Even before joining the development team in late August, 2021; I had already set my eyes on this community-made module. It was that feeling that pushed me to offer myself as aid for the project as a 2D artist, which has been quite the interesting experience so far. I would like to thank both Kinkkujuustovoileipa (Kinkku) and Jonas for letting me be a part of this project.
The following article is meant to be a showcase of what will be seen at launch. This is not a review, just a showcase. Additionally, my opinion might be biased seeing as I have spent hundreds of hours working on this mod to make it as good as my abilities would allow me, so please do try the mod out and judge it for yourself. I will also provide some insight as to my side of the development, which was creating most 2D assets.
EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL MODELS
The UH-60L has a custom, almost fully-clickable cockpit. This UH-60L cockpit layout is accurate to Lima models from around 2009, which is the version we decided to replicate due to the accessibility we had to its documentation. The texture work was mostly made by me. I aimed for a somewhat weathered look, without going overboard. Instruments should be accurate to the ones installed in these birds. We used schematics and reference sheets when able, as that would ensure proper calibration of the instruments. It is not perfect nor is it the most realistic cockpit out there, but I am proud of what we accomplished here. I really like how they look when viewed from certain angles:
Night lighting required a lot of work to get right as well. So please make sure to fly this beast at night, it is quite the experience. Here is a recent shot of the lighting in action:
We also took the time to model the rest of the cabin with its seats, did all the animations for switches and buttons, implemented the displays, etc. I hope you like what we did here.
Now onto the external 3D model. The one we have now is quite a new addition to the project, in fact. But it was the piece that allowed us to finally take the final steps towards a public release. Its unwrapping could improve in some areas but what we have is good enough for an initial release. It is fairly detailed and animated but we did have to re-rivet it and detail it further with normalmaps inside of Substance Painter, which gives it a better look overall.
We added the capability of installing/uninstalling the External Stores Support System (ESSS) alongside its drop tanks. It also has all of its external lights, which even change depending if you have the ESSS installed or not!
It will ship with 12 liveries at launch: 6 U.S. military birds, 2 foreign operators (camo), 2 search and rescue birds and 2 fictional liveries. Here are all of them in one picture:
SYSTEMS AND FLIGHT MODEL
This is the part where Kinkku did most of the work, alongside contributors such as Dorian. It is still not feature complete but all critical systems have been modeled, as well as many of the secondary systems. Here is a short list of systems what is implemented at the moment:
Partial electrical systems
Air to Air Refueling
Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)
Command Instrument System Panel
Advisories and caution lights connected to aircraft system
Doppler GPS Navigation
AN/AVS-7 Helmet Mounted Display
All of these systems are fully functional and will be available at launch.
At the same time, what I personally consider to be the most impressive aspect of this mod is its custom external flight model (EFM). We used the open source AH-6 EFM by Nibbylot as a base, but most of this has been rewritten and tuned to accurately represent a UH-60L as per based on performance charts, studies and subject-matter expert (SME) feedback.
The Stability Augmentation System makes flying it a breeze. Here is an extract from our quick start guide as to how it works: The Automatic Flight Control System is comprised of four main subsystems - the stabilator, SAS, trim and FPS systems.
The Stability Augmentation System (SAS) provides improved stability and damping in all axes.
The Boost system provides electromechanical assistance to the pilot inputs.
The Trim & FPS system provides control positioning and basic autopilot function
It is a pretty complex system but, as a pilot, it is incredibly useful. It eases the workload a lot, making the Black Hawk one of the easiest helicopters to fly in-game, at least to me.
INITIAL LAUNCH, FUTURE AHEAD
This is only the initial release version of the mod, as there are still aspects that we want to improve and work on, as well as features left to implement. I personally hope that you enjoy this mod as much as I have enjoyed being one of its developers so far. It is quite the project, with many moving parts, but I am happy that I was one of the cogs that kept it moving along this far.
Fly it and enjoy it, it is free.
About the Author
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy