AOAs Beechcraft Texan II T-6A
Your personal reporter Angelique van Campen will have some fun reviewing the AOA Simulations Texan trainer. AOA Simulations is known about their modern as well as their high quality modeled fighters for X-Plane 11 and although this Texan T-6A trainer will be reviewed with X-Plane 11, the X-Plane 12 update will be free of charge when X-Plane 12 is officially released.
If Angelique gets the possibility to test the Texan also with X-Plane 12, it will be included in this review else Angelique ends the review with only X-Plane 11. Neither way, it will be an interesting review. Right now, February 14th, I can add that the Texan is also tested with X-Plane 12.
Are you ready to continue?
The Real T-6A or is it the Pilatus PC-9?
The following data is taken from the Naval-Technology.com website “In 1996, the US Navy and Air Force awarded Raytheon Aircraft Company, now Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC), the contract for the joint primary aircraft training system (JPATS). The aircraft was subsequently named the T-6A Texan II.”
“First deliveries of the aircraft were made in 1998 with the initial operating capability being achieved by the US Air Force in October 2001 and the US Navy in August 2003. Additional contracts for 26 aircraft were received for the Nato Flying Training Canada (NFTC) programme and 45 aircraft for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) of Greece primary flying training programme. The T-6A military trainer has been very thoroughly tested and qualified, having been through Joint FAA certification and military developmental testing, operational testing, and functional and physical configuration audits.”
“HBC has been delivering aircraft since 1998 and the total fleet size now numbers over 500 aircraft in operation at six US locations, as well as NFTC at CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; and with the HAF at Kalamata Air Base, Greece. HBC has entered long-term manufacturing commitments in US Government sales for 800 airplanes, with associated training equipment, through 2017. Logistic support plans for these aircraft extend beyond 2040.”
This is only a small excerpt from the Naval-Technology.com website. Read the whole story via this link. That said, the modeled AOA Simulations is the T-6A model while Beechcraft, these days a subsidiary of Textron improved and updated the T-6 via -B and the current to the -C model. For those who are interested in the current T-6C, check out this dedicated Textron Beechcraft link.
As can be read that in the above story and on their website, there’s still a confusion or misspelling between the T-6 and Pilatus PC-9. Because of that, the AOA team added a dedicated Acrobat manual named “Not a PC-9”. This also explains why it’s absolutely not a modified or slightly change PC-9, but an almost completely new developed trainer.
All the Other Things
What a weird title, isn’t it? It is, but actually this section deals with the installation, manuals and configuration, if applicable.
The Texan T-6A trainer consist of the following ZIP packages – February 2023 – namely:
– T-6A Texan II XP11 1.1 (roughly 350Mb)
– T-6A Texan II XP12 1.0 (roughly 365Mb)
AOA offers additional 29 liveries which are free, both compatible with X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 and can be found at the following dedicated X-Plane.Org download page.
Back to the installation.
Depending on your X-Plane version, unzip the T-6A Texan II XP11 1.1 or T-6A Texan II XP12 1.0 package, and copy and paste the unzipped folder to the X-Plane Aircraft folder. When you own more AOA aircraft you can decide to create first a AOA Simulations folder within the Aircraft folder, and then copy and paste the Texan into this location. Either way is possible, even when this is your first AOA aircraft.
The base aircraft folder comes with one livery namely the US NAVY TAW-5 painting. Actually, this is not 100 percent correct since in the Objects folder you find the default livery. Sometimes this is a white livery or paintkit livery. In this case it is the US AIR FORCE XL 812 livery. The aircraft needs no serial number to be activated and no update option is included like we know from e.g. Skunkcraft or the updater package from STMA.
Next the livery pack.
Unzip the T-6A Texan II Extra Liveries 1.x, and copy and paste all the liveries – 17 in total – to the Liveries folder of the Texan T-6A. A small note regarding the liveries. Two liveries are special. One is the T-6C Demonstrator N3000B which is when you read the previous section, not the modeled T-6A neither less, a very nice painting. Then you find the original Prototype MKII (N8284M) painting. This painting does reflect the original livery when it has its maiden flight.
Last but not least; user liveries. Just follow this dedicated AOA Simulations Texan T-6A livery page at X-Plane.Org.
The Texan T-6A comes with a bunch of Acrobat files, a JPEG file and some clist text files. Let me highlight what’s all included:
– checklist options folder
– Contact Power Settings (JPEG file)
– HSI Illustrated Sh 1 and Sh 2 (Acrobat files)
– KRND RANDOLPH AFB 15R ILS (Acrobat file)
– MacOS Security Settings (Acrobat file)
– Not a PC-9 (Acrobat file)
– T-6A Copyright (text file)
– T-6A Emergency Procedures and Operating Limitations.(Acrobat file)
– T-6A Kneeboard Checklist (Acrobat file)
– T-6A Training Flight-Beginner (Acrobat file dedicated to X-Plane 12)
– T-6A Training Flight-Advanced (Acrobat file dedicated to X-Plane 12)
– T-6A Training Flight (Acrobat file dedicated to X-Plane 11)
– T-6A User Guide 1.1 (Acrobat file to X-Plane 11)
– T-6A User Guide 1.1 (Acrobat file dedicated to X-Plane 11)
– T-6A User Guide XP12 1.0 (Acrobat file dedicated to X-Plane 12)
– v1.1 changes (text file dedicated to X-Plane 11)
Let me first start with the checklist options folder. A checklist are mandatory to follow the procedures and to not forget items or handlings to do. The AOA team has chosen for the clist checklist. To use the clist checklists you need the following Xchecklist plugin which can be downloaded via this link. I downloaded the latest version 1.50 which is also X-Plane 12 compatible. Unzip the package and install the Xchecklist plugin in the X-Plane Resources/plugin folder. The clist text file should be installed in the root of the AOA Texan T-6A folder.
