can be started manually, but unfortunately there is no description on how to do this in the manual (in fact there no descriptions of any of the instruments and how they work in this particular plane – pity!).  Well for me, I found that Ctrl + E is a much simpler option.  The manual does mention that you need to keep engine revs >800 rpm otherwise you get plug fouling.  Certainly below 800rpm idle the engine sounds as rough as ‘guts’.  With the settings that I had to use the Duck is a very easy plane to fly even and there was very little engine torque when taking off.  Forward visibility is not great so taxiing and take-off can be quite traumatic, I just looked out of the side window to keep the Duck on the straight and narrow.  Although the Duck is not a tail-dragger on one landing the rear wheel burst into flames, so I may have landed a little too hard or fast!

Once in the air the plane handles neutrally 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 steady rate circa 1,500 fpm and I reached 10’000’ in around 8 minutes which is adequate.

As per usual I attempted stall in level flight at around 10,000, neutral trim at around 70 – 75mph but this was almost impossible to achieve because even with the stick pulled back the nose still tended to drop and maintain a speed above the stall speed of around 70 mph.  I attempted this several times all with the same result, soon as the plane slowed significantly the nose dropped we picked up speed and the result was no stall.  The plane acts as an excellent glider and you can maintain a steady descent without plummeting out of the sky when you turn the engine off.  Like with many planes of this era there does not appear to be a  stall warning, but if it had the same behaviour in real-life you may not have needed one!

Side Slipping:
Another test that I use is Side slipping (ie basically losing height without gaining speed) and this was also easy to achieve (using opposite rudder and aileron) and on my set up this was best achieved with full flaps.  I used this technique when landing on the carrier (using the supplied mission/scenery).

Landing and Approach:
Flaps are fairly rudimentary and taking off and landing using no flaps and/or full flaps, I honestly didn’t feel any difference, except with no flaps the rolling distance was marginally longer and that could have been disastrous on the carrier.  My settings for landing, were by the book eg rich mixture and speed reduction to around 80 – 90 KIAS at 1,000′.  Descending, on final, I reduced speed progressively to around 70 — 80 KIAS at around 500’, flaring to land.  I used the same technique on both land and water landings.

There 7 included scenery scenarios actually more like mini-missions and these introduce 4 WWII airfields and >50 new FSX objects.  In the main the scenery was very good but I did find a lot of “angular” coastlines and roads where I felt that they would have been more muted and graded in real life.    I had some glitches with the scenery choices if I loaded these at opening in the carrier mission the engine was dead (IG said that it should have been on) and in a couple they only opened in small windows (quarter size)within FSX and I had to change the views to get them to display in full screen.  The 4 x WWII airfields are not named so you have no idea where they are or if the ate seaplane bases or land-based airfields.  I experienced quite a few scenery glitches on loading these with views being changed (as stated above) and anomalies in some of the water textures.  However, the missions are great fun and blowing the submarine out of the water, if that is your bent, is extremely satisfying.

The sounds are unique to this IG Grumman Duck and they give a sense of realism inside and out, but every time I reduced the throttle to prepare for a landing I experienced an annoying reverberation until the sound settled down again.  I can’t say if this was reflected in a real-life plane.  There are also sound effects for the gun(s) firing and the bombs (or ‘bumbss’) exploding on the poor unfortunates below.

I did not find any at the time of writing the review, but there are 19 included.

By email with fast responses.  My lack of Italian made it difficult to describe any issues, but in the main, my queries were answered well and in a timely fashion.

Summing Up:
A nice WWII warplane from ICARUSGOLD, the quality (and quantity) is very good.  The Duck is quite easy to fly and is reasonably fast it is extremely stable and forgiving. It looks too new, but still with excellent textures, inside and out plane with lots of fine detail and some animations (in the air and on the ground).  The manual is reasonably comprehensive, concise and clear, but I would have liked a more in depth section on how to operate and fly the plane.  The sceneries are good but I experienced some texture problems that I have not seen with other sceneries loaded on my machine.  If you are into WWII era war birds then this is an accurate representation of the Grumman Duck.  Let us hope that ICARUSGOLD will bring out some more missions as they were great fun.

WOW Factor: 8/10
Peter Hayes, Australia, March 2011.


The Important Bits:

  • Publisher:                              IcarusGold
  • Supplier:                                simMarket by direct Download
  • File Size:                                218 MB Zip File (225MB exe file)
  • Installation:                          Automatic install from the “exe” file plus enter a product key.
  • File Size:                                ≈400MB  3 Folders, 254MB, 44MB (gunner) & 100MB (tail hook)
  • Simulator Requirement:     FSX SP2 Acceleration Gold no mention of DX10.
  • OS Requirements:                WinXP, Vista and Win 7, 32 and 64-bit
  • Testing System:                   Intel i7 860, 8 GB DDR3 1600 RAM, Windows 7, nVidia
    GTX460 1GB, 260.99 Driver, nVidia Inspector 1.94;
    FSX SP1 + SP2; 120GB SATA II OCZ Colossus SSD;
    Saitek X52 + Pro Pedals,
    No tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.
  • Scenery:                                FSX Gold and ORBX NA
  • Supplementary:                   N/A
  • Documentation:                   User Guides: 32pp as pdf.
  • Support:                               ICARUS GOLD SUPPORT
  • Main Forum:                        None found
  • Updates:                               N/A
  • Uninstall:                              No uninstall procedure provided.

0 Responses

  1. i didn’t made any water texture so the anomalies i am not mine…bytheway thanks for the honest review. This review give me some response on how emprove in future more the products, but seems i am in the good way. It is not always easy understand what a customer want and all details that should be emproved, reviews help a lot, thanks.

  2. in the photos about used for safe rescue in the web there are two photos one is that one you used and two other reflecting in a museum the actual icarusgold so i have to choice one but unfortunately was not the photo you find lol…no problems.

  3. Thanks for your review of the IG Grumman Duck. I had just gotten this plane last week and have been enjoying flying it quite a bit. I especially like both the Phillipines special mission and landing the plane on the carrier special mission. I found the flaps to be more useful in landing than take-off… especially landing on the carrier. I very much like the IG flight sims and look forward to their coming out with the Bellanca-27 Aircruiser.

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