Bronco X – Aerosoft – review (5*) – part 1

OV-10 Bronco from Aerosoft. Another great warplane from this developer. What I like in Bronco? Its engines, systems and beautiful model. This strange plane comes with my strong recommendation. 

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Contents of this review:

North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco

Bronco – “a range pony or mustang of the western U.S., especially one that is not broken or is imperfectly broken” (dictionary.com/browse/bronco).

I do not think it is the best name for the OV-10, which is far from wild or fierce. Bronco, was designed to be multi-mission and highly versatile plane (so I would say that a broken horse would be much better choice for a name). Unfortunately – it never received engines powerful enough to make it great in any mission it was tasked with.

Twin boom layout with a large central nacelle gives it unique and recognizable shape. It also helps perform some of the missions it was designed for.

Configurations

Bronco usually comes with a crew of two in a tandem cockpit. A spacious cargo hold is situated behind the observer and it can be extended if the rear seat is removed allowing for following configurations:

  • cargo (3,200 lbs)
  • troop transport (6 armed soldiers)
  • paradrop (five)
  • casualties evacuation (two soldiers on stretchers and a medic)

The main mission of OV-10 was COIN – counter insurgency. It was designed to support troops on the ground with light weapons such as machine guns and unguided rockets. AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles are provided when helicopters may be encountered. No serious threats were expected and therefore OV-10 is not equipped with any countermeasures or warning systems. For this reason OV-10 is unsuitable in any modern conflict and its main use was against Viet Cong over Vietnam and against leftist guerilla forces in Southern America. Bronco’s European user – German Luftwaffe used it as a target tow only (this version, with target pod – is also provided by Aerosoft). Its ability to loiter above the target and great visibility offered by large canopy made it also perfect for the role of FAC – Forward Air Controller. As such it guided strike aircraft to their targets.

STOL / almost STOL

Early specifications for COIN aircraft for the USAF required great STOL capabilities. As the project progressed some of this capabilities were traded for other features, but still – this aircraft is capable of landing and taking off an aircraft carrier without any assistance (no catapults or arresting equipment). And it can operate from light carriers / assault ships (like USS Tarawa).

When doing STOL landings keep in mind that this is carrier-capable plane and do not flare too much – its vertical speed at touch down can be as high as 600ft/min on rough runway and 850ft/min on paved surface. Do not do any STOL landings at weights over 10,000 pounds.

Bronco is less capable when it comes to short takeoffs at max (or high) weight. One of descriptions I read compared it to the bomb-laden F-4… and Phantom clearly won in terms of takeoff distance. And this is bad, cause heavy F-4s were never known for any kind of short field performance. In this case – OV-10’s engines were the problem. They were simply too weak for this plane with full load.

Just do this simple comparison – OV-10 (max. take-off weight of over 14,000 pounds) has the same engines as early King Air (B100) which was almost three thousand pounds lighter! And no one expected the King Air to do combat maneuvers under fire! This is why the lack of power is mentioned as a contributing factor to the loss of many OV-10s over Vietnam.

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Aerosoft Bronco X

Purchase and installation

I am describing Aerosoft’s Bronco which was downloaded from their online store. Download version costs 30,96 Euro ($35) and the box version costs 29,99 Euro ($34) + shipment. Price may be different depending on your location due to taxes. Both versions are compatible with FSX, FSX:SE and P3D.

Installation is identical to any other product by Aerosoft I have – just enter your email and personalized produkt key. And then click “next”, or “ok”, or “finish”.

Manual

Manuals are added to Aerosoft/Bronco X folder (inside the main FSX folder). There is one in German and one in English. They explain the proper FSX configuration (read it – it is important!), aircraft systems and basic procedures. Checklists are included (but you will probably use the on screen checklist in 2d panel – I will describe it in the second part of this review).

I have mixed feelings about Aerosoft’s manuals for aircraft. They can be great. Or mediocre. Or just… thin. This one is somewhere between the last two groups. 38 pages for such an advanced plane? It is just not enough. Some parts seem shorter than they were intended – like they were finished in a hurry. It is a pitty since this is an extraordinary add-on with complicated systems – an user could use a better manual. Fortunately – there are real world manuals available for OV-10.

You can download the manuals here:

Repaint kit

Aerosoft prepared a repaint kit for the OV-10 – you can download it from the product’s page.

What is included?

