Just Flight’s Avro Vulcan B Mk.2

ADD-ON FOR FSX AND PREPAR3D

The iconic V-bomber

That delta wing presents an unmistakable profile - just beautiful!
Ground equipment powers the aircraft until the engines are started.

My first introduction to the Avro Vulcan was many years ago, when my brother was in the Royal Air Force stationed at RAF Scampton. At that time the Vulcan was one of three V-bombers and part of the UK’s airborne nuclear deterrent, forming the first line of defence in what was called ‘The Cold War’.

As a ‘comparatively’ young man, it was an awe-inspiring sight to see two Vulcans scramble and roar into the sky, trailing the inevitable tails of smoke that typified jet aircraft engines of that era. As my wife and I watched from the crash gate near the end of Runway 04, the ground literally shook as they passed just feet over our heads - simply awesome is an understatement! Unfortunately, I was not able to take any photographs. Carrying a camera in or around a nuclear airbase was not a particularly wise thing to do in those times, even for relatives of RAF personnel.

The Avro Vulcan

During the 1950-60s the United Kingdom created what was officially known as the ‘V-force’; which was basically a trio of strategic bombing aircraft based on a swept or delta wing design. They were the Vickers Valiant, Handley Page Victor and Avro Vulcan. Unlike the other two, the Vulcan was a tailless design and was also the most technically advanced of the three. However, it was the Valiant which had the distinction of being the only V-bomber that actually dropped a live nuclear bomb. The mission was a test that took place on October 11, 1956 at Maralinga, South Australia.

Although primarily used as a nuclear platform, the Vulcan was quite capable of carrying conventional weapons; its massive bomb bay could hold 21 1,000lb bombs, yet the only time it ever took part in a combat mission was during Operation Black Buck, when a number were deployed against the Argentine forces which had occupied the Falklands Islands. The last six Vulcan aircraft were eventually converted to a K.2 tanker configuration in 1981 becoming part of No 50 Squadron RAF, used for aerial refuelling. This reprieve didn’t last very long however as the Vulcan ended its operational life in 1984 when the squadron was finally disbanded. Yet this wasn’t the final curtain for the Vulcan; aircraft XH558, after leaving RAF service, went on to fly in air displays until she was retired in 1993. She was then bought by the family firm of C Walton Ltd, with the plan of eventually returning her to flight. This mammoth task was achieved in 2007 and continued until 2015 when support by BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Rolls-Royce was finally withdrawn.

Just Flight’s Vulcan

The Vulcan, like the Concorde, is unique in its design, the main characteristics being its delta wing and lack of a traditional tailplane. As you wander around the aircraft completing your preflight checks, you’ll see that all these features have been meticulously recreated by the Just Flight team. While the outside of the aircraft has little interest to some flight simmers, it’s hard not to appreciate all the work that went into modelling the complex shapes of the fuselage, particularly around the air intakes.

Also the 11 included paint schemes are beautifully done; the panel lines and subtle shading at close quarters cleverly indicate the complex construction of the underlying framework. Equally, the textures have just enough imperfections to tone down that ‘showroom’ finish you sometimes see on simulated aircraft.

Cockpit

I understand it was quite an effort to clamber into the Vulcan’s cockpit; luckily we simmers can do so with a single mouse click. Although the Vulcan had a crew of five, Just Flight has quite naturally only modelled the pilot and co-pilot positions. I can’t imagine many flyers would want to take the role of navigator or bombardier anyway.

As you take your seat, the massive array of instrumentation gives the cockpit a rather cramped appearance; it also demonstrates the outstanding detailing which is literally all around you. It seems the original Avro designers put everything they needed into the cockpit and then realised they needed some space for the pilots. They even filled the space between the seats with a retractable console which contained some of the autopilot controls, fuel management systems and certain bomb bay options.

PC System used for review

Intel i7 4790K 4.20GHz processor. 16GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM. EVGA GTX 1070Ti, 4GB GDDR5 video card. 2 x 240GB Kingston SSD. 2 x 1.5TB Samsung hard drives.

The cockpit can appear a bit daunting at first.
The captain’s side panel houses the start switches…and a lot more besides.

Remarkably, Just Flight has recreated this environment to the letter. Every conceivable switch and lever is operational, from the folding armrests to the landing light retraction switches, which incidentally do actually retract the lights. The same applies to the whole cockpit, which is a superb example of 3D design.

Preparation for flight

I would hazard a guess that if you buy this simulation of the Vulcan, you would probably not use the Ctrl/E option to get the aircraft ready to fly. I’m sure the authentic preparation and planning for a flight becomes an important and integral part of the overall simulation, however the Vulcan takes a bit more preparation than most.

Just Flight is obviously aware of this, so has prepared a tutorial flight to get you started.

It departs from RAF Cottesmore (EGXJ) near Peterborough and skirts around Birmingham’s airspace to land on Runway 09 at RAF Fairford (EGVA); a trip of approximately 80 nautical miles. It’s an excellent tutorial covering every part of the start-up procedure from cold and dark to the final shutdown at your destination.

Nothing is left out; even the removal and refitting of the ejector seat pins, although I found it necessary to refer to the manual for the location of some of these control options.