But I started the paragraph with the presence of the checklist options folder. This folder offers a regular and tutorial checklist. Not many words are needed for the tutorial checklist. This checklist goes much deeper into the checks and steps to perform and therefore to learn the T-6A while the regular checklist offers all the normal steps found in the real T-6A checklist. Since understanding and learning the modeled T-6A is so important, the AOA team included this tutorial checklist which is, just in case you missed that, by default already installed in the root of the aircraft folder.
So it’s up to you if you need the default tutorial or regular checklist. My advice; go for the tutorial checklist and see if you understand how the modeled systems work. As the AOA team says “The tutorial adds additional check items and explanations to teach you more about the aircraft and how it functions and the 1T-6A-1 version (the regular text file) follows the official USAF/USN 1T-6A-1 Flight manual closely without comment.”
For those who don’t want to use the electronic clist with Xchecklist, they can use the included T-6A Kneeboard Checklist Acrobat file, but what mentioned before, I highly recommend to use the electronic clist checklist. And lats but not least, when you don’t like the kneeboard nor the clist Xchecklist file, you can always the AOA Optional interactive checklists are available on the Radio Management Unit (RMU). For more information see page 27 of the User Guide.
Since I highlighted the tutorial clist ext file, let me add to this the following. In combination with the tutorial clist file you can use the different training flight tutorials. As of this writing – 1st of March 2023 – the X-Plane 11 comes with the T-6A Training Flight Acrobat file. The T-6A Texan II X-Plane 12 package comes with 2 training flight files namely the Beginners and Advanced version.
The Advanced training flight file is basically the same / renamed original T6-A Training Flight file. The advanced training flight document is a flight where the AOA team guides you through an instrument navigation training flight from Corpus Christi NAS (KNGP) to Randolph AFB (KRND) using GPS “Direct To” navigation to an Initial Fix (IF). Keep in minds that it’s not a tutorial flight document nor that it comes with screenshots however, it can be used in combination with the tutorial clist file. Besides that, for the landing procedure you find the belonging KRND RANDOLPH AFB 15R ILS sheet. During my test flights I will definitely use this training flight paper to check for myself and you how useful it is.
The Beginners training flight file or less complex however, it covers the same flight details as the Advanced version.
All of the above is nice, but you need to understand the T-6A first before doing anything. That said, using the tutorial clist is OK, but first you need to check, read and understand the modeled T-6A thus you need to read the T-6A User Guide Acrobat document. All aspects of the T-6A are explained and added to this, also check the EHSI (Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator) illustrated sheets. The T-6A User Guide explains all the instruments and since I mentioned that it is equipped with a HSI, it also has the EADI (Electronic Attitude Director Indicator). I would like to highlight a couple of nice features. At page 7 you find the description and operation of the included target track plug-in.
Adding to this basic T-6A information, there are two other documents/sheets you need to look at and that are the T-6A Emergency Procedures and Operating Limitations Acrobat document and the Contact Power Settings JPEG file. These sheets aren’t complicated, but attention is needed and perhaps you can when flying the T-6A, read it out on an iPad or Android tablet to save paper.
And then there’s one other Acrobat file – MacOS Security Settings – which is logically only applicable for macOS simmers. The document explains the problems with loading the SASL script, the error messages that pop up when loading X-Plane and the aircraft and how to solve or handle this. Well explained and therefore easy to follow.
There’s not really a choice of different aircraft models if you had that in mind. Basically, the modeled T-6A Texan II is one model although there are three things that can be changed by you as simmer. The first one is the Roll to See plug-in. It’s by default disabled. How to activated this plugin is described at page 6 of the user guide. The second configuration is the Target Track plug-in. This is explained at page 7 but it must be said that this plug-in is automatically activated when a couple of conditions are met.
The last configuration deals with the AOA indexer which is available in two “styles”, Air Force (default) and Navy. See also page 18 of the User Guide. The colors may be different but the symbology is the same. The “Navy” type represents the realistic version but we prefer the color scheme of the Air Force style indexer. How to change between either AOA gauge/indexer is explained at page 18.
My Test Flight Or ……
That sounds as if I’m already “ready to go”, “ready to fly”, but actually I’m not. This section covers my visual external inspection, understanding the 3D cockpit, loading fuel, doing the preparations with the Xchecklist / clist text file and then, finally, I can do my test flight. The User Guide has a one page ready for you – page 5 Get Me Flying! – for those who want to jump in, and fly, but honestly, the aircraft is modeled with a lot of love for all those tiny details and great realistic flight dynamics, that’s it’s a shame when you don’t look around how the external model is made as well as the 3D cockpit. Ok, I’m ready for my walk around check, you too?
After opening the canopy from the inside … oops, can you open the canopy from the outside? That’s a good question, and right now, I don’t have an answer to this or do I have. The User Guide only explains how to open the canopy from the outside, but in real you’re able to open it from the inside, so what now?
Ok, first a personal note from Angelique. Can you remember that macOS users will have a problem with the approval of the mac.xpl files during loading of the T-6A? I believe this problem started with macOS 10.15 Catalina and up. When you don’t allow this mac.xpl file loading in the System Preferences/Security and Privacy, then the T-6A won’t start up with an open canopy and you won’t see any ground equipment. Therefore, when you startup for the first time the T-6A on macOS 10.15 or later, you NEED to “Allow Anyway” with every mac.xpl popup window.
