Guide to aircraft carriers in FS2004

Guide to aircraft carriers in FS2004, FSX

Even not a combat simulator, it is still possible to simulate aircraft carriers in Flight Simulator 2004 / FS2004. To get most realistic simulation you need to do the following steps:

  1. Add aircraft carriers to the scenery
  2. Add support for catapult and arrestor cables since a flight deck is too short for conventional takeoffs and landings with most fixed-wing aircrafts
  3. Add military aircrafts as Microsoft Flight Simulator only has civilian aircrafts

Abacus Flight Deck 3

The add-ons described below are all freeware. You may also consider the payware Flight Deck 3 by Abacus which adds all you need: The USS George Washington with catapult, arrester wires, landing system and several aircrafts.

1. Scenery

There is plenty of aircraft carrier scenery add-ons for Flight Simulator, here is just a few of them.

Default scenery

There is a single low-detailed aircraft carrier in the default scenery of FS2004.

HMNZS Waikato by Savern Reweti

Highly detailed New Zealandic aircraft carrier with animated effects, e.g., AI aircrafts taking off and landing on the deck.

Carriers 2006 by Richard Hogen et al. (carr2006.zip from flightsim.com)

Adds 18 US aircraft carriers around the world with AFCAD runways, tower/ground frequencies, navaids, and FLOLS. Download rcbco_up.zip if you use these carriers with the Carrier Operation Package (described below).

Thailand Aircraft Carriers by Martin Strong, Javier Fernandez and Colin Thwaites

These aircraft carriers include the Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (FLOLS) - a system on the deck that provides visual landing guidance.

CV-74 USS Stennis by Paul Clawson (cv_74.zip from flightsim.com)

Relocateable aircraft carrier with wake effects.

2. Catapult and arrestor cables

Remark that some aircraft add-ons for FS2004 provide catapult and arrester cable as part of the add-on.

3Wire by Rhys Eddy

External program that provides support for catapult and arrestor cables. The catapult may by armed anywhere while arresting cable zones are defined manually. Has included zones for the Waikato aircraft carrier and the 18 aircraft carriers described above.

Carrier Operation Package by Rob Barendregt and Doug Dawson

Provides support for catapult and arrestor wires with great sound effects. All operated aircrafts need to be manually configured for this add-on because all functionality is managed in the aircraft panel. A "meatball" gauge is included that helps you when approaching the aircraft carrier for a landing. Catapult and arrestor wires zones are defined manually. Has included zones for e.g. the Waikato aircraft carrier described above.

ArrestorCables (ArrCab) by Richard Hogen

External program that provides support for catapult and arrestor cables. It used to be freeware but is now taken over by and included in the commercial Flight Deck 3. If you do a search for 'arrcab24.zip' you will still find copies of the old freeware versions. However, since the freeware versions were made for FS2000 and FS2002 I don't know if they run properly under FS2004.



3. Aircraft

Here is two of my favorite military fighter aircrafts. F-16 Fighting Falcon by Kirk Olsson together with this panel by Eric Marciano. F-14 Tomcat by various designers. If you use the F-16 with the Carrier Operation Package you may use these predefined configuration files for the aircraft that e.g. defines the placement and size of the extra gauges.

You may also choose a STOL aircraft and practise landings and takeoffs without catapult and arrestor cables. For example try the civilian de Havilland Twin Otter from Project Globe Twotter.

The C-130 Hercules remains the largest and heaviest aircraft operating on an aircraft carrier, and that even without the usage of catapult or arrestor cables.

Additional notes

Normally an aircraft carrier moves into the wind. This avoids crosswind landings and decreases the runway distance for takeoff/landing. Unfortunately movements are not possible to simulate in FS2004. However, you may compensate for the movement and headwind by applying a straight headwind.


More to come...

rcbco-30.zip, Abacus Flight Deck 4, aicarriers1.zip, FSX_CV.zip, 3wireX

Moving carriers