In a “near final” version to writers and reviewers, the historic Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat arrives for MSFS. The folks at GotFriends know how to make products for simulators and this one doesn’t disappoint. The F4F-4 Wildcat is 1940s warbird with a history and great accomplishments. We get to learn how to fly it, how to use its various weapons, and how to do carrier operations.
For those of you who are historians, the F4F-4 Wildcat was revolutionary at the time. The unique folding wings made for a 150% increase in the number of aircraft on board an aircraft carrier. The capacity to hold an array of bombs and guns made it a formidable adversary in the skies. The Wildcat was used primarily in the Battle of Midway, but an earlier version of it, the F4F-3 (without folding wings) was on aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor, when history made a big turn for the worse.
This rendition of the F4F-4 Wildcat in Microsoft Flight Simulator is of high quality and very functional. In fact, the bombs and machine guns really work, we are told, if you purchase the GotFriends web version. It will also be available in the MSFS Marketplace as soon as it is approved, but it won’t have the guns and bombs as per the rules of the Marketplace. But the Xbox flyers of the sim will be pleased with its availability and can join the PC simmers in the skies over the aircraft carriers of the day.
The list of features on this airplane is a testament to the product’s quality and the high expectations of simmers today. With so many aircraft arriving on the market with an increasingly higher quality bar, this one shouldn’t disappoint with the description of the features included. First, it was primarily used as a carrier operations warplane with a tail hook and the ability to be catapulted off the carrier deck. This functionality is built-in, and you can use it even on hard-surface runways and carriers in the sim that don’t have catapult functionality. Like the real plane, they describe a free-castoring tail-wheel with a lock function for take-off and landing stability. Everything in the cockpit should be clickable, that is to say, completely functional, right down to the circuit breakers and hand-crank control surfaces. “Deeply simulated engine priming”, as the feature list states, and the photos seem to relay that. Every simmer will be testing that to get that feel of realism, without that familiar smell of radial engine smoke on startup.
A nice feature of the F4F-4 Wildcat is the catapult switch. While positioned on the carrier runway, click the switch, count to three, and get thrust off the deck in dramatic fashion. Right beside the catapult switch is the smoke switch, and you can instantly give your own air show, complete with a white smoke trail. Two of the biggest features of this bird are the multiplayer visuals. When you fold and unfold the wings, other multiplayer flyers can see the animation as long as they have the plane. The second feature is the aforementioned smoke function. Other multiplayer flyers can see the smoke trail. In past projects in MSFS, smoke trails for one plane didn’t always show up on multiplayer screens. This is awesome. Together with the realistic propeller damage, crash damage, visual sparks, smoke, and heat, this airplane will be a pleasure to fly. The feature list is long and full of very fine details. This is certainly a welcomed product of refinement. Gotfriends have been in the news continuously with new products, including their Doubleender Bush project, the Mini-500 helicopter and the famous Wilga bush-plane.
Not everyone wants to fly airplanes of the war era, and certainly the ones that are not flying today. In fact, the EAA found one at the bottom of Lake Michigan and has brought the F4F-4 Wildcat back to flying condition. It is the only flying Wildcat today. But we can continue to fly it and appreciate it in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Congratulations to GotFriends for this accomplishment. Beta testers are done. Simmers are getting a pre-release copy. That is a good sign that the product release is a week or so away. Typical products from GotFriends tend to be around $20 USD, but we shall see.