Then, after the T-6A is up and running, you select from the X-Plane menu “Reload the Current Aircraft and Art or you quit and restart X-Plane 11. Now the T-6A starts up with an open canopy and all ground equipment in place. The ground equipment disappears when you close the canopy.
But what when you have a closed canopy and want to open it from the outside? According to Fabrice, one developer from the AOA team “Opening the canopy is a 3-steps process. You will have to bind 3 commands to your keyboard to execute them in the right sequence:
– UNLOCK THE CANOPY : sim/operation/slider_08 (SHIFT-F8 by default)
– OPEN THE CANOPY LATCH : sim/operation/slider_07 (SHIFT-F7 by default)
– OPEN THE CANOPY : sim/flight_controls/canopy_toggle (I use CTRL-L)
Closing the big black latch handle automatically locks the canopy (a small green marker appears on the left side of the canopy).”
The opening or closing keyboard command for the canopy is just an example from AOA Simulations team member Fabrice. You can assign any other keyboard command, but double check if the other keyboard combination isn’t used yet or doesn’t interfere with the command it was assigned to. However, the opening from the canopy from the outside is not needed when you start the model with each new flight since it automatically opens for you.
Anyway, let’s move on with the inspection, but before I start with that, I disconnect the GUST LOCK. Modern aircraft don’t have this anymore since the primary flight controls are all hydraulically operated so when no hydraulic pressure is available, the flight controls are automatically locked by the hydraulic lock in the actuators. The T-6A has a mechanical flight control system with a combination of rods and cables, so when the T-6A is parked on the ground, you connect the GUST LOCK and locks the movement of the ailerons, elevator and brake-rudder pedals.
The first thing I see and it must be said that it’s very well modeled are all the ground equipment components like covers over the primary (right-hand wing underside)- and secondary pitot (left-hand wing underside) and TAT (True Air Temperature) probes, AOA probe and vane, propellor blade protections for the lower blades only, wheel blocks and others. As far as I can see, there are no other panels modeled to open/close and therefore, you can’t see the impressive “modeled” engine that drives the 4 blade propellor which gives the T-6A Texan II outstanding performances. Although you can’t open the engine fuselage panels, looking to the length of the aircraft nose including the huge propeller, it does says something about the overall engine size.
Since there are no panels modeled and nothing to see about what’s behind those, I first check the nose landing gear, followed by the main landing gears. All three gears are very well modeled, the strut constructions do have some weathering on them, the wheel assemblies are very nice with enough polygons to show you a more or less round tire. The nose gear has as far as I can see from real photos all the components on it and the nicely modeled torque links at the front with the tow bar connection and at the back the link for the extend/retract actuator. This is from the ground a bit difficult to see, but ones in the air, I’ll give it another shot to check that out. The only thing I miss are the red lines for the centering on both the fixed and movable part of the NWS (Nose wheel Steering)
The main landing gears are basically of the same quality as what I’ve seen at the nose landing gear except that you find the brake units here with its hydraulic lines. It’s difficult to see if the brake unit is a separate component from the wheel assembly. In real it is, but not sure in the modeled main landing gear strut. The overall gears are well modeled and have the same sleek design as the real T-6A.
I’m aware that I started with the landing gears, but one thing you can’t miss when you walk to the T-6A is the huge spinner cone. Although I’ve chosen for the Prototype MKII (N8284M) livery where the spinner cone if brushed Aluminum, it’s huge and in combination with the four blades propellor, wow, you can’t miss them and then I can only say, it looks gorgeous. Even the brand name thus the decal on the blades “Hartzell” is razor sharp.
It is understandable what AOA decided not to model all kind of panels at the fuselage or panels that it makes possible for you to see and check when you’re able to remove the engine cowling. It’s not really the problem to include 3D panels but more the polygons needed for this and what do you think of what’s behind the panel? You need to model that too and this mean again polygons and too many polygons can/will lead to reduce frame rates.
I had hoped that the engine cowling where removable which could have led to see the huge Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 turbine turboprop engine. That it isn’t modeled that way is not a problem. I’m aware that more and more developers do this, but model an engine, all the lines, wires, the HOT BAT bus component, it’s all beautiful to see, but when will you use it or when will you check it? Probably once, and that’s it!
Talking about decals on the fuselage and other T-6A sections; they are all razor sharp and that makes me happy, but you too. It should be noted that when you look along the fuselage and wings, that there’s no noticeable weathering to see. Since these training aircraft are often used by military organisations, I doubt that they are kept as new and that they hardly fly with them. On the contrarily, they are used a lot. Perhaps an idea for the developer to add a separate “weathering layer” in their paintkit.
An other interesting part is the accuracy of the rivets and screws on, in particular the fuselage. For this review I watched many YouTube movies and the AOA team did a very nice job in placing the rivets at the right place as well as keeping the rivet dimensions as they should be. I also noticed the presence of the static wicks (in the civil aviation we call them static dischargers) at the correct places as the wing and ailerons and tail sections. I could continue for hours, but I’ve seen enough, I hope you’ve got a good idea of my findings and yes, I’m a very happy T-6A virtual student.
I highlighted the the outside and inside operation of the canopy, but a couple of words how this canopy looks like is worth it. It’s modeled with great precision, it looks from a distance and even when you’re close-by very nice, hardly any polygons are visible which means that the shape is smooth, round, as it is in real. There’s a well modeled integration between the Aluminum bars and canopy glass, the mirrors, the heating system (I guess) and the rivets.
