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  Super Étendard Modernisé
  by Romain Lucas

  (Previewed March 2003)

This past January, Romain Lucas of France (who gave us the superb Mirage 4000) sent a message with a couple of images to say that he was working on another aircraft for Flight Simulator -- this time the Super-Étendard.  As progress has continued, Romain has written and sent additional images.  Recently he sent a beta version of the aircraft followed by another with fuel tanks and camouflage textures.

To the right is the aircraft is it appeared this past January sans cockpit and before textures had been added.  Romain said at that time, "I've nearly finished the model and the flight dynamics and I've started dealing with textures.  I've not begun the cockpit yet nor the panel (Eric [Marciano] will help me) so there's still a lot of work."...  

  ... "I should be able to take photos of a true one so the final result could be very interesting."

A few weeks later and it is starting to become difficult to distinguish it from the real thing.  By the way, Romain lives in Brest, France, the largest French military harbor on the French Atlantic coast and very near Base AéroNavale (BAN) Landivisiau.  Landivisiau is the largest BAN in France.

"The flight dynamic is almost finished too, it's rather realistic.  I have discussed it with pilots from the BAN.  You may have read that the Super- Étendard could reach Mach 1.3 but I've been told by pilots its max speed is only Mach 0.98 in normal conditions."  The aircraft is a joy to fly; very realistic with careful trim required throughout the flight envelope.    

  Romain told me, "You have to play with the trim all the time but it's the same in the real aircraft."  Romain's flight model is currently based on an aircraft with no external fuel tanks, so it is quite light and needs a very negative trim to stay level.  Romain is not a big fan of external fuel tanks but I encouraged him to make a version with them to allow for extended flights.

The GMax designed aircraft is extensively animated.  The usual items are present: all control surfaces, gear and gear doors, air brakes.  Romain has gone the extra steps to include working auxiliary intake doors, arrestor hook, spoilers that deploy depending on the amount of roll, opening canopy, steerable and compressable nose gear, and folding wings.  Romain has even put himself in the cockpit this time.  With very responsive ground steering and brakes, the aircraft is as easy to maneuver along taxiways as it is in the air.    

  Romain is currently working on the instrument panel and, if enough information and photos can be found, a virtual cockpit.  "I'm working with the photos you sent me and trying to get something fine.  I've been able to see true Super-Étendards at the military base near my city.  Actually, if everything happens as I expect to, it could be really better than the Mirage 4000."  The radar and HUD by Eric Marciano (at left) will be updated specically for this instrument panel.

Romain has modeled the slat and flap movement realistically.  There are only two positions: half slats, and full slats with full flaps.  To take off from a runway, pilots typically extend only the slats and to take off from a carrier, they use full slats with full flaps.  There is no partial extension to either.  When the trailing edge flaps are extended, the rear part of the elevator lifts.  This is by design to "ward off" the pitch down moment created by the big flaps.    

  Romain has added the larger capacity 1100 liter external fuel tanks (bidons lourds) now carried by Aéronavale Francaise Super-Étendards to a third version.  The three versions that will be represented when the aircaft is completed include the original smaller capacity 600 liter fuel tanks (image below), the larger tanks (image to left), and a clean configuration.

Two Aéronavale Francaise schemes will be represented; the original blue-grey scheme and the later two-tone grey camouflage scheme.  Romain has also allowed me to repaint his aircraft.  I have painted a version in the colors of the Aviones Armada Argentina from the 1982 Falklands War (shown at right).    

  Romain, with some help from his brother Laurent in making new gauges, is now working on the DVC (dynamic virtual cockpit).  As you can see in this image it is coming along well.  It will be modeled after the updated Super-Étendard Modernisé (SEM) "standard 4" instrument panel with the advanced Mirage 2000 style radar display centered below the HUD.  The arrangement of the original Super Étendard instrument panel more closely resembled the Mirage F1.

For more reviews and screenshots visit FSIn-flight Magazine and FlightSim.com.

Also have a look at these in-game videos:

Header photo © Fabke.
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