Just a few days ago we showed you a free add-on that added a realistic-looking aircraft carrier to Flight Simulator. It was a cool way to test some landing skills on such a small target, but it was basically a runway in the form of a carrier, without any of the support systems that make carrier operations possible (and realistic).
On that same post we also pointed to the development of a more advanced mod that aimed at giving a proper way to practice your carrier landing and takeoff skills, and it didn’t take long to get released! Today, Hard Deck Simulations released the first functional aircraft carrier for MSFS, complete with catapult launches and arrestor cables: the Hard Deck Simulations Carrier Module.
The Hard Deck Simulations Carrier Module supports basically every aircraft, and is specially great to use with small jets like the excellent Aermacchi MB-339. Upcoming military jets should also work, like the F-15 from DC Designs. And the developer promises the module works great in multiplayer environments.
There are two components that will be installed: the carriers themselves, 5 static and detailed aircraft carriers positioned around the world, which mimics the look of a Nimitz Class carrier, and the software that enables the catapult and arrestor functionality, which needs to be running for the module to work.
The carrier locations are as followed:
- Key west – ICAO: CAR1
- San Fransisco (270 at 5 miles) – ICAO: CAR2
- New York – ICAO: CAR3
- Gibraltar – ICAO: CAR4
- Dubai – ICAO: CAR5
To get started, simply lineup your aircraft for the catapult launch, and the software will make the necessary calculations for a successful takeoff, based on the type of aircraft that you’ve selected. This means you can use a Cessna 152 or a Boeing 747! Then, with parking brake set, apply full throttle and release the parking brake, and watch the catapult launch you across the seas. Note that you must have crashes disabled, otherwise Flight Simulator will think you’ve stressed the aircraft and show you the crash screen.
For landings, simply aim for the arrestor cables, and the module will detected your landing and apply the simulated physics of the cabled to bring the aircraft to a stop. At this time, due to SDK limitations, tail hooks are not yet supported, so the system assumes they are active all the time.
Overall, it works quite well and is extremely fun to use. Flight Simulator carrier landings are now possible! And it promises to get better with time, as some of the current development limitations within the SDK get ironed out by Asobo and Microsoft. Some of these current limitations are:
- Carriers must be placed as static scenery and can not be dynamically spawned by the user
- Carriers are static and do not move. This is a limitation of the capabilities of placing AI objects in the current SDK. This is highest on HDS’s list of new features.
- Animations – Jet blast doors and cables cannot be dynamically animated yet
- Tailhooks are not currently implemented. To work around this it is assumed your tailhook is always down.
- It is currently impossible to add runway lights to the carrier. This will be updated once the SDK is more mature
Hard Deck Simulations Carrier Module is now available at SimMarket for just around $16.