Joysticks

Joysticks

Warbird joystick concept.

After 3 years intensive combat flying in WW2 combat flight sims – here’s what a joystick should be in my opinion:

I would like to see manufacturers make joysticks specifically like replicas of the Mustang, Spitfire, Yak, FW190, A6M Zero, Bf109, KI-61, P47D etc etc. This is also not just larping, because there’s real usefulness in using the actual stick of the plane you are flying, because its MG or cannon button will correspond to the in-game actions.

Most used functions on WW2 planes that could be integrated into a joystick are: flaps, radiators, elevator trim, mixture and propeller pitch. These could be added to a joystick base by adding mini levers a bit like a throttle lever only smaller and more secondary and located at the front of the base.

Basically in combat you use the above mentioned things more than anything else. Of the hundreds of key combinations on combat flight sims – I would say 90% of the time I’m using only a few important things: throttle, gear, mixture, flap, prop pitch, water radiator and oil radiator. And trim. Therefore it makes sense to incorporate levers for those on the base of a joystick. Important distinction: NOT buttons, but levers. They must be levers.

Important the purpose is not to larp as a warbird pilot taking great joy in some edge-lord tier rig up. No the purpose is to be able to easily and intuitively operate the very few controls that a warbird pilot will use again and again in flight and especially in combat.

Also I dont want these features on a separate physical unit. I want them all on one unit only. I dont want a separate throttle unit with a lot of levers and buttons on it. This is poor value, because it takes up a lot of valuable real estate on my desk and I cant have that. lol.  And then there’s cost, I don’t want to pay $500 for a combo of joystick and throttle units. I want a single great value compact and relevant-feature packed unit that looks like its out of any warbird that I want and I want it all for less than $200. And I want to be able to buy it anywhere in the World at any time and have it arrive no more than 5 working days later.

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Theres different price points

Theres space ship and jet looking ones and a few WW2 warbird types

Some have interchangeable sticks so you get one device and change-out the grip as per what plane you are flying. Ie if you are flying a jet go the grip that looks like its out of a jet (There are many) and then change it out to a WW2 type. I’m a big fan of this concept.

Most joysticks up til now are kind of old school arcade genre – like meant to look like a computer game controller.

To me by far the most appealing concept is a WW2-looking joystick with built in throttle lever on the base and a twist grip on the stick for yaw axis. And a few buttons on the base to assign what you want there. But all this with the most important feature, which is that the stick/grip closely resembles a WW2 aircraft’s real joystick.

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There is one stick that looked like this – I hope it is still in production – I cant find where to buy one very easily! – It looks like a Bf109 joystick.

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I really don’t need a joystick that looks like its out of a Star Wars Darth Vader space fighter. But to be honest it would be a BIG improvement to everyones’ sim experience to have a WW2 specific joystick that is a replica stick/grip of a specific warbird – Say a hurricane – and but also has a stable base with some actual secondary levers arranged at the front for things that need levers but that we currently use the key board for. So many benefits to this, for just one of many benefit examples, consider that the position of a lever assigned to prop pitch is physically knowable and intuitive while having to use key combos such as RSHIFT -,+ means you generally need to look at the percentage increase or decrease on a info window to know what your prop is at. You need to look at this. But if you have a lever you just feel what position its at and you dont need to take your eyes off the sky/target etc.  Real life warbirds have the standard hinged type levers and push-rods levers for things like mixture and radiators so these should be found on Warbird replica joysticks.

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Dont get me wrong Im not calling for 1001 new functions crammed onto the unit’s base – no, just a few really important levers that could actually be added there. As an example, look at the unit I currently use: Logitech Extreme 3d Pro, and ask yourself “How would I improve this?” if I was going to improve it Id add 5 more levers like the existing throttle lever and I’d arrange them at the front (as in closer to the PC monitor screen) of the unit, on the base and they would correspond to water radiator, oil radiator, prop pitch, mixture and flap. Some of these could have smooth action, while others would need specific format of movement such as a flap lever would need say 3 positions ie up, and the following ‘click-in’ or ‘click-to’ positions down: 10 Degrees, 20 degrees, and 30 degrees. (This would cover most aircraft’s flap arrangements very well). Also some bumps could be located on the base near the levers which would indicate – by feel – the various position of the levers.

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As to manufacturing: why not utilise all the latest technology available such as 3D printing of the grip and base-plate. The electronics is probably pretty standard off-the-shelf components by now.Heck you could even study the real joysticks and build them as per those materials – probably aluminium rubber and leather with bakelite.

The Pacific theatre in WW2

The Pacific theatre in WW2

The Pacific Theatre of Operation in WW2 – (PTO) for short, was a vast area and the time frame was from the early days to the last days of WW2.

The big carrier battles are noteworthy, such as Midway – they were very dramatic and spectacular. You had heavy and heavily armed Grumman F6F Hellcats versus the fearsome and agile Zero and other strong fighters. As well as SBD Dauntless, Betty bombers and many other types.

At the end of the war were more advanced types in island hopping air wars.

But at the beginning of the war was a time not many know much about – There was the Hudson and the Boomerang and P40 versus the Zero and other fighters in the South Asia and New Guinea area, including many ships in the seas around there. The general area was approximately Khota Baru airfield in Malaya through East to Port Moresby in New Guinea. Singapore for example had recently fallen. There was a powerful Royal Navy battle ship in the area, but it had been sunk. The sinking of this ship and the fall of Singapore were a shock. The British Empire’s initial resource allocation focus was on the British Isles and Europe. During the early war, the area North of Australia was effectively conquered by the Japanese Navy and Army, which were steadily moving South and even started to make air raids on Darwin.

 

Here is some imagery of those places and times:

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What Allied forces remained to the North were largely Australian units without spare parts and aircraft were said to be held together after successive battle damage by “piano wire”. The USA had not yet entered the War in this area and things were very bad, we were under pressure at this point against a well trained, battle experienced and well supplied foe.

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Did the Boomerang ever see air to air combat? Im not sure. It was a back-up fighter program in case the P40 didnt arrive in time or ever for that matter. The P40 did arrive, but we also had several hundred Boomerang then. It was a good fighter, and perhaps it was employed in ground attack. I really wish the history of the Boomerang, Hudson and Kittyhawks there was better known. For example there are no movies on the subject and only a few books.

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I get the notion that the Hudsons were out there by themselves until the Kittyhawks arrived sometime later. Once that happened, they started to score some air victories were able to contest control of the air in those skies, and things further improved.

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The Hudson light bombers saw much action, including fairly long range unescorted maritime strikes to the North and East.

 

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Update: A quick glance at Wikipedia shows Boomerangs in operations up to 1945!

Here are some images:

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