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B-52H Stratofortress for FS2000, FS2002, and CFS2

By Simviation Staff Reviewer Richie Barrett (richieb16@hotmail.com)

Including Interviews of those behind this great aircraft!

  • File name: FS2000: B52h2k.zip (14.5MB) here
  • FS2002: B52h2k2.zip (14.5MB) here
  • CFS2 aircraft: B52hcfs2.zip (6.6MB) here
  • CFS2 gauges: B52H_G.zip (6.2MB) same page as above
  • Author: (aircraft model): Kotaro Akikawa (aka Bonzonie) (panel): Phil Perrot (textures): Anthony Sullenger
  • Date Tested: July 30, 2002
  • Computer Specs Make: Dell Processor: Intel Pentium III 866MHz Ram: 512MB SDRAM
  • Graphics Card: 64MB GeForce 3 TI-200
External View: This B-52H Stratofortress has one of the most amazing and accurate models ever created for a Microsoft Flight Simulator. Not only does this plane have a very authentic model, the FS2000 and FS2002 versions included several well-designed static payloads while the CFS2 version has working weapons instead of static models. This beautiful aircraft, created using FSDS Pro, has full moving parts including flaps, opening compartments, rolling wheels, a deployable drag chute, and much more. The designer has even made it so it can be flown online! Combining this incredible model with the brilliant textures it has makes this one of the most incredible flight sim aircrafts ever built. Because of all these positive characteristics, it is my opinion that this is the best freeware aircraft ever created.
Sounds: As with most freeware aircraft for the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, this plane does not included a unique sound pack. The FS2000 and FS2002 versions use the default sound from the Boeing 737 airliner. Because both the B737 and the B-52 are both large jet aircraft, the sound is good enough to make the B-52 realistic. The CFS2 version is where the sound is the problem. Since CFS2 has no default jet aircraft, there is no default sound in the game that sounds remotely realistic. As a result, the CFS2 B-52H uses the sound from the A6M2 Zero, a small Japanese fighter and it does detract a little from the plane.
Panel : The panel in the Stratofortess is very good. It includes all the gauges needed to fly the giant B-52 and has a very attractive appearance. The panel does have one negative attribute, it slightly restricts the pilots forward vision but when one inspects the real B-52 Stratofortess the same problem is found. Therefore, this minor restriction of forward vision is accurate which helps make this plane even more realistic. The DVC (Dynamic Virtual Cockpit) in this aircraft is relatively good. Although it lacks detailed texturing around the windows, it is still a well-designed cockpit and a good alternative to the normal 2D panel.
Ground Handling: Personally, I found this planes ground handling very surprising. I expected it to be difficult to taxi, but in reality it was very easy to handle. Despite its size, the plane turned very nicely and relatively sharply. The only time it was difficult to taxi was when I allowed it to go to fast making it a challenge to stop. Basically, if you take it slow the B-52 is a very pleasurable aircraft to taxi.

Where Flown: Honolulu, Hawaii in FS2002 Henderson in CFS2

Landing Characteristics & Speed on final approach: I found the B-52 surprisingly easy to land. Being difficult to maneuver, I found it easiest when I made a long strait approach with minimal late course corrections. With flaps fully extended I landed it at a speed of about 175 knots. Once down, I instantly throttled back, hit the brakes, and deployed the drag cute. This caused the plane to quickly reduce speed and eventually come to a complete stop.

Takeoff Characteristics & approx Speed: In my experience, this plane is easy to takeoff provided you have a runway of decent length. With flaps fully extended and full throttle, the plane will roar down the runway steadily increasing speed. Once it reaches the speed of about 185-190 knots, it will slowly lift off the ground with a gentle pull on the stick.

Notes: The CFS2 version of this aircraft comes with an impressive collection of working weapons from missiles to nuclear bombs. The nuclear weapons even include an effects file that mimics the real effect of a nuclear bomb, which is a very cool addition to this model.

