FlyingIron Simulations Spitfire L.F.Mk.IXc Released!

In what has been an amazing whirlwind of activity over the last just under 4 months, FlyingIron Simulations have released their L.F.Mk.IXc Spitfire for X-Plane 11. You can find it here on their site (AUD$) or here on the site (USD$)

The Heritage Flight Simulation Spitfire cockpit internals which were meticulously drafted over the last year and a half formed the basis of this masterpiece and probably cut down the development time by a few months. That said, Alex and Dan Kassabian, the two Sydney Australia based brothers who formed FlyingIron Simulations, have an astonishing track record in creating exceptional aircraft in an amazingly short span of time. Their fantastic P47N was created in something like 3 months. These guys just never sleep!

Alex is the master artist who took the cockpit internals and deftly reduced their polygon counts in order to create an aircraft that has very little impact on framerates. While we had a good commercial copy of a Mk.V model available to us, Alex decided to design the Mk.IX externals from scratch. The result has been nothing short of amazing. The textures applied to the aircraft exterior and interior have resulted in a thing of real beauty.

Spitfire Mk.IX in post 1947 SAAF livery

Dan is the coding and sound expert and built the flight model and all the custom aircraft systems. This has resulted in an aircraft which has an extreme level of realism. The aircraft has been exhaustively tested in the last month and is running to the manufacturers numbers. The roar of the Merlin (you can chose between a 66 and 70) is something to experience!

The aircraft was designed from the outset to be VR optimised and utilise all the latest effects in X-Plane 11.3 All the controls in the aircraft can be manipulated and have an effect on the operation of the airplane. I suggest you have a look at their link above to get the full gist of what they have achieved. Better yet, go purchase a copy. If you are in any way a Spitfire enthusiast, and I am assuming you are if you got this far in the article 😃, you owe it to yourself!

Why my interest in having an alternative to the great Spitfire Mk.IX simulation in DCS World, which, through VR, also puts you in the cockpit as if you were really there? The reason is twofold:

  • X-Plane allows you fly the aircraft anywhere in the world. You can explore the British Isles, practise your skills in Toronto or land in Darwin Australia. The Ortho scenery such as the TrueEarth Great Britain from ORBX is remarkable.
  • For museums wishing to run the HFS Spitfire Simulator on a commercial basis X-Plane is a lot less onerous than DCS World. It requires a once off professional licence for $750USD. In contrast, DCS World have quoted some EU250 per month for the same privilege.

Heritage Flight Simulation approached various X-Plane developers with a request to collaborate on creating an exceptionally realistic Spitfire Mk.IX simulation. Mostly the response was that their interest (and income) lay in General Aviation aircraft. It is a pity therefore that we have many incarnations of the Spitfire in X-Plane which have low levels of authenticity, most having been developed many years ago. Graphically and systems wise the X-Plane platform has advanced tremendously, more’s the pity that this has not been capitalised on by historical aircraft developers.

Fortunately though, when I approached Dan and Alex on the basis of their stunning P47N which had just been released at the time (get it here), they responded with enthusiasm. It has been a real pleasure working with these two exceptional young men. They have a real love for keeping aviation history alive and I am waiting with great anticipation on what they may have planned for their next effort!

Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 2: Plywood Routing

After going out on enquiry with a sample cutting file to five different vendors we have selected CNC Lab in Randburg, South Africa to do our wood routing. We ordered the thirteen sheets of plywood and had it delivered directly to the CNC shop.

Plywood quality

A word on the quality of the plywood. There is a confusing array of grade classifications, including Brazilian, Malaysian/Chinese, Chilean, Finnish, Russian and Swedish amongst others. Here in South Africa we seem to use the Brazilian grade nomenclature. They have an excellent spec sheet which can be downloaded here:

This is an extract from their grading criteria page:

In brief, we use a combination of the letters to indicate quality front and back:

  • C+/C Face knots filled and repaired/reverse open knots
  • B/C No knots in face/open knots in reverse
  • B/B No knots face or back

We have stuck to using B/B grade Pine plywood. This gives a balance between quality and cost. According to the CNC shop we are using Birch ply gives a much better result with less ripping, but that comes at twice the price. Hence it will be fine for us to fill in the areas where some ripping has occurred – it all gets painted in the end anyway.


The routing started today and a number of the 6mm panels have been completed. This work will continue over the next few days and should be completed this week. Initial results are looking great.

Setting up of the CNC Router


Together with the CNC shop we have decided that the easiest and cheapest way of numbering the parts will simply be to scribe the code on the part with a marker pen. We did consider laser engraving but for this it simply is not cost effective. (It is something we are considering on the metal parts that will be plasma cut, but that is simply because we have less control in that process).

The numbering is kept simple, giving the thickness of the ply, the drawing sheet number and the item number on the sheet. That’s easier than having to put in the actual Part Number

6mm parts with the numbering visible
Example of the sheets showing their item numbers unique to that specific sheet

With any luck we will be able to start gluing up over the weekend! 🙂

Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 1: Wood Preparation

The Prototype build has officially begun! All the wooden cutting patterns have been completed and guidance drawings prepared. The cutting patterns are ready for any CNC Routing shop which can handle standard 2440mmx1220mm pine plywood sheets. The sheet thicknesses are as follows:

  • 1 off 3mm
  • 4 off 6mm
  • 2 off 9mm
  • 1 off 12mm
  • 1 off 15mm
  • 4 off 21mm

The cost for these sheets locally total around US$430. We have appointed a routing shop to do the work and the cutting will cost that again. So total cost, excluding epoxy glue, for the wood components will equate to some US$860. For that amount you will end up with the following:

The prepared wooden components should amount to around US$860

This does still exclude the thinner sheeting for covering the frame. Also note the bits at the back are only temporary jig supports for frames 12 and 12a. They get removed after gluing up so that once covered, the fuselage will look like this:

So this week we will be ordering the plywood from a local timber shop and have it delivered to the routing shop. Hopefully some of the routing will also start. We will provide pictures as we go along.

And yes, you guessed it, in the background we will continue numbering! 😅

Great progress with FlyingIron Simulations Spitfire LF Mk.IX!

The design collaboration with FlyingIron Simulations is going very well! They have been making great progress with their Spitfire Mk.IX for X-Plane 11! I have attached some screen-captures from my testwork, this is version 0.7Alpha. Even at this early stage the flight characteristics are superb, while the graphics model looks fantastic.

This model will work hand in hand with our simpit, so now there are two different simulators which will provide absolute realism and accuracy in VR; X-Plane and DCS World!