Sunday, 22 April 2018

RFC Tydd St Mary's

There are very few simulated first World War aircraft for the X-Plane 11 Flight Simulator.  Even fewer first World War airfield simulations.  Having a Sopwith Camel model, I thought it would be a good idea to try and fly it from a vintage airfield.
 My first attempt was to create RFC Tydd St Mary's airfield in the Lincolnshire Fens.  This was a small airfield used for Home Defence and it was classified as a Class 1 Night Landing Field.  It was established in 1916 as a grass field with 2 Twin Hangars.  The landing lights were a set of caged paraffin burners that could be laid along the sides of the active runway.  B flight of 51 HD Squadron from Marham moved in with 8 FE2b aircraft, 7 officers, 5 NCO's and 40 other ranks to defend against the threat of zeppelin attacks.
 In 1918, B flight were joined by the 92 USAAC transit unit for landing ground training prior to moving US pilots to the battle front in France.  They arrived with DH6 aircraft and a few Avro and BE fighters.  5 Bessonneau Hangars were erected on site.  These were French designed wooden framed and canvass covered structures that were erected like tents.  At this time 51 squadron received a flight of Avro 504K trainers fitted with machine guns for night flying use.  The Airfield was disbanded in 1919, though the last hanger was demolished in 2009.  The airfield became the Grange Wind farm in 2012, with 4 wind turbines.
 As part of the model, Tydd St Marys was created to be seen from the air, including the unusual church, which is a composite of stone and brick build over several hundred years of refurbishment.
For those who have X-Plane 11, the airfield is available at my X-Plane pages as a downloadable free zip file at

The problem with WW1 aircraft simulations is the difficult ground handling.  Early aircraft had no steering or brakes, so turning on the ground needed men at each wingtip to pull the aircraft around.  This is not practical on the simulator, so it is best to start with the aircraft at the end of a runway.

It is not easy to land on an airfield at night when the runway is only lit by paraffin lamps.

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