Disclaimer: while I was not directly involved in the development of Taog’s Hangar Alouette III, I have helped test it and I have recorded some sounds which are part of the project. While that may have given me a bit more insight into the project, it will not skew my view of this product and I will give you my unbiased, honest opinion about it, just like I do with any other product I review.
Note: this review was made using version 1.1, which improves the flight dynamics and removes an issue with the tail rotor. Please keep that in mind and always make sure you are getting the latest version available.
The Alouette III was one of the first helicopters I’ve seen in real life. It was either the first or the second since the Portuguese Air Force operated the Puma and the Alouette III back when I was a kid.
From then on, until 2020, when this model was phased out, I have seen it crossing the skies countless times, performing different sorts of missions, and being part of the Air Force’s aerobatics team (yes, that’s an old movie).
While in service, the Alouette III saw combat in Africa as Portugal went through a Colonial war, where it took several roles: troop transportation, medical evacuation, and even providing Close Air Support via what was then called the “helicannon”. It was one of the first time, if not the first time, a cannon was used sideways in a helicopter, to provide top cover to troops on the ground, something we see nowadays quite often in the military all over the world.
And then, after 57 years of service, the Alouette III retired, but I saw it flying for 44 years of my life (I’m not old, you’re old!).
When I found out Taog’s Hangar was working on one for Microsoft Flight Simulator, I had to immediately reach out to him as I knew I could help with the project. Not only I had materials that would be useful to do a few Portuguese Air Force liveries, but I could also access an Alouette III and record some cockpit sounds.
Unfortunately, since the helicopter is now out of commission, it would not be possible to capture the external sounds. But, as we will see later on, it didn’t matter that much.
All right, enough rambling. You’re not here to read about me, but I hope it puts everything into context and makes you realize how important it was for me that Taog would get the Alouette III done properly.
Nothing fancy here. Get the file, unzip it to your community folder and that’s it. If you don’t know where your community folder is, try this small application.
3D model and textures
Taog did an excellent job on both. As with any quality model, there are a few things that you can notice if you do a 1:1 comparison with the real helicopter but, honestly, I don’t usually do that. When flying in a sim, it’s all about what is in front of me, my memory of the helicopter, and how it pulls me into the simulation, not about the rivet count.
I know I am not being 100% honest with the rivet count remark. I am exaggerating, of course. When I look at a model, I see how it sells itself to me. If there are any blatant problems or errors, that will, of course, come to the surface, and ruin the experience.
Taog’s Alouette III doesn’t do that for me. The model is quite good and while there are some imperfections here and there and some parts that I wish had a few more polygons to look smoother, I can’t say it’s a bad model at all. It’s not the best model out there but it definitely holds on.
The same with textures. Now, remember that I did provide Taog some material and even a few textures for him to work with so you may think I am biased but based on what I know I gave him and the quality of those textures along with the other ones he created, I must say he did a very fine job.
Again, while not the best work I have seen out there, it holds great.
The same with the cockpit, which is a mesh of several versions and not so much a single version. I immediately noticed the difference from the ones the Portuguese Air Force used and Taog confirmed to me that he wanted to pick up some interesting pieces here and there and make it more of a hybrid cockpit instead of focusing on a single version.
Having that in mind, he also added some helpful GPS units.
The cockpit is nicely modeled and the front panel is absolutely amazing. The gauges are excellent and, all in all, considering this is where we will spend more time looking at – much more than the external 3D model – this is a win.
The cockpit of the Alouette III is pretty amazing and quite spacious and you can notice that here.
Oh… What can I say? The whine of the Artouste engine is iconic. Epic, really. Listening to an Alouette III is something magical and Taog captured that perfectly. I have to say I would like the sound of the engine to be louder inside the cockpit but when I asked Taog about it he told me that despite that being amazing, it would completely override the ATC sounds.
Who needs ATC anyway? Right? Right?
