MB-339, how come?
The 339 is the aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori and, since we want to be their virtual counterpart, it has been the obvious choice. We decided to make it because, at the moment, there are no decent virtual representations of MB339 in the world of the flight simulators.
Moreover, a big and active chunk of the virtual aerobatic community and teams fly DCS, so this sim has been another obvious choice.
But this is way more than a simple mod..
In the beginning, the 339 should have been a private project based on the SFM, later on we decided to give it to the community. Due to the limits of the SFM, we couldn’t practice the full 10-aircraft aerobatic display so, out of the blue, we decided to develop an EFM despite knowing nothing about how it worked. After a month spent through frustration and testing, the 339 started to fly.
Since we grasped the logic, it has been a discovery after another… we understood how to communicate with DCS and we put together a piece after another until we completed the puzzle.
How many people worked on the mod?
Around 15 people are part of the FTV team but the ones involved into the development are basically 5, and each dev has a well defined role: I am the FM developer, a dev is tasked with the systems and avionics and another works on the DLL-DCS interface. The fourth handles the texturing and the structure of the module and the last made the 3D model.
What difficulties have you encountered?
The main obstacle has been the availability of information, which doubled our workload due to the constant trial and error, but eventually we were satisfied to learn something new about DCS and its limits every time.
Eventually, we managed to land the aircraft: having it touching down correctly and balancing the gear-ground interaction has been actually harder than making the aircraft fly!
We have lots of ideas for the future but we don’t know yet if we want to probe for an eventual 3rd party status o staying part of the modding community.
We will definitely work on the 345, the successor of the 349, but I admit we are tempted by the AMX, the G-91, the F-104 and.. the SF.260!
Any contacts with Alenia Aermacchi?
The only relationship we have with Alenia Aermacchi (now Leonardo) is through my job. Some colleagues know about this mod, as some from the Italian Air Force do as well. We are not an Association though so we cannot have any form of official collaboration with them. Nevertheless, we took part in the Italian Air Force open day as volunteers and entertained the public.
The 339 is a “war veteran”, correct?
The 339 had its baptism by fire during the Islas Malvinas / Falkland Islands war. It was used as light CAS and reconnaissance aircraft.
There was a pilot, Owen Crippa, that made something incredible: he himself faced a group of British ships armed only with gun pods and rockets, hitting the bridge and damaging the radar of the HMS Argonaut. In order to avoid the ships’ defensive artillery fire he dived down to a few meters above the sea surface, thinking that the ships would have stopped firing to avoid hitting each other. His theory proved correct and he managed to return to base and warn the Argentinos about the position of British fleet.
Our MB-339 mod supports weapons already. It can be armed with bombs, rockets and guns. This is a video of our tests with offensive payload:
I hope you enjoyed this quick chat with Giuseppe, more will come in the future!