Aerosoft provides the Bronco in several military variants, all of which have USAF and USMC (Marines) liveries:

  • clean (only 4 machine guns on small wings under central nacelle)
  • CAS – Combat Air Support – machine guns, bombs and rockets
  • FAC – Forward Air Controller – rockets and even more rockets (mostly used for target designation)
  • long range – three external tanks instead of weapons
  • training – single centerline external fuel tank

USAF planes are painted gray, Marines’ come in green.

There are also two civilian OV-10s (without small wings and machine guns). The first is based on a UK-registered OV-10 belonging to OV-10 Association – it is painted in its original German Luftwaffe camo. The second belongs to Californian firefighters, who use it similarly to military FAC planes – as Forward Controller for air tankers.

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On the outside

Bronco needs a little getting used to. It is not an easy plane to look at… quite frankly – it is ugly. Well… maybe not ugly. It is different. Twin boom configuration is rare and places OV-10 in a small group of planes – among which the famous P-38 Lighting WW2 fighter is the most popular. Unfortunately – Bronco does not share the beautiful clean line of the Lighting. On the contrary – it looks like a medley of parts belonging to several different aircraft. Just look at the size of the canopy or horizontal fin. Both look like they were taken from a plane two, three or four times bigger than Bronco.

But this does not mean that I do not like OV-10. I love it! I love all strange looking planes.

Lets move on to the Aerosoft’s model. Take a look at the picture above – do you see the details of elevator booster? It is the rod (actually two rods – one for each booster tab) connecting horizontal fin and the tab at the back end of elevator. If you look closely you will even see how its dimension changes – just like in the real one.

This is what I like in advanced add-on planes for FSX/P3D. Details like this make me look for more information and learn more about planes. In fact I thought that this was a trim. But something was not right in the construction so I started looking at the manuals and drawings to see if it was modeled correctly. And I found that it was. And I also found how this device works and how the trim (outer tabs on the elevator) works in OV-10.

I am describing such details to show you the amount of work someone put into this model (and plane). I could simply write that this is a good model, but I want to show you why I think it is good.

What else? I like how the steps extend from fuselage when canopy opens. If you are interested in details of gear – just take a look – it’s carefully modeled.

Alle the “standard” features like antennas, static dischargers, flap mechanism or wipers are (of course) modeled.

From the outside the impression would be perfect if only the textures were better. They are good. Or… fine. When I look at this plane from a distance – I cannot complain. But when I stand close to the plane (like on the picture below) I find the aircraft name blurry and the unit insignia is almost unreadable. I think that this plane could use an update with high resolution textures on the outside.

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Engines

Did you know that some planes use counter rotating engines? It is less popular among civilian twins (although some use this solution) but more common among military planes. With counter rotating props there is no “critical engine” and hence – single engine performance is identical no matter which engine fails. In this case it is especially important as single engine handling at high load is bad and a critical engine would make it even worse.

As a curiosity I can add that there is additional unique feature of OV-10 – it can actually fly with two engines rotating in the same direction, but such use is limited to ferry flights to a repair facility. It may be helpful if a plane needs to be ferried out of forward base.

If you are more into in depth simulation you will love OV-10’s engines. These are among the best turboprop engines you will find in Flight Simulator X or Prepar3d. The temperature raises with the altitude (it’s custom coded – FSX does not simulate this and most turboprops are buggy in this area). This will make low level flight much more fun (as in the real world – OV-10 was designed to be flown low).

Aerosoft’s engines also simulate failures, which can be caused by overheating and over-torque. Startup failures and mistakes are also simulated, as are flameouts in icing conditions (make sure that ignition is turned on in such situation). This is all custom coded and you will not find anything similar in most planes in FSX/P3D.

 

The left engine is equipped with smoke generator. You can use it as an air show toy, but in the real world it was designed to mark the best approach path for strike aircraft. Today Californian firefighters use smoke generators to mark the path of attack for tanker aircraft when fighting forest fires.

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Instruments

This is something you will notice at first flight! Actually – you will notice this at startup. Instrument needles move or shake with aircraft vibrations. I like how it is done – some instruments are more shaky, some are not shaky at all – just like in a real plane. I love how it was designed in Aerosoft’s Bronco.

If you practice stalls – you will be able to see how the speed indicator needle shakes when aircraft buffets.

Contents of this review:

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Bronco X - Aerosoft
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star

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