Milviz is starting to unveiled a little more information about its simulation of the iconic SR-71 Blackbird, which is set to be launched for Microsoft Flight Simulator some time in the future. After an single image tease in early September, the team has shared this week a few preview shots of the aircraft’s exterior, sitting in the hangar at Beale Air Force Base.
These new images come a little after the the 57th anniversary of the SR-71’s first flight, which took place on 22 December 1964. 57 years later, the now retired Blackbird will come to MSFS from a developer who has a great track record for authentic and realistic virtual airplanes.
These new images show a variety of angles of the external model, where impressive texture detail can be seen throughout. It looks quite impressive, with a battered look that is perhaps to be expected from a fuselage that needs to withstand immense speeds and temperature variations.
One interesting aspect of a particular screenshot is a big puddle (fuel?) below the aircraft. Milviz seems keen to model many of the SR-71’s known characteristics, including the infamous fuel leaking when on the tarmac. You see, at supersonic speeds, temperatures go up considerably, which leads to metal expansion. Lockheed’s engineers took this into consideration when designing the SR-71, and allowed for some purposeful looseness between the fuselage panels, knowing they would get tighter as the aircraft reached its intended altitude and speed, preventing overexpansion during cruise and possible fuselage damage because of that.
This would be very cool, wouldn’t it? Milviz is probably still a long way to deliver such features, since they say the current work is focused on retexturing the cockpit. Once that’s complete, which is expected to happen in January, the team will ramp up the implementation of the custom coding that will power all the SR-71’s systems and flight dynamics. The end goal is to eventually get the package ready go into beta testing in early Summer of 2022, so there are still quite a few months of development, at the very lest.
Rest assured that, according to Milviz, they are aiming for a highly detailed simulation of the SR-71. Their goal is to implement the Blackbird’s uniqueness in the MSFS experience, with a complete pilot’s simulation of every control and system. The SR-71 was a very special airplane with a rather unique flight envelope that asked to be treated carefully and delicately. To be able to accurately follow the necessary procedures to take this beast up to Mach 3.3 at 85,000 feet, and then back down to the ground, would be an incredibly rewarding challenge for any home pilot.
So, no matter how long it will take, the stakes are high for this project, and we can’t wait to finally see this extraordinary machine take to the skies in MSFS!