The modeled 3D cockpit
Yes, at first you think … a grey cockpit with grey sidewalls? You would expect for military aircraft green sidewalls which is actually the primer that is used on the Aluminum parts, but this T-6A is all grey inside and the instrument panel looks so “new” with hardly any weathering visible. Curious as I am, I need to check this with real T-6A trainers and guess what, they are all looking like this.
You’re surprised, right?
I was that too since I didn’t expect this either for a military aircraft. I didn’t expect to see the grey look as well as that in the real T-6A and the modeled version most of the panels, indicators, switches and so on, are relatively new. And I have to correct myself a bit since you will find some weathering in the modeled cockpit. Look to the instructor and trainee seats. They have a lot of weathering. But there’s more. Logically, the pedals and their hinges, but with the canopy opened, I do spot some used spots on the canopy frame, so yes, there is some too out there.
In the beginning I found the grey instrument panel as well as the black glareshield around it a bit dull. No reflection, just grey and black without any reflection and guess what – again – this is also visible on the real photos. And probably I think I know the answer … to prevent any reflection. Well done AOA team and always ahead of those tiny details!
In this relatively small twin pilot cockpit it seems nothing has been forgotten and when I look again to the instruments or displays it looks to me that these are all electronic components since I only see a black display. And yes, in case you think that too, we’re both right. Although AOA simulates the very first Texan II T-6A model, it does have a lot of electronic instruments or displays.
All dedicated AOA developed electronic displays are sharp, razor sharp I should say as well as the belonging control panels with text or separate decals however, the three standby indicators scales – altimeter, airspeed and attitude – are a bit fussy. When you start using the tutorial clist checklist there’s an item where you need if any circuit breaker is popped out. Don’t forget this. The reason to highlight the circuit breakers checks is because all breakers are modeled along with the bus tie, avionics switch, and so on. As the AOA Simulations team told me, I tell you too. Try clicking on a few! It’s fun to see.
Although it wasn’t always clear to me which or what item in the tutorial checklist is where or what to expect, after a couple of time I could almost do it with closed eyes. However, I found a couple of items in the clist that could be better or more clear which I shared with the AOA team. Especially in the beginning being a T-6A rookie, it good to learn all the switches, indicator lights and annunciator panels with the help of the tutorial clist Xchecklist.
I would like to add a bit more information about the modeled circuit breakers and the story or programming behind since a lot of time and effort is put into this. According to AOA Simulations team member Steve “We all spent many, many hours on the electrical system. For examples, Fabrice wrote some brilliant code for the GENERATOR switches and David spent many hours tying datarefs to the circuit breakers and patiently accepting my feedback. Steve encourages you and me to look a little closer at the T-6A electrical system. See the following compiled screenshot as reference. Look at how complex the power to the AFT Battery bus is and yes, this is just as an example.”
The cold and dark modeled T-6A cockpit as experienced in the previous section, isn’t the cockpit we want to see. We want to see an illuminated and operative cockpit with all simulated systems active. You can achieve this in many ways, but the best is the use the by default installed clist text file and the earlier necessary Xchecklist plugin.
Why … because it goes step by step thru the switching of all systems and when needed, additional information is given for each step. That said, I used this clist file and although I did it several times and most likely you need that too to get a good idea of where you can find everything, you also learn by doing. Whenever I felt something is missing or additional information would be welcome, I informed AOA and told them about my findings.
Anyway, by using the clist checklist you will get a good idea of the simulated systems and as far as I’ve seen, almost all systems are simulated. I’m not 100 percent sure if all is dedicated programming but most likely it’s a mix between own AOA programming and default X-Plane system behavior. The following screenshots gives you an impression of starting from a cold and dark T-6A layout till ready for taxi. One note for now; when you’re ordered to set the brightness on the AOA indexer, this dimming knob doesn’t rotate or it’s not simulated to do so, but it does control the brightness according to the checklist since it confirms that it has been turned to brightness.
To clarity a bit the steps you see in the sample of screenshots. In some screenshots I marked the checklist item and what to see or what to expect. When you are more experienced or looking for a challenge; then you can use the normal clist file. I mentioned this before in the section Documentation, go to the manuals folder in the root of the Texan T-6A directory, find the checklist options – 1T-6A-1 checklist folder and copy, overwrite the T-6A_clist.txt file to the root of the Texan T-6A aircraft folder. No worry that you overwrite the tutorial checklist. Another example of this tutorial clist file is available in the checklist options sub-folder.
That said, is this really a different checklist or is it basically the same? The answer is yes and no. The checklist items are of course the same, but the additional notes and even the external checklist part is missing. Therefore, when the AOA team added by default this tutorial checklist in the root of the aircraft since by doing the checklist items you also learn why you do this or that as well as what to expect.
Back to the simulated systems as far as possible for the moment. The models T-6A doesn’t come with any popup indicators, popup panels or DUs (Display Unit) except for the default Laminar Research G1000 for X-Plane. The G1000 is the popup for the original modeled GPS (Global Positioning System) unit. Although the unit is explained in the user guide and used for the training flight, I can imagine that some simmers find its original simplicity difficult. In that case, you click either CRSR button on the GPS unit, and the G1000 pops up.