To make the overall process of using the Vulcan as painless as possible, Just Flight has added a new option to the Add-ons menu. It allows you to set the panel state, toggle the pop-up panel selector and also both of the ground equipment and engine options, Remarkably, Just Flight has recreated this environment to the letter. Every conceivable switch and lever is operational, from the folding armrests to the landing light retraction switches, which incidentally do actually retract the lights. The same applies to the whole cockpit, which is a superb example of 3D design.

Preparation for flight

I would hazard a guess that if you buy this simulation of the Vulcan, you would probably not use the Ctrl/E option to get the aircraft ready to fly. I’m sure the authentic preparation and planning for a flight becomes an important and integral part of the overall simulation, however the Vulcan takes a bit more preparation than most.

Just Flight is obviously aware of this, so has prepared a tutorial flight to get you started. It departs from RAF Cottesmore (EGXJ) near Peterborough and skirts around Birmingham’s airspace to land on Runway 09 at RAF Fairford (EGVA); a trip of approximately 80 nautical miles. It’s an excellent tutorial covering every part of the start-up procedure from cold and dark to the final shutdown at your destination.

Nothing is left out; even the removal and refitting of the ejector seat pins, although I found it necessary to refer to the manual for the location of some of these control options. To make the overall process of using the Vulcan as painless as possible, Just Flight has added a new option to the Add-ons menu.

It allows you to set the panel state, toggle the pop-up panel selector and also both of the ground equipment and engine options, the latter of which offers a choice between the Olympus 201 or 301 powerplants.

There are pop-up windows to help with the startup.
You can add different armaments or fuel pods to the aircraft.
The simulation includes the drogue chute needed to slow down the Vulcan on landing.

Flight and performance

There are very few people left alive who have flown the Vulcan in active service, so I can only draw on my own impressions and the documentary evidence as to the authenticity of the flight modelling; although to get as close as possible, Just Flight did have input from Mike Pollitt, Kev Rumens and Bill Ramsey, who are all ex-Vulcan aircrew. I’m told they assisted with many aspects during the development of the JF Vulcan, from its overall performance to the engine start procedures and more.

Having flown it for some weeks now, from my own perspective, I think it performs realistically. A fighter it certainly is not, it has a real heavy feel, with the aircraft lagging just a fraction behind the pilot’s control inputs. That’s not to say it’s not a manoeuvrable aircraft, because it is; you simply need to be aware of its somewhat unique characteristics to keep it flying.

Once you get used to the start-up procedure, take-off is not a lot different to many other aircraft. Yet I found setting the Vulcan up for the approach and landing, particularly for a single pilot, takes a bit more preparation to the point where in the beginning, the pause or slew buttons became rather over used.

However, like all vehicles, with sustained use comes more confidence, which eventually leads to better and more professional handling.

Documentation

In some of my reviews, I’ve complained that the manuals provided with many simulated aircraft are sadly lacking even in the most basic information needed to fly them. Well, I’m glad to say the Just Flight documentation is not one of them. Their manuals are generally comprehensive in detail and do not assume that every user is an expert pilot. And it’s exactly the same with the Vulcan - the manual is one of the best I’ve ever seen. At 88 pages, it describes every system onboard with firstly, a general overview, followed by more specific data pertaining to the Vulcan itself.

The Vulcan was built in an era when cockpits were equipped with an almost bewildering array of gauges, but rest assured, if you take the time to read the manual, it’s not quite as daunting as it seems. The flight deck and all its instrumentation is covered in meticulous detail, with, I might add, plenty of closeup screenshots. Each instrument, switch and button is numerically labelled, then described in an indexed list that’s generally found on the same page making them ideal for printing as quick reference sheets.

System requirements

Flight Simulator X, FSX: Steam Edition, P3D v1/v2/ v3/v4. 2.0GHz or any dual-core processor. 2.0GB RAM. 1GB graphics card. Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP (32-bit or 64-bit). 2GB hard drive space.

Recommended

3.6GHz processor (quad-core processor or higher). 8GB RAM, high-end video card with at least 4GB RAM. 3D graphics card with a minimum of 4GB RAM. SSD hard drive.

If you want even more

After you’ve flown the Vulcan and become a fan of this magnificent aircraft, you may want to take your experiences to another level. Luckily, Just Flight has already thought of that, producing an expansion pack containing two additional aircraft that also saw service with the RAF. One is the K.2 tanker variant I mentioned earlier and the other is the Maritime Marine reconnaissance variant. These both come with new paint schemes and structural features depicting the changes made to the airframes and cockpits.

Conclusion

I’ve always had a real affection for the Vulcan, so having the opportunity to fly it while completing this review has been a very enjoyable and challenging experience.

Although it’s an accurate depiction of the Vulcan, surprisingly it’s not very heavy on system resources so the flight performance feels more realistic. If you’re looking for a new flight challenge, get the Just Flight Vulcan.

By Joe Lavery

PC Pilot Verdict

At a glance: The Just Flight team has done a brilliant job with this Vulcan package capturing the real essence of this wonderful aircraft. Developer: Just Flight in-house team.

Distributor: Just Flight Price: Vulcan - £39.99 by direct download, Vulcan K.2 & MRR Expansion Pack - £9.99 by direct download

Website: www.JustFlight.com

3D Modelling: Excellent Graphics: Excellent Documentation: Excellent Performance: Very good but as always this is hardware-dependant.

PC Pilot Score:

96