In regards to the rest of the sounds, they are all custom. All the switches, cyclic moving around, pedals, buttons, and everything you hear in the cockpit were recorded (by yours truly) specifically for this project. Between me being lucky enough not to ruin the recording and Taog’s work, I have to say that when I heard those sounds in the sim, I couldn’t stop smiling.
It just… Works. It’s hard for someone that didn’t hear the sounds on the real one to be able to realize how close they are to the real deal. Yes, Taog did have to do some changes and adaptations here and there, but overall, it works so well. Check the sound of the wheel brake or the switch cover of the starter switch. Hear that? That’s exactly what I heard when I recorded the sound. That’s the real deal.
While this may seem like I am hyping my own work or being biased because I was a small part of it, the truth is that hearing those exact same sounds in the cockpit is extremely satisfying.
The Alouette III is not an overly complicated helicopter. What you see is pretty much what you get.
There’s one thing that Taog features in the manual (yes, there’s a manual) that still puzzles me which is the pitch indicator. Taog added some indications as to how it works but I can’t wrap my head around what to do. It’s not like it’s a necessary piece of hardware but if the author took the time to do it, I’d like to be able to understand it better.
But that and the GPS are the more complex things in the Alouette III, so there’s not a lot that you’ll need to learn.
There is a piece of equipment in there that is somewhat replicated but not entirely: the Pitch Indicator Computer, which is featured in the manual. Unfortunately, it does not work like the real deal. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to have it working as it’s supposed. Hopefully, that will happen in a future update.
Flight dynamics were developed by Fred Naar (author of HTR/Airland and Airland FS). The Alouette III behaves the way I would expect it to behave – considering I have never flown one myself, of course.
The initial release had an issue with a lack of authority in the tail rotor, but Taog released an update (1.1) that fixed that.
She flies and handles very nicely, without being too sensitive or too stable. It’s still a challenge but it won’t be overwhelming you. The Alouette III was also used as a training helicopter for our Air Force, which shows that it’s somewhat tame. The fact that it was used by so many nations in so many types of operations is also a telltale of how much of a pilot’s helicopter she should be. And from reports I’ve had from folks that have flown her – including in war environments – she is.
Taog’s version seems to replicate it quite well, so I am happy with it.
Now that we covered all the “serious” stuff, let’s dwell on the fun details.
This Alouette III is visually quite customizable. If you take a look at the area right above the GPS, you’ll see 12 switches. That’s the number of things you can add or remove from the Alouette III, such as antennas, winch, operator, EMS version, trapdoor, glare shield, floats, and more. And there’s more to come.
Oh, and by the way, you can lower and raise the operator on the winch. While it doesn’t really do anything, it’s still cool!
Nothing to say here. I haven’t found any issues with frame rates. Performance with this Alouette III is pretty much the same as with any other aircraft.
Taog’s Hangar is working on the next update already, which I know will bring some more tweaks to the flight model as well as more customization options.
There’s a change that I know will make some of you happy since I received some emails about it which is the fact that the central glass will now go all the way up by default as opposed to what happened now where it was covered at the top.
Doors will also be removable individually and I’ve seen some other nice things added to it but I can’t show them yet.
So, yes, there are updates and Taog is listening and doing what he can.
Taog’s Hangar’s Alouette III is a great little helicopter that makes justice to the real deal inside Microsoft Flight Simulator.
There was a care in developing this product that we always love to see developers have and that is further extended by the fact that Taog is not only listening to the community (with the glass detail I mentioned in the previous section) but he is also actively adding up features and details that he just thinks is cool.
This is the first payware model released by Taog who has done a very fine job. The price also seems on point (a bit less than US$30 / EUR30).
Having said all that, I really have to recommend it. It’s one of the helicopters I have flying the most nowadays. Actually, it’s probably the one that I have been putting more hours into for the past few weeks, and not just because of this review and testing. It’s just a lot of fun!