Review: Virtavia SH-3 Sea King for X-Plane

Feb 16, 2016 | by Gareth O'Driscoll

The Sea King has a memorable design and it's one amazing workhorse. It has been in service since 1691 and it's still operated in over a dozen countrie

. Either you love or hate this beast, one thing is for sure: if you love helicopters, you know the Sea King.

Introduction

Over the past week I have been playing around with the amazing Virtavia Sea King for X-Plane 10, although the aircraft does have an FSX version which is not as detailed system wise. This addon is not at a study sim level but more for those who want to jump in and fly. Don't get me wrong: the aircraft is reproduced brilliantly but it is not a study sim level.

The Sea King

At a glance the Virtavia Sea King is very attractive. As an old helicopter, the cockpit has the old steam gauges which are very fluid and follow the helicopters movement with accuracy.

The modelling of the aircraft is very detailed although the textures in the rear cabin are at a very low resolution, the cockpit textures are very detailed and "worn".

The model reproduced into X-Plane is the Sea King variants and the Commando variants.

Sea King Variants:

  • HAR Mk. 5!
  • Royal Navy
  • HAR Mk. 3!
  • Royal Navy
  • ASAC Mk.7!
  • Royal Navy
  • HAS Mk.1!
  • Royal Navy
  • SH-3A, USN!
  • USS Essex
  • SH-3D, USN!
  • USS Hornet
  • CH-124B!
  • Canadian Forces
  • HAS Mk.1!
  • German Marineflieger
  • ASH-3D Aviazion!
  • Navale of Marina Militaire
  • HSS-2B Japanese!
  • Self Defence Force
  • SH-3D!
  • Spanish Armada
  • HAS Mk.1!
  • Indian Navy
  • Mk.48 !
  • Belgian Air Force
  • SH-3H, USN!
  • USS Hornet
  • HAS Mk.1!
  • RAN
  • HAS Mk.1!
  • Pakistan Navy
  • ASH-3D Islamic!
  • Republic of Iran Navy

Commando Variants:

  • HC.4 Commando!
  • Royal Navy
  • HC.4 Commando!
  • Royal Navy (IFOR)
  • HC.4 Commando!
  • Arab Republic of Egypt!
  • Air Force

Installation

Just like a majority of X-Plane 10 addons, the installation is a quick drag and drop of the two folders contained within the main Sea King folder in the .zip file.

Initially when I first loaded up in the Sea King my FPS took a great hit. I will admit my X-Plane 10 was acting a little bit on that night. But on the Morning when I did my first flight all was back to normal, I was getting between 40-50 FPS. I have a GTX 760 and an i7-3660 @ 3.60Ghz

The Eye Candy!

Virtavia Sea King for X-Plane - cockpit

The cockpit pictured here in its cold & dark state looks super attractive. Virtavia have put a lot of work into making this addon look brilliant. They even went as far as modelling and coing the autohover feature which I will discuss later.

Virtavia Sea King for X-Plane - cockpit

The center pedestal looks like a maze of switches and dials, but once you get used to flying the heli you know exactly what everything does. The panel with the purple and red dial on it, is the autohover feature I mentioned earlier.

Virtavia Sea King for X-Plane

Basking in the sun at RAF Valley (EGOV) where 22nd Squadron are based with their own Sea King for Search and Rescue Operations

Virtavia Sea King for X-Plane

Virtavia have gone to the extend of animating every door on the Sea King! Between the two exterior shots you see the winchman's door and the ladder door, both fully animated.

Systems

The systems in the Virtavia Sea King are brilliant for all levels of simmer. Although note, this is not a study sim aircraft nor is there any intentions by Virtavia to upgrade them at any point as per my research.

The systems in the X-Plane variant differ from that of the FSX variant, in that it is more advanced. With the aid of SASL, the guys over at Virtavia have been able to code in so much more that X-Plane itself allows for, meaning in the future should they revisit the Sea King, they have the power to take this to a study sim level.

The best example of this is the fuel pump panel, in the FSX version it is not functional at all, the switches are not even clickable. In the X-Plane variant they work flawlessly and accurately as per the real aircraft, it just shows you how X-Plane opens developers to new levels of detail over FSX.

I am not getting into a FSX vs X-Plane war, but FSX is dated and X-Plane is a more recent simulator with upgrades quite often. Overall the systems are spot on and perform great even for those hardcore simmers and those new to helicopter simmers.

Flight Dynamics

The flight model for the Virtavia Sea King is 'second to none'. It flies like a large helicopter should in that the control are not super sensitive like an R22. The Sea King is relatively easy to hold in a hover by hand without the need to the autohover system I will discuss in detail later on.

Similar to many other SAR helicopters like the S-92 and the AW139, large inputs on the controls won't send you into a barrel roll like the smaller helicopters out there.

I can't say I have any first hand experience with the Sea King but hearing from other pilots and crewmen that served onboard this wonderful bird, the flight model is dead on. For example, when the autohover is activated the helicopter shakes quite dramatically as it slows down which is simulated in the Virtavia Sea King.

Auto-Hover System

Virtavia did an excellent job modelling the auto-hover system the Sea King in infamous for. The system is very basic but is very crucial during those tough winch scenarios. How it works is quick simplistic: you dial in your hover height which is the height that you will eventually descend down to in the hover.

Then you tune in your exit altitude and speed, and at the flick of a switch the aircraft will reduce to a hover and then descend down to the altitude selected.

Virtavia Sea King for X-Plane - auto-hover controls

The panel in the photo with the purple and red knobs, is the autohover control panel.The purple knob sets your hover height and the button below this activates the hover. The red knob sets your exit height and the white knob to the left of that sets your exit speed, the speed at which the Sea King will speed up to, to remove itself from the hover.

Note: The Stab button must be switched on with a green light to allow the system to have control of the aircraft. To the right of that you can set whether the aircraft should read barometric height, which is used for sea operations, or the radio altimeter height, which is also used for sea operations and certainly used for land operations above the 200ft maximum you can set.

Where to get it

You can get the Virtavia Sea King at Let's Sim.

Our rating

Positives

  • One of the most obvious pros of the Virtavia SeaKing is how appealing it looks
  • The Flight Model is exceptionally accurate and smooth
  • The content of liveries is very high
  • The pleasure of flying the aircraft
  • The manuals provided

Negatives

  • The textures in the rear cabin
  • The modelling in certain areas

Bottomline

    Overall the Virtavia Seaking is a pleasant aircraft to fly and certainly one for people of all levels of realism and skill. With the manual provided you can quickly learn the procedures and the checklists and have her up and running in no time. Virtavia have converted the SeaKing from FSX to the world of X-Plane 10 tremendously, although textures lack detail in what cabin section behind the pilot's seats. Don't let that give you a false impression. For any helicopter simmer out there on X-Plane 10, this is a must for your hangar.

Installation 10
Model 9
Textures 8
Sound 7
Systems 7
Flight dynamics 8
Total score
8.1
Gareth O'Driscoll

About Gareth O'Driscoll

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