The question is often asked, "Will this aircraft work in this version of
Flight Simulator?" The answer is typically "Yes". But as the underlying
technology of the Flight Simulator program advances with each new release, more and
more of the older aircraft will not perform or look as good as they did on the version
they were designed for. In most cases that is good, it provides the opportunity
and motivation for designers to create newer and better versions. Below are some
observations I've made during testing and what you might expect when you bring an
aircraft designed in FS5/FSFW95 to the 3D world of FS98 -- FSX.
Mirage Aircraft for
[ Mirage III | Mirage 5 | Mirage F1 | Mirage 2000 | Étendard | Other Mirage | Rafale | Early ]
Originally every aircraft available on this website had been tested on my own systems in both
FS98 and FS2000 or FS2002 to verify compatibility. More recently testing has been limited
to FS2004 and FSX/P3D. Since older versions are not entirely compatible these notes may help.
FS2004 → FSX (FS10)
There are several issues with bringing FS2004 and older aircraft into FSX.
FSX can handle much large texture images (2048x2048 and 4096x4096 as opposed to
the 1024x1024 limit of FS2004). As a result the way the textures are read
has also changed and so FS2004 aircraft are no longer optimized for the game and
performance will suffer a little as a result (most noricable on slower system).
Granted it requires a very powerful PC to display an aircraft using larger texture
files but there are also typically less of them to display as more and more information
is added to a single file. Gone, or they should be, are the days of a single
texture for a gear strut.
How the textures are displayed is different as well. "Alpha Layers" that were
used in FS2004 to create opacity and/or reflectivity do not work the same in FSX.
The result will be that canopies look different against the sky and clouds.
Parts that were textured using an Alpha layer to not display will still not display
but so will everything behind them -- resulting in a "hole" in the aircraft or any
other textured item (buildings and trees) behind that aircraft part.
In previous versions of FS developers would sometimes adjust the color of the part
to a certain color rather than apply a texture. It worked well and no one could
tell. But in FSX any parts not assigned a texture simply show up as black.
In the cockpit things have changed as well. Gauges in FS2004 were often a
combination of GAU gauges going back to previous versions of FS combined with newer
XML based gauges. Despite some changes in the XML code between FS2004 and FSX
the earlier gauges will still work. However, the GAU gauge design of FS2004
and earlier is not always compatible with FSX. Most FS2004 gauges started
life as an FS6 gauge and have been reworked. But FSX will not load those older
gauges and in same cases this means the aircraft will not display at all. The
best bet in this case is to alias the panel to another working aircraft while you sort
out the gauges. Thankfully many enthusiasts have reworked FS2004 and previous
2D panels with compatible FSX gauges and are reworking VC panels as well.
FS2000/FS2002 → FS2004 (FS9)
Floating aircraft and loss of animation. A problem with all aircraft not designed for
FS2002 or earlier and flown in FS2004 is the loss of all animation. This is most obviously
seen in the loss of extended landing gear so that the aircraft appear to float over the ground
(Star Wars LandSpeeder style) when taxiing.  In flight the aircraft behave normally for the
most part (see comments below) except that the control surfaces, air brakes, exhaust (if animated),
etc., no longer move.
But there is a solution. When you launch FS2004, answer "NO" to the question asked by
the simulator to deactivate the functionality of certain "unsupported" features. The
animated landing gear, control surfaces, and most other working parts will work fine. Spinning
parts, such as propellers, no longer work but since Mirage have no propellers we are fine.
If you accidentally say "yes" you can reverse this by editing the [FrameCallNoWarn]
section of the FS9.CFG file using NotePad. Here you will find the name of one
or several aircraft with "=0" next to it. Change the value to "1" ( ...=1) and
the "unsupported" features will work again. An alternative is to simply
remove that aircraft from the list. You will be asked the question on
next launch and can "Just Say No" at that time to restore animation.
The FS9.CFG file is a hidden file located here (depends on your OS):
- Windows 2000 and Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\FS9
- Windows 9x and Windows ME:
Longer takeoff runs. Aircraft used in FS2004 but designed for earlier versions (or which use flight models based
on aircraft from earlier versions) require noticably longer takeoff runs and lack the rate
of climb they had with earlier versions. In banked turns (what other kind is there?)
there is also a loss of turn rate. They are also in a noticable downward trim attitude
so some trim adjustment after takeoff is necessary.
Some FS2004/FSX tricks: Are you tired of ATC referring to your aircraft as simply "Dassault"
or "Experimental"? Do you want to hear the pilot and ATC refer to your aircraft as type
"Dassault Mirage"? Under the [General] section of the aircraft.cfg file edit (or add if
necessary) the lines "atc_type=DASSAULT" and "atc_model=Mirage". Using "atc_model=Rafale"
also works. Now that's cool!
If you edit (or add if necessary) the line "atc_parking_types=MIL_COMBAT"
("MIL_COMBAT" needs to be all caps) under each individual aircraft section ([fltsim.x]) of the aircraft.cfg
file, the aircraft will be directed to the parking area for military jets (trainers and
fighters) if the scenery has been set up correctly. This is more realistic (and
secure) than being instructed to "Taxi to general aviation parking". For larger
aircraft like the C-130, Transall, or KC-135 use "atc_parking_types=MIL_CARGO"
In FS2002/FS2004/FSX you can also have the ATC refer to you as an Air Force, Navy or Marine aircraft by
editing (or adding if necessary) the line "atc_airline=Air Force" under each individual
aircraft section, [fltsim.x], of the aircraft.cfg file. For Navy use "Navy" or
"Marine" instead of "Air Force". For Armée de l'Air you might use "atc_airline=Army". Capitalzation is not important here.
FS5/FSFW95 → FS98/FS2000/FS2002
Visual problems: Polygon sorting vs. ZBuffering. The flight models behave as expected when brought in through the
FS98 Converter but there are
visual problems. In the case of the earlier Mirage III, Mirage 5 (and derivatives),
and Mirage 2000, you will see a flash of color moving between the nose, wings, tail,
extended gear, and in extreme cases, even the ground. The image below shows this
streaking effect above the wing between the wing tip and forward fuselage and below the
wing between the ventral strake and mid-wing (indicated by red arrows). This effect
only occurs at certain angles. Another effect can be a distorting in some shapes.
The tail of the Mirage 2000 is a good example of this.
This "3D Flash" was common on aircraft when FS98 (running in 3D mode) first came out. A
problem with polygon sorting and the use of single plane surfaces cause the effect (a throw back
by designers to the days of FS4/AAF). If you turn off 3D in Flight Simulator, the effects
will clear up. Because FS2000 and newer use ZBuffering rather than polygon sorting to display
objects, the "3D Flash" effect is not present. Since this is a known effect of 3D, aircraft
designed since FS98 tend to be designed to avoid this visual effect.
Header photograph Copyright 1967, Israel Defence Force / Air Force.
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