Friday, March 14, 2008

Ace of Aces: Jet Eagles mystery planes

The World War I versions in the Ace of Aces series include short paragraphs introducing each plane (and famous aces, too) which is a boon to new players whose only exposure to aerial combat in the Great War might be Snoopy's Sopwith Camel doghouse.
This commendable feature wasn't carried on in the World War II version of Ace of Aces, Wingleader, although all the planes included are reasonably well-known and players presumably can research it themselves easily enough.
This largely true of the jet age game in the Ace of Aces series, Jet Eagles, which includes well-known aircraft for the most part.
There are, however, at least three aircraft in Jet Eagles which are truly obscure, and you'd have to be quite the aviation buff to recognize them off the top of your head.
One is called the SU-49 "Fullback" in the game, although as far as I can tell Jet Eagles is the only source that gives the aircraft that designation. It's better known as the SU-34 Fullback, an advanced fighter plane offered by the Sukhoi design bureau around the time the Soviet Union fell. It has only recently started to enter service in limited numbers. How close the actual plane is to the performance represented in the game is an open question.
The second is the F-29B, a design proposal from Grumman that was in competition for the next advanced air-to-air fighter for the U.S. Air Force that was ultimately won by the F-22. Unlike the F-22, which was emphasized stealth, the F-29B concentrated on performance, with advanced fly-by-wire technology used to control its unusual swept-forward wing design. It also never entered service.
The third plane isn't even a manned aircraft. The Rockwell HiMAT is a remote-controlled unmanned aircraft that was used as an experimental test platform. It was unarmed, unlike the version in the game, and never also never entered production.
The F-117A included in the game bears no resemblance to the actual F-117A, which was a light stealth bomber with no air-to-air weapons. The stats given in the game are closer to what the F-22 should have in game terms and probably it should be considered that aircraft instead.

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