PC Pilot

The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith


The favored American aircraft for these missions was the gull-winged Corsair. Although developed as a carrier plane (its huge thirteen-foot prop is why its wings are gulled—to avoid having to land on long, spindly landing gear), it failed its first carrier tests. Never an easy plane to fly, it was dubbed "The Ensign Eliminator." It was enthusiastically adopted by Marine pilots like the ebullient Gregory ("Pappy") Boyington, of the famed Black Sheep Squadron (VMF-214). Its flight model in Aces of the Pacific doesn't make it seem all that difficult.

Despite the P-51 Mustang's superior range and speed, it didn't fare as well in the Pacific as it eventually did in Europe because its supercharged Allison (later, Rolls Royce) engine was sensitive to the higher humidity in the South Pacific, and because its small air cleaner couldn't cope with the volcanic ash kicked up on unimproved island airstrips.

On the other hand, the P-38 Lightning did quite well. Its finest hour came when, after secret Japanese orders were decoded, P-38s intercepted the gloomy Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto, the Harvard-educated architect of the strike on Pearl Harbor, and shot down the Mitsubishi G4M Betty in which he was a passenger. (This is among the many "Historic Missions" in Aces of the Pacifi.)

As with Aces Over Europe, Aces of the Pacific lets you fly with or against the aces in all the services involved—here the Japanese navy and army air forces, or with the U.S. Army, Navy, or Marines. Nearly all the Japanese aces flew Zeros. Our top-scoring ace, Richard Bong, with forty kills, flew a P-38 Lightning (and was killed test-flying a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star on the day we dropped the first atom bomb).

In most other respects, Aces of the Pacific is similar if not identical to Aces Over Europe, only improved here and there. Enemy AI gets better and better, as do the flight models. The Lightning, an otherwise amiable aircraft to fly, had one brutish habit, mimicked here: compressibility failure. In a dive, beyond a certain speed, the airflow over the ailerons goes supersonic and the joystick has no effect. Feathering the throttle has little effect, and dropping the flaps or the gear will rip them—or the wings—off. Try it: you go faster and faster until you auger in.

(Hint: If it's not too hot a day, the denser air at lower altitudes will slow your Lightning down and give you back control…if you have any altitude left to play with.)

Stalls and spins are similarly realistic, and leaving your throttle against the firewall for more than a minute or so will fry your engine.

Aces of the Pacific covers a much longer period of the war: from Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) right through to 1945…and beyond, if you opt for the "World War II: 1946!" add-on disk. In the "Campaign" mode, you fly a few missions in a particular period ("Bougainville to Rabaul," say, or "Formosa to Leyte Gulf") and then reenlist, if you haven't had enough.

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