A Modder’s Diary – Episode II: The Planeset Page 2

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God, I Hope That’s Really Raquel Welch Out Here In This Desert…

When looking for aftermarket aircraft, you have a lot to choose from, but one of the first and foremost development firms you should be looking at is The Mirage Factory.


When the team at Mirage Factory says something is “Hi-Def”, the only thing with more definition is Anna Kournikova’s rump. Seriously, the skins, flight models, and cockpits that these guys produce are nothing short of jaw-dropping. My Roget’s doesn’t contain enough superlatives to accurately tell you just how peerless their stuff really is, but suffice it to say that if it comes from the Mirage Factory, it’s some of the best out there, better than stuff I’ve paid for in another, unnamed, sim.

I didn’t get to use it, even though I wanted to, but there now exists an F/A-18F courtesy of a newer group called InSkye. This house of talent is also starting to produce some compelling work, so we look forward to seeing what’s coming from them.

There’s also Marcfighters, a smaller operation that is turning out some pretty mind-blowing material for the Red side of the house, like the SU-27 Flanker, one of my all-time favorite aircraft (being a former Flankerite) and I certainly hope to finish a campaign using it.

Anyway, the number of aircraft out there are staggering when you look at them, but I finally settled on what I needed.

I only wanted to do one campaign.

Just one.

That quite simply didn’t happen.

Welcome To The Jungle…

So, what got me addicted to this like some sort of weird form of digital crack? It was the sheer volume of stuff I could do. What I originally intended on doing for the Black Sea Terrain was a single campaign. Set in 1992, right after the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union and the unsuccessful coup attempt by the hardliners that had “The Gorb” holed up in his dacha like the time Noriega took refuge in a Catholic church in Panama and was doing everything but getting the Radio Free America signal through his bridgework.

It would feel a lot like Jane’s Fighters Anthology, but without the FMV cutscenes featuring the supercool briefing officer and the admiral nodding his head so much he looked like he was trying to stave off an attack of narcolepsy.

I gave up on that.


Click the image for a larger view.

I’m working on two more using Wrench’s Libya Terrain. Let’s just say Colonel Quadafi got more than a guided bomb in his tent in 1986. The other is a hypothetical limited war based on the 1969 coup that brought Quadafi and his fellow soldiers to power. Shortly after the coup, the Libyan government nationalized all oil assets with the formation of the National Oil Corporation (NOC). You’ll fly as a NATO pilot trying to convince the Libyans to cough up a little cash to Esso and BP for all those oil assets they stole.

So, I had to come up with two distinct planesets based on who would have been fighting whom at the time. The 1969 campaign is more of an early NATO response, disjointed and hestitant. The 1986 campaign is what we might have seen had Cap Weinberger been given a free hand by House Speaker Jim Wright, and the 1992 campaign puts the Soviets on the offensive again, this time to bring a rebel Ukraine back under Soviet control… for the hundredth time… IF I EVER GET IT DONE…

What got interesting is that the weapons set doesn’t like pitting two aircraft of the same nation against each other, or at least arming them, anyway. It all becomes an airborne gunzo engagement unless you’re willing to do some creative editing.

On most, if not all, of the Soviet aircraft, what I’ve done is simply copied the aircraft folder’s contents, pasted it into a new aircraft folder with the name slightly changed, and changed their nationality to something that is considered a friendly power in the nations INI file, two of which I had to completely make up on my own. Presto, you’ve just completed your first arms deal. You may now wait for Homeland Security to tap your phone line.


By the way, I learned how to do this mostly by looking though the work of my good friend, Kevin “The Wrench” Stein, who’s spent a lot of time taking out-of-work Soviet hardware and putting them into the hands of Third World dictators wearing funny hats with two pounds of brass macaroni on the brim. He’s a sort of virtual Jean Bernard Lasnaud, but without the crappy bow tie.

It’s pretty simple, but it hardly reflects the massive amount of work that the modders have put into the aircraft themselves. I admit what I know about aircraft modding could be written on the inside of a matchbook in grease pencil, but they make adapting their work extremely easy. Spend enough time on the CombatACE Forums and they’ll probably not only tell you how to do it, but politely stifle the laughter when you screw it up.

In the 1992 campaign, you’ll have Russian aircraft facing off against each other and against Western airframes, so maybe it’ll lend a new wrinkle.

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1967 Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee Wheel Pants Fairings - ALL 3 WHEELS picture

1967 Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee Wheel Pants Fairings - ALL 3 WHEELS


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Piper Instrument Panel Overlay


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