AV-14 UNSC Hornet for X-Plane v930 - by Ben "Mid7night" Harber
This is an update from early v9 to work with v930 and above. Changes from the original version are:
- Adjusted artificial stability constants in both Heroic and Legendary models to work with version 9
- Changed rockets to missiles, firing individually
- Modified artificial stability settings in the Legendary model to have better high-speed handling characteristics
Version 9.30 note: There is no more "Heroic" mode, only Legendary. However, I've tuned it to have what I think is the best of both handling worlds. I think this is the best handling Hornet I've released.
As with all my projects, HUGE thanks must go first to my wife Natalie for putting up with me during this - I couldn't do it without her. :-)
Also, a long overdue thanks must go to Bungie for making the Halo series in the first place. Without them I wouldn't have all these cool projects to bring to X-Plane! I'm sure I'd find something else to make, but you get the idea... :-)
Credit for the Master Chief model goes to:
Welcome to the Hornet from HALO 3! In order to remain as true to the original Bungie creation as possible, I modeled it from over 50 in-game Halo 3 screenshots, using a SPARTAN as a reference scale. Based on a SPARTAN being 7ft. tall, I measured the Hornet to be:
Wingspan: 27.5 ft.
Length: 30 ft.
Height: 13.5 ft.
Two tri-barrel high caliber anti-armor cannons
Two rocket pods that fire in pairs
Special X-Plane features:
Interior/Exterior fully 3D-modeled and animated in AC3D
3D interactive cockpit
Custom engine and landing sounds
Custom button and flame textures
Animated Moving Parts:
Master Chief at the controls (YAY!) - Arms and head move with control inputs
Twin control sticks
Gimbaled engine pods
Sliding canopy - opens by actuating the speedbrake (don't worry, it doesn't actually have one, so it won't mess up your flying)
Cannon barrels spin appropriately when fired
Notes about Operation - IMPORTANT!
A joystick or yoke with some sort of yaw control (pedals or twist-neck) is almost mandatory for flying the Hornet, I DO NOT recommend attempting to fly it with the mouse. I'm sorry if this excludes some users, but it's a necessary evil. You'll understand once you fly it. :-)
At first, I wanted to make this Hornet handle as much like it does in HALO 3 as possible. While this is certainly possible, I discovered after my first test flight that in the world of X-Plane, this would be exceedingly boring. However, the Hornet absolutely needs some sort of stability augmentation because it is naturally too unstable. Without artificial stability, it handles much like a helicopter, but without the stabilizing effect of a large rotor disc. The artificial stability system calms your control inputs and actually aids in low-speed maneuverability.
In general the Hornet needs short, deliberate control inputs. You should always be thinking of where your current flight vector will take you and correct accordingly to where you want to go. It handles much like a highly maneuverable helicopter, minus the yaw issues. The default loaded weight is fine for normal operations, however feel free to change the payload and fuel level to simulate different operations.
The cockpit is modeled in 3D and is fully interactive. The lower dash features digital N1 and EGT indicators, buttons for avionics, lights, weapons, and starting the engines. The throttle is envisioned to be a squeeze-trigger (not modeled) on the control sticks, but there are controllable throttle indicators on the dash as well.
The HUD is visible when not in '3D-cockpit mode', and contains an artificial horizon, airspeed and altitude tapes, groundspeed, VSI and radio-altitude indicators.
To supplement the HUD - as you're probably going to want to be in '3D-cockpit mode' most of the time - there are airspeed, altitude, VSI and radio-altitude instruments mounted on the sliding portion of the canopy. I KNOW there is nothing like this in the Hornet in HALO 3, but because of the high location of your viewpoint, they are necessary for flying from inside the cockpit. That high-set viewpoint is very nice for visibility though! And it's not a totally unreasonable location for instruments. I chalk it up to artistic liberty, and the fact that this is, after all, a fan-fic project.
Even though this is a science-fiction aircraft, I always want to be as 'realistic' as possible. To that end, the forces that control the Hornet are limited to the vectoring and throttling of the two main engines, and RCS thrusters for ROLL ONLY. Let me repeat; There are NO RCS thrusters for pitch or yaw. I chose to do this because there are no visible cues to suggest that the Hornet has pitch or yaw thrusters, and after extensive testing with the final setup, I determined that they weren't necessary.
Pitch and Yaw Control:
Because of the omission of RCS thrusters for pitch and yaw, you MUST apply at least some amount of throttle in order for the artificial stability system to have any effect.
All yaw control is achieved by the pivoting of the engine pods.
Pitch control is a combination of tilting the engine pods and shifting the pilot's weight. There is 700lbs of weight that can shift fore and aft to aid in pitch authority. This is to account for the possibility of the SPARTAN pilot shifting some of his or her weight around in the cockpit.
When slowing down for landing, the normal tendency is to reduce the throttle, which is not unreasonable. In the Hornet however, if reduced too far, the nose will pitch up very unpleasantly. I have found it very important to pulse the throttle to counteract this behavior. In fact, this is true for all VTOL aircraft that I have ever flown. You never want to cut the throttle completely unless you want to fall rapidly! And since this is a futuristic design, the engines it has are very quick to respond.
As previously mentioned, the practice of pulsing the throttle is extremely advantageous when attempting to land. It allows the artificial stability system to continue aiding your inputs, an as such it permits a controlled descent. However, throttle pulsing is also useful when making sharp direction changes - sideways, or even reversing direction.
Notes about Lift:
The Hornet is very similar to the Pelican in many ways. The most notable similarity is the craft's need for engine thrust to aid in lifting. Actually, the Hornet has even less wing area for it's size when compared to the Pelican, so it basically is always riding on the engine's thrust. And because of the natural negative AoA of the main wings, the Hornet must have almost full throttle to maintain level forward flight. But we must remember here, the Hornet is not a long-range high speed attacker. It is designed for rapid response and hostile territory operations. These requirements dictate that it be highly maneuverable, and accelerate quickly - and it excels at both.
The Hornet's top speed is somewhere around 130MPH in level flight, depending on your current weight. To be clear, maintaining level forward flight for extended periods is no cakewalk. The Hornet is most comfortable at medium speeds and shorter ranges - buzzing around like, well, a Hornet.
Just to reiterate: You MUST apply throttle in order for the artificial stability system to aid your controls!