Rating = FS2000/FS2002: 100%+++ (there is no better plane out) CFS2: 100% (perfect except for sound file)

Other Remarks: The in-flight handling characteristics of this plane are amazing. It may not be very maneuverable, but that is accurate to real B-52s. This plane is the "gem" of all flight sim add-ons!!!

Part 2 Interviews:

Recently I was able to ask the designer of this aircraft, Kotaro Akikawa, the project "test pilot," Clayton Dopke, and the "crew chief," Jason Peters a few questions about this B-52; here is what they had to say.

Kotaro Akikawa (the designer)
Richie: First, could you tell us a little about yourself (age, where your from, ect.)?
Kotaro: I'm a 9th grade student living in Yokohama, Japan, 15 years old. I had been living closer to downtown Tokyo before I moved to Halifax N.S, Canada when I was 3. I lived in Halifax for 5 1/2 years, and then came back to Japan.

Richie: What add-ons have you created for CFS/FS?

Kotaro: The first ever aircraft I created and released was the F-22 Version 1.0, which is still available at a corner of my site. Next came an update to the F-22, Version 1.5. After that the F-15s, C and E models came out. These were pretty successful, but are already outdated. The B-52H is my 5th aircraft build and released, and it sure has all the bells and whistles I could think of. Other non-aircraft add-ons include a US Modern Weapons Pack for CFS2 freaks, and a few FS Design Studio source files of the few aircraft that quite didn't make it out.

Richie: When did you start working on your B-52H and long did it take you?

Kotaro: Work started at around July 2001, but the decision was made more like in March 2001. The current B-52 was completed in February, so I guess I can say I worked on it for 8 months on and off.

Richie: When you first started the B-52, what were your project goals? Did you succeed?

Kotaro: My first goal was, above all, to create a B-52H Stratofortress for all the FS2000 users crying that they WANTED the BUFF. My initial goals were to just create it, and get everyone happy. As time went on and I studied the B-52H further, I started to understand the technical miracles this aircraft has worked through, and I felt like I needed to design this aircraft as accurate as possible. Then I met Clayton Dopke and Jason Peters, who helped me understand even more about the daily life of a BUFF. Believe me, I wasn't sure if all what the B-52H is right now was even possible at first, but as time went on and new (important) discoveries were made in the FS world, some of the things deemed impossible became reality. And yes, I do believe I ultimately succeeded in my original goals of satisfying all of the FS users who wanted a BUFF.

Richie: What part of the B-52 are you most proud of?

Kotaro: I'm proud I was able to put it together! The B-52H was my first "heavy" aircraft, my earlier aircraft being much smaller fighter jets, so every component was an obstacle. I had to relearn modeling. Getting the shape right while keeping in mind the FS users with low-end PCs.

Richie: Did you win any awards or receive special recognition for this plane?

Kotaro: The B-52H received the March 2002 "Developers Award" from Flightsim.com, and "avsim Freeware approved" award and "Bear Approved" award from avsim.com. But none of these awards would mean nothing, if it weren't for the constant bombardment of "Thank you" and "Great job" mails from the FS users who liked the B-52 of my mailbox. I received 60+ mails each day for a full week full of some very kind words.

Richie: How positive was the feedback after the B-52 had been released?

Kotaro: I have gotten extremely positive feedback, and I also got a few mails from B-1B "Bone" drivers who wanted their mount modeled to the same degree :)

Richie: What caused you the most problems when creating the plane?

Kotaro: This is probably the gear assembly, where I had trouble understanding how the whole thing worked. Clay and Jason cleared it out for me. I'm still not too satisfied with the gear assembly, so it will be completely redone in the next version.

Also, the air file has caused us massive headaches, and still is. Due to the huge difference between empty and full combat weight, the landing gears could not be set properly. The B-52 is still suffering from this problem.

Richie: Are there any personal comments you would like to make about this aircraft or the project?

Kotaro: I'd like to say this aircraft is by the Beta testers as much as it is mine. Lots of days of frustrating work, lots of problem pointing, and lots of encouragement from them. They are all a really nice bunch :) I am looking forward to working with them once again, on the Gmax B-52H.

