Fieseler Storch Fi-156 Revew
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Fieseler Storch Fi-156
For FSX Published by FSAddon
Reviewed by Joe (“Mutley”) Lawford
September 2011

Introduction
By François Dumas
"The Fieseler Storch Fi-156 was another one of these very special aircraft that earned their fame in World War 2. Where the British used their Lysander for nightly STOL operations, the German side had the Storch to land on virtually ANY place that wasn't inundated.

This particular model is another master piece of our designated aircraft designer Simon Smeiman, and built after an existing and still flying specimen. I travelled to Florida twice to visit the wonderful aircraft museum and aviation events organization of Kermit Weeks; Fantasy of Flight Florida. That's where I took all the photos for this bird, sat in it, crawled underneath and talked to the pilot.

Yes, it is a war time and military aircraft, and yes, some versions have a machinegun in the back.... and it actually fires as well. But even if you're not so fond of wartime machines, chances are you'll love this little bird. You can use the unarmed Ambulance version.

It flies slower than a Cessna, lands in about a quarter of the distance, has excellent visibility all around and is the ultimate plane to savour the scenery gliding by underneath"

History
The Storch's need was basically officially acknowledged in 1935 when the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) released a requirement for a STOL aircraft. It was meant for liaison duties and for directing artillery fire and reconnaissance. In short, an Army Aircraft.

The Fieseler Fi-156 was ultimately selected out of a proposed four-some by Fieseler, Focke Wulf, Messerschmitt and Siebel. It was in fact based upon an already existing design called the 'Zaunkönig' or "Wren" (Thanks Langdon) that was produced by a professor of the Technical University of Braunschweig.

A few prototypes were produced and progress was made on some of the shortcomings of the initial design (i.e. too high rudder forces, not enough
control through the horizontal stabilizer, and too soft landing gear).

The official presentation to the troops of the Fi 156 V 2 was in March 1939 at the "Wehrmacht Tag" (Army Day) where it landed on the famous street 'Unter den Linden' in Berlin between the Opera House and the Neue Wache.

But before that Storch's had been seen already at the 1936 Olympic Games and at other places.

Interesting the Storch already saw service before the WW2 broke out. 6 of the aircraft were sent to Spain and fought there in the civil war as part
of the German Condor Legion.
© Courtesy FSAddon


Availability & Installation
My review copy was supplied by FSAddon, this product is best sourced from Silvercloud-store FSAddon's mother company and as yet not available from other FSAddon distributors.

The on-line store has all the usual secure facilities and payment options of credit card and PayPal. Pricing is in Euro's with an option to switch to USD for approximate values for the United States.

The download comes in at a fairly moderate 200Mb, fortunately that is only a few minutes on my connection so I barely had time to make a cup of tea! When installed it will take up ~720Mb of hard disk space.

There are two .pdf manuals:  A Storch Manual which covers, after an interesting forward by François above, simple installation instructions.  Simple? well that's all that is needed, the installer will detect your FSX installation folder and allows you to amend it if required, other than that, there is no user intervention required.

Following the install instructions there is a full list of the included models and variations, just look at this impressive list:

156C-1: Liaison: Landing gear - All wheels.
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Passenger.
  156C-1: Liaison: Landing gear - Wheels and tail skid.
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Passenger.
Extras: Fitted with a radio aerial.
156C-1: Liaison: Landing gear – Skis
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Passenger.
  156C-2: Reconnaissance: Landing gear - All wheels.
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Gunner.
Extras: Machine gun.
156C-2: Reconnaissance: Landing gear - Skis.
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Gunner.
Extras: Machine gun.
  156C-3: Reconnaissance: Landing gear - Wheels and tail skid.
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Passenger.
(The C-3 is same as the C-2 but the weapons are removed)
156C-5/Trop: Reconnaissance: Landing gear - Wheels and tail skid.
Crew: 1 Pilot and 1 Gunner.
Extras: Machine gun : Long distance 22 gallon external fuel tank and
extended exhaust pipes.
  156D-1/Trop –Ambulance: Landing gear - Wheels and tail skid.
Crew: 1 Pilot
Extras: Two seriously injured pilots : Fitted with loading doors on
both sides of the fuselage : Long distance 22 gallon external fuel tank
and extended exhaust pipes.
156D-1 –Ambulance: Landing gear - All wheels.
Extras: Two seriously injured pilots : Fitted with loading doors  on both sides of the fuselage.
  156D-1 –Ambulance: Landing gear - Skis.
Extras: Two seriously injured pilots : Fitted with loading doors on both sides of the fuselage.


Once you have chosen your aircraft you can just jump in and fly! However, if you don't read the manual thoroughly you will miss out on many unique extras!  The manual goes on and explains the basic operations and cockpit layouts in a very clear fashion. Take time to visit the YouTube links on the last but one page. These are really fascinating to watch.

