The Workhorse of the Vietnam War
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, more commonly known as the Huey, has become an iconic symbol of the Vietnam War. It was initially developed for the US Army, where it became one of the most significant helicopters to be used in modern warfare. Its rugged utilitarian design made it suitable for use in various theatres of operation, in roles such as troop transport, medical evacuations (medivac) and even as a helicopter gunship. It also found a place in a civilian role as the Bell 205, where it was deployed for a variety of tasks ranging from Search and Rescue and cargo lifting to crop dusting. Although it is over 50 years since it first entered service, the Huey is still operated by the US army and can also be found in many disaster areas serving as a rescue aircraft.
The Huey Sound
One of the distinctive characteristics of the Huey is the noise made by the twin-bladed rotor in flight as the tip of the advancing rotor blade breaks the sound barrier. This creates a small sonic boom – which is the cause for the famous ‘whop whop’ sound.
The Huey X package
The package from Aerosoft includes the military UH-1H and the civilian Bell 205 versions, as well as the Bundeswehr Huey that was built by Dornier in Germany. These were given the UH-1D designation although they were identical to the UH-1H operated by the US armed forces in Vietnam. In terms of liveries, there are five different options for the military version – including the US Army and the German Bundeswehr. There are also seven liveries for the civilian Bell 205.
3D and systems modelling
The external model is built to a high standard and includes sliding doors, animated rotors and a detailed interior. Although the Huey X doesn’t have a 2D panel, the virtual cockpit is a good representation of the real aircraft and consists of custom-made gauges that are fluid and easy to read. The overhead panel is also detailed and functional. Most of the aircraft systems are operational although some switches are dummies: for example, the emergency hydraulic switches and the rotor brake don’t work. The cockpit includes a caution panel that displays various warnings such as low oil pressure and temperature warnings, as well as electrical and fuel system warnings. The only negative comment I have is the virtual cockpit does appear very dark, and although I could still read the instrumentation, it made night flights more challenging.
The Aerosoft Huey also comes with a searchlight which can be operated using a thumb switch. I tried to operate it at night with pretty disastrous effects as I could only get it to light a small area directly underneath the helicopter; maybe it is a question of multi-tasking, but it just didn’t work for me.
A nice addition is you have the ability to configure the helicopter in either a ‘cold and dark’ state where all the systems are off and you can go through the full start-up procedure. Alternatively, you can select ‘Ready-to-go’ where the helicopter is fully configured for take-off, which is perfect if you just want to fly without having to think about the systems.
Aerosoft implemented a separate sound module to replicate the sounds of the real Huey. The publisher states that the audio element is handled by the operating system rather than by FSX, and has very little impact on frame rates. Accordingly, I hardly noticed any drop in frame rates when comparing the Huey X to the standard default aircraft in FSX. The sound quality is very realistic, however, on occasions I did notice some synchronisation problems, particularly when shutting down the engine.
When it comes to flying, the Huey is described as a pilot’s aircraft. Compared with many other helicopters, it is said to be very stable, particularly in the hover – and as a result is relatively easy to fly. I found this also to be the case with the Aerosoft’s Huey. While its systems are fairly complex and allow you to go through the start-up and pre-flight checklist, I noticed that the start-up sequence was not fully accurate, particularly with respect to the behaviour of the throttle.
In order to overcome the limitations of the helicopter flight model in FSX, Aerosoft created a separate module to make the Huey behave more realistically. They have improved upon the default helicopter flight dynamics of FSX by including flight characteristics you would experience in a real helicopter. First, we now have torque-induced yaw, which is the tendency of the transmission to turn the helicopter in the opposite direction to that of the rotors at low speed. Second, is loss of tail rotor effectiveness, which is uncontrolled yawing in the opposite direction to the rotation of the main rotor and can result in complete loss of control if left unchecked. Third, retreating blade stall has been modelled. This can occur when the maximum speed has been exceeded, which can cause the helicopter to pitch and roll as lift is lost from the retreating blade. However, one element not modelled is ‘vortex ring state’. This is a condition in which a helicopter is caught in its own down-wash from the rotor blades. It is most likely to occur at low forward speeds and high rates of descent. A helicopter caught in a vortex ring will descend at an extremely high rate. Increasing the collective will increase the rate of descent even more and make the condition worse and if left unchecked total loss of control will eventually occur. The only way to get out of a vortex ring is to reduce the collective and moving the cyclic forward to establish forward flight into ‘clean air’.
Installation and documentation
Aerosoft has implemented a new ‘Launcher’ which needs to be run after completing the initial installation. The Launcher activates the new ‘Aerosoft products online’ interface so you need to be connected to the internet during installation. The new system is easy to use and it also has the advantage that you can easily see what other Aerosoft products are currently installed on your system and whether any updates are available for them.
The package comes with a 33-page PDF manual that provides installation instructions and operating procedures for the Huey. The manual doesn’t go into great detail, but includes normal and advanced procedures and comprehensive checklists. It also includes instructions on an innovative feature, which allows you to view your checklists on a smart phone.
Overall, Aerosoft has made a good effort with the Huey X. Visually both the cockpit and the external model are both well detailed. The systems are realistic enough to keep you busy, particularly if you start it from a ‘cold and dark’ state which will suit the hard-core flight simmer. Alternatively you are given the option to load it with all systems running – ready to fly. While the flight model feels fairly realistic, if you delve into the systems, you will find some inaccuracies, particularly with the engine modelling, which is not 100% realistic, but in my opinion it is good enough for normal operations. The search light is an interesting idea but not easy to operate, particularly if you are trying to fly the aircraft and operate it at the same time. For rotary-wing fans, Huey X is a worthwhile purchase as long as you are aware of its shortcomings.
PRICE: €29.99: box; €27.95: download
At a glance: Visually Aerosoft’s Huey looks great. The flight model is realistic and the virtual is cockpit functional. Although some systems are not fully replicated in detail, this simulation is still great fun to fly.
Minimum specification: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 CPU (Core 2 Quad advised)
2 GB RAM, Direct X 9 compatible Graphics Card with 512 MB,
Microsoft FSX (with SP2 or Acceleration), Windows XP, Windows VISTA, Windows 7.