Richie: Finally, are you willing to share with us your future designing plans?

Kotaro: Future plans call for a complete remake of the B-52H in GMAX!!!! Watch this space ;) I don't have any solid info yet, but work is progressing bit by bit. It will take full advantage of the new features Gmax has brought upon us :)

Clayton Dopke (Test Pilot)
Richie: How are you associated with the real USAF B-52?

Clayton: I was an Air Force command pilot of several B52's, (read that D and G models) during the Vietnam conflict. I flew 202 missions from Anderson AFB in Guam to Vietnam during that time. My total flight time in a 52 was in excess of six thousand hours in the B52- and over 15K total flying time in about any type of aircraft you can think about.

Richie: What was your role in the creation of Kotaro Akikawa's B-52H?

Clayton: I found out from a friend that Kotaro was doing this outrageous 'Buff', and he gave me a link to get in touch with K. I wrote him an email, stated my experience with the real aircraft and offered help if he needed some. To be honest, he already had a wonderful BETA team which included Jason Peters, a present day, crew chief of a B52 down at Barksdale. I was welcomed with open arms, and thus began the testing of the aircraft so that we could make it fly like a real B-52.

Richie: How accurate is the flight characteristics of this B-52 (compared to real B-52s which you have flown)?

Clayton: Considering that flight simming is lacking the element of 'feel'; meaning the 'seat of the pants' sensation of flying, and you have to relate that to all aircraft, I think Kotaro's aircraft is very close to the real thing. Obviously, some of the nastier faults of the B52 are missing, but to include them, the aircraft would have to be more complex than Dreamfleet's 737, and you would need 6 months of training to fly the MS simulation. That is all fine and dandy in a FMS, (full motion simulator), but for a PC based simulation, you can only input so much information without tedious training.

Richie: What single element of this plane makes it a flight simming "gem?"

Clayton: I don't think it is a single element, it is a combination of items. The exactingness of the builder, Kotaro . . . it had to be right, from weight, to angles, dimensions, configuration . . . jet engine cowl vents . . . I could go on longer than most readers would wish to read. Having been on the BETA team, I can attest to how many times the landing gear had been redesigned . . . or the angle of the wing changes, or the number of bumps, humps and such which were painstakingly inserted. It was quite an effort.

Richie: In your expert opinion, how accurate is this plane overall (can you give me a percent)?

Clayton: Remembering what I said about feel in the beginning, overall this aircraft is 90% and to give you a ruler or scale of what I feel is pretty close, the Dreamfleet 737 is only a 91% to me. (I'm giving you a pilots perspective)

If I had my wishes, I would put the Buff that Kotaro is NOW building, (don't get too excited, he is working on a GMAX version of the 52 but that is a long way off), with an expert panel designer, such as the people who did DF's panel, and perhaps Steve Small for some of his work, and we would make the aircraft more complicated and user 'ugly' to make it more realistic. In other words, we would end up building something that only a few flight simulator nuts would want to fly, because you would have to take 6 weeks to learn how to fly it. Unfortunately, you can't do that in flightsimming, because most of us have only limited time to do our simming, and if we had that kind of time, well, we would out flying the real thing . . .(leaving the cost option to another argument.)

Richie: Are there any comments you would like to make about this aircraft?

Clayton: I said some of it above . . . but the aircraft flies, (handles) very well. I have seen a few modifications on the .air file by a few individuals who knew more about .air files than we did, and who modified things such as top speed, altitude and such. They did not tangle with the actual handling of the aircraft, because we have that right. The fact that Kotaro, Jason and myself wanted the aircraft to behave like the real thing is why we took the time to make sure the model did take off, tail first, just as a real 52 does. Some immediately said that was wrong . . . .no, they were wrong . . . trust me!

Kotaro's effort, and that of all of the BETA team was an labor of love . . . each of us bathed in the light of the frustration of this aircraft . . . each of us wanting it to be perfect. Now, understand, if we had continued on the perfect idea, until it was really perfect, well, you guys would still be waiting for it . . . you have to release it sometime so someone can fly it. <G>

Thanks for your interest . . . Kotaro is a most talented young man and it was an honor and pleasure to work with him and such dedicated BETA team.