Then the Electronic versions ofd the ADI and HSI with their EFIS control panel. The EADI (Electronic Attitude Director Indicator) has on the left side a CMP (Composite) button. When you click this – see also the first screenshot below – the ADI shows also a small portion of the HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator). Clicking the CMP button again, and you got the complete ADI. Although the EHSI has the same button – most likely these electronic indicators or LRU (Line Replaceable Unit) are exactly the same components but due to pin-programming they are either show you the ADI or HSI.
Anyway, when you click the CMP button on the EHSI, you will have the same image on the display as you’ve seen on the EADI. This is useful when the upper DU (EADI) becomes U/S (Unserviceable). There’s however one difference; when you click on the EHSI the CMP button again, the DU won’t return to the full ROSE mode. To get back to this full EHSI mode, you click the HSI button on the EFIS control panel.
On the second screenshot you see the possible EHSI images that can be selected. Roughly you have a ROSE mode, ARC or MAP. Quickly; the difference between the ARC and MAP mode is that the ARC only shows a portion of the ROSE mode while the MAP mode is the ARC view plus additional data like waypoints, airports and others and/or your flight plan when entered via the GPS.
In either mode – ROSE, ARC or MAP – you can toggle between VOR 1 (or LOC when entered a ILS/LOC frequency) or GPS information. If you also clicked the second VOR button, then you’ll also see VOR 2 on the EHSI. To control the heading bug or the VOR course, you’ll find on the EFIS control panel a HDG and CRS selector. When you have selected the ARC or MAP mode, you can use the RANGE up/down buttons on the EFIS control panel.
The T-6A is equipped with either an ordinary electronic VSI (Vertical Speed Indicator although I think it’s the IVSI version where the I stands for Instantaneous) or a modified VSI with TAS (Traffic Avoidance System) indication. You can read all about that in the User Guide page 29.
On top of the “glare shield” you’ll find the AOA indexer while on the instrument panel you have the AOSD (Angel of Attack) indicator. The indicator pointer shows the optimum angle of attack however, when your AOA is too high up/down, the pointer moves accordingly to that direction, however the indexer – in front of your eyes – shows with an yellow or red arrow how to increase/reduce the AOA to normal. The normal are save AOA is identified with a green circle.
Oops, the colors I just described are the colors used with the US Air Force. The US Navy uses different colors. More about this can be found in the User Guide page 18 as well as how to change the AOA indexer colors from US Air Force to US Navy. And last but not least, as long as the T-6A is on the ground, it doesn’t work. According to the manual “The indexer is only functional in the air when the landing gear is down OR the flaps are deployed. On the ground the red arrow (US Air Force mode) indicates that the parking brake is set.”
I didn’t mention this when I discussed the checklist options, but the RMU (Radio Management Unit) also provides a checklist. When you want to access this from a cold and dark situation, switch ONJ the AUX BAT on the RH console, and start using the interactive checklist on the RMU. With the outer knob located in the RH lower corner you can scroll thru the checklist while the inner knob is to adjust the brightness.
Any other parts of simulated systems I have forgotten will be highlighted during my test flights. My plan is first to start with a regular nearby flight, departing from KFAT. I’m not using for this initial test flight a flight plan, but I’ll tune for VOR or VORTAC stations (this combination consists of a VOR, TACAN, and DME station being merged into one unit known as VORTAC). I’m ready, you too?
Test Flight KFAT-KFAT (Fresno Yosemite International)
A small note about the hardware I use for this AOA aircraft and some words related to the configuration of the hardware for this T-6A. I use the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. Recently I received this hardware directly from Guillemot Corporation, known for their Thrustmaster products, to write a hardware review. It’s too early to say anything about it except that it is professional stuff. Besides a small amount of durable plastic, the majority of the construction like the stick is made of metal, but is it easy to configure the hardware with X-Plane and for use with the AOA Simulations T-6A Texan II.
The answer is easy and short, yes!
As always, when connected for the first time your hardware to your PC or Mac, X-Plane tells you that new hardware is detected and needs to be calibrated. Additional assignments are needed to fulfill your requirements. Assignments related to the AOA T-6A can be found in the User Guide page 4 under the paragraph “Joystick control assignments”. For X-Plane sensitivity settings AOA offers recommended settings too.
For those who have an ordinary joystick with YAW control, they can use this for rudder and pedals, but this Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog has no YAW possibility so you can’t twist the joystick although I prefer not to say “joystick” but flight stick. When I think about joystick I think about a stick that can be used for PITCH, ROLL and YAW. That said, without connected rudder pedals, the ROLL stick channel is used for the NWS (Nose Wheel Steering) provided you’ve selected NWS ON.
Lets Go …..
From my parking spot which is near the tower, I taxi all the way down to 11L, by passing holding point 11R. As mentioned before, on the ground the AOA indexer doesn’t do anything except when you’ve set the parking brake. The moment you set the parking brake, a red V appears. With the clist checklist I do the last preparations before turning onto 11L. After receiving the takeoff approval, I turn the T-6A on the runway, apply thrust and the T-6A start acceleration. I can tell you, it accelerates speedy. Not surprising knowing the engine performance. When I have enough speed on the runway, I click the NWS (Nose Wheel Steering) OFF since I can control my YAW and thus keeping the T-6A on the runway centerline. At approximately 80 to 90 knots I pull the stick and climb out.
Although the T-6A is a double seater, I fly it this time alone or generally, you always fly it alone. Always funny to see when you use the external view to check out in flight the T-6A, you’re no longer sitting alone in the aircraft. Then you have you trainee or supervisor with you.