The second manual lists all the procedures, again in fairly simplistic, easy to understand sections and also goes on to explain how to activate the many animations available.

Interior (VC)
First impressions suggest that is a well lived in aircraft, worn edges, scuffed pedals and scratched panels, just how I like it for a war bird. The VC glass is weathered too giving a nice affect. The gauges are clear enough, maybe not the best quality but are functional and apt for this type of aircraft.

This is basic VFR flying at its best. Simple to use fuel pumps, ignition, mags and engine primer controls, the main 6 instruments give you airspeed, turn indicator, VSI, altitude, clock and rev counter.  Speed is measured in kilometres per hour and height in Km so it takes a little getting used to.  A nice feature is a pull -out engine and operations data table, it is in German and and difficult to read unless you zoom in on it thus taking your attention away from the essentials! I see this more as eye-candy than functional. To top it off, there is a panel light switch, in a decent position if you ask me.   
 
 

One thing that does let the VC down is the lack of polygons in the knobs and handles that cause them to have a dodecagon appearance rather than a circular shape. I can't help thinking that a few polys could have been pinched from the internal gun animation and given to the panel. Hands up, I am no aircraft developer, I am just looking at it from an aesthetic point of view.

In front of you, at knee level, is another animated box, this time it uncovers a comms radio and switches to control the pilot/gunner/patients visibility. It's a good idea to hide them away here as it doesn't detract from the realism of the cockpit.
            

To the left you have trim, throttle, mixture and cockpit vent controls in yellow; they all a quite visible thanks to their colour but the trim wheel is positioned right down on your left, almost behind the seat. To control the flaps there is a wheel and handle driving a bicycle type chain, this makes a great clanking sound when in operation although you have to throttle back to hear it properly.  Finally there is a trim meter which gives a very clear indication of nose up/down attitude.

 

To the right you can see the push-rods in action driving the ailerons, again in surprisingly good detail, all the pivots, levers and rods move in unison. Further back, below the window air vent (Animated) are the generator and master switches along with landing, nav and beacon controls. These are housed in a metal box with circuit breakers (Not modelled) and topped by old etched hand-written German legends.

Moving rearwards again, we find another box with white red and green stripes these are the are the "Leuchtpatrone" I'll save you looking it up, they are flares which are animated too! (More later).

What is in the rear depends on which model you are flying. You will see either two wounded passengers, writing in agony; a standard seat in the liaison version model, or, a animated, revolving, machine gun with a click spot on the gunners seat to hide him from external view. The gunners seat also converts into a regular seat with a simple click on its frame.    

Exterior
The detailing is super but the quality of the paintwork is not so good. The surfaces are very dull and flat, with no depth. Looking at the texture folders you can see there is no bump-mapping. This is in no-way a show-stopper as the modelling and detail far out-weigh this.

Walking around the aircraft I was amazed at how many spars, panels, nuts, bolts and other detailing there is, right down to the foot steps on the undercarriage. Very noticeable are the fixed, non-retractable leading-edge slots, these reduce stall speeds and allows the higher AoA that makes this an ideal STOL aircraft.

 

Hanging down from the wings are the fuel gauges, these can be seen from the VC too and are simply a float, the higher it is the more fuel you have. The tropical versions have a long range tank underneath giving another 22 USG to extend its somewhat meagre range of 239 miles.

If you have set the pilot and gunner (Or passenger) to show then both are animated from the outside, the pilot moves in relation to stick, rudder and throttle commands whilst the gunner also moves along with the MG 15 7.92mm gun scanning the horizon for enemies.

The ambulance version has a couple of extra opening panels and windows to allow the loading of the two wounded. With the panels open (see avove) the patients can seen in great detail. 

The liaison 156-C1 version looks a whole lot more boxy (Below right) as there is no rear glass panels that you get with the other two versions.

 

The undercarriage is another notable feature, the gas-filled dampers allow up to 18 inches of travel so make it a lot easier to pick your landing spot, who needs runways! This is quite well featured here and the spars are animated even to the extent that a heavier load will splay the undercarriage out more.

An alternative version gives you skis to land on snow and ice, this opens up a whole new flying experience, as you can see above it's easy to go and visit your local glacier.

Animations
For sim-pilots that like to see moving parts, the Storch is going to pay back in spades! We have seen above that the pilot, gunner and patients are animated but there are many other gems to discover. This is a very good reason to read the manual fully as I bet there will be something you will have missed.

The most impressive animation has to be the folding wings. Once activated, a pair of red handles twist near the wing roots and release the wings to pivot backwards, at the same time a couple of panels at the back of the wing swing out of way.  Hey! we got a legitimate use of the wing-fold key!

Removal of the engine cowling presents us with a good view of the 8 cylinder inverted vee Argus AS 10C-3 engine. Whilst the engine is running there is no visible evidence of it vibrating on its mountings, however, the throttle linkage from the cockpit to the top of the two Sun carburettors is fully animated and it looks accurate too.

Back in the cockpit there are a few vents you can open, one down to your left operated by pulling a yellow handle, above and to the fore, this one is operated by a simple pull ring. Finally there is a vent each side in the cockpit glass, again, animated.


Best viewed full screen HD

Earlier on I mentioned the flares, these are found inside the box in the cockpit. The first three can be fired by clicking on them but to see the effect you have to be outside. After the initial firing you have to use the lights key to fire more, obviously this flashes the aircraft lights too in a standard installation, from a distant view you can see the flares bursting way above the aircraft.

With having a machine gun well manned and nicely animated, you expect some action, right? Well you can fire away to your hearts content as the use of the smoke key will fire this animation off. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)  The shots are accompanied with a machine gun sound quite apt for the situation, a nice addition.

Sound
To sample some of the more subtle sounds like door closing, flap control and wing fold it is best to switch the engine off.  Creaky and metallic is the best way to describe them. The cockpit is missing click sounds when the switches are operated but I can live with that.

Engine start up and shutdown sounds are pretty good although there seemed to be a bit of a delay between the engine cranking and firing effects and in the dying moments of the engine rotation when you can almost hear the compression of the cylinders.  When she is running there is a good deep rough engine sound that fits perfectly.

Night Vision
We have panel lights, nav, beacon and landing lights. The panel light give a nice pinky-red appearance to the gauges, almost as though they use the same lighting as older BMW's.

The landing lights are not all that bright and quite ineffective when you are taxiing, it's not until your nose rises on the take of roll that you can see clearly where you are!

 

In flight, the pilot is dimly lit from the outside, otherwise pretty standard with nav lights. The landing light in the port wing retracts when switched off.

Flight Characteristics
Ok, time to read the spec.

    Speed : 95 kts, 176 km/h
    Range : 239 miles, 385 km
    Service Ceiling : 15.000 feet, 4600 m
    Empty weight: 2050 lbs, 860-940 kg
    Max. Take off Weight : 2921 lbs., 1325 kg

It's not a very difficult aircraft to fly even at full realism setting, you can take off so quickly that the P-factor hardly has time to kick in. In most situations just a bit of positive trim is all you need to get airborne, that's unless you have trees at the end of the runway then you be thankful of the flaps and slotted wings.  Taking off from fields and awkward places is truly this aircraft's forte. I have had so much fun getting out of tight situations I am constantly looking for the next challenge.

When flying slow you can hardly believe your eyes as the KIAS drops below 40, that's as low as I could go keeping her level without sinking, a slight pull back on the stick brought on the stall warning at around 33-35!  Recovery, again, is easy, she will respond immediately to throttle and the nose will rise.

I tried a few stalls and spins but found them rather uninspiring, even set at full realism getting the aircraft to spin was difficult and recovery was as simple as centrering the rudder, I am sure it's not like that in the real thing, but I have never flown a real one.

For sight-seeing she is a dream, there's good visibility thanks to those high wings and greenhouse type cockpit, although that changes when you are on the ground, that's just how it goes with tail-draggers!

Being a true VFR aircraft, that is the way to fly it, by visual reference. If you have a flight plan then you can pull up the generic Garmin GPS500 to get to more distant places. I think that is a good addition and like the radio, it's operating switch is hidden away.

Sim Performance
With all these animations the efficiency of this model is excellent, I had no cause to adjust any of my standard FSX settings to accommodate it. The smoothness of the sim was as good as any default aircraft of a similar type and the developer has to be commended for this.

Footnote
There has been an update regarding the Storch posted on the FSAddon forums where François advises that an update to fix a problem with a desktop link to the manual will be made available and hopefully some minor sound issues look for the future.

A DVD version is hoped to be released at the end of September 2011. They will have a 'special' planned early next year with the Lysander and Storch bundled, including scenery.

Storch missions should be available (free to customers) end of this year, along with some bespoke missions later this year.



Verdict

This is a very fun aircraft to fly with lots of extras normally associated with far more expensive aircraft.  The Storch will certainly bring in a new dimension to your VFR flying experiences. A must for sim-pilots interested in this era.

Pros:
Enjoyable to fly
High quality animations
Excellent sim performance
Clear and interesting documentation
Good value for money

Cons:
Exterior surfaces a bit flat looking
Questionable flight characteristics

All in all I would give this aircraft a resounding yes! And award it a Mutley's Hangar score of 9/10


Joe Lawford
Review machine Spec:
Core i7 Extreme 965 @ 3.6 Ghz | 12Gb Corsair DDR3 Ram |GTX580 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit
Other addons seen in screenshots: REX Overdrive | Orbx Pacific North West | Orbx Fall City


      
      System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Pentium 2 GHz (Duo2Core Intel or equivalent advised)
  • 1 Gb RAM (2 Gb recommended)
  • 256Mb graphic card (512 MB recommended)
  • 200Mb Download size
  • 720Mb hard drive space