Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few months then it’s probably not failed to escape your attention that THI just released an BF109. The display model which merrily sat posing for us all at Wright Brothers as various members of the “Big names” in Aviation came at night and rubbed themselves over it and who could blame them. The days of Penny Turn battles is over and the community has been crying out for a Good Detailed German Fighter plane with a flight engine comparable to the ZSK P-51 for some time, Zora, busy with plans and a possible global domination, has limited spare time and prefers to work on the American planes he fell in love with as a boy though he has flirted with the idea of building a Japanese or Italian plane though with his track record of one plane every two years I wouldn’t hold your breath. Still waiting on that B-17.
Now stepping back into the ring after a very long time is THI, a company which had previously dominated the realistic WWII fighter market has lay dormant since it’s P-51B back in 2013, being the last thing they released which was quietly shoved onto the MCE market and destroyed any viability the only MCE supporting WWII region had at the time in terms of Air combat being that it totally outclassed anything the Axis had available while it’s builder stuck their fingers in their ears and claimed there was no problem and the Axis would soon have a comparable plane. Still waiting on that BF190.
So when I heard that THI was making a 109 I got excited, finally a realistic German plane that could compare to other MCE Aircraft on the Market and then when I heard Aeon Voom was making it I was a little taken back, when I heard that he was scripting it all by himself at his own insistence I got worried. Let me explain.
Back in 2013 at around the same time the P-51 was released THI made a Stuka. I was quite excited by it, the “coming soon” preview had been whoring itself out right next to a sim I was working in and each night it taunted me with it’s almost perfect technical accuracy and drop dead gorgeous looks.
Unfortunately when released what we got was an un-textured rear gun and a plane that flew like a Brick in a hurricane. This was partially due to Aeon’s total insistence that he, and he alone, script it without listening to any of his advisers nor having it beta tested beyond the ring of Yes men he was surrounded by at the time. It genuinely felt like he’d just taken one of his jet scripts and slowed it down.
So you can see why I was concerned somewhat.
Thankfully something else happened recently, the release of Leading Edge’s P-80 Shooting star caused quite a stir in the MCE community and already it seems to be the Jet of Choice for most people testing the waters at the Green Hell, again this was a jet that Aeon fully scripted by himself difference being the testing wasn’t handed off to a Yes Man who wanked all over it*, this time Cody Skytower himself took charge of quality control and the results speak volumes.
So how well does that translate into the BF109?
As you would expect I climbed into the 109, watched a very nice animation of my fat ass avatar clambering into the cockpit. I took to the skies and immediately crashed it, bringing forth my first complaint. While my crash was intentional for comedic effect I found the plane to be immune to the effects of slamming face first into the ground, yet, just adding a tiny drop of water and the plane immediately caught fire, smugly bellowed that I’d managed to shoot myself down and gracefully sunk to the depths never to be seen again, all in all a fun evening out for all the Family.
So how does it fly once you’ve stopped trying to slam it face first into the ground? Any idiot can say “looks great, flies great” when describing a plane, that same idiot can point out every little detail and inch of work that has gone into this plane and I would be very happy if they did because it is simply stunning to look at.
From the greased trail of footprints along the wing to the thumb-marks on the levers, the exposed engine to the noise it makes when you start it up, this Aircraft is a work of art to which the word “great” would be an insult I mean for fuck sake look at it.
The flight engine itself has it’s ups and its downs, as a dynamic flight core it’s very nicely done, the aircraft does react in the manner one would expect of a lightweight single seat aircraft with a ridiculously powerful engine under the hood. You can feel the aircraft pulling you forward, urging you to go faster and when you try to turn you actually get some sense of air pressure building up along the wings. When you dive the plane speeds up and when you pull up, it slows down.Tighter turns are achieved by slowing down or dropping the flaps. You must adjust your rudder on take off to prevent the torque of the propeller knocking you off course and you need to pull your flaps back up before touching down otherwise the ground effect will just keep you hovering right across the runway. Some degree of skill, or at least a lot of practice, is required if you’re planning to take this thing into combat.
Combat is clearly the main focus of this aircraft, it’s Ammo customization options allow you to “belt” your ammo meaning you can choose which type of ammo you wish, be it Armour piercing, explosive, or incendiary as well as add more tracers to help adjust your aim, or ,if you’re really confident, remove them all together as well as a trigger control mechanism which allows you to fire in bursts.
We did a mock combat test with the only other MCE WWII fighter (freebies aside) on the market, the P-51B I ranted about earlier, to which we can happily report it’s dominance has come to an end, while the P-51 is faster the 109 takes the edge on maneuverability so long as you can learn to do a flap twist to avoid the P-51 diving on you and learn to keep your speed up to stop the P-51 escaping. All in all both planes are relatively balanced and both somewhat rely on pilot skill which was something MCE was trying hard to achieve.
There is only one slight downside and that is the stall physics. As you would expect in most Dynamic Flight engines the planes don’t allow you to “stall fight” (i.e. flying at a stupidly slow speed without consequences). There is a minimum speed required to fly at before the plane starts to struggle and eventually stalls. Normally at this point, a plane would hang in midair for a second, belch, then slowly start to fall backwards, flip over, or go into a spin. It really depends on what you were doing at the time. THI’s BF109 has an angry large Russian woman sitting beside you at all times with her eye permanently glued to the speed-o-monitor*, once you hit the magic stall number she screams “YOU ARE STALLING NOW!” the plane stops and performs an interesting feat of mid-air ballet which you have to sort of sit and wait for it to be done then you can start flying again. It feels somewhat unnatural, like it’s just been shoehorned in without much thought.
So as THI, a company so Old it pre-dates the Blake Sea (by about three years), roars back onto the market like a great Lumbering Dinosaur terrifying some tourists in the rain, we take a step back in perspective. THI has always led the way in Dynamic Aircraft scripting, in days gone by it was THE name for WWII Fighter planes, more recently however they were only ever seen as the toys of the few Vice oldbies, the ones who felt lost in the age of the penny turner, who dusted off their old THI’s and Tomby’s, found a quiet corner of the grid and practiced the art of Dogfighting.
This new 109 could have easily been another Aeon Voom ego project specially being priced at L$2,500, a slowed down jet fighter disguised as a prop plane sold through the THI name as if to try and rub off on it’s former glory. I’m so glad it wasn’t.
*I may still be quite bitter over that Stuka