USS Enterprise X – Team SDB – review (5*)

The Big E. USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The first nuclear aircraft carrier and the best in FSX! Published by Team SDB. This is where I keep my F-14.

USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

Pros and Cons

What I like in USS Enterprise?

  • great 3d model
  • nice textures
  • animated crew
  • crew reacting to aircraft operations
  • multiple deck settings (empty, crowded, early, lat)
  • night lighting

What I do not like?

What can be improved?

  • installation and configuration
  • I would choose a different destroyer… yes, I know, tedious of me

U.S.S. Enterprise

It was a one sided battle. A ship sailing under British flag seemed harmless when admiral Rous’ vessel – Tripoli approached to inquire about U.S. ships in Libyan waters.

How surprised must he have been when a musket salvo thundered and the flag was switched to American. Berbers responded with inaccurate broadside. Hasty and chaotic fire did not cause any damage to the U.S.S. Enterprise. The gun battle begun and the Barbary polacca, although larger and armed with 14 guns, turned out to be no match for the 12-gun schooner. With no way to outrun the faster ship Rous turned to board Enterprise and to make use of it’s last advantage – larger crew. The first attempt failed. Under heavy fire fire Tripoli broke the attack. With no other means of effectively fighting Americans – Rous turned to a ruse of war (some may call this a cheat or even a treacherous move) – he lowered his flag as if he was surrendering, only to hoist it again and fire when the U.S. crew tried to get closer. Trick did not work. Once again under gun and musket fire Berbers suffered heavy losses. In one more attempt to win the fight they tried the same deception again and again – the Americans fell for it. But the result was no different. When casualties mounted Rous lowered the flag. Captain Starett, distrusting his enemy kept shelling Tripoli’s waterline until the flag was thrown overboard. Even then – the negotiations leading to sending boarding crew lasted long.

Tripoli looked terribly when marines finally got on it’s deck. With 18 underwater holes – the ship was slowly sinking. Of 80 souls on board, 20 sailors were dead and 30 wounded, Berbery admiral among them. Ship surgeon was dead.

With no casualties among themselves Americans tended to the enemy wounded and patched the holes. After tearing the masts down and throwing guns overboard U.S. crew let Berbers sail slowly to Tripoli, where a humiliating punishment awaited the ships commander.

For several years U.S. ships patrolled the Mediterranean to prevent pirate attacks and now the memory of Barbary Wars is a theme of Marine Corps hymn.

210 years later pirates seized U.S. yacht SY Quest. U.S.S. Enterprise carrier group was dispatched to capture the pirates. U.S.S. Starett (named for the former Enterprise captain) was escorting the aircraft carrier. 75 pirates were captured during this operation. Weeks later, on the way back to U.S. Muammar Kaddafi’s forces in Libya were target by the Enterprise planes. History repeating itself?

Team SDB – U.S.S. Enterprise X

In case you did not notice – Team SDB published an aircraft carrier, not the 12-gun schooner.

U.S.S. Enterprise in FSX

Actually – the add-on consists of two U.S.S. Enterprise carriers. One looks like the ship from early 80s and the second shows late 80s colors and air group. Both are available in two versions – crowded and empty-deck (although some sailors are still there). Additionally there is a Sea King helicopter flying close by to serve as a rescue in case of takeoff or landing accident. Adams-class destroyer sails next to the carrier as an escort vessel.

After the installation is completed there are two sceneries with ship routes. You can find CVN-65 in several locations:

  • U.S. coast
  • Hawaii
  • Middle East
  • Far East
  • Norwegian Sea
  • Mediterranean Sea

There are 17 routes in total. All but one show the carrier with crowded flight deck. Yankee Station carrier has empty deck so I chose this one to land C-130.

Additional installer adds saved flights to each location. It places an F-18 (Acceleration default plane) 10 miles behind the carrier.

If you use AI Carriers tool – U.S.S. Enterprise will configure itself. In AI Carriers menu there are all four options (early/late and empty/crowded).

Installation

Like in older sceneries – installer requires user to enter FSX path manually. Then you should click next, ok or finish buttons until the installation is ready. To install saved flights – run additional installer that was copied to FSX/Addon Scenery folder. There is also a manual in Addon Scenery. Both routes-sceneries need to be added to Scenery Library manually.

