I thought I might put all my garbage (to some!) I store in my head and all the books and magazines that lie about the house about aircraft to some use.
This is an occasional series of some of my favourite FS aircraft (freeware and payware), which have a New Zealand connection and are available with a New Zealand paint scheme(s). I will include a brief history of the aircraft, its service in New Zealand and a short review of the FS aircraft.
A short history of the Lockheed P-3 Orion
The Lockheed P-3 Orion is derived from the Lockheed Electra airliner (the Electra saw service with TEAL/Air New Zealand in the 1960's) as a replacement for the US Navy Lockheed Neptunes. The Orion first flew in November 1959 whilst the first production example flew in April 1961. It is has since become the most prolific maritime patrol and anti submarine aircraft in the world. It serves in many air forces and navies including the Australian, Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian, Pakistani, German, Argentinean, Chilean, Thai, Taiwanese, Japanese, South Korean, Iranian, Greek, Canadian and Norwegian forces. Although no longer in production, refurbished second-hand samples are in demand and recent sales include ex Dutch Orions to the German Navy and Portuguese Air Force and ex US Navy aircraft to Taiwan and South Korea and possibly India.
The Lockheed P-3 Orion in RNZAF Service
The Five Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3B Orions were ordered at a cost of 8 million pounds in March 1964 to replace the remaining Sunderland Flying Boats operating with No 5 Squadron out of the Hobsonville Flying boat base and Lauthala Bay in Fiji. Being land based aircraft the flying boat base that the RNZAF had in Lauthala Bay in Fiji had to close. The Orions were delivered in September and December 1966 to the Whenuapai Air Base, which is still their base. The RNZAF was the first air arm outside the US Navy to operate the Orion.
Ready for its next mission outside No 5 squadrons hanger at its Whenuapai base
Originally the RNZAF intended to purchase an ASW version of the C-130 so retaining commonality with the new C-130 fleet. It was later decided that because the Orion was already a fully developed and efficient ASW aircraft that this would be the best option.
Climbing out from Whenuapai
An extra second hand Orion for $19 million was purchased from the RAAF via Lockheed in 1985. At about the same time the Orion's had a $60 million dollar upgrade of the navigation and data systems under Project Rigel and redesignated P-3Ks. A further upgrade to give the Orions a life extension of twenty years was carried out under Project Kestrel in the late 90's. This upgrade was mainly structural and included replacing the outer wing assemblies, horizontal stabiliser, centre section lower wing planks and nacelle longerons. It was at this time the Orions were repainted in their current all grey scheme. An extensive upgrade of the ASW equipment has been planned for sometime but has repeatedly been turned down by the government, however an upgrade to the mission management, communication and navigation systems is currently underway. It also hoped that the Orions might one day be equipped with Harpoon or Maverick anti-shipping missiles. The Orions have carried out some trials dropping iron bombs from the bomb bay, which is normally reserved for torpedoes.
On partol over the Hauraki Gulf
The RNZAF Orions of No 5 Squadron have served all over the world from the Arabian Gulf to the Antarctica and have carried out SAR and surveillance missions all over the Pacific, the Tasman Sea and the Southern Ocean. They have also won the prestigious Fincastle trophy on a number of occasions competing with Royal Australian Air Force and Canadian Armed Forces Orions and Royal Air Force Nimrods. The RNZAF holds the record for the longest flight for a Orion which is 21.5 hours undertaken in 1972.
Bomb Bay doors open
The Orions are likely to remain in service until about 2020 when they will probably be replaced by (or a combination of) P-8 Poseidons (a 737 derivative replacing the P-3 Orion in the US Navy), UAVs or a maritime version of a smaller aircraft such as the Bombardier Q200 or ATR-72.
All hanging out approaching Whenuapai
Specifications and Performance
Power Plant: Four Alison T56-A14 (4,600 shp)
Basic Weight: 30,450kgs
Gross Weight: 54,950kgs
Cruising Speed: 630 km/h
Ferry Range: 7,100 km
Radius of Action: 1,850 km with 4 hrs on station. Endurance of 15 hrs with two engines shut down.
Crew: Normally 12 comprising of two pilots, two flight engineers, two navigators (including tactical co-ordinator), one air electronics officer and four air electronics operators, one air ordnance man. Can carry a maximum of 21 personnel including crew
Duxbury, David, Ross Mac Pherson and Ross Ewing; Aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Airforce; Heinaman; Auckland; 1987
Wright, Matthew, Kiwi Air Power, The History of the RNZAF; Reed Books, Auckland 1998www.airforce.mil.govt.nz
The Flight Sim Model
The KBT Freeware Orion is certainly one of the better freeware models out there and was put together by the Japanese KBT sim team (the same people have also brought out a nice F-18E Super Hornet). Being Japanese the main emphasis of the sim model is the Japanese license built Lockheeed-Kawasaki P-3C. To date it has over 50,000 downloads on Avsim.
For a freeware aircraft the virtual cockpit (VC) is certainly impressive and is nearly "photorealistic"Â. The VC includes the cockpit area and does not extend any further down the fuselage. The VC overhead and side panels are not up to Captain Sim C-130 standard but the main panel gets close.
The Virtual Cockpit
The 2d panel is also nearly "photo realistic"Â but is fairly basic and include only a few sub panels such as the throttle quadrant, some engine dials and the usual items such as the default GPS. There is a non realistic sub-panel that operates a few items such as the bomb bay doors, crew doors, lights and the auto-pilot. The 2d panel doesn't include sub-panels of the engineers, co-pilots and overhead panels.
Although not Captain Sim like in the number of special features there are some eye candy functions like opening bomb bay doors and a ladder that extends from the rear door when it is opened.
I have no quibbles with the sound package and it certainly sounds good to my ears.
The exterior of the model is modelled to a good standard although the RNZAF aircraft doesn't have the pylons on the wings. Maybe these might sprout from RNZAF Orions in the future to hang some missiles from. The model does not have the nose FLIR that is on the RNZAF Orions and there are probably aerials and things that protrude from the FS model that are not on the real thing and vice versa.
The one niggle I have with this model is that on my system it tends to cork screw in flight and I find it difficult to land properly. There are some other strange things with the flight dynamics that occur at times so maybe this is an area that needs tweaking. A nice CH yoke and foot pedals set may help - I only have a twist joystick.
There is a nice RNZAF repaint available by searching "newz.zip" on Avsim.
The KBT Orion is available from Avsim by searching"p-3c_.zip". You have nothing to lose since it costs $0. Go and get it!
Note - I should of turned off aircraft relections in my shots as it is considerably shinier than it should be!