Jason Peters (Crew Chief)
Richie: How are you associated with the real USAF B-52?

Jason: For the past 4 1/2 years I have been a B-52H Crew Chief in the 11th Bomb Squadron USAF, Stationed at Barksdale AFB. This Squadron trains all B-52 Pilots as well as maintains combat ready for real world events. I am the Assistant Crew Chief of Serial# 61-011 "Dressed to Kill'

Richie: What was your role in the creation of Kotaro Akikawa's B-52H?

Jason: Mainly technical advisor. Due do my unique technical insight to the aircraft I am able to provide highly detailed information about any system on the airplane. When I was able to (For security reasons), I got him this information straight out of the USAF Technical Manuals I use everyday to work on the Airplane. I also Helped with the Flight model verification. Being a Crew Chief has its perks, and one of them is flying with my airplane when it goes places. Hey its my airplane! So I'm lucky enough to have quite a few hours real seat time in her. Along with some sim time.

Richie: How accurately is Kotaro Akikawa's aircraft modeled compared to real B-52s?

Jason: Well, its not leaking Hydraulic fluid everywhere, Or occasionally
dripping engine oil, and you sure don't see me spending 8 hours doing a
Pre-Flight on this one.. hehe But as far as the virtual world goes, the
model is by far the most accurate ever produced for flight sim! Both myself and Kotaro are really proud of this! However there is still some things we are working on to up the realism ante even more. We are currently working on a new GMax version for FS2002 which I hope will up the detail even more. Flexing Wings, Accurate Spoiler animations, More Detailed Landing Gear, these are all on the list for improvement. And that's really only a small piece of the list! Were not done yet, and I'm sure to keep nagging Kotaro until we've got this thing out to the limits of FS design.

Richie: How accurate are the static loads featured in this B-52?

Jason: The Static weapons loads are highly accurate as far as which
squadron is carrying what. However it's not even close to representing
everything the B-52 can carry. We have a saying in the B-52 world... "If you can strap it to the wing.... we can drop it" (Including Other airplanes.. hehe) The B-52 is the only plane in the US inventory capable of carrying every Air to Ground weapon in the US arsenal.

Richie: What is the best part of Kotaro Akikawa's aircraft?

Jason: Kotaro does a brilliant job in designing really tough aircraft.
Military hardware in my opinion, are some of the hardest aircraft to model due to lack of widely available technical information. Kotaro really does his homework, he's put together a great team for this one and really pays attention when we tell him what's up. He's done a gorgeous job on this B-52 and it can only get better!

Richie: In your expert opinion, how accurate is this plane overall (can you give me a percent)?

Jason: I think we are at about 70% or better. We need more FDE work and a custom panel with fuel management to really get us to that 90% or better range were looking for. Fuel management in FS2002 just isn't up to the BUFF's 12 fuel tanks and 312,000 lbs of gas. Hence the CG problems some of you have noticed I am Sure Any Panel designers out there looking for a challenge?

Richie: Are there any comments you would like to make about this aircraft?

Jason: Bear with us.. She's a work in progress! But amazing never the less! Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I hope you and the rest of the FS community have as much fun with this airplane as we have. I am very proud to have been involved in this project and with the BUFF in the real world. She's an amazing aircraft and a true testament to the Boeing engineers who designed her over 50 years ago.

And a wanted ad: Need talented panel designer to make custom panel.
All pertinent info will be provided. LOL Any volunteers?

Special Thanks: I would just like to thank Kotaro Akikawa, Clayton Dopke, and Jason Peters for doing this interview. It really helped me when reviewing this plane. Thanks guys!

Note: Kotaro Akikawa took the pictures showing the nuclear weapon.

Also, if you want to see all the add-ons Kotaro Akikawa has made check out his website "The Wireframe" located here: http://www.simviation.com/bonzonie/index.htm



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