Anyway, I climb out with a pitch of 5 degrees, retract the GEAR and FLAPS. I could have set a higher pitch, but then it takes during this acceleration longer before reaching my intended speed. Since it’s for now only an “of we go flight”, there’s no need to fly and practice many things. Many additional add-ons or plugins are available to tell you where you are, but there’s actually no need for. It turns out that the modeled T-6A isn’t difficult to fly, but it needs your constant attention. It’s a very handy and flexible trainer and with the engine power source in the front, it can be also egressive.
Don’t get me wrong, aggressive has nothing to do with the modeled T-6A, it has to do and therefore very well modeled, the real T-6A. Many unusual flight attitudes are possible like quick and fast steep turns, high pitch up altitude changes, but also fast swimming – right, not simming – thru the clouds. It’s all possible and that makes it such a impressive modeled T-6A. But how do I know if it flies as real as it gets, of course, within the X-Plane boundaries of flight dynamics?
Since I’m not a real T-6A pilot, I checked many T-6A YouTube movies. One of them is this movie. It’s a compilation of ground operations, taxi, takeoff and in formation flying with other T-6A pilots.
OK, now it comes …having simulated FFS motion or not? Ho ho, hold on, what’s FFS? FFS stands for Full Flight Simulator Level-D which when fully active, offers you real motion as in a real aircraft. This real motion is something that can be simulated with for example XPRealistic, but what when you haven’t that? And I’m not sure, although I own XPRealistic, if that add-on payware product does the same “motion” as is build in the AOA Texan T-6A. Yes, you read it right. The AOA Texan T-6A has standard motion build in via the console pushbutton R2. Then you click it, R2 extinguishes and the simulated motion is no longer present. To be honest, you could become seasick … oops, airsick of the simulated motion, but it’s so real!
It doesn’t matter what you do, with R2 active it feels that the T-6A is constantly keeping you awake. It does keep you on track. You need to be in control. You need to stay sharp! Every movement you make with the stick, is immediately seen and almost felt. Of course, you don’t feel anything while sitting behind your flight simulator desk, but your brain thinks different and all the movements the T-6A is making gives you the feeling that motion is fully active.
Even when you make quick and sharp movements with your stick and the T-6A responds accordingly, your brains are fouled that your facing G-forces which is of course ridiculous since you can’t feel G-forces, but it’s all so well and realistic simulated that it looks like that you feel it. Ok, honest …. in the beginning it’s not easy to fly the T-6A but when you start slowly and try to get the right feeling and that you become one with the modeled T-6A, then you can start trying out more practices. In one word AWESOME!
But I started with … this will be an introduction flight for me thus you can try many other flight practices, but I’ll try to find KFAT and try to descent and to prepare the T-6A for my approach and landing. Together with the checklist I go thru all the steps and then I come to the moment if I should leave R2 ON or that I switch it OFF. My advice is that you first make a landing or touch and go without R2. When that feels good, you can try to land with R2 active. I can tell you, it worked out finally pretty good and you will succeed too with R2 activated, but it’s not easy with R2 active with the nervous behavior of the T-6A.
Find below a Youtube movie on how the modeled AOA T-6A Texan II performs and it does a great job in my humble opinion. In particular the switching of the “R2” plugin is awesome. I wrote it already several times and it’s gorgeous to see how it feels when flying. For some reason I can’t show up the movie in the review but the link to it isa active so click on that one and enjoy the movie.
Hold on, perhaps you’re lost what I mean with R2 or actually R2c. According to the AOA User Guide “Your current cockpit view mode: 2D, 3D, R2c (R2), or Target Track mode (T) is displayed in the FIRE warning light square button on the glare shield if there is no engine fire. When the “R2” or “T” display is bright blue the plug-in is controlling your view. This plug-in has to be activated by you since it is OFF by default, but we think you will like the realistic views it provides.
Just one click on the glare shield “3D” button toggles the plug-in ON (R2). One more click toggles the plug-in OFF(3D). With the R2c ON your view will pan left or right with rudder input while you taxi at ground speeds < 10 knots (“taxi look”), look into turns while you are in the air (“roll 2 see”), and look back then towards the ground when you perform a loop or Immelmann turn.”
All other features can be read on the pages 6 and 7 and yes, I didn’t include in the above section the Target Track Plug-in.
So did I cover everything with this first flight impression? Oh no, far from that. At first it may look a nice trainer but the reality is that many features are modeled, implemented and to know them all you need to make flight hours. That said, let’s make a second flight. For this flight I use the AOA Simulations T-6A Training Flight papers.
Are you ready?
AOA Simulations T-6A Training Flight
What can you and I expect? The AOA team offers a kind of tutorial flight. It’s not a document that comes with screenshots how and where to look for, but that not really needed. It is very well and detailed described what to do and what actions can be expected. I’m also pleased to read that the second paragraph tells you what the objectives are. Always good to have this since you then know what you have practiced and learned after completing this short flight. So, what’s the plan?
According to the Training Flight manual “In this flight we will guide you through an instrument navigation training flight from Corpus Christi NAS (KNGP) to Randolph AFB (KRND) using GPS “Direct To” navigation to an Initial Fix (IF). Once at the AF (Approach Fix) you will switch HSI modes and fly an ILS approach to landing. The total flight distance is approximately 160 NM and will take less then 1 hour to complete.
During the flight you will learn to trim the airplane in response to power and airspeed changes and see how the Trim Aid Device (TAD) works. You will also practice slow flight referencing angle of attack (AOA) in preparation for your approach.
Before you start we suggest that you either print or arrange for electronic viewing of the User Guide topic titled “AOA Gauge and Indexer”. You should have it available for reference during your flight.”
