We've had a few requests for some updates on the P-38; today we are here to deliver on that. Firstly we apologise for the radio silence recently; we've been hard at work trying to continually enhance the quality of the aircraft as much as possible before we release.
Speaking of release, let's get that out of the way first. Although we announced earlier that we were hoping to have released by now, we have ultimately decided to keep working on development for just alittle while longer. We can't give a solid date right now, but we are planning in terms of days, not weeks & months, if that gives you any idea :) We expect to have you all flying around in the fork-tail devil before Mid July at the very latest.
Ultimately the reason for the delay was quality; while we have been very proud of development so far, maintaining our standard of ensuring each release is better than the last, we decided we want to take a bigger 'leap' with the P-38 and really push development into the next tier of quality. This means for you, you will receive the best possible rendition of the P-38, ready to fly on release day.
On to the development progress:
Pictures speak a thousand words; as you can see the artwork is really shaping up now into the final stages. Currently work is focused on animation, finishing up & polishing the interior/exterior and final touches on complex areas such as the landing gear bay. After that, we will power through livery creations, lighting & particle FX.
Work here is currently focused on advanced drag simulation; specifically by simulating the impacts of various coolant flaps/shutters, external tanks and other moveable bodies on the aircraft. This is almost complete, once that is done we will enhance dive compressibility modelling & finish fine-tuning airfoil performance across the Reynolds number range.
Engine Modelling & Thermodynamics
We're happy to say that the complex engine model is almost complete, accurately simulating all facets of engine management & the supercharger. To add to this, our custom thermodynamics system has made excellent progress in development, and will make it's debut as part of the P-38 on release day. We have completely overridden X-planes heat & temperature modelling with our own system that includes significantly more detailed & realistic modelling of engine heating/cooling behaviour (oil temps, coolant temps & behaviour, carb temp etc). This also allows us to create a much more detailed & realistic cooling system simulation than previously possible, and subsequently temperature management & operating the coolant features of the aircraft is much more realistic and requires more attention.
Finally, the new system has allowed us to start prototyping damage modelling for things such as overheat conditions, which we are hoping to have fully implemented on release.
Fuel System Model
We have taken the fuel systems model a step further by completely overriding X-planes fuel systems and replacing it with our own more detailed simulation. This has similarly allowed us for the first time to model the fuel systems in significantly more detail, as well as providing us the means to integrate the custom fuel system properly with the aircraft & all our custom systems, including the damage/failures model, complex engine start & management model as well as the drop tanks system.
One of our new features that we're most excited about; our new method of simulating the dynamic nature of firing up piston engines. Previously we've been able to model start-ups with some level of complexity, by carefully manipulating X-planes starter model & failure systems to recreate a realistic startup procedure; while this worked, it lacked finesse and really limited our options.
With the P-38, due to the large amount of custom systems & overrides in place, we are able to bypass the X-plane engine start system and replace it with our own, much more detailed & nuance startup simulation. Our goal is to capture the subtleties of engine start & make it have a real, tangible effect for the pilot. This includes simulating the effects of various priming states, weather/temperature effects on startup, simulation of the energizer flywheel, fuel/oil dilution and so on. What this means for the pilot is that you will need to follow the checklists carefully to get a clean start; however every startup will be different! Different weather & flight conditions will require slight adjustments to the procedures, and even then no two startups will be the same thanks to some slight randomisation elements (eg sometimes it will take slightly longer to catch).
Flight Control System & Hydraulics
Now that we have wrapped up creating our own plugin driven fuel system to replace X-planes logic, work has been focused on improving our Hydraulic simulation & taking that to the next level. In order to do so, we will be overriding X-planes control system logic completely and creating our own flight control system that is integrated with our hydraulic simulation to create a significantly more realistic flight control system.
This allows us not only to more realistically simulate features such as the aileron boost, differential movement and hydraulic limitations, but also opens the doorway for us to implement damage features as well as maintenance options (TBD if these damage/maintenance features will be available on release).
Weapons & Interactive Checklist
Work has also begun on implementing X-planes native weapons realistically, as well as continued development of the UI tablet. The most exciting of which is our new 'checklist app' - it contains all of your necessary checklists, in one convenient place, ready to be used in-flight with no popup windows. It is almost complete; currently we are working on making the checklist interactive by swapping the text colour to indicate whether a checklist item has been completed by you or not (detected automatically). This should help you get through your first attempt of our new dynamic start-up system.
Thank you & stay safe,
Dan & Alex