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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:36 pm 
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What is Absolute Realsim?

The concept of "Absolute Realism" came about in a very straightforward manner. We asked ourselves what were the best sources for information about how this historic aircraft really functioned and flew, and the answer was simple - get the information straight from the source.

Rather than use current sources as our primary research tools (such as restored warbirds and current pilots who own and operate these planes for demonstration and pleasure purposes), we chose to first seek out those few men who flew these aircraft operationally, both in combat and on ferry and training missions, in World War II. That was the arena in which these planes were developed and we wanted to get the information straight from the source. We suspected that modern day restorations and modern day pilots would reveal very different experiences than those planes and pilots tested under combat conditions. We knew that the information we could gather from them would be critical to developing the most realistic aircraft available. Moreover, we wanted to find and use the operating manuals and performance charts, including test data which was gathered during wartime, rather than in the years following the war. Many changes were made in the decade following World War II, and the performance of these aircraft changed as well.

Because of this philosophy, the research followed a hierarchical scheme, with the base of the pyramid made up of information gleaned from what we call "primary" sources:

-Actual period operating manuals, including performance charts and assessments by governmental agencies
-Pilot accounts from pilots who flew these types in combat in the WWII theatres
-Gun camera film of these aircraft in combat
-Various historical and anecdotal sources that portrayed the character and quality of these planes during the WWII era

Finding the operating manuals and engineer’s test results was not difficult. Flight manuals for most of the US aircraft are now readily available, although this was less true when we first started. Finding pilots who actually flew these planes in WWII under combat conditions was a much taller order. However, we did manage to find a gold mine, a gathering of a fairly large group of mostly WWII aircrew, and among these men were a good number who had flown several of the types in combat. Two of these men were “double-aces” in the P-51, and had long and distinguished careers in the Air Force following their service in WWII. Many were bomber crews, ranging from pilots with as many as 37 missions in the B-17 to a B-26 pilot who flew a mission over Omaha Beach on D-Day. We interviewed navigators and bombardiers, pilots and co-pilots, flight instructors and ferry pilots, and recorded these interviews for review later.

The interviews conducted included detailed discussions of Army and Navy flight training all the way up to how combat operations were conducted. We asked very specific and pointed questions about how these aircraft responded to the controls, for example:

-Were controls heavy or light?
-Was the plane stable or unstable?
-Did you enjoy flying this aircraft?
-How did the plane handle during approach and landing?
-What was the plane like when being flown “near the edge”?
-What were the stall and post-stall qualities of the aircraft?
-How did the aircraft respond to engine torque on takeoff?

These are but a few of the hundreds of questions asked during the interview process. Without the help of these genuine pilots, we could never have approached the level of realism we think we’ve achieved in our aircraft simulations.

The second tier in the research pyramid was comprised of modern-day owners and operators of these aircraft, and included multiple flights in many of the types. We conducted lengthy interviews with current warbird demonstration pilots, flew in aircraft such as the B-17G, B-24J, B-25J, P-51D, P47D, and DC-3, and generally immersed ourselves in these aircraft and their pilots for an extended period of time.

The top layer of research, or “tip of the pyramid” was really a matter of creating a synthesis of what we learned from both these groups and applying it to the simulator. A lot of new ground had to be broken and we departed from what was accepted by many as “standard procedure” at the time. For this most critical development phase, we went to one of the finest aviation journalists in the world, Michael Dornheim. Dornheim, who passed way on June 3, 2006, was the Senior Engineering Editor with Aviation Week and Space Technology for 22 years, and was considered to be a “forensic engineering journalist” in the words of Aviation Week’s own editorial staff. Dornheim, a Stanford graduate with degrees in aeronautical engineering and mathematics, did extensive work on flight simulation with Boeing and worked on the 767 development project there before going on to work at Aviation Week. His ability to resolve the inherent limitations in flight simulation with real-world data and aircraft behavior was unparalleled. It was only through our extended discussions and analysis with Mike that we were really able to resolve complex performance issues and simplify the equations to make them work in the simulation. Mike’s assessments and explanations not only put a lot of the commonly held myths in computer flight simulation to rest, they clarified many of the relationships of the aerodynamic factors and led to countless epiphanies. Mike would go so far as to dig up old textbooks and research documents to confirm theories, and would not hesitate to put together hand-drawn performance charts to help illustrate concepts. In a nutshell, without Mike Dornheim, “Absolute Realism” would not have been possible.

Two of the areas we developed with Mike’s help were post-stall behavior and engine performance over the entire range of operation. For example, the level of control authority had been a topic of very spirited debate for some time; we believe our research has put most, if not all, of this debate to rest. Another area that we focused on was accurate airframe and engine performance across the entire spectrum of operation. Rather than put together a package that met all the basic performance parameters, such as weight, top speed, and published roll rates, we worked diligently to reach a level of performance where the plane would not only meet all of the commonly published specifications, it would also match the performance charts published by the military authorities. Of special interest were climb and cruise performance. We wanted our planes to not only match the published maximum rate of climb, but to match the government’s charts on time and distance to climb at various weights, speeds, and powers. Thus, we spent many weeks doing real-time testing, with much fine-tuning of lift, drag, thrust, and weight parameters to ensure our aircraft would match the published charts as closely as possible, within the known limitations of the simulation environment. If one of our planes is tested properly, it will match the performance of the real aircraft as specified in our checklist for that aircraft. Test-flying is a lot harder than it might seem, but anyone purchasing our products can be assured that even if they don’t want to go through the hassle, we have, and our planes meet the specifications shown in our documentation.