For those who have no idea where KNGP lies, it’s situated near the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of San Antonio or southwest of Houston, US state Texas.
How to use the training flight guide?
As ex technical trainer I must say that the training flight guide is very well written. As I mentioned before, no screenshots are added, but it’s easy to follow. That the guide starts positioning yourself with engines running at KRND runway 31L is a bit up to you. You can also park your T-6A at the military apron and taxi to runway 31L. As stated in the training flight guide, it is a straight forward flight in a straight line to KRND. Knowing that, it could be a bit boring flying this stretch, but remember what the objectives are for this flight and that is “to learn to fly” the T-6A. Since the T-6A has no Auto Pilot, it’s a manual flight and when you leave R2 ON, believe me, you need almost constant attention to keep the T-6A flying on its track.
Besides that, it will be fun!
Adding Add-On airports
When you use X-Plane 11 you can find a medium quality modeled airport via the X-Plane.Com Gateway or via this URL however, when you use the T-6A with X-Plane 12 then you have to accept that there’s no more then just runways with a couple of hangars and building, far from reality. The same implies for KRND. I found at the X-Plane.Com Gateway a 3D modeled airport but again, only for X-Plane 11. For X-Plane 12 I couldn’t find anything, so we’re stuck with the default XP12 KRND which is very basic.
The KNGP – KRND Training Flight
As I mention before, flying the T-6A is fun. Together with R2 active, it’s to me almost as real as it gets. I dare to write this after I checked several real T-6A training flights on YouTube. When you look to those real T-6A training flights on YouTube you’ll notice that when the T-6A is flying steady, it is wobbling a bit and that is the same I’d seen with the modeled T-6A. Also making on this flight extreme maneuvers like steep turns, excessive bank angles up to 90 degrees, steep pitch up, making a looping followed by a lateral twist. Hold on, let me start at the beginning!
I decided not the position the T-6A at the beginning of runway 31L KNGP, but somewhere at the apron. Although there’s not much modeled, I decided to taxi to holding point 31L. A final check on my checklist, and there we go. I mentioned it before, when you don’t own rudder pedal, you can fly the T-6A without, but it’s much more realistic when you have them. While the T-6A is gaining speed, it’s not difficult to keep it on the runway center line. After I gained enough speed, I switch OFF the NWS since the rudder can take over the YAW. At around 90 knots I pull the stick, climb out and while maintaining a positive climb, I retract the landing gear and a bit later the flaps.
Although I did briefly mention this before, it may look like a tutorial flight, you won’t see all the steps to perform. That said, AOA assumes that you’ve studied all the normal steps to follow with the help of the Xchecklist and clist text file – normal or tutorial example – and that you also know where to find all the switches, knobs and selectors.
I climb out to 15.000 feet with approximately 150 knots. It’s in the training flight guide too, and easy to maintain. Use the trim often! Not unusual to use the trim, but it makes flying the T-6A much easier. Using the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog stick has a huge damping builds in which makes over steering almost impossible, but on the other hand, the T-6A is quite a sensitive model in flight. Before you know you run into oversteering. On the other hand, oversteering is with this T-6A not a big deal. Control yourself, relax, and return the T-6A to a level flight. If you’ve drifted due to this away from your initial track, slowly and gentle steer it back to the path to fly with trim unless you’re drifted too far away, the you can use the stick itself but gentle.
When I’ve reached 15.000 feet or FL150, set to 200 knots, it’s time to follow the track to KRND but along the way which is still more then 100NM, it’s also fun to play a bit around with the modeled T-6A. And let me highlight this ones more, I left R2 ON. Since I’m on a macOS, and no VR is available, nor that I have a Tracking device, I can use R2 and I love it. I can only say, try it yourself. The reason I bring this up is that those simmers who have VR or a tracking device, they can’t use R2.
When you’re a bit uncertain in the rolls and pitch to do, start slowly using it, and when you’ve return the T-6A back in it’s initial flight condition, try it again and so on. Try to feel the T-6A. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and how realistic it flies. Oh yes, I’m also aware that I can only write this based on all the movies I’ve seen and not because I’ve flown the T-6A myself.
Since the T-6A has no FMS except then the possibility to have the G1000, we have no other source that calculates for you and me our TOD (Top Of Descent). Of course, additional programs can do that for you, but let me try it without all those add-on programs.
A good rule of thumb for most aircraft would be 3 NM for each 1,000 feet of altitude to lose + 1 mile for every 10 KIAS of airspeed that you need to lose before landing. So let me implement our own flight. From 15.000 feet to 4000 feet is 11.000 feet difference thus approximately 33NM (11 x 3) or from 15.000 to roughly 1000 feet (KRND is approximately at 750 feet) equals 42 NM (14 x 3). Then we need to add to the 33NM (or 42NM) (200 knots – 150 knots) +5 = 38NM (or 47NM). When my final approach speed is 120 knots, then we don’t need to add 5 but 8 NM to the previous calculated values. Since it’s a rule of thumb we can say that approximately 40NM out of KRND we start our descent and level off initially at and altitude of 4000 feet.
Knowing this, I start my descent at around 40-45NM from KRND. The distance to start with the descent can be seen on the GPS unit and the HSI. I use a vertical speed of 1500 feet/minute, reduce my IAS to roughly 150 IAS and see what happens. When I feel I’m too slow, I increase the VS (Vertical Speed) and monitor the IAS of course. Once leveled OFF at 4000 feet and near KRND, I follow the steps on page 5 of the guide. These steps deal with the KRND 15R ILS frequency.
