Overview: MSFS F-14A/B Tomcat by IndiaFoxtEcho/Heatblur Simulations
To say that this aircraft is unique would be an understatement, because even its development was nothing conventional. Born from one of the first ever collaborations between two DCS developers, IndiaFoxtEcho and Heatblur Simulations, the F-14A/B MSFS project is a first for both studios.
The F-14A/B Tomcat that we got in MSFS first saw life in DCS World, where it was developed from the ground up by Heatblur Sims. It released publicly in March 2019, to critical acclaim. It set a new standard for other first and third party modules, a standard that might only be surpassed by Heatblur's upcoming F-4E Phantom II module. Initially, Heatblur didn't pursue development for MSFS, but that all changed when they partnered with IndiaFoxtEcho to port the Tomcat to MSFS. IndiaFoxtEcho are a group of extremely talented developers, so if anyone could replicate Heatblur's magic touch in MSFS, that would be them. After some months in developments, we got an extremely competent port of the F-14A/B for the civilian simulator.
It has the same level of visual fidelity as its DCS counterpart, which makes sense once we take into account that Heatblur's primary role during the development of this add-on was its massive 3D library of assets and scans, all of which were ported to MSFS in a brilliant way. Most of its functionality is also intact from DCS, with the obvious exception of the omission of modeled weapon systems and sensors that would not see any use in a civilian-focused simulator. That being said, all the switches are still clickable for those that are interested in in-depth cockpit interactions and that clicky-clicky action. Carrier operations are also on the table thanks to the addition of the Forrestal-class carrier to this package! They might be simplified and not at the level of the Super Carrier module in DCS World, but it is more than enough to satisfy that carrier itch in MSFS. The model is gorgeous and fits right in with its populated deck and SAR Sea King, always on stand-by for those that might struggle during a landing or take-off. Weapon models were included with the non-Xbox package, and you can equip them at any time with the aid of the JESTER menu. They might not be functional, but they will surely make your flights feel just that much realistic. Flying it is also a treat, despite it having a simplified model when compared to its DCS counterpart. It responds excellently to your commands, while also communicating to you that this is in fact the heaviest fighter ever to take off from the deck of a carrier. It has weight behind its controls, and it will not hesitate to let you know when you are pushing its limits. Aside from flying it, the most impressive aspect of this module has to be its integration of the JESTER AI system within MSFS. It is not a port, but a recreation of the system itself that has been tailored to the needs of a civilian-focused game. You have your navigation options, automated start-up procedures, communication assistance and even an in-flight extras menu with some cheats for those that just want to have a bit of fun. I am thoroughly impressed by the work that IndiaFoxtEcho put into recreating this within the limitations of MSFS, and I can't help but to applaud their efforts. This is what differentiates other developers from IFE and Heatblur, and I cannot wait to see what else they have cooking up in the oven for us to enjoy. The F-14A/B Tomcat for MSFS is one of the best experiences I have had in this simulator, one that has shaped the way I think of it and one that will now serve as a new golden standard with which to judge future experiences. Congratulations, IFE and Heatblur! About the author: Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000s, 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 2010s. 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