I wrote that the installer could be improved. It is not a serious problem. It just a slight inconvenience with all the steps required to install this software. But once it is done – you can forget about this.

Requirements!

U.S.S. Enterprise requires FSX Acceleration and I tested it on this version of Flight Simulator X.

You should not that officially it does not support DX10 mode – but all the screens you can see in this review were taken in DX10 mode (with DX10 Fixer). I did not notice any problems associated with DX10.

Documents

The manual is great! On 32 pages it describes the product, installation, all the options that are available and additional features like integration with other add-ons (for example RFN-CarrierGauge). In my opinion – everything is explained as clearly and precisely as possible. I like this!

There are also explanations on how to get to the carriers – with suggested airports and routes.

If you have never tried flying from carriers in FSX – you will find a short briefing in this manual.

F-14 taxiing

Impressions

Tomcat on U.S.S. Enterprise

I loaded one of the saved flight, then I landed this default F-18 and after shutting down I changed my plane to F-14. The first thing I noticed is the level of detail – especially when I compare it with my previous carriers (I have 8 or 10 by now). 3d model is significantly more accurate and complicated. It uses textures of higher resolution and I noticed many tiny details of the deck, crew and ship. For example – arresting gear wires are modeled in 3d and you I can clearly see how they are mounted to the deck.

Taxiing on the deck of Enterprise is no different then taxiing on a crowded Nimitz or Kitty Hawk. F-14 is huge and the space is tight. Some skill and wings in full-back position allowed me to taxi without any collision.

Ready for launch – take a look at this sailor on the deck

A long selfie stick was necessary to take this picture

Flaps – full, Afterburner – checked, full thrust – checked, pull the stick – ok. Launch.

I like the animations I see when I am getting ready for takeoff. When I connected my plane to the catapult (Shift+I) – additional deck crew appeared – everyone in a proper position for aircraft launch. You can see two men wearing green uniforms and a yellow dressed officer who is signalling for take-off. Green means catapult crew. Yellow – aircraft movement (including takeoffs and landings). Red – ordnance. And so on.

I am glancing to both sides – there are marvelous details around me. Even this blast-shield is detailed and significantly better then the one on Kitty Hawk.

Launch

Climb

When I watch take-offs in outside view I can notice steam rising from the catapult. They are still using steam to launch planes. It’s a 1920’s technology and only recently an alternative appeared – future aircraft carriers will employ electromagnetic catapults.

I already practiced pattern flying on Nimitz so I am just playing with F-14’s auto-throttle flying around Enterprise. It’s a clever device that keeps “on speed” angle of attack.

My landings were good. Usually 600-700 feet per minute, the second or the third wire (although some landings on the first also happened). I clearly show habits of a land plane pilot when I flare the aircraft just before landing. You should fight this reflex and just hit the deck at 700-780 feet per minute in a carrier capable plane.

Centerline

LSO report

Sometimes my landings are not that pretty. LSO reports that this one could have been better. The first wire and 610 fpm show that it was a low approach and even with lower vertical speed I landed close to carrier’s stern. From a rookie’s point of view it was a nice landing – the first wire means that the plane stopped far from runway’s end. The 4th wire on the other hand means that you stop at the very end – seeing only cold water in front of you (if you are new to Aircraft Carriers – take a notice that planes land on this angled runway). But a pro would say it was a mistake.

A visiting Tu-95

Close escort

Over U.S.S. Enterprise – you can see both Sea King helicopter and Adams-class destroyer

Scramble

TacPack and a tanker generated in this software made it possible to recreate Tu-95 fly-by and F-14 scramble.

You can see Adams-class destroyer on my previous screenshot. I would feel much safer if there was a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser instead of an old destroyer. Personally I do not think that Adams is a pretty ship and Tico is my favorite class in U.S. Navy…

B-52

I did some reading about carriers and B-52s so I could not help myself and flown a Stratofortress next to this carrier just below deck level. Captain Sim B-52 is a little disappointing – at this speed and altitude it should have distinctively nose down attitude.

My Co-pilot went out for a moment so I can have some fun!

If I crash this B-52 no SeaKing will help me.

It was a difficult fly-by but I trusted my radioaltimeter completely.

C-130 on an aircraft carrier? Sure

The carrier is a great operational base far from friendly land but it is also a logistical nightmare. Just imagine – 4600 men and women, air group comparable with a mid-size country air force, and stocks of ordnance and spare parts depleting rapidly during conflict. How to keep it operational? It seemed that a transport plane can solve some problems. For example a C-130. It is maneuverable, can withstand hard landings and does not need a long runway. And it’s wing span is a few feet smaller then the space available on an aircraft carrier.

In theory – this concept was great. So the trials started. Marines lent one of their KC-130F, the Navy made some improvements (there was a different front gear cover, an improved anti skid system and the external tanks were removed). It was loaded to the landing weight of 38 tons (85000 pounds). The pilot performed a touch-and-go first and then a full stop landing on board of U.S.S. Forrestal. Then they took-off (conventionally – without any external help) and landed once again. Test lasted the whole day and C-130 proved itself capable of operating from aircraft carriers up to 55 ton (121 000 pounds) landing or takeoff weight without use of arresting gear or catapults.

There was only a small problem. During combat operations the flight deck is never empty, and the empty deck was required for a Hercules to land and take off. Additionally – only a single C-130 could be parked on a deck of a carrier at one time. It did not seem possible to effectively use C-130s to bring supplies to the ship. A much smaller C-2 was chosen and it’s role is mainly passengers and light cargo flights.

Downwind

On final – C-130 does not use the angled runway

I could not help myself and took Captain Sim C-130 for a trip to the carrier. I had some previous experience – I did the same on Nimitz and I often land C-130 on a short landing strips (which was actually much harder).

If you are going to land a Hercules on a carrier – just remember to be accurate. Keep it on imagined centerline (during the real test they painted an actual line in correct place on the deck) and make a slow approach. You may get a weird feeling of descending too fast. You will be right – remember that your speed indicator shows 100 knots or something close and with some headwind (let’s say 10 knots) your ground speed is only 90. Then subtract 25 knots that the carrier makes and your “deck speed” will be just 65 knots. Your usual glide path has just been twisted.

I recreated the real tests exactly. Touch and go first and then full stop landing. At 38 tons (TOW) the take-off happened surprisingly early (just remember – you are cruising at 35 knots when you add wind and carrier speed).

I would prefer to have an entirely empty deck for this landings. Some crew-members were distracting me during this operations.

Positioning C-130 for takeoff

Climb

Night on a carrier

Night on a carrier

To get myself used to night landings I flown Dino Catteneo’s T-45 first. As always I begun with a traffic pattern and landing. Repeated three times. For me T-45 is too sensitive in controls inputs but still – I honestly recommend it. Dino’s planes are my favorite freeware aircraft for FSX.

Call the ball

Little left, on glide path

Trap

This sensitivity is what makes it hard to follow the centerline. The runway usually slips away to the right and I need to make corrections to fly the correct path. If you think about flying to carriers – you will need to get adjusted to the deck that moves with a speed of 20 or 25 knots. Aim at the island at first and let the carrier move forward.

Night on the hangar deck – nice red light. It is white during the day

Herkules on the Big E

Summary – 5*****

It is a very good add-on. I could not find any bugs, mistakes or problems and I liked everything in this carrier. I can recommend it to anyone who likes naval planes!

Big E

CVN-65

Price to quality ratio – could be better

At 31,90 Australian dollars it costs about as much as ORBX airport. It is a good price for a good scenery (let me treat the carrier just like an airport). The only problem of the Big E is the competition it has. It may be better in every respect then the freeware Nimitz but I do not think that the difference amounts to $32.

I recommend the Enterprise to everyone who thinks seriously about naval aviation in FSX. If you really enjoy flying to and from aircraft carriers – you should buy it. You will like it for sure!

 

USS Enterprise for FSX Acceleration

 

You can see this add-ons in this review:

 

USS Enterprise was provided for review by Team SDB

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