We did enter all of this, so we only need to switch from GPS to VOR. To do this I follow the steps as mention ed in the guide namely “On the RMU, press the DME Hold key “DMEH” so that you will have distance information when you switch the NAV radio to the 15R ILS frequency. On the RMU press the white diamond key along the right side of the RMU to “flip” the runway 15R ILS frequency to active. Glide slope and localizer information will appear on the ADI and glide slope will also display on the HSI.”
You’ll notice when turning towards runway 15R the LOC (LOCaliser) and GS (Glide Slope) are picked up and with the guidance it’s easy to aim for the right spot on the runway. I could even do it without the ILS signals, but it’s good to see that it works flawless, but what when you what to use your own flight plan, based on the training flight guide? Ok, lets check that out.
Using your own flight plan?
Of course, you can also create your own flight plan since you and I have seen that by clicking the RH (right-hand) CRSR knob on the build in GPS unit, the default Laminar Research G1000 pops up. Via this device you can load any FMS X-Plane 11 (or 12) flight plan. Let me highly the following; first fly this AOA training flight although it may look easy and straightforward, and then create ands use your own flight plan and follow this one, all based on the training flight steps and yes, by still using the “clist” checklist.
Loading your created flight plan is easy; click on the RH located CRSR button of the GPS unit. The G1000 pops up. With the created flight plan with FMS format (default format from Laminar Research) stored in the Output/FMS Plans folder of your X-Plane, you click on the G1000 the FPL button on the RH side. Next you move the mouse on the RH side of the inner FMS knob and click once. The RH side of the DU shows you the available flight plans. Click the inner FMS knob.
The mouse pointer becomes a hand. The upper flight plan will be selected. If this is the flight plan you want, then click the ENT(er) knob on the RH side. Or this wasn’t the flight plan you want, then with the RH side of the outer FMS knob and click as much as needed till you see the flight plan you want.
When I want too, I could continue with another flight and perhaps even more test flights but I think you got the picture how and what I feel about the AOA Simulations Texan T-6A X-Plane 11/12 aircraft model. No, it doesn’t have a popup display or other features to control the T-6A nor that it has other features that other developers have. On the other hand, the AOA team always tries to model an aircraft with great detail, with excellent flight dynamics and still with lots of features. In this case with the T-6A that are plugins that add special features.
It took me a longer time to review the Texas T-6A because we changed from X-Plane 11 to X-Plane 12 and I moved from the Netherlands to France. Not that these countries lie far out of each other however, always a lot of things to organize. All together a lot of hazel and dazzle, but I finally managed to finish this review and in case you think different, with a lot of pleasure. Several additional “real” liveries are painted by X-Plane.Org user David Austin. Awesome quality and great liveries!
What else can I add?
I got the following feedback/update from the AOA Simulations team in respect to the X-Plane 12 version. The X-Plane 12 T-6A Texan II will include an additional GPS feature to use 1-click DirectTo navigation input.
The review has become quite long. I never had a moment that I didn’t like the modeled T-6A. As said before, it’s well modeled, their support is user / simmer friendly and AOA Simulations is a well known X-Plane modeler. AOA Simulations is known about their well crafted military fighters and also a GA aircraft while the Texan T-6A is slightly different in that way. It’s not as fast at the fighters, it has a single turboprop engine, but it’s for the design an elegant and maneuverable trainer. Since it has no Auto Pilot, you Learn To Fly with a slightly different aircraft model then the GA aircraft.
I tested the T-6A with X-Plane 11 and later also with X-Plane 12. Did I noticed many differences between both X-Plane versions in respect to the modeled T-6A? No, not really when you look to the 3D cockpit. It could be that the external view is better in X-Plane 12, but that could be also me. And yes, of course, default X-Plane 12 clouds, sky, apron, reflections and much more of that, looks much better.
And always the same question; did I cover everything of the modeled Texan T-6A?
I covered a lot, but I’m never sure if I covered everything. It’s a complex aircraft although it has no FMS (Flight Management System), complex EICAS DUs nor that it has EICAS or ECAM. But the AOA Simulation team managed to add typical plugins into the aircraft to give it that realistic behavior. Last but not least; many many thanks Steve, David and not to forget Fabrice for all your help, inputs and last notes which I tried to included in this awesome modeled Beechcraft T-6A Texan II for X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 review.
More information can be found the AOA Simulations website or at the dedicated AOA Simulations page of X-Plane.Org. As of this writing – March 2023 – the Texan T-6A cost you 40 USD. As I wrote before, the model is compatible with X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 and comes with a special package for X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12.
Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com or to Angelique@X-Plained.com.
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware AOA Simulations Texan T-6A|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | AOA Simulations|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of the Beechcraft Texan T-6A|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately XP11 (477MB) / XP12 (483MB) (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||February 23rd 2023|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Pro
- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz
- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB
- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Bootcamp Windows 10)
- 1 external 2TB LaCie Rugged Pro SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls
- Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
|Software specifications:||- macOS Ventura (13.2.1)
- X-Plane 11.5x / X-Plane 12.03
I live 14 miles north of Randolph AFB, home to the 12th Flying Training Wing. Hardly a day goes by without seeing student pilots in the T-38 or T-6A. I’ve always admired the T-6A Texan as a trainer, though have never had the occasion to fly one. It is a sleek, high performance turboprop that always gets my attention when I see one fly by. Looking forward to acquiring the sim model and thanks for the review!
Thanks Malcolm for your time to reply. Believe me, you’ll love the model and the flight dynamics.