The area of stability has been a very hot topic for some time, and we put tremendous amounts of effort into understanding the way that these aircraft would behave as they approached unstable flight configurations. Of special interest were the takeoff and landing phases, slow flight, and of course, pre-stall, stall departure, and post-stall. As always, we continue to research and investigate these all-important qualities, and each release of a Shockwave product reflects further refinements in these areas.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:52 pm 
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great post Scott :D


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:03 am 
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Good Info, I think the fruits of your efforts speak clearly.

You flew in a Dc-3, hmm any possibility of a Shockwave version, though maybe not a "Weapon of Power", but a truly fine aircaft that deserves respect and admiration. Did'nt Ike say some appreciative words about the Skytrain, can't remember exactly but he basically listed it in the top 5 of the most important war machines in the US inventory.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 3:15 am 
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With all due respect to Shockwave's obvious expertise, but I feel that the DC-3/C-47/R4D by MAAM Sim is already the definitive "Dak" and there is no need to re-invent the wheel.

Alastair


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 1:35 pm 
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Location: Netherlands
Greetings Alastair!

The Maam-Sim DC3/R4D/C47 is, admittedly, a masterpiece, but... by now I'm sick and tired of each and every variation, livery, paint job or addition having the same too neat, too modern and too boring panel and VC of the MAAM-owned R4D6. I am beginning to HATE that cockpit (grin)!

A few days ago I downloaded their new C47 addition package, including the well-known BBMF Dakota. Once I got inside I noticed, yes indeed: the same too neat, too modern and too boring panel and VC of the MAAM-owned R4D6 - with only one concession to reality, namely the color of paint and insulation was changed from MAAM grey to good old English "interior green".

Now I guess I don't have to tell YOU, Alastair, how completely different the cockpits and instrument panels of the MAAM R4D and the BBMF Dakota are IN REALITY!

So please, let somebody come up with a wartime Dakota containing a wartime PANEL and COCKPIT! If anybody can do that, I reckon it's Shockwave. No, I'm not putting the MAAM-SIM effort down (I'm sim-flying her fairly often in different varieties), but I'm truly getting sick and tired of that one, always the same, bloody boring cockpit.

Be well!

Jaap Verduijn.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:09 pm 
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Hi Jaap,

Guess you're entitled to your opinion ......

Alastair


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:22 pm 
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jaapverduijn wrote:
So please, let somebody come up with a wartime Dakota containing a wartime PANEL and COCKPIT! ... always the same, bloody boring cockpit.

You do realize that a wartime cockpit will be even MORE "boring," don't you?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:17 pm 
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Any cockpit will be boring... afterall it's only a cockpit. Sheeesh.

If ya want it not so boring, hang yer undies in it. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:44 am 
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Guys, guys! All I'm saying is that I would like to see REAL wartime cockpits in aeroplanes that (from the outside ) pretend to be REAL wartime kites!

By all means let Shockwave have a go at a truly wartime Dak, instead of having "wartime" birds show the exact same cockpit and panel layout as the up-to-21st-century-standards MAAM R4D.

As for the remark that wartime cockpits are even more boring: I don't think that's really the case. You'll find instruments all over the place, in the most unexpected nooks and crannies of the panel, instead of the neat (boring - grin!) MAAM layout that's soundly and thoroughly based on the postwar T-scan and related official requirements of our present day and age.

Fly ten different (pre)wartime Daks and you'll have to adapt ten times to different (and sometimes quite flabbergasting!) panel layouts.

As for me "being entitled to my opinion": that's awfully nice of you, Alastair old stick!

Be well!

Jaap Verduijn.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:28 am 
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Hi Jaap,

As far as I was aware, the MAAM R4D cockpit is as it was during its service life !

I may be wrong, and what it now flies with has been brought up to date, but given the striving for accurately portraying the actual bird (within the limitations of FS2004) its not something I'd really thought about much !

Maybe someone from MAAM might be able to comment ?

Alastair


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 4:00 pm 
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BBMF Dak may be closer than you think - and from a massively respected source...

Ooh I am a tease! :roll:

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 4:07 pm 
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Hi Simon !

You sound like you must have some inside information, so I expect that you're right, even if I don't quite understand what you mean in that cryptic answer !

Either way, I'm sill happy with the MAAM cockpit, even more so with the latest update.

Alastair


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:02 am 
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Hi guys!

I am fortunate enough to know exactly what and whom Simon is talking about, and I can't bloody wait to see the long and feverishly expected product! I've kept silent for about three years now, but here it comes: zippedeedooDAH!

Be well!

Jaap Verduijn.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 12:19 pm 
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GT182 wrote:
... If ya want it not so boring, hang yer undies in it. :wink:



OR HER undies! :roll:

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:21 am 
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about absolute realism what do you recommend concerning force feedback for FS9 and FSX? Should I run default or should I run FS-force for example? Is the force feedback manually modified for these airplanes or if you use the FS9 or FSX you just get the force feedback the game itself calculates based on speed, weight etc?


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